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10 Shows Like Bates Motel To Watch If You Enjoy Intense Thrillers

shows like bates motel

The prequel show to the classic Psycho, Bates Motel has been immensely well-received by fans for its exceptional portrayal of the iconic Norman Bates in his youth. We have made a list of brilliant shows like Bates Motel that you can check out.  

Bates Motel 

The American psychological horror show Bates Motel aired in 2013 and ran for 5 seasons. When I first watched Alfred Hitchcock’s thrilling Psycho, I was so intrigued by this psychopathic serial killer and I wondered why he was the way he was and Bates Motel answers that question. After the death of her husband, Norma Bates buys a motel in the town of White Pine Pay to give herself and her son Norman a new life.

Bates Motel is without a doubt a captivating, thrilling, suspenseful and beautifully written story. The acting performances by Vera Farmiga and Freddie are phenomenal, to say the least! Bates Motel’s perfect mystery built up and excellent climax are worth every praise they receive. This is easily one of our favourite shows of all time. 

List of TV Shows Like Bates Motel

  1. The Haunting of Hill House
  2. Fargo
  3. Hannibal
  4. Breaking Bad
  5. Dexter
  6. You
  7. Penny Dreadful
  8. Dark
  9. Sharp Objects
  10. The Sinner

1. The Haunting of Hill House (2018)

IMDB ratings: 8.6/10

Cast: Victoria Pedretti, Kate Seigel and Oliver Jackson-Cohen 

Creator: Mike Flanagan

The Haunting of Hill House is my top choice for shows like Bates Motel for one main reason, this is a terrifying dysfunctional family horror classic. The show was adapted from the long-admired horror novel by Shirley Jackson of the same name. Flashing between the past and the present, The Haunting of Hill House’s tragic family confront their haunting memories, traumatic events and worst fears that are attached to the gothic and paranormal old Hill House.

The Haunting of Hill House isn’t a jumpscare-driven horror, the show slowly builds up a still, lonely and inescapable dread for us and the characters living in the creepy House. The Haunting of Hill House is not amongst the scariest shows but the performances are nerve-wracking and excellent in my opinion. You should surely check out The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix if you are looking for shows like Bates Motel.

2. Fargo (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.9/10

Cast: Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Allison Tolman

Creator: Noah Hawley

Bates Motel and Fargo have an essential thing in common, they are both based on iconic American films. Fargo is inspired by the Coen Brothers’ 1996 Academy award-winning film with the same title. Fargo is a dark comedy crime show, set in the movie’s same cold world of Minnesota but sees an entirely new story with new characters. In our opinion, the series is without a doubt BRILLIANT.  

Fargo’s first season follows a hitman Lorne Malvo ( Billy Thorton) who manipulates a local insurance salesman called Lester Nygaard ( played by talented Martin Freeman) with his violent and deceptive ways. Unlike the movie, the show Fargo is not based on real-life events but it is thrillingly violent, engaging and fun. If you need shows like Bates Motel then I would highly recommend you watch Fargo

3. Hannibal (2013)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Hettienne Park

Creator: Bryan Fuller

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 Lector is sure to remind the viewers of Norman Bates and which is why if you’re looking for shows like Bates Motel then watching Hannibal is a perfect pick for you.

4. Breaking Bad (2008)

IMDB ratings: 9.5/10

Cast: Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul and Anna Gunn

Creator: Vince Gilligan

There are few shows that can match up to the excellence of Breaking Bad as it’s considered to be amongst the best shows of all time. The protagonist Walter Benjamin (Bryan Cranston) is a chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with terminal cancer and so decides to get into the meth-making business where he meets a man called Jesse.

Breaking Bad’s every single episode is so engaging that it’s worth binge-watching entire seasons in one go. The acting, the direction, the storyline everything is done to such PERFECTION that I could not fault much even if I tried, the show is consistently good till the end. If you want to watch TV shows similar to Bates Motel, then the prestige drama Breaking Bad will be one of the best shows for you.

Also Read: TV Shows like The Mentalist

5. Dexter (2006) 

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter and David Zayas

Creator: James Manos Jr

The psychological drama show Dexter became an American fan favourite when it aired. The story follows Dexter (Michael C. Hall) who is orphaned at a young age after witnessing the brutal murder of his mother. Harry Morgan, a Miami Police Officer, adopts him. Harry recognises Dexter’s trauma entails sociopathic tendencies and manipulates him to kill heinous criminals who slip through the criminal justice system.

