The best thriller TV series to watch on Netflix

The Arrowhead leader in the Hellbound series under blacklight in a still from the show
Photo: Jung Jaegu/Netflix

The best dramas on streaming to get your blood pumping

There’s plenty of great thriller films to watch on Netflix. But if you prefer your stories to be more procedural, there’s just as many fantastic TV series to choose from on the service.

We’ve put together our conspiracy corkboards, crunched the numbers, and followed the money to bring you our list of the top suspects for the best thriller TV series to watch on Netflix. From modern classics like David Fincher’s Mindhunter and You to pulse-pounding murder mysteries like Erased and more, Netflix has a selection of thriller TV just waiting to become your next obsession.

Here are the best thriller series you can watch right now on Netflix. Our latest update added Hellbound as our editor’s pick.


Editor’s pick: Hellbound

A face appears to give a decree in an episode of Netflix’s Hellbound Photo: Jung Jaegu/Netflix

What would you do if you were told, with absolute certainty, that you were going to hell, and there was nothing you could do to stop it? Moreover, what would you do if everyone around knew this, and a bunch of big burly smoke demons were going to beat you to death before burning your corpse? Well, that’s the situation the characters in Hellbound find themselves in.

Adapted from his horror-thriller webtoon, Train to Busan director Yeon Sang-ho’s series takes place in a modern-day South Korea that has been plunged into hysteria following a wave of mysterious murders perpetrated by supernatural beings thought to be “angels.” Believing that their victims have been condemned to hell, society has dissolved into a religious panic, with an insidious cult organization known as the New Truth Society holding sway over all forms of government and culture.

The series escalates from a dark fantasy police procedural about an investigator attempting to apprehend the extremist founder of the nascent New Truth Society into a nail-biting thriller about a father and mother attempting to protect their child from the machinations of the cult. Hellbound is a brilliantly constructed drama about the ways humans are susceptible to fanaticism and superstition, and how deliberate cooperation and compassion can stem the tide of our darkest impulses. —Toussaint Egan


Babylon Berlin

A raucous party set in 1929 Berlin, as seen in Babylon Berlin. Image: X Filme Creative Pool

Bad things are coming to 1929 Berlin. We know this, of course — with the vantage point of history, the Weimar Republic era was marked by economic insecurity and the beginning of the Nazi Party. But the ’20s in the world of Babylon Berlin exist just before that horror, when the degeneracy from all that economic downturn could give way to roaring ’20s clubs just as easily as unending darkness.

That tension is captured in Babylon Berlin by two protagonists: Gereon Rath (a soft and strong Volker Bruch), a vice inspector on a secret mission to take down an extortion ring, and Charlotte Ritter (Liv Lisa Fries, all vinegar and chutzpah), the new police clerk who moonlights as a sex worker. Together they provide two very distinct vantage points on the Weimar Republic’s waning days, exposing the rot of what’s to come at the same time they find hope in what could’ve been.

Babylon Berlin’s trick is by not getting ahead of itself. The show is perhaps one of the slower boils on this list; the thrills of the mystery, such as they are, come from meticulous pacing. Answers don’t come easy, and a whole country’s politics don’t change overnight. Babylon Berlin is a web of history and conspiracy, and by taking those elements equally seriously and methodically, you get a twisty, hardboiled detective story for the ages. —Zosha Millman

Bodies

Shira Haas as DS Maplewood kneeling beside a body in a courtyard overrun with plants in Bodies. Image: Netflix

Solving a murder is hard enough, but how do you go about apprehending a culprit whose crime literally transcends space and time?

Bodies is a terrific cerebral whodunit with an excellent ensemble cast whose stories weave into one another effortlessly as the series builds and the mystery deepens. Created by Paul Tomalin (Torchwood) and based on Si Spencer’s 2014 comic, this sci-fi crime thriller follows four detectives living in different time periods of London who find themselves investigating a strange murder. What’s so strange about it? Well, the victim’s body appears — and reappears — in each time period in the exact same location. What’s even stranger is that the victim was last seen alive in 2053, despite being seen dead both in that year and as early as 1890.

A engrossing drama that feels like a mashup between Class of ’09, Dark, and Alex Garland’s Devs, Bodies is one of Netflix’s most compelling releases this year and wholly deserves to be added to your watchlist. —TE

The Diplomat

Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell wear fancy dress and look at themselves in a tall oval mirror in The Diplomat. Image: Netflix

One of Netflix’s biggest hits from its 2023 slate of shows added a different (but well-trodden) sort of thriller to this list — the political thriller — following in the footsteps of the streaming platform’s first-ever hit original show.

A throwback to the kind of plot-heavy political thriller that used to run television (and the screwball comedies of days gone by), The Diplomat is a delightful star vehicle for Keri Russell. She is Kate Wyler, a whip-smart career diplomat whose plans are thrown into disarray when her upcoming assignment in Afghanistan is changed to what seems to be a cushy post as the new U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom. For Kate, who loves her work and is very good at it, this is a clear downgrade, but the more power-focused people in her life (including her conniving husband Hal, played by Rufus Sewell) are delighted by the new role. What follows is a whirlwind of intrigue and mystery, with snappy dialogue, strong chemistry between the leads, and plenty of twists and turns.

