Top 10 TV Detectives

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Shamus, sleuth, gumshoe, P.I., private eye, private dick…

We have so many names for detectives and so many great characters in literature, movies, television, and radio. Anne Iredale’s Top 10 Literary Detectives inspired this list.  It made me think of all of the great TV detectives.

According to the Museum of Broadcast Communications, the earliest TV detective shows were “Man Against Crime (1949-56, CBS, NBC, Dumont) and Martin Kane, Private Eye (1949-54, NBC).” They also classify TV detectives into three classic characters inspired by fiction: the hard-boiled detective, the clever puzzle-solver, and the amateur detective duo.

The mystery of the top ten TV detectives… this was a hard case to crack.

There are many wonderful characters spanning sixty years of television, so I came up with some guidelines to help me narrow the list of suspects. 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). I have also restricted this list to US programs only. While I was researching this list I found many interesting TV detectives from all over the world, but since I haven’t seen any of these shows I didn’t feel qualified to rate them.

10. Barnaby Jones


Buddy Ebsen played Barnaby Jones in the TV series of the same name. It was a spinoff from another popular detective show, Cannon (“TVs fattest PI” according to magicdragon.com).

At the beginning of the series, Barnaby Jones comes out of retirement after his son (who has taken over his private investigation agency) is murdered. Unlike other detectives on this list, Barnaby Jones has his own crime lab in his house. Prior to his career as a private investigator, he was  “an expert in forensics with the special fields: forensic chemistry, clinical psychology, forensic medicine, toxicology and criminology” (actorbuddyebseninfo.com). He uses his home laboratory to solve the case in many episodes…  a veritable DIY CSI.

Cool crimelab aside, Barnaby Jones is a bit of a square (just like Buddy Ebsen’s other famous character Jed Clampett). According to superseventies.com, Barnaby Jones’ “keen analytic skills were often masked by a homespun exterior, drawing guilty parties into a false sense of security that led to their downfall.”

Not one of my favorites, but he’s making it onto the list because the show ran for 7 years (1973-1980). He gets mentioned in a South Park episode, which is pretty cool. He also has a Facebook fan page called “Forever Barnaby”, but he only has 4 fans so far. If you’re a fan, throw Jones a bone and become a fan on Facebook.

You can also visit the unofficial Barnaby Jones site for more information.

9. Jessica Fletcher


Angela Lansbury played Jessica Fletcher, an amateur detective who writes mystery novels. Murder, She Wrote aired from 1984-1996 on CBS. That’s 12 long years if you’re not a big fan of the show (I fall into this category). Fans were also treated to four TV movies over the next 6 years.

I prefer another mystery-author-slash-amateur-detective: Rick Castle. He’s one of the newest detective characters to appear on TV (too new to earn a spot on this list). He’s a lot of fun and the show’s writing is good so hopefully he’ll stick around long enough to be remembered years from now. Instead, Jessica Fletcher definitely belongs in this spot as a result of Lansbury’s acting talent and the popularity (and longevity) of the show.

8. Joseph R “Joe” Mannix


 

Mike Connors played Joe Mannix, a Los Angeles private detective, in the popular TV series Mannix that ran for 8 years (1967 – 1975).  Joe Mannix is an army veteran and ex-mercenary. He works for a large detective agency during the first season but then investigates on his own, or with his secretary Peggy Fair, for the remaining duration of the series.

Many TV detectives are identified with one particular car. Columbo had his Peugeot, Magnum had his Ferrari, and Rockford had his Firebird. However, Mannix drove several different cars throughout the series’ run: an Olds Toronado, Dodge Dart, Plymouth Cuda, Dodge Challenger, and a Chevrolet Camaro.

Mannix was “one of the most violent series in TV history” according to imdb.com, describing it as ““lots and lots of fist fights and dead people.” (imdb.com).   Joe Mannix seems to be seriously injured in every episode – knocked out, and sometimes even shot.

 

7. Veronica Mars


Veronica Mars, played by Kristen Bell, is the newest character on the list (the TV show by the same name aired from 2004 – 2007). In contrast to most of the female TV detectives in the past, Veronica Mars does not need a male partner to attract clients. In fact, she is so clever, courageous, and resourceful that she often outwits and out-sleuths the local sheriff’s office and her ex-sheriff dad.  Did I mention that she is a high school student for the first two years of the series’ three seasons?

