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Top 10 Dark and Disturbing Netflix Shows

VO: Phoebe de Jeu WRITTEN BY: Michael Wynands
We’re living in the bold new age of internet television, and it’s far less concerned with being “family friendly.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Netflix Shows. For this list, we’ll be looking at the darkest, most challenging Netflix Original series to appear on the streaming service so far. Please note: we’ll be including network shows that Netflix revived or purchased.
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We’re living in the bold new age of internet television, and it’s far less concerned with being “family friendly.” Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Darkest Netflix Shows.



For this list, we’ll be looking at the darkest, most challenging Netflix Original series to appear on the streaming service so far. Please note: we’ll be including network shows that Netflix revived or purchased.


#10: “Stranger Things” (2016-)



Our heroes might be kids, but the supernatural forces that they face in the quest to save their friend Will Byers are scary enough to make adult viewers jump. Though this nostalgic series has a healthy dose of comedy and plenty of heartwarming moments, Will must survive in the Upside Down (and later under the influence of the Shadow Monster), which definitely took us into some dark places. The trauma that breakout star Millie Bobby Brown’s Eleven has goes through is similarly tough to watch. An ode to the ‘80s and a love letter to horror film of bygone years, “Stranger Things” strikes a perfect balance, limiting the darkness just enough to avoid scaring anyone off.



#9: “The Punisher” (2017-)



With their very first combined effort, Daredevil, Marvel, and Netflix made it clear that these small screen heroes would be far darker and grittier than the Avengers and company. Each new series has pushed the boundaries in its own way, but not even the Punisher’s arc in “Daredevil” Season 2 could have prepared us for the grim and brutal nature of his series. Jon Bernthal’s Frank Castle is a deeply damaged man, and the show cuts deep into his character, twisting the knife into his traumatic past to make him more than a mindless killing machine. The recurring nightmarish visions he has of his wife’s death are particularly difficult to watch.




#8: “Evil Genius: The True Story of America's Most Diabolical Bank Heist” (2018)



Netflix produces a wide variety of original content, but one of the most notable genres that they’ve embraced is the true crime documentary series - elevating the often cheesy, typically low-budget formula to new heights of popularity and production quality. “Evil Genius” isn’t the only one you’ll be seeing on our list today. Subscribers are clearly fascinated by dark stories of deviant minds, and with “Evil Genius,” Netflix invites us to relive one of the strangest, most shocking crimes in American history: the pizza bomber. A grim and thoroughly disturbing story with numerous twists, turns, and layers to it, this 4-part series is as fascinating as it is horrifying.



#7: “The Keepers” (2017)




Another documentary series shining a light on an unfortunately true crime, “The Keepers” revisits the unsolved 1969 murder of a nun by the name of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a teacher at the Archbishop Keough High School in Baltimore. As the layers are peeled back and the tough questions are asked, a horrifying tale begins to take shape involving alleged sexual abuse of children by a priest, a potential cover-up, and a whole lot of trauma for the people who attended the school as kids. The series might not deliver any definitive answers, but it’s a fascinating and important albeit deeply upsetting journey.


#6: “The Killing” (2011-14)



We love that Netflix saved this series, we just wish they could’ve kept it going even longer! Based on a Danish series called “The Crime,” “The Killing” follows Mireille Enos’ Sarah Linden and Joel Kinnaman’s Stephen Holder, two homicide detectives trying to solve the murder of a young woman in Seattle. Tackling the story from various perspectives, including those of the family and the suspects, this series will hook you and then drive you mad as you attempt to piece together the mystery. What makes this show a tough one is the way in which it explores the fallout of such a tragedy and the psychological ramifications of this horrific crime on all parties involved.



#5: “TH1RTEEN R3ASONS WHY” (2017-)



Executive produced by popstar Selena Gomez and adapted from a novel by the same name written by Jay Asher, “13 Reasons Why” is a teen drama centered on the suicide of high school student Hannah Baker and her recorded explanations of everything leading up to the moment she took her life. This show doesn’t sugarcoat anything. In fact, it’s been criticized for being exploitative in its treatment of the topic, even glamorizing suicide. Others of course, have praised it for its frank handling of the subject matter. Whichever side of the argument you land on, there’s no denying that this show is seriously dark.



#4: “Making a Murderer” (2015-)



Our third and final true crime documentary series on the list, “Making a Murderer” is arguably one of the most talked about series Netflix has ever produced. Across its 10 episodes, the filmmakers attempt to unpack the case and evidence against Wisconsin man Steven Avery, who just a few years after being released from prison after serving 18 years for a crime he did not commit, was accused of murder. The details of the murder are deeply upsetting, but so too is the way in which Avery’s nephew, Brendan Dassey, is manipulated by police into a confession. The series isn’t flawless or unbiased in its approach, but it’s a darkly compelling viewing experience.

#3: “Dark” (2017-)



Take “Stranger Things,” add a more stoic German tone to it, throw in some high concept time travel, crank up the overwhelming sense of discomfort and dread to 11, and you get this unforgettable Netflix original series. A German-language production with English subtitles and overdubbed audio, “Dark” kicks off with the disappearance of a local teen, but as the show progresses, it becomes much more than a supernatural missing persons case. As the history of the town and the relationships between the various families are revealed, “Dark” earns its title.

#2: “Mindhunter” (2017-)




Have you ever tried to put yourself into the mind or perspective of a killer? It’s a terrifying experience and not one that we’d recommend. In “Mindhunter,” however, you’ll get up close and personal with some of the most infamous, twisted real life serial killers in American history. Yes, they’re played by actors, but the performances will shake you to your very core. And upsetting though it might be, the show’s excellent execution will grab hold of you and refuse to let go. “Mindhunter” follows FBI agent Holden Ford in the early days of behavioral science, and as our troubled hero comes to better understand these killers, he gets pulled into some very dark places.






Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions



“Narcos” (2015-17)






“The OA” (2016-)




“Ozark” (2017-)



#1: “Black Mirror” (2011-)



This sci-fi anthology series, originally airing on Channel 4 before being acquired by Netflix, is a cultural phenomenon and, quite frankly, one of the most relevant and insightful contemporary shows. Each episode is a self-contained story dealing with technology, culture, and human relationships. Though not every story is explicitly disturbing, they more often than not deal with controversial or challenging subject matter that’s likely to leave you with an overwhelming sense of existential dread. In the first episode alone, kidnapping, mutilation, and bestiality are employed to make a point about popular media. “Black Mirror” is unlikely to leave you feeling very positive, but it never fails to make you think.

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