There is, in the gallery which unites your two living rooms, a picture of Philippe de Champaigne of great appearance which pleases me immensely. Your Rubens also attract my eyes, as well as your smallest Watteau painting. For this time, I shall content myself with these objects which will be, I think, of easy concealment and resale. I ask you therefore to make them properly wrap and to send them to my name (paid harbourd), in railway station of Batignolles, before eight days. If you fail to satisfy this request in time, I shall proceed their move at night from Wednesday, 27 till Thursday, September 28th.
— Classical letter from Arsène Lupin. Calling police after reading is heavily disadvised.note .
Maurice Leblanc's 'Gentleman Thief
' who is part crime-solving (and crime-committing) mastermind
, part prince of romance
. First appeared in novels and short stories, starting in 1905. The Lupin stories were meant as a reversal of the detective stories
who were massively popular at the time. Lupin is instead the criminal. Stories tend to vary from following various detectives in their attempts to stop Lupin or figure out what he did, or to Lupin facing other villains. Other stories even have Lupin looking for lost treasures. Part of the books successes is due to Lupin's status as a Master of Disguise
: When opening a book, one is never sure WHO is Lupin in this story. Is he the victim's guest
? The Detective's assistant
? The narrator himself
? Lupin's status as a criminal is balanced by his trademark gentlemanly behavior, allowing him to come off as heroic rather than a villain, though his actions do often earn him a fair share of What the Hell, Hero?
He is the principal character of Night Hood
, a Canadian-French animated collaboration that aired on YTV in the 1990s, a 1970s French live-action show, and a Filipino TV series (more inspired by his grandson
but still using the original Lupin), as well as many movies, most recently a 2004 French film starring Romain Duris as Lupin. Lupin is the Trope Namer
and Trope Codifier
for the gentleman thief, a significant influence on those who followed in his footsteps.
Notable amongst them are:
- Fantômas, who starred in a series of novels and was an evil version of Lupin. Later it was adapted into a Mexican Comicbook and went through many layers of adaptation to become more and more Like the original version of Lupin. Years of Adaptation Displacement later, he is still remembered in some regions as more like the likable Lupin than his original, more psychopathic version.
- The Fiend/Man of Twenty Faces, who was the Worthy Opponent of Edogawa Rampo's Great Detective Akechi Kogoro. His M.O. and grudging respect for his opponent is very similar to Lupin's relationship with Sherlock Holmes (or Herlock Sholmes as he was known in the stories).
- Arsène Lupin III, his apocryphal half-Japanese grandson. Even though there are many parallels and Shout Outs, this Lupin is his own character. Perhaps the most notable difference is that he is considerably less subtle than his grandfather, especially when dealing with the ladies. He is, however, every bit as good a thief.
- Kaitou Kid from the Magic Kaito and Detective Conan .
- Riko Mine from Aria the Scarlet Ammo is supposed to be his great-grandaughter.
- "Arsene", the Player Character's first Persona in Persona 5.
Books by Maurice Leblanc
The original Lupin tales were written by Maurice Leblanc (1864-1941). There have been several pastiches written by other authors. The literal translations of the original French titles are based on the list of Jean-Marc Lofficier.
- Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar (1907). Short story collection, covering the first 9 Lupin tales.
- "The Arrest of Arsène Lupin". First published in July, 1905.
- "Arsène Lupin in Prison". First published in December, 1905.
- "The Escape of Arsène Lupin". First published in January, 1906.
- "The Mysterious Traveller". First published in February, 1906.
- "The Queen's Necklace". First published in April, 1906.
- "The Safe of Madame Imbert". First published in May, 1906.
- "Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late". First published in June, 1906.
- "The Black Pearl". First published in July, 1906.
- "Seven of Hearts". First published in May, 1907.
- Arsène Lupin vs. Herlock Sholmes (1908). Collection including a novella and a short story.
- "The Blonde Lady". Serialized from November, 1906 to April, 1907.
- "The Jewish Lamp". Serialized in September-October, 1907.
- The Hollow Needle (1909). First full novel in this series. Serialized from November, 1908 to May, 1909.
- 813 (1910). Second Lupin novel.
- The Crystal Stopper (1912). Third Lupin novel.
- The Confessions of Arsène Lupin (1913). Short story collection, including 9 tales.
- "The Games of the Sun". First published in April, 1911.
