The 13 Best TV Shows Set in Wintery Snow and Ice, Ranked

A frigid environment of snow and ice can lend a cold and isolated mood to a TV show, making any drama that much more intense.
The 13 Best TV Shows Set in Wintery Snow and Ice, Ranked

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With spring fast approaching, we're finally seeing an end to all the shoveling of snow and scraping of ice from car windows. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy an excellent TV series set in snow and ice!

We're not just talking winter. We're talking frigid mountains, Arctic wastelands, icy tundras, glacial waters, and more—and maybe a dash of frozen bodies thrown into the mix for good measure.

Here are my picks for the best TV shows that take place in snowy regions and ice-capped towns. In the dead of winter, where everyone is alone, the world seems hostile and nobody is safe...

13. Trapped (2015)

Created by Baltasar Kormákur

Starring Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Ilmur Kristjánsdóttir, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson

Crime, Drama, Mystery

28 episodes (3 seasons)

8.0 on IMDb

There's something about crime and snow that go together like bread and butter. This list is bursting with frozen corpses, Nordic folklore, and detectives who warm themselves with black coffee.

First of these detectives is Andri Ólafsson (played by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson), who's chief of police on the northern coast of Iceland and the center of the show in Trapped.

This Icelandic mystery series eventually found an audience in the US and UK without sacrificing its Nordic roots. And like its popular Danish counterpart The Killing (which I'll get to later below), Trapped favors slow-paced, high-concept drama over shortcut thrills.

12. Wisting (2019)

Created by Trygve Allister Diesen

Starring Sven Nordin, Thea Green Lundberg, Mads Ousdal

Crime, Drama

18 episodes (3 seasons)

7.3 on IMDb

Snow is the perfect cover for a murderer. Footprints can be kicked over, DNA melts in the morning sun, and time of deaths are muddled by the natural preservation of frigid temperatures. Perhaps that's why places like Norway love the police procedural genre?

Detective William Wisting (played by Sven Nordin) finds fingerprints on a snow-covered body, belonging to an American serial killer who must be hiding out in Norway "in plain sight" of unsuspecting locals.

The most fitting word for this show is "woven" because it's like an intricate tapestry of patterns, links, and chilly atmospherics.

11. Deadwind (2018)

Created by Rike Jokela

Starring Pihla Viitala, Lauri Tilkanen, Mimosa Willamo

Crime, Drama, Mystery

28 episodes (3 seasons)

7.3 on IMDb

If you hadn't already gathered, the Scandi noir genre has carved its own corner of crime television, proving that the Nordic countries really know how to orchestrate bone-chilling dramas better than most.

Bleak landscapes, straight-talking detectives, folksy infusions, and broader socio-political contexts make these Nordic noir stories stand out against campy Agatha Christie-style whodunits.

In Deadwind, we're venturing to the capital of Finland where the personal and police lives of Sofia Karppi (played by Pihla Viitala) grapple and shake in the face of a recent murder case.

10. Pagan Peak (2018)

Created by Cyrill Boss and Philipp Stennert

Starring Matthias Hack, Julia Jentsch, Nicholas Ofczarek

Crime, Drama, Mystery

24 episodes (3 seasons)

8.0 on IMDb

Pagan Peak (also known as Der Pass or The Pass, take your pick) takes place on the Austria-Germany border, where gruesome copycat killings are multiplying during the "red season."

In Alpine mythology, Krampus is the demon-looking guy who punishes children on the naughty list, whom you could describe as the Satan to our Santa Claus. In fact, you might have seen the (heavily Americanized) horror film about Krampus that came out in 2015!

Well, in Pagan Peak, Krampus is the mask worn by the serial killer in this unforgiving, polysemous drama. Although it isn't a Nordic noir, Pagan Peak does have the tone of one, which makes sense given that it was inspired by Hans Rosenfeldt's The Bridge.

9. Cardinal (2017)

Created by Aubrey Nealon

Starring Billy Campbell, Karine Vanasse, Glen Gould

Crime, Drama, Mystery

24 episodes (4 seasons)

7.8 on IMDb

Based on the crime novel series by Giles Blunt, Cardinal takes place in the fictional city of Algonquin, steeped in mounds of crystal white snow.

We're introduced to the city during winter, where the body of a young girl is lifted out an old mine shaft, preserved like a fossil in ice.

"Eskimos, it is said, have forty different words for snow. Never mind about snow. What people really need is forty words for sorrow."

Although it isn't snowing for all four seasons of this Canadian drama, it certainly is during Forty Words for Sorrow (the first of Blunt's books).

8. Snowpiercer (2020)

Created by Josh Friedman and Graeme Manson

Starring Jennifer Connelly, Daveed Diggs, Mickey Sumner

Action, Drama, Sci-Fi

30 episodes (3 seasons)

6.9 on IMDb

Bong Joon-ho, director of the 2019 Oscar-winning film Parasite, was also the genius behind the 2013 sci-fi movie Snowpiercer. Seven years later, it was spun-off into a three-season-long dystopian thriller TV series, with Bong Joon-ho producing (so you know it's good).

