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30 Best Crime Shows Amateur Detectives Need to Watch

Whether digging into the minds of serial killers, sniffing out dirty cops, or reenacting ripped-from-the-headlines homicides, these crime shows elevate the genre, keeping audiences guessing—and wanting more.

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Crime Shows, via retailers (9)

Criminally good TV

For as long as humans have been telling stories, we’ve been obsessed with twisted tales of the evil we do and the punishments the wicked receive. (Or the revenge people seek when justice isn’t served.) So it’s no surprise that the collective fascination with the macabre has carried over to every new entertainment medium, from ancient stories painted onto cave walls to the Bible, Greek mythology, and modern comic books, movies, video games, and podcasts. The liars, murderers, adulterers, and thieves—along with the cops, lawyers, and other folks trying to nab them—have had a particularly good run on TV, where crime shows consistently top the ratings, earn critical kudos, win awards, spur spin-offs, and spark social media debates.

Using the above criteria, we’ve compiled the ultimate list of the best murder mysteries, crime capers, cop dramas, whodunnits, procedurals, and even a couple of comedies that all armchair detectives need to watch at least once. Because to be an atrocity aficionado and unfamiliar with genre game-changers like The Wire, Broadchurch, Twin Peaks, and Hill Street Blues is, well, criminal.

If after bingeing all of these, you still find yourself a bit bloodthirsty, continue your investigation of all things brutal and bizarre with the best true crime documentaries, true crime podcasts, and true crime books. Or if you need a break from the body count but not the entertainment, check out our picks for the best TV shows of all time and beloved classic TV shows.

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The Wire (2002–2008)

Not only is this gritty HBO series regarded as one of the best crime shows of all time, but it’s also widely considered to be one of the best shows on television—period. Which is why it’s practically criminal that in five seasons it was never nominated for a Best Drama Emmy, and that the powerhouse cast, including the late Michael Kenneth Williams, Idris Elba, and Dominic West, was all but ignored by awards committees. It started as a stellar drama about the drug war in Baltimore and one unit’s creative and ambitious wiretap strategy to take out the top of the pyramid, but it extended its reach each season to cover other systemic ills that contribute to overall urban decay. (It doesn’t cover classism and racism in hospitals, but many of the best doctor shows do.) The Wire always had authenticity on its side, which came courtesy of creator David Simon’s years as a hard news reporter in Baltimore. Come for the king—Williams’ Omar Little just might be the most interesting and complex street thug to grace the small screen—and stay for the nuanced social critique, layered BIPOC characters, and well-written dialogue.

Watch on HBO Max

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The Sopranos (1999–2007)

The era of peak TV started in New Jersey. Without this HBO series, there’d be no Breaking Bad, no Americans, no Mad Men or Boardwalk Empire (the last two were even created by geniuses who toiled in this writers’ room). The groundbreaking show centers on Italian American mobster Tony Soprano as he struggles to navigate his heavy duties as a father, a husband, and the head of a New Jersey crime family. David Chase’s masterpiece made audiences expect Oscar-quality acting, storytelling, drama, and production from the small screen. James Gandolfini’s antihero was a three-dimensional, fully-formed human who convinced you to care and empathize despite the horribly violent things he did. Edie Falco, Michael Imperioli, and Steven Van Zandt also turned in career-defining performances week after week. And people are still debating that fade-to-black ending. It won Peabodys and Golden Globes and 21 Emmys out of an impressive 112 nominations, and it forever changed the TV landscape. Over a decade later, it’s still highly bingeable and the source of some of the best TV quotes.

Watch on HBO Max

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Breaking Bad (2008–2013)

Who’d have believed that the man behind Malcolm in the Middle‘s affable dad would become one of TV’s most notorious drug dealers? But that is the talented heat Bryan Cranston is packing. Two years after starring in the kids’ TV show, he jumped into an Emmy-winning portrayal of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable cancer who teams up with a former student to manufacture and sell crystal meth in order to provide for his family after he’s gone. Eventually, White morphs into a kingpin to be reckoned with. The dialogue is aces, the characters unique, and the social commentary razor sharp. Creator Vince Gilligan’s decision to call it quits after only five seasons while the show was still popular broke the previously accepted studio norm of beating a dead horse. The franchise has had a lasting impact on TV, with the successful-in-its-own-right prequel Better Call Saul and the 2019 Netflix film El Camino.

