My 25 Best Police Procedural TV Shows of all Time



Argentinian Carolina has an extensive movie background in the cinematic universe. She is our resident TV analyst and a seasoned expert in global streaming platforms. She showcases her comprehensive knowledge through her love for Netflix 'Originals', Frozen, The Good Place, and The Dragon Prince.

Police Procedural TV shows have been a tradition since the TV has existed. The genre has evolved over 60 years, focusing on different aspects of the police procedural and aiming at various audiences.

The following list has no intention of being exhaustive because several TV shows are missing.

My selection follows my memories, likes, and a selection of TV shows I haven’t watched yet, but they’re popular enough to gain their place here.

Now, let’s take a look at the best police TV shows!

1. Life on Mars (2006-07)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 2 seasons – 16 episodes

My first pick for this list is not a conventional police procedural show, but definitely one of my favourite ones.

Life on Mars is proof of how creative British television can be, and also how it can be concise at the moment of telling a story, going right to the point.

Life on Mars, named after a David Bowie song, follows Sam Tyler (John Simm) a policeman in Manchester in the year 2006, who after a car accident wakes up in 1973. Besides following the tropes of the classic police TV shows, Life on Mars also adds paranormal and sci-fi elements.

Tyler is not sure if he’s mad, in a coma, or if he has travelled in time. This doubt is shared with the audience, who is guessing and theorising about what’s happening.

Life on Mars has a second and concluding season named Ashes to Ashes (another Bowie song).

The success of the series led to international adaptations in the US, Spain, Russia, and South Korea, following the same concept but adapting it to the local culture, even changing the title for local popular song titles.

Life on Mars is available on BritBox in Canada, Australia, and the US, Netflix (the UK), and BBC iPlayer (the UK).

2. Cagney and Lacey (1981- 88)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 7 seasons – 126 episodes

Cagney and Lacey was a progressive show in the 80s created by two women with also two women in the leading roles in a genre that till that moment was male-dominated.

Barbara Corday and Barbara Avedon, the series creators, were feminists and concerned about how women were treated in films and TV shows.

Cagney and Lacey was conceived first as a buddy film starring two ladies instead of two guys. Although the script was rejected, producer Barney Rosenzweig, Corday’s boyfriend at the time, decided to take the script to a TV network.

CBS was the only network interested in the story to produce a telefilm. This was the first iteration of the characters, then a six-episode mini-series, and lastly a long-run series.

Cagney and Lacey follows the titular characters, Christine Cagney (Sharon Gless) and Mary Beth Lacey (Tyne Daly), two New York City police detectives working in Manhattan’s 14th Precinct.

Both women are opposite in their characters, Cagney is a career-focused single woman, while Lacey is a married working mother balancing her family life with her job.

The series has all the tropes of a police TV show, and at the same time, it develops the characters’ personal lives. Cagney and Lacey was a huge ratings success, winning several Emmy awards during the years it was on air.

When I was a little girl, I used to watch this series with my parents, and for me, it was something natural to assume that women could be badass and feminine at the same time.

This is the reason why progressiveness, when it’s done properly, is necessary.

Cagney and Lacey can be found on Fubo in the US.

3. Between The Lines (1992-94)

Crime, Drama – 3 seasons – 13 episodes

This British TV series follows Detective Superintendent Tony Clark, played by Neil Pearson, who is a member of the Complaints Investigation Bureau (CIB).

This bureau is an internal division of the Metropolitan Police investigating complaints against officers and claims of corruption inside the police force. The first two seasons focus on Clark working on the CIB while he deals with his private life.

Season three has a setting change, with Clark and some colleagues leaving the police force to work in private security, leading them to deal with complicated backgrounds.

The show also served as a vehicle to fame for several British actors like Daniel Craig, James Nesbitt, Jerome Flynn, Bernard Hill, David Morrissey, Jaye Griffiths and Paul Brooke.

Plus, Francesca Annis, Sylvestra Le Touzel, John Hannah, Michael Kitchen, David Hayman, Hermione Norris, Edward Tudor-Pole, Ray Winstone, Larry Lamb, Hugh Bonneville, Marc Warren and Jonny Lee Miller.

4. The Shield (2002-08)

Crime, Drama, Suspense – 7 seasons – 89 episodes

Considered one of the best 100 TV series of all time by Time magazine, The Shield takes the police procedural genre to another level with a noir approach. Set in the fictional Farmington district, known as “The Farm” in Los Angeles.

This district is characterised by a high amount of gang violence, drug trafficking, and prostitution.

The series focuses on an experimental division of the Los Angeles Police Department, inspired by the events of the Rampart scandal in Los Angeles during the 90s and 2000s.

This special team is informally known as the Strike Team and their base is on an adapted church, known as “the barn”. The team is led by Detectives Vic Mackey, Shane Vendrell, Curtis Lemansky, and Ronnie Gardocki.

Their mission is to keep peace in the district by reducing crime, however, to accomplish this, they use criminal methods to get information or stage arrests.

The series has an ensemble cast featuring Michael Chiklis in the role of Mackey, Catherine Dent, Reed Diamond, Walton Goggins, Michael Jace, Kenny Johnson, Jay Karnes, Benito Martinez, and CCH Pounder.

The Shield also has recurring big names through the seasons, such as Glenn Close, Michael Peña, Anthony Anderson, Forest Whitaker, Laura Harring, Franka Potente, and Laurie Holden.

Something I like the most about The Shield is it has a continued plot and subplots, making a complex story and character development. The Shield is available on Hulu in the US, and Prime Video in Latin America and Canada.

5. Prime Suspect (1991-2006)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 7 seasons – 15 episodes

What can I say about Prime Suspect? That easily is the best police procedural TV show you can find, addressing topics that weren’t common in the 90s.

Created by Lynda La Plante and starring Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, a role that defined Mirren’s acting career, the series follows Tennison, the first female Detective Chief Inspectors in Greater London’s Metropolitan Police Service.

Besides the typical police procedural plot, where a case per series is investigated, Prime Suspect addresses the institutionalised sexism within the police force.

Tennison is a strong and straightforward woman who, apart from solving murders, must battle the prejudices in a male-dominated work environment, where most of her colleagues want to see her fail.

Although this topic is mainly in the first series, the other seasons deal with racism, child abuse, and prostitution. Also, it shows how the difficulties at work have a severe impact on Tennison’s private life.

I used to watch Prime Suspect with my dad on HBO when HBO was a basic cable network. Prime Suspect has an American version that cannot be considered a remake but a re-imagining, also created by Lynda La Plante with Maria Bello in the main role.

In 2017, ITV aired a six-part prequel named Prime Suspect: 1973, starring Stefanie Martini as a 22-year-old Jane Tennison investigating her first case.

Prime Suspect is available on ITVX in the UK, BritBox in Australia, Canada, the US, and Tubi in the US.

6. Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-99)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 7 seasons – 122 episodes

Created by Paul Attanasio, known for writing Quiz Show (1994) and Donnie Brasco (1997), Homicide: Life on the Street is a fictional take on the real events depicted in the non-fiction book Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets from 1991 written by Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon.

In the book, Simon describes a year he spent with detectives from the Baltimore Police Department Homicide Unit.

The series is listed among the best TV shows of all time, winning several accolades during the seven years it lasted. The final instalment was Homicide: The Film from 2000.

With an ensemble cast featuring Daniel Baldwin, Richard Belzer, Andre Braugher, Clark Johnson, Yaphet Kotto, Melissa Leo, Jon Polito, Kyle Secor, Ned Beatty, Isabella Hofmann, Reed Diamond, and Michelle Forbes, Homicide: Life on the Streets follows the work and cases of the Baltimore Police Department’s Homicide Unit.

Sadly, this series is not available on streaming for the time being.

7. Hill Street Blues (1981-87)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 7 seasons – 144 episodes

Just like Cagney and Lacey, Hill Street Blues is one of the series I remember from childhood. Created by legendary Steven Bochco, Hill Street Blues is the cornerstone of modern police procedural TV shows.

