8 best mystery plots on television (Ranked)

We revisit and rank some of the burning television mysteries that kept us bingeing. Warning: many spoilers ahead!

1. What happened to Will Byers? (Stranger Things)

Netflix’s 80s sci-fi thriller, Stranger Things went gangbusters last year.

We were introduced to four sweet pre-teen boys: Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin), Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo), Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Will (Noah Scnapp).

But, Will disappeared.

The police found his bike and sent out a search party, while his mum Joyce (Winona Ryder) was certain that the static on her phone was him communicating with her.

The cops found Will’s body in some water in the woods. It seemed pretty clear that he died, but Joyce still didn’t believe it…

The answer:

Joyce was right – her son was alive. He was stuck in an alternate dimension known as the Upside Down which is just like their real town except dark, gloomy and filled with monsters. It’s also where everyone’s favourite, Barb (#justiceforbarb) was stuck.

Joyce and Chief Hopper (David Harbour) ventured into the Upside Down and rescued Will, but that may not be all that happened to him… in the final scenes we see Will cough up a slug and have a vision of the Upside Down.

Eek, looks like that will be the new mystery for season two!

2. What happened to Jason Blossom? (Riverdale)

Golden-boy Jason Blossom (Trevor Stines) tragically died at the start of the school year. Initially, it was ruled as a run-of-the-mill drowning in Sweetwater River. But that wasn’t the case.

His sister, Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) was arrested for lying about the drowning. Jason had been planning to run away and start a new life. Cheryl had been helping him fake his death to do so – except it didn’t end up being fake. He was murdered and everyone in the small town became a suspect.

We had suspicions about Miss Grundy (Sarah Habel), the school teacher who liked to fool around with her students (and tutored Jason one-on-one), highly strung Betty (Lili Reinhart) whose sister was sent away thanks to Jason, Jughead’s (Cole Sprouse) thug dad FP (Skeet Ulrich), and Veronica’s (Camila Mendes) fraudulent father Hiram (Mark Consuelos).

The answer:

During the twelfth episode, Jason’s killer was finally revealed as none other than Clifford Blossom (Barclay Hope). Jason’s own father!

FP initially confessed to the crime to protect Jughead but the ragtag high school kids didn’t rest. Betty discovered a flash drive in the lining of Jason’s jacket. On the drive, was a video of Jason tied up and Clifford shooting him!

While Clifford hanged himself before the police could get to him, it seemed that he was disappointed in his son not being ruthless enough to take over the Blossom business.

4. Who is the mother? (How I Met Your Mother)

Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) sat his kids down to tell the tale of how he met their mum in 2005. The show threw a bunch of red herrings our way – Robin (Cobie Smulders), Stella (Sarah Chalke) and Victoria (Ashley Williams). But the mystery was kept alive for NINE YEARS.

What’s more of a feat than keeping that mystery alive, was the fact that the ending had been planned since the pilot! The final scenes of Ted’s kids, Penny (Lyndsey Fonseca), and Luke (David Henrie) were filmed during season one. They, along with a few crew members kept the secret for nine years so that Ted’s kids wouldn’t look any older in the finale.

The answer:

We first saw the mother of Ted’s children, Tracy McConnell (Cristin Milioti) in the last episode of season eight. Then throughout season nine which covered the weekend of Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin’s wedding, we see the pieces come together and Ted finally met her in the last episode.

The big twist is that he didn’t end up with Tracy. He loved her, they had kids, got married but then she got sick and passed away. After he finished telling the story, his bewildered kids said that the story wasn’t about their mum but really about his love for “Aunt Robin”.

“Mom’s been gone for six years now,” Penny told Ted, giving him their blessing. “It’s time.”

4. Who shot Annalise Keating? (How To Get Away With Murder)

It was hard to imagine that a second season of How To Get Away With Murder could top the mystery that drove its first season: five law students killed and disposed of the body of their professor’s husband. And as the name suggests, they got away with it.

The second season did top it though. It began with a flash-forward where the star and lifeblood of the series, Annalise Keating (Viola Davis) was left shot and bleeding out on the ground!

The answer:

Annalise’s favourite student, Wes Gibbins (Alfred Enoch) turned out to be the one who pulled the trigger!

We learned that Annalise needed to be shot to make the Hapstall twins look guilty and further cover up the murder of Emily Sinclair (Sarah Burns). Annalise tried to convince each of her students to shoot her in the leg. Eventually, she found the right buttons to press for Wes by revealing she had lied – his girlfriend Rebecca (Katie Findlay) had been dead the entire time that he thought she had just been missing.

Except, her plan worked a little too well. An enraged Wes shot to kill, leaving Annaliese with a critical stomach wound!

