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  • Toby Martin II

    A list of TV’s greatest detectives… no COLUMBO?… no MONK?…

    • both are police, but that aside I don’t think Monk would make my list regardless – not compared to the other great detectives on there –

  • John

    So no steve mcgarrett or sherlock holmes.

    • The character had to be a private detective created for television, so no. McGarrett would definitely be on my list of top 10 Police and Holmes on my top 10 literary.

  • poeticmakaveli

    I know you are always saying that columbo is LAPD or whatever but u have to be sorry now for not putting him number 1 🙂 everybody is just so angry now including me 🙂
    AH but all joking aside, COLUMBO is my favorite programme of all time and im a younger generation, i should be into csi,criminal minds,etc but im not! i love the columbos and have the complete boxsets and i always watch them over and over again, great replay value!

    • That is fantastic – I’m glad that Columbo’s popularity is enduring, he is one of my all-time favorite detectives.

      Have you seen Wings of Desire? Peter Falk (Columbo) makes an appearance so if you are a fan, it’s a treat. Here’s a link to one of his scenes:

  • Kurt Hunt

    Ummmmm…… COLUMBO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Easily number one.

    • I love Columbo but he’s a police detective so not eligible for this list, which is about private detectives- I had to narrow down the pool because otherwise a list like this would be impossible, I’m such a big fan of all detective stories.

      • giu637

        ma di poirot vi siete completamente dimenticati ?

        • Poirot è un personaggio creato da Agatha Christie. Egli non può beneficiare di questa lista.

  • Amor Fati

    Does Dexter count? He does it as a hobby.

    • Technically his hobby is being a a serial killer, not a private investigator, and he’s a police officer… I think there’s a good argument there that he is perhaps eligible anyways, but I personally wouldn’t bump any of my 10 off the list to give him a spot.

      On a side note: I’ve been watching Kolchak episodes – discovered him thanks to netflix. If you are fans of TV detectives, check him out. He’s also not eligible for this list (he is a character originally from a book – although it was never published…).

  • Brian

    Wheres L

  • younger

    what a pity. i think this is the worst 10 detective series.
    who ever posted this is trying to joke.
    how can you even imagine the detective series without the tought of “the adventures of sherlock holmes” led by jemmy brett. the best sherlock holmes character played . how disgusting there is no mention of it.

  • Barry

    You have Veronica Mars ahead of Jessica Fletcher???
    This list is a crime against humanity!!!!

  • Roddy McCorley

    Hm. I suppose longevity is one of the major factors for determining who makes this list. But I think an honorable mention should go to Harry Orwell, played by David Jansen in the series Harry O. It only lasted two seasons, but was one of the best detective shows ever. In terms of quality, it rates close to Rockford Files.

  • Buddhika

    I think the writer has not watched The Mentalist. It is the best detective story I have ever watched.

    • senmi

      I totally agree with you cuz I really love the show too!!!!

  • Shawn Wells

    You are kidding, right? How can you have a top ten TV detectives list without Columbo?

  • Len Bankes

    Len Says,

    What about Miami Vice.
    Crocket and Tubbs – Cocaine Cowboys.

  • senmi

    Where the heck is Patrick Jane From The Mentalist He is really awesome and so is the show!!

  • EMG

    Any top TV detectives list that does not include Columbo isn’t worth squat.

    In addition to that, yours include Magnum and Hart to Hart, which is downright insulting.

  • Kevin Burton Smith

    So, a few years later I respond. Frank Cannon was in fact a private eye. He had been a cop once, but during the entire run of the show he worked as a private eye.

    The generally accepted definition of a private investigator is a professional investigator who works for a private client. For money. Hence my confusion over your inclusion of amateur sleuths such as Jessica Fletcher and the Harts who don’t so much hire themselves out as stick their noses in.

  • Tanya Bennett

    Hi Kevin, thanks for your response – it’s nice to see this list still generating some discussion after all these years!

    Re: Cannon – the fact that he was a cop disqualifies him from this list – I kept it to detectives who were never police officers; otherwise I never would have been able to pick just 10. There are so many different TV detectives, I could have done a list just about professional P.I.’s or just about amateur sleuths… I would still love to see a list of Top 10 Police Detectives – particularly if it was international. I’m fairly certain I would include Rebus, Wallander, and Morse on that list – but it would very difficult to select a top 10.

  • Kevin Burton Smith

    Part of the problem here, Tanya, is that your title (“Top 10 TV Detectives”), your sub-head (“Shamus, sleuth, gumshoe, P.I., private eye, private dick…”) and your introduction (“private investigators, not police detectives”) all promise a list of slightly different things, hence the confusion among so many people about who should/shouldn’t be included. No wonder people are confused.

    (Although some just didn’t even read your intro at all, obviously)

    But so it goes. Columbo is a cop, Cannon was once upon a time a cop, but works as a private eye, and Jessica Fletcher was never a private dick. But Columbo, Cannon and even Jessica were all detectives. Police, private and amateur, respectively. So they all count, and they all don’t count.

    Whatever. I love lists like this. Next time, just nail down the criteria a little tighter.

    And glad to hear you’re digging REPUBLIC OF DOYLE. It’s the perfect antidote for those who miss the 1970-80s glory days of TV private eyes, although it would never make this list because a) both father and son are ex-cops, and b) the show’s Canadian, not American. I think they’re working on their sixth season in Canada; they just aired the first down here.

  • Tanya Bennett

    Hi Kevin, It’s been a long time since I wrote this list but I just looked at the intro and refreshed my memory.

    Inspired by another writer’s list of literary detectives, I based this list on the Museum of Broadcast Communications’ classification of TV detectives into three classic characters inspired by fiction: the hard-boiled detective, the clever puzzle-solver, and the amateur detective duo.

    I also added the following criteria:
    1. they are not (and have never been) police detectives
    2. they were created for TV (not originally from a book series or movie).
    3. I have also restricted this list to US programs only.

    I agree my opening paragraphs could have been nailed down better – the description of the list and the criteria are quite wobbly. My apologies to those of you who have had to get past it – and thanks to all who have taken the time to read this list. It was a pleasure to research and write, since it is one of my favourite topics!

  • Kevin Burton Smith

    It’s one of my favourite topics too, obviously. Any time you do another that revolves around P.I.s, let me know…

  • Tanya Bennett

    You bet! 🙂

  • Charles Campbell

    Leaving Columbo…one of TV’s greatest characters off this list ,was ridiculous!

    • Shell Harris

      I guess you didn’t read the criteria. Here it is again just for you. “The detectives listed all meet the following three criteria: they are private investigators, not police detectives (sorry Columbo and Cannon, we still love you) and they were created for TV (not originally from a book series or movie… disqualifying Mike Hammer, among others)”