Veronica Mars has all of the best characteristics of a hard-boiled detective: she is witty, quick thinking, brave, and she lives by her own moral code. She has a difficult, even scandalous, past and she’s a loner.

Veronica Mars has earned this spot on the list due to her creator’s ability to reinterpret a classic detective character so successfully, morphing the hard-boiled detective originating in pulp fiction into a new genre: teen film noir. This, combined with the talent involved in every aspect of this production, places her here at 7th place.

 

6. Jennifer and Jonathan Hart


Check out the credits to Hart to Hart (above) for an excellent example of 1980’s TV: the action, the acting, Mark Snow’s funky theme music, not to mention the hair and the clothes. It’s totally excellent!

The title characters in the TV series Hart to Hart fit perfectly into the third type of classic detective characters I described in the introduction: the amateur detective duo. Like most of these types of PI partners, they are a man and a woman (in this case, a Mr. and Mrs.) and the sexual chemistry between them is impossible to miss. Like the original classic detective couple, Nick and Nora Charles from the book The Thin Man, they are also very rich and they have a pet dog.

Jonathan Hart (Robert Wagner) is a self-made millionaire and Jennifer (Stefanie Powers) is a successful journalist. Lionel Stander plays Max, their butler, cook, and chauffeur. According to the opening sequence, he “take[s]care of both of them, which ain’t easy, because when they met- it was murder.”

The show first aired in 1979 and ran for 5 years. Nine years later, they appeared in the first of six Hart to Hart TV movies (the last one aired in 1996). According to tv.com, “Hart to Hart is still airing in syndication in over 60 countries worldwide.”

 

5. Remington Steele and Laura Holt


The show ran for five years from 1982 to 1987 but the premise sounds more like a TV show from the 50’s than the 80’s. Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) discovers that no one wants to hire a female detective so she invents an imaginary boss, Remington Steele. Pierce Brosnan’s character shows up in the pilot episode to impersonate him.

According to thrillingdetective.com, “in the original concept, Remington Steele wasn’t even going to exist.” However, the studio executives were unwilling to place their confidence in a female detective (not unlike the clients on the TV show).  A role was created for a Remington Steele character rather than an imaginary boss who would never actually appear on the show “only after NBC insisted on a male lead” (thrillingdetective.com).

Pierce Brosnan made the role of Remington Steele so memorable – he was perfect as the mysterious, handsome, charming, slightly bumbling, and rather dangerous con man. The same characteristics that made Brosnan such an effective James Bond eight years after the Remington Steele Agency closed its doors forever.

 

4. Thomas Magnum


I recently tried to watch Magnum PI episodes airing as reruns and could not sit through them. It was so disappointing because I loved the show when it aired in the 1980’s.

One timeless aspect of the TV show is the all around hotness of Tom Selleck during his Magnum PI years. I mean, look at him! Although his big dumb mustache and un-waxed chest dates him back to the 80’s, he is still a hunk.

Magnum PI ran for eight years (1980-1988) on CBS. The popularity of the show, and the macho yet cuddly Selleck earns it 4th place on this list.

 

Writer Alan Vanneman agrees that this show does not age well (unlike Selleck, who is still very handsome by the way). Read his article ‘Tight Pants in Paradise” for his critique of the show, including some very interesting information about how the original story idea evolved into the Magnum PI we are familiar with today.

3. Peter Gunn


 

When you hear the name “Peter Gunn” you probably think of the famous song that has been covered by everyone from Quincy Jones to the Cramps; however, the Henry Mancini hit that won an Emmy and two Grammys was actually the theme for a TV show by the same name.

The title character, played by Craig Stevens, is a slightly different take on the hard-boiled detective.  Peter Gunn is “a sophisticated hipster, a dapper dresser who loved cool jazz” (Wikipedia). His girlfriend is a singer at his favorite hangout, a local jazz club called Mother’s.

Jazz music pervades every episode, accentuating the action and famous jazz musicians also make cameo appearances. Peter Gunn only ran for three years but long enough to influence TV show soundtracks, inspiring studios to move away from the uninspired generic music used at the time.

Peter Gunn also inspired the cleaned-up and dressed-up detectives of TV’s future, characters who would look comfortable in a tuxedo and who preferred martinis to bourbon out of a paper bag. Jonathan Hart  and Remington Steele are good examples.

