Hands Down, These Are The Creepiest Shows About Serial Killers

If you're anything like us, you finished the entire Mindhunter series in one gulp over the weekend. Directed by David Fincher, this gripping thriller looks into the formation of psychological profiling, an attempt to understand the behavior of criminals — namely, serial killers.

The show follows a team of two FBI agents (Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany) and one psychologist (Anna Torv), who conduct interviews with convicted serial killers and then use their findings to catch ones still on the loose. Incredibly, the show is based on the real-life events written about in Mindhunter, a book by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas, the pioneer of psychological profiling.

Mindhunter is an inventive installment in the police procedural, but it's certainly not the only serial killer-centric show available. For those of you fascinated by the psychology that motivates heinous acts, these shows will keep you glued to the screen.

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Courtesy of Netflix
Happy Valley (2014-present)

This is not a happy place. In this show, Sarah Lancashire plays Catharine Cawood, a police sergeant in Northern England. Happy Valley isn't about a serial killer, though — rather, it centers on brutal, everyday crimes that plague many communities in the U.K. and U.S. One, in particular, hits very close to home to Catharine.
Dark (2017-present)

A community in a small German town is shaken up when two young boys go missing in the forest. What makes the disappearance stranger is that it mimics the events that took place three decades prior, when another young child went missing. Dark is the grim, German equivalent to Stranger Things. You'll be reeled into the mystery, so long as you can keep track of the town's sprawling cast of characters and criss-crossing motivations.
: Sonja Flemming/CBS
Criminal Minds (2005-present)

Mindhunter is about the nascent days of the F.B.I's Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). In this long-running CBS show, we see the BAU in its fully developed glory. In each episode, the show's highly skilled profilers solve crimes by figuring out criminals' minds — hence the show's name. If your favorite part of Mindhunter are the small-town crimes Trench and Holden help solve, then queue up a few episodes of Criminal Minds. Thanks to the show's enormous backlog, it'll be a while before you run out of gruesome crimes.
Dan Littlejohn/Showtime/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Dexter (2006-2013)

When it comes to serial killer shows, there's nothing quite as complicated and compelling as Dexter was — no matter your opinion of the show's final season. By day, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) is the star of the Miami Metro Police Department, helping the police find criminals through crime scene blood splatter analysis. At night, he turns into the criminal, and hunts down people he feels deserving of murder.

Dexter put viewers in the uncomfortable moral position of liking, even rooting for, a serial killer. Michael C. Hall's Dexter Morgan was trained by his police officer father, Harry (James Remar), to channel his serial killer instincts in a "productive" way. Since Harry knew his son would kill no matter what, he helped Dexter design a code that would allow him to not get caught, and choose "deserving" victims.
Sonja Flemming/CBS/Getty Images.
The Mentalist (2008-2015)

Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is not a psychic, but he might as well be. Using his genius-level observational skills and deductive reasoning, Baker passed as a convincing psychic medium for years. Now, he works as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation to solve murders. Jane is motivated to catch the serial killer Red John, who, in an act of revenge, killed Jane's own wife and daughter years prior.
Luther (2010-2018)

Since 2017 is undoubtedly the year of Idris Elba, it's the perfect time to start watching his very dark crime drama. Idris plays John Luther, a detective who lives within the maelstrom of his violent, disturbing job. His job rubs off on his personality, leaving him frequently tormented and obsessed. Like Holden and Trench in Mindhunter, Luther uses his strange working relationship with a psychopath, Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), to gain valuable insight into the workings of the criminal mind.
The Fall (2013-2016)

Police superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) arrives to Belfast, Northern Ireland, from London to help shepherd an unprepared police department through a terrifying situation: A serial killer has begun to prey on young women in the area.

Half of the show follows Gibson's efforts to set up an investigation, while battling quiet sexism from the department. The other half? We see Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), family man and social worker by day, and serial killer by night, go through his duplicitous and gruesome routine. The first season of this taut, tense show is a smart, thrilling game of cat and mouse.
Broadchurch (2013-2017)

The evolving relationship between Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Trench (Holt McCallany) is the glue of Mindhunter. For another show with an authentic, and occasionally tense, working relationship between two detectives, look no further than Broadchurch. After 11-year-old Danny Latimer is found dead on the beach of a small Dorset town, D.I. Alec Hardy (David Tennant) is sent to organize the town's police.

Detective Sgt. Ellie Miller (Olivia Colman) must swallow her jealousy, and work with the gruff Hardy to see her friends and neighbors in a new light. Now, everyone she knows and loves is a murder suspect.
See-Saw/Escapade/Screen Australia/Sundance Channel/BBC Worldwide/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Top of the Lake (2013-present)

With its focus on serial killers' inner lives, Mindhunter is quite a disturbing show. For more disturbing crime scene investigations, try Top of the Lake, Jane Campion's acclaimed police procedural. While Detective Robin Griffin (Elisabeth Moss) is visiting her dying mother in New Zealand, a 12-year-old girl, Tui (Jacqueline Joe), who had disappeared some time ago, turns up near a frozen lake. Tui is pregnant. Robin, who is determined to find out what happened to Tui, uncovers her small town's gruesome underbelly. The investigation also forces Robin to recall her own past trauma.
Dino De Laurentiis Company/Doheny Prods./Gaumont International TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
Hannibal (2013-2015)

Dr. Hannibal Lecter, played by Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs, is perhaps the most famous fictional serial killer of all time. So, it follows that Hannibal, a TV show entirely about Lecter, would be considered the the most gruesomely violent show on broadcast TV. In Hannibal, a criminal profiler named Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) forms a partnership with the psychiatrist Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to solve crimes for the FBI, without realizing that his brilliant partner is also a serial killer. And a cannibal.

Hannibal was set to be even more gruesome, had NBC's vice president of program standards not put the kibosh on a very violent Season 1 murder, which involved live disembowelment.
Outerbanks Entertainment/WB TV/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock
The Following (2013-2015)

The Following has the elements of a typical FBI agent and serial killer cat-and-mouse game — then throws a murderous cult following into the mix. Former FBI agent Ryan Hardy (Kevin Bacon) is retired, but when the serial killer he helped put behind bars, Joe Carroll (James Purefoy), escapes prison, Hardy tries to hunt him down. Now out of prison, Carroll has forged a cult of fellow serial killers, wiling to do his bidding.
Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer (2015)

The characters in Mindhunter either meet, or mention, many real serial killers, like Edmund Kemper and Daniel Berkowitz, the Son of Sam. If true history appeals to you, then Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer is a natural next show to watch. Mixing psychological analysis, fictional reenactments, and real-life footage, this ten-episode series focuses on ten more contemporary killers.
Billions (2016-present)

Mindhunter is a real psychological thriller in the sense that it makes action from the processing of unusual minds. Billions may not be about serial killers, but it's definitely a psychological thriller of the same type as Mindhunter. In the show, U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) is determined to take down the untouchable hedge fund billionaire Bobby Axelrod (Damian Lewis). Both of them try to stay three steps ahead of each other, but often fall prey to their own egos.
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