The Best Shows, Movies About Now-Solved Cases

The time has finally come. After decades of uncertainty and several attempts to solve the case, the Zodiac killer has finally been identified.

The infamous serial killer reportedly killed more than 37 victims during his killing spree. They terrorized Northern California during the late 60s to early 70s, and their identity has not been pinned down until now.

According to Case Breakers investigators, Gary Francis Poste was identified as the killer, but died in 2018. During the decade of “Make Love Not War”, he sent secret letters taunting law enforcement.

While there has been much speculation over the years about his identity, Hollywood has also played the role of a detective, with countless depictions of the case on the big and small screens. Here are some of the best books, movies, and TV adaptations to fill in the Zodiac killer case.

To all those bookworms:

“Zodiac” by Robert Graysmith

Zodiac by Robert Graysmith
The 1986 book by Robert Graysmith, “Zodiac.”

This 1986 book served as the basis for the 2007 David Fincher-directed film. Since its original debut, the non-fiction book has sold over 4 million copies. Graysmith began his writing career working as a cartoonist for the San Francisco Chronicle in the 1960s, when the Zodiac Killings began.

The book was so thoroughly researched that many readers actually began to believe that the author himself was a serial killer. A sequel, “Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed,” was published in 2002 and re-examined the research in an attempt to truly ascertain the identity of the killer once and for all.

"Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America's Most Elusive Serial Killer Revealed"
Cover of the 2007 edition of “Zodiac Unmasked: The Identity of America’s Most Elusive Serial Killer” by Robert Graysmith

“‘This is the Zodiac Speaking’: Into the Mind of a Serial Killer” by Michael D. Kelleher and David Van Nuys

"'This Is the Zodiac Speaking': Into the Mind of a Serial Killer" by Michael D. Kelleher and David van Nuysso
David Van Nuys and Michael D. Kelleher’s book “This Is the Zodiac Speaking.”

Author Michael D. Kelleher co-authored a true-crime book with psychologist David Van Nuys to try to understand the psychopathic mind of a murderer. In their 2001 book, the two recreated crime scenes, examined police records and analyzed the infamous handwritten notes of the Zodiac killer to shed some light on the slasher’s evil and twisted mind.

For the small screen fanatics:

“The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer”

"hunt for zodiac killer"
A still from the History Channel’s “The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer”.
history Channel

The History Channel released a five-part mini-series in 2017, in which the network brought in code breakers and investigators to decipher the secret messages of the zodiac that were sent to authorities and newspapers. The team of experts leading the investigation for the show includes retired LAPD homicide detective, Sal La Barbera, former FBI detective Ken Mains and University of Southern California computer science professor Kevin Knight.

“The most dangerous animal of all”

zodiac killer sketch
Sketch of zodiac killer.
Bateman Archive

This four-part documentary series FX . aired on in 2020 and is based on the New York Times best-selling book of the same name. The show delves deeply into a man’s journey and search for his father, who abandoned him – the man who believed that his father was the Zodiac mastermind himself.

For moviegoers everywhere:

“Amount”

Jake Gyllenhaal and Robert Downey Jr in 2007 "Amount."
Robert Downey Jr. as Jake Gyllenhaal (right) and Paul Avery as Robert Greysmith in 2007’s “Zodiac.”
Paramount Pictures

Perhaps the most famous adaptation of the case is Fincher’s 2007 big-screen film. The thriller is based on the books by Graysmith and stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Greysmith, with actors Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch and Chloe Sevigny.

The film follows the story of Greysmith, crime reporter Paul Avery (Downie Jr.) and Inspector Dave Toschi (Ruffalo) as they try to solve the case and uncover the identities of the Zodiac through an extensive investigation.

Watch the film on YouTube and Netflix.

“Zodiac Awakening”

Leslie Bibb and Shane West in 2017 "Zodiac awakening."
Leslie Bibb and Shane West in 2017’s “Awakening the Zodiac.”
sony pictures

It is a highly fictionalized version of the 2017 Canadian mystery drama Cold Case. The film is directed by Jonathan Wright and stars Shane West and Leslie Bibb in the lead roles.

According to the thriller’s official synopsis, the story follows “a down-on-the-luck” [young couple] Those who search for the movie reels of serial killers. They decide to take the law into their own hands, risking everything for a chance at a $100,000 reward. It’s not long until they find themselves in the killer’s deadly crosshairs. “

Watch the movie on Amazon Prime Video.

“Zodiac Killer”

of 1971 "Zodiac killer."
A still from the 1971 film “The Zodiac Killer” directed by Tom Hanson.
Courtesy Everett Collection

This 1971 film was released while the Zodiac Killer was still on the loose and was directed by Tom Hanson starring Hal Reid, Bob Jones, Ray Lynch and Tom Pittman in a low-budget film. While the plot is based on murders, many creative liberties were taken with the investigation of the case. A backstory, as well as a name, was given to the Zodiac killer and the film depicts a month through the eyes of the killer.

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