If Netflix hadn’t heavily invested in producing its own drama shows, it would still currently be one of the top destinations for fans of the genre. Picking up shows like Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, NCIS, and more established Netflix as a player in dramas, but the Netflix original series have only solidified its standing. For example, the Emmy-winning show, The Crown, recently returned for its sixth and final season, while the drama miniseries, Beef, was one of the most well-reviewed shows on Netflix in 2023.
Netflix has also done very well by picking up shows from around the world like Peaky Blinders, or by temporarily giving HBO’s Band of Brothers an extended reach to the current generation of streaming fans. Taken together, Netflix’s library of dramas is second to none, and it’s getting bigger all of the time. To stay on top of your viewing options, keep checking back as we add to the list of the best drama shows on Netflix right now.
Queen Elizabeth’s life and reign have been chronicled across six seasons of The Crown, one of Netflix’s most acclaimed series. When the series begins, Elizabeth (Claire Foy) is still a young woman attempting to settle into her reign. Olivia Colman and Imelda Staunton portray Elizabeth at later points in her life when The Crown jumps forward in time.
The fifth and sixth seasons have largely centered on the marriage of Prince Charles (Dominic West) and Princess Diana (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3‘s Elizabeth Debicki), as well as their divorce and public falling out. The newly released episodes on Netflix also retell the last days of Diana’s life as the royal family is taken aback when even in death, the Princess of Wales continues to overshadow them.
Watch The Crown on Netflix.
Beef was one of the breakout shows on Netflix in 2023, and it left quite an impression on viewers. Steven Yeun and Ali Wong co-headline this limited series as Danny Cho and Amy Lau, two strangers who might have otherwise never met each other if they hadn’t had a mutual road rage incident. Danny and Amy could have simply let it go, but they keep escalating the situation by tracking each other down and retaliating.
It gets to the point where the feud between Danny and Amy is destroying their lives and each other. And neither of them cares as long as the other person goes down first.
Watch Beef on Netflix.
Oppenheimer‘s Cillian Murphy headlined all six seasons of Peaky Blinders, the BBC’s original crime series that never seemed to lack established co-stars including Sam Neill, Adrien Brody, Anya Taylor-Joy, Sam Claflin, and House of the Dragon‘s Paddy Considine.
The series begins in the aftermath of World War I, as Tommy Shelby (Murphy) and his Peaky Blinders gang attempt to expand their criminal empire. However, this earns both Tommy and the gang new enemies on both sides of the law. And no matter how much power Tommy amasses for the gang, it never seems to be enough for him.
Watch Peaky Blinders on Netflix.
HBO’s Band of Brothers is on loan to Netflix, so it won’t be around on the streamer forever. But while it’s here, it is unquestionably one of Netflix’s best dramas. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg co-created the miniseries which follows Major Richard “Dick” Winters (Billions‘ Damian Lewis) and the rest of Easy Company, a Parachute Infantry unit during World War II.
The miniseries is based on the true exploits of Easy Company, which begin in training and extend to Europe for some of the most memorable battles of the war, including the invasion of Normandy. The reason why Band of Brothers remains so beloved by fans is that it never loses sight of the fact that these characters were ordinary men who were thrust into incredibly dangerous situations. And not all of them got to go home again.
Watch Band of Brothers on Netflix.
Although Netflix no longer has the streaming rights to Mad Men, it still has the other show that has been hailed as one of the best of the 21st century: Breaking Bad. Malcolm in the Middle‘s Bryan Cranston leaves sitcom silliness behind as he fully inhabits the role of Walter White, a high school science teacher who is dying from cancer. Out of a desire to provide for his family, Walt approaches his former student, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), to help him cook and sell meth.
Walt may have had the best intentions when he started, but once he goes down this road, he becomes capable of murder, poisoning, and all sorts of crimes that ultimately horrify Jesse. That slow transformation and the incredible way it unfolds is the primary reason why Breaking Bad is so beloved by critics and fans. The show has been over for a decade, and its reputation has not diminished.
Watch Breaking Bad on Netflix.
Where Breaking Bad goes, the spinoff series, Better Call Saul, isn’t far behind. This show is both a prequel and a sequel to the series that spawned it. Some even argue that it surpasses Breaking Bad in part because of the way it presents Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) before he became the corrupt “criminal lawyer,” Saul Goodman. In this series, Jimmy is a struggling lawyer who just wants to prove himself to his older brother, Chuck McGill (Michael McKean). In the beginning, Jimmy is very sincere about wanting to be a good man and a good lawyer.
Unfortunately, Jimmy just can’t escape his roots as a con artist, or the lower expectations that it gives his brother. On the upside, Jimmy’s darker impulses help him attract Kim Wexler (Rhea Seehorn), a brilliant lawyer who loses sight of her moral compass when Jimmy is around. This show also explores the backstory of a beloved supporting character, Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks), and the origins of Breaking Bad‘s cartel storyline. Yet it’s the relationship between Jimmy and Kim that drives this show all the way to the end.
Watch Better Call Saul on Netflix.
