The Ultimate Guide to the Top Crime TV Shows of All Time

Are you a crime TV fanatic? Do you crave gripping storylines, unforgettable characters, and thrilling plot twists? If so, you're in for a treat! In this article, we're going to dive into the world of the best crime TV shows that have ever graced our screens. From the tension-fueled drama of "The Sopranos" to the mind-bending enigma of "Sherlock," these series have captured the hearts of millions and set the bar high for the genre. So, grab your detective hat and get ready to embark on an exhilarating journey through the top crime TV shows that will keep you on the edge of your seat. Let's get started!

6 The Sopranos (1999 - 2007)

TheSopranos_03The Sopranos

When The Sopranos first premiered, it aimed to transform the television landscape. What initially appeared to be a show about mobsters in New Jersey turned out to be a profound exploration of self, family, and the destructive influence of power. Over the course of six seasons, we witness Italian-American mafia boss Tony Soprano grapple with existential dread amidst a violent world that he created and clung to, all while trying to hold his family together. The only person he truly opens up to is his therapist, Jennifer Melfi. As Tony's criminal empire expands, he faces betrayal and villainy from all sides. Even years later, The Sopranos' controversial yet critically acclaimed finale remains a point of discussion.

17 Dexter (2006 - 2013)

DexterCBS Television Distribution

Michael C. Hall portrays Dexter Morgan, a seemingly affable forensic expert by day and a meticulous, psychopathic serial killer by night. Dexter is an eight-season crime drama that delves into the horrors of his condition with chilling precision, all while maintaining a charming facade. Dexter is not your typical protagonist, and each season presents him with new moral dilemmas. Michael C. Hall skillfully brings depth to his character, shining a light on the inner demons of a killer burdened with a conscience. From the terrifying presence of Trinity and Doomsday to the gut-wrenching schemes of Vogel, Dexter keeps viewers captivated from start to finish.

4 Sherlock (2010 - 2017)

Martin Freeman as John and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in a scene from Sherlock (1)Hartswood Films/BBC Wales/WGBH

A modern take on the beloved story of the eccentric detective, Sherlock follows the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and his loyal companion Dr. John Watson as they solve mysterious crimes. Benedict Cumberbatch brings an amusing aloofness to the brilliant yet whimsical Sherlock, perfectly complemented by Martin Freeman's portrayal of the endearing Doctor Watson. In just 13 episodes, the show presents captivating, new twists on familiar cases. As Sherlock unravels enigmas, themes of empathy, identity, and the value of life come to the forefront. Meanwhile, his nemesis Professor Moriarty, one of history's smartest villains, employs a brewing menace to challenge Sherlock's intellect. Sherlock is a binge-worthy series that simultaneously delights and haunts.

2 Peaky Blinders (2013-2022)

Peaky BlindersBBC

Created by Steven Knight, Peaky Blinders draws loose inspiration from a real urban youth gang of the same name. Set in Birmingham during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the gang's rumored weapon of choice was razor blades hidden in their caps. Led by the formidable and charismatic Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy), Peaky Blinders is a fast-paced rollercoaster ride that keeps audiences rooting for the Shelbys, regardless of which side of the law they stand on.

19 Broadchurch (2013 - 2017)

Olivia Colman in BroadchurchITV

Broadchurch transports viewers to a peaceful seaside town in the UK before plunging them into complex crime mysteries and poignant revelations. The tranquility is shattered when the bloodied body of a child is discovered on the beach. Detective Inspector Alec Hardy (played by David Tennant) and Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller (played by Olivia Colman) are forced to work together to uncover the truth, all while grappling with their own secrets and dynamics. Despite the initial tension, Tennant and Colman prove to be a fascinating pair.

The show combines sharp dialogue, deep character studies, and themes of grief, innocence, and suspicion to create a perfectly balanced drama that keeps audiences hooked from beginning to end.

8 Hannibal (2013 - 2015)

Hannibal Lecter- HannibalSony Pictures Television

Hannibal brings Thomas Harris' iconic cannibalistic character to life with an achingly beautiful intensity. Will Graham, a criminal investigative analyst, finds his conscience weighed down by years of intense profiling. Unbeknownst to him, the psychiatrist he turns to for help, Hannibal Lecter, is a serial killer himself.

