Netflix has an ever-expanding library of shows to choose from and thrillers are a popular genre that makes up a significant chunk of the options available.
The ability to get your pulses racing and keep you on the edge of your seat makes this genre one of the most favorite. The narratives range from political scenarios to high-intensity action sequences and Netflix has numerous options that suit your palate.
As the streaming platform has built its collection over many years, it has produced many iconic thriller shows that have had a lasting impact on audiences around the world.
We have scoured the depths of the streamer to pick out the top 50 shows that should be on your binge list and even gone one step further to rank them based on reviewers’ acclaim as well as the opinion of The Envoy Web’s editors.
Only titles that are Netflix originals or have been acquired by Netflix and rebranded as originals outside the native country for release were considered for this list. (Yes, these are the shows with the ‘N’ logo on top.)
Without further ado, here’s our list of the 50 best thriller shows on Netflix:
Editor’s note: This article was last updated in February 2024
50. The Silent Sea (2021)
Cast: Bae Doona, Gong Yoo, Lee Joon, Kim Sun-young, Kim Si-a, Lee Sung-wook, Lee Moo-saeng
The first Sci-Fi space thriller from Korea, The Silent Sea, is set in a fictional future where Earth suffers severe desertification, leading to a devastating scarcity of water and food.
The plot then zeroes in on an elite team hand-picked for a secret mission to the moon.
This lunar excursion is aimed at collecting vital samples from the moon’s Balhae Station where 117 people were killed in a mysterious incident five years ago.
Once at the station, the apprehensive team discovers an element like water which multiples rapidly after coming in contact with living cells. To make matters worse, they are attacked by a superhuman girl who seems immune to the lunar water’s effects.
Director Choi Hang-yong adapted this 8-episode series from his 2014 short film, The Sea of Tranquility, with writer Park Eun-kyo.
49. Criminal: Germany (2019)
Cast: Eva Meckbach, Sylvester Groth, Florence Kasumba, Peter Kurth, Deniz Arora, Nina Hoss
A part of Netflix’s Criminal anthology, this is a police procedural drama set within the confines of an interrogation room.
The narrative revolves around a group of German detectives as they indulge in psychological warfare with their potential suspects to get answers about various crimes.
The German edition features three episodes, which premiered in September 2019, along with three episodes each for the French, Spanish, and UK editions.
The first episode focuses on Jochen, a real-estate developer being probed about a missing handyman. Episode 2 deals with a convoluted case of domestic abuse, and the third entry sees detectives attempting to get the location of a body from a serial killer’s lover.
Criminal: UK is the only one to get a second season to date, which was released in 2020 with four episodes.
48. Stay Close (2021)
Cast: Cush Jumbo, James Nesbitt, Richard Armitage, Sarah Parish, Eddie Izzard, Jo Joyner
Stay Close follows the curiously connected lives of a photojournalist, a suburban mother, and a homicide detective, who each have secrets from a dangerous event in the past.
Megan used to be a stripper but is now a working mother with three kids. Ray was an acclaimed documentary photographer, who is stuck in a dead-end job due to losing the woman he loved.
Finally, Michael Broome’s detective career is still plagued by the disappearance of a local man named Stewart Green, a 17-year-old case that went cold.
In a shocking turn of events, another person goes missing on the anniversary of Green’s disappearance, and Broome jumps on it in hopes of redemption.
Unfortunately, this investigation reignites old wounds and spills secrets, threatening these characters’ lives. The show is an adaptation of Harlan Coben’s eponymous 2012 novel. Coben has signed a 5-year deal with Netflix to adapt 14 of his novels.
47. True Story (2021)
Cast: Kevin Hart, Wesley Snipes, Tawny Newsome, Paul Adelstein
Hailing from Philadelphia, The Kid (Hart) is a beloved comedian and a global superstar. While on tour, he visits his hometown, which results in a wild night with his brother, Carlton (Snipes), and his friends.
The next morning, Carlton explains that they might be in trouble as a few detectives come looking for Kid.
It doesn’t take long for his life to flip upside down as a dangerous mystery unfolds, threatening to sabotage his career and everything he’s worked for.
True Story, unlike its name, is not based on real events and is also Hart’s television drama debut.
46. Red Rose (2022)
Cast: Amelia Clarkson, Isis Hainsworth, Natalie Blair, Ellis Howard, Ali Khan, Ashna Rabheru, Harry Redding
Tackling themes of data theft, invasion of privacy, mental health, and teenage angst, among others, Red Rose takes you to the streets of Bolton and Manchester.
A group of seven high school students faces their worst nightmares when they are exposed to a devilish app called Red Rose. It digs deep into the user’s personal life and uses it to torture them into isolation and insanity.
When one of them commits suicide, the gang digs deep into the mystery behind the app’s creation and chance upon horrifying revelations about more deaths.
They eventually disclose a sinister ploy being controlled by a mysterious person called The Gardner.
The show’s name comes from the fact that the red rose is the emblem of the county of Lancashire, where most of the show is set. Furthermore, it has been made by the producers of another beloved Netflix title, Sex Education.
45. Designated Survivor (2016 – 2019)
Cast: Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, LaMonica Garrett, Kal Penn, Maggie Q
Sutherland spearheads this American political thriller drama as Thomas Kirkman, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. On the fateful night of the State of the Union address, the Capitol Building is blown to smithereens by a targetted explosion.
The blast kills the President and everyone else in the line of succession to the White House above Thomas, making him the designated survivor.
He is instantly sworn in as the new head of the state and must face the consequences of the attack. The show’s narrative focuses on him trying to balance his political goals with being accepted as a fair President.
Designated Survivor aired on ABC for two seasons before being canceled. However, in 2018, Netflix picked it up for a 10-episode season 3, which aired in June 2019.
The series was finally canceled in July 2019 due to difficulties with the actors’ contracts.
