The following article contains descriptions of graphic violence.
Some of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix are either factual documentaries or dramatic fiction. Many deal with murder mysteries, but fans often seem to be particularly fixated on serial killers, both real and fictitious, their stories and their psychology. Because of the rising interest in true crime and cold cases, series that were inspired by or were meant to document real-life killers are incredibly popular. Each story is more fascinating than the next, and serial killer shows on Netflix are available in abundance. The streaming service has worked to help satiate the appetites of viewers who love the true crime genre with a wide selection of programming that fits the serial killer interest.
Viewers’ intense fascination with serial killers and their backstories continues, and that translates to an ever-growing list of serial killer shows. Whether it’s a story about a real-life killer like the highly documented Ted Bundy, inspired by one, or a completely fictional tale, many lap up the content with fervor, sitting on the edges of their seats to see what happens next. Serial killer TV shows are one of the most binge-able types of shows there are, so it’s no surprise that there are always new titles to make up the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix, with many fascinating options in the genre.
25 Inside The Criminal Mind (2018)
For audience members interested in criminology or the psychology behind criminal acts at all, Inside the Criminal Mind is a pretty fascinating watch. Each episode of the series spotlights a different type of criminal whose life becomes defined by what they do: crime lords, cult leaders, serial killers, etc. Only the first episode of the series highlights serial killers, so audience members don’t have to watch further if that’s all they’re interested in. It’s a broader examination of serial killers compared to some of the more detailed series on Netflix. The documentary series was originally produced in Germany and released there before Netflix picked it up worldwide.
24 The Serpent (2021)
A joint production between Netflix and BBCOne, The Serpent is inspired by real events but is a fictional account of the French serial killer Charles Sobhraj. Sobhraj murdered tourists in Thailand, particularly backpackers, in the 1970s. The eight-part miniseries chronicles the escalation of Sobhraj’s crimes from thief and scam artists to serial murderer. It also is told in a nonlinear fashion with the audience seeing his crimes play out in the 1970s while also seeing an investigation taking place after the fact. Though the pacing of the series is a little slow, it’s still one of the best serial killer shows on Netflix because of the stellar acting from Tahar Rahim in the leading role and Jenna Coleman as his accomplice.
23 Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer (2021)
There are multiple series on Netflix that fall under the “Crime Scene” umbrella. This particular one highlights the killings that plagued Times Square in the 1970s. Specifically, the documentary series kicks off by explaining the finding of bodies in a motel room in Times Square in December 1979 and goes from there.
The Crime Scene series are a unique way to provide documentation of serial killer investigations because they examine how a location and culture can actually help a serial killer to hide their actions. Few documentaries take the same approach. There was a booming sex industry in Times Square in the 1970s, and those who participated in club events or worked the Square give their unique perspectives on what it was like when the deaths of sex workers at the hand of a potential serial killer became public knowledge.
22 Indian Predator: The Diary Of A Serial Killer (2022)
While most serial killer documentaries focus on those in Europe or the United States, and most of them also focus on the same handful of serial killers, Indian Predator: The Diary Of A Serial Killer is different. That’s because it documents a modern-day killer in India. The documentary is framed around the disappearance of Dhirendra Singh, a journalist in India. The journalist’s death is the jumping-off point for the story of Raja Colander, who is responsible for the deaths of at least 15 people and is suspected of cannibalism. Where this documentary is unique is that it features an interview with Colander himself.
21 Somebody (2022)
Somebody is a fictional South Korean drama series that examines the possibility of a serial killer using modern technology to find his victims. In the series, a killer uses a social app to find his victims and ends up connecting with the app developer. The creator of the app just happens to be friends with a police detective investigating the case. A lot of modern crime stories have devoted at least one episode to how social media can play a role in criminal activity. Somebody goes a step further by devoting the entire series to that idea, allowing it to be a much more detailed (though theoretical) approach to the idea.
20 Slasher (2016- )
This anthology series centers on a different story each season. While it originally premiered on Chiller, the first three seasons are available on Netflix, with the fourth available on Shudder. By allowing each season to focus on a different story, it’s like three of the best serial killer shows on Netflix in one.
