Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

50 Best Crime Shows Of All Time Ranked

There's just something about crime series that keep audiences coming back for more, no matter how many police procedurals or mafia tales they've seen. Maybe it stems from a need to see justice prevail, or perhaps it comes from a dark place inside the human psyche that just can't help but look closer at the things we fear the most. From military investigations to serial killer stories, settling into a good series about America's seedy underbelly is immensely satisfying. 

Whatever keeps us coming back for more, there are certainly plenty of great crime dramas to choose from on primetime TV and streaming video. That's why we're taking a closer look at the 50 best crime shows of all time.

50. NCIS

"NCIS" is a procedural series that deals with crimes involving the Navy or U.S. Marine Corps. With 19 seasons under its belt and a 20th in the works, "NCIS" is one of the longest-running procedural series on television. The series revolves around Washington, D.C.-based Naval Criminal Investigative Service Major Case Response Team (MCRT) under the lead of Marine vet Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon). A "JAG" spin-off by way of a backdoor pilot, "NCIS" has had its own set of spin-offs in turn with "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "NCIS: New Orleans." Blending military and police procedural elements for a consistent style and adding plenty of quirky, well-developed characters (like goth forensic scientist Abby Sciuto, played by Pauley Perrette) give this series its magic.

49. FBI: Most Wanted

Released at the peak of the pandemic, "FBI: Most Wanted" follows the FBI's Fugitive Task Force as they track down some of the country's most notorious—and dangerous—criminals. The first "FBI" spin-off, the series was introduced through a backdoor pilot and stars Julian McMahon as FBI profiler Jessie "Jess" LaCroix, who leads a crack team of seasoned analysts and investigators. Although the series is pretty standard fare that hasn't brought anything new to the genre, many viewers find it better than the original "FBI" series, with IMDb reviewers praising McMahon's performance and the writers' attention to character development over the show's three seasons. Although McMahon will be leaving in Season 4, his replacement, Dylan McDermott, is a solid choice to fill his shoes.

48. Kojak

Originally airing from 1973 to 1978, "Kojak" is one of the most iconic detective series of all time. Starring Telly Savalas as the Tootsie Pop-wielding Theodopolus "Theo" Kojak, the series is set in NYC's fictional 11th Precinct, where Kojak solved crimes from the driver's seat of his unmarked Buick with the help of his catchphrase "Who loves ya, baby?" The series was notable for being more character-driven than most of its crime drama predecessors. While it is a bit unsophisticated by today's standards, for its time, "Kojak" was exceptionally gritty and complex, balancing cynicism and humor effortlessly. With a failed reboot in 2005 that didn't live up to the original, it seems one Kojak is enough for the world, at least for now.

47. Dragnet

Originally airing as a low-budget radio show in 1949, "Dragnet" would go on to become one of the most iconic procedural series of all time, laying the foundation for countless series to follow. In an era when networks favored over-the-top delivery, creator and actor Jack Webb championed realism and accuracy. His bet paid off handsomely, as the series was developed into a TV show in 1951 that ran for eight seasons and was revived in color in 1967, running for three more seasons. While the series can seem more than a little propagandist by today's standards, Jack Webb's performance as the iconic L.A. detective Joe Friday created a framework for dozens of police procedurals in the decades to follow. Diabolique called the series "some of the most important television ever made" and "a cornerstone of the development of the police drama."

46. Hunter

Starring Fred Dryer as the titular Sgt. Rick Hunter and Stepfanie Kramer as Sgt. Dee Dee McCall, who both work as sergeants with LAPD, "Hunter" was a procedural drama that didn't shy away from tough storylines and violence. Originally airing in 1984, the series drew its share of controversy, with the Season 2 episode "Rape and Revenge" airing a fairly graphic depiction of sexual assault that generated quite a stir when it aired. The episode, which centered around Sgt. McCall's brutal rape by a diplomat, has been praised by IMDb reviewers for its realistic depiction of her hospital exam and recovery process. Overall, the series would prove to be one of the most consistently good crime shows of the 1980s.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

45. Law and Order

First premiering in 1990, "Law and Order" is the second-longest-running primetime scripted drama on American television. The series is set in New York City and filmed on location. As the title indicates, each episode looks at a crime from the two sides of law and order, with the first half of each episode dealing with the NYPD investigation of a crime and the latter half dealing with the ensuing Manhattan D.A. prosecution. "Law and Order" often draws on high-profile, ripped-from-the-headlines stories. The series' signature "clang-clang" sound has become one of the most iconic and recognizable sounds to arise from television and has been included in a number of parodies and references over the decades, from "Sesame Street" to "Resident Alien."

44. CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

"CSI" follows a group of forensic investigators working with the Las Vegas Police Department at the Las Vegas Crime Lab. Over the course of its 15-season run, the investigative team changed just as the staff of a crime lab would, with various roles filled by Ted Danson, Elisabeth Shue, Marg Helgenberger, and William Petersen, to name just a few. A procedural with an emphasis on the forensics side of criminal investigations, "CSI" featured many aspects of forensics, including a forensic botanist, a forensic entomologist, an audio-video analyst, and a blood spatter expert, among others. While not necessarily the most novel procedural on television, "CSI" was incredibly popular in its run thanks to its consistent delivery of a working formula.

43. The Closer

Starring Kyra Sedgwick as "closer" Brenda Leigh Johnson, "The Closer" focuses on one of the most difficult aspects of criminal investigations: getting the accused to confess and closing the case. Hailing from Atlanta, LAPD Deputy Chief Johnson is a trained CIA interrogator with a knack for closing cases. This surprisingly complex series offers a nuanced exploration of policing ethics and the human experience, with Johnson often pushing the boundaries of legal, ethical, and moral behavior to close a case. "The Closer" is notable for its impact on discussions of gender in television, with gender researcher Maddy Dychtwald praising the show's depiction of female power in The Christian Science Monitor.

42. Law and Order: Special Victims Unit

A spin-off of "Law and Order," "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" focuses on the NYPD Special Victims Unit, whose job is to investigate special crimes, including domestic violence, child abuse, sex crimes, and elderly abuse. Like "Law and Order," "Law and Order: SVU" frequently uses ripped-from-the-headlines stories. For example, "Poison" (Season 5, Episode 24) is based on the real-world case of Patricia Stallings, a mother whose children died from a rare metabolic disorder that looked like antifreeze poisoning to investigators. In 2019, the series became the longest-running primetime live-action series on American television. "Law and Order: SVU" has even racked up its share of Emmys, earning 23 nominations and six Primetime Emmy Awards over the years.

41. Moonlighting

The ultimate cozy mystery, "Moonlighting" is part screwball comedy, part mystery, creating a template that was followed by quite a few subsequent shows. When former model Maddie Hayes (Cybill Shepherd) gets cleaned out by her manager, she gets to work fast liquidating her businesses. But soon after she walks into the chaotic City of Angels Detective Agency, she becomes entangled in an investigation with its manager, David Addison (Bruce Willis). One thing leads to another, and the pair end up teaming up to work cases as partners, rebranding the agency the Blue Moon Detective Agency after a shampoo brand Maddie once modeled for. The charming series included plenty of fantasy elements and frequently broke the fourth wall. Steve Franks, who created "Psych," later told The Observer that "Moonlighting" was one of his biggest influences in writing the comedy series.

40. Bones

Almost a cozy mystery in its execution, "Bones" is a lighthearted procedural dramedy co-produced by forensic anthropologist and novelist Kathy Reichs. The series, which follows the work of brainy Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan (Emily Deschanel), is based on Reichs' crime novel series, with an amusingly meta twist: Dr. Brennan is also a crime novelist who writes about a fictional Dr. Kathy Reichs. Bones and her crack team of investigators work for the fictional counterpart of the Smithsonian Institute, the D.C.-based Jeffersonian Institute, where they partner with the FBI to provide crime-solving support via hunky Special Agent Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz). The playfully antagonistic relationship between Brennan and Booth, rooted in mutual respect and spirited intellectual debate, is part of what makes this show so much fun to watch. There's also enjoyable chemistry between the Jeffersonian crew thanks to Michaela Conlin, T.J. Thyne, John Francis Daley, and Tamara Taylor.

