The Most Famous TV Detective: An Exploration of Iconic Crime Solvers

Choose the detective you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Mar 5, 2024 07:20
Unravel the mystery of the most famous TV detective with StrawPoll's gripping new ranking! Will your favorite sleuth be crowned the ultimate investigator, or will they remain a hidden gem in the world of crime-solving? Join thousands of fans as they vote and debate on the most iconic detectives that have graced our screens, captivating us with their wit, charm, and unparalleled deduction skills. But beware, the plot thickens as you have the power to suggest a missing contender in this thrilling whodunit. So, warm up your magnifying glasses and dust off your deerstalkers, it's time to embark on a quest to discover who truly deserves the title of the most famous TV detective! Cast your vote now and let the games begin!

Who Is the Most Famous TV Detective?

  1. 1
    Created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous fictional detectives of all time. Known for his incredible deductive reasoning abilities and his mastery of disguise, Sherlock Holmes has been featured in numerous books, movies, and TV shows over the years.
    Sherlock Holmes in other rankings
  2. 2
    Created by Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot is another iconic fictional detective who has appeared in numerous novels, short stories, and adaptations. Known for his meticulous attention to detail and his impressive powers of observation, Poirot is one of the most beloved characters in the mystery genre.
    Hercule Poirot in other rankings
  3. 3
    Played by Peter Falk, Columbo is a beloved TV detective who appeared in a popular series of the same name that aired from 1971 to 2003. Known for his rumpled raincoat, his unkempt appearance, and his unassuming demeanor, Columbo was a master of the "gotcha" moment.
    Columbo is a popular crime drama television series that follows the cases of Lieutenant Columbo, a sharp-witted but unassuming homicide detective. The show is known for its unique format, as each episode begins by showing the crime being committed, often by revealing the killer's identity. The main focus of the series is to unravel the intricate details of how Columbo skillfully deduces the truth and gathers evidence against the culprits. With its intelligent writing, suspenseful narratives, and brilliant performances, Columbo has become one of the most beloved and iconic shows in television history.
    • Genre: Crime drama
    • Original release: September 15, 1971 – January 30, 2003
    • No. of seasons: 10
    • No. of episodes: 69
    • Running time per episode: 70–100 minutes
  4. 4
    Created by Colin Dexter, Inspector Morse is a beloved British TV detective who appeared in a long-running series of the same name that aired from 1987 to 2000. Known for his love of classical music and his dry wit, Morse was a brilliant detective who solved some of the most complex cases in the Oxford area.
    Inspector Morse in other rankings
  5. 5
    Played by Angela Lansbury, Jessica Fletcher is the lead character in the popular TV series "Murder, She Wrote" which aired from 1984 to 1996. A successful mystery writer who solves real-life crimes, Jessica Fletcher is known for her intelligence, her charm, and her ability to get to the bottom of even the most baffling cases.
    Jessica Fletcher in other rankings
  6. 6
    Perry Mason
    CBS Television · Public domain

    Perry Mason

    Erle Stanley Gardner
    Created by Erle Stanley Gardner, Perry Mason is a fictional lawyer and detective who has appeared in numerous books, TV shows, and movies over the years. Known for his courtroom skills and his ability to solve seemingly impossible cases, Perry Mason is one of the most iconic characters in the mystery genre.
    Perry Mason is a classic legal drama television series that originally aired from 1957 to 1966. The show is based on the popular mystery novels written by Erle Stanley Gardner. It follows the brilliant defense attorney Perry Mason as he defends clients accused of murder, often solving the crime himself in the courtroom. With its intriguing plotlines, courtroom drama, and memorable characters, Perry Mason became one of the most popular and enduring shows on ME TV.
    • Genre: Legal Drama
    • Original Run: 1957-1966
    • Based on: Erle Stanley Gardner's novels
    • Main Character: Perry Mason
    • Setting: Los Angeles, California
    Perry Mason in other rankings
  7. 7
    Played by Tony Shalhoub, Adrian Monk is the lead character in the TV series "Monk" which aired from 2002 to 2009. A former detective with the San Francisco Police Department, Monk suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which makes him an extremely effective detective but also makes it difficult for him to function in everyday life.
  8. 8
    Played by Jack Webb, Joe Friday is the lead character in the TV series "Dragnet" which aired from 1951 to 1959. A straight-laced detective with the Los Angeles Police Department, Friday was known for his no-nonsense approach to solving crimes and his famous catchphrase, "Just the facts, ma'am."
    Joe Friday in other rankings
  9. 9
    Played by Tom Selleck, Thomas Magnum is the lead character in the TV series "Magnum, P.I." which aired from 1980 to 1988. A former Navy SEAL turned private investigator, Magnum was known for his laid-back attitude, his love of Hawaiian shirts, and his ability to solve even the most complicated cases.
  10. 10
    Played by Dominic West, Jimmy McNulty is the lead character in the TV series "The Wire" which aired from 2002 to 2008. A detective with the Baltimore Police Department, McNulty is known for his hard-drinking ways, his complicated personal life, and his unorthodox approach to solving crimes.

Missing your favorite detective?


Ranking factors for famous detective

  1. Popularity
    The detective's overall fame and recognition among audiences is an essential factor. This can be measured in terms of viewership ratings, social media presence, fan following, and general public awareness.
  2. Longevity
    The duration of a TV detective's presence on screen also plays a crucial role. Detectives who have been part of long-running series and have remained relevant over time tend to have greater fame and recognition.
  3. Impact
    The impact a TV detective has had on popular culture and the genre of detective shows is an important consideration. Detectives who have influenced the portrayal of detectives in subsequent television shows or have left a lasting cultural impact are often considered more famous.
  4. Critical acclaim
    Recognition from critics and awards received can provide an indication of the detective's fame. Positive reviews, nominations, and wins at prestigious awards ceremonies underscore their significance.
  5. Cultural significance
    Factors such as the detective's ability to cross cultural boundaries, appeal to diverse audiences, and represent certain societal or historical contexts can contribute to their fame.
  6. Iconic portrayal
    The actor's performance and their embodiment of the detective character can greatly enhance their fame. Memorable and well-regarded portrayals often elevate both the character and the actor's status.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous TV detective. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or Detective is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 209 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each Detective once every 24 hours. The rank of each Detective is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous tv detective

TV detectives have been a staple of popular culture for decades, captivating audiences with their wit, intelligence, and crime-solving skills. From the classic gumshoe detectives of the 1950s to the contemporary crime dramas of today, TV detectives have become icons of the small screen, beloved by fans around the world. With so many memorable characters to choose from, it's difficult to determine who is the most famous TV detective of all time. However, with the help of StrawPoll, we can take a closer look at the contenders and find out who reigns supreme in the world of TV crime-solving.

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