21 Lifetime Movies That Are Based On True Stories — From Royal Romances To Gruesome Abductions


We all know that there's nothing quite like a good Lifetime movie. They're notoriously dramatic, usually swirled in mystery, and have long been hailed as the ultimate guilty pleasure. But that's not all they can be. Some of these kinds of films, especially Lifetime movies based on true stories, tell harrowing real-life tales of perseverance, tragedy, romance, and even surviving life-or-death situations. At their best they can give us glimpses into some of the most gripping tales of our time.

Below we've assembled some of the best Lifetime movies that are rooted in reality. Of course, we should note that not all of these were created in tandem with the real people they portray, so as with all dramatized true stories, take their narratives with a grain of salt. But even if you just use them to supplement your existing knowledge of these stories, they're certainly worthwhile.

Most of this list are available to watch with Lifetime's Movie Club, which offers a seven-day free trial and lets you pay a few bucks a month after that to access their new and classic movies. That's a small price to have an entire library of engrossing projects to keep you busy. Take a look:

Natalee Holloway

Natalee Holloway's story still, sadly, remains a mystery. Her disappearance while on vacation in 2005 shocked the world, and nearly 15 years later, the case continues to hit dead ends.

Menendez: Blood Brothers

Erik and Lyle Menendez are currently serving life sentences in prison for shooting their parents, Jose and Kitty, in 1989, CBS News reports. This film dissects exactly what events led to such tragic actions.

Girl In The Box

This horrifying story is based on the life of Colleen Stan. According to Investigation Discovery, 20-year-old Stan was abducted in 1977 while hitchhiking. Her captors raped and tortured her, and held her captive in a box under the bed.

The Pregnancy Pact

In 2008, a group of 18 teenage girls allegedly made a pact with one another to all become pregnant at the same time. The real events of Lifetime's The Pregnancy Pact are still debated, but they are rooted in that Gloucester, Massachusetts scandal.


Flint explores the whistleblowers who reveal to the world how contaminated the drinking water in Flint, Michigan is, and how damaging it is for the people in the town. There is still work to be done today.

Gracie's Choice

Before she starred on The Good Place, Kristen Bell was her onscreen siblings' saviors on this Lifetime Original. According to Reader's Digest, Kristen's character, Amy, was a real 19-year-old who supported her family and took on legal guardianship of her three brothers when their home life fell apart.

Abducted: The Carlina White Story

This harrowing story begins when Carlina White is abducted as a newborn from a New York City hospital, and follows her into adulthood as she is raised by her kidnapper, Ann Pettway. The real-life events are just as shocking — Pettway was sentenced to 12 years in prison in 2012.

Oscar Pistorius: Blade Runner Killer

Oscar Pistorius, a double-amputee and former Olympic athlete, is currently serving a 15 year sentence for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. According to NPR, he shot Steenkamp four times through a door in 2013, later claiming he had thought she was an intruder in their home.

Girl Fight

According to Inside Edition, Girl Fight is based on the true story of Victoria Lindsay, a cheerleader from Florida. The outlet reports that six of Lindsay's classmates brutally beat her at a sleepover in order to flaunt the assault on YouTube.

The Real MVP: The Wanda Durant Story

Here's a reprieve from all the doom and gloom of some of these other films! We all remember NBA star Kevin Durant's heartwarming speech about his mother, found above. This Lifetime movie follows his mom, Wanda, while she works hard as a single mom to make sure her kids' dreams come true.

Cocaine Godmother: The Griselda Blanco Story

Griselda Blanco, portrayed by Catherine Zeta-Jones in this Lifetime film, was a real woman who was reportedly very involved in the Cocaine Wars of Colombia. She was killed in 2012.

Who Killed JonBenet?

JonBenet Ramsey's story is one of the most tragic cases of our time. The six-year-old was killed in her family's home in 1996 under mysterious circumstances, and developments continue to unfold.

I Am Elizabeth Smart

Elizabeth Smart herself actually collaborated with Lifetime for this project, which outlines the ways she was kidnapped from her bedroom at the age of 14 and escaped nine months later.

Betty and Coretta

Angela Bassett and Mary J. Blige star as Coretta Scott King and Dr. Betty Shabazz, respectively, in this Lifetime film. When Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X both assassinated, the lives they left behind lean on one another as the civil rights movement rolls on. Though some of the aspects of Betty and Coretta are disputed by the two women's families, the friendship between these extraordinary women was reportedly true.

Fab Five: The Texas Cheerleader Scandal

Newsweek reports that the real-life "Fab Five" were stereotypical "mean girls," one of whom's mother was the principal of their Texas school. Their alleged scandalous behavior eventually lead to a $40,000 investigation into whether the principal gave the girls preferential treatment, the outlet continues.

Cleveland Abduction

Cleveland Abduction follows the story of Michelle Knight, who disappeared at age 21 and was later found more than 10 years later in a Cleveland home along with two other women.

Homeless To Harvard: The Liz Murray Story

Liz Murray has long been vocal about her story, which is portrayed in this film. She was homeless at 16, according to the Guardian, but beat he odds and graduated from one of the most coveted Ivy League schools. She also published a memoir about her experience.

Lizzie Borden Took An Ax

This film, starring Christina Ricci, follows the true story of its titular character. In 1892, Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her stepmother and her father with a hatchet. She was reportedly acquitted for the crime, but "remains infamous for their murders," according to D.C.'s Crime Museum.

Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret

Jodi Arias was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison without parole after she allegedly killed her boyfriend in the shower. According to NBC, Arias claimed self-defense while prosecutors argued she "killed [him] in a jealous rage."

House Of Versace

House of Versace stars Gina Gershon as Donatella Versace, following her as she struggles to assume the role of head designer at her brother Gianni's company following his untimely death. Though this is definitely an unofficial account of events, Versace did just that in real-life.

Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance

Finally, after all those deep, dark Lifetime movies, here's a palette cleanser for you. Lifetime's Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance dramatizes a story you probably already know well — Meghan Markle's romance with Prince Harry. The couple is more beloved than ever, and though these events haven't been confirmed by the royal couple, it's a dreamy enough choice to settle in with for the night.

This is just a sampling of the many Lifetime movies that have taken their inspiration from real events, and they're not showing any signs of stopping. The network will probably continue to have all of us entranced by new, unbelievable stories for some time to come.