Zgodba nas popelje v ameriško mestece Fargo, kjer spoznamo prodajalca avtomobilov Jerryja Lundegaarda. Jerry ima denarne težave, zato si izmisli načrt, kako bi prišel do denarja. Najame dva možakarja, ki naj bi mu ugrabila ženo in od njenega bogatega očeta zahtevala visoko odkupnino. Seveda bi si denar potem vsi trije pošteno razdelili. Njihov načrt se izjalovi, ko začneta možakarja puščati za seboj krvavo sled in trupla nedolžnih ljudi. Umore začne preiskovati noseča policistka Marge Gunderson.
Jerry works in his father-in-law's car dealership and has gotten himself in financial problems. He tries various schemes to come up with money needed for a reason that is never really explained. It has to be assumed that his huge embezzlement of money from the dealership is about to be discovered by father-in-law. When all else falls through, plans he set in motion earlier for two men to kidnap his wife for ransom to be paid by her wealthy father (who doesn't seem to have the time of day for son-in-law). From the moment of the kidnapping, things go wrong and what was supposed to be a non-violent affair turns bloody with more blood added by the minute. Jerry is upset at the bloodshed, which turns loose a pregnant sheriff from Brainerd, MN who is tenacious in attempting to solve the three murders in her jurisdiction.