What Is The Sinner About On Netflix



The Sinner, available on Netflix, is a gripping psychological thriller series that hooks viewers with its intense and mysterious storyline. Developed by Derek Simonds, the show takes a unique approach by focusing on why the crimes are committed, rather than solving the crimes themselves. With its compelling characters, gripping plots, and exploration of deep-rooted psychological trauma, The Sinner keeps audiences on the edge of their seats from start to finish.

The series originally premiered in 2017, and each season tells a self-contained story with a different set of characters, allowing new viewers to jump in at any point. With the success of its first season, which received critical acclaim and a large fan following, The Sinner has continued to captivate audiences with subsequent seasons.

Combining elements of a crime drama, mystery, and psychological thriller, The Sinner delves into the dark and complex motivations behind seemingly ordinary crimes. The show explores the depths of human nature, the traumas that shape individuals, and the way these traumas can manifest in unexpected and violent ways.

With its masterful storytelling, excellent performances, and thought-provoking themes, The Sinner stands out as a must-watch series for those who enjoy thrilling psychological dramas. Each season offers a new set of characters and a fresh narrative, ensuring that viewers are constantly surprised and engaged.

In the following sections, we will provide a detailed synopsis of the series, an overview of the main characters, and explore the psychological thriller elements that make The Sinner a standout show. We will also delve into the plot of each season, highlighting the gripping storylines that will leave audiences craving for more.



The Sinner follows the intriguing journey of Detective Harry Ambrose as he investigates puzzling crimes that defy easy explanations. The series centers around a central question: why did the perpetrator commit the crime?

Each season introduces a new case, presenting a seemingly ordinary person who commits a shocking act of violence. The show then delves into the complex psychological motives behind the crime, unraveling the character’s hidden traumas and past experiences.

In the first season, the show opens with Cora Tannetti, a seemingly unremarkable young woman, who inexplicably murders a stranger on a crowded beach. As Detective Ambrose digs deeper into Cora’s life, he uncovers buried memories, trauma, and a disturbing connection to her past.

The second season explores the case of Julian Walker, a young boy who commits a double murder with no apparent motive. Detective Ambrose is drawn into the disturbing world of a secretive cult as he tries to untangle the web of the boy’s past and understand the factors that led to the brutal crime.

In the third season, Detective Ambrose investigates a fatal car accident involving Jamie Burns, a seemingly upstanding citizen and expectant father. As he peels back the layers of Jamie’s life, he uncovers hidden desires and a chilling philosophy that drive him to commit an unthinkable act of violence.

Throughout each season, The Sinner provides a deep dive into the minds of both the killers and the investigators. The show delves into the complexities of human nature, exploring the psychological motivations and traumas that can lead to violent behavior.

By focusing on the “why” rather than the “who,” The Sinner challenges viewers to question their own assumptions about crime and empathy. The series expertly weaves together a gripping narrative, intense character development, and thought-provoking themes to create a truly compelling viewing experience.

Next, we will delve into the main characters of The Sinner and explore their roles in unraveling the mysteries at the heart of each season.


Character Overview

The Sinner introduces a diverse set of characters in each season, all of whom play crucial roles in unraveling the mysteries and exploring the psychological depths of the storyline. From the complex and tormented Detective Harry Ambrose to the troubled individuals at the center of each crime, the characters in The Sinner are multidimensional and compelling.

Detective Harry Ambrose: Portrayed by Bill Pullman, Detective Harry Ambrose is the protagonist of The Sinner. He is an unassuming and dedicated detective with a talent for delving into the hidden motivations of criminals. Ambrose is haunted by his own troubled past, which adds a layer of complexity to his character. As the seasons progress, Detective Ambrose becomes deeply entangled in the lives of the individuals he investigates, often risking his own well-being to uncover the truth.

Cora Tannetti: Jessica Biel breathes life into the character of Cora Tannetti in the first season. Cora is a troubled young woman who finds herself inexplicably driven to commit a shocking act of violence. As Detective Ambrose investigates her case, he uncovers her traumatic past and the dark secrets that have shaped her behavior. Cora’s character is a rollercoaster of emotions, and Biel’s nuanced performance brings out the complexities and vulnerabilities of the character.

