“It is the little grey cells, mon ami, on which one must rely.”
— Hercule Poirot
The ITV series of television adaptations of Agatha Christie
's novels and short stories starring Hercule Poirot
. By which we mean it adapts all
of the Poirot novels and short stories. All of them.
The series ran as hour-long episodes on ITV
(UK) and PBS
(US) from 1989 to 1993, with sets of feature-length specials running in 1994, 1995, 2000-1, 2003-4, 2005-6, 2008-9, and 2010. The final set of stories was released in 2013, just missing David Suchet's original intention to do all of them before his 65th birthday in May 2011.
David Suchet portrays the titular Belgian detective, and his performance is generally regarded as the definitive version.
The adaptations have a long Start to Corpse
time, sometimes up to half an hour. This is consistent with the original works: Agatha Christie herself rarely began her books or stories with the discovery of a body, and we frequently meet the victims while they are still alive.
So far, the complete series is out on DVD and Blu-Ray in Europe on 18 November 2013, five days after its finale, and now it's been released in the United States as well: Seasons 1-6 (in the Early Cases Collection) were released on 23 October 2012, followed by the rest of the series (Seasons 7-13) in the Final Cases Collection, released along with the Complete Cases Collection on 4 November 2014.
The series provides examples of:
- Absence of Evidence: In The Labours of Hercules, Alice Cunningham's dog is extremely calm, despite the strange man who invaded her room...
- Accidental Murder: Revealed toward the end of The King of Clubs: Valerie Saintclair along with her brother, Ronnie, met up with film producer Henry Reedburn one night to argue about blackmail, but when things got escalated, Ronnie punched him in the face, and he fell and hit his head on a chair part so hard that he died. Poirot lets her off the hook because he considered it an accident and not a murder.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Miss Lemon was described in the books as "ugly" and "hideous." Though not a supermodel, the Miss Lemon of the adaptation was certainly fairly easy on the eyes.
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the original novel and most adaptations of the Murder on the Orient Express (notably excluding Sidney Lumet's 1974 film), Poirot rather cavalierly lets the murderers go free, but in the series version this is shown as a difficult choice for him to make due to his Catholic beliefs.
- The first ten minutes or so of this particular adaptation come across as a Trauma Conga Line; first, the case in Palestine mentioned in the novel is revealed to Poirot giving one heck of a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to a British Army officer that it makes him shoot himself rather than stand trial. Then Poirot and some other characters witness the public stoning of an adultress on the streets of Istanbul.
- The Labours of Hercules injects a lot of angst that was not in the original short stories. Poirot is wracked with guilt after a young woman he assured of his protection was murdered instead, and his meeting with Countess Rossakoff in Switzerland reminds him of his loneliness. The Breaking Speech he receives at the end doesn't help matters.
- The Mysterious Affair at Styles suggests that Hastings is suffering from shellshock.
- Adaptational Sexuality: One character in Five Little Pigs and at least four in Cards On The Table are made homosexual. The former change was largely considered tasteful and in keeping with the text and subtext of the story; the latter... not so much.
- It's strongly hinted that one character each in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd and Death on the Nile is gay as well, although this is less essential to the plot than the other examples.
- Adaptational Villainy:
- The adaptation of Taken at the Flood turns Rhoda Dawes from a sweet little girl into an implied lesbian who killed Anne Meredith's employer, Mrs. Benson, and attempts to do the same to Anne, rather than the other way around.
- Sort of played straight in Taken at the Flood: in the original novel, David Hunter is a Jerkass who had no motive of killing his own sister, especially when it would mean depriving himself of the Cloade fortune, so he would have a female accomplice pose as his own sister, and then kill the accomplice once she is done. But in this adaptation, he is upgraded from Jerkass to a mass-murdering Complete Monster (see the YMMV tab).
- Don't get us started on Dr. Gerard in the adaptation of Appointment with Death. Hint: He becomes an accomplice to the murder.
- In this adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, Dr. Constantine becomes one of the murdering conspirators, whereas in the novel he was innocent and could not have been involved in the crime.
- Adaptation Decay: In-Universe Ariadne Oliver's detective character undergoes many changes in the process of being adapted to the stage in Mrs McGinty's Dead.
- Adaptation Dye-Job: In the novel Curtain, Stephen Norton is portrayed as a bird-watcher with grayish silver hair and a quiet disposition. But here, in this adaptation, he is more like an Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette with raven-black hair.
- Adaptation Expansion: The short stories were often fluffed out in the series with additional context. "The Yellow Iris", for example, was connected to shady dealings with Argentine military officers aiming for a coup. It provides the the killer's motive in both the original death and the attempted one—he didn't want it to be known that he'd spent his ward's bank account in those dealings, or that they were lost forever when the coup was undone.
- Adapted Out: The novel Three-Act Tragedy was a team-up between Poirot and Mr Satterthwaite, one of Christie's other detectives; the TV adaptation does not have Mr Satterthwaite in it.
- Aliens Speaking English: Despite his Poirot Speak constantly reminding us that French is his first language, there are times when he interviews other native Francophones in English, e.g. in "Elephants Can Remember" in which there is a lengthy two-hander between Poirot and another native French-speaker in Paris - and Poirot still lapses into Poirot Speak, thereby destroying the excuse that it could be simple Translation Convention. Even more noticeable in ‘The Chocolate Box’. The entire story takes place in Brussels, yet everyone only speaks perfect British English, except for Poirot who continues in Poirot Speak.
- Also noticeable at the beginning of The Underdog, in which a letter from a German scientist was written entirely in German, yet his voice is spoken in English, albeit with a German accent.
- Subverted in Death in the Clouds, in which Poirot interviews a French woman entirely in French. However, he conducts the interview in front of an English speaker who knows almost no French, so neither Aliens Speaking English nor Translation Convention would work.
- Also subverted toward the end of The Adventure of the Western Star, in which Belgian actress Marie Marvelle makes a conversation en français in which she confesses her feelings toward her husband, Gregorie Rolf, who is nothing more than a blackmailer. Poirot consoles her and gives her the advice, also en français, that she should annul the marriage.
- Subverted also in Murder on the Orient Express in which many other characters speak other languages (Poirot, for example, has a conversation with Countess Andrenyi in Hungarian), but fortunately the subtitles act as translation for the languages.
- And I Must Scream: In Appointment with Death, it is revealed that Lady Boynton was injected by Dr. Gerard with a drug that slowly paralyzes her, until she is unable to move or get out of the chair outside. For minutes she is tortured, until finally, when the time came for Dame Celia to check on Lady Boynton, the dame quickly stabs her in the chest as a Coup de Grâce before declaring her dead.
- In Murder on the Orient Express, Franco Cassetti was drugged into immobility, and was conscious through every single stab, but unable to move. He deserved every minute of it.
- And Starring: Zoe Wanamaker gets this in Ariadne Oliver's later appearances.
- And This Is for...: In The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman, when the Scotland Yard police outnumber the murderer, Edwin Graves, Hastings gets a Moment Of Awesome by confronting him and saying, "This is for Miss Lemon!" before punching him into the river. This quote indicates that Miss Lemon had been used by Graves, who became a Jerkass to her by saying that he was about to destroy his master's cat, as Miss Lemon later points out.
- Anti-Sneeze Finger: In The Third Floor Flat, after Poirot gets to his neighbor's room, he feels a sneeze coming on. He takes a deep breath while pointing the finger to his nose... then nothing happens, and he feels relieved... temporarily. A few seconds after he walks offscreen, we hear his high-pitched "ATCHOOO!!!" as a Funny Moment.
- Arc Words: "I am Poirot" in The Labours of Hercules.
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Toward the end of The Chocolate Box, when Poirot hears that Madame Deroulard killed her own son Paul though she is color-blind and very ill, the detective admires her for her moral courage and sacrifice.
- Aside Glance: The final shot of Curtain is Poirot staring directly into the camera.
- Asshole Victim: Miss Grace Springer in Cat Among the Pigeons; Mrs. Clapperton in Problem at Sea; Henry Reedburn in The King Of Clubs; Harrington Pace in The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge; Sir Reuben Astwell in The Underdog; Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot's Christmas; Paul Renauld in Murder on the Links; Ratchett in Murder On The Orient Express; Lord Edgware of Lord Edgware Dies; Lady Boynton in Appointment with Death; Mme. Giselle in Death in the Clouds; Paul Deroulard in The Chocolate Box; Stephen Norton in Curtain.