Watch on Netflix

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Hill Street Blues (1981–1987)

Showrunner and creator Steven Bochco is a legend in the world of legal and crime shows. His reputation was sealed with this landmark ensemble drama, which started almost every episode with roll call and proceeded to follow the dangerous daily duties and complicated private lives of the Hill Street Station’s first responders. As TV’s first real attempt to portray police officers as fallible human beings as opposed to perfect heroes, it was a can’t-look-away combo of realism, rage, humor, and depression (as referenced in the title’s double entendre) that paved the way for far grittier cops-and-robbers fare. It also evaded the tired formula of having every case solved by hour’s end. There’s a reason Hill Street Blues is considered one of the best ’80s shows of all time: The first season earned 21 Primetime Emmy Award nods, a record that would not be broken until NYPD Blue, another Bochco masterpiece, came along and earned 26 nominations 13 years later.

Watch on Hulu

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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present)

Dick Wolf’s Law & Order franchise juggernaut started in 1990 with an original installment that launched the careers of Chris Noth and Angie Harmon, has spun off nine times, including with the new-in-2021 Organized Crime, and still has a strong presence in prime time 29 years in. It rules any discussion of crime shows and procedurals, thanks to its unique angle, which followed both the police who investigate the cases and catch the bad guys as well as the district attorneys who prosecute the offenders. But gun to our head, if we have to narrow it down to a specific Law & Order, then it’s SVU all day, every day. Mariska Hargitay’s Olivia Benson is the avenging angel we all wish were real, ridding the mean streets of New York of sexual predators with each ripped-from-the-headlines case. Fans love her egalitarian partnership with Elliot Stabler (Christopher Meloni) and his ability to wear the hell out of his chinos. If the too-real violence and death start to get to you, tune in to the best fluffy and flashy reality TV shows as a palate cleanser.

Watch on Peacock

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Mindhunter (2017–2019)

Based on a book about the creation of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit and brought to you by David Fincher (Se7en, Fight Club, Gone Girl), a director adept at dealing with dark subject matters, the Netflix original ranks among the top fictional crime shows like You, for folks fascinated by serial murders. It follows two agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) in the ’70s who study sentenced serial killers like Ed Kemper and Charles Manson—sometimes too closely—in order to understand their motivations and use that knowledge to profile suspects in new cases. The historical aspect and real-life figures are an added draw for true crime nerds, while Fincher, the ’70s coloration, and spot-on costumes will lure film buffs. The heavy topics and cerebral dialogue might feel slow, but give it a couple episodes, and you’re bound to be hooked. And because the series has wrapped (read: no waiting for additional episodes), it’s one of the best shows on Netflix to binge this weekend.

Watch on Netflix

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Mare Of Easttown (2021)

The titular Mare (Kate Winslet), a burned-out, hardened-by-reality detective in blue-collar Pennsylvania, gets called to investigate a murdered teen while entrenched in her own grief and depression caused by a dead son, a failed marriage, a grandson she might lose custody of, and her personal assessment that she’s failed to live up to her early promise. To make matters worse, because she lives and works in the town she grew up in, she knows pretty much everyone involved in the case, including the suspects. When a young county cop is called in to help, things quickly get messy. It’s an interesting whodunnit, a meditation on how past emotional baggage affects the present, a family drama, and in a few moments of lightness, a mother-daughter sitcom. Winslet turns in her best performance in years (for which she was justly rewarded with an Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy award). She’s supported by a standout group of actors—national treasure Jean Smart, plus Evan Peters, Julianne Nicholson, and Guy Pearce—most of whom had to nail a tough accent for the show.

Watch on HBO Max

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The Shield (2002–2008)

Michael Chiklis was no stranger to playing a policeman. He’d worked his way into the hearts and minds of TV viewers as a very likable one in the early ’90s family drama The Commish. But when he reentered the crime scene with this FX series, gone were the wholesome, feel-good vibes. In their place was hardcore corrupt cop Vic Mackey, the leader of a new strike team who got results and cleaned up the streets by any means necessary. It usually involved jumping back and forth over the line separating good and evil. The nerve-racking tension and intense characters earned the show Golden Globes, a spot on TV Guide‘s list of best series of all time, and the distinction as one of the American Film Institute’s best television programs of the year in 2008. Fans of intense drama movies and TV series will want to add this one to their watch list.

