The Best TV Cops of All Time

The Best TV Cops of All Time

They're bold, brave, and they cuff the bad guys every time! Who's number one?

8. Lt. Frank Pembleton, Homicide: Life on the Street

Dapper, firebrand Pembleton was raised by Jesuits in Chicago, but New York street blood pumps through his veins like lava. His ruthless pursuit of justice often comes at the expense of his friendships on the Baltimore force. He could care less. Ask Detective Tim Bayliss.

7. Detective Andy Sipowicz, NYPD Blue

The crusty curmudgeon with a heart of gold, he even managed to get the girl once in awhile. While a bit of a homophobe and a drinker, he always had his partner's back in a pinch. What more does a cop need?

6. Detective Olivia Benson, Law & Order SVU

Hardened by her past, Olivia goes for the jugular whenever a perp is loose in the city. Despite her flings with Cassidy and occasional tangles with Stabler, you gotta know she'll be there when it counts.

5. Detective Sonny Crockett, Miami Vice

Imagine a cigarette boat slicing through Miami harbor after a pair of drug runners with Sonny Crockett at the helm, not a single hair out of place (although he could use a shave). There wasn't a starlet wannabe in Dade County who wouldn't pine for loft time with the king of pink muscle shirts. But none could live long enough to see the credits.

4. Detective Mary Beth Lacey, Cagney & Lacey

Lacey leads the way in stereotype-busting on the force, old-school division. There's nothing meaner than a working mother with a badge and a gun dropped in the middle of the 14th Precinct. You go, girl!

3. Officer Jimmy McNulty, The Wire

It's a recipe for rehab. Take a shot of Irish whiskey (better make it a double), add overdue child support, and never-ending relationship woes: you've got McNulty. Never mind that he hates working the marine unit (diesel fumes make him nauseous), McNulty chews up the docks like a buzz-saw on steroids. Who needs a life outside of work?

2. Officer Francis "Ponch" Poncherello, CHIPs

There's no such thing as a "routine traffic stop" when Ponch is on duty. Roaring across Central Los Angeles on his four-stroke steed, daredevil Ponch is always on probation for something. But whether he's charging up hills after a bunch of punks or diverting a kid from a life with the gangs, Ponch delivers.

And the best TV cop of all time:

1. Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet

Granddaddy of 'em all, this one's for the baby boomers. Friday has the warmth of a cement block, and he sure hates dope dealers, hippies, and pinko protesters. Give him a scent and he'll hang on to your cuff like a snarling Doberman.
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