- As the Good Book Says: During the flashback in The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, you can hear a vicar recite Psalm 118:22-25.
- During the burial service of Emily Arundell in Dumb Witness, we hear another vicar recite the KJV version of Psalm 103:14-18, followed by the KJV version of Job 1:21.
- In the opening credits for Evil Under the Sun, we hear Reverend Stephen Lane recite passages from the KJV version of 1 Kings 21 before saying that those who are like King Ahab's wife Jezebel in committing evil deserve punishment. This foreshadows how Christine Redfern plays the Jezebel to her husband Patrick's Ahab by trickery.
- In After the Funeral, we hear Gilbert Entwhistle recite the KJV version of Lamentations 3:59 ("O Lord, thou hast seen my wrong: judge thou my cause!") to Timothy Abernethie, which Poirot lampshades.
- In Appointment with Death, Sister Agnieszka recites Luke 14:23, which is actually an excerpt from the Parable of the Great Feast (Luke 14:15-24). However, the Bible version she recites is the King James Version, which is the Protestant one and foreshadows that Sister Agnieszka is not a real Catholic nun. Roman Catholics would never recite a Protestant Bible like the KJV one; they would have settled for the Douay–Rheims Bible instead if that is the case.
- In Hallowe'en Party, we hear Reverend Cottrell recite the KJV version of Luke 18:15-17note , and in another scene Edmund Drake recites Exodus 22:18 (KJV) when he and his sister Frances are seated at the library where the murder had occurred. After the murder of Leopold Reynolds, when Poirot approaches Reverend Cottrell and Mrs. Reynolds, she recites Job 1:16bc (KJV) before leaving.
- In Murder on the Orient Express, after Poirot exposes the entire Armstrong family as murderers and delivers a speech on the importance of the rule of law, Greta Ohlsson tells him that Ratchett's/Casetti's escape is what is wrong with Catholicism and claims that she took the part in killing on God's orders, even quoting Jesus' words in John 8:7 ("Let those without sin throw the first stone").
- Author Avatar: Ariadne Oliver, whose detective, Sven, is a sort of Expy Poirot himself - of course, it's all very much an Affectionate Parody.
- Babies Ever After: At the end of The Chocolate Box, it is revealed that Poirot's old friend Jean-Louis Ferraud is married to Virginie Mesnard and they have two sons named Henri and Hercule.
- Back for the Finale: Hastings, Miss Lemon, and Inspector (now Assistant Commissioner) Japp, all of whom disappeared without a trace after 2001, appear in the final season's The Big Four (which Poirot himself notes). Hastings also appears in the final episode, Curtain.
- Bath Suicide: In Third Girl, it is revealed that Norma Restarick's mother Mary, who was distraught by the absence of her husband Andrew, committed suicide by slitting her wrists in the bathtub, traumatizing Norma for so many years. Through the same years, her half-sister Frances exploited her trauma and used it to prey upon Norma through actions, including the ice cream and the murder of Nanny Seagram. With Poirot's help, however, Norma is able to get over the trauma and later use the trope as a reenactment by Faking the Dead in order to prevent Frances from killing her should her "father" be exposed as an impostor.
- Beach Kiss: At the end of Murder on the Links, Hastings walks off toward the beach at sunset, pining over seeing Bella again. At the same time, Poirot leads Bella toward the beach where Hastings is. Once they reunite, Poirot gives off a smile and drives off as both Hastings and Bella kiss as sunset silhouettes.
- The Bet: In The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, Inspector Japp makes a bet with Poirot that if the latter can solve the mystery without leaving the apartment for a week, the former can pay up five pounds.
- Better to Die Than Be Killed: Toward the end of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Dr. James Sheppard refuses to surrender to the police, culminating in a Chase Scene at the factory in which he blindly shoots at Poirot and Japp before deciding to end it all with a shotgun to the head.
- Also happens to Jacqueline de Bellefort and Simon Doyle in Death on the Nile; Gerda Christow in The Hollow; Major Richard Knighton in The Mystery of the Blue Train; and Dr. Theodore Gerard and Dame Celia Westholme in Appointment with Death.
- Big Damn Heroes: In The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, Major John Rich shows up to save Poirot from getting killed by Colonel Curtiss.
- Big "NO!": Toward the end of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Poirot shouts out a big "NOOO!!!" before Dr. Sheppard shoots himself in the head.
- In Lord Edgware Dies, Japp shouts out "Nooooo!!!" after Alton the Butler falls to his death trying to attack him in a botched up Chase Scene.
- Bittersweet Ending: Curtain, to the entire series. Poirot has solved the crime and justice has been done. Unfortunately, the only way to achieve justice was for Poirot to kill the murderer, then die of a heart attack while throwing himself on God's mercy. By the episode's end, poor Hastings has lost both his wife and his best friend, and his daughter has gone to Africa, leaving him entirely alone.
- Blasting It out of Their Hands: Gustave does it to the police lieutenant just before plummeting to his death in "The Labours of Hercules".
- Boarding School: Meadowbank, the elite girl's school in Cat Among the Pigeons.
- Book Ends: Averted, unlike the original novels, as The Mysterious Affair at Styles wasn't adapted until the third series.
- Played straight, however, in The Double Clue, as it starts in a train station on Countess Vera Rossakoff's arrival, and ends on the same station at her departure.
- Five Little Pigs starts and ends with young Lucy Crale running out toward the porch to have her picture taken with her mom and dad.
- Death on the Nile starts with a glass-windowed rooftop view of Simon Doyle and Jacqueline de Bellefort in bed and ends with the same view of the two of them dancing by candlelight.
- Bound and Gagged: In The Kidnapped Prime Minister, Commander Daniels claims that he woke up like this. Also, toward the end of the episode, Prime Minister MacAdams is tied up like this by the Danielses.
- In Murder on the Links, Eloise Renauld is discovered tied up and gagged in bed, which is later revealed to be a part of her husband's plan. Notice that he kisses her on her forehead after tying her up.
- Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: In The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly:
Miss Lemon: It's nearly complete, you see. My system.
Miss Lemon: Every one of your cases classified and cross-referenced five different ways.
Miss Lemon: Oh, yes. In this cabinet, names of witnesses; in this, name of perpetrator, if known. Victim's trade or profession. Type of case: abduction, addiction, adultery - see also under marriage, bigamy - see also under marriage, bombs.
Poirot: [confused] "See also under marriage"?
- Breaking Speech: Alice Cunningham delivers one to Poirot at the end of The Labours of Hercules. It hits home, to a certain extent.
- Break the Cutie/Corrupt the Cutie: In Taken at the Flood, it is revealed that David Hunter raped and impregnated Eileen Corrigan, then performed an induced abortion on her, forcing her to submit to his will by posing as his sister Rosaleen. As if that was not enough, he also pressured her into becoming a morphine addict who would slowly kill herself by overdose.
- Played straight in Third Girl, in which Norma is forced to relive the trauma of her mother's Bath Suicide over and over again until she is on the brink of insanity.
- Breather Episode: The Adventure of Johnnie Waverly can be this. Sure, it involves kidnapping, and one person gets sick with food poisoning and is recovering, but at least no one is murdered. It even throws in some fun and funny things, such as Poirot learning to sing "One Man Went to Mow" along with Hastings when their car breaks down on the way back, and little Johnnie playing with a toy car and petting a Cute Kitten. Awww!
- Brief Accent Imitation: In The Theft of the Royal Ruby, three children, having met Poirot for the first time, plan on arranging a false murder for the girl Bridget, all while using their Belgian French "Hercule Poirot" accent.
- Bury Your Gays: Implied lesbian Rhoda Dawes tries to kill Anne Meredith and ends up getting drowned in Cards on the Table.
- And in Hallowe'en Party, we learn that Beatrice White and Elizabeth Whittaker were lesbian lovers, but once their relationship was found out, Beatrice drowned herself, leaving Mrs. Whittaker heartbroken and alone.
- Call Forward: At the end of The Mystery of the Blue Train, one of the characters remarks that she's planning to travel on the Orient Express, and inquires whether Poirot has. Poirot replies that he hasn't yet, but must get around to it one day. Of course, we all know what'll happen when he does...
- Captain Obvious: From Hercule Poirot's Christmas:
Poirot: Tell me, what is this Brown Windsor Soup?
