‘Unsolved Mysteries’ at 35: New Documentary Explores the History of the Iconic True-Crime Series

A picture of
© NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection

In 1987, actor Robert Stack put on his trenchcoat for a series of NBC specials that eventually turned into the iconic true crime series Unsolved Mysteries.

The program was popular enough that it began as a regular series later the next year, premiering Oct. 5, 1988. Who knew it would become one of the longest running programs in the history of television and also kickstart one of the most popular television genres that currently exists?

In honor of the show’s 35th anniversary, Pluto TV will debut a new documentary called Unsolved Mysteries: Behind the Legacy on Oct. 5, the date of the original series’ debut.

The documentary comes from FilmRise and Cosgrove/Meurer Productions, which created the series. It will give viewers a glimpse behind the scenes, featuring never-before-seen outtakes, interviews with the series creators, as well as actors, producers and directors of the show.

Unsolved Mysteries, which spent nine seasons on NBC before moving to CBS for two more seasons, was the very first program that allowed audiences to play a role; viewers could submit their own story or send in a tip.

A unique hybrid of news magazine and drama offering a mix of true-crime stories, legends of the paranormal and tales of loved ones separated by time and geography, the series also served as a launching pad for many actors, including Matthew McConaughey, Cheryl Hines, Daniel Day Kim and Taran Killam (Robert Stack’s great-nephew), among others, who appeared in the show’s reenactments of the cases being explored. Viewers have helped solve more than 260 cases.

Unsolved Mysteries: Behind the Legacy features original interviews with co-creators Terry Dunn Meurer and John Cosgrove, along with longtime producers and directors of the show, pulling back the curtain and allowing fans to experience their favorite cases in a whole new light.

The crew divulges behind-the-scenes stories and covers all aspects of the show, from research and casting to solving mysteries soon after episodes aired. With never-before-seen outtakes of Stack and a look into some fan-favorite moments, the film honors one of television’s most enduring and recognizable shows as well as the fans who were integral to its success.

After launching exclusively on Pluto TV Oct. 5, Unsolved Mysteries: Behind the Legacy will then also be available to watch on other major streaming platforms, including Amazon Freevee, Tubi, The Roku Channel, Samsung TV Plus and FilmRise’s own free streaming apps starting on Thursday, Oct. 19.