10 Longest Running Procedurals, Ranked By Seasons

Split image showing scenes from CSI< Blue Bloods, and Heartbeat

There’s always something for everyone in the vast TV landscape and viewers that aren’t keen on following a single storyline for several seasons can always opt for procedurals. These shows mostly involve law enforcement officers or characters with special skills solving a new case every single week or a fortnight at most.

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Procedurals are also a good bet for fans that don’t wish to see their favorite shows get canceled since over 90% of shows in this particular genre have achieved a longevity that stretches beyond 5 seasons. A couple of procedurals have also kept going past a dozen seasons, hence establishing themselves as some of the longest-running TV shows of all time.

10 Blue Bloods Borders More On Fact Than Fiction

13 Seasons

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For fans of ’80s procedurals, Tom Selleck will always be Magnum, the Hawaii-based private investigator with a mustache — but to fans of modern procedurals, Selleck is the no-nonsense police boss, Commissioner Frank Reagan. In Blue Bloods, Selleck is more relaxed, opting to speak rather than punch people.

The accuracy of Blue Bloods is also another reason why it’s one of the best procedurals currently airing. The show has been praised by actual members of the police force for getting things right since the technical advisor is a law enforcement officer (via Cheat Sheet). Because there is little to no sensationalism, viewers get to understand law enforcement procedures much better.

9 NCIS: Los Angeles Is Nearly Good As The Original

14 Seasons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>NCIS: Los Angeles - Hanna being escorted in handcuffs by the DEA

Most spinoffs struggle to reach the heights of the original but NCIS: Los Angeles has proved to be one of the few exceptions. The show follows Special Agents Grisha Callen and Sam Hanna of the NCIS’s Office of Special Projects as they go on several undercover assignments.

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The spinoff’s major flaw is that some of the cases tend to be less fascinating but even when things are bland, the performances of the cast are always able to cover up for it. In addition to that, the beautiful Los Angeles camera shots erase any feelings of dissatisfaction that viewers might have.

8 High Production Values Make CSI Unmissable

15 Seasons

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CSI is too good to be replicated, so much so that even its own offshoots have ended up being some of the most short-lived spinoffs. On the show, the Las Vegas PD focuses on physical evidence to solve complex murders. Great plots aside, CSI hugely benefits from being part of a great production house.

Movies and TV shows under the Jerry Bruckheimer banner rarely fail to be entertaining and neither does the procedural which maintains cinematic production values in every single episode. Additionally, the extensive use of technology during investigations gives the show a modern feel, especially because cases in most procedurals are often solved the traditional way.

7 Criminal Minds Has Formidable Villains

15 Seasons

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Creators risk alienating some viewers whenever they take a niche route but the strict focus on serial killers in Criminal Minds still works. The procedural, which follows members of the FBI’s Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), maintained strong ratings throughout its run.

For the CBS show, the strength lies in the pool of baddies and the unit itself rather than who is in it. This is evident from the fact the frequent cast changes don’t affect the quality at all. There’s a strong focus on making fans emotional too hence some of the saddest Criminal Minds deaths also qualify as some of the most heartbreaking among all procedurals.

6 Heartbeat Takes Viewers Back To The ’60s

18 Seasons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from the British Series, Heartbreat

Hearbeat is one of the UK’s best contributions to the genre, and it’s based on a series of books written by a former member of the police force. There is thus accuracy, as is the case with Blue Bloods.

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The ’60s setting also makes the show even more distinctive because most projects in the genre prefer to keep events in modern settings. Several societal issues surrounding the era are addressed too, such as the counterculture movement and the effects of the end of colonialism.

5 NCIS Satisfies Fans Of Both Military & Police Dramas

20 Seasons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from NCIS

Born out of one of the best backdoor pilots, the long-running NCIS has gone on to be much better than its parent show, JAG. The show which blends military, and police practices have also had an air of consistency, with the same lead appearing in all but one of the seasons.

Action fans are guaranteed to have a blast too thanks to the numerous sequences that involve both gunplay and fisticuffs. Furthermore, the writers often take the storylines to the wildest of places, ranging from terrorists trying to bring down Air Force One to a single villain holding an entire neighborhood hostage.

22 Seasons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from the Law and Order revival

There’s still some juice left in Law & Order and so the show was recently revived with a fresh cast after it was long thought to have ended. Over the years, a huge part of its appeal has been tied to it being divided into two segments: an investigative part and a courtroom segment.

Watching the entire legal process from the arrest to the conviction in a single episode is always fascinating. A good number of the cases are borrowed from real-life happenings too, hence making them very believable. Plus, there are no overdone action sequences that always threaten to ruin the fun in most procedurals.

3 There Is A High Body Count In Midsomer Murders

23 Seasons

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Anthony Horowitz has had the honor of continuing Ian Fleming’s work by writing more James Bond novels and his brilliance has been witnessed on TV too, specifically in Midsomer Murders. The British drama involves officers of the Midsomer Constabulary attempting to solve crimes.

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The Bond magic is witnessed all throughout the procedural, with the officers defying death on a regular basis and also oozing charm. There’s plenty of whimsy humor too, giving fans a reason to smile while following the complex and often disturbing murders that tend to shoot to double digits in every single episode.

2 Law & Order: SVU Remains The Longest-Running US Show

24 Seasons

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Law & Order: SVU is currently the longest-running live-action primetime show in the US, and it’s easy to see why. The procedural never runs out of steam because it bases most of its cases on what has been reported in the media.

The primary protagonist, Captain Olivia Benson is undoubtedly one of the most badass characters on TV. So good is the character that Mariska Hargitay is still the only lead actor from a procedural to win an Emmy. The accolades aside, the show dissects sexual violence, child abuse, and the flaws of the criminal justice system in a satisfactory manner.

1 Every Little Story Matters In Taggart

27 Seasons

<!–[if IE 9]> <![endif]–>A scene from the Taggart TV Series

The longest-running procedural of all time premiered in the early ’80s and stayed on air into the new century. Initially, events focus on the Scottish detective Jim Taggart, but the spotlight shifted to other characters after the death of actor Mark McManus.

Taggart doesn’t just focus on hoodlums but includes petty criminals too, hence bringing about all kinds of mild cases that have contributed to its longevity. All the characters are well fleshed out too, which explains why the show survived long after the protagonist was written off.

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