Follow TV Tropes


Characters / Hercule Poirot
aka: Poirot

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    Hercule Poirot 
Portrayed By: David Suchet (ITV series)
Dubbed by: Roger Carel (European French, ITV series)

Christie's most famous creation, Poirot is Belgian who came to Britain as a refugee of World War I. He once worked as a police officer in Belgium, but later works as a private detective. Not much is known about his career in the force, or of any of his personal life before he became a detective.

  • 10-Minute Retirement: The novels occasionally mention that he's retired from his detective work (e.g. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd), but would come to investigate the crime anyway. Apparently, his fame dwindles during his retirement years, and Poirot, conceited as he is, does not like being forgotten.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Sort of. Most visual depictions of Poirot portrays him as bald (presumably to emphasise his egg-shaped head). However, in the books, it is told that he has thick dark hair.
  • Animal Motifs: The narration tends to compare Poirot to a cat, especially once he's had an Eureka Moment and his eyes light up like a cat who's spotted prey.
  • Awesome Ego: Poirot is well-aware that his intelligence is first rate but doesn't hesitate to remind other people of it, and by the end of a story, has amply justified his opinion.
  • Badass Mustache: Much attention is given about Poirot's mustache, which he considers one of his best characteristics.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Poirot is a very polite and kindly (if vain) old man. If you murder anyone in his vicinity, he will hunt you down without mercy.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Poirot's many eccentricities are compensated by his exceptional skills as a detective.
  • Catchphrase: Poirot has "the little grey cells" and less often "order and method".
    • In earlier books he often comments "It is an idea, that!" (a calque of a French phrase) when someone else makes an intelligent (but usually wrong) suggestion on the case.
  • Celibate Hero: Poirot does not have a romantic relationship over the course of his literary career. He expresses a strong admiration for Countess Vera Rossakoff, but Christie does not pursue a relationship between them. Although Poirot never has a romantic/sexual relationship of any kind, he is more of the "Love is a Distraction" variety than a true asexual. He typically acts gallant towards the women he meets — much more so than, say, Sherlock Holmes in similar situations — and he often makes polite comments about their looks and/or fashion choices; Hastings even jokingly remarks in Curtain: Poirot's Last Case that the detective prefers showy, voluptuous redheads. It never goes beyond that, though.
    • The adaptation of "The Chocolate Box" suggests a possible fondness in his youth for Virginie Mesnard, a young woman who approaches him to investigate a murder; she gives him the bud vase pin he wears throughout the series and names a son after him after her marriage to another.
  • The Dandy: Left to his own devices, Poirot deigns to style himself rather gaudily in sharp contrast to how his usual companions Hastings (who dresses quietly) and Japp (who dresses ruggedly) do so.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: The reason he came to Britain at all is because he was driven out of his home country due to the war and arrives as a wounded refugee. When recounting his story to Hastings in Curtain, he regarded the experience as "a sad and painful time".
  • Demoted to Extra: As Christie began to grow tired of Poirot, the great detective gets featured less and less in the cases he's involved with. Later Poirot novels would focus more on the suspects, Amateur Sleuths and other officers, while Poirot serves as a Phone-In Detective who only shows up at the end to deliver a Dénouement.
  • Depending on the Artist: Poirot's moustache has taken on various styles/sizes across his various film/TV portrayals.
  • Dirty Cop: Due to the popularity of the Pinkerton Detective type during his time period, less reputable characters try to buy Hercule's services believing him to be a comparable bodyguard/enforcer/spy for hire combo. While Hercule is not above bending the law a bit to see justice done, his strong moral compass dissuades him from ever taking up such contracts.
  • Doom Magnet: Noted by a few of his companions that some of the truly exotic or monstrous crimes of their day seem to happen in his close proximity.
  • Elective Broken Language: Poirot admits to a friend in Three Act Tragedy that he's perfectly capable of speaking proper English if he wants to, but he chooses not to because he's found it helpful to appear as an amusing and non-threatening foreigner.
    Poirot: 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.
  • Eye Colour Change: When Poirot is very excited, his green eyes flicker and become steadily greener and greener.
