6 Scandinavian crime shows worth watching

Dear ladies and gents,

you know I love me some blood and gore. And while the British have been churning out good crime shows for years, with the likes of Stieg Larsson, Jo Nesbø, Henning Mankell etc growing in popularity it’s the Scandinavians where it’s at these days. And the thing is they don’t need doodahs and wizzbangs to make it interesting is all I’m saying.

A co-worker of mine (hiya Kell!) and me bonded over our mutual fascination with blood and gore and it seems we are not the only ones – Marian Keyes, one of my favorite authors (oh please don’t pretend like you don’t enjoy chick lit from time to time. Also Keyes’ books are kinda sorta more hmmm heavy than what you would expect from chick lit vulgaris) is also a bit addicted, check out her latest newsletter, her description on what she is going to do when she runs out Wallander episodes is hilarious.

Anyhow here are a few Scandinavian crime series worth checking out.

UPDATE: Just put together a post with links where some of these shows can be found online/viewed.

 

Wallander

 

 

Wallander the series was adapted from Kurt Wallander books written by Henning Mankell. Only one episode was lifted directly from the novel, others were developed for television with Mankell’s input. The series stars Krister Henriksson as titular character, police inspector working in town of Ystad. After a few episodes Ystad starts to seem like Midsomer of the Sweden due to the fact people keep dropping like flies. The series was so popular that BBC remade it for British audience with Kenneth Branagh taking the role of Wallander.

 

The Killing (also known as Forbrydelsen)

 

You all might or might not know I had mixed feeling about AMC’s the Killing. Mainly I thought it was rather good until they decided to end it with a mother of all cliffhangers, which you know – WTF?! (Btw anyone who is still interested to learn who the killer is will might want to tune in on April 1st when the Killing returns. Although I’m not holding my breath will learn anything if last season is anything to go by).

Anyhow don’t know if you know but the Killing is based on Danish TV series Forbrydelsen about Detective Sarah Lunde (played by Sofie Gråbøl) who wears a lot of cozy sweaters and investigates murder cases. Each episode corresponds to one day of investigation. There have been two series while the third series is currently in production.

 

Borgen

 

Borgen is another Danish TV series, about Birgitte Nyborg (played by Sidse Babett Knudsen) who unexpectedly becomes the first Danish female prime minister. The series follows her rise to power with plenty of intrigue, scandal and interesting story lines to keep you occupied. So far two series have aired, while the third one is in the production. Meanwhile NBC is producing an US version (insert collective groan here).

 

Those Who Kill (also known as Den som dræber)

 

Another Danish series this time about unit within Copenhagen Police Department that investigates serial killers. There are 10 episodes in total or rather the series aired as 10 episodes in Denmark while in other countries the series aired as 5 full feature film length episodes. Even though Denmark’s TV2 decided to not renew the series A&E Network in the US is developing the US version.

 

The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey (also known as Ørnen: En krimi-odyssé)

 

The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey is about Halgrim Ørn Hallgrimsson (played by Jens Albinus) who is half Icelandic, half Danish lead investigator in International Crime Unit. he Unit investigates international crimes (obviously) in both Denmark and neighboring countries. The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey aired three seasons (24 episodes in total) and got canceled in 2006.

 

Rejseholdet (also known as Unit 1)

 

The premise of Rejseholdet kinda reminds of Criminal Minds – it is about Danish mobile task force (that goes under the name Unit 1) whose members travel across Denmark and help local police force solve high profile criminal cases that the locals might be out of their depth to solve. There were 4 series (32 episodes in total) as Rejseholdet got canceled in 2004.

