Sometimes described as Nordic Noir, Scandi Noir first became well-known with Stieg Larsson’s Millennium series ‘The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo’. Theses tv series have a unique feel to them with dark, often snowy settings, slow building plots, shocking conclusions and dramatic cinematography over cold, austere, pine filled landscapes. Here’s a range of true Scandi Noir dramas to keep you entertained.
Finnish Scandi Noir Dramas
Featuring headstrong, female detective Karppi who is investigating the death of a woman with links to a global construction company. What unfolds are links to Germany, corruption, nuclear waste, abuse and a religious cult intertwining her own past and the new loss of her husband. A common feature is her struggle to manage her personal and professional life, juggling grief with childcare and a heavy workload. Sexism is rife and at times frustratingly blatant as Karppi battles internal politics.
You can stream this from Netflix
Based in Lappeenranta on Finland’s east, close to the border of Russia, the Finnish police seem to have a never-ending battle with Russian crime invading their town.
New to the area and police team, Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen uses a distinct mental tactic to understand crime scenes while badly managing his personal life and the needs of his family. Interwoven into the story line is the town’s political mayor and his many dodgy dealings which seem an ongoing feature. Kari is desperate to protect his family who are as traumatised and nestled into the crime as him. albeit from a different angle.
Now on season three, you can watch this on Netflix.
Danish Scandi Noir Dramas
The Killing / Forbrydelsen
Set in Copenhagen, the first series is a massive 20 episodes each 50 minutes long, containing more plot twists than you could ever think possible. After the beaten body of a young lady is found in the woods a complex story of deceit and love involving a political party, her school, friends and family emerges. Female Detective, Sarah Lund, tries to lead a one person man-hunt which irritates her co-worker, boss and family who are in the process of moving to Sweden.
Grippingly fast paced, we follow Victoria, a drone engineer in Sweden, who is taken hostage by terrorists alongside son, Oskar. The investigation, led by Danish agent Eva, try to prevent a cyber crime, terrorist attack against her employer. We join her in the days before she is taken hostage and lured by her captor. The big plot twist sees Victoria being an undercover agent in this 10 episode drama.
Stream on Channel 4
Dicte – Crime Reporter
Based in the coastal city of Aarhus, this series follows Dicte, a divorced crime journalist who has recently moved back to the area with her teenage daughter. Whilst taking an outside pee, she stumbles over the body of a young Bosnian woman.
We follow Dicte and her traumatic flashbacks as police discover a baby in a river and a sordid set of murky crimes alongside. This program focuses heavily on its characters’ personal lives, including Dicte’s as she battles memories of her religious and estranged parents. There are three series of Dicte which become decidedly more sinister and twisted.
You can stream this on Channel 4
Department Q: The Keeper Of Lost Causes
Don’t expect any smiles from Carl Morck, a moody detective, who is assigned to the newly created `Department Q’. Located in a basement, Morck and his assistant, Assad, are filing cold cases following a botched investigation. They begin digging into the disappearance of a female politician who supposedly killed herself.
Believing the case to be unsolved, they embark on a dangerous journey that will uncover a shocking truth, leading to a thrilling and unforgettable climax. Unlike most of the above, this is a dry humorous film with some serious dark twists.
Those Who Kill
Made in 2011 ‘Those Who Kill’ is now a little dated and everything since seems to have used it as a stepping stone.
On the base of it, this is another police force tracking down serial killers in Denmark. However, this time an eight part series, each episode we follow presents a different narrative. The main character is a damaged, female detective joining forces with a criminal psychologist going through a divorce. It is a bit clichéd BUT, there are some sinister scenes that will get your blood pumping.
Perhaps the most famous of all the dramas here, The Bridge sees a joint investigation between Sweden and Denmark as two half, female bodies are found on the centre of the Øresund Bridge. The murder team investigating comprises a female cop from Sweden and male from Denmark.
With some personal twists, of course no police series would be complete without poor social skills, difficulty empaphising and an inability to channel emotions… It seems a regular feature in all of these dramas.
Cinematography ranges between Malmo & Copenhagen as the teams try to catch the ‘Truth Terrorist’.
Norwegian Scandi Noir Dramas
Set in a small town, south-west of Oslo in Norway, homicide detective William Wisting struggles to find an international serial killer and enlists the help of the FBI. Unable to balance his personal and professional life, this quite fast paced series sees him cross paths with his quick-thinking journalist daughter who, unbeknown to both of them, is also covering the same story.
