The top 16 true crime documentaries on Netflix: From The Staircase to Our Father - the best true crime to stream now

We round up the best true crime documentaries to binge watch on Netflix UK, including The Puppet Master, Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness, and The Staircase.

By Sophia Moir Updated: 3 May 2022 - 4.19pm
Netflix The Staircase TV still

If it’s true crime you’re looking for, Netflix is your best bet for a binge-athon.

Everyone’s heard of Making A Murderer - and both seasons are streaming now on the service. But there’s loads more true crime documentaries on there to fill a lazy weekend.

From one-off documentary films like The Tinder Swindler, Abducted in Plain Sight and Our Father, to full series like Tiger King, The Puppet Master and Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story, we reveal the best true crime documentaries to watch on Netflix.

Plus, catch up on true crime documentary The Staircase ahead of the release of the HBO drama of the same name, starring Colin Firth as Michael Peterson and Toni Collette as Kathleen Peterson. 

All you need to know about HBO drama The Staircase

What to watch on Netflix in May

Our Father

How can I watch it?

Stream Our Father on Netflix from 11 May.

What's it about?

Our Father is a shocking true crime documentary film from Emmy-winning producer Jason Blum (The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst) about a top fertility doctor who had a sickening secret: he was using his own sperm.

Decades later, after a woman's at-home DNA test revealed multiple half-siblings, his “children” banded together to pursue justice. 

Why watch it?

After the chilling first trailer for Our Father was released, Netflix fans immediately added it to their must-watch lists, with one fan commenting: "Netflix is killing it with these documentaries! This story is crazy. Can’t wait to watch." Another added: "Netflix should rebrand itself and just become a documentary powerhouse; they’re [sic] content in that genre is incredible."

Jimmy Savile: A British Horror Story

How can I watch it?

The two-part series is available to watch on Netflix now.

What's it about? 

Jimmy Savile was one of the UK’s most beloved TV personalities. Shortly after his death in 2011, an investigation prompted more than 450 horrific allegations of sexual assault and abuse, with victims as young as five.

The documentary examines, through extensive archive footage, the evil within Jimmy and delves into how he managed to fool an entire nation for four decades.

Why watch it? 

The documentary includes rare BBC TV archive footage, which the BBC sold to the makers of the show, and donated the £80,000 licensing fee to its charity Children In Need.

According to the Daily Mail, it's thought the BBC licensed the footage because it regarded the documentary as serious and didn't compromised any of Savile’s victims.

The Puppet Master: Hunting the Ultimate Conman

The Puppet Master Netflix

How can I watch it?

The three-part series is available to watch on Netflix now.

What's it about? 

This harrowing documentary series tells the story of one of Britain’s biggest conmen – Robert Hendy-Freegard, a former car salesman who pretends to be an MI5 agent to entrap many women and one man in his web of lies, making them fear for their lives while swindling huge sums of money out of them. 

Why watch it? 

The Puppet Master offers a facinating insight into how coercive absue works - mixing elements of fear and love into a truly proposterious secret agent ruse. Seeing how Freegard's actions are still tearing a family apart today is heartbreaking. 

The Tinder Swindler

THE TINDER SWINDLER. Documentary subject AYLEEN CHARLOTTE in THE TINDER SWINDLER. 2022 Netflix, Inc.

How can I watch it?

The documentary film comes to Netflix on 2 February.

What's it about? 

A brazen conman who takes to Tinder to pose as a playboy billionaire and swindle vast sums of money out of unsuspecting women looking for love. When the women discover his deceit they hatch a plan to give him his comeuppence. 

Why watch it? 

It's a cautionary tale for anyone who's ever swiped right. Plus, it's from the same producers who gave us the jaw-dropping Netflix documentary Don’t F*** With Cats.

Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness

Tiger King still Netflix

How can I watch it?

All seven episodes of Tiger King are streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

A zoo owner spirals out of control amid a cast of eccentric characters in this true murder-for-hire story from the underworld of big cat breeding.

Why watch it?

With unprecedented access to big cat owners across the US, some of the characters in Tiger King have to be seen to be believed. 

Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel

How can I watch it?

All four episodes are available on Netflix now. This is the first season of the Crime Scene series, so look out for more in the future.

What's it about?

This documentary focuses on the infamous Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles, which has been linked to some of the city's most notorious crimes, and in particular one of those mysteries - the disappearance of college student Elisa Lam.

Why watch it?

Directed by Joe Berlinger, who also made Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, you can expect to be gripped throughout the series.

Don't F**k With Cats: Hunting an Internet Killer

Don't F**k With Cats still Netflix

How can I watch it?

All three episodes of Don't F**k With Cats are streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

A twisted criminal's gruesome videos drive a group of amateur online sleuths and animal lovers to launch a risky manhunt that pulls them into a dark underworld.

Why watch it?

Critics have called Don't F**k with Cats one of Netflix's "most compelling true crime docuseries to date".

Making A Murderer

Making A Murderer still Netflix

How can I watch it?

Making A Murderer seasons 1 and 2 are streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

One of Netflix's most successful series of all time, Making a Murderer is about Steven Avery, a man exonerated after spending almost two decades behind bars for a crime he didn’t commit. However, shortly after his release he was arrested again for the murder of a 25-year-old female photographer. 