44. Aranyak (2021)
Cast: Raveena Tandon, Parambrata Chatterjee, Ashutosh Rana, Taneesha Joshi, Anna Ador, Zakir Hussain, Meghna Malik
Set in the picturesque and fictional hill station of Sirhona, this crime thriller features two morally upright yet polar opposite police officers, Kasturi and Angad, presented with a challenging case.
Kasturi is a locally bred woman, whereas Angad is a city boy set to replace her.
When a foreign national teenager visiting her mother is allegedly raped and murdered, panic spreads deep into Sirhona’s every nook and cranny. Owing to the situation, the two must put their differences aside and crack the case while battling their own demons in the process.
Aranyak is the OTT debut of Padma Shri awardee Raveena Tandon, who otherwise made her feature debut in 1991 with the Hindi film Patthar Ke Phool.
43. Narco-Saints (2022)
Cast: Ha Jung-woo, Hwang Jung-min, Park Hae-soo, Jo Woo-jin, Yoo Yeon-seok
Based on factual events, Narco-Saints encapsulates the turbulent life of an ordinary civilian entrepreneur, Kang In-gu.
He is forced to partake in a secret operation of the National Intelligence Service to apprehend Jeon Yo-hwan, a South Korean drug kingpin (named Cho Bong-haeng in reality), controlling his operations from Suriname, a country in South America.
The show was originally titled Suriname, but the name was changed to Narco-Saints for the English release to draw similarities to other narcotics-based Netflix titles like Narcos and Narcos: Mexico.
In a controversial turn of events, the government of Suriname has taken legal action against the makers of the show for tarnishing their country’s image and portraying it as a hub for illegal drug trafficking.
42. Altered Carbon (2018 – 2020)
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Anthony Mackie, Ray Chase, James Purefoy
Based on a novel of the same name by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon is a science fiction set in a world where a person’s consciousness can be transferred to new bodies, which are termed “sleeves”.
In the first season, the protagonist is Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier for the United Nations Colonial Tactical Assault Corps. He is released from prison and tasked with solving the murder case of Laurens Bancroft’s sleeve.
Bancroft is a rich man. Due to the transfer of consciousness, he is still alive but is unaware of who killed his previous sleeve. The murder mystery in the first season is engaging, with an unpredictable ending.
The premise of the show not only allows characters to outlive their physical bodies but also allows the show to have a different protagonist every season. Furthermore, the show’s premise gives the viewers space to question the relationship between a person’s identity and physical body.
Despite being considered one of the better early science fiction shows on Netflix, the show was canceled after the second season.
41. The Recruit (2022 – Present)
Cast: Noah Centineo, Laura Haddock
In The Recruit, Noah Centineo adopts a persona slightly different from his usual charming romantic hero. He plays the role of Owen, a CIA recruit whose very first case turns his life upside down.
The protagonist knows how to get what he wants, but that is not nearly enough when he has to deal with a former asset, Max Meladze, who is threatening to expose sensitive CIA secrets if her demands are not met.
The Recruit depicts the CIA as an agency where everyone is everyone’s opponent; people would not hesitate to take advantage of their colleagues and take satisfaction in their failure.
Owen finds himself in danger over and over again, with no one to rely upon, in his dealings with Max. The show ends with an exciting cliffhanger, and fortunately, Netflix has renewed it for a second season.
40. Safe (2018)
Cast: Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Amy James-Kelly
Safe is a mini-series that revolves around Briton Tom Delaney, a pediatric surgeon who has been taking care of his two daughters since his wife passed away. After his wife’s death, his relationship with his daughter, Jenny, suffered greatly.
When Jenny goes missing after a party and her boyfriend is found dead, Tom enlists the help of his girlfriend, Detective Sergeant Sophie Mason, to find his daughter and save her before it’s too late.
Additionally, as the mystery unravels and dark secrets come out, the show also focuses on subplots that dive into the past of some characters, including Tom and Sophie.
The mystery series was created by Harlan Coben, who has worked with Netflix on The Stranger and Stay Close, which was also adapted from his novels. Coben’s Safe does not disappoint; the mystery will leave the audience guessing, only to reveal an unpredictable culprit.
39. Bloodline (2015 – 2017)
Cast: Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn, Linda Cardellini, Norbert Leo Butz, Jacinda Barrett
The Rayburns are a respected family in Islamorada, Florida. Three out of the four children live close to their parents, who run a seaside inn. When Danny, the black sheep of the family, moves back home permanently, he upsets his siblings.
The resulting events reveal the dark secret that the family has been hiding, disrupting the illusion of being a flawless family. Furthermore, the family starts falling apart due to the occurrence of one death after another.
With praiseworthy cinematography and performances by the cast, the show puts forth an engaging family drama that is familiar and yet so unfamiliar.
While the first season was received positively, the third and final season failed to live up to the expectations of the audience. However, Bloodline is still considered to be one of the best family thrillers.
38. Girl From Nowhere (2018 – 2021)
Cast: Chicha Amatayakul, Chanya McClory
Girl From Nowhere is a Thai drama known for its unique representation of modern high schools. The stories in the show depict the victimization of female students and are based on real-life incidents. However, unlike real life, the protagonist in the show avenges the victims.
The show follows Nanno, a girl who takes it upon herself to expose the hypocrisy and lies of both students as well as teachers of private schools in Thailand by frequently changing schools.
Nanno is not a black-and-white character. She foregoes morality at times to punish others for their immoral deeds. Furthermore, she is an immortal entity, passing judgment and punishing wrongdoers without feeling remorse.
The second season focuses on Yuri, who goes on to become Nanno’s rival. She aims to take over Nanno’s task, but unlike her, her motivation to punish others is derived from her need to get revenge.
Girl From Nowhere is an anthology series with Nanno arriving at a new school in each episode to unveil lies and deception and to punish people.
