The best crime & prison shows on Netflix


If you’re anything like this author, TV life is a constant battle between rom-coms and crime. It’s either beautiful love stories with amusing plot lines, or brutal murders. There is no in-between. But let’s be real – there’s nothing much better than watching gruesome killings and the fast life of crime from the delightful comfort of your own couch. Luckily, Netflix seems to understand the appeal. The streaming giant continues to deliver, adding more and more horrific (but great) television so we can get our fix. Think of a mixture of fictional killing sprees, detective work, prison, real-life horror stories, and drug cartels. So, without further ado, here are Canstar Blue’s top crime and prison shows on Netflix Australia.

First and Last

The latest jaw-dropping real-life series from Netflix tells the story of inmates during their first or last days in jail. From repeat offenders to ‘wrong-place-wrong-time’ types, we learn exactly what happens to those who fall foul of the law across America. Perhaps the most eye-opening insight is how these new prisoners are left to beg or borrow the money they need from friends or family to ‘make bond’ and avoid spending longer than they have to behind bars waiting for their day in court. On the flip side, we see prisoners preparing to leave jail before tasting freedom once again. Some go well, others not so much. Like a lot of similar Netflix shows, each episode in the series follows something of a ‘template’, which can be good or bad depending on your view. But one thing’s for sure, it’s compelling viewing.

How to Get Away with Murder

Much like the title says, this show is literally a four season, 60-episode instruction manual on how to successfully get away with killing people. The show follows the life of law professor and successful and cold-blooded criminal defence lawyer, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) and her five hand-picked student interns. Known as the ‘Keating 5’, they work with Annalise to solve criminal cases. The twist in this show, and what makes it so binge-worthy, is that each season features a brutal and suspicious murder and each episode features flash-forward sequences which slowly but surely give away the killer. As the show goes on, everything becomes more chaotic as the Keating 5 and Annalise try to both discover the truth and hide a murder, as current events and the flash-forwards collide. Good luck trying to press pause on this one.

The Sinner

Fancy getting no sleep? Because The Sinner will keep you wide awake and on the edge of your seat as you scratch your head and try and figure out not who done it, but why? Jessica Biel stars as young mother Cora Tannetti who violently murders a stranger at the beach in broad daylight, in front of hundreds of onlookers. She has no clue why she did it, and has no recollection of ever previously meeting her victim. But while the authorities are eager to lock her away for life, Bill Pullman’s Detective Harry Ambrose thinks differently and believes there’s more to the story that Cora isn’t revealing. The intriguing eight-episode series follows Detective Ambrose as he attempts to help Cora uncover her own past and as a result, revealing the truth.

Prison Break

An oldie but a goodie, Prison Break is like Gossip Girl for the world of crime. Kind of trashy, kind of awesome and you literally can’t stop. First released in 2005, the high-intensity drama has made its way onto Netflix and consequently, into our hearts. The main character, the brilliant structural engineer Michael Scofield, is desperate to get his brother Lincoln out his prison who has been sent to death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Exhausted all other options, Scofield purposely robs a bank to land himself in Fox River State Penitentiary alongside his brother. Once inside, he sets about his elaborate and carefully thought-out plan to break them both out, and to prove Lincoln’s innocence along the way. Obviously, little goes to plan as the Scofield brothers end up biting off a bit more than they can chew. Season one is the true triumph, but the diehard fans will be pleased that season five was released last year, and we should be seeing its arrival on Netflix within the coming months.


This has been making waves in the world of Netflix crime; it would be a crime not to include it in the list. Mindhunter is based on John Douglas’s memoir, the FBI agent who pioneered serial killing profiling in the hopes to understand and catch them. Set in the 1970s in the early days of real criminal psychology, the show follows Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), two FBI agents working in the bureau’s Behavioural Science Unit. Groff is a long way from his Glee days, so we can assure you there is no upbeat dancing or singing in this one. Instead, there is a lot of chilling interviews between the two agents and some well-known killers – including Ed Kemper and Dennis Rader. The interviews are based on real interviews with said killers, and let’s just say you’re not going to want to go outside alone anytime soon.

Queen of the South

There’s not as much detective work in this one – maybe if there was there wouldn’t be so much murder. Queen of the South is based on the global best-selling novel “La Reina Del Sur” on the true stories of women in power… in drug cartels. It’s kind of like the female version of Narcos – except that you’ll find yourself rooting for the main character. QOTS revolves around Teresa Mendoza, a young Mexican whose life turns upside down when her drug-dealing boyfriend is murdered. Wanted by her boyfriend’s drug cartel, she seeks refuge in Texas, America and is forced into working for a rival cartel. The first episode flashes forward to Mendoza living a life of luxury as the ‘Queen’ of the south and the most successful drug trafficker in America. This is short lived (literally – she gets shot in the first 4 minutes), but reveals to us where she eventually ends up (and gives us a little something to look forward to pre-death – the poor girl goes through a lot). The rest of the series focuses on her past and determination to succeed in a business she was thrown into unwillingly. Girl power.

Evil Genius

Netflix is known for its real-life murder investigative shows – and has seen great success with ones like Making a Murderer, The Keepers and Wild Wild Country. If you were a fan of these, then strap in. Netflix has continued to cater for our love of deep diving into true crime in the form of Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist. The series is a case study of a bizarre crime known as the Pizza Bomber Case. In 2003, a pizza delivery man named Brian Wells entered a bank with a bomb strapped around his neck, demanding $250,000 from the bank teller and threatening him that the bomb would go off if he did not comply. Wells ended up leaving with only $8,702 and was captured by the police. This is where it gets strange – Wells tells the police that he knows the bomb is real. And it went off whilst he was in custody – 25 minutes after the bomb squad was called and 3 minutes before they arrived. Notes were found in Wells’ possession, clues and instructions left by Wells’ captives, leading the police to the keys to free him. Engrossed yet? Just you wait – it gets better. All is revealed, but you’ll have to watch to find out.

Have we missed your favourite crime show?

Think we’ve missed a great crime or prison show? Well, tell us about it. Go to the contact us section of our website and send us an email, or you can join the conversation on our Facebook page. We look forward to hearing from you!

Compare Internet Providers

Share this article

News & Tips

Sign up to receive more news like this straight to your inbox

By subscribing you agree to the Canstar Privacy Policy.

Thanks for signing up!

Good things are coming your way.