The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time TV Programs

The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time

8,236 views 61 items 3,751 votes 292 voters 20 followers 12reranks
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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  Name
Score
  1. 1
    Up 86
    Down 43

    the people's #1 &often listed
    The Wire

    2002 More
    93
  2. 2
    Up 64
    Down 41

    most listed
    Hill Street Blues

    1981 More
    86
  3. 3
    Up 69
    Down 40

    ranked high on reranks
    The Shield

    2002 More
    83
  4. 4
    Up 62
    Down 44

    often listed
    Law & Order

    1990 More
    81
  5. 5
    Up 62
    Down 49

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    NYPD Blue

    1993 More
    80
  6. 6
    Up 63
    Down 39
    1968 More
    79
  7. 7
    Up 55
    Down 43

    ranked high on reranks
    Homicide: Life on the Street

    1993 More
    78
  8. 8
    Up 65
    Down 46
    1999 More
    77
  9. 9
    Up 80
    Down 44
    2003 More
    76
  10. 10
    Up 53
    Down 42
    2000 More
    72
  11. 11
    Up 45
    Down 45

    often listed
    Dragnet

    1952 More
    72
  12. 12
    Up 51
    Down 24
    2009 More
    69
  13. 13
    Up 63
    Down 45

    controversial
    Criminal Minds

    2005 More
    69
  14. 14
    Up 48
    Down 49
    1984 More
    66
  15. 15
    Up 55
    Down 35
    1968 More
    66
  16. 16
    Up 58
    Down 41

    ranked high on reranks
    Dexter

    2006 More
    65
  17. 17
    Up 37
    Down 22

    The New Hawaii 5-0

    57
    added by: analise.dubner
    That girl needs to eat a sandwich.
  18. 18
    Up 33
    Down 30
    2009 More
    56
  19. 19
    Up 32
    Down 32
    1988 More
    55
  20. 20
    Up 41
    Down 46

    controversial
    CSI: Miami

    2002 More
    55
  21. 21
    Up 33
    Down 33
    1972 More
    54
  22. 22
    Up 32
    Down 37
    1968 More
    54
  23. 23
    Up 31
    Down 38
    1999 More
    54
  24. 24
    Up 23
    Down 33
    1959 More
    54
  25. 25
    Up 35
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    1975 More
    54
  26. 26
    Up 33
    Down 31
    1973 More
    54
  27. 27
    Up 17
    Down 18
    1975 More
    52
    added by: zxray
  28. 28
    Up 35
    Down 37
    2004 More
    52
  29. 29
    Up 30
    Down 30
    2005 More
    51
  30. 30
    Up 34
    Down 28
    2003 More
    51
  31. 31
    Up 28
    Down 36
    1977 More
    51
  32. 32
    Up 23
    Down 31
    2011 More
    50
    added by: zxray
  33. 33
    Up 17
    Down 24
    2006 More
    49
  34. 34
    Up 31
    Down 33
    2002 More
    49
  35. 35
    Up 28
    Down 37
    2001 More
    49
  36. 36
    Up 15
    Down 27
    1976 More
    47
    added by: zxray
  37. 37
    Up 20
    Down 27
    1986 More
    47
  38. 38
    Up 20
    Down 24
    1982 More
    46
  39. 39
    Up 22
    Down 13
    1980 More
    45
  40. 40
    Up 12
    Down 20
    1975 More
    45
    added by: thewrecker
  41. 41
    Up 25
    Down 21
    2011 More
    43
  42. 42
    Up 25
    Down 27

    ranked low on reranks
    Rizzoli & Isles

    2010 More
    42
  43. 43
    Up 5
    Down 20
    1997 More
    40
  44. 44
    Up 19
    Down 31

    ranked low on reranks
    Rookie Blue

    2010 More
    39
  45. 45
    Up 20
    Down 22
    2007 More
    39
  46. 46
    Up 23
    Down 18
    1976 More
    39
    added by: zxray
  47. 47
    Up 9
    Down 10
    2001 More
    38
  48. 48
    Up 13
    Down 20
    1982 More
    38
    added by: Bootsdad
  49. 49
    Up 10
    Down 5
    2002 More
    37
    added by: JayceEverling
  50. 50
    Up 9
    Down 6
    2012 More
    36
    added by: zxray
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