Lifetime has a built a brand out of ripped-from-the-headlines, made-for-TV drama - but it’s not just for middle-aged, bored divorcees like the stereotype. The network is absolutely loaded with action-packed retellings of true crime that deal with hyper-gritty subjects. In fact, the list of Lifetime originals based on true stories might even be more impressive than every season of Law & Order: SVU combined.
It’s true that most of the Lifetime movies that really happened focus on mothers, daughters and the struggles they’ve overcome, but sometimes it’s straight-up serial killers like The Happy Face Killer and Blue-Eyed Butcher. Other times, it’s a heartwarming coming-of-age triumph like the ultimate Lifetime classic Gracie’s Choice.
These Lifetime movies based on true events are the best of the best and the worst of the worst. Vote for your favorites to pick an ultimate, action-packed, drama-filled winner.
The Face on the Milk CartonJill Clayburgh, Sharon Lawrence
A teenage girl (Kellie Martin) sees a photograph of herself one day in the school cafeteria - on a Missing Persons column on the side of a milk carton. But her beloved parents would never kidnap anyone and there's a deeper mystery ahead.
Cleveland AbductionTaryn Manning, Raymond Cruz
Directed by: Alex Kalymnios
A single mother who becomes the first victim of kidnapper Ariel Castro (Raymond Cruz) finds herself trapped in his home for 11 years, where she eventually becomes a friend and sister to two other women who are taken captive by Castro.
Directed by: Sam Pillsbury
Based on a true story, 15 year old Tina Spangler discovers she is pregnant. Her choices are abortion, adoption, or a lonely, exhausting life as a single parent.
Gracie's ChoiceKristen Bell, Diane Ladd
A teenage girl tries to raise her three half-brothers and one half-sister on her own after their drug-addicted mother is sent to jail.
I Am Elizabeth SmartElizabeth Smart, Alana Boden
Police launch a high-profile investigation after a teenager (Alana Boden) is abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City.
Directed by: Agnieszka Holland
The true story of Gwen Araujo, a young trans woman who was brutally slain by four men in 2002.
No One Would TellShannen Doherty, Mira Sorvino
Based on a true story and a remake of the 1996 film of the same name. A shy high school student's seemingly perfect relationship with a popular jock quickly turns abusive and dangerous.
Directed by: Peter Levin
Based on a true story. Liz Murray is a young girl who is taken care of by her loving, but drug-addicted parents. Liz becomes homeless at 15 and after a tragedy comes upon her, she begins her work to finish high school.
Based on the disturbing trial that gripped the nation, this Lifetime Original Movie tells the story of a seductive, aspiring photographer found guilty of ending the life of her former lover.
Girl FightAnne Heche, Jodelle Ferland
Directed by: Stephen Gyllenhaal
A video of an assault on a teenager surfaces on the Internet.
Abducted: The Carlina White StorySherri Shepherd, Keke Palmer
Directed by: Vondie Curtis-Hall
A baby abducted at birth and raised by the woman who took her, eventually discovers she is a missing child, reconnects with her birth parents, and struggles with choosing between her two identities.
Murder in the HamptonsPoppy Montgomery, Diego Klattenhoff
Directed by: Jerry Ciccoritti
When multi-millionaire Ted Ammon is found bludgeoned to death at his East Hampton estate, suspicion falls on his estranged wife, Generosa Rand, and her lover, Danny Pelosi.
Directed by: Stephen T. Kay
Texas beauty Susan Wright appeared to have a fairytale life with an adoring husband, Jeff, two beautiful kids, and close family and friends. But in 2003, six years into their marriage, the fairy tale crumbles when Jeff is found dead and buried in the backyard of their suburban home.
Directed by: Norma Bailey
A pair of girls seeking adventure beyond the their Western Washington trailer park encounter the area's most ruthless serial killer.
Directed by: Rosemary Rodriguez
Inspired by the true story of teenagers at Gloucester High School in Massachusets who agreed to get pregnant at the same time.
Directed by: Tom McLoughlin
A teacher is harassed by a group of snotty, popular cheerleaders who think they can get away with anything. However, the teacher has no intention of taking their rude behavior.
Lizzie Borden Took an AxChristina Ricci, Clea DuVall
Directed by: Nick Gomez
In Massachusetts in 1893, Lizzie Borden is put on trial for ending the lives of her father and stepmother with an axe.
Girl in the BunkerJulia Lalonde, Henry Thomas
A teenage girl is abducted and held in a forest in an underground bunker by a sexual predator.
Directed by: Eric Laneuville
Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is a single mother living in a small Texas town and leading a shocking double life.
The Brittany Murphy StoryAmanda Fuller, Sherilyn Fenn
Directed by: Joe Menendez
A chronicle of Brittany Murphy's rise to fame in the 1990s, her struggles with self-esteem, and her tragic early death.
An Officer and a MurdererGary Cole, Laura Harris
Directed by: Norma Bailey
The riveting film is based on the true story of a powerful and respected military officer who committed numerous brutal crimes and was eventually brought down by a tenacious small town police detective.
Directed by: Mikael Salomon
An 18 year old girl, Natalee Holloway (Catherine Dent), goes on a senior class trip to Aruba, only to mysteriously disappear after meeting a man at bar.
Directed by: Peter Svatek
A couple discover that the baby girl they're trying to adopt is being auctioned off to the highest bidder. The couple become part of a sting operation to bust the baby-selling ring.
Directed by: Bobby Roth
Andrew Luster, the heir to the Max factor fortune, is convicted of rape on 86 counts. This Lifetime original movie recounts the crimes committed by the infamous Andrew Luster and the women who brought him to justice.
Directed by: Robert Dornhelm
Based on the events surrounding the slaying of British student Meredith Kercher.