  • Everyone Has Standards: He relies on complex crimes to keep himself sharp and stimulated, but fervently hates when they, as they often do, involve someone being murdered. In one case, he kicks himself over not acting sooner, as this would have saved a woman who came to him for help.
  • Famed in Story: Very much so in the high society of Britain and European countries surrounding Belgium, but to his frustration, he's only known in certain circles everywhere else.
  • Formerly Fat: Throughout the books, Poirot is consistently described as rather plump. In his last book, he's withered by age and has grown thin and feeble, and Hastings finds this rather pitiable.
  • Funny Foreigner: He appears as a quirky Belgian refugee who thinks too highly of himself, and as such, is not taken seriously. This, of course, is a deliberate front he put up to distract the murderers.
  • Great Detective: His deductive ability is renown even among the police force, and his testimonies carry far more weight than the average witness. People come to him to request his help when a case needs solving, even during his retirement years.
  • The Hero Dies: In the final book, he's dying of an incurable heart disease, and eventually dies before the book ends.
  • Honorary Uncle: Hastings' daughter Judith calls him "Uncle Hercule".
  • Iconic Item: Always carries around a turnip pocket watch. The series adds a small bud vase lapel pin, a gift from a character in "The Chocolate Box". Also usually carrying a walking stick - the two most commonly seen have a spyglass that doubles as a handle (most often used when Poirot's on some kind of holiday or trip), and another with a silver swan handle. Apparently, David Suchet got to keep the latter as a souvenir.
  • Insufferable Genius: He's definitely not modest about his own intelligence, and doesn't hesitate to call anyone who isn't as quick-witted as he is, "stupid".
  • Ironic Name: Poirot, being short and stout, is physically as far as you can get from a "Hercule".
  • It's All My Fault: Poirot feels like he's responsible for not preventing a murder, even when it's ridiculously not his fault. He even blames himself for the murder if he feels he can't solve it.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: If someone mispronounces his name, like "Poy-roat", he'll be quick to correct them. A second time, he'll just bitterly sigh or grumble and leave well enough alone.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Poirot often comes off as an arrogant, vain egotist, but he's got a good and loyal friend to Hastings, and a kind man who values life and will not tolerate injustice.
  • Large Ham: He has a flair for the theatrical and dramatic.
  • Lawful Good: In general, though on occasion he will bend the rules a bit, he is still a law-abiding citizen and a supporter of the police.
  • Loves Secrecy: Tends to be a show-off and likes to keep his conclusions secret up until the end.
  • The Matchmaker: It's astounding how many relationships and marriages were influenced by the fastidious hand of Monsieur Poirot. He plays a big part in marrying Hastings to his wife Dulcie Duveen; and, after her death, encourages his friend to pursue romance with Elizabeth Cole.
  • Minor Injury Overreaction: Poirot often makes a big fuss over his health, rushing to the doctor for the minutest hint of an illness coming. However, his behaviour was reversed when he was seriously ill, as he refused to see a doctor even when his condition apparently got worse in Curtain.
  • Mistaken Nationality: People often mistake him as French, even though he's Belgian. It annoys him, although Hercule Poirot does not forget his dignity so far as to call it a Berserk Button.
  • Mystery Magnet: Lampshaded in "Dead Man's Mirror" when Major Riddle remarks that with Poirot on the scene, any apparent suicide would be murder.
  • Non-Action Guy: He does not like physically exerting himself and prefers leaving the running and scuffling to other people (which surprises those people who expect a Holmes-style search for clues). David Suchet's portrayal, however, occasionally does rush into danger while brandishing his cane if someone else's life is at risk.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Poirot frequently plays the dotty old man to disarm suspects, making them more vulnerable to his questioning.
  • Poirot Speak: Invoked and zigzagged, as well as the Trope Namer. Poirot deliberately speaks in broken English to throw his opponents off-guard and, over time, this becomes a habit and he continues to speak in such a manner in front of his closest friend. However, he proves himself a proficient English speaker whenever he delivers the denouement of his cases.
  • Pragmatic Hero: Unlike his straight-laced, scrupulous friend Hastings, Poirot is willing to lie, eavesdrop, read personal letters, peep on suspects, etc. if it will bring him closer to solving a case.
  • The Profiler: Poirot fancies himself as a psychological detective. He doesn't track down his murderers based on physical clues, but based on how the psychology of the crime fits the mind of the criminal. Lucy/Carla Crale specifically mentions this as part of his reputation in Five Little Pigs (both TV and the novel), as part of why she believes he can help her.
