17 INCREDIBLE NORDIC SHOWS ON NETFLIX
17 INCREDIBLE NORDIC SHOWS ON NETFLIX, recently, a brand-new genre on Netflix has caught the attention of fans worldwide. Nordic noir is a subgenre that focuses on gritty subjects including crime, corruption, murder, and vengeance. Characters in the Nordic noir subgenre struggle with their inner demons. They are typically written by authors from the Nordic region, specifically from Sweden, Denmark, Finland, and Iceland.
This gives them a bleak atmosphere with cold weather, corrupt cops, high suicide rates, alcoholism, prostitution, violence and brutal murder. The main character usually struggles between good or evil, trying to find a way out, making them some of the best crime shows on Netflix.
We call these crime dramas ‘noir’ instead of just ‘crime fiction’ because many of those stories take place during wintertime and feature the midnight sun. This is because crime happens more frequently at night, and snow covers everything making it harder for the law to catch criminals. Also, the environment plays a significant role since many of the settings are where temperatures drop below freezing point at times.
1- YOUNG WALLANDER
Young Wallander is a Swedish series based on Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander novels, a contemporary version of the legendary detective who investigates crimes in Sweden.
When Wallander famils to save a teenager from a gruesome attack, he learns to cope with his guilt to solve the crime.
Young Wallander is filled with complex characters, with a youthful vibe that makes it one of the best modern mystery series on Netflix.
First episode: 3 September 2020
Cast: Adam Palsson, Ellise Chappell, Leanne Best, Richard Dillane.
Quicksand is a courtroom crime drama where an 18-year-old girl is accused of murder after a school shooting in an upmarket Stockholm neighbourhood.
Based on Malin Persson Giolito’s best-selling Swedish novel, its main characters are young.
High school student Maja is on trial for a murder case, and the story unfolds through the main characters’ eyes.
Events jump from the present to the days leading up to the shooting and builds a case that delivers the answer that everyone wants to know.
Did the young woman plan the attack with her boyfriend or is she innocent?
It has a well-written crime drama plot and was the first original series commissioned by Netflix in Sweden.
The script was created by the writers of The Bridge and adapted from a novel that won the 2016 Nordic Crime Novel of the year.
First episode: 5 April 2019
Cast: Hanna Ardéhn, Felix Sandman, William Spetz.
3- THE BRIDGE
Two women are found dead when a body cut in half at the waist is discovered in the middle of the Øresund Bridge between Copenhagen with Malmö, right on the border of Denmark and Sweden.
Both the Danish and Swedish police jointly investigate.
The corpse is arranged in a macabre manner with the upper half of a female Swedish politician and the lower half of a Danish prostitute.
The lead investigators are Swedish detective Saga Norén and Danish investigator Martin Rohde.
An unusual twist is that a journalist whose car was used in the crime starts getting phone calls from the mysterious “Truth Terrorist”, who owns up to the crimes.
The Danish and Swedish police solve a series of gruesome crimes in a thought-provoking crime drama with lots of twists and turns.
First Episode: Not on Netflix
Cast: Sofia Helin, Rafael Pettersson, Sarah Boberg, Dag Malmberg.
Another cross-border crime series pairs Stockholm-based Sophie Borg and UK detective Tom Brown.
The pair works together to solve the case of the macabre murder of an English citizen that rocked Borg’s fictional hometown of Norrbacka.
Fallet is a Scandi noir series on Netflix with a comedic tone and an entertaining performance from an undistinguished local cop.
First Episode: 14 April 2017
Cast: Adam Godley, Lisa Henni, Tomas von Bromssen.
Awards: Best comedy-drama at C21’s International Drama Awards 2017 in London
5- UNLIKELY MURDERER
Unlikely Murderer is a fictional interpretation of real events that tells a version of how graphic designer, Stig Engström, eluded justice for the death of the prime minister of Sweden, Olof Palme.
This Netflix series (due in autumn 2021) depicts an ill-planned attempt where everything went wrong, and no one believed his lies about what happened.
In February 1986, the prime minister decided to go to the movies with his wife.
At the last minute without his bodyguards, and walked home after the show.
A gunman shot the PM dead but only slightly wounded his wife.
One of the reasons this Netflix show is a compelling watch is because it closely mimics real-life events.
First Episode: Due in Autumn 2021
Cast: Robert Gustafsson, Eva Melander, Mikael Persbrandt and Peter Andersson.
ICELAND CRIME DRAMAS
6- THE VALHALLA MURDERS
Police profiler, Arnar from Oslo returns to Iceland to help hunt down Iceland’s first serial killer.
Arnar pairs up with policewoman Kata, and they play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the killer.
This Icelandic series is a classic Scandi noir murder mystery on Netflix with wintery scenery short in and around Reykjavik.
The cold weather gets a special mention and is brightened up by a script that moves along with some excellent acting.
First Episode: 26 December 2019
Cast: Nina Dogg Filippusdottir, Bjorn Thors, Sigurdur Skulason.
A teenager is found hanged at a ballet school and, at first, the police believe she committed suicide, but a local detective Gabríela starts investigating the girl’s life and discovers the truth.
This Netflix series explores unpleasant themes in its characterisations of modern-day life, from boys posting videos of girls having sex and young men forcing girls into prostitution through drugs to teachers who bully their students and sex trafficking.
The detective soon discovers the victim’s family has hired a lawyer to do their investigation.
Case is a haunting series to watch on the streaming giant, with a slightly less believable plot than your average Scandi noir series.
First Episode: 2015
Cast: Steinunn Olina Porsteinsdottir, Magnus Jonsson, Birna Run Eiriksdottir.
