drama The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time  

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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 fans might also enjoy best true crime TV shows and best British detective series. Top 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 of the best cop shows, 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 favorite cop series 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 most epic police fails of all time.

list ordered by

1
+ - 438 200
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Wire Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

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2
+ - 340 185
The Shield is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Shield Michael Chiklis, Catherine Dent, Walton Goggins

3
+ - 328 188
Law & Order: Special Victims U... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

4
+ - 299 169
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Law & Order Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

5
+ - 284 159
NYPD Blue is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
NYPD Blue Dennis Franz, Gordon Clapp, James McDaniel

6
+ - 245 155
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Hill Street Blues Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz

7
+ - 361 164
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Criminal Minds Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

8
+ - 315 159
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
NCIS Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

9
+ - 314 128
Southland is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Southland Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King

10
+ - 234 149
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Columbo Peter Falk, Mike Lally, John Finnegan

11
+ - 281 100
Blue Bloods is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Blue Bloods Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes

12
+ - 188 136
Homicide: Life on the Street is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Homicide: Life on the Street Richard Belzer, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto

13
+ - 202 147
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

14
+ - 222 76
Chicago PD is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Chicago PD Jason Beghe, Jon Seda, Sophia Bush

15
+ - 224 138
Castle is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Castle Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan

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16
+ - 232 133
Hawaii Five-O is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Hawaii Five-O Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong

17
+ - 133 134
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Dragnet Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Don Ross

18
+ - 157 129
Third Watch is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Third Watch Coby Bell, Skipp Sudduth, Jason Wiles

19
+ - 156 149
Miami Vice is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Miami Vice Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago

20
+ - 242 151
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

21
+ - 185 129
Rookie Blue is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Rookie Blue Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith, Enuka Okuma

22
+ - 143 68
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Magnum, P.I. Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

23
+ - 185 115
The New Hawaii 5-0 is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The New Hawaii 5-0 That girl needs to eat a sandwich.

24
+ - 86 48
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Mentalist Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang

25
+ - 145 97
Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Cold Case Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn

26
+ - 123 105
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Kojak Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson

27
+ - 105 102
Adam-12 is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Adam-12 Martin Milner, Kent McCord, Shaaron Claridge

28
+ - 118 93
Starsky and Hutch is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Starsky and Hutch David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Antonio Fargas

29
+ - 88 87
Barney Miller is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Barney Miller Hal Linden, Abe Vigoda, Steve Landesberg

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30
+ - 117 96
The Streets of San Francisco is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Streets of San Francisco Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, Reuben Collins

31
+ - 90 53
Flashpoint is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Flashpoint Hugh Dillon, David Paetkau, Amy Jo Johnson

32
+ - 140 107
Law & Order: Criminal Intent is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Kathryn Erbe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jamey Sheridan

33
+ - 141 124
CSI: Miami is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CSI: Miami David Caruso, Emily Procter, Adam Rodriguez

34
+ - 152 103
Rizzoli & Isles is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Rizzoli & Isles Angie Harmon, Jordan Bridges, Bruce McGill

35
+ - 115 85
Monk is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Monk Tony Shalhoub, Jason Gray-Stanford, Ted Levine

36
+ - 77 47
Luther is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Luther Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley

37
+ - 103 98
In the Heat of the Night is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
In the Heat of the Night Carroll O'Connor, Howard Rollins, Anne-Marie Johnson

38
+ - 94 31
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

39
+ - 151 94
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Person of Interest Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

40
+ - 89 74
Ranker Video v
Quincy, M.E. Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin, Robert Ito

41
+ - 62 39
The Rockford Files is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Rockford Files James Garner, Noah Beery Jr., Joe Santos

42
+ - 114 101
Without a Trace is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Without a Trace Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

43
+ - 117 101
Psych is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Psych James Roday, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson

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44
+ - 121 113
CSI: NY is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CSI: NY Gary Sinise, Carmine Giovinazzo, Hill Harper

45
+ - 75 82
Ranker Video v
Baretta Robert Blake, Tom Ewell, Michael D. Roberts

46
+ - 113 116
The Closer is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Closer Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons, Corey Reynolds

47
+ - 73 95
The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Untouchables Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell

48
+ - 86 108
Ranker Video v
Grimm David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz

49
+ - 89 108
CHiPs is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CHiPs Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

50
+ - 64 33
The Blacklist is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Blacklist James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff