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Clue, Evidence, and a Smoking Gun
Sometimes deduction takes leaps of logic to come to a simple conclusion based on very minor details. Sometimes it's obvious. Sometimes however, the deductor uses his Bat Deduction skills to explain his conclusion, and then adds a Smoking Gun for good measure, making the previous deductions quite redundant.

Has some similarity with Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking but with weak arguments leading up to one strong one (and used as a deduction).


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    Comic Books 

  • In an issue of Young Justice, where a mysterious new girl helps the team out during a fight, then disappears. When trying to figure out who she is, this exchange occurs:
    Robin: Her name's "Empress".
    Superboy: Wha...? How'd you figure that one out?
    Robin: It was through a series of clues and observations, with a few inferences thrown in for good measure. Oh, and there was also that... (points to the word "Empress" burned into the ground)

    Film - Live Action 
  • Used in Miss Congeniality 2:
    Joel: And, may I say, I also recently went through a breakup.
    Gracie: I didn't go through a breakup.
    Joel: Puffy eyes, no sleep, irritable. And some of the other agents told me about it.

  • In Quidditch Through the Ages, the fictional author describes the discovery of round metal balls believed to be bludgers, and not cannonballs, based on very subtle indents made by beaters' bats, the perfect symmetry only achievable by magic, and the fact that the balls started flying around trying to hit the discoverer when removed from their case.

    Live Action TV 
  • Parodied on the 1960s spy spoof Get Smart, where Max would begin to list a series of utterly nonsensical clues to the solution of an obvious mystery, and 99 would supply the smoking gun...which Max would then hastily claim was the last clue in his list.
    • The joke is done in the movie Get Smart Again, but with Max listing off actual clues before providing the smoking gun himself.
  • In the season 2 Community episode "Paradigms of Human Memory" (the non-recycling clip show), Abed deduces that Britta and Jeff are sleeping together from several subtle indications, and lastly: Abed saw them getting dressed together in a dormitory.
  • In "The Great Game", the third episode of Sherlock, Holmes deduces that Molly's new boyfriend Jim is gay because of vague traces of make-up, subtle hints in his clothing, and slipping Sherlock his phone number.
  • Surprisingly infrequent in Castle, where a complex series of deductions and circumstantial speculations lead to the killer. Since the police require proof beyond reasonable doubt, a last-minute smoking gun (or, sometimes, a cleverly extracted confession) is produced that seals the deal. But typically, solving the mystery points to an unexpected suspect or provides the clues necessary to establish probable cause so the police can get the evidence.
    • In "A Deadly Game", Castle and Beckett get the victim's lover, a Long Island housewife, to confess that she was having an affair. However, while a dramatic scene, the confession is unnecessary: they already have both the murder weapon and physical evidence putting the killer at the scene of the crime.
    • In "A Chill Runs Through Her Veins", Castle and Beckett identify the killer based on a chance conversation with a witness. They don't have any physical evidence or witnesses, so to close the case the authors nicely have the killer volunteer a hypothetical confession so the viewer can feel satisfied that C&B have their man.
    • In "Famous Last Words", Castle must unravel the meaning of the lyrics for victim's final hit single to solve the murder. Only then can he and Beckett confront the killer and clear the name of the innocent suspect. Except... the key physical evidence was texts sent on the innocent suspect's phone, which were far more explicit about what actually happened than the song, and which the police were already going through. This evidence on its own identified and proved who the killer was, so the business with the song was only important because Castle and Beckett hadn't read the texts yet.
  • Dollhouse had a light, comical version. When Caroline first meets Bennett in college, she guessed Bennett is a neuroscience major. Bennett is shocked she guessed that so easily and asks how she figured it out. Caroline says it's because Bennett is eating a tuna sandwich, and fish is brain food.... and also because Bennett is carrying a large stack of neuroscience textbooks.
  • Used in the "Veep" season 2 episode "The Vic Allen Dinner":
    Sue: You think I had a job interview?
    Dan: I know you had a job interview.
    Sue: How, Sherlock?
    Dan: Simple makeup, higher neckline. Flats don't go with that dress, which means you probably have heels in your bag. Coffee from corner bakery implying you were at one of the lobbying shops on 18th.
    Mike: I love this stuff.
    Dan: That and somebody called your extension to make sure you had the right address.
  • Barney Miller played with this trope in one episode where Dietrich was investigating someone sending threatening letters to the Mayor of New York:
    Barney: So what do we have?
    Dietrich: So far...similar paper stock, the ink's the same...same return address.
    Barney: Why didn't you tell me that first?
    Dietrich: Dramatic effect.

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Used in The Simpsons episode "Homer the Vigilante":
    Abe: He was right under my nose the whole time. He lives in my retirement home. His name is Malloy.
    Lisa: Wow! How'd you track him down, Grampa?
    Abe: Good question! On one of my frequent trips to the ground, I noticed Malloy wore sneakers...for sneaking. My next clue came yesterday at the museum. We felt slighted by your age-bashing, and started home. Malloy said, "I'll catch up with you." [Malloy throws a grappling hook at the museum roof and starts climbing] I couldn't quite put my finger on it. There was something strange about the way he walked -- much more vertical than usual. And finally, Malloy, unlike most retired people, has the world's largest cubic zirconia on his coffee table.
  • The South Park episode "Not Without My Anus" opens with Terrance on trial for the murder of a Dr O'Dwyer. The prosecutor, Scott, provides as evidence a piece of Terrance's shirt, the hammer used in the murder, and a haiku Terrance penned:
    Dr O'Dwyer
    Time to have your head smashed in
    with my new hammer.
    Despite this evidence, Terrance walks, because of Phillip's statement that he "likes puppies and hates mean things".
  • In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) Mickey asks Donatello how he knew a Kraang substance was explosive. Donny gives a technobabble explanation about it's molecular structure, which goes in one ear and out the other, before concluding by pointing to a Danger: Explosive sign on it.

    Web Comics 
  • In El Goonish Shive, Susan figures out that the girl they saw in an earlier comic was actually a transformed Elliot by only two clues, a wrinkled shirt (and the fact the girl from earlier was wearing boy's clothes) and the fact the Elliot came from the auditorium from the same direction the girl went in. He's a bit shocked.
  • Used in The Order of the Stick, in this strip when Dangerously Genre Savvy Tarquin explains the reasons why he is sure Nale is still present in the palace: because Nale is a cautious planner and thus wouldn't leave the city without replacements for the men he lost, because Nale has a massive ego and thus wouldn't leave until he knew what Elan and Tarquin had to say about his stunt...and because Tarquin is wearing a ring of True Seeing and thus can see the invisible Nale standing right next to them. Cue massive Oh, Crap.
    • This is one of the few examples not just played for laughs. It's easily implied that Tarquin was using this time while talking, and feeding Nale's need to hear more about himself, to position himself to make a grab at Nale without Nale having an oppertunity to run away. In other words he was intentionally stalling with the earlier comments while moving in position. And perhaps also giving Nale a bit of a lecture on his egotism, It wouldn't be at all out of character for Tarquin to be doing two things at once.
  • An early Leftover Soup page has Jamie deducing Ellen is a Tauren World of Warcraft player.

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