Waiter: Well, sir, it's soup...from Windsor.
- Casting Gag: Canadian actor Charles Colingwood, best known for BBC Radio 4's shows, including The Archers, plays the BBC announcer in The Affair at the Victory Ball.
- Catapult Nightmare: Hastings has one in The Mysterious Affair at Styles.
- Catch Phrase:
- Celibate Hero: Explained in The Double Clue:
Captain Hastings: [referring to marriage] You ever thought about it?
Hercule Poirot: In my experience, I know of five cases of wives being murdered by their devoted husbands.
Captain Hastings: Oh?
Hercule Poirot: And twenty-two husbands being murdered by their devoted wives. So thank you, no. Marriage, it is not for me.
- Cerebus Syndrome: After season IX (filmed 2003-2004), the series became what many fans described as "more dark"; in particular, Japp, Miss Lemon and Hastings, who often were used for comic relief in previous installments, no longer were present in the episodes. Opinions are divided on whether it was a good, bad, or mixed development.
- Character Aged with the Actor: Happens to some of the main cast in Curtain, most notably Captain Hastings and Poirot.
- Chase Scene: Not a rare occurrence in pre-2003 scripts.
- Chiaroscuro/Iris Out: Happens quite a lot in Three Act Tragedy. For example, in scenes when a victim dies or when one plots a murder, the iris will close in on a person's head, or sometimes the heads of two people as well.
- Christmas Episode: Two of them, just like in the literature series: The Theft of the Royal Ruby (Season 3), and Hercule Poirot's Christmas (Season 6).
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirot's Christmas. Almost literally, since his younger self attempted to stab his mining partner in the back.
- Clear Their Name: A task which Poirot often has to do, notably Sad Cypress and Mrs MсGintу's Dead.
- Closed Circle: The Labours of Hercules, in which everybody is trapped in a hotel after an avalanche.
- Commedia dell'Arte: Becomes Chekhov's Running Gag from the very beginning in The Affair at the Victory Ball, when Poirot's voice-over narrates this.
- Composite Character: Bella Duveen in Murder on the Links. In the book original, she corresponds to two twin sisters.
- In After the Funeral, Giovanni Galaccio, Cora's living husband, corresponds to the original novel's dead husband of hers (Mr. Lansquenet) and Alexander Guthrie.
- Connect the Deaths: Cat Among the Pigeons, The ABC Murders.
- Continuity Nod: The reappearance of Countess Rossakoff in The Labours of Hercules.
- Also, the book that Egg reads in Three Act Tragedy is Travels in Arabia by Dame Celia Westholme, a character from Appointment with Death.
- Convenience Store Gift Shopping: Poirot has to buy a last-minute gift for Inspector Japp in Hercule Poirot's Christmas. As it happens, Japp appreciates his present far more than Poirot appreciates his...
- Counting Bullets: Toward the end of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, during the Chase Scene at the factory, Dr. James Sheppard refuses to surrender and shoots blindly at Poirot and Japp, who counts how many bullets Sheppard has fired. This leaves only one bullet for suicide, and we know how it turns out...
- Creepy Children Singing: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe makes use of this at the beginning and throughout the episode, as children ominously sing the nursery tune.
- We also hear the children's chant of "Hickory, dickory" in the creepy music that plays every time the mouse and the clock related to the plot points show up in Hickory Dickory Dock.
- Cry into Chest: In Murder on the Links, Madame Eloise Renauld hears of the death of her husband Paul and cries onto a person's shoulder.
- In Dumb Witness, we see Wilhelmina Lawson cry onto her maid's shoulder after the death of Dr. Grainger.
- Dating Catwoman: Toyed with in The Double Clue and again Murder in Mesopotamia in a case of Adaptation Expansion on the part of the writers. Turns out she just wanted Poirot to pay her hotel bill.
- Dead Man's Chest: The Adventure of the Clapham Cook
- Dead Man Writing: Curtain, which ends with Poirot's letter to Hastings, delivered four months after Poirot's death.
- Death by Adaptation: Dr. John Grainger in Dumb Witness; in the original novel, it was Bella Tanios who killed herself instead of killing him by carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Other deaths by adaptation include: Parker the Butler in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd; Alton the Butler in Lord Edgware Dies; Joseph Mercado in Murder in Mesopotamia; Major Richard Knighton in The Mystery of the Blue Train; Rhoda Dawesnote in Cards on the Table; David Hunter (probably) in Taken at the Flood; Dr. Theodore Gerard in Appointment with Death.
- Death by Woman Scorned: The Hollow.
- Death from Above/Death by Looking Up: In Murder in Mesopotamia, this is how Sheila Leidner died: by looking up to see her husband, Dr. Eric Leidner (who is actually Fredrick Bosner) drop a millstone on top of her head, killing her.
- Diet Episode: Evil Under the Sun, in which Poirot has to go on a diet at the Sandy Cove Hotel on Miss Lemon's orders after an incident at an Argentinian restaurant has sent him to a hospital where he is declared "medically obese". It turns out at the end that the incident is not obesity or his health problems but food poisoning—nine cases of it in fact (Poirot's was one of them), so the restaurant had to be shut down until it can work out the food poisoning bit.
- Disconnected By Death
- Disney Death/Faking the Dead: Poirot in The Big Four. This, however, is sadly subverted in Curtain.
- Also, in The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb, Poirot does it again by pretending to drink the cyanide in the tisane and lying motionless in bed in order for Hastings to lure Dr. Robert Ames into a confrontation with the detective.
- And in The Yellow Iris, Pauline Wetherby appears to drink the wine laced with potassium cyanide and fall down dead on the table in the same manner as Iris Russell. It turns out, however, that Pauline is only faking it while staging what happened to Iris two years ago in an attempt to draw attention to the real murderer, her own husband Barton.
- Near the end of Third Girl, Norma Restarick appears to have killed herself in the bathtub by slitting her wrists in the same manner as her mother. However, it turns out that Norma has heeded Poirot's helpful advice by using the memory of her mother's suicide as a reenactment and faking her own in order to prevent her half-sister from smothering her with the pillow that was used to kill Nanny Seagram in case her "father" would be exposed as an impostor.
- Disney Villain Death: Poor Gustave in The Labours of Hercules.
- Distant Finale: The final episode, "Curtain", takes place in October 1949-February 1950, over a decade after the penultimate episode "The Labours of Hercules", set at the start of World War II.
- Deadly Distant Finale: Since "Curtain" takes place in 1949, it is also in that episode that the main character, Poirot, dies of a heart attack after many years of solving his cases.
- Distracted by the Sexy: Hastings is prone to this, especially in The Veiled Lady.
What a stunning girl! Poirot:
I sometimes think, mon ami, that you are too easily stunned.
- Distressed Dude: David MacAdam, the titular kidnapped Prime Minister of the story.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, we get a Chase Scene that culminates in a shootout at the factory near the end of the episode. This is somehow reminiscent of the shootout at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado in 1999... which happened to be the year that the episode was filmed.
- Do Not Go Gentle: In the prologue of Cat Among the Pigeons, during the Ramat revolution, Bob Rawlinson and Prince Ali Yusuf are being cornered in a shootout and wounded, and after locking themselves in the royal bedroom, the pair decide to go all-out in a blaze of glory. As soon as the rebels bust down the door, tragedy ensues.
- Downer Beginning: Curtain starts with Margaret Litchfield getting hanged during the opening credits... a victim of the Miscarriage of Justice and of a Gambit Roulette started by Manipulative Bastard Stephen Norton.
- Driven to Suicide: Imogen Daniels toward the end of The Kidnapped Prime Minister. Joseph Mercado in Murder in Mesopotamia. Jacqueline de Bellefort in Death on the Nile. Gerda Christow in The Hollow. Major Richard Knighton in The Mystery of the Blue Train. Major Porter in Taken at the Flood. Nanny Taylor in Appointment with Death. Lieutenant Morris in Murder on the Orient Express.
- Drives Like Crazy: In The Incredible Theft, Poirot and Hastings borrow a cop car for a while to the surprise of an officer, and Hastings drives pretty darn fast at the steering wheel in pursuit of Mrs. Vanderlyn's car.
- Dying Alone: In Curtain, Poirot falls into this trope as he asks Hastings to let him rest in his bed. As he is dying alone of angina, he mutters out his final words in a whisper to God, "Forgive me..." and reaches for the rosary. In the next few scenes, Hastings returns to find Poirot's now lifeless body slumped over on his bed. So heartbreaking.
