Watchworthy

The Best TV Crime Dramas 

Ranker TV
Originally by
Updated August 5, 2020 37.3k votes 3k voters 107.5k views 130 items

List Rules Must only be the best Crime Fiction TV series.

The very best crime fiction shows on television, ranked from best to worst. This is a list of the greatest crime fiction shows to ever grace the airwaves. Airwaves are the waves that TV shows ride on. They are in the air and you can't really see them. Popular crime fiction TV shows have been a staple of television for years because they are, uh, popular - so there's often debate about what the most entertaining crime fiction show of all time is. Seriously, these are the things that people debate. Don't let your favorite crime fiction television programs in history get to the bottom of the list- be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. 

This list includes Law & Order, Ironside and more. These are some of the best Crime Dramas of all time! Cops! Lawyers! THE SYSTEM!

This list answers the questions, "What is the best crime fiction show of all time?" and "What are the greatest crime fiction shows?"

These are the best crime shows! The best crime TV shows! Get it?! What do you think are the best crime shows on TV? Why don't you vote about it?

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Criminal Minds is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler, Thomas Gibson

Premiered: 2005

Criminal Minds (CBS, 2005) is an American police-procedural television program. The series follows a team of profilers from the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit based in Quantico, Virginia. The ...more

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2
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

Premiered: 2003

NCIS is an American police procedural drama television series, revolving around a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts investigations ...more

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21 Times You've Seen the NCIS Actors Before #98 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #43 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

3
Bones is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin

Premiered: 2005

Bones (Fox, 2005) is an American procedural comedy-drama television series created by Hart Hanson. Forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel) and cocky ...more

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The Best Seasons of 'Bones' #79 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #46 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

4
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

Premiered: 1990

Law & Order is an American police procedural and legal drama television series, created by Dick Wolf and part of the Law & Order franchise. It originally aired on NBC and, in ...more

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All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Ranked #132 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watchlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

5
Law & Order: Special... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

Premiered: 1999

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (NBC, 1999) is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City. In the style of the original Law & Order, ...more

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6
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Sherlock (BBC One, 2010) is a British crime television series created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, based on stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The brilliant yet insensitive detective ...more

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Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Sherlock' #4 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #6 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

7
Monk is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Tony Shalhoub, Bitty Schram, Ted Levine

Premiered: 2002

Monk (USA, 2002) is an American comedy-drama detective mystery television series created by Andy Breckman. A brilliant detective with an extreme case of OCD (Tony Shalhoub) helps the San ...more

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The Best Seasons of 'Monk' #92 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #96 of 442 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time

8
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
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 #295 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #43 of 199 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

9
Castle is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan

Premiered: 2009

Castle (ABC, 2009) is an American crime-comedy-drama television series created by Andrew W. Marlowe. A homicide detective (Stana Katic) reluctantly works with a best-selling mystery novelist ...more

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The Best Seasons of 'Castle' #78 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #79 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

10
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) is an American crime drama mystery series developed by James Manos Jr., based on the 2004 novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay. When he's not doing forensic work ...more

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Dexter Morgan’s Infamous ‘Work’ Rooms, Ranked By Practicality #13 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #11 of 13 TV Shows That Would Have Been Better As Movies

11
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
DebayushChakraborty added David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

The X-Files is an American science fiction horror drama television series created by Chris Carter. The program originally aired from September 10, 1993 to May 19, 2002 on Fox, spanning nine ...more

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12
CSI: Crime Scene Investi... is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

Premiered: 2000

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (CBS, 2000) is an American crime drama television series created by Anthony E. Zuiker. The series follows Las Vegas CSIs working for the Las Vegas Police ...more

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13
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
David Grasch added Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang

Premiered: 2008

The Mentalist (CBS, 2008) is an American police procedural television series created by Bruno Heller. After his family is murdered, a con man posing as a psychic medium (Simon Baker) uses his ...more

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#138 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #100 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #26 of 61 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series

14
Hawaii Five-O is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong

Premiered: 1968

Hawaii Five-O is an American police procedural drama series produced by CBS Productions and Leonard Freeman. Set in Hawaii, the show originally aired for 12 seasons from 1968 to 1980, and ...more

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#188 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #38 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

15
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
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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#276 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #30 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

16
Law & Order: Crimina... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kathryn Erbe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jamey Sheridan

Premiered: 2001

This show is an American police procedural television drama series set in New York City, where it was also primarily produced. Created and produced by Dick Wolf and René Balcer, the ...more

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#164 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #25 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

17
Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn

Premiered: 2003

Cold Case is an American police procedural television series which ran on CBS from September 28, 2003 to May 2, 2010. The series revolved around a fictionalized Philadelphia Police Department ...more

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#329 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #165 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #205 of 394 The Best TV Shows to Rewatch

18
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
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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#6 of 61 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #57 of 506 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

19
24 is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

Premiered: 2001

24 (Fox, 2001) is an American drama television series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran. Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los ...more

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20
Without a Trace is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
KaraAnnPalmer added Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

Premiered: 2002

Without a Trace is an American police procedural television drama series that originally aired on CBS from September 26, 2002 to May 19, 2009, following the cases of a Missing Persons Unit of ...more

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21
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
antony23 added Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

Premiered: 2011

Person of Interest (CBS, 2011) is an American science fiction drama television series created by Jonathan Nolan. An ex-CIA agent (Jim Caviezel) and a wealthy programmer (Michael Emerson) save ...more

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22
Lie to Me is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines

Premiered: 2009

Lie to Me (Fox, 2009) is an American crime drama television series created by Samuel Baum. A master of studying facial expressions and involuntary body language, Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) and ...more

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23
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
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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#525 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #185 of 388 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate #106 of 199 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

24
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Dominic West, Lance Reddick, Sonja Sohn

Premiered: 2002

The Wire (HBO, 2002) is an American crime drama television series created and written by David Simon. The series features the Baltimore drug scene, as seen through the eyes of drug dealers and ...more

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The Best of The WIRE Characters #17 of 642 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #39 of 333 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

25
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Breaking Bad (AMC, 2008) is an American neo-Western crime drama television series created by Vince Gilligan. After being diagnosed with cancer, a depressed high school chemistry teacher (Bryan ...more

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