Unspeakable Times

The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
131k votes 8.3k voters 217.7k views 199 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
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
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
4
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
5
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo
6
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS
7
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Agatha Christie Universe
8
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU
9
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.
10
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist
11
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
12
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files
13
Temperance
14
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote
15
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle
16
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars
17
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds
18
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU
19
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
20
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS
NCIS 
21
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
22
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
23
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter
24
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS
25
Buffy Summers is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Buffy the Vampire Slayer