Each season takes the stereotypical setting and tropes of a slasher movie and brings a fresh story to it. The first is a small town with copycat killings from the main character’s past. The second is former camp counselors picked off after hiding a secret death. Season 3 features a killer taking revenge on those complicit in the death of a man the year before. Each season is an extended horror movie with a different kind of slasher serial killer.
19 Conversations With A Killer: Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes (2022)
The Conversations With A Killer series, like the Crime Scene series, seeks to offer those interested in some of the most famous serial killer cases another look at historic cases they are already familiar with. The catch is that the series all use previously unreleased to the public audio files of interviews with the killers. Of course, the series doesn’t solely use audio files from Jeffrey Dahmer. It also features interviews with family members of victims and investigators, giving a complete picture of the cases.
18 Conversations With A Killer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes (2022)
Like The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, this series features audio from interviews with John Wayne Gacy never released before. It allows the audience a window into who Gacy was beyond the true crime reports they might have read. The difference here is that Gacy is known by attorneys and investigators as a notorious liar, which means the audience has to go into his particular series with the understanding that a lot of the information in Gacy’s interviews is likely lies that investigators then had to parse through. The audience has to do the same.
17 Somewhere Between (2017)
Somewhere Between is actually a remake of the Korean series God’s Gift: 14 Days. The series is more science fiction than true crime, but its mystery surrounds that of a serial killer. It’s a great concept for a series that involves a timeline reset for people who have knowledge of the future.
A news producer’s daughter is the victim of a serial killer she’s been reporting on, and when her grief turns to tragedy, she finds her timeline reset to the week before her daughter’s death. One of her only allies is a detective who experienced a similar reset. Though the series was canceled after 10 episodes, it provided a unique trip through a mystery where certain pieces were already known by the audience.
16 Dig Deeper: The Disappearance Of Birgit Meier (2021)
This German documentary follows one very specific murder case. It’s interesting because the documentary focuses largely on the mistakes made in the initial investigation. When Birgit Meier disappears, the possibility exists that she might simply have vanished on her own, that her death is an isolated incident, or that she’s the victim of a serial killer.
Because the documentary reexamines all of those different avenues and the areas of the investigation in which mistakes were made, it allows the audience to see just how violent criminals can get away with their actions for a serious length of time. It’s a window into a different part of a serial killer investigation instead of strictly the path to cracking the case.
15 Crime Scene: The Texas Killing Fields (2022)
The Crime Scene series has become one of the best additions to Netflix’s serial killer shows. Another documentary, this particular series examines an area of Texas in which several bodies have been found. It’s an area that colloquially has become known as “the killing fields” because of the number of murder victims that have been hidden there.
The documentary doesn’t just follow one of those cases, but multiple cases of victims found in the fields. Each case, and where they go cold, or where they link up, is examined. Interviews occur with both investigators and those connected to the victims to give the audience a complete picture of the cases, making for a very thorough watch.
14 Scream: The Series (2015-2019)
Originally produced for MTV, Scream: The Series is inspired by the Scream movies, but not directly connected to the events within them. The first two seasons and the Halloween special center on the same characters, a group of high school students targeted by someone connected to one of them. The final season does the same but with a whole new cast of characters in a new location.
In the case of both stories told in the series, the murderers could be described as spree killers instead of serial killers since the stories take place over a very short amount of time. They are, however, inspired by serial killers with specific methodologies and feature events that are planned, in some cases, years ahead of time. The series is a great successor to the Scream movies, even though it was canceled after the third season.
13 The Confession Killer (2019)
One of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix is The Confession Killer, but it’s technically not even about a real serial killer. Back in the ’80s, Henry Lee Lucas confessed to murdering more than 200 people across the U.S. However, in a strange twist, it was determined that he was lying and was not, in fact, responsible for any of them. Another of Netflix’s many true-crime series, The Confession Killer looks at the events that led up to Lucas’ false confessions and examines the reasoning behind his actions. It also includes interviews with a number of people in law enforcement and the media who worked on the case.
12 The Raincoat Killer: Chasing A Predator In Korea (2021)
Back in 2004, Yoo Young-chul was convicted of heinous crimes, including not only multiple murders, consisting mainly of sex workers and elderly wealthy women, but he also burned, mutilated, and even ate the livers of some. It is one of the most horrendous cases ever in South Korea, so it’s no surprise it got worldwide attention.
