11 Riveting True Crime Programs You Can Watch Right Now

by | November 8, 2016 | Comments

The only thing these shows are guilty of is being so criminally watchable. While it’s clear that not all of these hour-long investigative series are considered “prestige” TV, you’d be lying if you said you haven’t curled up on the couch on a Sunday afternoon and binged a few hours of corny reenactments and disturbing crime documentaries. Is it slightly icky to find entertainment value in stories of murder and mayhem? Yes. But is it also helpful to be better informed about stranger danger? Also yes.

With A&E’s next entry into the genre, The Killing Season ― which, OK, you can’t watch right now, but is premiering this week ― Rotten Tomatoes has rounded up 11 currently airing true-crime options worth a look.

1. The Killing Season 71% | A&E (2016)


You won’t learn the identity of the storied Long Island Serial Killer in The Killing Season (premiering Nov. 12 at 9 p.m. ET) from Executive Producer Alex Gibney, but you will find out why he hasn’t been found. An exposé of police corruption and multi-case conspiracies, the series follows documentarians Joshua Zeman (Cropsey) and Rachel Mills, who dive in to discover why the brutal 2010–11 deaths of 10 sex workers (and other murder and missing person cases like it) go unsolved today. Plus they debunk widely cited theories surrounding the murders, cutting deep and getting us closer to the truth.

2. Making a Murderer 84% | Netflix (2015)

Making a Murderer (Netflix)

Has any other true-crime docuseries captured the cultural zeitgeist quite like Netflix’s red-hot Making a Murderer? Just about everyone relished the opportunity to play detective last winter in the much-debated case of Steven Avery, the alleged (and convicted) murderer of photographer Teresa Halbach. Look for the sequel installment, currently in production.

3. The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst 95% | HBO (2015)

The Jinx (HBO)

This HBO miniseries is unlike any documentary crime series before it in that it sits its main murderous subject down and in the end, gets him to confess. That subject would be 73-year-old Robert Durst, American real estate heir and primary suspect in a trio of early-aught homicides. The final product is edge-of-your-seat riveting.

4. Killing Fields | Discovery Channel (2016)

Killing Fields (Discovery)

“Anywhere in Louisiana, there’s a place to dump a body.” Killing Fields quote properly sets the scene for Discovery’s six-episode series set in a small town outside of Baton Rouge. It follows Detective Rodie Sanchez, who comes out of retirement for a reopened ’97 homicide case that appears to be linked with several other unsolved murders in the Louisiana bayous — aka the Killing Fields.

5. True Nightmares | Investigation Discovery (2015–Present)


If you’re hooked to the true-crime genre for corny melodrama and reenactments, True Nightmares is the show for you. Menacing magician Todd Robinson is on board as the series’ host and narrator, and watching him revisit the true-life mysteries and gruesome murders that give the show its namesake is as deliciously camp as it is nightmarish.

6. Frontline | PBS (1983–Present)

Frontline, Death in St. Augustine (PBS)

There’s a reason Frontline has been on air for over two decades: It has everything. With in-depth documentaries on American politics, international relations, human interest stories, and more, there’s something for everyone. The program also offers a number of engrossing true-crime TV docs. Don’t miss “Death in St. Augustine,” which revisits the suicide of Michelle O’Connell; “The Confessions,” which investigates the Norfolk Four; and “Law and Disorder,” which explores abuse of power within the New Orleans Police Department.

7. Snapped | Oxygen (2004–Present)

Snapped: murder defendants Erik (R) and Lyle Menendez (MIKE NELSON/AFP/Getty Images)

This episodic docuseries stars murderous women who snap and profiles high-profile crimes like the 1994 case of brothers Erik and Lyle Menendez, convicted of killing their wealthy parents. The Oxygen outing interviews friends, family, and law enforcement involved in murder cases to recreate the crime with can’t-look-away intrigue. Its pulpy formula of felonious wives and mothers has kept Snapped going 12 years strong.