Mason Tannetti: In the first season, Mason Tannetti, portrayed by Christopher Abbott, is Cora’s husband. As the primary suspect in his wife’s crime, Mason struggles to comprehend the actions of the woman he loves. Abbott brings a raw and emotional portrayal to the character, showcasing Mason’s desperate attempts to understand his wife while grappling with his own feelings of betrayal and loss.

Supporting Characters: Each season of The Sinner introduces a host of supporting characters who play integral roles in the unfolding stories. These characters bring their own personal complexities and conflicts, adding depth and intrigue to the overall narrative. From cult leaders to family members, the supporting cast excellently supports the main characters’ journeys.

The characters in The Sinner are not simply archetypal figures, but rather flawed individuals with intricate backstories and motivations. The exceptional performances by the cast members bring these characters to life, allowing viewers to empathize with their struggles and conflicts.

In the following sections, we will explore the compelling themes and psychological thriller elements that contribute to the success of The Sinner. Additionally, we will provide a detailed overview of the plot for each season, offering a glimpse into the gripping narratives that unfold within the series.


Detective Harry Ambrose

Detective Harry Ambrose, portrayed by the talented Bill Pullman, serves as the central character throughout The Sinner series. Ambrose is an experienced and dedicated detective with a unique ability to empathize with both the victims and the perpetrators of crimes. His unconventional methods and relentless pursuit of the truth make him a standout investigator in the show.

What makes Detective Ambrose particularly intriguing is his own complicated past. He carries deep-seated emotional scars that have shaped his perspective on crime and justice. This personal baggage often intertwines with the cases he investigates, bringing forth a complex dynamic between his professional duties and personal demons.

Ambrose’s dogged determination and willingness to push the boundaries lead him to delve into the psyches and motivations of the criminals he encounters. He possesses a keen intuition and an ability to see beyond the surface, navigating the gray areas of morality to uncover hidden truths.

Throughout the series, Detective Ambrose forms unconventional relationships with the perpetrators, blurring the line between investigator and confidant. He develops a connection with the troubled individuals he investigates, seeking to understand the deeper reasons behind their criminal acts rather than merely solving the crimes.

As the seasons progress, Ambrose becomes more personally entangled in the lives of those he investigates. He often finds himself questioning his own moral compass and making difficult decisions that challenge his loyalty and sense of justice.

Bill Pullman delivers a captivating performance, portraying Detective Ambrose with depth and complexity. Pullman’s portrayal captures the character’s internal struggles, vulnerabilities, and unwavering determination to uncover the truth. He brings a sense of humanity and nuance to Ambrose, making him a relatable and compelling character.

Detective Harry Ambrose serves as the constant thread that ties the different seasons of The Sinner together. As viewers follow his personal and professional journey, they are drawn into a web of psychological intrigue and captivating storytelling.

In the upcoming sections, we will explore the remaining main characters who play significant roles in unraveling the mysteries at the heart of each season of The Sinner.


Cora Tannetti

Cora Tannetti, portrayed by Jessica Biel in the first season of The Sinner, is a captivating and complex character who serves as the catalyst for the series’ gripping narrative. At first glance, Cora appears to be an ordinary young woman leading a seemingly mundane life. However, her involvement in a shocking act of violence sends Detective Harry Ambrose on a journey to unravel her troubled past.

Cora’s character is enveloped in mystery and hidden trauma. As the investigation unfolds, it becomes clear that her actions are not as black and white as they initially seemed. Jessica Biel’s outstanding performance captures the inner turmoil and complexities of Cora’s character, demanding empathy and understanding from viewers.

Throughout the season, we learn about the deep-seated traumas and repressed memories that have shaped Cora’s behavior. As Detective Ambrose probes into her past, unearthing a series of disturbing events, Cora’s character gradually becomes more sympathetic. Biel’s nuanced portrayal masterfully depicts Cora’s struggle for liberation from her painful past.

What makes Cora particularly intriguing is her vulnerability and the layers of her persona that are unveiled as the story progresses. She is haunted by past traumas that have had a lasting impact on her mental well-being, driving her to commit acts of violence that seem out of character for an ordinary person.

