My Favorite TV Cops
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
First, a few ground rules... by TV cop I am referring to character who worked in law enforcement. This includes police officers, detectives, FBI, and other alphabet agencies. Private investigators and crime consultants will be ranked in a future post. Secondly, I will limit myself to one cop per show.
1. Andy Sipowicz - NYPD Blue - Homicide Detective in NYPD. Over the course of 12 seasons, Sipowicz weathered four partners and broke countless skels. Watching him conduct an interrogation was like watching van Gogh paint. His skills in an interview puts almost any other cop shows to shame. If someone you knew was killed, you'd hope Sipowicz caught the case.
2. Jack Bauer - 24
Agent with the Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). Jack Bauer endured torture, kidnappings, and deaths of loved ones; he caught terrorists and saved the presidents. All in 24 hours. Bauer epitomized the "ends justifies the means" cliché. In season 4, he held-up a gas station, trapping a suspect while Chloe O'Brien worked on re-positioning a satellite so they could track the suspect to his accomplices. Jack Bauer doesn't eat, sleep, or go to the bathroom but he always catches the bad guy.
3. Seeley Booth - Bones
Special Agent with the FBI. The former Army sniper wrangles a lab full of "squints" to identify victims and punish those responsible. A complex character, Booth fears clowns, is a recovering gambling addict, and has a strong moral code. While his partner Bones speaks for the dead, Booth handles the living. He theorizes, reads body language, and trusts his gut, skills the squints don't comprehend.
4. Raylan Givens - Justified
Deputy U.S. Marshal. Raylan was the tough, cowboy-hat-wearing Marshal in Kentucky. He was reassigned to Harlan, Kentucky after a justified shooting in Florida. He faced the dangerous foes - Boyd Crowder, the Bennett Family, the Crowes, Wynn Duffy, and many other quirky characters. Throughout the run of the show, Raylan proved his proficiency with his sidearm. With a quick-draw and dead-eye shot Raylan encouraged criminals to take their shot. From the cowboy hat to the standoffs, his character was reminiscent of an old west cowboy. His creativity, anger, and charm made for one of the most layered cops on this list.
5. Kate Beckett - Castle
Homicide Detective NYPD. Beckett was spurred into police work after the unsolved murder of her mother. She was the youngest woman in the NYPD to become a detective. Her partnership with Rick Castle began when he based a character in his novel on her. Beckett's stubborn pursuit for the truth often leads her into trouble. She refuses to quit on a case and isn't afraid to get her hands dirty.
6. Molly Solverson - Fargo
Deputy of the Bemidji Police Department. Molly is a devoted, brave cop who will stop at nothing to do what's right. She is challenged with a string of murders in her small, Minnesota town. Within the first episode, Molly is on the trail of her suspect but her superiors won't listen and refuse to investigate further. Her stubborn investigation and endless probing leads her into a mob of Fargo criminals including a Deaf Fella & Partner, Lester Neygard, and Loren Malvo. You-betcha, Molly Solverson with solve the case.
7. Walt Longmire - Longmire
Sheriff of Absaroka County, Wyoming. Longmire is a man a few words and set in his ways. He is a throwback to heroes in the Old West, reminiscent of John Wayne. Like many on this list, the Sheriff has a knack for uncovering the truth. He is often too stubborn to accept help and his lone wolf mentality often leads him into trouble.
8. Lieutenant Columbo - Columbo
Lieutenant with the LAPD. Columbo is know for his catchphrases "Just one more thing", "There's something that bothers me", "One more question". With his rumpled raincoat and disheveled appearance, suspects often under-estimated the detective. His keen eye and relentless questions chipped away until he cornered the perpetrator. The audience often learned who the guilty party was in the first few minutes of the show. Despite the spoiler, watching Columbo zero-in on the guilty party was truly entertaining.
Andy Griffith Show - Andy Taylor, Barney Fife
NYPD Blue - Bobby Simone, Diane Russel, Connie McDowell
In Plain Sight - Mary Shannon
Share your thoughts and let me know if I missed someone obvious. I probably did.