CBS may as well stand for Cops Broadcasting Station, because the network has had remarkable success with its TV series about law enforcement. As one of its longest-running cop shows, Blue Bloods has become a Friday night staple for over a decade as it tells the story of the Reagans, an Irish-Catholic family in New York City with deep ties to the police. At the top of it all is Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), whose children include Donnie Wahlberg's Danny Reagan (detective) to Bridget Moynahan's Erin Reagan (ADA).
Blue Bloods Season 12 is underway, but what should you watch while you wait for the next episode? We've compiled a list of shows that share similar DNA with Blue Bloods, whether they're great cop shows or series about families in business together.
Blue Bloods is also streaming on Hulu
While Blue Bloods took a cop show and added the family spin to it, the Canadian police drama Rookie Blue took a cop show and added the rookie blues. The series, which premiered in 2010 on Canada's Global and ran for six seasons, followed five rookie cops in Toronto as they learn how to be cops on the job and deal with the complications being an officer has on their personal lives (the show has been called the Grey's Anatomy of cop shows, after all). Like Blue Bloods, there's also some family history in the show, as several of the main characters had or have parents who are cops.
You can't properly respect Blue Bloods (and every other cop show made after the mid 1990s) without honoring the cop show that changed the genre into what it is today. ABC's NYPD Blue premiered in 1993 and ran for 12 seasons through 2005, but its impact on television stems from its novel approach to drama, taking away some of the gloss from primetime entertainment and scuffing it up with frank depictions of alcoholism and nudity, which made many uptight people spit out their tea at the time. But the series was also an award-winning drama showing the lives of cops in and out of their uniforms, earning 20 total Emmys on 84 nominations.
What if instead of everyone in the family being a cop, some were politicians and some were crooks? That's essentially the plot of Showtime's acclaimed drama Brotherhood, which ran from 2006 to 2008 and stars Jason Clarke as a member of Rhode Island's House of Representatives and Jason Isaacs as his brother, who just so happens to be a lifelong gangster. While much more serialized than Blue Bloods, Brotherhood captures the feeling of a family at odds with itself, as the two main brothers redefine right and wrong with their flittering moral compasses, and the varying degrees of loyalty that come from the familial divide.
If you like Blue Bloods but wish it included a little more peril and grotesquerie, check out another CBS police procedural, Criminal Minds. The series, one of CBS's most popular, premiered in 2005 and aired 15 seasons before it concluded in 2020. Criminal Minds follows a special unit of the FBI known as the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU), a squad that uses behavioral analysis and profiling to catch depraved killers. Despite not having family members in the squad, Criminal Minds does have some of that vibe due to the fact that the team members form such close bonds. [More shows like Criminal Minds]
If you're looking for a straight premium cop show to get into, you couldn't do much better than Southland, a show so good that NBC canceled it after one season because that's what NBC does. Luckily, it was picked up for four more seasons by TNT, where it continued to be one of the great underrated cop shows on TV. Set in Southern California, Southland is an escape from the concrete jungle of Blue Bloods' New York City, following an ensemble cast of cops (including Regina King, Michael Cudlitz, and Ben McKenzie) through their professional and personal lives, while also tackling some serious social issues.
Before you say, "Whaaaaaaaa? Why is this on the list?" let me explain. Did you really want a list with just a bunch of other cop shows? One thing that makes Blue Bloods unique is that it takes the cop show formula and rolls it around in a sticky batter of family drama. If it's the complex dynamics of a multi-generational family working in the same industry that has you hooked on Blue Bloods, then you have to watch the king of that setup, HBO's 2001 drama Six Feet Under. The Emmy-winning series follows the Fisher family, who run a funeral home in Los Angeles and butt heads with both professional and personal decisions to make in their lives. Yeah, no one's bagging crooks and then having a big meal with the family around the kitchen table, but the gravitas of their business keeps things interesting. And with a cast that includes Frances Conroy, Lauren Ambrose, Peter Krause, Michael C. Hall, and Rachel Griffiths, it's considered one of the best dramas of that decade.
If you need another great cop show with a great sense of place that looks at multiple levels of law enforcement, give The Chicago Code a shot. Though it only ran on Fox for one season in 2011, it was created by Shawn Ryan, the creator of arguably the greatest cop show of all time, The Shield. It follows Chicago police detective Jarek Wysocki (Jason Clarke), who helps the Chicago Police Superintendent (Jennifer Beales) take down corruption in the city, which may be linked to a powerful Chicago alderman (Delroy Lindo).
The yin to Blue Bloods' yang would be the TNT crime series Animal Kingdom, which moves the action from the skyscrapers of New York City to the beaches of California and follows a family of criminals instead of a family of cops. (Where's the crossover episode set in the flyover states?) Ellen Barkin is the show's Tom Selleck, playing Janine "Smurf" Cody, the family matriarch and crime kingpin who oversees a series of robberies with her four sons and grandson. If you need a change from the urban setting of Blue Bloods and want to get some (virtual) sun, or just like the idea of a family sticking together no matter what side of the law they're on, Animal Kingdom is for you.