Do you also like shows that make you think harder and wonder about everything happening around, in the world? Well, then you’re in for a treat. Psychological thrillers are (okay, I agree) not the most comforting ones to watch, and definitely not the ones you would want to watch before going to bed because then everything around you arouses suspicion in your mind. But these are the ones that catch you off the hook and make you sit on the edges of your seats, sweating. The shows are also not the easy ones to make. They cannot leave the episode just hanging about, leaving an unpleasing impact on the viewers’ minds. They have to be well catapulted with an impactful message and should leave the viewer at peace. And in my opinion, that is what makes a good psychological thriller an even better one.
This genre is my personal favorite, and hence, I have brought a list of the ten best psychological thrillers TV shows.
The series is a recreation of the author’s Thomas Harris’s villain and was first performed by the great actor Anthony Hopkins. While his performance was extraordinary, Mads Mikkelsen is no less and has given an equally compelling performance. It is one of the best psychological thrillers and TV shows and not at all comforting. It will have you sweating, biting your nails, but you would still want to keep going.
This one’s a very famous psychological thriller, the one that left the audience in complete awe. It first aired in 2006 and lasted till 2013. Derek Morgan, the lead, leads a double life as an analyst in Miami Metro Police Department and a murderer. In the daytime, he spends his time helping the team catch the killers, and during the night, he is committing crimes. Michael C. Hall played the character brilliantly and rightfully won the Golden Globe Award for his acting. Although he’s committing brutal murders, he is bound by his firm belief and doesn’t go around killing people haphazardly; instead, he kills those who are already criminals. The character is at constant war with himself and the world. It is interesting to see how things turn in the series.
How can the story based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel ever go wrong? The classic Sherlock Holmes mysteries have been everyone’s favorites who love this genre, and the brilliant writing is enticing. But the show doesn’t portray Sherlock from the early eras in which it was originally written. It gave us a modern-day Sherlock with one episode from the Victorian period, played stunningly by Benedict Cumberbatch. The series is praised for its direction and writing and has received numerous nominations.
4. Criminal Minds
The series has been on the list of favorites for most of them who enjoy this genre. It is produced and created by Jeff Davis. The story revolves around the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) team members of FBI, Quantico. The team has ingenious members whose main task is to develop a killer profile (mostly serial killers) by guessing their state of mind or psychology. They dig up their past trauma and experiences, and the flow of the stories is brilliantly written. They always take the viewers with them in their course of the investigations.
5. Prodigal Son
The series is a newer one compared to the rest of the items on the list. It first aired in 2019, and the series revolves around a serial killer and his prodigal son. The lead character, Malcolm Whitly, is portrayed as a brilliant profiler who identifies the killers’ psychology and predicts their future behavior. The series is well-written and walks us through the son’s psychology, too, while dealing with the trauma his dad leaves with him.
6. The Sinner
The series is a real mystery and catches pace right from the first episode. You just cannot stop it after you’ve finished watching the first episode. It is a crime drama TV show and was nominated for Golden Globe awards. The series’ first season is based on Petra Hammesfahr’s novel, where we unravel the mystery behind the mindset of a killer. The first episode starts with a brutal murder by the lead in front of her family sitting nearby, and the mystery begins. The story takes on the tour of understanding the killer’s psychology, which might seem only normal, and we later come to know about his troubled childhood. After the season, only the detective, Harry Ambrose, remains constant with showcasing newer ordinary people who commit such horrible crimes.
The series is based on a book inspired by true events called Mindhunter: Inside The FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit. This psychological thriller revolves around two FBI agents, Holden Ford and Bill Tench, and a psychologist, Wendy Carr. The first season has a recurrent serial killer who lets the detectives through the killer’s psychology.
8. Bates Motel
It is a psychological horror drama and also one of the best thriller TV shows. The show is in a modern-day set up and revolves around Norman Bates and his mother Norma, played by Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga, respectively. Its story is a prequel to the movie, Psycho, happening in a different town. The story begins with Norma losing her husband and buying a motel in a different location to start a new life. In the later season, we see Norman’s mental illness progressing and making him dangerous. The series will definitely bring chills while you’re watching. Bates Motel is the only original scripted drama series that is the longest-running and won three People’s Choice Awards for Favorite Cable TV Drama.
Luther stars Idris Elba as the lead character, John Luther, and is brilliantly written by Neil Cross. Elba received several awards for his performance as John Luther, including a Golden Globe Award. His role is of a brilliant police detective and is the real hero. The show is violently intriguing and aces the characters’ portrayal—one of the best TV shows that are psychological thrillers. The first episode itself takes you for a ride when John identifies a psychopath and a murderer, Alice Morgan, but cannot arrest her. And it is interesting to know how she accompanies him in his investigations in further episodes.
The series, developed by Gera Berlanti and Sera Gamble, revolves around a bookstore that is also the serial killer. He falls in love with one of his customers, and we saw his love grow into a toxic obsession. The second season has a recurrent appearance of the character, trying to leave his past behind but falling into the same pattern again.
These some of the best psychological thrillers that will send you on swirl. Do watch, if you haven’t and let us know after.