Entertainment

The Best TV Crime Dramas 

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Updated February 21, 2020 34.8k votes 2.8k voters 102.7k views 132 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?

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

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 186

Network: A&E, CBS

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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#256 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #10 of 128 The Best Current Dramatic TV Shows How Accurate Is The Depiction of Behavioral Analysts In 'Criminal Minds?'

2
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, Dennis Farina

Premiered: 1990

Number of Seasons: 20

Number of Episodes: 456

Network: NBC

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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#194 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Rankedlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

3
NCIS is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly, Pauley Perrette

Premiered: 2003

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 218

Network: CBS

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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#189 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #55 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate The Best Actors On NCIS

4
Law & Order: Special... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni, Ice-T

Premiered: 1999

Number of Seasons: 13

Number of Episodes: 319

Network: NBC

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American police procedural, legal, crime drama television series set in New York City, where it is also primarily produced. In the style of the ...more

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#50 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch The Best Law & Order SVU Guest Starslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

5
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 8

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation

Sherlock is a British television crime drama that presents a contemporary adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes detective stories. Created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, it ...more

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#4 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #8 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Sherlock'

6
Castle is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic, Susan Sullivan

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 105

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Castle is an American drama television series, which premiered on ABC on March 9, 2009. The series is produced jointly by Beacon Pictures and ABC Studios. Created by Andrew W. Marlowe, it ...more

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#226 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #67 of 265 The Best Female-Led TV Shows The Best Seasons of Castle

7
The X-Files is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
DebayushChakraborty added David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi

Premiered: 1993

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 202

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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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#6 of 310 The Best Sci Fi Television Series of All Time Fan Theories About The X-Fileslisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

8
CSI: Crime Scene Investi... is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

Premiered: 2000

Number of Seasons: 12

Number of Episodes: 229

Network: CBS

This show is an American drama television series that premiered on CBS on October 6, 2000. The show was created by Anthony E. Zuiker and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. It is filmed primarily at ...more

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#135 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Greatest Guest Stars to Ever Appear on 'CSI'listed on Longest Running US Drama Shows

9
Monk is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Tony Shalhoub, Jason Gray-Stanford, Ted Levine

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 125

Network: USA Network

Monk is an American comedy-drama detective mystery television series created by Andy Breckman and starring Tony Shalhoub as the eponymous character, Adrian Monk. It originally ran from 2002 to ...more

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#205 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #93 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing The Best Seasons of Monk

10
Bones is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz, Michaela Conlin

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 166

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

Bones is an American procedural comedy-drama television series that premiered on Fox in the United States on September 13, 2005. The show is based on forensic anthropology and forensic ...more

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#136 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #245 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Human Bones Or Animal Bones? Here's How You Can Tell The Difference

11
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
David Grasch added Simon Baker, Robin Tunney, Tim Kang

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 116

Network: CBS

The Mentalist is an American police procedural television series that ran from September 23, 2008 until February 18, 2015, broadcasting 151 episodes over seven seasons, on CBS. The show was ...more

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#65 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing #90 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

12
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Peter Falk, Mike Lally, John Finnegan

Premiered: 1968

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 69

Network: American Broadcasting Company, NBC

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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#145 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #50 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time The Best Seasons of Columbo

13
Hill Street Blues is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, Bruce Weitz

Premiered: 1981

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 146

Network: NBC

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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#49 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #35 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

14
Magnum, P.I. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Tom Selleck, John Hillerman, Roger E. Mosley

Premiered: 1980

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 157

Network: CBS

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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#52 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #4 of 66 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

15
Law & Order: Crimina... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kathryn Erbe, Vincent D'Onofrio, Jamey Sheridan

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 195

Network: USA Network, MyNetworkTV, NBC

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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#257 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #137 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Yearslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

16
Dexter is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter, David Zayas

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 80

Network: Showtime

Dexter is an American television drama series. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter pattern analyst for Miami Metro Police Department who also leads a secret life ...more

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17
Person of Interest is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
antony23 added Jim Caviezel, Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Chapman

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 31

Network: CBS

Person of Interest is an American science fiction drama television series created by Jonathan Nolan that premiered on September 22, 2011, on CBS. The series revolves around John Reese, a former ...more

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#148 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #83 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate The Best Seasons of Person of Interest

18
Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino, John Finn

Premiered: 2003

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 156

Network: CBS

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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#653 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #164 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years

19
Hawaii Five-O is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong

Premiered: 1968

Number of Seasons: 12

Number of Episodes: 279

Network: CBS

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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#222 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #34 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

20
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Bryan Cranston, Aaron Paul, Anna Gunn

Premiered: 2008

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 54

Network: AMC

Breaking Bad is an American drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. The show originally aired on the AMC network for five seasons, from January 20, 2008, to September 29, ...more

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#14 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #1 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing The Most Plausible Fan Theories About Breaking Bad

21
Dragnet is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Jack Webb, Harry Morgan, Don Ross

Premiered: 1952

Network: American Broadcasting Company, NBC

Dragnet is an American radio, television and motion picture series, enacting the cases of a dedicated Los Angeles police detective, Sergeant Joe Friday, and his partners. The show takes its name ...more

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#37 of 62 The Best Crime Fighting Duo TV Series #184 of 260 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

22
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Angela Lansbury, William Windom, Ron Masak

Premiered: 1984

Number of Seasons: 12

Network: The Biography Channel, CBS

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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#208 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #208 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Timelisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 160

Network: CBS

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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#162 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #112 of 260 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

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

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 5

Number of Episodes: 60

Network: BBC Four, HBO

The Wire is an American drama television series set and produced in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon, the series was ...more

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#91 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #342 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Best Seasons of 'The Wire'

25
24 is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 24

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

24 is an American television series produced for the Fox network created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran, and starring Kiefer Sutherland as Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer. Each ...more

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#104 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time Ranking The Best Seasons of '24'listed on Longest Running US Drama Shows