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10 Thrilling Detective Drama Shows like True Detective

Shows like True Detective

Initially running for 3 seasons, anthology crime drama True Detective is on its way with a new season, set to release in 2024, featuring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis as lead detectives. Shows like True Detective reveal a stiflingly gloomy and misanthropic world. This show, as you know, follows a pair of detectives, namely Rustin Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson). The story was written by the novelist and screenwriter Nic Pizzolatto, and the first 8 episodes were directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga, who also served as an executive producer on the show.

The series garnered 5 Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including outstanding drama series and Outstanding Director for Fukunaga. In the series, as you know, the detectives pursue a serial killer in Louisiana with links to occult crimes spanning over 17 years. The performances by McConaughey and Harrelson were particularly outstanding, showcasing their remarkable acting prowess. True Detective is not just about a typical fashionable pair of detectives solving crimes through the streets of London but about two broken, degenerate individuals struggling to resist the corrupt world around them.

Our selection of 10 recommended shows aims to fulfill various cravings – whether it’s the urge to fill the void left by True Detective, find characters and situations you can relate to, or simply immerse yourself in another meticulously crafted narrative that leaves you craving for more.

List of TV Shows Like True Detective

  1. The Wire (2002)
  2. Fargo (2014-2023)
  3. Twin Peaks (1990-1991)
  4. Hannibal (2013-2015)
  5. The Sinner (2017-2021)
  6. Broadchurch (2013-2017)
  7. Sharp Objects (2011)
  8. Homecoming (2018-)
  9. The Fall (2013-2016)
  10. Under The Banner Of Heaven (2022)

1. The Wire (2002)

The crime drama series 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.

Popular as it may be, The Wire is a slightly humbler version of True Detective. The human complexities and realistic social commentary on the institutions are marked by the finest writing. From exceptional performances by Michael K Williams, Lance Reddick, and Dominic West, The Wire is a masterclass in hard-boiled fiction with 5 binge-worthy seasons.

Watch it On HBO

2. Fargo (2014-2023)

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 2 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.

The crime Fargo premiered in the same year as True Detective and shared many similarities: both the shows are ‘anthologies’ that revolve around eerie, noir crime stories featuring Oscar-winning southerner- Billy Bob Thornton is the lead antagonist of the show. The show received various Primetime Emmy nominations for its storytelling and skillful cast of 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 in Fargo.

Watch it On Hulu

3. Twins Peaks (1990-1991)

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 (Sheryl Lee), the investigation is led by the protagonist of the show, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). 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.

Much like True Detective, Twin Peaks delves deep into the investigators’ own motivations and pasts and the way they influence their ongoing cases. From the mysteries, and the supernatural elements to the list of bizarre characters, Twin Peaks has it all. In my opinion, the show’s cinematography was truly ahead of its time. 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! 

Watch it On Showtime

Already seen it? Also Read: Shows like Twin Peaks

4. Hannibal (2013-2015)

The psychological horror series Hannibal 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. Running for 3 seasons, this thrilling American series does not shy away from gory imagery and it’s these extremely powerful visuals that really make it stand out. The series is a bit darker than True Detective but similar use of symbolism like deer antlers and their bizarre imagery makes Hannibal a perfect pick for you.

Watch it on Hulu

5. The Sinner (2017-2021)

The Sinner is an anthological series that was inspired by Petra Hammeshfahr’s German novel. This investigative show follows Det. Harry Ambrose (Bill Pullman) 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. Season 1’s performance by Jessica Biel as Cora Tannetti won her an Emmys for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Limited Series Or Movie.

The Sinner has an immersive and obsessive tone that gives the audience a chance to look at the criminal state of mind in a more dynamic way. The Sinner, similar to True Detective, touches upon themes of philosophical pessimism and Christianity but in a much darker sense than one can imagine.

Watch it on Netflix

6. Broadchurch (2013-2017)

Broadchurch is a suspenseful murder mystery show created by Chris Chibnall with a talented cast, and it first aired in 2013. This British 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. Winner of Bafta TV Award forBest Drama Series, Broadchurch was adapted to American show Gracepoint, where David Tennant played the American version of the same character.

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 atmospheric locations, and the soundtrack feels like a haunting ballad. For brooding yet scenic crime dramas, Broadchurch is a must-watch.

Watch it on Prime Video

Already seen it? Also Read: Shows like Broadchurch.

7. Sharp Objects (2011)

Based on the 2006 debut novel by Gillian Flynn, Sharp Objects is a brilliant psychological mini series that centres around a crime reporter Camille Preaker played by Amy Adams (who also served as the producer of the show). Camille faces trauma at a young age that drives her out of her hometown, but years later, after being away from the town and its trauma, 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, making her confront her own demons. The twists of the show are shocking, to say the least. Patricia Clarkson, who played Camille’s mother received a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. Sharp Objects will remind you of the suffocation and intoxicating feeling of intrigue. This series has a similar tonality to True Detective which is dark and pulpy, where the role of isolation of a small town plays a big role in the young kid’s murder.

Watch it on Hulu

8. Homecoming (2018-)

The highly acclaimed Hollywood actress Julia Roberts’ psychological drama series Homecoming 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. Due to Julia Roberts’s exit from the show, the second series focuses on Jackie/Alex (Janelle Monae) and her quest as someone who wakes up on a boat without her memory in a Memento-like mystery.

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 where, similar to True Detective, there is more to the story than meets the eye, the mystery is built both in the present and the future. This series is so engaging that it’s easily on top of my recommendations for a series like True Detective.

Watch it On Prime Video

9. The Fall (2013-2016)

Amongst the shows on this list, the thriller series The Fall is perhaps the least similar to True Detective. However, the exceptional factor lies in Gillian Anderson’s brilliant portrayal of Detective Stella Gibson, compensating for the dissimilarity. This Bafta nominated series follows Stella fighting her own demons as she tries to catch a serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan). 

With the highest TV viewer ratings at the time of its airing, The Fall’s storytelling is intensely  gripping. 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’re a True Detective fan and don’t know what to watch in your free time, give The Fall a try.

Watch it On Netflix

10. 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 (Played by Daisy Edgar-Jones ) and her baby girl in their suburb in Salt Lake Valley, in an investigation led by Detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield). Lafferty’s are a part of the Latter-Day Saints (LDS) community, also called Mormonism.

The story of this mini series isn’t a word-to-word to the real events since it features Andrew as the central fictional detective who investigates the double homicide. Dustin Lance Black created the brilliant, thrilling, and menacing details of the story to feel like a cross between True Detective and the movie American Beauty. Under the Banner of Heaven shares the focus True Detective has on the deeply-rooted darkness that exists under the nature of humanity.

Watch it on Hulu

Honourable Mentions

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

  1. Mindhunter
  2. Top of The Lake
  3. The Americans

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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