Europe’s Most Thrilling Crime Dramas—and Where to Stream Them

    Get your international crime drama fix.

    England is rightfully famous for its crime drama exports. Whether you're a Sherlock fiend or a Luther obsessive, there's always a new case to crack courtesy of Great Britain. But it's far from the only European country producing thrilling television.

    If you’re ready to investigate more European crime dramas, we’ve got the goods for you, including where to stream within American borders.

    Braquo (France)

    Available on Hulu

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Capa Drama

    Something like a French version of The Wire, Braquo is a gritty French cop series that centers on a team of tough cops who are averse to following the rules. Be warned: This show can get quite brutal. The first scene of the pilot opens with a main character stabbing a suspect in the eye with a pen. This is only a slight indication of the onslaught to come in the show.

    Related: 14 Killer Mystery Movies Streaming on Netflix Right Now 

    Wallander (Sweden)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Svensk Filmindustri

    Cynical detective Kurt Wallander set the template for all Nordic TV cops to come. Set in a tranquil Swedish province, this hard-hitting series adapts Henning Mankell’s best-sellers into 32 cerebral, thrilling episodes revolving around Wallander, who must navigate through murder mysteries, personal drama, and corruption. The second and third seasons are currently available on Netflix. There is also a British version of the show starring Kenneth Branagh—both are worth checking out.

    Bordertown (Finland)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Federation Entertainment

    When eccentric detective Kari Sorjonen’s wife falls gravely ill, he abandons the hustle and bustle of a Finnish urban life to relocate to a small, serene town with his family. Little does he know that a peaceful life on the border of Russia is not in the cards: Kari will find himself in the midst of murders, rapes, kidnappings, drug trafficking, and so much more.

    Related: British Crime Dramas to Die For  

    Gomorrah (Italy)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Sky Italia

    Now, take a trip to southern Europe and change things up a bit with a Neapolitan series. Gomorrah is an archetypal Italian mob drama, except this time it’s actually set in Italy instead of New Jersey. The series gives us an inside look into the hierarchies of organized crime and the power struggles within. Critics have also approved of its different take on mob life—neither glamorous, nor an opportunity to peddle moralistic truths, just a reality for many in the world.

    Case (Iceland)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Saga Film

    Case, titled Réttur in its native Icelandic, proves to us why Scandinavian noir is worthy of its acclaim. Attorney Logi Traustason is released from prison after serving years for a murder he didn’t commit. In need of a job, he joins a small law firm but has trouble seeing eye to eye with his partners, partly because of his alcoholism. Only the third season is currently available on Netflix, but it is the most ambitious of the three. Tracking the apparent suicide of a young ballerina over the course of nine episodes, Logi and partner Gabríela learn that nothing is as it seems.

    The Break (Belgium)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: RTBF

    Recently, Belgian noir has been the subject of much praise. In The Break, inspector Yoann Peeters, facing personal and professional tragedies, heads back to his hometown of Heiderfeld. He is immediately called to a murder scene, one that is troubling and mysterious. Not only is this show quietly terrifying, it’s also beautifully shot. You won’t be able to look away from its bleak horrors.

    Related: 8 Crime Noir Books That Will Have You Reaching for Your Trench Coat 

    No Second Chance (France)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: VAB

    An adaptation of mystery author Harlan Coben’s novel of the same name, No Second Chance is set in Paris and full of murderous intrigue. The show follows a doctor’s attempts to find her child after a home intruder shoots her and takes her daughter. Although the original novel was set in New Jersey and the protagonist was male, Coben says that the series captures the novel’s heart and soul.

    The Lava Field (Iceland)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Pegasus Pictures

    The stakes are high in this four-part Icelandic police procedural. Reykjavik detective Helgi Marvin Runarsson sets out to investigate a suicide on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which ends up being much more complex than he’d bargained for. Helgi finds a menacing trail of evidence. In addition to information regarding the case, his own secrets surface, putting someone near and dear to him at risk. 

    Related: The Best Mystery Shows Streaming on Netflix Right Now 

    Salamander (Belgium)

    Available on Amazon

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Skyline Entertainment

    In Brussels, Belgium, the safe deposit boxes of 66 prominent Belgian public figures have been robbed. The owners don’t want the robbery to get any publicity—they fear losing their business. Despite their objections, police inspector Paul Gerardi decides he’s going to investigate. Gerardi is shocked to find out that those victimized are all members of a secret society called Salamander. Once his discovery becomes clear, he is targeted by the criminals and a system that works in their favor.

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    The Killing (United States)

    Available on Netflix

    european crime dramas
    Photo Credit: Netflix

    The Killing, though an American series, is based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen—and the adaptation's gloomy atmosphere certainly pays tribute to its Scandinavian roots. While attempting to solve the murder case of Rosie Larsen, two Seattle-based homicide detectives face intriguing obstacles and mysterious happenings. There is much to be discovered under the leaden Seattle skies. While the original Danish series isn’t available to stream, you can purchase the DVD set on Amazon starting at $39. You will also need an all-region DVD player—most U.S. DVD players are coded.

    Promotional still from "The Break" via Netflix

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