- Embarrassing First Name: In The King of Clubs, Mr. Reedburn hates being called "Henry".
- Embarrassing Nickname: In Dumb Witness, we discover that Hastings' nickname is "Battler." As in "Battle a' Hastings."
- Ethereal Choir: Happens at the beginning and end credits of Cat Among the Pigeons, as the soundtrack has a sort of Harry Potter feel to it.
- Everybody Did It: The former Trope Namer itself, Murder On the Orient Express.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Four and Twenty Blackbirds, Evil Under the Sun.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: In The Incredible Theft, a fighter plane uses a test car as target practice by riddling it full of bullets, and after a few shots the car bursts into flames.
- Everyone Is a Suspect: About half the cast generally has a motive for murder.
- Evil-Detecting Dog: Lady Ravenscroft's dog in Elephants Can Remember, which knows something is wrong with its mistress.
- Another Evil-Detecting Dog is Bob, the titular character of Dumb Witness, who sees the motives of the murderer at night and knows what they're up to.
- In The Veiled Lady, just when the search for the two suspects is growing cold, Hastings hears a meow from a random cat, who sneaks in to their hiding place and rubs on them, all the while meowing and purring. It doesn't take long for Hastings, Japp and Poirot to figure out where the suspects are.
- There is also an evil-detecting mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock which becomes a plot point later on.
- Exotic Detective: Poirot.
- Eye Scream: How Colonel Curtiss kills Edward Clayton, albeit in a Gory Discretion Shot, in The Mystery of the Spanish Chest.
- Fainting: In Murder on the Links, when Eloise Renauld sees her husband's body in the morgue, she gives off loud "No"s before fainting.
- Fake Twin Gambit: Done briefly in Elephants Can Remember in order to fulfill a Last Request, but with tragic results.
- Fat Suit: David Suchet had to be padded from the collar down in order to match Poirot's girth.
- Feet-First Introduction: In the very first episode, The Adventure of the Clapham Cook, we get a close-up of Poirot's feet on the foot rest, then the camera moves slowly to his legs, all the way to his face when he is sitting on a chair. And in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, we see a close-up of his walking patented leather boots and hear his voice as the camera moves up from his legs until it gets all the way up to his face again.
- Fly Crazy: In Murder in Mesopotamia, during one night when Poirot is asleep, he gets woken up by a buzzing sound from a mosquito out to bite him. He tries many ways of catching it. Also counts as a Funny Moment.
- Foot Focus: Key to solving the murders in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: There are church bells tolling ominously in some parts of the soundtrack's background music in Mrs. McGinty's Dead.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: Poirot does not dress up for The Victory Ball, a costume party.
I still don't think they'll let you in; I thought I made it clear the Victory Ball is a costume do. Poirot:
Hercule Poirot does not wear costumes. Hastings:
Everybody does. The whole idea is to go as someone famous. Poirot: Precisely. Hastings:
Oh. I see.
- Formally Named Pet: We learn in The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb that Miss Lemon had a recently deceased cat named "Catherine the Great".
- Fur and Loathing: In Lord Edgware Dies, Jane Wilkinson wears her scarf made from the fur of a dead fox, indicating that she will soon be a murderer.
- Garden of Evil: In Hallowe'en Party, Michael Garfield has an innocent-looking garden with a maze of some sort. However, this garden is not as innocent as it may seem...
- Gayngst: Later adaptations (for example, Five Little Pigs, Halloween Party) occasionally add quite angsty storylines about gay characters (that weren't necessarily gay in the original). Since Britain of the 30's wasn't a gay-friendly place by all means, the "angst" part is justified.
- Gender-Blender Name: Toward the end of Mrs. McGinty's Dead, we learn that Evelyn Hope was a name not for one of the three women, but for a man who changed his name to Robin Upward (since in England "Evelyn" could be a man's name as well as a woman's), who murdered both Abigail McGinty and his foster mother Laura Upward for assuming that the photo of Eva Kane could be Robin's real mother herself.
- Gender Flip: Linda Marshall becomes Lionel Marshall in this adaptation of Evil Under the Sun.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: Even more rigidly enforced than in the book canon, with plots originally set post-WWII, like Taken at the Flood, being moved back in time.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: In After the Funeral, we learn that Rosamund Shane was unexpectedly pregnant through her husband Michael. She considered having an abortion, but instead, she ended up visiting the nuns because she felt ashamed. Somewhat downplayed, though.
- Go Out with a Smile: The villain, Norton, in Curtain.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Toward the end of The Kidnapped Prime Minister, as Imogen Daniels is on the roof of her castle, after she shouts out her last words, "Erin go Bragh! (Ireland Forever)" as she is about to shoot herself in the head, scene cuts to the horrified crowds as a gunshot is heard, then to her blood getting splattered on the rocks, then to her body falling before cutting to the eagle-eye view of the camera falling down from the sky before finally cutting to her gun landing on the ground.
- Halloween Episode: Hallowe'en Party. What do you expect in an episode based on a Poirot novel?
- Haunted House: In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Poirot and Japp return to Whitehaven Mansions to find that his old apartment has been abandoned and become a house of ghosts since he retired as a detective.
- He Knows Too Much: In The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, after Poirot exposes Colonel Curtiss as the one who murdered Edward Clayton, Curtiss takes out the rapier and corners Poirot, removing his hat and attempting an Impromptu Tracheotomy on him in order to silence him forever. Leave it to Big Damn Hero Major John Rich to save the day.
- Also attempted toward the end of Sad Cypress, in which Nurse Hopkins tries to kill Poirot for letting her secrets out by offering him poisoned tea. Poirot pretends to drink it, and then, in order to make the trap more convincing to her, he pretends to cough a little bit, and then more and more until he gets to the part of choking, making her believe that her plan is working. Just when she thinks he is on the point of death, he manages to gasp weakly that he never liked tea anyways, then pours the poisoned tea into the vase, foiling her plan.
- Henpecked Husband: Luttrell and Franklin in Curtain.
- Here We Go Again: In The King of Clubs, Inspector Japp gets that reaction when he sees Poirot and Hastings on the case.
- In Three Act Tragedy, Oliver Manders says this when Lady Mary Lytton-Gore says she saw no one go through the secret passage.
- The Hero Dies: In Curtain.
- Heroic Fire Rescue: In Dead Man's Mirror, while Poirot, Hastings and Japp investigate the Northgate Development, they notice the smell of smoke in a room nearby, and when they open the door, they discover a fire that had started. They find John Lake unconscious and get him out of the burning building as fast as they can.
- He's Got a Weapon!: In The Double Clue, as Hastings and Miss Lemon encounter a tramp (actually Redfern, one of the private detectives, in disguise), he pulls out a gun, and Lemon shouts out, "Hastings, he's got a gun!!!" before the tramp fires the weapon at him. Hastings, of course, is not killed, but only damaged his forehead in escaping from the shots.
- Hostage Situation: Towards the end of The Mystery of the Blue Train, after Major Knighton is denounced as the murderer of Ruth Kettering, he tries to get away by taking Katherine Grey hostage and dares anyone not to take one more step closer or he will kill her. Poirot manages to talk him out of the situation, and finally, Knighton lets go of her before committing suicide by the Railroad Tracks of Doom.
- Idiot Ball: Captain Hastings manages to carry one at least once per episode.
- If You Kill Him, You Will Be Just Like Him: Toward the end of Five Little Pigs, when Elsa Greer urges Lucy to shoot her, Poirot walks in and asks her to spare Elsa, warning that if Lucy kills her, she will only kill herself. Lucy reluctantly complies to his advice.
- Towards the end of Murder on the Orient Express, after Poirot refuses to show mercy to the Armstrong family and gets into a heated argument with Xavier Bouc, Colonel John Arbuthnot gets up and intends to shoot them both dead while placing the blame on Casetti's "assassin", but Mary Debenham stops Arbuthnot, telling him that if he kills Poirot and Bouc he would be just like Casetti. Arbuthnot gives in to her advice.
- Ill Girl: Barbara Franklin in Curtain, although the extent of her illness is debatable.
- I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: In Hercule Poirot's Christmas, when Simeon Lee sees that Poirot is not strong or young enough to protect him:
Poirot: Hercule Poirot is a detective, not a bodyguard, monsieur.
