A staple of Mystery Fiction
and Detective Fiction
, the Great Detective relies on powers of deduction and educated thought to solve crimes. The Great Detective is usually an Amateur Sleuth
or a Private Detective
(because Police Are Useless
). Some of these detectives will have an Arch-Enemy
that will be their equal, but in a different light.
The Great Detective tradition originates with Eugène François Vidocq, a Real Life
criminal-turned-detective and founder of the French Sûreté
. Vidocq pioneered many of the scientific methods of detective work which would later become common in fictional detective stories.
The first Great Detective
in fiction was Edgar Allan Poe
's C. Auguste Dupin. Poe rejected the Vidocq model in favor of a more fantastic kind of detective. Later, the Dupin model was further codified by Arthur Conan Doyle
's Sherlock Holmes
, the most famous example to this day.
In Japan, where the Golden Age of detective fiction never quite ended, this type of character is called "Meitantei".
Compare: Hardboiled Detective
and Little Old Lady Investigates
. Will often be accompanied by The Watson
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Anime and Manga
- Shin'ichi Kudo/Conan Edogawa, of Detective Conan. Also, Heiji Hattori who is on pair with him. Both are considered as the "Meitantei of East [Shin'ichi] and West [Heiji]", respectively. "The Sleeping Kogoro Mouri" is believed to be one, but it's actually Conan who solves the cases. However, the filler character Heihachiro Shiota was known as the "Legendary Great Detective" and was Kogoro's teacher.
- "The Gathering of the Detectives" arc introduced five other Meitantei besides Shin'ichi/Conan/Sleeping Kogoro. One of them is Kaito KID's rival Saguru Hakuba.
- Other detectives like Sera Masumi and Tooru Amuro, who is actually the Black Organisation member Bourbon, are introduced late in the manga, but they are not on the same level as Shin'ichi and Heiji. That underlines these two as the real Meitantei of the series. The only character who is shown to be greater than Shin'ichi is his father Yusaku. However, Yusaku does not work as a detective, he's instead a writer.
- Oddly enough, Loki, Norse trickster god, in Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok.
- Subverted in Yu-Gi-Oh! GX, where Manjoume has declared himself Super Detective Manjoume Thunder on a few occasions. He's miserable at it, but it doesn't stop him.
- L in Death Note, who later reveals that he is the world's three greatest detectives, by use of pseudonyms. After his death, L is succeeded by Mello and Near (L-M-N, get it?), two younger proteges trained in the same school/institution that produced L.
- Houtarou Oreki of Hyouka, though he thinks otherwise.
- Practically everyone in Tantei Gakuen Q, but specially people like Kyuu Renjou, Ryu Amakusa, Professor Morihiko Dan and Professor Dan's niece Sakurako Yukihira.
- Chiko in The Daughter of Twenty Faces is this, although her powers of deduction aren't really used to help the law per se...
- Hajime Kindaichi from The Kindaichi Casefiles.
- Inspector Lunge in Monster seems heavily inspired by Holmes. Working on cases seems to be his entire life and he is shown repeatedly to be unable to stop, even using his forced vacation to continue the investigation.
- Meitantei Holmes, a Funny Animal adaptation of Sherlock Holmes (called Sherlock Hound in the US), created by (of all people) Hayao Miyazaki.
- Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple is a 2004 anime teaming up Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple through the device of Marple's great-niece Mabel West. Aimed at older teens.
- Karakurizoushi Ayatsuri Sakon (aka Doll Puppeteer Sakon). Sakon is a student and a traditional bunraku performer (a style of traditional Japanese theatre employing very detailed life-sized puppets). In his spare time, though, he is an Amateur Sleuth. And his partner in his investigations is his red-haired, loud-mouthed puppet, Ukon.
- Steam Detectives, the story of Boy Detective Narutaki and his endless fight against the various mad scientists and masked villains that are trying to take over Steam City.
- Subverted by Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, which appears to be a typical Meitantei about a genius teenage-girl detective specialising in Paranormal Investigation ... but in reality, she's merely the slightly dense puppet of Neuro, a creepy-but-brilliant demon from Hell who "eats mysteries".
- In Rozen Maiden, there's a puppet Funny Animal one called Meitantei Kun Kun. Shinku is a fan.
- Akise Aru is the best non-diary holder after all.
- Gosick gives us Victorique the Elegant Gothic Lolita Great Detective. Her brother Grevil, meanwhile, is reputed to be this.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Solf J. Kimblee is the evil version of this. He may be a Psycho for Hire mass murderer, but he's also a brilliant detective.
- In Aria the Scarlet Ammo, a VERY NON-CANONICAL descendant of Sherlock Holmes comes from the young tsundere Aria. She obviously takes up the mantle.
- Kamisama No Memochou gives us Alice, the Great Detective for the NEET detective team.