The exploration of Cora’s psychological state in The Sinner is thought-provoking, highlighting the effects of childhood trauma, memory repression, and the intricate ways in which past experiences can shape an individual’s present actions.

The audience is both disturbed and fascinated as the puzzle pieces of Cora’s shattered psyche slowly come together. Biel’s exceptional portrayal keeps viewers engrossed, empathizing with the pain and turmoil that Cora endures.

Cora Tannetti captivates viewers with her enigmatic presence and complex journey of self-discovery and redemption. Her character serves as a focal point for the exploration of psychological trauma and the delicate nature of memory and its impact on one’s actions.

In the subsequent sections, we will delve into the supporting characters who complement Cora’s story, offering their own insights and layers to the overall narrative of The Sinner.


Mason Tannetti

Mason Tannetti, portrayed by Christopher Abbott in the first season of The Sinner, is a pivotal character whose life is turned upside down when his wife, Cora Tannetti, commits a shocking act of violence. A seemingly ordinary and loving husband, Mason becomes entangled in a web of confusion, betrayal, and grief as he tries to make sense of his wife’s inexplicable actions.

Mason’s character embodyies the conflicting emotions of love, loyalty, and anger. Christopher Abbott brings a raw vulnerability to the role, portraying a man struggling to reconcile the image of his wife as a caring partner with her capacity for violence.

Throughout the season, Mason’s unwavering dedication to Cora is tested as his faith in their relationship is shattered. He grapples with feelings of disbelief, grief, and the fear of losing his wife to the darkness that resides within her. Abbott skillfully conveys the complexities of these emotions, allowing the audience to empathize with his character’s inner turmoil.

Mason’s journey in The Sinner showcases the devastating impact of a heinous crime on an innocent bystander. As he delves deeper into Cora’s past, Mason begins questioning their entire relationship and his own role in enabling her hidden traumas.

Abbott’s performance captures Mason’s transformation from a loving husband to a man consumed by the need for answers and justice. His portrayal perfectly conveys the nuances of a character who is torn between his love for Cora and the need for truth.

Mason Tannetti serves as an anchor for the exploration of love, betrayal, and the consequences of keeping secrets. His character adds depth to the narrative, highlighting the collateral damage that occurs when an individual’s actions have far-reaching consequences.

In the subsequent sections, we will delve into the supporting characters who play significant roles in unraveling the mysteries and themes of The Sinner, contributing to the intricate web of the show’s compelling narrative.


Supporting Characters

The Sinner introduces a diverse array of supporting characters who play crucial roles in unraveling the mysteries and exploring the psychological depths of the series. These characters provide valuable insights, add layers of complexity to the narratives, and serve as catalysts for the development of the main characters.

Each season brings forth a new set of supporting characters, enriching the overall storyline. These characters come from different walks of life and bring their own personal demons, motivations, and secrets into the mix.

In the first season, we meet characters such as Detective Dan Leroy, portrayed by Dohn Norwood, who assists Detective Ambrose in the investigation of Cora Tannetti. Dan is a determined and astute officer who supports Ambrose in his pursuit of the truth. His character provides a contrasting perspective to Ambrose, adding depth to their dynamic and contributing to the complexity of the investigation.

Kathryn Biel, played by Abby Miller, is Cora’s sister in the first season. As Detective Ambrose delves into Cora’s elusive past, Kathryn becomes a vital link to uncovering the hidden trauma that shaped Cora’s actions. Miller skillfully portrays the protective and conflicted nature of Kathryn, showcasing the challenges faced by family members when confronted with a loved one’s dark secrets.

In subsequent seasons, supporting characters continue to play integral roles in the unfolding narratives. These characters range from cult leaders and fellow cult members to family members and friends, all with their own intricacies and impact on the main characters’ journeys.

The ensemble cast of supporting characters in The Sinner provides a rich tapestry that complements the development of the main characters, amplifying their story arcs and adding depth to the overall narrative. Each character brings a unique aspect to the plot, contributing to the exploration of psychological trauma, the complexities of human relationships, and the moral dilemmas faced by the individuals involved.