Dexter works as a Forensic Analyst by the day which helps him cover his tracks. The complex father and son relationship and Dexter’s tainted sense of conviction (while he tries to live a normal life like Norman Bates) at times challenged my own judgement on Good vs Bad, and I found that Dexter became an icon even though he is essentially a serial killer. The show uses dark sequences with well-balanced humour and clever twists. If you like shows like Bates Motel, then you should definitely watch Dexter.

6. You (2018)

IMDB ratings: 7.7/10

Cast:  Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Luca Padovan

Creator: Sera Gamble, Greg Berlanti

The series You is loosely based on Caroline Kepnes’ Joe Goldberg books. The story follows Penn Badgley in the role of Joe Goldberg, a New-York based bookstore manager and a serial killer. In the show, Joe falls in love with a girl and is extremely obsessed with her. ‘You’ is a vividly fascinating and romanticised dark psychological thriller.

Is Joe Goldberg a protagonist or an antagonist? It’s a fine line. The reason that makes this show so relatable for viewers is the writer’s fantastic job of creating an interesting take on the dichotomy of good and evil, societal morals, and the fear of social media stalking. In search of shows like Bates Motel, You might enjoy the show You.

7. Penny Dreadful (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.2/10

Cast: Eva Green, Josh Hartnett and Rory Kinnear

Creator: John Logan

The show Penny Dreadful’s title refers to the 19th-century British publication called  Penny Dreadfuls, they were popular and cheap literary publications sold to the general population of the time. Penny dreadfuls focused on characters like Sweeny Todd and Varney the Vampire.

This psychological thriller series Penny Dreadful takes inspiration from fictional writings and gives a nod to popular Victorian Gothic Horror characters like Dr Victor Frankenstein, Frankenstein’s monster, Dracula and Abraham Van Helsing. Eva Green’s portrayal as Vanessa Ives was a force of nature and all fans of the show unanimously agree that she DESERVED awards for her performance. Penny Dreadful is a binge-worthy show if you’re looking for shows similar to Bates Motel. 

8. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

At the beginning of the sci-fi thriller Dark, many children in the German town of Winden suspiciously disappear. These incidents bring to light the dark generational past mysteries of 4 families living in the town. The 4 Families: Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann discover a wormhole in a cave beneath a nuclear power plant. Dark’s setting spans according to time travel from 1953 to the present day (2019).

The element of supernatural forces and time travel affect the family dynamics in unimagined ways, the dysfunctionality might remind you of Norman and Norma Louise’s relationship. These eerie connections are exposed after the missing cases of children. Dark’s horror moments are intense and mind-bending. Dark’s great performances and the storyline is worth a watch if you are looking for shows similar to Bates Motel.

9. Sharp Objects (2011)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Amy Adams, Patricia Clarkson, Eliza Scanlen, Chris Messina, Sydney Sweeney

Creator: Jean-Marc Vallée

We absolutely obsess over the complicated and messed-up relationship between Norman Bates and his mother Norma Louise and that reminded us of the show Sharp Objects. Based on the 2006 debut novel by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is BRILLIANT and one of the best shows like Bates Motel.

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 Bates Motel then you definitely should consider watching Sharp Objects.

Also Read: Shows like Person of Interest

10. The Sinner (2017)

IMDB ratings: 7.9/10

Cast: Bill Pullman, Matt Bomer and Jessica Biel

Creator: Derek Simonds 

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 want to see shows like Bates Motel

Honourable Mentions 

Here are a few shows like Bates Motel that didn’t make this psychological thriller list but are worth watching, check them out:

  1. Twin Peaks
  2. Servant
  3. Midhunter
  4. The Handmaid’s Tale

When Lost aired over a decade ago, its successful narrative created a pop culture impact and changed the landscape of television. If you are a fan and want to watch shows like Lost then you can have a look at this list we made just for you.


The hugely successful television series Lost aired in 2004. The premise, as we know, deals with a group of people surviving a commercial passenger plane crash on a remote island. The show masterfully explores supernatural and sci-fi elements on this mysterious south Pacific island.

The use of cliffhangers at the end of each episode of Lost kept the viewers on the edge of their seats, desperately craving for the next episode to come. Even though it's a large ensemble cast, most of the characters receive a justifiable personal arch. Lost was inspired by the movie Castaway and became one of the most expensive pilots to be shot at the time! Lost continues to be appreciated for its originality in storytelling and dynamic character arcs. 