85 thoughts on “6 Scandinavian crime shows worth watching

  1. Fascinated and drawn into The Eagle and Wallander (Swedish Version) and wanted to know about similar series. Thanks for this website. I am touched by the way these cultures treat each other. There is so much kindness and respect for each individual both protagonist and antagonist’s inner conscience- their personal knowing what is right. At times The Eagle’s police force felt frighteningly invasive yet often they were just a presence to bring the criminals in to the station to give them a good talking to with the result of them giving themselves up. These shows are much more interesting than any American version because there is this whole cultural psychological aspect, not much guns and unlike the Americans they have sharpshooters that hit their target with one bullet. Imagine that. No car chases. And characters developed to resemble the complexity of sensitive, vulnerable human beings. Thanks again for sharing .

  2. Where to watch these? Have a non country coded dvd. The Eagle is onNetflicks,bought the first season of Borgen, really good.

  3. Wayne,

    thank you for stopping by.
    For Scandinavian shows that air in the UK you might want to google Film on TV? :)
    I hope this helps.

  4. My wife and I just finished watching episode 22 (of 24) of The Eagle (on Netflix instant). I think it is my all-time-favorite police show. Thanks for the list of these other shows, although it appears that finding them will be a challenge.

  5. Fascinated by The Eagle. Very well done and worth watching. One thing about the Danes though – maybe they should put Zoloft in the water. They come off as lethargic and depressed. Maybe the reason they don’t do car chases and shoot outs like American TV, is simply because they just can’t get all that energized.

  6. Loved “The Bridge” (“Bron”).
    I’d like to add “Real Humans” (“Äkta människor”). A fascinating sci-fi thriller about a near future where Human-like androids exist that are used as workforce, but may be much more…

  7. Just started watching The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey on Netflix and I concur – it is very enjoyable. I’ll seek out the others.

  8. Missing all that high quality drama !! When can we expect a new Scandinavian crime series ? Marks out of ten:Wallander 8, Borgen 8; The Killing 9. And by the way the the accompanying music is terrific both in Borgen & Killing

  9. I’ve watched half of The Eagle and wonder how to find Borgen? do I have to buy it – doens’t seem to be on netflixs?
    And I agree, much better than american crime series.

  10. I’m a huge fan of Wallander, the Dragon Tattoo Trilogy, and Scandinavian Noir in general. I felt that The Eagle started out great but in the end I felt a little let down. I think it was the rather poor subtitling; clearly a LOT of key dialogue was left out. I had to chuckle, in some episodes they subtitled the dialog that was in English and left out key parts. But I think overall the series was good…Jens Albinus was superb. I’ve also enjoyed watching The Protectors, another Danish crime drama on Netflix. I’ll be sure to check out The Killing. I wish more of the Icelandic stories could make it to film (Arnaldur Indridason and Yrsa Sigurdardottir to name two).

  11. The Scandinavian shows, both TV and film, I’ve been watching soar above American crime and intrigues, with perhaps House of Cards as an exception. Thank goodness it wasn’t destroyed from the essence of the British show… I’m surprised to not see The Protectors and Annika Bengtzon in this batch. Both hold strong with depth, authenticity and creativity. All above are refreshing changes from blood baths and Rambo.

  12. Thank you all for your suggestions. I just finished watching The Eagle…and I needed some other complex mysteries.

  13. Wondering if something was lost in translation in the Eagle concerning Michael – no one seemed to acknowledge that he saved the Thea’s life – they seemed to dismiss his leaving without comment. Maybe I missed something…?

  14. I have finished both The Eagle and The Protectors. I have long been watching BBC on PBS, and especially Masterpiece productions, because American TV is frankly boring, predicatble, icky; however, I must also praise House of Cards as something of an enigma in American TV (though wouldn’t you know they took it from the Brits!)

    Anyway, I hope they continue..those savvy folks in Denmark, to produce such excellent programming! Can’t wait for more!!!

  15. How do Americans get to watch all these great shows? NetFlix has several, but I’d like to see the original Danish versions of The Killing, Borgen, The Bridge, etc.

