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The Top Twenty TV Lawmen Ever

The Top Twenty TV Lawmen Ever (photo)

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Timothy Olyphant is a master of the clenched jaw. That and his glare, which would stop most men in their tracks (and ladies, too, but for entirely different reasons), are what make him such a natural for playing lawmen. Perhaps best known for wearing the sheriff’s badge in “Deadwood”, he’s also played a cop in “Damages” and tonight reprises his role as Deputy Marshall Raylan Givens in the second season of “Justified”. His roles in shows about law and order and mayhem and justice are due in part to his working relationship with David Milch, the man who created Sheriff Seth Bullock of “Deadwood”. Milch is no stranger to the inner workings of American justice. He co-created acclaimed cop show “NYPD Blue” and is now working with Michael Mann to create “Luck”, about life on a horse racing track. Michael Mann, of course, is the man who brought us one of the best police dramas ever to wear pastels, “Miami Vice.”

In honor of those great shows about law and order and truth and justice and the American way, we present a list of the top twenty lawmen and women to ever grace the small screen.

1. Dominic West as Jimmy McNulty from “The Wire”. McNulty is a cop through and through. More than that, he’s a Baltimore cop who is willing to work as a beat cop, a harbor cop, whatever it takes to save his city. He is tenacious, stubborn, cynical and determined and you can’t help but root for him even when is really screwing up. He also swears impressively well:

2. Peter Falk as Columbo in “Columbo”. With his rumpled raincoat, excellent manners, and ever present cigar, Columbo could solve crimes faster than Encyclopedia Brown on speed and all without a gun:

3. Erik Estrada as Officer Francis “Ponch” Poncherello on “CHIPs”. Ponch made ever boy want to be a motorcycle policeman and every girl wish she could date one or at least sue the department to let her ride, too:

4. Helen Mirren as Jane Tennison on “Prime Suspect”. That’s DAME Helen Mirren to you, criminal:

5. Andre Braugher as Det. Frank Pembleton on “Homicide: Life on the Street”
. The fiery and uncompromising Detective Pembleton was resolute in his pursuit of justice, even if he ticked off his entire squad and put himself at odds with his lieutenant while doing it:

6. Telly Savalas as Theo Kojak on “Kojak”. He may have had a thing for lollipops, but Kojak was no sucker:

7. Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas as Sonny Crockett and Rico Tubbs on “Miami Vice”. Don’t pretend you didn’t start wearing pastel t-shirts under white blazers and somehow lost all your socks after this show started airing:

8. Paul Michael Glaser and David Soul as Det. Dave Starsky and Det. Ken ‘Hutch’ Hutchinson on “Starsky & Hutch”. Raise your hand if you had a “Starsky & Hutch” lunchbox. These cops were pretty much the coolest part of the 1970s. Plus, nobody this side of the “Dukes of Hazzard” drove a car like Starsky and Hutch:

9. Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe on “Law and Order”. As the oft-divorced cynical cop who had seen it all and was always quick with the one-liner, Lennie Briscoe owned the wizened police detective role. They broke the mold when he passed on. Pour a little stale black break room coffee out for the man:

10. Chief Clancy Wiggums on “The Simpsons”. He’s not the best cop, but there’s just something about Chief Wiggums:

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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