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25+ Best Scandinavian Crime Drama Shows

25+ Best Scandinavian Crime Drama Shows

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In recent years, Scandinavian crime dramas have seen an upsurge in popularity, captivating audiences worldwide with their intriguing plots, striking landscapes, and complex characters.

These series tend to adopt a distinctive aesthetic, often characterized by stark, frosty landscapes, minimalist interiors, and a mood of haunting introspection that mirrors the grim and occasionally grisly nature of the narrative.

The genre has been largely hailed for its narrative richness, which often intertwines crime, societal issues, and character-driven stories, presenting a fresh alternative to traditional English-language crime series.

Below is a curated list of some of the finest Scandinavian crime series, each representing the very best of this enthralling genre.

The Bridge (2011–2018)

An exemplar of Scandinavian crime series, The Bridge is a riveting collaboration between Sweden and Denmark.

The narrative is sparked off by an intriguing murder case where a body is found precisely at the center of the Øresund Bridge that connects the two countries. This curious incident calls together two detectives – Saga Norén from Sweden and Martin Rohde from Denmark.

What’s remarkable about The Bridge is not just its complex crime investigation but also its insightful exploration of social issues and cultural nuances that add a layer of depth to the narrative.

Combined with an intense atmosphere and unforgettable characters, The Bridge keeps the viewers on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

IMBd rates The Bridge 8.6/10. Watch it on Topic or Plex.

The Killing (2007–2012)

“The Killing” is a Danish series that brilliantly intertwines crime investigation, political drama, and human emotions. The central character, Sarah Lund, is a determined detective whose dogged pursuit of justice keeps the viewers hooked.

The series is unique in its format – each episode represents a day in the murder investigation, allowing a comprehensive portrayal of the crime, its repercussions on the victim’s family, and the emotional toll on the detectives.

“The Killing” pulls in viewers not just with its mysteries but also with its authentic portrayal of human emotions and the consequences of violent crime.

IMDb rates The Killing 8.4/10. Watch it on Topic or Plex.

Trapped (2015–Present)

“Trapped” is an Icelandic series that has gained popularity for its atmospheric storytelling and nuanced characters. The narrative unfolds in a small town that is struck by a grisly murder and a severe snowstorm, both of which occur just as a ferry carrying hundreds of passengers arrives.

This setting isolates the town and ramps up the tension as the local police chief, Andri, struggles to solve the murder while managing the growing panic.

What makes “Trapped” particularly captivating is its brilliant use of the setting to amplify suspense. The series adeptly explores the characters’ personal lives and the town’s dynamics, adding depth to the primary crime narrative.

IMDb rates Trapped 8.1/10.

Wallander (2005–2013)

“Wallander” is a Swedish crime drama based on the popular novels by Henning Mankell. The series follows the titular character Kurt Wallander, a detective in the picturesque but crime-ridden town of Ystad.

Wallander, as a character, is deeply compelling – he’s brilliant at his job but struggles with his personal demons. The series beautifully contrasts the idyllic Swedish countryside with the dark crimes Wallander investigates.

IMDb rates Wallander 7.9/10.

Borgen (2010–2013)

“Borgen” is a Danish political drama with a crime subplot that examines the personal and professional life of Denmark’s first female Prime Minister, Birgitte Nyborg.

While not a crime series in the traditional sense, “Borgen” often delves into political crimes and their repercussions.

The series stands out for its deep exploration of the political landscape and the impact of power on personal relationships. Its compelling characters, sharp writing, and intricate plotlines have earned “Borgen” a dedicated international following.

IMDb rates Borgen 8.5/10.

Before We Die (2017-Present)

A Swedish crime thriller, Before We Die, introduces viewers to Hanna Svensson, a detective in the organized crime unit. When her lover and colleague disappears during an undercover investigation involving the Mimica crime family, Hanna must navigate a web of crime and betrayal to find the truth.

This series shines for its complex characters, particularly Hanna, a tough yet flawed character, and its engrossing plot involving family, loyalty, and crime.

IMDb rates Before We Die 7.8/10. Watch it on Channel 4 or Prime Video.

Caliphate (2020)

In the Swedish series Caliphate, the paths of five women intertwine amidst a looming terrorist attack on Stockholm.

The series explores the world of terrorism and radicalization and does not shy away from presenting the harrowing reality of these issues.

It stands out for its intense narrative, compelling performances, and a sobering look at the dangerous allure of extremist ideologies.

IMDb rates Caliphate 8.8/10.

Millennium (2010)

Based on the internationally acclaimed trilogy by Stieg Larsson, the Swedish series Millennium is a compelling crime thriller. It revolves around investigative journalist Mikael Blomkvist and enigmatic hacker Lisbeth Salander who team up to solve crimes.

