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Scandinavian TV shows have been making waves in the international entertainment scene for quite some time now. 

In particular, “Nordic noir” has been absolutely having a moment, although some historical shows – I’m looking at you, Vikings – have also rightfully earned their spot on people’s must-watch lists. 

So if you’re dying (pun entirely intended) for a good Scandinavian crime thriller, a tale of political intrigue or just some good old Viking raids, here are some of the best Scandinavian TV shows that you should definitely check out.

(And one quick point: While almost all of these shows are in the original language of the country in which they’re set, all of them have English subtitles available. Some of them also have English dubbing, but I’d recommend watching them in their original version for the full experience.)

a woman with a cup of coffee while watching Scandinavian tv shows

Best Scandinavian TV shows

All The Sins (Kaikki synnit)

“All The Sins” is a Finnish crime drama that is set in the small, highly religious town of Varjakka in the north of the country. The show involves the investigation of a series of murders that seem to be connected to the town’s deep religious and conservative roots.

What makes “All The Sins” so compelling is its strong sense of atmosphere. The small town setting and the dark, brooding tone of the show creates a sense of unease that keeps you on the edge of your seat. 

If you’re a fan of crime dramas, “All The Sins” is worth checking out.

Available on: Amazon Prime

You may also be interested in: Is Finland Part of Scandinavia? (Who Left the Finns Out?)

 Arctic Circle (Ivalo)

“Arctic Circle” is a Finnish-German crime drama that takes place in the far north of Finland. Police officer Nina Kautsalo investigates a murder in the area, which quickly takes a turn when a deadly virus is found in the body of the victim.

The show’s setting in the far north of Finland gives it a unique atmosphere that sets it apart from other crime dramas. The performances are also excellent, with lead actress Iina Kuustonen delivering a particularly strong portrayal of Nina.

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, YouTube Premium

Beck

“Beck” is a Swedish crime drama that is based on the novels by Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö. It involves Detective Martin Beck investigating a series of murders in Stockholm.

The show is well-written and well-acted, making it a great choice for fans of crime dramas. Additionally, the show being based on novels makes it a good choice for any fans of the books.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium

Before We Die (Innan vi dör)

“Before We Die” is a Swedish crime drama that follows police officer Hanna Svensson as she goes undercover to take down a criminal organization. 

What makes “Before We Die” so compelling is the tension and intensity of the undercover operation. The show also delves into the personal lives of the characters, adding depth and complexity to the story. The performances are also strong, with lead actress Marie Richardson delivering a powerful portrayal of Hanna.

If you’re a fan of crime dramas with a strong female lead, “Before We Die” is definitely one to check out.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium

a woman holding a remote control watching Scandinavian tv shows

Borderliner (Grenseland)

“Borderliner” is a Norwegian crime drama that follows detective Nikolai Andreassen as he investigates a murder case that hits close to home. 

The show stands out for its intense and emotional storyline. The show deals with themes of corruption, family and revenge, making for a gripping and thought-provoking viewing experience. Tobias Santelmann, who plays Nikolai, does a really great job here.

Available on: Netflix

Bordertown (Sorjonen)

“Bordertown” is a Finnish crime drama firmly in the Nordic noir genre, taking place in a small town near the border of Finland and Russia. The show follows detective Kari Sorjonen, who almost has savant-like abilities, as he investigates a series of murders.

The location of the show is definitely unique and the crime aspects are just as interesting as the themes of family and the consequences of past actions that it presents. 

Available on: Netflix

Borgen

“Borgen” is a Danish political drama that centers on the fictional Prime Minister Birgitte Nyborg and her rise to power. 

What makes “Borgen” so great is its realistic portrayal of political power struggles and the personal lives of politicians. The show deals with themes of ambition, ethics, and the cost of power. The performances are also noteworthy, with lead actress Sidse Babett Knudsen delivering a powerful portrayal of Birgitte Nyborg.

If you’re a fan of political dramas, “Borgen” is a must-watch.

Available on: Netflix

Caliphate (Kalifat)

“Caliphate” is a Swedish crime drama that’s based on the three teenage girls from London who ran away to join ISIS, albeit set in Stockholm here.

The show presents an incredibly realistic portrayal of the impact of terrorism on society and the personal lives of the characters. Dealing with themes of extremism, surveillance, and the ethics of counter-terrorism, this is a highly interesting show with direct relevance to many issues in the world today. 

Available on: Netflix

a couple sitting on a couch holding a remote control while watching Scandinavian tv shows

Dicte

“Dicte” is a Danish crime drama that follows journalist Dicte Svendsen as she investigates crimes in her hometown of Aarhus. 

“Dicte” stands out for its strong female lead and the unique perspective of a journalist as the main character. The show also deals with personal and emotional storylines, adding depth to the crime investigations. 

