Every mystery aficionado knows that crime never stops, even if you’re too stuffed with Christmas dinner to solve much of anything. That’s why we’re serving up the best holiday episodes of your favorite mystery TV shows. From a yuletide slayer who leaves behind Christmas-themed clues to a small-town mayor who meets a chilling end while still wearing his Santa suit, these special episodes will deliver intrigue and suspense all winter long. What's more, they're all available on Amazon or Acorn—and the collectible DVDs make great holiday gifts!
So dim the lights, pour yourself another eggnog, and get ready to crack a few festive cases!
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
"Murder Under the Mistletoe"
Everyone knows that Jazz Age heiress-turned-sleuth Miss Phryne Fisher would never pass up an opportunity for a glamorous party. Naturally, this episode sees the plucky Melbourne native celebrating Christmas in July at a snowy chateau. All is merry and bright, until one of the partygoers is electrocuted while hanging up Christmas lights. Though the death is ruled an accident, Miss Fisher suspects foul play. Her hunch is proven correct when additional guests are attacked, and it’s up to her to piece together a curious string of clues—including cards depicting the 12 days of Christmas left behind at the crime scenes. This limited edition DVD package includes an eye-catching pop-up image of Miss Fisher, making it the perfect gift for the mystery lover in your life.
"The Christmas Haunting"
The ghosts of Christmas past refuse to stay dead in the season 16 holiday episode of Misomer Murders. A ghost hunting party at a haunted house takes a dark twist when one of the attendees is murdered with an antique sword. Though the residents of Midsomer County fear supernatural forces caused the death, DCI John Barnaby and newcomer DS Charlie Nelson team up to prove that a more corporeal culprit was behind it all. While there are several holiday episodes to choose from in this beloved and long-running mystery series, "The Christmas Haunting" is a timeless favorite—plus, this special collectible edition boasts a pop-up image of Barnaby with his lovable canine partner, Sykes.
Related: 13 British Crime Dramas to Die For
The Brokenwood Mysteries
"A Merry Bloody Christmas"
Fans of The Brokenwood Mysteries will be delighted to get their hands on this holiday DVD, complete with a collectible pop-up image of Detective Inspector Mike Shepherd and Detective Constable Kristin Sims at the scene of a yuletide crime. In this special holiday episode, Christmas has come to Brokenwood, New Zealand, but spirits have never been lower. The town’s beloved mayor turns up dead in his home, still dressed in his festive Santa costume. His girlfriend is also found murdered at the home. With the mayoral election approaching, plenty of people wanted Mayor Whitestone out of the picture—but what kind of grinch would take it this far? Shepherd and Sims put their heads together to find out.
Murder, She Baked
"A Plum Pudding Mystery"
Though Murder, She Baked is actually a made-for-TV film series, it has five installments, guaranteeing plenty of screen time with small-town baker Hannah Swenson. In this cozy installment, Hannah is juggling two suitors and the busy holiday season at her bakery when she stumbles upon a cadaver in Eden Lake. The victim is the local owner of a Christmas tree lot. Hannah snoops around her Minnesota town to try to discover who would commit such a slaying. Along the way, she grows closer to Detective Mike Kingston. Curious to find out whodunit, and whether Hannah and Mike will ever meet under the mistletoe? There's just one way to find out.
"Hercule Poirot's Christmas"
There’s no place like home for the holidays, but a broken radiator has persuaded beloved Belgian detective Hercule Poirot to leave his London flat and take an assignment in Kent, even though it means working through Christmas. He winds up at the country estate of elderly millionaire Simeon Lee, who has sought his help in solving a mystery. However, before Poirot can get much of a head start on the case, Lee’s throat is slashed—and the dearly departed's cunning family members are all pointing fingers. Based on the 1939 Agatha Christie novel of the same name, this special movie-length episode of the long-running television series offers a locked room mystery for the ages.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
"The Blue Carbuncle"
When a priceless gem nicknamed the “Blue Carbuncle” is reported stolen from a London hotel, only to turn up in the entrails of a Christmas goose, Holmes and Watson are left to puzzle over how the stone wound up there. Beginning with the police commissioner’s recollection of the group of ruffians who were found with the goose the night before, Holmes uses his superior deduction skills to track down the bird’s whereabouts in reverse chronological order. Holmes' and Watson's search for the thief leads them on a wild goose chase all over snowy London in this classic holiday special starring Jeremy Brett as Sherlock.
