From moody, atmospheric imports to lighthearted mysteries, we think TV guide’s Kaitlin Thomas put together the perfect list of the best crime dramas today and of yesteryear.

Idris Elba, Luther
Idris Elba, Luther BBC

Here is a great article There’s more than one right way to make a murder mystery or crime drama. The genre is usually associated with a dark and moody atmosphere or a brooding detective wearing a great coat (it’s a fact that all detectives have excellent outerwear), but it’s not always so serious. Some mystery shows are sweet and uplifting; some are surreal and supernatural; some even come with a jolt of irreverent humor. There’s a crime series for every mood. 

It helps that every corner of the globe seems to love a good mystery. In our list of the best murder mysteries and crime dramas to watch right now, you’ll find a variety of series from multiple countries. There are some excellent but dark dramas that pose serious questions, as well as some comedies that include wacky hijinks on the road to solving a case. There’s something for everybody, so check out the list below. 

Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt, The Bridge
Sofia Helin and Thure Lindhardt, The Bridge SVT1 / DR1

The Bridge

Watch it on: Amazon (for purchase)
The Nordic noir series known as Broen/Bron, aka The Bridge, kicks off with the discovery of a dead body — or rather, two halves of two different bodies — in the center of a bridge that links Sweden and Denmark. If that sounds familiar, it’s because there have been a lot of remakes over the years, including an FX production, also known as The Bridgethat moved the action to the U.S. and Mexico. The original series is better (sorry to America) and finds members of the Danish and Swedish police having to work together to investigate the crime. Like The Killing, it’s one of the Danish shows that have shaped TV around the world.

Twin Peaks
Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Twin Peaks Everett Collection

Twin Peaks – A Dinner Detective top pick

Watch it on: Netflix (original series), CBS All Access (original series), Hulu (original series; Twin Peaks: The Return available with Showtime add-on), Showtime (Twin Peaks: The Return)
David Lynch and Mark Frost‘s surreal masterpiece Twin Peaks, which premiered on ABC in 1990 and returned for a third season on Showtime in 2017, centers on the investigation into the death of small-town homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), whose murder exposes a powerful darkness in the community. The show’s blend of supernatural horror, melodrama, and absurdity changed television, pushing the bounds of what a mystery show — or any show — could do. Twin Peaks often feels like a nightmare and a dream at once. It taps into the fear that sinister forces hide under the surface of any town, and that true evil doesn’t make sense. –Kelly Connolly

Hinterland Netflix


Watch it on: Netflix
The United Kingdom’s biggest export is somber murder mysteries with the almost inexplicable ability to hook viewers from the start, and the Welsh noir Hinterland is one of the very best. The series, which is filmed twice — once in Welsh and once in English (with subtitles for a few scenes in Welsh) — stars Richard Harrington as the brooding DCI Tom Mathias. Having relocated to Aberystwyth after being forced out of his job in London, Mathias is somewhat of an enigma. He’s battling personal demons while living in an old trailer and trying to solve gruesome murders around the Welsh countryside, but while the show solves mysteries every couple of episodes, it takes time to crack the case of who the man is. While that adds another layer to the show, what really makes Hinterland stand out from the rest of the crime dramas coming out of the British Isles is its location and the way the show uses it to its advantage. The drama showcases Wales’ beautiful scenery — from its shorelines and cliff sides to the small villages that dot the landscape. It’s enough to make you want to pack up and move right into the world depicted in the show — if it weren’t for all the murders.


Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, The Outsider
Ben Mendelsohn and Cynthia Erivo, The Outsider Bob Mahoney/HBO

The Outsider

Watch it on: HBOHBO Max
HBO’s adaptation of The Outsider, based on Stephen King‘s chilling murder mystery of the same name, is worth checking out. Emmy winner Ben Mendelsohn stars as a detective investigating the gruesome murder of a young boy, and although all the evidence points to an upstanding family man (Jason Bateman), there’s more evidence that places him miles and miles away at the time of the murder. Over time it becomes clear there’s something supernatural going on, and as the show morphs from a traditional murder mystery into a paranormal investigation, you won’t be able to look away, even if you want to.

Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable
Kaitlyn Dever, Unbelievable Beth Dubber/Netflix


Watch it on: Netflix
Few recent crime dramas have been harder to shake than Unbelievable. Based on the real events detailed in the Pulitzer Prize-winning 2015 article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape,” the devastating miniseries follows Marie Adler (Kaitlyn Dever), a teenage girl accused of lying about being raped. As she struggles with an uncaring system, she finds hope in the two detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) who take her trauma seriously. It’s a tough story told with grace and empathy that’s made unforgettable by the three performers at its center. -Kelly Connolly

Omar Sy, Lupin
Omar Sy, Lupin Emmanuel Guimier/Netflix


Watch it on: Netflix
Omar Sy stars in Lupin as Assane Diop, a man who is essentially a French Bruce Wayne if Batman was more of a cat burglar than dark knight. Inspired by the classic French character Arsène Lupin, known as the “gentleman burglar,” Diop starts the series off trying to steal a valuable necklace from the Louvre with a grand heist as part of a revenge plot against the wealthy family responsible for the death of father several years prior. Sy is a charming dude, and the heists and trickery are fun, complicated acts, performed under the guise of being the good guy. It may not be the greatest show Netflix ever put out, but it is a very entertaining distraction that’s easy to get through. -Tim Surette

Frankie Drake Mysteries
Frankie Drake Mysteries Ovation TV

Frankie Drake Mysteries

Watch it on: PBS Masterpiece (available as a channel on Amazon Channels)
Set in 1920s Toronto, Frankie Drake Mysteries follows the city’s only female private eyes, the eponymous Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy (Chantel Riley), as they solve cases the police won’t take on as well as cases their clients can’t take to the authorities. And while the on-screen narrative deals with aspects of social change, the show itself is doubling down on it in the real world; of the 31 episodes aired in the States thus far, 18 were directed by women, while 20 were written or co-written by women. If you’ve already binge-watched Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (also on this list), make Frankie Drake Mysteries your next stop.

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake: China Girl
Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake: China Girl See-Saw Films (TOTL2) Holdings Pty Ltd/SundanceTV

Top of the Lake

Watch it on: Hulu
Jane Campion‘s acclaimed 2013 crime drama Top of the Lake(a second season, Top of the Lake: China Girl, aired in 2017) is not only an engrossing mystery driven, in part, by an excellent performance from Elisabeth Moss, it’s also one of the most beautiful TV series we’ve seen in a long time. Set in and filmed around New Zealand, the six-part series also makes excellent use of its landscape as it follows Moss’ Robin Griffin, a detective now living in Sydney and specializing in child protection, who returns to her hometown in New Zealand after her mother falls ill. While there, she begins investigating the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl in a remote lake town, a case that opens up old wounds and leads to a mesmerizing and thoughtful story about surviving in a world dominated by misogyny.

Trapped Amazon


Watch it on: Amazon Prime
The Icelandic murder mystery series Trapped also stands out for the way it uses its location to its increase the tension that normally accompanies a good crime drama. In Season 1, Andri (Olafur Darri Olafsson), a detective whose job has taken its toll on his family, investigates a case involving a headless corpse that has turned up in the local port. An avalanche soon increases the dramatic stakes and leaves the remote town and its citizens vulnerable and isolated while the police attempt to solve the case before the snow melts and they can escape. Season 2 involves a far-right nationalist group, a power plant’s expansion, and a family with so many secrets the twists and turns never seem to stop coming. There are a lot of excellent dramas to come out of the Nordic region, but Trapped is definitely one of the best.

Happy Valley
Happy Valley Ben Blackall/Netflix

Happy Valley

Watch it on: Amazon (for purchase)
As cheery as the title of this BBC One series sounds, Happy Valleyis actually very dark and contains some very difficult subject matter. The series centers on a female detective named Catherine Cawood (Sarah Lancashire), whose world is turned upside down after the man who sexually assaulted her daughter — which led to the girl birthing an unwanted child and deciding to end her life — is freed from prison. In the process of tracking the assailant down, Cawood accidentally stumbles into a completely unrelated, but ongoing crime. – Amanda Bell 

Titus Welliver, Bosch
Titus Welliver, Bosch Saeed Adyani, Amazon Prime


Watch it on: Amazon Prime
An adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels, Amazon’s Bosch follows the gritty life of Los Angeles homicide detective and private investigator Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver). Although the show rarely receives a lot of fanfare, it’s quite popular, and for good reason: It has been lauded for its realistic portrayal of police work, as well as its faithful interpretation of Connelly’s best-selling books. Plus, it has a sweet jazz soundtrack.

