‘Magnum PI,’ ‘Veronica Mars,’ & more: TV’s best private detectives ever

TV hasn't lacked for police detectives since the days of Joe Friday on “Dragnet” in the early '50s. But the medium's also had plenty of room for Friday's private investigator counterparts, who prefer the ability to be their own boss, choose their own cases, and dress and work how they choose.

Private eyes have been at the center of some of TV's most beloved dramas, and tomorrow, Netflix adds to their number with “Jessica Jones,” an excellent new drama based on the Marvel Comics heroine. (Here's my review.) Before Jessica opens up shop, I thought I'd look back at some of my favorite TV private dicks of all time. Some of these fit the archetype perfectly, while others are private detectives in spirit, if not official title. Some have brilliant investigative minds, while others have the charm and willpower necessary to get the job done. For the most part, I tried to steer clear of civilians who are essentially cops without badges, though many of these folks worked frequently with their local police department.

So take a look at mine, and then tell me who some of your favorites are.