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Ladies who make past and present crime dramas so arresting

Shaun Harrison
1 of 12 Jeff Riedel/TNT


12) Grace Hanadarko (Holly Hunter), Saving Grace: Grace may be a mess - after all... she was molested by a priest as a child and her sister was killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. But, these wounds make Grace the fierce, brave and loyal cop that she is.
2 of 12 Michael Muller/USA Network


11) Mary Shannon (Mary McCormack), In Plain Sight: Mary may act like a badass U.S. Mashal for the Witness Protection Program, but her "I don't care" cover is continually blown by the fact that she does care about these people... a lot.
3 of 12 ABC Archive/Retna


10) Stacy Sheridan (Heather Locklear), T.J. Hooker: To step out of her father's shadow, Stacy left her desk job to become a cop. Unafraid to take chances, she often went undercover and posed as a decoy to nab the bad guys.
4 of 12 Virginia Sherwood/NBC


9) Anita Van Buren (S. Epatha Merkerson), Law Order: The tough-but-caring working mom was a narcotics officer before joining the NYPD's homicide division. Just because she's often stuck behind the desk doesn't mean she doesn't know how to take action.
5 of 12 Lifetime


8) Nicole Scott (Vivica A. Fox), Missing: Scott was one of the FBI's most talented agents, but butting heads with superiors landed her in the missing-persons unit. Still, she used her sharp investigative skills (and psychic partner) to crack each case.
6 of 12 ABC Archive/Retna


7) Julie Barnes (Peggy Lipton), The Mod Squad: Julie was the heroine of a trio of late-'60s delinquent-hipsters-turned-cops working undercover to bust the baddies who prey on young people. Groovy, dude!
7 of 12 Cliff Lipson/CBS


6) Lilly Rush (Kathryn Morris), Cold Case: One of a few females in Philly's homicide squad, Lilly tackles the sometimes-forgotten unsolved crimes. Her been-there, seen-that approach belies the fact that she recognizes the importance of solving her cases.
8 of 12 ABC Archive/Retna


5) Suzanne "Pepper" Anderson (Angie Dickinson), Police Woman: Sexy blonde Pepper used her good looks and sometimes-skimpy wardrobe as an undercover agent from the LAPD's criminal-conspiracy unit. But criminals beware - she knows how to use a gun!
9 of 12 Cliff Lipson/CBS


4) Samantha Spade (Poppy Montgomery), Without a Trace: Though frequently underestimated because of her looks, Samantha is a smart investigator who's often the one to connect the dots in difficult-to-solve cases.
10 of 12 Peter "Hopper" Stone/TNT


3) Brenda Leigh Johnson (Kyra Sedgwick), The Closer: A former CIA agent and leading interrogator, Johnson was hired to boost the conviction rate of the LAPD's homicide division. She uses her suspects' quirks against them to coax confessions out of them.
11 of 12 Robert Voets/CBS


2) Catherine Willows (Marg Helgenberger), CSI: A former stripper, Catherine manages to balance being a single mom with her job as a blood-splatter analyst. Her ability to investigate a rape, even when her ex is the suspect, proves she is tough as nails.
12 of 12 Michael Parmelee/NBC


1) Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay), Law Order: SVU: She's the relentless sex-crimes detective who bonds with victims because she was born after her mother was raped. Her empathy comforts victims, but her gritty work shows she's no softy.