Netflix subscribers can access a very enviable lineup of dramas that is second to none. Where else can you stream Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul, NCIS, Peaky Blinders, S.W.A.T., and Friday Night Lights, as well as the newly arrived This Is Us, all in one place? Those shows alone would make Netflix a prime destination for drama.
However, Netflix is also home to an outstanding original crime series, Ozark, as well as Showtime’s long-running Shameless, both of which have been added to this list as we kick off 2024. And that’s just the beginning of the best Netflix drama shows right now. Keep reading for the full lineup.
The Pearson family is at the heart of This Is Us, but get ready to go on a roller coaster of emotions as the narrative jumps from the past to the present and the future, not necessarily in that order. Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia) and his wife, Rebecca Pearson (Mandy Moore), were supposed to have triplets, but only two of their children, Kate and Kevin, survived. So they adopted another son, Randall, creating “the Big Three.”
In the present, Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) have families of their own, while Kevin (Justin Hartley) remains a work in progress. Even though their bonds are tested by time and the space between them, the Pearsons remain a family even in the face of heartache and pain.
Watch This Is Us on Netflix.
The American version of Shameless had an incredible 11-season run on Showtime before settling into its digital afterlife on Netflix. Although Frank Gallagher (William H. Macy) is the patriarch of his family, he’s also an irresponsible alcoholic who is prone to abandoning his kids for extended periods of time. That’s why it falls on Frank’s oldest daughter, Fiona Gallagher (Emmy Rossum), to take over the parental role, even at the cost of her own dreams and ambitions.
The Bear’s Jeremy Allen White co-stars as Fiona’s brother, Philip “Lip” Gallagher, alongside Cameron Monaghan as Ian Gallagher, Emma Kenney as Debbie Gallagher, and Ethan Cutkosky as Carl Gallagher. Each of the Gallagher children has their own trials to face, and most of them don’t handle adversity very well.
Watch Shameless on Netflix.
Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman got to take a dive into much darker territory in the crime drama Ozark. Bateman stars in the series as Martin “Marty” Byrde, a financial adviser who has spent nearly a decade working with a Mexican drug cartel as part of a money-laundering operation in Chicago. When the scheme comes apart, Marty saves his own life by suggesting that he can set up an even bigger operation in the Ozarks.
Marty’s wife, Wendy Byrde (Laura Linney), is with him all the way, although their children, Charlotte (Sofia Hublitz) and Jonah (Skylar Gaertner), don’t have much of a say in the matter. But if Marty expected to set up shop in the Ozarks without facing any repercussions from the local criminals, then he is sorely mistaken. And the Byrde family soon has more rivals and adversaries than they can handle.
Watch Ozark on Netflix.
In the small town of Dillon, Texas, high school football isn’t just a big thing — it’s often the only thing that matters to many of the players and fans in the stands. Friday Night Lights builds on the movie that came before it and focuses on Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), his wife Tami (Connie Britton), their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden), and all of the young people that he’s coaching.
During the early seasons, Taylor’s players include Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons), Brian “Smash” Williams (Gaius Charles), and Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch). The players change over the years, but the core of Coach Taylor’s teachings remain. “Clear eyes, full hearts. Can’t lose.”
Watch Friday Night Lights on Netflix.
The Gilmore Girls series got a second chance at crafting an ending for the show in the four-part miniseries Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Years after the original show ended, Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) has pursued a career as a writer while carrying on an affair with her ex-boyfriend, Logan Huntzberger (Matt Czuchry), despite his engagement to another woman.
Back in Stars Hallow, Rory’s mother, Lorelai Gilmore (Lauren Graham), finally works out the trajectory of her romance with Luke Danes (Scott Patterson). Meanwhile, Lorelai’s mother, Emily Gilmore (Kelly Bishop), comes to terms with the death of her husband, Richard (Edward Herrmann), and charts a different path for herself as well. All three generations of Gilmore Girls will come back together, because they still love and need each other. They just don’t always agree about their respective life choices.
Watch Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life on Netflix.
The Leftovers standout Margaret Qualley stars in Maid as Alexandra “Alex” Russell, the young mother of Maddy Boyd (Rylea Nevaeh Whittet). Alex is willing to do anything to get away from her abusive ex-husband (and Maddy’s father), Sean Boyd (Nick Robinson), even if that means Alex has to take on a dead-end job as a maid-for-hire.
Despite having work, Alex finds that she is still dependent on government assistance and her unstable mother, Paula Langley (Andie MacDowell). As a maid, Alex gets a glimpse of a life of luxury that she could never have, wile taking on increasingly difficult and draining assignments while fighting her ex for custody of their daughter.
Watch Maid on Netflix.
Call the Midwife is a popular ongoing British drama that shows no sign of slowing down. The series initially began 12 years after World War II as Jenny Lee (Jessica Raine) worked as a midwife alongside Beatrix “Trixie” Franklin (Helen George) and Cynthia Miller (Bryony Hannah) at a convent of nuns in London’s Poplar district. In this era, medical assistance wasn’t ready available for poor mothers who were due to give birth, and the midwifes were frequently called upon when women were in labor.
Each of the three original midwives eventually left the show, and the cast has greatly changed over the show’s 13 seasons, as Call the Midwife explored the larger changes in British society during the ’50s and ’60s. At the rate this show is going, it will be exploring the ’70s soon enough. Viewers can watch the new seasons of Call the Midwife on PBS, while Netflix is the streaming home for the older seasons.
Watch Call the Midwife on Netflix.
Before she brought Bridgerton to Netflix, Shonda Rhimes executive produced How To Get Away with Murder, the show that helped make Viola Davis a star. The series follows a prominent criminal defense attorney, Annalise Keating (Davis), and five of her favored students from her law classes at Middleton University. The Keating 5 include Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch), Connor Walsh (Jack Falahee), Michaela Pratt (Aja Naomi King), Asher Millstone (Matt McGorry), and Laurel Castillo (Karla Souza).
Annalise’s students will do anything for her, which is one of the reasons why they murder her husband, Sam Keating (Tom Verica), after his mistress, Lila Stangard (Megan West), is also killed. Now, Annalise has to help her students keep out of jail, while also keeping police unaware of anything that could implicate her in the murder as well. More secrets come out as the series progresses, as Annalise’s legal expertise is put to the test in court and she works to evade the consequences of her actions.
Watch How To Get Away With Murder on Netflix.
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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