Why Are We Hooked To True Crime Stories?

Most of the time, the headline news is about crime. Shocking and sometimes gory, we are hooked (whether we admit it or not). And we just can’t get enough of it everyday.

Why are we hooked to these kind of stories? Despite of being dark and gloomy, we have different reasons why we pay attention to it.


It all started with the first recorded crime in history: the murder of Abel. As we all know, Cain struck Abel’s head with a stone. But what caused Cain to do it? Envy and perhaps, pride. It seems that we are born with these emotions and if we get carried away of these, it may take us to our darker side.

Another theory of how crime began stems from the principle of natural selection and survival. Animals have to adapt to its environment and would likely to make critical choices, killing included, in order to survive. Remember that we humans are the highest form of animal.

A person is born with feelings of envy and hate. If he gives way to them, they will lead him to violence and crime…

– Xun Kuang

What Fascinates Us

Although we know that greed, envy, pride, and other negative emotions can cause us to commit evil, we are still fascinated by the criminals’ motives. We keep on asking why until we are satisfied with the root cause.

Another thing, we are intrigued with what went inside a criminal’s mind, an explanation of his/her behavior, and try to understand him/her as a person. We try to become a couch psychologist rather than a couch detective (or even both).

We become satisfied if the criminal is arrested, jailed, tried in court, and served his/her prison term. But for unsolved cases, we become fascinated even more. For one, we know that the criminal is still out there and trying to get away with it. For another, we have this desire to seek justice and play an advocate for justice.

I have to admit, reading those whodunnit novels made me a couch detective while watching true crime stories.

Outside Looking In

For us spectators, we are just observing on what’s going on. For some of us, true crime stories serve as a reminder of other related experiences. It could even be a thought of assurance or affirmation that we are not alone, we are (or are not) safe, or we have to act.

As a fiction writer, I get story ideas from true crimes. I use other emotions to fill in the blanks even though I haven’t experienced a certain crime. One film director told us that we could still write a rape scene even though we haven’t experienced it as long as we have experienced what it was to be violated.

Proactive Advocate

More often than not, for the victim or the family, the crime turned them into advocates for justice. There are other people who would stand up for the victim’s rights not because they’re victims, too, but because it’s the right thing to do.

One person that I could think of is the late Tony Calvento. He was a journalist and became famous for his daily column and crime documentary The Calvento Files. He tackled criminal cases that went unsolved until the case was solved. There were times that I wished I could be like him.

Positive Attraction

However, we always say, “Be careful on what you wish for.” I believe in the Law of Attraction. That’s why I try to say or write things in a positive way, if I could help it. So I’d rather use “pro-justice” than “anti-crime”. This way, something positive may come our way despite the dark side of crime and violence.