The Ultimate Guide to the Best Detective TV Shows: Solving Crimes with Sherlock, Luther, and More

Are you ready to embark on a thrilling journey into the realm of crime-solving? Prepare to be captivated by the very best detective TV shows that will keep you on the edge of your seat, craving for more suspense, twists, and turns. From gripping classics to contemporary masterpieces, this list will introduce you to a captivating world of investigations, mysteries, and unforgettable characters. So, grab your magnifying glass and join us as we dive into the mesmerizing realm of the best detective TV shows ever created.

The Investigation

This Danish-language drama series by Tobias Lindholm offers a fresh take on the true-crime genre. When Kim Wall, a Swedish journalist, goes missing, suspicion falls on a wealthy inventor and his private submarine. Unlike other serial killer documentaries, this show offers a different approach, according to The Guardian.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

The Pembrokeshire Murders

This mini-series on ITV follows the cold-case investigation of John Cooper, the most infamous serial killer in Welsh criminal history. The show focuses on delivering justice for the victims, keeping them at the center of the narrative. The Guardian praises its sensitivity and unwavering focus on the victims.

Where to watch: ITVX


This thrilling Irish noir series is a notable addition to the genre. James Nesbitt stars as Tom Brannick, a weary detective whose investigation into a kidnapping leads him to pursue the suspected killer responsible for four deaths. The Guardian describes the plot as dense but enjoyable, with a touch of black humor. The involvement of executive producer Jed Mercurio is evident in the show's atmosphere of mistrust and brooding.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

The Serpent

True-crime drama The Serpent became a popular hit on BBC iPlayer. It tells the unsettling true story of Charles Sobhraj, the prime suspect in a series of gruesome unsolved murders of young female backpackers in Asia during the 1970s.


This gripping maritime crime series boasts an impressive cast, including Martin Compston, Suranne Jones, Connor Swindells, and Rose Leslie. The show is praised for its dense and sharply written plot. According to The Guardian, viewers will find it to be an absolute treat.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet delivers a mesmerizing performance in this HBO crime drama. Set in a small Pennsylvania town, the show follows detective Mare Sheehan as she investigates the disappearance of a young woman and the discovery of a murdered teenager. The Guardian praises the show's portrayal of the community's endurance and the compelling character dynamics.

Where to watch: Sky Atlantic

Top of the Lake

Elisabeth Moss in Top of the Lake

Jane Campion's brooding crime drama takes full advantage of its stunning New Zealand setting. The show revolves around Detective Robin Griffin, played by Elisabeth Moss, as she investigates the pregnancy of a 12-year-old girl named Tui. The search for Tui leads Robin to a women-only community run by the enigmatic GJ. The Guardian praises the show for its blend of beautiful scenery and a gripping story.

Watch on Hulu

The Flight Attendant

This HBO thriller is described as a lively and addictive series, perfect for fans of beach reads. Kaley Cuoco plays Cassie Bowden, a flight attendant who wakes up in a hotel room next to a bloody corpse after a night of heavy drinking. Cuoco's performance is praised as a powerhouse, and the series expertly balances dark themes with comedic elements.

Where to watch: Sky One


Olivia Colman and David Tennant in Broadchurch

The year 2013 brought us Broadchurch, a standout crime drama. The show follows the investigation into the murder of a young boy named Danny Latimer in a small beach community. The complex mystery unravels layer by layer, with David Tennant and Olivia Colman delivering superb performances as the detectives. Secrets are uncovered in this tightly-knit town.

Watch season 1 free on The Roku Channel; all seasons available on PBS Masterpiece via Prime Video Channels

The Wire

Wendell Pierce as Detective Bunk Moreland and Dominic West as Detective Jimmy McNulty in The Wire

The Wire is not just a great detective show, but also a deep dive into the world of both the police and the criminals. Considered one of the best TV shows of all time, The Wire explores both sides of the law in the context of the ongoing battle against drug dealers. The show is praised for its multi-dimensional characters and its realistic portrayal of the crime-ridden streets of Baltimore.

Watch on HBO Max


The fifth season of Unforgotten continues to captivate audiences, even without Nicola Walker, who was killed off in the previous season. The show, starring Sinéad Keenan and Sanjeev Bhaskar, is praised for its taut and tense storytelling. It remains a strong contender in the crime drama genre.

Where to watch: ITVX

True Detective

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey in True Detective

True Detective had a standout first season, pairing Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as detectives investigating an old murder case. The chemistry between the two leads contributed to the show's success. Each season focuses on different characters and storylines, and the show has attracted a stellar cast over the years.

Watch on HBO Max


Best Amazon movies and TV shows: Luther

Luther revolves around Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, played by Idris Elba, a brilliant but troubled detective. Luther is dedicated to his work but also comes with a dark side. The show explores his complex character and his pursuit of justice. Luther's connection with the enigmatic Alice Morgan adds to the intrigue of the series.