Related: 10 Thrilling Sherlock Holmes Books
"A Merry Murdoch Christmas"
In turn-of-the-century Toronto, Detective William Murdoch and Dr. Julia Ogden are attending a Christmas charity gala when they stumble upon a corpse: that of the event’s rich benefactor. Who would want to break the neck of the generous Alistair McGowan? Murdoch doesn’t discount the possibility of revenge enacted by Krampus, a half-goat, half-demon Christmas creature of yore that was supposedly spotted nearby. Soon, however, Murdoch encounters far more likely suspects in the form of disgruntled employees. If just one holiday episode of Murdoch Mysteries isn’t enough, you can get your hands on the Christmas Cases Collection, which includes three feature-length episodes for your viewing pleasure: A Merry Murdoch Christmas, Once Upon a Murdoch Christmas, and Home for the Holidays.
Murder, She Wrote
"A Christmas Secret"
If only the holiday season could bring good tidings to Cabot Cove, Maine. Instead, mystery author and amateur sleuth Jessica Fletcher finds herself unraveling the motives behind the shooting death of Wanda Andrew, a city worker. The murder weapon belongs to Charlie Davenport McCumber, the new business partner of a prominent business tycoon. But Jessica suspects a setup, prompting her to dig deeper than the local police force is willing to go. The episode "A Christmas Secret" isn’t available for standalone purchase, but why not buy and binge on all of Murder, She Wrote’s ninth season?
How to Get Away with Murder
"Best Christmas Ever"
How To Get Away with Murder is a legal drama with a thrilling twist: Annalise Keating, a lawyer and professor of law, becomes entangled in a murder plot along with five of her students. In “Best Christmas Ever,” Annalise and the interns spend Christmas break coping with the emotional aftermath of the murder, all while putting on a jolly front for the outside world. Because the episodes aren’t standalones, like many of the other shows on this list, we recommend you watch the first ten episodes of season 1 before diving into this holiday entry. With an Emmy Award-winning performance from Viola Davis, you’ll be hooked on this mystery before you know it—luckily, the show is now in its sixth season.
"Mr. Monk and the Man Who Shot Santa Claus"
Detective and social recluse Adrian Monk isn’t the most popular man in town, but wounding a man dressed as Santa Claus isn’t doing him any favors. Following a weird incident in which toys are dropped from a roof onto the traffic-heavy street below, Monk enters said building to see what’s going on. A rooftop struggle ensues, with the surviving Santa claiming that he was attacked by Monk; Monk claims he acted in self-defense. With the whole town turning on him, Monk uses his incredible attention to detail—a symptom of his obsessive-compulsive disorder—to clear his name and prove Santa’s criminal intent.
"The Abominable Bride"
This dizzying special episode of Sherlock swings between modern-day and Victorian England. In the 19th century, Holmes and Watson face their oddest case yet: a young bride named Emelia commits suicide, only to reappear later that same evening and strike down her husband. The mystery deepens when a ghostly Emelia is spotted attacking additional men. Are there supernatural forces at work, or is there a sinister conspiracy afoot? Though Christmas doesn’t factor into the plot of this episode, the wintry cityscape nevertheless gives it a holiday feel that's perfectly suited for the chilly season.
"Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy"
Psych is a beloved 8-season crime comedy series which follows the exploits of fake psychic Shawn Spencer (James Roday Rodriguez) and his pharmaceutical salesman best friend Burton Guster (Dulé Hill). After the recent release of the second Psych follow up movie, there’s no better to time to relieve the wonders of this murder mystery Christmas episode. When Gus asks for Shawn’s help earning the respect of his belittling father(portrayed in this episode by Ernie Hudson), their Christmas-time scheme goes awry when Mr. Guster becomes the prime suspect of the murder of his mean-spirited geriatric neighbor. It takes no time at all for Shawn and Gus to uncover the victim’s secret life as a black mailer, but the major lead only makes matters worse by implicating Gus’s mother (Phylicia Rashad) in the murder.
