Good procedural drama series are a go-to for just about everyone, but between medical dramas and police procedurals, it can be difficult to pick the best. This list of the top procedural dramas currently on-air, ranked by your votes, should help narrow the field. Television dramas fall into two categories: procedural and serial. Dramatic series in the procedural genre often have one new plot line every week, as opposed to a serial, shows with a continuing story arc or plot. Procedurals often follow a "case-of-the-week" formula, which makes the story easy for television viewers to follow. A number of procedural programs have been included in the greatest TV dramas of all time. This list includes both serial cop dramas, medical dramas, and serial legal dramas, as well as long-running procedurals.
Next to the incredibly long running Law & Order franchise, one of the most successful procedural drama franchises is NCIS, which premiered in 2003 and has launched popular spin-offs like NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS: New Orleans. Current procedural dramas feature a dynamic and memorable lead character with a quirky personality, though ensemble casts are also common in any drama procedural, especially in most-watched shows set around a law enforcement agency, medical facility, or courtroom. The predictable format of such highly-rated programs also makes it easy to air as re-runs because viewers often don't have to follow a certain order or have seen previous episodes.
What are the best current procedural dramas? Many procedurals are among the best current network dramas, and all are great TV entertainment. Use the list below to vote for the top dramatic procedurals that are currently on air, and see where your favorites rank!
- Tom Selleck stars as Frank Reagan, the New York Police Commissioner, and patriarch of the Reagan clan, a multigenerational family of cops. Frank's oldest son is Danny, a seasoned detective and Iraqi War veteran who occasionally uses dubious tactics to solve cases. Daughter Erin, the lone female, is an assistant district attorney. Fresh out of Harvard Law, Jamie is the youngest member and "golden boy" of the family. Jamie gave up a lucrative future in law to continue the family's tradition in police work, and is asked to participate in a secretive investigation that even his father does not know about. ...more
- Actors: Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, Len Cariou
- Network: CBS
- Photo: NCIS / CBS2NCIS (CBS, 2003) is an American police procedural drama series created by Donald Bellisario and Don McGill. The series revolves around a fictional team of special agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, which conducts investigations involving the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. ...more
- Actors: Mark Harmon, Sean Murray, Wilmer Valderrama, Brian Dietzen, Diona Reasonover
- Network: CBS
- Lucifer (Fox, 2016) is an American fantasy police procedural comedy-drama television series developed by Tom Kapinos. The series revolves around Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), the Devil, who abandons Hell for Los Angeles where he runs his own nightclub and becomes a consultant to the LAPD. ...more
- Actors: Tom Ellis, Lauren German, DB Woodside, Kevin Alejandro, Lesley-Ann Brandt
- Network: FOX, Netflix
- The Rookie (ABC, 2018) is an American crime drama television series created by Alexi Hawley, based on true events. With dreams of being a police officer for the Los Angeles Police Department, forty-year-old John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) moves from his comfortable, small town life to navigate the dangerous, humorous and unpredictable world of a "young" cop, determined to make his second shot at life count. ...more
- Actors: Nathan Fillion, Mekia Cox, Alyssa Diaz, Richard T. Jones, Titus Makin
- Network: ABC