Watch on Hulu

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Broadchurch (2013–2017)

Watch enough crime shows, and you’ll be leery of sleepy towns where everybody knows your name. If TV teaches us anything, they are hotbeds for gruesome murders. In this BBC series, competent cop slash neighborhood mom Ellie Miller (a pre-Oscar, pre-Crown Olivia Colman) is forced to work with Alec Hardy (David Tennant), the hotshot detective and outsider who stole her promotion, when one of her friends’ young children is found dead. As the hunt for the killer continues, the list of suspects becomes very short and very awkward. Seasons two and three dive into other cases while looking at the fallout from the original case. Tennant apparently felt so strongly about the series that he signed on to the American remake, Gracepoint, with Anna Gunn, which told the same story with a different ending. But it ultimately lacked the magic of the original mystery and acting duo. For more international series, add some Korean dramas to your queue.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Unbelievable (2019)

A sickening feeling will settle in your stomach as you watch skeptical male detectives bully an 18-year-old woman (Kaitlyn Dever) into recanting her statement about being raped at knifepoint. It never really leaves. Not when she gets fined for false reporting, not when her friends and foster parents stop believing her, not when she loses sleep, and certainly not when she contemplates suicide. It doesn’t even abate when the story jumps forward three years in time, when dogged detectives Grace Rasmussen (Toni Collette) and Karen Duvall (Merritt Wever) join forces and give the victims reason to be hopeful. Based on a true story, the show is raw and heartbreaking and clearly points out the rampant sexism in the legal system. But it also demonstrates the power of turning the gaze back to survivors and their allies. In fact, we don’t see the rapist making plans, stalking his prey, or even doing normal things, which in effect neuters him and his side of the story and means there’s no opportunity for him to earn sympathy he clearly doesn’t deserve. Nominated for multiple Emmys and Golden Globes, Unbelievable has one of the highest Rotten Tomatoes scores we’ve seen: 98 percent from critics and 89 percent from audiences. When you’re done, pick up one of these books for women, by women.

Watch on Netflix

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Twin Peaks (1990–1991; 2017)

This short-lived cult classic from the twisted minds of David Lynch and Mark Frost expanded the crime and mystery genres—and TV in general—by blending soap opera, surrealism, and supernatural horror to tell the story of a dead homecoming queen in a small Pacific Northwest town, a kooky but cheerful FBI agent (Kyle MacLachlan) sent to investigate, the bizarre residents he meets along the way, and the sinister evil that might be responsible for it all. The creepy imagery of owls, giants, dancing dwarves, metaphysical lodges, and an interdimensional entity that rapes and feeds on anguish named Bob provided nightmare fodder for years. It was also memorable for the kind of devotion it inspired. Fans went mad for plaid, tweed, and flannel, drawing from the costumes. There were book tie-ins, dedicated conventions, and a fan campaign to save it from cancellation. That failed until Showtime revived it in 2017, but it inspired many future battles by fans to save their favorite TV shows.

Watch on Hulu

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Bosch (2015–2021)

Amazon’s Bosch easily won over author Michael Connelly’s fervent following with a faithful adaptation of the mystery book series, a realistic meat-and-potatoes portrayal of police work, an incredible jazz soundtrack, the insider knowledge of Harry’s beloved LA that turned the city into a non-speaking part, and perhaps most important, a brilliantly cast leading man. Titus Welliver wholeheartedly embodied the show’s namesake, a strong, silent type with an itchy trigger finger who lives by a code, is stuck in his ways, broods mostly in private, loves his daughter, and gets especially worked up when cases involve someone hurting children. The seven seasons chug along steadily with a nice mix of murders, dirty cops, drug triads, arson, court cases, and even a little romance.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Luther (2010–2019)

After winning us over as the smart and suave Stringer Bell on The Wire, Idris Elba went straight in this British series. But not too straight, as the titular detective is a loose cannon with rage issues that often get taken out on walls, doors, and suspects’ faces. He’s a brilliant crime solver and profiler who spends his days discovering the seemingly unlimited depths of human depravity, and that commitment to the job is a detriment to his personal life, causing clashes with his superiors. Watching him work is like the tense moments where fear and excitement meld before a roller coaster drops. Elba dramatically chews up every scene he’s in and has several awards to prove it, but he does meet his mental match in Alice Morgan, a cunning and seductive psychopath who becomes an unlikely asset deliciously brought to life by The Affair‘s Ruth Wilson. Bless the Brits for their short TV seasons—you can easily binge an entire season in a couple days. And good news for Luther lovers: Elba has put the coat back on for another round of roughing up bad guys. The Netflix film is currently in production and expected to debut on the streamer in 2022.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Dexter (2006–2013; 2021)

