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12 Best Shows Like The Rookie To Check Out Next

In defiance of the well-worn adage about old dogs being unable to learn new tricks, "The Rookie" proves it's never too late to do something different. This ABC crime drama, which began airing in 2018, follows John Nolan (Nathan Fillion) as he attempts to adjust to life as a fresh recruit in the LAPD at the age of 45. Being the oldest rookie on the force isn't his only issue, either — he must also contend with the challenges that come with middle age.

"The Rookie" boasts a talented cast to go with its interesting premise, which has made it into a hit. The network has even developed a spin-off series in "The Rookie: Feds." It's hard to resist a new approach to the police procedural genre, especially when it works this well: Watching Nolan encounter new situations, fascinating characters, and a wealth of conflict as he works to prove his value is riveting. But "The Rookie" is not actually the only game in town. There are plenty of other great TV shows that scratch roughly the same itch, and we're here to introduce you to them. These are the 12 best shows like "The Rookie" fans should watch next.


There are quite a few similarities between "The Rookie" and "9-1-1." Both series started airing in 2018, offer a fresh and modern take on emergency services, and are set in Los Angeles. The action isn't always focused on the job either: Each of these shows examines the personal lives of their various characters as closely as their professional duties, and how the two halves affect each other.

Where "9-1-1" stands out, though, is in its focus on a wide variety of first responders. This series follows a diverse range of people, including police officers, paramedics, and firefighters. In encompassing so many different roles, "9-1-1" attempts to capture how these departments collaborate and the frantic chaos that can erupt in the attempt, especially when very different personalities are forced to work together.

"9-1-1" also boasts a star-studded cast including Angela Bassett, Aisha Hinds, and Jennifer Love Hewitt, who all turn in thrilling performances. Furthermore, those who enjoy fast-paced action sequences will find plenty to like in the series, which features one high-octane disaster after another. If you like the drama and setting of "The Rookie" but want a bit of a wider lens, "9-1-1" is a must-watch.

Blue Bloods

If you're looking for a new series to binge-watch, "Blue Bloods" is a strong candidate. Created by Mitchell Burgess and Robin Green, both alums of "The Sopranos," "Blue Bloods" is a police procedural that has been on the air since 2010. It stars veteran actor Tom Selleck, probably best known for his work on the classic 1980s crime drama "Magnum, P.I.," as police commissioner Frank Reagan. The sprawling, Irish-American Reagan clan is deeply involved in New York City law enforcement: Frank's father, and many of his children, are part of the force. Major talents including Donnie Wahlberg, Bridget Moynahan, Will Estes, and Len Cariou portray the Reagan clan.

Despite the change in setting and focus on family drama, "Blue Bloods" isn't all that different from "The Rookie." At heart, both shows explore how the personal lives of the police interact with their professional work. John Nolan's struggles might look different, but they boil down to the same thing: Career versus family. According to TV by the Numbers, "Blue Bloods" has earned consistently high ratings. It's also raked in a number of award wins and nominations, including an Emmy nomination for outstanding stunt coordination.


"FBI," which has been running since 2018, has a strong pedigree in the world of procedural drama: It was co-created by Dick Wolf, the man responsible for the culture-shaping "Law & Order" and "Chicago" franchises. The series follows special agents Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) and Omar Adom Zidan (Zeeko Zaki), who operate within the New York office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Though their location is specific, they deal with a wide variety of threats and criminals from across the United States.

Like "The Rookie," "FBI" is packed with high-octane action that comes at a frantic pace, ensuring the viewer is always on the edge of their seat and wondering what might happen next. In many ways, it lacks the quirkiness of "The Rookie": "FBI" is defined by being tight and efficient. But if you're okay trading in the laughs, it rewards you with a greater degree of intrigue and mystery.

Peregrym and Zaki are spectacular in the two lead roles. In their review, The Hollywood Reporter wrote, "Peregrym's procedural chops are strong after her run on 'Rookie Blue' and she's a pro at keeping her jaw set in concern, while conveying just enough emotional investment. Zaki's got good screen presence and just when you worry his character might be just a bit too cool and assertive, he's given a humanizing fear of spiders." Plus, if you like what you see, there are two spin-offs to check out: "FBI: Most Wanted" and "FBI: International."

L.A.'s Finest

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that a "Bad Boys" spin-off came to television screens in recent years in the form of "L.A.'s Finest." The mega-popular franchise leapt back into the public's consciousness with 2020's "Bad Boys for Life". Then, of course, there was the 2016 "Lethal Weapon" TV series, which proved buddy cop movies could make the jump to the small screen. Though "L.A.'s Finest" has only the slightest connection to the "Bad Boys" story, it's enough to hook viewers who end up staying for the quality storytelling.

