The Best Cop Shows to Watch on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and More
|The best cop shows to spend the weeken with. Photo: Shortlist|
Whether it's a good ol' Dick Wolf drama where the bad guy usually gets his due, a prestige cable series that raises complicated questions about the criminal justice system in lieu of a gift-wrapped ending, or a comedy about bungling officers trying their best, there are all kinds of cop shows out there, depending on what you're looking for.
These captivating series have a way of sucking in viewers for hours on end, so if you're looking for a good distraction that offers up some sense of law and order in a world filled with chaos and uncertainty, this list is for you. From heavy dramas to light comedies, there's probably a cop show out there that will satisfy you.
The spiritual lovechild of Cops and The Office, this irreverent comedy follows the incompetent police officers of Reno, Nevada as they respond to emergency calls ranging from drug busts to public disturbances. The series, which ran for six seasons on Comedy Central, was revived for a seventh season by Quibi. New episodes feature the entire original cast including Lt. Jim Dangle (Thomas Lennon), Deputy Travis Junior (Robert Ben Garant), Deputy Trudy Wiegel (Kerri Kenney-Silver), Deputy Raineesha Williams (Niecy Nash), Deputy Clementine Johnson (Wendi McLendon-Covey), Deputy S. Jones (Cedric Yarbrough), Deputy James Garcia (Carlos Alazraqui), Deputy Cherish Kimball (Mary Birdsong), and Deputy Frank Rizzo (Joe Lo Truglio).
Michael Chiklis leads this edgy drama as Vic Mackey, a corrupt cop who's as bad as the guys he puts away. As a member of the Strike Team, an experimental division of the LAPD with a questionably high success rate, he often resorts to criminal methods to solve his cases while secretly taking home a cut of his drug busts. Over the course of seven seasons, the show drew top talents like Glenn Close, Walton Goggins, and Forest Whitaker, reported by TV Guide.
|Photo: Digital Spy|
David Tennant, Olivia Colman, and Jodie Whittaker star in this stunning British drama from Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall. The murder of an 11-year-old boy sparks a police investigation and a media circus as detectives Alec Hardy (Tennant) and Ellie Miller (Colman), who aren't exactly friends, work to solve the case and in the process, uncover disturbing secrets.
|Photo: Student Problems|
One of Netflix's best series is this cerebral thriller executive-produced by Charlize Theron and David Fincher. Set in the late '70s, the show follows FBI agents Holden Ford (David Fincher) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) as they interview incarcerated serial killers like Edmund Kemper and Charles Manson in the hopes of better understanding them and using that intel to solve open cases. Come for the unique premise but stay for the quality writing backed by Emmy-worthy performances.
Even if westerns aren't your thing, this beautifully constructed series about a man piecing his life back together amid tragic circumstances deserves your attention. Based on Craig Johnson's bestselling novels, Longmire follows the titular sheriff who, following his wife's death, forges ahead with support from his daughter Cady and longtime friend Henry Standing Bear. The show doesn't rely on big car chases and explosive cases, but rather the subtle drama that comes with protecting a small Wyoming town filled with compelling characters both good and bad. It's a real gem.
|Photo: The New York Times|
Mardaani is based around the prevalent issue of child trafficking in India. Inspector Shivani Shivaji Roy (Rani Mukerji) crosses paths with Karan Rastogi (Tahir Raj Bhasin) who is the leader of an organized crime syndicate involving prostitution and drugs. When his men kidnap a teenage orphan, Shivani swears to rescue the girl and put an end to this cartel once and for all. The cat-and-mouse game turns gruesome and disturbing with Shivani devising a plan that, if gone wrong, could cost her the child and her own life, Vouge cited.
|Photo: The New York Times|
Jerry Lundegaard works at his wealthy father-in-law's car dealership and is neck-deep in debt. Desperate to claw his way out of the situation, he hires two criminals to kidnap his wife and extort ransom from the father. But fate has other plans as the crooks botch the job and three people, including a police officer, end up dead. The pregnant police chief of Brainerd, Minnesota, Marge Gunderson, takes it upon herself to solve the mystery behind the deaths that have occurred in her jurisdiction. A seemingly harmless plan to make easy money soon transcends into relentless bloodshed.