"Living Proof: Part One and Two"
Deputy Police Chief Brenda Johnson (Kyra Sedgewick) of LAPD’s Priority Homicide Division worked hard to earn the respect of her department. But she’s not winning any hearts when Christmas plans hang in jeopardy after an Albanian blood feud comes to a head in the middle of a crowded shopping mall. A man is hit and killed by a police cruiser while attempting to murder Armand Marcu—and while the case appears to be a simple open and shut case of religious intolerance, any hopes of making it home for the holidays are squashed when Marcu’s sisters are also found dead. And the mystery only deepens is this drama-packed holiday two-parter!
Mystery Novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and NYPD homicide detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) navigate their first Christmas as a couple. But that’s easier said than done when a man dressed as Santa seemingly falls out of the sky to his death. As Castle and Beckett investigate the murder of the man who turns out to be an ex-business shark turned professional Santa, they find that the victim may have been both naughty and nice—but perhaps not as naughty as his murderer.
"The Santa in the Slush"
In this early series Christmas episode, socially inept forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and cocky FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) get more than they might’ve wanted during the holidays when the body of a man dressed as Santa is discovered partially devoured by rats. As Booth pushes through his holiday blues at the prospect of his son spending Christmas without him and Brennan scrambles to give her father the ideal Christmas, the case deepens with news that the dead professional Santa might have been living a life not so merry.
"An Echolls Family Christmas"
High school student by day, private detective by night, crime doesn’t stop for Veronica Mars—not even at Christmas. The episode finds Veronica investigating a crooked poker game. The amount stolen is no small sum, either. Though Weevil won $5,000 at a poker game, he later finds the total missing. When none of the players will own up to it, he takes retaliatory action, stealing Duncan’s laptop. Normally, this wouldn’t be Veronica’s problem—but Duncan’s laptop has personal information about his and Veronica’s former relationship on it.
If Veronica can work out what’s happened to the money, it’ll be a Christmas miracle.
"How the Ghosts Stole Christmas"
The holidays can be lonely for a lot of people—living and dead. This episode of the well-known and well-loved paranormal FBI procedural finds Mulder and Scully investigating a holiday haunting. On Christmas Eve, Mulder and Scully are stalking out a house said to be haunted by two ghosts.
Scully has no interest in the case, but Mulder can’t help his curiosity. The ghosts are said to have reappeared every year since passing away in 1917. When the two enter the house, it seems to take on a life of its own.
“The Ho Ho Ho Job”
Following a five-person team of a former insurance investigator, a thief, a hacker, a grifter, and a retrieval specialist, Leverage is a crime and action show that ran from 2008 through 2012. It recently returned with Leverage: Redemption. The team is Robin-Hood-esque, and often steal from other criminals, or from the ultra-wealthy. In Season 3, the team pulls the Ho Ho Ho Job.
What starts as a simple job to retrieve a few presents for charity turns into a mess when a mall Santa gets framed and fired. He tells the team that he believes the owner of the mall that he was working at has fired all of the Santas, and replaced them with some suspicious looking characters. It puts the team on the trail of the mall’s owner, Eben Dooley Jr.
"Season 3 Episode 1"
This popular show is set in the 1950s in a Cambridgeshire village of Grantchester, and follows a cop and a vicar working together to solve crime. This Christmas at Grantchester finds Inspector Keating and Reverend Chambers investigating the case of a missing groom. There are several moving pieces—an unsolved murder, a potentially haunted toyshop, and a strip club. Meanwhile, both the Reverend and the Inspector find themselves grappling with their love lives.
This post is sponsored by Acorn. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for Murder & Mayhem to continue publishing the mystery stories you love.
Featured image: Caley Dimmock / Unsplash