The visual style, famous song, and influence of the show all lead to its place here on this list.

 

2. David Addison and Madeline “Maddie” Hayes


According to thrillingdetective.com, Remington Steele’s producer “left after one season, to create Moonlighting, which was remarkably similar”.  I disagree about the similarities between the two shows aside from sparks flying between a male and female who engage in fast and flirty dialogue. Another similarity: both shows also introduce male actors who become extremely successful in film franchises in the future (James Bond, Die Hard).

Remington Steele had Doris Roberts (later famous for her role as the mom in Everybody Love’s Raymond) but Moonlighting’s supporting cast sends the show into the TV classics stratosphere. Miss Agnes DiPesto (Allyce Beasley) is delightful as the rhyming receptionist and Bert Viola (Curtis Armstrong) is brilliant as the accounting temp who becomes a full-time investigator and DiPesto’s boyfriend. These two actors are the ideal opposites of the perfect (and perfectly icy) Cybill Shepherd and cool Bruce Willis.

1. Jim Rockford


James Garner plays Jim Rockford, main character in The Rockford Files. The show first aired in 1974 and continues to be popular worldwide (debuting in Hungary as recently as 2004, according to imdb.com). The Rockford Files ran for 6 years on NBC and “is in constant syndication to the present day” (Wikipedia). James Scott Rockford (“Jim”, “Jimmy”, “Jimbo”) becomes a private investigator after receiving a pardon five years into a stint at San Quentin (he has been wrongfully convicted for armed robbery).

Rockford has a past and he’s seen better days, much like Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, and other classic hard-boiled characters in fiction. Yet Rockford is a very unique detective – he doesn’t really fit in to the hard-boiled detective category. If anything he seems more like Humphrey Bogart’s classic depiction of film noir characters. Like Bogart’s Rick (Casablanca), Steve (To Have and Have Not), and Bogart’s version of Marlowe (The Big Sleep) and Spade (The Maltese Falcon), James Garner’s character always tries to talk himself out of situations first before he fights. Also unlike the traditional hard-boiled detective: he doesn’t usually carry a gun, he avoids danger when possible, and his fees are quite high. (Despite he $200 a day fee, his sporadic employment only allows for a beat up trailer for a home office, cheap plaid suits, and an answering machine for a secretary.)

The supporting cast improves a TV show that is already blessed with a talented actor in an interesting, well-developed role and a team of fantastic writers.  Mysterynet.com credits The Rockford Files with “some of the most unforgettable supporting characters in television history.”  Jim’s dad, a slew of ex-cons  from Jim’s prison days, and other colourful characters bring unsolved cases, along with depth and comic relief to the shows. Angel (played by Stuart Margolin) is most memorable, but Isaac Hayes also makes an appearance as Gandolph Fitch, and Rita Moreno plays prostitute Rita Capkovic. Please go to mysterynet.com’s article “The Rockford Files: Not Your Regular Hero”  for more information about the show.

Honorable Mentions:

This brings us to the end of this list, which was a pleasure (and a challenge) to create. I’d like to add two honorable mentions here: Angel almost made this list. He’s the vampire character who becomes a private investigator when he spins off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show ran for 5 years and was an interesting take on the detective genre. I’d also like to acknowledge Jason Schwartzman’s character Jonathan Ames in the new series Bored to Death. It hasn’t been running long enough to make this list but it offers another interesting step in the evolution of the TV detective character.  The show is also worth watching just for the great opening credits, the soundtrack, and the opportunity to watch Ted Danson smoke pot, hire male prostitutes, and talk about his herpes. Check out magicdragon.com for a very thorough list of detective shows from all over the world.


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81 Comments

  1. A list of top 10 detectives without

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

    with Jeremy Brett is like having irish coffee without the whiskey. Nice, but doesnt quite cut it.

