Early crime stories started as news headlines that inspired novels and eventually movies. Popular writers from the 30s to the 50s included Georges Simenon, John Creasy, Hilary Waugh, and Ed McBain. These crime novels continue to be popular, but most stories have been adapted to TV shows, movies, and even podcasts.
Most of the early crime shows on television started on the radio and then jumped to the new format. These included such favorites as Dick Tracy. The Untouchables, Perry Mason, and possibly the most influential police show of all time, Dragnet. Dragnet set the standard for police procedurals using many tropes still popular today. One of the most popular of the crime show genre was the crime drama.
Newer crime shows like Forensic Files and CSI have eclipsed the older, classic crime shows that you may have missed. Their stories are timeless. Don't miss out!
Many old TV crime dramas of the 70s and 80s dealt with issues that the public was uncomfortable such as rising crime, the price of vigilantism, the difficult decisions police officers must make, and racism. The best crime dramas featured a flawed policeman but had a strong moral center leading you to root for him.
Often these TV shows portrayed crime in a simplistic light, but by being entertaining and light, they were also able to point out social injustices. Here's our list of the best crime shows from the 70's and 80's: