Watchworthy

The Best True Crime TV Shows 

Reference
Updated May 19, 2020 26.6k votes 7.2k voters 625.5k views 87 items

The very best true crime shows on television, ranked from best to worst. This list of the greatest true crime shows also includes pictures from the shows, when available. Popular true crime TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about what the most entertaining true crime show of all time is. Don't let your favorite true crime television programs in history fall to the bottom of the list - be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. The list of true crime television television series below includes information like the program's cast, creator, and premiere date, when available.

What are some good true crime TV shows? Examples include Disappeared and Snapped, among other real crime shows that pair docudrama with thorough investigation. What is the best true crime show of all time? If you've caught any true crime shows full episodes, you know which ones you like and probably have a quick answer when someone asks you, "What are the greatest true crime shows?" You're well aware that these are the best real life crime shows ever.

Upvote the true crime TV shows you think are the best and rerank to see how your favorites stack up against the rest. True crime series are incredibly engaging and arguably some of the best shows on TV.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Forensic Files is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Dayle Hinman, Peter Thomas, Roy Shuler

Premiered: 1996

If this is you fave, be sure to check out our list of all Forensic Files episodes ranked.

Forensic 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 ...more

More Forensic Files 

#5 of 25 Netflix Shows And Movies That Are Based On Real Crimes #170 of 687 The Greatest Shows of the 1990s, Ranked #64 of 143 The Best TV Crime Dramas

2
Cold Case Files is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Danny Pino, Anthony Green

Premiered: 1999

Cold 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 ...more

More Cold Case Files 

#178 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #67 of 143 The Best TV Crime Dramas #21 of 169 The Best Documentary Series & TV Shows

3
Dateline NBC is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Lester Holt, Ann Curry, Keith Morrison

Premiered: 1992

Dateline NBC, or simply Dateline, is a weekly American television newsmagazine/reality legal show that is broadcast on NBC. It was previously the network's flagship news magazine, but now ...more

More Dateline NBC 

#139 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #192 of 687 The Greatest Shows of the 1990s, Rankedlisted on The Best Newsmagazine TV Shows & Series

4
The First 48 is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
The First 48 Dion Graham, Caroline Mason, Tony Mullins

Premiered: 2004

The First 48 (A&E, 2004) is an American documentary television series that offers an insider's look at the real-life world of homicide investigators.

More The First 48 

#10 of 53 The Creepiest Crime TV Shows Ever Made #4 of 26 The Best True Crime Reality Series #9 of 35 From The Police To Fisherman, These Are The Best Reality Shows About Professionals

5
Homicide Hunter is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
ncwebb added Josh Casaubon, Joe Kenda, Carl Marino

Premiered: 2011

Homicide 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 ...more
6
Unsolved Mysteries is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Robert Stack, Dennis Farina, Keely Shaye Smith

Premiered: 1987

Unsolved Mysteries is an American television program, hosted by Robert Stack from 1987 to 2002 and later by Dennis Farina starting in 2008. The show was broadcast first as specials in 1987, then ...more

More Unsolved Mysteries 

The Most Terrifying Paranormal Segments From 'Unsolved Mysteries' #144 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #213 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

7
Snapped is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Laura San Giacomo

Premiered: 2004

Snapped 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 Snapped 

#25 of 53 The Creepiest Crime TV Shows Ever Made #2 of 26 The Best True Crime Reality Series #5 of 36 The Best True Crime Docudramas

8
Cold Justice is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
wendy-aston added Kelly Siegler, Yolanda McClary, Alan Brown

Premiered: 2013

Cold Justice (TNT, 2013) is an American unscripted true crime television series produced by Dick Wolf. The show follows former Harris County, Texas prosecutor Kelly Siegler and a team of ...more
9
American Justice is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Conbon07 added Bill Kurtis

Premiered: 1992

For 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 ...more
10
The FBI Files is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
James Kallstrom, Anthony D. Call, Bob Featherer