After courting many viewers for its first season, The Diplomat will return for a second. We can’t wait, especially after the first season’s cliffhanger ending. —Pete Volk

Ganglands

Samuel Jouy firing a submachine gun beside an open truck door in Ganglands. Image: Netflix

French action cinema is having a bit of a renaissance, and one of the leading figures is director Julien Leclercq. He made the very good Olga Kurylenko thriller Sentinelle, the Jean-Claude Van Damme-led The Bouncer, and my favorite movie of his, the tense crime thriller Braqueurs (also known as The Crew).

Six years later, Leclercq took his talents to television with the Netflix series Ganglands (also known as Braqueurs). It shares the same name, lead (the excellent Sami Bouajila), and general vibe, but is not technically a sequel or a remake. In Ganglands, a crew of expert armed robbers are drawn into a gang war: They’re so dang good at crimes, everyone wants to hire them, even the people they rob.

Leclercq and writer Hamid Hlioua have created a muscular little thriller anchored by strong leading performances and the director’s tension-filled style of building action and conflict. The second season was recently released on Netflix, and both seasons are very much worth your time. —Pete Volk

Lupin

omar sy in lupin Image: Netflix

The thrill of the heist — there’s just nothing like it. Ask Assane Diop (Omar Sy). He’s been working as a con artist and thief for years, drawing his inspiration (and moniker) from an obsession with the literary gentleman thief Arsène Lupin. His thrills are hard-won, but they’re also smoothly meticulous. For Assane, the art of the heist — even with a priceless diamond necklace worn by Marie Antoinette — is a given.

What comes less naturally is revenge. Lupin’s first season follows his quest to seek vengeance on the rich family that wronged his father, and the show is full of twists and turns as his mission starts to bleed from his gentleman thief persona back into his real life.

The French series was a breakout hit when it premiered on Netflix, thanks in large part to Sy’s performance. He is magnetic as he makes con artistry look easy, with the sort of natural charm that makes you believe he can fake his way into any vault or safe in France (and that’s all before we get into his thieving skills and connections). With a heist, the end is, typically, self-assured. Sy’s performance ensures Lupin has the same confidence, and makes every step of the ride along the way its own thrill. —ZM

Mindhunter

Albert Jones, Holt McCallany, Jonathan Groff leaning against the hood of a car while lit by the police sirens in episode five of Mindhunter season 2. Image: Netflix

David Fincher’s exacting vision is applied to the television format in one of the best shows Netflix has ever produced. Over two seasons, odd-couple FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (the terrific Holt McCallany) interview serial killers in the burgeoning field of criminal psychology.

In a nice twist on conventional character tropes, it is the young agent who is often cold and emotionally removed, and the older one who worries about the consequences of their actions. Their chemistry, as well as Mindhunter’s deep study of our culture around serial killers and the approach to stopping them, makes the show excellent, and it never veers into the exploitation of its peers in the genre.

How exacting is Fincher’s vision? Take a look at this mind-blowing VFX reel from the show, which literally changed how I watch modern cinema. —PV

Monster

Kenzo Tenma staring down at his hands solemnly in Monster. Image: Madhouse/Viz Media

If you’re a fan of the 1960s crime drama series The Fugitive, you’ll likely love the 2004 anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s psychological thriller manga. After all, the series was inspired by it! Set in Germany before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Monster centers on the story of Kenzo Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon living in Düsseldorf. After being implicated in the murders of his superiors, Kenzo must go on the run to clear his name by tracking down the real culprit: a young man he once treated.

Spanning 74 episodes, Monster is a labyrinthine drama filled with a rich cast of characters and enough harrowing twists and revelations to fill a Matryoshka doll. —TE

The Night Agent

Gabriel Basso holds out his FBI badge in The Night Agent Photo: Dan Power/Netflix

Sometimes, you want a “light brain” thriller — something not too deep that might be perfect for a bucket of popcorn or for background viewing while you fold some laundry. The Night Agent is Netflix’s quintessential plot-heavy popcorn thriller, elevated to solid fare thanks to the surprising chemistry between its two leads.

Adapted by The Shield creator Shawn Ryan from the novel, The Night Agent stars Gabriel Basso as an FBI agent who has been relegated to watching a phone that never rings in the basement in the White House. When that phone does ring one night, he and the person on the other end (Luciane Buchanan) are brought into a vast conspiracy that threatens to unravel everything he knows. —PV

You

Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg removing a knife from a dead man’s chest in You season four. Image: Netflix

No one is doing it like Joe Goldberg (Penn Badgley). The man is in a league of his own when it comes to stalking women and obsessing over them. This is the double-edged sword of watching You and following Joe in his unethical exploits: He is outright the villain of his own story.

Luckily, You is very aware of this, taking the initial premise of the first season — boy meets girl, boy stalks girl, boy manipulates her whole life to a dangerous degree — and continues flipping it over, putting Joe through his paces, letting him scramble to cover his ass as he gets in deeper and deeper. Each You season is a flavor unto itself, switching locales and ladies and letting Joe make the worst kind of case for himself.

You is not a show for the faint of heart, but it’s also not a thriller that rests easily on its underlying darkness. Joe may be an absolute piece of shit (even Badgley thinks so, and would really like it if you did too), but the show knows how to keep him engaging as it turns the screws on him. Each of the four seasons challenges him in new ways, and it makes for a snaky and startlingly good time. With You there’s only one thing you can always expect: for Joe to go to extreme and violent lengths to prove he’s not the bad guy. Also a plexiglass vault. —ZM

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