The series delves into dark themes, such as corporate corruption and misogyny, making it a riveting watch. It has been applauded for its faithful adaptation of the books, stellar performances, and its unflinching approach to societal issues.

IMDb rates Millenium 8.0/10. Watch it on PlayPilot.

Eyewitness (2014)

Eyewitness is a Norwegian thriller that follows two teenage boys who, after witnessing a crime, find themselves entangled in a web of deceit and danger. As the narrative unfolds, it explores the themes of guilt, lies, and the dire consequences of silence.

The series is particularly praised for its strong performances, suspenseful plot, and realistic depiction of teenage struggles.

IMDb rates Eyewitness 7.7/10. Watch it on SFlix.

Quicksand (2019)

In the Swedish series Quicksand, a horrific event takes place at a wealthy Stockholm prep school, where a mass shooting results in a high-profile trial. The series primarily focuses on Maja Norberg, a student who finds herself on trial for murder.

As the narrative progresses through current happenings and flashbacks, the series meticulously unravels the events leading up to the tragic incident and the underlying issues, including class disparities, toxic relationships, and the pressures of adolescence.

With a gripping plot, complex characters, and thought-provoking themes, Quicksand provides an unflinching portrayal of a tragedy and its aftermath.

IMDb rates Quicksand 7.5/10. Watch it on Netflix.

Warrior (2018)

A Danish crime drama, Warrior, centers on a war veteran, CC, who finds himself deeply embroiled in the dark underworld of biker gangs and organized crime after helping a police officer, Louise, to solve a case.

The narrative skillfully combines elements of crime, action, and personal drama, offering an intense viewing experience. With its engaging storyline, well-rounded characters, and a unique take on the crime genre, Warrior stands out as a thrilling and emotionally resonant series.

IMDB rates Warrior 7.7/10. Watch it on Netflix.

The Sandhamn Murders (2010–Present)

The Sandhamn Murders is a Swedish crime series based on Viveca Sten’s popular novels. Set in the stunning Stockholm archipelago, the series follows a police inspector, Thomas Andreasson, and a local lawyer, Nora Linde, as they investigate various crimes occurring in their seemingly serene community.

The series is applauded for its ability to intertwine captivating mysteries with the idyllic, yet sometimes menacing, island environment. Moreover, the complex relationship between Thomas and Nora adds an additional layer of intrigue to the narrative.

IMDb rates The Sandhamn Murders 6.7/10. Watch it on SFlix.

Arctic Circle (2018-Present)

Set in the icy landscapes of Finnish Lapland, Arctic Circle is a Finnish-German crime series that uniquely combines elements of a detective story with a medical thriller.

The series centers around a Finnish police officer, Nina Kautsalo, who discovers a deadly virus while investigating a series of bizarre murders. This brings her into contact with German virologist, Thomas Lorenz, and the duo embarks on a mission to prevent a potential pandemic.

Its gripping plot, striking cinematography, and compelling performances make Arctic Circle a must-watch in the realm of Nordic Noir.

IMDb rates Arctic Circle 7.2/10. Watch it on Prime Video.

All the Sins (2019-Present)

All the Sins is a Finnish drama series that serves a gripping narrative set against the backdrop of a deeply conservative religious community in the town of Varjakka.

The series revolves around detectives Lauri Räihä and Sanna Tervo, who investigate a double murder in Varjakka while grappling with their personal demons. As the investigation unfolds, the series delves into the complex issues of guilt, atonement, and sin.

Apart from the intricate crime narrative, the series is lauded for its exploration of societal norms and traditions, sexual identities, and family dynamics. All the Sins perfectly blend crime drama and a poignant human story.

IMDb rates All the Sins 7.3/10. Watch it on Prime Video.

Those Who Kill (2011)

Those Who Kill is a Danish crime series that adds a unique twist to the Nordic Noir genre by focusing on serial killers. The story follows detective inspector Katrina Ries Jensen and legal psychiatrist Thomas Schaeffer, who specialize in profiling and apprehending serial killers.

The series offers a deeply psychological perspective on crime, with compelling investigations and a close examination of the criminal psyche. Besides its dark and tense atmosphere, Those Who Kill is recognized for its well-developed characters and thrilling plotlines.

IMDb rates Those Who Kill 7.1/10. Watch it on HBO Max.

Borderliner (2017)

Borderliner, a Norwegian series, centers on police officer Nikolai Andreassen, who covers up a murder case to protect his family. However, the situation spirals out of control, leading Nikolai into a complex web of lies and moral dilemmas.