- Impromptu Tracheotomy: This is how Roger Ackroyd dies in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
- In Lord Edgware Dies both Lord Edgware and Donald Ross die this way, by Jane Wilkinson's hand.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The official title has always been Agatha Christie's Poirot, though it is sometimes shortened for export.
- Incurable Cough of Death: Poirot in Curtain. Pauvre, pauvre Poirot...
- In Name Only: The name of the title Taken at the Flood (which was taken from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar) was supposed to refer to the killer making the most of the opportunity presented in the aftermath of the wartime bombing of Gordon Cloade's London House. Since the post-war events in the original novel have been moved back to the pre-WWII era in the adaptation, and the bombing set up to look like premeditated murder, it's obvious that the title doesn't work on any of these at all (the closest thing would have to be the abortion, though).
- Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: In Curtain, Poirot's removal of his (false) moustache prior to committing the murder verges on this.
- Inspector Lestrade: Inspector Japp.
- Ironic Nursery Tune: One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, Hickory Dickory Dock.
- Also, toward the end of Taken at the Flood, David Hunter sings "Your Baby Has Gone Down the Plughole" as he is being hanged at the gallows... which is pretty ironic, considering that he raped and impregnated Eileen and then performed an induced abortion on her.
- In Hallowe'en Party, children are chanting the snapdragon poem while playing snapdragon. Their chant of "Snip! Snap!" echoes in the background music throughout the rest of the episode after Joyce Reynolds was murdered, and whenever a murder occurs, all the way to the end.
- I Surrender, Suckers/Sore Loser: Toward the end of Evil Under the Sun, after Poirot denounces Patrick Redfern as the murderer, Redfern makes a toast to Poirot, and then, just as he approaches as if to congratulate Poirot, he makes a surprise attack by attempting to strangle Poirot. Leave it to Hastings to save the day.
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: In The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, a deliveryman says that the parrot is "for Mr. Poy-rott". Poirot tries correcting him with his own pronunciation of his name, but the deliveryman now calls the parrot "Poirot" while STILL calling Poirot "Poy-rott".
- Same thing happens in The Affair at the Victory Ball when a receptionist calls Poirot "Hercules Poy-rott".
- In Hercule Poirot's Christmas, Inspector Japp gets Pilar Estravados' last name wrong: it is es-TRA-va-dos, not es-tra-VAH-dos.
- It's for a Book: Used as a cover by the killer in Elephants Can Remember - mildly lampshaded in that even the killer is surprised that the victim fell for it.
- It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: In Hallowe'en Party, Poirot begins the tale like this in the Dénouement, lampshading the fact that the beginning of the episode does take place on a dark and stormy night. (Ironically, Poirot dislikes telling horror stories, since he believes that it is a custom in Belgium to light candles in respect for the dead on Halloween, not to "tell stories macabre", but he makes an exception in extreme circumstances, such as a murder.)
- It Will Never Catch On: A character who lives in Wimbledon comments in The Veiled Lady, "It hasn't been the same round here since they started the tennis up the road. You get all these riff-raff come to watch!"
- I Wished You Were Dead: In Murder on the Links, Jack Renauld angrily tells his stepfather Paul, "Sometimes, I wish you were dead, and then I could do whatever I want!" Later that night, Jack returns to find his stepfather dead in the grave, murdered by Marthe Daubreuil, and thinks he has himself to blame for his stepfather's death.
- Javelin Thrower/Impaled with Extreme Prejudice/Blood from the Mouth: In Cat Among the Pigeons, Ann Shapland kills Miss Springer by tossing a sports javelin through her chest. The second time we see the action, Springer spits out blood as she is impaled. So sickening.
- Jitter Cam: In Five Little Pigs, this filming of summertime flashbacks and the present day is done via handheld camera, as if to make the viewer feel that they are there on the same day.
- Karmic Death: The fate of Sister Agnieszka in the desert in Appointment with Death.
- The Lady's Favour: In The Chocolate Box, Poirot gets a flower bouquet label pin from his Love Interest Virginie, which he still wears as a memento every day while he is on the job.
- Leave Behind a Pistol: Although Poirot doesn't leave behind the pistol himself, he does allow Mrs. Folliat the opportunity to give her son and herself this option in Dead Man's Folly.
- Like You Were Dying: In Wasps' Nest, John Harrison, a son of one of Poirot's friends, has only a few weeks to live with a terminal illness and makes his bucket list. When he discovers that his wife is secretly having an affair with Claude Langton, he almost turns this into The Last Dance in which he attempts to kill himself by placing cyanide in a coffee cup and drinking it in order to make it look like murder and pin the blame on Langton. Fortunately, thanks to the tea leaves and the danger that Poirot has read earlier, Poirot is able to Screw Destiny by replacing the cyanide with sodium carbonate, then talking him down and telling him that he has so much more to live for. Harrison feels relieved that his plan didn't work after all, and in the end tells Poirot to come and see him once more in a few weeks. So heartwarming and yet a Tear Jerker at the same time.
- Look Both Ways: In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, this trope is exaggerated to the point of There Is No Kill Like Overkill, as Parker the Butler is run over by Dr. Sheppard's car; then, to make sure he is dead, the car moves backward and forward again, turning Parker into mulch before moving on again. So sickening.
- In Hallowe'en Party, we learn that Rowena's husband, Mr. Drake, was run over by a car, which was driven by none other than Michael Garfield himself.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Happens near the end of The King of Clubs, Dead Man's Mirror, Appointment with Death and Hallowe'en Party.
- Magician Detective: Temporarily in The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim: he uses the magic tricks of a Stage Magician, which he learned from reading a book called The Boy's Book of Conjuring (which is out of character, but it works) and from watching a magic show. (According to David Suchet, he apparently did all the magic tricks himself.) Subverted at the end, however, when he tries making a parrot disappear... only to find that the bird is still here.
Poirot: At least it was worth a try.
Parrot: Worth a try, worth a try!
- Malaproper: As in the novels, Poirot is prone to this due to the fact that he is a Belgian man who tends to be unfamiliar with some English idioms (e.g., "running up the wrong tree" or "barking up the wrong bush"note , "has taken leave of his rocker"note , "making hills out of mole mounds"note , etc.).
- Man Bites Man: Or rather "Woman Bites Woman": In The Mystery of the Blue Train, during one night in a French villa, a mysterious intruder, later revealed to be the maid Ada Mason, approaches to kill Katherine Grey for having an affair with Major Richard Knighton and making her jealous; but as Katherine screams, Lenox Tamplin wrestles with Ada and bites her on the neck, making her retreat.
- Manly Tears: In Curtain, Hastings, who has maintained a Stiff Upper Lip on the topic of his wife's recent death, is suddenly reminded of her and begins weeping.
- Men Don't Cry/Sand In My Eyes: At the end of Third Girl, when Poirot sees that Norma is finally able to smile in freedom, he starts shedding a Single Tear. Ariadne Oliver asks if he is crying, but Poirot says that it's "only the breeze".
- The former trope is played straight again in Murder on the Orient Express: at the end, Poirot reluctantly and grudgingly lets the family of killers go free, and yet he still struggles with the decision while holding back his tears as he walks off while clutching the rosary in his hand.
- Mistaken for Dying: In both The Third Floor Flat and The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge, whenever Poirot comes down with a cold, he often calls it a "deadly fever" and feels like he's "a corpse that's waiting to die". However, when he is given food, like blackberry tea offered to him by Mr. Anstruther, for instance, he and his "little grey cells" feel rejuvenated, and he gets back on the case.
- The Mole: The Clocks revolves around Poirot trying to determine which of the weirdo denizens of Wilbraham Crescent is, in actuality, a Nazi spy.
- Multi-Part Episode: Type 1: Peril at End House, split into two parts.
- Mundane Solution: In The Veiled Lady, Captain Hastings heroically runs after a blackmailer to try to find out where he lives. Poirot doesn't bother joining Hastings. He looks the blackmailer's address up in the phone book.
- Murder-Suicide: The solution to Elephants Can Remember. Things get complicated, however, when it comes to the identity of one of the victims.
