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14 Shows Like True Detective to Watch If You Like True Detective

Time is a flat circle, but your watchlist doesn't have to be

Ben Rosenstock
Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, True Detective

Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey, True Detective

Jim Bridges/HBO

When the anthology drama True Detective premiered in 2014, it immediately became a phenomenon, earning critical acclaim and massive ratings for HBO while ushering in the McConaissance. There was something special about the way creator Nic Pizzolatto's elliptical writing combined with Cary Joji Fukunaga's striking direction in that first season — along with the performances of Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who played a pair of homicide detectives investigating the same string of murders in two different timelines. The second and third seasons, also written by Pizzolatto, didn't garner the same widespread appreciation.

But the HBO series returned to form with its rock-solid fourth season, starring Jodie Foster and Kali Reis, with Issa López as showrunner, writer, and director. If True Detective: Night Country has you in the mood for more moody crime dramas, check out this list of similar series — pretty much all murder-related — to find something to watch next.

Watch True Detective Stream on Max

More recommendations:

The X-Files

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, The X-Files


When it comes to delightful TV buddy-cop duos, it's hard to beat Special Agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), the iconic duo at the heart of The X-Files. You can't overstate the influence that The X-Files had on TV sci-fi, and that includes the cosmic horror of True Detective's first season, when it felt possible there was an actual paranormal explanation behind the conspiracy. (The new season explores supernatural horror even more.) The X-Files may be a far more explicitly sci-fi show, but Mulder and Scully's believer-and-skeptic dynamic echoes in Cohle and Hart, as well as in Night Country's Danvers and Navarro. For an episode particularly relevant to True Detective: Night Country's The Thing influences, check out "Ice" from The X-Files' first season.

The Killing

Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, The Killing

Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman, The Killing

Carole Segal/AMC

Like so many other crime dramas, The Killing follows two detectives investigating the death of a teenage girl. This one is set in Seattle, and there's a palpable atmosphere that helps keep it intriguing even when the plot itself stalls (as in the first season finale, which frustrated many viewers by denying a resolution to the central mystery of who killed Rosie Larsen). It's a polarizing show, but if you get on board with the slow burn, it makes for a very compelling watch — especially thanks to strong performances from the ensemble, including Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman as the central duo.

Twin Peaks

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks

Kyle MacLachlan, Twin Peaks


Speaking of which, arguably the best-ever TV show about the investigation into the death of a teenage girl in a small town: David Lynch and Mark Frost's Twin Peaks, a show that went on to directly inspire countless copycats (including The Killing). The investigation into the death of homecoming queen Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) by FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) is only one part of this strange, funny, terrifying series, which often operates on pure nightmare logic. As in The X-Files, the supernatural elements here are more prevalent than they are in True Detective, but both shows share a strong interest in the occult — while ultimately concluding that the unspeakable depth of mankind's evil is scarier than any ghostly entity ever could be.

Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Kate Winslet, Mare of Easttown

Michele K. Short/HBO

Yes, yes, it's another small-town murder mystery where the detective is almost as f---ed up as the people they're investigating. But watching Jodie Foster's engaging performance as the off-putting yet oddly likable Liz Danvers in the new season of True Detective, I can't help thinking of my beloved Mare Sheehan (Kate Winslet), the pain-in-the-ass detective from possibly the most enjoyable, immersive crime drama miniseries of the last five years. Both protagonists have younger male proteges, and both are dealing with their own grief and complicated family dramas throughout the investigation. And Winslet has the same well-established star quality as Foster, investing us in Mare's unlikely hero's journey from the beginning.

A Murder at the End of the World

Emma Corrin, A Murder at the End of the World

Emma Corrin, A Murder at the End of the World

Christopher Saunders/FX

If you're looking for another new-ish murder mystery set in the Arctic, check out this seven-episode miniseries that wrapped up in late 2023. Compared to True Detective, this one aims more for the vibes of an Agatha Christie novel, though the mystery itself doesn't always work as well as the story of its troubled young protagonist, an amateur detective named Darby Hart (Emma Corrin). A Murder at the End of the World was created by Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij, who also teamed up on The OA, a genre-bending cult hit, and this show has some of that same glorious weirdness, though toned down significantly. There are plenty of quite intense moments, and a strong, immersive use of the snowy setting. Just make sure you're okay with vibes-over-plot storytelling before diving in.




Sky Atlantic

Here's another psychological thriller series set in the Arctic — this one at a remote Norwegian outpost that employs everyone in the community. The premise of an investigation into a string of mysterious deaths, along with the isolated research facility setting, makes Fortitude particularly comparable to True Detective: Night Country — especially with the regular presence of polar bears as a legitimate threat. And the eerie, dangerous vibe of the show similarly allows for the possibility of the paranormal to spring up at any moment.


Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, Hannibal

Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, Hannibal

Brooke Palmer/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Looking for something that doesn't feel like any other show you've ever watched? Try Bryan Fuller's Hannibal, a gnarly, beautiful psychological drama centered on the relationship between FBI special investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and a certain secretly cannibalistic serial killer/forensic psychiatrist named Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). There may be a built-in procedural element here that keeps the series somewhat grounded early on, but the series' interest in the mysterious inner workings of the human brain makes it a close companion to True Detective at its most thoughtful — and its unique pairing of nuanced character study and cerebral horror makes it one of a kind.


Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, Fargo

Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons, Fargo

Chris Large/FX

When Noah Hawley's crime drama premiered in 2014, it made for an obvious comparison to True Detective: both shows were set up to follow an anthology format, with each season featuring a new cast and a new complex web of violence. Indeed, both series have experienced their mid-series dips in popularity and critical acclaim, and both are currently mid-comeback. Still, they're going for drastically different tones, with Fargo's Coens-inspired stories far more reliant on black comedy. If you're looking for another anthology to dig into — especially one more tragicomic than dour — Fargo might be your best bet. You can start with the strong fifth season, the show's latest, but I'd also suggest checking out at least the first two, which feature talent like Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Jean Smart.

Sharp Objects

Amy Adams, Sharp Objects

Amy Adams, Sharp Objects

Anne Marie Fox/HBO

If you're still craving more small-town murder mysteries where the focus is the detective's personal baggage, try this miniseries based on Gillian Flynn's debut novel. Camille Preaker (Amy Adams) is actually a reporter, not a detective, but she serves the same basic role — and Adams's performance as a woman coming unraveled is reason enough to tune in. The setting, the town of Wind Gap, Missouri, sometimes feels reminiscent of the sticky humidity of True Detective Season 1's Louisiana bayou scenes — and in both series, there's an overwhelming sense that deep-rooted evil lurks beneath everything that's happening, even during the calmer moments.


David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Broadchurch

David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Broadchurch

Colin Hutton

Come for David Tennant and Olivia Colman, stay for the small-town drama. If there's one aspect that makes this at-times devastating three-season series stand out among a slew of other British crime dramas, it's the multifaceted exploration of grief. Broadchurch begins with a tragedy: In a fictional town on the coast of Dorset, an 11-year-old boy named Danny is found dead, strangled by an unknown assailant. While detectives Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Colman) get to work on finding Danny's killer, the boy's family grapples with the loss — and the increased media scrutiny helps unearth a web of other secrets plaguing this insular community.

Black Snow

Travis Fimmel, Black Snow

Travis Fimmel, Black Snow

Sundance Now

If you're hungry for more cold cases and dual timelines, there's Black Snow, set in a South Sea Islander community in Australia. The detective this time is James Cormack (Travis Fimmel), who visits the town of Ashford in northern Queensland to solve a 25-year-old case: the murder of Isabel Baker (Talijah Blackman-Corowa), a 17-year-old who was murdered on the night of her high-school formal. As in many other shows on this list, the investigation ends up uncovering countless secrets and lies — but what sets this one apart is unique setting, and its cast of mostly Pacific Islander first-time actors. It allows for a surprising and informative exploration of Australia's violent colonialist history.

The Bridge

Diane Kruger, The Bridge

Diane Kruger, The Bridge


Based on the Danish-Swedish series of the same name, this is another solid crime drama that excels with the specificity of its setting and subject matter. The Bridge follows a classically mismatched pair of detectives — Marco Ruiz (Demián Bichir) from the Mexican State Police and Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) from the El Paso Police Department — teaming up to find the serial killer leaving a trail of bodies on the border. Both deal with their own personal issues, including Cross's journey to understand why her sister was murdered, but the central investigation also allows the show to touch on issues relating to immigration, corruption, and drug trafficking.



Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Trapped


There's just something about a dark, cold Nordic crime drama, isn't there? This one brings the same palpable chilliness as True Detective: Night Country, but with a fun new angle. When a mutilated body is found in the fjord, Andri Ólafsson's (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson) mundane life as a small-town police chief gets a shot of adrenaline. He suspects the murder occurred on the newly arrived weekly ferry — but while he's investigating, a blizzard strands everyone in the tiny town, trapping them with a murderer. It's exactly the type of delightful gimmick necessary to set Trapped apart.

Top of the Lake

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake

Elisabeth Moss, Top of the Lake


The New Zealand filmmaker Jane Campion is the primary voice behind Top of the Lake, her two-season foray into TV. Anchored by Elisabeth Moss as Robin Griffin, a Sydney detective, Season 1 deals with the investigation into the disappearance of a pregnant 12-year-old girl, calling to mind dramas like Twin Peaks and The Killing. Robin makes for a compellingly intense, anger-fueled protagonist, like Rachel McAdams' underused Detective Ani Bezzerides in the second season of True Detective. If you've watched Campion's other work, you'll recognize her fascination with gender dynamics and rape culture. And you won't be surprised by the unsettling atmosphere that fills each gorgeous frame, like an unseen co-protagonist.