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The 25 Best Mystery TV Shows That Will Keep You Guessing

From classics such as Murder, She Wrote to new hits such as The White Lotus.

Looking for a TV show that will really suck you in and ensure you won't be looking at your phone the whole time? It's time to get immersed in a mystery series. Mystery TV shows get you involved with figuring out the crime or whatever other suspicious scenario is at hand. Whether you're a sci-fi fan, a comedy lover, or enjoy watching people in small English towns get murdered, there's something for you. In the list below, you'll find 25 of the best mystery shows of all time, from Perry Mason in the '50s, to Murder, She Wrote in the '80s, to hits such as Severance and The White Lotus, which are still airing now. Like procedurals? You're covered! Want a show where the mystery is an arc that goes on for an entire season or even for the whole series? We've got that too. Keep reading to find the mystery show you need as your next obsession.

RELATED: The Saddest TV Deaths of All Time.

The 25 Best Mystery Shows Ever Made

1
Murder, She Wrote

Angela Lansbury in Murder She Wrote
CBS

Let's start with with a classic. Murder, She Wrote, which ran from 1984 to 1996, centers around Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), a mystery novelist-turned-detective. Jessica solves murders in her hometown of Cabot Cove, Maine and, eventually, beyond. I mean, how many murders could really happen in that same small town?!

Available to stream on Peacock.

2
Twin Peaks

a screenshot from Twin Peaks
ABC

If you're into something more surreal, there's Twin Peaks, which aired two seasons in the early '90s and a revival season years later in in 2017. There's also a 1992 prequel movie, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me. The show is set into motion by the murder of popular high schooler, Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), with the investigation led by FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). But, rather than being a straightforward crime show, this David Lynch series is campy and bizarre.

Available to stream on Paramount+.

3
Lost

Harold Perrineau on "Lost"
ABC

Speaking of surreal, the mysteries of Lost had a huge cultural impact. The hit early 2000s series is about a group of people who end up stranded on an island following a plane crash, but the mythology runs much deeper than that. Over six seasons, Lost poses dozens of questions, including where the survivors are, whether they can get home, who is on the island with them, and who was on the island before them. The plot get progressively more strange as the show plays around with the timeline of the story, as well.

Available to stream on Hulu (and soon Netflix).

4
Only Murders in the Building

Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez in Only Murders in the Building
Hulu

Looking for a little comedy with your mystery? Check out Only Murders in the BuildingSelena GomezMartin Short, and Steve Martin play neighbors in a New York City apartment building, who begin investigating a series of murders and making a podcast about the crimes. Three seasons have aired so far with a fourth on the way.

Available to stream on Hulu.

5
Agatha Christie's Poirot

David Suchet in Agatha Christie's Poirot
ITV

Before Kenneth Branagh took on the role for a series of movies, David Suchet played the iconic literary detective in this ong-running British series. Agatha Christie's Poirot aired 13 seasons between 1989 to 2013 and pulls from the legendary mystery author's work in each episode.

Available to stream on BritBox.

6
Midsomer Murders

a screenshot from Midsomer Murders
ITV

Another long-running British mystery series is Midsomer Murders, which debuted in 1997 and is still going. It's based on the Chief Inspector Barnaby series by author Caroline Graham and is about murder investigations in Midsomer, a fictional English county. With 23 seasons already in the books, this might be the most crime-plagued town in pop culture!

Available to stream on Acorn TV, The Roku Channel, Tubi, and more.

RELATED: The Saddest TV Episodes of All Time.

7
The White Lotus

Simona Tabasco and Beatrice Grannò in The White Lotus
HBO

Both existing seasons of the dramedy The White Lotus begin with the reveal that someone—or someones—have died at a White Lotus resort before the show flashes back to the events that occurred in the lead-up. So, while you take in all of the relationship and family drama going down at the hotel—in Hawaii for the first season and Italy for the second—the show is also building up to the reveal of who was killed and how it happened. A third season, set in Thailand, is on the way.

Available to stream on Max.