37. El Chapo (2017 – 2018)
Cast: Marco de la O, Humberto Busto, Alejandro Aguilar, Rodrigo Abed, Luis Fernando Peña, Juan Carlos Olivas, Rolf Petersen, Carlos Hernán Romo, Marcela Mar
Based on the life of a former drug lord, Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán, El Chapo depicts the standard rise and fall of an ambitious gangster. Guzmán started off as a minor member of the Guadalajara cartel and went on to become the most powerful drug trafficker in the world.
The show depicts cruelty in its raw form and does not shy away from depicting detailed gory scenes. It has some unbelievable, but very real, sequences, including a jailbreak through an underground tunnel on a motorcycle.
Apart from that, the show paints a realistic picture of Mexico, a country where drug lords rise to power, backed by the agents of the state. It portrays what becomes of a society such as this one.
While El Chapo is nowhere near as popular as Narcos, it is still a compelling thriller comprising the same themes. It explores the depraved world of crime with a substantial dose of drama and action.
36. The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020)
Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Amelia Eve, Amelie Bea Smith, Benjamin Evan Ainsworth
An Emmy-nominated series, The Haunting of Bly Manor focuses on the presence of the supernatural in the Bly Manor and the fear that accompanies it. Set in a countryside manor in the UK, the show documents the encounter of humans with non-human entities and, through that, with their own psychological issues.
An American au pair, Danielle “Dani” Clayton, is hired to take care of two siblings, Miles and Flora, by their uncle, Henry. She arrives at the estate and finds herself in the middle of incidents that are not within the control of the living.
Dani’s story is set in 1987, but the narration of it takes place in 2007. The boundary between the past and the present, between the story and the reality, which provides a sense of security to the listeners, gets blurred, invoking fear till the very end.
The Haunting of Bly Manor is part of an anthology series, The Haunting, created by Mike Flanagan. While it is not considered to be as good as its predecessor, it is still a well-liked series.
35. The Midnight Club (2022)
Cast: Iman Benson, Igby Rigney, Ruth Codd, Annarah Cymone, Chris Sumpter, Adia, Aya Furukawa, Sauriyan Sapkota
Based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Pike, The Midnight Club is a blend of horror and thriller. The show’s first episode is known to have the highest number of scripted jump-scares, 21 in total, in a single television episode.
When Ilonka is diagnosed with thyroid cancer, she seeks a cure at Brightcliffe Hospice. Soon, Ilonka comes to know about the midnight meetings in the library, held by a group of terminally sick teenagers, termed “The Midnight Club”, where they narrate a new ghost story every night.
Ilonka joins the group and agrees to the group’s existing pact — whoever dies first will come back to share the mysteries of the afterlife, if there is one, with the others.
The show deals not just with supernatural horrors but also with the horrors of the world of the living; the supernatural aspect serves to highlight the fear, pain, and despair of the teenagers who deal with the unease that comes with existential dread.
The show was supposed to have more than one season. However, in 2022, Netflix canceled the series without providing a proper conclusion to the story of every character.
34. Hit & Run (2021)
Cast: Lior Raz, Lior Ashkenazi, Sanaa Lathan, Kaelen Ohm, Moran Rosenblatt, Gregg Henry, Gal Toren
This Israeli-American thriller series follows a man setting off to avenge his wife, who’s killed in a hit-and-run. Segev lives in a happy marriage with his wife until his world comes crashing down, and his wife falls victim to a hit-and-run, dying as a result.
Traumatized and broken, Segev starts looking for his wife’s killers, who he learns has fled to the United States. To track them down, he enlists the help of his ex-lover Naomi Hicks.
Throughout his search, he comes across multiple shocking revelations about his wife’s past that she kept from him.
Netflix’s first original Israeli series, Hit & Run follows its protagonist from Tel-Aviv to New York in his quest to find his wife’s killers, which subsequently finds him on the path of finding some chilling secrets he was never made privy to.
33. The Alienist (2018 – 2020)
Cast: Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, Brian Geraghty, Robert Ray Wisdom, Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear, Q’orianka Kilcher, Matt Lintz, Dakota Fanning, Rosy McEwen, Melanie Field
Based on Caleb Carr’s best-selling book of the same name, The Alienist follows a team of individuals in 1896 New York working in secret to solve a case of brutal killings.
It starts when boy prostitutes in New York are killed by an elusive killer, prompting the newly appointed police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt to form a team, comprising his confident and brave secretary Sara Howard, criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, and newspaper illustrator John Moore.
Also joining them in the team are the twin NYPD sergeants Marcus and Lucius Isaacson. During their investigation into the murders, they are met with resistance from the NYPD superiors who exist to serve the wealthy, as well as the working class people due to their distrust in police.
In its two-season run, the series deals with several societal issues prevalent in 1890s New York that are resonant even in the modern world. The series popularly mixes fiction with fact, as Teddy Roosevelt’s tenure as the New York police commissioner is true.
32. The Glory (2023 – Present)
Cast: Song Hye-Kyo, Lee Do-hyun, Lim Ji-Yeon, Yeom Hye-ran, Park Sung-hoon
Moon Dong-Eun is a homeroom teacher at Samyeong Elementary School, but years ago, she was a student herself and a victim of incessant bullying by a group of delinquents, led by the wealthy brat Park Yeon-Jin.
Dong-Eun would decide to fight the bullies after being subjected to physical and emotional torment daily. However, seeking help from the authorities would also prove to be useless, as her bullying would get only worse.
With burn marks on her arms and legs and indelible marks of damage on her psyche, Dong-Eun would attempt to take her life, only to fail in mustering up enough courage to do so.
The Glory deftly sets the stage for its main characters to exact their revenge and, in turn, makes for quite a cathartic binge as the series progresses.
In addition to dealing with bullying and revenge as its core themes, the series also comments on the socio-economic disparity and the corruption it entails.
