Right now, FBI is one of CBS’s biggest hits. In just three seasons, the series about the New York branch of the federal agency has become such a hit that it’s created a spin-off, Most Wanted, and a coming third series centering on International crimes.
It follows a long tradition of shows centering around the FBI, some of which like to push the agency as more powerful than it actually is. Yet they can be fun in showing the action and some daring plotlines.
Several shows embrace the “procedural” format with “one-and-done” storylines. Others can wrap intricate arcs involving conspiracies and adventure. From network hits to lesser-known cable series, they all offer some compelling watching.
For FBI fans waiting for the next season, these ten series can be a fun watch for more thrills and great adventures about federal agencies.
About to wrap up its eighth season, this NBC thriller is a showcase for Emmy-winner James Spader.
With no warning, Raymond “Red” Reddington (Spader), the most wanted man in the country, turns himself in to the FBI. Reddington then offers his “help” to stop even worst criminals, many of whom the FBI doesn’t even know exist.
Reddington’s condition is that he works with Elizabeth Kean (Megan Boone), a young profiler. It’s Spader’s show as the actor relishes in his Reddington being a light-humored man although ruthless in dealings while playing mind games with everyone.
As the series develops, the shocking connection between Red and Liz is made clear. This leads to various amazing turns as Liz herself goes on a dark path.
The series is coming for a ninth season that’s sure to keep up the stunning twists as Spader keeps this list compelling viewing.
Seasons 1-7 on Netflix, Season 8 on Peacock.
A&E, of all places, offered this wildly fun criminal drama that Most Wanted fans will enjoy.
Using the old mantra “it takes a crook to catch a crook,” two U.S. Marshals get a set of convicts to help capture fugitives to earn time off their own sentences.
The criminals can be a twisted bunch, including Prison Break’s twisted T-Bag (Rober Knepper) but a couple who aren’t as bad as they seem.
The cons hunting are unique, from Malcolm Goodwin’s street crook to Serinda Swan’s former bounty hunter.
The second season pushed more drama, including a shocking character death while keeping to the thrills. It’s like a non-costumed version of Suicide Squad to show how sometimes the crooks are needed to catch bigger prey.
Seasons 1&2 streaming on Hulu.
This delightful USA Network series was a star-making turn for Matt Bomer.
He plays Neil Caffrey, a suave con artist and thief who’s finally caught by FBI rival Peter Burke (Tim DeKay). Neil then pulls off his best con yet: convincing the FBI he can be an asset to catch even bigger criminals.
The series is wonderful with Neil working his con games and he and Peter having a tense friendship as Peter knows deep down this is a crook. There’s also humor from Willie Garson as Neil’s buddy Mozzy.
The series has dramatic touches, with Neil tracking a lost love and getting involved in bigger con games.
The finale is excellent, making viewers wonder if Neil pulled off one last scam to get away and scoring nicely with viewers.
Seasons 1-6 streaming on Hulu.
Set in the 1970s, a pair of agents (Holt McCallany and Jonathan Groff) and a psychologist (Anna Torv) try to understand the growing trend in serial killers.
Several real-life serial killers such as the Son of Sam are used as the agents try to delve into their minds and grasp what drove them into these acts.
It’s a bold new science, and the actors are terrific, selling the classic line of “the banality of evil.” It also shows how real serial killers are stranger than any fictional one.
The series deserves attention for a powerfully realistic look at how the FBI attempted to understand why these people do what they do.
Seasons 1&2 streaming on Netflix.
The opening of this NBC show is terrific: A woman (Jaimie Alexander, aka Lady Sif) crawls out of a bag in Times Square, her naked body covered in tattoos and no memory of who she is.
Soon, a special FBI team realizes the tattoos point to various crimes. As they break up cartels and terrorist groups, the overall arc has Jane trying to figure out who she is and why she has the marks.
The series is a fun romp for the most part with some great characters (especially the scene-stealing crook Rich Dotcom). There are wider arcs of the conspiracy and a cool turn briefly turning Jane into the villain.
At the same time, there’s great humor, such as how nerdy Patterson’s father is none other than Bill Nye playing himself.
Having just wrapped up its run, the series mixes some terrific action with gripping twists but still some humor reminiscent of an MCU adventure.
Seasons 1-5 streaming on Hulu.
In Plain Sight
While technically not the FBI, this fun USA Network series will appeal to its fans.
Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack) is a U.S. Marshal working for the Witness Protection Program. Each episode has Mary handling someone forced to take on a new identity in New Mexico to keep them safe from criminals.
Mary actually prefers the danger of her job to her troubled home life, which includes a conniving sister and a flighty mother. She’s aided by partner Marshall Mann (Fred Weller), whose dry humor balances Mary’s hot-headedness.
The series could amp up the drama, especially when Mary becomes pregnant and thus balances her job with being a mom.
Yet, she was tough enough to take on any criminal to protect her charges, and that strength makes this series a must-watch.
Seasons 1-5 streaming on AppleTV and IMDBTV.
For a network that loves procedurals, it’s surprising CBS only gave this one season.
A continuation of the 2011 movie, Bradley Cooper reprises his role as a man who uses a special pill to expand his intellect. Now running for Senator, Cooper arranges for the pill to fall into the hands of a random slacker (Jake McDorman).
After getting involved in a case, McDorman is hired by the FBI with Jennifer Carpenter as the agent helping him on cases. The fun is how Brian reimagines cases in fun ways, from a comic book adventure to a take on Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.
The series even pokes fun at CBS procedurals, noting how “in real life, hacking is boring” and shots on CSI.
It had serious arcs of a grander conspiracy but better when it was a light-hearted adventure that deserved a longer life.
Season 1 streaming on CW Seed.
Without A Trace
This long-running CBS hit focuses on the missing person division of the New York FBI office.
Each episode kicks off with someone vanishing into thin air. The team (led by Anthony LaPaglia) has to piece together what happened, which usually uncovers that person’s secrets.
The supporting cast is great, with Poppy Montgomery, Roselyn Sanchez, and Eric Close among the members helping out. There is also some interpersonal drama like the love triangle of LaPaglia, Montgomery, and Close’s characters.
The show had a few crossovers with CSI and compelling takes on the formula. It’s a terrific procedural that still holds up for some fun viewing.
Seasons 1-7 streaming on HBO Max.
It sounds like the setup for a reality TV show: agents of the FBI, ICE, DEA, and other agencies share a beach house.
Yet this USA Network show could be fun in some of the cases. It’s a good cast of Daniel Sunjata, Serinda Swan, Vanessa Ferlito, and others. The overall arc is about rookie FBI agent (Aaron Tveit) investigating Sunjata for possible corruption.
The cast gels well to show the dark side of going undercover in cases. There are some twists in several story arcs as they target anyone from drug dealers to terrorists.
While running only three seasons, this series is fun just for the unique setup that mixes several different agencies together.
Seasons 1-3 streaming on Hulu.
Priyanka Chopra shines in this fantastic ABC thriller.
She plays Alex Parrish, a rookie FBI agent framed for a massive terrorist attack. As she goes on the run to clear her name, flashbacks show Alex’s training for the FBI as she realizes one of her classmates is behind this.
The series puts in plenty of thrills, with Alex learning more of her classmates’ secrets and keeping the audience guessing until the final reveal.
The second season shifts it up with Alex part of the CIA, and involved in a deeper conspiracy. Season three has a CIA/FBI team handling various spy adventures.
While it doesn’t reach the heights of its first year, it’s still a great adventure show to watch
Seasons 1-3 on Netflix.