Unraveling the Intensity: Exploring the Best Thriller TV Shows of All Time

Are you craving heart-pounding suspense and nail-biting plot twists? Look no further! In this article, we'll take you on a thrilling journey through the best thriller TV shows that will keep you on the edge of your seat. From the gripping mysteries of "Dirty John" and "Killing Eve" to the mind-bending puzzles of "Lupin" and "Only Murders in the Building," these shows are packed with non-stop action, suspense, and unexpected turns. So grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and get ready for a binge-worthy adventure into the world of the best thriller TV shows!

The Patient

best thriller shows

Steve Carell showcases his dramatic acting skills in The Patient, a chilling thriller about a serial killer. He co-stars alongside Domhnall Gleeson. Carell portrays Alan Strauss, a widowed therapist who unintentionally becomes entangled with the wrong patient. Sam, played by Gleeson, a restaurant inspector, becomes Alan's captor and forces him to be his therapist in the most terrifying circumstances.


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The Sinner

best thriller shows

Netflix's The Sinner follows Detective Harry Ambrose, portrayed by Bill Pullman, as he investigates the perplexing circumstances surrounding a violent murder committed by Cora Tannetti, played by Jessica Biel. Subsequent seasons delve into Ambrose's pursuit of the truth behind unusual disappearances, twisted cults, and fatal accidents. Biel's performance in the first season of the show is considered one of her best.



Dirty John

best thriller shows

Dirty John, inspired by true crime stories, presents two standalone seasons that explore the horrifying actions of dangerous individuals. Season 1 centers around John Meehan, a serial liar who manipulates women through romantic relationships. Season 2 follows the story of Betty Broderick, an apparently ordinary woman whose life spirals out of control after her husband leaves her.



Bad Sisters

bad sisters best thriller shows

Bad Sisters, a comedy thriller developed by one of its stars, Sharon Horgan, is based on a Flemish series called Clan. The show revolves around a close-knit group of siblings dealing with the aftermath of one of their husband's deaths. As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that one of the sisters may be responsible, with each episode revealing more about the situation. A second season is currently in development.



The Watcher

best thriller shows

The Watcher is based on a horrifying true story and follows the Brannocks, played by Naomi Watts and Bobby Cannavale, as they move into their dream house. However, strange occurrences begin happening immediately, dragging the family into a creepy mystery that is far from being solved. Questions arise about the presence of a cult living across the street and the discovery of a bed in the tunnel beneath their house. The series is returning for a second season to answer these questions and more.




best thriller shows

Severance, an Apple TV thriller with elements of science fiction, stars Adam Scott as Mark S., an employee at a biotech company called Lumon. Mark has recently undergone a mind-wiping procedure known as "severance" that separates his work personality from his true self. As Mark and his colleagues uncover strange mysteries within their workplace, they begin to question the true purpose of the "severance" program.




best thriller shows

Homecoming's first season stars Julia Roberts as Heidi Bergman, a social worker at a facility dedicated to helping soldiers reintegrate into civilian life. However, the facility's experimental treatments have unexpected consequences. The second season further unravels the mystery as Janelle Monáe's character searches for the truth about her own identity. The series is based on the Homecoming podcast.


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The Diplomat

best thriller shows

The Diplomat, available on Netflix, quickly became a hit among viewers. Keri Russell stars as Kate Wyler, an American ambassador sent to the United Kingdom to repair strained relations after a presumed terrorist attack. Complicating matters is her husband, also a diplomat, whose career is in decline. The show has been renewed for a second season, promising to reveal the aftermath of the explosive events.




best thriller shows

From combines elements of horror, science fiction, and thriller genres. Harold Perrineau portrays Boyd Stevens, the sheriff of a terrifying town that haunts everyone trapped within it. As residents continue their quest for escape, they are stalked by nightmarish characters. The show has been renewed for a third season by MGM.




you netflix best thriller shows

You, starring Penn Badgley, is a highly popular and thrilling series on Netflix. Badgley portrays Joe Goldberg, a charming yet dangerous serial killer. Based on Caroline Kepnes' book series, the show is set to conclude with its fifth season. Fans eagerly anticipate the final season to see what Joe's next actions will be, even as they dread the end of the series.


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Truth Be Told

best thriller shows

Octavia Spencer leads the cast of Truth Be Told as Poppy Parnell, a true crime podcaster determined to uncover the truth behind complex cases. Based on Kathleen Barber's novel, "Are You Sleeping," the show features an all-star ensemble cast that includes Kate Hudson, Gabrielle Union, Aaron Paul, and Lizzy Caplan.



