There are a plethora of police-themed television series to choose from.
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit’s Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni
With a plethora of options, there are cop shows for everyone’s tastes, whether you want an old-school Dick Wolf drama where the bad guy always gets his comeuppance or a prestige cable series that asks hard questions about the criminal justice system rather than just providing a happy ending.
There’s something about these engrossing series that keeps you hooked for hours on end, so if you’re looking for something to keep you occupied while the world around you spirals into chaos and uncertainty, this list is for you. There’s a cop show to suit everyone’s tastes, whether they prefer heavy dramas or light comedies.
Interested in seeing what else we recommend you check out?
They’re in abundance here!
The best Netflix crime shows and best thriller films are also on our list of suggestions.
1. City on a Hill
As Boston’s crime rate was at an all-time high in the ’90s when the show is set, it imagines a fictional account of the “Boston Miracle,” an actual police initiative to combat youth gun violence. Meanwhile, corrupt FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) and District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) work together to take down a family of car robbers under the guidance of Kevin Bacon. You get everything you want from a cop drama in this one: tension, intrigue, drama, and a little bit of everything else. I’m Allison Picurro, the writer.
2. Chicago P.D.
This should be a great read for fans of Dick Wolf procedurals. An intense police drama, this is the second of three shows produced by the super-producers to be set in Chicago. The show centers on the enigmatic Hank Voight (Jason Beghe), the head of the CPD’s Intelligence Unit. It also features Jesse Lee Soffer, Marina Squerciati and LaRoyce Hawkins. You can see it on Hulu or Peacock.
Amazon’s Harry Bosch follows the gritty life of Los Angeles homicide detective and private investigator Harry Bosch in an adaptation of Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch novels (Titus Welliver). In spite of the lack of publicity, the show is hugely popular, and for good reason: It has been praised for its realistic depiction of police work and for following closely the best-selling novels of Michael Connelly. It’s also got a nice jazz score. [Available on Amazon] Watch now
4. The Wire
Get familiar with one of the best shows of all time right now. This HBO series, hailed for its realistic depiction of urban life, focuses on the harrowing narcotics scene in Baltimore. There is no other show like The Wire, examining Baltimore’s drug crisis from all sides, including the detectives who are cracking down on crime, the users and dealers who are just trying to make ends meet, and the bureaucratic branches who are trying to keep a lid on the problem. In a methodical way, it examines how organizations let people down. [HBO Max subscribers: check this out]
5. Criminal Minds
‘Mind Hunters,’ a team of FBI profilers known as “mind hunters,” uses its collective expertise to identify a predator’s motivations and emotional triggers, and anticipates its next move before it can strike again, in this CBS series. It’s impossible not to get sucked into this show because of the variety of cases, interesting characters, and the occasional “baby girl” from Shemar Moore. Visit Netflix to see this and other movies.
This underrated police procedural, starring Michael Cudlitz, Benjamin McKenzie, and Regina King, follows the complicated lives of the LAPD’s officers and detectives. Character-driven rather than procedural, the show’s serialized approach lets its talented cast shine while exploring the toll the job takes on each character’s professional and personal lives.. [Read more…] about [HBO Max subscribers: check this out]
7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
The delightful police comedy from Mike Schur is just what the doctor ordered right now. When Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), the stoic new commanding officer, arrives on the scene, Jake Peralta, an immature but talented detective, is forced to change his ways when Andy Samberg plays him. The show’s charming cast also includes overachievers Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero) and Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), devoted family man Terry Jeffords (Joe Lo Truglio), earnest hard worker Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), the incredibly intimidating but warmhearted Rosa Diaz (Stephanie Beatriz), and their wonderfully narcissistic office manager Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti). You can see this on Hulu.
8. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Fin (Ice-T) would have arrested us if we didn’t include this venerable series in our top 10. Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has been on the air for 22 seasons and continues to be a compelling and relevant primetime drama, surpassing Gunsmoke as the longest-running live-action series in history. Sgt. Olivia Benson and the rest of Mariska Hargitay’s elite squad bringing criminals to justice should do the trick if you’re looking for something familiar and fulfilling. You can see this on Hulu.
In this gripping British police drama, Idris Elba plays a detective who is driven to self-destruction by his desire to catch murderers. Elba’s eponymous detective and the predator he’s been tasked with stopping engage in psychological warfare in this unique take on the genre. Check it out onAmazon or Hulu.
Chris Chibnall, the man behind Doctor Who’s Olivia Colman and Jodie Whittaker, directs and stars David Tennant, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Whittaker. As Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Colman), two detectives who aren’t exactly friends, try to solve the case and uncover disturbing secrets, the murder of an 11-year-old boy sparks a police investigation and a media circus. You can see it on Netflix.
This cerebral thriller, executive-produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher, is one of Netflix’s best offerings. Show follows two FBI agents, Holden Ford (David Fincher) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), as they interview convicted serial killers like Edmund Kemper and Charles Manson in order to gain a better understanding of their motivations. Enticed by the intriguing premise, viewers will be rewarded with outstanding acting and writing, both of which are supported by a stellar cast. You can see it on Netflix.
Even if you’re not a fan of westerns, this masterfully crafted series about a man trying to put his life back together after a series of tragic events is well worth your time. Inspired by best-selling author Craig Johnson’s stories, Longmire centers on widowed Sheriff Longmire and his daughter Cady, as well as Longmire’s old friend Henry Standing Bear. A small Wyoming town is the focus of the show, rather than high-speed car chases and tense courtroom scenes. It’s an absolute treasure. You can see it on Netflix.
13. The Shield
Vic Mackey, played by Michael Chiklis, is a corrupt cop as bad as the criminals he prosecutes. As a member of the LAPD’s experimental Strike Team, he frequently uses criminal methods to solve his cases while secretly pocketing a portion of the proceeds from drug seizures. The series drew notable actors like Glenn Close, Walton Goggins, and Forest Whitaker during its seven seasons on the air. You can see this on Hulu.
14. Reno 911!
Reno’s incompetent police officers respond to everything from drug busts to public disturbances in this irreverent comedy that feels like a cross between Cops and The Office. Quibi brought the show back for a seventh season after it had been cancelled after six seasons on Comedy Central. All of the original cast members are back in new episodes, including Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), Deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Deputy S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), Deputy James Garcia (Car (Joe Lo Truglio).