There is just something about terrible crimes that makes for wonderful television. It's the main reason why shows like Law & Order and NCIS have been on the air for so many years. However, watching fictionalized crimes is not always enough. Viewers remain on the edge of their seats when they watch a show they know is based on a true story. Many of these shows combine elements of documentaries with elements of dramas through the form of reenactments. The best true crime docudramas have followed some of the most horrifying, yet interesting, crimes in American history.
True crime television dramas like The Jinx focus on one particular case of note. Over the course of several episodes, these shows do deep dives into a single case, so the viewer gets a complete picture of the crimes that unfolded. Other docudramas, such as Forensic Files, dedicate each episode to a different crime. There is always something new to learn, and casual viewers can learn all about the latest developments in forensics.
True crime reenactment shows are all the rage these days. Which series piqued your interest the most? You can vote for your favorite true crime docudramas in the list below to let everyone know which shows to check out.
Premiered: September 14, 1988Unsolved Mysteries (NBC, 1987) is an American mystery documentary television show created by John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer. Combining dramatic reenactments, interviews, and documentary footage,... more
Premiered: April 21, 1996Forensic Files is an American documentary-style series that reveals how forensic science is used to solve violent crimes, mysterious accidents, and even outbreaks of illness. The show was originally... more
Premiered: February 27, 2017Cold Case Files (A&E, 1999) is a reality legal docuseries hosted by Bill Kurtis. The show documents the investigation of many long-unsolved murders (referred to as "cold cases" in detectives'... more
Premiered: May 31, 2010Unusual Suspects is an American documentary television series on Investigation Discovery. The series debuted on June 21, 2010. The series showcases many of the most shocking and difficult cases in... more
Premiered: November 12, 2013Styles may change, but murder lasts forever. Step into the past and unravel the intricacies of real-life murder cases of the ‘50s and ‘60s. Set against the backdrop of Studebakers, fedoras, and... more
Premiered: June 6, 197820/20 is an American television newsmagazine that has been broadcast on ABC since June 6, 1978. Created by ABC News executive Roone Arledge, the show was designed similarly to CBS's 60 Minutes in... more
Premiered: August 6, 2004Snapped is a British narrated American true crime television series that airs on the Oxygen Network. Snapped debuted on August 6, 2004, and is produced by Jupiter Entertainment.... more
Premiered: January 11, 2005Deadly Women is a television series first aired in 2005 on the Discovery Channel, focusing on female killers. It was originally a mini-series consisting of three episodes: "Obsession", "Greed" and... more
Premiered: 1992For over ten years, AMERICAN JUSTICE® has been the gold standard of criminal justice programming, tackling today's toughest issues through the cases that challenge and change the law. Famous cases... more
Premiered: September 29, 1998The FBI Files is an American television docudrama series that originally ran from 1998 to 2006. It was carried by the Discovery Channel cable network and produced by New Dominion Pictures of Suffolk,... more
On The Case With Paula ZahnPaula Zahn, Raymond Brenkert
Premiered: 2009On the Case with Paula Zahn is a documentary and news program broadcast on Investigation Discovery since October 18, 2009. The program explores in-depth stories of crime mysteries and interviews with... more
Premiered: 2021Court Cam Presents Under Oath (A&E, 2021) is an American true crime legal series. Hosted by Dan Abrams, the series will cover everything from first-hand defendant testimony, juxtaposed with the... more
Premiered: February 8, 2015The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst (HBO, 2015) is a documentary miniseries directed by Andrew Jarecki. Exploring the complicated life of reclusive real estate icon Robert Durst, the key... more
Your Worst NightmareEric Abraham, Clark Sarullo
Premiered: 2014Your Worst Nightmare (Investigation Discovery, 2014) is an American true crime documentary television series. Narration guides each episode, blending reenactments of key events with commentary from... more
Premiered: March 10, 2013Snapped: Killer Couples (Oxygen, 2013) is an American true crime docudrama television series and spin-off of the Oxygen series Snapped. Each episode features a couple who have committed or have been... more
Premiered: 2021Cellmate Secrets (Lifetime, 2021) is an American documentary series. Narrated by Angie Harmon, the series reveals new insights and information as former friends, guards, cellmates and lovers give... more
Killer KidsMisty Lee, John S. Howell Sr.
Premiered: May 16, 2011Killer Kids provides an in-depth profile of the lives of kids who kill. What can possibly motivate kids to commit criminal acts and even murder? From hate crimes to gang initiations, murders of... more
Premiered: April 10, 1988America's Most Wanted is an American television program produced by 20th Television, and was the longest-running program of any kind in the history of the Fox Television Network until it was... more
Obsession: Dark DesiresObsession: Dark Desires is a drama television series whose first episode aired on January 14, 2014. The show dramatizes real life accounts from people who have been the victim of stalking.... more
Premiered: October 25, 2011Homicide Hunter is an American documentary television series showcasing the career of retired Colorado Springs police detective Joseph Kenda. It debuted October 25, 2011 on Investigation Discovery... more
Premiered: 2021Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer (Netflix, 2021) is an American true crime documentary miniseries. The limited series tells the true story of how one of the most notorious serial killers... more
Premiered: 2021Sophie: A Murder in West Cork (Netflix, 2021) is a British historical true crime documentary series. The series examinines the murder of French documentary producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier in... more
DisappearedChristopher Crutchfield Walker, Kiff VandenHeuvel
Premiered: January 11, 2010Disappeared is an American documentary television series on Investigation Discovery which debuted on January 11, 2010. The series contains interviews and commentary by people involved in various... more
Premiered: 2020How To Fix A Drug Scandal (Netflix, 2020) is a four-part documentary series produced by Alex Gibney’s Jigsaw Productions and directed by Erin Lee Carr. The series revolves around Amherst,... more
- True Life Crime (MTV, 2020), is an American true crime documentary series. Take a deep dive into the true-crime stories rocking headlines and social media feeds - these victims were young, the crimes... more