Unspeakable Crimes The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
122.6k votes 7.7k voters 200.8k views 210 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
2,252 1,045
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
RafaelR. added Sherlock

2
1,640 831
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo

3
1,412 1,016
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
1,335 868
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

5
1,234 1,007
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
983 922
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Agatha Christie Universe

7
1,244 623
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS

8
1,235 803
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo

9
1,243 875
Temperance

10
838 838
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
883 733
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote

12
1,262 924
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist

13
933 701
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.

14
998 709
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

15
854 693
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files

16
1,414 957
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle

17
1,078 821
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars

18
1,018 748
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
1,361 958
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
882 328
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

21
926 447
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

22
764 343
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
JacobMurray added House, House Universe

23
819 441
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS 

24
901 750
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Bones

25
827 890
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter

26
616 687
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hawaii Five-O

27
812 418
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS

28
590 596
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak

29
676 501
Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order

30
828 695
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

31
709 396
Aaron
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

32
653 400
Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS

33
692 426
Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

34
684 394
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

35
598 625
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Burn Notice

36
686 449
John Munch is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

37
576 488
Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added Rizzoli & Isles

38
484 540
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
470 394
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
joekoomen added Perry Mason

40
416 324
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Law & Order: Criminal Intent

41
491 206
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
ralph-engstrom added Criminal Minds

42
443 583
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

43
345 373
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
473 245
Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

45
551 692
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
CSI: Miami

46
308 293
Quincy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Quincy

47
445 556
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

48
327 548
Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
NYPD Blue

49
305 569
Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Twin Peaks

50
357 455
David Starsky is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Starsky & Hutch