The 12 Greatest Crime Shows On Telly

Cops and courtrooms? Vicki Notaro rounds up the best legal series there are.


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Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Hey, crime doesn’t always have to be serious! Sometimes it can just be gas, as proved by Andy Samberg’s colossal hit sitcom. His turn as Jake Peralta is brilliant for its balance of humour and drama, and as with most comedies, it’s all about the chemistry of the cast. They’ve just announced that the forthcoming eighth season will be the last, so get on it before then.


From the same guy that writes Line Of Duty, this miniseries starring Richard Madden and Keeley Hawes caused a massive stir when it was released in 2018. It’s on Netflix now so we won’t spoil it, but it’s all about a war veteran with PTSD looking after a high ranking and very sexy politician. Lust and intrigue abound! And explosions, obvs. Tense and brilliant.


We couldn’t do a crime-orientated list without mentioning the many, many Crime Scene Investigation shows. Everyone has a favourite – the glamour of Miami and Horatio, the grit of New York and the juxtaposition of sex and squalor in Las Vegas, my personal favourite. Who hasn’t watched this show and googled “how to be a forensic scientist?”. Nobody, that’s who. Making analysing corpses look glam is no mean feat, but they manage it.

Criminal Minds

Another American series, this one focuses on the very clever people in the Behavioural Analysis Unit of the FBI. In other words, those who understand profiling and its benefits. They’re all savants in one way or another, able to get into the mind of a killer on the loose and thus track them down. It can be cheesy at times, but it’s hugely addictive.


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Blue Bloods

A former New Kids On The Block member, a ridey old man, a family police dynasty and lots of crime – what more could you want?! I started watching Blue Bloods because I will always fancy Tom Selleck (thank you, Three Men and a Little Lady), but I stayed for the crime, the dynamics and the absolute cheeseball moment of attempts at father/son relatability.

Murder She Wrote

Okay, let’s throw it all the way back to the legend that is Jessica Fletcher and her Scooby Doo-esque powers of deduction. She’s just a mystery writer going about her business, but she’s so damn good at solving crimes that she keeps getting dragged into them. Never mind that they keep happening when she’s always around… Suspicious. If you haven’t seen Murder She Wrote: Celtic Riddle, get on it NOW!

The Fall

We had to include an Irish show, and while recent offering Bloodlands, Dublin Murders and even Red Rock are worth mentioning, it’s The Fall that wins because of super-sharp writing, brilliant acting and the fact that even though Jamie Dornan would definitely murder you, you still fancy the hole off him. Gillian Anderson performs her socks off in fabulous shoes, and the chemistry and tension are fantastic. It also feels very real, unlike a lot of the US variations.

American Crime Story

Ryan Murphy is known for his big, showy and beautiful productions, so when The People V OJ Simpson came along its 90s realism was almost strikingly stark compared to the camp of Glee and American Horror Story. Brilliantly cast (we’re obsessed with Ross from Friends as Robert Kardashian) and performed, it’s a brilliant watch even though the vast majority of us known the outcome.

True Detective 

Never has a first season of a show offered so much potential, only for it to be massively dashed with subsequent episodes. The first time out the gate, it’s all about Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson investigating a terrifyingly Southern Gothic killer. Tense, beautifully designed and amazingly well written, we were all desperate for season two, which would tell a different story in a different city and starred our very own Colin Farrel. To say we were disappointed is an understatement, but season one will forever be excellent.

The Wire

People often talk about The Wire in the same hushed, awed tones as The Sopranos, and while I don’t agree that it’s quite to the same standard, the American crime series set in Baltimore was one of the big shows that changed the face of television back in the early Noughties. Every series has a different focus (and theme tune), but it’s all tied back to phone-tapping (the aforementioned wire) and crossover gangs in the largely poor, drug-ridden city. Idris Elba is at his finest here.

Line of Duty

Bent coppers! If you’ve never seen it, remedy that ASAP. It follows the trials and tribulations of the officers of AC-12, a police unit designed to sniff out baddies in the force, and sever ties of police informants and crime kingpins. It’s edge of the seat stuff, and you’ll find yourself fancying everyone because they’re so cool.

Law & Order: SVU

Okay, so the whole L&O canon is superior episodic television. You can binge it all, dip in and out, it’s all G. And it goes without saying that SVU is the star pupil. We stan Olivia Benson almost as hard as Taylor Swift does. The news that star Mariska Hargitay will be reuniting with her former partner, sexy dad Christopher Meloni, for yet another spin-off is deeply exciting. We don’t know when Law & Order: Organised crime is gonna land on this side of the pond, but for now we shall content ourselves with endless reruns of Special Victims Unit. Dun-dun!


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