I’m a simple person: I hear about a murder mystery series, I go and watch it. If you need something good to binge-watch, here is a diverse selection of crime TV shows that will keep you at the edge of your seat!
1. Deadwater Fell (2020)
On a night like any other, a terrible fire kills the entire Kendrick family, except the father, Tom (David Tennant). Their neighbors and friends are torn between mourning, finding the exact cause of the incident, and thinking of all the foreshadowing signs they had previously ignored. There’s more than meets the eye about the seemingly perfect family, but what has really happened? The crime TV show has only 6 episodes packed with pure emotion, drama, and suspense.
2. Giri/Haji (2019)
This BBC production is a fast-paced crime TV show that brings up issues from both English and Japanese societies: loneliness, drug abuse, finding one’s identity, the conflict between tradition and modern values, and family conflicts.
Detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) goes to London to find his brother, who is a presumed-dead former Yakuza member. There he meets Sarah (Kelly Macdonald), a metropolitan police detective, who tries to help him while confronting her abusive ex-partner. Back in Japan, Kenzo’s family is in danger as the Yakuza clans are fighting for supremacy.
I was eager for a new season, but Netflix canceled the show. Why do they always get rid of the good ones?! The fans expressed their outrage on Twitter, but to no avail.
3. Perfume (2018 -)
Based on Patrick Süskind’s bestselling novel, this modern German adaptation combines the original idea of manipulating people through scent with a chilling murder case. Inspector Nadja Simon (Friederike Becht) is set to discover the truth behind a famous singer’s death. She soon enters a morally gray area as she experiments with the influence of human scents on others. The first season has only 6 episodes, so it’s perfect for a suspenseful binge-watch on Netflix. The second season is yet to be announced.
4. Des (2020)
I am a big David Tennant fan, in case you haven’t noticed yet. This mini-series is inspired by a true crime case that shook Great Britain in the 80s. Dennis Nilsen killed, dismembered, and buried at least a dozen victims – all of them young men.
Des showcases the murder investigation, the relationship between Dennis (Tennant) and the detective inspector (Daniel Mays), and how a seemingly decent man could commit such awful deeds. It’s easy to get distracted by the first-class acting, but the show’s purpose was to condemn the killer’s action and to bring homage to his victims.
5. The Following (2013-2015)
Serial killers are terrifying on their own account: they prey on the innocent and have no remorse. But what happens when they join forces? Joe Carroll (James Purefoy) is the charismatic mastermind behind a killing spree that takes the FBI by surprise. Former agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) comes out of retirement to put an end to this cult and to Joe, even if a part of him doesn’t want to. The thrill of the chase, the shared memories and traits bound Joe and Ryan together – an experience neither of them can deny. Can morals surpass instinct or not? This suspenseful, sometimes gory murder TV show has 3 seasons. I devoured them in no time, and I hope you will give it a chance too.
6. Mindhunter (2017-2019)
Have you ever wondered what’s in the minds of serial killers? So did Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff), Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), and Wendy Carr (Anna Torv) back in the 70s. In an age when criminality was in blossom in the US, this FBI team set to interview criminals behind bars to understand their reasoning and use the information to solve complicated criminal cases. This is the story of how modern forensics came to be, based on the real-life experience of John Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Mindhunter features famous killers such as The Co-Ed Killer, and Jerry Brudos, Son of Sam, BTK, Charles Manson. Unfortunately, this TV crime has been canceled after the second season, but it’s still a must-see for every true crime aficionado.
7. Hannibal (2013-2015)
Loosely based on Thomas Harris’s novels, this 3 season crime TV show elevates killing to an art form. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is a socialite and psychiatrist by day and a seasoned killer and cannibal whenever the chance arises. He meets profiler and empath Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) with whom he works together to catch another serial killer. What begins as a typical case of the week show turns into a much darker, mind-bending, and aesthetic experience as the characters change sides. What’s the difference between a monster and a civilized man, when Hannibal Lecter is both? And, moreover, where does Will fall in this spectrum?
