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. If you’re looking for things to watch on TV, here’s a range of true Scandi Noir dramas to keep you entertained.
Includes new releases for 2022/2023.
Faroese Nordic Noir
Brand new for 2022, Trom is the FIRST EVER Faroese crime drama.
In the series journalist, Hannis Martinsson, investigates the murder of an animal rights activist, found floating in the bloody waters of a whale killing. Martinsson risks his own skin on the trail of a spectacular story, sending shock waves through the isolated island community, where every friend has suddenly become a suspect.
Described as a scary mix exploring authentic Faroese customs and traditions, the show will also feature the Faroe Islands’ beautiful untouched scenery. Similar to the Icelandic series Trapped, you’ll have a story with a local investigation, involving a larger international network and the whaling industry.
Watch on BBC iPlayer.
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 storyline are the town’s political mayor and his many dodgy dealings which seem an ongoing feature. Kari is desperate to protect his family who is as traumatised and nestled into the crime as him. albeit from a different angle.
Now on season three, you can watch this on Netflix.
All The Sins (Kaikki synnit)
All the Sins; is a Finnish series about a policeman (Lauri) with anger management issues who reluctantly agrees to return to his childhood home Varjakka, in northern Finland. Going back to his ultra-religious hometown raises some problems with himself and his parents who had cut ties.
With his hedonistic senior partner, Sanna, they search for a missing father.
Now on Season 3!
Watch season 1 on All 4.
Danish Scandi Noir Dramas
A teacher reports Holly to children’s services following an essay she writes about her abusive & violent stepfather. Her shocked Mother denies everything that Holly says & puts it down to an overindulgent imagination and teenage fancifulness. Can Lars, the social worker, discover where the truth lies or will the parent’s legal action against him, destroy the evidence he has?
This is a tense family drama, laced in the murkiness of domestic violence, foster care and brutal loyalties.
Watch on All 4.
Astrid is 9 when, in 1999, an entire class of 21 students disappears without a trace – including Astrid’s beloved sister. Understandably traumatised, Astrid suffers horrific nightmares of that incident. We meet Astrid in modern-day 2020 as a radio presenter, free from her past but soon to discover the unsettling truth.
Watch it on Netflix.
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 emerge. 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 her son, Oskar. The investigation, led by Danish agent Eva, try to prevent a cybercrime 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 that becomes 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 seriously 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 empathising 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’.
Warrior / Kriger
A crime drama featuring war veterans, bikers and the police force. The story revolves around community, loyalty and treachery with flashbacks to the battlefield of what we presume to be Afghanistan.
A returning soldier becomes caught in the middle of biker warfare, the police in their bid to take down the gang and his own feelings of guilt.
You can stream this on Netflix.
Darkness: Those Who Kill
A specialist Copenhagen-based team devoted to investigating serial killers discover that a woman who has gone missing is not the only one. Six months after she disappears with no clues as to her location, she is found dead wearing the earing of another newly missing woman.
After trawling cold cases & discovering a number of women and a range of MOs, the teamwork with a Profiler to look for patterns and meanings. What follows is an erratic display of sinister and twisted events that you will not have seen coming!
This season is much more graphically and physically violent than others and there’s a considerable amount of male on female violence although the actual murders are never seen.
Stream it on Amazon Prime.
Face to Face (Forhøret)
Police officer Bjørn is called in to the morgue identify the body of a woman and is horrified to find that it is his own daughter. However, when the autopsy rules her death to be suicide, he refuses to believe it.
As the evidence begins to point towards murder, a prodigious, furious and sorrow-stricken Bjørn begins to chat the last day of his daughter’s life. This sends him on a whirlwind journey through the night, where he encounters people who each meant something crucial to his daughter, revealing a network of truths, lies and criminal acts woven into her and Bjørn’s own life.
But in order to fully understand his daughter’s death, Bjørn must confront himself – until he finally faces the unavoidable truth of why she died.
The Chestnut Man
Another classic Danish production with autumnal colours, a long slow storyline (with very few clues) and a young woman brutally murdered in a playground and one of her hands is missing. Above her hangs a small man, made of chestnuts. More women die, missing partial limbs and these creepy chestnuts are found next to them.
Two tortured detectives, each with their own story, hunt a killer that is linked to a politician’s missing child. Will she be found alive after being abducted a year ago.