39. Blue Bloods

Starring Tom Selleck and Donnie Wahlberg, "Blue Bloods" is about a family of New York police officers headed by patriarch and New York Police Commissioner Frank Reagan (Selleck). Through the lens of the Irish-American Reagan family's individual perspectives, "Blue Bloods" shows four crucial aspects of NYC law enforcement: the commissioner, a sergeant, a detective, and a district attorney. "Blue Bloods" is featured on location in New York, with each episode ending with a somewhat lengthy dinner where the family comes together despite their differences, causing one IMDb reviewer to call the procedural "'Hill Street Blues' meets 'The Waltons.'"

38. NYPD Blue

Set in NYPD's 15th precinct, "NYPD Blue" dealt with both the professional and private lives of New York's thin blue line. The ensemble cast featured Dannie Franz, David Caruso, and Jimmy Smits, among others, and offered a gritty take on the police procedural. Although the series got consistently solid ratings, many critics found that it wasn't especially inventive. Gail Pennington of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote that the series was ultimately "just another pretty good police show" that "doesn't break new ground, except in creating such an unpleasant lead character." On the other hand, the series came under fire for pushing the boundaries on primetime television, with the Los Angeles Times reporting that as many as 54 stations had preempted the series ahead of its premiere due to strong language and nudity that would be considered standard today. Nonetheless, in its 12-season run, "NYPD Blue" managed to hit plenty of high points, earning its share of critical acclaim. 

37. Cold Case

Starring Kathryn Morris as Detective Lilly Rush, "Cold Case" details the criminal investigations of a cold case unit in the Philadelphia Police Department. The series brings a fresh (or should we say stale?) take to the genre, focusing on long-abandoned ones and highlighting the importance of this less-common type of police work. The series ran for seven seasons from 2003 to 2010, even leading to a Japanese adaptation called "Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira." "Cold Case" was well received by critics and audiences, with Chicago Tribune calling the series "artfully and intelligently done" and Orlando Sentinel praising the series for giving audiences a "wonderfully tough, tenacious heroine."

36. Veronica Mars

Premiering in 2004, "Veronica Mars" was originally written as a 1996 noir crime YA novel by creator Rob Thomas before he was hired to work on "Dawson's Creek." The novel pitch, of which series star Kristen Bell performed a dramatic reading for Entertainment Weekly, featured one notable difference: a male protagonist. When the series premiered a few changes and a better part of a decade later, it was warmly received by critics, with L.A. Weekly's Robert Abele praising it as "refreshingly ambitious and thematically sound." The series details the post-fall-from-grace journey of former popular girl Veronica Mars (Bell) as she balances PI work and high school in the affluent Southern California town of Neptune. Although the series was never a ratings juggernaut, it developed a devoted fandom of "Marshmallows" who funded a film via Kickstarter in 2013. In 2018, Hulu even brought the series back for a fourth season revival.

35. Criminal Minds

With 15 seasons, two spin-offs, a South Korean adaptation, and a video game, "Criminal Minds” is one of the most successful and beloved crime drama series of all time. This procedural drama centers around the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit as they hunt down and apprehend some of the country's most dangerous unsubs (unidentified subjects), traveling the country via private jet and occasionally throwing fantastic dinner parties in the process. One of the things that make this series so magical is the ensemble cast of interesting personalities that keep the BAU going, like marshmallowy super-genius Spencer Reid, manic pixie tech geek Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness), and Special Adonis Derek Morgan (Shemar Moore). The series blends ripped-from-the-headlines stories with over-the-top tales that could easily be found in the Murphyverse, unapologetically dips into crime drama's silliest tropes, and features dozens of guest appearances from TV and film favorites. Fans of the series will rejoice to know that Paramount+ has a 10-episode revival as well as a docuseries based on the show currently in the works.

34. Castle

A classic example of a cozy mystery, "Castle" stars Nathan Fillion as famous mystery writer Richard Castle, who ends up shadowing NYC police detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) and solving crimes with her in the process. A fun little series in the spirit of "Moonlighting," "Castle" was a fan favorite during its eight-season run. While not the most original series in its genre, "Castle" was enjoyable to watch thanks to its charming cast and quick banter. It garnered fairly consistent ratings throughout its run, with its second season earning it heavy praise and a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

33. Murder, She Wrote

Starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer Jessica Fletcher, "Murder, She Wrote" is an unusually wholesome crime series that aired for 12 seasons from 1984 until 1996. Her charming portrayal of a mystery writer who moonlights as an amateur gumshoe earned Lansbury a whopping 10 Golden Globe nominations and 12 Emmy nominations. The series follows Fletcher's adventures in the sleepy town of Cabot Cove, Maine, which, despite its small size, somehow manages to suffer from an inordinate murder rate. This device led to its own trope, "Cabot Cove Syndrome" — used to describe when entertainment features a small or remote town with a ridiculously high number of murders.

32. True Detective

Nic Pizzolatto's HBO true crime anthology series "True Detective" is one of the more artful series in the genre, with each season featuring outstanding performances from veteran actors and beautifully cinematic storytelling. Season 1 stars Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey and is set in rural Louisiana, with a distinctly Southern Gothic feel. With a surprising performance from Vince Vaughn alongside Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams, Season 2 is set in California, carrying echoes of "Chinatown," with Paste praising its neo-noir visual style. The series' third season, starring Mahershala Ali, Carmen Ejogo, and Stephen Dorff, takes place in two time periods and is set in the Ozarks. A fourth season is reportedly in the works

31. Narcos

A Netflix exclusive, "Narcos" deals with the DEA's involvement in the Colombian drug trade beginning in the 1970s. The series chronicles the rise and fall of Pablo Escobar and the period after his death. "Narcos" ran from 2015 through 2017. It also spawned a sequel, "Narcos: Mexico." The series was met with criticism for its awkward and sometimes incorrect use of Spanish and othering of Colombians, particularly from Colombian audiences. The Guardian's Sibylla Brodzinsky wrote that the show's "iffy accents grate on Colombian ears" and that "the reception has been much cooler in Colombia" than many other Netflix audiences across the globe. Still, it enjoyed generally positive reviews, with critics praising the show's acting and gripping storytelling style.

30. Twin Peaks

When the body of homecoming queen Laura Palmer washed up on the shore in the tiny Pacific Northwest town of Twin Peaks, it kicked off one of the most genre-defying series ever made. A product of the genius of David Lynch and Mark Frost, the series was a primetime obsession in its first season, with its cult magnetism intensifying as its mainstream popularity waned. The Minneapolis Star Tribune called the series a "serpentine retreat from TV tradition and TV cliché," praising the drama as "quirky and mesmerizing, distinctively different."

At its best, "Twin Peaks" defiantly married soapy storytelling with noir elements. It also offered a distinctly cinematic quality, experimental camera work, surrealism, visual and auditory motifs, and complex mythology with supernatural layers, paving the way for many of the most iconic series to follow from "The X-Files" to "LOST." To get the most out of "Twin Peaks," it's essential to throw all expectations out the window and let the Lynchian mayhem wash over your occipital lobe. The series is best enjoyed with a slice of cherry pie and a damn fine cup of coffee that's black as midnight on a moonless night.

29. Homeland

Based on the Israeli series "Prisoners of War," "Homeland" is an espionage thriller that deals with CIA counterterrorism in the post-911 era with a focus on Middle East operations. The series stars Claire Danes as CIA operations officer Carrie Mathison, who struggles to keep her bipolar disorder in check while convincing those she works with that her often off-the-rails methods are completely unrelated to her mental health. Her mentor, Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin), helps her along the way. Like the show's frenetic jazz intro, the series has a chaotic quality that does a good job of conveying Carrie's point of view. "Homeland" was highly acclaimed by critics, who especially praised Danes' performance.

28. The Untouchables

The 1959 Desilu television series "The Untouchables" was based on the real-life experiences of U.S. DOJ Prohibition agent Elliot Ness that were documented in his bestselling 1957 memoir, which he co-wrote with Oscar Fraley. In real life and in the series, the Untouchables was a group of DOJ Prohibition agents that brought down mafia kingpin Al "Scarface" Capone. The group was so named for being above mob intimidation. The series dealt with many famous Prohibition-era criminals, including Ma Barker, Lucky Luciano, and Bugs Moran, just to name a few. It even had the Untouchables cross paths with Nazis at one point. Despite the show's popularity, it drew the ire of many Italian-Americans for promoting harmful stereotypes. CBR reported that Frank Sinatra's distaste for the series lead to a feud with Desi Arnaz that stopped only when Arnaz offered the crooner a cool million to produce the film of his choice.

