The 25 Best Cop Shows of All Time

It’s a big day for fans of ’80s television, cop shows, and, basically, things that are good: after first and second season releases that ended in 2006 and never resumed, the pop culture saviors over at Shout Factory have stepped up with a massive, full-series DVD box set for Hill Street Blues, the ground-breaking dramatic series that continues to influence quality television to this very day. And while it’s easy enough to earmark Hill Street as one of the best police series of all time, how do all those perp-chasing, car-crashing, rule-bending, good-cop-bad-cops actually stack up against each other?

Still image from "Dragnet"

25. Dragnet

Sure, its total seriousness borders on ham-fisted, and it inspired several great parodies, both during its run and after. But credit where due: Jack Webb’s long-running drama (it ran on radio and television from 1949 to 1959, with subsequent revivals in 1967-1970, 1989-1991, and 2003-2004) pretty much set the template for the police procedural, and its stylistic trademarks — hard-boiled dialogue, detailed investigation play-by-plays, “ripped from the headlines” narratives — continue to influence the genre to this day.