Great Detective

I never guess. It is a shocking habit—destructive to the logical faculty.

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. Contrast with Gentleman Thief.

Will often be accompanied by The Watson as an Audience Surrogate.


    open/close all folders 

     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 Detective School 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.
  • Future Diary: 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.
  • Heaven's Memo Pad gives us Alice, the Great Detective for the NEET detective team.
  • In Ryuugajou Nanana No Maizoukin Tensai gives herself the title Master Detective. While people laugh at her for it, she does actually live up to her claims, being able to figure out just about any mystery.

  • Batman. Yes, he is a top martial artist. Yes, he is a great chemist. But first, he's the world's greatest detective.
  • The ductile detective, Elongated Man. He's just as good as Batman, 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 straight 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."
  • Mickey Mouse from Mickey Mouse Comic Universe. Sometimes Mickey's hobby of solving crimes is raised to this level of skill (and sometimes also made his profession), particularly when he goes up against a similarly elevated Phantom Blot. A couple of stories also point out that he'd be a great criminal if he wanted to due to that same ingenuity.

  • Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin.
  • In Johannes Cabal Cabal himself would almost qualify except most of his stories aren't traditional detective stories-the second novel Johannes Cabal The Detective shows an example of this-it even ends with Cabal giving a lengthy, pompous summation. If Cabal were so inclined, he'd make an excellent detective in the Sherlock Holmes vein, but Cabal is a scientist (and necromancer) first, detective second.
    • In The Fall Of The House Of Cabal where things get a bit meta, Leonie Barrow, who proved an able sidekick to Cabal in his Detective novel, travels to a pocket universe where she is known as a Great Detective and Horst ends up being her comedy relief sidekick. While she serves well in the job (and is in real lief a forensic investigator) she laments that Cabal would have figured out the case sooner by dint of superior intellect-while Horst reminds her that Cabal's lack of social skills means he would have figured out means, but not motive.
  • 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, who is also mostly a Phone-In Detective, solving crimes from his brownstone while leaving field work to his borderline Hardboiled Detective secretary Archie Goodwin.
  • 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".
  • Nick Carter, a Dime Novel detective.
  • Lord Peter Wimsey

     Live Action TV 

     Tabletop Games 

  • In the Mrs Hawking play series, the title character is in many ways a lady version of Sherlock Holmes, down to the Victorian setting.

     Video Games 
  • Batman's detective skills are regularly put to the test in the overall Batman: Arkham Series. While he has more of a reliance on technology in Arkham Origins (something the developers said was intentional) in Asylum and City he only uses his gadgets to aid him in whatever is humanly impossible for him to do and to store/reference information. One case involves him trying to solve a murder, but the crime scene was cleaned and bleached. So he calibrates his cowl to track the traces of bleach.
  • 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.
  • Alfendi Layton from Professor Layton Spin off, Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
  • Erika Furudo from Umineko: When They Cry 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, 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.
  • C. Auguste Dupin resumes this mantle in each installment of the Dark Tales series.
  • Kyouko Kirigiri, the Ultimate/Super Highschool Level Detective in Danganronpa. She comes from a clan of detectives considered the greatest in history, and this makes her vital in solving the mysteries of the school. By the end of the game, after solving multiple mysteries and acting much like her Watson of sorts, Naegi probably also counts.
    • The prequel novels Dangan Ronpa Kirigiri reveals the existence of a system called the Detective Shelf Collection, which ranks every registered detective based on two levels of specialization and aptitude in those fields, with 9 being the lowest. While Kyouko specializes in solving murders, a rank of three zeros implies a mastery of every possible field of crime solving, so much that only four detectives have ever reached this level. Her grandfather Fuhito Kirigiri (who taught her everything she knows) is thought to qualify for this ranking if not for his being opposed to the DSC system at its founding.
  • Persona 4 has Naoto Shirogane, the Detective Prince. Despite being looked down on by the police for being a teenager and a girl, she's clever enough that her investigation occasionally outpaces the investigation team's, despite having no clue about the supernatural forces involved in the kidnappings and serial murders. When she joins the investigation team proper, the plot quickly moves from saving the victims to figuring out the true culprit.
  • The sequel, Persona 5, has Goro Akechi, also titled the Detective Prince, who investigates the Phantom Thieves of Heart. He has a major case of Law, but eventually joins the Phantom Thieves only to betray them, revealing that he's actually a sociopath who mostly cares about boosting his own self-image.

    Web Comics 

     Web Original 

     Real Life 
  • 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).

Alternative Title(s): Meitantei