The detective show genre is one of the most popular on television. Audiences love the suspense and intrigue of hard-working detectives doggedly searching for clues to hunt down criminals and bring them to justice.
There have been hundreds of detective shows over the years, some much better than others. Some of these shows ran for well over a decade, while others became cult classics after just a few seasons on the air.
To determine the 50 best detective shows in TV history, 24/7 Tempo considered audience reviews from the Internet Movie Database.
The best detective shows have redefined the genre, putting their own spin on what a detective show can be. Some are funny, some are dark and gritty, and some have psychologists, supernatural healers, and even murderers serving in the detective role.
The shows on this list are not just good detective series, many have gone down as some of the most popular and well-reviewed programs in all of television history. These are the 100 best TV dramas of all time.
To determine the 50 best detective shows in TV history, 24/7 Tempo reviewed audience data from the Internet Movie Database. Television shows with the detective keyword tag or crime genre label on IMDb were ranked based on the average IMDb user rating. Only shows with at least 5,000 user ratings that have a rating from the TV Parental Guidelines Monitoring Board were considered. We excluded shows that have detective characters but are not explicitly centered around detective or investigative work. Data was collected in November 2021.
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