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50 Best Mystery Shows Of All Time Ranked

Mystery fiction is one of the oldest and most successful genres. From its humble beginnings during the Industrial Revolution, when large cities first started to get their own police forces, to the blockbuster movies and TV shows of the 21st century, the popularity of this type of drama has remained largely consistent. A big part of that is down to the way they are capable of fascinating an audience like other genres cannot.

That's because, rather than simply telling a story, mysteries invite the reader/viewer along for the ride and involve them in the cases. The best mystery shows can almost be interactive in the way the fans can try to piece together clues and solve the puzzle as the characters do the same thing. It doesn't matter whether the show is a crime drama with detectives working on catching a dangerous killer or a supernatural suspense series filled with curious and perplexing events, they all have a way of captivating viewers.

With so many mystery shows to choose from, we've narrowed down the list to the 50 best examples of the genre, ranging from the 1950s all the way up to the present day.

50. Riverdale

Archie Comics might seem like a strange inspiration for a mystery series, especially one that contains as many supernatural and horror elements as "Riverdale," but this series does mystery brilliantly. Created by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the series follows a large cast of characters based on people from Archie Comics, including the likes of Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper, as they try to uncover the sinister secrets hiding in their hometown. Originally developed as a feature film, the project eventually found its way to The CW, where it has now run for six seasons.

The series tries to imitate great mystery shows of the past and give them a modern twist. You can see this in the way that it follows the same basic storyline as "Twin Peaks," at least in the beginning, when a murdered young woman is discovered. Even the opening sequence to the first episode mirrors David Lynch's television masterpiece. What follows is a dark character study that never takes itself too seriously as it explores a strangely twisted world. And, like all good mysteries, the show compels you to come back and find out more in a way that The Guardian describes as "addictive."

49. Murder, She Wrote

Even if you've never seen an episode of "Murder, She Wrote," the chances are you've heard of it. This crime drama series first began airing on CBS in 1992. The show stars Angela Lansbury as a novelist with a knack for solving murders, a useful trait considering the sheer number of people around her who end up dead.

"Murder, She Wrote" is something of an outlier in the world of mystery crime dramas. Each episode wraps up its own story and there's a sort of lightness that keeps everything feeling good-natured and not too serious, despite the fact that people are constantly being bumped off. As noted by Decider, this makes the show an easy watch that doesn't demand all of your attention.

That's not to say that it is a low quality show, though, as Lansbury puts in excellent performances consistently — demonstrated by a wide array of awards and nominations — and there is a focus on solving the mystery rather than honing in on the gritty violence of what has happened. All of these factors combine to make "Murder, She Wrote" more akin to a cozy mystery novel that feels like a warm hug rather than a stranglehold.

48. Manifest

Making its debut in 2018, "Manifest" is a supernatural drama series that originally aired on NBC before it was canceled and subsequently revived on Netflix for a final season. The story follows the passengers and crew of Montego Air Flight 826, which experiences turbulence on its flight from Jamaica to New York. When the plane lands, it is revealed that the aircraft and its passengers have been missing for five years. The characters must then try and integrate back into their former lives while coming to terms with the supernatural events that they are now intertwined with.

One of the best things about "Manifest" is how the central mystery grows throughout the series. Sure, there are plenty of other intriguing questions along the way, but viewers are constantly finding out more about the mysterious flight and what it means for those who were on board the plane. Yet, it also manages to keep things fairly simple and never goes too high concept, making it accessible by keeping the focus on the relationships between the characters and their loved ones. Despite a mixed reception — as shown by a Metacritic rating of 55 — it remains compelling and is well worth your time.

47. House of Anubis

A Nickelodeon children's show might seem like an odd choice when it comes to the greatest ever mystery shows, but "House of Anubis" certainly earns its spot. Created by Hans Bourlon and Gert Verhulst, it stars Nathalia Ramos as an American student named Nina who moves to the U.K. and joins the boarding school known as Anubis House. Almost immediately following her arrival, mysterious events start to take place. A student goes missing and a secret society associated with Ancient Egypt is uncovered, leaving the rest of the kids to try to figure out what is going on.

Critics at the time were impressed with the story and the overarching narrative of "House of Anubis," which was unique among the standard sitcoms Nickelodeon was known for producing. There are plenty of unexpected twists and turns throughout each episode, with the plot slowly revealing more information about the hidden secrets of the boarding school and its staff. As the IMDb reviews prove, fans absolutely adored this series when it aired back in the early 2010s, giving many kids their first taste of a good mystery.

46. The Staircase

In 2004, French filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade released a crime documentary based on the trial of Michael Peterson, who was accused of murdering his wife and falsely claiming she had fallen down the stairs. A drama series inspired by the 13-part documentary was launched in 2022, featuring the likes of Colin Firth and Toni Collette in the cast. The television show charts the trial of Peterson, the turmoil and conflict it causes within his family, and the introduction of the French film crew that filmed the documentary.

Any television series based on real-life events is likely to be equally compelling and scandalous. While the show obviously cannot offer as many surprises to viewers who are already aware of what happened, it remains a thrilling watch, with the performances of the cast being praised by critics along with the way it gives a new perspective to events. "The Staircase" is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, and Colin Firth and Toni Collette have both been nominated for Primetime Emmy Awards for their performances.

45. Locke & Key

A fantasy horror series based on the comic book franchise of the same name, "Locke & Key" first began airing on Netflix in 2020. The series has a strong pedigree behind it, with Carlton Cuse ("Lost"), Meredith Averill ("The Haunting of Hill House"), and Aron Eli Coleite ("Heroes") all involved. It follows the Locke family, who move to an old house in Matheson, Massachusetts following the murder of patriarch Rendell Locke. Soon they uncover secret keys that open hidden doors in the house and end up battling a demon who also seeks out the keys.

While the first season failed to capture the magic of the comics, according to Vox, it still got enough right to find a dedicated audience. That led to Netflix agreeing to greenlight two more seasons of the show, with the third hitting the streaming service in 2022. The second season was more of a hit with critics (it holds an approval rating of 83% on Rotten Tomatoes), who enjoyed the way that the show constantly pulls you into the mystery even when other elements don't work quite so well.

44. Pretty Little Liars

Airing on Freeform, "Pretty Little Liars" is a teen drama mixed with a mystery thriller. Adapted from Sara Shepard's novels, the series follows a group of high school girls who are forced to confront the lies they have told following the disappearance of one of their friends as they begin to get messages from an anonymous antagonist known only as A.

"Pretty Little Liars" has a knack for cliffhangers and shocking plot twists. While these kinds of story methods can become a bit monotonous, the show utilizes them well to constantly keep fans engaged, ensuring you always want to return to see what happens next. The series is also relatable, exploring the true consequences of cyberbullying and what it means to be a teenage girl in today's society.

But, ultimately, it's the way in which the villainous A goes about their torture of the characters that makes this a great mystery show, according as pointed out by The Hollywood Reporter. Viewers are left trying to discover exactly who they are and their exact motives.

43. 13 Reasons Why

"13 Reasons Why" took Netflix by storm when its first season dropped in 2017. Created by Brian Yorkey and inspired by Jay Asher's novel "Thirteen Reasons Why," it charts the lives of various high school students following the suicide of Hannah Baker. The story essentially explores the reasons for her death and the people who may have been responsible for the tragic decision that Hannah made through a collection of cassette tapes that she recorded before her suicide.

"13 Reasons Why" gets a lot right, including its deep dive into the problems faced by teenagers in modern times such as social media and bullying, but what really makes it stand out is that it is such a captivating mystery. As the contents of the tapes are slowly revealed, they only lead to more questions about the events at the school and Hannah's life. The sometimes confusing way that the action switches between the past and present only serves to increase the sense of enigma. Once you've started watching it, you can't walk away without getting the answers to the mysteries it poses.

42. Marple

Also known as "Agatha Christie's Marple," this quirky British show took inspiration from the legendary writer's novels. Episodes follow Miss Jane Marple as she travels around the country visiting friends and loved ones, regularly encountering grisly murders along the way. An amateur consulting detective, she works with the local police force — often against the wishes of the officers — to solve the crimes she happens upon and bring the perpetrators to justice.

As a murder mystery series, there's always a good dose of investigation in "Marple." The show has a bit of everything: Twist endings, secret identities, a lineup of potential suspects, and proper detective work. With each episode being feature-length, the series has enough time to properly tell stories and not feel the need to rush, which only amplifies the suspense. "Marple" was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in the outstanding special program category in 2005 and regularly drew audiences in excess of 4 million viewers in the U.K. alone.

41. The Twilight Zone

"The Twilight Zone" is one of the oldest shows on this list, though its importance to not just the mystery genre but TV in general cannot be overstated. The anthology series was created by Rod Serling and has a diverse array of episodes that include fantasy, science fiction, drama, horror, and even comedy. As Tor noted, "The Twilight Zone" was a vehicle for social commentary and the human condition, exploring humanity at its best and worst.

Named one of the top 10 television shows of all time by TV Guide, "The Twilight Zone" has been an influence on everything from "The Simpsons" to "The X-Files." Along with the original series, it has been revived multiple times and even made into a film in the form of "Twilight Zone: The Movie," with directors such as John Landis, Steven Spielberg, and George Miller contributing.

One of the things that helped "The Twilight Zone" find its success is the way it has some sort of mystery in every episode. Known for its twist endings, it regularly keeps viewers guessing. These sudden shifts often change the way you think about the story as well as the characters and their motivations. It's a classic series that never gets old.

40. Bones

Following its debut in 2005, "Bones" quickly became one of Fox's biggest hits and quickly developed a reputation for being one of the best crime dramas on television. David Boreanaz plays FBI agent Seeley Booth, who is tasked with solving murder cases when severely decayed remains are found. He enlists the help of forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) to provide extra insight and information. The pair quickly bond and build up a strong relationship that ensures they get to the bottom of the unusual cases in a satisfying way.

"Bones" was a hit with critics thanks to its unique humor, strong characters, and watertight stories. The clever concept also made it stand out from other police procedurals on the air and meant that viewers got to see a completely different way of solving gruesome murders than is usual, with a scientific basis behind much of the evidence that Booth and Brennan use to attain justice for the victims. Thankfully, the playful chemistry between the two leads helps provide some light moments in spite of the grim work they do, and this makes the show that bit more appealing to watch.

39. Yellowjackets

When a New Jersey high school girls soccer team crashes on its journey to Seattle, the survivors are left stranded in Canada for 19 months before being rescued by authorities. "Yellowjackets" explores exactly how the youngsters lived in the wilderness and the desperate measures they took to stay alive.

