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The Best Ever Police Procedural Series

Updated March 3, 2021 17.5k votes 3.9k voters 162.8k views80 items

List RulesVote up your favorite shows that focus on the process of cops and detectives solving crimes over episodes and seasons.

The very best police procedural shows on television, ranked from best to worst. What is it about a group of detectives that can carry a series for years and years? Some of the longest-running drama shows have been police procedurals, including the original Law & Order, which ran for 22 seasons and spawned multiple spin-offs, and Dragnet, which aired 450 episodes. This list of the greatest police procedural shows focuses on series that follow the police - civilian or military - as they solve crimes.

Popular police procedural TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about which is the most entertaining in a genre that spans so many styles. While some cop whodunit shows like Bones have a bit of whimsical comedy in each episode, procedural dramas like SVU are darker with gritty grimes. What is your favorite police procedural show? Do you prefer the higher stakes found in military police procedural shows like NCIS? Don't let your favorite cop dramas and detective series get to the bottom of the list. Be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. The list of police procedural television shows below includes information like the program's cast and premiere date when available. With shows ranging from Criminal Minds to Dexter, this is a great starting point for a list of your favorites.

What do you think are the best police procedurals? What are your favorite current cop shows?

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    Criminal Minds

    Joe Mantegna, Paget Brewster

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2005

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  • 2
    451
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    Psych

    James Roday Rodriguez, Dulé Hill

    PremieredJuly 7, 2006

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  • 3
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    NCIS

    Mark Harmon, Sean Murray

    PremieredSeptember 23, 2003

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  • 4
    606
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    The Mentalist

    Simon Baker, Robin Tunney

    PremieredSeptember 23, 2008

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  • 5
    550
    180

    Bones

    Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz

    PremieredSeptember 13, 2005

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  • 6
    471
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    Castle

    Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic

    PremieredMarch 9, 2009

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  • 7
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    Law & Order

    Sam Waterston, S. Epatha Merkerson

    PremieredSeptember 13, 1990

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  • 8
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    The Closer

    Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons

    PremieredJune 13, 2005

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  • 9
    308
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    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

    Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue

    PremieredOctober 6, 2000

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  • 10
    244
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    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

    Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe

    PremieredSeptember 30, 2001

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  • 11
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    Monk

    Tony Shalhoub, Ted Levine

    PremieredJuly 12, 2002

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  • 12
    222
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    Cold Case

    Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino

    PremieredSeptember 28, 2003

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  • 13
    319
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    Rizzoli & Isles

    Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander

    PremieredJuly 12, 2010

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  • 14
    358
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    Dexter

    Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter

    PremieredOctober 1, 2006

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  • 15
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    NYPD Blue

    Dennis Franz, Mark-Paul Gosselaar

    PremieredSeptember 21, 1993

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  • 16
    268
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    Blue Bloods

    Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg

    PremieredSeptember 24, 2010

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  • 17
    552
    169

    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    Mariska Hargitay, Ice-T

    PremieredSeptember 20, 1999

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  • 18
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    CSI: NY

    Gary Sinise, Sela Ward

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2004

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  • 19
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    Elementary

    Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu

    PremieredSeptember 27, 2012

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  • 20
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    Hill Street Blues

    Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren

    PremieredJanuary 15, 1981

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    92

    Without a Trace

    Poppy Montgomery, Marianne Jean-Baptiste

    PremieredSeptember 26, 2002

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  • 22
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    Lie to Me

    Tim Roth, Kelli Williams

    PremieredJanuary 21, 2009

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  • 23
    160
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    CSI: Miami

    David Caruso, Emily Procter

    PremieredSeptember 23, 2002

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  • 24
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    NCIS: New Orleans

    Scott Bakula, Vanessa Ferlito

    PremieredSeptember 23, 2014

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  • 25
    223
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    NCIS: Los Angeles

    Chris O'Donnell, LL Cool J

    PremieredSeptember 22, 2009

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