8
True Detective

Jodie Foster and Kali Reis in True Detective: Night Country
HBO

The anthology series True Detective features a new case, new detectives, and a new location with each season. The first season follows detectives played by Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey investigating a serial killer in Louisiana, while the most recent season, True Detective: Night Country, stars Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as detectives in Alaska looking into the disappearance of men working at a remote research station.

Available to stream on Max.

9
Luther

Idris Elba in Luther
BBC One

Luther takes a look at what happens when an investigator becomes tangled up with a murderer—both romantically and professionally. Idris Elba stars as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther while Ruth Wilson co-stars in most of the show's five seasons as killer Alice Morgan. After Alice gets away with the first season's murder scot-free, she becomes Luther's occasional consultant—and more.

Available to stream on BritBox and Hoopla.

10
How to Get Away with Murder

Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder
ABC

Viola Davis stars in How to Get Away with Murder as Annalise Keating, a law professor and lawyer who becomes personally involved in a murder investigation—along with many of her students—in the first season. As the series goes on, more murders, mysteries, and drama in Annelise's personal life unfold, along with plenty of twists and backstabbing.

Available to stream on Netflix.

11
The Night Of

Riz Ahmed in The Night Of
HBO

The 2016 miniseries The Night Of stars Riz Ahmed as Naz Khan, a college student who wakes up to find that the woman he had just met and slept with the night before has been killed. He flees the scene, which makes him look incredibly suspicious once he's arrested and accused of the murder. Even more suspicious is that Naz can't remember what happened the night they met.

Available to stream on Max.

12
Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell in Veronica Mars
Warner Bros. Television

If you like both episodic mystery-solving and season-long arcs, then Veronica Mars might be for you. Kristen Bell begins the series as a high schooler investigating the murder of her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) with help from her detective father Keith (Enrico Colantoni). As the show goes on, Veronica solves various other mysteries, including in the fourth season, which aired 13 years after Season 3 concluded and focuses on an adult Veronica working as a private investigator, still with her dad.

Available to stream on Hulu.

RELATED: 18 Old TV Shows the Whole Family Will Love.

13
Stranger Things

Finn Wolfhard and Millie Bobby Brown on "Stranger Things" season 4
Netflix

The sci-fi series Stranger Things gives its audience a new mystery every season that's related to the overarching storyline about the terrifying world of the Upside Down, secret government experiments, and the way fictional Hawkins, Indiana is at the center of it all. Whether it's Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) figuring out how she gained superpowers or Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) rescuing Jim Hopper (David Harbour) from the Soviet Union, there's always something to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Available to stream on Netflix.

14
Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet in Mare of Easttown
HBO

Kate Winslet stars in Mare of Easttown as Mare Sheehan, a Pennsylvania detective who is trying to solve two crimes: why one girl is missing and who murdered another. At the same time, Mare has to confront a number of issues in her personal life, including a divorce and a custody battle for her grandchild following the death of her son. Come for the mystery and stay for the drama.

Available to stream on Max.

15
Big Little Lies

Nicole Kidman in Big Little Lies
HBO

Based on the book of the same name by Liane MoriartyBig Little Lies follows a group of women in Monterey, California, who become enmeshed in a murder mystery after someone is killed in their community. At least, that's what the first season is about. The second season is less about the mystery and more about the fallout. The all-star cast includes Reese WitherspoonLaura DernNicole KidmanZoë Kravitz, and Shailene Woodley.

Available to stream on Max.

16
Search Party

Alia Shawkat in Search Party
TBS

Search Party is a dark comedy that gets more and more outlandish as its five seasons go on. Arrested Development alum Alia Shawkat stars as Dory, a woman who becomes obsessed when an acquaintance goes missing, taking a group of friends with her as she investigates. A cult, a murder trial, and even a zombie apocalypse come into play as the show, which skewers self-obsessed millennial culture, goes on.

Available to stream on Max.

17
Broadchurch

Olivia Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch
ITV

Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in Broadchurch as two detectives working in a small seaside town—she's a local, while he moved there after another case in another place went horribly wrong. The show consists of three seasons, which aired from 2013 to 2017, all of which have to do with the death of a local boy, the investigation into the case, his family's handling of the loss, and how the community is affected. Other cases they work also overlap with this main storyline.

Available to stream on The Roku Channel, Tubi, PBS Masterpiece, and more.

RELATED: 20 Best TV Shows Based on True Stories.

18
Perry Mason

Raymond Burr in Perry Mason
CBS

The classic crime series Perry Mason ran for nine seasons in the '50s and '60s, starring Raymond Burr stars as the titular criminal defense lawyer. In each episode, he represents a client who has usually been wrongly accused. If you like procedural shows, particularly about the law, then this one's for you. In 2020, Max revived the show for two seasons, starring Matthew Rhys as a younger version of the character.

Available to stream on Freevee.

19
Matlock

a screenshot from Matlock
Viacom Productions

For nine seasons from 1986 to 1995, Andy Griffith played criminal defense attorney Ben Matlock on Matlock. And if Perry Mason is your thing, you'll probably like Matlock, too, because it follows a similar format. That said, Matlock has more comedy mixed in through the way Griffith plays the grumpy and particular lawyer.

Available to stream on Prime Video and Pluto TV.

20
The Staircase

Colin Firth and Toni Collette in The Staircase
HBO Max

Based on the documentary series of the same name, the miniseries The Staircase is a fictionalized version of the case of Michael Peterson, a novelist who was convicted of killing his wife, Kathleen Peterson, after she was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their house. Interestingly, the miniseries also portrays the documentary filmmakers who made the docuseries, which is often credited for the ongoing true crime boom. Colin Firth and Toni Collette star.

Available to stream on Max.

21
Poker Face

Natasha Lyonne in Poker Face
Peacock

Natasha Lyonne stars in Poker Face as Charlie Cale, a casino employee who flees town after she becomes knowledgable about a murder. Due her ability to know when people are lying, Charlie begins solving crimes while she's on the run. Each episode features a new case, which means each episode also has a cast of new guest stars, with Lyonne being the only constant. The series was created by Knives Out filmmaker Rian Johnson, so if you're a find of those humorous whodunnits, you'll likely dig Poker Face, too.

Available to stream on Peacock.

RELATED: The Most Hated TV Characters of All Time.

22
Columbo

Peter Falk in Columbo
Universal Television

Peter Falk stars as Lieutenant Columbo, a Los Angeles detective with a penchant for a beige jacket, in the long-running series Columbo. The show differs from other crime procedurals in that the criminal is revealed at the beginning of the episode and then viewers follow along to see how Columbo figured the perpetrator out.

Available to stream on Tubi.

23
Sharp Objects

Amy Adams in Sharp Objects
HBO

The miniseries Sharp Objects is based on the Gillian Flynn thriller novel of the same name and stars Amy Adams as Camille, a reporter who returns to her hometown to investigate the murders of two girls. Camille then has to confront the darkness in her personal life and past—including her complicated relationship with her mother Adora (Patricia Clarkson). It's a disturbing mystery with a twist ending that will leave you reeling.

Available to stream on Max.

24
Severance

Adam Scott in Severance
Apple TV+

The series Severance has a very intriguing concept: The employees at a company shrouded in mystery have separated their work selves and personal identities through a process called "severance," meaning that they have no memory of their outside-work lives when they're at the office and vice versa. The lines start to blur, however, when Mark (Adam Scott) and his teammates start to unravel the truth of the nefarious Lumon Industries. A long-awaited second season is on its way.

Available to stream on Apple TV+.

25
The Law & Order Universe

Mariska Hargitay in Law & Order SVU
NBC

We started with a classic, and we'll end with one. Each episode of Law & Order and most of its spinoffs center around one crime, which is investigated by detectives and then heard in a courtroom. (Law & Order: Organized Crime is more serialized, usually with a season-long arc.) Audiences are taken along for the ride with plenty of opportunities to suspect the wrong person. There have been 23 seasons of the original series, 25 seasons of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and 10 seasons of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, on top of other shorter-lived spinoffs, so this world could keep you busy for quite a while.

Available to stream on Peacock.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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