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The Best Ever Police Procedural Series

Updated March 3, 2021 17.5k votes 3.8k voters 161.1k 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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  • 1
    789
    306

    Criminal Minds

    Shemar Moore, Matthew Gray Gubler

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  • 2
    579
    310

    NCIS

    Mark Harmon, Michael Weatherly

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  • 3
    600
    285

    The Mentalist

    Simon Baker, Robin Tunney

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  • 4
    443
    199

    Psych

    James Roday, Dulé Hill

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  • 5
    548
    178

    Bones

    Emily Deschanel, David Boreanaz

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  • 6
    466
    215

    Castle

    Nathan Fillion, Stana Katic

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  • 7
    459
    250

    Law & Order

    Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin

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  • 8
    246
    110

    Law & Order: Criminal Intent

    Kathryn Erbe, Vincent D'Onofrio

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  • 9
    308
    155

    CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

    Laurence Fishburne, Marg Helgenberger

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  • 10
    310
    162

    Monk

    Tony Shalhoub, Bitty Schram

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  • 11
    260
    116

    The Closer

    Kyra Sedgwick, J.K. Simmons

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  • 12
    315
    176

    Rizzoli & Isles

    Angie Harmon, Sasha Alexander

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  • 13
    222
    96

    Cold Case

    Kathryn Morris, Danny Pino

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  • 14
    350
    196

    Dexter

    Michael C. Hall, Jennifer Carpenter

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  • 15
    220
    140

    NYPD Blue

    Dennis Franz, Gordon Clapp

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    #211 of 340 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years#51 of 79 The Best ABC Shows of All Time

  • 16
    270
    171

    Blue Bloods

    Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan

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  • 17
    554
    173

    Law & Order: Special Victims Unit

    Mariska Hargitay, Christopher Meloni

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  • 18
    197
    152

    CSI: NY

    Gary Sinise, Carmine Giovinazzo

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  • 19
    179
    142

    Hill Street Blues

    Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren

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  • 20
    320
    112

    Elementary

    Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu

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  • 21
    148
    95

    Without a Trace

    Anthony LaPaglia, Poppy Montgomery

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  • 22
    291
    134

    Lie to Me

    Tim Roth, Kelli Williams

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  • 23
    159
    125

    CSI: Miami

    David Caruso, Emily Procter

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  • 24
    131
    110

    NCIS: New Orleans

    Scott Bakula, Lucas Black

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  • 25
    92
    85

    In Plain Sight

    Mary McCormack, Frederick Weller

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    #8 of 49 The Best USA Network Original Series#48 of 58 The Best Procedural Dramas of All Time