Gabrielle Union reprises her role from "Bad Boys II" as Marcus Burnett's sister, Sydney Burnett. She joins forces with Jessica Alba's Nancy McKenna. Together, these two LAPD detectives work to solve a series of serious crimes as part of the Robbery-Homicide Division. 

Though the series gets off to a bit of a rough start, it finds its footing. Much of this is down to the show's two leads: As TV Fanatic wrote, "Gabrielle Union and Jessica Alba have chemistry in spades." The Guardian echoed this praise, and added, "There is something to be said for a '90s action throwback." Sadly, the series was canceled after just two seasons, but that still provides curious new viewers with plenty of content to enjoy.


The 2017 action procedural "S.W.A.T." has a somewhat convoluted history. This latest incarnation is a remake of Robert Hamner and Rick Husky's 1975 series of the same name, which ran for two seasons on ABC. That show is itself a spin-off of "The Rookies." The modern "S.W.A.T." also has links to co-creator Shawn Ryan's previous crime drama, "The Shield." This makes the series enjoyably rich, but if you know nothing about "The Shield" or "The Rookies," there's nothing to worry about — "S.W.A.T." is more than entertaining enough on its own.

Beyond the fact that both shows take place in Los Angeles, there are many other similarities between "S.W.A.T." and "The Rookie." Main character Daniel Harrelson (Shemar Moore) is tasked with heading up a brand new experimental unit within the Special Weapons and Tactics division. This throws up novel challenges, much like the ones John Nolan has to deal with as an LAPD rookie. The two series also examine real-world tensions and controversies involving the police, which many procedurals shy away from.

"S.W.A.T." spans multiple seasons, and features a cast that includes Alex Russell, Stephanie Sigman, Lina Esco, and Kenny Johnson. While the show has many strengths, much of the praise it's earned comes from Moore's outstanding performance in the lead role. Even critical reviews, like USA Today's, highlight him as the show's greatest asset.


"Southland" is the brainchild of Emmy Award-winning writer Ann Biderman, who has also worked on "NYPD Blue" and created "Ray Donovan." Season 1 aired on NBC, but, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the series was canceled shortly before Season 2 was scheduled to debut. But then "Southland" got picked up by TNT, where it ran for a total of five seasons. Police procedural fans everywhere should be thankful, as this series is something special.

"Southland" charts the lives of several police officers working within the LAPD, ranging from patrol officers to detectives. Although it starts out with a large cast, later seasons maintain a stronger focus on Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie) and John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) as the latter veteran trains the former newcomer to the force. This is an obvious parallel to "The Rookie," where John Nolan is also a fresh recruit learning the ropes. Another similarity comes from the way "Southland" highlights the less desirable aspects of policing, and problems with corrupt and uncaring cops.

The New York Times compared "Southland" to critically acclaimed series like "The Wire" and "The Shield," which is a testament to its quality. They weren't alone in their assessment, either: "Southland" earned stellar reviews across all five of its seasons.

Law & Order: LA

"Law & Order: LA" is yet another series created by Dick Wolf, the man behind the "FBI" and "Chicago" franchises. With just one season to its name, this stirring drama can be easily digested in a short amount of time. It's also a bit more focused on the legal side of things than many other series on this list. If you're looking for something a bit different, then, it's a perfect fit — but it also has a lot in common with "The Rookie." 

Like that Fillion-led show, "Law & Order: LA" also focuses on the City of Angels, and isn't afraid to delve into its unique issues, culture, and history. It also explores both side of law enforcement: the police who investigate crimes and the district attorneys who prosecute criminals. There's no doubt that "Law & Order: LA" is darker and more direct than "The Rookie," but at heart, both shows are about how this sort of work affects the people who do it. The Los Angeles Times was impressed by the change of scenery "Law & Order: LA" brings to the "Law & Order" franchise, and highlighted Skeet Ulrich's performance as especially impressive. He's not the only major name in the cast, either: "Law & Order: LA" also stars Alfred Molina, Terrence Howard, and Regina Hall.


Like many other crime dramas, "NCIS" is actually a spin-off of another show. In this case, it arose from the classic legal drama "JAG," which first hit television screens in 1995. Set in Washington D.C., "NCIS" follows the special agents of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service, rather than the genre's standard police officers. This group is responsible for handling law-breaking in the Navy and Marine Corps. 