Watch on Britbox


Martin Freeman as Watson and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in Sherlock

Sherlock Holmes gets a modern-day spin in this BBC series. Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Sherlock, with Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. The show presents contemporary adaptations of classic Sherlock Holmes stories, complete with intriguing twists and turns. The dynamic between the two lead characters and their investigative skills make for captivating television.

Watch free on Crackle


Landscapers is a unique and unconventional crime drama. The four-part series on Sky Atlantic tells the true story of Susan and Christopher Edwards, known as the "Mansfield murderers." The couple killed Susan's parents and buried them in the garden, then used their money to buy celebrity memorabilia. The show takes artistic risks, according to The Observer, and offers a disquieting and extraordinary viewing experience.

Where to watch: Sky Atlantic


Redemption is a tense crime drama set in Dublin. DI Colette Cunningham, played by Paula Malcomson, is determined to uncover the truth behind her daughter's death. The Evening Standard describes the show as a worthwhile contribution to the crime drama genre, featuring all the familiar tropes and delivering an enjoyable experience.

Where to watch: ITVX

Law & Order franchise

Christopher Meloni as Detective Elliot Stabler, Mariska Hargitay as Captain Olivia Benson

The Law & Order franchise has been a staple in the crime drama genre since 1990. The original show, as well as its numerous spinoffs, follows the investigations and prosecutions undertaken by the police and district attorneys of New York City. The franchise is known for its ripped-from-the-headlines plots and focus on the crime itself. It has featured notable stars and has maintained its enduring appeal.

Watch on Peacock

Magpie Murders

Lesley Manville stars in a six-part adaptation of Anthony Horowitz's best-selling novel, "Magpie Murders." The series follows an editor of crime novels who becomes entangled in a real-life mystery after one of her authors is murdered. Available on BritBox in 2022, the show has been snapped up by the BBC for a second season. Don't miss the chance to watch the first season before the new one arrives.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Steeltown Murders

Philip Glenister and Steffan Rhodri lead the cast of the BBC's latest prestige drama, "Steeltown Murders." The series, set in both 1973 and the early 2000s, centers around the hunt for the killer of three young women in the Port Talbot area. It also explores how pioneering DNA evidence helped solve the mystery almost 30 years later. According to The Guardian, this illuminating four-part series and its deep dive into police corruption really hits a nerve.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer


Detective Roy Grace returns in the third series of "Grace," an ITV crime drama based on Peter James' novels. Played by John Simm, Grace is haunted by the disappearance of his wife Sandy. Just as he is about to declare her legally dead, he receives a phone call informing him of a possible sighting. Join Grace as he patrols the mean streets of Brighton in this gripping series.

Where to watch: ITVX


"Time" is a three-part BBC prison drama penned by Jimmy McGovern. Starring Sean Bean as a middle-class teacher named Mark, who is jailed for causing a death through drink driving, and Stephen Graham as Eric, a prison guard. The series explores how Mark, guilt-stricken about his crime, becomes a victim of vicious young inmate bullies, while Eric is coerced into smuggling drugs. The Guardian hails the acting as superb and the drama as enraging and moving.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Murder, She Wrote

Angela Lansbury leans out of a train in Murder, She Wrote

(Image credit: Album / Alamy Stock Photo)Step into the deadliest town in America, Cabot Cove, where a murder occurs every week. Mystery writer Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury, is the town's most famous resident. Like Columbo, Fletcher uses her unassuming demeanor to pry information out of suspects. "Murder, She Wrote" ran for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996 and even had a crossover episode with the iconic '80s detective show "Magnum, PI."

Watch on Peacock

Happy Valley

"Happy Valley" returns for its seventh season after a seven-year hiatus. DI Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire, continues to be one of television's finest creations. At the start of this season, Cawood is about to retire when human remains are discovered in a reservoir. The investigation brings her back into the orbit of the psychopath Tommy Lee Royce. The Telegraph praises the show's characters, sense of place, and Sally Wainwright's exceptional writing.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

The Fall

Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson in The Fall

(Image credit: Cinematic Collection / Alamy Stock Photo)Get ready for a tense cat-and-mouse game in "The Fall" between Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and serial killer Paul Spector. After arriving in Belfast to review a murder investigation, Gibson suspects that a series of killings are linked. Meanwhile, Spector hides the evidence of his crimes, all while portraying himself as a devoted family man. But Gibson is hot on his trail and may not let him escape for long.

Watch on Prime Video or Peacock

Veronica Mars

Kristen Bell holding a camera as Veronica Mars

(Image credit: Photo 12 / Alamy Stock Photo)Step into the complex world of high school detective Veronica Mars. Played by Kristen Bell, Veronica solves a personal murder case while navigating the social hierarchy of Neptune High, where wealthy kids often belittle their less fortunate peers. With her trusty camera, Veronica captures the slimy underbelly of Neptune as she takes on various cases. But amidst the crime-solving, there are also love triangles and bullying to contend with in this high school drama.

