Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich

(Photo by Netflix)

The 50 Best True-Crime Docuseries

While it might seem like the proliferation of true-crime in pop culture has been a trend of the last five or ten years, in reality the genre has been a staple for at least the last 100. The National Enquirer became popular when it printed gruesome details from criminal cases, and the macabre appeal of not only learning about horrific crimes, but also examining the psychology of those who perpetrate them and honoring the victims is more popular than ever.

So today, instead of mega-popular TV newsmagazines like Dateline and other shows holding down the true-crime fort, we also have podcasts, streaming services, and even entire networks devoted to in-depth reporting on real-life cases. Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max are already frequent contributors to the true-crime discourse, and the trend isn’t slowing. Peacock gets in on the action with John Wayne Gacy: Devil in Disguise, which premieres on March 25; IMDb TV will stream five-part docuseries Moment Of Truth, about the murder of basketball legend Michael Jordan’s father James, starting on April 2; This Is a Robbery: The World’s Biggest Art Heist drops on Netflix on April 7; and on April 18, Starz unleashes Confronting a Serial Killer from Joe Berlinger (Emmy winner for 1996 documentary film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills). And that’s not to mention the near-daily debut of new specials on broadcast and cable that examine true crime in some way, shape or form.

For this roundup, though, we’ve decided to focus on the true-crime docuseries that dig a little deeper into cases both famous and relatively unknown, from examinations into well-known public figures (Jeffrey Epstein: Filthy Rich, Allen v. Farrow, Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer, Surviving R. Kelly) to deep dives into smaller cases (Making A Murderer, How to Fix a Drug Scandal, The Staircase). These are the series that go deeper than a typical episode of Dateline or a two-hour documentary — they spend hours dissecting the people and circumstances involved in the cases that captivate audiences.

The criteria was simple: Each docuseries must have at least five reviews from critics, giving it a Tomatometer score, and that score must be Fresh at 60% or higher. If a docuseries you love isn’t on this list, chances are it doesn’t have enough reviews to meet that threshold — yet. Take a look at the list below next time you’re in the mood for a new true-crime binge.

What’s your favorite true-crime docuseries? Let us know in the comments. 

Adjusted Score: 64.139%
Critics Consensus: A Wilderness of Errors' investigation of a well-trodden case struggles to justify its runtime - still, those comfortable with ambiguity may find its inconclusiveness strangely appealing.
Synopsis: When Army surgeon Jeffrey MacDonald is sent to prison for killing his family, a storm of swirling narratives challenges our... [More]

Adjusted Score: 67.077%
Critics Consensus: Don't F**k With Cats offers an intriguing tale, but questionable intent and muddled storytelling make it a hard sell for anyone but true crime completists.
Synopsis: A twisted criminal's gruesome videos drive a group of amateur online sleuths to launch a risky manhunt that pulls them... [More]

Adjusted Score: 67.465%
Critics Consensus: Though it can't help but feel a little incomplete given the circumstances, The Killer Inside crafts a compelling overview of a series of tragic events.
Synopsis: As a gifted young football athlete from Bristol, Connecticut, Aaron Hernandez had capitalized rapidly on his promise, playing for a... [More]

Adjusted Score: 68.79%
Critics Consensus: Compelling interviews and a slick style help Fear City entertain, but those already familiar with the case will find few new insights.
Synopsis: Throughout the 1970s and '80s, the "Five Families" of the New York mafia--Bonanno, Colombo, Gambino, Genovese and Luccese--held a powerful,... [More]

Adjusted Score: 34.472%
Synopsis: The murders of ten sex workers in Gilgo Beach, Long Island are investigated.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 75.47%
Critics Consensus: Though Night Stalker: The Hunt for a Serial Killer succumbs to the sensational side of true crime, it paints a fascinating, chilling portrait of a killer and the city he terrorized.
Synopsis: Beneath the sunlit glamour of 1985 LA lurks a relentlessly evil serial killer. In this true-crime story, two detectives won't... [More]

Adjusted Score: 74.847%
Critics Consensus: The Innocent Man will satisfy true crime aficionados looking for a slickly packaged mystery, but viewers seeking a more probing deconstruction of the justice system may come away disappointed.
Synopsis: In 1982, 21-year-old Debra Sue "Debbie" Carter is raped and killed inside her home. In 1984, another Ada woman, 24-year-old... [More]

Captive: Season 1 (2016)

Adjusted Score: 41.617%
Synopsis: A docuseries examining hostage situations through the eyes of victims, negotiators and kidnappers.... [More]

The Vow (2020)

Synopsis: A look at NXIVM, a self-improvement group and multi-level marketing company that disintegrated with criminal charges brought against its highest... [More]
Directed By: Karim Amer

Adjusted Score: 42.063%
Synopsis: A chronicle of hip-hop artist Tekashi 6ix9ine's rise to notoriety, featuring an exclusive interview with the rapper after his release... [More]

Adjusted Score: 32.552%
Synopsis: A new narrative emerges as Ted Bundy's longtime girlfriend and her daughter break their silence.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 73.405%
Synopsis: Investigators and witnesses recall how a modern-day Jack the Ripper terrorized the north of England during the late 1970s.... [More]
Directed By: Ellena Wood

Adjusted Score: 71.827%
Critics Consensus: Though The Family's open ended-ness undermines its impact, it manages to craft a compelling picture of a shocking truth.
Synopsis: Investigative journalists expose The Family, a Christian fundamentalist organization quietly operating in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 81.409%
Critics Consensus: Evil Genius makes up for a lack of conviction and nuance with an intriguing sense of discovery and plenty of entertaining insanity.
Synopsis: In 2003 in Erie, Pennsylvania, a robbery gone wrong and a terrifying public murder capture the nation's attention, and a... [More]
Directed By: Barbara Schroeder

Adjusted Score: 73.405%
Critics Consensus: The Trials of Gabriel Fernandez is a sobering, if at times too sensational for its own good, exposé of a very broken system.
Synopsis: In 2013, 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez died as a result of horrific and prolonged abuse by his mother and her boyfriend.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 83.963%
Critics Consensus: A worthy Serial supplement that isn't without flaws, The Case Against Adnan Syed fleshes out the life of Hae Min Lee and gives context to in the complicated boon of true crime entertainment.
Synopsis: The series will explore the 1999 disappearance and murder of 18-year-old Baltimore County high school student Hae Min Lee, and... [More]

Adjusted Score: 84.581%
Critics Consensus: It lacks new insight, but by focusing on the stories of survivors Filthy Rich sheds light on the lasting impact of Epstein's crimes.
Synopsis: Leading up to his 2019 arrest, mysterious tycoon Jeffrey Epstein was accused of abusing women and underage girls for decades,... [More]

Lorena: Season 1 (2018)

Adjusted Score: 84.614%
Critics Consensus: Fascinating and frustrating, Lorena's ample footage and fresh perspective on a long-mocked moment provide welcome context and vindication to the woman at its center -- even if its reenactments don't quite measure up.
Synopsis: Directed by acclaimed documentary filmmaker Joshua Rofé (Lost for Life), Lorena reveals the hidden truths in the notorious case of... [More]

Adjusted Score: 86.889%
Critics Consensus: Allen v. Farrow unearths new evidence in a well-known case to craft a compelling - if one-sided - indictment of society's complicity in upholding powerful people over seeking justice for those they've wronged.
Synopsis: HBO Documentary Film's ALLEN v. FARROW, from award-winning investigative filmmakers Kirby Dick & Amy Ziering and Amy Herdy, is a... [More]
Directed By: Kirby Dick

Adjusted Score: 44.713%
Synopsis: The five-part series reexamines one of the most infamous crimes in recent American history ? the 1986 killing of Jennifer... [More]
Starring: Alex Kapp Horner

