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The Most Brilliant TV Detectives 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated February 28, 2020 139k votes 8.8k voters 226.9k 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. While some movie detectives are a little clueless, 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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1
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
RafaelR. added Sherlock
2
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo
3
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS
4
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
5
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU
6
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds
7
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
8
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo
9
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS
10
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist
11
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS
NCIS 
12
Temperance "Bones&q... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
13
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
14
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.
15
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle
16
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU
17
Aaron "Hotch" ... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds
18
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
19
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files
20
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
21
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars
22
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds
23
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hercule Poirot Agatha Christie Universe
24
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
ralph-engstrom added Criminal Minds
25
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote