Unspeakable Crimes The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
124.8k votes 7.8k voters 203.1k views 208 items

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.

1
2,270 1,055
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
RafaelR. added Sherlock

2
1,669 833
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo

3
1,428 1,026
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
1,348 879
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

5
1,242 1,014
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
991 931
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Agatha Christie Universe

7
1,252 635
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS

8
1,240 815
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo

9
1,251 888
Temperance

10
844 849
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
887 745
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote

12
948 707
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.

13
869 695
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files

14
1,265 936
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist

15
1,000 721
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

16
1,423 965
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle

17
1,083 831
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars

18
1,024 759
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
1,370 964
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
888 339
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

21
932 458
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

22
769 353
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
JacobMurray added House, House Universe

23
903 760
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Bones

24
821 452
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS 

25
621 696
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hawaii Five-O

26
830 900
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter

27
815 428
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS

28
603 597
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak

29
684 504
Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order

30
830 703
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

31
711 405
Aaron
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

32
657 410
Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS

33
694 436
Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

34
601 634
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Burn Notice

35
685 404
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

36
695 452
John Munch is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

37
586 492
Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added Rizzoli & Isles

38
493 543
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
481 396
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
joekoomen added Perry Mason

40
450 586
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

41
421 333
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Law & Order: Criminal Intent

42
493 215
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
ralph-engstrom added Criminal Minds

43
354 380
Miss Marple is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
dee123 added Miss Marple: Nemesis, Murder Most Foul, Agatha Christie's Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington

44
475 255
Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

45
555 701
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
CSI: Miami

46
316 300
Quincy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Quincy

47
452 559
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

48
330 555
Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
NYPD Blue

49
307 578
Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Twin Peaks

50
531 280
Batman is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
graser20 added Batman Beyond, Young Justice, Batman