27. Boston Legal

A dramedy starring James Spader, Candice Bergen, and William Shatner, "Boston Legal" centers around the high-end Boston civil and criminal legal firm Crane, Poole & Schmidt. A spin-off of "The Practice," "Boston Legal" proved a worthy successor to its parent series, garnering consistent ratings and critical praise throughout its five-season run. Part of this show's charm arises from the chemistry between political opposites Alan Shore (Spader) and Denny Crane (Shatner), with Orlando Sentinel praising Shatner's performance as the "brilliant buffoon" and Chicago Tribune observing that "Spader sparkles" in the series. The series was known for its crisp writing, stellar guest stars, and occasional fourth-wall breaking as it satirized the legal profession, with many fans finding it stronger than its predecessor.

26. Perry Mason

Based on the Erle Stanley Gardner detective novel and short story series, "Perry Mason" followed the many trials of criminal defense attorney Perry Mason as he fought for justice for defendants wrongfully accused of murder. With the help of private investigator Paul Drake and his secretary Della Street, Mason helps clear the name of the accused, often implicating an ethically compromised witness in the process. The series starred Raymond Burr and aired for nine seasons from 1957 to 1966, earning three Primetime Emmy Awards and 13 nominations. At her 2009 Senate nomination, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor cited Perry Mason's courtroom efforts as part of her inspiration for pursuing a career in justice, having watched the series as a child.

25. Columbo

Starring Peter Falk as LAPD homicide detective Columbo, the eponymous show is a neo-noir detective series that uses the "howcatchem" variant rather than the whodunit, focusing more on the investigation than the mystery of who committed the crime. Throughout its decades-long run, the series featured enough stars to fill a constellation, including the likes of Johnny Cash, Leonard Nimoy, Vincent Price, and Martin Sheen, just to name a handful. With his unpolished finish, blue-collar persona, and tagline "Just one more thing," Columbo's appeal has long captivated audiences, making him perhaps the most iconic detective of all time next to Sherlock Holmes.

24. Luther

Starring Idris Elba as the brilliant and intense Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) John Luther, "Luther" is a gritty and dark British psychological crime thriller. The series follows Luther's obsessive pursuit of his nemesis, serial killer Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson). Writing about the series on the BBC TV Blog, series creator Neil Cross explained that he drew on the characters of Sherlock Holmes and Columbo when developing Luther's character and story, drawing on the "inverted detective" format of "Columbo" for "Luther." As Cross explains, he set out to depict "a kind of psychological duel between this driven, half-mad cop and the depraved criminals he hunts."

23. American Crime Story

"American Crime Story," Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk's foray into true crime, is an anthology series that focuses on a different high-profile criminal case each season. The first season, "The People v. O.J. Simpson," is based on Jeffrey Toobin's book of the same name. It's the most critically acclaimed season thus far, boasting a generous 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating, with critics praising its sharp writing, strong performances, and exploration of the relationship between American justice and the media. The series' second season explores the murder of Gianni Versace, with the third season focusing on the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

22. Sherlock

Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman as Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick John Watson, "Sherlock" is a modern interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic detective series. The story manages to capture the spirit of the original story while infusing it with modern details. The chemistry between Freeman and Cumberbatch is so strong that the fandom has spawned a "Johnlock" ship devoted to exploring a hypothetical queer pairing of the duo. The series is a refreshingly exuberant adventure that manages to stay fun even when it's serious, a rarity for the genre.

21. Southland

Airing from 2009 through 2013, "Southland" originally appeared on NBC, where it was canceled after one season before enjoying four more on TNT. A character-driven exploration of LAPD, the series boasts a 90% Tomatometer rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.5 on IMDb, where reviewers praise its gritty style, authenticity, and documentary-influenced camera work. It's one of those rare series that improved the longer it went on, with its final two seasons its strongest. After the cop drama's fifth and final season premiered, Jace Lacob of The Daily Beast called "Southland" "one of the most morally complex and insightful dramas on television today."

20. The Shield

In the 1990s, the Los Angeles Police Department became embroiled in scandal over corruption in its gang crime division Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) and Rampart Division. "The Shield" bases its Strike Team on this scandal (via Slate). Airing on FX, "The Shield" featured a number of big-name actors, including Franka Potente, Glenn Close, and Forest Whitaker. Like the real-life Rampart scandal, the Strike Team often breaks the law to get their arrests. As John Doyle of The Globe and Mail wrote, "There isn't a single decent person in 'The Shield,' and that makes it both the most devastating critique of America and the must-watch show of the season."

19. Homicide: Life on the Street

Adapted from Baltimore Sun reporter David Simon's nonfiction book "Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets," "Homicide: Life on the Street" is a '90s procedural drama that presents a more realistic, less romanticized view of homicide detectives than previous entries in the genre. Focused on the inner-city Baltimore PD homicide unit, "Homicide" achieved its signature style by filming on location in Baltimore, using handheld 16mm cameras and jarring jump-cuts to add to the sense of realism that emphasized the bleakness of homicide work. The series was critically acclaimed and featured solid performances from Richard Belzer, Yaphet Kotto, Giancarlo Esposito, and Andre Braugher, among others.

18. Big Little Lies

Optioned from Liane Moriarty's novel of the same name less than a month after its release by producers Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon, "Big Little Lies" was released on HBO to widespread critical acclaim. The black comedy features a star-studded cast that included Kidman, Witherspoon, Alexander Skarsgård, Shailene Woodley, Adam Scott, Zoë Kravitz, Laura Dern, and Meryl Streep. The story is told through the lens of three mothers in an affluent beachfront community in California after a murder occurs, shedding light on the troubled reality brewing just underneath the placid surface of the picturesque community.

17. The Wire

Loosely based on the life of Baltimore PD detective and writer Ed Burns, the 2002 HBO series "The Wire" ran for five seasons and was a critical and commercial success. Each season had a different focus, with Season 1 covering the illegal drug trade, Season 2 covering the city's port system, Season 3 covering the municipal government, Season 4 covering the education system, and Season 5 covering print news. Praised for its realism and complex exploration of social issues, the series was unapologetically critical of late-stage capitalism, American classism, and the War on Drugs. NPR reported that the series' complex analysis of American socioeconomics inspired several universities to design curricula around its content, with UC, Duke, and Harvard all offering courses.

16. Bosch

Starring Titus Welliver as LAPD homicide detective Hieronymus "Harry" Bosch, "Bosch" is based on the bestselling Harry Bosch novel series by Michael Connelly. Former Special Forces Gulf War and Afghanistan veteran Bosch works in the Hollywood division, where he relentlessly pursues justice in this suspenseful, gritty procedural. After the first season, which earned an 84% on Rotten Tomatoes, each of its successive seasons consistently scored a 100% rating. A new series titled "Bosch: Legacy" is set to premiere in May 2022. According to Entertainment Weekly, the spin-off will focus on Bosch's daughter, Maddie Bosch (Madison Lintz). The series will also bring back "Bosch" originals Welliver and Mimi Rogers.

15. Peaky Blinders

Set in Birmingham, England in 1919, "Peaky Blinders" centers around the real-life Irish-Romani street gang the Peaky Blinders, who dabbled in all manner of illegal trades around the turn of the 20th century. The series stars Sam Neill as Major Chester Campbell, a Royal Irish Constabulary investigator working to clean up a city under the direction of Winston Churchill (played by both Andy Nyman and Richard McCabe). Campbell finds Birmingham riddled with unsavory elements, including Communists, the IRA, and gangs like the Peaky Blinders, who are helmed by crime boss Tommy Shelby (Cillian Murphy). The series was critically hailed as a period drama and a gang story, drawing comparisons to "Boardwalk Empire."

14. Hannibal

Based on the Thomas Harris novel series that spawned the films "Silence of the Lambs," "Hannibal," and "Red Dragon," "Hannibal" is a psychological thriller and horror series that deals with the relationship between a forensic psychiatrist with a unique hobby, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), and an FBI special investigator and emotionally disturbed genius Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Although it's a dazzling series to watch, viewers sitting down for the first time should be ready for gore. While the series only ran for three seasons, it developed a cult following during that run. Fans of the series will be happy to hear that in February 2022, Giant Freakin Robot reported that Netflix is still seriously considering a new "Hannibal" project.