Netflix’s story is a docu-series that runs through the story of Young-chul’s wrath throughout Seoul as well as the authorities and the hunt for the horrific killer. One of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix, this case is particularly chilling as Young-chul’s methods are elaborately brutal. If anything holds this series back it’s that the documentary spends too much time on psychological analysis and rushes through the actual investigations.
11 YOU (2018 – )
What makes Joe Goldberg so captivating is that, despite having killed and kidnapped multiple people, he believes that he is inherently good and that the person drove him to do what he did. Definitely one of the best fictional serial killer TV shows on Netflix, YOU makes this clear by giving viewers a glimpse into Joe’s inner thoughts via an ongoing internal monologue of him justifying his moves to himself.
Joe has an obsessive personality, and, when he finds the object of his affection and desire, it can make him do just about anything. As the show progresses, he gets worse and worse, and, even though Joe is a very disturbed individual, he manages to come across as charming and likable to others. In fact, YOU even manages to present thought-provoking quotes about love and life, both from Joe and other supporting characters.
10 The Ripper (2020)
One of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix is The Ripper, which covers the winding case of the Yorkshire Ripper in Britain, whose crimes are highly reminiscent of the infamous Jack the Ripper. Through the use of never-before-seen footage and a massive number of police interviews, The Ripper educates the audience on the serial killer case piece by piece, leaving not a crumb of information behind.
The docuseries covers everything about the Yorkshire Ripper case and its similarities to Jack the Ripper in exhaustive detail, including exactly how much manpower went into solving one of the most iconic cases in U.K. history. That being said, the four-part docuseries does move at an alarming pace, and some viewers can get lost along the way because of this and the sheer amount of information that’s being presented.
9 Memories Of A Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes (2021)
Memories of a Murderer: The Nilsen Tapes is one of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix right now, and covers the infamous case of Scottish serial murderer Dennis Nilsen. Nilsen is a particularly gruesome figure, as he’s responsible for killing over 12 men and boys and attempting seven other murders. In addition to this, he was also a necrophile who would perform a bizarre ritual and then dispose of his victims’ remains by burning them or flushing them down the toilet.
The Nilsen Tapes is unique in that it combines interviews, archive footage, and accounts from people who actually knew Nilsen (who was played by David Tennant in Des) to paint an accurate picture of the serial killer’s psychology.
8 The Sons Of Sam: A Descent Into Darkness (2021)
Anyone familiar with the David Berkowitz case knows that he called himself the Son of Sam, confessing after capture to being a member of a satanic cult and calling the murders rituals. He pled guilty to at least eight shootings and killing six people in New York, qualifying him for serial killer status.
In one of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix, movie star Paul Giamatti narrates as the voice of Maury Terry, a journalist who worked on the case for 40 years. But there’s an interesting angle to The Sons of Sam: Terry was convinced that Berkowitz did not act alone. This series, dubbed one of the best films and TV shows based on the Son of Sam murders, explores his theories.
7 The End Of The F***ing World (2017 – 2019)
This British dark comedy-drama takes a comedic look at the idea of serial killers, offering up a one-of-a-kind perspective wholly unique from other true-crime series. At the center of one of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix is James, a 17-year-old high schooler who believes that he is a psychopath. Alyssa, meanwhile, is drawn to him in hopes that he can help provide a meaningful escape from her horrid home life.
Based on a series of mini-comics of the same name by Charles Forsman, James kills animals, mostly, but he has humans on his radar and has decided that Alyssa might be a suitable victim. The End of the F***ing World features characters that don’t really have many redeeming qualities, but its storyline exceeded that of Forsman’s comic and ended on its own terms rather than being canceled.
6 Don’t F**k With Cats: Hunting An Internet Killer (2019)
Another docuseries and one of the best serial killer TV shows on Netflix, Don’t F**k With Cats is based on Luka Magnotta, a young man in Montreal who murdered Chinese international student, Jun Lin, and was eventually caught. He wasn’t technically a serial killer, but those who hunted him were convinced that he was about to become one. Plus, he did harm and kill animals.
The docuseries focuses on internet sleuths who came across videos of Magnotta harming and killing cats. After seeing the content and being horrified by it, a group of them decided to go on their own investigation to uncover the identity of the man in the videos for fear that his violence would escalate to humans.
This story originally appeared on Screenrant