The Hulu original true-crime limited series Under the Banner of Heaven has made waves this spring as a philosophical and studious look into an infamous murder case that occurred in a quiet Mormon community during the 1980s. An adaptation of the novel Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Hate written by Jon Krakauer, the series is based upon the double murder of young Utah mother Brenah Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her newborn baby daughter. Taking place in a highly religious community of Mormons in 1984, detective Jeb Prye (Andrew Garfield) must solve the crime as he’s forced to confront his religious beliefs as he discovers the true intentions behind the brutal murders.
Under the Banner of Heaven is just the latest in a string of true-crime series Hulu has released this past year, following in the footsteps of The Girl from Plainville, The Dropout, Pam & Tommy, and more. The small town set thriller is a juicy murder mystery that any true-crime fanatic would like, but it’s also hard to fathom that such an ugly crime could be committed in such a peaceful community. If you want more detail-oriented, chilling accounts of past murder mystery cases and serial killer origin stories, there’s plenty more where Under the Banner of Heaven came from. Here are 10 additional true-crime series based on real murder cases to watch next.
The true-crime limited series The Serpent is a chilling window into the mind of a serial killer and how he chooses and preys upon his victims. Following the notorious Frenchmen Charles Sobhraj (Tahar Rahim), he’s often referred to as “the serpent” or “the bikini killer” as he used his suave nature to lure tourists into his trap during the late mid to late 1970s in South Asia, and many victims were discovered wearing bikinis. With the aid of his partner Marie-Andrée Leclerc (Jenna Coleman), they conned various tourists by Sobhraj posing as a gems dealer, which gave them the perfect opportunity to ambush the various men and women. Believed to have killed at least 20 people, all the different time jumps within The Serpent can be dizzying, and it seems that every scene within one episode takes place during a different period. If you can get past the at times confusing storylines, The Serpent is a clever re-telling of the serial killer as he hunts for victims while Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg (Billy Howle) hunts him down.
Referred to as the crime of the century, The People vs. OJ Simpson is a sharp, laser-focused limited series focused on the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995. Marking the first season in the anthology true-crime series American Crime Story, each season is a miniseries based upon infamous moments in American history with a new slate of cast members. Simpson was accused of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman outside Brown’s home in LA in 1994. Despite having an immense amount of motives pointing towards Simpson as the killer, the country and jury became divided over his innocence, and he was ultimately found not guilty in one of the most controversial court rulings of all time. The People vs. OJ Simpson stars Sarah Paulson as District Attorney Marcia Clarke, Sterling K. Brown as her co-prosecutor Christopher Darden, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, John Travolta as leading defense attorney Robert Shapiro, Courtney B. Vance as co-defense attorney Johnny Cochrane, and David Schwimmer as family friend and co-defense attorney Robert Kardashian.
Season 2, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, follows serial killer Andrew Cunanan as he goes on a killing spree that ends when he shoots and kills fashion designer Gianni Versace on the front steps of his Miami mansion on June 15, 1997. Criss stars as the violent Cunanan alongside Édgar Ramírez as Versace, Penélope Cruz as his grieving sister Donatella Versace, and Ricky Martin as Versace’s partner, Antonio D’Amico. Based upon the true-crime novel Vulgar Favors: Andrew Cunanan, Gianni Versace, and the Largest Failed Manhunt in U.S. History written by Maureen Orth, the series tracks Cunanan as he’s continuously able to evade law enforcement across the country.
The Staircase needs no introduction, as it’s one of the most famous murder cases of the 21st century. Followed closely by the media, the series trails the murder investigation into Michael Peterson, a crime novelist convicted of murdering his wife Kathleen Peterson by pushing her down the staircase in their home. Colin Firth stars as Michael opposite Toni Collette as Kathleen, and their large extended family is thrust into a tumultuous spotlight as the investigation into Kathleen’s death and a trial ensue. Found with multiple bruises and lacerations across her body including her skull, Michael was believed to have abused and bludgeoned his wife in the head. As he maintains his innocence and calls the investigation a witch hunt, he allows a French film crew to follow him and his family around to make a documentary about the case. That documentary would turn into The Staircase, the 2004 famous true-crime documentary series that interviewed the extended family, and attorneys, and was allowed access into the trial that found Peterson guilty.
Mindhunter is an unnerving thriller series that was gone too soon. Lasting on Netflix for two seasons, the slick series follows the creation of serial killer profiling within the Behavioral Science Unit (BSU) at the FBI and is in part based upon real-life FBI criminal profiler John Douglas’s experiences as he helped form the unit in the late 70s. Jonathan Groff plays Holden Ford, a young special FBI agent working in the BSU alongside fellow BSU agent Henry Tench (Holt McCallany). The first season spans from 1977 through1980 as the pair travel across the country and interviews serial killers to better understand them and catch future killers. Interviewing serial killers Ed Kemper, Charles Manson, Jerry Brudos, and more, they all go into explicit details about their various murders, why they did it, and how.
