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The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows 

Ranker TV
Updated November 5, 2019 1.8k votes 314 voters 21.5k views 38 items

List Rules Vote up your favorite crime dramas that aired on TV in the '80s

In the mood to catch up on the some legendary crime dramas? Well, this list is a place to start! These are the best 1980s crime drama TV shows, ranked by user votes. From some good 80s crime drama series that follow law enforcement agents as they attempt to catch criminals, to others that are about lawyers, to still other top 1980s crime shows that are about undercover cops pretending to be high schoolers.

What shows will you find on this best 1980s crime drama TV shows list? David Hasselhoff got some crime-fighting help from his car KITT in the 80s show Knight Rider. Fun Fact: KITT was actually a customized 1982 Pontiac Trans-Am sports model. T.J. Hooker was also a good crime show that aired in the 1980s.

TV viewers got a look inside the dramatic lives of a group of Hill Street police officers in the 80s crime series Hill Street Blues. Other good shows that appear on this top 1980s crime drama TV shows list include Miami Vice, 21 Jump Street and L.A. Law.

So which 80s crime show is the best? Vote up your favorites now!

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1
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
artsyldyrae added Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

Premiered: 1980

Magnum, P.I. is an American television series starring Tom Selleck as Thomas Magnum, a private investigator living on Oahu, Hawaii. The series ran from 1980 to 1988 in first-run broadcast on the ...more

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#96 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #8 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Serieslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

2
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz

Premiered: 1981

Hill Street Blues is an American serial police drama that was first aired on NBC in 1981 and ran for 146 episodes on primetime into 1987. Chronicling the lives of the staff of a single police ...more

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#480 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #193 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #183 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

3
Miami Vice is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Don Johnson, Philip Michael Thomas, Saundra Santiago

Premiered: 1984

Miami Vice is an American television drama series created by Anthony Yerkovich and produced by Michael Mann for NBC. The series starred Don Johnson as James "Sonny" Crockett and Philip ...more

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#301 of 457 The Best Duos of All Time #70 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #14 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series

4
Remington Steele is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Stephanie Zimbalist, Pierce Brosnan, Doris Roberts

Premiered: 1982

Remington Steele is an American television series co-created by Robert Butler and Michael Gleason. The series, starring Stephanie Zimbalist and Pierce Brosnan, was produced by MTM Enterprises ...more

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#16 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #29 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows #159 of 283 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time

5
Simon & Simon is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
wideyes added Gerald McRaney, Tim Reid, Jameson Parker

Premiered: 1981

Simon & Simon is an American detective television series that originally ran from November 24, 1981 to January 21, 1989. The series was broadcast on CBS and starred Gerald McRaney and ...more

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#20 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #361 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

6
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Peter Falk, Mike Lally, John Finnegan

Premiered: 1968

Columbo is an American television series starring Peter Falk as a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department. The character and show, created by William Link and Richard Levinson, ...more

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The Best Seasons of Columbo #230 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #73 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

7
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Ron Masak

Premiered: 1984

This show is a television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons with 264 episodes from 1984 to 1996 on ...more

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#209 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #63 of 292 The Best Female-Led TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

8
Quincy, M.E. is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Jack Klugman, John S. Ragin, Robert Ito

Premiered: 1976

Quincy, M.E. is an American television series from Universal Studios that aired from October 3, 1976, to September 5, 1983, on NBC. It stars Jack Klugman in the title role, a Los Angeles County ...more

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#79 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows #32 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #40 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows

9
Hunter is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Fred Dryer, Stepfanie Kramer, Charles Hallahan

Premiered: 1984

Hunter is an American police drama television show that was created by Frank Lupo, and starring Fred Dryer as Sgt. Rick Hunter and Stepfanie Kramer as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall, which ran on NBC from ...more

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#660 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #253 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #440 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

10
Hart to Hart is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
wideyes added Robert Wagner, Stefanie Powers, Lionel Stander

Premiered: 1979

Hart to Hart is an American television series, starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers as Jonathan and Jennifer Hart, a wealthy couple who moonlight as amateur detectives, much in the style ...more

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#28 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #198 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #30 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

11
Matlock is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Andy Griffith, Linda Purl, Kene Holiday

Premiered: 1986

Matlock is an American television legal drama, starring Andy Griffith in the title role of attorney Ben Matlock. The show, produced by The Fred Silverman Company, Dean Hargrove Productions, ...more

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#130 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #181 of 422 The Best TV Shows to Rewatchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

12
CHiPs is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Erik Estrada, Larry Wilcox, Robert Pine

Premiered: 1977

CHiPs is an American television drama series produced by MGM Studios that originally aired on NBC from September 15, 1977, to July 17, 1983. CHiPs followed the lives of two motorcycle police ...more

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#18 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #190 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #37 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

