The Best "Based On A True Story" Movies From Lifetime

Over 1.3K Ranker voters have come together to rank this list of The Best "Based On A True Story" Movies From Lifetime
Voting Rules
Vote up the best Lifetime movies that were based on real events.

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.

Most divisive: Coco Chanel
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  • The Face on the Milk Carton

    The Face on the Milk Carton

    Jill Clayburgh, Sharon Lawrence, Kellie Martin
    301 votes
    • Released: 1995

    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 Abduction

    Cleveland Abduction

    Taryn Manning, Raymond Cruz, Katie Sarife
    233 votes
    • Released: 2015
    • 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.

  • A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story
    Mercedes Ruehl, Avan Jogia, Nolan Gerard Funk
    199 votes
    • Released: 2006
    • Directed by: Agnieszka Holland

    The true story of Gwen Araujo, a young trans woman who was brutally slain by four men in 2002.

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  • Gracie's Choice
    Kristen Bell, Diane Ladd, Shedrack Anderson III
    314 votes
    • Released: 2004
    • Directed by: Peter Werner

    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.

    A teenager (Kristen Bell) fights to adopt her three younger brothers after their drug-addicted mother (Anne Heche) lands in jail.

    Available On:



  • Fifteen and Pregnant
    Kirsten Dunst, Park Overall, David Andrews
    217 votes
    • Released: 1998
    • 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.

    A girl's (Kirsten Dunst) pregnancy further tests her siblings and parents (Park Overall, David Andrews), already stressed by marital problems.

    Available On:

  • Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret
    Tania Raymonde, David Zayas, Jesse Lee Soffer
    177 votes


    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.