Adjusted Score: 52.369%
Synopsis: From 1959 to 1963, a mysterious attacker terrorized Perth, Australia, committing random and extraordinarily violent crimes. Determined to find the... [More]

Making a Murderer (2015)

Synopsis: Filmed over a 10-year period, Making a Murderer is an unprecedented real-life thriller about a DNA exoneree who, while in... [More]
Directed By: Moira Demos

Trial by Media (2020)

Synopsis: In this true crime documentary series, history's most dramatic trials are examined with an emphasis on how the media may... [More]

Adjusted Score: 48.991%
Synopsis: In 2013, Massachusetts State Police arrest 35-year-old crime drug lab lab chemist Sonja Farak for tampering with evidence: and that... [More]

Adjusted Score: 57.292%
Synopsis: Heaven's Gate: The Cult of Cults is a thorough examination of the infamous UFO cult through the eyes of its... [More]

Adjusted Score: 91.975%
Critics Consensus: A bizarre true crime story you have to see to believe, Tiger King is a messy and captivating portrait of obsession gone terribly wrong.
Synopsis: Among the eccentrics and cult personalities in the stranger-than-fiction world of big cat owners, few stand out more than Joe... [More]
Directed By: Eric Goode

Outcry: Season 1 (2020)

Adjusted Score: 65.186%
Synopsis: When a horrendous crime bitterly divides a community, guilt comes easy while the truth eludes them.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 65.186%
Synopsis: In 1999, after losing his son in a drug-related shooting in New Orleans and lacking answers from police, a small... [More]

Adjusted Score: 90.93%
Critics Consensus: Like something out of a movie, McMillions effectively -- if not always artfully -- captures the chaos of this once-in-a-lifetime, very real con and the colorful cast of characters at its center.
Synopsis: The story of an ex-cop turned security auditor who rigged McDonald's Monopoly game promotion for a decade, stealing millions of... [More]
Directed By: James Lee Hernandez

Adjusted Score: 92.668%
Critics Consensus: Wormwood's real-life mystery unfolds in hypothetical tendrils guided by Errol Morris' singular vision and style that will keep viewers engaged despite the four-hour run time.
Synopsis: Combining a virtuosic performance by Peter Sarsgaard with Morris' legendary interview style, Wormwood examines this case from every possible angle,... [More]

Adjusted Score: 89.874%
Critics Consensus: Compelling, but challenging, The Devil Next Door can be uncomfortable viewing, but essential interviews and an empathetic eye come together to shed light on an important story.
Synopsis: A Cleveland grandfather is brought to trial in Israel, accused of being the infamous Nazi death camp guard known as... [More]

Adjusted Score: 88.788%
Critics Consensus: Investigating an outrageous but true story with restraint, Murder Among the Mormons is entertaining true-crime pulp and a fascinating examination of a community.
Synopsis: High-stakes exploits turn deadly - and shake a global church to its core - in this extraordinary true crime story. ... [More]
Directed By: Jared Hess

Adjusted Score: 93.035%
Critics Consensus: Explosive, but never exploitive, Love Fraud tells a thrilling tale of online dating gone terribly wrong with expert precision and a welcome dose of empathy.
Synopsis: For 20 years, Richard Scott Smith has committed a string of identify fraud crimes by preying on unsuspecting women seeking... [More]
Directed By: Rachel Grady

Adjusted Score: 94.465%
Critics Consensus: Atlanta's Missing and Murdered: The Lost Children's thorough examination of an unsettling circumstance is as gripping as it is chilling.
Synopsis: ATLANTA'S MISSING AND MURDERED: THE LOST CHILDREN offers a never-before-seen look at the abduction and murder of at least 30... [More]

Adjusted Score: 96.986%
Critics Consensus: The Staircase -- in its newly expanded form -- offers a gripping, detailed depiction of the complex justice system, even if the overall narrative lacks objectivity.
Synopsis: Documentary series focusing on a murder case in North Carolina.... [More]