13
Kojak is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Telly Savalas, Dan Frazer, Kevin Dobson

Premiered: 1973

Kojak is an American television series starring Telly Savalas as the title character, New York City Police Department Detective Lieutenant Theo Kojak. Taking the time slot of the popular Cannon ...more

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#30 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #52 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows #61 of 233 The Best Ever Police Procedural Shows

14
The Equalizer is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
artsyldyrae added Edward Woodward, Keith Szarabajka, Robert Lansing

Premiered: 1985

The Equalizer was an American drama television series, originally airing on CBS from fall 1985 until late-spring 1989. It starred Edward Woodward as a retired espionage/intelligence officer with ...more

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#264 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #134 of 290 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time #156 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

15
MacGyver is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
artsyldyrae added Richard Dean Anderson, Dana Elcar, Bruce McGill

Premiered: 1985

MacGyver is an American action-adventure television series created by Lee David Zlotoff. Henry Winkler and John Rich were the executive producers. The show ran for seven seasons on ABC in the ...more

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#73 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #152 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #33 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

16
Knight Rider is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
David Hasselhoff, Edward Mulhare, Richard Basehart

Premiered: 1982

Knight Rider is an American television series that originally ran from September 26, 1982, to August 8, 1986. The series was broadcast on NBC and stars David Hasselhoff as Michael Knight, a ...more

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#71 of 331 The Best Sci-Fi Television Series Of All Time #168 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #60 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

17
In the Heat of the Night... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Carroll O'Connor, Howard Rollins, Anne-Marie Johnson

Premiered: 1988

In the Heat of the Night is an American television series based on the film and the novel of the same title. It starred Carroll O'Connor as the white police chief William Gillespie, and Howard ...more

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#33 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #129 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time #17 of 93 The Best TV Shows Based on Movies

18
T. J. Hooker is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
William Shatner, Heather Locklear, Adrian Zmed

Premiered: 1982

This show is an American police drama television program starring William Shatner in the title role as a 15-year veteran police sergeant. The series premiered as a mid-season replacement on ...more

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#77 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #82 of 510 The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked #145 of 153 The Best Action-Adventure TV Shows

19
Hardcastle and McCormick... is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
wideyes added Brian Keith, Daniel Hugh Kelly, Joe Santos

Premiered: 1983

Hardcastle and McCormick is an American action/drama television series that aired on ABC from September 18, 1983, through May 5, 1986. The series stars Brian Keith as Judge Milton C. Hardcastle ...more
20
Barnaby Jones is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Lee Meriwether, Buddy Ebsen, John Carter

Premiered: 1973

Barnaby Jones is a television detective series starring Buddy Ebsen and Lee Meriwether as a father and daughter-in-law who run a private detective firm in Los Angeles, California. The show ran ...more

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#222 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #97 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Time #72 of 271 The Best '70s TV Shows

21
Cagney & Lacey is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Tyne Daly, Al Waxman, John Karlen

Premiered: 1982

Cagney & Lacey is an American television series that originally aired on the CBS television network for seven seasons from March 25, 1982 to May 16, 1988. A police procedural, the show stars ...more

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#240 of 457 The Best Duos of All Time #37 of 68 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #40 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

22
21 Jump Street is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
Johnny Depp, Dustin Nguyen, Peter Deluise

Premiered: 1987

21 Jump Street is an American police procedural television series that aired on the Fox Network and in first run syndication from April 12, 1987, to April 27, 1991, with a total of 103 episodes. ...more

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#124 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #355 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #58 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Shows

23
Matt Houston is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
artsyldyrae added Lee Horsley, Pamela Hensley, Lincoln Kilpatrick

Premiered: 1982

Matt Houston is an American crime drama series that aired on ABC from 1982 to 1985. Created by Lawrence Gordon, the series was produced by Aaron Spelling.

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#30 of 35 '80s Shows You Want To See Rebooted #108 of 233 The Best Ever Police Procedural Shows #23 of 51 The Best Aaron Spelling Shows and TV Series

24
Sherlock Holmes is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
artsyldyrae added Sherlock Holmes Jeremy Brett, Charles Gray, Edward Hardwicke

Premiered: 1984

Sherlock Holmes is the name given to the TV series of Sherlock Holmes adaptations produced by British television company Granada Television between 1984 and 1994, with the first two series ...more

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#294 of 806 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #22 of 100 The Best British Detective Series, Ranked #25 of 175 The Best Mystery TV Shows

25
Jake and the Fatman is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best 1980s Crime Drama TV Shows
William Conrad, Joe Penny, Alan Campbell

Premiered: 1987

Jake and the Fatman is a television drama starring William Conrad as prosecutor J. L. "Fatman" McCabe and Joe Penny as investigator Jake Styles. The series ran on CBS for five seasons ...more

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#66 of 118 The Best TV Spinoffs #151 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time #40 of 100 The Best Legal Drama TV Shows Ever