Michael C. Hall went from taking care of dead people in the Six Feet Under funeral home to actively putting them in a grave on this Showtime program, which recently got rebooted in a much snowier locale. Working alongside his cop sister, Dexter Morgan is a blood-spatter analyst for Miami Metro by day and a serial killer with a code (he only kills fellow murderers) by night. Further blurring moral lines, the code was created by his dad, a legend on the force, who, as a toddler, found him covered in blood at a crime scene. Dexter uniquely shows two avenues to justice, often carried out by the same guy. As time goes on and he gets married, has a kid, and grows close to people on the force, his gory after-hours dalliances in plastic-wrapped kill rooms become harder to hide and plan.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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The Fall (2013–2016)

The hunt, seen from two perspectives, is on in this psychological thriller from across the pond. First, we watch a meticulous serial killer (a pre-50 Shades of Grey Jamie Dornan, who nails both charming and disturbed) stalk women around Belfast while maintaining a home life with a wife and daughter. He’s gotten very good at covering his tracks, so cold, meticulous, and dedicated specialist Stella Gibson (the always fantastic Gillian Anderson) is brought in to hunt him down. But trigger warning: The home-invasion scenes can be scary for women who live alone. After watching this show, stream one of these other great Amazon Prime video TV shows.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Justified (2010–2015)

FX’s critically acclaimed cowboy cop hit pulled off a hat trick by delivering a series that crosses genres—it’s equal parts crime show, family drama, and modern western—takes on the social and racial divide in the present-day South, and serves as a (lack of) morality tale. It follows rugged U.S. marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), who’s reassigned from Miami to his poor, coal-mining hometown in rural Kentucky. He has a unique (read: not officially sanctioned) way of doing things, which often causes him to butt heads with people he knew in high school and his own family, who chose a less-legal path. Standout performances from Walton Goggins and Margo Martindale make this one of the crime shows you can’t miss.

Watch on Hulu

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Cagney & Lacey (1981–1988)

For people who grew up on Olivia Benson, Dana Scully, and Syndey Bristow, seeing women kick bad-guy booties is normal. But in the early ’80s, it was far from commonplace. Modern female feds, cops, and spies owe a great deal of debt to Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daly) and Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless). The New York partners in crime-fighting were police procedurals’ first same-sex primetime pairing, and they, and their shoulder pads, had to put in the work to be taken seriously by their sexist coworkers and commanders, perps, network heads, and even TV audiences. It paid off: The show brought in 14 Emmys, including multiple for the law-enforcing ladies and a couple for Outstanding Drama Series, over seven seasons. Want more protagonists without Y chromosomes? You might enjoy these feminist books.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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24 (2001–2014)

With 9/11 top of mind when it debuted, this action-packed Kiefer Sutherland vehicle, which follows the Los Angeles branch of the Counter-Terrorism Unit as it tries to foil the next big attack, could have easily become a “too soon” casualty. Instead, it was ahead of its time, ambitious, expensive, and gritty. It kept viewers on the edge of their couches with high stakes (no one was safe, and we do mean no one), plot twists, a ticking countdown clock, and a unique pace—events happened in real time, and each episode of the 24-show season represented an hour in Jack Bauer’s (Sutherland) really bad day. Plus, back in 2001, it was very rare to see an A-lister on a weekly TV series.

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Sherlock (2010–2017)

Every few years, someone gets a bee in their bonnet to recreate Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous creation, adapting his classic novels with varying degrees of success. The four truncated seasons of Sherlock, headlined by Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman for the BBC and PBS, fall squarely in the don’t-miss column. Though we’d recommend tuning in for the bromance alone, the modern update, which earned some serious awards, is also worth watching for the mysteries, the high production value, and the creative choices Cumberbatch makes to update the centuries-old detached and drug-addicted detective.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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True Detective (2014–2019)

Although everything that came after failed to burn as brightly as the debut season, the atmospheric HBO anthology’s first installment was so outstanding and so much of a cultural flashpoint that to leave it off the list would be a mistake. The hardboiled detective duo of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who despite being some of the most well-known screen commodities in the world absolutely disappear into the action, take on a case of a prostitute’s murder across two timelines in rural Louisiana. It is a gripping, highly stylized slow burn, a bit off the wall, and even a teensy bit psychedelic. Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell were less engaging as California cops, but the third iteration, starring Mahershala Ali, repaired some of the rift by returning to familiar southern territory, the slow-drip pace, and multiple timelines (this time it was three!). Over its five-year run, the show received 13 Emmy nominations and won five. Don’t forget to check out other great HBO Max TV shows after watching this.

