The Best TV Detectives

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List Criteria: TV crime solvers only. No movies or books.

This list of the best TV detectives includes some of the greatest crime-solving sleuths in television history. TV is full of amazing detectives with lots of different kinds of skills. Supernatural, intuitive, or just plain brilliant... it's like comparing apples to oranges in some ways. But you have to pick. Which one would you want following the clues that would bring your murderer to justice? Vote for your favorite detectives, psychics, cops, or scientists, and rerank your own version if you want. Feel free to add anyone who's missing!

Many of the TV detectives listed here are part of some of the best serial cop dramas and legal dramas of all time. They are fierce, intelligent, and dogged in their determination to solve some of the most complex fictional crimes on television.

Who would you want investigating your murder? Choose carefully, because obviously you'll want the TV detective with the best skill set to uncover the clues that will bring your killer to justice. And keep in mind that looks and mannerisms can be deceiving: Adrian Monk is certainly a little goofy and neurotic, but he gets the job done. Columbo can be disarmingly bumbling, but he's sharp as a tack. Sometimes, being cleverly disarming can make all the difference in solving crimes.
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  • 85 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 & most listed
    Sherlock

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  2. 2
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    added by Scott Klingaman
    Columbo

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  3. 3
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    - 586


    Monk

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  4. 4
    + 753
    - 621


    The X-Files

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  5. 5
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    - 534

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Agatha Christie Universe

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  6. 6
    + 658
    - 469


    Law & Order: SVU

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  7. 7
    + 617
    - 290

    added by willyboymcoy
    NCIS

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  8. 8
    + 670
    - 402


    Scooby Doo

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  9. 9
    + 615
    - 397


    Mangum P.I.

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  10. 10
    + 583
    - 395


    The Rockford Files

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  11. 11
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    CSI

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  12. 12
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    - 623


    Castle

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  13. 13
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    - 546


    Bones

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  14. 14
    + 786
    - 590


    The Mentalist

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  15. 15
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    - 431


    Murder, She Wrote

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  16. 16
    + 734
    - 500


    Veronica Mars

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  17. 17
    + 565
    - 434


    Psych

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  18. 18
    + 530
    - 414


    Law & Order: SVU

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  19. 19
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    - 658


    Castle

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  20. 20
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    - 352


    Kojak

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  21. 21
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    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Dexter

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  22. 22
    + 354
    - 402

    often listed
    Hawaii Five-O

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  23. 23
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    - 218

    ranked low on reranks
    NCIS

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  24. 24
    + 498
    - 490

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bones

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  25. 25
    + 377
    - 200

    ranked low on reranks & added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS 

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  26. 26
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    - 213

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS

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  27. 27
    + 536
    - 412


    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  28. 28
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    added by clash1977
    Law & Order

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  29. 29
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    - 145

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  30. 30
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    - 188

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS

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  31. 31
    + 323
    - 336


    Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

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  32. 32
    + 325
    - 364

    often listed
    Remington Steele

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  33. 33
    + 334
    - 280

    added by willyboymcoy
    Rizzoli & Isles

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  34. 34
    + 264
    - 215

    added by joekoomen
    Perry Mason

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  35. 35
    + 318
    - 213

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  36. 36
    + 349
    - 385

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Burn Notice

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  37. 37
    + 204
    - 139

    added by JacobMurray
    House, House Universe

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  38. 38
    + 286
    - 238

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  39. 39
    + 292
    - 229

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  40. 40
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    - 281

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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  41. 41
    + 173
    - 172

    added by dee123
    Miss Marple: Nemesis, Murder Most Foul, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: ...

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  42. 42
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    - 333

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Twin Peaks

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  43. 43
    + 144
    - 127

    added by looksharp
    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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  44. 44
    + 238
    - 252


    Starsky & Hutch

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  45. 45
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    - 349
    Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Best TV Detectives


    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

  46. 46
    + 322
    - 460


    CSI: Miami

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  47. 47
    + 215
    - 347


    NYPD Blue

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  48. 48
    + 146
    - 121
    Quincy is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Best TV Detectives

    ranked low on reranks & added by looksharp
    Quincy

  49. 49
    + 186
    - 260

    added by wiabux
    Fringe

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  50. 50
    + 196
    - 332
    Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Best TV Detectives


    Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

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