The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

64k votes 4.7k voters 149k views 261 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.
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  • 87 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 1,421
    - 619

    the people's #1 & most listed
    Sherlock

    ;
  2. 2
    + 1,046
    - 419

    added by Scott Klingaman
    Columbo

    ;
  3. 3
    + 853
    - 624


    Monk

    ;
  4. 4
    + 789
    - 656


    The X-Files

    ;
  5. 5
    + 620
    - 565

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Agatha Christie Universe

    ;
  6. 6
    + 692
    - 499


    Law & Order: SVU

    ;
  7. 7
    + 646
    - 323

    added by willyboymcoy
    NCIS

    ;
  8. 8
    + 641
    - 424


    Mangum P.I.

    ;
  9. 9
    + 699
    - 429


    Scooby Doo

    ;
  10. 10
    + 602
    - 424


    The Rockford Files

    ;
  11. 11
    + 704
    - 576


    Bones

    ;
  12. 12
    + 1,011
    - 650


    Castle

    ;
  13. 13
    + 515
    - 516

    often listed
    CSI

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  14. 14
    + 821
    - 618


    The Mentalist

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  15. 15
    + 547
    - 450


    Murder, She Wrote

    ;
  16. 16
    + 757
    - 524


    Veronica Mars

    ;
  17. 17
    + 599
    - 460


    Psych

    ;
  18. 18
    + 552
    - 436


    Law & Order: SVU

    ;
  19. 19
    + 974
    - 682

    ranked low on reranks
    Castle

    ;
  20. 20
    + 414
    - 371


    Kojak

    ;
  21. 21
    + 370
    - 423

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Hawaii Five-O

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  22. 22
    + 521
    - 606

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Dexter

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  23. 23
    + 430
    - 239

    ranked low on reranks
    NCIS

    ;
  24. 24
    + 511
    - 517

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Bones

    ;
  25. 25
    + 404
    - 220

    ranked low on reranks & added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS 

    ;
  26. 26
    + 391
    - 230

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS

    ;
  27. 27
    + 558
    - 431


    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ;
  28. 28
    + 293
    - 156

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  29. 29
    + 379
    - 331

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order

    ;
  30. 30
    + 317
    - 204

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace
    NCIS NCIS

    ;
  31. 31
    + 329
    - 351

    often listed
    Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

    ;
  32. 32
    + 337
    - 378

    often listed
    Remington Steele

    ;
  33. 33
    + 352
    - 292

    added by willyboymcoy
    Rizzoli & Isles

    ;
  34. 34
    + 364
    - 402

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Burn Notice

    ;
  35. 35
    + 278
    - 224

    added by joekoomen
    Perry Mason

    ;
  36. 36
    + 334
    - 225

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  37. 37
    + 231
    - 151

    added by JacobMurray
    House, House Universe

    ;
  38. 38
    + 301
    - 249

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  39. 39
    + 308
    - 241

    added by LiliaLoewenberg
    Criminal Minds

    ;
  40. 40
    + 350
    - 294

    added by clash1977
    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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  41. 41
    + 187
    - 182

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

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  42. 42
    + 161
    - 139

    added by looksharp
    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

    ;
  43. 43
    + 207
    - 346

    often listed & ranked high on reranks
    Twin Peaks

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  44. 44
    + 249
    - 262


    Starsky & Hutch

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  45. 45
    + 300
    - 358
    Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

  46. 46
    + 335
    - 469


    CSI: Miami

    ;
  47. 47
    + 155
    - 130
    Quincy is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

    ranked low on reranks & added by looksharp
    Quincy

  48. 48
    + 222
    - 359


    NYPD Blue

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  49. 49
    + 192
    - 272

    added by wiabux
    Fringe

    ;
  50. 50
    + 205
    - 341
    Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives


    Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

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