- The Rookie has a wholesome energy and balanced mix of character drama and action that makes it easy to love.
- Shows like Blue Bloods, 9-1-1, and Third Watch offer similar wholesome character drama and engaging storylines.
- NCIS and Law & Order: SVU are captivating police procedurals with compelling mysteries and well-developed characters.
The Rookie has been a top show in the police procedural genre ever since its premiere in 2018. With a fine balance of wholesome character drama and rousing action, the ABC drama has succeeded in giving audiences everything a good cop show should have. From the enjoyable banter between characters to action storylines that traverse all sorts of dangerous ground, the series has it all.
It’s also the kind of show that is easy to love. Since the sixth season is not releasing until late-February, you might need other shows to fill the void — and not many other shows have the exact kind of wholesome energy that it boasts. So, we’ve put together the 15 best and most exciting TV shows like The Rookie for you to watch next.
- Release Date
- October 16, 2018
- Alexi Hawley
15 Blue Bloods (2010-2024)
The long-running police show Blue Bloods appears first on this list, as it is one of the few shows with the same core charm as The Rookie, focusing on character drama with a wholesome tone. The series drives this point home with a premise that grounds itself around the life of a single family. In the show, the Reagans are a well-known family within law enforcement, having served in the NYPD for multiple generations. The series follows the different members of this family as they fulfill their police duties from various echelons of the law enforcement hierarchy.
A Show Grounded in Wholesome Character Drama
The reason that The Rookie is such a bingeable show isn’t just because of its focus on its characters, but also because of the wholesome way in which it does so. Blue Bloods exhibits the same energy and grounds itself in the family aspect of the show. There is an engaging mix of everything good that’s associated with police shows: the heavy decisions that are foisted upon Commissioner Frank Reagan, Detective Danny’s run-ins with organized crime, the dangers of patrol work shown through Sergeant Jamie, and more. And with every episode, all the action is rounded up in a hearty Sunday dinner scene (a Reagan family tradition). Like in The Rookie, you also get the satisfaction of watching this family grow through trials and tribulations. Stream on Paramount+
14 9-1-1 (2018-Present)
- Release Date
- January 3, 2018
9-1-1 is another show with many similarities to The Rookie that will keep you hooked from the very first episode. This series widens the scope by exploring the lives of a variety of first responders, with cast members appearing as police officers, firefighters, paramedics, and even dispatchers. Excellent writing brings together its various characters to deal with the daily emergencies, and the performances of its cast members are just as brilliant, with Angela Bassett standing out particularly well as a patrol sergeant.
Juggling Multiple Storylines with Equal Brilliance
Character drama in The Rookie, for the most part, focuses on the camaraderie between its officers, with their individual histories explored in bits and pieces. In contrast, 9-1-1 focuses on the individual struggles of every character from the very beginning. Each episode of this series involves multiple storylines, each of which is equally enthralling to watch, from the personal crises of individual characters to the multiple emergencies that its characters have to deal with on the job in every episode. It is no surprise that the show has won a host of awards since its beginning in 2018, as the showrunners have mastered the art of parallel storylines. Stream on Hulu
13 Third Watch (1999-2005)
- Release Date
- September 23, 1999
- Coby Bell , Nia Long , Molly Price , Anthony Ruivivar , Skipp Sudduth , Tia Texada , Jason Wiles , Cara Buono
Third Watch is an older, lesser-known show today, having first premiered in 1999. However, it maintains an ardent fan following, who often refer to it as one of the best shows about first responders ever. Similar to 9-1-1, the show also followed the lives of various first responders rather than just cops. A true product of the 90s, the series stands out in this list as it takes a distinctly mature tone from the very beginning. There is plenty of violence and profanity, and its characters are often rough around the edges, making questionable choices and carrying a variety of flaws. But it was this compelling set of characters that made the show such a hit among its viewers.
An Earnest Portrayal of First Responders
For its creators, Third Watch wasn’t just another show, but rather a result of their passionate desire to deliver an authentic portrayal of the lives of first responders. In fact, Edward Allen Bernero based the show and its characters on his decade-long career as a police officer in Chicago. This intention painted the show in a unique color that is rare among police procedurals. Although its tone is a drastic departure from The Rookie, the complexity of its flawed characters displays the same dedication to their jobs. Stream on Roku or Tubi
12 Rookie Blue (2010-2015)
- Release Date
- June 24, 2010
- Missy Peregrym , Ben Bass , Gregory Smith , Enuka Okuma , Travis Milne , Charlotte Sullivan , Matt Gordon , Adam MacDonald
With similarities in name as well as the initial premise, Rookie Blue may well be called The Rookie set in Canada. The series has a similarly large ensemble cast filling in roles across various ranks within law enforcement, from officers to detectives. Its focus, however, is on the lives of five rookie police officers who join the force at the beginning of the series. Although there is no shortage of good action, Rookie Blue brings an undeniable sentimentality to its proceedings, focusing more on the romantic entanglements between the different characters. For this reason, the show has also found comparisons with the ever-popular show Grey’s Anatomy.
Balancing Romantic Life and Imposter’s Syndrome
If the romantic subplots were one of your favorite things about The Rookie, then Rookie Blue will be of special interest to you. The series gives plenty of attention to the romance without taking the spotlight from the more essential aspects of a cop show. You get to see the rookies grow in their roles as new police officers from season to season, and the show traces the highs and lows of their journey through memorable moments — from silly, laughable mistakes to them facing off against serious threats. Stream on ViX
11 NCIS (2003-Present)
- Release Date
- September 23, 2003
- Mark Harmon , sean murray , Wilmer Valderrama , david mccallum , Rocky Carroll , Brian Dietzen
NCIS is a well-known classic in the procedural drama genre, and can be a fulfilling watch if you’re a fan of The Rookie. With 20 seasons behind it, and the 21st releasing in February, there are plenty of suspenseful investigations to keep you hooked for a long time. The series is based on a unique premise, as it doesn’t follow regular police detectives, but rather members of the Navy Criminal Investigative Service, who investigate crimes in different departments of the U.S. security forces. The premise has yielded exciting, high-stakes mysteries for the team to solve for the past 20 years.
Captivating Procedural Drama That Never Gets Old
Besides the fact that NCIS mostly deals in military-related crimes, a big reason why this series has been so successful is because it’s written just right. The series never gets too complicated nor caught up in unnecessary details. Instead, the showrunners keep the focus on what the audience wants: a briskly paced unraveling of compelling mysteries, with character explorations woven artfully into the main plot. While NCIS does put a greater focus on the investigative aspect of the show, it also doesn’t treat its characters’ backstories as a second thought. Instead, the show gradually builds up these characters with patience. Stream on Netflix or Paramount+
10 Law & Order: SVU (1999-Present)
Law & Order: SVU was the very first spin-off of the famous police procedural show Law & Order, whose success paved the way for it to become an entire franchise. The series is perhaps even more beloved than the original, and is one of the longest-running TV shows of all time, with the 25th season releasing this year.
The series follows the investigations of a special squad of the NYPD known as the Special Victims Unit, which specializes in crimes related to sexual abuse and human trafficking. Although its long runtime has meant that the main cast of the show has changed over time, Law & Order: SVU has maintained a strong following with its memorable storylines and gripping performances from its cast members.
A Show Full of Empathy
Due to its specialization, Law & Order: SVU shines through among police procedurals with its inherently emotional nature. Like many classic procedural shows, there is a greater focus on the plot in each episode. But its characters approach their work with a heartwarming empathy, a quality that is heightened by the brilliant performance of cast members and the characters’ deeply personal motivations for working in the SVU unit. The hopeful and optimistic tone that the series takes on is sure to appeal to fans of The Rookie.Stream on Peacock or Hulu
9 Chicago P.D. (2014-Present)
The Rookie is also a superbly well-rounded show that regularly explores intense, high-stakes plotlines, where its characters face off against dangerous criminal groups. Chicago P.D. is another show with this as its distinguishing quality. The series centers around the elite Intelligence Unit of the Chicago Police Department, headed by the ruthless Sergeant Hank Voight. The unit focuses exclusively on high-level crimes, dealing with kidnappers, serial killers, and drug rings in every episode, giving the series a more exciting feel than other police shows.
High Stakes and Savage Heroes
It’s always a special moment when procedural shows depart from their status quo to deliver a big stand-off with powerful villains. There are more sinister threats, bigger firefights, and the heroes are tested to their limits. For Chicago P.D., this kind of storytelling is its modus operandi, and its thrills resemble the high-octane storylines of a blockbuster feature film more than the toned down melodrama of a regular TV series. With epic threats in each episode and strongly-carved character arcs, the series will be a blast for anyone who loved the more action-oriented episodes of The Rookie. Stream on Prime Video
8 S.W.A.T. (2017-2024)
S.W.A.T. takes another approach to its drama by focusing overtly on the relationship between the police and their communities. Shemar Moore appears in the leading role as Daniel Harrelson, who becomes the team leader of his S.W.A.T unit in Los Angeles at the beginning of the show. He is specifically chosen due to his race, as the previous team leader was removed from the position for shooting an unarmed Black teenager. With deep personal ties to the community that he serves, the series sees Moore’s character take on a personal mission of becoming a bridge to the community.
With the series being based on the Special Weapons unit of law enforcement, elaborate crime storylines and action sequences are a major fixture. The showrunners have put in a lot of effort towards the action aspect of the show, and it clearly shows in how exquisite they are throughout the series.
Serious Exploration of Social Themes
The unique selling point of S.W.A.T. is in Daniel Harrelson’s mission to build a stronger bond with the community. His relationship with the community members often figures into the episodes in a significant way, and they are regularly seen helping him with his investigations. This angle finds a parallel with Nathan Fillion’s character in The Rookie, who always seeks to find a harmonious way to conduct his policing duties. What sets S.W.A.T. apart is its serious attempts to explore political issues, and the way this overt theme blends into the more fantastic crime aspect of the show. Stream on Netflix or Hulu
7 Hawaii Five-0 (2010-2020)
A remake of an old police procedural drama of the same name, Hawaii Five-0 has plenty of things that set it apart from others in the genre, not the least of which is its coastal setting of Hawaii. While the series immediately gives off a more laid-back vibe, its leading characters belong to a specialized task force and deal with crimes of a more specialized variety.
Hawaii Five-0 is one of those shows where the tone is defined to a great extent by its leading actors, in this case, the duo of Alex O’Loughlin and Scott Cann. The fun banter between these two, and less so the rest of the task force, creates a lively and humorous environment in which investigations are carried out. Add to that the colorful side characters that are ever-present in every episode, and the tropical setting of Hawaii, and you get a unique show that is as enjoyable in its slow moments as it is during the fast ones.
Camaraderie and Conversational Humor
At first glance, Hawaii Five-0 appears like a drastic departure in tone from many of the other shows on this list. The constant barrage of conversational humor from one scene to the next gives it a distinctive tone that isn’t found in many police shows. However, the lively brotherly chemistry between its cast will definitely remind you of the camaraderie shared by the team in The Rookie. There is the same sense of loyalty and brotherhood between its characters that is clearly felt between the characters, making this series wholesome as well as humorous. Stream on Paramount+
6 SEAL Team (2017-2014)
SEAL Team stands out as one of the best military action series ever, with a focus on authenticity and high-octane action. The series follows the most elite team of the U.S. Navy SEALs on high-stakes missions across the globe. With each episode featuring powerful threats from terrorist plots to international hostage rescue, the action certainly takes to the fore in this series.
But it finds a place on this list because of its compelling ability to elaborate upon the lives of the soldiers who take on these tasks, the bond they build over their shared experiences, as well as the fallouts that their professions have on their personal lives. Over the course of the series, each of the central characters go through powerful character arcs that have been developed both through memorable heroics on the battlefield and the struggles they face back home.
Authentic Portrayal of the Bond between Soldiers
The showrunners behind SEAL Team went through a great deal of effort to ensure that the series delivers an authentic look at the lives of elite soldiers. Former Navy SEALs contributed to the writing, and veterans were intimately involved in the production, too. The end-result was a show that was not just awe-inspiring during the action sequences, but also managed to seamlessly portray the bond shared by SEAL members with a heartfelt honesty. Stream on Paramount+
5 Southland (2009-2013)
Southland is another series on this list co-produced by John Wells, the person behind Third Watch. It’s a well-regarded police drama with the same lenses as Third Watch, with a gritty, mature writing style that portrays police life with all its flaws. Each central character of the show has their own personal issues to contend with while working their jobs at the same time. The show gives a layered exploration of the various equations of police life through these same character issues.
