The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time TV Programs
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The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time

The best serial cop dramas of all time include long-running police television shows that managed to combine elements of mystery and suspense, captivating viewers along the way. TV cop dramas have long been a major part of American television (with many ranking among the best TV shows of recent momory), and they've remained popular for decades. This list includes some of the greatest police TV dramas ever, but if you know of a particularly good one that's missing, feel free to add it. And be sure to vote for your favorites, and vote down any programs you really didn't like.

A truly great television cop drama combines interesting, unique story lines with fast-paced action and a solid script. Having an extraordinarily strong ensemble cast doesn't hurt, either. What's the best cop show ever on TV? Many fans will argue that it's the brilliant, David Simon-created HBO drama 'The Wire.' Others might maintain that the FX drama 'The Shield,' which starred Michael Chiklis, is the greatest of all time. And, love them or hate them, it's hard to deny that the 'Law & Order' franchise programs are almost always solid choices, too.

Older, classic serial cop dramas are also included on this list, because they paved the way for more modern police procedurals. Among them: The ABC crime drama 'The Untouchables' (1959 to 1963) and the long-running classic 'Dragnet.' And of course, no list of the best serial cop dramas ever would be complete without 'Columbo,' which starred the late, great Peter Falk as homicide detective Lt. Frank Columbo.

Hopefully everyone will find at least one or two favorites among these fantastic serial cop dramas, but if not, remember: You can always add your favorite cop drama, and you can rerank this list your way!

If you just can't get enough of the greatest serial cop dramas, make sure to check out the best police movies ever and the most epic police fails of all time.
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 Idris Elba, Bobby Brown, Method Man

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    most listed Alfre Woodard, Dennis Franz, Jeffrey Tambor

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    Glenn Close, Forest Whitaker, Alex O'Loughlin

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    Peter Falk, Patrick McGoohan, Robert Culp

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    Angie Harmon, Jill Hennessy, Michael Moriarty

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    Sharon Stone, Mariska Hargitay, Ann-Margret

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    Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Caruso, Amy Brenneman

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    Elijah Wood, Alfre Woodard, Melissa Leo

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    Elisabeth Shue, Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger

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    Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rachel Nichols, A. J. Cook

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    ranked low on reranks Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion, Molly Quinn

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, George Fenneman

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    Cote de Pablo, Pauley Perrette, Mark Harmon

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    Helena Bonham Carter, Don Johnson, Edward James Olmos

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    William Smith, Jack Lord, James MacArthur

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    Lucy Liu, C. Thomas Howell, Regina King

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    Yvonne Strahovski, Julie Benz, Mos Def

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    Telly Savalas, Zohra Lampert, Kevin Dobson

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    Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell

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    Michael Douglas, Richard Hatch, Karl Malden

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    Nia Long, Kim Raver, Bobby Cannavale

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    Lucy Lawless, Taylor Cole, Paul Wesley

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    Missy Peregrym, Charlotte Sullivan, Gregory Smith

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    Carroll O'Connor, Christian LeBlanc, Anne-Marie Johnson

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    David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Antonio Fargas

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    Paul Wesley, Kathryn Morris, Frances Fisher

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    Jeff Goldblum, Alicia Witt, Paul Wesley

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    Claire Forlani, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Sela Ward

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    Martin Milner, Gary Crosby, Kent McCord

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    Kyra Sedgwick, Mary McDonnell, J.K. Simmons

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    Erik Estrada, Heather O'Rourke, Michael Dorn

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    Roselyn Sánchez, Poppy Montgomery, Charles S. Dutton

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    Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Donnie Wahlberg

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    Anthony Michael Hall, Maggie Lawson, Corbin Bernsen

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Andrew Dice Clay, Stephen Lang, Dennis Farina

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    often listed Tyne Daly, Al Waxman, Meg Foster

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    Sarah Shahi, Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson

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    ranked low on reranks Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

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    ranked low on reranks & added by JayceEverling Tony Shalhoub, Melora Hardin, Ted Levine

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    often listed & added by zxray Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith

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    Sarah Shahi, Damian Lewis, Brooke Langton

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    added by MargrietHesseling Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan, Jennifer Esposito

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    often listed & ranked high on reranks Adam Rodríguez, Yancy Butler, Dylan Walsh

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    ranked low on reranks & added by zxray Lucy Liu, Natalie Dormer, Vinnie Jones

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    Craig T. Nelson, Justin Theroux, Sean Patrick Thomas

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    Kelly Hu, Brittany Murphy, Yasmine Bleeth

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