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TV's Greatest Hits: The Best Thriller Shows of All Time

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Thrills can come from anywhere—a perplexing mystery, high-stakes violence, a dangerous romance, or even a concoction of science. But where do the best thrills come from?

We at Murder & Mayhem have combed through the annals of television history to curate the top selections for you. Here are eight of the best thriller shows of all time.

The Wire

Running from 2002 to 2008, this five-season, 60-episode show rates a staggering 9.3 on IMDB. Set in Baltimore, the series follows an investigation into the drug scene, as launched by a murder. The show looks at the unfolding tensions through the eyes of both law enforcement and the criminal element.

Watch the entire series now on Max!


Inspired by the film of the same name, this anthology series follows murder and lies set in different small towns and time periods each season. The first season, which received a lot of love and acclaim, took place in Minnesota and North Dakota from 2006 to 2007. The shady Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) passes through town, pulling insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) into his violent thrall of chaos. Meanwhile, Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and Duluth police officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) try to connect a string of murders to the pair.

The fifth installment to the series is supposed to premiere sometime later this year, but in the meantime, stream the first four seasons on Hulu!

Prison Break

This series captivated the attention of viewers from 2005 to 2009, with a special limited return in 2017. Consisting of five seasons and 90 episodes, the series centers on brothers Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller). Lincoln is set to prison to wait on death row after being convicted of the murder of the Vice President's brother. Believing he was wrongly accused, Michael sets out to break him out of Fox River State Penitentiary. The best way to do so? Get himself thrown in, too. As a brilliant engineer, Michael helped design the prison. Now the brothers work together to pull off an elaborate escape.

Watch all five seasons now on Hulu!


Based on the true exploits of Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar (portrayed in this series by Wagner Moura), Narcos explores the violent power wielded by drug cartels in the South American country. As cocaine spreads across the globe, law enforcement, including Steve Murphy (Boyd Holbrook) and Javier Peña (Pedro Pascal), races to contain it. The warring sides of this conflict meet in a vicious collision.

Watch all three seasons now on Netflix!


Dexter Morgan is a reserved forensics expert for the Miami Police Department. By day, anyway. Come nighttime, he's a serial killer who targets other killers. Does his strict code of honor make him a hero or a villain? And how soon will his dark deeds catch up with him?

Dexter originally ran on Showtime from 2006 to 2013, amassing 96 episodes across eight seasons. In 2021, the series made a 10-episode comeback with Dexter: New Blood. Watch both now on Paramount+!

Breaking Bad

With an incredible 9.5, Breaking Bad is the highest-rated television show on IMDB. Over five seasons, the show put out 62 episodes, bringing fans back for more and more. The show follows high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Bryan Cranston), who hatches a dark plan after he's diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. In order to make sure his family will be taken care of, he goes into business with one of his former students, Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul, to make and distribute crystal meth.

Watch all five seasons now on Netflix!


Homeland ran on Showtime for 96 episodes over the course of eight seasons. The show follows bipolar CIA operative Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes), who makes waves with her theory that POW Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) has been turned by al-Qaeda to launch a terrorist attack in America. Suspicion runs high and sanity comes into question within this web of complex characters.

Stream all eight seasons now on Paramount+!

Orphan Black

Bringing some science fiction to the thriller genre, Orphan Black ran for five seasons and 50 episodes. When street hustler Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) witnesses the suicide of a woman who looks exactly like her, she thinks for a moment that all her problems could be solved. She steps into the woman's life to clean out her savings, but her problems only pile up when she discovers this isn't the only person walking around with her face. More shocking than the discovery of the clones, is the discovery that someone is other there hunting them down and killing them.

Watch all five seasons now on Amazon Prime Video with a subscription to AMC+!