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After 8 series, Vera has become incredibly popular among fans of British mystery shows. Unfortunately, because it’s a British TV show (and British shows generally produce fewer episodes per series), there just aren’t enough episodes to satisfy the enormous appetite for dark and atmospheric crime-solving. So, if you’re here because you want more TV shows like Vera, we offer the following alternatives:
Side note: I’ve included Amazon streaming links for most shows below. If the show is on Acorn or BritBox, Amazon will have it listed on the page (since you can subscribe to either through Amazon).
Dark & Atmospheric British Mysteries
If you love Vera for the dark and atmospheric feel of the episodes, you may want to consider the shows below. There’s nothing quite like Vera, of course, but many of these have a similar mood and style of cinematography.
Shetland – Given that it was written by Vera author Ann Cleeves, this might be the closest approximation to the Vera experience. Though it lacks the strong female protagonist, Shetland features plenty of murder in the often dark and dreary Shetland Islands of Northern Scotland. Amazon Streaming | Netflix
The Loch / Loch Ness – This small-town crime drama is set along the banks of Scotland’s famous Loch Ness. You won’t see Nessie, but you WILL see Monarch of the Glen’s Alastair Mackenzie in a very different kind of role. Amazon Streaming
Hinterland – Hinterland is every bit as dark and atmospheric as Vera, but this one’s set in the small towns and villages around Aberystwyth, Wales. Tip: If you want to save money on this one, try Amazon UK for the S1-3 DVD set (often at a reduced price to buying them separately here). Amazon Streaming | S1 DVD | S2 DVD | S3 DVD | Netflix
Happy Valley – Sarah Lancashire stars as a policewoman in a small Yorkshire town. When the man she believes to be responsible for her daughter’s death is released from prison, her life changes. Amazon Streaming | Netflix
Wallander – This BBC-produced adaptation of Henning Mankell’s Wallander novels gives us Kenneth Brannagh as the deeply introspective and empathetic Inspector Wallander. Though set in Sweden, this adaptation is in English. Amazon Streaming | Netflix
Black Work – After her husband is killed in an abandoned warehouse during an undercover operation, a police constable must figure out whether she ever really knew her husband. Amazon Streaming
Chasing Shadows – More of a miniseries than an actual show, this 4-part police drama is set in a missing persons unit that tracks down serial killers. At the time of release, some considered the show a bit controversial for using the “trendy” device of having a detective likely to be placed somewhere on the autism spectrum. Amazon Streaming
The Fall – Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan star in this dark police thriller wherein DI Stella Gibson is sent to Belfast to track down a serial killer. Unlike most similar shows, we know who the murderer is at the very beginning. Amazon Streaming | Netflix
Stonemouth – Based on the Iain Banks novel of the same name, Stonemouth sees Stewart Gilmour returning home to his village for the funeral of his best friend. While investigating his friend’s apparent suicide, he’s forced to come to terms with his own dark past. DVD
British Mysteries with Older Female Leads
One of the fantastic things about Vera is that it’s not just a good show. It’s a good show with a very capable older woman in the lead role. Not only that, but instead of requiring the lead actress to be nipped and tucked into a completely unnatural sort of creature, they’ve gone to some effort to make the lovely Brenda Blethyn a little *less* attractive.
Hetty Wainthropp Investigates – Dame Patricia Routledge stars as a nosy and hard-headed but deeply kind pensioner in this charming mystery series. Amazon Streaming
Agatha Christie’s Marple – One of the original female sleuths, Marple shows us that brains and cleverness will often triumph over youth, brawn, and the best laid plans for murder. Amazon Streaming
Scott & Bailey – This crime drama revolves around the lives of Scott and Bailey, two female Manchester homicide detectives at different life and career stages. Amazon Streaming
Agatha Raisin – This Cotswold cozy mystery series is infinitely lighter than Vera, but the lead character is another older woman – a single, newly-retired PR executive from London. Like Vera, it’s based on a series of novels (by the delightful M.C. Beaton). Amazon Streaming
Rosemary & Thyme – Although the premise is a bit silly if you think about it, this cozy mystery series about Pam Ferris and Felicity Kendall solving murders on various gardening jobs is actually quite lovely. Amazon Streaming
From Darkness – This psychological crime drama shows former police officer Claire Church struggling to come to terms with her past as a long-dormant serial killer starts to kill again. Amazon Streaming
Non-British European Mysteries with a Dark & Atmospheric Feel
Follow the Money (Danish) – Bad things happen inside Energreen, a mysterious energy company led by charismatic CEO Alexander Sodergren. This title is Region 2 encoded and requires a region-free DVD player for North American playback. S1 DVD | S2 DVD
Thicker Than Water (Swedish) – When B&B owner Anna Lisa is found dead one morning, her siblings learn that her will requires them to run her B&B together for a year in order to inherit it. Doing so risks unearthing long-buried family secrets. This title is Region 2 encoded and requires a region-free DVD player for North American playback. S1 DVD | Streaming
Maria Wern (Swedish) – After the death of her husband, police inspector Maria Wern moves to a picturesque island to start over with her 2 children. There, she does her best to hunt down killers while battling against a male-dominated team. Streaming
Inspector Winter (Swedish) – Dedicated but troubled Inspector Winter investigates murders in Sweden. Streaming
Inspector Falke (German) – Brooding and determined Inspector Falke has traded family and love for the pursuit of justice in Hamburg, Germany. Streaming
Spiral (French) – This unique series follows investigations around Paris from every point of view. Streaming
Vanished by the Lake (French) – When a homicide detective returns to her hometown for the first time in many years since a tragedy, a similar tragedy occurs almost immediately. Convinced of a connection, she must do everything in her power to get answers. Streaming
Thou Shalt Not Kill (Italian) – Chief Inspector Valeria Ferro works to untangle some of Turin’s toughest cases while grappling with her mother’s recent release from prison. Streaming
We realize that nothing can fully replace a fresh series of Vera, but hopefully you enjoy some of these suggestions. If we’ve missed any good shows that are similar to Vera, let us know in the comments!