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6 Shows like The Blacklist: Procedural Crimes with a Story

Adam Pothitos itcherProcedural crime dramas have maintained a consistent popularity over the years, largely due to a few unique shows that renew the audience’s interest. TV shows like ‘The Blacklist’, ‘White Collar’, and ‘Nikita’ offer compelling standalone stories with an overarching narrative that makes binge-watching a blast. ~ Adam Pothitos

A Jigsaw Puzzle of Criminals

‘The Blacklist’, like many other shows on this list, presents its story in a puzzle-like narrative. Each week, viewers get to learn another piece of information that slowly unlocks the encompassing story.

Although the main action relies in individual encounters with all kinds of bad guys, the juiciest bits require patience as well as time.


Shows Similar to ‘The Blacklist’…

‘White Collar’ (USA Network, 2009-2014)

Neal Caffrey (Matt Bomer) is a brilliant con artist who’s finally captured by the FBI after a three-year chase. Near the end of his prison term, Caffrey attempts to escape but is captured and brought back once again. This time, he makes a deal with the reluctant FBI agent, Peter Burke (Tim DeKay), so that he can also work for the organization while staying out of prison.

‘White Collar’ is more lighthearted than ‘The Blacklist’ in almost every regard, but this is exactly what makes it unique. The interactions between the two main characters are incredibly funny, even when the story’s pace is slow at times.

Similarity Match: 90%
If you’re looking for a lighter version of ‘The Blacklist’, ‘White Collar’ is probably the closest that you can get without delving into other territories.

‘Person of Interest’ (CBS, 2011-2016)

Eccentric billionaire Harold Finch (Michael Emerson) has secretly created an AI that can accurately predict future crime. To prevent its abuse, Finch prevents the machine from identifying any other details, such as who the criminal is. In order to put the machine to good use, Finch hires John Reese (Jim Caviezel), a former agent of CIA who’s presumed dead by the organization.

Though each episode deals with an individual crime, there is also a huge backstory. The interactions between the characters and their moral dilemmas offer a much-needed sense of depth with some excellent performances from the entire cast.

Similarity Match: 85%
While the slow revelations are presented in a similar vein to ‘The Blacklist’, the most important similarity between the two series is that Finch and Reddington both steal the show.

‘Nikita’ (The CW, 2010-2013)

If you thought that ‘The Blacklist’ was serious, then you probably haven’t watched ‘Nikita’. After escaping from The Division (a secret U.S. organization) Nikita Mears does everything in her power to bring it down. As the series progresses, we learn more and more about the characters, such as Nikita’s earlier years as a teenager-turned-superspy.

‘Nikita’ offers enough twists and turns to keep things interesting throughout its run. Furthermore, it raises some important issues about morality, governments, and the consequences of our actions.

Similarity Match: 80%
Despite the fact that ‘Nikita’ and ‘The Blacklist’ have different premises, the themes they cover are extremely similar, right down to the way they’re presented.

‘Blindspot’ (NBC, 2015- )

Though the series is still relatively new, the existing episodes are already intriguing. ‘Blindspot’ focuses on a woman found in the middle of Times Square with no memories and a lot of fresh tattoos on her body. Soon after taking her in, the FBI discovers that each tattoo contains clues to crimes they have yet to solve.

‘Blindspot’ starts incredibly strong and though it loses some of its momentum in the middle of the season, the show’s future still looks promising.

Similarity Match: 80%
Everything in ‘Blindspot’ is like a puzzle, including the story. Like in ‘The Blacklist’, individual crimes need to be solved before the whole truth can be revealed.

‘Burn Notice’ (USA Network, 2007-2013)

When a show’s title references one of the most intriguing aspects of spy life, you know you are in for a treat.

Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) wakes up in his hometown of Miami after narrowly escaping with his life from an operation in Nigeria. Soon, he discovers that all of his intelligence assets and ties have been burned. To make matters worse, he needs to stay within the confines of Miami to avoid prosecution.

In order to fund his search for the truth, Westen hesitantly becomes a private investigator. As expected, each episode focuses both on individual cases as well as the story behind Westen’s burn notice. There is a surprising depth to the series, complimented by a series of award-winning tie-in novels.

Similarity Match: 75%
Though the story is quite different, the format and themes of ‘Burn Notice’ follow the same foundations laid by series similar to ‘The Blacklist’.


If You Like ‘The Blacklist’, You Will Like…

Though there are quite a lot of nice things to say about ‘The Blacklist’, James Spader and the intrigue he creates is the show’s strongest element. Of course, a great story full of twists and action also helps.

‘24’ (Fox, 2011-2014)

Kiefer Sutherland stars as agent Jack Bauer of the Counter Terrorist Unit. Each episode of the show takes place in real time and each season consists of a day, or 24 hours, in Bauer’s life.

‘24’ is a truly unique show as it tells the entire story in real time.

It utilizes several techniques, such as a clock and split-screen views to maximize time efficiency and keep viewers on the edge of their seats.

Sutherland and Spader can both carry entire episodes by themselves while their anti-hero natures are obviously comparable.


The Crime Has Been Solved

TV series like ‘The Blacklist’ will always have a place in our hearts. Every single show on this list has a dedicated following and most of them have very active communities, too.

If you know of any other shows like these, feel free to share them in the comments!

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