• Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) in 'The Bridge', Adam Kruk (Michał Żurawski) in 'Raven' and Gedeon Winter (Nicholas Ofczarek) in 'Pagan Peak'. (SBS)Source: SBS
Substance abuse, family issues... whatever they're haunted by, we can't get enough of it.
Tanya Modini

11 Apr 2019 - 12:28 PM  UPDATED 12 Apr 2019 - 11:03 AM

From The Bridge’s Saga Noren to Pagan Peak’s Gedeon Winter, it seems one thing all TV cops have in common is a struggle with horrible personal problems while solving unthinkable crimes.

Here are five of our favourites...


Raven – Adam Kruk

The opening five minutes of Raven are what terrifying yet exquisitely beautiful nightmares look and sound like. This haunting new Polish crime horror series sees the outstanding, but of course troubled, detective from Łódź Police, Adam Kruk (Michał Żurawski), summoned back to the Podlasie region where he grew up to solve the mystery surrounding the sudden disappearance of a young boy.

Once back in his homeland, Kruk must also confront the lingering demons of his past – demons who refuse to settle, and launch Kruk into a pursuit of the paedophile who sexually abused and destroyed the life of his childhood friend, Slawek. Kruk’s lifelong guilt over his inability to protect Slawek has manifested in his dependency on opioids and psychotropic drugs. This makes for some stunning visual scenes where hallucination meets and blurs the edges of reality.

While Kruk battles to stay within the realm of rationality so he can continue to seek justice for both boys, unexpected links between the two cases begin to emerge.

If spooky is what you’re after, you won’t regret following Kruk along the path of magical realism created in the cinematically stunning Raven.

Watch Raven at SBS On Demand:


The Bridge ­– Saga Noren and Henrik Sabroe

The original and arguably the best, The Bridge has become the benchmark against which all other Scandi Noir is measured. Running for four seasons and set between Denmark and Sweden, the last two seasons in particular contain one of the most fascinating flawed cop duos of all time – a kind of royalty of flawed cops, if you will.

For those of you who, for some inexplicable and frankly unforgivable reason, have not taken the dive into The Bridge, Saga Noren (Sofia Helin) is a brilliant detective with a unique knack for solving what are always very complex crimes rooted in social justice problems.

Saga has, well, a tactless sort of personality to say the least which creates rather significant communication problems. No-nonsense and totally abrasive, Saga sees pretty much everything as black and white with not a hint of grey. But then there’s Saga’s horrifying family issues and work experiences from the past that are pursuing and gaining ground on her physically and mentally as the series progresses.

The genius of Helin’s character portrayal is that she manages to inject a vulnerability into Saga that for all of her flaws we recognise and can’t help but love.

Saga’s police partner in series three and four, Detective Henrik Sabroe (Thure Lindhardt), is struggling to deal with the sudden disappearance of his wife and two daughters eight years ago. Tormented by apparitions of them and unable to cope with his unimaginable trauma, Henrik has taken to using lots of little white pills that he buys from dodgy dealers on the streets of Copenhagen and keeps in a ziplock sandwich bag. But here again, we understand, empathise, forgive and are intrigued by his quest, not to mention his love for Saga.

Watch seasons 1-3 of The Bridge at SBS On Demand:


The Lawyer – Sara Khalil

Like Saga from The Bridge, Sara Khalil (Malin Buska) is another detective from Malmo, Sweden who has some major personal issues going down. After witnessing her parents being killed in a car bomb explosion when she was a child, Sara has made it her life goal to seek justice, with a splash of revenge, for their murders.

But this path to justice is made more complex and confusing for a number of reasons, none more so than Sara’s continuing heroin use which does tend to adversely impact her judgement at times and cause added conflict in both her personal and work life. But hey, we understand there are some good reasons why she’s at the end of her tether, and we happily, willingly and supportively go along for the exciting ride to witness the people responsible for murdering her parents hopefully get their comeuppance.

Watch The Lawyer at SBS On Demand:


Pagan Peak – Gedeon Winter

In amongst the pristine and captivating scenery of the Alps lurks a paranoid serial killer with a cause seeped in mythology and archaic customs.

Pagan Peak is the latest TV series to take inspiration from The Bridge. Set on the border of Austria and Germany, a dead body is found – it’s symbolically posed in a kind of pagan ritual type of set-up. This leads to the pairing of cross-border police (because you know how it goes, the body is lying across the border of both countries) – gruff, dishevelled and contemptuous Austrian cop, Gedeon Winter (Nicholas Ofczarek), and enthusiastic, professional German cop, Ellie Stocker (Julia Jentsch).

Of his character, Ofczarek says, “Gedeon’s given up, he’s cynical. He’s addicted to everything – alcohol, uppers and downers – and to pay for these addictions, he’s got involved in organised crime. He’s a good cop but he’s wasted.”

He sounds like fun, but can Gedeon get his act together to help Ellie hunt down the killer?

Watch Pagan Peak at SBS On Demand:


More from The Guide
Case closed: 'Search Party' is 1 of the 2 best comedies of the last 3 years
The dark comedy is a certified Nick’s Pick – catch it.
Will arming teachers prevent school shootings in America?
In a new documentary, one Ohio county says maybe.
The Playlist 90 - Amy Berg and 'The Case Against Adnan Syed'

A special episode devoted to new true crime documentary series, 'The Case Against Adnan Syed'. Fiona talks to writer/director Amy Berg ('West of Memphis' / 'Deliver Us From Evil') about why she chose to revisit the very high profile case, first explored in the podcast Serial. Amy reflects upon how she won the confidence of key witnesses, to convince them to tell their side of the story for the first time. She also explains how new evidence was uncovered over the course of the series' lengthy production. 

I interviewed Jackie Chan… turns out he’s a huge fan of Nordic Noir*
The martial arts expert and movie star is a lot more into exactly the sorts of shows that are streaming at SBS On Demand than anyone could have anticipated.
The Playlist Ep 88 - Karyn Kusama ('Destroyer') / 'Pagan Peak' / 'Lego Movie 2' / 'Sometimes Always Never'

0:36 Destroyer / Great Nicole Kidman performances

6:40 Fiona's interview with Destroyer director Karyn Kusama

21:29 Pagan Peak, a new German series

25:05 What Have You Been Watching? - including The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part and Sometimes Always Never
‘The Bridge’ looms large in acclaimed new thriller ‘The Lawyer’
Step back onto that familiar crossing between Malmo and Copenhagen with the next big thing in Scandi drama.
How The Bridge kick-started a global phenomenon
What began with the discovery of a body on a bridge quickly became a worldwide obsession.
Is ‘The Bridge’ the best Nordic Noir show ever?
Here’s why it’s superior to ‘The Killing’ and every other Scandi crime drama.