10 Shows for the Criminal Mind

16 Sep

From my friends at Criminal Justice U:

There are many television shows airing that follow the lives of detectives and investigators that are assigned various crime cases. While some of the shows are summaries of real-life events and others are fiction they are all definitely intriguing. The following are 10 shows that will keep the criminal minds entertained:

Snapped: Snapped is an American television crime series that airs on Oxygen that recalls the real life events of women who have committed or attempted to commit murder. Each episode details the events that occurred and includes clips of the trials, interviews with people that were involved in the case (family, law enforcement, attorneys, etc) and sometimes the accused themselves. The episodes end with the verdict and sentence of the case and an updated summary of where each defendant stands.

Cold Case Files: Cold Case Files is a documentary style series that airs on A & E that follows the investigations of cases that were never solved and then reopened many years later. Referred to as “cold cases” by detectives, these cases have been opened again because of emerging technological advances in forensics, recent breakthroughs in the case, or witnesses who come forward years later. The episodes of this show have been known to be used by law enforcement agencies across the country for training purposes.

Forensic Files: Forensic Files is a documentary type show that airs on Trutv and shows how forensic science is used to solve crimes. The show follows one case per episode, from the initial investigation to the legal resolution, with re-enactments and in some cases, name changes, for privacy. The show also features medical examiners, coroners and forensic detectives and specialists involved with the case and clips of their interviews are shown. Some of the best and most well-known forensic analysts in the country have also appeared on the show.

America’s Most Wanted: America’s Most Wanted is an American television show that airs on Fox and is meant to assist law enforcement in capturing fugitives that remain on the run. Many of the fugitives, who are wanted for murder, rape, kidnapping, child molestation, armed robber, and terrorism, and white collar crimes, are also on the FBI’s Most Wanted lists. The show has been fairly successful; over 1,100 people have been captured from being shown on the air.

48 Hours Mystery: 48 Hours Mystery is a program that airs on CBS that presents true crime documentaries and mysteries. The show does not use a host and rather is narrated by the reporter who was assigned the story and is also known to report on special cases such as past or current shocking events that were made media headlines. This program has been known to be quite popular and has received over 20 Emmy awards.

Law & Order: Law & Order is a police and law related drama series that is often based on real events that have made headline news or recently occurred. The show is usually separated into two parts: the investigation of the crime and the capture of the suspect, followed by the prosecution of the District Attorney’s office in the second part and is usually shown from the prosecution’s point of view. At the time of its cancellation, Law & Order was known as the longest running crime drama on American prime time television.

The Closer: The Closer is an American crime drama series that originally aired on TNT that follows a police detective that leads the Crime and Homicide Unit (depending on the season), teams that are assigned to deal with high profile murder cases. Each episode portrays the aspects of Los Angeles culture as it interacts with law enforcement and highlights issues of public policy, honor, faith, and government responsibility.

CSI: CSI is an American drama television series that follows criminalists that use evidence to solve brutal murders. Many episodes on the show feature lengthy scenes that focus on technical work, experiments and tests that usually involve high-tech technology and gadgets that don’t exist. The series is also known for using unusual, close-up camera angles and graphic and sometimes gory portrayals of murders.

NCIS: NCIS is a drama television series that premiered on CBS that revolves around a fictional team of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. This team conducts investigations involving the Marine Corps and the US Navy and is often assigned to high profile cases including terroristic threats, deaths, kidnappings and bomb situations.

Bones: Bones is a crime drama series that premiered on Fox and is based on forensic anthropology and focuses on cases concerning the human remains found by FBI detectives and given to a forensic anthropologist for analyzing. The show is based loosely on the life of Kathy Reichs, who is a forensic anthropologist and also produces the show.

Jay Smith

Criminal Justice University


Posted by on September 16, 2010 in Guest Blogger, Writing


9 responses to “10 Shows for the Criminal Mind

  1. wagrobanite

    September 16, 2010 at 7:31 am

    Some more awesome shows:
    White Collar
    Covert Affairs
    Rizzoli and Isles


  2. TL Lawrence

    September 16, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    Don’t forget Criminal Minds, which follows a squad of the Behavioral Sciences Unit (or Investigative Support Unit, if you’re using the modern term) – the profilers. Some people complained when it first aired that the dramatizations of the “thought process” made it seem magical, but I honestly can’t think of any other way TO dramatize the process of literally putting yourself into the crime, the UNSUB or the victim. Watched with the correct understanding and frame of mind, it’s really very good.


  3. Ariel

    September 22, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Yes – Criminal Minds I think is better than Bones, CSI and NCIS for its insights into the….criminal mind.


  4. B. Mac

    January 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    For an emphasis on police detectives, I would highly recommend The Wire. Rather than focusing on a single crime per episode, which I think forces the writers to rush a lot of cases with last-minute confessions, The Wire focused on one criminal outfit per season. That gave it more time to cover investigatory methods that don’t make most other shows (like photographic surveillance and wiretapping).

    Also, the characterization is significantly deeper than on some other shows.


  5. Kaitee

    January 9, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Criminal Minds. You have to include it there.



    August 21, 2016 at 5:15 am

    Hello. Who would be able to assist friends in discovering the what and why of a friend’s untimely death in 2013? The only adult family member had the body cremated before an autopsy could be performed. That family member was actually an in-law. We friends are sad and disappointed that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department could not and would not provide us with answers to our friend’s sudden and mysterious death. Who can help us? Which TV show might be willing to assist?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      August 21, 2016 at 5:59 am

      Short of garnering the interest of a true crime writer–if you think a crime was involved–or hiring a PI, I’m not sure what you can do. Most of the TV shows deal with crimes and their investigations so if no investigation was done or if no crime occurred, I’m not sure they would be interested.


  7. Ajay chitte

    May 26, 2017 at 7:34 pm

    I want to work in forensics. Can anyone please guide me?


    • D.P. Lyle, MD

      May 27, 2017 at 5:44 am

      Many universities now offer classes in the forensic science world so check with the ones you wish to attend and see. One of then best is in LA–Cal State Los Angeles.
      And it depends on what are you want to get into. Big difference between being a forensic pathologist and a document examiner. This is covered to some extent in FORENSIC FOR DUMMIES but there are many online sources that will tell you what to study to enter the differents arenas of this field.



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