tv programs 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.

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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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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
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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
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NYPD Blue is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
NYPD Blue Dennis Franz, Gordon Clapp, James McDaniel

5
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Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Law & Order Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

6
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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
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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
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Southland is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Southland Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King

9
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NCIS is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
NCIS Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

10
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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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
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Third Watch is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Third Watch Coby Bell, Skipp Sudduth, Jason Wiles

18
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Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Dragnet Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Don Ross

19
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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
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Rookie Blue is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Rookie Blue Missy Peregrym, Gregory Smith, Enuka Okuma

21
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Dexter is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Dexter Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

22
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The New Hawaii 5-0 is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The New Hawaii 5-0 That girl needs to eat a sandwich.

23
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Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Magnum, P.I. Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

24
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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
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Kojak is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Kojak Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson

26
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Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Cold Case Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn

27
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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
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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
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The Streets of San Francisco is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Streets of San Francisco Karl Malden, Michael Douglas, Reuben Collins

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Barney Miller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Barney Miller Hal Linden, Abe Vigoda, Steve Landesberg

31
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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
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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
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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

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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
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In the Heat of the Night is listed (or ranked) 35 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

36
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Monk is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Monk Tony Shalhoub, Jason Gray-Stanford, Ted Levine

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Quincy, M.E. Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin, Robert Ito

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Luther is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Luther Idris Elba, Warren Brown, Dermot Crowley

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

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Baretta Robert Blake, Tom Ewell, Michael D. Roberts

41
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Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Person of Interest Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

42
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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
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CSI: NY is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CSI: NY Gary Sinise, Carmine Giovinazzo, Hill Harper

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The Untouchables is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
The Untouchables Robert Stack, Jerry Paris, Walter Winchell

45
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Psych is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Psych James Roday, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson

46
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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
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Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
Sherlock Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

48
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CHiPs is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time
CHiPs Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

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Grimm David Giuntoli, Silas Weir Mitchell, Sasha Roiz

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Charlie's Angels Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith