Best Unconventional Mystery Shows to Watch

We all love a good mystery, but have you ever wanted something a little more? Something less conventional or even a bit weird. Well, you’re in luck. Mysteries come in a variety of forms, and we want you to check out some of the best that television has offered us so far.

The shows on this list up the stakes with their unconventional approach to thrillers. Be it by mixing genres, or through complex storytelling, these shows know how to jazz up a regular whodunnit. Each show has an overarching mystery—some per season, others across seasons—and they will reel you in and keep you hooked.

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Dark

Netflix’s German-language show Dark is a genre-bending, mind-boggling tale set in a fictitious town that’s headed for an apocalypse. And it has a ton of mysteries to unravel. There’s the case of missing boys, the disappearance of a police officer, the identity of the secret organization that’s behind it and how the central character Jonas Kahnwald (Louis Hofmann) is tied to all of this. And that’s just in the first season. The story becomes more and more convoluted over the course of its three-season run with more characters and timelines thrown into the mix. Dark has a little of everything—horror, science-fiction, romance, drama and, of course, mystery. Each episode is full of twists and turns that’ll keep you guessing until the very end.

Early Edition

Gary Hobson (Kyle Chandler) is living a regular life when he suddenly starts receiving editions of the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper a day early. Armed with this knowledge, Gary is faced with the moral dilemma of whether to change fate or not. When he gets involved, he tries to change the headlines, but will he succeed in preventing deaths and injustices in his city? Early Edition was a riveting show to watch during its four-season run. The central mystery surrounding the appearance of the early edition newspaper kept viewers intrigued, but it was Gary and his friends’ episodic investigations that were fun to watch. The show also had a lot more levity in it than many other mysteries, which was a welcome change for the genre.

Elite

In Netflix’s Elite, Las Encinas is an exclusive school in Spain, home to a microcosm of class biases, drama and murder. When three scholarship students begin attending the prestigious institute, it ruffles the feathers of their wealthier classmates. Which, in turn, leads to a lot of bloodshed (literally, in this case). This Spanish-language teen drama is a thrilling guilty pleasure—the high school dynamics and class politics add depth to the romantic entanglements, all of which plays out against the backdrop of a murder investigation. Each episode employs a flash-forward to the investigation where the main characters are being questioned. With every confession, the audience learns more clues about the possible identity of the killer—or do they? The first three seasons focused on an interconnected mystery, while Season 4 introduced new characters and a different kind of mystery.

Jane the Virgin

Yes, I know, with a title like Jane the Virgin you’re right to wonder what this show is doing on a list of mysteries. While the story of a young virgin woman who is accidentally artificially inseminated with a stranger’s sperm may not seem like a vehicle for a whodunit, Jane the Virgin is here to prove you wrong. And that’s because this Gina Rodriguez-starring comedy-drama is a very unconventional take on mysteries. Adapted from a Venezuelan telenovela, this comedy-drama is ostensibly about Jane and her family trying to navigate this bump (get it?) in the road. But the story also involves sinister crime-lords who are connected to Jane’s baby daddy, Rafael Solano (Justin Baldoni) and his hotel, the almost always-struggling Marbella. Did we mention that’s just the synopsis of the first season? The mystery gets even more complicated after that.

Sense8

Eight individuals from across the world suddenly find themselves psychically connected to each other. Not only do they need to figure out how and why, but they also have to protect themselves from an evil organization that wants to experiment on them. Sense8 won itself a legion of fans because of how bold, queer and inclusive the show was; out and proud gay and transgender characters, as well as characters of color, are still rarities in science-fiction, but not with this show. While the mystery is central to the plot, it’s the characters who’ll draw you in—along with the global settings, many of which were shot on location. Despite being prematurely cancelled after the second season, the show was given a feature-length swan song which wrapped up the mystery.

Supernatural

Supernatural follows the adventures of two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles), as they carry on the family business—saving people, hunting things. The show began with the brothers hunting a monster per week with one central mystery hanging over their heads. The show expanded on its lore after the first two seasons, with the episodic approach taking more of a backseat to the Winchesters dealing with a season villain. Supernatural has some really good horror episodes, but the brotherly bond between Sam and Dean is the most compelling part of the show and added heft to every case they worked on. Though later seasons lacked the cohesive writing of the first five, it was still hard to say goodbye to the show when it wrapped after 15 seasons.

The OA

A young woman reappears after being missing for seven years. Even stranger, she apppears to have regained her sight as she was blind when she disappeared. This is how The OA begins. The mysteries surrounding Prairie Johnson (Brit Marling) continue as she refuses to divulge information about her missing years to her family or the FBI. Instead, she starts formulating a team of her own to complete a secret mission. But is Prairie telling the truth about any of it? The OA blend elements of different genres, including science-fiction, supernatural, fantasy and drama. The characters are diverse and compelling—especially the cameo by Oscar nominee Riz Ahmed—and the central mystery leaves the viewer off-kilter. The second season expanded the lore even further and ended on a cliff-hanger. We may never get a third season, but the first two seasons are too tantalizing to miss.

Twin Peaks

Twin Peaks has become such an integral part of pop culture, and we don’t even realize it. When a homecoming queen is murdered in the fictional town of Twin Peaks, FBI Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) and sheriff Harry S. Truman (Michael Ontkean) are called to investigate her death. What they uncover is a town full of colorful and disturbing characters. Twin Peaks could have been a generic police procedural but it takes on a whole new tone with the supernatural and absurd elements. The show can feel like a fever dream at times because of its blend of genres. Expect melodrama, camp, horror, surrealism and everything in between—this is a David Lynch production, after all. After being cancelled in 1991, the show returned as a limited series in 2014 to continue the story.

WandaVision

The first Marvel Cinematic Universe spin-off, WandaVision, is a genre mashup that will tickle a variety of tastebuds. On the show, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and her synthezoid husband Vision (Paul Bettany) live in seeming domestic bliss, except for the fact that Vision had been killed years earlier, and their life looks like a sitcom. The first half of the show replicates the look of classic sitcoms across the decades, with a little twist that suggests things aren’t quite right with this idyllic world. The second half follows a more general MCU formula, but still succeeds in eking out the mystery. The viewer is left wondering what’s going on and who’s pulling the strings. The limited series is a refreshing change from the regular comic book fare we’re used to—the creators perfectly married the concept of sitcoms with a Marvel mystery.

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Monita Mohan (61 Articles Published)

Monita is the Marketing Manager of The Walrus by day and an entertainment writer by night. Her bylines have appeared on Fansided websites Bam Smack Pow and Show Snob, as well as on Vocal and Women Write About Comics. She is also the co-host of the pop culture podcast, Stereo Geeks.

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