It’s a great choice for those who enjoy crime dramas with a strong female lead and a unique perspective.

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, YouTube Premium

Entrapped

“Entrapped” is a Icelandic crime drama that follows a team of detectives as they investigate a murder case that leads to a larger conspiracy. 

The show presents a great look into a thrilling and intense crime investigation, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. It’s actually a sequel to “Trapped”, which you should definitely consider watching before Entrapped.

Both are dark, intense and complex shows – and are so, so good.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Netflix

Follow the Money (Bedrag)

“Follow the Money” is a Danish crime drama that follows a team of financial crime investigators as they uncover large-scale financial fraud. 

“Follow the Money” offers a unique and engaging perspective on crime investigations, with a focus on financial crimes. While the first season is definitely the best of the three, if you’re interested in themes of corruption and power, this could be for you.

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, YouTube Premium

a man holding a glass with wine while watching Scandinavian tv shows on his laptop

Gåsmamman

“Gåsmamman” is a Swedish crime drama that follows a mother who becomes embroiled in the criminal underworld to protect her family. 

“Gåsmamman” offers a thrilling and intense storyline, with a strong female lead at the center of the action. At the same time, the show deals with themes of motherhood and the lengths one would go to protect their family, adding a truly great personal touch to the more classic Nordic noir genre. 

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube premium

Home for Christmas (Hjem Til Jul)

“Home for Christmas” is a Norwegian comedy-drama that follows a young woman as she navigates the ups and downs of the holiday season while searching for a boyfriend to bring home to her family. 

“Home for Christmas” offers a charming and heartwarming story, with relatable characters and a festive setting. It’s a great choice for those who enjoy holiday-themed shows with a mix of comedy and drama – and a real standout from the rest of the Scandinavian TV shows on this list where humor isn’t always high on the agenda.

Available on: Netflix

Lilyhammer

“Lilyhammer” is a Norwegian-American crime drama that follows a former New York mobster as he starts a new life in Norway under the witness protection program. 

The show is great for anyone wanting a dark comedy, as the main character navigates the culture shock and challenges of living in Norway. Most crime dramas don’t have the fish-out-of-water storyline you get here, making “Lilyhammer” one to definitely check out.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Netflix

a couple with a bowl of popcorn watching Scandinavian tv shows on their laptop

Love and Anarchy (Kärlek och Anarki)

“Love and Anarchy” is a Swedish romantic-comedy where the lead, Sofie, has to balance her work and family obligations. Along comes Max, a colleague at her office, and what first appears to be some mild flirting starts to quickly take some dark, very unexpected terms.

Don’t expect this to simply be a show about “person has an affair in their workplace” as it goes well beyond that. I’d definitely recommend giving this one a shot.

Available on: Netflix

Midnight Sun (Midnattsol)

“Midnight Sun” is a French-Swedish crime drama that takes place in the far north of Sweden, following a murder investigation in the small town of Kiruna that soon takes a turn from your standard everyday murder to outright ritualism.

The show offers a unique and captivating storyline, with a strong sense of location and atmosphere. The performances are noteworthy, with lead actress Leïla Bekhti delivering a powerful portrayal of the lead investigator.

Available on: The Roku Channel

Norsemen (Vikingane)

“Norsemen” is a Norwegian comedy-drama that takes a comedic look at the lives of Viking warriors in the 8th century..

It offers a unique and entertaining take on historical fiction, with a mix of comedy and drama. With three seasons and the episodes being a relatively short 30 minutes each, this is a good show to binge if you like themes of power, ambition and the cost of success – with a lot of satire thrown in for good measure. 

Available on: Amazon Prime, Netflix, AppleTV

Related: Norse Days of the Week: Origin, Meaning, Gods and More

Occupied (Okkupert)

“Occupied” is a Norwegian political thriller that explores the impact of a fictional Russian occupation of Norway. The twist is that the occupation is supported by the EU based on a decision by the Norwegian Prime Minister to stop oil and gas production in the country.

This show is seriously good for anyone who likes politics. It offers a gripping and thought-provoking storyline, dealing with themes of power, loyalty and the ethics of resistance. 

Available on: Netflix

Piece of My Heart (Pala Sydamesta)

“Piece of My Heart” is a Finnish crime drama set in the wider context of Child Welfare Services. In case you can’t tell, this isn’t the lightest of shows.

Instead, it offers a gripping and emotional storyline, with the various threads all weaving together in really unexpected ways. The lead actresses are excellent, as is the writing, all of which come together to make a show that feels realistic and yet completely heart wrenching.

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, YouTube Premium

Ragnarök

“Ragnarök” is a Norwegian fantasy drama that is inspired by Norse mythology. The show is set in modern times, following a small town in Norway as it is plagued by strange occurrences and an ancient prophecy begins to unfold. 

Very mild, early in the show spoiler alert: the main character discovers that he’s the reincarnation of Thor – hence the show’s title.

