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After 9 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). Since availability changes from time to time, this is the easiest way to keep the listings current for a long time.
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. Streaming HERE
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 light. Streaming HERE
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). Streaming HERE | 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. Also stars Grantchester and McMafia lead James Norton. Streaming HERE | 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. Streaming HERE | 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. Streaming HERE
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. Streaming HERE
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. Streaming HERE | 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. Streaming HERE | 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. Streaming HERE
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. Streaming HERE
Scott & Bailey – This crime drama revolves around the lives of Scott and Bailey, two female Manchester homicide detectives at different life and career stages. Streaming HERE
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). Streaming HERE
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. Streaming HERE
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. Streaming HERE
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
A Little Bit of Brenda…
While Vera is the role that brought Brenda Blethyn to the attention of many, she's an accomplished actress who shined in a number of roles before she became Vera Stanhope. In addition to being great as a detective, she's also a brilliant comedic actress.
Chance in a Million – This is where I first saw Ms. Blethyn, and while the settings and outfits will feel dated, it's still very enjoyable. DVD
Dead Man Running – I don't think many people would expect to see Brenda Blethyn sharing the screen with Danny Dyer and American rapper 50 Cent, but that's exactly what happens in Dead Man Running. She plays the mother role in this film about a man desperate to raise the cash to pay off a loan shark. Streaming HERE
Belonging – Blethyn stars alongside Kevin Whately (Inspector Lewis) in this drama about a married couple caring for elderly relatives together – until the husband leaves. Streaming HERE
Introducing the Dwights – Blethyn is hilarious in this comedy film about a young man falling in love – and his very colorful mother. Streaming HERE
Undertaking Betty – Stuck in a bad marriage, Blethyn's character decides to fake her own death. This movie offers another great comedic performance by Blethyn. Streaming HERE
Remember Me? – This fun movie is part comedy, part drama, and Blethyn doesn't disappoint. Imelda Staunton also appears in this film about a quirky but typical middle-class suburban family. Streaming HERE
Mary & Martha – Hilary Swank stars alongside Blethyn in this emotional drama about two women bonded by tragedy. Streaming HERE
Saving Grace – After her husband's suicide, a woman realizes she's on much shakier financial footing than she'd previously thought. Streaming HERE
London River – When a woman doesn't hear from her daughter after terrorist bombings in London, she begins an investigation that shakes her to her core. Streaming HERE
Outside Edge – Cricket may be a puzzling sport to many, but you don't need to understand it to appreciate this great cricket team comedy starring Brenda Blethyn, Robert Daws, and Timothy Spall. DVD HERE (requires a region-free DVD player).
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!