Can You Identify These Police Shows from a Screenshot?

By: Khadija L.

Gotham is an American crime drama series which was based on characters created by DC Comics, specifically, the Batman franchise. It followed James Gordon as a young detective in the Gotham Police Department and Bruce Wayne shortly after the death of his parents. Throughout the series, other characters including villains like Penguin, Riddler and Poison Ivy made their appearance.

NYPD Blue is an American police procedural drama series which followed the 15th precinct detective squad of the New York Police Department as they investigated the homicides and different types of crime in the city. The show aired on ABC from 1993 to 2005 and starred James McDaniel, Dennis Franz and Gordon Clapp as its main cast.

Law & Order is an American police procedural television series which was created by Dick Wolf and ran from 1990 to 2010. It currently holds the record for the longest-running crime drama on primetime television and starred George Dzundza, Chris Noth and Dann Florek. Many of the cases which appeared on the show were based on real-life events.

Hawaii Five-0 is an American action police procedural television series which premiered as a reboot of a series with the same name which ran between 1968 and 1980. The show which stars Daniel Dae Kim, Scott Caan and Alex O’Loughlin, follows a police task force which was set up to fight organized and other types of crime in Hawaii.

The Andy Griffith Show is an American sitcom which aired on CBS from 1960 to 1968. The show starred actor, comedian and producer Andy Griffith, as a widowed sheriff of a small fictional town in North Carolina and his inept deputy and cousin Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts.

Criminal Minds is an American police procedural crime drama series and the original show in the Criminal Minds franchise. The show which stars Matthew Grey Gubler, Joe Mantegna and Kirsten Vangsness, has been on air for over 12 years and focuses on profiling different criminals rather than the crimes committed.

The Blacklist is an American crime thriller television series starring James Spader, Megan Boon and Diego Klattenhoff. If follows Raymond “Red” Reddington, a former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal who voluntarily surrenders to the FBI after decades of evading capture.

Miami Vice is an American crime drama series which ran for five seasons on NBC from 1984 to 1989. The show followed two undercover detectives and the rest of their team as they infiltrated crime organizations and brought down criminals in Miami. The series was later adapted in to film in 2006 starring Colin Farrell and Jamie Foxx.

Blue Bloods is an American fictional police drama series which made its debut on CBS in 2010. The series, which stars actors Tom Selleck, Donnie Wahlberg and Bridget Moynahan, follows the Reagan family of police officers who work with the New York City Police Department.

Chicago P.D. is an American police procedural drama television series which made its premiere on NBC in 2014. The series stars Sophia Bush, Jason Beghe and Jon Seda and tells the story of uniformed cops of Chicago Police Department who patrol the streets as they try to combat organized crime, murders and drug trafficking.

NCIS is an American action police procedural series which is centered around a fictional team of agents from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Every episode, the team (which consists of actors Pauley Perrette, Mark Harmon and Sasha Alexander) investigates different crimes which involve the Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy.

Reno 911! is an American comedy television series which ran on Comedy Central from 2003 to 2009. The show took the format of a parody on law enforcement with comedic actors playing the role of police officers. The series was the inspiration for the film Reno 911!: Miami which was premiered in 2007.

Cold Case is an American police procedural series which aired on CBS from 2003 to 2010. The series followed a homicide detective working with the Philadelphia Police Department who specialized in investigations which were no longer actively being pursued (cold cases).

Columbo is an American television series which aired on NBC from 1968 to 1978 and then on ABC from 1989 to 2003. It followed a homicide detective working with the Los Angeles Police Department and revolved around how the perpetrator will be caught and exposed.

Sherlock is a British crime drama television series which is based on the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The show aired on BBC One from 2010 to 2017 and starred Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock Holmes and Martin Freeman as his accomplice, John Watson. The show has gained critical acclaim during its run, winning three Primetime Emmys.

CHiPs is an American television drama series which aired on NBC from 1977 to 1983. The show starred Larry Wilcox and Erik Estrada as two motorcycle police officers of the California Highway Patrol (CHP). In 1998, the series was adapted into a made-for-television film with the same main cast.

Dexter is an American television crime mystery series which aired on Showtime from 2006 to 2013. The show is set in Miami and follows a forensic technician named Dexter Morgan, who specializes in blood spatter pattern analysis for the Miami Metro Police Department. He also happens to be a vigilante serial killer.

The Shield is an American crime drama series which aired on FX from 2002 to 2008. The series was known for its portrayal of the corrupt police officers in reference to the true-life events of the Rampart Division police scandal where over 70 police officers were implicated in some type of misconduct in the late 1990s.

21 Jump Street is an American police procedural series which aired on Fox from 1987 to 1991. The series followed a group of young-looking police officers who went undercover in different high schools, colleges and venues where teens could be found. In 2012, the series was adapted into a feature film starring Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum.

Without a Trace is an American political procedural drama series which aired on CBS from 2002 to 2009. The series, which starred Anthony LaPaglia and Poppy Montgomery, followed a Missing Persons Unit of the FBI in New York City, and each episode focused on the search for one individual within a very strict timeline.

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is an American forensics crime series which aired on CBS from 2000 to 2015. The series starred William Petersen, Marg Helgenberger and Laurence Fishburne as a team of investigators employed at the Las Vegas Police Department. It was also the first show in the franchise and was the inspiration for CSI: Miami, CSI: NY and CSI: Cyber.

