Henning Mankell’s Kurt Wallander first graced our screens a full 23 years ago, if you can believe that. Nine books were made into feature-length films starring Rolf Lassgård between 1995 and 2007, while 31 instalments of the excellent Krister Henriksson version aired between 2005 and 2013.
Wallander fans were then treated to a twelve-part British adaptation of the books a few years later, starring the legendary thespian and Murder on the Orient Express film director Kenneth Branagh as the grumpy detective.
52 Wallander episodes and nine novels should be enough to satiate even the hungriest of Nordic noir fans. But, alas, it’s not. We can never get enough. And with the sheer amount of quality crime drama out there, why should we stop feeding our ravenous appetites?
We’ve scoured Netflix for some recommendations for anyone who’s a fan of Wallander but looking for something new. Here’s our pick of Netflix shows like Wallander!
7 top Netflix UK shows like Wallander:
Let’s kick things off with something safe and Scandi. We move our attention from Sweden to Finland for this first recommendation. Known as Sorjonen in its native land, this moody crimer sees Detective Inspector Kari Sorjonen (played by Ville Virtanen) as a decorated officer of the National Bureau of Investigation. Family tragedy sees him move his family from Helsinki out to the tiny Finnish/Russian border town of Lappeenranta, so they can all live a nice, quiet and peaceful life. But it doesn’t quite work out like that.
Sorjonen is quickly faced with a sadistic serial killer who has a shocking connection to the detective and his family.
Bordertown is dark, moody and intense. It’s Broadchurch by way of Twin Peaks and, of course, Wallander. And it’s well worth checking out.
IMDb Rating: 7.7
A string of grisly murders are quickly established as an homage to the ‘work’ of an infamous female serial killer known as ‘The Mantis’. With shades of The Silence of the Lambs, the police attempt to enlist the help of The Mantis to track her copycat down. She agrees, but only on the proviso that her point of contact is Detective Damien Carrot. Her estranged – and emotionally damaged – son.
Mind games, family issues, brutal slayings, high-speed chases and red herrings galore, this gruesome French thriller is comprised of just six parts, so you can easily consume it in a weekend. And we suggest you do.
IMDb Rating: 7.5
Sofia Karppi (Pihla Viitala) is a Helsinki detective in this twelve-part Finnish crime thriller that returns to work just two months after the tragic death of her husband. Fighting her own personal demons while tracking down the killer of a young woman on a construction site, she must do so with a new – slightly oddball – rookie partner.
Factor in frozen corpses, tall bearded male suspects in lovely warm-looking jumpers and all the pieces of the Scandi noir jigsaw are there. Critical reviews were positive, with the icy drama receiving favourable comparisons to The Killing.
Deadwind doesn’t bring too many new ideas to the table, but what it does offer up is a well-acted, fast-paced and solidly-plotted smörgåsbord that any fan of Wallander, The Bridge or The Killing will be only too keen to gorge themselves on.
IMDb Rating: 7.2
Taking its inspiration from the 1996 Coen Brothers film of the same name, Fargo features none of the movie’s characters or stories, but does set its tale in the same Minnesota ‘universe’. It’s an anthology series, this. So the three seasons take on different stories – each as cynical, violent and surprising as the last.
Series 1 stars Billy Bob Thornton as a malicious hitman who passes through town, pulling the strings of the various oddball characters in it, including the downtrodden Martin Freeman.
The second run sees Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons trying to cover up the accidental killing of a crime family’s youngest member. Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson play the boys in blue trying to untangle the mess.
And the latest series stars Ewan McGregor and Ewan McGregor (he plays brothers) and features a failed heist and its deadly fallout. The ever-excellent Mary Elizabeth Winstead supports.
IMDb Rating: 9.0
You’ll no doubt recognise Lilyhammer’s lead actor Steve van Zandt from his role as Sil in The Sopranos. Or perhaps you know him from being a member of Bruce Springsteen’s backing band, The E Street Band. Either way, he plays Frank ‘The Fixer’ Tagliano here, a very Sil-like former mobster forced to hide out in Norway after breaking omerta and ‘ratting out’ his former mob pals.
Lilyhammer is mostly a comedy, but it’s not all played for laughs. The balance between jet black humour and violent gangster drama is kept nicely. Originally broadcast on Norwegian TV, but was, in fact, the first show ever created by Netflix. There are three seasons to blast through and you won’t regret it if you start tonight.
IMDb Rating: 8.0
The Frozen Dead
Set high up in the Pyrenees, this grisly French thriller opens with a rather stomach-churning discovery. Suspended from a frozen cliff is the headless corpse of a horse. The investigation soon involves an incarcerated serial killer and that’s where the plot really starts to thicken.
Stylish and almost cinematic feeling, The Frozen Dead is part of a new wave of excellent French crime dramas that includes La Mante. Again, the writing and acting here is spot on, but it’s the freezing landscape and cinematography that elevates this above many of its peers.
IMDb Rating: 6.3
Wallander fans fond of the Swedish setting of their favourite detective series will surely enjoy Lava Field’s Icelandic scenery. Known as Hraunið back home, this gripping four-parter is set in the lava fields of Iceland’s Snaefellsnes Peninsula and features murder, drug smuggling, violent biker gangs and all manner of other dodgy goings-on.
Helgi Runarsson (Bjorn Hylnur Haraldsson) is the detective sent from Reykjavik to investigate. We soon learn that Runarsson grew up near the lava fields and – wouldn’t you know it – the past quickly comes back to haunt him.
Lava Field isn’t entirely devoid of cliches, but it’s tense, exciting and rattles along at a fair old pace. The awesome scenery also makes this eminently watchable.
IMDb Rating: 6.8
Have we missed any of the best Netflix UK shows like Wallander? Seen something else you think other devotees might enjoy? Let us know in the comments below!