By delving into the lives and motivations of these supporting characters, The Sinner creates a multidimensional world that keeps viewers captivated and invested in the outcome of each season’s mystery.

Next, we will delve into the themes explored in The Sinner and how they contribute to the show’s gripping nature.


Themes Explored

The Sinner delves into a range of thought-provoking themes throughout its gripping narrative. From psychological trauma and the complexities of memory to the consequences of secrets and the fragility of human psychology, the series explores deep and often uncomfortable aspects of the human condition.

One prominent theme explored in the show is the impact of childhood trauma. The Sinner delves into the long-lasting effects of painful experiences endured during formative years. It examines how these traumas can shape a person’s identity, behavior, and psychological well-being, often leading to unexpected and harmful outcomes.

Memory and the unreliability of recollection are another central theme explored in The Sinner. The show delves into the concept of repressed memories, highlighting how traumatic events can become buried in the depths of the subconscious, only to resurface unexpectedly and with profound consequences. It raises thought-provoking questions about the accuracy of our memories and the true nature of our past experiences.

The exploration of guilt and morality is another theme that runs throughout the series. The characters in The Sinner grapple with the consequences of their actions, examining questions of culpability, redemption, and the blurry line between right and wrong. The show challenges viewers to ponder the complexities of human behavior and the often-ambiguous nature of justice.

The Sinner also explores the dynamics of interpersonal relationships and the impact secrets can have on them. It examines how withholding or discovering hidden truths can unravel the fabric of trust and lead to unforeseen consequences. The series delves into the complexities of loyalty, betrayal, and the lengths individuals will go to protect themselves or others.

Additionally, The Sinner explores the fragility of human psychology, delving into the depths of the human mind and its capacity for darkness. It examines the triggers and motivations that can drive seemingly ordinary individuals to commit heinous acts. The show challenges the audience’s perceptions of sanity and encourages them to question the fine line between normalcy and madness.

By delving into these captivating themes, The Sinner provides thought-provoking content that goes beyond the boundaries of a typical crime drama. It engages viewers in an exploration of the human experience, leaving them questioning their own beliefs, assumptions, and moral judgments.

In the following sections, we will provide detailed overviews of the plot for each season of The Sinner, unveiling the gripping storylines that complement these compelling themes.


Psychological Thriller Elements

The Sinner masterfully combines elements of a crime drama and a psychological thriller, creating a captivating viewing experience that keeps audiences on the edge of their seats. The series employs various techniques and storytelling devices to immerse viewers in a world of suspense, intrigue, and psychological exploration.

One of the key elements that make The Sinner a psychological thriller is its focus on the intricate motivations behind the crimes. Rather than presenting a straightforward whodunit narrative, the show delves into the psychological depths of the characters, unraveling their hidden traumas, repressed memories, and complex psychological dynamics. It challenges viewers to empathize with and understand the mindscapes of both the perpetrators and the investigators, creating a sense of psychological suspense and heightened intrigue.

The use of flashbacks and nonlinear storytelling is another characteristic of The Sinner that enhances its psychological thriller elements. The show often employs non-chronological sequences, jumping between different time periods and perspectives, to piece together the fragmented puzzle of the characters’ pasts and present actions. This narrative technique contributes to the sense of ambiguity, psychological tension, and the revelation of shocking twists and turns.

The atmospheric cinematography and haunting musical score also play a crucial role in creating a psychological thriller ambiance. The Sinner utilizes visual and auditory cues to heighten suspense and unease, utilizing dimly lit settings, intense close-ups, and foreboding music to enhance the sense of psychological tension and anticipation.

The exploration of psychological themes, such as trauma, memory, and the complexities of the human mind, further solidify The Sinner as a psychological thriller. The show delves into the intricacies of human psychology, examining the factors that drive individuals to commit disturbing acts and the profound impact that trauma and memory can have on one’s psyche. This psychological exploration adds layers of depth and suspense to the overall narrative, effectively immersing viewers in a world of psychological intrigue.

By combining compelling characters, nonlinear storytelling, atmospheric cinematography, and a focus on psychological exploration, The Sinner delivers an immersive and suspenseful psychological thriller experience. The series challenges viewers to confront their own assumptions and preconceived notions about human behavior, blurring the lines between hero and villain and leaving them questioning the true nature of sanity and morality.

