Follow TV Tropes


Nordic Noir

Go To

Nordic Noir 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 often, but not always, take the form of 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.
  • Forbrydelsen
  • Pusher (Arguably proto-nordic noir)
  • The Millennium Trilogy, one of the most famous literary examples.
  • Roland Hassel, a classic nordic-noir-crime-thriller from the 80's, famous in Sweden for the protagonist being more intelligent than cocky.
  • Wallander, the other blockbuster literary example.
  • Backstrom
  • Bron|Broen
  • 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.
  • Lilyhammer
  • In Order of Disappearance
  • Johan Falk These movies do feature some sleuthing, but in Sweden at least, they are marketed as pure action movies.
  • Advertisement:
  • Jordskott
  • 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.
  • Shetland is a Scottish take on the genre, set in a region of Scotland that's very close to Norway.
  • Sorjonen, a Finnish take on the genre.
  • The Break, a franco-belgian take on the genre.
  • The Black Mirror episode "Hated in the Nation" was heavily inspired by this genre, though mixed with Black Mirror's trademark speculative science fiction, as was Crocodile, which was actually filmed (if not set) in Iceland.
  • Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow as a literary example that contains many central tropes and aesthetic trappings of the genre, while not exactly being a part of it. It is partially a detective story, albeit not in Police Procedural form, but, Peter Høeg being the writer that he is, is broader in genre, somewhat philosophical and multi-layered.
  • Hold the Dark is an American production set in Alaska (and filmed in Canada), and...weirder than some of the classic examples, but it qualifies as a take on the genre.
  • Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes
  • Whispers of a Machine combines the genre with Cyber Punk.
  • Bankenrot ("Broke") was essentially a Nordic version of Breaking Bad, changing down-on-his-luck chemistry teacher for down-on-his-luck chef. The attempt by AMC to adapt it to American audiences, Feed The Beast, unfortunately became an Audience-Alienating Premise and only lasted a single season.

Tropes typical to the genre


Example of: