Shows Like Criminal Minds – 8 Popular Dark, Thriller, and Suspenseful Shows to Binge-Watch

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The landscape of television hasn’t been the same since the release of Criminal Minds in 2005. From the promptness of the show’s premise to the character development through each season, there’s something too catchy about the show that left the audience coming back for more.

With 16 successful seasons under its belt, Criminal Minds is one of those police procedural shows that takes you through a roller coaster ride of emotions. If you have finished watching the show and have been curious to watch something similar, you are in the right place.

In this article, we have managed to narrow down some of the best shows like Criminal Minds that are equally good and engaging, if not better.

1. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015)

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (2000-2015)

Stream on – Hulu, Paramount+

If you liked the extensive nature of Criminal Minds with 16 seasons, CSI is just the perfect alternative with 16 seasons itself. The show is a classic, one that’s going to fill the void that’s been left in your life after you have finished watching Criminal Minds.

The pace of the show is quite engaging and that’s one of the reasons why you won’t feel bored even after 16 seasons. With how twisted the plot is, it makes sense why the show has achieved multiple Golden Globe nominations and has been a fan favorite.

Both shows follow a relatively consistent procedural format, with each episode presenting a new case for the team to solve. This format allows viewers to easily jump into any episode and follow the story without needing extensive knowledge of previous events.

2. Lie to Me (2009 – 2011)

Lie to Me (2009 – 2011)

Stream on – Hulu

Lie to Me is an American crime drama television series that aired on Fox from 2009 to 2011. It was inspired by the real-life work of Dr. Paul Ekman, a pioneer in the field of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.

While Criminal Minds also deals with crime investigation, its focus is primarily on profiling criminals and understanding their motivations. In contrast, Lie to Me centers on detecting deception, regardless of the perpetrator’s profile.

So, in a way, both shows are quite different but the background of crime, lies and the legalities is what makes a good alternative that you can consider watching from the start till the end. The unique perspectives in both shows are also refreshing to watch.

3. Dexter (2006 – 2013)

Dexter (2006 – 2013)

Stream on – Showtime

Let us start with the fact that Dexter and Criminal Minds have no similarities when it comes to their premise and show format. So, why are we mentioning it here? Well, let’s go with the fact that both shows follow sinister characters and crimes.

Dexter stars Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan who happens to be a blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Police Department. But, he has a dual life where he is a serial killer who kills murderers who have escaped through the justice system.

One unique similarity we can infer between both shows is their focus on serial killers and murders. Also, the dark and suspenseful tone that you get to witness with each episode makes it a worthy watch as well.

4. Without a Trace (2002 – 2009)

Without a Trace (2002 – 2009)

Stream on – HBO Max

If you are on the hunt for a show that’s pretty much the same as Criminal Minds, Without a Trace is it. It is also a popular police procedural drama that you simply can’t get enough of, the more you watch it.

Both shows focus on solving crimes, but they do so in different ways. Without a Trace focuses on finding missing persons, while Criminal Minds focuses on profiling and tracking serial killers. So, there are basic similarities but differences too.

Either way, what’s great is that both shows have a very fast-paced and exciting plot, which keeps the audience hooked from the start till the end. These are some of those well-made crime dramas that you simply can’t get enough of.

5. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999 -)

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999 -)

Stream on – Hulu, Peacock

Can you imagine a show that premiered in 1999 and is still running? The show currently has 24 seasons released and Season 25 is expected to be released in 2024, so that’s underway as well. Believe it or not, this goes to show that it is the most popular police procedural show right now.

Besides some of the differences, what makes Law and Order a worthy watch as Criminal Minds is that both shows explore the personal lives and challenges faced by the characters as they deal with the emotional toll of their work.

If you compare both shows, they pretty much tackle sensitive and disturbing topics, including sexual assault, child abuse, and murder. So, viewer discretion is advised either way. But, the plot twists and the engaging storyline make this show a worthy watch.

6. Cold Case (2003 – 2010)

Cold Case (2003 – 2010)

Stream on – HBO Max, Amazon Prime Video

There are crime shows that are so gory and disturbing that it leaves you with a disturbed mind and Cold Case is just the perfect option that fits the bill. What’s unique about the show’s premise is that some of the episodes dig out older cases that are 50 years and older. It’s interesting to see how things unfold.

A lot similar to Criminal Minds, the series follows a close-knit team of investigators and police officers that is bound to leave you wondering how good it would be if justice like this was served in real life. Some of the episodes draw inspiration from Criminal Minds too.

Overall, if you have finished watching Criminal Minds, Cold Case is one of those shows that you wouldn’t regret picking up and starting next.

7. Luther (2010 – 2019)

Luther (2010 – 2019)

Stream on – Hoopla, Amazon Prime Video

Sometimes you need to watch a thriller series starring Idris Elba. It is not even a question why, you just need to do it and Luther is the perfect place to start that tradition. This depicts the story of a detective who somehow is friends with a killer.

The premise of the show peels like the layers of an onion, slow and steady. What’s great about the show is how engaging the plot is. Nothing about it screams mundane or boring, which explains why the show is often considered a good alternative to Criminal Minds.

You do get to watch the story unfold in the U.K. and involve the Serious Crime Unit and the darkness and sinister elements that shroud the life of the protagonist.

8. The Following (2013 – 2015)

Luther (2010 – 2019)

Stream on – Apple TV+

If you are on the hunt for a show that takes you into the mind of a serial killer, this is it. The show is not for the faint-hearted because some instances will fill you with rage and leave you disgusted but that shows how good the entire series is.

It isn’t your typical police procedural show like Criminal Minds is but the premise is pretty much the same. You get to witness crime execution, the aftermath of it, and the ongoing investigations that take place on the sidelines. Overall, it is a worthy watch.

With three successful seasons, The Following is a mix of crime elements, murder and even a cult following that’s created in the midst of it. Think of it as everything in one show.

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