The series stands out with its morally ambiguous characters and a tightly woven plot that keeps the viewers guessing. Its exploration of family dynamics and personal ethics adds another layer to the crime narrative, making Borderliner a gripping and thought-provoking watch.

IMDB rates Borderliner 6.9/10. Watch it on Netflix.

Bordertown (2016–2020)

Set in the picturesque town of Lappeenranta, near the Russian border, Bordertown is a Finnish crime drama that provides an intriguing mix of family drama and crime investigation. The story centers around detective Kari Sorjonen, a former federal officer who seeks a quieter life, but his hopes are dashed by a series of disturbing crimes.

Praised for its character-driven narrative, the series delves into Sorjonen’s personal life as much as it focuses on the criminal investigations, bringing out a human side rarely seen in detective dramas.

With its gripping plotlines, engaging characters, and captivating visuals, Bordertown is a remarkable entry in the Scandinavian crime genre.

IMDb rates Bordertown 7.6/10. Watch it on Netflix.

Follow the Money (2016–2019)

Follow the Money is a Danish series that takes viewers into the world of economic crime, involving corporate greed, corruption, and the pursuit of wealth. The series begins with a death that leads the detectives to a major company involved in financial fraud.

As the plot unfolds, the series exposes the underbelly of society’s upper echelon, dealing with complex issues of legal and moral responsibility.

Follow the Money is lauded for its compelling storytelling, well-rounded characters, and an intricate plot that effectively combines elements of crime and financial thrillers.

IMDb rates Follow the Money 7.6/10. Watch it on Prime.

Occupied (2015–2020)

Occupied is a Norwegian political thriller that presents a plausible future where Norway is occupied by Russia to restore its oil and gas production, halted by the Norwegian Green Party’s environmental policy.

Although not a conventional crime series, the show unfolds an elaborate plot filled with political intrigue, suspense, and moral dilemmas. The narrative delves deep into geopolitical tensions, issues of national pride, and personal sacrifices, creating a complex and believable world.

Occupied stands out for its unique premise, engaging plotlines, and a realistic portrayal of political scenarios.

IMDb rates Occupied 7.7/10. Watch it on Netflix.

Dicte (2013–2016)

A Danish crime drama, Dicte, follows Dicte Svendsen, a dedicated reporter with a knack for getting embroiled in the criminal investigations she’s covering.

This series is a gripping combination of personal drama and crime investigation, with Dicte’s tumultuous personal life often mirroring her professional endeavors.

The series’ unique blend of investigative journalism and crime, combined with the complex and determined character of Dicte, makes this series an engaging viewing experience.

IMDb rates Dicte 7.2/10. Watch it on Prime Video.

Modus (2015–2017)

Based on crime novels written by Anne Holt, Modus is a Swedish crime series that tells the story of criminal psychologist and profiler Inger Johanne Vik. Along with her detective partner Ingvar Nymann, she finds herself investigating a series of brutal murders that seem to be connected.

As the narrative unfolds, it offers a deeply psychological perspective into crime, anchored by strong performances and well-crafted suspense. It’s not just the intricacies of the crime, but also the personal lives of the lead characters, that make Modus a compelling watch.

IMDb rates Modus 6.7/10.

Deadwind (2018–Present)

Deadwind is a Finnish crime drama that follows detective Sofia Karppi, a recent widow, who stumbles upon the murder of a woman linked to a Helsinki construction company. She is joined by a rookie detective, Sakari Nurmi, and together they unravel a complex web of corruption and murder.

Deadwind stands out for its atmospheric setting, compelling narrative, and the strong performances of its lead characters. The series masterfully balances the crime-solving aspect with Karppi’s personal life, adding depth to her character.

IMDb rates Deadwind 7.2/10. Watch it on Netflix.

Mammon (2014–2016)

Mammon is a Norwegian investigative thriller that revolves around journalist Peter Verås, who uncovers financial fraud within his own newspaper, leading to implications that affect his family.

The series combines elements of crime, thriller, and conspiracy genres, creating a complex narrative web that holds the viewers’ interest. Mammon is known for its gripping storytelling, multifaceted characters, and its successful blend of personal drama with high-stake crime.

IMDb rates Mammon 6.8/10. Watch it on Prime Video.

Beck (1997–Present)

Adapted from the books by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö, Beck is a long-running Swedish police series. The story revolves around Martin Beck and his team as they solve some of the most challenging cases in Stockholm. Despite being a part of the force, Beck’s methods are often unconventional, and his quiet introspection adds depth to his character.

The series is praised for its compelling storylines, realistic portrayal of police work, and strong performances by the lead actors.

IMDb rates Beck 7.4/10.

You might also like our list of the best TV shows about organized crime.