The Quick Report

The 10 Best Cop Shows Ever on TV

What makes a great cop show? The action scenes? The suspense? The clue-hunting? The high-stakes drama? How about all of those and more! We searched through the depths of television history to uncover the ten best cop shows. From classic dramas of yesteryear to modern-day comedies, these cop shows are the best of the best. How many have you watched?

10. Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues
NBC

Hill Street Blues ran for 7 seasons from 1981-1987. The show followed the lives of the staff of a single police station located on Hill Street in an unnamed large inner city. The series starred Daniel J. Travanti, Michael Warren, and Bruce Weitz. It was created by Stephen Bochco and Michael Kozoll. The series won 26 Primetime Emmy awards.

9. Cops

Cops
Fox

Beginning in 1989 and still running, Cops is one of the earliest reality TV shows. Viewers feel like they are riding along with law enforcement. We see everything cops encounter, coming face-to-face with real-life incidents and suspects. It certainly gives viewers an appreciation for the challenges law enforcement officers in the US face every day on the job.

8. Brooklyn Nine-Nine 

Brooklyn Nine-Nine
Fox

For a lighthearted take on crime and hilarious one-liners, this show follows a quirky staff at the NYPD’s 99th precinct. Andy Samberg stars as a brilliant but man-child like detective. His Captain (Andre Braugher) brings a stoic, deadpan delivery. Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), are two female detectives. Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews) delivers the dad jokes.

7. Bones

Bones
Fox

If you like the forensic side of crime solving, you’ll love this seriously underrated Bones. The dynamic duo of Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel), a forensic anthropologist, and FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz), combine their gifts of logic and detection to unravel some bone-chilling mysteries. The series ran for 12 seasons.

6. Justified

Justified
FX

Timothy Olyphant stars as Raylan Givens, a Stetson-wearing modern-day lawman roaming the hills of Kentucky. Justified delivers rich storytelling that’s filled with drama, gunfights, and colorful characters who add layers to the twisted tales of crime and justice. The series ran for 6 seasons from 2010-2015 and won two Primetime Emmys.

5. NYPD Blue

NYPD Blue
ABC

The series follows homicide detectives from the NYPD’s 15th precinct. It featured a stellar ensemble cast with the one constant being Dennis Franz. The show didn’t pull any punches with crime or the personal lives of the characters. Another brilliant show created by Stephen Bochco and David Milch, the series ran for 12 seasons (1993-2005) and won 20 Primetime Emmys.

4. Blue Bloods

Blue Bloods
CBS

This show is unique for its blend of wrapping a family drama around solving crimes. It seamlessly merges the heartwarming dynamics of the close-knit Reagan family with the world of law enforcement. Top-notch acting performances are delivered by Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, and Will Estes. The character relationships make this show special.

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3. Law & Order

Law and Order
ABC

The show morphed from a single series into a franchise of at least nine series with two more currently in development. With its “ripped from the headlines” approach, the subject matter feels real. The ensemble cast excelled at hooking viewers. The original series made its debut in 1990 and ran until 2010. A reboot kicked off in 2022.

2. Criminal Minds

Criminal Minds
CBS

Not only is the crime-solving gripping, but the drama itself is mind-bending. It follows a group of elite criminal profilers at the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU). Each uses their unique genius-level insights and quirkiness to solve crimes committed by twisted and diabolical minds. The show dives headfirst into exploring the deepest, darkest corners of criminal psychology.

1. The Shield

The Shield
FX

The show follows rogue cop Vic Mackey who leads an experimental (corrupt) elite strike team unit of the LAPD. This dirty cop has no qualms about sinking to the level of criminals when necessary. While he feels justified breaking the law to create order, his misdeeds eventually catch up with him.

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