The public’s fascination with true crime is not a recent interest, though we have seen a rise in true crime television shows and movies in the past few years. Unsolved Mysteries first started airing in 1987, running until 2010 with 175 episodes.
Forensic Files first aired in 1996 and has shown over 400 episodes in its lifetime. There are countless movies, radio shows and podcasts all dedicated to looking deeper into true crime cases, from abductions to murders, serial killers and more.
So why are we all so fascinated with true crime, anyway?
It sounds twisted, but it is true – evil is interesting. The average person couldn’t imagine killing another human being, or abducting a damsel in distress. But the twisted individuals that do interest us to no end, because their mentality is so different from the average human’s. What made them evil? What drove them to be this way? Were there signs? It takes the classic good vs evil trope and spins it in a way that is unquestionably real.
Mystery is interesting. It’s fun, like a puzzle. Suspense and thriller are both genres of movies and books that do very well in their own respect. True crime is like that, but turned up to ten.
Watching a mystery unfold before you and being able to guess the ‘who did it’ first is engaging and interesting. It is human nature to want to solve a puzzle or problem. And true crime is real life, with real stakes, which is very appealing to people who are tired of the typical situations or puzzles in most movies or books. The real stakes with real people make it worth coming back to again and again.
Being prepared is never a bad thing, and when people watch true crime TV shows it is often easy to criticize the victim. “Why would you walk into the parking garage by yourself?!” or, “No, don’t go to your ex’s house! You know it’s dangerous!”
Watching true crime TV shows gives us a sense of preparedness for anything dangerous that might come our way, whether it be dodging a stalker, avoiding an abduction, or not getting killed by the serial killer down the street. When we learn about how murders happen, and what drives people to murder, we feel that we might be less likely to be the next victim.
Everyone kills for a different reason. No two killers are exactly the same. Each case is a little bit different, with different suspects, settings, victims and more. The variety that comes with true crime will never get old, because it is real life – there are literally countless stories to be told and avenues to explore.
The variety is ultimately what keeps people coming back again and again. It is all the same, but at the same time each case is completely different.