List of TV Shows Like Lost

  1. The Leftovers
  2. Manifest
  3. Lost Room
  4. Twin Peaks
  5. The Prisoners
  6. Battlestar Galactica
  7. The New People
  8. Flight 29 Down
  9. Fringe
  10. Alcatraz
  11. Under the Dome
  12. Dark

1. The Leftovers (2014)

IMDB ratings: 8.3/10

Cast: Carrie Coon, Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman and Margaret Qualley

Creator: Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta

The director of Lost, Damon Lindel also created a supernatural drama series called The Leftovers. The show begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’  where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear. The Leftovers isn't about WHY people are gone, it's about how the ones who remain dealt with their loss, people often try to comfort themselves with dreams, angels, gods, or even death.

The Leftovers will leave you with so many questions but beyond words, you have to feel it and savour its unanswered questions to find peace. The Leftovers is an incredible television series that starts incredibly well but loses its way by the series's end. I have to say though, Carrie Coon has brilliant moments in the end. The Leftovers is so weird, fragmented and nonsensical at times that it reminds me of Lost. If you are looking for shows like Lost, I recommend that you give The Leftovers a try.

2. Manifest  (2018) 

IMDB ratings: 7.1/10

Cast: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas and J.R. Ramirez 

Creator: Jeff Rake

The Manifest is a supernatural drama show about a bunch of people who discover that they lost 5 years of their lives when they landed in New York after their aeroplane faced severe turbulence. All the people on the plane were presumed to be dead. Now, these people have to find a way to adjust themselves to a new life around their loved ones. Mild spoiler! They learn their loved ones and the rest of society is not as they left it.

I found that the show’s premise was very intriguing and the actors give a very convincing performance. The narrative details of the show, however, in my opinion, are a bit sloppy and inconsistent. The writers surely have room for improvement but their concept is incredibly thrilling. Every episode of Manifest keeps you on your toes. Manifest has completed 3 seasons up until now and continues to be on air. Manifest is a pretty good choice if you want to watch TV shows like Lost.

3. Lost Room (2006)

IMDB ratings: 8.1/10

Cast: Peter Krause, Julianna Margulies and Peter Jacobson

Creator: Christopher Leone, Laura Harkcom

This lesser-known show The Lost Room is an American Sci-fi television miniseries which only had 3 episodes of 90 mins each and no follow-up seasons. The show was based on a very unique idea where the room in question (known as the ‘Lost Room’) and the objects in the said room had supernatural powers. This strange room is set in a 1960s motel along the iconic U.S. Route 66.

One day the protagonist (Peter Krause) Joe Miller’s daughter disappears inside the room. Joe, with the help of objects present in the room, tries to find his daughter Anna (Elle Fanning). The story of Lost Room was intensely engaging. I found the direction and the actor’s performances to be absolutely brilliant. It baffles me that the creators did not return to make another short season within the same concept. If you have been searching for TV series like Lost then I can assure you that Lost Room will be worth a watch.

4. Twins Peaks (1990) 

IMDB ratings: 8.8/10

Cast: Kyle MacLachlan, Mädchen Amick, Sherilyn Fenn and David Lynch

Creator: David Lynch

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.

With 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 TV shows like Lost then Twin Peaks won’t disappoint you.

The Prisoners (1967)

IMDB ratings: 8.5/10

Cast: Patrick McGoohan, Angelo Muscat and Geroge Markstien

Creator: Patrick McGoohan

The Prisoner centres around an unnamed British agent (Patrick McGoohan) who tries to flee his country after abruptly quitting his high-ranking government job. He is abducted and held captive in a strange ‘sea-side’ village that is isolated from the rest of the world. This village is a highly secure and monitored place filled with weird technology. There are only 17 episodes to this late 60s show but it manages to bring up such surreal surprises, it's sure to leave a great impact on the viewer.

The Prisoner’s unique concept influenced many popular shows including Lost. The creators of Lost even cited the show. I was very impressed by how ahead of its time The Prisoners proves to be. If you want to watch more shows similar to Lost the Prisoners should definitely be on your list.

6. Battlestar Galactica (2004)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Katee Sackhoff, Edward James Olmos and Tricia Helfer 

Creator: Glen A. Larson

The 2004 Battlestar Galactica is a reboot of the original 1978 miniseries of the same name. Do not be mistaken by the title, the show is not related to Star Trek.  Battlestar Galactica is set in the 7th millennium AD and follows Cylons, the robot enemy of humanity that resurfaces to destroy the 12 colonies of Mankind. Only a few survive and are able to escape on ships led by a powerful warship called Battlestar Galactica. Mankind struggles to fight the Cylons and work their own political agendas and disputes while finding their long-lost 13th colony Earth.

The show is a dark, intense and gritty socio-political commentary with EPIC cinematic value. The script is especially clever and as a huge fan of sci-fi shows, this show ticks the boxes in all the right categories. When the show was released, it blew the viewers and critics away. As far as an obsessive and gripping story goes, Battlestar Galactica is one of the most similar to shows like Lost. 