Watch on HBO Max

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Prime Suspect (1991–2006)

Before she was Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II, or Catherine The Great, Helen Mirren royally kicked bad-guy butt as DCI Jane Tennison, a ceiling-shattering police detective investigating grisly murders while facing the sexist hostility of her male counterparts. Mirren reprised the role nine times, and in each season, Tennison rose through the ranks, cleared cases, and continued to face off with chauvinists, drug kingpins, and dirty cops. The last installment saw Tennison nearing retirement and battling a drinking problem while trying to solve the murder of a missing girl. Over the years, the role earned her six Emmy nominations (two of which resulted in wins), three BAFTA Best Actress trophies, and a Golden Globe nomination that she lost to herself. It was an unforgettable moment to be sure, but not quite as memorable or shocking as these awards show scandals.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Only Murders in the Building (2021)

Crime shows can be fun too. This Hulu series, conceived by Steve Martin, pokes fun at boomers, Gen Z, millennials, New Yorkers, co-op politics, aging actors, police procedurals, and most importantly, the almost universal infatuation with true-crime podcasts. The main trio—Martin’s once-famous TV cop, Martin Short’s once-famous Broadway director, and Selena Gomez’s disdainful artsy cool kid—all live in the same prestigious building and are brought together by their mutual appreciation for a podcast while waiting out a fire alarm. When they discover the alarm was pulled to cover up a murder, they decide to make a podcast in which the armchair detectives try to solve the murder. Hijinks ensue, often because of the age gap and also because they have no idea what they are doing. A parade of well-known theater folk fill out the ensemble—including these cast members who have been confirmed for season 3. It doesn’t save the world or change opinions on hot-button issues, but it will bring the giggles and entertain you after a long day, week, or two pandemic years.

Watch on Hulu

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Dragnet (1951–1959; 1967–1970; 2003–2004)

These days, it’s quite common for stars to find and develop their own material with hopes of striking Emmy gold. But back in the early days of TV and crime shows? Not so much. But that’s what Jack Webb did when he created this by-the-books series and the no-nonsense, hard-ass at the center of it, sergeant Joe Friday. He and his fedora-wearing squad methodically investigate crimes around Los Angeles, calling out specific streets and locations so often that the show becomes part travelogue. Friday’s signature trench and chapeau became the ’50s gumshoe uniform. It won Emmys for Best Mystery or Intrigue Series and Action or Adventure Program a couple of times, and some of its behind-the-scenes players also picked up wins, like the composer of the unforgettable theme song. It was such a beloved show that Webb returned for a second round (this time in color!), it was adapted into a 1987 comedy movie starring Tom Hanks and Dan Aykroyd, and a more diverse adaptation was released in 2003.

Watch on Amazon Prime

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Veronica Mars (2004–2007; 2019)

Part detective noir, part sarcastic teen soap, this excellently written, extremely quotable, and excessively watchable dramedy proved to the world that Kristen Bell was destined (and deserving) of a spot on the A-list. She stars as a whip-smart, resourceful teen sleuth who helps her classmates solve mysteries while moonlighting at her father’s PI office in an affluent seaside town to the tune of a cool soundtrack. All the while, her real goal is to find out who killed her best friend (Amanda Seyfried), the cold case that lost her dad his position as sheriff and turned her world upside down. It was a critically acclaimed cult hit that intelligently and sensitively explored the aftermath of trauma and the frustration and oppression of class and privilege while keeping viewers guessing. The subsequent movie and 2019 Hulu revival were less impactful, but by that point, you’ll be so invested in the characters that you’ll want to stream them anyway.

Watch on Hulu

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Castle (2009–2016)

Not all crime shows have to be dark, serious, or grotesque to be good. Take this often-humorous tale, in which the infinitely charismatic Nathan Fillion plays the equally charming best-selling author/untamed millionaire playboy Richard Castle. After killing off his longtime main character, a series of bodies start popping up in New York, all killed in ways found in his books. He teams up with detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and her team to lend his insider knowledge and has so much fun that he decides to shadow Beckett to craft his next character after her. He winds up sticking around for eight seasons and falls hard for his muse, creating enough sexual tension to intrigue romance fans as well. If you always found yourself wishing Castle’s books were available for checkout at the library, you’ll likely enjoy these thriller books that are real pageturners.