  • Religious Detective: Word of God says that Poirot is Roman Catholic by birth, and Poirot himself states that he's "a good Catholic" in Taken at the Flood. A lot of his morality (particularly his value of human life, his chaste nature, and his detest for murder) is based on his religion. He makes frequent reference to God throughout the novels, and in Curtain, the dying Poirot writes about leaving the time of his death to le bon Dieu.note 
  • Seen It All: As and aging and experienced detective, he is seldom surprised with the abyss of the human nature.
  • Self-Made Man: He once mentioned that he grew up in a poor family, but worked hard in the Belgian Police Force, and eventually made an international reputation for himself as a great detective. In later novels, he has become quite rich from his detective work, which he demonstrates in Cards on the Table by purchasing 19 very extravagant and expensive sets of silk stockings, to the utter shock of the shopkeeper.
  • Super OCD: He's obsessed with neatness, order, symmetry, and punctuality.
    • Poirot insists on perfect symmetry and neatness, to the point of automatically rearranging and straightening ornaments on the fireplace mantel of a murder victim ...which ends up leading him to the solution when Hastings kids him about it a few days later.
    • He prefers to keep a bank balance of 444 pounds, 4 shillings, and 4 pence.
    • When he orders soft-boiled eggs, he asks for the eggs to be exactly the same size and shape. Throughout the books, he often states he wishes chickens would lay square eggs, as that would be more symmetrically-pleasing to the eye and easier to store. This becomes Hilarious in Hindsight, as square watermelons have been developed in Real Life for exactly this reason.
    • In "The Mysterious Affair At Styles", Poirot removes Hastings's tie pin and repins it, stating that the pin was very slightly off-center and thus irritating Poirot's sense of propriety. Keep in mind, Hastings had just run all the way to a nearby village to enlist Poirot's help with a murder that had just occurred.
    • In the ITV adaptation of "The Mysterious Affair at Styles", Poirot suggests rearranging an entire store's stock by country of origin, with each section placed in the direction of said country,note  to make it "easier to find things". The shop clerk only stares at him in total bewilderment.
    • In another ITV episode, Poirot tells a guest that all of his dinnerware is arranged by size, and acts shocked when it's implied that no one else does the same thing.
    • He once rode through the desert on camel-back, while wearing a full three-piece suit and patent leather shoes. Hastings has absolutely no sympathy for him, as everyone else is sensibly attired for the climate and region.
    • In "Halloween Party", Ariadne Oliver gets upset with Poirot's constant complaining about his aching feet, which are caused by his insistence on wearing those patent leather shoes as he walks all over the country town. When Ariadne tells him to get sensible comfortable shoes, Poirot refuses, as they offend his sense of neatness.
    • His OCD helps solve the mystery of a book he wasn't even in (Towards Zero), when his friend Superintendent Battle looks at something asymmetric and thinks about how much that would have bugged Poirot.
    • In Curtain he states (in a posthumous letter) that this should have been the final clue for Hastings to realise that it was he, Poirot, who killed the story's murderer, since the apparent suicide victim was shot in the centre of the forehead and not from the side as one would expect.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: He occasionally gets inklings when catastrophic fiendishness is about to occur, when he can do very little but watch the havoc play out for him to sort later.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: A small precise man, he has an attraction to the large and flamboyant Countess Vera Rossakoff.
  • True Companions: He may put down Hastings often, but when there is danger he will stand by him to the very end, as seen in The Big Four.
    • In Curtain, what finally makes him cross a Moral Event Horizon is the murderer Norton talking Hastings into attempting murder. Poirot kills Norton, and then ends his own life as punishment.
  • Vague Age: We know that he's quite an old man, having just retired from the force when he reunites with Hastings in The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but his exact age is never made quite clear because the books rarely specify the year they take place in. If the time setting follows its publication year, however, Poirot would have been over 100 by the end of this career.
  • We Would Have Told You, But...: His perception allows him to know about a case more than everyone else, but he constantly refuses to disclose the information to anyone (to the irritation of his best friend, Hastings) until the very last minute.

