15 Shows Like Criminal Minds That’ll Make You Feel Like an Investigator
From nail-biting suspense and shocking twists to multi-faceted characters, Criminal Minds remains one of the best crime procedural dramas to ever grace the small screen. And while it’s been more than a year since we bid farewell to our favorites at the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, we admit, those flirty exchanges between Morgan (Shemar Moore) and Penelope (Kirsten Vangsness) still live rent-free in our minds.
Not too many shows can balance mystery and dark themes with light humor quite like this crime drama, but there are quite a few that tackle similar subject matter. Keep reading for 15 shows like Criminal Minds to help fill the void.
Who’s in it? Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin, T. J. Thyne, Eric Millegan
What’s it about? Real-life novelist and forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs used her own life as inspiration for this brilliant crime procedural drama. It follows Dr. Temperance Brennan (Deschanel) as she teams up with FBI Agent Seeley Booth (Boreanaz) to help solve cases by studying the human remains of murder victims. Anyone who loved Dr. Spencer Reid will take a special liking to Dr. Zack Addy (Millegan).
Who’s in it? Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv
What’s it about? Like Criminal Minds, Mindhunter masters the art of balancing crime and suspense with themes like family and workplace relationships. The series centers on psychologist Wendy Carr (Torv), who teams up with two FBI agents from the Behavioral Science Unit. Together, they launch a project to better understand the minds of incarcerated killers, with the goal of breaking more cases.
Who’s in it? Mark Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette
What’s it about? It's not as intense as Criminal Minds, but it’s got all the makings of a binge-worthy crime drama, from mind-bending mysteries to compelling backstories (and as an added bonus, it’s also set in Washington D.C.). The series revolves around a group of elite agents at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, who are tasked with solving cases that involve the Navy or Marine Corps personnel.
Who’s in it? Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Steven Mackintosh, Indira Varma
What’s it about? Luther (Elba), a brilliant detective with a troubled past, is determined to pursue justice as a Detective Chief Inspector at the Serious Crime Unit, but it often takes him down a very dark path. The gritty series is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. (And did we mention Elba’s British accent? Because we need to.)
5. ‘Lie to Me’
Who’s in it? Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Monica Raymund, Brendan Hines, Mekhi Phifer
What’s it about? Tell one lie in front of Dr. Cal Lightman (Roth) and, ten times out of ten, he’ll know you’re deceiving him. In the series, the infamous deception expert works closely with his colleagues at the Lightman Group and uses applied psychology to help law enforcement catch the bad guys.
6. ‘Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders’
Who’s in it? Gary Sinise, Alana de la Garza, Daniel Henney, Tyler James Williams
What’s it about? While it only ran for two seasons, the Criminal Minds spin-off was actually more diverse and proved to be just as compelling as the original. The procedural drama follows a team of FBI agents on the International Response Team as they solve crimes connected to American citizens on foreign soil.
Who’s in it? Michael C. Hall, Julie Benz, Jennifer Carpenter, Erik King
What’s it about? Seeing cops go after criminals is always fascinating, but getting to see the world through the eyes of a scary criminal certainly takes things up a notch. At first glance, Dexter Morgan (Hall) is a quiet, whip-smart forensic analyst, but in reality, he’s a sociopath who’s taken it upon himself to murder killers who’ve escaped the justice system.
8. ‘CSI: Crime Scene Investigation’
Who’s in it? William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger, Gary Dourdan, George Eads, Jorja Fox, Laurence Fishburne
What’s it about? If you're up for a lengthy binge, it’s time to get started on CSI, which has 15 seasons. The Emmy Award-winning show follows a team of forensic investigators who solve murders by examining evidence at the Las Vegas Police Department.
Who’s in it? David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Jodie Whittaker, Andrew Buchan
What’s it about? If murder mysteries and British accents are your cup of tea, you’ll take a liking to this gem. Broadchurch follows detectives Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Colman) as they investigate the disappearance of a young boy in a small town, which starts to draw plenty of media attention.
10. ‘The Following’
Who’s in it? Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore, Jessica Stroup
What’s it about? If you’re more interested in going inside the mind of a serial killer, meet your new favorite show. Bacon plays former FBI agent Ryan Hardy, who returns to the force when a serial killer that he put behind bars escapes from prison and starts a group of devoted followers.
11. ‘Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’
Who’s in it? Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T, Kelli Giddish, Peter Scanavino, Philip Winchester
What’s it about? A poignant crime drama that’s sure to tug at the heartstrings, Law & Order: SVU follows a team of top-notch detectives who investigate sex crimes under the New York City Police Department. The iconic series is now in its 23rd season and has 33 Emmys out of 91 (yes, 91) nominations.
Who’s in it? Rob Morrow, David Krumholtz, Judd Hirsch, Alimi Ballard
What’s it about? It’s the show that’ll make any student think twice about ditching calculus. The series follows an FBI agent who works with his math genius brother and uses unconventional methods to solve the most difficult crimes.
13. ‘Rizzoli & Isles’
Who’s in it? Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Lee Thompson Young, Jordan Bridges
What’s it about? Adapted from Tess Gerritsen’s book series of the same name, the show follows detective Jane Rizzoli (Harmon), who joins forces with unlikely partner and medical examiner Maura Isles (Alexander) in order to solve the most challenging crimes in Boston. FYI, the chemistry between Harmon and Alexander is simply unmatched.
14. ‘Cold Case’
Who’s in it? Kathryn Morris, Justin Chambers, Thom Barry, John Finn
What’s it about? Criminal Minds meets Unsolved Mysteries in this riveting police drama, which follows Philadelphia-based detective Lilly Rush (Morris) as she revisits a series of "cold cases," including unsolved murders that span from five years to more than five decades ago.
15. ‘Without A Trace’
Who’s in it? Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Enrique Murciano
What’s it about? Without a Trace zeroes in on the FBI’s Missing Persons Unit, where a squad of agents use psychological profiling to help find missing subjects. The series will have you feeling like a fellow detective just a few episodes in.