"Yellowjackets" has an uncanny ability to showcase the morbid and twisted in a way that is fascinating to observe. The opening scene shows a terrified young girl running through the snow before falling to her death in a pit of spikes. It's a captivating couple of minutes that instantly gets its hooks into you.

As the show progresses, there are more and more questions raised as it explores the events following the crash and the lives of the survivors, leaving viewers to search for clues and new information at every opportunity. Few mystery shows have ever managed to capture trauma and horror in such an authentic way as "Yellowjackets" does.

38. Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

For many people, "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" will have been their introduction to the mystery genre. The cartoon, which was first broadcast in 1969, follows a group of teenagers and their talking dog as they travel around in their van (The Mystery Machine) investigating alleged supernatural or otherworldly crimes and events. This early incarnation would often involve a shadowy figure in disguise who the gang would unmask near the end, revealing that they're not a paranormal terror after all.

This first show spawned an entire franchise that includes everything from live-action movies to video games and comics, along with more than a dozen different television series. Named among IGN's top 25 television shows of all time, "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" carefully mixes humor, slapstick horror, and logical thinking to create something fun: There's an innocent joy in discovering the clues and revealing who the bad guy is. The group always gets to the bottom of each case by the end of the episode, ready to go again next week.

37. Elementary

Robert Doherty's "Elementary" is a modern retelling of the Sherlock Holmes stories in which the famous detective lives in present-day New York City. As is usual, Sherlock (Jonny Lee Miller) acts as a consulting detective, offering his services to the NYPD, and is assisted by Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). Along with solving crimes, the first two seasons see the pair battle against Jamie Moriarty (Natalie Dormer).

"Elementary" is a novel take on the Sherlock Holmes mythos and not just in the way it reimagines Watson as a female character. It paints the famous detective in a far better light than most versions of the character, making him seem more human compared to the traditional, almost robot-like personality he can have. The people he works with are valuable members of his team who are just as capable as he is in many respects, making the crime solving a collaborative experience. It's a fascinating change that allows for some absorbing storylines where Holmes can take a step back and let others shine.

36. Midsomer Murders

If there is one thing that viewers have learned from watching years of "Midsomer Murders," it's that no one should visit the supposedly quiet and charming villages in the fictional county of Midsomer. The show, which is still on the air more than 25 years after its debut in 1997, follows Detective Chief Inspector Tom Barnaby (and later his younger cousin) as he attempts to solve the alarmingly frequent murders that happen in the local area.

"Midsomer Murders" is a true crime drama in the traditional sense, with the mystery coming from uncovering the people behind the murders as the detectives get to the bottom of the crimes. The show masterfully weaves the stories in a way that builds drama, but there's also the added bonus of the interactions between Barnaby and his partners, which often produce some rather stinging dark humor. According to the United Kingdom's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, "Midsomer Murders" has been exported to more than 200 countries in total. That's a testament to the quality of the show, as is the fact that it has been on the air so long.

35. Lie to Me

Based on the life of psychology professor Paul Ekman (who served as a "scientific advisor" to the creators during the show's three-season run), "Lie to Me" is a gripping crime drama. The series follows Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) as he assists a variety of police forces, federal agencies, and private third parties in criminal cases. Lightman and his team are experts in body language and are able to determine whether someone is being deceptive by examining microexpressions in their faces, extracting useful information with carefully chosen questions and using their knowledge of psychology.

"Lie to Me" is both intriguing and provocative, taking the standard police procedural and adding a dazzling new hook to give it a sense of freshness. Watching Lightman and his colleagues carry out their work is mesmerizing, as they gather clues and information in ways that wouldn't seem possible to ordinary humans. Unlike many crime shows, this series has great variety, as the range of investigations isn't bogged down by the team just working with the police. They take a wide array of clients, allowing for more potential to explore cases that viewers might not usually get to see in standard crime dramas. Roth's performance is nothing short of outstanding, a career-best for the talented Brit.

34. Monk

"Monk" is a show that is reminiscent of "Columbo" in the way it features an unconventional detective who can solve cases using his disarming personality. Developed by Andy Breckman, it stars Tony Shalhoub as former police officer Adrian Monk, who returns to work as a private investigator years after suffering a nervous breakdown following the murder of his wife. Over the course of eight seasons and 125 episodes, the show won critical acclaim and was one of the most popular dramas on television at the time (it ran from 2002 to 2009).

Where "Monk" excels is in the way it examines the protagonist's struggles, especially when it comes to his phobias and OCD. These apparent weaknesses often turn out to be essential to his ability to crack cases, giving him an edge due to his heightened observational skills and relentless attention to detail. Watching the private detective discover patterns and make connections is always a rewarding experience, and you may find yourself looking out for the smallest of clues in the hope of coming to the same conclusion as Monk before the truth is revealed.

33. The Blacklist

"The Blacklist" is a crime thriller that stars James Spader and Megan Boone. The premise is rather simple, with Spader's character (Raymond Reddington) surrendering to the FBI and becoming an informant after years of being a wanted criminal. Working with FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, he helps the agency track down a series of important criminals from around the world who pose a real threat to both himself and the United States.

