10 Best Movies & TV Shows Like Narcos

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10 Best Movies & TV Shows Like Narcos


Narcos and its spinoff, Narcos: Mexico, might have ended, but the two shows will forever be regarded as some of Netflix’s top-tier projects. Focusing on the Medellín, Cali, and Guadalajara cartels, the shows introduced viewers to fierce criminal masterminds such as Pablo Escobar and Felix “El Padrino” Gallardo.

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These characters constantly left fans slack-jawed, and with their stories now concluded, genre loyalists might be searching around for something similar. Thankfully, there are a couple of movies and TV shows like Narcos. The parallels stem from the fact that they are all about real-life figures in the global drug trade.

10 Narco Saints (2022)

Stream On Netflix

A Korean mechanic heading to a small South American nation to become a fisherman, only to find himself dealing drugs with a pastor, is a story that could be easily be presumed to be fictional. However, such events actually happened in real life and can be followed in arguably one of Netflix’s most entertaining K-dramas, Narco Saints.

The fast-paced series turns what initially seems like a tale of family and poverty into an action thriller where guns are fired every minute and throats are slit. The country in question is the little-known Suriname, where the biggest drug lord happens to be a preacher. When the nefarious protagonist heads there to take advantage of the untapped fish export market, he finds himself caught between bibles and cocaine. Things move quickly, and the saga ends after 6 episodes, making Narco Saints an ideal quick binge.

9 Blow (2001)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

Few actors handle crime movies better than Ray Liotta and Johnny Depp. In Blow, the two are paired together as a father and son duo, with the latter sinking so deep into the drug trade that he gets to have a direct line of communication with Pablo Escobar.

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It’s the real-life story of George Jung, who made over $100 million by supplying Escobar’s drugs around America. In it, everything that can go wrong does indeed go wrong. From losing millions to watching loved ones die, George goes through so much that audiences are tempted to sympathize with him before being reminded of the atrocities he committed.

8 El Chapo (2017 – 2018)

Stream On Netflix

Like Narcos, El Chapo’s quality is greatly boosted by the fact that it’s a biographical story about one of the world’s most infamous criminals. Given that everyone already knows the name, there is a greater incentive to click on play, and what follows doesn’t disappoint.

Stretched across 3 seasons, the story is also more detailed than that of Pablo Escobar in Narcos. Since El Chapo’s life story is already drama-filled, the series doesn’t struggle with weak plots. Plus, there are so many great characters that El Chapo doesn’t even come close to being the best one. For the majority of the running time, supporting characters such as Don Sol and Toño are the true cogs that keep the wheel going.

7 American Made (2017)

Stream On Netflix

Another fascinating drug trade comes from one of the most adored action stars of our time. Tom Cruise plays Barry Seal, a former Trans World Airlines pilot, who was forced to become a DEA informant after he landed a gig to smuggle cocaine for Pablo Escobar’s Medellín Cartel.

Though he is up against scary sicarios and cigar-puffing bosses in American Made, Cruise isn’t an action hero this time. Instead, his character’s story involves a journey from middle income to wealth through shady methods. As the clock ticks, fans get to see just how easy it is to be ushered into crime. Additionally, a beautiful family tale gets stitched into the proceedings, and even though it ends in tragedy, the happy moments remain implanted in the audience’s minds.

6 Boardwalk Empire (2010 – 2014)

Stream On HBO Max

Boardwalk Empire is more about alcohol than drugs since it’s set in the Prohibition Era when liquor was banned, and so the likes of Al Capone and Lucky Luciano had a field day selling it in the black market. Regardless, ambitious businessmen always expand their portfolios, and so cocaine and heroin start to flow in later seasons.

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Apart from packing in most of the famous gangsters of the era, Boardwalk Empire glows through stylish direction (The pilot is shot by Martin Scorsese) and resplendent costume designs. The decision to make a lesser-known Atlantic City politician the main character also helps since it’s via his character that corruption and foundations for crime get laid out.

5 City Of God (2002)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

City of God’s four Academy Award nominations accurately highlight everything that’s good about the movie. The “Best Cinematography” Oscar is a perfect reward for the beautiful shots of gang-infested neighborhoods and sandy beaches, while “Best Film Editing” is fitting for a movie that flaws so seamlessly from one scene to the next.

As for “Best Directing” and “Best Adapted Screenplay,” these point to the storyline and dialogue, which are mostly mined from Paulo Lins’ novel of the same name. All these neatly intertwined elements make City of God one of the greatest foreign language movies.

4 American Gangster (2007)

Stream On Peacock

A movie that can afford to kill off Idris Elba’s character in under a minute definitely has no shortage of talent. In American Gangster, Ridley Scott enrolls Denzel Washington, Russel Crowe, and Josh Brolin, among others, to explore the life of Frank Lucas. The Harlem drug lord built his riches by smuggling heroin using military planes carrying dead American soldiers from the Vietnam War.

The cat-and-mouse games between Lucas and the Newark detective, Richie, are what make American Gangster replayable, and as that goes on, audiences can’t help but applaud the creativity employed by the criminal. From the opening minutes to the closing one, Lucas remains ruthless and smart, traits that Denzel Washington can always be trusted to bring out convincingly.

3 Cocaine Godmother (2017)

Stream On Amazon Prime Video

A Griselda Blanco miniseries is in development at Netflix, and fans will be hoping that it turns out to be as good if not better than Cocaine Godmother. The movie follows the famed Colombian drug trafficker who earned a reputation for using innocent-looking women as mules.

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Operating mostly within Miami, Griselda gets to revolutionize the drug trade by also creating fake IDs for traffickers and popularizing the reliance of assassins on motorbikes. Overall, there is enough violence to satisfy any Narcos fan.

2 The Infiltrator (2016)

Stream On Hulu

Bryan Cranston will forever find it hard to shake off the Walter White tag. That’s what happens when one plays one of the most recognizable TV characters, but the actor continues to give performances that match those of his award-winning role.

One of Cranston’s best projects is The Infiltrator, where he plays the US Customs special agent, Robert Mazur. At the height of Escobar’s cocaine empire, Mazur was able to bust the drug lord’s money-laundering business, starving him of a couple of million. By restricting itself to the business side of things rather than the shootouts and chases, the movie is able to serve plenty of information that fans weren’t familiar with.

1 Surviving Escobar: Alias JJ (2017)

Stream On Netflix

Surviving Escobar: Alias JJ shows viewers what a major criminal organization looks like from the eyes of a henchman. Based on JJ Velásquez’s own memoir, the series follows the criminal’s years as Pablo Escobar’s right-hand man as well as his time in prison.

There are a whopping 69 episodes (way more than Narcos), meaning that no minor detail gets cut off. Whether all the events are true or not remains a subject of debate, since JJ has been labeled a glory hunter in his own home country, but the story is captivating nonetheless.

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