The Best TV Detectives Fictional Characters
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The Best TV Detectives

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.

  • 59 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    the people's #1 & most listed Sherlock

    ) open
  2. 2
    + 488
    - 412

    Fox Mulder & Dana Scully The X-Files

    ) open
  3. 4
    + 539
    - 379
    ) open
  4. 5
    + 370
    - 346

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Agatha Christie Universe

    ) open
  5. 6
    + 379
    - 254

    The Rockford Files

    ) open
  6. 7
    + 397
    - 279

    Law & Order: SVU

    ) open
  7. 8
    + 523
    - 390

    The Mentalist

    ) open
  8. 9
    + 486
    - 329

    Veronica Mars

    ) open
  9. 10
    + 394
    - 270

    Mangum P.I.

    ) open
  10. 11
    + 257
    - 57

    added by Scott Klingaman Columbo Columbo

    ) open
  11. 12
    + 406
    - 247

    The Scooby Gang Scooby Doo

    ) open
  12. 13
    + 717
    - 432
    ) open
  13. 14
    + 314
    - 293

    Murder, She Wrote

    ) open
  14. 15
    + 349
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    Law & Order: SVU

    ) open
  15. 16
    + 324
    - 158

    added by willyboymcoy NCIS

    ) open
  16. 17
    + 320
    - 340

    often listed CSI

    ) open
  17. 18
    + 429
    - 343
    ) open
  18. 19
    + 349
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    ) open
  19. 20
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  20. 21
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  21. 22
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  22. 23
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    Hawaii Five-O

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  23. 24
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    Kojak

    ) open
  24. 25
    + 225
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    Remington Steele & Laura Holt Remington Steele

    ) open
  25. 26
    + 334
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    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  26. 27
    + 233
    - 204

    added by clash1977 Law & Order

    ) open
  27. 28
    + 221
    - 230

    Dragnet

    ) open
  28. 29
    + 247
    - 265

    often listed Burn Notice

    ) open
  29. 30
    + 180
    - 113

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS

    ) open
  30. 31
    + 201
    - 99

    ranked low on reranks NCIS

    ) open
  31. 32
    + 206
    - 168

    added by willyboymcoy Rizzoli & Isles

    ) open
  32. 33
    + 146
    - 90

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS NCIS

    ) open
  33. 34
    + 184
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    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS NCIS 

    ) open
  34. 35
    + 227
    - 321

    CSI: Miami

    ) open
  35. 36
    + 125
    - 226

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Twin Peaks

    ) open
  36. 37
    + 146
    - 158

    Starsky & Hutch Starsky & Hutch

    ) open
  37. 38
    + 208
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    added by clash1977 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    ) open
  38. 39
    + 197
    - 243

    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

    ) open
  39. 40
    + 150
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    ranked low on reranks & added by joekoomen Perry Mason

    ) open
  40. 41
    + 135
    - 222

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

    ) open
  41. 42
    + 130
    - 188

    Mike Hammer

    ) open
  42. 43
    + 161
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    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  43. 44
    + 153
    - 132

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  44. 45
    + 148
    - 241

    NYPD Blue

    ) open
  45. 46
    + 142
    - 212

    Mannix

    ) open
  46. 47
    + 141
    - 193

    David Addison and Maddie Hayes Moonlighting

    ) open
  47. 48
    + 146
    - 138

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  48. 49
    + 109
    - 160

    added by wiabux Fringe

    ) open
  49. 50
    + 44
    - 30

    added by looksharp Quincy

    ) open
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