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Ten Best Cop Shows EVER

Ten Best Cop Shows EVER

Honorable Mention:

Number Ten: MIAMI VICE
Original Run: 1984-1990
Creator: Anthony Yerkovich, Andres Carranza
Sure aspects of the show feel dated but it’s a time capsule look at the eighties and it’s highly entertaining. It was also ground breaking in a lot of ways that still influence television today not least of which was the use of music. Iconic and wonderful.





Original Run: 1974-1982
Creators: Danny Arnold and Theodore J. Flicker
This one is a comedy but it also is a great cop show. Funny as hell, even today and it shows the frustrations of being a cop pretty well. Lovable characters are what really made it work.







Original Run: 1981-1987
Creator: Steven Bochco, Michael Kozoll
One of the first network TV cop shows to show that not all is happy and bright with the cops on their show Hill Street Blues did some amazing stuff. Alcoholism, sexism and un happy endings were nothing to shy away from. A solid show that stands the test of time pretty well.



Number Seven: HAWAII FIVE-O
Original Run: 1968-1980
Creator: Leonard Freeman
The state of Hawaii was as much a character on the show as the cops were. An elite unit headed by former Naval Intelligence officer Steve McGarret Five-O handled the tough cases and the big cases. Each week the story changed so it never got dull. Shooting in Hawaii also brought in LOADS of great guest stars. The reboot isn’t bad, but the original was so good and remembering when it was made they broke a lot of ground for things done on these kinds of shows.



Number Six: The Streets of San Francisco
Original Run: 1972-1977
Creator: Edward Hume
Karl Malden and Michael Douglas as two homicide cops, Malden as the old veteran and Douglas as the young upstart. Great writing and wonderful use of the city the stories varied week to week. A little dated but still great television.



Original Run:2002-2008
Creator: Coastal Productions (based on books by Val McDermid)
British Crime drama at it’s best. Dark, unforgiving and often disturbing psychologist Tony Hill and Detective Inspector Carol Jordan work the big and the difficult cases.Something about flawed heroes really makes for great TV and this is the proof. This is a show we watch again and again.



Original Run:2006-2015
Creator: Based on characters of Colin Dexter
Lewis was sidekick to the unforgettable and curmudgeonly Inspector Morse. After losing his mentor and his wife Lewis eventually comes back to work, this time he is the senior detective to detective James Hathaway. A wonderful pairing and seeing Lewis deal with pains of growing older and seeing the cases though the eyes of a younger officer is a treat. I like the Inspector Morse series just fine but found it a bit dry and it would often put me to sleep. This one keep my attention.



Original Run:1991-2006
Creator: Lynda La Plante
Our main character, Jane Tennison (played by Helen Mirren) is our insight into the what it’s like for a woman to be taken seriously as a cop. Played to perfection by Mirren Tennison is sympathetic only to the extent that you feel empathy towards her. She’s a great cop. The show has great writing and like most British cop dramas it expects you to keep up and doesn’t use car chases and gunfight to keep you interested. The new show highlighting her early career called simply TENNISON is damn good, this is great. If you get a hance to watch the American version, try hitting yourself in the head with a hammer instead, it was awful.


Original Run: 1993-1999
Creator: Paul Attanasio
Based on the book by David Simon who joined the show after it started Homicide is a realistic look at the cops who solve murders in Baltimore. It is great television and holds up well all these years later. Great characters, none of them perfect, doing the best they can to keep their city safe.





Number One: THE WIRE
Original Run: 2002-2008
Creator: David Simon
The Wire is amazing, it hits all the right notes. It’s sad, funny, frustrating and real as hell. Sometime too real. Being on HBO allowed for the language and situations to make it work as well as it did. This is the cop show I compare all others to. David Simon is in the top two spots because he is just that damn good.



My guess is your list may be different, and that’s cool, I’m not saying these are the ONLY good cop shows, just my favorites.  I also left shows off the list like Monk and Castle because they are not purely cop shows, the main characters are not cops. Have something I missed or you feel should be on the list, let me know in the comments.

Happy viewing! ~ Jon