The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

68k votes 5k voters 156k views 256 items tags f p @

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.
Collection Photo:  AMC
  • 89 ReRanks
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  1. 1
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    - 653

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Sherlock

    ;
  2. 2
    + 1,093
    - 455

    added by Scott Klingaman
    Columbo

    ;
  3. 3
    + 876
    - 660


    Monk

    ;
  4. 4
    + 812
    - 696


    The X-Files

    ;
  5. 5
    + 645
    - 595

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Agatha Christie Universe

    ;
  6. 6
    + 722
    - 531


    Law & Order: SVU

    ;
  7. 7
    + 686
    - 354

    added by willyboymcoy
    NCIS

    ;
  8. 8
    + 740
    - 460


    Scooby Doo

    ;
  9. 9
    + 664
    - 450


    Mangum P.I.

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  10. 10
    + 622
    - 453


    The Rockford Files

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  11. 11
    + 1,035
    - 687


    Castle

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  12. 12
    + 532
    - 545

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    CSI

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  13. 13
    + 583
    - 466


    Murder, She Wrote

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  14. 14
    + 791
    - 541


    Veronica Mars

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  15. 15
    + 725
    - 610


    Bones

    ;
  16. 16
    + 849
    - 649


    The Mentalist

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  17. 17
    + 618
    - 485


    Psych

    ;
  18. 18
    + 576
    - 457


    Law & Order: SVU

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  19. 19
    + 991
    - 720


    Castle

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  20. 20
    + 425
    - 393

    often listed
    Kojak

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  21. 21
    + 541
    - 632

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Dexter

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  22. 22
    + 385
    - 439

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hawaii Five-O

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  23. 23
    + 435
    - 236

    ranked low on reranks & added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS 

    ;
  24. 24
    + 458
    - 254

    ranked low on reranks
    NCIS

    ;
  25. 25
    + 584
    - 449

    ranked low on reranks
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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  26. 26
    + 529
    - 544

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bones

    ;
  27. 27
    + 418
    - 249

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS

    ;
  28. 28
    + 315
    - 175

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  29. 29
    + 395
    - 346

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order

    ;
  30. 30
    + 338
    - 220

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS

    ;
  31. 31
    + 267
    - 161

    added by JacobMurray
    House, House Universe

    ;
  32. 32
    + 384
    - 416

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Burn Notice

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  33. 33
    + 338
    - 364

    often listed
    Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

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  34. 34
    + 347
    - 391

    often listed
    Remington Steele

    ;
  35. 35
    + 366
    - 306

    added by willyboymcoy
    Rizzoli & Isles

    ;
  36. 36
    + 290
    - 235

    added by joekoomen
    Perry Mason

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  37. 37
    + 350
    - 237

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  38. 38
    + 317
    - 262

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  39. 39
    + 327
    - 254

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

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  40. 40
    + 371
    - 306

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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  41. 41
    + 196
    - 198

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

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  42. 42
    + 174
    - 154

    added by looksharp
    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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  43. 43
    + 348
    - 481

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    CSI: Miami

    ;
  44. 44
    + 260
    - 272


    Starsky & Hutch

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  45. 45
    + 215
    - 359

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Twin Peaks

    ;
  46. 46
    + 310
    - 365
    Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

  47. 47
    + 166
    - 138
    Quincy is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

    ranked low on reranks & added by looksharp
    Quincy

  48. 48
    + 229
    - 369


    NYPD Blue

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  49. 49
    + 201
    - 283

    added by wiabux
    Fringe

    ;
  50. 50
    + 212
    - 350
    Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

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