Top of the Lake (2013; 2017)

While on hiatus from Mad Men, Elisabeth Moss delivered a captivating performance in Top of the Lake. Moss portrays Detective Robin Griffin, who investigates the disappearance of a 12-year-old pregnant girl in a small lakeside village in New Zealand. As she digs into the town's secrets, long-buried incidents from Robin's own traumatic past also come to the surface.

This Jane Campion creation combines slow-moving tension with stunning cinematography. The presence of enigmatic guru GJ, played by Holly Hunter, adds to the unsettling atmosphere. The acclaimed first season is followed by a second season set in Australia, titled Top of the Lake: China Girl, featuring Nicole Kidman. —G.I.

Where to watch Top of the Lake: Hulu

EW grade: A– (read the review)

Cast: Elisabeth Moss, David Wenham, Peter Mullan, Thomas M. Wright, Holly Hunter, Gwendoline Christie, David Dencik, Ewen Leslie, Alice Englert, Nicole Kidman

Related content: Jane Campion wins Best Director and marks historic Oscar triumph for women

True Blood

True Blood, an HBO drama, captivated audiences with its blend of Southern gothic charm, gore, and intriguing storylines. The series follows Sookie Stackhouse, played by Anna Paquin, and her tumultuous love story with vampire Bill Compton, portrayed by Stephen Moyer. The show is packed with murders, kidnappings, and mayhem. While later seasons faced criticism for inconsistency, the first five seasons provide a thrilling ride filled with dark and seductive fun. Alexander Skarsgård's portrayal of the charismatic vampire Eric Northman became a fan favorite. —K.J.

Where to watch True Blood: Hulu

Cast: Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Rutina Wesley, Nelsan Ellis, Carrie Preston, Alexander Skarsgård, Deborah Ann Woll, Kristin Bauer van Straten, Joe Manganiello

Related content: Anna Paquin responds to True Blood reboot news: 'This is the first I'm hearing about this'

Under the Banner of Heaven (2022)

Andrew Garfield stars in this acclaimed miniseries as Detective Jeb Pyre, a fictional character whose devout Mormon faith is tested as he investigates the real-life murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter. The murders are linked to a dangerously radical religious sect. Based on Jon Krakauer's nonfiction bestseller from 2003, the chilling series also explores the founding of Mormonism by Joseph Smith.

The show holds personal significance for showrunner Dustin Lance Black, who grew up in the Mormon church. He explains, "How did the past plant the seeds of a crime that would take place in the '80s? The founders of this faith in the 19th century decided on the laws and the rules, and how did that turn to bloodshed later?… I had to present not just the Lafferty story, but also the history of the Mormon church, which is relevant to solving the case in 1984." —G.I.

Where to watch Under the Banner of Heaven: Hulu

Cast: Andrew Garfield, Sam Worthington, Daisy Edgar-Jones, Denise Gough, Wyatt Russell

Related content: Under the Banner of Heaven's Andrew Garfield on what sets his character apart from other true-crime detectives


best thriller shows

Yellowjackets follows a high school soccer team that survives a plane crash in the wilderness and must fight for their lives while waiting to be rescued. Decades later, the survivors face the horrifying reality of their past experiences and grapple with new mysteries that emerge. The cast includes Christina Ricci, Juliette Lewis, Melanie Lynskey, and Tawny Cypress.


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Squid Game

best thriller shows

Squid Game, a South Korean thriller, took the world by storm when it premiered on Netflix in September 2021. The show revolves around a deadly game that pits 456 players against each other in a series of terrifying and inventive challenges. The winner receives a staggering prize of 45.6 billion won (approximately $35 million), but they must also witness numerous deaths along the way. A second season is currently in production, and a reality show spin-off is also in the works.




best thriller showsEverett

Homeland, adapted from the Israeli series Prisoners of War, is a thrilling show that aired for eight seasons on Showtime. The series follows CIA officer Carrie Mathison, played by Claire Danes, who has bipolar disorder, and her mentor Saul Berenson, portrayed by Mandy Patinkin. In the first season, the focus is on Nicholas Brody, a Marine who was held captive by al-Qaeda for eight years, and Carrie suspects him of working for the terrorist group.


Headshot of Amy Mackelden

The X-Files (1993-2002; 2016-2018)

The X-Files, a supernatural cult favorite series, provided thrilling episodes as government agents Scully (Gillian Anderson) and Mulder (David Duchovny) investigated the existence of aliens and otherworldly creatures. In 1993, EW's critic was an early fan, describing The X-Files as the most paranoid and subversive show on TV. The tension between skeptical Scully and true believer Mulder was a standout aspect of the show.

