Television thrillers are the roller-coasters of entertainment. They are a white-knuckle ride of suspenseful dramas, mind-twisting mysteries, and adrenaline-rushing car chases, often probing themes such as unexplained phenomena, espionage, crime, terrorism, and revenge.
Though many of the greatest thrillers are motion pictures such as “Psycho,” “Silence of the Lambs” and “The Manchurian Candidate,” there have been many distinguished examples of the genre on television since that medium’s infancy. And even though restrictions related to the pandemic are loosening, people are still parked in front of their televisions more than usual, and thrillers are among their preferred choices of viewing.
24/7 Tempo has compiled a list of classic TV shows that are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. We identified the shows available for streaming based on data from website JustWatch. We then ranked the series based on their Internet Movie Database average user ratings, weighted by the number of votes each series received.
Like the rollercoasters with which they have been compared, the best thrillers gradually build up the tension before releasing it in a rush. Television also gave future Oscar-winners directors Sydney Pollack and William Friedkin an opportunity to hone their skills as directors of thrillers.
The genre allows directors and writers the freedom to innovate and create. And thrillers are among the most groundbreaking and honored shows on the small screen, among them “24,” “The X-Files,” and “Breaking Bad.” These are the television shows with the most Emmy wins of all time.
Some of the most acclaimed TV series were brought to us from the masters of suspense and the macabre — Rod Serling (“The Twilight Zone”) and Alfred Hitchcock (“Alfred Hitchcock Presents”). Hitchcock, of course, had already staked his claim as one of the greatest movie directors ever by the time his TV program first aired in 1955. Here are Alfred Hitchcock’s best and worst films.
To determine the best classic TV shows that will keep you on the edge of your seat, 24/7 Tempo identified all of the shows available for streaming — using data from website JustWatch — that are classified as “thriller” by the Internet Movie Database (IMDb). We then ranked the series based on their Internet Movie Database average user ratings, weighted by the number of votes each series received. Editorial discretion was then applied to include or omit titles that we felt did not match the classification of “thriller” or that deserved inclusion based on other metrics such as cult status or reputation.
In order to be considered, each show was required to have at least 4,000 user votes on IMDb. They also must have concluded as a series.