Top 12 Bewitching Shows Like 'The Killing'
What Series Are Like The Killing?
What is it about whodunnits and crime dramas that captivates us so much?
From the never-ending intellectual battles of Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty to the grueling investigations of The Wire, audiences over the years have been treated to a plethora of on-screen shows telling the stories of the most relatable heroes and villains we can find—humans that stand on the side of either good or evil.
Could it be that the reason audiences gravitate to these crime dramas is because we see ourselves, or at least versions of what we hope to be, in them? Or does watching a relatable villain serve as a constant reminder that all it takes is one wrong step in life to take us down a dark path with no hope of return? Whatever it is, the crime drama genre is one we can’t seem to get enough of with more noticeable titles like CSI, Bones, The Mentalist and Law & Order (just to name a few), gathering cult-like followings all across the world.
One such title that has gone on to capture the attention of this mystery seeking audience is AMC’s The Killing. It's a story about the death of a young girl and the psychological repercussions it has on everyone else after it happens.
This American crime drama series is based on a similar Danish television series called Forbrydelsen (which translates to “The Crime”) and follows two homicide detectives in Sarah Linden, played by Mireille Enos, and Stephen Holder, played by Joel Kinnaman. Sarah, a mother and cop, is determined to have a normal life by separating her work from her family, but comes full circle with the brutal nature of her job while Stephen, a tough top who has spent most of his career as an undercover narcotics cop, must now re-adjust to life as a homicide detective.
The story follows the unlikely pair as they try to solve the case of Rosie Larsen, a brutally murdered young girl. In the first season, which kicks off into the first two weeks of the murder investigation, the series goes on to deal with three main storylines: the investigation itself, Rosie’s family's attempts to deal with their grief, and a political campaign that has somehow become involved in the case.
What makes The Killing such a compelling tale is the deep character development and story, which emerges naturally from the characters. The second season resumes with twists and turns in the investigation as well as the unexpected revelation of secrets and dark truths about the Larsen family. It’s no wonder the show was able to gather such a dedicated following. It’s a masterful stroke of cinema.
When it premiered, the pilot was AMC's second-highest original series premiere, following The Walking Dead and drawing in an estimated 2.7 million viewers. The show has also gone on to win several nominations including five from the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2011, four from the Saturn Awards, for which it won Best Supporting Actress in Television, along with a nomination from the Golden Globes, and the Directors Guild of America, amongst others.
The show ran for three seasons before getting canceled and was later picked up by Netflix for a fourth and final season to conclude the series, leaving fans of the franchise with a gaping hole of need. If you are one of those fans, it may be difficult to find a worthy replacement for The Killing. Fret not. Take a look at the list of shows like The Killing I have collated for you.
Series Similar to The Killing
- True Detective
- Happy Valley
- The Bridge
- Top of the Lake
- The Missing
- The Fall
- Murder in The First
1. True Detective
Written by Nic Pizzolatto, True Detective is a show in three parts. Acting as an anthology of stories with each season of the series employing a new cast and following a host of new characters and storylines, the show stars acting luminaries such as Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in its first season.
The first story of True Detective takes place in Louisiana and follows a pair of homicide detectives in pursuit of a serial killer in an investigation that spans over a mind-boggling 17 years. The second season follows with more stars in the acting pedigree of Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams, Vince Vaughn. Finally, the third season spoils fans of the show rotten with performances from Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo and Scoot McNairy.
Response for the show has been phenomenal with an IMDB rating of 9/10 and a Rotten Tomatoes score of above 75%. True Detective is a masterpiece of a show and deserves your attention, if it hasn’t gotten it already. Watch True Detective on Netflix.
2. Happy Valley
For a show called Happy Valley, this series is rather dark. This British crime drama deals with a police sergeant named Catherine Cawood, who is dealing with her own emotional wounds while investigating drug cases in a small town in West Yorkshire named Calder Valley.
The series has run for only two seasons so far and with a Rotten Tomatoes score of 100% for its first season, the only negative comment you’re likely to have about Happy Valley is that it does not have more seasons.
If you're looking for some cerebral shows like The Killing, Happy Valley will not disappoint you.
Written by Neil Cross, another show from the UK makes this list in the form of Luther. This British crime series stars Idris Elba as John Luther, a sharp yet emotionally volatile detective who is plagued by his own personal demons - demons he must face regularly in the pursuit of the murderers he hunts.
Five seasons into the show, Luther shares similar traits with The Killing in how it plays off the dynamic of police detective and a notorious serial killer fascinated by each other to the point of obsession. Within its five-season span, Idris Elba has won four Emmy nominations for his role in the series. With more Luther on the way, it’s safe to say the story can only get more visceral from here on in.
Stream all five seasons of Luther on Netflix.
4. The Bridge
In recent years, more and more women are taking the lead role as protagonists in crime dramas and The Bridge is no different. The Bridge is a creative Scandinavian collaborative effort between Sweden and Denmark that brings the riveting investigations of police detective Saga Norén to life.
Detective Norén is introduced to audiences as the series starts off with the discovery of a dead body found right in the middle of a bridge, which links two countries together, necessitating a joint investigation between detectives from either side.
Reception for the show has been positive with the series already having won two Golden Nymph Awards for Best European Drama Series and Best Actor in a Drama Series. The show also spawned an American adaptation of the same name, which also aired for two seasons and received rave reviews, just as its predecessor.
