Crime Fiction from the Scandinavian 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.
<!—index—> Film — Live-Action
- Beck is a series of a TV movies very loosely based on Sjöwall and Wahlöö's Martin Beck novels. Maj Sjöwall was an advisor for the series, though.
- Department Q: The Keeper of Lost Causes
- Fear X: Kind of. It's set in Wisconsin and Montana in midwinter, but filmed in Canada and Denmark, but Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn.
- The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the English-language American adaptation of the book of the same name from the Millennium Series.
- 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.
- The Hunters
- In Order of Disappearance
- Insomnia and its American remake.
- Johan Falk These movies do feature some sleuthing, but in Sweden at least, they are marketed as pure action movies.
- The Man On The Roof
- The Millennium Trilogy, the film adaptations of the original three books in the Millennium Series.
- Pusher (Arguably proto-nordic noir)
- The Shipping News Set in Newfoundland with a pretty noirish character
- Blow The Man Down Although not set in a snowy landscape, it's set in a Maine town with an underbelly of crime
- The Chestnut Man is set in Denmark with a Serial Killer antagonist.
- Harry Hole
- Martin Beck series is an Ur-Example of the genre, and basically spawned all other titles mentioned here.
- Millennium, one of the most famous literary examples.
- 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.
- The Yiddish Policemen's Union is set in Alaska (and an Alternate History), but fits the trope quite well.
- Arne Dahl
- Backstrom, adaptation of the Backstrom novels. An American procedural that kept the original's cynical edge while softening down some of the protagonist's other flaws.
- There's also Bäckström (2020) a slightly Truer to the Text adaptation of the fourth Backstrom novel.
- Bankenrot ("Broke") was essentially a Nordic version of <!—/index—>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.<!—index—>
- <!—/index—>Black Mirror has a couple episodes heavily inspired by this genre, though mixed with Black Mirror's trademark speculative science fiction.<!—index—>
- "Hated in the Nation"
- "Crocodile", which was actually filmed (if not set) in Iceland.
- The Break, a Franco-Belgian take on the genre.
- The Tunnel, its UK/France remake.
- The Bridge (US), its USA/Mexico remake.
- Cardinal, a Canadian take on the genre, which was positively critiqued throughout Canada.
- The Chestnut Man, a Danish take on the genre.
- Dark, a German science fiction thriller, has frequently been described as Stranger Things with a Nordic Noir aesthetic, particularly in its first season.
- Deadwind, as pictured above.
- Fallet is a comedic take on the genre.
- Forbrydelsen, arguably the Trope Codifier for people who don't read prose crime fiction.
- The Killing, its US remake.
- 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
- Midnight Sun (2016) (Midnattssol / Nuit Polare), a French-Swedish coproduction playing in Kiruna, Sweden.
- Øyevitne, a six-part Norwegian crime series that was also remade as Eyewitness (2016) for the US market.
- Raid, a Finnish mini-series, and the two movies that followed. Unusually enough, it's set 20 Minutes into the Future.
- Roland Hassel, a classic nordic-noir-crime-thriller from the 80's, famous in Sweden for the protagonist being more intelligent than cocky.
- 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.
- Spring Tide is a Swedish series which kicks off with the investigation of a pregnant woman's death.
- Trapped (2015) (Original title Ófærð), an Icelandic TV series in 10 parts.
- Thin Ice
- Twin, which has many of the hallmarks of a Nordic Noir drama, with some police procedural aspects, but the detective is merely a side character and the focus of the story is on the victim's twin brother.
- Der Usedom-Krimi is a German series set on the island of Usedom in the Baltic Sea, which is far enough north to have a Scandinavian flavour.
- Wallander, the other blockbuster literary example.
- Y Gwyll, a Welsh take on the genre.
- Draugen is somewhat of a retro take on the genre, placing a missing person's case in a rural Norwegian village in the year of 1923.
- Whispers of a Machine combines the genre with Cyberpunk.
- The genre was satirized by the youtuber Alastair Beckett-King in "Every Single Scandinavian Crime Drama".
- Scandinavia and the World: "Save the day" contrasts Nordic action protagonists with American and British ones. America is a gun-toting Leeroy Jenkins, Britain is a suave spy, while Denmark, Sweden and Finland are hapless, regular guys in disheveled clothing, smoking and maybe wielding a gun, alluding to the somber tone of Nordic Noir.
Tropes typical to the genre:
- Action Girl: Female characters are as likely to partake in action scenes as male ones.
- All Bikers Are Hell's 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, Copenhagen and Helsinki 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.
- Germanic Depressives: That might specifically target Germans, but it's not hard for the Nordics to top them for depressive moods when you're based even farther north and the winters are even longer and colder.
- 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