The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

75k votes 5.3k voters 165k views 245 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
  • 93 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,585
    - 696

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Sherlock

    ;
  2. 2
    + 1,162
    - 491

    added by Scott Klingaman
    Columbo

    ;
  3. 3
    + 938
    - 695


    Monk

    ;
  4. 4
    + 868
    - 733


    The X-Files

    ;
  5. 5
    + 686
    - 629

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Agatha Christie Universe

    ;
  6. 6
    + 771
    - 572


    Law & Order: SVU

    ;
  7. 7
    + 757
    - 392

    added by willyboymcoy
    NCIS

    ;
  8. 8
    + 788
    - 507

    ranked low on reranks
    Scooby Doo

    ;
  9. 9
    + 620
    - 489


    Murder, She Wrote

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  10. 10
    + 576
    - 581

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    CSI

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  11. 11
    + 642
    - 494


    The Rockford Files

    ;
  12. 12
    + 695
    - 491


    Mangum P.I.

    ;
  13. 13
    + 780
    - 644


    Bones

    ;
  14. 14
    + 836
    - 575


    Veronica Mars

    ;
  15. 15
    + 1,082
    - 723


    Castle

    ;
  16. 16
    + 900
    - 678


    The Mentalist

    ;
  17. 17
    + 613
    - 484


    Law & Order: SVU

    ;
  18. 18
    + 674
    - 514


    Psych

    ;
  19. 19
    + 1,038
    - 753


    Castle

    ;
  20. 20
    + 442
    - 419

    often listed
    Kojak

    ;
  21. 21
    + 578
    - 667


    Dexter

    ;
  22. 22
    + 507
    - 278

    ranked low on reranks
    NCIS

    ;
  23. 23
    + 477
    - 262

    ranked low on reranks & added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS 

    ;
  24. 24
    + 402
    - 469

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hawaii Five-O

    ;
  25. 25
    + 576
    - 572

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bones

    ;
  26. 26
    + 614
    - 482


    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  27. 27
    + 461
    - 268

    ranked low on reranks & added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS

    ;
  28. 28
    + 368
    - 194

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  29. 29
    + 430
    - 361

    often listed & added by clash1977
    Law & Order

    ;
  30. 30
    + 320
    - 191

    added by JacobMurray
    House, House Universe

    ;
  31. 31
    + 376
    - 239

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS

    ;
  32. 32
    + 409
    - 435


    Burn Notice

    ;
  33. 33
    + 357
    - 379

    often listed
    Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

    ;
  34. 34
    + 360
    - 412

    often listed
    Remington Steele

    ;
  35. 35
    + 312
    - 248

    added by joekoomen
    Perry Mason

    ;
  36. 36
    + 383
    - 323

    added by willyboymcoy
    Rizzoli & Isles

    ;
  37. 37
    + 386
    - 256

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  38. 38
    + 353
    - 282

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  39. 39
    + 401
    - 323

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    ;
  40. 40
    + 220
    - 214

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

    ;
  41. 41
    + 361
    - 272

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  42. 42
    + 201
    - 175

    added by looksharp
    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

    ;
  43. 43
    + 328
    - 384
    Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

  44. 44
    + 272
    - 293


    Starsky & Hutch

    ;
  45. 45
    + 361
    - 508


    CSI: Miami

    ;
  46. 46
    + 230
    - 382


    Twin Peaks

    ;
  47. 47
    + 219
    - 301

    added by wiabux
    Fringe

    ;
  48. 48
    + 238
    - 387


    NYPD Blue

    ;
  49. 49
    + 180
    - 153
    Quincy is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

    ranked low on reranks & added by looksharp
    Quincy

  50. 50
    + 223
    - 368
    Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

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