My grandmother was a huge mystery buff. I remember watching Poirot and other cozy mystery shows with her and seeing mystery novels in her hand practically night and day of every moment of my life. Now, my mom (her daughter-in-law) is the one who’s always reading and watching mysteries, though she leans more towards cozy mysteries than Grandma ever did.
You could say I’ve come by my interest in this genre honestly.
I used to watch some harder-hitting shows and read hard mystery novels, but with the world as painful and chaotic as it’s been for me the last several years, I’ve leaned far more heavily into the cozy corner, snuggled up with a cat, a cuppa, and that good mystery.
And since sometimes we all just need a good show instead of a book, here’s my list of the best cozy mystery shows available.
Note: All shows are available on BritBox, Amazon Prime, Netflix, or Hulu, unless otherwise stated. You’ll need subscriptions for each service to view.
Okay, so you’ll notice the majority of the list is British TV. There’s a reason for that – they do cozy better than just about anybody else (certainly better than us Americans with our dark mysteries and fascination with police procedurals).
This is probably my absolute favorite cozy mystery show of all time. This period show begins just a bit post-WWII, so we have all these hard topics (y’know, besides murder and death) like PTSD, loss, suffering, and so much more, plus a glimpse into the hardships of life for immigrants, POC, and so many others in a small British hamlet.
Despite the depths of the content, the show is truly darling. It also gives a delightfully wonderful picture of what clergy should be – nonjudgmental, loving, compassionate, forgiving, and human.
For those interested in some “offline” Father Brown, you can read the book from G.K. Chesterton which the series is based on.
Shakespeare and Hathaway: Private Investigators
A close second is this contemporary delight, starring a pie-in-the-sky woman with a bit of ambition she has to discover (who happens to be the the first “victim” of the series) and a former police officer working as P.I.s in the U.K. The “unlikely duo” make for some fun adventures as they solve mysteries, stumble through their own minor life crises, and generally make merry through it all.
A Touch of Frost
This eight season mystery show is more of a police procedural, admittedly, but it’s more cozy than American shows of the same category. It’s less ambitious than many others, as well, which in this case actually winds up being an excellent thing.
Detective Jack Frost’s interactions with the cast of characters is what makes the show engaging and entertaining, with some lovable character quirks frosting the cake.
For a review, check out Cozy Mystery Blog’s take.
Arguably Agatha Christie’s most famous protagonist is Miss Marple, a clever never-married woman with a lot of spunk and keen intuition. This series was adapted from twelve different novels featuring Miss Marple, plus two short stories and nine novels about other characters in Christie’s collection.
Rosemary & Thyme
This is a fun one with two middle-aged women as the protagonists. Their “normal” lives go awry after losing spouses and jobs and they find each other in the chaos become business partners in gardening. The hijinks ensue as murder seems to follow them around and their true “calling” comes to light. It’s light-hearted and darling with some absolutely stunning scenery, so relax and enjoy!
Death in Paradise
Death in Paradise is a British cop show set on an island with a transplanted British cop serving as the lead detective in the territory. He’s not so keen on being there, complaining of the heat and the like, but he quickly warms up to the area and we warm up to him.
This one is also a little more hard-hitting than what I’d typically call “cozy,” though not because it’s a police procedural. Rather, because it deals with some darker topics within its exploration of already murders and kidnappings, etc. But it still fills me with a light feeling every time I watch. Plus, the characters are more vibrant and real than in many other shows.
The series does go through some cast changes with the lead detective replaced by new characters, but the new ones are equally entertaining (the first detective will always be my favorite, though!), so stick around.
Smacking slightly of Father Brown in setting and character type only, Grantchester is about a young bicycling clergyman in the 1950s in Cambridgeshire. He’s got a knack for sleuthing and a police department detective who doesn’t hate him, which is actually a twist in the genre, since most detectives hate the amateur sleuths.
It’s a wholesome show (for the most part) and has positive messages as the strawberry blond young men solve crimes.
Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries
My “adopted” sister-in-law suggested this one to me and I’m ever so grateful! This period mystery is a delight, not just because I’m obsessed with the nation in which it’s set. Miss Phryne Fisher is an off-beat woman, ahead of her time in the Roaring 20s in Melbourne, Australia. She goes about getting into mischief and solving crimes with a sensual (though not graphic) flair and disregard for convention. If I were ranking these shows by favorites, this would be number two on my list after Father Brown.
My Life is Murder
Xena fans will love seeing Lucy Lawless in the lead role on this one. Retired detective Alexa Crowe helps the police along the way as she recovers from her own life tragedies and challenges.
North American Shows
This Canadian series stars a favorite actor of mine, Yannick Bisson, from a cozy F.B.I. show (Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye) I used to love. Admittedly, I first started watching it because I recognized his face.
Soon, the period show pulled me in thanks to the fun and “progressive” storytelling that’s wholesome. It’s got some clever elements, like using major historical figures like Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, and some obscure historical folks, to tell stories in Toronto, Canada in the 1890s.
I love history and depictions of real-life historical figures. This show does that quite often. And though their depictions of some real people aren’t as accurate as others, many of them do show the not-so-nice side of some popular figures from history who really weren’t very nice people. (Yes, I might have some things against Thomas Edison for stealing from Tesla and other inventors and gaslighting them.)
Overall, the show is a great little series with actual strong female leads, creative trope usage, and even some educational value without boring the audience. It’s easily my fourth favorite show on this list (after Death in Paradise in slot number three).
Murder She Wrote
My first exposure to cozy mystery was, like many folks, Murder She Wrote. This series ran for what seemed like forever, featuring another favorite performer, Angela Lansbury. If you haven’t seen it yet, Lansbury plays a writer from Cabot Cove who stumbles upon murders time and time again, in practically every area of her life, even when she’s out of town or overseas. This one is great for a nostalgic re-watch.