Top 30+ best detective series to watch

detective series to watch

Do you want to make a little detective series with a gripping investigation, tired cops pouring glasses of whiskey, criminals committing crimes and lots of moments with teeth-chattering suspense? So we have put together for you a fairly varied list of historical detective series that everyone can relate to. We won’t necessarily talk about the 2000 soap opera-type series on the subject because it’s generally not the best quality you can find, but there’s still plenty to choose from.

The Wire

Not only is The Wire one of the best series in history but it is also one of the best detective series. Very realistic, it almost serves as a documentary since it was written and produced by David Simon, a former journalist who spent several years following a Baltimore police squad. The series follows a lot of characters, both on the side of the law and the other and shows us a gallery of endearing and detestable humans on both sides. A masterpiece rarely equaled, like the Mona Lisa except that this is not a painting but a series.

True Detective

The first season caused a stir as it was original, dark and masterful. The second was much less good and the third was quite great (but more discreet). The first plunges us into a murder case taking place over several years and the two investigators who are struggling to put the pieces together. It’s dark, it’s sticky, it’s well filmed, well acted and it’s one of the best mini series so go for it (also for the third). A fourth season is planned as I write these lines, so if you’re reading this top in 2040 and there are already 14 seasons don’t take that last sentence into account. And if an alien invasion enslaved humanity ignore all the rest of the top stuff.

Sherlock

A nice rereading of Conan Doyle’s characters a little too adapted to the screen in a good BBC series of three-episode seasons. Each episode lasts an hour and a half, like a small TV movie that can be watched independently of the others even if an overall story is forming, so it’s better to watch in order. We also have the right to a choice casting since Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman play the two famous investigators. It’s frankly well done, current (since it takes place in our time) and we feel that the people who adapted it are fans of the original work for having done it justice in this way.

Luther

In the same vein as Sherlock , this BBC series is divided in the same way: seasons of 3-4 episodes of an hour and a half. We follow investigator John Luther wonderfully brought to the screen by Idris Elba, a cop always on the razor’s edge with muscular methods who falls into the clutches of a manipulative killer incredibly played by Ruth Wilson. Frankly cool episodes despite a loss of quality which is quite a shame in the last seasons which can still be watched without any worries, if only for Idris Elba who does more good for the eyes than an appointment with the ophthalmologist.

The Night of

A small masterpiece of police investigation, this series immerses you in a murder story where a young man who has just spent a night taking drugs with a young woman finds himself accused of her murder. We then see the whole affair, from his time in prison while awaiting trial until the trial. A very dark series which also offers John Turturro one of the best roles of his career. A series that should make you not want to kill people if that was ever one of your projects.

The Shield

The iconic series about a police officer who is a member of a special anti-gang squad (and inspired by a real Los Angeles police squad) who has somewhat muscular methods bordering on brutal but who gets results otherwise he will have the mayor on his back (I summarize). It’s violent, well done, gripping and frankly it gets the job done. My former roommate Pierre (who is nonetheless a good friend) also recommends it, so you see, it’s worth it.

Mindhunter

A well-crafted series which shows us two FBI agents in the 70s who investigate and interview several serial killers in order to understand their personality and invent (without really wanting to) the profession of profiler. Adapted quite loosely from a true story, the series shows us several “real” serial killers like Ed Kemper, Ted Bundy, Charles Manson or even the Son of Sam. In short, it’s frankly very good even if Netflix had the good idea to cancel the series after two good seasons, probably to produce yet another series with stupid teenagers that they also canceled after.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks tells the story of a small American town turned upside down by the murder of a high school girl. A somewhat atypical FBI investigator arrives on site and discovers that the city and its inhabitants are all hiding a lot of secrets, which doesn’t necessarily help his investigation move forward. A heavy and particular atmosphere which has inspired quite a number of other series including the next one of the top which may resemble it quite a bit in terms of synopsis. But nothing is likeTwin Peaks.