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock Robert Viglasky, Copyright: Hartswood Films 2016


Watch it on: Netflix 
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s signature characters come alive in Sherlock, a bromantic series about its eponymous detective, the “high functioning sociopath” Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch), and his war veteran sidekick, Dr. John Watson (Martin Freeman). The four-season series was a fan-frenzied affair during its run on the BBC and PBS thanks to its sublime stars, behind-the-scenes talent, and production quality, all of which led to some serious awards for everyone involved. – Amanda Bell

Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears
Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears Acorn TV

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

Watch it on: Acorn TV
The three-season Australian series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysterieswhisks you back to the 1920s and all the glitz and glamour the decade had to offer. Essie Davis stars as the Honourable Miss Phryne Fisher, who has a knack for solving intricate and inventive murders (a spider in a shoe!), much to the displeasure of the local police, especially Detective Inspector Jack Robinson (Nathan Page). However, the two eventually form a working relationship, and later even a friendship oozing with sexual tension. A feature film, Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears, arrived on Acorn TV in 2020.

Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars
Kristen Bell, Veronica Mars Michael Desmond/Hulu

Veronica Mars

Watch it on: Hulu
For a gripping noir detective story with bonus teen drama, watch Veronica Mars. The UPN-turned-CW series stars Kristen Bell as a high schooler, and eventual college student, who moonlights as a private eye, taking on cases for her classmates and her detective father (Enrico Colantoni) while also unraveling season-long mysteries. The one that looms largest is the murder of her best friend, Lilly Kane (Amanda Seyfried). If you’re looking for an intricate crime drama that demands your attention, Veronica Mars is the perfect marathon — at least for the first two seasons. The frustrating Hulu revival is best ignored, and even the third season lost some magic, but the early years of Veronica Mars are unmissable: a smart, dark exploration of trauma and privilege in a town where the haves and the have-nots are at each other’s throats. -Kelly Connolly

Shaun Evans, Endeavour
Shaun Evans, Endeavour Jonathan Ford and Mammoth Screen/ITV Studios/MASTERPIECE


Watch it on: PBS Masterpiece (available as a channel on Amazon Channels)
An engrossing prequel to the beloved British series Inspector MorseEndeavourstars Shaun Evans as the young Endeavour Morse as he solves murders in 1960s Oxford. Most seasons (there have been seven so far) feature four episodes, that clock in at approximately an hour and a half each, so the show is not exactly a quick binge. But who watches murder mysteries with the intention of plowing through them as quickly as possible? As the series progresses, there are storylines that carry over, much like any other procedural might, so be sure to pay attention.

David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Broadchurch
David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Broadchurch COLIN HUTTON


Watch it on: Netflix 
Set in a sleepy little seaside town,Broadchurch‘s first season follows two detectives — Alec Hardy (David Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) — on the hunt for the killer of an 11-year-old boy, and, sadly, the suspects list slowly inches into deeply uncomfortable territory. The show continued to enjoy acclaim in its second and third seasons, which, while venturing in some new directions, kept the devastating case that defined the series in the mix. – Amanda Bell

Ashley Jensen, Agatha Raisin
Ashley Jensen, Agatha Raisin AcornTV

Agatha Raisin

Watch it on: Acorn TV
Agatha Raisin is the detective series for those who enjoy their mysteries with wacky humor and hijinks. Based on the series of novels by M.C. Beaton, Agatha Raisin stars Ashley Jensen as the titular fictional detective who has packed up and moved to the Cotswolds to live a slower, quieter life but soon discovers she has a talent for detective-ing after investigating a single crime. And that’s a good thing because there are a lot of murders that seem to happen in Agatha’s vicinity. Along with her new village friends and her former assistant, Agatha solves said murders and looks quite fashionable while doing it.

