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10 Shows Like The X-Files For Fans Of Compelling Sci-Fi Mysteries

shows like the x-files

The X-Files was an incredibly popular show from the early 2000s. The exceptional quality of writing as well as the brilliant chemistry between Gillian and David make it a timeless classic. If you are looking for more such TV series, we have curated a list of shows like The X-Files that you will definitely enjoy watching. X-Files was created by Chris Carter and first aired in 2002. This sci-fi crime story revolved around two FBI Agents, Fox Mulder(David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who investigate unsolved cases– often involving paranormal phenomena.

At the beginning of the series, Mulder believes the paranormal activity is real while Scully, a medical doctor, is sceptical and hence is assigned to work with Mulder to review the reality of the cases. Filmed in a multi-genre style, The X-Files is a highly entertaining and well-created show with phenomenal acting performances. The show had a great fan following and ran for 10 seasons. Known for its supernatural elements of mythology and mysterious unknown circumstances, The X-Files continues to be engaging and relevant today.

List of TV Shows Like The X-Files

  1. Twin Peaks
  2. Hannibal
  3. Person Of Interest
  4. The leftovers
  5. Bones
  6. Castle
  7. Fringe
  8. Haven
  9. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
  10. Penny Dreadful

1. Twin Peaks (1990)

Great reputation precedes the American mystery drama Twin Peaks. The show has a cult-like status amongst the fans, which is why Twin Peaks had a third-season revival in 2017. A schoolgirl Laura Palmer is murdered, and FBI Agent Dale Cooper leads the investigation. Check out more shows like Twin Peaks.

While the story sounds like a procedural murder mystery, Cooper’s idiosyncratic and eerie behaviour combined with its unique and experimental style of direction from the iconic David Lynch makes it a show like no other. Twin Peaks masterfully combines horror, suspense, comedy and mystery. If you’re a fan of shows like The X-Files, then Twin Peaks is one of the best shows you can watch. 

2. Hannibal (2013)

Hannibal TV series, based on Thomas Harris’ novels Red Dragon, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, is an American psychological horror starring Mad Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy in the challenging roles of Dr Hannibal Lecter and Will Graham, respectively. Not shying away from gory imagery, this show is often appreciated for its powerful visuals that leave the viewers thinking. 

With elements that remind you of Silence of Lambs, the series showcases the complexities of human behaviour through murder, cannibalism and twisted relationships. The charms and mysteries of the main characters leave one wanting to see more. Without going into too much in detail, it’s safe to say, that if you like Gillian Anderson, then Hannibal will be a good reminder for the viewers of the supernatural world they experienced in shows like The X-Files.

3. Person of Interest (2011)

Person of Interest is a Sci-fi crime drama that follows John Reese, a former special forces soldier and CIA operative. A bygone soldier, John is thought to be dead by everyone. He, in fact, is alive and now a homeless man in New York. Harold Finch, a billionaire software genius, builds a computer called ‘the Machine’ that monitors all electronic media and communications to predict future terrorist activities. Harold approaches Reese to intercept the possible threats. Check out more shows like Person of Interest.

On the surface, Person of Interest seems like a standard procedural crime drama series, but it is, in fact, a well-crafted action sci-fi that explores the concepts of AI vs human nature. The main characters of the show are phenomenal. If you want to explore more shows like The X-Files, then a series like Person of Interest is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. 

4. The Leftovers (2014)

Also known for creating shows like Lost, Damon Lindelof created The Leftovers along with the novelist Tom Perotta whose book this is adapted from. The Leftovers is a supernatural drama tv series, the story begins 3 years after an unexplainable global event called ‘Sudden Departure’, where almost 2 per cent of the population, nearly 140 million people, disappear.

This sudden event causes many changes, giving rise to cult groups like the white-clothed nihilists’ Guilty Remnant and a decline in mainstream religions. The show is dystopic in nature and quite surreal to watch. With a brilliant cast and genius writing, The Leftovers should definitely be on your list if you’re searching for a series like The X-Files.

5. Bones (2005)

Bones is a crime procedural drama created by Hart Hanson with a forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology investigation. Bones is loosely based on the life and writings of Kathy Reichs, who also produced the show. The show ran a long course of 12 seasons before it was eventually cancelled.

Bones follows the pairing of a doctor and an FBI agent,  Dr Temperance ‘Bones’ Brennan and FBI Agent Seeley Booth, in an unusual approach to examining the remains of the victims for investigating the murder. The main characters have great chemistry, and the show has a good balance of gravitas and humour. Bones has been a comfort watch for many viewers. If you are searching for TV shows like The X-Files to watch for a long time, Bones will be a great choice. 

6. Castle (2009)

In the light-hearted show Castle, Nathan Filion plays the famous mystery novelist Richard Castle, and Stana Katic plays the homicide detective Kate Beckett. Castle is bored and going through writer’s block; out of boredom, he decides to kill off his main character. When a person kills someone in real life using Castle’s novel, he is called into the New York police department. Here he meets detective Kate Beckett and is inspired by her to write another story and ends up shadowing her at work. Check out more shows like Castle.

Castle and Kate’s relationship is of the typical odd couple being forced to work together. Castle is a goofy man-child who truly loves his family, while Kate is a serious and dedicated and strong detective. All the characters, including the supporting characters, are well-rounded. Viewers of all generations have widely liked the show. If you just watch tv shows like The X-Files and want to see a playful series that is similar, Castle is the right pick for you. 

7. Fringe (2008)

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. Check out more shows like Fringe.

Shows like Lost, The X-files and The Twilight Zone actually inspire Fringe. 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 shows similar to The X-Files, I strongly recommend you watch Fringe.

8. Haven (2010)

Haven is a mystery/supernatural drama show. Loosely based on Stephen King’s novel The Colorado Kid, the show was created by Sam Ernst and Jim Dunn. The show deals with strange and unprecedented events in the fictional town of Haven in Maine. An FBI Agent, Audrey Parker, is dispatched to haven for a routine case when she gets entangled in a plague with supernatural afflictions.

The seemingly paranormal activity of the town leads Audrey to shocking secrets related to her mother. Haven builds a world where the protagonist discovers her life and memories might not have been her own and her actions a part of a pre-arranged circumstance. Suppose you’re looking for exciting series like The X-Files, Haven is the right choice for you.

9. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Buffy the Vampire Slayer is an American supernatural drama television series. Despite the cheese and tackiness that might come with WB’s hour-long show about vampires and slayers, Buffy stands out amongst any other teenage, high school magic witch-fest of the late ‘90s and early 2000s.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer is much more than a show about an ass-kicking demon fighter who occasionally puns and even, in one instance, sings a whole musical about it. It’s a cultural phenomenon, one that redefined TV. Buffy may not be the most dainty little show, but its clever approach to storytelling is one that deserves to be retold time and time again. And, hence for shows similar to The X-Files, Buffy The Vampire Slayer will make a great weekend watch.

10. Penny Dreadful (2014)

The show Penny Dreadful’s title refers to 19th-century British publications 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. It 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 agreed that she DESERVED awards for her performance. Penny Dreadful is a binge-worthy show if you’re looking for shows similar to The X-Files. 

Honourable Mentions 

There are so many incredible series similar to The X-Files; below are a few shows that didn’t make the list which you might also enjoy: 

  1. Stranger Things
  2. Midhunter
  3. The Fall
  4. Evil
  5. Supernatural
  6. Lucifer

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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