crime shows and movies The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

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List Rules 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.
list ordered by

1
+ - 1,801 777
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock

The Saddest Television Deaths Ever The Greatest Female Villains

2
+ - 1,304 600
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Columbo Columbo

3
+ - 1,118 791
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
+ - 1,038 646
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Olivia Benson Law & Order: SVU

5
+ - 1,000 823
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
+ - 765 736
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie Universe

7
+ - 988 463
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

8
+ - 961 598
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Scooby Gang Scooby Doo

9
+ - 1,002 721
Temperance

10
+ - 713 661
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
+ - 740 577
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jessica Fletcher Murder, She Wrote

12
+ - 838 540
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Elliot Stabler Law & Order: SVU

13
+ - 787 572
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Thomas Magnum Mangum P.I.

14
+ - 1,222 814
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kate Beckett Castle

15
+ - 1,047 759
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Patrick Jane The Mentalist

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16
+ - 707 579
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jim Rockford The Rockford Files

17
+ - 943 668
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars Veronica Mars

18
+ - 802 601
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
+ - 1,163 839
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
+ - 722 332
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

21
+ - 619 234
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Spencer Reid Criminal Minds

22
+ - 658 323
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Ziva David NCIS - NCIS 

23
+ - 687 749
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter Morgan Dexter

24
+ - 745 636
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Seeley Booth Bones

25
+ - 646 318
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

26
+ - 536 243
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dr. Gregory House House, House Universe

27
+ - 492 500
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak Kojak

28
+ - 455 552
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Steve McGarrett Hawaii Five-O

29
+ - 735 568
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

The Creepiest Characters in TV History 80 Great Jobs That Don't Require a College Degree

30
+ - 549 416
Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Lennie Briscoe Law & Order

31
+ - 535 294
Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Timothy McGee NCIS - NCIS

32
+ - 577 302
Aaron
Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner Criminal Minds

33
+ - 552 326
Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Penelope Garcia Criminal Minds

34
+ - 505 516
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Michael Westen Burn Notice

35
+ - 575 365
John Munch is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
John Munch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

36
+ - 556 309
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
David Rossi Criminal Minds

37
+ - 473 396
Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Detective Jane Rizzoli Rizzoli & Isles

38
+ - 409 453
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Joe Friday Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
+ - 364 319
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Perry Mason Perry Mason

40
+ - 392 494
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

41
+ - 307 237
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Robert Goren Law & Order: Criminal Intent

42
+ - 365 127
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Derek Morgan Criminal Minds

43
+ - 479 581
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Horatio Caine CSI: Miami

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44
+ - 259 289
Miss Marple is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Miss Marple Miss Marple: Nemesis, Murder Most Foul, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington

45
+ - 347 171
Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Emily Prentiss Criminal Minds

46
+ - 382 455
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

47
+ - 309 366
David Starsky is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Starsky & Hutch Starsky & Hutch

48
+ - 252 467
Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dale Cooper Twin Peaks

49
+ - 274 457
Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue

50
+ - 258 380
Olivia Dunham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Olivia Dunham Fringe