With the return of the new hit show “Castle” airing tonight, this is a good time to review some of TV’s best detectives. Okay, technically Richard Castle is not a detective, neither is Jessica Fletcher or Burton Guster. Castle is a writer, but he is shadowing Detective Beckett to acquire some real-life experience to write about in his new detective novel.
(Listed alphabetical by character name.)
Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub)
Detectives are trained to be attentive to the many clues at a crime scene. Monk pushes that mentality to the extreme. He is a germaphobe, an agoraphobe, a lactophobe and more.
Andy Sipowicz (Dennis Franz)
NYPD Blue (1993-2005)
Sipowicz is a badass with a heart of gold. His inner strength kept him going after suffering from losing one wife to gunfire, one to divorce, fighting through prostate cancer and alcoholism and watching two partners die.
Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick)
The Closer (2005-present)
Johnson is a prim and proper southern belle, until she gets you in the interrogation room where she turns into a maniac bloodhound that can smell your guilt.
Christine Cagney & Mary Beth Lacey (Sharon Gless & Tyne Daly)
Cagney & Lacey (1982-1988)
If Crockett and Tubbs were the two coolest guys in the 80s, then Cagney and Lacey were the two coolest women. They watched each others’ back in an ever-changing world that featured button-pushing topics such as abortion, date rape, and AIDS.
Columbo (Peter Falk)
The ruffled, unshaven, trench coat wearing Columbo is always underestimated. He asks the silliest questions and seems to accept the weak alibis. But wait, there’s “Just one more thing…”
Frank Pempleton (Andre Braugher)
Homicide: Life on the Street (1993-2000)
Pembleton battled personal health problems, marital strife, and a crisis of faith, but still managed to solve murders like a scientist.
Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury)
Murder, She Wrote (1984-1996)
Cabot Cove has a bumbling police force that can never catch the right guy. So it’s a good thing they have a witty, curious widow that writes bestselling crime novels to help them out.
Jim Rockford (James Garner)
The Rockford Files (1974-1980)
Dressed in a 1970’s leisure suit, the laid-back Rockford avoided violence whenever possible, and often left his gun at home in the cookie jar. He’d take on any case for $200 a day; plus expenses.
Joe Friday (Jack Webb)
Joe Friday is the definition of what it means to be a hero. This half-century old TV show should look primitive by today’s standards, but catch a rerun or marathon, it’s as watchable as it ever was.
Lenny Briscoe (Jerry Orbach)
Law & Order (1992-2004)
Lenny is the old cop who knows it all. He is the mentor to three iconic younger partners.
Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay)
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999-present)
Olivia is one tough woman in a world of men. Benson channels her inner demons in an ongoing struggle to avenge the innocent.
Patrick Jane (Simon Baker)
The Mentalist (2008-present)
There’s nothing this sham psychic loves more than revealing the observant details of a suspect’s life. But he’s still not as good as Shawn Spencer.
Richard Castle and Kate Beckett (Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic)
Castle (2009 – present)
Castle brings a bit of whimsy to Beckett’s by-the-book lifestyle, and sometimes he even helps solve the crime.
Robert Goren (Vincent D’Onofrio)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001-present)
As the son of an adulterer and schizophrenic, Goren is more interested in understanding the criminal mind than he is solving the crime.
Shawn Spencer and Burton Guster (James Roday and Dule Hill)
These two childhood friends are now partners in the detective agency called “Psych.” Shawn is a fake psychic with a photographic memory, an eye for detail, and a gift for deduction. Gus is the straight man that tries his best to keep Shawn out of real trouble. And, no, Dule Hill did not play “Bud” on “The Cosby Show.”
Sonny Crockett & Rico Tubbs (Don Johnson & Philip Michael Thomas)
Miami Vice (1984-1990)
Hands down Crockett and Tubbs are the best looking pair of detectives to come out of the 1980s. They were always dressed to the nines in sunny Miami, drove the coolest cars and fast boats as they went deep undercover to break up drug gangs, terrorist cells and prostitution rings.
Spenser (Robert Ulrich)
Spenser: For Hire (1985-1988)
Want to catch the bad guy? Then hire Spenser.
Theo Kojak (Telly Savalas)
Who can forget the smooth voice, the trademark sucker and bald head of Kojak? He strolls the streets of New York with calm as he takes down the bad guys.
Thomas Magnum (Tom Selleck)
Magnum, P.I. (1980-1988)
Who can forget the short shorts, tight pants and bushy moustache of Magnum? Thomas Magnum is a private investigator living on the island of Oahu. Magnum seemingly lives a dream lifestyle: he comes and goes as he pleases; works only when he wants to, has the almost unlimited use of a Ferrari as well as many other of his bosses’ luxuries.
Veronica Mars (Kristen Bell)
Veronica Mars (2004-2007)
Neptune’s a tough town that is populated by Hollywood children, corrupt politicians, biker gangs and dot-com billionaires. And Mars has tracked them all down.
Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis)
The Shield (2002-2008)
Mackey is a bulldog detective who is brilliantly knowledgeable about the criminal underworld. That’s because he practically controls it.