1. Tubbs and Crockett (“Miami Vice”)
Due to the fact that these guys starred in a TV show, they probably have the most action under their belts here. Dealing primarily with the ugliest trades around—drug trafficking and prostitution—Tubbs and Crockett did it all and did it well. Not to mention their killer ’80s fashion.
2. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (“No Country for Old Men”)
Though he’s only the sheriff of a small town in Texas, Tom Bell gets inadvertently involved in a war between Mexican drug lords, American conspirators, a bounty hunter… you know, that kind of thing.
3. Scully and Mulder (“The X-Files”)
These two are perhaps the bravest on this list, because not only were they dealing with crimes and mysteries to be solved—but they were dealing with the supernatural and the bizarre. That is a LOT to be dealing with on the daily.
4. Detective John Luther (“Luther”)
John Luther might be the most intense on this list—whether or not that’s always a good thing is debatable, but his results speak for themselves. Sometimes you just have to be a little psycho and obsessive in order to get the job done. Don’t judge.
5. Police Chief Marge Gunderson (“Fargo”)
Despite being based in rural Minnesota (which is, let’s be honest, basically the whole state), Gunderson is a full-fledged badass. Her quick-thinking, down-to-Earth persona (with a healthy hit of sass) sets her ahead of the rest of the coppers in Fargo.
6. Virgil Tibbs (“In the Heat of the Night”)
First of all, you’d have to be brave as hell to be a black detective investigating a case in a racist Southern town in the 1960s, and second: no one could have done it better than Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier).
7. Police Lt. Zachary Garber (“The Taking of Pelham One Two Three”)
It’s not like being a cop in New York City is easy ANY day, but in this case it was even rougher. Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) had to deal with some seriously armed men who hijacked a subway car and demanded ransom. Fortunately, he’s the only one who really could have done it.
8. Detective Adam Flint (“Naked City”)
When you work in a city with eight million stories to tell, there’s going to be more than enough of them to investigate for less-than-model-behavior. Turns out the man for the job back in the early sixties was Detective Adam Flint, who would stop at nothing to get the perp. He also got lucky that everyone looked cool as hell back then.
9. Starsky and Hutch
A bit more light-hearted than Miami Vice, Starsky and Hutch were no less serious about solving any kind of crime that came their way. Plus, they did it all in a sassy red Ford Gran Torino and their informant was a dude named “Huggy Bear,” so there’s nothing wrong with ANY of that.
10. Detective Lt. William Somerset (“Se7en”)
Morgan Freeman plays the smart, weathered cop in Se7en, but after he gets teamed up with newbie David Mills (Brad Pitt), he is faced with more problems than simply finding the man who’s making killings based on the Seven Deadly Sins.