31. Class (2023 – Present)
Cast: Anjali Sivaraman, Gurfateh Pirzada, Piyush Khati, Madhyama Segal, Cwaayal Singh, Zeyn Shaw, Chintan Rachchh, Naina Bhan, Ayesha Kanga, Moses Koul, Chayan Chopra
Dheeraj, Saba, and Balli hail from the lower strata of society and following the destruction of their local school due to a fire, they get scholarships to Hampton International, an elite school in New Delhi.
Their arrival at the school that caters to the brats belonging to the higher economic echelons of society is met with a lot of strife and drama. What starts as a classic case of bullying, ends up with a nasty web of sexual affairs, envy, lifestyles, and resentments that represents the larger-scale realities of a capitalist system.
The eight-episode-long series is an Indian Hindi-language adaptation of the Spanish thriller series titled Elite. Just like the original series, Class deals with a host of sociocultural issues, only with more of them, including ones exclusively rooted in India’s socio-political, cultural, and economic fabrics.
The major issues that the series contends with include casteism, income disparity, religious discrimination, homophobia, and more.
30. La Reina Del Sur (2011 – Present )
Cast: Kate del Castillo, Humberto Zurita, Rafael Amaya, Iván Sánchez, Cristina Urgel, Miguel de Miguel, Alberto Jiménez, Gabriel Porras, Salvador Zerboni, Nacho Fresneda, Mónica Estarreado, Alejandro Calva, Cuca Escribano, Dagoberto Gama, Christian Tappan, Sara Maldonado
Teresa Mendoza leads this Mexican thriller in which she becomes embroiled in the drug trafficking world and climbs her way to prominence amidst a lot of personal losses as well.
Adapted from the Spanish novel of the same name, the series follows Teresa, who falls in love with a pilot who’s employed by the Mexican cartels. The ball gets rolling when he gets executed by the cartel, forcing Teresa to flee to her safety as well.
However, she soon finds herself involved in the world of narcotics trafficking again. She gradually climbs her way to the top and holds the leash of an intercontinental drug distribution business. Perils don’t leave her alone, though, as she has to brave her way through grief, losses, and threats aplenty.
The series was initially conceptualized as a film starring Eva Mendes,but ended up as the series it did, spanning a total of three seasons.
29. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)
Cast: Michiel Huisman, Carla Gugino, Timothy Hutton, Elizabeth Reaser, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Kate Siegel, Mckenna Grace, Victoria Pedretti, Violet McGraw
Following the Crain family, The Haunting of Hill House is a tale of generational trauma, regret, and grief, directed by Mike Flanagan. The series serves as a predecessor to The Haunting of Bly Manor, with some of the cast returning for a different story.
It starts in 1992 when Hugh and Olivia Crain move into Hill House to renovate it and subsequently sell it to build a home of their own. The deadline for that is prolonged when they’re met with unexpected repairs.
In the time that they spend there due to the prolonged process of repairs, the family begins encountering paranormal events. The chaos from the preternatural eventually leads to a tragedy when one of the members dies.
Twenty-six years later, after the family suffers another loss of a member, the remaining siblings and the estranged father return to the mansion, which is the most haunted property in the country.
This time, they all must contend with the ghosts and their pasts, experiences, and their impact on them all. Densely packed with allegories and metaphors, the series deals with heavy themes with dexterous cinematography and standout performances.
28. The Snow Girl (2023)
Cast: Milena Smit, José Coronado, Aixa Villagrán, Tristán Ulloa, Loreto Mauleón, Julián Villagrán, Raúl Prieto, Cecilia Freire
The Snow Girl is a Spanish thriller series that is an adaptation of the eponymously titled novel and runs for eight episodes. During the Cavalcade of Magi in Málaga, a young girl goes missing. Miren, an interning journalist, becomes obsessed with finding the girl.
It all starts with a celebratory occasion, at the Three Wise Men Parade of 2010 when the Martin family’s cheers turn into scares as their daughter Amaya goes missing. Trainee journalist Miren begins her investigation into the disappearance alongside that of Inspector Milán.
Throughout the thrilling investigation, significant chunks of Miren’s past come to the surface while she tries her best to find Amaya, with the help of her journalist colleague Eduardo.
27. Travelers (2016 – 2018)
Cast: Eric McCormack, MacKenzie Porter, Nesta Cooper, Jared Abrahamson, Reilly Dolman, Patrick Gilmore
A group of last surviving humans, hundreds of years into the future, figure out a way to siphon their consciousness back through time, to random people in the past called “travelers.”
These people live as ordinary folk while leading not-so-ordinary missions, all itosave humanity from the doom that awaits them. These missions entail a great deal of peril but they must take on all dangers that may come to save the society from upcoming destruction.
In teams of five, the travelers have to carry out missions to save society from multiple catastrophes, while maintaining perfect facades of the lives their hosts were leading before the travelers’ consciousness got transferred.
They must also abide by some crucial protocols that the Director — artificial intelligence in the future — sends them from time to time. However, as the story proceeds, the travelers find it equally hard to contend with the normal lives of the past as it is to tackle the deadly tasks.
Serving up a platter of sci-fi elements and concepts, the show has a 3-season-run that mostly deals with an episodic style of storytelling wherein the protagonists have to deal with a new threat every new episode.
26. Alice in Borderland (2020 – Present)
Cast: Kento Yamazaki, Asahina Aya, Tao Tsuchiya, Nijirô Murakami, Ayame Misaki, Dori Sakurada, Ayaka Miyoshi, Keita Machida, Shuntarô Yanagi, Sho Aoyagi, Riisa Naka, Yûki Morinaga, Tomohisa Yamashita
Arisu and his pals wander the streets of Tokyo, entertaining their usual shenanigans until they suddenly find their surroundings having transformed into a dystopian cityscape, a version of Tokyo that’s empty and desolate.
However, they soon meet up with other people, who are all victims of an absurd and inexplicably surreal joke, wherein they must participate in and win perilous games to survive.
