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

Updated November 5, 2019 7.9k votes 1.1k voters 69.8k views69 items

List RulesVote 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.

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    The Face on the Milk Carton

    Jill Clayburgh, Sharon Lawrence

    Released1995

    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.

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    222
    48

    Cleveland Abduction

    Taryn Manning, Raymond Cruz

    Released2015

    Directed byAlex 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.

  • 3
    209
    48

    Fifteen and Pregnant

    Kirsten Dunst, Katee Sackhoff

    Released1998

    Directed bySam 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.

    More Fifteen and Pregnant 

    #75 of 120 The Best Teen Movies Of The 1990s#9 of 78 The Best Pregnancy Movies

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    184
    39

    Gracie's Choice

    Kristen Bell, Diane Ladd

    Released2004

    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.

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    177
    38

    A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story

    Mercedes Ruehl, Avan Jogia

    Released2006

    Directed byAgnieszka Holland

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

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    193
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    I Am Elizabeth Smart

    Elizabeth Smart, Alana Boden

    Released2017

    Police launch a high-profile investigation after a teenager (Alana Boden) is abducted from her bedroom in Salt Lake City.

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    197
    55

    No One Would Tell

    Shannen Doherty, Mira Sorvino

    Released2018

    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.

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    168
    39

    Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

    Tania Raymonde, David Zayas

     

    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.

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    155
    39

    Released2003

    Directed byPeter 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.

    More Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story 

    #12 of 433 The Best Lifetime Movies Ever Made#4 of 32 The Best 2000s Lifetime Movies

  • 10
    129
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    Girl Fight

    Anne Heche, Jodelle Ferland

    Released2011

    Directed byStephen Gyllenhaal

    A video of an assault on a teenager surfaces on the Internet.

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    130
    36

    Blue-Eyed Butcher

    Lisa Edelstein, Sara Paxton

    Released2012

    Directed byStephen 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. 

  • 12
    143
    44

    Abducted: The Carlina White Story

    Sherri Shepherd, Keke Palmer

    Released2012

    Directed byVondie 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.

  • 13
    121
    32

    Murder in the Hamptons

    Poppy Montgomery, Diego Klattenhoff

    Released2005

    Directed byJerry 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.

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    128
    37

    The Pregnancy Pact

    Thora Birch, Nancy Travis

    Released2010

    Directed byRosemary Rodriguez

    Inspired by the true story of teenagers at Gloucester High School in Massachusets who agreed to get pregnant at the same time.

  • 15
    116
    32

    The Capture of the Green River Killer

    James Marsters, Sharon Lawrence

    Released2008

    Directed byNorma Bailey

    A pair of girls seeking adventure beyond the their Western Washington trailer park encounter the area's most ruthless serial killer.

  • 16
    136
    47

    Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal

    Ashley Benson, Tatum O'Neal

    Released2008

    Directed byTom 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.

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    114
    36

    Lizzie Borden Took an Ax

    Christina Ricci, Clea DuVall

    Released2014

    Directed byNick Gomez

    In Massachusetts in 1893, Lizzie Borden is put on trial for ending the lives of her father and stepmother with an axe.

  • 18
    115
    46

    Girl in the Bunker

    Julia Lalonde, Henry Thomas

    Released2018

    A teenage girl is abducted and held in a forest in an underground bunker by a sexual predator.

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    105
    39

    The Client List

    Jennifer Love Hewitt, Cybill Shepherd

    Released2010

    Directed byEric Laneuville

    Riley (Jennifer Love Hewitt) is a single mother living in a small Texas town and leading a shocking double life.

  • 20

    Released2003

    Directed byBobby 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.

  • 21
    87
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    An Officer and a Murderer

    Gary Cole, Laura Harris

    Released2012

    Directed byNorma 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.

  • 22
    105
    44

    Natalee Holloway

    Catherine Dent, Amy Gumenick

    Released2009

    Directed byMikael 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.

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    117
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    The Brittany Murphy Story

    Amanda Fuller, Sherilyn Fenn

    Released2014

    Directed byJoe Menendez

    A chronicle of Brittany Murphy's rise to fame in the 1990s, her struggles with self-esteem, and her tragic early death.

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    83
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    Amanda Knox: Murder on Trial in Italy

    Hayden Panettiere, Marcia Gay Harden

    Released2011

    Directed byRobert Dornhelm

    Based on the events surrounding the slaying of British student Meredith Kercher.

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    85
    35

    She Made Them Do It

    Jenna Dewan Tatum, Mackenzie Phillips

    Released2013

    Directed byGrant Harvey

    The true story of convicted felon Sarah Pender who has been found guilty of masterminding the slaying of two people.