Crime dramas have been a staple of television and film for decades, captivating audiences with their thrilling storylines, complex characters, and suspenseful plot twists. From gritty police procedurals to intense psychological thrillers, the genre has produced some of the most memorable and iconic shows of all time.
With so many great crime dramas out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. As an expert in this field, I have compiled a list of some of the best crime dramas that are must-watch for any fan of the genre.
Whether you’re in the mood for a classic whodunit or a contemporary thriller, these shows are sure to satisfy your craving for suspense and intrigue. So, get ready to dive into the world of crime and mystery with these top picks for the best crime dramas.
Best Crime Dramas You Need to Binge-Watch Right Now
“The Wire” is a highly acclaimed crime drama that premiered on HBO in 2002 and ran for five seasons. The show was created by David Simon, a former journalist who spent years covering crime and politics in Baltimore. The series is known for its intricate storytelling, complex characters, and its portrayal of the inner workings of a city.
Set in Baltimore, the show follows the drug trade and law enforcement as they navigate their respective worlds. The show offers a nuanced portrayal of the city and the social and economic factors that contribute to crime. The show explores the politics and bureaucracy of law enforcement, as well as the human cost of the drug trade.
One of the hallmarks of the show is its portrayal of complex and multi-dimensional characters. The show features a large and diverse ensemble cast, including drug dealers, police officers, politicians, and members of the community. The characters are not always clearly defined as “good” or “bad”, but instead are portrayed as complex individuals with their own motivations and struggles.
“The Wire” has been praised for its realism and its attention to detail. The show’s creators worked closely with real police officers, drug dealers, and other members of the community to create a realistic portrayal of life in Baltimore. The show also tackles important social issues such as poverty, race, and institutional corruption.
“Breaking Bad” is a critically acclaimed television series that aired from 2008 to 2013. It follows the story of Walter White (played by Bryan Cranston), a high school chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer and turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine to provide for his family after he’s gone.
The show explores themes of morality, desperation, and the consequences of actions, as Walter descends into a life of crime and becomes increasingly embroiled in the dangerous world of drug trafficking. Along the way, he must navigate relationships with his former student and partner, Jesse Pinkman (played by Aaron Paul), his DEA agent brother-in-law, Hank (played by Dean Norris), and his wife, Skyler (played by Anna Gunn).
Throughout its five seasons, “Breaking Bad” received critical acclaim for its strong writing, complex characters, and captivating storyline. The show won numerous awards, including 16 Primetime Emmy Awards and two Golden Globe Awards. It has since become a cultural phenomenon and is often cited as one of the greatest television dramas of all time.
“True Detective” is an anthology crime drama series that first premiered in 2014. Created by Nic Pizzolatto, each season features a new cast, a new storyline, and a new setting, but all follow a similar format of exploring the lives of detectives and the cases they are investigating.
The show is known for its dark and gritty tone, as well as its exploration of philosophical and psychological themes. Each season typically covers a single case, with the detectives working to solve it while dealing with their own personal demons and challenges.
The first season of “True Detective” starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart, respectively. The season was set in Louisiana and followed the two detectives as they investigated a bizarre murder case spanning multiple years.
The second season starred Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn, among others, and was set in California. The season followed a group of detectives and criminals as they navigated a conspiracy involving corruption, organized crime, and politics.
The third season starred Mahershala Ali and was set in the Ozarks, exploring a case involving missing children and spanning multiple decades.
The show has been praised for its strong performances, its intricate storytelling, and its exploration of the darker side of humanity. Overall, “True Detective” is a must-watch for fans of crime dramas who are looking for something that is both intense and thought-provoking.
“Mindhunter” is a Netflix original based on the true crime book “Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit” by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. The show is set in the late 1970s and early 1980s and follows two FBI agents, Holden Ford (played by Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (played by Holt McCallany), who interview convicted serial killers in order to understand their psychology and behavior in order to solve ongoing cases.
The show is a character-driven drama that explores the psychological toll of investigating serial crimes and the ethical dilemmas faced by the agents as they delve deeper into the minds of some of the most notorious criminals in history. The series also delves into the personal lives of the agents and their relationships with each other and their families, providing a well-rounded portrayal of the challenges they face both on and off the job.
“Mindhunter” has been praised for its realistic portrayal of criminal profiling and its attention to detail in its depiction of the late 1970s and early 1980s. The show has been renewed for two seasons, and while there are currently no plans for a third season, fans of the show remain hopeful for its return.
“Narcos” is a gripping crime drama series that chronicles the rise and fall of the Medellin drug cartel in Colombia, and the efforts of the DEA agents who tried to take them down. The show is based on real-life events and offers a thrilling and often brutal look at the world of drug trafficking.
The series centers around the notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar, played by Wagner Moura, who is shown as a ruthless and cunning criminal who will stop at nothing to maintain his power and wealth. The story begins in the late 1970s when Escobar first begins his rise to power in the cocaine trade and follows his journey through the 1980s as he becomes one of the wealthiest and most powerful men in Colombia.
As the DEA becomes increasingly involved in the drug war, they send agents Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal) to Colombia to help bring down Escobar and his organization. The agents are met with a corrupt and dangerous environment, as they face not only the drug traffickers but also the corrupt police and politicians who protect them.
Throughout the series, viewers are taken on a thrilling and often violent journey through the world of drug trafficking, corruption, and power struggles. The show offers a fascinating look at the complex relationships between criminals, law enforcement, and politicians, and the human cost of the drug war.
“The Sopranos” is a critically acclaimed crime drama series that originally aired on HBO from 1999 to 2007. Created by David Chase, the show centers around the life of Tony Soprano (played by the late James Gandolfini), a New Jersey-based mob boss who struggles to balance his criminal activities with his personal life.
Throughout the show’s six seasons, we see Tony deal with various challenges, including his relationship with his wife Carmela (played by Edie Falco), his two children Meadow (played by Jamie-Lynn Sigler) and A.J. (played by Robert Iler), and his mother Livia (played by Nancy Marchand).
The show is known for its complex characters, sharp dialogue, and innovative storytelling techniques. It also explores themes such as loyalty, betrayal, and the blurred lines between right and wrong. The show’s finale is widely regarded as one of the best in TV history and left fans debating its meaning for years.
Ozark is another best crime dramas that premiered on Netflix in 2017. The show is created by Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams and stars Jason Bateman, who also serves as the director and executive producer of the series.
The show follows the story of a financial planner named Marty Byrde, played by Jason Bateman, who moves with his family from the Chicago suburbs to a summer resort community called Ozark in Missouri. The move is an attempt to launder money for a drug cartel after Marty’s dealings with a Mexican drug lord go wrong.
The series delves into the complex relationships between Marty, his wife Wendy (played by Laura Linney), and their two children, as they try to navigate the dangerous world of drug trafficking and money laundering. Along the way, they must deal with corrupt law enforcement, rival drug dealers, and their own moral dilemmas as they attempt to protect their families and stay alive.
The show has been praised for its tense plot, strong performances, and its depiction of the darker aspects of the American dream. It has been compared to other popular crime dramas like Breaking Bad and The Sopranos and has received critical acclaim for its writing, direction, and cinematography. Ozark has also been recognized with several awards, including Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Bateman’s performance and for outstanding drama series.
Best Crime Dramas: Conclusion
Crime dramas have captivated audiences for decades with their complex storylines, flawed characters, and suspenseful plot twists. From classic whodunits to contemporary thrillers, the genre has produced some of the most iconic shows in television history. Whether you’re looking for a gritty police procedural or an intense psychological thriller, there is a crime drama out there that will satisfy your craving for suspense and intrigue.