Series 1 explores the troubled life of Steven that led up to his accused crime and whether his case should be officially reviewed. Series 2 has exclusive access to Steven and his co-defendant and nephew Brendan Dassey, their families and the legal teams fighting for justice on their behalf.

Why watch it?

The first series of Making A Murderer was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon, taking the true crime documentary to a whole new level when it was released in 2015.

Abducted in Plain Sight

Abducted in Plain Sight still Netflix

How can I watch it?

One-off documentary film Abducted in Plain Sight is streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

Abducted in Plain Sight is the twisting, turning, stranger-than-fiction true story of the Brobergs - a naive, church-going Idaho family that fell under the spell of a sociopathic neighbour who abducted their twelve-year-old daughter. Twice.

Why watch it?

The overwhelming response to the documentary was shock and disbelief. As Vanity Fair asks: "How on earth could this possibly have happened, and how did their neighbour manage to entrap the Brobergs in such a web of trust?"

Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes

Ted Bundy Netflix still Netflix

How can I watch it?

Documentary series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

Ted Bundy was a serial killer, rapist and kidnapper who terrorised the US during the 1970s. He confessed to 30 murders, though detectives fear the true toll could be higher. The four-part series examines his killings as well as the media frenzy surrounding his trial.

Why watch it?

Emmy winner Joe Berlinger directs Conversations With A Killer, which features previously unheard audio of interviews with Bundy while he was on death row in Florida.

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox still Netflix

How can I watch it?

One-off documentary film Amanda Knox is available to stream on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

The film tells the story of the trial, conviction and acquittal of Amanda Knox for the murder of exchange student Meredith Kercher in Italy. In the film, Amanda is given the unique opportunity to redeem herself once and for all by explaining in her own words exactly what happened. But the people closest to the case, including the detectives and her ex-boyfriend, provide their own illuminations as this one-off documentary unfolds.

Why watch it?

The 2016 documentary film was nominated for two Emmy Awards including Outstanding Documentary.

Evil Genius

Evil Genius Netflix

How can I watch it?

Documentary series Evil Genius: the True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist is streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

Evil Genius is a docuseries that tells the tale of a crime far stranger than fiction. It’s about a bank heist gone terribly wrong that resulted in a middle aged pizza delivery man being blown up by a bomb that was clamped around his neck.

Why watch it?

The docuseries was rated highly by critics, praising it for not just exploring the evidence behind the crimes, but also the lives of those that it impacted. You’ll be left speechless by the end.

The Staircase

How can I watch it?

All 13 episodes of The Staircase are available to stream on Netflix now, including three episodes exclusive to Netflix.

What’s it about?

The Staircase examines the death that captured a nation - that of American crime writer Michael Peterson’s second wife, Kathleen Peterson. 

Discovered dead under mysterious circumstances at the bottom of the couple’s staircase, Michael became a murder suspect and the star of a story that captured the imagination of a nation for more than a decade. 

Ultimately you as the viewer will be left to decide whether he did kill Kathleen, or indeed whether any of the alternative theories are more plausible.

Why watch it?

The Staircase has been labelled "one of the most riveting true crime documentaries of all time" by critics.

Colin Firth and Toni Collette star in HBO drama series The Staircase

The Keepers

The Keepers image Netflix

How can I watch it?

All seven episodes of The Keepers are available to stream on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

The Keepers examines the decades-old murder of Sister Catherine Cesnik and its suspected link to a priest accused of abuse. This heart-wrenching series explores just about every nook and cranny possible regarding her mysterious murder and the suspicious characters surrounding it.

Why watch it?

The docuseries has been compared to Making a Murderer in that it doesn’t lead viewers to a definite conclusion about what happened. It also has a 96% approval rating on reviews aggregation site RottenTomatoes.com.

The Confession Tapes

The Confession Tapes still Netflix

How can I watch it?

Seasons 1 and 2 of The Confession Tapes are available to stream on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

The Confession Tapes is a true crime documentary series that investigates cases where people convicted of murder claim their confessions were coerced, involuntary or false.

Pinpointing US crimes in which suspects were seemingly manipulated into confessing to a crime, both the interview tapes and evidence surrounding the crimes are examined by detectives, witnesses, lawyers and wrongful conviction experts.

Why watch it?

Intrigued by the story of Brendan Dassey in Making A Murderer, and (spoiler alert) his confession under interrogation? You’ll be gripped by these similar cases.

Wild, Wild Country

Wild, Wild Country still Netflix

How can I watch it?

Documentary series Wild, Wild Country is streaming on Netflix now.

What’s it about?

Wild Wild Country is about one of the most successful and affluent cults of the last century – that you’ve likely never heard of.

Shining a light on the forgotten Rajneeshpuram community of Oregon and its leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and his personal assistant Ma Anand Sheela, viewers are taken on a truly wild ride that involves political tension, wiretapping, poisoning and even attempted murder.

Why watch it?

The Guardian gave the 2018 documentary series a five-star review, writing: "It doesn’t matter how well you know the Rajneeshpuram story – you won’t have seen or heard it told as thoroughly as this."