To be a real policeman
Be big and strong by heck
But let the strength be always found
Just above the neck.
Courtesy is the Best Policy, a tribute to the Newfoundland Ranger Force
This character is an expert, trained in some field where crime-fighting is not a usual goal. They however use this expertise to catch criminals, probably alongside a more conventional Detective Drama
hero (i.e., a police officer
or private investigator).
A subtrope of Amateur Sleuth
. Compare Superhero
and The Exotic Detective
. Contrast Mundane Utility
. See also Mystery Fiction
- During her time with The Fantastic Four, She-Hulk investigated a photographer who was taking pics of her sunbathing on the Baxter Building by helicopter. At one point she commented, "Well, I'm a lawyer, which makes me 25% detective." When the sleaze-bag journalist told her that the pictures were being processed and the negatives were in his safe and that if she took the negatives, she'd be in violation of the law, she simply crushed the safe down to where it couldn't be opened by anyone. Unfortunately for the journalist, the lab color-corrected the prints, making it appear that She-Hulk was just an unnamed, tall woman, preserving her privacy, in a certain point of view.
- Father Brown; the title character uses his priestly knowledge of human evil—acquired mainly from hearing confessions—to help him solve crimes.
- Brother Cadfael is a monk and apothecary. And retired Crusader.
- In at least one of the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, "The Bone of Contention," Lord Peter's hobby of bibliophily helps him gather evidence.
- Harry Dresden of The Dresden Files is a wizard — mixes up magic potions, summons demons, makes deals with faeries — in a setting where most people don't believe magic is real; he works as a freelance consultant for, among other things, the police, on cases with an occult or supernatural element.
- Surviving the Applewhites has an In-Universe example —Debbie Applewhite writes a series of books about a florist who solves mysteries.
- Sano Ichiro, an honorable Samurai who happens to be very good at solving mysteries.
- In Fred Vargas' novels, there's Matthias Delamarre, who is an archaeologist specializing in prehistory. Since he's exceptionally good at analyzing the soil (with nothing but his five senses), Adambserg enlists his help in This Night's Foul Work, to investigate profaned graves. In a way, Danglard is an inversion : although he is a policeman, the vast expanse of knowledge he has accumulated in other fields (especially literature and history) is sometimes essential in solving the cases.
- In the Mediochre Q Seth Series, Mediochre and Joseph are university professors and researchers in the fields of dracology and zontanecrology respectively. Both, however, use their talents as 'slayer-catchers' on the side, tracking down people who kill dragons or undead.
- Much of the cast of Bones. Brennan and Hodgins are both academics by training; Angela is an artist.
- Charlie Eppes of NUMB3RS solves crimes with mathematics.
- This at least is far more plausible then some variations of this trope. The Real Life FBI probably uses mathematicians too.
- Rick Castle of Castle solves crimes with Genre Savvy, being a mystery writer.
- Cal Lightman in Lie to Me solves crimes with body language psychology.
- Patrick Jane in The Mentalist.
- Shawn Spencer in Psych doesn't really qualify, but his partner Gus's day job as a pharmaceutical rep occasionally helps solve the Mystery of the Week.
- Dr. Sloan of Diagnosis: Murder uses his medical knowledge to solve crimes.
- Jonathan Creek, an excellent inventor of magic tricks and an excellent detective.
- The Magician. Anthony Blake (Bill Bixby) uses his stage magician skills to solve crimes and help people.
- Andy Barker, PI: divides his time between Murder Mysteries, his wife, and his main job: Certified Public Accountant.
- On The X-Files, Scully started out as a doctor before she switched tracks to the FBI. Fanon has Mulder starting out as a psychologist before a similar career shift.
- Leverage and White Collar both feature thieves that use their skills to solve crimes. However the crew of Leverage generally commits crimes in the process while Neal is a consultant for the FBI. Also the villains of Leverage usually are in a position where normaml law enforcement is unable to help.
- In NCIS, only DiNozzo and Kate are from a law-enforcement background, him a cop, her a Secret Service agent. Gibbs is a former Marine sniper,* McGee's got degrees in computer science from MIT and biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins...and Ziva's an ex-Mossad assassin. Their respective backgrounds come up more often than you'd think.
- In the browser game Sleuth, you play a Private Detective, and you have the option of choosing a preset background for them. Some of the backgrounds (for example a doctor whose medical license was revoked by political enemies) aren't strictly law enforcement or detective types.
- The FBI generally recruits people with skills outside law enforcement and trains them as opposed to taking trained former local officers.