The Inspector is a plain clothes police officer who serves as the chief investigator and (often) protagonist of the story. They report to Da Chief, but have, at minimum, one subordinate (in many television series, this is a younger partner) who often acts as The Watson for them. This character has just enough rank to order people around, and not enough to justify spending all their time in HQ. Instead of sitting in at his desk directing entire units, he will be out and about investigating crime scenes and interviewing witnesses himself. In Long Runners, the character may be promoted to Da Chief or retire, prompting their partner (or a completely new character) to replace their role as Inspector. Both the Inspector and Da Chief can be compared to The Captain, the military equivalent. Depending on the story, the Inspector may have a large team of subordinates who are there primarily to show they have rank.
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- Inspector Jacques Clouseau is the most famous comic example of this trope.
Live Action TV
- The Bill. 26 seasons on the air, it featured 8 Detective Inspectors among its regular cast during that time. The most famous of them probably being Detective Inspector Frank Burnside.
- Inspector Kerry Vincent Rush
- Lieutenant Horatio Caine, CSI: Miami
- Lieutenant Fancy in NYPD Blue.
- An exception with Foyle's War- Christopher Foyle is a Detective Chief Superintendent.
- Detective Inspector Henry Crabbe, Pie in the Sky.
- DI Thomas "Tommy" Lynley, naturally, who forms an Odd Couple crime-fighting duo with his partner DS Barbara Havers.
- DCI Tom Barnaby (later his cousin John Barnaby).
- Although he's a bit more rough around the edges than is typical for this trope, Detective Inspector Jack Regan of The Sweeney still counts.