Unspeakable Crimes The Most Brilliant TV Detectives  

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
124.9k votes 7.8k voters 203.3k 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
2,271 1,059
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
RafaelR. added Sherlock

2
1,672 837
Lieutenant Columbo is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scott Klingaman added Columbo

3
1,429 1,030
Adrian Monk is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

4
1,352 883
Olivia Benson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

5
1,242 1,017
Fox Mulder is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

6
992 933
Hercule Poirot is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Agatha Christie Universe

7
1,255 638
Leroy Jethro Gibbs is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
willyboymcoy added NCIS

8
1,242 817
Scooby-Doo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Scooby Doo

9
1,251 890
Temperance

10
845 852
Gil Grissom is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

11
888 747
Jessica Fletcher is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Murder, She Wrote

12
949 708
Thomas Magnum is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Mangum P.I.

13
871 696
Jim Rockford is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Rockford Files

14
1,268 938
Patrick Jane is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
The Mentalist

15
1,003 723
Elliot Stabler is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Law & Order: SVU

16
1,424 967
Kate Beckett is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Castle

17
1,084 832
Veronica Mars is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Veronica Mars

18
1,025 760
Shawn Spencer is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

19
1,370 965
Richard Castle is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

20
891 340
Spencer Reid is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

21
934 458
Abby Sciuto is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

22
770 354
Dr. Gregory House is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
JacobMurray added House, House Universe

23
903 761
Seeley Booth is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Bones

24
823 452
Ziva David is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS - NCIS 

25
623 696
Steve McGarrett is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Hawaii Five-O

26
831 900
Dexter Morgan is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dexter

27
817 428
Anthony DiNozzo is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
MadisonJeannineWallace added NCIS

28
605 597
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Kojak

29
685 504
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
686 404
David Rossi is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
LiliaLoewenberg added Criminal Minds

35
601 634
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Burn Notice

36
696 452
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
494 543
Joe Friday is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
Dragnet, Dragnet, Dragnet

39
483 396
Perry Mason is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
joekoomen added Perry Mason

40
422 333
Robert Goren is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
looksharp added Law & Order: Criminal Intent

41
450 586
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives

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
556 701
Horatio Caine is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Brilliant TV Detectives
CSI: Miami

46
317 300
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
331 555
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