• Directory Journal

10 Great TV Mystery and Crime Shows

by J. M. on January 25, 2012 · 22 comments

in Movies

I’m a huge fan of mystery and crime shows on TV. And today I want to share some of my favorites from over the years and ask you to share some of your favorites as well (as mystery lovers are always up for meeting a new sleuth).

Here are ten of the best television mystery and crime shows, based on personal favorites. It would be impossible for me to watch every crime show that has ever been created, so there is of course a subjective nature to this list. These are also English language shows. I highly encourage you to leave a comment below to share your favorite in your own native language. I love international films, and would love to find some good international mystery and crime series as well.

The following mystery and crime TV shows are listed in alphabetical order and include links to videos from the studios releasing them or other licensed sites when possible. Some videos linked to are available legally for free, and others require a subscription (such as Netflix). Where linking to online videos was not possible, I have attempted to find video clips for illustration purposes to give you a better idea of the series.

1. Columbo

This Peter Falk series is a classic detective show. You would think with so many arrests under his belt, criminals would stop underestimating him. But they don’t.

WATCH VIDEOS (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

2. Criminal Minds

I consider Criminal Minds to be one of the best-written crime dramas currently on TV. Why? Because it legitimately strikes fear in me when I watch it sometimes — more so than horror movies designed to do just that. It makes the risk feel much more real than other crime shows do.

3. CSI

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation isn’t a show I regularly follow anymore after several cast changes. But you have to give it credit for making a new generation interested in the forensic side of solving crimes.

WATCH VIDEOS (CBS.com – free latest episodes)

4. Dexter

Dexter is a crime show that took me a little while to warm up to. But I couldn’t get over the clever premise of a serial killer who kills other killers. It was unique and turned out to be a great show.


5. Diagnosis Murder

If you like cozy-style mysteries and you watch more modern medical mystery shows (like House), you should give Diagnosis Murder a try. It’s a nice mix of drama and humor, and you really can’t go wrong with Dick Van Dyke.


6. Law and Order

Here’s another classic crime drama, and a recently ended TV series. I’ve always loved the way L&O episodes split their focus between solving the crimes and prosecuting the cases. It’s almost like getting two shows in one.

WATCH FULL EPISODES (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

7. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

This Law and Order spinoff is often referred to as the best series in the Law and Order franchise. Dealing with special victims (such as sex crime and violence against children), this series can be a bit more emotional than most.

WATCH FULL EPISODES (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

8. Miss Marple

Any serious mystery lover knows who Agatha Christie is. And her cozies are always fun to watch, and they make for some of the best British mystery shows around. Miss Marple is one popular series based on her books.

Watch Miss Marple: The Pale Horse Preview on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

9. Monk

I loved the character of Monk more than the show. Tony Shaloub plays quirky and obsessive-compulsive detective Adrian Monk in this series.

WATCH FULL EPISODES (Hulu+ – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

10. Murder, She Wrote

Murder, She Wrote, starring Angela Lansbury, is my all-time favorite mystery TV series. That may be because I also earn a living as a writer like her character does (she’s a mystery novelist), and I happen to be branching into writing mystery fiction now myself. That said, it’s just a casual fun mystery series that I can watch over and over again.

WATCH Full Episodes (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

11. NCIS

I watched NCIS on the recommendation of family members even though military crime didn’t particularly interest me. And I fell in love with it. It’s a serious, but still fun, series and has a great team of actors on board that keep it interesting.

12. Poirot

The Poirot series is another British mystery series based on Agatha Christie’s novels. They’re slower than a lot of more popular current shows, but if you’re interested in a great story, these shouldn’t be missed.


13. Psych

After Murder, She Wrote, Psych is my favorite crime-related television show. I consider it the best-written modern crime series on TV right now. This one involves more comedy than most and it’s the only show around guaranteed to leave me laughing every time I watch.

WATCH OLDER EPISODES (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

*Note: When new episodes resume, you can often watch them for a limited time for free at Hulu.com.

14. Quincy, M.E.

If you like forensic-based shows like CSI, you should definitely check out Quincy, M.E. This was an early show based upon a character that is a medical examiner and without it we might not have some of the similar modern shows we love today.


15. Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks was a short-lived series, but earned both critical acclaim and a cult fan following. If you can’t get enough of the series, they also filmed a prequel movie (although that didn’t go over quite as well with fans).