    • Michelle Rodriguez on

      Be my pi for tv series theft that may be connected to crooked cops and loser posing as good horse person. I am a former emergency vet tech that moved to ky to live out my dreams. I chose ky because horse would have best opportunity and knew I could write and play with my product ideas to change my income as I have been influenced by well known persons my whole life, only to be ripped off more than once with unlikely persons this was so shocking that I went to everyone it was a crime and still is a crime in progress luckily someone in law enforcement now but would like private investigator as witness due to cops that are unethical influence. I have nothing but problems need your help as one of my series for tv ideas stolen with one person having crooked cops and entertainment look alikes that just steal. They used old co workers is my theory and I called my former tenant an agent with a different jurisdiction but still a matter that time is of the element no pun intended. My series name Quantum Investigations: QI with Det Delphi the main character who has designed a program to predict murders, I saw an advertisement after reporting someone connected to cops and vet staff as well as other new participants gained access to my files. Asked criminal complaints person to assist me too…very creeped out. This is my own works I have many ideas that were compromised and reported immediately. I have two short scripts copyrighted and others were registered at SWG and other ip protection service as well for other ip. They still got accessed and thought you could assist me please true crime.

  2. Ellery Queen also had more than a few series of his own on 50s TV, though most may best remember Jim Hutton's nostalgic take on the character in the 70s.

    And what about Falk's Columbo, Savalas' Kojak, Blake's Baretta, Jack Webb's Joe Friday, Gene Barry's Amos Burke, Anne Francis' Honey West, et al?

    Heck, even McBain's 87th Princinct had a show in the 50s! And William "Cannon" Conrad played Nero Wolfe in a short-lived 80s series opposite future "Matt Houston" Lee Horsley!

    • I didn't know that the actor who played Cannon also played Nero Wolfe in the 80's, I'd love to see those shows (I'm a big Rex Stout fan). Re: Ellery Queen – I've read that Ellery Queen inspired the Jessica Fletcher character but I've read quite a few of the books and I didn't really see it.

      I considered Baretta, Kojak, Columbo and even the Angels (Charlie's, that is) for this list but they all worked as police officers at one time so they were disqualified. Joe Friday, too, of course.

      Amos Burke was only a detective for a couple of years and then he became a secret agent. He's eligible for this list but wasn't around long enough to earn a spot (in my opinion).

      Ellery Queen and McBain's characters (along with Mr and Mrs. North, Poirot, Miss Marple, and Longstreet) all started off in literature so they are disqualified, too. Same goes for Honey West- who I actually discovered for the first time while I was writing this list. Appearing in the 1950's, her books are now on my future reading list. If you like her, check out Rex Stout's Dol Bonner character, she first appeared in print in the 1930's.

  3. Why was there never a stampede of people getting the hell out of every town that Jessica Fletcher came to visit? I could never figure that out, they must have known that Death followed her everywhere.

  4. Sorry, I can't buy into a Top 10 Detective list that doesn't include Peter Falk's Colombo.

    Who would I cut to make room? Probably "Veronica Mars" or "Murder She Wrote."

    • I am a huge Columbo fan but he's a homicide detective for the LAPD so wasn't eligible for this list, which is focussing on private investigators and amateur detectives. I'd love to see a Top 10 Police Detectives list – so many options! Columbo would probably be #1 and Hawaii 5-0's Steve McGarrett would be on there somewhere. I guess CSI's Horatio has probably earned a spot on my version of the list, too. Another list idea: Top 10 UK Detective shows (Midsomer Murders, Rebus, Inspector Morse…).

      • i was about to say..columbo has to be not only the THE number one police detective of all time..but remember..the first columbo debuted in 1968!!..if i'm not mistaken..there were columbo shows and movies almost every year starting in 1970 and going all the way until around 2000..that's 30 years of one guy (Peter Faulk), playing one character (Lt. Columbo) continuously..and on a side note..i've heard interviews with Peter Faulk about that character..and he loved it…and i think that's what made him so good…he completely embraced the attitude and psychology and the mannerisms..i love that about Faulk..he didn't get tired of it..he didn't want to move on to something else…he has said his best acting came when he donned the beige overcoat and that cigar..long live Columbo!!!

  5. Rockford was the best. The show looks dated now, because of the different clothes and hairstyles, and the lighting in TV is so different now (ever notice how old shows look like they were filmed at dusk?) but the characters are classics. Jim Garner had an easy way of acting that was very charming.

  6. Great list, you had me at Veronica Mars. I posit that VM is the best broadcast network show of the decade, here's why: Rob Thomas is a great writer, especially dialogue. Kristen Bell is drop-dead gorgeous and perfectly cast. The supporting cast is solid as well. Next to Mad Men, it is the most visually stunning television ever; the photography, the lighting, the sets, costumes, and make-up are all superb. Then there is the sound of the show, I've listened to a few episodes without the picture and it's incredible. The theme song is fantastic, as is all of the music, including the soundtrack, which they use for great dramatic effect. The voices are softened or deepened depending on the mood, and you have to be a total sound nerd to notice, the foley board work is excellent.