  16. My wife and I really like The Eagle! Now we’d like to fine the Scandinavian versions of The Bridge and The Killing and all the others mentioned here. US tv is for most part SO shallow full of pretty vacuous people racing around in shiny cars that we’d rather watch a blank screen!

    Does anybody know how we can get non US versions of some of these movies? Sub titles needed though.

  17. The Eagle has yet to be one of the most excellent tv shows I have ever seen. I am puzzled why it got cancelled. When I finish all the episodes I will probably start over. Wallander is also very very good. And Spiral the French detective show. I agree with the comments about American tv (ho hum) cops who never can get the criminal with 1 shot. More firing range practice I guess. Love the Eagle and Wallander getting the criminals with minimal bloodshed and more common sense. Brits are good as well. I enjoy Midsommer Murder, Luther, and A Touch of Frost all on Netflix. It is very much worth the $8 month. I too am looking forward to more European tv.

  18. Cynthia, thanks for that!

    And for all of you who have been asking – I’m putting together a post with a list of links etc where you can catch some of these shows.

  19. Another Danish series worth watching is Edderkoppen (The Spider) a fictional story about a journalist unravelling the thruth behind the black market rackets in Copenhagen after the war. Very good indeed.

  20. Have just started watching the Eagle and like it very much. Loved Wallander. For anyone interested, the first season of House of Cards which was made and released by Netflix was outstanding but so was the BBC series from the 90s that it was based on. Both available from Netflix.

  21. I loved The Eagle. For the first 4-5 episodes I wasn’t sure if this series was for me. Good things come to those who wait. This is one of the best crime dramas I’ve ever seen. Agree with the previous reviewer that there may be a fair amount lost in translation. I don’t understand Danish but I do speak French and there were discrepancies in what was said and the English subtitles.
    Look forward to the other shows on this list.
    The Wallander BBC series is excellent with superb acting and cinematography.

  22. Once you start watching the swedish/danish/icelandic and, to some extent, the British crime shows, the American shows seem amateurish. AMC’s,The Killing is the exception. I just wish Netflix would get the first season of Wallander loaded up.

  23. Sigh. I have watched all the series mentioned. What I could not find on NFlx I found on You Tube.

    You Tube is a real resource for most of these series. Check it out. You will be glad you did!

  24. Have watched all the Brit police shows Netflix has had available, the Eagle, the Protectors, Spiral, Annika….sold totally on the European tv scene. American tv banal and glitzy, no substance. Please keep in production…starved for well done theater.

  25. Some of these are available on MHZ networks. We used to get it on KCSM (College of San Mateo station) when we lived near San Francisco and our cable company carried it; friends got it without cable if they lived in line with the station. We can’t get it on TV now that we live in Santa Cruz, so we stream it from our laptop from MHZ (watch live) in D.C. Less convenient watching hours, but worth it for good shows.

  26. Bravo on detective Sarah Lund and her sweaters and rainboots! Like others above, I would also recommend The Bridge. Watching its first episode, I thought the premise of the female character was a bit hokey, but then the show really grew on me and I loved it.

  27. Unfortunately I have been a scandinavian tv junkie for many years. I have seen all of the above apart from Those who kill. I’m getting quite desperate. Can’t watch the English versions, its not the same. I live in Australia and we get some of the scandi shows but not enough. I really loved The Eagle and The Killing 1 & 2.

  28. I also love the shows on european tv: I have watched the killing; the bridge; Unit 1 or Rejseholdet. I also watched Borgen and part of The eagle-I did not like the latter two series because of the political/spy type subject matter though. I would like to know if there are additional scandinavian crime dramas airing soon

  29. When Wallander ended I was lost until I found The Eagle. Now I keep postponing its last episode because withdrawal will be tough. I have a few Protectors episodes left but have exhausted all the Scandinavian shows on Netflix…what next, pray tell?

