or Scandinavian Noir
is a genre of Crime Fiction
from the Nordic countries, which broke through around the Turn of the Millennium
and since. They are often, but not always, a Police Procedural
. The Hero
is often an Anti-Hero
; typically a Defective Detective
. Many of the series have been adapted to film, and then remade for other audiences. The genre arguably originated
with Per Wahlöö and Maj Sjöwall's Martin Beck
novels, which introduced many of the concepts and conventions, such as deconstructing the clean surface of the welfare state, dealing with older, down on their luck cops and social commentary and social realism, set in deserted sceneries in an an unforgiving climate
. However, it truly took off
in the English-speaking world with the English publication of Henning Mankell's novels, most of which feature the depressive Inspector Kurt Wallander.
Compare with Giallo
and Heroic Bloodshed
, for other region specific crime thrillers.
- Harry Hole
- Insomnia and its American remake.
- Pusher (Arguably proto-nordic noir)
- The Millennium Trilogy, one of the most famous literary examples.
- Wallander, the other blockbuster literary example.
- Martin Beck series is an Ur-Example of the genre, and basically spawned all other titles mentioned here.
- Beck is a series of a TV movies very loosely based on Sjöwall and Wahlöö's novels. Maj Sjöwall was an advisor for the series, though.
- In Order of Disappearance
- Johan Falk These movies do feature some sleuthing, but in Sweden at least, they are marketed as pure action movies.
- Fortitude is what you get when a British TV channel decides to make its own Nordic Noir, still in a Scandinavian setting.
- Gentlemen and its sequel Gangsters by Klas Östergren
- Trapped (Original title Ófærð), an Icelandic TV series in 10 parts.
- Midnight Sun (Midnattssol/Nuit Polare), a French-Swedish coproduction playing in Kiruna, Sweden.
- Cardinal, a Canadian take on the genre, which was positively critiqued throughout Canada.
- The Hunters
- Y Gwyll, a welsh take on the genre.
- Sorjonen, a Finnish take on the genre.
- The Break, a franco-belgian take on the genre.
Tropes typical to the genre
- Action Girl
- All Bikers Are Hells Angels: Common villains, nearly always Mooks.
- Cowboy Cop: Yes, Scandinavia has them too. However they are usually portrayed realistically, more like in The Shield than Dirty Harry. The most famous ones are probably Gunvald Larsson from Martin Beck and Roland Hassel from the eponymous book series by Olov Svedelid. There's also the Swedish film "I lagens namn" ("In the name of the law") from 1986, which was loosely based on the "baseball gang", a group of real-life Stockholm cops infamous for their vigilante tactics.
- Crapsaccharine World: Many such works often depict Nordic society as this, their progressive welfare states and social justice-minded values masking mean streaks of intolerance and misogyny.
- Defective Detective and Fallen Hero
- Dreaming of a White Christmas: Reality Is Unrealistic, as Stockholm, Oslo and Copenhagen are usually not covered by snow in late December.
- Dysfunction Junction: Many of these works tend to depict every single character as deeply disturbed and unhappy, even the non-violent ones.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: This genre has most of its market in Britain and Germany. Sjöwall and Wahlöö's Martin Beck series was huge in the Soviet Union, as due to authors being socialists and their social critique resonating well with the Soviet ideology, the books were widely translated and published, while the people mostly read them for the good stories they were.
- Historical Detective Fiction: The shortlived Swedish show, Anno 1790, was set in Stockholm after the end of the Russo-Swedish war of 1788 and follows the adventures of a veteran Combat Medic turned cop.
- National Stereotypes: Especially in cross-Scandinavian franchises, such as Bron|Broen.
- Norse by Norsewest: Deconstructed, in the typical case. Though these countries are known to be clean and well-organized, crime, corruption and filthy environments do exist.
- Ruthless Foreign Gangsters: Typically The Mafiya. Truth in Television to some degree.
- Sexy Scandinavian: Some of these works have explicit sex scenes, although Fan Disservice is also common.
- Snow Means Cold / Snow Means Death