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.

  • 57 ReRanks
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  1. 1
    + 830
    - 380

    the people's #1 & most listed Sherlock

    ) open
  2. 3
    + 473
    - 398

    Fox Mulder & Dana Scully The X-Files

    ) open
  3. 4
    + 524
    - 367
    ) open
  4. 5
    + 356
    - 334

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Agatha Christie Universe

    ) open
  5. 6
    + 511
    - 381

    The Mentalist

    ) open
  6. 7
    + 368
    - 246

    The Rockford Files

    ) open
  7. 8
    + 383
    - 271

    Law & Order: SVU

    ) open
  8. 9
    + 472
    - 321

    Veronica Mars

    ) open
  9. 10
    + 316
    - 327

    often listed CSI

    ) open
  10. 11
    + 703
    - 424
    ) open
  11. 12
    + 384
    - 264

    Mangum P.I.

    ) open
  12. 13
    + 234
    - 52

    added by Scott Klingaman Columbo Columbo

    ) open
  13. 14
    + 393
    - 238

    The Scooby Gang Scooby Doo

    ) open
  14. 15
    + 343
    - 274

    Law & Order: SVU

    ) open
  15. 16
    + 313
    - 148

    added by willyboymcoy NCIS

    ) open
  16. 17
    + 414
    - 332
    ) open
  17. 18
    + 301
    - 284

    Murder, She Wrote

    ) open
  18. 19
    + 337
    - 293
    ) open
  19. 20
    + 690
    - 481
    ) open
  20. 21
    + 328
    - 367
    ) open
  21. 22
    + 229
    - 268

    Hawaii Five-O

    ) open
  22. 23
    + 317
    - 316
    ) open
  23. 24
    + 241
    - 228

    Kojak

    ) open
  24. 25
    + 220
    - 244

    Remington Steele & Laura Holt Remington Steele

    ) open
  25. 26
    + 322
    - 264

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ) open
  26. 27
    + 225
    - 198

    added by clash1977 Law & Order

    ) open
  27. 28
    + 213
    - 225

    Dragnet

    ) open
  28. 29
    + 241
    - 259

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Burn Notice

    ) open
  29. 30
    + 172
    - 106

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS

    ) open
  30. 31
    + 189
    - 93

    ranked low on reranks NCIS

    ) open
  31. 32
    + 196
    - 162

    added by willyboymcoy Rizzoli & Isles

    ) open
  32. 33
    + 171
    - 91

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS NCIS 

    ) open
  33. 34
    + 141
    - 84

    added by MadisonJeannineWallace NCIS NCIS

    ) open
  34. 35
    + 223
    - 312

    CSI: Miami

    ) open
  35. 36
    + 204
    - 189

    added by clash1977 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    ) open
  36. 37
    + 190
    - 235

    Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

    ) open
  37. 38
    + 120
    - 221

    often listed & ranked high on reranks Twin Peaks

    ) open
  38. 39
    + 143
    - 152

    Starsky & Hutch Starsky & Hutch

    ) open
  39. 40
    + 142
    - 116

    added by joekoomen Perry Mason

    ) open
  40. 41
    + 145
    - 234

    NYPD Blue

    ) open
  41. 42
    + 154
    - 123

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  42. 43
    + 129
    - 216

    Cagney & Lacey Cagney & Lacey

    ) open
  43. 44
    + 134
    - 188

    David Addison and Maddie Hayes Moonlighting

    ) open
  44. 45
    + 137
    - 208

    Mannix

    ) open
  45. 46
    + 125
    - 184

    Mike Hammer

    ) open
  46. 47
    + 147
    - 127

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  47. 48
    + 138
    - 132

    ranked low on reranks & added by LiliaLoewenberg Criminal Minds

    ) open
  48. 49
    + 106
    - 153

    added by wiabux Fringe

    ) open
  49. 50
    + 105
    - 232

    often listed & ranked high on reranks The Shield

    ) open
  50. 51
    + 109
    - 165

    Crockett & Tubbs Miami Vice

    ) open
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