9 Movies That Helped Solve Real Life Crimes

Movies usually depict crime, but every once in a while, they help solve them...

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Movies about crimes, crooks, detectives, and scammers are some of the most interesting to watch, as they often detail the steps taken to pull off a crime or catch a criminal. Hollywood has known this for years, and there's no shortage of fictional tales of daring detectives and conniving criminals.

Then there are the movies, documentaries, and series that deal with true crime. For many people, those are far more fascinating because they cover something that actually happened. Typically, these sorts of projects detail solved cases and can include killers' confessions and other material not widely available to the public.

For the most part, all of the crimes have been solved, and the bad guys have been locked away in prison. It's fascinating, but it doesn't do much to help the victims of those real-world crimes. It would be far better if such a documentary or film helped solve a crime instead of only describing them.

It's incredibly rare, but documentaries about various criminals and their crimes have influenced the courts. Cases have been overturned and new evidence has been revealed from a rare interview or background shot. These ten films helped change the outcome of the criminal justice system, and hopefully, they won't be the last.

9. The Thin Blue Line (1988)

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Miramax Films

The Thin Blue Line is a 1988 documentary made by Errol Morris about the trial and conviction of Randall Dale Adams for the murder of Texas police officer Rober Wood. Morris became interested in the case and wanted to document it for its numerous "inconsistencies, incongruities and loose ends."

The documentary is different from most, as it features no narration whatsoever. All it does is show interviews with those associated with the case, evidence, and reenactments reconstructing events as they are described by a witness.

The title of the film was chosen, as it "refers to what Mr. Morris feels is an ironic, mythical image of a protective policeman on the other side of anarchy." The movie ultimately came to a different conclusion than the trial, and it features an admission of innocence made by the original suspect, David Harris.

By the time The Thin Blue Line was released to prove Adams' innocence, he had "spent 12 years in prison before his conviction in the murder of a Dallas police officer was thrown out largely on the basis of evidence uncovered" in the documentary.


Jonathan is a graphic artist, illustrator, writer, and game designer. Jonathan retired from the U.S. Army in 2017 and enjoys researching and writing about history, science, theology, and many other subjects. He writes for ScreenRant, CBR, NerdBastards, Listverse, Ranker, WhatCulture, and many other sites online. You can check out his latest on Twitter: @TalkingBull or on his blog: jonathanhkantor.com