They must also keep playing the games continuously and when one fails to do so or breaks a certain rule of the game, a red laser pierces the clouds and shoots the player dead in a matter of seconds.
A live-action adaptation of the eponymously titled manga, Alice in Borderland tends to disregard the fan-favorite characters’ lives, who are subjected to shocking send-offs along with numerous others all falling to their deaths in the purgatorial realm.
A perpetual binge of traumatic deaths, gore-filled games, and overt violence mark the series as the central protagonists try their best to not only survive and cope with the nightmare but also find against all odds, the way out of it.
25. Elite (2018 – Present)
Cast: María Pedraza, Itzan Escamilla, Miguel Bernardeau, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Álvaro Rico, Arón Piper, Mina El Hammani, Ester Expósito, Omar Ayuso, Danna Paola
Elite starts more or less like a regular high-school drama. It deals with themes of classism and racism. Over time, the show turns into a murder mystery while also reflecting on how difficult growing up is for teenagers.
Three working-class friends are offered scholarships at Las Encinas, the most exclusive private school in Spain after their old school’s building collapses.
The three students are criticized and alienated due to the huge lifestyle differences between them and the rest of the wealthy students at Las Encinas.
The growing tensions eventually lead to the murder of a fellow student, and every other student at the school becomes a suspect. The show is aided by a flash-forward main plot, and the story throughout all the seasons takes place in two different timelines.
24. Kleo (2022 – Present)
Cast: Jella Haase, Dimitrij Schaad, Julius Feldmeier, Vladimir Burlakov, Vincent Redetzki, Yun Huang, Alessija Lause
Kleo is often compared to Killing Eve, and it does have a similar plot, a humor element in the first few episodes, and a lead character that is just like Villanelle.
Set in 1987, it follows East German Stasi assassin Kleo Straub, who is assigned to kill a double agent in West Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall.
She completes her mission and looks forward to starting a family with her boyfriend. Unfortunately, her agency betrays her and imprisons her. She comes out after the fall of the Berlin Wall and vows to exact revenge on the people who conspired against her.
Amidst all of this, Sven Petzold, a police officer who had witnessed Kleo murdering the agent, resolves to hunt Kleo down for the murder.
Petzold, a cop, chasing an assassin, certainly will remind people of Killing Eve, and Kleo comfortably becomes a replacement for the BBC drama.
23. Mai (2022 – Present)
Cast: Sakshi Tanwar, Wamiqa Gabbi, Prashant Narayanan, Raima Sen, Anant Vidhat Sharma, Vaibhav Raj Gupta
Mai contemplates how even a simple mother can go to extreme lengths when it comes to giving her child justice.
It follows Sheel, who loses her daughter, Supriya, in a truck accident in the middle of the road. Supriya dies right before telling her mother something that is bothering her.
At first, the death seems like an accident, until details surrounding it start coming to light, leading Sheel to believe that there is something suspicious.
As Sheel takes it upon herself to investigate the death of her daughter, she gets embroiled in a conspiracy far deeper than she had imagined.
Mai is a riveting drama with a brisk pace and a stellar performance by Sakshi Tanwar as Sheel. The show sees Tanwar reinventing herself and marking a departure from the roles she usually used to play.
22. The OA (2016 – 2019)
Cast: Brit Marling, Emory Cohen, Scott Wilson, Phyllis Smith, Alice Krige, Patrick Gibson, Brendan Meyer, Brandon Perea
Back in the day, The OA sparked endless theories upon the release of its first season, and many tuned in for season 2 to figure out what happened.
The show follows Prairie Johnson, a young woman who returns to her adoptive parents, Nancy and Abel, after going missing for seven long years.
Prairie was blind when she went missing, but now she has returned with eyesight, and the people refer to her as the Michigan Miracle.
She calls herself the OA, and instead of detailing to her parents and the FBI where she has been, she forms a group of high school students and a teacher to whom she reveals her life story and her goal to rescue other missing people.
The cancellation of The OA caused an uproar among the fans, who responded with several campaigns to save the show, but to this day, Netflix hasn’t brought it back for a third season after a cliffhanger ending.
21. House of Cards (2013 – 2018)
Cast: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Michael Kelly
House of Cards follows the power-hungry Democratic congressman, Frank Underwood, who goes behind President Garrett Walker’s back when Walker doesn’t honor their agreement to make Underwood the Secretary of State.
Underwood, along with his wife Claire, who is just as cruel as he is, and Remy Danton, who once worked for Underwood, execute an elaborate plan to attain power.
Underwood and his wife go to lengths to overthrow people from their power and even murder them to achieve their goals. The show overall deals with the themes of power, revenge, manipulation, and betrayal.
House of Cards is the first television show produced by Netflix. The show has received numerous award nominations and is the first original online-only streaming television program to receive major Emmy nominations.
While the first four seasons are helmed by Kevin Spacey, the last two seasons are produced without him. Netflix terminated its relationship with Spacey following allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
20. Sacred Games (2018 – 2019)
Cast: Saif Ali Khan, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Radhika Apte, Pankaj Tripathi, Kalki Koechlin, Ranvir Shorey
Sacred Games is an Indian neo-noir crime thriller based on Vikram Chandra’s 2006 novel of the same name. It is India’s first Netflix Original series.
In Sacred Games, the life of Inspector Sartaj Singh, who is considered a good-for-nothing cop by his colleagues, turns upside-down when he receives a call from Ganesh Gaitonde, a notorious Mumbai crime lord from the ‘90s who has been missing for the past 16 years.
Ganesh Gaitonde warns him of an impending attack that will tear Mumbai apart in 25 days and claims that it’s up to Sartaj Singh to save it before time runs out.
Throughout its run, the show delves into the rise and fall of Ganesh Gaitonde while Sartaj Singh, along with RAW Agent Anjali Mathur, tracks down the threat the city of Mumbai is facing.
