Call them crime dramas, private investigator shows, police shows or any other name you can think of. Regardless, the 80s were full of them, and many were just incredible to watch!
There were more heroes in this genre then any other, as well as some epic criminals and bad guys. Even science fiction, with all its hype in the 80s, had a hard time competing with these cops and private investigators. Everyone wanted to solve crimes, and they were all good at it!
Let's take a look together at some of the best crime shows of the 80s
21 Jump Street (1987 - 1991)
This was a fabulous series that ran for 5 seasons and 103 episodes! Full of cute boys and featuring some quality storytelling, the show was a joy to watch. The catchy tune at the beginning caught your attention and the cast held it for the rest of the show.
Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Steven Williams, Holly Robinson Peete and Dustin Nguyen comprised the main cast of the show, but the show also featured a great supporting cast and new faces every week. Even Richard Grieco made it into the show for 18 episodes, spawning his own spin-off TV series named Booker after the character he played in 21 Jump Street.
Booker (1989 - 1990)
Alas, this series only ran for 22 episodes in one season. Richard Grieco reprized his role as Dennis Booker from 21 Jump Street. The story revolved around the crime solving of an ex-cop who had problems with authority. Most of the crimes were related to his friends instead of his employer, which resulted in a fun variety of plot
Cagney and Lacey (1981 - 1988)
This edgy detective show ran for a whopping 7 seasons and 125 episodes. Though the show didn't grab my attention at first, the later seasons drew me in deeper and deeper. Cagney and Lacey starred Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless as two New York police detectives. Never mind having to make it in a male dominated profession, these two ladies had full lives outside of the job as well. Their home lives added a human element that drew a large audience to watch the show. Because one was a single career officer and the other a married mother, the two characters dealt with a variety of everyday problems at home. The chemistry between these two actresses won my family over as dedicated fans and viewers, and I hope it will do the same for you.
Charlie's Angels (1976 - 1981)
Charlie's Angels, a unique crime drama for the period, focused on a team of female detectives funded by a mysterious benefactor. The benefactor, known only as Charlie, was voiced by the distinguished John Forsythe. This series ran for 5 seasons with a respectable 110 episodes. The team of three angels changed periodically. Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd, Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts all played angels on the show at various points. Of course, let's not forget David Doyle as Bosley. The series packed humor and action into a thrilling drama filled with undercover shenanigans.
CHiPs (1977 - 1983)
This show focused on two California highway patrol officers. The series ran for 6 seasons with 139 episodes. Although real life California patrol officers never rode in pairs, the chemistry between the two main actors, Larry Wilcox and Erick Estrada (playing officers Jonathan Baker and Francis "Ponch" Poncherello), prompted the show's producers to change the rules in the name of good television. The series started off as more of a comedy, piling on slapstick humor and ridiculous events, but eventually changed to a more serious format which generated a strong viewer following.
Hardcastle and McCormick (1983 - 1986)
Starring Brian Keith as Judge Milton Hardcastle and David Hugh Kelly as an ex-con race car driver named Mark McCormick, this series ran for 3 seasons with 67 episodes. Upon retiring, Judge Hardcastle realized that 200 criminals had escaped on legal technicalities. The judge made a deal with McCormick, who was facing a long prison sentence, and in return for his help promised to help McCormick find his best friend's murderer. One of the best parts of the show was the prototype sports car driven by McCormick, the Coyote X.
Hart to Hart (1979 to 1984)
For 5 seasons and 110 episodes, Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers portrayed Jonathan and Jennifer Hart. The Harts were an extremely wealthy couple who worked as detectives for the sheer thrill. Honestly, there is not much more I can say about this show. There was a lot of cheese, but also a lot of fun.
Hill Street Blues (1981 - 1987)
More of a police drama than a detective show, this series ran for 7 seasons and 146 episodes. It focused on a police precinct in some American city, which I do not believe was ever named. It was highly acclaimed and earned several Emmy awards, breaking ground especially in its use of casual and colloquial dialogue and focus on characters at the bottom of the social ladder, giving it a gritty, almost documentary feel.