TV's Top Female Cops

They may talk softly but they pack a big wallop.
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Angie Dickinson as "Pepper" Anderson, "Police Woman"

Fom 1974 to 1978, Dickinson starred as an LAPD undercover cop (the kind who often has to pose as a hooker or a stripper) in this groundbreaking series, said to be the first drama to showcase a woman in the title role.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison, "Prime Suspect"

If you don’t know this amazing British police procedural series (actually seven separate movies or miniseries), rent them immediately. Spanning 15 years of Mirren’s career, they are the best thing she has ever done (and that’s saying a lot)-a tour de force of sustained character development and riveting crime drama to boot.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Sharon Gless as Christine Cagney and Tyne Daly as Mary-Beth Lacey, "Cagney & Lacey"

These Manhattan detective partners were precursors of Law & Order: SVU‘s Olivia Benson, facing inner demons (Cagney’s alcoholism) while tackling some controversial subjects, including date rape and racism. The actresses traded Emmy wins through most of the ’80s.
Photo by: Everett Collection

S. Epatha Merkerson as Anita Van Buren, "Law & Order"

Merkerson has been with this 20-year-old NBC series longer than any other actor, but she didn’t start out as Lieutenant Van Buren. In the show’s first season, she guested as the mother of a boy who’d been accidentally shot; when the producers were re-casting the squad chief for season four, they remembered her performance. Van Buren is TV’s longest-running black character. "If you told me [growing up] that I’d be playing a cop," Merkerson (who was a teenager in riot-rocked Detroit) told People, "I would have laughed in your face."
Photo by: NBC Photo: Virginia Sherwood

Betty Thomas as Lucy Bates, "Hill Street Blues"

Hill Street Blues was a big step forward in police drama, featuring elements we take for granted now: lots of sharply drawn characters, multiple storylines, handheld camera, black humor. Betty Thomas earned seven Emmy nominations (she won in 1985) as rookie-turned-sergeant Lucy Bates; she later became a film director (_The Brady Bunch Movie_, 28 Days). Let’s be careful out there!
Photo by: Everett Collection

Holly Hunter as Grace Hanadarko, "Saving Grace"

This Oklahoma City detective is as fierce, furious and flawed as anyone in prime time. "What’s interesting is to see someone go, god, I want to go off the cliff," Hunter told MORE. "Grace loves dealing with chaos." The last nine episodes of this daring TNT series are set to air this summer.
Photo by: Danny Feld

Peggy Lipton as Julie Barnes, "The Mod Squad"

"One black, one white, one blonde" was the tagline for this too-cool-for-school late-‘60s series, in which three disaffected young people were transformed into a hip undercover L.A. police team. Lipton, Michael Cole (right) and Clarence Williams III starred. Infinitely groovier than the 1999 film version with Claire Danes.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Glenn Close as Monica Rawling, "The Shield"

When Close did research for her Emmy-nominated 2005 turn as steely Captain Monica Rawling, she hung out with a female New York precinct commander. "The hardest thing about the job was being a woman and not letting it matter," was the lesson Close said she learned.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Heather Locklear as Stacey Sheridan, "T.J. Hooker"

Sheridan and Vince Romano (Adrian Zmed) were rookies under the tutelage of Sergeant T.J. Hooker (William Shatner) on this 1980s series, which emphasized escapist action over realistic grit.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Marg Helgenberger as Catherine Willows, "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation"

Helgenberger plays a Las Vegas criminologist on this CBS series that started the whole forensic frenzy back in 2000. She and it are still going strong.
Photo by: Sonja Flemming/CBS 2009 CBS Broadcasting Inc.

Sonja Sohn as Kima Greggs, "The Wire"

This gay Baltimore detective was confident on the job but struggled with her personal life when her partner got pregnant. The Wire was named one of the decade’s best series by many pundits looking back at the 2000s.
Photo by: Everett Collection

Kathryn Morris as Lily Rush, "Cold Case"

Detective Rush specializes in cases that were never solved in this popular CBS show (now in its seventh season) combining atmospheric flashbacks with up-to-the-minute crime-solving techniques.
Photo by: Adam Taylor/Warner Bros. 2009 Warner Bros.

Kim Delaney as Diane Russell, "NYPD Blue"

Russell, a recovering alcoholic who grew up in an abusive family, was plenty tough on this drama, which bowed in 1993. But it was her tender relationship with Bobby Simone (Jimmy Smits) that made her one of TV’s most memorable cops.
Photo by: ABC via Getty Images

Kyra Sedgwick as Brenda Leigh Johnson, "The Closer"

Sedgwick’s LAPD deputy chief is a workaholic with a sugar habit and a special skill in the interrogation room. After five seasons on TNT, The Closer still scores as one of cable’s top shows.
Photo by: Karen Neal

Melina Kanakaredes as Stella Bonasera, "CSI: NY"

Detectives Bonasera and Taylor (Gary Sinise) are a tighter-knit team than their Vegas counterparts on this gritty spinoff of the original CSI, now in its sixth season on CBS.
Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/CBS 2004 Broadcasting Inc.

Mary McCormack as Mary Shannon, "In Plain Sight"

McCormack (here with guest star David Denman) plays a U.S. Marshal who works with the federal witness protection program. "She’s not that likable," McCormack told MORE. "She’s got a lot of jagged edges." Season three is due this spring on USA.
Photo by: Gregory Peters

Melissa Leo as Kay Howard, "Homicide: Life on the Street"

Leo (later Oscar-niominated for Frozen River) played a no-nonsense, deglamorized Baltimore detective-a part originally written for a man-in this critically acclaimed 1990s series. "You can’t show up to work in a homicide unit in skirts and heels," she recalled telling the producers. "You’ve gotta have trousers on."
Photo by: Everett Collection

Regina King as Lydia Adams, "Southland"

Dropped by NBC but picked up by TNT, which is now rerunning season one, Southland helps fill the gap left by the demise of The Shield and The Wire. King plays an LA detective who balances a never-ending caseload with taking care of her elderly mother.
Photo by: Mitch Haaseth

Mariska Hargitay as Olivia Benson, "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit"

For 11 seasons now on NBC, Detective Benson has felt the pain of New York’s victims of abusive crime. Playing the character has even inspired Hargitay to create the Joyful Heart Foundation, which helps victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. TO VIEW A SLIDESHOW OF STARS WHO STARTED ON SOAPS, CLICK HERE
Photo by: NBC

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