silly 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.
list ordered by

1
1,901 840
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Sherlock Holmes Sherlock

The Saddest Television Deaths Ever The Most Annoying TV and Film Characters Ever

2
1,369 661
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo Columbo

3
1,179 847
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
1,118 698
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Olivia Benson Law & Order: SVU

5
1,069 871
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
805 787
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie Universe

7
1,043 504
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added Leroy Jethro Gibbs NCIS

8
1,038 646
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Scooby Gang Scooby Doo

9
1,066 754
Temperance

10
746 707
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
771 617
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jessica Fletcher Murder, She Wrote

12
875 581
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Elliot Stabler Law & Order: SVU

13
1,089 796
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Patrick Jane The Mentalist

14
736 612
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Jim Rockford The Rockford Files

15
816 611
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Thomas Magnum Mangum P.I.

The Greatest Female TV Characters of All Time Famous People You Didn't Know Were Married to Each Other

16
1,257 856
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kate Beckett Castle

17
971 705
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars Veronica Mars

18
865 633
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
1,205 877
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
778 364
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

21
685 263
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Spencer Reid Criminal Minds

22
700 355
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added Ziva David NCIS - NCIS 

23
732 786
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter Morgan Dexter

24
776 671
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Seeley Booth Bones

25
589 269
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
JacobMurray added Dr. Gregory House House, House Universe

26
684 352
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added Anthony DiNozzo NCIS

27
517 531
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak Kojak

28
578 442
Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Lennie Briscoe Law & Order

29
467 587
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Steve McGarrett Hawaii Five-O

The Creepiest Characters in TV History The Conspiracy Theories You Believe Are True

30
755 606
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy Summers Buffy the Vampire Slayer

31
567 326
Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added Timothy McGee NCIS - NCIS

32
604 331
Aaron
LiliaLoewenberg added Aaron "Hotch" Hotchner Criminal Minds

33
585 357
Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Penelope Garcia Criminal Minds

34
531 550
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Michael Westen Burn Notice

35
592 329
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added David Rossi Criminal Minds

36
604 391
John Munch is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added John Munch Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

37
496 424
Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added Detective Jane Rizzoli Rizzoli & Isles

38
426 481
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Joe Friday Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
381 344
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
joekoomen added Perry Mason Perry Mason

40
405 522
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

41
334 262
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Robert Goren Law & Order: Criminal Intent

42
390 151
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
ralph-engstrom added Derek Morgan Criminal Minds

43
281 310
Miss Marple is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
dee123 added Miss Marple Miss Marple: Nemesis, Murder Most Foul, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington

The Best Saturday Night Live Characters of All Time The Best Organic Coffee Brands

44
378 187
Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Emily Prentiss Criminal Minds

45
497 614
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Horatio Caine CSI: Miami

46
398 481
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

47
275 490
Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dale Cooper Twin Peaks

48
320 388
David Starsky is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Starsky & Hutch Starsky & Hutch

49
283 482
Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Andy Sipowicz NYPD Blue

50
268 403
Olivia Dunham is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
wiabux added Olivia Dunham Fringe