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Top 10 Most Confusing TV Shows


Written by Garrett Alden Wait, what? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Confusing TV Shows. For this list, we’ll be going over the television series whose storytelling and/or content can make them hard to follow or understand. These aren’t necessarily weird shows, as those have a list of their own, but there may be some overlap. Also, some spoilers might be ahead, so tread lightly.
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Wait, what? Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Most Confusing TV Shows.

For this list, we’ll be going over the television series whose storytelling and/or content can make them hard to follow or understand. These aren’t necessarily weird shows, as those have a list of their own, but there may be some overlap. Also, some spoilers might be ahead, so tread lightly.



#10: “Fringe” (2008-13)




A team of FBI investigators looking into strange or unexplained phenomena with the help of a nutty scientist doesn’t seem all that confusing at first glance, but “Fringe” gets progressively more layered as it goes on. Besides the bizarre cases of the week, much of the show’s plot begins to heavily feature shapeshifters, several parallel universes, including different versions of the main characters, as well as alternate timelines, and even a whole season set in a dystopian future. Plus, there’s the numerous quirks of the aforementioned scientist, Walter Bishop, whose fondness for LSD leads to the occasional drug trip.



#9: “The OA” (2016-)




Suddenly, “Stranger Things” doesn’t seem so strange. “The OA” is about a young woman who returns to her town after being missing for years, no longer blind, and calling herself “the OA.” She attracts a group of students and teacher to whom she tells her story, which may or may not involve travel to other dimensions. The unreliable nature of the OA’s story, as well as the wide range of tones of the show, can make things hard to get a handle on. Even the format can be confusing – who puts a title sequence 40 minutes into an episode?



#8: “Mr. Robot” (2015-)



Following the intricate and convoluted world of computer hacker activists, “Mr. Robot” sees Elliot Alderson become involved with the title character and his group of hacktivists, “fsociety.” While a comparatively accurate depiction of how hacking works is sure to leave some viewers confused, the innumerable conspiracies and conspiracies inside conspiracies are sure to leave even more people scratching their heads. In addition, Elliot’s paranoia and delusions are a prominent part of the show, to the point where episodes can take place inside his mind.



#7: “Sense8” (2015-)




It’s a show by the Wachowskis and the guy behind “Babylon 5” – if you were expecting straightforward, you’re clearly not familiar with their work. “Sense8” follows a group of 8 people from different backgrounds and locales as they suddenly become connected to each other’s emotions and experiences. Why or how this is happening to them is slow in being explained and the show features many ethereal and confusing sequences as a result of the protagonists’ link. Frequently ambiguous and meandering, “Sense8” will have you asking, “what’s going on?”, throughout much of its run.



#6: “True Detective” - Season 1 (2014)




Each season of this mystery anthology series follows a different story and the one in its inaugural season can prove challenging to comprehend. The season follows former Detectives Marty Hart and Rust Cohle as they recount a case from the 1990s years later to another pair of detectives. The jumping between time periods can often prove jarring, but the fact that the ex-detectives are, contrary to the title, not being truthful, is also somewhat perplexing. Add in Rust’s occasional hallucinations brought on by years as an undercover narcotics officer, and things can get pretty strange. Also, what was up with that hillbilly talking in a British accent sometimes?



#5: “Legion” (2017-)




Trips inside the mind can get confusing at the best of times, but add in mutant powers, and you’ve got a recipe for one of the most disorienting shows on TV. David Haller is a mutant with powerful abilities who is rescued from a psychiatric institution by other mutants who believe there may be more to his mental illness than there appears. The show frequently enters the characters’ minds, leading to confusing sequences, that may or may not involve dancing, that are often kept vague or open to interpretation. The show’s whole aesthetic is rather quirky and ambiguous too, being reminiscent of a Wes Anderson film on acid.



#4: “The Leftovers” (2014-17)




When part of the world’s population just disappears, those left behind struggle to make sense of what happened and what to do going forward. Focusing on the residents of a small town, “The Leftovers” takes its initial, mysterious premise and then hits the audience with even crazier developments, such as a dead character haunting the protagonist for most of the series, people dying multiple times, a new location every season, and the occasional time skip. With how symbolic many of its developments are, “The Leftovers” keeps viewers guessing and theorizing until long after it’s over.



#3: “Westworld” (2016-)




Set in a futuristic western themed park filled with android “hosts,” nothing is as it seems in “Westworld.” Executives scheme, guests discover themselves, and the hosts are slowly achieving consciousness. Their elaborate and disparate storylines converge in unusual ways and, given the hosts’ long lifespans, you can never be quite sure when everything is happening, or even who’s real. “Westworld” tests its audience as much as the characters; leaving viewers to puzzle through “the Maze” to “the valley beyond.” “Westworld” may not look like anything to some, but for those with the patience, it’s one hell of a ride.



#2: “Twin Peaks” (1990-91; 2017-)




David Lynch. ‘Nuff said. No? Okay… Set in the eponymous town, the show sees the murder of a young woman bringing FBI agent Dale Cooper into contact with the quirky residents, as well as their innumerable secrets. Lynch’s signature surreal style permeates the series, from the strange characters to the infamously bizarre sequences, where cryptic clues are seeded in premonitions and visions. Though many of the shows thus far tell their stories in unusual ways, “Twin Peaks” embraces how confusing it is in a way few of our other entries do.



#1: “Lost” (2004-10)




This show has people… well… lost. Although the setup is simple - a plane crashes on an island and the passengers must work together to survive - the execution is incredibly complex. The survivors and the audience gradually discover the island’s long, mysterious history, though many questions remain unanswered by the show. In addition, “Lost” features a plethora of storytelling conceits that frequently leave viewers confused, such as flashbacks, flash-forwards, and multiple forms of time travel. Even the explanations for things conflict, often intentionally, between science and mysticism. “Lost” may not have easy answers, but that’s part of what made it, and many of our entries, must-see television.

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