Whether a refreshing change from cops in the real world or a sad reminder of what they really are, we look to TV cops to tell us about the police. A few stand out from the sea of blue…and not always for the right reasons! Heres 10 that win hands-up:
10. Lieutenant Theo Kojak (Played by Telly Savalas) – Kojak
Who loves you, baby? Well, certainly everyone who works in the lollipop business. New York cop Kojak was so manly he could suck on Tootsie pops without losing any street cred! Smart, tough, and suave, his virility knew as few bounds as his detective skills. Smooth in a rugged world!
9. Detective Lester Freamon (Played by Clarke Peters) – The Wire
If McNulty was good po-lice, Freamon was Baltimores finest. A genuine sleuth, Lesters attention to detail was impeccable, as was his nose for corruption! Too bad he discovered he could earn more making dollhouse furniture! And looking like Marvin Gaye didnt hurt him with the ladies, either. True dat.
8. Detective Vic Mackey (Played by Michael Chiklis) – The Shield
Hed probably be on a list of the 10 worst, but whether we like it or not, we were fascinated with the cop who lost his soul so he wouldnt have to wear a suit to work. A gangster in policemans clothing, Mackey is what law enforcement is capable of!
7. Raylan Givens (Played by Timothy Olyphant) – Justified
Is he a cop or cowboy? Is the whole thing just a prequel to Dirty Harry? Raylan is proof that the best cops have the worst disciplinary records. He has his own code of justice that occasionally involves gunning down bad guys. A flawed man in a den of sin.
6. D.C.I. Jane Tennison (Played by Helen Mirren) – Prime Suspect
Tennyson had to take on serial killers while fighting the battle of the sexes and even when the world caught up with her, she still had her alcoholism to contend with. Mirren gave Tennyson power and vulnerability in equal measure, conspicuously avoiding the usual pseudo-lesbian woman-in-a-mans-job clichés of the genre.
5. Lieutenant Frank Drebin (Played by Leslie Nielsen) – Police Squad!
His parking and sense of direction left a little to be desired, but Drebin was the detectives detective…in that he was Nielsens note-perfect send-up of stuffy TV cops like Dragnets Joe Friday! Nielsen is so convincing you sometimes forget Drebins supposed to be a comic character. Cigarette. Yes, I know!
4. Chief Clancy Wiggum (Voiced by Hank Azaria) – The Simpsons
All the inept small-town police chiefs youve ever encountered furled up into one donut-hole shaped body! That he sounds like Edward G. Robinson should give you an idea about what side of the law hes working on. Hes just too lovable to arrest. Whaaaat? Whaaaaat? This better be about pizza!
3. Detective Mary-Beth Lacey (Played by Tyne Daly) – Cagney & Lacey
Choosing between the 2 detectives is like deciding which of your children to pull out of a house fire so consider this joint-second but props must go to Mary-Beth for juggling a successful career as a police detective (in an age when women were only good as undercover hookers!) with family.
2. Lieutenant Frank Columbo (Played by Peter Falk) – Columbo
Columbo had everything a cop should – deductive reasoning, a suspect-friendly demeanour, an invisible wife! He looked like a shabby autograph hunter who had been promoted by mistake…and thats exactly what he wanted the murderer to think. Plus he could go undercover as homeless without changing! Now, just one more thing…
1. Detective Andy Sipowicz (Played by Dennis Franz) – NYPD Blue
You have to be a pretty damn good detective to go from an alcoholic john to the Lieutenant of a New York police precinct in a decade…and the man who made short sleeves, comb-overs and moustaches cool was even better than that! Crusty, funny and admirable, Sipowicz never copped out!