An Unpolished Look at Police Life
Although Southland is decidedly darker than The Rookie, both these series share an express intent to explore the complex realities of police work. While The Rookie accomplishes that amidst a generous sprinkling of entertaining drama and action, Southland takes a more meticulous, almost documentary-like approach. This is reflected in the visual style of the series, the messy ways its action scenes play out, and even the way its characters interact with each other. Stream on Tubi
4 Flashpoint (2008-2012)
Flashpoint is a lesser-known Canadian police procedural that deserves a mention among shows like The Rookie. The series is based on the work of Toronto Police’s Emergency Task Force, an elite team that is tasked with handling special emergencies like kidnappings, bomb threats, and hostage situations. Focusing on such storylines, the series follows the day-to-day life of a fictional police unit called the Strategic Response Unit.
Action in Flashpoint is less about intense firefights and more about the blood-pounding suspense of hostage negotiations, and there is a sense of realism to the premises of all episodes as the showrunners based their scripts by consulting with real-life Emergency Task Force personnel.
A Different Kind of Danger
The sensitive situations in which the characters of Flashpoint find themselves in every episode have plenty in common with the tense negotiations seen in The Rookie, often with John Nolan at the center. Through its six seasons, the crew develops a strong bond in a convincing, organic manner that is played out wonderfully by the cast. Whether it is the inspiring friendship between Spike and Lou, or the willingness of Sam to put himself in harm’s way to save people, the series builds a strong character base that wins you over. Stream on Paramount+
3 Castle (2009-2016)
- Release Date
- March 9, 2009
You should absolutely not miss out on Castle if Nathan Fillion is your favorite part of The Rookie. His undeniable charm takes center stage in this classic murder mystery series as he appears as the clear protagonist, unlike in The Rookie. He stars in the series as the happy-go-lucky Richard Castle, a successful mystery writer who decides to shadow the enigmatic NYPD detective Kate Beckett, played by Stana Katic, for inspiration on his next book.
Each episode promises the most intriguing murder mysteries, and embellishes the investigation with the sizzling will-they-won’t-they chemistry between Castle and Beckett, for a truly addictive watch.
Most Addictive Character Chemistry
Castle doesn’t really adopt a brand new formula to create its magic. The foundation works through the tried and tested method where intriguing and seemingly bizarre murder mysteries are filtered through the lenses of eclectic characters. The brilliance, however, is in the way these lenses are written. As a lighthearted and charismatic mystery writer, Castle loves to build fictional scenarios around the murders of each episode. Reflecting that in a delightful way is the hot-and-cold treatment that he receives from the seemingly stoic Beckett, who clearly hides a rich personal life as well as a begrudging attraction to Castle. It’s a golden combination that strikes many of the same bases as The Rookie. Stream on Hulu
2 The Mentalist (2008-2015)
Another murder mystery series with a charismatic lead is The Mentalist. Simon Baker’s Patrick Jane appears as an independent consultant for the police, who helps them solve murders using his uncanny ability to read people. His gentlemanly charm, however, hides a traumatic past, and he secretly aims to use his position as a police consultant to eventually catch the serial killer who murdered his wife and daughter.
Quality Mysteries and Cryptic Solutions
The idiosyncratic methods of Patrick Jane, often informed by his past career as a high-profile psychic medium, makes for great entertainment, and it doesn’t get old even till the end. What’s more, it isn’t solely this character’s hijinks that hold up the show; each episode comes with quality mysteries, and the supporting characters from Teresa Lisbon to the constant banter between Cho and Rigsby work well to create a show that executes all the standard tropes of the genre very well. Stream on Max or Roku
1 Brooklyn Nine-Nine (2013-2021)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine might as well be called one of the “it” shows of recent time. Better described as a workplace TV comedy set in a police precinct, the sitcom gave fans some of the most beloved TV characters of modern day. Throughout its eight-season run, the show entertained as well as educated with its wholesome comedy and exploration of various issues. The series follows a group of detectives in the titular 99th precinct of the NYPD, and how they grow through the years after a new captain, Raymond Holt, played by Andre Braugher, joins the precinct.
Iconic Characters and Wholesome Adventures
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is the only show on this list focused wholly on comedy. The secret behind its overwhelming success was its memorable cast of characters, each of whom were loved equally by fans — from the gifted detective and manchild Jake, Amy’s endearing take on the Type-A personality, to Captain Holt’s protective, and loving personality that was hidden under a comically stoic exterior. Their close-knit bond and endless shenanigans offer endless laughs in each episode, and the many interesting cases they take on continually add a sense of variety to their adventures. Stream on Peacock