  30. Borgen and the Scandinavian the Killing are the best tv I’ve watched ever….first rate.
    Homeland is the only American series that can even approach their excellence

  31. Camilla Läckberg (The Jinx, The Preacher, The Stonecutter); Arne Dahl series; Beck series; Wallander series; The Killing; Those Who Kill; Borgen; The Bridge; Den Fordömden; Sebastian Bergman 1 + 2; The Protectors; Edderkoppen; Snabba Cash; Maria Wern series; Annika Bengtzon series; Irene Hüss series; Head Hunters; Varg Veum; Van Veeteren; The Hypnotist.

  32. you know i have been watching forbrydelsen, den som draeber, the bridge, borgen, etc. and house of cards and theyre all great shows. I’m really excited to see more scandi crime, but dont sh*t on american tv. we made the wire. and nothing in the world will ever be a more perfect show than the wire.

  33. Sorry Lucia, don’t know what is available via Netflix. Only mentioned what COULD be available. Got my info via a Belgian filmhouse “lumiere.be” but it is focused on Dutch subs.

  34. What about “Anika Benskon” which I think is Swedish? It’s a very good series well woth watching. You can find it on Netflix. Check it out.

    We just started watching The Eagle. Looks interesting.

    Cheers.

  35. Great – living in Australia for a few years now and prefer them over nearly every American TV show. In the end substance and depth is so much better than explosions and models that act.

  36. I have been so impressed with these shows – sad The Eagle ended – Just started watching The Protectors on Netflix – looks good! I would love to watch The Killing, the original – I enjoy the american version. Any time now that I see that “Yellow Bird” has produced something, I get excited – such great shows. I loved Wallender – especially the filmography of the english one – riveting! I will be watching here for more pointers to watching shows! Thank you!

  37. An “oldie”: The Grave (“Graven”) from 2004/5. I think: 4 discs.
    With a follow-up by “Morden” (2012 – …): 2 discs.

  38. As for Wallander:
    Leading role by Krister Henrikson; 4 boxes (6-7-6-7) = 26 episodes. Box 5 (the finalizing 6 episodes; end of Wallander) coming soon. First episode called “The Troubled Man”.
    HOWEVER: before this period, Wallander was played by Rolf Lassgard (between 1997 – 2007). Titles of these episodes are:
    1: the pyramid, 2: return of the dance instructor, 3: the white lioness, 4: sidetracked, 5: faceless killers, 6: dogs of riga, 7: the man who smiled, 8: the fifth woman, 9: firewall, 10: young wallander (first cases), 11: the grave.

  39. As for Martin Beck:
    Leading role by Peter Haber: 5 boxes with in total 24 episodes.
    1: the bait boy, 2: the man with the icons, 3: white knights, 4: eye for an eye, 5: the pension house, 6: monster, 7: the money man, 8: trails in darkness, 9: revenge, 10: the man with no face, 11: the cartel, 12: the recluse, 13: sender unknown, 14: the ad man, 15: the boy in the glass bowl, 16: blind profet, 17: the scorpion, 18: the unclaimed girl, 19: the buzzard, 20: the attorney, 21: the japanese painting, 22: the weak link, 23: the silent scream, 24: in the name of god.
    Which were followed by 2 separate episodes:
    25: burried alive, 26: the eye of the storm.
    Recently, a new box was released with a new leading role player by the name of Niklas Hjulstrom; those new episodes are called (with a “free” translation):
    27: the firetruck that disappeared, 28: the woman in the Göta-channel, 29: the man who just wanted to pay the bill, 30: the cop killer, 31: the man on the balcony, 32: the terrorists (sometimes referred to as “stockholm marathon”).

  40. I am a fan of Scandinavian noire both novels and TV series. While I like the Wallander series with Krister Henriksson – and the delightful if chilling theme music – I really like the original Wallander series with Rolf Lassgard. Nine episodes that are not produced with the slickness of the new series but closer to Mankell’s novels and well fully developed characters. Well worth watching.

