Serial killers are fascinating: what propelled Peter Sutcliffe, Ian Brady and Myra Hindley, and Jeffrey Dahmer to dismember their victims without remorse? There are no limits to the stories revolving around these types of mass murderers, which is why TV is such a compelling medium to delve into the complex world of serial killers.
Soon after Charlize Theron played serial killer Aileen Wuornos in 2003's Monster (and won an Oscar for doing so), she developed an interest in them. A few years ago the actress optioned Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas's book Mind Hunter: Inside of the FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit, which was the inspiration for Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Theron’s first thought was to show the book to filmmaker David Fincher, who had previously scared the shit out of audiences with serial killer stories Se7en and Zodiac. Fincher and Theron teamed up to produce Mindhunter, which is set in 1979 and stars Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany as FBI agents studying serial killers. (Fincher directs some of the episodes.) Hitting Netflix today (October 13th), the series has already been renewed for a second season, proving the mass appeal for these unsettling shows. And there’s been a score of them over the years.
Most of the shows on this list have common threads: they take place in a dreary, rainy city, usually in winter or fall (cue puffy jackets). Every detective or serial killer leading the hunt must have some sort of psychosis of their own—lack of connubial bliss, a dead child, sexually abused. A stable home life is the only thing the characters aren’t allowed to have, because stability is banal. Most of the shows take place during modern day, with some flashing back to different decades. Thankfully, a lot of women front the shows and some even created them, but even those still involve way too much violence against women.
In honor of yet another serial killer debut, here are some of the best American and UK serial killer shows to stream. The horrors of the real world are tame compared to some of the images on these shows, so prepare to have your mind pounded with endless nightmares.