- Happens toward the end of Appointment with Death, when both Dr. Gerard and Dame Celia Westholme are denounced as both murderers and Jinny Boynton's real parents. Once they are found out, Dr. Gerard kills Dame Celia and then himself with a fatal dose of digitoxin.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In Cat Among the Pigeons, it is revealed that Miss Chadwick, thinking that Miss Honoria Bulstrode preferred Miss Eileen Rich as a successor more than her, tried to kill Miss Rich with a sandbag, hoping that Miss Bulstrode would choose Chadwick as successor; but when she knocked Rich out unconscious, she realized the horror of what she had done and let out a terrifying scream.
- My Greatest Failure: The Chocolate Box for Poirot. Until the ending reveals that he solved the case correctly, but allowed the murderer to die from a terminal illness instead of being jailed.
- My Greatest Second Chance: In The Yellow Iris, Poirot failed to solve the case of who killed Iris due to his being detained as a spy and deported from Argentina. With the Jardin des Cygnes restaurant open in London and a yellow iris delivered to him, Poirot is determined for a second try, hoping that he will not fail again.
- The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Poirot introduces himself in this manner in The Adventure of the Clapham Cook. In fact, some episodes have some characters introduce themselves in this way.
- Nice Mice: There is a little mouse in Hickory Dickory Dock who becomes a witness to the thefts and the murders. In fact, the mouse is more than a Running Gag or an object of the Mother Goose poem: it is also... shall we say... Chekhov's Gunmouse?
- Eek, a Mouse!!: Towards the end of the episode, when the clock strikes one and the mouse runs down, it not only scares off one of the women, but it also scares off the murderer, thus triggering a Chase Scene.
- Nightmare Face: In one dream sequence in Sad Cypress, Poirot tells Mary Carlisle to be careful, but when she gives him a look, her face suddenly melts into that of a skeleton! Also counts as Nightmare Fuel.
- No Animals Were Harmed: A disclaimer in the end credits of Appointment with Death says, "No animals were harmed in the making of this film."
- Nobody Here but Us Statues: In The Veiled Lady, the two suspects hide in a museum exhibit and pretend to be mannequins under the sheets among other mannequins while Poirot and his team are on the search for them until their search is growing cold. The mannequin statue plan almost works... until a Cute Kitten comes along and discovers the suspects, all the while meowing and purring.
- Not Now, Kiddo: In The ABC Murders, Captain Hastings has a terribly hard time getting anyone to listen to his story about shooting a cayman in Venezuela.
- Not So Different: In the adaptation of The Big Four, Poirot tells off the villain regarding his taste for theatrics. He points out that Poirot is the same, given his need for a Summation Gathering instead of just sending in the police to arrest him.
- Nude-Colored Clothes: In Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a model of Henry Gascoigne's is seated in a chair wearing her skin-colored clothes and making a pose while other artists paint her portraits.
- Obfuscating Disability: Double Sin short episode.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Poirot frequently plays the dotty old man to disarm suspects, making them more vulnerable to his questioning. He also uses his accent to this purpose, as he explains in Three-Act Tragedy (the novel, not the adaptation):
"It is true that I can speak the exact, the idiomatic English. But, my friend, to speak the broken English is an enormous asset. It leads people to despise you. They say - a foreigner - he can't even speak English properly. It is not my policy to terrify people - instead, I invite their gentle ridicule. Also I boast! An Englishman he says often, 'A fellow who thinks as much of himself as that cannot be worth much.' That is the English point of view. It is not at all true. And so, you see, I put people off their guard."
- Obi-Wan Moment: In Curtain, as Poirot is bedridden and about to die of a heart condition, he uses this moment to reassure Captain Hastings that there are "loose ends to be tied up"; that the death of Stephen Norton was not suicide, but rather murder; and that Hastings should go downstairs for breakfast and let him rest. This culminates in a Say Your Prayers moment.
- Offing the Offspring: The Chocolate Box.
- In Hallowe'en Party, Michael Garfield attempts to "sacrifice" his own estranged daughter Miranda by compelling her to drink the poison. Fortunately, Poirot and his team stop him in the nick of time.
- Ominous Pipe Organ/Belgian Chanting/One-Woman Wail: This combination is heard in The Chocolate Box in Marianne Deroulard's death scene at the beginning. When it is played again as Madame Deroulard explains the story to Poirot, it is revealed that her son Paul killed Marianne for power.
- Also, the One-Woman Wail is heard in the spooky music that plays in some parts of Dead Man's Mirror.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Done in-universe in Elephants Can Remember. Marie passes herself off as from Boston, but Poirot catches some pronunciation slips that indicate that she's actually Canadian.
- In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, during one of the times that Poirot reads Sheppard's journal, the detective's Belgian-French accent suddenly slips closer to a British accent, which may have been a mistake on the actor's part.
- Orgy of Evidence: Murder on the Orient Express.
- Overprotective Dad: Hastings in Curtain.
- Parental Substitute: In Curtain, Hastings mentions that Poirot has been a father figure to him.
- Poirot Speak: Poirot, obviously. (Though this is actually something of a subversion — see Obfuscating Stupidity)
- Polly Wants a Microphone: In The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, Poirot gets a parrot that gets chatty with squawks and Wolf Whistles... and sometimes mimicks other people's words.
- Pragmatic Adaptation: The Labours of Hercules, which was a collection of twelve short stories. Among other things:
- The main plot combines "The Arcadian Deer" (Williamson and Nita), "The Erymanthian Boar" (Marrascaud), "The Stymphalean Birds" (the Clayton marriage), "The Girdle of Hypollita" (the stolen paintings), and "The Capture of Cerebus" (Countess Rossakoff and Alice Cunningham). Other stories receive only passing references—for example, the set-up for Waring's stay in Switzerland comes from "The Augean Stables."
- As a result, there are multiple Composite Characters, most notably Alice Cunningham/Marrascaud.
- Dr. Lutz is now a psychoanalyst and a fence instead of a cosmetic surgeon.
- Drouet is Spared by the Adaptation, as is Marrascaud.
- Precious Puppy: We have Bob the dog in Dumb Witness, who becomes an assistant of Poirot and points out the tricks with the mirror and other events that occurred.
- Precrime Arrest/Screw Destiny: Poirot has a motive of this in Wasps' Nest, albeit without time travel, in which he must stop a murder crime or a tragedy from happening in the future.
- Previously On: Parodied at the beginning of Part II of Peril at End House, in which Hastings grabs the golf clubs, expectant to play a game of golf, but Poirot stops him and by word of mouth recaps what happened in the previous part before concluding that there is more work to be done. Of course, there are no clips from the previous part, but Poirot himself has made a great explanation on what happened.
- Product Placement: Poirot and Hastings play Monopoly from the beginning of The Lost Mine, and it becomes a Running Gag throughout the entire episode.
- In The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, there are signs all over the race course that say "BP", "Mobiloil" and "Shell", all references to gas station names.
- Prolonged Prologue: Hercule Poirot's Christmas starts with a prologue in South Africa in 1896, and it takes nearly ten minutes before we get to the opening title in London, 40 years later.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp only appear in a few of the original Poirot stories, but feature in the majority of the pre-season IX episodes anyway.
- Psycho Strings: Toward the end of Death on the Nile, some high-pitched Psycho strings play during a flashback in which Jacqueline de Bellefort repeatedly stabs Louise Bourget to death.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's The 1812 Overture is played in The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim... and later becomes Chekhov's Running Gag in the plot.
- In The Mystery of the Spanish Chest, we get Giuseppe Verdi's Rigoletto (which Poirot and Hastings attend in the theatre) and Träumerei (Dreaming) from Robert Schumann's Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood).
- In Five Little Pigs, we get the song "Alice Blue Gown" from the 1919 Broadway musical Irene and Erik Satie's Gnossienne no. 1.
- Combined with One-Woman Wail: In Appointment with Death, the sad music that plays in the scene when Dame Celia Westholme approaches the helpless Lady Boynton to perform the Coup de Grâce on her is "Dido's Lament (When I Am Laid in Earth)" from the 1689 opera Dido and Aeneas by English composer Henry Purcell. (Some parts of it are also repeated in one scene before the murder, and in another scene when the record skips because of the dust in it.)
- Railroad Tracks of Doom: Toward the end of The Mystery of the Blue Train, after a Hostage Situation with Katherine Grey fails, Major Knighton gets off the train and allows himself to get run over by another one on the tracks.