In the upcoming sections, we will provide detailed overviews of the plot for each season of The Sinner, unveiling the gripping storylines that intertwine with these psychological thriller elements.


Season 1 Plot

The first season of The Sinner introduces us to the intriguing case of Cora Tannetti, played by Jessica Biel. The story begins when seemingly ordinary housewife and mother, Cora, inexplicably murders a stranger on a crowded beach in broad daylight. The shocking act of violence sets the stage for a gripping investigation led by Detective Harry Ambrose, portrayed by Bill Pullman.

As Detective Ambrose delves into Cora’s life, he uncovers a web of hidden traumas and buried memories that have driven her to commit this heinous act. Cora’s mysterious past is unraveled slowly throughout the season, revealing dark secrets and painful experiences that have shaped her behavior.

While attempting to uncover the truth, Detective Ambrose confronts a series of obstacles, including Cora’s own selective memory and reluctance to delve into her past. As the investigation progresses, Ambrose discovers a connection between Cora and a man named J.D., who played a significant role in her life during her troubled teenage years.

As the layers of Cora’s past are peeled back, Detective Ambrose becomes increasingly determined to understand the root causes of her violent actions. Cora’s backstory is unveiled, revealing the complex dynamics within her dysfunctional family, her experiences within a strict religious community, and the traumatic events that scarred her psyche.

The season reaches its climax as Detective Ambrose and Cora delve into her forgotten memories, leading to a stunning revelation that sheds light on the true motivations behind the crime. The season culminates in a tense courtroom drama as Cora’s past trauma is brought to light, forcing her to confront the consequences of her actions.

The first season of The Sinner stands out for its exploration of psychological trauma, memory repression, and the complexities of family dynamics. The captivating performances of Jessica Biel and Bill Pullman bring the characters to life, keeping viewers engrossed in the psychological depths of Cora Tannetti and Detective Harry Ambrose.

With its intricate and mysterious plot, Season 1 of The Sinner sets the stage for the subsequent seasons, establishing the show’s reputation for gripping storytelling and provocative exploration of the human psyche.

In the following sections, we will delve into the plots of Seasons 2 and 3 of The Sinner, uncovering the captivating narratives that continue to push the boundaries of psychological thrillers.


Season 2 Plot

The second season of The Sinner takes viewers on a dark and twisted journey into the mind of a young boy named Julian Walker, played by Elisha Henig. The season opens with Julian committing a double murder, leaving Detective Harry Ambrose, portrayed by Bill Pullman, perplexed by the young boy’s inexplicable actions.

As Detective Ambrose delves into Julian’s disturbing world, he uncovers a secretive cult led by Vera Walker, portrayed by Carrie Coon. The cult operates in a secluded community called Mosswood, which has its own set of unorthodox beliefs and practices.

In his quest for the truth, Detective Ambrose becomes ensnared in the mysterious web of Mosswood and its enigmatic leader. He unearths the dark secrets hidden within the cult and its followers, gradually piecing together the events that led to the fateful night of the double murder.

Throughout the season, Detective Ambrose develops a unique empathetic connection with Julian, empathizing with the young boy’s plight and recognizing the trauma he has endured. As he digs deeper, Ambrose uncovers a tangled web of manipulation, abuse, and misplaced love that has driven Julian to commit such a horrific act.

The season explores themes of indoctrination, the power of belief systems, and the devastating consequences of unchecked authority. It delves into the psychological effects of growing up in a cult-like environment and the struggle to break free from its grip.

The second season of The Sinner captivates viewers with its morally complex narrative, pushing boundaries and challenging societal norms. It showcases the exceptional performances of the cast, with Bill Pullman delivering another compelling portrayal of Detective Harry Ambrose.

The intricate web of mysteries, the exploration of the human psyche, and the chilling revelations make Season 2 of The Sinner a thrilling psychological journey for viewers. Through its thought-provoking storyline and psychological thriller elements, the season enthralls audiences, leaving them eager for more revelations in the next season.