- "The Wedding Ring". First published in May, 1911.
- "The Sign of the Shadow". First published in June, 1911.
- "The Infernal Trap". First published in July, 1911.
- "The Red Silk Scarf". First published in August, 1911.
- "Death on the Prowl". First published in September, 1911.
- "The Marriage of Arsène Lupin". First published in November, 1912.
- "The Straw". First published in January, 1913.
- "Edith the Swan-Neck". First published in February, 1913.
- The Shell Shard (1916). A war novel set in World War One. Lupin himself has a cameo.
- The Golden Triangle (1918). Novel set in the aftermath of World War One. Lupin serves as a supporting character.
- The Island of Thirty Coffins (1919). Lupin serves as a co-protagonist with Veronica Hergemont.
- The Teeth Of The Tiger (1921). Fourth Lupin novel.
- The Eight Strokes Of The Clock (1923). Short story collection, including 8 tales. Connected through a frame story.
- "At the top of the Tower"
- "Pitcher of Water"
- "Therese and Germaine"
- "The Film Reveals"
- "The Case of Jean-Louis"
- "The Lady and the Axe"
- "Not on the Snow"
- "To the God Mercury"
- The Countess Of Cagliostro (1924). Fifth Lupin novel.
- The Damsel With Green Eyes (1927). Sixth Lupin novel.
- The Barnett & Co. Agency (1928). Short story collection, including 8 tales. Lupin uses the alias Jim Barnett.
- "The drops that fall"
- "The love letter from King George"
- "The Game of Baccarat"
- "The Man with Gold Teeth"
- "The twelve Africans of Béchoux"
- "Chance Miracles"
- "White gloves... White spats..."
- "Béchoux stops Jim Barnett"
- The Mysterious Mansion (1929). Seventh Lupin novel.
- Barre-y-va (1931). Eighth Lupin novel. Named after a location within the tale.
- The Woman With Two Smiles (1933). Ninth Lupin novel.
- Victor of the Wordly Brigade (1934). Tenth Lupin novel. The Wordly Brigade is an old term for the vice squad.
- The Revenge Of The Countess Of Cagliostro (1935). Eleventh Lupin novel.
- The billions of Arsène Lupin (1939). Twelfth Lupin novel. Left incomplete due to Leblanc's health problems. A missing chapter was discovered much later, published in 2002.
- The Last Love of Arsene Lupin. Unpublished novel. Left incomplete due to Leblanc's health problems.
Tropes associated with this character include:
- The Ace: Lupin is a peerless athlete, dangerous fighter, Master of Disguise, suave seducer of women, and psychologist.
- Almighty Janitor: Lupin conspires to become one in 813.
- Anachronic Order: The publishing order of the stories are not published in a chronological order. There isn't even an official order in which his exploits happen.
- Ancient Keeper: Invoked by Lupin himself in The Island of Thirty Coffins. He acts out the part right down to the letter to make Vorski believe he's fulfilled the prophecy.
- Arc Number: 813.
- Ascended Extra: Grognard, an accomplice of Lupin from The Crystal Stopper and The Hollow Needle, becomes a main character in both the French live-action series Arsène Lupin and the animated series Night Hood.
- Author Avatar: Maurice Leblanc is himself a character and narrator in the stories. He meets with Lupin many times through the books, meetings in which Lupin tells him an anecdote or two that he later publishes. This invokes the Literary Agent Hypothesis.
- Batman Gambit: At least one per story.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: One story has two of Lupin's hired thieves in prison awaiting execution. One of them is a remoreseless murderer, but the other retains audience sympathy. Despite his best efforts, Lupin is unable to save them until the day of the execution, when the murderer and executioner are both shot by an unseen sniper, allowing the other prisoner to be smuggled away by Lupin's men. As he gets shot, the murderer even thanks Lupin for ending him this way.
- Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: A number of historical figures are involved in the history of the Hollow Needle, including Joan of Arc, Julius Caesar, and the Man in the Iron Mask.
- Calling Card : As seen in the page quote, Lupin is not above sending his calling card before the crime, to convince his victims to send him the loot, save him the trouble of taking it.
- Call to Agriculture: in 813, Lupin plans to retire to a peaceful life as a gardener... while secretly controlling the German throne.
- Captain Ersatz:
- Due to protests by Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes became Herlock Sholmes from 219 Parker Street, with sidekick Wilson. Some English translations use "Holmlock Shears". Now that Sherlock Holmes is a Public Domain Character, revised English editions may use the original names. French editions continue to use Herlock Sholmes as Lupin's much bigger popularity in French-speaking countries lead to Sholmès being the more recognizable antagonist to the thief.
- Oddly, one of Leblanc's own characters has one in-series. Several non-literary works, such as stage plays, replace Inspector Justin Ganimard with "Jean Guerchard". Apparently because the name was too similar to publisher Gaston Gallimard.
- Cartwright Curse: Happens to some of Lupin's romances.
- The Casanova: Lupin, of course.
- Completely Different Title: Most of the titles are directly translated, but some of them are given these.
- Con Men Hate Guns: Lupin is an example of this trope, and whenever Ganimard finds a dead body, he always knows that murder is not the work of Lupin or his accomplices (unless, of course, it happens as by accident). Though, this may just be a part of being a Gentleman Thief.
- Cute and Psycho: Dolores Kesselbach.
- Dating Catwoman:
- Dead Person Impersonation
- Detective Mole: Lupin acts as one sometimes. The most extreme example: Lupin was once the chief of the Sûreté for four years. He also had members of his gang picked out from policemen on occasion.
- Deus ex Machina: Lupin acts more or less as this in The Shell Shard, The Golden Triangle and The Island Of Thirty Coffins, his role in each being little more than a cameo where he's instantly on top of things and solves everything.
- Driven to Suicide: At the end of 813, Lupin considers suicide, only to not go through with it, opting to instead join the foreign legion, so that he might die fighting for France instead. As he's got chronologically later adventures, he got over it.
- Dying Alone: A recurring theme in some of the novels (such as 813 and The Revenge Of The Countess Of Cagliostro), that Lupin's life is such that it is almost impossible for him to keep those he truly loves near him, because he'd put them in danger and the stress involved. This includes his own children, to whom he decides to never tell who exactly their father is.
- Expy: Isidore Beautrelet from The Hollow Needle is an homage to Joseph Rouletabille.
- Fakeout Escape: Lupin swears he will escape from jail, and he does, briefly, but gets back in. But when he comes up for trial, Inspector Ganimard suddenly stands up in court and swears that the man in the dock is not Lupin — he has used the fake escape attempt to substitute a flunky in his place. The court has no choice but to let the man go. Of course, the man really was Lupin, and Ganimard fell for it not only because Lupin is a Master of Disguise, but also because he genuinely expected Lupin to fulfill his promise of escaping.
- Friendly Enemy: Lupin seems to have a certain respect for Inspector Ganimard, and there are hints that the Inspector returns the affection.
- Gentleman Thief
- Trope Namer: His first book was called Arsène Lupin, gentleman cambrioleur or Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar. Probably the Trope Codifier.
- Gone Horribly Right: Lupin's first heist, as a kid, stealing jewelry from his mother's employer (She was a maid to a rich couple) to pay for health care for said mother who was sick. The employers never found how the theft was made, or who made it... So they assumed Lupin's mother had done the deed and fired her over it.
- Iconic Outfit: The monocle, top hat and cloak are traditional depiction of the attire, but generally Lupin dresses pragmatically, wearing what is suitable for the disguise of the day, or the task at hand.
- I Have Many Names: Lupin's been seen under over thirty different names.
- I Have You Now, My Pretty
- Impossible Thief: Stealing things in the French countryside while locked up in a Paris prison.
- Intercontinuity Crossover: With Sherlock Holmes, called Holmlock Shears or Herlock Sholmes for copyright reasons (Watson was * renamed Wilson). Canonical as far as Lupin goes. One of the earliest examples.
- It's All About Me: Lupin gets called out about putting his desires ahead of the wellbeing of the people he's supposed to have sworn to protect. His former nanny calls him on this during 813 when Lupin considers revealing who he is to His daughter and drag her in his adventures, shattering her peaceful, happy life.
- Karmic Thief: Arsene Lupin's first theft was from a family that had been paying his mother an unfairly low wage for the work she did.
- Landmarking the Hidden Base: The Hollow Needle.
- Lima Syndrome: In The Confessions of Arsène Lupin, Lupin is captured by a mother-and-son team seeking revenge. The son, who was tending his wounds, ends up setting him free, because he was actually a woman in disguise, and had fallen in love with Lupin.
- Master of Disguise. Leblanc, the in-universe narrator of this stories, admits that every time he meets with Lupin is like meeting him for first time. In all the stories only Sherlock Holmes (or his Captain Ersatz, at least) seems to be able to see through his multiple disguises (something which Lupin referred to as looking through his soul).
- Meaningful Name: The word "Grognard" has two meanings in French culture: it can mean "grumbler" or "complainer", but here it's meant to show he's one of the oldest and most faithful accomplices of Lupin's. It comes from the nickname given to members of Napoleon Bonaparte's Old Guard, old campaigners who (by surviving lots of grisly battles) had gained the right to "grumble" in front of the Emperor. Some early English translations render his name in a literal, Only Known by Their Nickname version, as "the Growler".
- A Night Hood-only version is Sergeant Folenfant, whose name means "Crazynote child". He usually tends to live up to it. The Folenfant from the books, however, is a very, very minor character who appears in one or two stories and never utters a line.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Leon Massier. By the time the truth is discovered, he's already been executed.
- Mole in Charge: Lupin as head of the Parisian police force in 813.
- Mood Whiplash: When Lupin reveals himself in The Island of Thirty Coffins, the story makes a sudden jump to the light-hearted. Lupin lampshades this himself.
- Not My Driver
- Opaque Lenses:
- Daubrecq's eyes are covered by both regular glasses and Sinister Shades. Lupin himself comments that not being able to see his expression is unnerving. He uses those glasses to hide his glass eye, which contains the highly-sought-after document, and Lupin happens upon this entirely by accident.
- Siméon Diodokis wears a pair of shaded yellow glasses.
- Parental Abandonment: Neither of Lupin's children, son or daughter, know he is their father. In the later, the son was taken from Lupin and used in an eventual Batman Gambit to have his life destroyed to get back at Lupin himself. His daughter he abandoned, only coming back when her mother died to deliver her to her foster parents, and to do the same once more when her foster parents died too, delivering her to his former nursemaid. At the end of 813 in desperation he intends to tell her of their relation, but his nursemaid forbids dragging his daughter into the kind of life he lives, and he himself can't bring himself to do it.
- Prophecies Are Always Right: Averted in The Island of Thirty Coffins. Kind of. The prophecy in question is actually just a poem, but Vorski believes it to be a prophecy and kills thirty people attempting to fulfill it.
- Public Domain Artifact: A number of them.
- The Queen's Necklace, the subject of a mysterious affair involving Marie Antoinette. It appears in The Queen's Necklace as the target of Lupin's first theft as a young boy.
- The "cursed" Blue Diamond of the Crown, better known now as the Hope Diamond. It's the MacGuffin of The Blonde Lady and has a bit of fictional history added involving actress Leonide Leblanc.
- The Ambazac reliquary, stolen from the church of Ambazac by a band of thieves in 1907. The Hollow Needle purports them to be agents of Lupin, and the reliquary appears as part of his collection.
- The Tiara of Saitapharnes, a treasure kept in the Louvre Museum that caused a scandal when it was revealed to be fake. The "real one" appears as part of Lupin's collection in The Hollow Needle.
- The Mona Lisa, which you should know already. It appears in The Hollow Needle as the crown jewel of Lupin's collection, with the one in the Louvre being a fake. This was actually before the more famous Real Life theft of the painting in 1911. In addition, it appears in the 1932 film Arsene Lupin starring John and Lionel Barrymore, where Lupin steals the wood panel painting by wrapping it around his umbrella.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The end of 813: In Lupin's own words: "I've won yet lost everything." The now dead big bad was a woman he loved, the man he thought was the Big Bad and successfully had convicted and executed as such turns out to have been an innocent. The future as rich nobility he had hoped to set up for his daughter has fallen apart. The successful civilian identities he had during his retirement have been destroyed. One of the film adaptations of the novel is thus titled: "Arsène Lupin wins and loses".
- Role Called: The first book, Arsène Lupin: Gentleman Burglar.
- Refuge in Audacity: Lupin truly lives by this. Taunting the police as they chase him, coming back to the scene of his crime in disguise to solve it...
- In the first story, it is explained that one time, Lupin broke into a wealthy man's home but left empty-handed, instead leaving his calling card with this scribbled across it: "Arsène Lupin, gentleman-burglar, will return when the furniture is genuine."