The Killing

So you have the choice because there was an original Danish version and an American remake and a priori it’s almost the same thing from start to finish. We follow an investigator trying to solve the murder of a young teenager as she gradually turns up an unexpected lead: the crime is linked to very influential politicians. Only one thing to tell you: it’s a little drawn out at times and it would have been simply great in one season but it’s still worth a look as my uncle said when he was talking about a night establishment that morality condemns.

Broadchurch

Broadchurch is a small town in the south of England where nothing ever happens, at least until the day a terrible murder takes place and all the city is in turmoil. A cop from London is then dispatched to the scene to investigate and team up with a local police officer, except that all the residents try to get involved in the matter and it quickly becomes unmanageable for them. The first season is great, and I’m not revealing anything but it could have ended there.

A series of crimes is happening on the bridge linking Denmark to Sweden, which quite logically pushes the police of the two countries to collaborate, and in particular two police officers. We then follow their investigation and their cohabitation (because they are still very different) while they track down a pretty scary killer. A very popular series while remaining quite confidential, even if the Canal + Tunnel series was quite inspired by it.

Fargo

Surprisingly enough, basing a series on a film is not always a bad idea. The Fargo series managed to create an astonishing story about a small town in the same atmosphere as the film. The first season is great, the second very good, the third not so good and I haven’t seen the fourth yet. That said, each season is independent so you can completely skip one to move on to the other even if we strongly recommend the first two since they are very good, almost as good as my grandmother’s apple pie (she put a lot of butter in the dough).

Only murder in the building

Three people who don’t know each other but share a passion for criminal cases find themselves solving a murder in their home. Rather comical, the series has gained growing interest among the public and has already had three seasons which are quite enjoyable to watch. A feel good series as they say, which changes the atmosphere a little with the others but can be viewed peacefully.

Dexter

Dexter features a police officer expert in forensic medicine who is in reality a serial killer of serial killers. Basically, during the day he helps solve crimes and in the evening he tortures these guys to death to show them that it’s okay to kill other people. After a rather criticized ending, the series returned for a very last season which was supposed to conclude the story in a better way. No idea if it was good or not, I didn’t watch because I’m afraid of killers.

Criminal minds

A very long series (324 episodes so far) which follows a team responsible for investigating serial killers with the particularity of focusing on a new case in each episode. Needless to say, if you start this series today you will literally have aged after finishing it, but at least if you stick with it you will have peace of mind for a little while.

Happy Valley

An original detective series with a tortured female cop who must bring the law to an isolated town in England (which may be reminiscent of Broadchurch). The series manages to remain interesting and renew itself without being at the level of more elaborate detective series, but it works frankly well. Plus the actress looks a lot like Nadine Morano, which is as funny as it is disturbing depending on your own image of Nadine Morano.

Narcos

The historic investigation by the DEA (the anti-drug and anti-cartel squad) which worked for many years to try to arrest Pablo Escobar, a cheerful guy who did not hesitate to kill people to continue selling drugs. drugs (which kills people too mind you). What’s good is that the series continues after the investigation and we’re even treated to a new series on El Chapo, another cartel leader who doesn’t like being ruffled (for stay polite).

Hannibal

If you have read or seen the novel Red Dragon then you will be more or less on familiar ground since we follow the beginning of the collaboration between police officer Will Graham and cannibalistic doctor Hannibal Lecter as they investigate serial killers. The series is frankly good with the added bonus of Mads Mikkelsen being more unhealthy than ever, and it’s hard to understand why it was canceled after three seasons, but that’s life, surprises and not only good ones.

Ozark

Personally I watched everything without really knowing why I watched. It’s far from bad, but there’s something missing. In short, you don’t care about my opinion and I completely agree. It’s about a family that moves to the Ozarks to launder money for a drug cartel and gets into trouble every chance they get. We can find a Breaking Bad atmosphere at times, but it remains quite different. Small special mention for Jason Bateman as a father who is always as impeccable.

