Here is a list of the 10 best cop shows. Cop Shows are a staple on network television. Looking at the top rated shows in television on any given night and you will find original cop shows and their numerous spinoffs flooding the airways.
- “The Shield” – Shawn Ryan created this cop show based on the corrupt Rampart police division in Los Angeles. Michael Chiklis, former star of “The Commish,” stars as Vic Mackey, the head of the Strike Team. He leads his team against the gangs and drug dealers on the streets of Los Angeles. The series lasted seven seasons and showed the rise and fall of the Strike Team as they slowly found themselves on the wrong side of the law.
- “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” – “Law & Order” might be the longest running crime drama on network television at twenty seasons, but its spinoff “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” remains the more compelling series. Like the original series, “SVU” rips its plot lines from the headlines but deals with sexually based offenders, helping it achieve a “what will they do next?” reputation. Since the show began airing in 1999, star Mariska Hargitay was nominated for a Lead Best Actress award ever year from 2004-09 and was the first Law & Order star to win an Emmy award (2006).
- “The Wire” – The acclaimed HBO television series focused on the city of Baltimore, each season focusing on a specific group in the city. The show lasted five seasons and looked at the cops, the blue-collar port workers, politicians, school system, and news journalists. Created by writer David Simon, “The Wire” won various critic’s polls during its run from 2002-08.
- “Homicide: Life on the Street” – “Homicide” is writer David Simon’s second show on the list and focuses on the Baltimore Police Department homicide unit. The show had crossovers with “Law & Order” and is the first drama to ever win three Peabody Awards. The cop show lasted seven seasons and concluded with a television movie in 2000, bringing the cops all back together for one last case.
- “NCIS” – This spinoff from “Jag” centers on the Naval Criminal Investigations Service. Mark Harman stars as the Special Agent in charge of the major response team and has progressively gotten better ratings as the years pass. It received a spinoff show, “NCIS: Los Angeles,” which focuses on the California unit.
- “NYPD Blue” – “NYPD Blue” is one of the most successful cop shows to ever air on network television. During its twelve season run, the show received 35 Emmy nominations, winning seven of them. The show focuses on a Manhattan police unit with Dennis Franz’s character Andy Sipowicz the one constant. The show also starred David Caruso, Jimmy Smits, Rick Schroder, Kim Delaney and Mark-Paul Gosselaar.
- “CSI” – “CSI” presented audiences with a new format of cop show in 2000. The Jerry Bruckheimer produced show focuses on the crime scene investigators in Las Vegas, the scientists behind the police work. The show has been successful enough to warrant two spinoffs and the original lived on despite star William Peterson leaving in 2008.
- “Barney Miller” – Cop shows are not just a recent phenomenon. Over three decades old, “Barney Miller” remains a small-screen classic. Hal Linden starred as Barney Miller, an NYPD police captain in a squad full of unique characters. The cop show also produced a spinoff called “Fish,” focusing on the character portrayed by Abe Vigoda on the show.
- “Criminal Minds” – The cops on “Criminal Minds” work for the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit. They hunt down the “worst-of-the-worst” in the criminal element. The show stars some Hollywood muscle in Joe Mantegna, Thomas Gibson and Mandy Patinkin. It also features some big name talent in guest starring roles such as Jane Lynch, C. Thomas Howell, Keith Carradine and James Vanderbeek.
- “Bones” – Much like “CSI,” “Bones” focuses on the science behind the cop work. The cast of “Bones” are the forensic anthropologists who help solve crimes through clues given inside the remains of the victims. David Boreanaz (“Angel”) also stars as the FBI agent assigned to work with the team on various assignments.
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