TV for smart people: Shows that hinge on a battle of wits

Yahoo Contributor Network

A lot of TV is the entertainment equivalent of junk food: fun, empty, and not very nourishing. While most TV fans have their own reality TV guilty pleasure, the most engrossing shows on TV are always aimed at the smart set. And really, is there anything finer than watching two equally intelligent characters try and outsmart one another? If you've been craving intellectually nourishing TV, the following shows are sure to ensnare you with their captivating battles of the wits.


Since its premiere the summer of 2011, "Suits" has steadily grown a devoted fanbase. The reason people love this show? It's all about wickedly smart people trying to outsmart their rivals. In Season 2, the battle of wits reaches a fever pitch when Harvey and Mike team up to outsmart lawyer Daniel Hardman, who is trying to take over the firm and force out all who are loyal to Jessica. Even when Hardman is ejected from the firm, Harvey and Mike still need to outwit Hardman's other plans for weakening the firm from the outside.


This re-imagining of the Sherlock Holmes story pits the world's only consulting detective (Sherlock) against the world's only consulting criminal (Moriarty). Both are wickedly intelligent and more than capable of guessing the next move the other will make. Season 2 ended on a huge cliffhanger, with Holmes outwitted by Moriarty…or was he? Fans will have to wait until the Season 3 premiere to know for sure.

"The Following"

This freshman Fox series introduces viewers to a cat-and-mouse battle of the wits between a serial killer (Joe Carroll) and the FBI agent who captured him and literally wrote the book on him (Ryan Hardy). Hardy knows Carroll better than anyone, which is good: Carroll has a plan to exact horrible revenge on Hardy using a network of disciples.

"Death Note"

Though the series originally premiered in Japan, "Death Note" became wildly popular among American audiences after airing on the Cartoon Network. The series revolves around a teenage boy, Light, who gets the power to kill anyone in the world just by writing down their name in a magic notebook. Throughout the course of the series, Light tries to evade capture by the authorities, who are guided by a mysterious, genius-level detective known only as "L." The battle of wits between L and Light is intense and utterly heart-stopping.
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