Sacred Games is a dark and gritty thriller comprised of exceptional performances and an engrossing narrative.
It pushed the OTT revolution in India. While the first season was a huge success, the second didn’t catapult the same amount of praise, leaving the creators to refrain from making a third season.
19. Sweet Home (2020 – Present)
Cast: Song Kang, Lee Jin-wook, Lee Si-young, Go Min-si, Park Gyu-young
Based on the popular Naver webtoon of the same name by Kim Carnby and Hwang Young-chan, Sweet Home reflects on how humans can become monsters when it comes to survival in a post-apocalyptic world.
Overcome by the grief of losing his family, Cha Hyun, a high school student, moves to a new apartment.
He feels like giving up on life, but before he could do that, he witnesses his neighbor turning into a monster, and soon, the people around the apartment and in all of Korea go through the same transformation.
Joining hands with the sane and surviving residents, Cha Hyun protects his residence from flesh-eating monsters and other hostile humans who seek to take over.
With the ration running out and becoming a problem, Sweet Home brings out the worst in humans when it’s a life-and-death situation for them.
18. 1899 (2022)
Cast: Emily Beecham, Andreas Pietschmann, Aneurin Barnard, Fflyn Edwards, Miguel Bernardeau, José Pimentão
1899 is a multilingual German mystery and science fiction thriller. It takes place in the titular year and follows a group of European emigrants traveling from Europe to America on a ship called the Kerberos.
Along the way, they cross paths with their sister ship, the Prometheus, which went missing four months ago.
Exploring the Prometheus results in the crew of Kerberos realizing that there is something strange about this ship.
The longer the crew stays near the ship, tragedies and strange events start taking place on board, leaving Maura Franklin, a woman who has studied medicine, and the ship’s captain, Eyk Larsen, to figure out the dark secret that the Prometheus is hiding.
1899 was one of the most highly-anticipated thrillers of 2022, owing to the fact that it comes from the creators of the critically-acclaimed sci-fi thriller Dark.
1899 itself brings a riveting story that is packed with twists and turns. The narrative builds the right amount of tension required to serve a nail-biting thriller.
Despite having a successful first season, Netflix ultimately decided to cancel the show in January 2023.
17. The Chestnut Man (2021)
Cast: Danica Curcic, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard, David Dencik, Lars Ranthe, Iben Dorner, Esben Dalgaard Anderssen
Behind the rather unthreatening title is quite the dark premise. A mysterious serial killer leaves behind chestnut figurines at the sites of murder.
Set in present-day Copenhagen, Detective Naia Thulin and her partner Mark Hess, who notice the figurines, must now zero in on the killer.
Their first clue surfaces when they find the fingerprints of the missing daughter of the politician Rosa Hartung on one of the figurines.
Based on ‘The Killer’, the acclaimed debut novel by Søren Sveistrup, this spine-chilling series has an engaging narrative that grips you.
The Chestnut Man has also been praised for elevating the cliched genre of thrillers that revolve around tracking down a serial killer.
16. Kingdom (2019 – 2020)
Cast: Ju Ji-hoon, Ryu Seung-ryong, Bae Doo-na, Kim Sang-ho, Kim Sung-kyu, Kim Hye-jun, Jun Ji-hyun
This horror political thriller was adapted from the webtoon The Kingdom of the Gods. Set in the 16th century. It unfolds in a fictitious version of Joseon (now known as Korea.
Kingdom follows Crown Prince Lee Chang and his subordinates as they encounter a devastating plague which brings the dead back to life.
As the show progresses, Chang continues to struggle in saving his people and must also deal with the threat of Haewon Cho Clan.
The underlying political conspiracy and rumours of the king’s death add further layers to the narrative. It received acclaim for successfully blending different genres together.
It has spawned a special feature-length episode titled Kingdom: Ashin of the North that explores Ashin, one of the supporting characters in the main series.
15. Criminal: UK (2019 – Present)
Cast: Katherine Kelly, Lee Ingleby, Mark Stanley, Rochenda Sandall, Shubham Saraf, Nicholas Pinnock, Aymen Hamdouchi
A British Procedural anthology, Criminal: UK follows the trained members of the Metropolitan Police’s interrogation division. It has a unique setting where all the characters are confined to the walls of an interrogation room where the police question the suspects.
This results in a thrilling cat-and-mouse game between the two sides as they attempt to psychologically outsmart one another.
Criminal has featured a well-known supporting cast for the suspects, including David Tennant, Kit Harington, Kunal Nayyar, Sophie Okonedo and Hayley Atwell.
The second part of the series grabbed nominations in the 2021 British Academy Television Awards: Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress for the performances of Nayyar and Okonedo.
14. Fauda (2015 – Present)
Cast: Lior Raz, Irzik Cohen, Neta Garty, Rona Lee-Shimon, Doron Ben-David, Doron Kavillo
This series takes inspiration from the experiences of creators, Lior Raz and Avi Issacharoff, when they were part of the Israel Defense Forces.
Fauda narrates the story of Doron, a commander in the Mista’arvim unit, alongside his team tasked with different missions.
Each season follows a different setting, although the core group of characters remain the same. The protagonist wants to escape this life but is also a workaholic who doesn’t know when to quit.
Although the show has been criticised due to its bias towards Syrian Jews, in terms of the action, Fauda is extremely well-choreographed and exhilarating.
13. The Sinner (2017 – 2021)
Cast: Bill Pullman, Christopher Abbott, Jessica Biel, Dohn Norwood, Abby Miller
Bill Pullman stars as police detective Harry Ambrose in this American procedural anthology series. Each season of The Sinner focuses on a completely different case with only the protagonist reprising his role. The rest of the characters keep changing.
Ambrose delves into the past of a troubled woman in the first season, while the second season follows his return to his hometown to look into a poisoning case.