5. What happened at that Trivia Night? (Big Little Lies)

HBO’s remake of the eponymous novel by Lianne Moriarty began with flashes of a tragedy occurring at a primary school Trivia Night. Fragments of a press conference, emergency lights and police interviews with school parents gave glimpses into the night.

But we didn’t know who died, how, or if someone murdered them!

The show aimed to distract you from the mystery – delving deep into the ‘perfect’ lives in the coastal town of Monterey. A lot of the plot focused on Renata’s (Laura Dern) daughter Amabella (Ivy George) being hurt at school. Initially, Amabella pointed out Jane’s (Shailene Woodley) son Ziggy (Iain Armitage) as the culprit. When he claimed he didn’t do it, no one was able to prove him wrong. It caused quite a stir among the parents with Madeline (Reese Witherspoon) facing off against Renata in defence of Jane on multiple occasions.

It did take your mind off the Trivia Night but what we didn’t realise was, we were being fed little clues the whole time…

The answer:

It was revealed that Celeste’s (Nicole Kidman) son Max (Nicholas Crovetti) had been hurting Amabella, and his behaviour had been influenced by Celeste’s abusive husband Perry (Alexander Skarsgard). Jane also realised that Perry was the man who raped her-  meaning he was Ziggy’s father.

All of these revelations unfolded during a heated discussion at the Trivia Night. Zen, yoga teaching mum Bonnie (Zoe Kravitz) saw Perry be abusive with Celeste during the interaction and snapped. She pushed Perry, who fell down the school’s stairwell to his death! Bonnie wasn’t one of the main four Monterey mums so – for those who hadn’t read the book – it was a massive shock!

6. Who is Gossip Girl? (Gossip Girl)

Scandalous secrets about New York’s Upper East Side teens were blasted by an omnipresent blogger for years. The sneaky Gossip Girl (voiced by Kristen Bell) seemed to trash everyone’s life at some stage – which only made the guessing game trickier.

There were different theories: Little J (Taylor Momsen), Blair’s (Leighton Meester) housemaid Dorota (Zuzanna Szadkowski) or the more obvious troublemaker Georgina (Michelle Trachtenberg).

So, who was the one wreaking havoc in our favourite rich kids’ lives?

The answer:

Dan Humphries (Penn Badgley). We’re still not quite over this. “You know you love me. XOXO, Gossip Girl,” is hard to picture being typed out by ‘Lonely Boy’. It made sense to a degree that the brooding writer who was on the outs would be the one, but the surprise did leave some fans questioning the consistency of the series.

Either way, you kept us hooked GG. XOXO.

7. What could Clay have done to Hannah? (13 Reasons Why)

The Netflix series about a high school student (Hannah Baker, played by newcomer Katherine Langford) who commits suicide and leaves behind tapes explaining why to those she held accountable, divided audiences. Despite the different reactions, the series was watched a lot. One of the central questions that pulled audiences through the series was, what did Clay (Dylan Minnette) do?

There are 13 tapes, each about a person in Hannah’s life who treated her badly. The audience is guided through the series by Clay – he receives the tapes and we discover who is on them as he listens. From the start, the fact that he receives them means he is on them too. It was baffling for audiences to watch his and Hannah’s interactions unfold. They were sweet. He was nice. It didn’t seem possible that he could hurt her like everyone else did!

The answer:

“Clay, Helmet, your name does not belong on this list,” Hannah says on his tape. She explains he is good and different but needed to be there for her to tell her story. 

8. Who is A? (Pretty Little Liars)

During a sleepover with her four best friends, Alison (Sasha Pieterse) went missing. After a year, her body was found and her friends, Aria (Lucy Hale), Hanna (Ashley Benson), Spencer (Troian Bellisario) and Emily (Shay Mitchell) started receiving mysterious messages from an ‘A’.

The messages contained all of their secrets- and ones only Alison could have known. For years, the four girls were terrorised by this mysterious ‘A’.

The answer:

It turned out a number of figures tortured the girls under the guise of ‘A’. While a bunch of people helped out with the ‘A’ game at certain times, there were a couple of main culprits!

Mona (Janel Parrish) was first. She became ‘A’ to keep Hanna (her BFF) away from her old friends. But after Mona checked into Radley Sanitarium to get treatment, the girls still continued to get messages from ‘A’…

Charlotte DiLaurentis aka Cece Drake (Vanessa Ray) was next. She was the biological child of Alison’s aunt who was adopted by Alison’s mum Jessica (Andrea Parker). Before transitioning from Charles to Charlotte, Jessica helped fake Charles’ death. Then Charlotte went to Radley, where she met Mona and stole the ‘A’ idea.

The girls went five years ‘A’-free but after Charlotte’s death they started getting messages from ‘A.D.’.

This mystery is still not solved! It looks like we’re going to be glued to season seven to find out the identity of ‘A.D’!

What is your favourite small-screen mystery?


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8 best mystery plots on television (Ranked)

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