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German Series in the USA
​Berlin crime dramas make for ‘Must-See’ TV

Still from the Netflix series "Dogs of Berlin": There is drive-by shooting from a panel van out in the open street, muzzle flashes and weapons from the van are aimed at an unseen target.
Still from the Netflix series "Dogs of Berlin" | © Netflix / Foto: Sergio Belinchon

Modern-day Berlin is the favored locale of German showrunners looking to make binge-worthy series. There’s just something in the Berliner Luft that makes for compelling crime thrillers... call it the Berlin that tourists never see, if they’re lucky.

Here are a few of the series that flipped the script on German crime thrillers. Gritty, dark, brutal and intensely action-filled, these series are a clear departure from the rather tame whodunnit school of prime-time murder mysteries.

In the Face of Crime 

Still Frame from the series “In the face of crime”: Carmen Birk, Klara Manzel, Max Riemelt, Ronald Zehrfeld wearing police vests standing in an elevator Still frame from the series “In the face of crime”: Carmen Birk, Klara Manzel, Max Riemelt, Ronald Zehrfeld | © ARD
An almost radical departure from German TV’s standalone norms when it premiered in 2010, „In the Face of Crime“ is structured like a movie split into 10 parts. The format was a novelty for German viewers then, but it’s ideal for binge-watching today. Critics praised this intricate drama about rival groups of Russian Mafia operating in Berlin, the Ukrainian women they force into prostitution, and the police trying to bring them down.

Watch “In the face of crime”

In the USA:
Amazon Prime

In Germany:
ARD Plus Channel on Amazon Prime


Blochin (Jürgen Vogel, r.) und Dominik (Thomas Heinze, l.) suchen Schatta auf dessen Hof. Still frame from the ZDF series “Blochin” | © ZDF, Photo: Stephan Rabold
Another early entry in the German binge-watching sweepstakes, Blochin had the honor of premiering at the 2015 Berlinale, and was the first German series made available online before even airing on TV. Starring Jürgen Vogel as a troubled Berlin cop, the action-packed six-hour thriller succeeds in hooking the audience.


In the USA:
MHz Choice 
MHz Choice on Amazon 

In Germany:
ZDF Mediathek

4 Blocks   

Still Frame from the TNT Series “4 Blocks” Toni, Vince und Abbas seen through the windshield of their car, with a handgun lying on the dasboard. Still Frame from the TNT Series “4 Blocks” Toni, Vince und Abbas in their car. | © 2017 Turner Broadcasting System Europe Limited & Wiedemann & Berg Television GmbH & Co.
Another crime series, another subculture in Berlin: 4 Blocks follows a Turkish crime family in Berlin-Neukölln as undercover cops close in. And how does a Turkish crime boss deal with hipsters and gentrification moving in on his turf? Critics heaped praise on the first season for its authenticity (no doubt the extensive filming in Neukölln and Kreuzberg helped), and a slew of award nominations followed.
The second season in 2018 proved more controversial, with some debate as to whether the show provided an authentic view of Neukölln or simply glorified gangsterism. But the controversy didn’t hurt the ratings in Germany, and a third season was released in 2019. Read more about this series in our Binge Fever feature: 4 Blocks - Berlin is ours now!

Watch „4 Blocks“  Streaming

In the USA (Season 1 und 2): 
Amazon Prime 

In Germany (Season 1–3):
TNT Serie auf SKY
Amazon Prime

Dogs of Berlin

Still frame from the Netflix Series „Dogs of Berlin“: Felix Kramer as Kurt Grimmer and Fahri Yardim as Erol Birkan sitting in front of a colorful Berliner convenience store. Still frame from the Netflix series „Dogs of Berlin“: Felix Kramer as Kurt Grimmer and Fahri Yardim as Erol Birkan | © Netflix
There’s ‘gritty crime drama,’ and then there’s Dogs of Berlin, Netflix’s 10-part thriller that plays like a tour of Berlin’s seediest criminal hangouts. The drama kicks off when the German-Turkish star of Germany’s national soccer team is found murdered, and the case is so politically sensitive that the chief of police promotes Birkan (Fahri Yardim), a Turkish-German cop, to lead the investigation alongside sleazeball loose cannon Kurt Grimmer (Felix Kramer). Their mismatched pairing is the show’s Multikulti contribution to German TV’s long tradition of dual investigators. Yardim previously played the comic sidekick to Til Schweiger’s tough-guy hero in a series of Tatort made-for-TV movies, so it’s refreshing to see him promoted to dramatic lead here. 
Dogs of Berlin creator Christian Alvart clearly took the controversy surrounding former Mannschaft star Mesut Özil as a springboard. He adds to the mix a neo-Nazi association, match-fixing, blackmail, and the foreign-born “crime clans” of Berlin’s Marzahn district for a series that misses no opportunity to be provocative. Frank Lamm’s camerawork makes Berlin by night memorably atmospheric, right down to the last U-Bahn station.