- Some of his plans hinge on this trope, or the reputation he has for employing it. Such as being liberated from jail by promising he'd never get to trial, using the time in jail and the solitary confinement his threat earned him to alter his appearance by changing weight and mannerism so at trial he spin a yarn about being a poor homeless plucked by Lupin's gang to occupy his cell as the real Lupin's busted out. Even the arresting officer falls for it. And as Lupin himself puts it "The deception was so shallow that if anyone had approached it and my disguise from the point of the view that it can't be true, I'd have been finished, the disguise was so shallow it wouldn't hold". But since Lupin's reputation for doing the impossible is so great, no one did and they accepted the tale that Lupin had escaped. So he was let out, and in such... never made it to trial.
- Rule of Cool: Hiding behind the camera, being a complete Marty Stu at every turn... such things would normally be annoying and lame, but Lupin makes it work because somehow he is Just That Awesome.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Invoked often because Lupin still has a consience and morals, and never condones murder, extortion or other things he himself will never do.
- Significant Anagram: Some of Lupin's aliases are these, such as Paul Sernine and Luis Perenna.
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Lupin is prone to those, especially during an Indy Ploy.
- Metaphorically True: Often used by him when someone calls him on a lie. IE: Lupin says he will find the treasure and give it to someone in 2 days if they let him live. Later the person realized Lupin doesn't know where the treasure is, Lupin replies he expects he'll have figured it out by the 2 day limit.
- Sympathetic Inspector Antagonist: Ganimard. Lupin himself admits that even though Ganimard dosen't have his or Holmes' intellect, he made up on pure tenacity and determination. Not that Lupin ever had any qualms on making him look like a fool though.
- Ten Little Murder Victims: The first story, The Arrest of Arsène Lupin.
- Thou Shall Not Kill: While Lupin's reputation is enough to cause people to wet themselves at mention of the name, it's a publicly known fact that Lupin has never killed anyone. In fact when a theft is staged to look like it's Lupin's work, the fact someone was murdered is one of the first clues that causes people to doubt Lupin was the culprit.
- Unreliable Narrator: If I haven't spoiled it already, Lupin has been known to hide behind the proverbial camera, indeed spends the whole first story doing it, leading to a twist ending.
- We Named the Monkey Jack: Lupin names his dog Sherlock.
- Wolverine Publicity:
- Some editions of The Hollow Needle highlight Holmes on the cover, even though he has only a small role in the book. One even adds the Spotlight-Stealing Title of Arsene Lupin vs. Sherlock Holmes.
- Lupin himself has also received this treatment, with books in which he plays only a small role giving him more space on the cover than any main character.
- There's even stories where he spends the whole novel under a cover, which the narrator continues to use to refer to him even after we learn he's Lupin. For example, in "The Damsel With Green Eyes" Lupin's identity is established very early, but he goes by "Raoul" for the entire book, even during narration. Remove less than half a dozen paragraphs and no one would ever know it's a "Lupin" novel at all.
- World War One
- Worthy Opponent: Sherlock Holmes was brought in specifically to be Lupin's Worthy Opponent. It's lampshaded many times throughout their meetings.
- In the Night Hood cartoon, Lupin seemed to genuinely respect Inspector Ganimard for his skills as a police detective. His disdain was reserved more for Sergeant Folenfant, whose name means "stupid child" in French.
- Writing Around Trademarks: An intriguing Real Life example; After Conan Doyle threatened to sue, Leblanc changed the Great Detective in his stories to Herlock Sholmes.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: The second and third crossovers with Sherlock Holmes read like this. In the second crossover, The Blonde Phantom, Holmes manages to find and capture Lupin's main accomplice, the eponymous Blonde Phantom herself, and has a cab waiting outside to take them both to the station while he plans his next move. Three guesses on who is driving the cab. Later Lupin sends Holmes all tied up back to England, hoping to never see him again, and gets ready to clear his hideout of many years, since Holmes knowing about it compromises its safety. Guess which English detective is waiting for Lupin to show up. Here's a hint: it's not Miss Marple.
- You Killed My Father
- The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples: Hilariously used in the TV series: Sholmès quotes the philosopher Sophocles, but misattributes it to Shakespeare. When Wilson corrects him, Sholmès tells him "Everything is from Shakespeare, even Dickens."