The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time TV Programs
Ultimate List
12  reranks 4,342 votes 343 voters 12,850 views more info

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.
List is ranked by a combination of each item's votes & positioning in reranks
  • 12 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    Up 101
    Down 45

    the people's #1
    The Wire

    2002 More
    96
  2. 2
    Up 82
    Down 43
    2002 More
    90
  3. 3
    Up 73
    Down 45

    most listed
    Hill Street Blues

    1981 More
    88
  4. 4
    Up 73
    Down 43
    1968 More
    83
  5. 5
    Up 71
    Down 48
    1990 More
    83
  6. 6
    Up 74
    Down 50
    1999 More
    82
  7. 7
    Up 67
    Down 57
    1993 More
    80
  8. 8
    Up 62
    Down 45
    2000 More
    79
  9. 9
    Up 60
    Down 47

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Homicide: Life on the Street

    1993 More
    79
  10. 10
    Up 66
    Down 25

    ranked low on reranks
    Castle

    2009 More
    77
  11. 11
    Up 78
    Down 48
    2005 More
    76
  12. 12
    Up 87
    Down 49
    2003 More
    75
  13. 13
    Up 45
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    often listed
    Dragnet

    1952 More
    70
  14. 14
    Up 55
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    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Miami Vice

    1984 More
    70
  15. 15
    Up 67
    Down 45
    2006 More
    67
  16. 16
    Up 61
    Down 47
    1968 More
    62
  17. 17
    Up 47
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    ranked low on reranks
    Southland

    2009 More
    60
  18. 18
    Up 23
    Down 22
    1975 More
    57
    added by: zxray
  19. 19
    Up 37
    Down 38
    1973 More
    56
  20. 20
    Up 41
    Down 36
    1972 More
    56
  21. 21
    Up 27
    Down 37
    1959 More
    54
  22. 22
    Up 35
    Down 38
    1988 More
    53
  23. 23
    Up 35
    Down 44
    1999 More
    53
  24. 24
    Up 41
    Down 32

    ranked low on reranks
    The New Hawaii 5-0

    53
    added by: analise.dubner
    That girl needs to eat a sandwich.
  25. 25
    Up 43
    Down 54
    2002 More
    52
  26. 26
    Up 37
    Down 39
    1975 More
    51
  27. 27
    Up 23
    Down 28
    2006 More
    51
  28. 28
    Up 32
    Down 44
    1968 More
    51
  29. 29
    Up 35
    Down 40
    2001 More
    50
  30. 30
    Up 27
    Down 36
    2011 More
    50
    added by: zxray
  31. 31
    Up 16
    Down 25
    1975 More
    49
    added by: thewrecker
  32. 32
    Up 36
    Down 44
    2004 More
    49
  33. 33
    Up 29
    Down 43
    1977 More
    48
  34. 34
    Up 27
    Down 34
    2010 More
    48
  35. 35
    Up 32
    Down 38
    2005 More
    47
  36. 36
    Up 37
    Down 35
    2003 More
    47
  37. 37
    Up 35
    Down 39
    2002 More
    47
  38. 38
    Up 21
    Down 32
    1986 More
    44
  39. 39
    Up 16
    Down 34

    ranked high on reranks
    Charlie's Angels

    1976 More
    44
    added by: zxray
  40. 40
    Up 16
    Down 8

    new! Monk

    2002 More
    42
    added by: JayceEverling
  41. 41
    Up 22
    Down 31

    often listed
    Cagney & Lacey

    1982 More
    42
  42. 42
    Up 25
    Down 19
    1980 More
    41
  43. 43
    Up 30
    Down 32
    2010 More
    39
  44. 44
    Up 28
    Down 26
    2011 More
    39
  45. 45
    Up 25
    Down 24
    1976 More
    38
    added by: zxray
  46. 46
    Up 25
    Down 24
    2007 More
    38
  47. 47
    Up 14
    Down 12
    2012 More
    38
    added by: zxray
  48. 48
    Up 13
    Down 12
    2010 More
    37
    added by: MargrietHesseling
  49. 49
    Up 6
    Down 22

    often listed &ranked high on reranks
    Brooklyn South

    1997 More
    37
  50. 50
    Up 10
    Down 16
    2001 More
    32
  51. 57 +

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