The show opens with a barrage of questions. Exactly where has Reddington been over the last 20 years? What has he been doing in that time? And why does he suddenly change sides? These mysteries get you invested right from the start, and, as the series progresses, it only leads to more questions — especially when so many of the other characters are not what they seem. All of that makes "The Blacklist" entirely unpredictable. Viewers try to uncover the ulterior motives of everyone involved while never quite knowing where the next twist is coming from.

32. The Mentalist

A CBS drama that first hit television screens in 2008, "The Mentalist" sees Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) put his abilities as a fake psychic medium to good use by assisting the California Bureau of Investigation. Although he has no actual psychic powers, Jane possesses expert skills when it comes to abilities such as cold reading, psychology, and hypnosis, giving him unique insight into the various murders that the CBI investigates.

The protagonist resembles a sort of modern-day Sherlock Holmes, using his distinctive talents to provide answers to cases that would otherwise remain baffling to the authorities. He also has something of a tragic and curious backstory that is slowly revealed as the show progresses, confirming that his motives run deeper than simply being a good citizen. Best of all is Baker's performance, which drew praise from the likes of the Chicago Tribune for lifting the show to new heights.

31. Castle

Despite the fact that it has become a trope to see a skilled civilian using their atypical talents to aid the police, "Castle" was still able to make a name for itself when it debuted in 2009. Created by Andrew W. Marlowe, the series stars Nathan Fillion as Richard Castle, a mystery writer who is asked to help in an investigation that bears a striking resemblance to one of his early novels. Bitten by the crime bug, he offers to help on a regular basis and strikes up a rocky relationship with NYPD captain Katherine "Kate" Beckett (Stana Katic).

The concept behind "Castle" might seem familiar, as it shares a few traits with another famous crime drama in "Murder, She Wrote." Like that show, "Castle" sees the lead character solve complex and weird cases thanks to his uncanny knowledge of how to get to the crux of the matter thanks to his writing career. Where this show differs is in the interactions between Castle and Beckett, who are often in conflict with each other and obviously share an emotional connection. This adds some depth to the viewing experience.

30. Lucifer

Based on a character from Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" comic series, "Lucifer" is a fantasy crime drama about the devil, who has left hell behind to live an extravagant life on Earth. After encountering Los Angeles cop Chloe Decker, he decides to partner with the homicide detective, using his supernatural powers to aid police investigations.

"Lucifer" has a lot of strings to its bow. The charming Tom Ellis puts in a great performance in the lead role and his character is an engaging one that is just begging to be explored more. Meanwhile, the will-they-won't-they subplot between Lucifer and Decker adds some spice and allows for some great dialogue between the two characters.

Along with the standard crimes and mysteries you'd expect from a police procedural, the show has a larger conspiracy playing out in the background. It asks important questions that give compelling reasons to stick around, such as why Lucifer has abandoned hell and how Decker is immune to his powers.

29. Criminal Minds

"Criminal Minds" is a police procedural that follows a group of FBI agents who are experts in profiling criminals. The Behavioral Analysis Unit works closely with other agencies and police forces to capture violent and sadistic criminals who pose a real danger to society. Focusing almost entirely on the crimes and their perpetrators, the show highlights the diverse ways that the profilers gather information about subjects and the unusual methods they use to track them down.

Part of the appeal of "Criminal Minds" is the way it keeps the identity of the suspect hidden until the end of an episode. Viewers are left guessing who is responsible for the horrendous crimes and this builds suspense until the revelation at the conclusion of each story. The other pull comes from the strangely dark crimes the BAU is involved in, acts that are despicable but oddly engrossing. Throughout its run, the show has also had some overarching mysteries related to the main characters, which add some extra unexpected twists.

28. Only Murders in the Building

Debuting on Hulu in 2021, the critically acclaimed "Only Murders in the Building" is one of the best mystery shows of recent years. It stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as three neighbors in an apartment complex who start a true crime podcast. When there's a death in their building, they become convinced that it's a murder and set about trying to solve it.

"Only Murders in the Building" works on multiple levels. In one respect, it's a parody of the crime genre, with some insightful examinations of the world of true crime. However, the show is also witty and charming, with the three main cast members putting in stellar performances and bouncing off each other brilliantly. There's some great humor along with some compelling and clever mysteries that take some proper sleuthing to work out. The show is widely acclaimed by critics, boasting a perfect score of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of this writing.

27. Jonathan Creek

"Jonathan Creek" is a crime drama with a twist. Written by "One Foot in the Grave" creator David Renwick, it stars Alan Davies as the titular character, a creative consultant for a magician and an expert in devising new magic tricks. Those skills also make him an ideal person to solve crimes where the police have failed, as he has insight into how seemingly impossible acts could have been committed. Often working with a partner, such as journalist Maddy Magellan (Caroline Quentin), he reluctantly becomes involved in a series of high-profile cases throughout his career.

Unlike similar shows, "Jonathan Creek" is not focused on the people who carried out the dastardly crimes or why they did so, but rather how they were pulled off. Renwick subverts the genre brilliantly, making the series what The Guardian describes as a "howdunnit" rather than a whodunnit. The mystery comes from the audience and Creek working out how a crime that should not have been possible actually happened, making it a locked-room mystery. It's a distinctive approach that works extremely well and is ideal for those who enjoy solving puzzles.