Recurring characters


     Captain Arthur Hastings 
Portrayed By: Hugh Fraser

Poirot's best friend and occasional sidekick, Captain Hastings is a former British officer whose injury he received from the war prevented him from serving actively in the military. He's a very typical English gentleman — very proper in his manner of conduct, though a bit slow and dim-witted at times.

  • Age-Gap Romance:
    • His wife Dulcie was half his age when they first met in The Murder on the Links.
    • His possible Second Love Elizabeth Cole is only 35, while Hastings himself, with four grown children, is likely in his 60s or 70s.
  • Ascended Extra: His presence in the Agatha Christie's Poirot series is more prominent than his actual role in the books, where he only appeared in 8 of the 33 Poirot novels.
  • Bad Liar: Has terrible poker face and makes his thoughts and intentions quite obvious through his expressions. This is why Poirot often refuse to share his findings to Hastings, for fear that it will alert the criminal of their progress in the investigations.
  • Beneath Suspicion: Hastings' greatest asset to Poirot's investigations is that he is simultaneously distracting and innocuous, allowing him to divert attention and to covertly (if callowly) operate on his friend's behalf with no one really noticing.
  • Catchphrase: Frequently exclaims, "Good Lord!" or "Good heavens!" in the TV series.
  • Character Tics: In the TV series, he has a habit of immediately grabbing nearby food and snacking on it. This includes a batch of food for a parrot Poirot was watching in the show.
  • Eureka Moment: Provides Poirot with one for at least two cases; in Styles, an observation about Poirot reorganising vases helps Poirot find a key piece of evidence, and in ABC Murders, a comment about a mis-addressed letter announcing the killer's next target leads to Poirot realising that the killer placed more importance on that murder than others.
  • Expy: His character is quite blatantly modelled after Dr. Watson. Both serve as a First-Person Peripheral Narrator to a Great Detective, had military backgrounds and had experienced injuries during the war, are highly imaginative but far too susceptible to the female beauty. Several characters they encounter lampshade this by asking if Hastings is Poirot's Dr. Watson.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: He usually serves as the narrator when he's featured in the story, though the main star is, of course, Poirot.
  • Happily Married: He and his wife loved each other dearly, and Hastings would describe his marriage as happy and successful.
  • Has a Type: Has a preference towards auburn-haired women, which Poirot frequently tease him about. However, his eventual wife was dark-haired.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Both he and Japp are two of Poirot's closest friends, but Hastings doesn't particularly care for Japp, and barely interacts with him when the two meet each other.
  • Honor Before Reason: In "The Big Four", the suggestion that a boss is being a jerk to a poor defenseless young woman is almost enough to get him to beat down the offender himself. As Poirot notes, it showed an excellent grasp of Hastings' personality by the villains, who'd set the whole thing up.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Inverted. His first impression on others is often very accurate, though other things may distract him from his initial judgement. For example, in "Curtain" he surmises that Stephen Norton might be X because Norton struck him as someone who is "insignificant" and could be driven to murder to assert their superiority. Near the end of the book, Poirot confirms that all of Hastings's suspicions were true.
    • He's this trope for real in Peril at End House, however, in which he insists that George Challenger is a stand-up fellow because he has the right manners, went to the right school, etc. He's thus utterly flabbergasted to learn that George, while he isn't the murderer, is in fact a cocaine dealer.
  • Overprotective Dad: Hastings is very fussy about his children's well-being, which his daughter Judith found annoying and interfering. He's less than pleased to see her flirt with The Casanova Allerton, and was angry on her behalf when her employer, Dr. Franklin, seem to patronise her.
  • Parental Favoritism: Admits that his youngest daughter, Judith, is his favourite of his 4 children, though she's also the one he understood the least.
  • Put on a Bus: After Christie realized that Poirot didn't really need a Watson-type character, she quickly married off Captain Hastings and had him move to Argentina (although he periodically returned for more adventures with Poirot).
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons: He's quite imaginative, and occasionally arrives to the right conclusion through his guesswork, though he typically lacks the intellectual reasoning to back up his assumptions.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: At times. Hastings relates a story where (in a shout out to Sherlock Holmes) Poirot solved a mystery involving a box of chocolates perfectly, except for having overlooked a vital clue that would have told him very clearly who the murderer was, and thus accused someone who was completely innocent (but who was quickly exonerated once the truth was known). After that affair, Poirot tells Hastings that if he ever acts too conceited, he should use the words "chocolate box" to bring him down a peg. Poirot isn't amused when Hastings uses the code words mere seconds later.
  • Second Love: In Curtain, Hastings is a broken and lonely man due to his wife's passing and his grown children have all left the nest. In his final letter to his friend, Poirot encourages Hastings to pursue romance with the equally broken and lonely Elizabeth Cole.
  • Sidekick: His role is to serve as a Watson-type character whose antics provide some assistance to Poirot's solving of the mystery.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Implied. Poirot considers Hastings still attractive even in his advanced years, and while his height and colour is never described, his daughter Judith (whom Hastings depicts as tall, dark-haired and beautiful) is said to have inherited his looks.
  • True Companions: He is Poirot's best friend, though he often gets annoyed at Poirot's egomania.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Played with; he's an avid reader of mystery stories, likes to think of himself as a detective and, when accompanying Poirot on his investigations, tries to put what he's read into practice. Unfortunately for Hastings, the mystery stories he's fond of seem to be the lurid, over-the-top sort with all kinds of plot contrivances and absurd clues that everything hinges on, unlike the more psychological matters that Poirot deals with, meaning that Hastings is often left at sea.

