What is it about a woman with a badge? It just somehow appeals to you, a woman with authority but still beauty, who can look amazingly beautiful and yet be able to take down a perp twice her size. She’s tough and yet soft enough to help others, working everything from short skirts to a pant suit in great style and sparking police shows majorly. While men dominated cop shows for years, women have finally gotten their due in the last several decades, including being the true headliners and that mix of smarts and sex appeal have led to some great ladies on screen.
This is just for cops, don’t expect lawyers or medical examiners (who deserve separate lists of their own) and only the pros, no private eyes like Charlie’s Angels. Also, while there are a few federal agents, no spies (again, that’s another list) as this is just for the ladies in uniform or plainclothes who look great with their work. Here are the 30 hottest female cops television has given us, from patrolwoman to detective to agent and proof of how we love a lady with a badge.
30 Mary Shannon - In Plain Sight
This USA series focused on the New Mexico office of the U.S. Marshalls assigned to protect federal witnesses. Mary McCormack played Mary Shannon, a marshal with a majorly sardonic side, often seeing the worst in people and expecting bad crap thanks to her job. She more than showed her hot side in the pilot episode hooking up with her ballplayer boyfriend and continued to do so throughout the show, even while handling her troublesome mother and sister. Her sardonic side was tempered by helping witnesses who really deserved it and a later pregnancy but for the majority of the series, Mary was as hot as her Arizona setting and helped spark the show to make it easy to find.
29 Paige Arkin - Graceland
It sounds like the plot of a reality TV show: Agents of the DEA, FBI and Customs all living together in the same California beach house while doing undercover work. But the USA series has won some good popularity thanks to daring plots and tough characters, not to mention very hot sex appeal. Serinda Swan provides the latter nicely as DEA agent Paige, hooking up with a fellow agent, not afraid to show her body off and even sleeping with the enemy if it means getting a case closed. She can fire a gun and land a punch nicely, put up with a beating herself and helping her fellow cops if need be. No matter what she wears (or doesn’t), Paige is always ready to get the job done and with her own great grace.
28 Judy Hoffs - 21 Jump Street
The first breakout smash hit for the fledgling Fox network, this drama is best known as the show that made Johnny Depp a star, one of several cops posing as high school students. However, another attention getter was Holly Robinson as Judy, the female of the unit as back in 1987, you didn’t see as many black females on cop shows no matter their age. While she could seem old at times for classes, it was always fun to see Judy go to anything from a straight-laced student to a “bad girl” to even cheerleader to try and bust some gangs and handling fights and foot chases easily. Robinson was always ready with a good joke to help things along and solidify the show as a major hit that launched Robinson’s career and, no matter what age she played, a hot presence for her era.
27 Jane Tennison - Prime Suspect
Dame Helen Mirren is living proof how some women get sexier as they get older. She’s won just about every acting award there is and played everything from Shakespeare to Elizabeth I but many consider her most iconic role in the series of British dramas Prime Suspect. Jane Tennison fights the “old boys club” establishment of the London police, battling to gain respect from her colleagues which drives her on to solve cases. At the same time, she’s a mess, smoking, drinking, sleeping around and often putting her own ego over what’s right. It’s all brought together by Mirren’s performance which runs across several years’ worth of shows and showcases a woman who may be deeply flawed but you still root for her and no matter how bad she gets, Mirren pulls you in with a sexiness that defies age.
26 Nina Moreno - New York Undercover
The first season of the Fox drama was good with a pair of male cops doing undercover work in New York. It got better in the second season with the addition of Lauren Velez as Nina, a Puerto Rican-American cop with all the sass and sex appeal that hints at. She could handle tough undercover assignments as well that put her at risk but able to come out on top with the perps and could surprise her partners by glamming it up for after-hours partying. Her relationship with a fellow office brought good emotional drive as she was ready to put herself on the line for the job but not be hampered by the politics that held women of race back. Thanks to Velez, Nina was a good breakout as a minority female who wasn’t defined by her race but not no matter what role she would take.
