Dodge bullets, not magic arrows, as you get the grime of the street deep under your fingernails while checking out some worthy television. For some closer-to-reality time, let your chain mail boy-shorts or your dragon skin boxer briefs air out while you take some time out from the land of fantasy and check out these five best police procedurals of the last decade.

“A Touch of Frost”

The criminals and the police aren’t cut and dried in “A Touch of Frost”. The gray leaks into the black and white, making this one of the best police procedurals of the last decade, if not century. Inspector Frost, played by David Jason, has as many things go wrong as right in his daily policing when he wrestles between upholding the law and upholding justice. The episode “Deep Waters” is a particularly poignant look at the cognitive dissonance Frost encounters as he does his best to try to rationalize the legal and the moral together.


Timothy Olyphant and Walton Goggins along with a terrific ensemble cast make “Justified” so much more than your average run and gun lawman series. A combination of police procedural, family drama and a few tons of action make this series one of the best shows out there with writing that will make you more and more jealous of the minds behind each episode. Forget a single episode recommendation, just point your finger at anything in season two so you can see the scenery get destroyed by Margo Martindale-she plays Mags Bennet, a drug and crime family matriarch, who manages to blend down-home charm with the cunning, violent streak of a long-lived sadist.

“The Killing”

Political power, legal maneuvering and a ton of legwork make “The Killing” one of the most intriguing police procedurals ever. A solemn, obsessed single mother and an ex-junkie who finds humor in everything in order to avoid his personal darkness are partners tasked with solving the murder of a local girl, running face first into enough red tape to make multiple walls. A show that lets humanity be the most fearsome of monsters, check out Stan and Belko’s late night drive in “Undertow” and join the cast in wallowing in the overcast, rainy weather that permeates the storyline and eventually you.

“The Wire”

The good guys, the bad guys and the morally in-between all drink deep from the same human bucket of vices and virtues in “The Wire”. The inflexible bureaucracy of the law runs headlong into the very flexible yet structured hierarchy of the streets, making some of the most engaging police procedural stories you will ever see that tackle class struggles, the war on drugs and corruption in intricate storylines. With the task force scattered, the remnants gather themselves back up in season two’s “Ebb Tide”.

“The Shield”

A police procedural that delves deeply into the motivations and machinations behind the echelons of a police station in Los Angeles, “The Shield” will hold your attention from the first few minutes all the way to the series finale. The difference between good police and bad police starts out a clearly visible line and with each episode, decays just a little bit more as Vic Mackey and his Strike Team pull everyone down with them. “Postpartum” is the kind of episode that you will wish you had written, with the overwhelming tense build up and delivery that sets up the next season to be one filled with crushing debilitation, paranoia and carnage.