Premiered: 1998

The 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 ...more

More The FBI Files 

#24 of 169 The Best Documentary Series & TV Shows #13 of 36 The Best True Crime Docudramas

11
48 Hours is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
zoe-krainik added Maureen Maher, Peter Van Sant, Erin Moriarty

Premiered: 1988

48 Hours is an American documentary/news magazine television series that airs on CBS. The series has been broadcast on the network since January 19, 1988. The program airs Saturdays at 10:00 ...more

More 48 Hours 

#62 of 439 The Funniest '80s Movies #8 of 47 The Best Reality Dramaslisted on The Best Newsmagazine TV Shows & Series

12
America's Most Wanted is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
John Walsh

Premiered: 1988

America'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

More America's Most Wanted 

#54 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #109 of 510 The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked #5 of 12 TV Series Fans Successfully Got Un-Cancelled

13
Disappeared is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Disappeared Christopher Crutchfield Walker, David Van Norman, Heather Ashley Chase
Disappeared 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

More Disappeared 

#22 of 26 The Best True Crime Reality Series #23 of 36 The Best True Crime Docudramas

14
Nightmare Next Door is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
shane-denford added Nightmare Next Door

Premiered: 2011

Nightmare Next Door (Investigation Discovery, 2011) is an American true crime documentary television series. Each episode follows reenactments of murders that rocked small-town America.
15
Solved is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Solved

Premiered: 2008

Solved is an American true crime television series that airs on the Investigation Discovery network. The show also aired on TLC. Debuting on October 13, 2008, Solved is produced in conjunction ...more
16
Deadly Women is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Melissa71 added Lynnanne Zager

Premiered: 2005

Deadly 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", ...more
17
The Jinx: The Life and D... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Robert Durst, Andrew Jarecki, Gary Napoli

Premiered: 2015

The 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 ...more

More The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst 

‘The Jinx’ Is A Documentary Series About An Allegedly Unrepentant Wealthy Murderer #532 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #1 of 21 The Best True Crime Documentaries To Watch

18
A Crime to Remember is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Christina Brown added

Premiered: 2013

Styles 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
19
Killing Fields is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Rodie Sanchez, Aubrey St. Angelo
A cold case television series which takes place on the Discovery Channel. It follows investigators in real time as they try to solve a Louisiana crime which took place in June 1997.
20
20/20 is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
mwalker added Elizabeth Vargas, David Muir, Barbara Walters

Premiered: 1978

20/20 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 ...more

More 20/20 

#127 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #125 of 271 The Best '70s TV Showslisted on The Best Newsmagazine TV Shows & Series

21
City Confidential is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Conbon07 added Paul Winfield, Keith David, David Madison

Premiered: 1999

City Confidential is an American documentary television show, transmitted on the A&E Network, which singled out a community during each episode and investigated a crime that had occurred ...more
22
The New Detectives is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
The New Detectives
The New Detectives: Case Studies in Forensic Science is a documentary true crime television show that aired two to three different cases in forensic science per episode. Episode reruns currently ...more
23
Making a Murderer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Steven Avery, Brendan Dassey, Dean Strang
Making a Murderer (Netflix, 2015) is a crime documentary series written and directed by Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos. The series explores the story of Steven Avery, a man from Manitowoc ...more

More Making a Murderer 

20 Reasons Why Everyone's Crushing on Dean Strang #296 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #9 of 21 The Best True Crime Documentaries To Watch

24
Cops is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
Andrew Fincher, Joe Guay, Wayne Anderson

Premiered: 1988

Cops is an American documentary/reality legal series that follows police officers, constables, sheriff's deputies, and federal agents during patrols and other police activities including vice ...more

More Cops 

#53 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #27 of 284 The Best Reality TV Shows Ever #51 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever

25
Killer Kids is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best True Crime TV Shows
raylee-cooper added Killer Kids Misty Lee, John S. Howell Sr., Lisa Cole
Killer 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