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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  2. 2
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    Glenn Close, Forest Whitaker, Alex O'Loughlin

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  3. 3
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    most listed
    Alfre Woodard, Dennis Franz, Jeffrey Tambor

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  4. 4
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    Mark-Paul Gosselaar, David Caruso, Amy Brenneman

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  5. 5
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    Angie Harmon, Jill Hennessy, Michael Moriarty

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  6. 6
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    Sharon Stone, Mariska Hargitay, Ann-Margret

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  7. 7
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    Peter Falk, Patrick McGoohan, Robert Culp

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  8. 8
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    Elijah Wood, Alfre Woodard, Melissa Leo

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  9. 9
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    Elisabeth Shue, Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger

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  10. 10
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    Jennifer Love Hewitt, Rachel Nichols, A. J. Cook

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  11. 11
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
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  12. 12
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  13. 13
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  14. 14
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    Stana Katic, Nathan Fillion, Molly Quinn

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  15. 15
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    Nia Long, Kim Raver, Bobby Cannavale

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    Telly Savalas, Zohra Lampert, Kevin Dobson

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  20. 20
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    Michael Douglas, Richard Hatch, Karl Malden

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    ranked low on reranks & added by MargrietHesseling
    Tom Selleck, Bridget Moynahan, Jennifer Esposito

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  22. 22
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    added by thewrecker
    Abe Vigoda, Hal Linden, Ron Glass

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  23. 23
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    Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell

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  24. 24
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    Paul Wesley, Kathryn Morris, Frances Fisher

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  25. 25
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    David Soul, Paul Michael Glaser, Antonio Fargas

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    added by zxray
    Robert Blake, Dana Elcar, Michael D. Roberts

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  27. 27
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    Missy Peregrym, Charlotte Sullivan, Gregory Smith

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  28. 28
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    Martin Milner, Gary Crosby, Kent McCord

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  29. 29
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    Carroll O'Connor, Christian LeBlanc, Anne-Marie Johnson

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  30. 30
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    Lucy Lawless, Taylor Cole, Paul Wesley

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  31. 31
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    added by zxray
    Claire Coffee, Bitsie Tulloch, David Giuntoli

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  32. 32
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    added by analise.dubner
    The New Hawaii 5-0 That girl needs to eat a sandwich.

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  33. 33
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    Jeff Goldblum, Alicia Witt, Paul Wesley

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  34. 34
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    Claire Forlani, Emmanuelle Vaugier, Sela Ward

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  35. 35
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    added by emmatiede
    Sophia Bush, Elias Koteas, Jason Beghe

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  36. 36
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    Andrew Dice Clay, Stephen Lang, Dennis Farina

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  37. 37
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    Erik Estrada, Heather O'Rourke, Michael Dorn

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  38. 38
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    Kyra Sedgwick, Mary McDonnell, J.K. Simmons

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  39. 39
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    Jack Klugman, Robert Ito, Garry Walberg

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  40. 40
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    Roselyn Sánchez, Poppy Montgomery, Charles S. Dutton

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  41. 41
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    Tyne Daly, Al Waxman, Meg Foster

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  42. 42
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    ranked low on reranks
    Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

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  43. 43
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Anthony Michael Hall, Maggie Lawson, Corbin Bernsen

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  44. 44
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    Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Donnie Wahlberg

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  45. 45
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    Sarah Shahi, Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson

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  46. 46
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    added by JayceEverling
    Tony Shalhoub, Melora Hardin, Ted Levine

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  47. 47
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    Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith

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  48. 48
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  49. 49
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  50. 50
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    often listed
    Kelly Hu, Brittany Murphy, Yasmine Bleeth

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