If you’re looking for a capable replacement for the indefatigable Sarah Linden, Saga Norén is more than up to the task. Watch both versions of The Bridge on Netflix.
It must be said; the British are great at telling a dramatic tale and provide yet another entry on this list, Broadchurch. This crime drama television series takes place in the fictional English town of Broadchurch in Dorset.
The series focuses on detectives DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller and explores how a child's murder affects a small, close-knit community, in addition to how the individuals react to the media attention and mistrust that arises. Sound familiar?
If you’re looking for the same elements of palpable drama series like The Killing provides, Broadchurch more than any on this list provides that exact mix.
Binge watch all three seasons of Broadchurch on Netflix.
6. Top of the Lake
Top of the Lake is one of those crime dramas that sits with you even when it’s over. Be warned; this series gets very dark. With another prominent female lead and set in an isolated town in New Zealand, the first season of this Australian series tells the story of the disappearance of a twelve-year-old girl named Tui, who is five months pregnant.
Last seen standing chest deep in a freezing lake, all attention is now squarely fixed on an inexperienced detective named Robin Griffin, played by Elisabeth Moss, as she leads the investigation and deals with the mounting pressure on her to provide results.
Not only must she now find Tui, but she must also come face to face with herself, while characters such as the missing girl's father, a local drug lord, and a guru at a local women's camp continue to test her limits.
Season two takes quite a different turn, and with fans have had to wait four years to get the second installment, it is quite certain that those looking for some sort of resolution in the third season of this crime mystery drama series are in for a long wait.
If you are one of the few people to not have seen this Australian masterpiece yet, Top of the Lake is available for binge-watching on Netflix.
7. The Missing
The Missing debuted in the UK somewhere in 2014 with this crime drama series following the anthology series format. Both stories spanning over two seasons, the first season follows a father's desperate search for his son, and the second deals with a returned missing girl, whose abduction may hold clues to finding another missing girl.
Tying both stories together is the French detective that leads the case on both. The series has received praise with critics especially fawning over the cast’s performances and storytelling.
You can stream The Missing on Netflix.
The plot of Wallander follows a Swedish detective named Kurt Wallander, played by Kenneth Branagh, who investigates a series of murders around his country while suffering an existential crisis. The tortured angst Wallander portrays as he goes about solving his cases is what puts this series in the same category as all the great crime dramas before it, showcasing a very compelling yet very flawed human.
The series is based off the novels of Swedish novelist, Henning Mankell, and has been widely successful, earning it six British Academy Television Awards, two awards from the Royal Television Society, as well as several nominations, most noticeably from The Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film.
The cinematography and visual style of this series is stunning and is definitely worth a watch for any fan of the crime drama genre. Wallander is available on Netflix with four seasons so far.
9. The Fall
The Fall is another collaborative effort between two countries as this British-Irish crime drama series set in Northern Ireland tells the story of Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson and a serial killer, Paul Spector, who is hiding in plain sight.
The story follows in a series of twists and turns as Stella must work with a local police force not too pleased by her presence, to put a stop to the increasingly rampant attacks on young women in the city. The series starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan has generally received positive reviews from critics with a rating of 100% on Rotten Tomatoes at the end of the first two seasons.
Without giving too much away, The Fall goes on for a third season before finishing off the story. If a savvy, driven female detective drama is what you’re looking for, The Fall provides it in spades.
The Fall is available for purchase on iTunes
Rectify provides a different type of whodunnit – in this case, losing the detective trope without sacrificing tension and mystery. Starring Aden Young as Daniel Holden, Rectify tells the story of a young man who spends nearly 20 years on death row for the rape and murder of a teenage girl, before new DNA evidence overturns his conviction.
However, when he returns home, he is far from welcomed with the cloud of his alleged crime looming over his head. Daniel must now find a way to adapt to life after prison in a town that has turned its back on him and a power-hungry politician hell-bent on using him to further his career.
With four seasons out and an IMDB score of 8/10 and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 96%, Rectify is definitely one crime drama that will hold your attention for a long while after the buzz of The Killing subsides.
Stream Rectify on Netflix.
Bosch stands in a unique position amongst most on this list because of the nature of this taut series. An American television series that focuses on the procedural system governing the police, Bosch follows an L.A.P.D. homicide detective working to solve the murder of a thirteen-year-old boy as he stands trial in court for the murder of a serial killer.
The series currently has four seasons with talks of a fifth on the way after its resounding success. You may want to catch up on all four seasons of Bosch on Amazon Prime before then.
If you're looking for a show like The Killing, don't miss out on this sly affair.
12. Murder in the First
Another anthology series following the stories of two detectives, Murder in the First stars Taye Diggs as Terry English, a former marine who is now an inspector, and Hildy Mulligan, played by Kathleen Robertson, as the two partners look to solve the gruesome crimes in San Francisco.
The series ran for three seasons and was finally canceled in 2016, but not before it got its fair share of admirers. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 73% and a Metacritic score of 68 out of 100, Murder in the First should definitely make it to your watchlist if it hasn’t already.
Murder in the First is available on iTunes and the Google Play store.
Did I miss out on any series like The Killing? Let me know in the comments section.