8. Death Row Stories | CNN (2014–Present)

Death Row Stories on CNN (Benjamin Lowy/Getty Images)

CNN’s advocacy-minded investigation series has a leg up on TV contemporaries thanks to involvement from Robert Redford (producer via Sundance Productions) and Susan Sarandon (narrator). Sarandon is a particularly nice touch, as she steps back into her Dead Man Walking shoes. Here, weekly stories showcase convicted murderers waiting their lives out on death row, while also examining the political and moral implications of the death penalty.

9. Lockup | MSNBC (2005–Present)

Lockup (MSNBC)

While acclaimed new documentaries like 13th and scripted dramas like Orange Is the New Black unflinchingly delineate what life is like behind bars, Lockup has been doing it for 200 episodes and counting — and it’s built a franchise along the way with Lockup: Raw, Lockup: World Tour, Lockup: Extended Stay, Lockup: Special Investigation, and Life After Lockup.

10. The First 48 | A&E (2004–Present)

the First 48 (A&E)

The first two days into any homicide case are not just the most emotionally exhausting; they’re also the most important from an investigator’s standpoint. This longtime hit series on A&E documents those times with those survived by the victim and the case’s main investigative players.

11. Married With Secrets | Investigation Discovery (2016–)

Married With Secrets (ID)

If you’re prone to trust issues with your significant other, ID’s new eight-part series may not be great for your state of mind, but it sure makes for great TV. Digging up stories of seemingly perfect husbands and wives and the secrets that tear them apart (think: money-hungry love triangles and doctors with a penchant for prostitutes), it proves one case after another that love is indeed a battlefield.