- In Mrs. McGinty's Dead, someone pushes Poirot under an oncoming train close to the railroad tracks, but fortunately another one pulls him out before he is to be run over. It turns out at the end that it was Mrs. Shelagh Rendell who made an attempt on Poirot's life after she believes that her husband, Dr. Rendell, is suspected of mercy killing terminally ill patients. (In the novel, however, it was Dr. Rendell himself who is suspected of killing his first wife and attempts to kill Poirot for doing so.)
- Rape as Backstory/Rape as Drama: In Taken at the Flood, we learn that David Hunter seduced and raped his sister's maidservant, Eileen Corrigan, at the basement, leaving her pregnant, and afterward performed an induced abortion on her, forcing her to endure the trauma for the rest of her life.
- Red Herring: Agatha Christie made liberal use of this trope.
- Say Your Prayers: More than halfway towards the end of Curtain, as Poirot is bedridden and minutes towards death via heart condition, he makes a prayer to God, asking him for the forgiveness of the murder he has committed, and clasps the rosary in his hands while doing so, resulting in Death Equals Redemption.
- Serial Killer: Alice Cunningham, a.k.a. Marrascaud in The Labours of Hercules.
- Serial Killings, Specific Target: The ABC Murders, Three Act Tragedy
- Series Continuity Error: Thanks to the Setting Update. In the TV series, Hastings meets his eventual wife in 1936 instead of the early 1920s. Nevertheless, his daughter is a woman in her early twenties as of Curtain, set in 1949.
- Setting Update: Inverted with some stories to avoid the books' use of Comic-Book Time—all Poirot's cases are set in the period from World War I to World War II (except Curtain, which is explicitly dated to 1949). This can result in some strangeness, however, such as Third Girl, which was written in The Sixties and uses so many contemporary themes that the book comes off as an Unintentional Period Piece, being re-set in The Great Depression.
- Shout-Out: At the very beginning of The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, Poirot, Hastings, and Japp attend the screening of G Men (1935), and yet Poirot is not pleased with all the violence that disturbs him.
- In The Affair at the Victory Ball, Poirot becomes the radio actor for the BBC in order to deduce the killer's true identity, and the callers complain about his accent, his Poirot Speak and his fractured English. Ironic, since it's a Shout-Out to when actor John Moffatt was cast as him in most dramas aired at BBC4 Radio.
- Another Shout-Out: at the end of the same episode, Poirot tells Hastings that the former shall lend to Chief Inspector Japp his own personal copy of "The English as She Should be Spoken". The book's title is actually English as She Is Spoke by Pedro Carolino, which Poirot means to refer to.
- In The ABC Murders, Cust is at the cinema twice, once attending the screening of Black Limelight, a.k.a. Footsteps in the Sand (1939, which is kinda odd, given that it was an adaptation of the play that wasn't shown on film in three years, since Poirot's timeline is set in August-September 1936), and then attending the screening of Alfred Hitchcock's Number Seventeen (1932), which is the latter that is shown when the fourth murder committed by Franklin Clarke takes place.
- The opening of Death on the Nile is very similar to the opening of the Harry Potter films. Also, during the night at a hotel, one of the songs that plays in the background is the instrumental version of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" from the 1933 musical Roberta.
- In The Mystery of the Blue Train, during one party scene at a French villa, the music that plays in the background is the 1936 song "Sing, Sing, Sing (With a Swing)" by Louis Prima (the kind that was used in Chips Ahoy commercials).
- Toward the end of After the Funeral, the painting that is behind the pier painting which Poirot carefully pulled off with a knife is Man with a Golden Helmet◊ by Rembrandt. (In the original novel, it was one of the paintings by Johannes Vermeer.)
- In Third Girl, concierge Alf Renny, Ariadne Oliver's "#1 fan", has read her novel called Lady, Don't Fall Backwards four times and still has no idea who committed the murder. This is a shout-out to an episode of the TV series Hancock's Half Hour ("The Missing Page"), in which Tony Hancock tries to find out who committed the murder in a book he'd just read with a missing page.
- Shrine to the Fallen: In Third Girl, it is said that Norma Restarick has turned her bedroom into a shrine for her mother, who committed suicide when Norma was seven.
- Sick Episode: The Third Floor Flat, The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge (both for Poirot), Hallowe'en Party (for Mrs. Oliver).
- Somebody Set Up Us the Bomb: In Taken at the Flood, after David forced Eileen to pose as his sister Rosaleen and hid her in the bomb shelter, he made a surprise attack on the entire Cloade estate by planting dynamite inside the house and then detonating it.
- Spared by the Adaptation: David Baker in Third Girl, mostly by being melded with the character who is Norma's love interest in the original book. Many other plot points were changed as well.
- Also Spared by the Adaptation: Colonel Clapperton in Problem at Sea; the Haverings in The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge; Dr. Robert Ames in The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb; Arabella "Bella" Tanios in Dumb Witness; Mr. Craddock, Mrs. Lorrimer and her daughter Anne Meredith in Cards on the Table; Eileen Corrigan (the fake Rosaleen Cloade) in Taken at the Flood; Michael Garfield in Hallowe'en Party; Régine Olivier, Abe Ryland and Flossie Monro in The Big Four.
- Spinning Paper: Becomes a Running Gag throughout The ABC Murders.
- Staircase Tumble: Marianne Deroulard's death in The Chocolate Box.
- Emily Arundel in Dumb Witness.
- Starts with Their Funeral/In Medias Res: The Big Four starts with what appears to be Poirot's funeral before flashing back to how his friends got there in the first place. Of course, none of them have any idea that Poirot is Faking the Dead until after the final showdown with Claud Darrell, the only villain of the so-called Big Four.
- Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred: Toward the end of Five Little Pigs, after the denouement, Elsa Greer walks out after being found out that she was Amyas Crale's murderer, and dares his daughter Lucy to shoot her. Poirot walks in and tells Lucy to spare Elsa, warning her, "If you kill her, you kill yourself." Lucy finally heeds his advice and breaks down, sparing Elsa and leaving her defeated.
- Stupid Sacrifice: Waring is addicted to doing this in The Labours of Hercules. Poirot calls him out on it.
- The Summation: Just about every episode concludes with one of these.
- Super Window Jump: In The Veiled Lady, when both Poirot and Hastings are cornered by the police for burglary, Poirot distracts them, allowing Hastings more time to run toward the windowed back door exit with the special Chinese fortune box in his hands. But by then the door is locked, so Hastings gets a Moment of Crazy Awesome by jumping out through the window, smashing the glass from inside.
- Sword Fight: The Mystery of the Spanish Chest starts with one between a young John Rich and a young Colonel Curtiss in a Deliberately Monochrome past, in which the young Curtiss gets a scar on his face. And toward the end of the episode, in a Big Damn Heroes moment, Rich goes for one more sword fight with Curtiss; after a few bouts, Rich wins once again.
- Taking the Bullet/Redemption Equals Death: Toward the end of Cat Among the Pigeons, after Ann Shapland is denounced as a murderer and the police arrive, she pulls out a gun and attempts to kill Miss Bulstrode and Poirot for finding her out. Miss Chadwick, however, goes out in front of both of them and takes the bullet in an attempt to atone for the wrong she has done in knocking Miss Rich out unconscious with a sandbag. As Chadwick is dying in the hospital, she feels that she would never forgive herself, but Bulstrode tells her she's done the right thing.
- They Have the Scent: In The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge, Jack Stoddard uses one of the dogs to sniff what appears to be Mrs. Middleton's dress; the dog runs off, sniffing any trace it can find, until it tracks down to the real murderer: Zoe Havering herself.
- Third-Person Person: Poirot usually speaks of himself this way. Dr. Lutz lampshades it in The Labours of Hercules.
- Title Drop: Murder on the Links, in a conversation between Hastings and Bella.
- To Be Continued: Occurs at the very end of Part I of Peril at End House, followed by the end credits.
- To Be Lawful or Good: Poirot at the conclusion of Murder On the Orient Express. At first, he refuses to compromise his principles by allowing the killers to go unpunished. To which their only response is, "We tried it your way. The law failed us." With the weight of the entire Armstrong family on his shoulders, Poirot ultimately walks right past the police, letting the perpetrators off the hook.
- Downplayed, though, in that Poirot seems unsure if what he did was "good".
- Subverted in The King Of Clubs, in which Poirot seemingly has little problem letting the killer go free, due to a combination of Asshole Victim and the fact that the killing was accidental and not premeditated.