When someone calls NCIS one of the most popular shows on TV, it isn’t an exaggeration. Only 15 of the show’s 20 seasons are on Netflix, but that should be more than enough for fans of the series. The show follows the agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, an agency that has broad authority to look into any crimes relating to the Navy and the Marines.
Mark Harmon headlined the show for 18 seasons as the leader of the show’s NCIS team, Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Over the years, the fan-favorite characters tend to leave after lengthy stays. But the franchise just keeps on going.
Watch NCIS on Netflix.
While many of the shows on this list originated with other studios and networks, The Lincoln Lawyer is one of Netflix’s homegrown hits. Veteran TV showrunner David E. Kelley adapted the novels by Michael Connelly about Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo), a lawyer who operates out of his Lincoln Navigator instead of maintaining a law office.
Mickey also keeps his second ex-wife, Lorna Crane (Becki Newton) as his legal aide, while his former client, Izzy Letts (Jazz Raycole), works as his driver. In season one, Mickey lands the case of a lifetime when billionaire Trevor Elliott retains him for his defense against a double murder charge. To win this case, Mickey will have to face his first ex-wife, Maggie McPherson (Neve Campbell), who is in court as the prosecuting attorney.
Watch The Lincoln Lawyer on Netflix.
Strikes permitting, there will be a 20th season of Grey’s Anatomy at some point in the future. For now, the first 19 seasons live on Netflix. When the show began, it was about Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo) and her fellow physicians in the residency program at Seattle Grace Hospital including Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh), Izzie Stevens (Katherine Heigl), Alex Karev (Justin Chambers), and George O’Malley (T. R. Knight).
Over time, characters left or died, but Meredith remained and rose to the position of chief of general surgery. In the later seasons, the focus of the show has shifted to the trials and tribulations of a new generation of residents and doctors. If you’re looking for a long-term binge, this is it.
Watch Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix.
Only five of the six-and-a-half seasons of Outlander are currently on Netflix, but it’s a great sampler of the hit historical fantasy based on Diana Gabaldon’s novels. Caitríona Balfe plays Claire Fraser, a married nurse during World War II, who is unexpectedly sent back in time to 1743. With no apparent way home, Claire is forcibly taken in by Clan MacKenzie from the Highlands of Scotland.
Despite being married in her own time, Claire marries one of the clan members, Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan), for both protection and for love. While Claire lives with her new extended family, she attempts to remain free from the clan’s mortal enemy, Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall (Tobias Menzies), the direct ancestor of Claire’s husband, Frank Randall (Menzies).
Watch Outlander on Netflix.
Mindhunter only had a two-season run on Netflix, but this serial killer series was a cut above the rest. A lot of the credit for that has to go to showrunner and creator Joe Penhall and executive producer David Fincher, who helmed several episodes of the show. The series starts in the late ’70s when serial killers were known, but not understood. FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), as well as psychologist Wendy Carr (Anna Torv), decide to change that because they believe it will help them track and capture active killers.
But to breakdown the mindset of these serial killers, the trio has to actively engage with the murderers that have already been captured. And there are always more monstrous killers running loose that Ford and Tench have to find before they can strike again.
Watch Mindhunter on Netflix.
We should all have doctors like Max Goodwin (Ryan Eggold), the lead character in New Amsterdam. He blows into New Amsterdam Medical Center like a force of nature on the day he takes over and immediately starts cutting through the red tape and taking advice from the other doctors about how he can help them provide better care for their patients.
Max’s personal life isn’t as easy to corral. This is a drama after all, and his relationship with Dr. Helen Sharpe (Freema Agyeman) has a lot of ups and downs. But they are far from the only doctors at New Amsterdam with personal entanglements at work. All five seasons of the series are now on Netflix, which makes this show a perfect binge-watch for anyone who wants to see the storylines run from beginning to end.
Watch New Amsterdam on Netflix.
Most television viewers probably aren’t aware that S.W.A.T. is a reboot of a TV series that first aired in the ’70s. The current show is more modern and deals with the complexities facing both the police and the people of Los Angeles. That’s exemplified through the lead character, Daniel Harrelson (Shemar Moore), who shares a bond with his fellow cops and the ordinary citizens that they are meant to protect.
Harrelson’s Special Weapons and Tactics team includes Jim Street (Alex Russell), David Kay (Jay Harrington), and III Victor Tan (David Lim). This unit goes into the most dangerous situations that ordinary cops can’t handle by themselves. And the team’s personal lives also add a lot of drama to the show.
Watch S.W.A.T. on Netflix.
Virgin River is one of Netflix’s most successful original dramas, but it has largely flown under the radar compared to the streamer’s flagship series. Alexandra Breckenridge stars as Melinda “Mel” Monroe, a nurse practitioner who has moved to the town of Virgin River, California in order to start fresh and leave her more complicated past behind her. However, Mel quickly comes into conflict with her new employer, Vernon “Doc” Mullin (Tim Matheson), when they don’t see eye-to-eye about her role as a midwife.
There’s also a potential romance on the horizon between Mel and Jack Sheridan (Martin Henderson), a bar owner whose past romances may be just as messy and complex as Mel’s. But sometimes everyone needs a second chance to find the person they were meant to be with.
Watch Virgin River on Netflix.
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