Shows like ‘Mindhunter’

mindhunter

Based on the book of the same name, Mindhunter follows Agent Holden Ford and Agent Bill Tench as they pioneer the profiling of serial killers through the 1970s. The series, based on Douglas and Mark Olshaker’s book, is a Netflix production helmed by David Fincher, and stars Johnathon Groff and Holt McCallany. The show is on indefinite hiatus as David Fincher pursues other projects, but a third season could still be impending.

The series is famous for its depictions of real-life criminals, including the Son of Sam, the BTK killer, Edmund Kemper, and Charles Manson. The show dramatizes the early days of serial killer profiling, as two agents navigate the bureaucracy of the FBI. The second season of the show dealt with the Atlanta child murders, and followed the characters as they took their theories and applied them in practice. Both seasons are phenomenal, and stay on your mind long after you’ve concluded them. While we eagerly await the next season, here are a few shows you might enjoy if you liked Mindhunter.

You

You, also a Netflix production, already has three seasons and is set to come back for a fourth. Starring Penn Badgley as Joe Goldberg, an easily obsessed psycho killer, You follows its murderous protagonist as he falls into obsession and sinks deeper into its grip pursuing a woman he “loves.” The process kind of turns him into a serial killer, which makes the show a great option for serial killer fans. The show often tells its story by presenting Joe as an unreliable narrator, pondering his obsession with voiceovers throughout each episode. 

The connection between You and Mindhunter is minimal but obvious — You is basically Mindhunter from the perspective of the serial killer. Instead of sitting behind the table and interviewing the killers, in You, viewers enter the mind of the serial killer and are shown his justifications for his actions. The drama is great — not as good as some of the tense scenes in Mindhunter — but You should be a perfect show for Mindhunter fans.

Making a Murderer 

Netflix is well aware of America’s serial killer obsession. Another series from the streaming platform, Making a Murderer is a two-season documentary series focusing on the imprisonment of Steven Avery. Avery was imprisoned after DNA previously exonerated him for a different crime. The show examines the story of Avery’s imprisonment, as well as the imprisonment of his nephew Brendan Dassey, and makes the case for their release due to wrongful imprisonment. 

Whether or not you agree with the filmmakers, Making A Murderer is still interesting and filled with drama. No matter who you believe, there is still a killer somewhere in the documentary, and watching Making a Murderer turned the entire audience into amateur FBI agents as they worked to figure out who committed the murder. Fans of Mindhunter might enjoy Making a Murderer for its thoroughly captivating way of sharing its story.

Dexter 

Another show that puts you in the mind of a serial killer, Dexter ran from 2006 to 2013. Starring Michael C. Hall as Dexter Morgan, a forensics expert who also kills people, this series was immensely popular during its run. Dexter’s adoptive father taught him to hone his psychopathic tendencies and to live by a code, thus allowing Dexter to thrive in the odd role of a serial killer who mostly kills criminals. As individuals start to discover his secret, Dexter’s life unravels. 

Mindhunter deals with the mind of a serial killer — it is an examination of why they do what they do. Dexter, like You, puts you in the shoes of a serial killer. Whether or not you empathize with Dexter as his life starts to unravel is up to you, but Dexter, like Mindhunter, has a complicated relationship with serial killers, which makes it a fascinating option for Mindhunter fans.

Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds, a drama that follows the Behaviour Analysis Unit of the FBI, ran from 2005 to 2020. In many ways, this show is the most like Mindhunter of everything on this list. The main reason comes down to Criminal Minds‘ use of the work the FBI agents in Mindhunter produced to hunt fictionalized serial killers. The show has a rotating main cast, cycling through different actors who leave the show for seasons at a time or altogether. The actor that features the most prominently in the series is Matthew Gray Gubler, who plays Dr. Spencer Reid.

The show does not spend a lot of time with the killers, instead opting for a whodunnit style of television. The reason Criminal Minds is reminiscent of Mindhunter is grounded in the team’s work during each episode, as they attempt to enter the mind of a killer to figure out their next move. While its definitely more procedural, Mindhunter fans should love Criminal Minds.