This show was ahead of its time. I still hope for a renewal because the entire team seems eager to get back to work on this amazing project.
8. Killing Eve (2018-)
A Russian trained assassin with a penchant for fashion and imitating accents; a mysterious crime organization; a police agent who doesn’t know when to quit. Add a killer soundtrack, and you get the recipe for a brilliant British crime TV show. Villanelle (Jodie Comer) is the villain you’ll love to hate, being a perfect yet unstable chameleon. Her creative crime scenes attract Eve’s (Sandra Oh) attention, becoming a life-threatening obsession. This cat and mouse dynamic takes them both by surprise, leaving a trail of corpses in their wake. Based on the Luke Jennings trilogy, the show has been confirmed for the fourth season.
9. Broadchurch (2013-2016)
This British crime TV show brought together 3 big names related to Doctor Who: David Tennant (the tenth Doctor), Jodie Whittaker (the current Doctor), and Chris Chibnall (the current showrunner).
Broadchurch tells the story of a little coast town shaken by the murder of young Danny Latimer. Agents Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) investigate the case in which every member of the small community is a suspect. This show follows the murder mystery, the falling apart of the mourning Latimer family, the heartbreaking trial, and its consequences.
Every characters’ internal conflicts are masterfully integrated into the bigger picture with disturbing details. The realness and rough energy are two of the elements that have caught my attention. This completed crime TV show has three seasons and can be watched on Netflix.
10. The Alienist (2018-)
This period piece is based on Caleb Carr’s book series. At the end of the 19th century, New York faces a series of abominable crimes: young boys ripped into pieces, infants stolen and murdered. Where the usual police approach fails, a team of unlikely detectives gets closer and closer to catch the criminals. Laszlo Kreilzer (Daniel Brühl) is an alienist, which is an early version of a nowadays psychologist. He is joined by journalist John Moore (Luke Evans) and private investigator Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning). Together, they fight society’s rigid limitations that have turned vulnerable people into criminals.
11. Criminal (2019 – )
Criminal is a police procedural crime TV show, meaning that it focuses on the interrogation of a suspect by a team of police investigators. The show’s minimal decorum makes space for the intense conflict between the authorities and the individual, a conflict with a dramatic and surprising outcome. It’s a battle of wits, a battle of willpower, and a battle of self-control that keeps the viewer glued to the screen. Criminal is a multicultural project that includes English, German, Spanish and French cases. And oh, did I mention that David Tennant has a role in it too?
12. Murdoch Mysteries (2008-)
One of the longest-running TV crime shows the Murdoch Mysteries takes us back into late 19th century Toronto. The titular character, William Murdoch (Yannick Bisson) is a clever, religious detective who implements pioneering techniques in the field. Among his inventions are ultraviolet scanning, fingerprint analysis, and even an early version of the lie detector. Even though the show depicts a new case in every episode, some villains have recurring roles. Moreover, it includes historical events and personalities, such as Mark Twain, H. G. Wells, Winston Churchill, Nikola Tesla, and Alexander Graham Bell.
One of my favorite characters is doctor Julia Ogden (Hélène Joy), a cunning pathologist and psychiatrist whose help is invaluable in solving the cases. She is a suffragette and a woman who creates her own path in a restrictive era.
13. Prodigal Son (2019-)
Are violent tendencies passed down from generation to generation? That’s the premise of this twisted crime TV show, which follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) as an NYPD criminal psychologist. He’s indeed brilliant at his job, but mainly because he knows first-hand how a killer’s mind works. As the series progresses, we find out more about his relationship with his father, Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen). He was a serial killer whose actions have traumatized Malcolm in ways he has yet to understand.
The second season has just premiered, so you have enough binge-watching material.
I hope this list of crime TV shows was helpful. If you don’t have enough time for a binge-watch, check out our psychological thriller movies suggestions!