Beware: These Disturbing TV Shows On Netflix Will Take You To Dark Places

What is it about Law and Order: Special Victims Unit that makes for such an epic binge watch? Logically, a show this disturbing should not be so easy to watch. And yet — people can't stop watching it. Coming up on 20 seasons, SVU is one of the longest-running network scripted dramas ever made.
SVU proves that "entertainment," essentially, isn't a code-word for light-hearted. It's a code-word for compelling and interesting. It's whatever keeps you watching, and sometimes that happens to be a show's more dark and horrific elements. Anyone who watched the second episode of American Horror Story: Apocalypse can attest to the fact the show's most gruesome scenes are often its most thrilling.
Ahead, we've gathered the most disturbing shows available to stream Netflix. Obviously, these shows aren't for everyone. In addition to providing what makes them great, we'll also let you know what potential triggers the shows contain.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-present)

You're probably used to catching re-runs of the long-running crime procedural drama Law & Order: SVU when you're home sick and watching cable in the middle of the day. But what do you know — four seasons of the show, which looks at the most elaborately gruesome (and mostly fictional) crimes committed in New York, are available on Netflix to stream whenever you please.

What Makes It Disturbing: Let's allow the crimes depicted in SVU speak for themselves. In various episodes, a young man forces his 8-year-old brother into a porn ring; a man kidnaps a woman and uses her as a sex slave; a psychic played by Martin Short buries a girl alive and then helps the police find the body. The show contains a devastating amount of sexually related crimes.
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American Horror Story (2011-present)

Each season of this anthology series tries to one-up the ones that came before in terms of scares, campiness, and memorably idiosyncratic characters. In American Crime Story: Cult, which aired in 2017, a posse of killer clowns terrorizes a small town in the wake of Donald Trump's election. But the first season, Murder House, is the ideal starting point, especially since it connects to the eighth season, Apocalypse.

What Makes It Disturbing: Oh, to journey to the depths of Ryan Murphy's imagination. What does he dream of? Rubber men and torture scenarios? If we're to read American Horror Story as a reflection of its creator's fixations, then probably. American Horror Story goes to more imaginatively disturbing places than any other show on TV. Prepare to be scared and grossed out at the same time.
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Wentworth (2013-present)

Like the hit Netflix show Orange is the New Black, Wentworth is set in a women's prison. But unlike Orange is the New Black, Wentworth could never be submitted to the Emmys in the "comedy" category. This Australian show is a grisly, and oh so occasionally sexy, look at life inside a woman's prison.

What Makes It Disturbing: Name a potential issue found in women's prisons, and Wentworth goes there — brutality, torture, substance abuse, sexual assault.
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The Fall (2013-present)

The Fall is a cat-and-mouse game, and we get to follow both the cat, DSI Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), and the mouse, serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). The drama is a fascinating character study of the people who commit heinous crimes as well as the people who go after these criminals.

What Makes It Disturbing: The character Paul Spector is incredibly disturbing. To the outside world, he's a family man. But most evenings, he puts on an all-black outfit, sneaks out of the house, and methodically stalks his young women victims, eagerly anticipating the kill.
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Happy Valley (2014-present)

Don't judge a TV show by its title. Happy Valley is not a happy show. Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire) is a police sergeant in West Yorkshire, a region in Northern England. In season 1, she deals with a grisly kidnapping case at work. At home, she faces the aftermath of her teenage daughter's suicide. Gruesome stuff, yes, but Happy Valley is incredibly well done.

What Makes It Disturbing: In the U.K., Happy Valley's depictions of violence have been criticized by publications like the Daily Mail. The biggest controversy arrived after the main character's life was put in danger in a major way so she could save the victim of kidnapping.
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Marvel's Jessica Jones (2015-present)

Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) is a reluctant superhero. If she had her way, she wouldn't have the power of super-strength at all. After a car crash killed her entire family, Jessica woke up with these powers. Her life has been lonely ever since. Jessica Jones catches Jessica just as she's recovering from a brutal relationship with Kilgrave (David Tennant), a man with mind control abilities. He turned Jessica into a shell of a person. Now, he's coming for her again.

What Makes It Disturbing: Strip away the supernatural element, and it's obvious that Jessica is locked in an abusive relationship with Kilgrave. Jessica Jones depicts a woman grappling with PTSD from her time spent with a terrible, manipulative person.
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Mindhunter (2017-present)

Pop culture has an undeniable obsession with serial killers. While fascination with the macabre is nothing new, the term "serial killer" only dates back to the '70s. Mindhunter is a historical drama that looks at the intrepid team of investigators and psychologists who began to classify killers.

What Makes It Disturbing: Hello! Mindhunter is about serial killers — real serial killers, like the "Co-Ed Killer" Edmund Kemper.
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13 Reasons Why (2017-present)

Hannah Baker (Katherine Langford) took her own life. But before doing so, she left messages on cassette tapes for 13 people who touched her life in positive and devastating ways. The first season of 13 Reasons Why flips back and forth between Hannah's sophomore year of high school and the aftermath of the tapes' secrets coming out.

What Makes It Disturbing: 13 Reasons Why derives its entire narrative propulsion from uncovering why a young girl took her own life. It contains graphic depictions of suicide and sexual assault.
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The Confession Tapes (2018)

Why would someone confess to a murder he didn't do, knowing it would lead to a lifetime in jail? The Confession Tapes is a seven-part documentary from journalist and documentarian Kelly Loudenberg that, by delving into the phenomenon of false confessions, seeks to answer that very question.

What Makes It Disturbing: Unlike other entries on this round-up, The Confession Tapes isn't disturbing for graphic depictions or insinuations of violence. It's disturbing because it's a devastating indictment of the criminal justice system.

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