In the subsequent section, we will delve into the plot of the third season of The Sinner, embarking on yet another gripping narrative that continues to push the boundaries of the psychological thriller genre.


Season 3 Plot

The third season of The Sinner introduces viewers to a new intriguing case, once again led by Detective Harry Ambrose, portrayed by Bill Pullman. This time, Ambrose investigates a fatal car accident involving Jamie Burns, portrayed by Matt Bomer, an upstanding citizen and expectant father.

As Detective Ambrose delves into Jamie’s seemingly perfect life, he uncovers hidden desires, buried trauma, and a chilling philosophy that gradually unravels the mystery behind the accident. Jamie’s seemingly ordinary existence unravels to reveal a dark underbelly where his deepest fears and twisted desires reside.

As Ambrose navigates the web of secrets and lies, the season delves into themes of obsession, identity, and the alluring power of darkness. It explores how suppressed desires can manifest in unexpected and destructive ways, shattering the façade of normalcy and propelling individuals towards unthinkable acts of violence.

Matt Bomer delivers a haunting and nuanced performance as Jamie, portraying the character’s internal struggle and descent into darkness with chilling authenticity. Detective Ambrose becomes entangled in Jamie’s troubling journey, questioning his own limits and grappling with the moral complexities surrounding the case.

As the season unfolds, Jamie’s sinister philosophy leads to a shocking climax, revealing the depths to which he is willing to go to fulfill his dark desires. The intricate plot keeps viewers on the edge of their seats, as they are drawn into a psychological cat-and-mouse game between Jamie and Detective Ambrose.

The third season of The Sinner continues the tradition of thought-provoking storytelling and psychological exploration, with its exploration of identity, the duality of human nature, and the hidden depths within seemingly ordinary individuals.

Through its intricate narrative, Season 3 challenges viewers to confront their own inner demons, delving into the darkest corners of the human psyche and questioning the boundaries of morality.

With its captivating performances and suspenseful plotline, The Sinner’s third season delivers another intense and emotionally charged journey into the depths of the human mind.

In the upcoming sections, we will conclude our exploration of The Sinner by summarizing the key elements that make the series a standout psychological thriller and reflecting on its lasting impact on viewers.



The Sinner is a gripping and thought-provoking series that seamlessly blends elements of a crime drama and psychological thriller. Through its captivating storytelling, complex characters, and exploration of deep-rooted traumas, the show has captivated audiences and garnered critical acclaim.

Each season of The Sinner presents a self-contained story with a unique set of characters, allowing new viewers to jump in at any point. The series goes beyond the typical crime procedural by focusing on the psychological motivations behind the crimes, delving into the characters’ pasts and hidden traumas.

The exceptional performances by the cast, including Bill Pullman, Jessica Biel, and Matt Bomer, bring depth and authenticity to the characters, drawing viewers into their emotional journeys. The dynamic between Detective Harry Ambrose, played by Pullman, and the individuals he investigates adds an intriguing layer to the narrative, as he seeks to understand the complex psychological landscapes of the perpetrators.

The Sinner explores a range of compelling themes, such as psychological trauma, memory repression, guilt, and the fragility of the human mind. It challenges societal norms and delves into the gray areas of morality, leaving viewers to question their own assumptions and judgments about human behavior.

With its atmospheric cinematography, haunting musical score, and nonlinear storytelling, The Sinner effectively creates a tense and suspenseful ambiance, immersing viewers in the psychologically intense world of the show.

Throughout its seasons, The Sinner has consistently delivered gripping and thought-provoking narratives that push the boundaries of the psychological thriller genre. It captivates audiences with its exploration of the depths of human nature, the consequences of hidden traumas, and the blurred lines between sanity and madness.

Whether it’s the enigmatic tale of Cora Tannetti in Season 1, the disturbing secrets of Mosswood in Season 2, or the unsettling descent into darkness in Season 3, The Sinner leaves a lasting impact on viewers, provoking introspection and challenging conventional notions of crime and empathy.

The excellence in storytelling, character development, and psychological depth make The Sinner a must-watch series for those who crave thrilling and psychologically rich narratives. It is a testament to the power of psychological thrillers in capturing the complexities of the human psyche and leaving audiences craving for more.

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