TV’s Most Popular Thriller Series of All Time Rated

Television thrillers have been captivating audiences for decades, taking them on a rollercoaster ride of suspense, drama, and mystery. From edge-of-your-seat cliffhangers to heart-stopping plot twists, the best TV thrillers keep viewers on the edge of their seats, unable to look away. Whether it’s a crime drama or a supernatural thriller, the genre has produced some of the most iconic and memorable shows in TV history.

With so many great thriller series out there, it’s difficult to pick just a few to watch. Luckily, IMDb has done the hard work for us by compiling a list of the top 10 best TV thriller series of all time. From classic favorites to modern hits, this list has it all. So, grab some popcorn, turn down the lights, and get ready to be sucked into the world of the best TV thrillers ever made.

10 ‘Black Mirror’ (2011- 2019)

Rating: 8.8/10

Black Mirror has proved to the world that Charlie Brooker, creator of the series and writer of most episodes, is one of the most creative people in the TV industry. The anthology series explores the dangers of technology in which humanity’s greatest innovations and darkest instincts collide.

Across its five seasons, the series has featured a plethora of huge stars, including Daniel Kaluuya, Jon Hamm, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Hayley Atwell, to name just a few. Fans of the series were filled with joy when it was recently announced that the series will soon be returning for Black Mirror‘s highly-anticipated sixth season.

9 ‘Narcos’ (2015 – 2017)

Rating: 8.8/10

Narcos deserves a lot of credit. It gave Pedro Pascal the chance to shine in a leading role and surrounded him with other exceptional actors, including Wagner Moura, Boyd Holbrook, and Paulina Gaitan. The show ran for three seasons, airing thirty episodes that chronicled the criminal activity of the infamous Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar and the other drug kingpins active in this era.

The show was a mammoth hit for Netflix, and the spin-off series, Narcos: Mexico, aired its highly anticipated third season last year. It’s still often cited alongside the best thriller series to watch for those who are into gripping procedural dramas and have the stomach for some jarring and violent scenes.

8 ‘Fargo’ (2014 – )

Rating: 8.9/10

People were skeptical when the TV series Fargo was first announced, with many worried it would taint the reputation of the beloved Coen Brothers film. Those fears were quickly laid to rest when the first season aired, winning audiences over with its stellar performances, wacky characters, and thrilling plot.

Four series have been released thus far, starring a host of A-list names, including Martin Freeman, Patrick Wilson, Ewan McGregor, and Chris Rock. The upcoming fifth season of the anthology series will continue that tradition, with Juno Temple, Jon Hamm, and Joe Keery set to star.

7 ‘True Detective’ (2014 – 2019)

Rating: 8.9/10

Many people credit True Detective with showing A-list actors the true potential of TV. The first series, which starred the incredible Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, was a revelation that used its twist-filled plot and layered performances of its stars to attract a massive audience.

Though the second and third seasons struggled to recapture the magic of the original, each is enjoyable in its own right, and there’s still high hope that the upcoming fourth season, set to star Jodie Foster, will replicate the tension-filled, incredibly gripping plot of the first season.

6 ‘Death Note’ (2006 – 2007)

Rating: 9.0/10

Based on the Japanese manga series written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata, Death Note follows the story of Light Yagami, an outstandingly smart high school student who also happens to be a misanthrope. One day, he discovers the titular notebook, which belongs to the shinigami named Ryuk. The protagonist soon finds that he can kill anyone whose name he writes in the notebook’s pages.

A popular anime series for beginners, Death Note has engrossing world-building and a classic story beloved by fans around the world. It has inspired more than a few adaptations, but the 2006 anime still manages to be the top-rated version that’s the most faithful to its source material.

5 ‘The Last of Us’ (2023 – )

Rating: 9.0/10

HBO’s The Last of Us is a great adaptation of the 2013 video game of the same name. Set in an alternative 2023, the zombie thriller depicts a world overrun with Infected, initially promoted by a mass fungal pandemic. It follows Joel Miller (Pedro Pascal), a jaded smuggler who embarks on a mission to transport the wisecracking teenager, Ellie (Bella Ramsey), across the country.

The Last of Us amazed fans and critics alike with its stunning set pieces, flawless visuals, and stellar performances from its cast. Of course, the most impressive part of the series is its faithful adaptation of the original, even managing to make the tear-jerking stories better through excellent world-building and complex characters (like Bill and Frank).

4 ‘Sherlock’ (2010 – 2017)

Rating: 9.1/10

Based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle‘s Sherlock Holmes detective stories, Sherlock is among the most beloved British thriller TV shows that follows the titular detective (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and the reliable Doctor John Watson (Martin Freeman). The duo works together to solve urgent cases, both big and small, while also dealing with their messy personal lives.

From its well-written dialogue and complex characters to its witty humor and unexpected twists, there’s more than one reason to enjoy the renowned series. 221B Baker Street and its residents have become unforgettable and iconic parts of pop culture, and have made their mark in TV history.

3 ‘The Wire’ (2002 – 2008)

Rating: 9.3/10

It’s hard to think of another TV show with a cast quite as stacked as The Wire. The series, which aired between 2002 and 2008, starred Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Wendell Pierce, and Idris Elba, to name just a few. With a cast like this, it’s no surprise that the performances are excellent across the board, which is just one of many reasons the show is considered among the best thriller TV series of all time.

The Wire gave audiences an in-depth look at the Baltimore drug scene through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement. For any fans of crime dramas, The Wire is an absolute must-watch and one of the best crime thriller series out there.

2 ‘Chernobyl’ (2019)

Rating: 9.4/10

Chernobyl is an in-depth look at the Chernobyl disaster in April 1986, when an explosion at the nuclear power plant became one of the world’s worst man-made catastrophes. Despite lasting for only five episodes, the renowned HBO thriller miniseries made a huge impression, in large part due to its raw and unsettling depiction of the historic event.

Jessie Buckley, Jared Harris, and Stellan Skarsgard all gave memorable performances in the beloved miniseries, with the latter two actors each winning an Emmy for their work. Equal parts thrilling and horrifying, Chernobyl is a miniseries that cannot be missed.

1 ‘Breaking Bad’ (2008 – 2013)

Rating: 9.5/10

It’s our favourite too in the MarkMeets London office and no surprise that Breaking Bad is considered the best thriller TV series of all time. The acting is stupendous, with Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul both giving iconic performances that will never be forgotten. The plot is intricate and incredibly detailed, showing Walter White’s rise from a desperate family man to power-hungry, money-seeking drug kingpin Heisenberg.

The relationship between Walt and Jessie is one of the most interesting dynamics ever put to film. Creator Vince Gilligan knows this world like the back of his hand, which is why it’s no surprise that Better Call Saul is held in the same regard as Breaking Bad. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve likely already seen Walter White’s epic, tragic journey, but no series has ever been more deserving of a rewatch than the exceptional Breaking Bad.

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NEXT: The Best Thriller Movies of All Time, Ranked According to IMDb

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