The third season sees him investigating a fatal car accident. The fourth and final season revolves around Ambrose, now retired, who finds himself enlisted as a detective after a tragedy.
The Sinner was originally planned to be an eight-part mini-series, but the success of season one resulted in its renewal as an anthology series.
12. Money Heist (2017 – 2021)
Cast: Úrsula Corberó, Álvaro Morte, Itziar Ituño, Pedro Alonso, Paco Tous, Alba Flores, Miguel Herrán, Jaime Lorente, Esther Acebo
Seasons: 3 (5 parts)
Various individuals with different skill sets and personalities come together to plan one of the most ambitious heists in history.
To prevent complications, they are never told each other’s names. Each is assigned the name of a prominent city in the world; Tokyo, Berlin, Rio, Nairobi and so on.
They are all brought together by ‘The Professor’, the mastermind behind the heist who gives each of them instructions in order to successfully execute the heists.
With mind-boggling twists littered all throughout the series, Money Heist forces you to stay glued to your screens to know what happens next.
The characters are all fleshed out and intriguing as well and their interpersonal relationships and dynamics are a major plus point for the show.
It further adds a dimension by making the robbers resonate with the common people, who show up in large crowds to support them. This begs the question of who is right or wrong in this scenario.
The Spanish-language thriller-drama series is one of the most popular Netflix titles of all time, and three of its parts (3, 4 and 5) are in the top 10 Netflix non-English TV shows list of all time, which is calculated based on the most hours viewed in the first 28 hours. The final part is only second to Squid Game.
It won an International Emmy Award for Best Drama Series at the 46th International Emmy Awards.
11. Sense8 (2015 – 2018)
Cast: Toby Onwumere, Tina Desai, Miguel Angel Silvestre, Jamie Clayton, Tuppence Middleton, Donna Bae, Brian J. Smith, Max Riemelt
One of the earlier attempts by Netflix at an ambitious series, Sense8 features a host of characters that hail from diverse walks of life.
They are all connected by an otherworldly force in both the metaphysical and literal sense, making them ‘sensates’ (which is where Sense8 comes from).
Despite being thousands of miles apart, sensates can sense each other’s emotions. Although this occurs initially only in small, erratic doses, the bond strengthens to the point where they can even control each other’s bodies.
The sci-fi thriller boasts stunning action, composing, choreography, and cinematography. It also explores trans issues, cultural differences and racial discrimination, among other concepts.
Interestingly, the show was canceled prematurely by Netflix in 2017 after the second season, which led to rampant petitioning by ardent fans.
This led to the streaming platform releasing a two-and-a-half-hour special series finale, which holds the record for the longest episode for a Netflix original, even longer than Stranger Things season 4 finale.
It’s one of the rare occasions that Netflix has relented to the criticism of one of their series cancellations.
10. You (2018 – Present)
Cast: Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Victoria Pedretti, Jenna Ortega, Tati Gabrielle
Gossip Girl actor Penn Badgley turns psychopathic stalker-killer Joe Goldberg in You, a psychological thriller based on Caroline Kepnes’ novels.
Joe is introduced as a bookstore manager in New York, who is dangerously infatuated with Guinevere Beck. He gets obsessive and stalks her. The character never hesitates to murder someone if it aids his plans.
Along with the seasons, his women of interest change. After Beck, he pursues Love Quinn, followed by Marienne in season 3.
With each season, the viewers get to witness a different phase of Joe’s life, similar to the life of any common person. He starts out as a young man, gets married and in the latest season, he is practically a widower.
The series is an engrossing watch that explores the twisted decisions and mindset of the serial killer. Watchers are also given a peek into whatever he is thinking, which is a major aspect of the show.
9. Lupin (2021 – Present)
Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Clotilde Hesme, Hervé Pierre, Antoine Gouy, Soufiane Guerrab
Inspired by the fictional master thief Arsène Lupin, Lupin follows Assane Diop, the son of a Senegalese immigrant who turns to a life of crime in search of revenge against the person responsible for his father’s death.
Assane’s father was framed for a diamond theft by his employer Hubert Pellegrini and sent to prison where he ended up killing himself.
This meant that Assane had to grow up without a father and that only fed his hunger for revenge. However, he also has responsibilities in the form of an estranged wife and son who deeply care for him.
Lupin blends charm and high-stakes espionage with more grounded themes of family and parenthood. The series has one of the most successful debuts for a Netflix original show and has been renewed for a third season.
8. Squid Game (2021 – Present)
Cast: Lee Jung-jae, Park Hae-soo, Wi Ha-joon, Jung Ho-yeon, O Yeong-su
Seong Gi-hun is a divorcee with a gambling problem who lives with his ailing mother. He struggles to make ends meet but when a stranger offers him a chance to win a huge sum of money, he jumps at the opportunity.
However, his decision turns out to be a dangerous one as he is taken to an undisclosed location along with 455 other players, all competing to win 45.6 billion won. The competitions are deadly takes on children’s games as elimination means death in this instance.
Gi-hun does his best to make it to the end while making alliances and friends along the way in this dire commentary on class disparity and capitalism.
Squid Game holds the top spot as the most-watched series on Netflix and has received numerous awards including a Primetime Emmy for Lee Jung-jae, making him the first Asian actor to win the award for a non-English title.
The series was renewed for a second season in 2022 and it is set to hit the streaming platform in late 2023 or early 2024.
7. Narcos: Mexico (2018 – 2021)
Cast: Michael Peña, Diego Luna, Tenoch Huerta, Scoot McNairy, José María Yazpik, Joaquín Cosío
Narcos: Mexico is a spin-off/companion series to Narcos and shifts the focus to the Mexican drug war and the rise of the Guadalajara Cartel under Miguel Ángel Félix Gallardo.
Félix Gallardo started off in Sinaloa and initially dealt with the growth and distribution of marijuana before growing more ambitious and dealing in cocaine.