- There's this guy. Yes, he is a top martial artist. Yes, he is a great chemist. But first, he's the world's greatest detective.
- There's also this ductile guy. He's just as good as the guy mentioned above, if not better, but is often overlooked because he's not a gritty, mean, tragic origin guy, nor has he had several movies and TV shows about him.
- And thirdly, there's this faceless guy. He's staight up ace detective and lacks the gadgets and powers of the two above. He's also been referred to as the world's second greatest detective.
- The Spirit qualifies as both brainy investigator and two fisted gumshoe; his aide Ebony White has moments of brilliance as well.
- Oh and then there's also Tim Drake, who Batman has said will one day surpass him, in addition to being one of two people Ra's al Ghul calls "Detective." So some nice recommendations for the position.
- Funny Animal + Detective Animal + Everything Is Better With Monkeys + This Trope = Detective Chimp. He likes reminding people that Batman is merely the world's greatest human detective.
- John Constantine the Hellblazer, although with the word "occult" right before "detective".
- Gabriel Webb from The Maze Agency.
- Abraham Moth from the graphic novel The Woman in Red: Son of Sherlock Holmes.
- German example: Nick Knatterton.
- Simon Archard from Ruse, who is best described as "totally not Sherlock Holmes, honest."
- Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin.
- Gregory Temple of John Devil by Paul Féval
- Monsieur Lecoq created by Emile Gaboriau who was a direct influence on Sherlock Holmes
- Sherlock Holmes, the Trope Codifier as far as modern audiences are concerned.
- Erast Fandorin, the popular fictional Russian detective created by Boris Akunin. He is actually teamed with Sherlock Holmes in one novella but neither is able to "prevail" over the other. See The Other Wiki for more information...
- Anyone in detective fiction from the time of Sherlock Holmes until the type was deconstructed in Trent's Last Case in 1913. Furthermore, in a genre-wide example of Fountain of Expies, such characters tended to be thinly veiled copies of Holmes.
- Harry Salt, the main character of Incompetence certainly qualifies. Granted, damn near everybody else in the book is completely useless at what they do, but he is able to piece together a reasonably accurate account of a murder despite the fact that the files contradict each other.
- Hercule Poirot.
- The Basil of Baker Street series by Eve Titus. The Film of the Book, The Great Mouse Detective, is by Disney.
- Peter Wickham, aka The Sleuth, in the Steampunk Superhero novel The Falling Machine by Andrew P. Mayer, is Sherlock Holmes crossed with Bruce Wayne without the bat symbolism.
- Nero Wolfe
- The title character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series has 'being a Great Detective' as a superpower.
- Commissaire Adamsberg (in Fred Vargas novels).
- Lord Darcy, who can best be described as "Sherlock Holmes in a Victorian world with magic".
Live Action TV
- Subverted in Ace Attorney with the character Luke Atmey. As far as the player can tell, he devotes his life to his detective work, especially to cases involving a master thief named Mask☆DeMasque. By the end of the case, we find out that he's been the mastermind behind everything Mask☆DeMasque has ever done, blackmailing the thief into heists and then taking advantage of them to improve his image in the public eye. He goes so far as to murder someone, then allow himself to be accused of being the thief himself to avoid this information getting out.
- That's arguably a deconstruction, since Luke explicitly states twice he felt himself so great he needed to deliberately create an adversary that could match him. But, he maybe was just an Attention Whore.
- Considering that his name is "Look at me", and his theme is called "I just want love" (named after the pun in his Japanese name, Aiga Hoshiidake), he may be an Attention Whore.
- While it's not his official job title, due to the absurd amount of evidence he uncovers it can be argued that Phoenix himself fits the trope.
- There's a reason the Miles Edgeworth game is called Ace Attorney Investigations when he's technically a prosecutor; all he does is detective about. He even has a special power that's making logical deductions by connecting known facts.
- Professor Layton from the series of the same name - although the extent to how awesome he really is doesn't come into play until near the end of the first game.
- Erika Furudo from Umineko no Naku Koro ni is a parody of the archetype: a Great Detective with ten times the brainpower of Sherlock Holmes and one-tenth the social graces of Sherlock Holmes. So convinced is she that crimes will happen wherever she goes, that she actually begins her investigation into the murder before anybody has been murdered. In EP7, however, Willard H. Wright is a truly great detective.
- The cast of Guilty Party, though the most classically Great Detective-ish of them is their patriarch, The Commodore/Dorian Dickens.
- Speaking of Vidocq, there is a club aptly named The Vidocq Society. Made up of volunteers, they take on cold cases and many law enforcement agencies send them cases to review. Want to join? Well, you have to be an expert in some field of forensics to start off. Oh, and you have to be invited to join, pay $100 in member dues every year and attend at least one meeting yearly (meetings are every third Thursdays of the month, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).