The series delves into various conspiracies over its seasons, driven by Mulder's search for his sister and intriguing characters like the Cigarette Smoking Man. Memorable "monsters of the week" such as Flukeman, the Darkness Mites, and the unsettling "Home" family remain etched in viewers' minds. The Friday night series became a source of nightmares for many, and now it offers a perfect binge-watching experience for a new generation. —G.I.

Where to watch The X-Files: Hulu

EW grade: B (read the review)

Cast: David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Robert Patrick, Annabeth Gish, Mitch Pileggi

Related content: The 25 best episodes of The X-Files

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How to Get Away With Murder

best thriller shows©ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

How to Get Away with Murder, a thrilling show from Shondaland, is known for its plot twists, unexpected deaths, and shocking revelations. Oscar winner Viola Davis takes the lead as Annalise Keating, a law professor whose students find themselves entangled in a murder investigation. Subsequent seasons introduce even more puzzling mysteries.


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Only Murders in the Building (2021-present)

Longtime collaborators Steve Martin and Martin Short team up with Selena Gomez as Charles, Oliver, and Mabel, three neighbors who create a true crime podcast investigating the various cases in their historic New York City apartment building, the Arconia. The suspects in Only Murders constantly change, providing a twist reminiscent of Agatha Christie mysteries. The charming banter between the three leads, along with their collection of cozy autumnal coats and sweaters, keeps audiences captivated. In the second season, Amy Schumer referred to Only Murders in the Building's meta podcast as "cozy murder," which perfectly describes the overall series. Additionally, the stellar cast of guest stars, including Tina Fey, Nathan Lane, Shirley MacLaine, Jane Lynch, Sting, Paul Rudd, Meryl Streep, and more, adds to the show's excellence. —G.I.

Where to watch Only Murders in the Building: Hulu

EW grade: B (read the review)

Cast: Steve Martin, Martin Short, Selena Gomez, Aaron Dominguez, Amy Ryan, Cara Delevingne, Adina Verson

Related content: Meryl Streep joins Only Murders in the Building stars in season 3 tease

Following the success of The Americans, co-creators Joel Fields and Joe Weisberg developed this psychological miniseries about a therapist named Alan (Steve Carell) who is held hostage by a serial killer patient, Sam (Domhnall Gleeson). Sam wants to suppress his killer instincts and keeps Alan captive in his basement, forcing therapy sessions on him. A compelling game of cat and mouse unfolds as Alan desperately searches for an escape without revealing his plans to Sam, fearing retaliation. Carell and Gleeson's delicate performances create increasingly captivating television, with each episode feeling like a chapter of an enthralling suspense novel, providing the viewer with just enough information at the right time. —K.J.

Where to watch The Patient: Hulu

Cast: Steve Carell, Domhnall Gleeson, Linda Emond

Related content: Steve Carell is a therapist held hostage by a serial killer in The Patient trailer

"When everything you love has been stolen from you, sometimes all you have left is revenge," explained our protagonist in the pilot. This juicy primetime soap centers around Emily, a young woman who arrives in the Hamptons with a mission to avenge her late father, who was framed for a crime he didn't commit. Victoria, the matriarch of the influential Grayson family and the one responsible for the betrayal, becomes Emily's target, setting off a rollercoaster of events full of unpredictable twists. EW's critic mused that the show combines the suspense of Lost with the drama of Bravo's Real Housewives franchise, creating a world where social betrayal can have deadly consequences. —K.J.

Where to watch Revenge: Hulu

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Cast: Madeleine Stowe, Emily VanCamp, Gabriel Mann, Henry Czerny, Ashley Madekwe, Nick Wechsler, Josh Bowman, Connor Paolo, Christa B. Allen

Related content: Emily VanCamp: Revenge gave her 4 'unbelievable years'


best thriller showsTINA ROWDEN/NETFLIX

Ozark quickly gained popularity on Netflix due to its fast-paced storylines and fantastic ensemble cast. Jason Bateman and Laura Linney lead the show as Marty and Wendy Byrde, who are forced to move their family to the Ozarks to launder money for a drug cartel. Julia Garner delivers an outstanding performance as Ruth Langmore, a local woman who becomes involved in the Byrdes' illicit business.