    • I was wondering when someone would notice they were missing! They met all of the criteria to get on this list except the most important one – I felt that the 10 detectives I selected were more list-worthy (either longer running, better supporting cast, or a premise that was more unique). They definitely would share spot #11 (or perhaps Rick would be #11 and AJ would be #12…)

  7. Shawn Spencer from Psych. Helps police in investigations but not an actual police detective. Great show and awsome list.

    • Ah, Shawn. I agree that Shawn (and Monk, for that matter) should be on any list of great TV detectives, but I think being hired by the Santa Barbara PD puts him out of the running.

      (although, on a list of TV police detectives, Monk and Shawn [and Gus…can't leave out Gus] have to be included).

      • I'm not a huge fan of Psych but I do like the Mentalist – if I was making a list of recent police investigators, I think I would include him. Another list idea: police sidekicks? The characters who are not police officers but help them solve crimes? Dr. "Bones" Brennan, Patrick Jane ("The Mentalist"), Castle… would Quincy, M.E. be eligible?

    • Jack Bauer (24) is a former LAPD so isn't eligible for this list. Jim Phelps (Mission Impossible) is a secret government agent, not a detective. I love that show, particularly the Jim Phelps character (actor Peter Graves).

  8. Trust the Gene Genie on

    This list is really missing DCI Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) from Life on Mars (UK version) and Ashes to ashes.

  9. The Blackbird on

    Agents Mulder and Scully are FBI so they don't count, but I love them. And Columbo. I think you need to start a new list Tanya. 🙂

  10. Both are based on books, Shaft was a police detective and a movie, Kudo is not an American TV show – see last paragraph of intro… Shaft is the best, though, and thanks for introducing me to Jimmy Kudo- I'm going to check him out.

  11. What about DCI Tom Barnaby from Midsomer Murders (From UK)

    What about another list for TV detectives adapted from novels or one for TV detectives from other countries

    • I love Midsomer Murders – I just watched an episode last night. DCI is police, so he’s not eligible for this list, but I agree a list of police detectives or TV shows from other countries would be excellent. You could easily do a top 10 list of detectives adapted from novels for the UK alone. Just off the top of my head, my list would include Morse, Rebus, Barnaby, Tennison, and Lynley (and Havers). How about you?

      Also, any volunteers to write this list? Contact us if you are interested.

  12. Nice list, but…

    First of all Jessica Fletcher and the Harts are NOT private eyes — they’re amateur sleuths. In their place you might hve inserted HARRY O or CANNON or CITY OF ANGELS or EYES or TEN SPEED & BROWNSHOE or…

    And while it’s flattering of you to mention thrillingdetective.com so frequently, it bothers me that you’d mention MagicDragon at all, since a staggering amount of that site was simply ripped off from mine.

    • Hi! Nice to see you here, your site was such a useful resource when I was writing this article. I didn’t know that the other site had stolen your content or I wouldn’t have used it – sorry.

      I recognize the distinction you are making about the detectives on this list and just want to point out this list is a list of top 10 TV Detectives not Top 10 Private Eyes. I included my 10 detectives according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications classification of TV detectives into three categories: the hard-boiled detective, the clever puzzle-solver, and the amateur detective duo. So, some of them are private eyes, but not all of them.

      I haven’t heard of all of your suggestions and look forward to looking them up. Cannon was a police detective and not eligible. Let us know if you’d be interested in writing a list of top 10 police detectives, I’d love to read it since you are definitely an expert on this topic.

  13. Interesting list. I do have one minor quibble. Joe Mannix never drove a Mercury Comet. He had a customized Olds Toronado in the first season, but never drove a Mercury.

  14. poeticmakaveli on

    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!

    • 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…). http://www.thrillingdetective.com/eyes/kolchak.html

  15. 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.

  16. Roddy McCorley on

    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.

  17. 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.

  18. Kevin Burton Smith on

    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.

  19. Tanya Bennett on

    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.

  20. Kevin Burton Smith on

    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.

  21. Tanya Bennett on

    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!

  22. Kevin Burton Smith on

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

    • 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)”

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