Set in an unnamed city, with cues to Chicago, the series follows the lives of the Metropolitan Police Department staff of a single police station on Hill Street.

Inside the police genre, this show focuses on uniformed police officers who are risking their lives on the streets, hence the “blues” in the title.

From a technical point of view, Hill Street Blues was innovative by using handheld cameras and shots typical of films instead of TV shows.

Through the seven seasons the series was on air, it received 98 nominations to the Emmy Awards, winning 26 of them, including four consecutive wins for Outstanding Drama Series.

8. Blue Bloods (2010 – 2024)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 14 seasons – 293 episodes

Blood Blues is, without a doubt, one of the most successful police dramas produced in the past decade and among the longest ones. The series is in its 14th season, and the final one is set to finish in December 2024.

The series focuses on the fictional Reagan family, an American-Irish family in New York City with three generations working in the police and law-related professions.

Blue Bloods stars Tom Selleck as New York City Police Commissioner Frank Reagan. The cast is completed by Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes and Len Cariou featuring all 14 seasons.

The series follows Frank Reagan and his children, all working in law enforcement jobs. His oldest son, Danny, is an NYPD detective, his youngest son, Jamie, is an NYPD sergeant, and his daughter, Erin, works as an assistant district attorney.

As a Catholic family, the Reagans share the Sunday dinner, considered by many as the heart of the show. I discovered Blue Bloods by chance, scrolling through Paramount+, where it’s available worldwide.

9. The Rookie (2018)

Action, Crime, Drama – 7 seasons – 109 episodes

Starring Nathan Fillon, The Rookie is based on real-life LAPD officer William Norcross, who after moving to Los Angeles in 2015, joined the police department in his mid-40s.

The series follows John Nolan, played by Fillon, a 45-year-old who moves from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles after divorcing his wife and pursues a career as a police officer in the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD).

When he graduates from the Police Academy, Nolan is the oldest rookie. Although his colleagues think this is a phase as part of a middle-age crisis due to his divorce, Nolan is committed to his new job.

Norcross, the real-life officer in which is based on the series, is also the executive producer of the series. A spin-off called The Rookie: Feds was produced in 2022, lasting for one season, and it follows Simone Clark, the oldest rookie in the FBI Academy.

The Rookie is available on Hulu in the US.

10. Bones (2005 – 2017)

Crime, Mystery, Drama – 12 seasons – 245 episodes

I think one of the things that first hooked me to Bones was the dynamic of the two main characters, one a believer in faith, the other a believer in facts and science.

This dynamic reminds me of Mulder and Scully’s relationship in The X-Files. Although in this case there wasn’t a romantic relationship, the tension was real.

On the other hand, Bones develops a romantic relationship through the 12 seasons, making real what in The X-Files was just speculation.

Besides this detail which is more of a personal appreciation, Bones stands out for approaching the police procedural genre from another point of view. The focus here is on forensic anthropology and forensic archaeology.

The series follows the narrative structure of the case of the week always about human remains brought by FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth, played by David Boreanaz, to Temperance “Bones” Brennan, played by Emily Deschanel, a forensic anthropologist.

Bones is loosely based on the life and novels of forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, who after being consulted constantly during the series production, ended up being the producer.

Temperance Brennan is named after Reichs’ character in her crime novels. In the series, Brennan is also a successful crime novel writer, and the protagonist of her novels is a fictional forensic anthropologist named Kathy Reichs.

Inception, I’m looking at you now! As I said before, the dynamic between the main characters is they’re opposite in their beliefs. Agent Booth is Catholic and moved by intuition and faith in God.

On the other hand, Brennan’s motivation is on science, evidence, and atheism. Bones is available on Prime Video in Latin America, Channel 4 in the UK, and Disney+ worldwide.

11. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013 – 2021)

Comedy, Crime – 8 seasons – 153 episodes

Among so much drama and darkness filling most police TV shows, Brooklyn Nine-Nine was a breath of fresh air to the genre. The sitcom format wasn’t so common lately in the police procedural genre.