25 Catherine Willows - CSI
Making a character a former stripper is a great way to prove her sexiness. A mainstay of the now-classic CBS procedural, Marg Helgenberger played Catherine as a stripper who made her way to become a top forensic cop, her beauty balanced by smarts and determination to get at the truth. She wasn’t afraid to follow the path wherever it led, even taking down a former mentor over a past crime and putting up with the revelation her birth father just happened to be a noted mobster. Her smile was infectious and while she owned up to her past, she didn’t flaunt her body too much which actually just made her hotter. With her professional demeanor and that great beauty, Catherine helped put CSI on the map with an investigator we’d all love to study more.
24 Lilly Rush - Cold Case
The popularity of this CBS procedural was on the investigations into long-ago murders and the skill used in the flashbacks to the crime with music of the era. It was helped by Kathryn Morris as Lilly, the female cop of the Philadelphia police unit tracking down these old cases. With her lush blonde hair and sultry voice, Lilly was undeniably hot, even when clad in pantsuit and traenchoat, piecing together the stories and clues from so long ago to find the truth. In interrogations, she could really turn up the heat, cool one minute, intense the next and dedicated to finding out the truth no matter what. She could get surprisingly steamy with some male lovers but that snowy look on the job was the key to her appeal and helped the series rise nicely as Lilly could bring heat to a case no matter how cold.
23 Carrie Wells - Unforgettable
When you have the ability to remember just about everything you see, hear or read, it can be handy to be a cop. The CBS series has Poppy Montgomery in the main role as a woman with an incredible memory condition that helps her out on murder cases. With a fantastic red hairdo helping set her apart, Carrie enjoys showing her brain off, reciting stuff no one else can recall and using her skills to crack crimes with her ex as her partner. She also showed her hot side, flaunting her looks as much when going into casinos to use her skills on gambling and her great humor making her even hotter thanks to Montgomery’s skill. Canceled after three seasons, the show is due for a return on A&E to continue giving us a hot cop to always remember.
22 Grace Chen - Martial Law
You could see plenty of Rush Hour in this CBS series with martial arts star Sammo Hung as a Hong Kong cop working with the LAPD. The cast had a lot of turnover but a reliable standout from the start was Kelly Hu in her breakout role as Grace, the Chinese-American cop who worked with the unit. Hu pulled off some great martial arts fight scenes, taking down slews of guys at a time and always in style. She could do undercover work from biker to stripper in a variety of outfits showing her toned and lithe body out and some nice humor alongside the ass-kicking. From a tough case to relaxing at the beach, Hu was the eye candy but damn good at it and showed a lethal lady you could enjoy a lot.
21 Billie Chambers - Fastlane
Running just one season in 2002-03, this FOX series has attained a cult following thanks to its high-speed take on a secret undercover unit that basically keeps what it seizes for its job. While the male leads were okay, the real reason to watch was Tiffini Thiessen as their young boss who they first tried to dismiss but quickly showed them she was as hard-ass as any male veteran they could imagine. Naturally, Thiessen showed off her hot body in everything from jeans and muscle shirt to designer dresses and could get hot undercover as well, especially the episode where she posed as a lesbian against Jamie Pressley’s thief for a hot kiss. It only lasted a year but thanks to Billie, the show is still well remembered as she alone could get plenty of male viewers’ motors running.
20 Andy McNally - Rookie Blue
The long-running Canadian series focuses on a group of police officers handling their first years on the beat. Missy Peregrym was the focus as Andy, the daughter of a burnt-out cop trying to prove herself. Gorgeous in uniform, she was hotter out of it with relationships with a fellow officer and a few one-night stands, trying to be a pro despite various mistakes, growing into a tough officer whose work could vary from life-or-death situations to even some quirky comedy, including left on her own on her own wedding day. No matter what, Andy handled it with some great responsibility and blossoming as a great cop on her own to help the series flourish beyond its own rookie year.
19 Joss Carter - Person of Interest
Before taking on her now famous role as Cookie on Empire, Taraji P. Henson starred on this CBS drama that went from a simple procedural to an intricate sci-fi drama. Carter was an honest cop handling a plethora of corrupt officers, dedicated to getting at the truth no matter what. At first pursuing the main characters, she would form an alliance with them to help those in need, tough as nails and more than capable of holding her own. This is a woman who personally launched a rocket launcher at Russian gangsters to kick off a war with a rival mob and protected a well-meaning mobster for help. Her end was sad but thanks to Henson, Carter sparked the show nicely to help its transformation to a gripping thought-provoking series and the sass Henson would use for her current role.
18 Olivia Dunham - Fringe
Fox’s popular sci-fi series had Aussie Anna Torv affecting a perfect American accent as Olivia Dunham, an FBI agent pulled into some bizarre cases involving super-science run rampant. At first cool and easy under fire with her blonde hair adding to her persona, Olivia grew more comfortable even as she began to exhibit bizarre mental powers of her own to become a major threat. Torv really got to cut loose when we met the Olivia of an alternate universe, a brunette as feisty and outgoing as the other Olivia was reserved and Torv coming alive showing both women off with a great final season that showcased an tough woman in a crazy world (or two) but that smooth drive grounded the wild series nicely for viewers.
17 Erin Lindsay - Chicago P.D.
Sophia Bush leaves her One Tree Hill past behind her big time on this NBC hit. Erin is a cop as tough as the Windy City itself, willing to put herself on the line and in nice style with showing off plenty of heat in some steamy sex scenes. She had a brief run on a federal unit before returning to the CPD, still nicely showing off her drive but hurt when a protégée is brutally murdered which triggered struggles with addictions. With her husky voice and killer smirk, Bush fits the role well, helping to highlight the series as a cop who has a few personal demons but makes up for it with a sultry side that puts heat in the Windy City.
16 Victoria Moretti - Longmire
Moving as far from Starbuck as she could, Katee Sackhoff took on the role of the feisty sheriff’s deputy on this cult A&E mystery series. A former big-city cop, Vic had a bit of trouble adjusting to the remote woods area she’d transferred to but did her best to handle it. Sackhoff was amazing pressing in that uniform and turns like tricking a suspect doing a stripper routine and putting up with everything from being shot to tough chases, all with a nice humor to things. The show’s revival on Netflix has allowed Sackhoff to continue, showing a bit more edge and still a terrific fun cop for this modern-day Western that’s proven its worth with its cult audience that cite Vic as a key reason to watch.
15 Jules Callaghan - Flashpoint
The original Pink Power Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson shifted her image up for this hit Canadian drama. Jules was the sole lady on the police Strategic Response Unit (the Toronto version of SWAT) who handled hostage situations. Highly athletic, even when she was bundled under thick protective gear and uniform, she was amazing, handling tough situations that usually had her talking to a perp or hostage more than just fighting and doing her best to keep up with the hard job. Shot in the line of duty, she balanced a relationship with a fellow officer while still standing out on her own, accepted by her team as “one of the guys” when she was more than hot enough to be a star no matter her profession.
14 Karen Sisco - Karen Sisco
High on the lists of “canceled too soon,” this 1998 ABC series brought to life Elmore Leonard’s feisty female U.S. Marshall who had been played by Jennifer Lopez in the movie Out of Sight. Carla Gugino was a great choice for the TV role, bringing a more mature sexuality to the part but still looking spectacular to fit in with the Miami setting. Fighting for the respect of her male colleagues and seeking advice from her private eye dad, Karen was stylish and smooth handling the search for perps in fun adventures that often showed a sassy humor that Gugino pulled off nicely. A damn shame the series didn’t go on as long as it should have as this was a character that deserved far more life.
13 Stella Bonasera - CSI: New York
Portrayed by the utterly gorgeous Melina Kanakaredes, the Greek-Italian cop was part of the forensic unit of the New York Police Department, thus as brilliant as she was beautiful. Stella could rattle off science stuff rapid-pace while having a good humor and proud of her Greek roots. She didn’t flaunt her beauty as much in the lab, going around in slacks and leather jacket a lot but when she glammed it up, she was stunning. She was also strong, evidenced by when she gunned down her abusive boyfriend in a fight in her apartment and handling the harsh crime scenes she was forced to work. The show suffered a bit when Kanakaredes left suddenly as Stella’s great spirit (and amazing looks) were a key reason for its success to spark the NYC scene.
12 Kiera Cameron - Continuum
The Canadian sci-fi series takes place in a future where corporations rule and Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols) is one of the “Protectors” assigned to defend this Orwellian society. When a group of terrorists escape to the present, Kiera is pulled along and is determined to stop them from altering the future. Nichols carries herself well as a cool customer who becomes a modern-day cop and truly stands out with the aid of a high-tech suit that provides weapons, holograms of crime scenes and Kiera is fully capable of taking on a perp twice her size and cool under fire. But her journey is unique as she realizes how dark her future is and whether it should be saved, giving us a heroine to root for through her battles in time and proving herself a sexy cop no matter what era it is.
11 Suzanne “Pepper” Anderson - Police Woman
A groundbreaker as one of the first shows to push a lead female character, this NBC hit featured Angie Dickinson in the title role of a female cop who dealt with undercover work. Thus, every episode had her as everything from a stripper to a prostitute, nurse, teacher, flight attendant, dancer and more. Dickinson threw herself into the part, crafting the various looks with a variety of wigs and outfits to show off her buxom body, using her looks well to make criminals underestimate her. She had a steely drive, smarter than she seemed and woe to the perp who thought she’d be a pushover before they were on the floor. Not just a good show but its success led to a real rise in female applicants to the police and thus Dickinson was a true pioneer aside from being one gorgeous on-screen cop.
10 Dani Reese - Life
The producers of this NBC series half-joke that it was ruined in the second season when Sarah Shahi became pregnant. While meant as a joke, it does have some truth as Shahi’s performance as Dani Reese was a key part of the show’s quirky appeal. Her partnership with Damien Lewis’ main character (a falsely imprisoned cop back on the force) was a case of two broken souls handling things with Dani dealing with a drug addiction as well as a tendency to throw herself into one-night stands with men (allowing viewers to see Shahi’s hot body on display mostly naked) which added to her fire taking down perps. While the show didn’t last as long as it could have, Shahi showcased the great mix of beauty and power that would lead to success on Person of Interest and a cop who was a hot mess but great to watch.
9 Diane Russell - NYPD Blue
Kim Delaney won an Emmy for her portrayal of Diane, a woman who tried to handle the rough day-to-day crimes of New York while balancing a personal life. Truly gorgeous, she would show off her body in ways that skirted broadcast TV rules with hot love scenes and her relationship with Bobby (Jimmy Smits) forging one of the show’s best emotional arcs. She was vulnerable with her battle with alcoholism and handling her husband’s death but Delaney carried the role with such a great appeal that you were pulled in and few cops on TV at the time were able to handle making a pantsuit sexy as hell as much as Delaney did.
8 Stacy Sheridan - T.J. Hooker
Before her famed roles in Melrose Place and other shows, Heather Locklear got her big break on this ABC hit with William Shatner in the title role of a veteran street cop. Stacy was a hot blonde who could handle herself well but often used for undercover jobs like a stripper and bait for a stalker and such. She was often in her uniform and filled it out quite nicely with that billowing blonde hair, bringing a nice humor to the show and sparking up its ratings. Naturally, any opportunity to get her into a bikini was welcomed but just running down the street was a nice sight as Locklear sparked more than a few male fantasies of a female cop that would add to her status as a true sex symbol.
7 Rita Lee Lance - Silk Stalkings
This cult series had two season on CBS before becoming a hit on USA with Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture as the cops investigating murders in Palm Beach, Florida. Rita was a true highlight, her lush dark locks framing a lovely face, usually in suit jackets and mini-skirts yet able to hang well in the investigations and be great in a fight or with a gun. Not just relying on her looks, she had great skill to pop in this fun series and her relationship with her partner soon growing more serious as things went on. While the show continued for a few years after Kapture left, it was never the same as Rita was a fiery figure who helped ground the sexy series with her own hot side and that couldn’t be replaced.