Tag Cloud

USA FX RT History Cartoon Network American Society of Cinematographers TV One Spike independent zero dark thirty Paramount Plus indiana jones IFC Pop young adult vampires Heroines The Academy comic legend marvel comics TCM NBA new york The Witch 2018 Women's History Month razzies fast and furious Lifetime comiccon Mary Poppins Returns toy story singing competition Amazon Prime Video Turner Dark Horse Comics Crackle Horror Pet Sematary revenge Tumblr Anna Paquin Fox Searchlight Disney Channel spinoff DC Universe book adaptation films dramedy DGA Tarantino Captain marvel Disney Plus ITV reboot rt archives VH1 obituary Sneak Peek Biopics Marvel IFC Films italian Reality See It Skip It Kids & Family popular GLAAD critics anthology Mary poppins debate Podcast war YouTube Red AMC cops sitcom know your critic dceu telelvision RT21 mission: impossible basketball superhero finale video Netflix Christmas movies jamie lee curtis Paramount Warner Bros. deadpool ID Music Chernobyl APB PaleyFest hidden camera TV movies serial killer a nightmare on elm street social media slasher Opinion WGN concert south america biopic 73rd Emmy Awards Star Trek football Martial Arts First Look nbcuniversal Christmas hist golden globe awards Video Games Columbia Pictures 4/20 stoner Trophy Talk nature Writers Guild of America natural history dc quibi TLC movie nfl Grammys high school Marathons lord of the rings Paramount Network cinemax worst movies VOD National Geographic rom-coms Polls and Games Nickelodeon Pop TV australia Spring TV travel Apple TV+ Star Wars discovery kids documentaries NYCC Mudbound HBO Go The Purge elevated horror Action Fox News First Reviews CBS Emmys Rocky The Walt Disney Company spy thriller name the review satire Disney streaming service canceled TV shows DC Comics BBC One anime Mindy Kaling talk show harry potter Summer MTV Peacock worst casting french FXX Logo indie zombie hispanic scene in color 72 Emmy Awards TV rotten VICE Tomatazos james bond marvel cinematic universe 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards mutant renewed TV shows Disney+ Disney Plus 2017 Starz cancelled TV shows mcc comic book movie FOX Thanksgiving composers Superheroes dexter Cosplay Best and Worst OneApp Rocketman Infographic Lifetime Christmas movies Arrowverse Hear Us Out Shudder Hallmark Christmas movies series romance festivals television toronto DC streaming service Avengers Ellie Kemper aapi king arthur Certified Fresh adenture saw CMT Tokyo Olympics Extras Legendary tv talk comic book movies Trivia History SXSW Trailer comic books 24 frames 1990s asian-american Nat Geo Television Critics Association Family feel good boxing Watching Series GIFs classics binge LGBTQ 2016 Universal franchise news 45 Character Guide japan Box Office Baby Yoda Shondaland Marvel Studios Netflix aliens crossover teaser OWN breaking bad Sundance period drama The Walking Dead canceled NBC Musical ghosts hollywood TCA Winter 2020 new zealand Amazon Studios screenings docudrama christmas movies prank Lionsgate Freeform Masterpiece YA documentary Premiere Dates Western Comedy politics richard e. Grant Walt Disney Pictures king kong supernatural twilight Alien remakes PlayStation Schedule game show ViacomCBS E! award winner TCA Awards free movies sag awards blockbusters Comic-Con@Home 2021 cartoon DirecTV El Rey halloween tv fresh screen actors guild psycho MSNBC versus transformers 007 ratings space Awards Tour 71st Emmy Awards Broadway heist movie TIFF Sony Pictures Winners diversity WarnerMedia Marvel Television adventure blockbuster Disney book superman Super Bowl universal monsters Stephen King BBC Classic Film cancelled television Syfy rotten movies we love Animation game of thrones spanish spanish language rt labs Superheroe Acorn TV Comic Book Esquire green book zombies Endgame Drama BET YouTube Premium Year in Review Quiz 2020 comedies Teen laika 21st Century Fox emmy awards 99% stand-up comedy Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt San Diego Comic-Con disaster festival black reviews dogs crime Discovery Channel Rock police drama political drama SDCC blaxploitation comics historical drama miniseries 2021 The Arrangement Musicals Pride Month 90s movies Song of Ice and Fire Travel Channel Ovation Wes Anderson Valentine's Day Pacific Islander action-comedy Election President 20th Century Fox biography chucky Comics on TV Film Bravo boxoffice directors Funimation Nominations BET Awards Epix Fall TV strong female leads true crime LGBT Spectrum Originals A&E Winter TV docuseries ABC Family Amazon Calendar jurassic park Showtime CBS All Access animated cancelled Oscars Cannes Lucasfilm godzilla technology Chilling Adventures of Sabrina slashers Emmy Nominations SundanceTV BAFTA latino Hulu ABC Signature spain werewolf medical drama target TBS Country streaming movies psychological thriller TNT MCU Adult Swim pirates of the caribbean halloween USA Network international The CW Holiday Holidays scary movies posters cults Red Carpet PBS romantic comedy Vudu TruTV sports rt labs critics edition golden globes Mystery batman Set visit Black Mirror best criterion New York Comic Con science fiction sequel robots Academy Awards hispanic heritage month Mary Tyler Moore women Binge Guide cars suspense venice children's TV Apple TV Plus Exclusive Video Food Network Britbox GoT witnail HBO TCA what to watch facebook crime thriller Image Comics gangster stop motion trailers Photos 2015 mockumentary X-Men Brie Larson parents Black History Month Pirates cats critic resources TV renewals wonder woman scorecard sequels crime drama Tubi CNN Fantasy Pixar unscripted YouTube FX on Hulu cooking Creative Arts Emmys spider-man streaming TV Land based on movie BBC America kong all-time TCA 2017 adaptation 2019 japanese A24 Hallmark live action Sundance TV Television Academy 93rd Oscars kaiju Crunchyroll dragons Rom-Com Amazon Prime Ghostbusters Turner Classic Movies dark Awards olympics foreign die hard HBO Max Film Festival ABC child's play Elton John Sundance Now joker video on demand thriller justice league Sci-Fi Reality Competition E3 royal family new star wars movies ESPN CW Seed Interview doctor who cancelled TV series Apple Comedy Central monster movies Countdown theme song Toys archives