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Black Bird

black bird apple best thriller showsApple

Black Bird, a twisty serial killer thriller on Apple TV, is based on the real-life story of James Keene. Keene is offered a reduced sentence if he can elicit a confession from suspected murderer and rapist Larry Hall. Taron Egerton portrays Keene, while Paul Walter Hauser brings a wonderfully creepy performance as Hall. With one of Ray Liotta's final appearances, this mini-series remains one of Apple TV's finest offerings.



Killing Eve

best thriller tv showsRobert Viglasky/BBCAmerica

Based on the book series by Luke Jennings, Killing Eve follows British intelligence officer Eve Polastri (Sandra Oh) as she tracks down Villanelle (Jodie Comer), a dangerous assassin. While Phoebe Waller-Bridge served as head writer for the first season, The Crown's Emerald Fennell took over for Season 2. The cat-and-mouse chase between Eve and Villanelle is a tense and captivating journey that will keep you hooked.




best thriller showsEmmanuel Guimier

Lupin, a French mystery thriller, stars Omar Sy as Assane Diop, a man inspired by the stories of master thief Arsène Lupin. When his father is falsely accused of a robbery, Assane seeks revenge, using his own skills and drawing inspiration from Lupin. The show has been a massive success on Netflix, with the third part already in production.



Cruel Summer (2021-present)

The first season of Freeform's Cruel Summer tells a captivating story that unfolds over three years. It centers around two teenagers who, at first glance, couldn't be more different: Kate Wallis, the popular girl, and Jeanette Turner, the awkward and aspiring. However, everything changes when Kate mysteriously disappears and Jeanette takes her place in the social hierarchy. The show keeps us guessing - did Jeanette have something to do with Kate's disappearance? As EW's critic mentions, creator Bert V. Royal (known for Easy A) skillfully weaves a suspenseful thriller that uses the concept to reveal the true nature of the characters. Cruel Summer skillfully navigates different timelines to unravel various parts of the story, leaving viewers captivated by the central mystery. It's hard to resist binge-watching the entire first season. —G.I.

Where to watch Cruel Summer: Hulu

EW grade: B (read the review)

Cast: Olivia Holt, Chiara Aurelia, Froy Gutierrez, Harley Quinn Smith, Brooklyn Sudano, Blake Lee, Allius Barnes, Nathaniel Ashton, Michael Landes

Related content: How Cruel Summer reinvented itself after 1 season

Fargo (2014-present)

Inspired by the Coen brothers' 1996 film of the same name, this anthology series starts in the snowy town of Fargo, North Dakota, and later expands to 1950s-era Kansas City. Each season explores simmering family resentments, crime syndicates, and unexpected events that quickly spiral out of control. Fargo always delivers with a stellar cast, including Billy Bob Thornton, Uzo Aduba, and Ewan McGregor in dual roles, among others. Season 5, set in North Dakota and Minnesota in 2019, premieres on Nov. 21. —G.I.

Where to watch Fargo: Hulu

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Cast: Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Martin Freeman, Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Ted Danson, Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis, Chris Rock, Jessie Buckley, Jason Schwartzman, Ben Whishaw

Related content: Everything we know so far about Fargo season 5

Lost (2004-2010)

Another series that benefits from binge-watching is the iconic Lost. The show slowly unravels the mysterious fate of the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815, who find themselves stranded on a deserted island. Remember the enigmatic Dharma Initiative, the smoke monster, and the nods to The Wizard of Oz? Lost may leave viewers puzzled at times, but it's undeniably captivating and kept audiences hooked for years. The ability to immediately transition from one perplexing episode to the next is addictive. If you manage to solve all the mysteries on a second viewing, do let us know! —G.I.

Where to watch Lost: Hulu

EW grade: N/A (read the review)

Cast: Naveen Andrews, Emilie de Ravin, Matthew Fox, Jorge Garcia, Maggie Grace, Josh Holloway, Malcolm David Kelley, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim, Evangeline Lilly, Dominic Monaghan, Terry O'Quinn, Harold Perrineau, Ian Somerhalder

Related content: How Sun and Jin's relationship went from problematic to transcendent on Lost

With a plethora of gripping storylines, complex characters, and nail-biting suspense, the world of thrilling TV shows has never been more captivating. From the mind-bending dilemmas of "The Sinner" to the heart-stopping sensation of "Squid Game," these shows refuse to let us turn away. Whether you're a fan of psychological thrillers, crime dramas, or eerie mysteries, there is something on this list to keep you on the edge of your seat. So grab some popcorn, dim the lights, and get ready for an adrenaline-pumping journey as these best thriller TV shows take you on a rollercoaster ride you won't soon forget.

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