  41. I was hooked with The Girl who kicked the Hornets Nest and have see so many wonderful Danish and Swedish crimes show now. I think “the Protectors” is outstanding. So well done. I think I watched it on AMazon instant streaming. I wish there was an easier way to access these films/shows w/o them being made into an american interpretation which always involves a lot more guns, sex, and tricky light movement which all distracts from the intrigue.

  42. Interesting. Just one thing to note. The Eagle wasn’t cancelled; it’s story was just completed. Sadly the end meant there can be no further adventures with Halgrim. Again this is an interesting concept not known in non Scandinavian TV.
    In Australia many of these shows are on free to air channel SBS and on DVD.

  43. Thanks for this great list of shows. I somehow managed to stumble across The Protectors (I can confirm it is on Netflix) and loved it. Then Netflix recommended The Eagle to me and needless to say I enjoyed it and went looking for more. I will definitely be checking these shows out.

    FYI – to anyone interested – Samsung makes a very good and inexpensive multi-region DVD player. I finally broke down and bought one after I got hooked on an Australian series while visiting the country several years ago and could only find the DVDs in region 4. (I’m in region 1). Glad I made the investment since it looks like I will be putting it to good use again.

  44. Thanks to all the lovely ladies and gents who chipped in with their suggestions and where some of these shows can be streamed, it is much appreciated :)

  45. Thank you for the info!
    I cannot find ‘Those Who Kill’ with English subs…can someone help?

  46. Feel very privileged here in Sydney reading about how hard some of you are finding getting hold of many of these great shows. I’ve been lucky enough to see most of them thanks to the neighbourhood video/DVD store. If you are in Syd, yell out and I point you in the right direction. BTW, don’t forget Anna Pihl.

  47. We had 9 more episodes to watch of The Eagle and it disappeared from Netflix! I”m totally freaked out. I just found this website, looking for answers.

  48. I just found out that Netflix stopped The Eagle as well, am so mad. I wanted to watch it til the end. Anyone know where else it may be available?

  49. I phoned Netflix today and was told that the contract for The Eagle and The Protectors has expired and that Netflix is trying to arrange another contract for them and for another 2 programs with the same producers. Let’s hope they show up!

  50. Borgen isn’t a crime show; it’s about politics (although one could very reasonably argue that there is no greater criminal than a politician).

  51. The removal of the Scandinavian serials is a big loss. They offered some of the finest performances and plot lines. I encouraged many friends to sign up for Netflix Streaming just because of these shows. Many unhappy subscribers now. Please try to restore this source of fine TV shows.

  52. Try to find/watch:
    - DICTE
    - VERDICT REVISED (oskyldigt dömd; season 1: 2011; season 2: 2012)
    - JOHAN FALK (season 3: 10-15)
    - COMMISSARIS ISAKSEN
    - HAMILTON

  53. • Äkta männeskor (Real Humans)
    • Anno 1790
    • Annika Bengtzon: Crime Reporter
    • Arne Dahl
    • Beck
    • Borgen
    • Bron / Broen (The Bridge)
    • Forbrydelsen (The Killing)
    • Lilyhammer
    • Ørnen: En krimi-odyssé (The Eagle: A Crime Odyssey)
    • Rejseholdet (Unit One)
    • Sebastian Bergman
    • The Tunnel
    • Van Veeteren
    • Varg Veum
    • Vikings
    • Wallender (both Krister Hendrikson and Kenneth Branagh series)

  54. Very sorry that “The Eagle” and “The Protectors” have disappeared. Called Netflix about the latter and they said that if it is requested, they might renew the contract.

    Anika Bengston Crime Reporter is also terrific, and I am watching “Borgen” online on kcet.org.

  55. Reading thru all these comments about Scandinavian shows (love Annika series, hope I can find season 2 soon). French “Spiral” is my all time favorite. Now I have to try to find Eagle and Borgen.

  56. You can buy Borgen on eBay. Loved Wallander the Swedish version and wish I could find more like this on Netflix. Didn’t like the British version at all. Many of the titles listed above are not on Netflix. Any sources to recommend for more series like Wallander??

  57. We’ve been streaming Arne Dahl from MHZ networks but have missed some episodes. Does anyone know where to find them?

  58. Many poeple are asking about where to find free movies/TV series. These I found quite good (without providing personal info.)
    watch-tvseries.net/
    couchtuner.com
    viewster.com
    Enjoy!
    Tim

  59. Thanks to Tim for posting those ‘watch free’ movies/TV episodes. Does anyone know where sometime like that can be found that has Closed Captioning? Thanks.

  60. Great British crime dramas:
    Inspector Frost (Netflix)
    Scott and Bailey (Hulu)

    Both just excellent.

    British (other)
    Monarch of the Glen (Netflix)
    Doc Martin (Netflix)

    Australian (other):
    Sea Patrol (Hulu)

  61. Ive heard great things about THE PROTECTORS but cant seem to locate Season 1. Found Season 2 on “The Bay” but cant find S1 anywhere. If anyone knows where i would appreciate it…

  62. I cant stand 95% of the shows produced in the U.S. however i find it hilarious the bashing of American television as the best TV and movies are produced here and probably always will be… there’s a reason they call it Hollywood people. Don’t get me wrong, i’m not afraid of a subtitle and i will search the world over for great Television. Here are a few of my favorite non U.S. shows…
    BORGEN, BRAQUO, SHERLOCK, SPIRAL, THE BRIDGE, THE KILLING, THOSE WHO KILL, UNIT 1.

    The Eagle did not make my list. I watched it all and enjoyed it but it seems to be highly overrated on this site and i would in no way call it great… maybe people just get emotional when they here the theme song. The Scandinavian’s have some brilliant actors and brilliant tv shows… i would put them 2cd behind the U.S. when it comes to making great television.

    Maybe only the garbage the U.S produces makes it outside the U.S…. i dont know. If that is the case then here is a list of some of the greatest shows in Television history… all produces by good ole Hollywood…enjoy

    ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT
    BREAKING BAD
    CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM
    DEXTER
    GAME OF THRONES
    ITS ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA
    SONS OF ANARCHY
    THE BORGIAS
    THE SHIELD
    THE SOPRANOS
    THE TUDORS
    THE WIRE

    P.S… I appreciate all the new show suggestions and there are quite a few i am looking forward to seeing that i never would have found it not for this site.

  63. I tune in MHz TV. They carry a foreign mystery every night at 9 ET. Different one every night.

  64. Also worth checking out:
    Rita (available on Netflix in many countries)
    Dag (funny Norwegian comedy) — hard to find — a few here w/ eng. subs http://nordicworld.tv/formats/catalogue/4/format/screener
    Dicte (season 1) very hard to find with english subtitles — check Netflix
    Sandhamm Murders (with Jakob Cedergren from Those who Kill) — not as good as the other sabove.

    A few Icelandic series worth tryng to find:
    Pressa
    Reporters

    This search engines searches Netflix in All regions — could be of use
    http://nutflox.com/

  65. I’ve watched many of the series mentioned here. Just caught my first episode of The Eagle on the MHz network tonight and it was excellent. Of all of the series shown on the MHz Network and PBS, I have enjoyed Unni Lindell and Endeavor the most. Unfortunately MHz is going away from one of our local public channels and they will start broadcasting another round of old public tv reruns. We already have four or five other public channels!

  66. To the impatient author of this article, they do reveal the killer in The Killing at the end of season two. It’s just not an unrealistic American TV show where their is a new killer every episode. That’s one of the best things about the show.

  67. Love Swedish Crime Drama. Trying to find some I’ve not seen either on You Tube or Netflix. Seen most of the above…:/ Want more!!!
    Thanks for posting everyone, have a couple I want to watch!

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