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But Why, Thoughts

7 reasons we love crime shows

I spent my teenage binge-watching Crime Patrol-like shows. And even today, my favourite movie or web series genre is Crime Thriller, especially true stories. From parents to friends, most people suggest not to watch. They said it would impact my psyche. And it’s not an alone story for me. Crime series are getting more popular, and many people enjoy watching true crime stories. And I was curious to know why. And, in this post, I will discuss what I found. 

Why Do People Love Crime Dramas?

The human brain works with some algorithms. So when we do something, it follows our inner programs, somehow likes a Computer works. We follow some rules when reacting to anything. But, who writes those programs and how? We get those through evolution or various life experiences. Genes, hormones, survival tendencies, reproducing tendencies all contribute to making ourselves. I am using this definition loosely. Human Psychology is all about human minds and behaviour. So, where do the explanations for Crime Story Obsessions lay?

1. Crime shows give us adrenalin Rush:

Do you remember riding a Roller-coaster? Most children love that thrilling excitement, even adults. A study, “The Eustress Concept: Problems and outlooks”,  says that stress can have a survival benefit. Eustress means good stress is an adaptation process. When we get engaged in risky tasks, our body releases some chemicals like adrenalin, dopamine etc. It stops our minds from being bored. When we ride a roller coaster or hike, we feel fear, which is harmless. 

When you watch a crime show or read a novel, you go deeper into the story. You become a character on it, and undergo it as a reality. We want to survive, and that’s a basic evolutionary concept. We experience the thrill of surviving, in a controlled manner, from a safe zone. This sensation leads to an adrenaline rush we like. 

2. We fascinate Good vs Evil Fight in crime shows

Dr Mantell, a clinical and corporate psychologist, said that our crime show obsession has a root in the conflict between good vs evil. Dr Elizabeth Rutha, another psychologist, also supports this. She mentioned that from childhood, we are driven towards the tension between good people vs guilty people. In fairy tales, good characters fight against bad. Crime shows are like those tales. We love to witness how the wrong people get jailed/hanged.

3. Crime shows make us feel Prepared: 

How can someone take an extreme step like murder? But, the more important thing is why the victim gets murdered or attacked. This question can explain our true crime stories. A study shows that Women are Drawn to Tales of Rape, Murder, and Serial Killers. They think they are prone to violence, though it’s not right exactly (Except Rape, Domestic Violence etc.). So, when watching a crime show, especially true crime, the watcher takes it as research. While watching a crime show, we don’t only enjoy the storyline. We also try to learn how to prevent being a victim. Amanda Vicary, an associate professor of psychology, told this to HuffPost

We want to know the killer’s psychology.  Crime shows are like rehearsals for us, to increase the chance of survival.

4. And because it’s may have an evolutionary route:

To survive in the world, we need to defend ourselves. So, we learnt to pay attention to things that can harm us during evolution. True crime stories present to us how someone can do extreme harm to others. And for our memory, that’s the best source to figure out potential dangers. So, negative Bias can explain our love for crime shows. To make survival probability high, we pay more attention to negative threats. 

And there is a dark side of humanity too. We are naturally curious about unusual things. We can witness several shades of human behaviour in crime stories. Natural death is not as fascinating as serial killing for us. It’s where the negativity bias comes into action. We want to know more about how a person like us can become a killer.

5. Crime shows reassure us that we are not the victim:

True crime stories show how someone gets killed or harmed brutally. And, that’s not you, isn’t it a relief? You might be a victim of a similar incident, but you are safe. 

Crime show obsession beacuse we love murders like unusual things.

Schadenfreude is a term in psychology that means the pleasure we get from another one’s misfortune. Ethically this emotion does not sound pleasant, but it lies to some extent in human behaviour. We do not always empathise with the victim, but sometimes we disassociate ourselves from them. We think they get victimised because of their faults, like ignoring suspicious things, not being careful etc. So, we assume that they deserve to suffer, and we don’t have to go through this. So, it’s like we get pleasure while watching or listening to a horrible true crime story. 

And, sometimes, we just felt safe because we are not the killer. The preparators are also people like us, but they took the unethical way. In some situations, we screamed that I would kill you. But how many of us have any intention to do so? It’s just a mere reflection of anger and frustration. But, in the same world, some people kill another human. True crime stories reassure us that we are not the one.

6. Love for crime shows due to The Dark side of ourselves:

Most human beings have an aggressive instinct and maybe we gained it during evolution. In life, we had to fight with several negative emotions. We are, in general, non-violent members, so acting upon those negative thoughts is not a moral choice. We can borrow a  Freudian concept of Sublimation here. To neutralise the conflict between our Instinct (ID) and Morality (Superego), our Ego has a defence mechanism. Sublimation is a part of the mechanism that can explain our obsession with crime shows. Freud describes it as a mature way to deal with Unacceptable thoughts in an acceptable manner. 

We don’t want to kill someone, and we can address those emotions by watching crime shows. True crime stories show us what humans can do if the moral side is not present. We discover our dark side without breaking our morals. 

We don’t want to kill someone, and we can address those emotions by watching crime shows. True crime stories show us what humans can do if the moral side is not present. We explore our dark side without breaking our morals. 

7. The storytelling of Crime shows are addictive:

Other than those deep-rooted reasons, many of us only love the way crime shows represent reality. The storytelling of crime shows is more interesting than the various genres. It involves humans, society, emotions, detective works and many more. You start decoding the case in parallel in your mind. See, we love to solve mysteries and puzzles (In childhood, we played hide and seek). 

Again, the details and depth of true crime stories hook us. We get merged in the show, rather than using our minds in other works. It’s a comforting feeling for many. 


Everyone has their reason for their love for crime shows. And that’s not a bad thing until you become addicted. But, if you are using your whole energy and time on these, you may need a specialist’s suggestion. 

By the way, what’s driving you excited about crime shows? Let us know in the comment section.

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