13. Ozark

"Ozark" explores a lesser-seen side of organized crime by delving into the world of money laundering through the Byrde family. After financial advisor Marty Byrde's money laundering side hustle takes a dark turn and his partner and associates are wiped out by cartel enforcers, fast-talking Marty (Jason Bateman) wriggles his way into an even bigger scheme on the Lake of the Ozarks. As often is the case, however, things don't work out quite as he planned. Like the antiheroes of "Breaking Bad" and "Weeds," Marty Byrde finds his efforts to get out of crime only seem to pull him deeper in as he clings to that old lie that he's just one big scheme away from getting out. With Southern gothic elements, a fair share of black humor, and stellar performances from Bateman, Laura Linney (as his wife, Wendy Byrde), Julia Garner (as put-upon local Ruth Langmore), and Lisa Emery as heroin farmer Darlene Snell, "Ozark" is a dark, brooding, and beautiful crime series that shouldn't be overlooked.

12. Fargo

Inspired by the 1996 Coen Brothers film "Fargo" and set in the same universe, the FX television series of the same name is an anthology, with each season set in a different time and place. Like the film, the Coen Brothers-produced "Fargo" orbits a crime syndicate in Fargo, North Dakota. The anthology format has given the show the opportunity to showcase a number of TV and film stars, including Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Kieran Culkin, Ted Danson, Chris Rock, Jason Schwartzman, Ewan McGregor, and musician Andrew Bird. The black comedy has earned many awards, including 55 Emmy nominations and six Primetime Emmys thanks to its characteristically Coen world of oddball characters, dark humor, and strange turns of events.

11. Line of Duty

British police procedural "Line of Duty" has a whopping 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an 8.7 on IMDb. The series follows a police anti-corruption unit working to uncover police corruption in a division of the fictional Central Police Force. As the organization chases down corruption, they gradually discover that all roads lead to an organized crime syndicate run by a high-ranking member of the police department. With performances from Lennie James, Thandiwe Newton, and Kelly Macdonald, among others, the excellent ensemble cast, strong characters, realism, and plenty of exciting twists and intrigue, this is one of the best British crime series ever made.

10. The Bridge

American audiences may be more familiar with the U.S. adaptation of this Nordic series. Like the later American version that revolves around a crime that takes place on Bridge of the Americas, a bridge between the United States and Mexico, the Nordic tale details the investigation of a murder that takes place between Denmark and Sweden. A joint production of Sweden and Denmark, "The Bridge" is a beautiful example of Scandinavian noir. It was so successful that it led to several adaptations featuring bridges between the United Kingdom and France, Estonia and Russia, Malaysia and Singapore, and Germany and Austria.

9. Hill Street Blues

Revolving around the police department of an unnamed American city, "Hill Street Blues" is a highly acclaimed police procedural that aired from 1981 through 1987. To emphasize the grittiness of inner-city policing, the series experimented with camera work in ways that were nonstandard for the era, including the use of handheld cameras. "Hill Street Blues" would also differentiate itself from other police dramas by presenting more complex characterizations throughout its storytelling. Hailed as one of the best crime dramas of all time, "Hill Street Blues" earned a stunning 98 Emmy nominations and 26 Emmys during its run.

8. Mare of Easttown

The HBO limited crime series "Mare of Easttown" was one of the most critically acclaimed series of 2021 despite facing a production gap during the pandemic. The series stars Kate Winslet as Marianne "Mare" Sheehan, an Easttown, Pennsylvania detective sergeant investigating the death of a teen mom while dealing with her own struggles. Kate Winslet's performance was universally lauded as possibly the best performance of her life, with The Guardian calling it her "defining performance" and "absolutely wonderful." La Diaria echoed the sentiment, observing, "Winslet manages to give depth and authenticity to a much more mundane, but usually more banally represented feeling: tiredness."

7. Justified

With a 97% Rotten Tomatoes rating and an 8.6 on IMDb, "Justified" successfully adapts the works of Western crime novelist Elmore Leonard for the small screen. The series follows Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant), whose two favorite accessories are his cowboy hat and his modern take on frontier justice. Set mainly in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, the series received consistently high ratings and critical acclaim throughout its run and spawned a sequel limited series that is currently in the works. The spin-off series, called "Justified: City Primeval," also stars Olyphant and is rumored to have Quentin Tarantino on board, per Deadline.

