Popular Teen Mystery Shows

Characters Kate Wallis and Jeanette Turner of Cruel Summer and an evidence board full of photos from American Vandal

While the mystery genre was made popular by classic authors like Agatha Christie and P.D. James, mystery stories were brought to a wider audience through movies, games, and most recently television. Combined with the teen genre, mystery shows require new layers and enough twists and turns to keep younger audiences engaged.

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A great mystery keeps audiences guessing the entire way through. With the success of streaming and uptick in content, shows have started combining different genres with mystery hoping to add their own spin to the genre. Doubling as thrillers, satires, and even the supernatural, teen mystery shows have become increasingly popular with various demographics.



10 One Of Us Is Lying

Adapted from Karen M. McManus’ novel of the same name, One of Us Is Lying centers around a group of five students who enter detention, with only four exiting. After a student dies from an allergic reaction, the four students in detention become the main suspects of a murder investigation.

While a classic murder mystery at its core, One of Us Is Lying finds its success in modernizing The Breakfast Club’s detention trope and layering it with several mysteries. Each episode successfully pushes the audience in different directions, and even after revealing who killed Simon, it introduces another mystery. While One of Us Is Lying was canceled after two seasons, the Peacock series does the book justice.

9 Pretty Little Liars

Based on Sara Shepard’s novel series of the same name, Pretty Little Liars follows a group of four friends who find themselves the victim of an anonymous stalker named “A” after the disappearance of their friend Allison. A never ending mystery up until the last episode, Pretty Little Liars is filled with lies, affairs, and murders, adding maturity to the teen genre that’s rarely been seen.

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In later seasons, the series became much darker and at times frightening for younger teen audiences, however Pretty Little Liars has gone down in history as one of the best teen shows, with its reboot coined as one of HBO Max’s best original series.

8 The Society

Created by Christopher Keyser, The Society features a group of classmates who are left to learn how to survive on their own after discovering their entire town disappeared upon returning from a field trip. While the series was canceled after one season as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, it remains a fan-favorite, and one of Netflix’s best original series.

The Society takes the classic “Lord of the Flies” story, but adds a science-fiction element that elevates the story and mystery beneath it. Along with its unraveling mysteries, The Society remains a heartwarming coming-of-age story, and received praise for its role in improving representation for the ASL community.

7 Cruel Summer

Starring Olivia Holt and Chiara Aurelia, Cruel Summer tells the story of a girl’s disappearance, and the girl who seemingly took her place over three summers. After the police find Kate, she accuses Jeanette of witnessing her abduction and failing to report it.

As Cruel Summer unfolds, each character’s secrets are revealed, leaving audiences constantly wondering what truly happened. Jumping between several timelines can be difficult to accomplish, but Cruel Summer manages to do so with ease. The first season garnered enough success for a second which is scheduled to premiere this Summer.

6 Yellowjackets

A survival story at its core, Yellowjackets finds its strength in its unfolding mysteries and its great cast of characters. Jumping between two time-frames, Yellowjackets follows a high-school soccer team whose plane crashes in the wilderness, leaving them stranded for over a year, as well as their adult lives 25 years later as their past’s continues to haunt them.

Since it first premiered, Showtime’sYellowjackets has been all the rage, with fan theories consuming the internet left-and-right. Along with navigating the wilderness and learning to survive, there’s a mysterious force at play that the girls struggle to understand and even 25 years later continue to run away from.

5 Stranger Things

Arguably the series that catapulted Netflix to immense fame, Stranger Things took the world by storm immediately after its release, expanding its fan base with each season. A supernatural mystery and coming-of-age story rolled into one, Stranger Things is set in the town of Hawkins, Indiana during the 1980s where a group of kids battles an alternate dimension known as the upside down.

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Stranger Things’ creators, the Duffer Brothers not only found success thanks to their great writing and fascinating story, but its nod to ’80s pop-culture and real-life inspiration from historical events. While the fourth season offered more insight about character backgrounds and origin stories, fans are anxiously awaiting answers to certain mysteries that remain.

4 American Vandal

An anthology true-crime mockumentary series, American Vandal centers around high school “investigators” as they delve into different incidents that riddle their towns. Though canceled after two seasons, American Vandal’s first season remains a classic. After twenty-seven cars are found vandalized with phallic images, Dylan Maxwell is accused of the crime and expelled from school as a result.

Wanting to prove his innocence, two students launch an investigation into what really happened. American Vandal finds its strength in adding humor to the classic true-crime documentary genre. Though Documentary Now explored mockumentaries first, American Vandal is the first to run with a season-long story arc designed specifically for teen audiences.

3 School Spirits

One of Paramount Plus’ new series, School Spirits is a supernatural mystery that stars Peyton List as Maddie, a high-schooler stuck in the afterlife while trying to solve her own disappearance. Though no stranger to acting, School Spirits offers Peyton List a huge breakout role, showcasing her impressive talents in the leading role.

School Spirits offers a refreshing take on the afterlife genre, using what Nancy Drew and The Sixth Sense do best. With the season one finale leaving behind a huge cliffhanger, fans continue to voice their theories online, leaving much anticipation for season two.

2 Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina

Based on the Archie comic book series of the same name, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows the beloved Sabrina Spellman as she juggles her two worlds as a human and witch. A Netflix fan-favorite and one of the best shows about a witch, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina finds its strength in not just its horror and supernatural mystery roots, but its coming-of-age element.

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Split into four parts, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina had a successful run, though the series was canceled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Balancing the series’ dark elements with witty comedy, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a refreshing twist on witchy stories, and is led by a remarkable cast.

1 The Wilds

An Amazon Prime original, The Wilds follows a group of teenage girls left stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash who are also unaware they’re the subjects in a social experiment. The first season received acclaim for its eclectic cast of characters and their phenomenal acting, though after introducing a second experiment group of boys, the series lost some of its stamina leading to its cancelation.

The idea of a group of kids stranded in the wilderness isn’t new to entertainment, but The Wilds stands out thanks to its underlying mystery surrounding the social experiment, and the tensions that arise as subjects begin discovering the truth.

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