13 - Columbo
A murder is committed. Viewers know ‘whodunit'. Can Columbo catch the villain? The plot twist in this popular TV series kept viewers tuning in from 1971 to 1978 to see if the sloppy sleuth, played to perfection by Peter Falk, could put the murderer behind bars.
12 - Murder She Wrote
Whenever Jessica Fletcher shows up, murder will soon follow. Veteran character actress, Angela Lansbury, portrayed an English teacher turned mystery writer who solved crimes in her village of Cabot Cove as well as tracking down murderers when she moved to New York City. MORE...
11 - Dragnet
Dragnet made history as the first popular cop drama on television. Produced, written and starring the solemn actor Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday, this b&w classic made the LAPD famous before they became notorious.
10 - Hill Street Blues
Capt. Frank Furillo (Daniel J. Travanti) heads up a rag-tag crew of streetwise cops in this inventive series which revolutionized television in the 1980's. Fast-paced action and multiple story-lines collided with a gritty realism and a touch of cinema verite. MORE...
9 - Peter Gunn
Craig Stevens, as P.I. Peter Gunn, was so cool that when he wasn't solving murders he hung out at ‘Mother's', a beatnik coffee house where his girlfriend, Edie Hart, sang cool jazz composed by Henry Mancini. This hip crime show was created by Blake Edwards and set the style for sophisticated TV sleuths.
8 - Hawaii Five-O
From 1968 to 1980, gruff Lt. Steve McGarrett would end each episode of Hawaii Five-O with, ‘Book ‘em, Danno!' However, it was the tropical beauty of Hawaii that kept viewers tuning in each week to see if the Five-O squad could solve mysteries of international intrigue and murderous intent. MORE...
7 - Law & Order
The longest running crime/drama show in the history of television, Dick Wolf's Law & Order weaves together the personal and professional lives of cops who catch killers and the prosecutors who put them behind bars. Filmed on location in NYC, the show has created a loyal audience and spun off successful franchise shows.
6 - Perry Mason
Inspired by the pulp novels of Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason, played by Raymond Burr, was one of the most popular crime shows in TV history. No matter how difficult the case, legal eagle Mason always solved the crime and was rewarded with a dramatic courtroom confession. MORE...
5 - 77 Sunset Strip
Breaking ground as the first hour-length P.I. show on television, 77 Sunset Strip's detectives were as popular with teens as they were with all ages of TV viewers. Suave Stu Bailey and his young partner, Jeff Spencer, solved Hollywood crimes, often assisted by ‘Kookie', a hipster wannabe P.I.
4 - Streets of San Francisco
Cruising San Francisco from the seedy Mission District to the top of ritzy Nob Hill, veteran detective Mike Stone (Karl Malden) and his brash young partner Steve Keller (Michael Douglas) solved murders for five seasons in the ‘70's. Notable for excellent location shooting and the mentoring of a young cop by his experienced partner.
3 - Miami Vice
As hot as the Florida sun and as cool and spicy as salsa, Miami Vice gave TV viewers a pair of pop culture cops, Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs, who worked undercover on the Gold Coast. Solving murders and busting drug smugglers, the two cops cruised Dade County driving a Ferrari Daytona Spyder. Hip and hot!
2 - CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
CSI: Las Vegas started the successful CSI franchise of crime dramas that all focus on forensics. While the lab work borders on science fiction and the special effects are often gimmicky, CSI has grabbed impressive fan loyalty and the result is an avante garde mystery show that is one of TV's biggest hits.
1 - The Rockford Files
James Garner starred in television's The Rockford Files from 1974 to 1980. The series continues to thrill fans to this day on reruns on the small screen. Why has a show about a nearly down-and-out private detective who lives in a ratty old trailer and, more often than not, gets stiffed by clients who weasel out of paying their bills, continue to attract viewers decades after the show's debut? It's all about quality.