True crime devotees had plenty of reasons to stay up late theorizing in 2017. While the genre's growing popularity left fans with more choices than ever before, the 11 most popular true crime series in 2017 exposed frightening murders, delved into cover-ups, and presented viewers with unsolved mysteries that left them chilled to the bone. These shows mined the darkest parts of human nature, and in the process, they proved themselves to be engaging, thought-provoking television.
While many of the best true crime series are told through the documentary format, this year offered up a wide selection of high quality scripted dramas, as well. Netflix continued to prove itself to be true crime fans' best resource for killer programming with shows like The Keepers and Mindhunter, but channels as varied as NBC and Sundance offered up new series with real-life twists that just kept on coming.
As the year begins to wind down, now is the perfect time to take a look back at the true crime shows that kept you enthralled in 2017. Once again, reality proved to be far scarier than fiction for the subjects of Law & Order True Crime, The Keepers, and the rest of the stirring dramas on this list.
1. The Keepers (Netflix)
Sister Catherine Cesnik went missing on Nov. 7, 1969. Nearly two months later her body was found, but her killer was never revealed. The seven-part series focuses on the modern investigation launched by the Sister's former students. Riveting, heartbreaking, and absolutely engrossing, The Keepers was 2017 runaway true crime series hit.
2. Mindhunter (Netflix)
This Netflix drama is based on a nonfiction book called Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit, and it somehow turned endless interview sessions into seriously compelling television. The show's chilling look at the inner workings of the minds of serial killers kept plenty of viewers awake at night.
3. Manhunt: Unabomber (Discovery)
The hunt for the Unabomber was given the drama treatment in this Discovery channel miniseries. While it didn't quite live up to the high standards of American Crime Story or Mindhunter, the show still had people talking.
4. Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders (NBC)
Law & Order ventured into the true crime game with an in-depth look at the Menendez trial, but the best reason to tune in each week was Edie Falco's performance as attorney Leslie Abramson.
5. Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders (Sundance)
One of the newest entries in the genre is also one of the best. Cold Blooded: The Clutter Family Murders focuses on the crime that led Truman Capote to write In Cold Blood, and it's a thorough and unsettling look at the origin of America's true crime obsession.
6. The Murder Of Laci Peterson (A&E)
In 2002, America was shocked by the disappearance of Laci Peterson, but nothing could prepare the country for the subsequent arrest, trial, and conviction of Laci's husband for her murder. A&E's six-part series revisited the horrifying events, and gave viewers an update on the many people affected by Laci's murder.
7. Alias Grace (Netflix)
Based on a historical fiction book of the same name by Margaret Atwood, Alias Grace was inspired by the real-life story of Grace Marks. The Netflix miniseries was one of the year's best shows period, thanks to its unflinching look at the treatment of women who are accused of crimes.
8. The Hunt For The Zodiac Killer (History)
Few killers are as infamous as the Zodiac Killer. The mysterious serial killer left San Francisco in fear during the late '60s and early '70s, and the identity of the person responsible for the crimes remains unknown. History's new investigation offers up fresh insight into the person behind so many brutal acts of violence.
9. The Disappearance of Maura Murray (Oxygen)
While Maura Murray's case isn't as well-known as most true crime subjects, that only made the series more compelling as viewers tried to get to the bottom of what happened to Maura.
10. The Confession Tapes (Netflix)
If you're looking for a true crime series that will make you question everything, then you need to check out The Confession Tapes. The six-part series looks at six different cases where people confessed to murder and asks if those confessions were real or coerced.
11. Cold Justice (Oxygen)
Cold Justice has been on the air for several seasons now, but it's more relevant than ever before. The series doesn't just examine true crime stories, it often results in arrests, making it one of the most important entries in the true crime series genre.
There's not going to be a shortage of true crime series in 2018, so the time to catch-up on the most popular shows of 2017 is now.