Surviving R. Kelly (2019)

Synopsis: Women emerge from the shadows and unite their voices to share their stories.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 96.768%
Critics Consensus: Disturbing themes and an engrossing blend of interviews and dramatizations make The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst a docu-series that merits further pursuit.
Synopsis: A profile of Robert Durst, the scion of a wealthy New York real-estate family who has been accused of three... [More]

Adjusted Score: 98.906%
Critics Consensus: Director Liz Garbus smartly centers I'll Be Gone in the Dark around the late Michelle McNamara's passionate efforts, weaving together a heavy, but important tapestry of trauma, obsession, and survival.
Synopsis: I'll Be Gone in the Dark is based on the book of the same name and explores writer Michelle McNamara's... [More]

Adjusted Score: 98.604%
Critics Consensus: Director Erin Lee Carr expertly blends journalistic edge and empathy in I Love You, Now Die to create a concise, compelling, and refreshingly exploitation-free exploration of a complicated crime.
Synopsis: After 18-year-old Conrad Roy killed himself in his car in Fairhaven, Mass., police discovered text messages in which his girlfriend,... [More]

Adjusted Score: 98.186%
Critics Consensus: The Keepers draws on riveting, real-life terror to expose long-buried secrets -- and tells a brilliantly assembled story along the way.
Synopsis: A deep dive into the unsolved murder of a nun and the mysteries that surround her death decades later.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 100.694%
Critics Consensus: Wild Wild Country succeeds as an intriguing examination of a forgotten piece of American history that must be seen to be believed.
Synopsis: Over six episodes, Directors Chapman Way and Maclain Way (The Battered Bastards of Baseball) and executive producers Mark and Jay... [More]

Adjusted Score: 44.892%
Synopsis: No One Saw A Thing examines an unsolved murder in the American Heartland and the corrosive effects of vigilantism in... [More]

The Confession Tapes (2017)

Synopsis: This docuseries highlights cases where murder convicts claim they were coerced into confessions, and are in fact, not guilty.... [More]

Adjusted Score: 56.424%
Synopsis: The story of a teenager wrongfully charged with theft and jailed at Riker's Island prison for over 1,000 days in... [More]

Free Meek: Season 1 (2019)

Adjusted Score: 80.806%
Synopsis: Philadelphia rapper Meek Mill?s 2017 arrest for probation violations sparked national outrage. A re-investigation of his original case explores allegations... [More]

The Innocence Files (2020)

Synopsis: The Innocence Files shines a light on the untold personal stories behind eight cases of wrongful conviction that the nonprofit... [More]
Directed By: Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney

Adjusted Score: 89.518%
Synopsis: Filmmaker Madison Hamburg searches for answers surrounding the 2010 murder of his mother, Barbara Hamburg, who was brutally killed near... [More]

Adjusted Score: 88.341%
Critics Consensus: Thoughtful and heartbreaking, Rest in Power acts as both a sensitive exploration of a unthinkable moment in time and an examination of a broken system.
Synopsis: The fatal encounter between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman and the subsequent trial polarized the nation, sparking outrage and protests... [More]
Directed By: Jenner Furst

Adjusted Score: 97.656%
Critics Consensus: With compelling firsthand accounts and plenty of expert insights, Seduced is harrowing account of the startling ease with which a cult can consume a person's life.
Synopsis: This four-part documentary series chronicles the extraordinary and harrowing journey of India Oxenberg -- the daughter of a Hollywood actress... [More]
Starring: India Oxenberg

Adjusted Score: 101.208%
Critics Consensus: An intoxicating blend of historical footage, candid interviews, and animation that deftly captures Liz Carmichael's incredible life, The Lady and the Dale is a wild ride.
Synopsis: The saga of 1970s entrepreneur Elizabeth Carmichael, who rose to fame with her promotion of The Dale, a three-wheeled, fuel-efficient... [More]
Directed By: Zackary Drucker

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