Watchworthy

The Best TV Crime Dramas 

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Updated July 1, 2020 37k votes 2.9k voters 106.7k views 149 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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The Greatest Guest Stars on NCIS, Ranked #101 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #130 of 163 TV Shows Most Loved by African-Americans

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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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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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 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #12 of 100 The Best British Detective Series, Ranked

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 #95 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #7 of 94 The Best Dramedy TV Series

8
Castle is listed (or ranked) 8 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 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #41 of 94 The Best Dramedy TV Series

9
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 9 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 #232 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #44 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

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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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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#148 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #41 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #33 of 69 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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15
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 15 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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16
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 16 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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#212 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #64 of 293 The Best Female-Led TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

17
Law & Order: Crimina... is listed (or ranked) 17 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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#155 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #21 of 125 The Best Serial Cop Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

18
24 is listed (or ranked) 18 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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19
Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 19 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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#264 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #157 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #87 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

20
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 20 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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21
Lie to Me is listed (or ranked) 21 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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22
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 22 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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#469 of 807 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #112 of 219 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #51 of 292 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

23
Without a Trace is listed (or ranked) 23 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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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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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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