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This is a guest post by Jacelyn Thomas.

For the same reason that there are thousands of murder mystery novels sitting on the bestseller shelves of every book store, there are dozens of crime shows airing on prime time television each night. Stories about crime, mystery, and everyday heroes are sensational. By exploring crime in a purely fictional context, we allow ourselves to take on a completely alternate mindset from our own. Most fictional crime stories are designed like puzzles, pulling the onlooker in different directions, encouraging you to fit pieces in places you wouldn’t think they would go, only to throw the puzzle to the ground in the end. In this way, crime stories are a constant ride for the watcher. Relying less on an underlying plot and more on each individual episode, crime shows speak to our desire for instant gratification. These five crime TV shows deliver all of the best thrills, shocks, twisted villains, and courageous heroes any crime TV buff could ask for. Take a break from your regular movie watching regimen and indulge in thirty minutes of instant action and enjoyment.

Dexter: Based on the premise that the main character is a serial killer who only kills horrible murderers, Dexter puts the audience in the uncomfortable and intriguing position of rooting for a “bad guy”. Dexter is charismatic, interesting, and attractive—everything a watcher could ask for in a hero. Throughout the series, we watch Dexter go to extreme lengths to find undeniable proof that his victims are guilty while feigning real human emotion throughout his everyday life. In many ways, Dexter becomes our strange serial killer hero.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation: Becoming an enterprise of its own, CSI is the original of the Crime Scene Investigation franchise. First airing in 2000, CSI: Las VegaCSI: Miami and CSI: NY. Set in the “City of Sin,” CSI follows a crew full strangely good looking crime scene investigators as they work to solve cases throughout Las Vegas. With sensational plot lines, entertaining dialogue, and an uber hip soundtrack, CSI is one of the most entertaining crime shows on television today and for the past eleven years.

Law and Order: Special Victims Unit: No list about the best crime dramas on television can go without mentioning the Law and Order franchise. Law and Order the original first aired in 1990, making it one of the first of its kind. Ending just recently in 2010, Law and Order held the title as the longest running crime drama on American primetime television. In 1999, the spinoff series Special Victims Unit aired. With controversial and sometimes sickening subjects at hand, SVU received widespread support and widespread criticism. Tackling sexually based offenses, the SVU formula has the undeniable potential to conjure very strong fictional heroes for anyone watching. Even more so, with a “ripped from the headlines” approach, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit ignites the interest of most anyone who watches it.

The Mentalist: Following the unorthodox procedures of Patrick Jane as seeks to help the California Bureau of Homicide Investigation, The Mentalist works its main character’s charm and quirks to secure its audience. Main man Jane is capable of noticing seemingly insignificant details during his investigations that always lead to the solution to the case. Obviously rooted in the classic tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories, The Mentalist hooks its watchers by placing an intricate puzzle in front of them and slowly making them feel as though they are solving it in an interesting and unique way. Winning various awards throughout its first three seasons and recently renewed for a fourth season, The Mentalist is sure to stick around for quite some time.

Criminal Minds: Premiering in 2005, Criminal Minds follows a team of profilers from the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit in Virginia. Demonstrating further our obsession with the criminal mind, this series focuses on the criminal rather than the crime. In this way, the watcher is compelled to understand the person who commits various crimes. While many crime shows on television center around evidence and the crime itself, this show is focused completely on the thinking and intentions of the bad guys. Again, posing intricate puzzles and sensational stories, Criminal Minds locks in its audience for a thrilling ride.

Byline:

This is a guest post from Jacelyn Thomas. Jacelyn writes about identity theft protection for IdentityTheft.net. She can be reached at: jacelyn.thomas @ gmail.com.