6. Giri/Haji

"Giri/Haji" is one of those incredible Netflix series that somehow manage to fly under the radar. Nonetheless, it's one of the most rewarding crime series to come out in recent years. With a Japanese title that translates to "Duty/Shame," the series, which ran for eight episodes, is a BBC Two production that's set in Tokyo and London and bilingually scripted in both Japanese and English. Starring Takehiro Hira as Kenzo Mori, a Tokyo police detective who travels to London in search of his long-dead yakuza brother, alongside Kelly MacDonald, the series is emotional and suspenseful. It's also experimentally artful, at times breaking into animated scenes and, at one point, a surreal interpretive dance. Will Sharpe is also endlessly charming as Japanese-English sex worker Rodney Yamaguchi.

5. Mindhunter

As the popularity of series like "Criminal Minds" and "Hannibal" continues to demonstrate, one of the most fascinating aspects of crime investigation is the oft-mythologized world of criminal profiling. Enter "Mindhunter," a series about the genesis of the FBI's behavioral science unit in Quantico as well as one of the more captivating and cinematic crime series on Netflix. "Mindhunter" explores the FBI's early use of criminal behavioral profiling in high-profile cases, including BTK killer Dennis Rader and alleged child murderer Wayne Williams. The series is based on retired FBI agent John E. Douglas's nonfiction book "Mindhunter: Inside the FBI's Elite Serial Crime Unit," using S.A. Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) as a stand-in for Douglas.

4. Broadchurch

Brooding, meditative, and emotional, "Broadchurch" is an outstanding British crime series set in a small town on the breathtaking coast of Dorset. Focused on the investigation of a young boy's murder, the series stars David Tennant and Olivia Colman and features performances from Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvill. The story spans three seasons and is underlined by a gorgeously haunting soundtrack by Icelandic electronic composer Ólafur Arnalds. Unlike many procedurals that focus on the process of crime-solving, "Broadchurch" is interested in the devastation a crime against children wreaks on all who are impacted by it.

3. The Sopranos

Considered by many to be the series that kicked off the Golden Age of Television, the HBO mafia series "The Sopranos" redefined what television was capable of in countless ways. Running for six seasons from 1999 to 2007, "The Sopranos" explored Tony Soprano's life in the DiMeo crime family as a post-modern mafioso. Played by James Gandolfini, Tony Soprano is a capo who struggles to balance the pressures of his job with the stress of being a family man. When he begins experiencing severe panic attacks, he does something mobsters can't do: starts seeing a therapist. The series pushed the boundaries of genre and convention, challenging stereotypes and racking up awards and viewership throughout its run.

2. Breaking Bad

One of the greatest water cooler dramas to grace the Golden Age of Television, "Breaking Bad" explored the age-old question of what makes an everyman turn to the dark side. Bryan Cranston, who most viewers knew as the goofy dad on "Malcolm in the Middle," gave a stunning performance as high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine manufacturer Walter White. The artfully filmed neo-Western series serves up a dark, gritty exploration of the failure of the American dream and the effects of toxic masculinity on the American family and community. Over its five-season run, "Breaking Bad" racked up 16 Primetime Emmys and 58 nominations and featured Aaron Paul and Bob Odenkirk giving some of the best performances of their careers.

1. Better Call Saul

Rarely is a spin-off of a phenomenally successful series as successful as its parent series. "Better Call Saul," the black comedy that serves as both a prequel and sequel to "Breaking Bad," is one of those rare examples, arguably surpassing its predecessor. Critics hailed Bob Odenkirk's reprisal of sleazy lawyer Jimmy McGill, with The Arts Desk praising Odenkirk's "masterful mix of low cunning and sweaty desperation." Tonally different from its parent series but firmly rooted in the same world, "Better Call Saul" is Saul's origin story, tracking his evolution from low-rent conman Slippin' Jimmy to higher-rent conman Saul Goodman. The series even surpassed "Breaking Bad" in Emmys, racking up a total of 21 Primetime Emmy Awards.