Banshee

B series with fighting, colorful characters (like the super violent Amish), ass (a lot), murders (a lot too) and a casting that does an excellent job (notably Anthony Starr in the title role (you probably saw him as Homelander in The Boys). It’s the story of a guy who gets out of prison and goes to the small town of Banshee where he finds himself caught in a bar fight where the future sheriff of the town is killed before his eyes. So he decides to take on his role without anyone noticing and improvises himself as sheriff in his place, with his own very angry methods.

Mare of Easttown

This detective mini-series (which was in the list of best mini-series) led by the talented Kate Winslet shows us a woman who tries to come to terms with her family life and her position as inspector in a small town where two corpses are found. found in a short time. The story may seem quite conventional but the atmosphere and Winslet are more than enough to keep you hooked in front of your screen.

Gears

And why not a truly local series which shows the French penal system, with French judges and lawyers but above all excellent French actors. The series therefore shows how things go in the back kitchen with the prosecutors, the judges and all the mess and what little shenanigans it entails. At first I thought it was about a watchmaker who made clocks but ultimately no, the gears are just people who make this system work. Yes, believe it or not, but it is one of the best French series.

Castle

A former detective novelist finds himself teaming up with a real investigator to solve real, true crimes. The series was very appreciated by many even if the ending disappointed a large part of the public since it was filmed in a hurry following the decision to cancel the series. However, you will have a good time if you decide to get started despite any preconceptions you may have, a bit like a week’s vacation in Loir-et-Cher.

The Fall

Head to Ireland and its pretty humid landscapes for this series where local police officers in a small town are unable to solve several murders that seem linked. You know the music: we decide to send them a police officer from the big city to help them and then begins a hunt between the brilliant policewoman and the not-at-all-nice serial killer. Even if said like that you have the impression that it’s not super original, we assure you that it’s worth a watch if you like detective series or Ireland. That being said, if you especially like Ireland and not necessarily detective series, we advise you to go directly there.

October

This Danish series takes us to Copenhagen to follow a policewoman’s investigation into a killer who leaves small sculptures made from chestnuts next to his victims. A hunt for the serial killer begins and it’s pretty good, especially since it’s a six-episode mini series, so it can be watched very quickly.

Blank Zone

This French series takes us to the small town of Villefranche, a town hidden in the middle of the forest in a “white zone”, a place where no waves pass. To add a little spice, the town records a very high quota of homicides and tensions between the inhabitants, not to mention a local rumor which speaks of a beast hidden in the forest… In short, supernatural, thriller and a story that takes place over two seasons of 8 episodes, so that’s cool.

The Outsider

This series adapted from a short story by Stephen King immerses us in an investigation that is unique to say the least. When the body of an 11-year-old child is found, the main suspect is his baseball coach. Witnesses accuse him, direct evidence as well except that at the time of the murder he was filmed by the surveillance cameras of a casino hundreds of kilometers away. Coincidence? Twins? Supernatural? You will find out by watching this rather original mini-series.

Sambre

This series produced by France 2 tells us in six chilling episodes the investigation strewn with failures into the pursuit of the Sambre rapist, the greatest sexual criminal that France has known and who raped dozens of women with their faces uncovered without never been worried. We can undoubtedly add it to the pantheon of the best French series as well as in the list of the best series of 2023.

Polar Park

A Parisian author of detective novels returns to the land of his childhood in the heart of Burgundy Franche-Comté, in the village of Mouthe. Supposed to come to shed light on his family history, he finds himself involved in a case of serial murders where the killer makes a reference to an artistic work for each victim. Both gripping and funny, the series also has the merit of taking place in a region not often presented on screen and that’s a pleasure.

Bodysuits

A body is found in London by four different inspectors. How is this possible? Because this same corpse is found in 1890, in 1941, in 2023 but also in 2053. A hell of a mess both in terms of temporality and paperwork to fill out, and that’s why this murder case is really going to be complicated to settle. A mini series based on a graphic novel in eight episodes, but quite a puzzle to understand.

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