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The 30 Best TV Detectives and Sleuths?

This week I saw a link to the “30 Best TV Detectives” from the Telegraph’s website. As a big fan of mysteries – both written and video – this was too good to resist. Since it’s a UK publication, I expected a lot of British detectives. Not a problem, as I’m a huge fan of many of the BBC mysteries that appear on Masterpiece Mystery. Truthfully, I was surprised at how many U.S. TV shows are featured on the list, and many that appeared over 20 years ago.

I haven’t watched all of these shows – or even heard of some of them – but do agree with most that I know about. However, some of my favorites are definitely missing from the list. I’m addicted to Midsomer Murders – the older versions featuring John Nettles as DCI Tom Barnaby so was hoping to see him on the list. Instead, he’s on for a series I haven’t heard of, Bergerac, but must search out in DVD. And no Sherlock Homes? I thought either the current version featuring Benedict Cumberbatch or the 1980s version starring Jeremy Brett might have made the list. And I know it’s a newish show but I also have a real fondness for Elementary starring Jonny Lee Miller.

Are any of your favorites missing from the list?

  • • 1. Wendell Pierce and Dominic West: The Wire (2002-08)
  • • 2. Dennis Franz: NYPD Blue (1993-2005)
    • 3. Michael Chiklis: The Shield (2002-08)
    • 4. Andre Braugher: Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-99)
    • 5. Sofie Grabol: The Killing (2007-12)
    • 6. Clarke Peters: The Wire (2002-08)
    • 7. John Thaw and Dennis Waterman: The Sweeney (1975-1978)
    • 8. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul: Starsky & Hutch (1975-1979)
    • 9. Peter Falk: Columbo (1968-2003)
    • 10. Helen Mirren: Prime Suspect (1991-2006)
    • 11. David Suchet: Poirot (1989-2013)
    • 12. Idris Elba: Luther (2010- )
    • 13. John Thaw: Morse (1987-2000)
    • 14. Telly Savalas: Kojak (1973-78)
    • 15. Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless: Cagney & Lacey (1981-88)
    • 16. Richard Belzer: Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-99)
    • 17. Raymond Burr: Ironside (1967-75)
    • 18. Angie Dickinson: Police Woman (1974-78)
    • 19. Bruce Weitz: Hill Street BLues (1981-1987)
    • 20. Jerry Orbach: Law & Order (1992-2004)
    • 21. John Nettles: Bergerac (1981-1991)
    • 22. John Simm and Philip Glenister: LIFE ON MARS (2006-2007)
    • 23.  Mark McManus: Taggart (1983-1994)
    • 24. Jack Lord: Hawaii Five-O (1968-1980)
    • 25. Patrick Malahide: Minder (1979-1989)
    • 26. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas: Miami Vice (1984-89)
    • 27. James Garner: The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
    • 28. Jason Schwartzman: Bored to Death (2009-2011)
    • 29. Angela Lansbury: Murder She Wrote (1984-1996)
    • 30. Tom Sellect: Magnum P.I. (1980-88)



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12/04/2013 1:35 am

Interesting list. I would second the votes to include Michael Kitchen as Christopher Foyle and Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes. I also enjoy Martin Shaw as George Gently (Inspector Gently,) Brenda Blethyn as Vera Stanhope (Vera,) and Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander (Wallander.)

Kay Webb Harrison
Kay Webb Harrison
11/27/2013 9:44 am

Mark Harmon: NCIS
Kyra Sedgwick: The Closer
Vincent D’Onofrio & Kathryn Erbe: Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Raymond Burr: Perry Mason
John Nettles: Midsomer Murders
Emily Deschanel & David Boreanaz: Bones
Derek Jacobi: Cadfael
Michael Kitchen: Foyle’s War
Catherine Bell & David James Elliott: JAG

I’m sure that there are more that I can’t recall right now.

11/26/2013 3:32 pm

Don Johnson aka Sonny Crockett is on the list: I’m good. :)

11/26/2013 2:11 pm

Absolutely Foyle, but how about Tom Selleck as Jesse Stone?

11/25/2013 7:44 pm

That Bergerac series has no US release. Booo.

Missing from the list is the Maury Chakin/Tomothy Hutton Nero Wolfe Series.

maggie b
maggie b
11/25/2013 1:59 pm

Ack! It is a gross oversight not to have Michael Kitchen (Christopher Foyle) from Foyle’s War.

maggie b
maggie b
11/25/2013 1:51 pm

I have to agree with the Homicide nominations and of course Jerry from Law & Order. Also the Killing.

I would add Sandra Pullman (Amanda Redman) from New Tricks, Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) from Sherlock and Adriane Monk (Tony Shalhoub) from Monk. I really like DI Joseph Chandler (Rupbert Penny-Jones) from Whitechapel but I understand why he hasn’t made the list quite yet. Still rather new.

11/25/2013 11:22 am

They forgot one of the favorites from my youth, McCloud starring Dennis Weaver. I was young, but remember loving that show along with Baretta and Kojak. Dennis Farina and Chris Noth from Law and Order would have been good additions to the list also.

maggie b
maggie b
Reply to  Wendy
11/25/2013 1:40 pm

I liked McCloud too. Also McMillian and Wife with Rock Hudson from that same era.