11 gripping detective shows to solve the mystery of your next stream

Crime has always been one of fiction’s juiciest hooks, but it’s arguably the genre that has flourished the most in the streaming era. What’s more engaging than crossing into a world of wrongdoers from the safety of your couch?

People want TV that’s propulsive and escapist, and shows that center the professionals tasked with investigating such crimes carry an added appeal: You get to play armchair detective. Solving the case is half the fun.

Sometimes the cases are grave, revealing hard truths about humanity, desire, and justice. Other times, they’re downright silly, finding humor in bizarre entanglements that require law enforcement’s frenzied intervention. Either way, we as viewers are compelled to explore the seediest aspects of society. If we can beat the detectives at their own game, that’s all the more enjoyable. Try your hand with these 11 series now available on Netflix.

Based on a graphic novel published by an adult-oriented DC Comics imprint, Bodies hopscotches across four time periods, each involving a different detective investigating a dead body on the same London street. A doomsday cult unites the cross-century intrigue, elevating the show to something more conceptual and ambitious than the average murder mystery. Block out some time because once you start watching, you won’t want to stop. In eight addictive episodes, the plot swells without losing sight of the endlessly compelling characters steering it. They’re played by a murderers’ row of British actors that includes Stephen Graham (The Irishman), Shira Haas (Unorthodox), and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd (The Queen’s Gambit).


A detective show like no other, Murderville is a farce that requires guest stars to improvise opposite Will Arnett as a comically unwieldy detective. Those celebrities, thrust into silly scenarios in the eponymous town where zany crimes are a way of life, must play along with his antics while also attempting to solve the case at hand. The show’s seven episodes feature a who’s who of hilarious actors, including Kumail Nanjiani, Sharon Stone, Maya Rudolph, and Conan O’Brien. The plots are funny on their own, but what really makes Murderville a hoot is waiting to see when the guests strain to hold back their laughter.


This piercing 2019 drama earned four Emmy nominations, including one for Outstanding Limited Series. Adapting a Pulitzer Prize–winning article published in 2015, Susannah Grant, Michael Chabon, and Ayelet Waldman — a powerhouse creative trio if ever there was one — zero in on a series of real rapes committed between 2008 and 2011 to illustrate how women’s accusations were (or, more accurately, weren’t) heard at the time. Two detectives (Bill Fagerbakke and Eric Lange) investigating a report made by a troubled Washington teenager (Kaitlyn Dever) accuse her of fabricating her claim, until two women detectives (Toni Collette and Merritt Wever) link the incident to the perpetrator’s wider assault spree. Unbelievable is moving, must-see TV.

This late-2010s hit created by British playwright Joe Penhall and frequently directed by David Fincher (The Killer) is a savvy blend of fact and fiction. Adapted from the 1985 true-crime book of the same name, Mindhunter follows two FBI agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) conducting a multiyear research project to understand the psychology of imprisoned serial killers like Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) and David Berkowitz (Oliver Cooper). The acclaimed two-season series focuses more on personalities than it does grisly deaths, but that conceit is no less chilling. The detectives are as obsessive about the killers as the killers were about their victims, and through long, cerebral conversations, they probe the misogynistic impulses that drive some men to kill women.

The Night AgentThe Night Agent
Propulsive and refreshingly pulpy, The Night Agent opens with a bomb scare. After a novice FBI agent, played by Gabriel Basso (Hillbilly Elegy) stops an explosive from detonating on the Washington Metro, confusion surrounding his role in the incident results in a dead-end demotion. But when he later receives intel about a high-powered mole in the White House, he gets his adrenaline back. The far-reaching conspiracy introduces him to a world of assassins, Secret Service officers, and radical political aggressors. Created by Shawn Ryan (S.W.A.T.) and based on Matthew Quirk’s novel of the same name, The Night Agent was renewed for a second season in March.

The Sinner

The Sinner
Because the first season of The Sinner was so acclaimed, USA Network turned what was meant to be a one-off into an anthology series. Each go-round follows a weary but whip-smart detective (Bill Pullman) as he pieces together the “who?” and, more importantly, the “why?” of a juicy crime. That might bring him face-to-face with a cult, a sociopath who tries to bury him alive, or a woman who stabs a man for no clear reason. The novelty of The Sinner is getting to spend time with a different supporting cast in every season, the likes of which include Jessica Biel (in an Emmy-nominated performance), Christopher Abbott, Carrie Coon, Matt Bomer, Chris Messina, Frances Fisher, and Jessica Hecht.

The Indian Detective

The Indian Detective
Looking for something short and sprightly? Russell Peters has you covered. The popular comedian headlines this four-episode Canadian dramedy co-created by Frank Spotnitz (The Man in the High Castle) and Smita Bhide (Hunted), playing a suspended Toronto police officer who gets entangled in an elaborate murder investigation while visiting his father (Anupam Kher from Bend It Like Beckham and The Big Sick) in Mumbai. Peters’ wacky magnetism makes him a great foil for the show’s standout villain, a menacing real estate tycoon played by William Shatner.

The Good DetectiveThe Good Detective
The Korean series The Good Detective follows two detectives (Son Hyun-joo and Jang Seung-jo), one far more ethical than the other, who are paired together to revisit a five-year-old murder case that resulted in a false arrest. As their methods clash, they inch closer to the complicated truth, spurred on by a tenacious reporter (Lee Elijah) assigned to interview the families of the alleged killer’s victims. The first season was a hit abroad, thanks in part to a surprisingly emotional ending that led to an equally popular second season.

The StrangerHarlan Coben’s The Stranger
Seven of prolific American mystery writer Harlan Coben’s novels have been turned into Netflix series, starting with The Stranger in 2020. (He also created Safe, starring Michael C. Hall, in 2018.) Many of these adaptations put fresh spins on Corben’s work, relocating the stories to France, Poland, or the UK. In The Stranger, British theater veteran Richard Armitage plays a lawyer whose world is turned upside down when a menacing woman (Hannah John-Kamen) approaches him with the news that his wife (Dervla Kirwan) faked her pregnancy and miscarriage two years earlier. His quest to discover whether it’s true — and, if so, why — results in a plot that zigs and zags, tinged with twists involving the couple’s tight-knit English neighborhood. Look out for Siobhan Finneran (Downton Abbey) and Jennifer Saunders (Absolutely Fabulous).


Anna Friel made a name for herself with the British soap opera Brookside and as the romantic lead in Pushing Daisies. Here, she plays Marcella Backland, a troubled London detective who returns to work after her husband (Nicholas Pinnock) abruptly leaves her. Reigniting a years-old case involving a serial killer, Marcella encounters a web of crime that grows more and more thorny because she’s prone to memory blackouts. Co-starring Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Gallactica) and a then-unknown Florence Pugh, Marcella winds its way through other investigations across three seasons, eventually sending the heroine undercover in Northern Ireland.


Far more than your average cop procedural, Longmire ran for three highly rated seasons on A&E before Netflix picked it up for three more. Capturing the vivid Wyoming backdrop that novelist Craig Johnson describes in his book series, the show is both a crime saga and a hearty buddy drama centered on the eponymous fictional sheriff (Robert Taylor, aka Agent Jones from The Matrix) and a Native American tavern owner (Lou Diamond Phillips). The death of the sheriff’s wife propels the show’s central premise, but traditional mystery fans will be thrilled by the gripping cases investigated in each episode.


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