The Mentalist

The Mentalist stars Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, a fake psychic who is incredibly good at reading people. The series, which ran from 2008 to 2015, follows Jane after his decision to join up with the California Bureau of Investigation. He joins the bureau following the murder of his his wife and young daughter at the hands of serial killer “Red John.”

While the series is far more procedurally driven than Mindhunter, the story still has a serial killer element in Jane’s motivation to capture “Red John.” This series connects back to Mindhunter thanks to Jane’s faked ability, which boils down to essentially the same thing Holden Ford does in Mindhunter. Mixed with all sorts of tricks, like pickpocketing and hypnosis, Jane is also great at profiling, which provides just a few of the reasons this show is a great option.

Lie to Me

Lie to Me stars Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman, a walking lie detector. The show had an unfortunately short run, between 2009 and 2011, and followed Lightman as he consulted for the police and other clients, analyzing people’s faces to uncover their lies. 

Lightman and Holden Ford are similar characters, making this a good option for Mindhunter fans. Both characters are fairly good at reading people and both can be incredibly smug. Despite being a great show, however, Lie to Me was very procedural and rather one-note. Fans of Mindhunter would still likely enjoy Lie to Me due to its similar approach to psychology and the examination of criminals.

Luther 

Luther ran from 2010 to 2019 and stars Idris Elba. It follows detective John Luther as he solves crimes with his near-genius level intellect and roughs up pretty much anyone who gets in his way. In the first season, Luther gleans information about certain crimes from a serial killer who he lacked the evidence to convict, which is similar to many situations in Mindhunter.

The character of Luther seems to be smarter than Holden Ford, and more importantly is also more ruthless. Holden ends up getting panic attacks because of his interactions with the serial killers he interviews. Luther, on the other hand, is very tough and never hesitates to solve his issues with violence. Even though the characters are different, and the plot of Luther is a little more straightforward, this series is still a great modern detective option for fans of Mindhunter to check out.

Prison Break

One of the biggest deviations on this list, Prison Break starred Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell as Michael Scofield and his brother, Lincoln Burrows. It ran for five seasons over a number of years, due to the series being taken off the air and brought back several times. The series revolves around Scofield’s attempts to break his brother out of prison, which involves getting arrested, tried, and thrown into the same prison as his brother. 

The reason Mindhunter fans might enjoy Prison Break comes down to Michael Scofield’s high intellect. He is a thinker who manipulates almost everyone he comes into contact with during his time in prison, and (spoiler alert) he manages to orchestrate a mind-blowing prison break. Holden from Mindhunter and Scofield from Prison Break are extremely similar characters, both clever and underestimated, and that’s why the series is perfect for Mindhunter fans.

True Detective

True Detective is an anthology drama series that started in 2014. Each season features a different cast and follows fictionalized detectives, usually in small towns, as they attempt to solve gruesome crimes. The first season starred Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson, who teamed up as two detectives on the case of a ritualistic murder. Season two starred Rachel McAdams and Colin Farrell, and season three starred Mahershala Ali and Stephen Dorff.

True Detective, at least season one, is a brilliant detective drama. The latter seasons are of wavering quality, but are still pretty good. The story is told in flashbacks, typically by people who are recounting what happened when the detectives encountered their serial killer. The similarities to Mindhunter here are obvious — not only are the characters in the first season of True Detective similar to the characters in Mindhunter, but the story is consistently compelling.

Hannibal

The psychological thriller Hannibal, starring Hugh Dancy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lector, ran for three seasons. Based on the Thomas Harris novels, one of which has the same name as the series, Hannibal follows FBI profiler Will Graham as he takes a hit to his sanity and starts seeing the secretly cannibalistic serial killer psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector.

This show is interesting and has a few things in common with Mindhunter. Firstly, Graham has the uncanny ability to put himself in the shoes of the serial killers he hunts. Secondly, it is one of the only shows on this list where the profiler and serial killer talk at length. The intrigue that comes from these two things is starkly similar to Mindhunter. This is particularly true as the profilers interview different serial killers, and try to suss out why they do what they do.

Whether they are about serial killers, psychology, detective work, or in the rare case, a prison break, these shows will surely be a great watch for any fan of Mindhunter.

It doesn’t take an FBI profiler to figure that out.