When they want to film something gritty and edgy, the concepts of drug cartels, substance abuse, and drug mafia gangs are some of the go-to topics for makers and directors of shows and movies. Several drug shows on Netflix have reached insane heights of popularity. The plotlines are hooking, the direction outstanding, and the actors enact in realistic ways.
Why are drug shows so popular?
One of the reasons for this is that the generally targeted viewer has never been engaged in illegal, dangerous, or criminal activities. Thus, the allure of the crime world brings a thrill to the mundane lives of the thrillers. There aren’t many real-life drug traffickers who binge-watch Breaking Bad seasons!
Why do most drug shows end on a sad note?
One of the staple narrative techniques of the shows revolving around the drug trade, drug abuse, or drug dealing is to give a shock ending to the season. It has been the norm to kill off some main characters to up the twist quotient. And trust me, it works!
Glorifying the power trips and money involved in drug dealing is one thing. But to end the drug shows with the drug dealers and traffickers riding into the sunset with a happy ending is too much! There must exist some moral responsibility that they undergo some consequences for their actions.
This is how the drug shows about drug smuggling and drug trafficking mirror real life. They end up sending the guilty to prison or away from the mainstream of life, even if they are the heroes. Sometimes the sad ending happens due to law enforcement and sometimes due to the wrath of rival gangs. After all, you cannot expect to escape without a scratch after leading a life neck-deep in the cocaine trade and heroin dealings, even in real life.
Read on if you like realistic endings and are a fan of this drug genre! We have come up with a list of 5 of the best drug shows on Netflix, which didn’t end on a happy note.
5 of the best drug shows on Netflix
5. Narcos (2015-2017)
- Director: Carlo Bernard, Chris Brancato
- Cast: Pedro Pascal, Wagner Moura
- IMDb: 8.8
This world-famous series is about Pablo Escobar and his true story set in the second half of the 1970s. At the peak of his business, the real-life Escobar became so rich that he had to spend just three thousand dollars for busying rubber bands to tie his bundles of money!
Since the first season, this drug show had maintained that the series would not have any neat ending, forget a good one. And the makers of Narcos deliver the promise. Pedro Pascal plays the character of Pena, a DEA agent who gets credited with putting the bad guys in prison. But he realizes the corruption had long since seeped into his superiors. Even though Escobar had died, the finale sees a disillusioned Pena retiring as he understands that there is no winning against the drug cartel.
This hit series spawned a spin-off of Narcos: Mexico, where the action is shifted after the season 3 finale of Narcos. But the journey of Pena ended with Narcos S3. Netflix
4. Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
- Director: Vince Gilligan
- Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul
- IMDb: 9.5
This drug show is about a family man in his fifties who teaches chemistry in the local school, turns into crystal meth, and makes a drug kingpin after being diagnosed with cancer. Did you know the now-legendary character of Jesse Pinkman was supposed to be written out after the first 8 or 9 episodes? The writers relented after seeing Paul’s performance.
Anthony Hopkins publicly praised the portrayal of the characters in this top-rated show and compared it with a Greek tragedy. So we know it couldn’t have ended well. Walter White dies from injuries, and Jesse Pinkman drives off to his spin-off movie El Camino!
3. Top Boy (2011-)
- Director: Ronan Bennett
- Cast: Ashley Walters, Kano
- IMDb: 8.4
For the fans, a new season is on the charts after the finale of season 4. This British crime drama focuses on rival drug dealers and drug-related violence in the backdrop of London. The Netflix show kills off Jamie shocking the viewers into longing for a season 5!
Did you know that when the show was reportedly canceled in 2012 due to budget cuts, famous rapper Drake had publicly offered to fund its production?
2. Ozark (2017-2022)
- Director: Bill Dubuque, Mark Williams
- Cast: Jason Bateman, Laura Linney
- IMDb: 8.5
Another drug shows on Netflix crime drama, this one is primarily about money laundering done for a Mexican drug mafia. A financial advisor and his family moved to Missouri and got involved with the local drug cartels.
This show also ends with a string of misunderstandings which lead to a series of murders. Fan favorite Ruth Langmore went down with her head held high. In an interview, actress Julia Garner explained the death of her character. She says that Ruth was so dead inside that after the completion of her mission of killing Javi, it was only a natural progression to let the character die.
Did you know Actress Laura Linney had a daughter and named her Charlotte after the character she plays in the series?
1. Better Call Saul
- Director: Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould
- Cast: Bob Odenkirk, Rhea Seehorn
- IMDb: 8.9
This show is a spin-off from Breaking Bad and revolves around Saul Goodman. It is the story of how his life took a fateful turn after the night he met Walter and Jesse. This crime slash legal drama sees the gradual transformation of former con artist Jimmy McGill into a suave and efficient criminal lawyer Saul Goodman.
Before the finale aired, the fans were rightful in being apprehensive as everyone expected a chunk of the main cast to be murdered! Therefore, it was a relief for the fans when Goodman got off with just an 86-year sentence after atoning for all his crimes in court. His estranged wife Kim went on about her life, and there was no chance of their reunion ever again.
Did you know that at the very end of the scene, the music that plays is the Breaking Bad theme but in a rearranged version?
It says something about the audience’s preference for sad endings, as all the series in this list have super high ratings on IMDb. Like all good things come to an end, so does these Netflix shows. However, we always have the option of binge-watching!
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