26. Money Heist

Known as "La Casa de Papel" in Spain, "Money Heist" didn't make many waves in its native country but became a huge hit after being picked up by Netflix. The show is essentially a heist drama in which a large cast of characters take part in a plot to rob the Royal Mint of Spain and then go on the run after a tense standoff with police. The show has made its cast international stars, and several spin-offs are now in development following the success of the main series.

"Money Heist" is full of questions and is constantly raising the tension with unknown factors that dramatically shift the direction at a moment's notice. The enigmatic character The Professor remains a mystery throughout the first season and there's little explanation about the real motivations behind the scheme and the individual characters. This just throws up even more possibilities and leaves audiences second-guessing what will happen next.

25. The Killing

Taking direct inspiration from the Danish television series "Forbrydelsen," this American remake stars Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as two homicide detectives who are investigating the murder of a teenager. Over the course of the first two seasons, the two uncover not only dark secrets about the Larsen family but also delve into a conspiracy that involves the local police and politicians. The next two seasons concentrate on two different crimes, with the detectives returning to find the truth behind more gruesome killings.

Although the later seasons pick up the pace, "The Killing" began as a slow burner. Information is only ever revealed in bits and pieces, with no big revelations coming until right at the conclusion of the initial investigation. This might put a few people off, but every new clue carries more weight as a result. If you have the patience, it's a very rewarding watch, and we highly recommend it.

24. Columbo

The classic neo-noir crime drama "Columbo" follows the titular detective (portrayed by Peter Falk) as he carefully unravels serious crimes committed by those who seem certain to walk away without consequences. Using his relaxed and seemingly bumbling nature to throw criminals off the scent, he relentlessly collects evidence and uses logic to come to the right conclusion. A legend on the police force, he is practically immune to attempts to remove him from cases and is well respected by his superiors.

"Columbo" switches up the normal crime drama formula by showing exactly who the murderer is right at the start of the episode. The mystery and suspense come from watching how the detective goes about catching the perpetrator and proving they are responsible. It's an interesting change that makes the show engrossing as you never quite know what tricks Columbo has up his sleeve. Of course, it helps that Falk puts in a fantastic, career-defining performance, making the detective a captivating character that you can't take your eyes off.

23. Lost

Debuting in 2004, "Lost" was a new kind of mystery drama that blended elements of traditional sci-fi with heavy doses of the supernatural. Widely viewed as one of the best television series of all time, it features an ensemble cast of characters who find themselves trapped on a seemingly uninhabited island following a plane crash. There, they deal with an ever-increasing series of bizarre and dangerous encounters.

Vox has described "Lost" as a show that essentially moved television forward in such a way that it still feels relevant and fresh today, almost 20 years after it first hit the airwaves. It set a new standard for mystery shows, with its heavy emphasis on the characters and their individual stories rather than concentrating entirely on the overall narrative. But that doesn't mean there aren't plenty of riveting mysteries to get to grips with, whether it's the strange polar bear, the supernatural events that take place, or the enigmatic smoke monster. The ending of "Lost" proved highly divisive, but it remains a brilliant journey that will keep you captivated.

22. Broadchurch

"Broadchurch" was highly anticipated before it hit the airwaves in 2013, largely thanks to the heavy marketing campaign and the fact that it featured two titans of British television in David Tennant and Olivia Colman. According to Digital Spy, an estimated 6 million people watched the first episode. The opening season deals with the bewildering death of a young boy as the two detectives work tirelessly to uncover the truth behind his murder.

Like all good crime shows, "Broadchurch" tries not to give anything away and puts almost everyone in the frame as a suspect. It's a truly gripping story that easily hooks viewers with the sheer suspense and drama that comes with trying to work out who the killer is. Throw in great performances from the cast and an unforeseen twist at the end and "Broadchurch" ranks among the best crime dramas of recent times. The subsequent seasons are not quite as gripping as the first but are still very much worth your time for the performances alone.

21. Veronica Mars

Mystery shows aren't usually made with a teen audience in mind, but "Veronica Mars" bucked that trend when it started airing on UPN in 2004 before moving to The CW and finally coming back for a revived season in 2019 on Hulu. The series focuses on the exploits of private investigator and high school student Veronica Mars. She's trying to cope following the murder of her best friend and a troubling series of life events, joining her father's detective agency and pouring her energy into her work.

At times, "Veronica Mars" can seem like a complex web of different narratives and mysteries, as competing questions command the attention of the titular character and the audience. There's the looming investigation over who killed Lilly Kane, but also other problems, such as the disappearance of Veronica's mother and the sexual assault that the PI suffers while at a party. What stands out, though, is the way the series makes its shocking revelations, which come out of nowhere and leave you reeling.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

20. Psych

"Psych" is a mashup of crime drama and comedy that stars James Roday and Dulé Hill as Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster. Spencer acts as a sort of freelance consultant to the Santa Barbara police, using his photographic memory and excellent observation skills to assist in solving cases. His abilities are so advanced that he manages to convince officers that he is actually a psychic to avoid scrutiny and possible implication with the crimes.

The show does an excellent job of drawing viewers into the mysteries and it has some very interesting ideas. The fact that Spencer seemingly uses some rather bizarre techniques to solve the crimes adds a bit of extra intrigue to proceedings. Yet, where the show excels is not in its mystery elements but rather the humor. The jokes and hilarious interactions between the two main characters make "Psych" one of the only mystery shows that is as funny as it is mysterious.

