Sometimes you just need an immersive drama, and thankfully, Netflix delivers. From what are now TV classics (like Breaking Bad) to Peak TV gems (Hap and Leonard, Mindhunter), Netflix is home to some of the most wonderfully crafted and engaging television of our time.
Over the next several weeks, we’ll be rolling out more lists of TV subgenres on the streaming giant, including the Best Crime Series, Best Fantasy, Best TV Comedies, Best Horror Series, and more. So if you don’t see you favorites here, keep checking! And of course, for a full list of everything Netflix has to offer TV-wise that we recommend, you can head over to our master list of The Best TV Shows on Netflix.
This list will continue to grow, but for now check out our list of the best drama shows on Netflix below, and let us know some of your other favorites in the comments:
Created by: Chris Chibnall
Cast: David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jdie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan, Arthur Darvill, Carolyn Pickles, Matthew Gravelle, Charlotte Beaumont, and Phoebe Waller-Bridge
If you’re in the mood for a drama series that’s also a murder mystery, check out the British show Broadchurch. Originally airing on ITV, the series finds David Tennant and Olivia Colman playing a pair of detectives who are investigating the disappearance and subsequent murder of a young boy in a quiet fictional English town in Dorset. And while the murder mystery angle is certainly engrossing, this is a show that does not shortchaging the emotions of the characters. The death of this young child is devastating and the show does a tremendous job of really digging into how it affects the family and townspeople (fair warning: you will cry a lot). And while the second and third seasons don’t match the tightness of Season 1, it’s still an engaging and extremely dramatic show to watch. Season 2 focuses on the trial following the events of the Season 1 finale, while Season 3 focuses on a new case altogether.
Created by: Bill Dubuque and Mark Williams
Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, Peter Mullan, and Janet McTeer
The Netflix original series Ozark is frequently one of the streaming service’s most popular shows, and for good reason. Almost like a backwoods version of Breaking Bad, the series opens with Jason Bateman’s life falling apart. He and his family are forced to move from Chicago to the Ozarks to start a money laundering business after he discovers his longtime business partner has been dealing with Mexican drug cartels, and they owe an inordinate amount of money. Bateman’s life is spared when he promises to recoup by opening a vacation destination in the Ozarks, but as he and his family enmesh themselves deeper and deeper into the criminal underworld, the line between good and bad becomes further blurred. It’s pretty thrilling, packed with twists, and the performances are solid. It’s not as tight or as emotionally satisfying as Breaking Bad, but then again what is? As far as substitutes go, Ozark is solid.
Created by: Vince Gilligan
Cast: Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul, Dean Norris, Betsy Brandt, RJ Mitte, Bob Odenkirk, Jonathan Banks, and Giancarlo Esposito
It’s entirely possible that Breaking Bad will go down in history as the most influential TV drama ever. Creator Vince Gilligan makes good on a single story arc over the course of five seasons: Taking chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston) from Mr. Chips to Scarface. That arc tracks, but along the way we get an engaging, twisty, character-rich story that can vacillate between deeply emotional and edge-of-your-seat thrilling. The show begins with the mild-mannered White receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis and opting to go into the crystal meth trade to put together some money to leave behind to his family. But as the story wears on and obstacles arise, Walter White morphs into something far more dangerous and terrifying—or was it always there, bubbling under the surface?
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Michael Pitt, Richard Armitage, and Gillian Anderson
I guarantee you’ve never seen a show quite like Hannibal, and if you’re into artfully told serial killer stories with strong sexual tension, you’re gonna love it. Based on the Thomas Harris novel of the same name, the show began as a Hannibal Lecter series of sorts—Mads Mikkelsen plays forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter who is called upon by gifted criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and the Behavioral Sciences unit of the FBI to help track down a serial killer. Will and Hannibal develop a wildly inappropriate, deeply bonded relationship, which only further complicates matters when Will begins to suspect that Hannibal might have a role to play in these murders. And for Harris fans, the show covers various beloved storylines from his Lecter books (like Red Dragon). One part crime procedural mystery, one part twist-filled psychological thriller romance, and one part full-on horror story, Hannibal is a wholly unique series that gets weirder and weirder as it goes on, but keeps you enraptured the entire time. You’ll soon start to wonder how in the world a show this graphic, this poetic, and this strange aired on NBC for three seasons.
Created by: Joe Penhall
Cast: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Hannah Gross, and Cotter Smith
Executive produced and essentially showrun by David Fincher, Mindhunter is one of TV’s best shows, period. The series is based on true events and follows the early days of the FBI’s criminal profiling unit in the late 1970s. Two FBI agents from the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit—Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany)—set out to interview imprisoned serial killers to see if they can understand why they did what they did, to help create a profile for the FBI to catch these kinds of killers. The show is methodical, wildly engrossing, and surprisingly funny, and Fincher himself directs multiple episodes throughout the first two seasons, resulting in terrific piece of filmmaking as well. It’s an addictive series that refuses to go down easy or well-worn paths, instead finding brand new ways to chronicle stories that have been told countless times, and as a result offering wholly new insight into human behavior. Oh yeah, and it’s deliciously entertaining.