However, this series proved that sitcoms, with a strong cast and good writers behind, are an assured success. Brooklyn Nine-Nine was originally pitched for NBC, but the network let it pass, so the series ended up landing on Fox.

However, after five seasons, Fox decided to cancel it and NBC picked it up.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is set in the fictional 99th Precinct of the New York City Police Department in Brooklyn and focuses on seven detectives, who are adapting to their new commanding officer, Captain Raymond Holt, played by the late Andre Braugher.

The series has an ensemble cast featuring Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Terry Crews, Melissa Fumero, Joe Lo Truglio, Chelsea Peretti, Dirk Blocker, and Joel McKinnon Miller.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine received positive reviews during its airing, being praised for the good balance between humour and addressing serious topics like Black Lives Matter, for example.

Also, successfully portrayed and included LGBT characters. Brooklyn Nine-Nine is available on Peacock TV in the US, Netflix in Australia, Latin America, Canada, and the UK.

12. Southland (2009-2013)

Crime, Drama, Suspense – 5 seasons – 43 episodes

Created by Ann Biderman, who also served as executive producer, Southland is a realistic approach to the lives and work of the Los Angeles Police Department.

The first season, which was aired on NBC, focuses on the main characters, patrol officers and detectives, following their interactions at work as well as their private lives.

After the first season, TNT bought Southland rights and produced the following four seasons. In the second season, the focus is more on the crimes, following the format of crime of the week instead of serialised subplots.

Southland was critically acclaimed and was nominated for several accolades, winning some of them.

Jace Lacob from The Daily Beast summarised the heart of Southland saying: “Southland shines at showing these officers as both heroes and flawed individuals whose psychological issues are often magnified by carrying a badge and gun. The battles they face—pregnancy, drug addiction, custody, the death of a loved one, a fallen comrade—are often just as dangerous as gunfire in the line of duty.”

13. Miami Vice (1984 – 1989)

Action, Drama, Crime – 5 seasons – 111 episodes

Miami Vice is a mood, the 80s in a nutshell, an icon, something you can only understand if you lived in that decade. Sorry, but as someone who grew up in the 80s, just listening to the intro music automatically brings back a lot of memories.

Besides my nostalgia outburst, Miami Vice is today relevant as one of the best police TV shows that was ahead of its time, taking distance from other police TV shows due to its aesthetic, the use of New Wave, and the whole references to pop culture, rock, and visuals.

The series was created by Anthony Yerkovich and produced by Michael Mann for NBC. Yerkovich was also the executive producer, but after six episodes, he left all duties in Mann’s hands.

Mann counted on experience from directing and writing films with a personal style, his filmography has some gems like Manhunter, Heat, Public Enemies, and Ferrari.

Miami Vice follows James “Sonny” Crockett, played by Don Johnson, and Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs, played by Philip Michael Thomas, two Metro-Dade Police Department detectives in Miami.

Crockett and Tubbs work undercover fighting drug trafficking and prostitution in a city where money and luxuries are the rules of the game.

The series was a vehicle to fame for Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, both becoming icons of that time.

Mann directed, wrote, and produced a film adaptation in 2006, starring Colin Farrell as James “Sonny” Crockett and Jamie Foxx as Ricardo “Rico” Tubbs.

14. MacGruder And Loud (1985)

Crime, Drama – 1 season – 14 episodes

MacGruder And Loud was a flop and a great loss of money for ABC, being cancelled just after three months on air. However, I have fond memories of this series. The premise was interesting for a police TV show.

Malcolm MacGruder and Jenny Loud are partners as police officers and also in their private lives because they’re married. Set in a fictional Los Angeles Police Department, where strict rules against fraternisation between officers are in effect.

So the gist of the series is they must keep their marriage a secret to not lose their jobs. The series balances the typical plot devices of a procedural show with details and struggles of married life.

If you ask me, I found it cute.

15. T. J. Hooker (1982 – 1986)

Action, Crime, Drama – 5 seasons – 90 episodes

Besides being Captain Kirk in Star Trek, William Shatner also was T.J. Hooker, a 15-year veteran police sergeant. Hooker also deals with a recent tragedy in his past, he used to be a plainclothes detective, and he lost his partner while they were trying to stop a bank robbery.

After his partner’s death, Hooker decides to channel his rage by going back to his roots, being a uniformed patrolman again.

When the series starts, Hooker is in charge of training a group of police academy recruits. He ends up with rookie Vince Romano as his partner. Shatner is followed by a solid supporting cast featuring Adrian Zmed, Heather Locklear, and Richard Herd. Seasons 1 to 4 were aired on ABC, while the last season was on NBC.

16. CHiPs (1977 – 1983)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 6 seasons – 139 episodes

CHiPs belongs to my early memories of childhood, part in black and white and part in colour. The series follows the format of a buddy TV show, focusing on two motorcycle officers of the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

With Erik Estrada and Robert Pine playing Officer Francis “Frank Ponch” Poncherello and Sergeant Joseph “Joe” Getraer, respectively, the series successfully mixed light humour and drama with the typical plots of a police procedural TV show.

Despite the simple premise, CHiPs became a cherished classic back in time aimed at a varied audience, including children.

17. Criminal Minds (2005)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 18 seasons – 345 episodes

Criminal Minds is among the longest series on this list. Also, it’s considered one of the best. I got hooked on Criminal Minds thanks to my mom, a huge fan.

The premise is fascinating because although it follows the structure of a procedural show, it’s from the point of view of criminal profilers.

These professionals work for the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) solving cases by using behavioural analysis and profiling to find the UnSub (unknown subject).

The series also provides a good balance between the case of the week and character development, portraying the personal lives of the protagonists and the impact their job has in their lives and relationships.

During the original run on CBS, the series lasted for 15 seasons, concluding in 2020. Two spin-off series were produced: Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders.

However, due to low ratings, both series were cancelled after one season. There is also a South Korean adaptation that was aired between July 26  and September 28, 2017, on tvN, lasting 20 episodes.

In 2022, Paramount+ ordered a revival of the original series under the title of Criminal Minds: Evolution, with season 16 consisting of 10 episodes. Currently, the series is still producing and it’s on season 18, with all the original cast.

One of the biggest changes in Evolution is instead of solving different cases in each episode, there is a massive plot throughout the episodes and seasons.

Criminal Minds is available on Paramount+ and Disney+ depending on the country and region. In Latin America can also be found in Prime Video (17 seasons).

18. NCIS (2003)

Action, Crime, Drama – 22 seasons – 468 episodes

NCIS was born as a spin-off of JAG, an American legal drama television series focused on the U.S. Navy.

The backdoor pilot for NCIS was during season 8 with the two episodes “Ice Queen” and “Meltdown”, where the characters of Jethro Gibbs, Anthony DiNozzo, Vivian Blackadder, Abby Sciuto, and Donald “Ducky” Mallard are introduced.

JAG and NCIS were created by Donald P. Bellisario, who also created iconic TV shows like Magnum P. I and Airwolf.

Bellisario served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1955 to 1959, reaching the rank of sergeant. Most of his series deal with military and naval topics based on his experience.

NCIS follows a team of special agents working for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS). This special group primarily investigates Navy- and Marine Corps-related crimes.

The ensemble cast features Mark Harmon as NCIS Supervisory Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, who left the series in season 19 due to differences with Bellisario, Sasha Alexander as NCIS Special Agent Caitlin Todd, Michael Weatherly as NCIS Senior Field Agent Anthony DiNozzo, Pauley Perrette as NCIS Forensic Specialist Abby Sciuto, and the late David McCallum as Dr. Donald “Ducky” Mallard.

NCIS has spawned several spin-offs: NCIS: Los Angeles, NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Hawaiʻi, NCIS: Sydney, and NCIS: Origins.

NCIS can be found on Paramount+ in different countries and regions, although not all seasons are available in all countries.