City on a Hill
Set in Boston in the '90s when the city's crime rate was at an all-time high, this series imagines a fictional account of the "Boston Miracle," a very real police initiative that targeted youth gun violence. Amid it all, corrupt FBI agent Jackie Rohr (Kevin Bacon) and District Attorney Decourcy Ward (Aldis Hodge) form an unlikely alliance as they work on taking down a family of car robbers. It's tense, it's riveting, it's dramatic -- it's everything you could want out of a cop drama. -Allison Picurro
If you love Dick Wolf procedurals, this one should be right up your alley. The second in the super-producer's trio of Chicago-based shows, this gripping cop drama follows the elite detectives of CPD's Intelligence unit led by Hank Voight (Jason Beghe) -- a man who often plays by his own rules. In addition to Beghe, the show also stars Jesse Lee Soffer, Marina Squerciati, LaRoyce Hawkins, Patrick John Flueger, Tracy Spiridakos and Lisseth Chavez.
An adaptation of Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch novels, Amazon's Bosch follows the gritty life of Los Angeles homicide detective and private investigator Harry Bosch (Titus Welliver). Although the show rarely receives a lot of fanfare, it's quite popular, and for good reason: It has been lauded for its realistic portrayal of police work, as well as its faithful interpretation of Connelly's best-selling books. Plus, it has a sweet jazz soundtrack.
|Photo: IGN Southeast Asia|
Now is the time to get acquainted with one of the greatest shows of all time. Lauded for its realistic portrayal of urban life, this HBO series centers on the harrowing narcotics scene in Baltimore, Maryland. The Wire takes a unique and authentic approach to the genre, examining Baltimore's drug crisis from all angles including the detectives cracking down on crime, the users and dealers just trying to survive, and the bureaucratic branches struggling to keep a lid on the problem. It's a methodical exploration of the ways institutions fail individuals.
This CBS series follows an elite squad of FBI profilers known as "mind hunters" who use their combined expertise to identify a predator's motivations and emotional triggers and anticipate their next move before they can strike again. Complex cases, unique characters, and Shemar Moore saying "baby girl" make this series a must-watch.
|Photo: The Economic Times|
The sitcom is a hilarious depiction of the daily escapades of the detectives of NYPD's 99th precinct. While detective Jake Peralta and the team are household favorites for their impeccable comic timing and relatable everyday issues, what makes Brooklyn Nine-Nine a great show is also its constant inclusion of topics like homosexuality, racism, gun control and parental issues, blended seamlessly into a comedic narrative. The upcoming season eight will also touch upon the Black Lives Matter campaign.
|Photo: Times of India|
Inspector Ayan Ranjan (Ayushmann Khurrana) is posted to a remote village in Uttar Pradesh as the assistant superintendent of the police. He is in for an awakening when he discovers deep-rooted caste-based discrimination still prevalent in his jurisdiction. Ayan's tenure gets tougher when three girls belonging to a lower cast go missing. Two of them are found hanging from a tree and his junior officers convince him that it's a matter of honor killing. Refusing to jump to conclusions, he orders a vigorous search to look for the third girl and discovers a shocking truth. The film is a great play on the hazards of the hierarchical system.
|Photo: Mental Floss|
Starring Hollywood legends Robert De Niro, Al Pacino and Val Kilmer, Heat tells the story of a criminal crew led by Neil McCauley (De Niro). The group robs an armored van in Los Angeles and ends up killing the security guards during the heist. Guilty of homicide, they attract the attention of Lt Vincent Hanna (Pacino) who becomes obsessed with bringing the gang down at all costs. Owing to their troubled pasts, Neil and Vincent develop immense respect for each other. However, they are also clear about their respective goals and no amount of mutual admiration can stop either of them from doing what they set out to do.
Ranging from bizarre comedies to intense thrillers, cop stories are much loved among the audiences. And what sets a great one apart from the rest is its ability to rise above the clichéd gunfights and explosions to focus on deeper issues faced by people who uphold the law—and the stimulating ways in which they solve the bleakest of mysteries.
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