Watch this on Netflix
Dutch Scandi Noir Dramas
Apparently, this series is inspired by true-life events. One of the largest ecstasy producers in the world, Ferry, has an amazing life in his villa on the Dutch-Belgian border. However when he is infiltrated on the campground where he spends his weekends, his seemingly perfect life takes a turn.
Watch as two undercover agents move into his territory and attempt to shut down his network.
You can stream this on Netflix.
Norwegian Scandi Noir Dramas
This series of 8 programs is beyond weird and sort of realms into sci-fi/voodoo without ever saying the words sci-fi or voodoo.
Four unidentified, black boys are found drowned in a pool with no signs of trauma (and this remains a mystery throughout, by the way). Max, newly relocated to Oslo following the death of his son, teams up with Sander, a very experienced & possibly slightly racist detective with a not-so-clean past.
The story follows Max and his wife (originally from Eritrea) who was the lead prosecutor on a different case involving a sex worker that seems intermingled with this one. We also follow Sander and his brain-damaged brother as he tries to take care of him with some uncomfortable scenes of abuse and loneliness.
There is an underlying theme in this series of water and eels alongside bad and evil with a sprinkling of religion, in the most bizarre way. It doesn’t help that it’s almost always shot in darkness. It’s a bit weird but easy enough to watch.
Trigger: Sexual abuse & exploitation, human trafficking, abuse of disabled.
Watch this on All 4.
After hearing about the murder of a woman in northern Norway, PhD student Maja Angell puts aside her research on serial killers to head back to her home country and try and catch one.
A young girl is found killed & left at a camping resort when Maja Angell believes that the police have arrested the wrong man. She’s not able to convince the police of that. Can she find the potential murderer before her mental health deteriorates and before he strikes again?
This is a pretty good series as Maja battles her own hidden demons in trying to remember the past.
Trigger warning: Mental health & exploitation.
Watch this on All 4.
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 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, 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, businessman 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 it 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 scientist 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 in secrets that have long been hidden underneath Fortitude’s frozen landscape.
Borderliner is a Norwegian noir crime drama series that involves Nikolai, an Oslo police detective, who becomes involved in a suspected suicide investigation while visiting his hometown. Local man Tommy is found hanging in a river but what uncovers are tales of drugs, women, corrupt officials and border crossings.
The investigation makes Nikolai question his family loyalties and he ends up planting evidence to protect his brother, a local cop. The story is slow to unfold but things shortly spiral out of control.
You can stream this on Netflix
Eyewitness / Øyevitne
This very slow-to-start drama starts in a forest where two teenagers secretly meet up after dirt biking and witness a number of murders. When one teenager hits the murderer over the head, they both manage to escape but agree never to tell anyone.
The story leads us from the rural forest to the city with links to organised crime, undercover cops and immigrant gangs.
Watch this on Netflix
Buy the DVD on Amazon UK.
New for 2021, Furia explores the violent and disturbing world of right-wing extremism.
A murder in the idyllic Norwegian town of Furia leads police to undercover cop Ragna as she infiltrates a nationalistic subculture. A journey into an underworld of hatred follows and a terrorist plot that reaches from Norway’s mountains to the very heart of Europe is revealed.
Aired in Norway on Sep 26th 2021, no date for UK release yet. This video is in Norwegian with no subtitles.
Swedish Scandi Noir Dramas
A young & glamourous lawyer from Stockholm is drawn back to the country when her childhood friend mysteriously dies. Drawn into the hunt for her killer she must address the traumatic reasons as to why she left in the first place. Rebekka has an unusual work ethic and an interesting way of working. Her mental health becomes an issue and despite the life awaiting her in Stockholm, she can’t tear herself away from the place she once abandoned. Where does Rebecka really belong?
In season 2 we see Rebekka being replaced by a different actress which IMO doesn’t really work.
Watch on All 4
Snow Angels (Snöängla)
Trigger Warning: Child neglect & death
Two days before Christmas, while Sweden is paralysed by a heavy snowstorm, a five-week-old baby inexplicably disappears from outside his home.
Following Jenni, a mum tortured by post-natal depression, unhappiness & drug misuse, we look back at the events that led up to Lucas’s disappearance.
It’s an unsettling series to watch. Not only is it very slow but the subject matter is quite harrowing.
Watch on All 4.
Following an unconventional civilian criminologist Fredrika Bergman, not everybody is happy when she joins a special investigations unit with Stockholm Police. “Your new colleague graduated in criminology and law and is probably twice as well read as any of you ” is how she’s introduced and how the story starts.
Her colleagues are not all that they seem and although there’s a long-term underlying story, every two episodes cover a different case.
Watch this on All 4.
The Truth Will Out
This is 2 series long, following the life of a police officer who has returned to work after a period of absence and has been relegated to the basement.
Peter Wendel is building a cold case team from other departments’ rejects when an unknown killer leaves a message declaring that Sweden’s most notorious serial killer is a fraud.
This is a bit slow to get started and can be frustrating at times but the second series reveals why Peter has such extensive mental health problems as he attempts to solve the death of his brother.
Watch on All 4.
Maja, a young student finishing her last year of school, is accused of shooting her best friend and classmates at an exclusive Stockholm school. The series is shot in present day with flashbacks to what has occurred over the last year.
It is an intense and surprisingly jovial and quick storyline depicting 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
Innocently Convicted / Oskyldigt Dömd
This series follows a university professor who fights to overthrow the 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 she begins to investigate. More children go missing over this 9 episode drama.
In December, Sweden’s bleakest month, a psychologist and ex-FBI profiler, Inger, investigates a killing in a hotel that her daughter has witnessed.
This case involves her autistic daughter, serious stalking and a number of disturbing deaths. The killer is revealed early on in the series, making it different to most other Scandi-dramas, although no details about him are released until the final episode. In fact, he remains fairly monosyllabic throughout making his identity more of a mystery.
You can stream this on AmazonPrime
Gentlemen & Gangsters / Gentlemen Och Gangsters
A bruised & beaten young writer, Klas, barricades himself in a Stockholm apartment writing a story of two brothers, his roommates, who have disappeared.
One of the brothers, Leo, previously dragged them all into a scandal involving weapons and gangsters and now he’s unwittingly and trapped in a dangerous plot, fearing for his life.
This was removed from Netflix in June 2020 and I’m trying to find it. Let me know if you do.
Midnight Sun / Midnattssol
This is interestingly a Swedish-French collaboration where a joint investigator tries to solve a gruesome homicide. Written by the same people as The Bridge, it follows the story of a French police officer who travels to a remote, northern Swedish, mining town.
With some help from a Sami investigator, they realise this is not a stand-alone murder. This show has great cinematography from a bleak landscape where it seems each character has a disturbing amount of personal baggage. Filmed with the ever daylight that the Arctic Circle presents, Midnight Sun takes you to a part of Sweden you’d probably not visit and introduces to an intimate part of Sami culture you’d not be able to get otherwise.
The Hunt For A Killer
Based on real events and with flashback footage, ten-year-old Helén Nilsson disappears at Easter 1989 from the small Swedish community of Hörby. She was meant to meet two friends at a local shop one afternoon but never made it. Her body is found six days later. Detective Pelle Åkesson is disappointed when the case is given to an inexperienced colleague and accurately predicts that they will be swamped by trivial details when tips start pouring into the police station.
Five months later, the naked bashed body of a 26-year-old woman is found in a lay-by. Can both crimes have been committed be the same person and could there be a link?
The Unlikely Murderer
What happened that fateful night in 1986 when Sweden’s prime minister Olof Palme was walking home from the cinema with his wife Lisbeth Palme?
An assassinated prime minister and a police investigation that leads nowhere. What happened that night in Stockholm? And who is Stig Engström, the man that was named as the probable shooter?
Based on real events and the murder remains unsolved.
Icelandic Scandi Noir Dramas
The Lava Field
The Lava 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 the 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.
Trapped / Ófærð
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 storyline 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
The Valhalla Murders / Brot
An Icelandic detective, Arnar, working in Oslo is sent back to Iceland to help a dedicated cop hunt a serial killer with a link to a mysterious photo.
Based on true-life events, Arnar teams up with the local senior cop Kata in this 8 episode drama that features the concept of young boys from the 1940s who were institutionalised in Valhalla, beaten & abused by staff. Be prepared for cold & graphic scenes as the first man murdered is stabbed in the eyes.
Watch this on BBC Four.
Stream this on Netflix USA (you’ll need a VPN)
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