Unspeakable Crimes The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
121.8k votes 7.7k voters 199.6k 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
2,240 1,036
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
RafaelR. added Sherlock

2
1,626 826
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo

3
1,402 1,011
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
1,325 860
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

5
1,225 1,003
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
974 917
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Agatha Christie Universe

7
1,241 617
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS

8
1,228 797
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo

9
1,234 867
Temperance

10
834 830
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
875 729
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote

12
1,256 917
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist

13
925 699
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.

14
992 704
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

15
847 690
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files

16
1,409 952
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle

17
1,074 815
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars

18
1,014 743
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
1,357 952
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
872 324
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

21
921 443
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

22
758 339
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
JacobMurray added House, House Universe

23
815 438
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS 

24
894 746
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Bones

25
614 684
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hawaii Five-O

26
824 887
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter

27
807 415
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS

28
584 595
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak

29
672 499
Lennie Briscoe is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order

30
827 690
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy the Vampire Slayer

31
704 393
Aaron
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

32
651 397
Timothy McGee is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS

33
688 421
Penelope Garcia is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

34
679 391
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

35
597 620
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Burn Notice

36
682 447
John Munch is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
clash1977 added Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

37
574 486
Detective Jane Rizzoli is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added Rizzoli & Isles

38
483 537
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
466 393
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
joekoomen added Perry Mason

40
408 323
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Law & Order: Criminal Intent

41
441 581
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

42
487 204
Derek Morgan is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
ralph-engstrom added Criminal Minds

43
340 372
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
468 243
Emily Prentiss is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

45
547 690
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
CSI: Miami

46
307 289
Quincy is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Quincy

47
443 553
Charlie's Angels is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Charlie's Angels Charlie's Angels

48
305 565
Dale Cooper is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Twin Peaks

49
324 547
Andy Sipowicz is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
NYPD Blue

50
356 453
David Starsky is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Starsky & Hutch