Watch on Hulu


"Wolf" is a Danish drama based on the book by Mo Hayder. The series follows Jack Caffery, a young detective haunted by his brother's abduction during childhood. As he investigates what happened, he becomes entwined in the kidnapping and torture of a wealthy family at their Welsh holiday home. The Independent describes the violence in the series as appalling, but the show is worth watching if you have the stomach for it.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Peaky Blinders

The sixth and final season of the epic gangster saga "Peaky Blinders" aired on BBC One. The series follows crime boss Tommy Shelby, played by Cillian Murphy, in Birmingham. According to The Guardian, "Peaky Blinders" is an absolute British triumph of television and one of the best things the BBC has made in years. The show has plenty of feuds that will continue on the big screen.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer

Killing Eve

"Killing Eve" concludes with its fourth season. The show features Jodie Comer as the psychopathic Villanelle and Sandra Oh as intelligence agent Eve Polastri. The Guardian hails the series as funny, sexy, and the source of brilliant performances from its actors. While the show may have ended, fans may not have seen the last of these characters, as potential spinoffs are in the works to expand the world of "Killing Eve."

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer


Tony Shalhoub in Monk

(Image credit: AJ Pics / Alamy Stock Photo)Join private investigator Adrian Monk, played by Tony Shalhoub, in his idiosyncratic world. Monk's obsessive-compulsive disorder aids his ability to notice small clues that help him solve cases. However, the murder of his wife Trudy, who was killed in a car bombing, has intensified his quirks and his determination to find justice for her. Assisted by his nurse and assistant Sharona Fleming, Monk tackles cases while providing consultation to the San Francisco Police Department.

Watch on Prime Video


Scottish crime drama "Annika" returns with a second series. Nicola Walker shines as DI Annika Strandhed, a wry homicide detective in Glasgow. Inspired by the BBC Radio 4 audio drama "Annika Stranded," the show centers around the Marine Homicide Unit tasked with solving various gory crimes.

Where to watch: Alibi

Poker Face

"Poker Face" marks Peacock's first great original series. Natasha Lyonne stars as Charlie Cale, an industrious former poker player who is definitely not a cop. The show is teeming with intrigue, compelling storytelling, and a star-studded cast. Directed by Rian Johnson, known for "Knives Out" and "Glass Onion," the series pays homage to crime-of-the-week shows of the '70s and '80s with Lyonne as the charismatic crime-solving star.

Where to watch: Sky Max and NOW

The Nurse

"The Nurse" is a chilling true crime drama available on Netflix. Based on a true story, the Danish thriller depicts a nurse's connection to a series of deaths at her hospital and how her crimes were uncovered. If you're in the mood for a gripping and suspenseful series, "The Nurse" is the perfect choice.

Where to watch: Netflix

Magnum, P.I.

Tom Selleck in Magnum, PI

(Image credit: Collection Christophel / Alamy Stock Photo)Step into the world of private investigator Thomas Magnum IV, played by Tom Selleck. Enjoy all the perks of a guesthouse on a lavish Hawaiian estate, a Ferrari, and endless beer—all for free. When he's not enjoying the luxurious lifestyle, Magnum takes on cases that pique his interest, ranging from missing persons to murder and fraud. With his trademark mustache and colorful shirts, Magnum cuts a dashing figure and often finds himself entangled with the estate's uptight caretaker, Higgins.

Watch on Freevee

More from Tom's Guide


Described by the BBC as the "dark side of one of the most beautiful places on earth," Scottish crime drama "Shetland" aired its seventh season in 2022 and is expected to return for an eighth season. DI Jimmy Perez has departed, and DI Ruth Calder, played by Ashley Jensen, will now lead the cast in the upcoming season.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer


The highly popular French-language mystery thriller, Lupin, is set to make a comeback with its third series on Netflix in 2023. Inspired by the thrilling adventures of Arsène Lupin, this hit show is created by the talented British writer George Kay and features the incredible Omar Sy as Assane Diop. Fans who admire Netflix's "most sophisticated gentleman thief" will need to exercise patience as they await his return to the screen, as reported by Morgan Jeffery on While the streamer has confirmed that part three will be released this year, the exact date still remains a mystery. The first series of Lupin garnered immense success and was among the top-performing shows ever on Netflix.

Where to watch: Netflix

In the captivating world of detective television shows, there is a treasure trove of thrilling mysteries to immerse yourself in. Whether you crave the gritty realism of "The Wire" or the brilliant mind games of "Sherlock," there is a show for every crime-solving enthusiast. From the haunting atmosphere of "Broadchurch" to the twisted psychological depths of "True Detective," these stories will keep you on the edge of your seat and guessing until the very last clue is unraveled. So, grab your detective's hat and dive into the immersive worlds of these top-notch TV shows that will leave you craving for more thrilling mysteries to solve.

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