7. The New People (1969)

IMDB ratings: 7.3/10

Cast: David Moses, Zooey hall and Tiffany Boiling

Creator: Larry Gordon Aaron Spelling

The New People is an American Tv series that aired only for 1 season and is focused on a couple of college students who survive a plane crash. The incident takes place while they were returning from a trip to Southeast Asia, their plane crashes on an island in the south of the Pacific ocean. 

By now this show must already be sounding a lot like Lost to you, and it surely is. The remaining group of people discover an unusual truth about the island: there’s an above-ground unused nuclear test site filled with supplies for the survivors. If you want to see more plane survival stories like Lost then The New People should definitely be on your list.

8. Flight 29 Down (2005)

IMDB ratings: 7.2/10

Cast: Allen Alvarado, Halle Hirsh and Corbin Bleu

Creator:  Stan Rowgow D. J. MacHale

The show Flight 29 Down is a drama series about a group of pre-teens/teens who are stranded on a South Pacific island after their plane crashes in a tropical storm while they were flying from an eco-adventure camping trip in Palau. The show is in many ways a younger version of the Adult-centred show Lost but sans the supernatural elements. I’d say that the show draws inspiration from the show The New People.

Flight 29 Down uses the technique of a video diary as a plot device for the viewers to keep up with the story of these children. It was very engaging to watch young intelligent characters finding their way on the island. The first two seasons of the show are quite engaging but I seemed to lose interest in its 3rd and final season. Regardless, Flight 29 Down is a really good series to watch if you want to see TV shows like Lost.

9. Fringe (2008)

IMDB ratings: 8.4/10

Cast: Anna Torv, John Noble and Joshua Jackson

Creator: J. J. Abrams, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci

Fringe is a popular Sci-fi crime drama television series. It may seem like a standard procedural drama at first, but the show actually explores the parallel universe, alternate versions of people filled with crazy scientific experiments. I personally had a great time watching this show.

Fringe is actually inspired by shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone. The 3 main characters of the show work with a special division called Fringe. There are so many brilliant twists and turns in Fringe that in my opinion, the show is at the top of its category. If you are searching for TV series like Lost, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe

10. Alcatraz (2012)

IMDB ratings: 6.9/10

Cast: Sarah Jones, George Garcia and Jonny Coyne 

Creator: Elizabeth Sarnoff, Steven Lilien, Bryan Wynbrandt

This American fiction show is based on the infamous Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary built on Alcatraz island in San Francisco Bay. The prison is now closed but once kept some of the most dangerous criminals of America. The show takes the liberty to make a show around the conspiracies of the place.

In the interesting premise we see that under unknown circumstances, 256 inmates and 46 guards of the prison disappear without a trace. Later the disappeared ones start to appear one by one without ageing a day and resume their criminal activities with no realisation of disappearance. A special government unit is dedicated to finding and putting those criminals back in prison. If you are looking for mystery shows similar to Lost, try watching Alcatraz. 

11. Under the Dome (2013)

IMDB ratings: 6.5/10

Cast: Alexander Koch and Rachelle Lefevre

Creator: Stephen King

Based on a novel written by the sci-fi legend Stephen King, Under the Dome tells the story of the residents of the fictional small town called Chester's Mill, when a huge, transparent and indestructible dome suddenly cuts them off from the rest of the world.

Now the trapped residents try to find a way to discover the truth, origin and purpose of these domes. This journey forces them into situations where they learn more about each other than they ever knew. Under the Dome may not be on the top of this list but it’s quite a decent watch if you’re looking for mystery shows similar to Lost

12. Dark (2017)

IMDB ratings: 8.7/10

Cast: Louis Hofmann, Lisa Vicari and Gina Stiebitz

Creator: Baran bo Odar, Jantje Friese

The German-language Netflix series Dark is an interesting blend of Science fiction and Mystery. Truly a compelling and mind-bending story to watch. At the beginning of Dark, many children suspiciously start disappearing in the German town of Winden. The dark past of generational mysteries of 4 families living in the town namely, Kahnwald, Nielsen, Doppler, and Tiedemann is brought to light.

After the discovery of a wormhole, the lives of the families intertwine more than one can imagine. I believe every element of the show is top-notch, especially Dark’s cinematography, which is a TRUE masterpiece. If you are looking for TV series similar to Lost then the intense and gripping story of Dark is sure to keep you engrossed.

Honourable Mentions

Here are a few TV shows like Lost that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless: 

  1. Carnivale
  2. Yellowjackets
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Black Mirror
  5. Flashforward
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