Watch “Dogs of Berlin”

In the USA and Germany on: Netflix


Still frame from the Amazon Prime series “Beat”: the club promoter “Beat” ( Jannis Niewöhner) leans against a concrete pillar, the room and his face are bathed in green light. Still frame from the Amazon Prime series “Beat”: the club promoter “Beat” ( Jannis Niewöhner) | © Amazon Prime Video
It had to happen: Berlin’s club scene is the starting point for this seven-part thriller, and naturally a pulsing electronic score drives the action. Lines of cocaine in the opening-credits sequence establish the decadent mood right away; such is the lifestyle of club promoter Robert ‘Beat’ Schlager (Jannis Niewöhner). Apolitical hedonist Beat finds himself in way too deep when an international crime syndicate starts laundering money through his club, and European security services recruit him to spy on the increasingly sinister back-room dealings. Beat will find himself partying with heavily armed Eastern European gangsters, and that goes as well as you might expect.
Amazon Prime Video
Beat the series expands to range all over Berlin and Brandenburg, with a sprawling storyline that touches on Syrian migrants and the legacy of the RAF. Big-name acting support comes from Karoline Herfurth as a government agent and Alexander Fehling, usually a leading man (Labyrinth of Lies, Three Peaks), playing against type as the villain.
This being a German crime series, things get very, very dark for Beat. At the end of the last episode, you may feel like you too are stumbling out of an all-night club, blinking in the daylight. (Amazon Video)

Watch “Beat”

In the USA: Amazon Prime Video

In Germany: Amazon Prime Video DE

You Are Wanted

Key art Matthias Schweighöfer in You Are Wanted Season 2 Titel - Matthias Schweighöfer in "You Are Wanted" Season 2 | © Amazon 2018 and its Affiliates
Berlin also provides the setting for Matthias Schweighöfer’s hacker thriller “You Are Wanted”. The fast paced cyber-crime thriller was the first non-English-language series Amazon launched globally – in more than 200 countries. “You Are Wanted” benefits from location shooting: viewers can travel vicariously through Lukas Franke as he zigzags all across Berlin. There are plenty of glimpses of Alexanderplatz, and if you watch enough episodes, your favorite U-Bahn station is bound to show up. Read more about this series in our Binge Fever feature “You Are Wanted” 


In the USA: Amazon Prime
In Germany: Amazon Prime

Ich hab’ noch eine Staffel in Berlin

Clearly, there’s no end to intrigue in Germany’s capital or crimes that need solving. It’s not hard to imagine that the city’s status as the crossroads of Europe and the world capital of nightlife will keep Berlin, in all its glory and its seamy side, on our screens for years to come. And honorable mentions go to a few US series set in Berlin:


Key art of the Showtime series "Homeland" Key art of the Showtime Series "Homeland" | © Showtime
The fifth season of the successful and multiple award-winning CIA series from the USA is largely set in Berlin. Ex-CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) moved to Berlin with her husband and child to leave the past behind. But the fight against terrorism is catching up with her - and with it her old life with the CIA.

Sehen Sie „Homeland“

In den USA:
Amazon Prime 

In Deutschland:
Amazon Prime

Berlin Station

Cover Art (detail) of the Epix original series “Berlin Station” Cover Art (detail) of the Epix original series “Berlin Station” | © Epix Films
Berlin Station ist eine weitere US-amerikanische Produktion, die in Deutschlands Hauptstadt verlagert wurde. Und auch der grobe Plot ist ähnlich: In der Agenten-Serie ist CIA-Analyst Daniel Meyer (Richard Armitage) auf Geheimmission in Berlin. Offiziell wird er ins Hauptstadtbüro versetzt, inoffiziell soll er dort aber eine undichte Stelle ausfindig machen. Denn ein Whisteblower gibt streng geheime Informationen nach Außen weiter. 

Sehen Sie „Berlin Station“

In den USA: EPIX Channel on Amazon Prime

In Deutschland: Amazon Prime


Key art from the Starz original series “Counterpart” Key art from the Starz original series “Counterpart” | © Starz
Counterpart is a sci-fi thriller set in two Berlins: the one we know and a parallel world that developed completely differently since 1987. The well-hidden transition is guarded by a Kafkaesque secret service, and there’s a diplomatic ice age between the two worlds.
The series stars J.K. Simmons, Olivia Williams, Harry Lloyd and Nazanin Boniadi in double roles, and explores in a psychologically appealing way how differently life could have turned out thanks to the tiniest changes. Moreover, Counterpart makes Berlin the city of spies again: the Cold War with a sci-fi upgrade includes monitored flats in Friedenau, a hidden border crossing under Tempelhof Airport and agents meeting at the Kulturforum.

Sehen Sie „Counterpart“

In den USA: Amazon Prime

In Deutschland: Starzplay Channel on Amazon Prime
• Berlin is the capital of TV and film production of Germany, if not all of Europe
• More than 330 productions are filmed every year in Berlin: cinema films, TV series, shorts, documentaries
• Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg GmbH provided €22.7 million in support to 104 film and TV productions in 2016, including €1.8 million for TV series
• 5,000 days spent each year filming in Berlin (all productions combined)
• In Berlin and Brandenburg, the productions have added more than €150 million to the local economy, returning €6 for every euro in subsidies
• Berlin-Brandenburg productions sold for €7.5 billion in 2016, up from €6.6 billion the year before (source: Medienboard Berlin Brandenburg)
• The states of Berlin and Brandenburg had increased their annual production subsidies by €1.2 million in their 2018-19 budgets.

Source: visitberlin.de