The anthology crime drama True Detective revealed a stiflingly gloomy and misanthropic world. Though it ran for only 3 seasons, fans still remember the gorgeous, dreamlike narrative. While great shows like such come in rarity, we have curated a list of great shows like True Detective that you might like. The show, as you know, follows a pair of detectives, namely Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson). The detectives are in pursuit of a serial killer in Louisiana with links to occult crimes from over 17 years. True Detective is without a doubt a fantastic TV series, the performances by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson left me speechless. True Detective is not just about a typical fashionable pair of detectives solving crimes through the streets of London but about two broken degenerate people struggling to resist the corrupt world around them.
List of TV Shows Like True Detective
- Twin Peaks
- The Sinner
- Under the Banner of Heaven
- Sharp Objects
- The Fall
- The Wire
Here’s Why These 10 TV Shows are like True Detective
1. Twins Peaks (1990)
David Lynch, the well-known director of weird and captivating films such as Eraserhead and Blue Velvet created an iconic show called Twin Peaks. It is a hauntingly eccentric show about the investigation of the mysterious murder of a small-town homecoming queen named Laura Palmer. Believe me, as odd as the show may seem at first, you will grow to love it, after all, it is considered to be one of the best mystery shows ever created. Check out more shows like Twin Peaks.
The mysteries, the supernatural elements and the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the cinematography of the show was truly ahead of its time. Kyle’s Dale Cooper was especially entertaining. Twin Peaks’ experimental formula of the satirical soap opera is extremely unsettling yet rewarding to watch. I must warn you, it’s not for the faint-hearted! If you are in search of shows like True Detective then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.
2. The Sinner (2017)
The Sinner is an anthological series and was inspired by Petra Hammeshfahr’s German novel. This investigative show follows Det. Harry Ambrose as he works on a different murder each season. He is exposed to odd crimes committed by unlikely culprits which often leads him to question morality and the motives of the criminals.
The show stays consistent with great storylines and every season highlights an element of psyche in relationships between family, friends or lovers which leads to the murder. The Sinner has an immersive and obsessive tone that gives the audience a chance of looking at the criminal state of mind in a more dynamic way. In my opinion, The Sinner is an excellent show and a great choice for you if you are in search of shows similar to True Detective with a darker take.
3. Broadchurch (2013)
Broadchurch is a suspenseful murder mystery show created by Chris Chibnall with a talented cast and it first aired in 2013. The show begins with the discovery of the body of an 11-year-old boy called Danny in the small fictional town of Broadchurch on the coast of Dorset, England. The story focuses on Detective Inspector Alec Hardy played by David Tennant and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller played by Olivia Colman. Check out more shows like Broadchurch.
The show puts into light how we often think everything with people is okay from afar, but when we look closer dark secrets unravel. Broadchurch portrays new colours of grief, and internal and outward struggles not only through the acting performances but from places one least expects. The show has beautiful and atmospheric locations and the soundtrack feels like a haunting ballad. There’s a good chance you will appreciate Broadchurch if you are a fan of murder mystery shows like True Detective.
4. Under the Banner of Heaven (2022)
The American Crime Drama Under the Banner of Heaven is a limited series inspired by the bestselling book by Jon Krakauer that follows the real-life murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty (Daisy) and her baby girl in their suburb in Salt Lake Valley. Lafferty’s are a part of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community also called Mormonism.
The story isn’t a word-to-word to the real events, as it features Andrew Garfield as the central fictional detective who investigates the double homicide. The brilliant, thrilling, and menacing details of the story feel like a cross between True Detective and the movie American Beauty. Under the Banner of Heaven is highly intriguing and a terrific choice for shows like True Detective.
5. Sharp Objects (2011)
Based on the 2006 debut novel by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is a BRILLIANT show. The story is centred around a crime reporter Camille Preaker (Amy Adams). Camille faces traumas at a young age that drive her out of her hometown but years later she is forced to return to investigate a crime.
Now back in the town, she reunites with her strange and uptight mother and her younger sister which in turn makes her confront her own demons. The twists of the show are shocking, to say the least. If you are looking for shows similar to True Detective then you definitely should consider watching Sharp Objects.
6. Fargo (2014)
Fargo show is inspired by the 1996 movie of the same title, which by itself was inspired by real-life events where an ordinary salesman out of desperation for money, formulates a plan where two thug men have to abduct his wife so that he can create a situation of kidnapping and force his rich father-in-law to pay a ransom. The plan falls apart quickly with a series of mishaps and rogue actions like the thugs shooting a state trooper take place.
Fargo gained high critical acclaim upon release. The show has a skilful cast with actors like Martin Freeman, Chris Rock and Kirsten Dunst. The themes of deception, intrigue and incredible dark humour in the cold-blooded murder in the frozen town of Minnesota bring out a cynical, unsettling yet amusing side of humanity. If you are in search of TV series like True Detective that can bring out the eeriness and morbid humour effectively, Fargo will be the right fit for you.
7. Hannibal (2013)
Hannibal series is based on Thomas Harris’ novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising and the second show in this list (like Bates Motel) to have a classic film as its inspiration. The iconic character of Dr Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen) in the Hannibal series has more in common with Harris’ books than the Silence of Lambs but many elements of the movie have inspired the show.
Dr Hannibal Lector is a former psychiatrist turned serial killer and probably the most horrifyingly intriguing fictional character ever written. This American psychological horror series does not shy away from gory imagery and it’s these extremely powerful visuals that really make it stand out. Dr Lectoris sure to remind the viewers of Norman Bates and which is why if you’re looking for shows like True Detective then watching Hannibal is a perfect pick for you.
8. Homecoming (2018)
The highly acclaimed Hollywood actress Julia Roberts’ Homecoming series is based on the Gimlet Media podcast of the same name. The series follows Heidi (Julia) years after working at a facility helping soldiers transition to civil life. This facility helps veterans not only manage their PTSD but actually claims to be able to cure it.
In recent years, podcast adaptations have become popular but this one is one of the best of the lot. Homecoming is a well-developed, superbly written show with some exceptional acting. This series is so engaging that it’s easily on top of my recommendations if you like series like True Detective.
9. The Fall (2013)
The Fall is probably the least like True Detective in this list but what the show lacks in similarity, it makes up for with Gillian Anderson’s brilliant performance as Detective Stella Gibson. The story follows Stella fighting her own demons as she tries to catch a serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan).
The show’s storytelling is very gripping and the characters are so perplexing that you might find yourself developing complicated feelings for the serial killer and maybe even half-rooting him. If you find yourself out of options for shows similar to True Detective and don’t know what to watch in your free time then give The Fall a try.
10. The Wire (2002)
The Wire explores the streets of Biltmore as a microcosm of the US’s war on drugs and consequential urban decay. The story follows a bunch of Policemen, Drugs dealers and influential people with deep ties in the world of politics, media, and the underground.
The Wire is a slightly humbler version of shows like True Detective. The human complexities and realistic social commentary on the institutions are marked by the finest writing. The Wire is an underrated hard-boiled fiction and a must-watch for TV shows like True Detective.
Here are a few TV shows like True Detective that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- Top of The Lake
- The Americans