19. The Wire (2002 – 2008)

Crime, Drama, Suspense – 5 seasons – 60 episodes

Over two decades have passed since David Simon’s creation hit HBO’s screen. At the time, it was considered an average crime series, never getting any accolades.

However, nowadays, The Wire is considered one of the finest series of all time, beyond the frame of a police drama. The truth is The Wire goes beyond the procedural genre to approach other topics like urban life, institutions, bureaucracy, and how everything affects the dynamics of the citizens, including the ones who are breaking the law.

Simon already had experience with police TV shows since he was the author of Homicide: Life on the Streets, a TV show based on his book.

However, his bad experience with NBC regarding his realistic and sometimes negative approach, made him opt for HBO.

Each season focuses on one topic or situation: illegal drug trade, the port system, the city government and bureaucracy, education and schools, and the print news medium.

Simon took inspiration from his writing partner Ed Burns, a retired homicide detective and school teacher, whose experience using surveillance technology and how his investigations were frustrated most of the time by the bureaucracy of the city of Baltimore is portrayed in the series.

The Wire is available on Max around the world.

20. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit (1999)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 26 seasons – 552 episodes

Law and Order: SVU is the longest American TV show in primetime, only surpassed by The Simpsons. At this point, this L&O spin-off has been the most successful one, including gaining more popularity than the original series.

Maybe it’s the sensitive topics that are the focus of the series or Mariska Hargitay’s charisma as Detective Olivia Benson, but the truth is SVU has always been my favourite from the whole franchise.

I started watching this series because my mother was a huge fan of this type of show, and SVU was easily among her top 5.

SVU borrows inspiration from the real-life New York City Police Department’s 16th precinct in Manhattan which deals with sex crimes.

The series expands it to human trafficking and domestic violence as well, besides rape and child abuse. They also investigate all kinds of domestic abuse, to children, the elderly and victims of non-sexual crimes.

Although they deal with murderers, sometimes, the victims are alive trying to recover from their traumas and seeking justice. In the tradition of the Law & Order franchise, several episodes are inspired and based on real cases that caught media attention in the headlines.

Of course, the events and characters are changed for dramatic purposes. The team of detectives has changed through the seasons, with Olivia Benson as the only member who has been active since the beginning.

Let’s be honest, SVU will be nothing without Olivia. The 25 seasons are available on Peacock TV in the US. Hulu has 24 seasons, and soon will add the 25th once it finishes airing.

In other countries, L&O SVU can be found on Prime Video and Netflix, but only a few seasons.

21. Starsky and Hutch (1974-1979)

Action, Crime, Drama – 4 seasons – 92 episodes

Starsky and Hutch is another classic that holds a special place in my memories.

The series follows the typical tropes of the buddy cop series, following the titular characters, Sergeant David Michael Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and Sergeant Kenneth Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson (David Soul), two detectives from the Southern California police who chase the bad guys in a Torino.

The series was innovative for its time, portraying the friendship between the two main characters with openly physical gestures of affection toward one another in a friendly and brotherly manner.

Sam Wollaston from The Guardian summarises it very well in his article by saying: “But it was also about friendship, a sort of male friendship that I’d never come across. Jokey on the surface but genuine underneath – brotherly, almost”.

“They were proper partners, looking out for each other, sharing everything – thoughts and feelings, even girls. And it was touching – literally. One would always put an arm around the other, or punch him playfully on the shoulder. That’s not how my dad was with his friends. To be honest it’s not how I am with mine”.

It’s interesting how a 70’s buddy cop show defied toxic masculinity standards in a time when no one knew that toxic masculinity existed.

In 2004, a feature film adaptation starring Ben Stiller as Starsky and Owen Wilson as Hutch was released.

22. The Streets of San Francisco (1972 – 1977)

Action, Crime, Drama – 5 seasons – 120 episodes

I have a faint memory of this series because I was very young when my parents watched it. Back in the 70s and the 80s, TV shows were on air more time thanks to reruns and didn’t age so easily as sometimes happens with current TV shows.

The Streets of San Francisco is a good example of a classic procedural TV series with a solid cast and storytelling.