Given the fact that "NCIS" has been on the air since 2003, this unique focus has definitely proved to be a winner. An ensemble cast featuring Mark Harmon, Sasha Alexander, Wilmer Valderrama, and Pauley Perrette, among a host of other rotating actors, is also a major part of the show's success. Like "The Rookie," "NCIS" understands the value of character. The crimes are fascinating, to be sure, but viewers come back to "NCIS" for colorful figures like bubbly goth forensic scientist Abby Sciuto. "NCIS" and "The Rookie" also boast a similar balance of gripping tension to lighter comic relief. 

This unique blend has made "NCIS" into such a massive hit, it's spawned an entire franchise. Spin-offs include "NCIS: Los Angeles," "NCIS: New Orleans," and "NCIS: Hawai'i." It is, without question, one of the most definitive police procedurals ever made, and worth any TV watcher's time.

The Closer

"The Closer" stars Kyra Sedgwick as LAPD Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson. An expert interrogator who has trained with the CIA, Brenda is famed for her ability to drag confessions out of even the most recalcitrant suspects, which allows her to close out tough cases. "The Closer" earned dozens of award nominations and wins, many of them specifically for Sedgwick's incredible lead performance. Brenda is the sort of character you don't soon forget.

Like "The Rookie," "The Closer" takes a long, lingering look at how Los Angeles law enforcement officials do their jobs, and the toll it takes on their personal lives and interactions. Both shows also explore the complexities of policing, and how it affects the public. As an added bonus, "The Closer" spawned a spin-off in the form of "Major Crimes." This series, which is just as good, sees Mary McDonnell reprise her role as Captain Sharon Raydor, who leads the Major Crimes Division following Brenda Leigh Johnson's departure.


"Castle" centers around successful mystery writer Richard Castle. When an actual murder echoing one from his books takes place, he's dragged into the entirely non-fictional world of law enforcement — and finds he rather likes it there. Together, he and Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) work on surprising and strange cases that can't be solved in traditional ways.

Fans of "The Rookie" have plenty of reasons to check out "Castle." This 2009 show has a similar mix of comedy and drama, a focus on solving crimes, and a uniquely-positioned protagonist. The New York City setting is a departure, but this might be appealing to those wanting a change in scenery from Los Angeles. And then, of course, there's the fact that "Castle" also stars Nathan Fillion as the titular writer. Anyone who enjoys his performance in "The Rookie" will find much of the same charm in "Castle." He leads a strong cast that includes Susan Sullivan, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, and Molly Quinn.

The relationship between Castle and Beckett is the center of the show, to the point that the mysteries sometimes take a back seat to their personal drama. This gives "Castle" more depth than traditional police procedurals, and is a major part of why it was so well received and became the recipient of so many different award nominations and wins. If you're looking for humor, heart, and heaps more Nathan Fillion, "Castle" is for you.


"Monk" is a quirky mystery series starring Tony Shalhoub as Adrian Monk, a man living with obsessive-compulsive disorder after the shocking and violent murder of his wife. After taking an extended period off work, he returns as a private detective, assisting his former employers at the San Francisco Police Department. Despite his struggles, he regularly proves his worth by spotting inconsistencies others simply don't notice.

Like "The Rookie," "Monk" blends a lot of comedy into its drama. There are a few laughs in every episode, so matter how dark things might get — and things can indeed get pretty dark on "Monk." But it's never really what you might call gritty, and that's exactly what a lot of fans of "The Rookie" are drawn to. Both series also take a close look at the personal lives of their protagonists, rather than focusing solely on what they do on the job.

"Monk" received widespread critical acclaim throughout its eight seasons, and earned a sparkling array of award nominations and wins. Shalhoub earned an avalanche of praise for his portrayal of Monk: "He is TV's most original sleuth ever ... by reason of his many phobias," wrote The Los Angeles Times. Though many years have passed since "Monk" first hit the airwaves in 2002, it's still just as impressive as the day it debuted.

The Mentalist

At first glance, "The Mentalist" might not seem like a show that would appeal to those who enjoy "The Rookie." It follows former fake psychic Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) as he begins to use his talents for good as a consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation. Putting his keen eye for detail, high intelligence, and psychological knowledge to work, Jane uncovers the kind of valuable clues that crack cases. 

Doesn't sound much like John Nolan, right? But the two main characters of these shows are more similar than you'd think. They're both newcomers to law enforcement without prior experience or knowledge in the field. They're also both spurred to make major changes in their lives following significant events — the death of Jane's wife in "The Mentalist" and John Nolan's divorce in "The Rookie." "The Mentalist" spans seven seasons, which means there's a lot of it to watch if you take a liking to it. There's a good chance you will, too, considering the generally strong reviews it earned over the course of its run.