The second season takes a riveting turn as Ford and Tench arrive in Atlanta in the summer of 1981 during a period known as the Atlanta child murders, in which dozens of young Black men and children were found murdered or had inexplicably disappeared. A controversial investigation that resulted in the arrest of serial killer Wayne Williams, the case was re-opened in 2019 as many remain skeptical of his guilt for all 30 victims. Though Mindhunter was set up to continue with a season 3, the David Fincher-directed series will unfortunately not be moving forward. If you want more content, try the novel Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, written by Douglas and Mark Olshaker.
David Tennant plays one of the most notorious British serial killers of all time after Jack the Ripper in Des, a meticulous three-part limited series that follows the harrowing case. Des Nilsen was arrested at his home in 1983 after human remains were discovered in his plumbing system and cops discovered the body. The series starts with Nilson’s arrest and then takes viewers into smoke-filled interrogation rooms as detectives interview him. Prone to toying with the various detectives with no sign of remorse, Nilson gradually reveals all the men he has killed over several years. Jason Watkins plays biographer Brian Masters, a pen pal of Nilson’s who frequently visited him in prison which resulted in the biography Killing for Company: The Case of Des Nilsen. Originally from Scotland, Nilson was believed to have murdered at least 12 men and boys during the late 70s and early 80s in London, and for his uncanny performance as the manipulative killer, Tennant won the International Emmy Award for Best Actor in 2021.
Based upon the mega-popular Wondery podcast series under the same name, the Peacock original series Dr. Death tells the true story of the murderous Dr. Christopher Duntsch, a Texan crook accused of maiming 33 patients and killing two. All occurring within two years, Duntsch was convicted of maiming one patient and sentenced to life imprisonment. Joshua Jackson plays the psychotic doctor and is the stuff of nightmares as he lures innocent victims into the operating room, scalpel in hand. Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater play real-life Texas doctors Robert Henderson and Randall Kirby, and together they make it their goal to ensure Dr. Duntsch never steps foot into a hospital again after they uncover his alarming pattern of surgeries gone wrong. Some scenes in Dr. Death can be hard to stomach as the series carts viewers onto the operating table, but if you want an enraging and thrilling cat and mouse chase, stick with Dr. Death.
The Pembrokeshire Murders is a three-part limited series based upon the search for the infamous Whale’s serial killer, John Cooper. Occurring in the 1980s and referred to as the Coastal Path Murders or The Pembrokeshire Murders, the two double homicide murder cases would go unsolved until Detective Superintendent Steve Wilkins (Luke Evans) decided to re-open the case in 2006. The victims were couples Peter and Gwenda Dixon and Richard and Helen Thomas, and their unsolved murders mystified the country for decades. A lifelong criminal with multiple robbery charges and assault to his name, Cooper (Keith Allen) was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 1998 for burglary and is then released in 2009. As Detective Wilkins and law enforcement focus their investigation on Cooper, they use modern advancements in DNA and forensic science to catch him before he can commit any more crimes.
Manhunt: Unabomber follows the hunt for the deadliest bomber in American history, Ted Kaczynski. Responsible for murdering three people and injuring dozens, the series follows gifted FBI profiler Jim Fitzgerald (Sam Worthington) as he works to uncover the Unabomber’s identity. Paul Bettany plays Kaczynski, and across the eight episodes, Kaczynski toys with the FBI as they continuously fail to catch him. Primarily taking place between 1995 and 1997, Fitzgerald works closely with colleague Tabby Milgrim (Keisha Castle-Hughes) and the rest of his team to beat the clock and catch the Unabomber before he strikes again. Intercut with real news footage covering his multiple attacks adds a chilling effect, and the series is not for the faint of heart as they don’t skimp on showing the victims of the Unabomber in the aftermath of the explosions. Manhunt: Unabomber marked the first season in the true-crime anthology series, and the second season is focused on the Richard Jewell case, entitled Manhunt: Deadly Games.
Dirty John is another true-crime anthology series following different cases each season. The first season is based upon the viral Wondery podcast under the same name and follows successful California interior designer Debra Newell (Connie Britton) as she falls for the charismatic anesthesiologist, John Meehan (Eric Bane). While John seems to like the package deal, he’s hiding a sinister truth, and everything unfolds in a shocking fashion as his real identity is revealed. Julia Garner and Juno Temple play Debra’s daughters Terra and Veronica, and both are not as ready to welcome John into their home as their smitten mother is. The second season, Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, is based upon the double homicide murder case that took place in California during the late 80s. Amanda Peet stars as convicted murderer Betty Broderick, and the series is a twisted love story as it follows the demise of her marriage with her adulterous husband Dan, (Christian Slater) which results in his second marriage to Linda Kolkena (Rachell Keller).
Still, want more? Check out other critically acclaimed true-crime series based upon real-life murders, including The Act, The Girl from Plainville, Candy, The Thing About Pam, A Very British Scandal, and Alias Grace.
How to Watch ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’: Where to Stream the True Crime Series