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The Best TV Crime Dramas 

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Updated April 3, 2020 35.9k votes 2.9k voters 104.1k views 135 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

Number of Seasons: 15

Number of Episodes: 324

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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#39 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #256 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time How Accurate Is The Depiction of Behavioral Analysts In 'Criminal Minds?'

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

Premiered: 2003

Number of Seasons: 17

Number of Episodes: 395

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 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #55 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate The Best Actors On NCIS

3
Sherlock is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Una Stubbs

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 13

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 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #1 of 391 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate Ranking the Best Seasons of 'Sherlock'

4
Bones is listed (or ranked) 4 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

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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#68 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #15 of 92 The Best Dramedy TV Series The Best Seasons of 'Bones'

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

Number of Seasons: 21

Number of Episodes: 474

Network: NBC

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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#60 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch Behind-The-Scenes Secrets From 'Law & Order: SVU' That'll Make The Theme Song Play In Your Headlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

6
Law & Order is listed (or ranked) 6 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 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch All The Detectives From 'Law & Order,' Rankedlisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

7
Monk is listed (or ranked) 7 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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#70 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #205 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Best Seasons of Monk

8
Castle is listed (or ranked) 8 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 (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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#75 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #124 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time The Best Seasons of Castle

9
Columbo is listed (or ranked) 9 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 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #9 of 219 The Best TV Characters Of The '80s The Best Seasons of Columbo

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

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 96

Network: Showtime

Dexter (Showtime, 2006) 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 ...more

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#7 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #133 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Dexter Morgan’s Infamous ‘Work’ Rooms, Ranked By Practicality

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

Number of Seasons: 11

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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#24 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time Things About 'The X-Files' Casual Fans Find Super Weirdlisted on Longest Running Sci-Fi TV Shows

12
The Mentalist is listed (or ranked) 12 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 (CBS, 2008) is an American police procedural television series created by Bruno Heller. The show follows former "psychic" Patrick Jane, who is a consultant to the ...more

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#97 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #90 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time

13
CSI: Crime Scene Investi... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger, George Eads

Premiered: 2000

Number of Seasons: 15

Number of Episodes: 337

Network: CBS

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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#64 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Greatest Guest Stars to Ever Appear on 'CSI'listed on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

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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#61 of 147 The Greatest TV Title Sequences Ever #34 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

15
24 is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub, Carlos Bernard

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 204

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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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#54 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years Ranking The Best Seasons of '24'listed on Longest Running US Drama Shows

16
Cold Case is listed (or ranked) 16 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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#164 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #125 of 271 The Best Female-Led TV Shows #97 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time

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

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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#149 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #24 of 103 The Best TV Spinoffslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

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

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 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #4 of 89 The Best 1980s Primetime TV Showslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

19
Murder, She Wrote is listed (or ranked) 19 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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#99 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time #28 of 43 The Best TV Shows That Lasted 10+ Seasonslisted on Longest Running US Drama Shows

20
Lie to Me is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best TV Crime Dramas
Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 48

Network: Fox

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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#165 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #27 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #236 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

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

Number of Seasons: 2

Number of Episodes: 31

Network: CBS

Person of Interest (CBS, 2011) is an American science fiction drama television series created by Jonathan Nolan. The series revolves around John Reese, a former CIA officer, who is recruited by ...more

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#154 of 802 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch #124 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years The Best Seasons of Person of Interest

22
The Wire is listed (or ranked) 22 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 (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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#20 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #342 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time The Best Things Cast Members of The Wire Have Done Since the Genius Show Ended

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

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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#365 of 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #49 of 590 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time

24
Breaking Bad is listed (or ranked) 24 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 (AMC, 2008) is an American drama television series created and produced by Vince Gilligan. A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to ...more

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#1 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #1 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time The Best Breaking Bad Characters of All Time

25
Without a Trace is listed (or ranked) 25 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 571 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #112 of 263 The Greatest TV Dramas of All Time