Based on the 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige by Jacques Lob, Benjamin Legrand, and Jean-Marc Rochette, Snowpiercer refers to an enormous train that carries the remnants of humanity. Why? Because in 2026, the world is a complete frozen wasteland.

7. To the Lake (2019)

Created by Pavel Kostomarov

Starring Kirill Käro, Maryana Spivak, Viktoriya Isakova

Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller

16 episodes (2 seasons)

7.2 on IMDb

A Netflix thriller series set in Moscow? Of course there's going to be snow! In this apocalyptic web series, To the Lake centers around an epidemic that breaks out in the Russian capital. The original title is even called (literally translated) Epidemic.

In our current climate, this word might be enough to put you off—but trust me, this gritty series is worth the watch! Inspired by Yana Vagner's 2011 debut novel, To the Lake follows two families who take refuge on a ship in the middle of Vongozero to avoid infection.

6. The Killing (2007)

Created by Søren Sveistrup

Starring Sofie Gråbøl, Søren Malling, Morten Suurballe

Crime, Drama, Mystery

40 episodes (3 seasons)

8.4 on IMDb

A Danish police drama that reached international acclaim, The Killing (originally titled Forbrydelsen) won numerous awards. It later got a US remake (also called The Killing) because American viewers "cannot read subtitles, or they don't want to," apparently.

The Killing revolves around a murder investigation. Set in chilly Copenhagen, Detective Inspector Sarah Lund (played by Sofie Gråbøl) investigates a different homicide in each of the three seasons.

Created by Søren Sveistrup, The Killing was hailed for its clever plot twists and its focus on the victims' families rather than just the criminals.

5. Fortitude (2015)

Created by Simon Donald

Starring Richard Dormer, Sofie Gråbøl, Björn Hlynur Haraldsson

Drama, Horror, Mystery

26 episodes (3 seasons)

7.3 on IMDb

Drama, horror, mystery... all the genres wrapped in one! Fortitude follows its ensemble cast through a fictional town in the Norwegian Arctic—one that may seem quiet on the outside but is really anything but.

Simon Donald brings us an icy psychological thriller inspired by his talks with a parasitologist, basing Fortitude's fatal infestation on the creepy ichneumon wasps (or "Darwin wasps").

The three-season-long show features an all-star international cast, who each harbor their own dark secrets.

4. True Detective: Night Country (2024)

Created by Issa López

Starring Jodie Foster, Kali Reis, Fiona Shaw

Crime, Drama, Mystery

6 episodes (1 season)

8.9 on IMDb

The first season of True Detective—starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the hot backroads of Louisiana—quickly became one of the greatest detective shows ever made upon release.

Naturally, creator Nic Pizzolatto has been trying (and failing) to match that success ever since, but Issa López's recent attempt is the only season to come close. Instead of trying to recreate the vibe of season one, López gives True Detective a whole new look with season four.

This season got an Alaskan makeover, featuring strong female detectives and supernatural elements, set apart from other seasons by the tack-on title Night Country. Like the ritualistic killings in the first season, True Detective: Night Country is not for the easily creeped out.

3. The North Water (2021)

Created by Andrew Haigh

Starring Jack O'Connell, Colin Farrell, Sam Spruell

Adventure, Drama, Mystery

5 episodes (1 season)

7.6 on IMDb

"To live is to suffer." It wasn't only Friedrich Nietzsche who believed that, but also director Andrew Haigh.

The North Water shows us a crew of 19th century whalers in the Arctic. Disgraced army surgeon Patrick Sumner (played by Jack O'Connell) has more than just the cold working against him—there's also a matter of murderers, polar bears, and opium withdrawal.

Colin Farrell and Stephen Graham star alongside him in this high-caliber British miniseries based on the 2016 novel by Ian McGuire. Get ready for five episodes of chewy, brutal, and nail-biting drama, where frostbite is the last thing on the characters' minds.

2. Fargo (2014)

Created by Noah Hawley

Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman

Crime, Drama, Thriller

41 episodes (4 seasons)

8.9 on IMDb

The Coen brothers' 1996 cult classic movie Fargo takes place in a frosty city in North Dakota—and so does the Fargo spin-off TV series.

Only the first season takes place in winter, but snow plays a huge role in its iconic mise-en-scène. The Fargo TV series is co-produced by the Coen brothers, which means their offbeat style of black comedy in kept intact.

Made by Noah Hawley, Fargo opens with a cowardly insurance dealer (played by Martin Freeman) who gets inadvertently involved with a hitman (played by Billy Bob Thornton).

1. Game of Thrones (2011)

Created by David Benioff and D. B. Weiss

Starring Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington

Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

73 episodes (8 seasons)

9.2 on IMDb

You're probably familiar with this show already. Sure, much of Game of Thrones takes place in plush royal gardens and outstretched plains and barren wastes, but the frigid North plays a key part in the story.

As one of the main Seven Kingdoms struggling for power and independence, the North—which includes the Night's Watch, an heir to the throne, and a towering wall of ice that stands more than 700 feet tall—is the very heart of the show.

Based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, seven of the eight seasons were adored by fans and critics, featuring myriad characters and plots that weave in and out across a realistic medieval fantasy world that's not unlike Tolkien's Middle-earth.