The best crime shows to watch
Whether it’s a good ol ‘Dick Wolf procedure where the villain usually gets his due, a serious prestige cable series that raises complicated questions about the criminal justice system instead of a wrapped ending, or a comedy about goofy agents doing their best, there are all kinds of crime dramas out there, depending on what you’re looking for.
These shows have a way of sucking viewers for hours on end, so if you’re looking for a good distraction that offers a certain sense of order and justice in a world filled with chaos, uncertainty and injustice, this listing is for you. From heavy dramas to light comedies, from Netflix to HBO Max to Hulu, there’s probably one crime show that will keep you satisfied.
Looking for more recommendations on what to watch next? We have a ton! And if you’re looking for more handpicked recommendations based on the shows you love, we also have them.
This groundbreaking crime drama spanned 261 episodes, won 20 Emmy Awards, and produced one of the most emotionally devastating hours of television ever, when Det. Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) has died from surgery. It came from Steven Bochco, one of the most prolific and accomplished television producers of his time, and David Milch, an idiosyncratic visionary whose gift for dialogue is unparalleled among television writers. But this ABC show is best known today for showing us the middle-aged tuchus of star Dennis Frantz. It’s a bit unfair, but given that NYPD BlueThe biggest legacy of pushing the boundaries of grainy TV broadcasting, it’s totally appropriate. –Liam Mathews
City on a hill
Set in Boston in the 90s, when the city’s crime rate was at an all-time high, this series imagines a fictional tale of the “Boston Miracle,” a real law enforcement initiative that targeted gun violence among young people. Amid it all, corrupt FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) and District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) form an unlikely alliance as they work to take down a family of car thieves. It’s tense, it’s captivating, it’s dramatic – that’s all one would expect from a crime drama. –Allison Picurro
If you like Dick Wolf’s procedures, this one should be right for you. Second in the trio of super-producers of Chicago-based shows, this gripping crime drama follows elite detectives in CPD’s intelligence unit led by Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) – a man who often plays by his own rules. . In addition to Beghe, the show also stars Jesse Lee Soffer, Marina Squerciati, LaRoyce Hawkins, Patrick John Flueger, Tracy Spiridakos and Lisseth Chavez.
This absurd parody of police procedures will make you laugh so hard and often that your neighbors will think there is a siren outside. Rashida Jones stars as the titular LAPD detective, who, along with her partner Jay Geils (Hayes MacArthur), investigates the city’s dumbest crimes. It was created by Steve and Nancy Carell, who understand the clichés of crime shows and how to satirize them. One good thing about the series is that it goes against the pervasive trend in contemporary comedy where characters react to weird situations as if they were weird. Angie tribeca gets what other series forgot, which is that a funny situation is made funnier when the characters act like it’s normal. The show ran for four seasons between 2016 and 2018 on TBS. –Liam Mathews
An adaptation of the Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly, from Amazon Bosch follows the difficult life of homicide sleuth and Los Angeles private investigator Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver). While the series rarely receives much fanfare, it is quite popular, and for good reason: it has been praised for its realistic portrayal of police work, as well as its faithful interpretation of Connelly’s best-selling books. Plus, it has a sweet jazz soundtrack. Bosch the show recently ended after seven seasons, but Bosch the guy will continue in a spin-off where he leaves the public sector for good and begins working as a repairman for a law firm.
Now is the time to get acquainted with one of the greatest shows of all time. Praised for its realistic portrayal of city life, this HBO series focuses on the heart-wrenching narcotics scene in Baltimore, Maryland. Thread takes a unique and authentic approach to the genre, examining the Baltimore drug crisis from all angles, including crime-cracking detectives, users and dealers just trying to survive, and bureaucratic branches struggling to keep a lid on the problem. It is a methodical exploration of the ways in which institutions cause individuals to fail.
This CBS series follows an elite team of FBI profilers known as “mind hunters” who use their combined expertise to identify a predator’s motivations and emotional triggers, and anticipate their next move before they can. strike again. Intricate cases, unique characters and Shemar Moore saying “little girl” make this series a must-have.
Michael Cudlitz, Benjamin McKenzie and Regina King star in this underrated series that focuses on the complicated lives of officers and detectives working for the LAPD. More of a character-driven drama than a standard police procedure, the show’s more serialized approach allows its talented ensemble to shine while exploring the consequences of work on each character’s professional and personal lives.
Mike Schur’s delightful detective comedy is pure joy, and we could certainly use a lot of it right now. Andy Samberg plays Jake Peralta, an immature but talented detective forced to change his ways when Ray Holt (Andre Braugher), the new stoic commander, arrives on the scene. The show’s charming ensemble also includes outperforming Amy Santiago (Melissa Fumero), devoted family man Terry Jeffords (Terry Crews), hard worker Charles Boyle (Joe Lo Truglio), incredibly intimidating yet warm-hearted Rosa Diaz ( Stephanie Beatriz), clumsy veterans Hitchcock (Dirk Blocker) and Scully (Joel McKinnon Miller), and their wonderfully narcissistic office manager Gina Linetti (Chelsea Peretti). It ended after eight seasons earlier this year.
Law & Order: Special Victims Assistance Unit
We’re pretty sure Fin (Ice-T) would have booked us for a criminal offense if we hadn’t included this iconic series on the roster. Twenty-two seasons in and the Law and order spin-off, which exceeded Gun smoke becoming the longest live prime-time drama in television history, remains as relevant and compelling as ever. If you are looking for something familiar and fulfilling, Mariska Hargitay Sgt. Olivia Benson and the rest of her elite team bringing criminals to justice should do the trick.
Watch Idris Elba in his gorgeous tweed suits solve crimes in this captivating British crime drama about a self-destructive detective obsessed with capturing murderers. The show adds a unique twist to the genre by incorporating a psychological warfare between Elba’s eponymous sleuth and the predator he’s been tasked with arresting.
One of Netflix’s best series is this brain thriller produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher. Set in the late 1970s, the show follows FBI agents Holden Ford (David Fincher) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they interview incarcerated serial killers like Edmund Kemper and Charles Manson in the hopes of understand them better and use this information to resolve open cases. Come for the unique premise but stay for the quality writing backed by Emmy-worthy performances.
Even if westerns aren’t your thing, this beautifully constructed series about a man re-enacting his life under tragic circumstances deserves your attention. Based on the bestselling novels by Craig Johnson, Longmire follows the titular sheriff who, after his wife’s death, moves forward with the support of his daughter Cady and longtime friend Henry Standing Bear. The show isn’t about big car chases and explosive cases, but rather the subtle drama that comes with protecting a small Wyoming town filled with compelling characters that are both good and bad. It is a real gem.
Michael Chiklis directs this edgy drama as Vic Mackey, a corrupt cop who’s as bad as the guys he tidies up. As a member of the Strike Team, an experimental division of the LAPD with questionable success rates, he often resorts to criminal methods to solve his cases while secretly taking away some of his drug seizures. Over the course of seven seasons, the series has attracted top talent like Glenn Close, Walton Goggins, and Forest Whitaker.
The spiritual child of The cops and Office, this irreverent comedy follows incompetent police officers in Reno, Nevada, as they respond to emergency calls ranging from drug seizures to public disturbances. The series, which ran for six seasons on Comedy Central, was relaunched for a seventh season by Quibi (RIP). The hilarious cast of characters includes Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), The Deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Deputy S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), Deputy James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), Deputy Cherish Kimball (Mary Birdsong) and Deputy Frank Rizzo (Joe Lo Truglio) ).