19. Supernatural

As you might have guessed from the name, "Supernatural" is a show all about otherworldly monsters and mystical beings. It charts the exploits of Sam and Dean Winchester (played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) as they hunt down terrifying supernatural creatures while searching for their missing father. This includes fighting ghosts, demons, vampires, evil spirits, and monsters of all shapes and sizes while averting events that threaten all of humanity.

Individual episodes may not scratch the mystery itch as much as some viewers might want, but there are overarching questions that will keep you hooked until you get answers. There's also a steady supply of unexpected turns to crank up the drama, usually involving revelations about the Winchester family. It isn't just the intense action or twisting story that keeps viewers entertained in "Supernatural," either. The series hones in on the relationship between the two brothers and their attempts to make their dysfunctional family work despite their faults. There are some truly emotional moments between the two characters and it makes for a relatable experience for anyone with siblings.

18. Alfred Hitchcock Presents

Alfred Hitchcock developed a reputation for being a master of suspense with his movies. His library of films mostly consists of horrors and thrillers with strong psychological elements, and they often contain some sort of shocking twist or revelation. So it makes sense that his anthology television series, "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," would share many of those traits as well. First broadcast in 1955, the show features the types of stories you'd expect from the legendary director, with everything from crime drama to terrifying horror episodes.

While Hitchcock himself was not responsible for every single entry in the series, his style and method are clearly visible. A true mystery series, every single episode has viewers guessing from the very start and generally ends with a surprising turn of events that flips the story on its head in a way few could have predicted. "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" even keeps things feeling novel by having more lighthearted episodes mixed in with the darker installments, although all of them are filled with mystery and anticipation. Fans of Alfred Hitchcock's movies should check out this series as soon as possible.

17. Mare of Easttown

"Mare of Easttown" is another recent crime drama that has made a big impression. Starring Kate Winslet in the role of a homicide detective, the show takes place in a sleepy and remote suburb of Philadelphia in the immediate aftermath of a murder. Marianne Sheehan is tasked with investigating the killing but faces a raft of challenges along the way, including a nagging self doubt over her inability to figure out another case involving a missing girl.

Central to "Mare of Easttown" is the murder mystery. There's an array of possible suspects that could all reasonably have killed the victim and each of them is ruled out slowly in a methodical manner. Yet, the show never feels like it is moving at a snail's pace, instead giving the audience time to digest all the information and really get to know the characters. On top of that, Sheehan's trauma provides additional emotional pull and adds depth to a flawed character that many will relate to. She suffers from her own personal tragedy following her son's suicide and her daughter's addiction to heroin, making her investigation all the more challenging.

16. Big Little Lies

Based on the novel by Liane Moriarty, "Big Little Lies" is a 2017 drama series that aired on HBO between 2017 and 2019. Starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman among a host of others, the show centers on the lives of upper-class mothers and their children. When a single mother arrives in the town, it acts as a catalyst to reveal the deep secrets held by the parents and how their lives are not so perfect after all. At the same time, there's the central mystery over the identities of a murderer and their victim.

"Big Little Lies" opens with its central conundrum, showing the death of a person right at the start of the series. The events leading up to the murder are then shown, providing the backstory and details that ultimately ended with the gruesome crime. Knowing that everything you see is building up to a murder adds a real sense of peril, as it is unclear exactly who will die and why. Any of the characters could be the victim and the show takes advantage of this to prompt the audience to come up with their own theories.

15. Person of Interest

Any show that comes from Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams is likely to be something worth watching, and "Person of Interest" certainly lives up to its billing. A drama series that blends crime with science fiction, it stars Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, and Kevin Chapman as an underground group of vigilantes who use data provided by a sophisticated piece of artificial intelligence that can predict terrible crimes. The group works to prevent the awful events from taking place, using the information provided by the Machine.

The very nature of the Machine means that it doesn't give precise details. With just social security numbers to identify those involved, it's up to the team to determine who the victim is before it's too late. There's an overarching plot that features government conspiracies, but what keeps you coming back are the weekly manhunts as the characters race against the clock to unveil the identities of those involved.

14. The Bridge

Developed as a joint production by broadcasters in Denmark and Sweden, "The Bridge" is a noir crime drama that focuses on the deaths of two women. Half of each of their bodies are found on the exact midpoint of Øresund Bridge on the border of Denmark and Sweden, putting the case in the jurisdiction of both countries. This leads to a joint investigation involving detectives Saga Norén and Martin Rohde.

The very premise of "The Bridge" is itself fascinating, but as soon as you begin watching the series, it becomes clear that there are far more captivating questions and problems for the two detectives to get to grips with. Like most crime shows, there's several red herrings along the way, however they are all reasonable and it's easy to accept them as convincing possibilities instead of mere distractions. "The Bridge" also contains a few powerful twists that don't stretch credulity and help make everything you see believable, which serves to heighten the tension.

13. Endeavour

"Endeavour" has a rich history as a crime drama, as it acts as a prequel to the popular British series "Inspector Morse" and a spin-off of "Lewis," both great shows that are worthy of your time. However, when it comes to pure mystery, "Endeavour" stands above the other two. It follows a young Endeavour Morse as he begins his career in the police force. Set during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it sees the officer join the Criminal Investigation Department and begin to demonstrate his spectacular detective skills as he solves a variety of different murders in impressive fashion.

