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The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows 

Ranker TV
Updated November 27, 2018 373 votes 168 voters 13.3k views 30 items

It's every parent's greatest fear and every adult's biggest nightmare: kidnapping. TV shows about kidnapping tear at our hearts and make us want to see what happens next. Will the kidnapped ever get free and will their captors get what's coming to them? Whether or not a kidnapping is central to the plot of a TV series or it becomes a major issue within a season, TV shows about kidnapping make for some compelling television. While some of the best shows about kidnapping are typically popular crime dramas, such shows span other genres.

Of the many shows about kidnapping, most of the truly harrowing ones are about adult kidnappings instead of kids. Shows like NBC's Kidnapped tracks a new kidnapping each season with the people behind law enforcement working tirelessly to solve the crime. Then you have top crime shows like Sherlock that aren't principally about kidnapping, but do feature them heavily in the plot. Whatever your interest in the genre, there's definitely a recommendation or two on this list you will enjoy watching. 

For more recommendations on good kidnapping TV shows, browse this list and feel free to add any similar shows you think are missing!

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list ordered by
1
Thirteen is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Thirteen
2
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Sherlock (BBC One, 2010) is a British crime television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based on stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The brilliant yet insensitive detective ...more

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3
Kidnapped is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Dana Delany, Timothy Hutton, Jeremy Sisto

Premiered: 2006

Kidnapped is an American television drama series from Sony Pictures Television which aired on NBC from September 20, 2006, to August 11, 2007. The series returned on Universal HD in 2008.
4
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang

Premiered: 2008

The Mentalist (CBS, 2008) is an American police procedural television series created by Bruno Heller. After his family is murdered, a con man posing as a psychic medium (Simon Baker) uses his ...more

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5
Finding Carter is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Alexis Denisof, Vanessa Morgan, Cynthia Watros

Premiered: 2014

Finding Carter is an American teen drama television series that premiered on MTV on July 8, 2014. The series was created by Emily Silver, and stars Kathryn Prescott as Carter, a young teenage ...more
6
Dark is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Louis Hofmann, Oliver Masucci, Jördis Triebel

Premiered: 2017

Dark (Netflix, 2017) is a German science fiction thriller web television series created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. The disappearance of two young children in the German town of Winden ...more

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7
Ransom is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Luke Roberts, Nazneen Contractor, Brandon Jay McLaren
Ransom (CBS, 2017) is an internationally co-produced drama television series created by David Vainola. Eric Beaumont (Luke Roberts) is an experienced crisis and hostage negotiator who, with his ...more
8
The Family is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Joan Allen, Rupert Graves, Alison Pill

Premiered: 2016

The Family (ABC, 2016) is an American thriller television series created by Jenna Bans. The series follows a family in Red Pines, Maine, where Claire Warren has just announced her candidacy for ...more
9
Kidnapped Abroad is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Kidnapped Abroad

Premiered: 2008

10
Without a Trace is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Premiered: 2002

Without a Trace is an American police procedural television drama series that originally aired on CBS from September 26, 2002 to May 19, 2009, following the cases of a Missing Persons Unit of ...more

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11
Happy Valley is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Happy Valley
12
The Missing is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
James Nesbitt, Frances O'Connor, Ken Stott

Premiered: 2014

The Missing is a British drama television series. It premiered on 28 October 2014 on BBC One in the UK, and in the US on Starz on 15 November 2014. The eight-part series was written by Harry and ...more

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13
Safe is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Michael C. Hall, Amanda Abbington, Audrey Fleurot

Premiered: 2018

Safe (Netflix, 2018) is a television drama series created by Harlan Coben. After his teenage daughter goes missing, widowed surgeon Tom Delaney (Michael C. Hall) begins unearthing dark secrets ...more
14
Fargo is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks

Premiered: 2014

Fargo (FX, 2014) is an American black comedy drama anthology television series created by Noah Hawley, and inspired by the 1996 film. Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and wrong doings ...more

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15
Human Trafficking is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Mira Sorvino, Robert Carlyle, Donald Sutherland

Premiered: 2005

Human Trafficking is a television miniseries about an American Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent going undercover to stop an organization from trafficking people, and shows the struggles ...more
16
Ill Behavior is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Ill Behavior Chris Geere, Tom Riley, Jessica Regan

Premiered: 2017

17
Lost is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Naveen Andrews, Emilie de Ravin, Matthew Fox Jorge Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Lost (ABC, 2004) is an American drama television series created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams, and Damon Lindelof. After a horrific plane crash, a group of strangers are forced to work ...more

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18
Kidnap and Ransom is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
John Hannah, Helen Baxendale, Trevor Eve

Premiered: 2010

Kidnap and Ransom is a British television three-part miniseries, originally shown on ITV in January 2011 with a second series following in February 2012. The series follows the work of a British ...more
19
Shamanic Princess is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Crispin Freeman, Rokurō Naya, Tomo Sakurai

Premiered: 1997

Shamanic Princess is a Japanese anime consisting of 6 OVA episodes. It chronicles the exploits of Tiara, an agent from the Guardian World, who has been sent to Earth to recover the Throne of ...more
20
The Following is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Kevin Bacon, James Purefoy, Shawn Ashmore

Premiered: 2013

The Following is an American television drama series created by Kevin Williamson and jointly produced by Outerbanks Entertainment and Warner Bros. Television. The first season follows former FBI ...more

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21
Trust is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Donald Sutherland, Hilary Swank, Harris Dickinson
Trust (FX, 2018) is an American television anthology series directed by Danny Boyle. In 1973, heir John Paul Getty III is kidnapped by the Italian mafia, but the family seems disinterested in ...more

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22
Hunter is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Fred Dryer, Stepfanie Kramer, Charles Hallahan

Premiered: 1984

Hunter is an American police drama television show that was created by Frank Lupo, and starring Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter and Stepfanie Kramer as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall, which ran on NBC from ...more

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23
Ten Days in the Valley ... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Kyra Sedgwick, Felix Solis, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Ten Days in the Valley (ABC, 2017) is an American drama series created by Tassie Cameron. Television producer life gets complicated after her young daughter disappears in the middle of the
24
Captive is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Mass Nokhas, Mehdi Aissaoui, Thaer Al-Shayei
Captive (Netflix, 2016) is an American documentary web series. Told by the victims themselves, the series explores hostage situations and negotiations from around the world.
25
Banged Up Abroad is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Kidnapping TV Shows
Banged Up Abroad

Premiered: 2006

Banged Up Abroad was a British documentary/docudrama television series created by Bart Layton that was produced for Channel 5 and that premiered in March 2006. Most episodes feature stories of ...more