The 15 Best Murder Mysteries to Watch Right Now

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The 15 Best Murder Mysteries to Watch Right Now

Murder mysteries tend to conjure up very specific imagery. The lone, idiosyncratic detective. A dark and dreary landscape. The mustache of Hercule Poirot. Professor Plum in the library with the candlestick. But the truth is that murder mysteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some are atmospheric and moody. Some are bright and funny. Some are by-the-book procedurals that you watch precisely because they’re reliable and formulaic. And television has them all. No matter your taste, there’s a murder mystery with your name on it (this is much better than there being a murder weapon with your name on it).

In our attempt to highlight the best of the best murder mysteries, we’ve carefully curated a list that features period shows and modern mysteries, stark snow noirs and vivid fairy tales. There are Serious Dramas and shows that find the humor in life alongside the shadow of death. It’s a bit of everything, so no matter what mood you’re in, you’ll likely find something to watch below. These are the best murder mysteries to stream right now.

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Mare of Easttown

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Watch on HBO Max

If you like your small-town murder with a side of deep emotional suffering and personal trauma, the HBO limited series Mare of Easttown is the show for you. Emmy winner Kate Winslet stars in the exquisite seven-episode series as Mare Sheehan, a haggard detective and local basketball star from a town just outside Philadelphia who’s been tasked with solving the murder of a local teen while trying to find several more who’ve gone missing. As is required by Murder Mystery Law, Mare must do all of this while personally hanging on by a thread, her own life having been shattered by a moment of suffering so deep and painful that it has created cracks through her world like a spiderweb. This is the type of show where the central crime arguably comes second to the personal stories, which are a careful study in how everyone is damaged, but Winslet gives the kind of performance that is utterly unforgettable. And thanks to excellent supporting performances from Evan Peters and Julianne Nicholson (who also won Emmys for their work) and the uncomparable Jean Smart (who was a nominee), it’s a compelling murder mystery that keeps you on your toes until the very end. —Kaitlin Thomas


The Afterparty

Watch on Apple TV+

If I can only use one word to describe Christopher Miller and Phil Lord’s genre-bending series The Afterparty, it’s “super-freaking-fun.” The eight-episode first season—the latest in a welcome trend of comedic murder mysteries—follows the investigation of a high-profile murder that occurs at a high school reunion afterparty. Each episode is a retelling of the night’s events as viewed through the lens of a different popular film genre that corresponds to the perspective and personality of the person being interrogated. The result is a series that both operates within and pokes fun at the tropes of not just the formulaic murder mystery, but also romantic comedies, psychological thrillers, musicals, and teen movies. It’s not a terribly deep show, but with a cast filled with actors and actresses who are often the funniest and best parts of every project they’re in, it’s an exceptionally good time from start to finish. —Kaitlin Thomas


Trapped

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Watch on Amazon Prime

For fans of Nordic noir, you can’t go wrong with the exceptionally snowy, totally compelling Icelandic crime drama Trapped. The series, centered in a town on the coast that has recently been snowed in, kicks off with the discovery of a headless corpse in the local port. From there, the local police—led by Olafur Darri Olafsson’s Andri, whose work has taken its toll on his home life—embark on a twisted mystery that must be solved before the snow melts and the murderer can escape. It’s a beyond tired cliche to say that the location of a show is another character, but in this case, it’s actually true, as Trapped skillfully uses its remote setting to its advantage, upping the dramatic tension at every turn and leaving characters vulnerable to both the effects of Mother Nature and the killer in town. —Kaitlin Thomas


Only Murders in the Building

Watch on Hulu

This endearing comedic murder mystery stars Steve Martin, Martin Short, and Selena Gomez as a trio of true-crime obsessives who charmingly try to crack a case in their shared apartment building. The neighbors make an unlikely gang: Charles-Haden Savage (Martin) is a washed-up actor who used to star as a TV detective, and the overconfidence he has in his residual investigative skills thinly masks a deeply insecure man; Oliver Putnam (Short) contrasts Charles as a flamboyant former theater director with a big personality and even bigger debts; Mabel (a well-cast Gomez) is a stylish and quietly mysterious young woman who has more of a connection to the case than she initially lets on. But when they find out they share a suspicion that a tragic suicide in their building was actually a homicide, they decide to try their hand at uncovering the truth—and start a podcast to follow their investigation.

The series—and the podcast within—depend on our central trio being engaging, and the combination of personalities works out well; the cast is wonderfully dynamic, earning laughs while slowly revealing morsels of their secretly lonely lives to each other. Though our heroes like to complicate things, Only Murders in the Building itself keeps things simple; it’s a dazzlingly funny and entertaining series that’s clearly made with a lot of heart. —Kristen Reid


Shetland

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Watch on BritBox

A strong sense of place is often key to a good murder mystery. Shetland, a British crime drama based on the novels of Ann Cleeves that draws its name from its setting on the Shetland Isles off the coast of Scotland, uses its location to its advantage. At times, the masterful murder mystery—which begins with standalone stories before transitioning to a more serialized narrative—is remote and suffocating. At others, it’s quaint and beautiful. It all comes down to the story and the framing. But since Douglas Henshall’s Detective Inspector Jimmy Perez most often investigates murders, the setting most often reflects the murky nature of the crimes committed. And yet, Shetland isn’t a glumfest. There is plenty to smile about as well, making for a well-rounded viewing experience. —Kaitlin Thomas


Veronica Mars

Watch on Hulu

Equal parts witty and riveting, Veronica Mars follows the title character, who is an ostracized high-school student moonlighting as a private eye for her classmates. Kristen Bell uncannily portrays someone who is simultaneously smart, vulnerable, tough and injured. The series, which received a fan-funded movie revival in 2014 and a recent Hulu revival, is thematically compelling, stylistically coherent, and fully realized TV show (despite the controversy of the revival’s conclusion). The first season followed Veronica as she solved the murder of her best friend Lilly (Amanda Seyfried) and uncovered who assaulted her at a party. The eventual reveal of the murderer was shocking but the show proved it was much more than a one-trick pony. Subsequent seasons introduced new mysteries and corruption all while delivering some of the most fantastic dialogue on television (“Love stinks. You can dress it up in sequins and shoulder pads, but one way or another, you’re just gonna end up alone at the spring dance strapped in uncomfortable underwear.”) For UPN, the series represented a foray into critically acclaimed television. The show was then and remains one of the best TV series of all time. And marshmallows, we pause here to give a special shout out to Jason Dohring, who brought a nuanced combination of cockiness and hurt to bad boy Logan Echolls. —James South and Shaina Pearlman


Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries and Ms. Fisher’s Modern Mysteries

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Watch Miss Fisher on Acorn TV Watch Modern Mysteries on Acorn TV

Premiering in Australia in early 2012 and reaching the American market via Acorn TV and PBS the following year, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was the first of a particular subset of plucky lady detective procedurals to hit the small screen. Set in Melbourne in the late 1920s and featuring Essie Davis as Miss Phryne Fisher, international woman of intrigue, adventure, and investigative nerve, the series immediately proved how whizbang successful such a specifically feminine take on the private detective business could be, and quickly became a cult hit. Ms. Fisher’s Modern Mysteries, Acorn TV’s zippy spin-off series, takes that cult hit energy and runs with it, kicking its wild “what if Phryne, but modern?” premise off with Phryne’s long-lost niece, Peregrine (Geraldine Hakewill), inheriting her aunt’s estate after Phryne has gone missing in a plane accident in the mountains of Papua New Guinea. This change of literal affairs established, Peregrine, otherwise alone in the world, finds herself free not only to move into Phryne’s house and drive Phryne’s sports car, but also to step into Phryne’s dangerous shoes as Melbourne’s chief amateur P.I., butting heads with handsome local detective James Steed (Joel Jackson, stepping charmingly into Nathan Page’s more serious shoes). Peregrine’s adventures have a slightly different flavor than Phryne’s, of course, but one that’s more than charming enough to turn to Acorn to catch. —Alexis Gunderson


Broadchurch

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Watch on PBS Masterpiece via Amazon

Broadchurch is a riveting U.K. crime drama that focuses on the murder of a young boy. Former Doctor Who star David Tennant leads as detective Alec Hardy, who with his partner Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) must infiltrate a close-knit community on Britain’s Jurassic Coast. Of course, everybody in town has a secret, and no one takes kindly to the mounting media attention. In its first season, as Hardy and Miller continue their investigation, the mystery unfolds in a slow, deceptively languid fashion, lingering on the effects of the child’s death upon the town’s residents. From there things become more sprawling (and arguably less compelling), but still binge-worthy. Creator Chris Chibnall (another Doctor Who vet) is a master of atmosphere (a haunting, piano-driven score; the glistening seaside vistas) and by taking his time with the details, he keeps the whodunit at a slow boil that rewards patient viewers. —Amanda Schurr


Pushing Daisies

Watch on HBO Max

Bryan Fuller’s whimsical romantic comedy is one of the most unique shows to ever grace television. The series follows Lee Pace as a pie-maker with the gift to revive dead things for one minute, after which he must either let it die again or have something (or someone) die in its place. In spectacular TV fashion, he uses his gift to help a local private detective (Chi McBride) solve murders, along with his revived childhood love (Anna Friel), whom he can never touch again without killing her forever. Kristin Chenoweth rounds out the supporting cast as Ned’s co-worker, who of course gets a few musical ballads to sing along the way. This fairy-tale romantic comedy is distinct for its bright saturated color palette and fantastical approach to the murder mystery. The series has garnered a passionate cult following since its cancellation, and remains one of the most wonderfully funny and charming shows to ever have been made. —Leila Jordan


Grantchester

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Watch on Amazon Prime Watch on PBS Passport

There are two things the UK is really great at producing: vicars and murder mysteries. So it holds that Grantchester—a story about a murder mystery-solving vicar—would itself be grand. Taking place in the 1950s in the village of Cambridgeshire, the setup is familiar: there’s a young, handsome vicar who has an intuitive way with people, and a gruff, hardboiled detective with whom he improbably becomes friends. The two solve Cases of the Week as vicar Sidney (James Norton) listens to jazz, questions his faith, and tries to stop being in love with his childhood friend Amanda, since they cannot marry. Detective Geordie Keating (Robson Green), meanwhile, is a no-nonsense WWII veteran with a heart of gold and his own domestic issues, both of which give some extra dimension to the show’s procedural aspects. Grantchester is often thoughtful, sweetly compelling, and lightly thrilling—it also includes cozy period details and a dog named Dickens. What more could you want? —Allison Keene


Psych

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Watch on Peacock

When USA debuted Psych, it was just a little show about a fake psychic who solved crimes. The network was in the nascent stages of its “blue sky” period, a time that included Burn Notice, White Collar, and Royal Pains. Now that the phase is over, it’s easy to declare Psych the best of the no-heavy-watching-required bunch. Starring James Roday Rodriguez, Dule Hill, Timothy Omundson, and Maggie Lawson, the comedy-mystery hybrid is decidedly lighter than most shows centered around solving murders. Frequently hilarious, the series relishes in spoofing the pop-culture landscape and tapping into the zeitgeist both past and present. Almost every episode is themed around a trope, genre, or specific film or TV show. Psych ran for eight seasons and spawned three follow-up films, so don’t be a myopic Chihuahua—dive in. Wait for it. Wait for iiiiiiiit… —Shannon Houston


Hinterland

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Watch on Acorn TV

The United Kingdom has never met a somber murder mystery it didn’t love, and the three-season Welsh drama Hinterland is one of the best examples of the genre. The series stars Richard Harrington as the brooding and enigmatic DCI Tom Mathias, who has relocated to Aberystwyth after being forced out of his position in London for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent. As he solves some rather gruesome murders set against some of the most gorgeous backdrops in the world (you will want to move to Wales after watching this show), the series—like so many that came before it—attempts to also crack the case of its complicated leading man. Adding more intrigue to the series is the fact that it was actually filmed twice: once in Welsh and then again in English (though the latter version does still feature some Welsh). That’s dedication to the craft.—Kaitlin Thomas


Collateral

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Watch on Netflix

The four-episode UK prestige crime series takes place in London over the course of four days, after the fatal shooting of a pizza delivery man. Academy Award nominee Carey Mulligan plays Kip Glaspie, a detective inspector who refuses to accept this killing as a simple random murder and seeks out the darker truth hidden in the shadows. There are also a host of political, racial, and social implications to the murder that are all given full consideration by the whip-smart dialogue, elevating this series into a thoughtful, compelling work. —Mike Mudano and Allison Keene


Bordertown

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Watch on Netflix

The Nordic region has produced a number of excellent atmospheric dramas over the years, making it quite difficult to choose which ones to watch. But the moody Bordertown, set on the border between Finland and Russia (hence the show’s title), is one example of Nordic noir that is not to be missed. The three-season show, which usually splits its mysteries over two episodes, follows Kari Sorjonen (Ville Virtanen), a highly skilled detective who has left his job at the National Bureau of Investigation to relocate his family, including his cancer survivor wife, to the border in search of a slower life. However, Kari soon finds there are horrible crimes to be solved everywhere, and life on the border is anything but quiet. Equipped with a photographic memory and an almost frightening understanding of murderers and how they think, he joins the Serious Crimes Unit and eventually partners with a former FSB agent by the name of Lena (Anu Sinisalo) to solve the area’s own set of disorienting crimes. —Kaitlin Thomas



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