Reviews for "Endeavor" were almost universally positive, with the likes of the Los Angeles Times praising the show for its depth and the way it doesn't hold the hand of viewers by reducing the complexity of the crimes. With episodes often running to feature-length durations, it also has an opportunity to slowly build up the suspense and pace out investigations in a way that ensures they never feel rushed. This means viewers have plenty of time to digest every little detail, which is essential for piecing together every clue.

12. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories are widely viewed as essential mystery reading and have had an enduring appeal to crime fiction fans. Of all the adaptations of Sherlock Holmes, none have been quite as faithful as "The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes," which aired in 1984. This British series, which stars Jeremy Brett as Holmes, is set at the end of the Victorian era in London, with the consulting detective at the height of his powers and regularly working with the police to solve baffling and complex crimes.

Like the novels, Holmes largely does this using a combination of his expert knowledge in a number of fields and his unrivaled abilities for deductive reasoning. For many people, including The Guardian's Natalie Haynes, Brett is the definitive actor to play the mercurial detective. Critics in general love how faithful this adaptation is to the source material, lending it a sense of curiosity and mystique rarely seen elsewhere.

11. House

"House" is a very different kind of mystery show to most. Rather than dealing with crimes or strange events, it focuses on medical mysteries. The hit show stars Hugh Laurie as a grumpy and unsociable diagnostic doctor who specializes in determining rare or little-known diseases in patients. House often uses controversial methods to diagnose illnesses and frequently clashes with those around him, partly because of his addiction to pain medication.

Considering the show's connections to Sherlock Holmes, it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that "House" is all about mystery. Practically every episode involves somebody arriving at Princeton-Plainsboro Teaching Hospital with an inexplicable illness that no one else has been able to solve. It's then up to House to examine the symptoms and come up with the right solution. While "House" is full of excellent performances and intriguing stories, watching how the doctor is able to reach the right diagnosis is the most riveting part of the show.

10. Dexter

Starring Michael C. Hall as the titular character, "Dexter" is a series that follows a bloodstain pattern analyst who works for the police force. But this character also has a dark secret: He is a serial killer who puts his bloodlust to good use by hunting down murderers who have managed to escape traditional justice. Each season features some sort of overarching antagonist, with the likes of John Lithgow appearing in recurring guest roles.

In many ways, "Dexter" breaks the mystery mold. While there's a constant stream of murders and the local police force cannot put the pieces together, the audience knows what is going on for the most part. But there are always some integral questions posed that are only revealed at the last moment, such as the real identity of the Ice Truck Killer in Season 1. Watching Dexter come to terms with who he is and seeing how he outmaneuvers both the officers he works with and other killers is a bewildering but highly rewarding experience.

9. Black Mirror

Few mystery shows have had such an impact on popular culture as "Black Mirror." From its rather humble beginnings as a Channel 4 show in the U.K. to its worldwide phenomenon status on Netflix, Charlie Brooker's anthology series has touched upon a variety of different genres as it explores everything from near-future dystopias to the ability to virtually bring back loved ones from death. While "Black Mirror" deals with a lot of subjects, most of the episodes deal with the intersection of technology and humanity, exploring the cost of advancing tech in the world.

Although "Black Mirror" might not appear to be a traditional mystery show, there's always some puzzle to put together or a question that needs answering at the heart of every episode. Viewers are left wondering what might happen in the next scene and stories often end with more questions raised than answered. But it's an approach that has worked well, earning the series plenty of plaudits from critics.

8. Poirot

Based on Agatha Christie's Hercule Poirot stories, "Poirot" had an impressive run on British TV: The first season began airing in 1989 and the final (and highly emotional) season dropped in 2013, with a four-year gap between Season 6 and Season 7. There are 13 seasons in total, each as thrilling as the last. Adapting Christie's work closely, the show follows the dapper Belgian detective as he solves a variety of crimes in interwar England. The series made David Suchet a household name and, remarkably, was able to adapt every single novel and short story featuring the brilliant detective.

Watching Poirot solve seemingly unsolvable crimes with his associate Captain Hastings (Hugh Fraser) never gets old, whether he's locating a missing Prime Minister or investigating a mysterious murder. Some of the most memorable episodes take place abroad, with the titular detective visiting everywhere from Egypt ("Death on the Nile" is among the most famous Poirot tales) to Mesopotamia, a region that became the modern-day countries of Iraq, Kuwait, Turkey, and Syria. The fact that "Poirot" focuses on the psychological side of crime makes it relatable, as it offers an insight into human behavior. As Chief Inspector Japp (Philip Jackson) puts it in one episode, "Hercule Poirot has one of the most original minds of the 20th century."

7. Westworld

When it first launched, HBO's "Westworld" was a sort of dystopian sci-fi show that blended in elements of old Western movies. This is largely thanks to the fact that it is set in a future where themed amusement parks offer patrons experiences with lifelike robots known as Hosts, who can fulfill any desire regardless of how violent or inappropriate it may be. Throughout the first season, things slowly start to unravel, as some Hosts gain sentience and begin to behave erratically.

"Westworld" has always been a show that is as much a puzzle as it is a traditional television series. Viewers are meant to work out what is going on and piece together the clues for themselves. That made the first season one of the best pieces of television in recent times. Things started getting messier as the series progressed, with more high-end concepts coming into play and increasingly complex storylines making things a little confusing. But, if you love a good mystery, then this show will be right up your street, and the talent involved is undeniable — Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, and Aaron Paul have all played a part in this sprawling yarn.

6. The X-Files

One of those special shows that comes along infrequently, "The X-Files" changed the face of television. Starring David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson as Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, "The X-Files" follows the adventures of the two FBI agents as they investigate the paranormal and supernatural. While Scully is interested in explaining the cases in a scientific manner, Mulder is more willing to accept the events at face value. As the posters often seen on the wall of his office state, Mulder wants to believe in the supernatural.

"The X Files" has pretty much everything a person could want from a piece of mystery fiction. The monster of the week format ensures that each episode had its own puzzling and peculiar issue for the two main characters to solve. Yet, there is always a looming story arc in the background that hints at some sort of larger conspiracy tying events together in an unseen way. Add in the fact that it features every supernatural curiosity you can think of, from UFOs to ghosts, and you have the perfect blend of science fiction, horror, and mystery.

5. Stranger Things

Since it first hit the streaming service back in 2016, "Stranger Things" has become Netflix's most important show. Variety reported that Season 4 even managed to beat out the highly anticipated "Bridgerton" Season 2 as the best premier of an English language series. The show, which incorporates horror, drama, and science fiction elements, focuses on the fictional town of Hawkins. An ensemble cast that includes Winona Ryder and David Harbour, along with several younger actors, experiences a raft of supernatural events and terrifying monsters linked to a nearby science lab that is conducting nefarious experiments.

Part of the success of "Stranger Things" is the way it mixes horror, suspense, comedy, and action. There's plenty to keep every type of viewer hooked, whether it's the scary creatures from the Upside Down or the endearing children who make up the majority of the cast. The show is always posing new questions and likes to keep the audience on their toes, not knowing where the story might go next or who is ultimately responsible for what is going on. The scope and stakes expand significantly as the show progresses, though it never loses its mysterious vibes.

4. Twin Peaks

"Twin Peaks" sent the nation into a frenzy in 1990 with the question: Who killed Laura Palmer? David Lynch and Mark Frost created what many consider to be one of the best television series of all time. It's safe to say that "Twin Peaks" changed the face of TV history, but what is the show about? Taking place in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, it sees FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and Sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) lead the effort to discover the murderer who took the life of the 17-year-old homecoming queen.

With its stylish visuals, its weird blend of supernatural and dreamlike sequences, and its often creepy moments, "Twin Peaks" was unlike anything else seen on television at the time. Like any great whodunit, there are lots of twists and turns along the way, with the final reveal proving to confound viewers even more. The surrealism and dark themes only add to the mysterious nature of "Twin Peaks" as viewers try to make sense of what they have seen.

3. Fargo

Noah Hawley definitely had his work cut out when he decided to create a television show inspired by the Coen brothers' classic film "Fargo," but he managed to exceed all expectations with a critically acclaimed series. Each season focuses on a different cast of characters, though the action takes place largely within the same general area. Since its debut, "Fargo" has featured actors such as Billy Bob Thornton, Ewan McGregor, Kirsten Dunst, Martin Freeman, and Chris Rock in leading roles.

Like the film on which it is based, the television series carefully blends black comedy with tragedy to create a thoughtful experience that manages to keep viewers on tenterhooks. While there's little mystery in knowing what crimes have been committed or who the villains are, there is a constant layer of uncertainty that prevents you from knowing how things will turn out. Seeing the various characters come undone as their plans fail spectacularly is the icing on the cake that makes "Fargo" so mesmerizing to watch.

2. True Detective

The critically acclaimed first season of Nic Pizzolatto's "True Detective" stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as two detectives tasked with investigating a series of grisly and sadistic murders. The debut season is unquestionably the best — the show follows an anthology format, with subsequent seasons featuring brand new stories and completely different casts. The follow-up seasons don't quite hit the same heights, but Season 1 remains as gripping today as it was when it aired in 2014.

"True Detective" Season 1 has plenty of things going for it, including the excellent performances of McConaughey and Harrelson as deeply flawed characters that make mistakes. This makes it an anxious watch: The protagonists always seem on the verge of straying off the righteous path and sinking to the level of the very people they're hunting. Of course, there is also a collection of dark secrets and hidden mysteries running throughout, which has a bewitching effect. The show keeps you utterly captivated as the detectives go to great lengths to uncover the truth.

1. Sherlock

There has never been a shortage of Sherlock Holmes adaptations, with Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective brought to life on screen dozens of times over the years. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat, both veterans of "Doctor Who," tried to do something different with their version, though, transporting Holmes to modern times to give the stories a sense of freshness. "Sherlock" sees Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman take on the roles of Holmes and Dr. John Watson as they put their skills to work investigating a wide range of crimes and bizarre events.

There's a reason that Doyle's work has proved timeless, as people love a whodunit and are fascinated by the way the detective can logically solve cases. "Sherlock" simply takes the magic formula to present-day London and gives fans everything they would expect from a Sherlock Holmes adaptation along with a real sense of chemistry between the two lead characters. The two actors are rumored to have a frosty relationship in real life, but on screen, they're dynamite. Where "Sherlock" truly makes a mark is in giving audiences a deeper look into how the titular character's mind works, revealing his inner thoughts visually on screen stylishly and unobtrusively. Not only is this the best Sherlock Holmes adaptation of all time, but it's also the best mystery show ever made.