'''This page is for the book series. If you are looking for other Nancy Drew works, go [[Franchise/NancyDrew here]].'''

A young but brilliant teenage girl solves mysteries with the help of her two best friends and her understanding father. She also has a boyfriend. There are relatively few actual murders: it's more thefts, hauntings, kidnappings, and that sort of thing...

The original series lasted 34 volumes from 1930-1956, but continued from 1957-1979 with volumes 35-56 (and revised versions of the first 34 books). In 1979, the series switched publishers from Grosset & Dunlap to Simon & Schuster, and finally ended with volume 175 in 2003. It was rebooted in 2004 (under the title ''Girl Detective''), featuring more modern sensibilities, and written in first-person. It ended in 2012 after 47 volumes, and 2013 saw a new series launch with the name ''Nancy Drew Diaries''. There have also been many spin-offs.

Originally made by the Creator/StratemeyerSyndicate, and as such, written by a great many ghostwriters. The idea was conceived by Edward Stratemeyer, who also laid down the plot outlines, but most of the distinctive characteristics are due to the writer of the earliest volumes, Mildred Wirt Benson. Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, daughter of Edward, took over control of the Syndicate upon his death in 1930. Adams is primarily credited with keeping the Syndicate afloat through the Great Depression, and with revising the two most popular series, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, in the 1950s and 1960s, removing stereotypes and outdated ideas and language. She is credited with several books in the Nancy Drew series.

For what's basically the equivalent with dudes, see ''Literature/TheHardyBoys''.

!!Tropes in the books include:
* ActionGirl: Nancy and George
* AerithAndBob: Mostly chalked up to time, since quite a few names have fallen out of favor since the books were written (as it is, names like "Nancy," "Bess," and "Ned" currently sound a little old-fashioned and not the kind of names you'd expect teenagers to have,) but a name like Mortimer Bartesque couldn't have been very common, even then.
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: In the books, Bess is HollywoodPudgy. In the MadeForTVMovie, she's [[Film/{{DEBS}} Jill Ritchie]].
* AlliterativeName: Ned Nickerson
* AmbiguouslyGay: Between her masculine nickname ("George" was short for "Georgia"), short hair, and tomboyish interests and behavior, many readers of the original series speculated that George Fayne was a lesbian, despite the fact that she had a boyfriend. Similarly, in the "Files" series, she doesn't have a steady boyfriend and although she dates fairly regularly, she isn't boy-crazy or flirtatious like Bess and is often irritated with guys who act as such.
* AnchoredShip: It was clear that all the flirting and Ship Teasing between Nancy and Frank in the ''Supermysteries'' was going to go nowhere since they had Ned and Callie. Similarly, the not quite as strong attraction between Bess and Joe was similarly stuck since Joe [[spoiler:was essentially widowed after Iola was murdered.]] That and each others flirtatious natures making them incapable of making a serious commitment to each other.
* BeautyBrainsAndBrawn: Bess, Nancy, and George for the most part, although this wavers from book to book. Nancy is undeniably the "Brains" of the group; George has always been considered the most athletic of the trio, and functions as "Brawn" if Ned isn't around; Bess has always been described as a great "Beauty" and is often given "distract-the-guard-flirting" as an assignment.
* BoundAndGagged: an old Stratemeyer standby, in lieu of "real" violence
* BlondeBrunetteRedhead: The trio of Bess, George, and Nancy.
* TheCaseOf: The series had a few, like ''The Case of the Disappearing Diamonds'', and ''The Case of the Vanishing Veil''.
* CatchPhrase: "Hypers!", often uttered by George.
* ChainedToARock: In one of the "Files" books, Nancy is knocked unconscious. When she comes to, she realizes that she's been tied to a piling, left to drown when the incoming tide inevitably rises over her head. This is especially sadistic ''and'' stupid on the bad guys' part, as if they wanted to kill her, they could have easily dumped her in the ocean while she was unconscious, but chose a method that borders on torture--and is quite obviously a murder rather MakeItLookLikeAnAccident.
* {{Chickification}}: Both played straight and reversed in the infamous rewrites of the 60's. There was a lot more "asking nicely" and "smiling sweetly," and in general the tomboyish Nancy became much more ladylike -- but she also took to wearing jeans, rumpling her hair, and eating hamburgers in diners rather than "dainty sandwiches" in tea shops. The former was deliberate (Mildred Wirt Benson and Harriet Stratemeyer Adams did not like each other, when the very ladylike Adams took to rewriting the stories, she tried to edit out as much of Benson's tomboyish characteristics as she could), the latter was simply a product of cultural changes.
* ClearMyName: in ''Files #43: False Impressions'', and ''#59: High Risk'' (though this one is actually Clear My ''Boyfriend's'' Name. Several in the original series too--''Mystery at Lilac Inn'', etc.
* CostumePorn: Much like FoodPorn as described on the ''Literature/HardyBoys'' page, the books devoted a decent amount of space to descriptions of the outfits the girls wore. However, unlike the FoodPorn of the Hardys, the clothing descriptions remained, and when there are books like ''A Model Crime'' and ''Designs in Crime,'' which focus on modelling and the fashion industry, the descriptions sometimes went UpToEleven.
* CoversAlwaysLie: There was an odd period during the ''Files'' series (the period surrounding issue 100) where they decided to start marketing the books almost as a romance series. They were given titles that bordered on misleading, such as ''The Cheating Heart'' (about stolen test answers), ''Heart of Ice'' (sabotage at a mountain climbing school) and ''The Stolen Kiss'' (about a stolen painting called "First Kiss.") The covers switched to look like [[http://covers.openlibrary.org/b/id/409722-L.jpg Harlequin]] [[http://images.betterworldbooks.com/067/The-Cheating-Heart-Nancy-Drew-Files-99-9780671794910.jpg Romances,]] with Nancy staring longingly at some handsome stud (often Ned, but not always.) The writers attempted to justify this by ratcheting up the romantic angst, both in Nancy frequently missing Ned while he was at college, and having guilt-inducing feeling for the suspect, stranger, villain of the week. It came close to GenreShift, but not quite.
* CrossOver - the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries series, Spinoffs of the ''Files/Casefiles'' and ''Girl Detective/Undercover Brothers'' series.
* DatingCatwoman: Especially during the ''Files'' spinoff, a subplot that kept popping up would be that either George or especially Bess would develop a crush on someone that Nancy would view as a suspect, with a rift forming between them when Bess or George would vehemently defend their innocence despite evidence forming against them. They would always reconcile by the end of the book, but it varied as to whether the man was guilty, innocent, or guilty of a smaller, less severe crime (He might have committed a forgery or theft, but not the murder), or had even been strong-armed into participating by the real villain.
** This also happened in the book ''Two Points To Murder'', where it was Ned who was a friend of the suspect. Much like with Bess or George's love interests, the guy turned out to be involved, but not guilty of the main crime. Only this time at the end of the book, the rift resulted in a pretty brutal, but realistic breakup.
* DubNameChange: In Finland, she's known as ''Paula'' Drew.
** Turned UpToEleven in the French translation [[http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Roy#Traduction_des_noms_originaux as you can see on the other wiki]]. Even Carolyn Keene becomes ''Caroline Quine''.
* EagleEyeDetection
* ExtrudedBookProduct
* FoolishSiblingResponsibleSibling: Though they're cousins, this is precisely Bess and George's relationship. Enough that it's a shock to everyone on the rare occasions that George dissolves into a giggly schoolgirl over a guy.
* GoneSwimmingClothesStolen: A variant appears in "The Clue in the Crumbling Wall," when George takes an inadvertent "swim" -- i.e., falls into a pond -- and lays out her outer clothing to dry while she waits in an abandoned stone house. Naturally, a small child steals her clothes. (And since this was written in 1945, chasing him [[FullyClothedNudity in her underwear]] is just not done.)
* HardHead
* KidDetective
* KindlyHousekeeper: Hannah Gruen is portrayed this way, as well as being a ParentalSubstitute for Nancy.
* LongRunningBookSeries
* MissingMom: She passed away when Nancy was three years old (Note: In the stories before the rewrites of the 60s, see OrwellianRetcon, she passed away when Nancy was ten.)
* MysteryFiction
* MysteryMagnet: Oh so much
* NotAllowedToGrowUp: Though it varies from original incarnations, Nancy Drew's age largely is stuck around 17-19 years old and as such is either a high school student or a college freshman/sophmore. Deliberate on the part of the Stratemeyer Syndicate, who had notice sharp drop-offs in readership of other series such as ''Judy Bolton'' and ''Cherry Ames'' when the characters grew older and matured.
** Averted in the MadeForTVMovie--The show starts out with Nancy going to college.
*** Well, if it had gone to series, then maybe.
** The 1995 TV series, however, rarely if ever mentions Nancy's age.
** Oddly averted in the original series, though: Nancy was sixteen in the early volumes, then suddenly advanced to eighteen so it would be legal for her to drive in every state. (Although as Bobbie Ann Mason has pointed out, she ''never'' acted as though she was under thirty.)
* ObfuscatingDisability: In ''Captive Witness'', the plot centers around a plan to rescue 10 children from then-Communist Hungary. The ringleaders of the rescue mission are an elderly professor and his wheelchair bound nephew. It's soon revealed that the young man is not paralyzed and that the rescue plans were hidden in the seat of his chair, knowing that customs officials would not search it.
* OfficialCouple: Nancy and Ned Nickerson
* OrwellianRetcon: On at least one occasion, new editions of the old stories were revised to update the settings (along with other changes, in some cases to the extent that pretty much everything after the title page was new).
* PoorlyDisguisedPilot: You wouldn't think this could happen in book form, but it has. ''Nancy Drew Files #39: The Suspect Next Door'' focused '''heavily''' on Nancy's neighbor, a girl named Nikki Masters. Not too long after, Nikki got her own spin-off, a romance series called ''River Heights.'' It lasted about 16 issues before getting run off the face of the earth and is largely forgotten now.
* PowerTrio: Nancy, Bess and George.
* ProtagonistCenteredMorality: Nancy and co. engage in a lot of behavior that would be considered rude and meddlesome if anyone else were doing it, but it's always justified as the people she's displaying this towards are usually jerks and/or suspects in her case. For example, when she demands that a man explain something that she heard while ''eavesdropping on his private phone conversation'', ''he'' is the one made to be in the wrong for screaming at her to mind her own business. Of course, he doesn't help his cause by grabbing and shaking her, but he still has every right to be upset for her butting into his personal life.
* PutOnABus: Helen Corning in the original series, who was eventually replaced by Bess and George (the excuse was that she was either traveling or studying in Europe, a common way to jettison unwanted characters at the time.)
** In the ''Files'' series, the writers sometimes had issues finding something for all four main characters (Nancy, Ned, Bess, George) to do. Usually, it was easiest to get rid of Ned, by having him busy with some major assignment for school. However, either Bess or George would often be "visiting family" or "attending a wedding" or George would be in some kind of sports tournament.
* SaunaOfDeath: Appears in the '80s series during ''Two Points to Murder''; [[GettingHotInHere Nancy sheds her footwear, sweater, shirt and jeans to keep the heat at bay]] before managing to escape.
* ShouldntWeBeInSchoolRightNow: It's not as bad as some instances, since later books have explicitly stated Nancy's age at 18, meaning it's perfectly plausible for her to have already graduated high school. However, as society marches on, it becomes increasingly strange that she doesn't attend college or pursue some kind of employment.
* SpinOff: There have been several:
** ''The Nancy Drew Files:'' DarkerAndEdgier and HotterAndSexier series designed to appeal to teen audiences by removing the previous roadblocks of the parent series (NoHuggingNoKissing, NeverSayDie, etc.) Might qualify as a QuietlyPerformingSisterShow since it had a successful run of 12 years (1985-1997) and 124 issues.
** ''The Nancy Drew Notebooks'' and ''Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew:'' SpinOffBabies series which both involve 8-year-old versions of Nancy, Bess, and George solving mysteries in the vein of missing pet cats.
** ''Nancy Drew On Campus:'' An ill-conceived GenreShift that didn't go over well. This sent Nancy away to college, and tried to be a drama series in the vein of ''Sweet Valley High.'' The mysteries became a minor subplot, and Nancy had to struggle with college life and the drama of roommates and student loans and partying ([[FelonyMisdemeanor and dumping Ned!]])
** ''Nancy Drew: Girl Detective:'' Considered a continuation of the original series by the publisher, it hovers somewhere between the Originals and the Files in terms of storytelling (while more shy about showing death than the ''Files,'' it's more liberal in ''implying'' death than the Original, using more violent crime such as arson and sabotage.)
** Both the ''Files'' and ''Girl Detective'' spin-off had their own spin-off, a Crossover series with the Hardy Boys. Interestingly, they were both titled ''Nancy Drew-Hardy Boys Supermysteries.'' (Fans tag them '88 and '07 for the sake of avoiding confusion.) Both shared a lot of similar traits, including hinting at Nancy/Frank and Bess/Joe relationships.
** ''The Nancy Drew Diaries:'' Set to begin in early 2013, this series will take the place of ''Nancy Drew: Girl Detective'' as the "official" canon (meaning it's not considered a spinoff like the ''Files'' or ''On Campus'') and it appears it will try to fix some of the more disliked parts of ''Girl Detective'' (such as the first-person narrative and using actual paintings for covers instead of clipart.)
* UselessBoyfriend: Ned Nickerson toes the line here. Often averted as he works as her muscle when things get really dangerous; occasionally, in less action-heavy stories or ones where Nancy TookALevelInBadass, he will end up feeling a little tacked on. A common story thread is creating conflict because of his feelings of uselessness.
* {{UST}}: Between Nancy and Frank Hardy in the CrossOver series.
** As well as Joe and Bess, much to the annoyance of everyone else.
* TomboyishName: George. It's her real name and she's actually quite proud of it.
** FlipFlopOfGod again, in some stories George is short for Georgia.
* ViewersAreGoldfish: It's a common problem with any book series, but there's always one large block of exposition that's always dropped into (usually) the first chapter of each book (Nancy's mother died when she was three, Bess and George are cousins, but couldn't be more different, Ned is studying at Emerson College, etc.)
* [[WhereTheHellIsSpringfield Where The Hell Is River Heights?]]: The location of River Heights has always been pretty sketchy. The original ghostwriter, Mildred Wirt Benson, put it in her home state of Iowa, but it seemed to keep drifting farther and farther east, going as far as New Jersey when Harriet Adams did her rewrites in the 60's. As early as the ''Files'' series, however, it seems to have settled down and tends to stay within driving distance of Chicago (and despite that leaving four states as possibilities due to Chicago's location, it's often implied that it's in Illinois, also.)