8- TRAPPED AND ENTRAPPED
Trapped in a murder case set in a remote Icelandic town during a major snowstorm that cuts the region off from the world.
Entrapped is based on the same characters and set two years later in the highlands when investigators Andri and Hinrika are drawn into a fight for land ownership between a religious group and an Icelandic biker gang.
The clash results in the murder of a young man.
The filming of season one was done in the village of Siglufjörður while season two was filmed in Reykjavík.
First Episode: Trapped (2015), Entrapped (2021)
Cast: Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir.
DANISH CRIME DRAMA
9- THE CHESTNUT MAN
If you’re on a mission to watch a comprehensive list of Nordic noir shows, you’ll want to check out this one.
Viewers around the world who have enjoyed watching The Killing will want to look out for the Chestnut Man on Netflix.
The story starts when a body with a missing hand emerges in a kid’s playground in Copenhagen.
This terrifying murder investigation builds tension as a string of murders are revealed with the serial killer’s calling card of a handmade doll made of matchsticks and two chestnuts.
A young detective, Naia Thulin, and her new partner, Mark Hess, are assigned to the investigation and quickly discover a connection to the missing daughter of a politician.
This Scandi noir crime thriller has plenty of twists and turns, and the plot is based on a popular book.
It sounds like the kind of series that will quickly amass an international following and a second season.
First Episode: Autumn 2021
Cast: Danica Curcic, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard and David Dencik.
21 years after a tragic event, Astrid is haunted by visions of the disappearance of her sister and classmates decades ago.
She begins investigating, and her danger-filled quest to uncover the truth involves her in ways she had not predicted.
Equinox is about how different people react to losing loved ones and shows how it can pull families apart.
Other themes are parental decisions, conspiracy theories, belief in myths and the supernatural.
First Episode: 30 December 2020
Cast: Danica Curcic, Lars Brygmann, Fanny Bornedal.
11- THE RAIN
A deadly virus rips through the population, leaving a brother and sister to battle on alone in a bunker in a post-apocalyptic world.
This Danish series on Netflix has become incredibly popular around the world and has a topical theme that draws you in.
The rain-carried virus wipes out most of the Scandinavian population in six years.
The siblings find a group of young survivors who embark on a danger-filled quest through the country where societal rules have fallen by the wayside.
They find themselves dealing with eternal human emotions, such as jealousy, love and growing up in an abandoned land.
The Rain was filmed in the south of Sweden and Zealand in Denmark, while the Danish Maritime Museum features as the Apollon headquarters.
First Episode: 2018
Cast: Alba August, Jessica Dinage, Angela Bundalovic.
A war veteran plagued by guilt goes undercover to infiltrate a dangerous Copenhagen biker gang.
After the death of her husband, Copenhagen policewoman Louise asks his best friend and war hero to infiltrate the gang.
Warrior is a show about a tough hero, the criminal underworld, police and military with a good dose of sexual chemistry between the undercover veteran and his best friend’s widow.
Cast: Dar Salim,Danica Curcic,Lars Ranthe.
From the producers of The Killing, Borgen is a Danish drama series about the complex lives of politicians and their entourages in Denmark.
It provides insights into how Denmark’s first female prime minister rose to the top after a landslide victory.
This Netflix series takes a hard look at politics in Denmark, and although it doesn’t quite slot into the ‘Nordic noir’ crime drama mould, it’s pretty riveting watching for those who love political dramas.
First Episode: 25 September 2010
Cast: Sidse Babett Knudsen, Mikael Birkkjær, Pilou Asbæk.
FINNISH CRIME DRAMA
One of the top TV series in Finland, Bordertown follows police investigator Kari Sorjonen, a man who has the unique ability to solve crimes.
Kari accepts a role in a small town to have a more peaceful life to spend more time with his family, but he is quickly drawn into a series of brutal murder cases.
This realistic Netflix crime drama is riveting to watch and
First Episode: 16 October 2016
Cast: Ville Virtanen, Olivia Ainali, Anu Sinisalo, Lenita Susi.
Awards: Golden Venla for Best Drama Series 2016 and Golden Venla For Best Actor 2016.
Sofia Karppi is a Helsinki Police Department homicide detective and single mum who pairs up with a new partner, a rookie, Sakari Nurmi.
The mystery starts when a woman’s body turns up at a construction site buried with flowers in her hands.
The pair follow their noses to investigate the woman’s background and her job with the Tempo company.
Fans of suspenseful crime dramas will want to put this one on the list to watch on Netflix.
First Episode: 14 March 2018
Cast: Pihla Viitala, Lauri Tilkanen, Jani Volanen.
NORWEGIAN TV SHOWS
Police officer Nikolai investigates the death of a local man.
The local man’s apparent suicide turns the policeman’s life upside down when he decides to cover up his investigation to stop his brother from being framed.
Things start getting stressful for Nikolai when his colleague, Anniken, starts suspecting him and watches him closely.
The cat and mouse game between Nikolai and the real villains have tense moments that have attracted a fan base worldwide.
The critics say it’s one of the more gripping crime dramas on offer.
First Episode: 6 March 2018.
Cast: Tobias Santaelmann, Ellen Dorrit Petersen, Benjamin Helstad, Eivind Sander and Bjorn Skagestad.
Occupied is a futuristic show set in Norway, where Russia occupies the country on behalf of the European Union.
The newly-elected Norwegian government has stopped oil and gas production in the North Sea.
First Episode: 2019
Cast: Henrik Mestad, Ane Dahl Torp, Eldar Skar, Ingeborga Dapkunaite