Created By: Xtifr on January 3, 2013 Last Edited By: Xtifr on January 17, 2013
Troped

The Case of...

A title template for works of mystery and curiousity

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Indexes: Title Tropes

And now, my friends, we examine The Case of the Stock Mystery Title.

Starting the title of your work with the magic words, "The Case of..." is a great way to tell your readers that what they are about to encounter is a mystery or involves mysterious events. This is particularly common in Detective Fiction, where the detective is presumed to have a collection of case files, which some fictional biographer may be sorting through for publication.

One common variant is to interject an adjective before the word "case". This adjective will usually serve to heighten the sense of mystery. Words like "Curious" or "Strange" are common choices.

In detective fiction, the name may also be preceded by the name of the detective: Inspector So-and-so: The Case of the Intriguing Title.

Note that "A Case of..." does not, for whatever reasons, carry the same connotations. "The Case of..." is clearly a mystery of some sort; "A Case of..." is just something that happened (or possibly an infectious disease).

Examples:

Anime & Manga
  • Case Closed unsurprisingly, uses this for several episode titles, including "The Case of the Mysterious Gifts", and "The Case of the Hijacked Department Store".

Audio Play

Comic Books
  • "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate" is the story from DC Comics' Detective Comics that first introduced Batman to the world.

Fan Fic

Film

Literature
  • The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde
  • The Hardy Boys used this a few times, with titles like The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals and The Case of the Psychic's Vision.
  • Nancy Drew had a few, like The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds, and The Case of the Vanishing Veil.
  • H.P. Lovecraft's The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.
  • Harry Turtledove's humorous Alternate History Hardboiled fantasy, The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump.
  • The Encyclopedia Brown series has used this many times, with titles like Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Dead Eagles and Encyclopedia Brown and the Case of the Disgusting Sneakers.
  • An early proto-example from before the trope was properly codified is "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • The Hank the Cowdog children's mystery series began using this beginning with the eighth book in the series, The Case of the One-Eyed Killer Stud Horse. At this point, the majority of the books in the series follow this template.
  • The Western Mysteries uses this naming scheme, with The Case of the Deadly Desperados and The Case of the Good Looking Corpse.
  • While none of the individual Sherlock Holmes stories use this template, the last-published collection, The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes, at least suggests it.
  • Baroness Orczy (author of The Scarlet Pimpernel) published a collection of detective stories called The Case of Miss Elliot, which was also the name of one of the stories.
  • Almost all of the books in The McGurk Organization series by E.W. Hildick were titled this way.
  • One of John Dickson Carr's Gideon Fell mysteries is The Case of the Constant Suicides.

Live-Action TV
  • Supernatural had an episode named "The Curious Case of Dean Winchester".
  • CSI season eight had an episode named "The Case of the Cross-Dressing Carp".
  • Every episode of the Perry Mason series followed this template.
  • The Case of the Dangerous Robin was a humorous 1960's adventure series about an insurance investigator who chased thieves.

Radio
  • The BBC Radio 2 spoof series, The Newly Discovered Casebook of Sherlock Holmes has used this pattern a few times in episodes like "The Case of the Clockwork Fiend" and "The Case of the Deranged Botanist".

Tabletop Games
  • 1971's The Case of the Elusive Assassin, a board game based on the writings of Ellery Queen.
  • The Crimefighters game introduced in Dragon magazine #47. A sample adventure in the magazine was called "The Case of the Editor's Envelope".

Theatre
  • The 1899 play, Sherlock Holmes, or The Strange Case of Miss Faulkner by William Gillette, one of the first adaptations to be loosely based on Arthur Conan Doyle's stories. (Note that Doyle himself never used this naming convention.)
  • Tennessee Williams has a one-act play named The Case of the Crushed Petunias.

Video Games

Western Animation
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • January 3, 2013
    Kayube
    Every Perry Mason episode (and every book in the book series it was based on) uses this.
  • January 4, 2013
    Arivne
    Tabletop Games
    • The Crimefighters game introduced in Dragon magazine #47. A sample adventure in the magazine was called "The Case of the Editor's Envelope".
  • January 4, 2013
    LordGro
    A little different, but may still be close enough:

    Literature
    • "The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar", a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe.
  • January 4, 2013
    TonyG
    Any examples of "case" at the end of the title? I assume those are rare, as people might think the book is about a briefcase.
    • Looney Tunes:
      • "The Case of the Stuttering Pig" (starring Porky Pig, natch)
      • Bugs Bunny cartoon "Case of the Missing Hare" (although it's not a mystery-themed cartoon; it's about a magician)
  • January 4, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^^^^ I knew there was someone who used it constantly, but I couldn't remember who. I kept thinking Ellery Queen, but it was Perry Mason! Thanks. (And man, we really need to figure out the proper namespace and focus for the Perry Mason page. Other things being equal, if we only have one page, it should really be at Literature/, since oldest format is supposed to rule, but ideally, we'd also have Radio/ and Series/ pages.)

    ^ I'm willing to discuss titles ending in "case", but my initial inclination is to say that they don't match the pattern. Nor do I think it implies mysteriousness anywhere near as strongly--I think I've seen it used to mean "caper".
  • January 5, 2013
    Stratadrake
    How does this compare to The Fantastic Trope Of Wondrous Titles?
  • January 5, 2013
    Catbert
    The Western Mysteries uses this naming scheme, with The Case of the Deadly Desperados and The Case of the Good Looking Corpse.
  • January 5, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^^ It, um, will also appear on Title Tropes? Aside from that, I don't see a lot of similarity.
  • January 6, 2013
    randomsurfer
    Most Sherlock Holmes stories are called "The Adventure of X"; but last collection of short stories is called The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes. Does That Count?
  • January 7, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^ Good question! I would tend to think so, but I honestly can't decide. Let's leave it up to the panel.

    Panel?
  • January 8, 2013
    Xtifr
    No one spoke up, so went ahead and added it, at least for now.
  • January 10, 2013
    Chernoskill
    • COPS episodes all began with "The Case of...", for example "The Case of Big Boss' Master Plan".
  • January 14, 2013
    Xtifr
    YKTTW bump. I think this is getting pretty close to launchable.
  • January 16, 2013
    Catbert
    ^I agree.
  • January 16, 2013
    MaxWest
    Courageous Cat And Minute Mouse had every one of their episodes titled "the Case of..."
  • January 16, 2013
    ArkadyDarell
    • Almost all of the books in The McGurk Organization series by E.W. Hildick were titled this way.
  • January 17, 2013
    Astaroth
  • January 17, 2013
    Xtifr
    ^ Wasn't sure if that should go under literature or fanfic. A lot of stuff that could be called Holmes fanfic really does qualify as literature, but I decided to err on the side of caution for now.
  • January 17, 2013
    Xtifr
    Cool, five hats, and I didn't even have to give it one myself. :) I'll give this one more day for any last-minute examples, then go ahead and launch.
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