Bordertown Netflix


Watch it on: Netflix 
If you like moody crime dramas from Scandinavia, you should check out Bordertown — known as Sorjonen in Finland. The series, which wrapped up its three-season run in 2020, follows Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), a skilled detective with a photographic memory and a frightening understanding of the killers he chases. After his wife survives brain cancer, he leaves his job at the National Bureau of Investigation to relocate with his family to an idyllic town near the Russian border for a more peaceful life. Since this is a police drama that falls squarely within the popular Nordic noir genre, it should go without saying that Sorjonen doesn’t find a quiet life leading the town’s Serious Crime Unit.

Robson Green and James Norton, Grantchester Des Willie/Kudos & ITV for MASTERPIECE


Watch it on: Amazon Prime
Based on James Runcie’s The Grantchester MysteriesGrantchestersees an incredibly handsome, jazz-loving vicar, Sidney Chambers (James Norton), team up with a local detective, Detective Inspector Geordie Keating (Robson Green), to solve crimes in a small village in the 1950s. Between its immersive storyline and keen character drama aspects, the show makes for an easy binge session. And although Norton departed the show in Season 4, there’s still plenty of reason to watch, including the man who took his place: Tom Brittney, who plays Reverend Will Davenport.

Idris Elba, Luther
Idris Elba, Luther Robert Viglasky/BBC America


Watch it on: HuluHBO MaxStarzOvation (with a cable provider)
For those who stan  Idris ElbaLutheris not to be missed. The actor has racked up quite a few trophies — including a Golden Globe — for his depiction of the titular DCI John Luther, whosr dedication to the Serious Crime Unit has cost him dearly on the personal front. Not only does it feature Elba hitting all the right drama marks, but it also gives The Affair‘s Ruth Wilson room to stretch her legs into even more twisted territory as a psychopathic murderer who becomes an unlikely asset. – Amanda Bell

Aidan Turner, And Then There Were None
Aidan Turner, And Then There Were None BBC One

And Then There Were None

Watch it on: Acorn TV
Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were Nonehas been adapted many times, and with good reason — it’s one of her best works, if not her best. And BBC One’s 2015 adaptation, which starred Charles DanceSam NeillAidan TurnerMiranda RichardsonBurn Gorman, and a whole lot of other people you will definitely recognize, is a real highlight. The three-part miniseries follows 10 strangers on a remote island in 1939 who are picked off one by one, and no one knows which one is the murderer or why it’s happening.



Watch it on: BritBox
Shetland is everything you could want from a good mystery series. Set on the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland, the isolated setting can be either quaint and picturesque or remote and claustrophobic depending on what the story requires. Since the series, which follows Douglas Henshall‘s Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez and a small police staff on the islands, deals in murder, it’s usually the latter. Engrossing right off the bat, it becomes even more so once the series transitions from episodic to serialized storytelling. However, if you’re worried about being overwhelmed by dreary doom and gloom, Shetland also dishes out some well-timed bits of humor, making for a well-balanced series you won’t want to stop watching.

Gillian Anderson, The Fall
Gillian Anderson, The Fall Steffan Hill/BBC

The Fall

Watch it on: BritBoxAMC+PeacockOvation (with a cable provider)
For those  X-Filesfans who still haven’t gotten enough of Gillian Anderson doing detective things, congrats: The Fall is now at the top of your to-be-watched pile. The actress stars as Stella Gibson, an English detective superintendent trying to catch a serial killer (a pre-50 Shades of Grey, pre-Barb and Star Jamie Dornan) in Northern Ireland before he attacks even more women. – Amanda Bell

Dule Hill and James Roday, Psych
Dule Hill and James Roday, Psych Alan Zenuk, USA Network


Watch it on: PeacockAmazon
If you like your mysteries to make you laugh, Psychis the procedural murder mystery for you. James Roday Rodriguez stars as Shawn Spencer, who pretends to be a psychic detective in order to aid the Santa Barbara Police Department in solving murders. He is helped by his best friend and sometimes unwilling sidekick, Burton Guster (Dule Hill). The show ran for eight seasons and has produced two movies, so this will keep you busy for a while.