Watch on Hulu

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The Night Of (2016)

After a night of partying hard and hooking up with a woman from a very different social stratum than his taxi-driving family, Nasir Khan awakes to find her stabbed to death and is summarily arrested for it. Like many a poor brown kid before him, he can’t afford the bail or a good lawyer, and everyone assumes his guilt. (Viewers only see it play out from his perspective, but these days, an unreliable narrator is always possible.) Based on the BAFTA-winning BBC series Criminal Justice, it examines a broken, unfair, and overtaxed legal system while walking audiences through the investigation, court proceedings, and prison culture. A harrowing stay at Rikers steals what’s left of Naz’s innocence and hardens him into someone who might be capable of murder. It’s cold, moody, suspenseful, complex TV for grown-ups. Plot twists and hail Marys leave you guessing through all eight episodes. And while you probably now know who Riz Ahmed is thanks to an Oscar-nominated turn in Sound of Metal and a Star Wars spin-off gig, this was the part that cemented his future in Hollywood and won him a Lead Actor Emmy.

Watch on HBO Max

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The Outsider (2020)

It starts out like so many other chilling murder mysteries: a dead kid, a determined detective, a town torn asunder, and a pillar of the community becoming an unlikely suspect. But the source material for HBO’s sleeper hit is Stephen King—king of the horror novel himself—so you can probably assume things aren’t as they seem. (Call it the Twin Peaks effect.) After a boy is found mutilated in the Georgia woods, all the evidence points a veteran cop (Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn) toward an upstanding family man (Jason Bateman, who really plays against type here). That is, until contradicting evidence places him miles away from the scene and an unorthodox investigator (Cynthia Erivo) starts to suspect something supernatural might be afoot. That’s when the chaos really kicks in and the creepy factor ratchets up.

Watch on HBO Max

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The Killing (2011–2014)

Scandinavian creatives have become a force to be reckoned with in entertainment, and the Scandi-noir movement in film, TV, and books was at a fever pitch in the 2010s. Between foreign-language imports and U.S. remakes, there are a lot of good shows to choose from in the genre, including The Bridge, Lilyhammer, Trapped, and Bordertown. The Killing is the frontrunner, however, with season one being a fairly straightforward adaptation of the Danish original. The narrative about a teen’s murder unrolls slowly and deliberately, a hallmark of the genre, and sits uncomfortably in the grief of the parents and the frustration of the detective duo who keeps hitting roadblocks. It benefits from a dreary Seattle setting, an election storyline, some tactics borrowed from Twin Peaks and David Lynch, and the tremendous talents of Mireille Enos and Swede Joel Kinnaman. People are still chapped about the titular killing remaining unresolved until season two but ultimately tuned in for three seasons on AMC and part four on Netflix.

Watch on Hulu

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Homicide: Life On The Street (1993–1999)

Before he created The Wire, David Simon wrote a book about the mean streets of Baltimore, which was adapted for the small screen two years later. The hit TV series follows the detectives of Charm City’s homicide division and emphasizes character development, precinct politics, moral dilemmas, and plot over chases, procedures, and gunfights. It made Time‘s list of all-time greatest TV shows and was the first drama to win three Peabody Awards. Not only did it have a stellar cast—including Richard Belzer, Melissa Leo, and Zeljko Ivanek—but it also attracted top-notch guest talent over the years (Lily Tomlin, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Alfre Woodard to name a few) and scored a Lead Actor Emmy for Andre Braugher.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013–2021)

Illustrating the incredible breadth of the crime shows out there, we’re closing out the list with an always silly, sometimes sentimental, and very occasionally serious sitcom starring Andre Braugher in a role that shares little with his Homicide character aside from the fact that they’re both police officers. Brought to you by former Daily Show writer Dan Goor and Michael Schur, the genius showrunner behind the American Office, Parks and Recreation, and The Good Place, this series is a must for fans of Andy Samberg’s adorkable brand of humor, which earned him a Golden Globe. But even though much of the action revolves around his Die Hard–worshipping Jake Peralta and his eventual wooing of coworker Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), this is a precinct stacked with lethal comedic weapons, like Joe Lo Truglio, Terry Crews, Jason Mantzoukas, Chelsea Peretti, and as it turns out, Braugher himself.

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Carrie Bell
Carrie brings more than 20 years of experience writing about entertainment, pop culture, travel, and lifestyle topics for national magazines, newspapers and websites to where her coverage runs the gamut between road trip guides, Star Wars locations you can visit in real life, best crime shows and infamous awards show scandals. She has a journalism degree, two spoiled cats, a wicked snow globe collection and a desire to visit all 50 U.S. states by 50 (She just hit no. 41.).