Later, when I was older, I was shocked to discover that this series was the first important role for Michael Douglas, who left the series in the last season to focus completely on his film career as a producer and actor.

The series pilot is based on the detective novel from 1972 Poor, Poor Ophelia by Carolyn Weston. The series follows two detectives from San Francisco, veteran Lt. Michael Stone, played by Karl Malden, and young Inspector Steve Keller, played by Michael Douglas.

Both develop a father-son-like relationship, with Stone mentoring Keller in their profession and life. Douglas left the show at the beginning of the 5th season to produce the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

The absence of his character was justified within the story and he was replaced by another inspector, Inspector Dan Robbins, played by Richard Hatch. However, the series’ popularity went down with Douglas’ absence and it ended in season 5.

23. Cold Case (2003 – 2010)

Crime, Drama, Mystery – 7 seasons – 156 episodes

Cold Case is an interesting series focusing on what the title describes, cases, mostly murders, that happened long ago and justice is no longer pursuing.

The series follows homicide detective Lilly Rush, played by Kathryn Morris, who works for the Philadelphia Police Department, specialising in Cold Cases. Each episode focuses on a case with a narrative between flashbacks and the present.

Cold Case takes place in the same universe as the CSI franchise and Without a Trace. Cold Case was in the middle of a controversy because of the similarities with the Canadian TV show Cold Squad, which was on air five years earlier.

This conflict was taken to justice to be solved. There are two international remakes of Cold Case. A Japanese adaptation, Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira (The Door to the Truth), set in Yokohama, lasted three seasons.

I highly recommend this adaptation as an interesting take on the premise of the cultural adaptation to Japan.

The Russian adaptation consists of 25 episodes and was released under the title of Without Prescription.

You can find Cold Case in Prime Video in Latin America, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Max in Latin America and the US.

24. Hawaii Five-0 (2010 – 2020)

Action, Crime, Drama – 10 seasons – 240 episodes

Based on the 1968 series Hawaii Five-O (with O instead of 0), this series works as a reboot. The premise focuses on a special police task force in charge of solving major crimes working for the governor of Hawaii.

Under the Governor’s direct orders, the force has no limits regarding resources, means, and operations. They’re in charge of investigating a wide range of crimes, such as terrorism, kidnapping, murder and robberies.

Hawaii Five-0 is a good mix of action, humour, and procedural, with a great team of characters. The series is part of what’s called the “Lenkov-verse” because of Peter M. Lenkov, one of the show developers, who also created other reboots like MacGyve and Magnum P.I., these series also are in the same universe as the NCIS franchise.

This series can be found on Paramount+ worldwide.

25. The Unusuals (2009)

Comedy, Drama, Crime – 1 season – 10 episodes

The Unusuals is something different inside the procedural genre, with the focus on the dynamics and particular traits of the main characters, the unusuals from the title.

Created by Noah Hawley, who had previous experience from Bones, and later he become famous for being the creator of My Generation, Fargo, and Legion, The Unusuals follows Casey Shraeger who is transferred to the New York City Police Department’s 2nd Precinct to work at Sergeant Harvey Brown’s station, being assigned as the new partner is Jason Walsh.

The same night Casey is assigned as his partner, Jason got his partner killed.

The rest of the detectives working in the precinct have peculiar personal traits like wearing a bulletproof vest all the time for fear of being killed, or having hallucinations due to a brain tumour, or describing themselves as a lone wolf and talking about themselves in first person, just to name a few.

The cast features Amber Tamblyn (General Hospital), Jeremy Renner (Avengers), and Harold Perrineau (Lost).

The Unusuals is available on Fubo in the US.


Police Procedural TV shows are one of the most popular genres along with hospital-focused series.

After over 60 years of TV history, the amount of police TV shows is huge, for this reason, trying to select just a bunch as it happens in this list can be complicated.

My goal was to choose among the most popular police TV shows that played an important role for me through these years.

I’d like to know which of these shows is your favourite. Just drop me a line in the message box!

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