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.
- Dayle Hinman, Peter Thomas
Premiered: April 21, 1996Investigators draw on forensic science to solve baffling crimes and other mysteries. ...more
- Robert Stack, Dennis Farina
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
- Danny Pino, Anthony Green
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
- Nelson Scott, Becktoria
Premiered: May 31, 2010There's a reason murder investigations don't begin with preconceived notions. Sometimes those least expected to be capable of committing such dark deeds -- respected role models and trusted members ...more
- Elizabeth Vargas, David Muir
Premiered: June 6, 1978ABC News' "20/20" is an award-winning primetime program anchored by David Muir and Amy Robach. A proven leader as a long-form newsmagazine for over 40 years, "20/20" features unforgettable, ...more
- Marc A. Hermann, Michelle McNamara
Premiered: November 12, 2013Actual murder cases from the 1950s and '60s get sleek, cinematic treatment in this series, transporting viewers back to a pre-forensics era when sometimes it was more about how suspects looked than ...more
- Laura San Giacomo
Premiered: August 6, 2004True stories of women who lost control and committed murder. ...more
Obsession: Dark DesiresStalkers target the victims of their obsessions, revealing the horrifying impact of delusions.
- Bill Kurtis
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
- Lynnanne Zager
Premiered: January 11, 2005Former FBI criminal profiler Candice DeLong delves into the minds of female killers. ...more
- James Kallstrom, Anthony D. Call
Premiered: September 29, 1998Behind the scenes of major case investigations. ...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
- Laura San Giacomo, Sharon Martin
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
DisappearedChristopher Crutchfield Walker, Kiff VandenHeuvel
Premiered: January 11, 2010Here today, gone tomorrow. Thousands of people go missing in the United States each year, leaving behind only a mystery without any clues. Their stories are told in "Disappeared" through the voices
Killer KidsMisty Lee, John S. Howell Sr.
Premiered: May 16, 2011Murders committed by children and teens.
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
- John Walsh
Premiered: April 10, 1988Victims' rights and missing-children advocate John Walsh hosts this long-running show, dedicated to bringing criminals to justice. He appeals to viewers to be on the lookout for criminals profiled on ...more
- Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki
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
- Gil Carrillo, Frank Salerno
Premiered: January 13, 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
- Ian Bailey, Barry Roche
Premiered: June 30, 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
Nightmare Next DoorGreg Diefenbach, James Davenjay
Premiered: January 6, 2011Murder mysteries unfold behind white-washed picket fences in small-town America.
- Carl Marino
Premiered: October 25, 2011Unraveling the mysteries of murder. ...more
- Julia Benson, Callum Keith Rennie
Premiered: 2010Shattered is a Canadian police procedural series created by Rick Drew. The main character is a tough, smart homicide detective in Vancouver who suffers from dissociative identity disorder, also known ...more
- Pistol Black, Jane Green
Premiered: July 1, 2020Unsolved Mysteries (Netflix, 2020) is a reboot of the long-running American television series, created by John Cosgrove and Terry Dunn Meurer. Real cases of perplexing disappearances, shocking ...more
- Scott Allen, Karl Kenzler
Premiered: April 1, 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