     Inspector James Japp 
Portrayed By: Philip Jackson

The Chief Inspector of the Scotland Yard who is acquainted to Poirot.

  • Ascended Extra: As with Hastings, the TV adaptations tend to exaggerate his roles in the story by putting him in cases where he was not present in the originals, or greatly expanding his involvement in cases where he only played a minor role.
  • Alliterative Name: James Japp.
  • The Big Guy: Among Poirot, Hastings, and himself, he is the most immediately intimidating and physically able of the three and his office of Chief Inspector gives him a lot of clout during cases.
  • Brutal Honesty: He's not known for his tact, and one of the very first thing he says when he meets Hastings in The ABC Murders is to point out that his hairline is receding.
  • Character Tics: He clutches his hat to his chest when he has to take it off indoors.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Japp all but disappeared after "One, Two, Buckle My Shoe", and his role is replaced by other Scotland Yard officers in later works.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Both he and Hastings are two of Poirot's closest friends, but the two barely interact when they cross paths, and it's safe to say that, without Poirot, they'd never have anything to do with each other at all. They do get along, though, and sometimes exchange knowing smiles about Poirot's eccentricities.
  • The Ghost: In the Agatha Christie's Poirot adaptation, he's apparently married. Poirot has occasionally asked him about Mrs. Japp, and the audience sometimes see the Inspector talking to his wife through the phone, but she never actually shows up on-screen (though her family does in "Hercule Poirot's Christmas").
  • Inspector Lestrade: He's the police officer who is typically in charge of the case where he's featured in. But while a competent detective, capable of collecting information and sorting out the necessary evidence, he could never solve the case as quickly as Poirot does.

     Ariadne Oliver 
Portrayed By: Zoë Wanamaker

A self-parody of Agatha Christie herself, Mrs. Oliver is a mystery novelist, famous for her Sven Hjerson detective novel series. She's acquainted to Hercule Poirot and has occasionally assisted him with his case by providing some useful insights.

  • Author Avatar: A famous author of a series of mysteries featuring an exotic foreign detective just like Christie. Per Christie herself:
    "I never take my stories from real life, but the character of Ariadne Oliver does have a strong dash of myself."
  • Character Filibuster: In Cards on the Table, she makes a long rant about how difficult it is to write a novel, while rebutting Rhoda's rosy-coloured image of the writing profession.
  • Creator Backlash: invoked Like Christie's own frustrations towards Poirot, Oliver detests her own fictional Finnish detective Hjerson because she knows nothing about Finland.
  • Gut Feeling: Played for laughs. She's highly imaginative (being a novelist and all), and frequently makes absurd propositions about the cases she's involved in. These propositions are almost entirely based on her "feminine intuition", which she then tries to push as an established fact.
  • Little Old Lady Investigates: She is an inquisitive, middle-aged novelist who occasionally interviews suspects and witnesses, though they don't always contribute to solving the case.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: She tends to lighten the atmosphere of any scene she's in.
  • Self-Deprecation: A meta-example. Christie uses her character to mock herself, usually by pointing out the errors she has made in her previous books.
  • Trademark Favourite Food: She's very fond of apples. Until the events of Hallowe'en Party, at least.

     Miss Felicity Lemon 
Portrayed By: Pauline Moran

Poirot's efficient secretary, Miss Lemon is almost as orderly and methodical as her employer.

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: She is frequently described as exceedingly ugly in the books, but is played by good-looking actresses on the screen.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: While she is still an efficient secretary, the Poirot version of Miss Lemon is much more lively. She is willing to engage in silly conversations with Hastings (whom, in the books, she cares nothing about), poke fun at Poirot when it needs be and even has hobbies outside her secretarial duties, whereas her book counterpart does not.
  • Adorkable: In the Suchet adaptations, her quest to create the perfect filing system is endearing as she puts together an intricate catalog that only she understands.
  • Ascended Extra: Like Japp and Hastings, she did not appear in nearly as many works as her television equivalent.
  • Canon Welding: In the written works, she also serves as secretary to Christie detective Parker Pyne.
  • Emotionless Girl: Invoked. A true professional, Miss Lemon enjoys being "the perfect machine, completely and gloriously uninterested in all human nature". However, she is not completely devoid of feelings, and gets impatient/annoyed when Poirot distracts her from her typing, especially if he asks her for personal opinions.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: She and Hastings have few interactions that don't involve Poirot. Indeed, in the printed versions she and Hastings never appeared in the same story.
  • Kindhearted Cat Lover: In the TV series. "The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman" has her take in the victim's cat after his servant/her boyfriend decides to have it put down rather than rehome it. In "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb", Poirot presents her with a Bastet statue as a gift after her own cat dies.
  • The Perfectionist: Rarely, if ever, makes any mistakes in her work, and spends her nights dreaming of a perfect filing system.
  • Sassy Secretary: In the TV series, she is much more willing to tease her employer for his appearance and quirks. For example, in The Wasp's Nest, she encourages Poirot to join her in her exercise routine, subtly implying that he's fat and unhealthy.

     George (also Georges) 

Poirot's valet, who makes his first appearance after Hastings departs for Argentina.

  • Adapted Out: He is not included in Hickory Dickory Dock, One, Two, Buckle My Shoe, and other early adaptations of works featuring him as a character.
  • The Jeeves: Being Poirot's valet. He also provides a wealth of information about London society, being described as a "social snob".

Alternative Title(s): Poirot


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: