Fantastic Noir

"The Butler Did It! With a death curse! From space! Take him away, Troll Patrol!"

Being a private Dick in this town was hungry work... and he was all out of bananas.
A sister trope of "neo noir" or cyberpunk, fantastic noir is a relatively small subgenre that blends the setting, characters (it usually stars a Hardboiled Detective who sometimes doubles as an Occult Detective) and plot structure of a Film Noir mystery story with the more colorful elements of fantasy and Science Fiction. The genre seemed to arrive all at once in The '80s and remains strong today, with the publication of such books as Anonymous Rex, Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Sweet Silver Blues, Stalking The Unicorn, and The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse.

See also: Cyber Punk, Dark Fantasy, Dungeon Punk, Urban Fantasy


    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Jeff Smith's RASL is a science fiction series with significant noir influence. RASL's an art thief on the run from his past, but he's running to alternate universes - and that's just the beginning.
  • The Marvel Noir line, including Spider-Man: Noir, has this feel, especially for Spider-Man. Iron Man Noir is a bit misnamed, since it's more of a pulp action story.
  • DC's Angel and the Ape, about a Hard Boiled Detective gorilla in New York City.


  • Stalking The Unicorn and the other books in the A Fable of Tonight series by Mike Resnick. Many of the stock noir characters are given a fantasy twist. For example John's partner, who often acts as The Watson, is a famous semi-retired monster hunter, his "secretary" who also plays the part of the classic Femme Fatale is a Cat Girl, and John's persistent enemy and local crime boss The Grundy is a demon.
  • Who Censored Roger Rabbit? has human detective Eddie Valiant solving crimes in a world where cartoon characters are a living, breathing people (some of whom happen to work in comic strips, television and movies) discriminated against by the more numerous humans.
  • The Garrett, P.I. series is practically a Trope Codifier for this one, telling hard-boiled detective stories in a world of classic fantasy races.
  • Anonymous Rex. The detective Vincent Rubio is a velociraptor in a world where dinosaurs aren't dead but hiding.
  • A Study in Emerald: Sherlock Holmes isn't noir, technically speaking, but this short story is a near-perfect snapshot of this subgenre.
  • Nursery Crime blends fairy tales with a Police Procedural / 70's-style Cop Show aesthetic. To a degree, Thursday Next qualifies, too.
  • Many of The Dresden Files books especially the earliest ones. Hard-boiled detective monologue running smack up against wizards, faeries and vampires. Results in many tons of awesome.
  • Vlad Taltos in the Dragaera novels is an (ultimately former) human assassin in a fantasy world where eleves are in charge, and narrates in a hardboiled First-Person Smartass tone. The plots of all of the novels involve mysteries solved through detection, and Vlad has the traditional Sassy Secretary in two nontraditional forms, his Dragaeran (elf) sidekick Kragar and his pet jhereg (more or less a Shoulder-Sized Dragon), Loiosh, a sapient animal that snarkily communicates with Vlad telepathically.
  • Nigel Findley's Dirk Mongomery, a Private Investigator in over his head in two Shadow Run novels, 2XS and House Of The Sun. Both are set in a Genre-Busting world of Cyber Punk, Magitek, and Noir.
  • Alex Bledsoe's Eddie LaCrosse books are basically hard-boiled detective novels in a sword and sorcery setting.
  • Simon R. Green's work, particularly his Nightside and Hawk & Fisher novels, has elements of this.
  • Undead on Arrival: Noir with Zombies.
  • Mr Blank and the sequel Get Blank feature little green men, chupacabras, brainwashed super-killers, and pretty much every conspiracy under the sun.
  • City of Devils is a noir mystery. The cops are all werewolves, the studio heads are crawling eyes, the machinists are gremlins, the blue collar folks are zombies, the actors are doppelgangers, and so on.
  • Idriel Ramirez spends all of Nerve Zero in a noir plot. Despite being in the distant future in a false planet with no gravity.
  • The League Of Magi novella Coldheart in the collection of the same name, is a noir story that uncovers monsters, mages, possessed people.
  • Stephen King's Joyland blends this with Magic Realism as it's about a search for a serial killer at a haunted amusement park.
  • Tad Williams Bobby Dollar series about an angel advocate caught between the forces of Heaven and Hell.
  • Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently series is a parody of this genre.
  • Dan Shamble Zombie PI adds horror motifs and a hefty dose of humor into the mix.
  • The Elemental Assassin novels are about a magic-wielding Professional Killer who operates out of a Wretched Hive in a version of modern day earth that includes elemntals, vampires, dwarfs and giants.
  • The anthology Weird Detectives is all about this.
  • Robert Rankin's The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies Of The Apocalypse takes place in a Clock Punk world where nursery-rhyme characters are real and toys are alive, but only in Toy City. The protagonist ends up getting recruited by a jaded, hard-drinking private detective who just happens to be a teddy bear to solve a series of murders, including the bear's late partner, Wee Willie Winkie.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Fringe has a Noir style detective story with definite fantasy elements in the episode "Brown Betty".
  • Angel was very much this, especially the first four seasons.
  • Daredevil starts off leaning towards more mundane noir (bar the presence of Matt's super-powered radar-like "vision") and gradually introduces the more fantastic Marvel Cinematic Universe elements like the Japanese gangsters actually being ninjas, and a Chinese drug baron who's possibly from an extradimensional city of mystical kung-fu masters.

    Tabletop Gaming 

    Video Games 

    Web Original 
  • There Will Be Brawl is a mix of Watchmen, Silence of the Lambs, and many others all in the Nintendo universe.


    Web Animation 

    Western Animation 
  • Episode 50 of Samurai Jack, "The Tale of X9," distinctly follows this route despite it set in the far future. X9 is a robotic assassin wielding a laser Tommy and driving a hover-Hudson who, by gaining sentience, grew disillusioned with his job and was the first of Aku's robots to quit. The episode begins when Aku forces him out of retirement to fight Jack, X9 knowing he won't make it out alive.