The series dramatizes Félix’s rise as he unites the various plazas in the country to form a powerful cartel and eventually invites the full wrath of the DEA and the United States government after he orders the torture and death of DEA agent Kiki Camarena.
After Félix is arrested and sent the prison, the series focuses on the various plazas vying for power in his absence and dealing with the strong stance against drugs that the government has recently adopted.
Diego Luna shines in the first two seasons with the series continuing to produce thrilling, high-intensity sequences much like Narcos.
6. Black Mirror (2011 – Present)
Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Hayley Atwell, Miley Cyrus, Bryce Dallas Howard, Jon Hamm, Anthony Mackie
Black Mirror is a British anthology series mostly set in dystopian futures heavily featuring sci-fi technology. The genre can best be described as speculative fiction as the episodes tend to explore contemporary social issues tied to technology.
There are a total of 5 seasons or series, one special, and an interactive film with a sixth season in production as of 2022.
With a large array of performers starring in various roles, sharp writing, tonal intensity, and stunning visuals, Black Mirror has garnered significant critical acclaim for its concept.
The first two series originally aired on the British network Channel 4 before moving to Netflix in 2014.
Episodes of Black Mirror can be watched in any order and while they aren’t directly connected to one another, there are several instances of easter eggs and references to other episodes, suggesting a shared universe.
5. Bodyguard (2018)
Cast: Richard Madden, Sophie Rundle, Keeley Hawes, Vincent Franklin, Nicholas Gleaves
David Budd is a former war veteran suffering from PTSD who is working for the Royalty and Specialist Protection Branch and is assigned as the Principal Protection Officer for ambitious Home Secretary Julia Montague.
Montague is a part of the conservative party and has drawn criticism for her political activity which includes infringing on civil liberties in the name of security. Budd despises Montague and her politics but he must put all that aside in the name of the job.
His PTSD makes him a volatile character prone to violent outbursts which leave him estranged from his wife and two children.
He is called into action many times as Montague has several assassination attempts carried out on her which adds to the thrill of the series.
The acting in Bodyguard is of the highest caliber with Richard Madden even earning himself a Golden Globe Award for his performance.
Serious issues such as political oversight, terrorism, and PTSD are covered in the series with a deft touch, and the story is gripping throughout.
4. Ozark (2017 – 2022)
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Sofia Hublitz, Skylar Gaertner
When Marty Byrde is put under threat from a Mexican drug cartel due to his business partner’s shady dealings, he has no option but to talk his way out of the problem.
Boasting prolific financial expertise, Marty offers to set up a major laundering operation for the cartel in the Lake of the Ozarks region of central Missouri.
What follows is the Byrde family moving to this relatively remote region where Marty crosses paths with all varieties of criminals including rival drug traffickers, and the Kansas City mafia.
Along for the ride are Marty’s calculating wife Wendy and his two children, Charlotte and Jonah, who get wrapped up in everything their father does, for better or for worse.
Ozark progressively gets better thanks to the strongly crafted characters and the fantastic performers behind them. Julia Garner earned multiple Emmys for her portrayal of ‘Ruth’ while Jason Bateman received plaudits for going against type while playing ‘Marty’.
3. Dark (2017 – 2020)
Cast: Louis Hofmann, Andreas Pietschmann, Maja Schöne, Lisa Vicari, Moritz Jahn, Daan Lennard Liebrenz
Dark is a German-language series that follows characters from the fictional town of Winden, Germany as they investigate the recent disappearances of children and uncover an even bigger conspiracy involving time travel.
The series depicts stories set in multiple time periods including 2019, 1986, and 1953. The second season takes place a couple of months after the season one finale, in 2020, 1987, and 1954, while adding stories set in 2053, and 1921.
The third and final season takes place following the apocalypse in 2020 and introduces a parallel world with storylines set in 1888, 2019, and 2052.
The series has a complex narrative accompanied by a stellar background score and stunning visuals. It has also received praise for the particularly gratifying conclusion that wraps all the storylines neatly in a bow for the audience.
Dark was the first ever German-language original series and paved the way for several impressive exports from the country.
2. Narcos (2015 – 2017)
Cast: Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, Pedro Pascal, Joanna Christie, Maurice Compte
Narcos is an American-Colombian collaboration that tells the story of famed Colombian narcoterrorist and drug kingpin, Pablo Escobar, and his eventual rise as one of the richest traffickers in the world through the production and distribution of cocaine.
The series has a dual focus and shifts between the mercurial drug lord and the highly determined DEA agents tasked to bring him down, specifically Steve Murphy and Javier Peña.
Following Escobar’s death, the series moves on to the Cali Cartel, which occupies the power vacuum left behind and continues to recount Peña’s efforts to curtail their rise.
The series is highlighted by the exceptional portrayal of Pablo Escobar by Wagner Moura and is aided by similarly hefty performances around him. The tone is intense and the series moves at a thrilling pace from start to finish across three seasons.
1. Mindhunter (2017 – 2019)
Mindhunter is a crime-thriller series recounting the formation and early days of the FBI’s Behavioural Analysis Unit and how they established the guidelines for criminal profiling.
It revolves around agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench along with psychologist Wendy Carr as they interviewed a host of serial killers to learn more about what goes on in their minds and what makes them tick.
Some of the most notable killers to appear in the series are Edmund Kemper, Montie Rissell, Jerry Brudos, Richard Speck, Dennis Raider (BTK), David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), William Pierce Jr., Elmer Wayne Henley Jr., and Charles Manson.
There is also a specific focus on the Atlanta murders of 1979 to 1981 and the questionable conviction of Wayne Williams.
The tension in Mindhunter is palpable and can be cut with a knife as the FBI agents sit across from stone-cold killers as they talk about what motivates them. The writing and direction, and performance are the driving force in this series
While the series was never canceled outright, the production took an indefinite hold as de facto showrunner David Fincher stepped away to pursue other projects.