6 Jane Rizzoli - Rizzoli & Isles
She’s the classic case of a self-professed tomboy who happens to look like a supermodel. The TNT hit has Angie Harmon as Jane Rizzoli, a tough detective for the Boston police department, a woman who’s gorgeous but much prefers jeans and a leather jacket to a designer dress and heels, beer and burgers over a decent meal and yet in terrific shape for her work. She’s tough enough that she can withstand an attack by a serial killer and throw herself off a bridge but still freaks out having to deal with her mother. Jane is able to handle things with best friend Maura Isles (Sasha Alexander) with a chemistry that’s launched a hundred slash fan sites. No matter how well she handles things, Jane’s good humor helps her along in a hard job and a great way the show mixes some laughs among the thrills as a hit.
5 Kona Kalakaua - Hawaii Five-O
The revival of the classic cop show has been a hit for CBS thanks to its good cast, lush Hawaii setting and, no doubt, Grace Park. Her character of Kona (or “Kono” to use her nickname) was a former surfer and thus it makes sense that she’s often shown in bikinis and used as the “bait” for a sting operation or two. She even took part in a surfboard chase against a trio of bikini-clad lady thieves. However, Park showed more than just good looks and great fighting skills as Kono was put through some serious stuff, from stranded in the ocean to tortured on her own honeymoon but still coming out looking great and a reminder of how gorgeous Hawaii can be.
4 Dee Dee McCall - Hunter
A stand-out among the various ‘80s cops shows, Hunter had Fred Dryer as the tough L.A. cop handling various crimes, the first season a bit rough. It’s no surprise it got better with the addition of Stepfanie Kramer as his partner, Dee Dee. Often tasked with undercover work, she was great at it in that glorious ‘80s style of huge hair, colorful outfits and managing to run in high heels easily. She was gorgeous but insisted on being treated as a pro, not using her looks to get ahead but judged on her merits, which were great. Thanks to Kramer’s great work, the show ran an impressive seven seasons and for a generation of TV watchers, Dee Dee was the best female cop to watch show the guys how it was done.
3 Kate Beckett - Castle
When the ABC series began, Stana Katic played Beckett as a true professional, a tough cop driven by the unsolved death of her mother and always about the job. When Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) insisted on joining her for cases, she treated him as a joke but soon began to welcome his help and loosen up more, showing some surprising sexy sides. When they got together as a couple, it got even better with Beckett going full on sexy from outfits ranging from sci-fi to Western and becoming far more comfortable with herself as a result. She can still kick ass on her own and look great doing it but seeing her let go of the more tomboyish nature of herself to embrace her hotness has been one of the delights of the show and a great reason it’s a hit.
2 Dana Scully - The X-Files
Often, it’s the cooler faces that end up being hot as hell. Dana Scully was nicknamed “the Ice Queen” in the FBI academy but thanks to Gillian Anderson’s terrific performance, she showed a smoldering inner fire that would cut loose nicely from time to time. The skeptic to Mulder’s believer, Scully was a scientist first but could handle herself surprisingly well in a fight against a perp, a mutant or even an alien. She grew more confident in herself as the show went along, willing to show off more of her hotness as her relationship with Mulder blossomed and handling things on her own. Anderson helped push the show along and seeing her reprise the role for the upcoming revival should be a highlight to one of the sexiest law enforcement agents television has ever seen.
1 Olivia Benson - Law & Order SVU
The heart and soul of L&O SVU since it began, Mariska Hargitay has won an Emmy for her performance as her character has endured a lot of ups and downs. The product of rape herself, Olivia handled growing up with an alcoholic mother and seeking the justice she was denied. Smart and tough, she’s handled everything from going undercover in a prison to being held hostage by a psychopath and endured, intense on the job but always with heart to help others. She’s shown off her sexuality a bit but isn’t bound to being a pretty face but determined to show her mind and drive behind it. It’s paid off as she’s now the head of the SVU unit, raising an adopted son and yet still incredibly gorgeous to watch as a woman ready to kick the ass of anyone in her way but protect the innocents no matter what.