Mads Mikkelsen delivers a masterful performance as Lecter, exuding a silky charm that enhances the dark tone of the show. Hannibal's manipulative tactics and his exploration of the twisted corners of the human mind, as well as his complex relationship with Graham, captivate viewers for hours on end.

9 Better Call Saul (2015 - 2022)

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in Better Call SaulAMC

Better Call Saul emerged as a phenomenal show in its own right, stemming from the success of Breaking Bad. While its predecessor delved into darker themes, this spin-off balances quirky humor, heart, and the intricacies of the law. The series follows Jimmy McGill, a down-on-his-luck lawyer who becomes the morally compromised Saul Goodman.

Created by Vince Gilligan, Better Call Saul presents a vibrant world filled with plot twists and captivating characters. Bob Odenkirk brings humor and complexity to the character of Saul Goodman, making him both likable and terrifying. However, it's the central story that truly grips viewers until the very end, as all loose ends are tied up and satisfaction is guaranteed.

7 Fargo (2014 - 2023)

A still from the show FargoMGM TelevisionDisney ABC - Domestic

Based on the Coen brothers' renowned film, Fargo is a black comedy crime drama written primarily by Noah Hawley. It follows an eccentric group of characters as they navigate crime in different time periods, all sharing a love for the Midwest. With its seemingly simple approach, the show enthralls audiences with a collection of crimes infused with humor and heart. Using a kaleidoscopic style of storytelling, Fargo sheds light on ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. Each season features its own exceptional ensemble cast, delivering standout performances that deepen the impact of this true crime series.

3 Ozark (2017 - 2022)


Ozark tells the story of Marty Byrde, a financial advisor forced to uproot his family from Chicago to the Ozarks to launder money for a drug kingpin in order to repay his debt and ensure their survival. In this world of power and corruption, Marty and his family become entangled in a web that threatens to consume them. A consistently gripping crime thriller, Ozark showcases the struggles faced by those crushed beneath the weight of capitalism.

With outstanding performances from Jason Bateman, Laura Linney, Julia Garner, and Felix Solis, the series explores the complexities of its characters and the moral compromises they make. In the end, Ozark leaves a lasting impact, reminding viewers of the consequences of one's actions.

10 Money Heist (2017-2021)

Money HeistAntena 3 Televisi├│nNetflix

Over time, Money Heist has gained immense popularity, garnering a global fan base. Initially broadcast on Spain's Antena 3 channel in 2017 with the native title "La Casa de Papel" (The House of Paper), the show came into the international spotlight when Netflix acquired it as part of their international titles.

Money Heist weaves a tale of heists and intricate plans executed by a group of characters who adopt city names as aliases. With its twists and turns, the series has captivated audiences worldwide, proving to be a surprise hit.

20 Mare of Easttown (2021)

Kate Winslet in Mare of EasttownWarner Bros.

Mare of Easttown is a TV mini-series consisting of seven captivating episodes. It introduces viewers to a gripping mystery that slowly reveals its layers. Set in a small Pennsylvania town, the series follows experienced detective Mare Sheehan as she grapples with her own grief while investigating the death of a local teenager. Kate Winslet delivers a masterful performance, connecting threads between past tragedies, buried secrets, and relationships that prove to be far more complex than they first appear. With each episode, tension builds and emotional truths are unveiled.

Winslet's chemistry with her best friend Lori and her complicated relationship with her ex-husband Frank add depth to her character. Despite its short run, Mare of Easttown allows viewers to intimately understand the characters, creating a truly compelling viewing experience.

In conclusion, these crime TV shows have captivated audiences with their gripping storylines, complex characters, and thrilling moments. From the intense world of mafia families in "The Sopranos" to the brilliant mind of a sociopathic killer in "Dexter," each series has pushed the boundaries of the crime genre, leaving viewers on the edge of their seats. Whether you're a fan of psychological thrillers like "Sherlock" or drawn to the gritty underworld of "Peaky Blinders," there is no shortage of options to satisfy your crime drama cravings. So, grab your popcorn, buckle up, and get ready for a binge-worthy journey into the dark and captivating world of these best crime TV shows.

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