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Television’s Toughest Women Detectives

Our favorite women detectives on KCTS 9. ​​​​​​​

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Tennison, DCI Vera Stanhope, DCI Cassie Stuart: If you are a fan of PBS mystery programs, these names probably ring a bell. While Endeavour Morse and Geordie Keating have a special place in our hearts, these women sleuths deserve a little extra attention. Not only do these smart programs keep us captivated with mystery and suspense, we find the women solving problems strong and inspiring.  

Fans of PBS women detectives will be happy to hear one of our original favorites is returning. An encore presentation of Prime Suspect, starring Helen Mirren, begins Thursday, April 16, at 9:00 p.m. And, she's in good company. Here are our favorite women detectives on KCTS 9. 

Prime Suspect 

Prime Suspect

In a recent write-up looking back at the series, Prime Suspect Returns to KCTS 9, Anne Stuart penned: "Tennison is a no-nonsense officer in London’s Metropolitan Police. Determined to prove herself and rise through the ranks of the police force, she faces daily, rampant sexism in the male-dominated profession – and some of her fellow officers are determined to see her fail." This series was Dame Helen Mirren's breakout role and is definitely worth a second look. 

Prime Suspect airs Thursday at  9:00 p.m.

Prime Suspect: Tennison 

DCI Tennison

Behind every great detective is a backstory. Turn back the clock and witness the influences that turned 22-year-old rookie policewoman Jane Tennison into the savvy, single-minded crime fighter beloved by Prime Suspect viewers. 

Watch all three episodes of the prequel series Prime Suspect: Tennison with KCTS 9 Passport now. 



Unorthodox but brilliant DCI Vera Stanhope investigates chilling crimes only she can solve. Starring BAFTA winner Brenda Blethyn as Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope, the series is based on Ann Cleeves best-selling books, Inspector Stanhope, delivering in-depth, edge-of-your-seat, crime-solving drama.

Vera airs Saturday nights at 8:00 p.m. on KCTS 9.

Before We Die 

Before we die

In this compelling thriller, police detective Hanna Svensson steps in to handle a mysterious informant in a criminal organization when her colleague and lover, Sven, goes missing. (This series is from Walter Presents, in Swedish with English subtitles.)

Watch Before We Die now with KCTS 9 Passport. 


Cassie Stuart

Nicola Walker (Last Tango in Halifax) stars as DCI Cassie Stuart alongside, Sanjeev Bhaskar (Indian Summers). The pair of police officers investigates cold case murders in this critically-acclaimed series. Unforgotten is about to head into its fourth season, and The New York Times once called it one of the "best TV shows of 2018."

You can watch the first three seasons of Unforgotten now with KCTS 9 Passport.  

Frankie Drake Mysteries 

Frankie Drake

Set in 1920s Toronto, the series follows the adventures of Frankie Drake (Lauren Lee Smith) and her partner Trudy Clarke (Chantel Riley) at Drake Private Detectives, the city’s only all-female detective agency, as they find themselves fighting crime in the age of flyboys, gangsters, rum-runners and speakeasies.

Watch the Frankie Drake Mysteries now with KCTS 9 Passport. 

The Tunnel 

The Tunnel

The emotionally-charged, critically-acclaimed, bilingual crime thriller stars Stephen Dillane Karl Roebuck and Clémence Poésy as French detective Elise Wassermann. This unlikely, Anglo-French partnership is brought together when a woman is found dead at the midpoint of the Channel Tunnel. 

Watch The Tunnel now with KCTS 9 Passport. 

Thou Shalt Not Kill 

Thou Shalt Not Kill

Stubborn and determined detective Valeria Ferro endeavors to solve the challenging puzzles behind crimes motivated by jealousy, vendettas and repressed anger to seek the truth and justice. She struggles with her own demons from her past that come back to life when her mother is released from jail after seventeen years. (This series is from Walter Presents, in Italian with English subtitles.)

Watch Thou Shalt Not Kill now with KCTS 9 Passport. 

Caroline Gerdes
About the Author

Caroline Gerdes

Caroline Gerdes is the digital and social media editor at Cascade Public Media and a New Orleanian living in Seattle. She was also a National Geographic Young Explorer — which is totally a real job title. She recently published her first book, An Oral History of the New Orleans Ninth Ward.