- Also subverted in Taken at the Flood, in which it is revealed that Rowley Cloade, angered by the deception that Enoch Arden/Charles Trenton played on him, punched him in the face, smashing him against the mantelpiece and accidentally killing him; in order to frame David, he pulled the body and then smashed it in the back of the head. Rowley then persuaded Major Porter to falsely identify Arden/Trenton as Underhay, driving Porter to kill himself. When Rowley heard that Lynn Marchmont was not going to marry him, he tried to strangle her. In the novel he is tried and convicted of misleading the police and assaulting Lynn, but here in this adaptation, Poirot seems to have had no difficulty in letting him off the hook.
- Subverted again in The Chocolate Box. Poirot has no difficulty with allowing the murderer to die of illness instead of being convicted, on the grounds that the murder had been regrettable but justified.
- Curtain, in which Poirot faces a murderer who cannot be convicted. Poirot executes him, then allows himself to die of a heart attack.
- Together in Death: Simon Doyle and Jacqueline de Bellefort at the end of Death on the Nile. John and Gerda Christow by the end of The Hollow.
- The Tooth Hurts: Leads to the first victim's murder by what appears to be a Depraved Dentist in One, Two, Buckle My Shoe.
- Train-Station Goodbye: Happens at the end of The Double Clue: After Poirot tells Countess Rossakoff that they must go their separate ways, he and his private detectives escort her to the train bound for the United States. Before they leave, he offers her a cigarette case with the initials "B.P." (thought to be for Beatrice Palmeston Runcorn, but actually, as the initials are Cyrillic for "V.R.", for Vera Rossakoff) as something to remember him by. She thanks him and kisses him on the forehead before the train departs, and both wave each other goodbye.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: Ariadne Oliver's and Poirot's respective investigations in Elephants Can Remember, leading up to a Halfway Plot Switch when it becomes clear that the murders are linked.
- Two Scenes, One Dialogue: In The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim, Captain Hastings and Inspector Japp discuss Mrs. Davenheim and her maid. What's interesting is that Hastings speaks with Mrs. Davenheim upstairs, while Japp speaks with her maid downstairs, but both ladies speak about Matthew Davenheim's disappearance but are not sure why. At the end of the dialogue:
Hastings: [to Mrs. Davenheim] Perhaps I'll go have a chat with your maid.
[cut to downstairs at the same time]
Japp: [to the maid] Perhaps I'll go have a chat with your mistress.
- In Murder on the Orient Express, Poirot recites a prayer of repentance in one scene, while Ratchett goes to his own compartment and recites the same prayer in another scene. As two scenes blend in, it acts as Ratchett has joined in the prayer in one language—Poirot in French, Ratchett in English—until it ends with Poirot finishing the prayer with "Amen."
- Unwitting Pawn: Alexander Bonaparte Cust in The ABC Murders. He suffers from blackouts and memory loss. The killer, who Cust thinks is his friend, ensures he is at the scene of each murder so he'll be framed for them, and even plants the idea in Cust's mind that he committed the murders during his lapses in memory.
- Vader Breath: In Hallowe'en Party, Mrs. Oliver has a dream in which she hears someone breathing unnaturally and approaching her in her bed. As soon as she hears it, she turns around to see someone in a jack-o-lantern mask before she wakes up screaming, possibly foreshadowing the fact that someone could be Michael Garfield, Miranda's dad.
- Villainous BSOD: Played with in Curtain. Poirot apparently turns the murderer into a sobbing mess by pointing to the psychological origins of his problems. Except that the murderer is just acting.
- Villain Stole My Bike: In The Mystery of Hunter's Lodge, a bearded man (who is actually a disguised Zoe Havering) steals Mr. Anstruther's bike and rides away from the train station. Havering then goes to a field and buries the bike along with the beard disguise so that she can enter Hunter's Lodge as Mrs. Middleton and kill her uncle Harrington Pace for the money.
- Vomit Indiscretion Shot: In Cat Among the Pigeons, Fat Girl Patricia Forbes vomits at the gymnasium and has to be escorted out for health reasons.
- Voodoo Doll: In Cat Among the Pigeons, we see separate shots of a voodoo doll being made in the likeness of Miss Springer and then played with a pin until it is stabbed through the chest. This foreshadows what happens to Miss Springer and becomes a clue later on.
- Vorpal Pillow: In Third Girl, it is revealed that Frances Cary, Norma Restarick's half-sister, murdered Nanny Lavinia Seagram for threatening to reveal the identity of Robert Orwell as the impostor of Norma's father Andrew by using the pillow as a weapon. Afterward, Frances took her half-sister's knife from her bedroom and slit Seagram's wrists with it in order to force Norma to relive the trauma of her mother's suicide and make her believe she did it. Later, when Norma is finally able to reveal Robert's deception, Frances attempts to smother her half-sister herself with the same pillow, but Norma cleverly fakes her own death using the memory of her mother's bathtub suicide as an idea to make her half-sister believe she killed herself in the same manner as her mother.
- The Watson: Captain Hastings.
- We Will Meet Again: In The King of Clubs, as Mr. Reedburn is escorting one of his assistants out for a catfight, the latter says, "You haven't heard the last of me, Mr. Reedburn."
- We Would Have Told You, But...: In The Big Four, Poirot explains that he had to keep up the pretense of being dead to get the villain to reveal himself. It does earn him a What the Hell, Hero? from his old friends.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: One of the suspects in The Clocks, a blind geriatric named Miss Pebmarsh, lived through World War I and was rightly traumatized by the young lives lost in the war. She conspires with the Nazis under a misguided belief that committing treason is preferable to a second war with Germany. Note that in the book, the story happened after WWII, during the Cold War instead.
- We Named the Monkey Jack: A rare human example: at the end of The Chocolate Box, it is revealed that Virginie Mesnard-Ferraud and her husband named one of their sons "Hercule" after her former love interest.
- We Used to Be Friends: Happens in Three Act Tragedy: Poirot and Sir Charles Cartwright used to be longtime friends, but after investigating one murder case after another, Poirot finds out that Sir Cartwright murdered his two other affiliates before killing his wife so that he could marry Egg. By the end, Poirot feels ashamed and calls him off on the murders. What's even more surprising at the end is that if anyone should be killed, it would have been Egg, or worse, it would have been Poirot himself.
- Whatever Mancy: In Wasps' Nest, Poirot is into tasseography, i.e., reading tea leaves, and sees a murder crime that may happen in the future, which Poirot must prevent at all costs.
- What You Are in the Dark: In Murder on the Orient Express, when Poirot discovers that all his fellow passengers were the killers, he plans to turn them into the Yugoslavian police, regardless of how monstrous the victim was. Problem is, he and the train manager are the only witnesses and they are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Arbuthnot actually draws his gun on Poirot, until the rest of them realize that would make them like Cassetti. He lets them go anyways.
- Whole Episode Flashback: The Chocolate Box can be this, with some parts of the episode taking place in the present.
- Working Through The Cold: The Third Floor Flat has Poirot investigating a crime with Hastings while the former is recovering from a bad cold.
- World Tree: In The Hollow, Henrietta Savernake makes some doodles in random places, and all these doodles are of what looks like a stylized palm tree which she calls Yggdrasil, a giant ash tree that represents Viking cosmology, with the branches standing for different parallel worlds.
- Would Hurt a Child: Happens very often in Hallowe'en Party.
- Yes-Man: Hastings to Poirot, as Hastings ruefully acknowledges in Dumb Witness.
- You Just Told Me: Played with in The Labours of Hercules, where it's Poirot who mistakenly reveals an important piece of information to someone he thinks is the right person, but most certainly is not.
- You Look Familiar: David Yelland, who played Laverton West in Murder in the Mews, returns as Poirot's valet George for the remainder of the series from Season 10 onward.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me/It Works Better with Bullets: Toward the end of The Adventure of the Cheap Flat, when a Mafia assassin attempts to kill Carla Romero and her husband for the murder of Luigi Valdarno, Poirot steps in their way and tells his colleagues that the assassin would not dare shoot him. The assassin pulls out Hastings' gun and warns him that if he takes one more step, then he is finished. Poirot acts all like "Try me!" and takes one step. The assassin prepares to shoot him and... the gun clicks a few times before he realizes that the gun has no bullets. Poirot then shows him the bullets that he had taken out of the gun earlier while he and Hastings were tracking down the assassin in the Robinsons' apartment.