Procedurals are defined as television shows where main characters follow a preset path or procedure to attain a goal such as solving a crime or treating a patient. They generally fall into the crime/mystery/ thriller and hospital genres.
They have been a staple of television for decades. Audiences love them because they enjoy solving problems, gaining knowledge on how these professionals work, exploring our fear of death and disease and exploring human nature.
Jennifer Dornbush, author of “Forensic Speak” has defined several key procedural story types.
These are traditional cop shows such as “NYPD Blue”, ‘The Shield” and “Hawaii – Five O”. The crime team simply solve crimes and put the bad guys behind bars.
2) LEGAL CRIME
Based on the legal aspects of a case and usually set in a law firm, courtroom or police station. Examples include “The Good Wife”, “Fairly Legal” and “Suits”.
3) PARANORMAL/ SUPERNATURAL
These include ghosts and unnatural phenomena. They can border on the sci-fi. Examples of such TV shows include “The X Files”, “Medium” and “Fringe”.
These are traditional shows examining how a crime was committed (usually involving murder) to bring the perpetrators to justice. Examples include “CSI” and its spin offs.
5) DEATH EXAMINATION
These are less medically-detailed than forensic procedurals and involve a medical examiner. Examples of such TV shows include “Quincy”, “Body Of Proof” and “Bones”.
6) MEDICAL MYSTERY/ DRAMA
These shows also depict the personal lives of doctors and nurses, mainly in their B, C and D stories. Examples of such procedurals include “House”, “Grey’s Anatomy”, “ER” and “Royal Pains”.
These are newer types of crime procedurals and rely on exploring the psychological basis of criminal behaviour. Examples of such shows include “Criminal Minds”, “The Mentalist” and “Lie To Me”.
8) ACTION ADVENTURE
These shows involve investigators gathering clues to sole crimes before they happen. Examples include “24” and “Southland”.
9) AMATEUR SLEUTH
These are procedurals where unqualified investigators solve crimes before the police. They are appealing to audiences who like to solve the crimes with them. Examples include “Veronica Mars”, “Pushing Daisies” and “Murder She Wrote”.
These are detective stories with a comedic twist. Examples include “Moonlighting” and “Diagnosis Murder”.