Fargo is an American comedy-crime drama series which was inspired by the 1996 film with the same name. The series premiered in 2014 and was centered around cases involving local crime gangs and syndicates. The series starred Billy Bob Thorton, Kirsten Dunst and Martin Freeman, some of these actors winning Golden Globe Awards and Primetime Emmy Awards for their roles.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine is an American police television sitcom which premiered on Fox from 2013 to 2018. The series revolves around an immature NYPD detective who works at the 99th Precinct and regularly gets into disagreements with his new commanding officers. The series has an ensemble cast including Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz and Terry Crews.

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is an American procedural crime drama series which aired on NBC from 1999 to 2018. It is the second series in the franchise and was set in New York City, just as the original was.

Castle is an American crime comedy drama series which aired on ABC from 2009 to 2016. The show follows novelist Richard Castle and a homicide detective, Kate Beckett as they solve different crimes in New York City. The series starred Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic as the main cast.

Monk is an American comedy drama series which ran from 2002 to 2009 and starred Tony Shalhoub as the title character. It held the record for the most watched drama episodes during 2009 and 2012. The series followed the title character, a brilliant detective from San Francisco who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder.

True Detective is an American crime drama television series which premiered in 2014. Every season, it follows a series of police investigations which reveals the personal and professional secrets of the people who are involved. The series has had an ensemble cast including Matthew McConaughey, Colin Farrell, Woody Harrelson and Rachel McAdams.

The Wire is an American crime drama series which aired for 5 seasons on HBO from 2002 to 2008. Every season, the show introduces a different institution and its relationship to law enforcement in the city of Baltimore. The cast includes a wide array of actors but also real-life figures as guest stars.

Psyche is an American detective comedy drama series which aired on USA from 2006 to 2009. The show followed a young crime consultant working for the Santa Barbara Police Department, whose ability to remember things and heightened sense of observation allows him to convince people that he has psychic abilities.

Elementary is an American procedural drama series which was based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character, Sherlock Holmes. The series premiered on CBS in 2012 and was set in New York where Holmes, a recovering drug addict, assists the New York City Police Department in solving crimes.

Third Watch is an American crime drama television series which ran on NBC from 1999 to 2005. The show is centered around the lives of the police officers of the New York City Police Department, as well as the firefighters and paramedics in the same precinct who worked during the 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift (the third watch).

24 is an American television series which aired on FOX from 2001 to 2010 and was revived for two months in 2014. Each season was made up of 24 episodes and followed the main character Jack Bauer, a counter-terrorist agent, during a 24-hour period. It inspired a spin-off series which was not renewed for a second season.

Happy Valley is a British crime drama series which made its debut on BBC One in 2014. The series starred Sarah Lancashire, Steve Pemberton and Siobhan Finneran, and followed Catherine Cawood, a sergeant who is on duty when a nervous man comes in to report a crime.

The Mentalist is an American police procedural series which ran on CBS from 2008 to 2015. It follows a former “psychic” Patrick Jane, a new consultant to the California Bureau of Investigation who uses his observational skills to “read” people’s minds and help solve difficult murders.

Rookie Blue is a Canadian police drama series which aired on ABC from 2010 to 2015, starring Missy Peregrym and Gregory Smith. It follows the lives of five rookie cops who recently graduated from the academy. The series has been called the Grey’s Anatomy of the rookie cop world.

Luther is a British crime drama series starring Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson and Steven Mackintosh. The show follows John Luther, an obsessive and possessed Detective Chief Inspector who works for the Serious Crime Unit. The show gained critical acclaim, winning several Primetime Emmy Awards and the lead actor winning a Golden Globe Award.

Starsky & Hutch is an American television series which aired on ABC from 1975 to 1979. It followed two police detectives from Southern California who ride around town in a Ford Torino busting criminals. The series served as the inspiration for a theatrical film as well as a video game.

The Closer is an American television police procedural series starring Kyra Sedgwick as a Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief, originally from Atlanta. The series ran on TNT for 7 seasons from 2005 to 2012 and inspired a spin-off series, called Major Crimes, which aired for 6 seasons.

Hill Street Blues is an American police drama series which aired on NBC from 1981 to 1987. The show focused on the lives of the staff who work at the police station which was located in the fictional town of Hill Street. Throughout its run, the show received a total of 98 Emmy nominations.

Southland is an American crime drama series which aired on NBC in 2009 and then on TNT from 2010 to 2013. The series starred Kevin Alejandro, Arija Bareikis and Michael Cudlitz, and it was centered around lives of a group of Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers and detectives who protect the city.

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About This Quiz

Ever since the era of television began, there has never been a shortage of shows where the criminal and justice system has been portrayed. Most of the shows are purely fictional and have been overly dramatized, but there are also those which are centered around real-life events, especially those which have made headlines.

There have been so many shows that focus on different types of crime, solving mysteries, and there are also those that focus on how certain criminals think. Some criminology websites claim that there have been over 300 police drama series to air on American television, and with every new year, it seems like more of them join the list. Some of the most popular shows includes Luther, The Shield, the Law and Order franchise, Columbo, The Wire, NYPD Blue, Hill Street Blues and the CSI franchise. 

How well do you know your police TV shows? If you were given images of the popular characters or shots from some of the most popular scenes, will you be able to identify what show it came from? Will it prove that you are a detective in the making, or will it prove that you have a long way to go? Take this quiz to find out!

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