crime shows and movies The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

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List Rules 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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Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock

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Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Columbo Columbo

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Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Olivia Benson Law & Order: SVU

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Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie Universe

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Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Scooby Gang Scooby Doo

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Temperance

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Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jessica Fletcher Murder, She Wrote

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Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Elliot Stabler Law & Order: SVU

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Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Thomas Magnum Mangum P.I.

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Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kate Beckett Castle

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Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jim Rockford The Rockford Files

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Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Patrick Jane The Mentalist

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Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars Veronica Mars

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Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Spencer Reid Criminal Minds

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Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Ziva David NCIS - NCIS 

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Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter Morgan Dexter

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Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Seeley Booth Bones

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Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dr. Gregory House House, House Universe

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Kojak is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak Kojak

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Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Steve McGarrett Hawaii Five-O

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Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Lennie Briscoe Law & Order

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Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Timothy McGee NCIS - NCIS

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Aaron
Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner Criminal Minds

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Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Penelope Garcia Criminal Minds

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Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Michael Westen Burn Notice

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John Munch is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
John Munch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

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David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
David Rossi Criminal Minds

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Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Joe Friday Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

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Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Detective Jane Rizzoli Rizzoli & Isles

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Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Perry Mason Perry Mason

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Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Robert Goren Law & Order: Criminal Intent

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Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Derek Morgan Criminal Minds

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Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Horatio Caine CSI: Miami

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Miss Marple is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Miss Marple Miss Marple: Nemesis, Murder Most Foul, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington

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Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Emily Prentiss Criminal Minds

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Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

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David Starsky is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Starsky & Hutch Starsky & Hutch

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Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dale Cooper Twin Peaks

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Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue

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Olivia Dunham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Olivia Dunham Fringe