If you love fantasy with more realism than you may expect, this one could be for you.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Netflix

a woman watching Scandinavian tv shows on her laptop

Rita

“Rita” is a Danish comedy-drama that follows a strong-willed and unconventional schoolteacher as she navigates the challenges of teaching and parenting. 

“Rita” offers a relatable and heartwarming storyline, with relatable characters and a mix of comedy and drama. If you’re looking for one of the best Scandinavian TV shows that’s lighter with a more personal and emotional storyline than what you get in your typical Nordic noir, this is a good option. 

Available on: Netflix

The Bridge (Broen/Bron)

There’s a reason that this show is so popular. In brief, “The Bridge” is a Scandinavian crime drama that follows detectives from Denmark and Sweden as they investigate a murder case that takes place on the Oresund Bridge, connecting the two countries.

It’s got a truly unique and captivating storyline and is understandably high on any list of the best Scandinavian crime dramas. For fans of this genre, you may have seen it already given it seems to be a gateway (or… a bridge?) into this style of show, but if you’ve somehow missed it, it’s time to fix that.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium, Sling TV

You may also be interested in: Stockholm vs Copenhagen: Which Is Better to Visit?

The Hunters (Jägarna)

“The Hunters” is a Swedish crime drama set in the far north of Sweden. It offers a thrilling and intense storyline, with plenty of action and suspense. 

Don’t get confused about this being the 1996 movie of the same name. In fact, the show is basically a sequel of that movie – so feel free to watch both if you want to know the full timeline of this story!

Available on: Amazon Prime

The Killing (Forbrydelsen)

“The Killing” is a Danish crime drama that follows a police investigation into the murder of a young woman. Each episode covers a full day into the investigation, with some of the plot twists being truly breathtaking.

Dealing with themes of corruption and power, the show makes for a thought-provoking viewing experience. It’s been hugely popular outside of Scandinavia and for good reason. Personally, I’d easily rate this as one of the best Scandinavian crime series out there.

Available on: Amazon Prime, Hulu, Apple TV, YouTube Premium, Vudu

The Rain

“The Rain” is a Danish post-apocalyptic thriller that follows a group of survivors as they navigate a world ravaged by a deadly virus that was spread by rainfall. 

While it may sound like the story hits a bit close to home given recent world events, it actually predates 2020 by two years so that point is simply a coincidence.

The story itself is incredibly interesting, with both thrilling and emotional aspects that will have you gripped almost immediately.

Available on: Netflix

a woman holding her tablet watching Scandinavian tv shows

The Sandhamn Murders

“The Sandhamn Murders” is a Swedish crime drama based on the books of the same name that takes place on the island of Sandhamn.

It follows a lawyer who lives on the island as she helps to solve a series of murders nearby. 

Currently at its eighth season, this isn’t a case of a show that’s gone on for too long. If anything, I wouldn’t mind a few more renewals given how captivating the story is!

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel, YouTube Premium

The Investigation (Efterforskningen)

“The Investigation” is a Danish crime drama that follows the investigation into the real-life murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. 

As a six episode show, it’s incredibly well done and the fact that this actually happened – and not that long ago- makes it a particularly poignant one to watch.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube TV, Sling TV, Apple TV, Hulu, YouTube Premium 

The Valhalla Murders (Brot)

“The Valhalla Murders” is an Icelandic crime drama that follows a police detective as she investigates a series of murders linked to a boys home called Valhalla.

Broadly based on real life events in the 1940s, this is a dark show with some great writing. As only the second Icelandic show to be on Netflix, the story certainly holds up as a good example of a Nordic noir series.

Available on: Netflix

Related: Until Valhalla: What Does It Mean (and is it “Til Valhalla”)?

Thin Blue Line (Tunna Blå Linjen)

“Thin Blue Line” is a Swedish drama that follows a group of police officers as they navigate the challenges of their personal and professional lives. 

It’s ultimately a heartwarming storyline, with relatable characters and a mix of comedy and drama. While there is some crime, given the characters’ area of work, the personal aspect is given much more focus, resulting in a surprisingly emotional show.

Available on: The Roku Channel

Those Who Kill (Den Som Dræber)

“Those Who Kill” is a Danish crime drama that follows a police detective and a forensic profiler as they investigate a series of murders. 

The show offers a gripping and intense storyline, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you guessing. And the Copenhagen background is pretty nice too!

Available on: Amazon Prime, The Roku Channel

Wallander

“Wallander” is a Swedish crime drama series that follows the investigations of police detective Kurt Wallander, who is based on the main character in the novels by Henning Mankell. 

While eventually remade into a UK version, the original Swedish one is worth watching. As an early entrant into the Scandinavian crime TV show market, it definitely still holds up with some plot twists you won’t expect.

Available on: Amazon Prime, YouTube Premium