Unlike most of the other dramas, this is quick paced and divided into 10 quite different episodes. The first 5 see Wisting try to catch the murderer whereas episodes 6-10 see him fighting for his innocence.
You can stream it from BBC 4.
The religious meaning of Mammon is commonly thought to mean money, material wealth and is associated with the greedy pursuit of gain. So it’s no surprise that the Mammon features a journalist claiming fraud from Norway’s elite.
In Season 1 which features 6 episodes, the journalist, who works at the most respected newspaper in newspaper, makes a catastrophic mistake when he takes an anonymous tip involving his own brother. A search for the truth follows involving the media, high-ranking politicians as well as the financial elite. There’s also a ton of religious references with plenty of church scenes.
A Norwegian man returns to his home town 20-years after being acquitted of the murder of his high school sweetheart much to the chagrin of the locals. This unresolved murder revolves around Aksel; a spineless, well-dressed, business man with a juxtaposing personality defect who has made his millions in Singapore. He returns to Norway for unknown reasons, intent of resurrecting his image.
Watch this online with Channel 4.
You can buy on Amazon
Although I don’t think this fits the perfect match, I’ve included Fortitude as it is based in Norway’s Arctic Circle, although spoken in English.
In a 12 episode series, the murder of a research scientists shocks a small, remote Norwegian town on the island of Svalbard in the Arctic Circle. It seems that almost everyone here has at least one buried secret.
While all of this is going on, above-average temperatures result in record ice melt resulting i secrets that have long been hidden underneath Fortitude’s frozen landscape.
Swedish Scandi Noir Dramas
Maja, a young student finishing her last year of school, is accused of shooting her best friend and class mates at an exclusive Stockholm school. The series is shot in present day with flashbacks to what has occurred over the last year. An intense and surprisingly jovial and quick story line depicts her boyfriend Sebastian, wealth, class, segregation, abuse, partying, mental health, drug use and two young people trying to find their place in the world.
You can watch it on Netflix
Oskyldigt Dömd (Innocently Convicted)
This series follows a university professor who fights to overthrow convictions of those wrongly accused. After five years of research at Uppsala University, intertwined with years of alcohol abuse, he is asked to teach a criminal law course. Together with four students, Haglund starts to help free those innocently convicted through his course.
A group of people arrive on an isolated island to visit an abandoned ski resort in the far reaches of Sweden.
Remote and neglected, Black Lake has been closed for 20 years when Johan has the idea of opening the resort to the public. It turns out the resort was closed after a family were found strangled there. One by one the members of the group wake up with bloodshot eyes and have nightmares of being strangled. Sinister events occur alongside the bad weather!
Set in Sweden, this crime drama is heavy on the dialogue, cinematography and music which follows the return of a detective to a small town, seven years after her daughter’s disappearance.
Even though her daughter was said to have drowned, Eva believes that someone took her child. When a young boy goes missing in the same forest.
In December, Sweden’s bleakest month, a psychologist and profiler Inger investigates a vicious killer. An ex FBI profiler, this case involves her autistic daughter and a number of disturbing deaths. The killer is revealed early on in the series, which makes it different to most other dramas here, and Inger must work out why he has brutally murdered his victims.
You can stream this on AmazonPrime
Icelandic Scandi Noir Dramas
The Lava Field
The Lave Field is set in Iceland and follows crime detective Helgi, another cop struggling to balance his work and life. He is called in to investigate a suicide case on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Of course, the incident turns out to be far from simple, and the bleak vastness of Iceland echoes the pain that lies within our heroic protagonist, Runarsson.
There’s no trailer in English sadly but this German preview gives you a taste.
In Siglufjörður, a sleepy fjord north of Rjeckjavik a limbless body is found in the waters at the same time as an arrival ferry from Denmark. Marred by terrible weather, this isolated community is rocked by the story of deceit, arson, murder and human trafficking. The story line is as slow as the town, which only has a police force of three, with some serious surprises along the way. The lead detective is a big gentle giant who struggles to balance his past demons with the current investigation and his family’s ties to the town.
You can stream this on AmazonPrimeVideo
Case / Réttur
Case is an Icelandic Scandi Noir, following the supposed suicide of a young and talented ballerina who is found hanged in the National Theatre’s main stage. It then evolves into a much deeper exploration of the exploitation of women and the corruption lurking beneath Scandi respectableness. A smart lawyer whose drinking and recklessness send him on a path of self-destruction finds new purpose investigating a teenager’s apparent suicide.
Buy this series on Wlext