WATCH OLDER EPISODES (Netflix – Paid subscription – Must be logged in to access)

I know there are countless other mystery and crime shows out there, and I love learning about new ones (or just “new to me” ones). If you’re a fan of the genre, I bet you do too. So why not leave a comment below and tell us about some other great mysteries and crime shows and why you love them?

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Companies Removals April 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

I love your top 10 of Tv mystery and crime shows, I even approve the order you arrange them, but I would add another epic TV series- namely X-Files. I am a passionate fan of the show since a teenager and I think the extraterestrial plot was more than breath-taking.


Aoife March 22, 2013 at 12:09 am

The X-files was one of the best shows ever. I was about 12 or so when it first came out and ony recently rewatched the whole series. Watching it now I noticed so many little things I didn’t notice then, the chemistry between Mulder and Scully was amazing. Really was a great show.


Hire May 10, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Criminal Minds and NCIS are the best crime series. I am a fan of such TV mysteries and crime shows too. Their plots are interesting and provide deep analysis of the crimes.


Mat August 7, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Ive watched bits and pieces of some of those shows all of psych im a big fan of mystery detective shows just finished one called Life check it out think you might like it. This list has given me a few new ones to check out so thank you and if you like comedy detective shows try out The Good Guys also a good one and a more serious but funny one White Collar.


J. M. September 21, 2012 at 8:14 am

White Collar is one of my newer favorites. My husband and I actually missed the last two episodes. We caught up on one last night, and can’t wait to watch the latest one tonight finally. That’s another great example from USA (they’re very good at mixing drama with comedy and finding actors with great chemistry). :)


ronny January 13, 2014 at 8:45 am

i agree with you. my most fav was prison break. thn i was looking for similar test. breakout kings was not that bad. but white collar was a good one. after prison break this is my fav. i watch online. u can try. so u dont have to wait for missing episodes.



Jdog September 30, 2012 at 11:07 pm

WHAT ABOUT BONES????????? Bones is the ultimate best


Awais October 17, 2012 at 10:38 pm


Its a good list, but there is no ROCKFORD FILES, any particular reason?


Jeff Parsons November 25, 2012 at 12:16 am

You musr add Wallander


Adam Libow January 21, 2013 at 4:36 am

You should check out Sherlock, best modern mystery drama series I have found!


Ian Paolo February 13, 2013 at 1:09 pm

This is a tough shot but I think that Veronica Mars is one of the most unique shows ever made


heather March 20, 2013 at 1:58 am

You forgot The Killing and Murder One.


Aoife March 22, 2013 at 12:05 am

One I’ve only found recently but was out in 2005 was The Inside. Agent Seaver from Criminal Minds is the lead in it. It’s really good and quite similar case-wise to Criminal Minds. There’s only 1 season which is such a shame as it was a really good show. I highly recommend it.


Amanda April 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm

Great list. I love most of the shows you mentioned.


MJB April 14, 2013 at 5:53 am

Great list! So funny though, Murder She Wrote and Psych are my 2 favorite as well.


Hej May 14, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Breakout Kings, castle 2009, The Mentalist, Sherlock, Person.of.Interest, Numb3rs, Elementary, dexter.
And not to forget one of the greatest versions of a serial killer ive seen Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal.


Justine June 27, 2013 at 10:21 pm

homeland . bones. rizzolo and isles. castle. the killing ad rouge ! as well as the previously mentioned criminal minds NCIS


Justine June 27, 2013 at 10:22 pm

and leverage !


John January 17, 2014 at 4:56 am

You forgot about white collar.


Kaelee March 26, 2014 at 3:12 am

THE MENTALIST! Oh my gosh, the best!! All time favorite.. My favorite thing about it is that the main character picks apart subtle things that happen throughout the show to show you how to murderer is the murder based on clues, the way they answer questions.. so on and so far. Like the ultimate profiler, when I read about Criminal Minds and how it is all profiling, I gave it a chance because of my love for the mentalist.


Sweetie April 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Great list, not sure about Twin Peaks though, it was a little disgusting by the end. How abut Luther, the Fall? Here is my list http://www.sweetieandgeek.com/good-detective-shows-on-netflix/


Nisha May 9, 2014 at 10:33 am

If yu r a writer….how could yu forget Castle ???


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: