Some shows focus on real crimes rather than fictional ones. This isn't the same as RippedFromTheHeadlines, where the show creates a fictional counterpart to a real crime, complete with new fictional people to be part of it. True Crime shows aim to dramatize an event (more-or-less) exactly, with names only changed if the victims or their families request it.

There are at least two distinct types of these shows:

'''Type 1: Calls for Aid''': The show is organized to see if the public can provide any clues or information the police don't already have to find a criminal who perpetrated an unsolved crime. For example ''Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst'', ''Series/CrimewatchUK'', and ''Series/AmericasMostWanted''.

'''Type 2: Retrospective''': Solved crimes or cold cases from many years ago are profiled. This overlaps with a documentary. For example ''Series/TheFirst48'', ''ForensicDetectives''.

Both types make use of CrimeReconstruction. Within both types, broadcast-network offerings tend to be made by the news division. They're what hourlong UsefulNotes/PrimeTime news shows often decay into; true investigative journalism costs serious money and carries the risks of speaking truth to power while TrueCrime retrospectives are just about the cheapest thing you can put out and still call "news programming".

The term is also used for NonFiction novels of varying quality, covering RealLife crimes. On one side you have novels written to cover the events as clearly and factually as possible, and then there are works thrown together for [[AirportNovel quick and easy public consumption]], often advertising things like "[[CoversAlwaysLie 10 pages of shocking photographs!]]" on the cover.

Should not be confused with [[VideoGame/TrueCrimeStreetsOfLA the entirely fictional video game.]]
!!Examples of Type 1:
* ''Aktenzeichen XY ... ungelöst'' (''File Number XY... unsolved'') is a German show aired on ZDF that mixes both flavours, but also [[TropeMaker practically started]] the whole ''TrueCrime'' genre to begin with. [[IncrediblyLamePun Has been on the run]] since 1967, and has a current case resolution rating of around 40%. Through a mixture of photofits, mugshots, re-enactments, dramatizations, and the presentation of evidence, the anchorman tells the public to call the local police dealing with each case. Occasionally also presents cases from a few years back. Regularly awards members of the public and law enforcement with the ''XY-Award'' to honour exemplary cases of courage.
* ''AmericanJustice''
* ''Series/AmericasMostWanted''
* ''Series/CrimewatchUK''
* ''MissingLive'' is more or less the same thing, but it calls for help looking for missing people rather than criminals.
* ''Series/UnsolvedMysteries''

!!Examples of Type 2:
* ''[[Series/FortyEightHoursMystery 48 Hours Mystery]]''
* ''Series/AmericanCrimeStory''
* ''Series/CityConfidential'' gives a travelogue introduction each week to a different U.S. city, its "in" crowd and its culture each week, and then documents a murder case that was particularly scandalizing to that city. The SoapOpera aspect is emphasized, and the narration is mildly humorous.
* ''Series/ColdCaseFiles''
* ''Series/DatelineNBC''
* ''Series/DeadlyWomen''
* ''Series/ExhibitA''
* ''Podcast/FatFrenchAndFabulous''
* ''Series/TheFirst48''
* ''ForensicDetectives''
* ''Series/ForensicFiles''
* ''Literature/InColdBlood''
* Creator/InvestigationDiscovery a cable channel dedicated almost entirely to true crime programs, including several of the shows listed above as well as their own original series.
** Likewise, the [[ Crime Library]].
* ''VideoGame/LANoire'' uses real crimes from 1940s Los Angeles.
* ''Podcast/TheLastPodcastOnTheLeft''
* ''Series/TheNewDetectives''
* ''Series/{{Snapped}}'' is largely about wives who kill their husbands, though there have been cases shown where women kill their boyfriends' wives/[=SOs=], daughters kill their parents and husbands kill their wives. In most cases, the accused play it up as a crime of passion (or that they were framed or set up by the cops who couldn't find a better suspect) even if the evidence clearly points to premeditation.
* ''Literature/TheStrangerBesideMe''
* ''{{Film/Wonderland}}'' is based on the Wonderland murders that occurred in 1981.
* ''Series/TopCops'' presented dramatizations of true life police incidents told by the cops involved.
* ''Series/{{Unsolved}}: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.'' follows the two failed investigations into the murder of rapper Biggie Smalls and its possible connections to the earlier murder of Tupac.