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There are moments when I have felt: Why-Why-Why did I ever invent this detestable, bombastic, tiresome little creature? ...Eternally straightening things, eternally boasting, eternally twirling his moustaches and tilting his egg-shaped head... I point out that by a few strokes of the pen... I could destroy him utterly. He replies, grandiloquently: "Impossible to get rid of Poirot like that! He is much too clever."

The star of thirty-three books and fifty-six short stories by Agatha Christie, Hercule Poirot is one of the most famous fictional detectives in the world. Rightly so, he would say, being also one of the most conceited. His curiously elongated career lasted from 1916 to 1975, although he was at retirement age when it began. This would make him at least 110 when it ended.note 

Originally a Belgian police detective, he became a refugee when World War I broke out and ended up in the tiny English village of Styles St. Mary. Naturally, while he was there, someone was murdered. It was, Poirot later admitted, quite a common occurrence around him. Solving The Mysterious Affair at Styles revitalized him, however, and he embarked on a career as a private detective.

Notable associates of his include: Captain Arthur Hastings, war veteran, secretary and later Argentinian farmer; Ariadne Oliver, irritatingly popular mystery novelist; the Countess Vera Rossakoff, possibly an aristocratic Russian refugee, most definitely a talented conwoman; Miss Felicity Lemon, a most efficient secretary; and of course any number of solid, even stolid, English policemen who good-naturedly allow him to take over their crime scenes. After all, Mr Parrot's only a Funny Foreigner. What harm could it do?

Mystery writer Sophie Hannah was officially licensed by the Christie estate to write Poirot novels. She has written four of them since 2014; see The New Hercule Poirot Mysteries for more about them.

When Christie announced in 1975 that the character was being retired, Poirot got a front-page obituary in the New York Times. Here it is.

Hercule Poirot media:

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Original novel series by Agatha Christie:

Licensed novels by Sophie Hannah:

    Screen adaptations 

Feature films:

Television series:

  • Poirot (1989-2013), an ITV series starring David Suchet as Poirot, whose portrayal is considered as the definitive one. Amusingly, he first played Inspector Japp in the 1985 adaptation of Lord Edgware Dies (titled Thirteen at Dinner).
  • Neudacha Puaro (2002), a five-part Russian miniseries adaptation of The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  • The ABC Murders (2018), a BBC miniseries starring John Malkovich as a bearded Poirot.
  • Checkmate (2022), a very loose Chinese adaptation. The first episode is based on Murder on the Orient Express.

Tropes featured in this series include:

  • Adaptation Decay: In-universe in Mrs McGinty's Dead, Ariadne Oliver works on a theatre adaptation of her book, and complains that the characters are completely changed. (Ironically, in real life, Agatha Christie's main complaint about early stage adaptations of her plays was that they stuck too closely to the books, as she felt that a murder mystery should surprise people.)
  • Always Murder: Most of the stories with occasional aversions. Lampshaded in "Dead Man's Mirror":
    Riddle: "As you are on the scene, it probably would be murder!"
    For a moment Poirot smiled.
    Poirot: "I hardly like that remark."
  • Always Someone Better: There is, of course, no one better than Hercule Poirot. Not even his brother Achille. Who doesn't exist. Poirot often swoops in to overshadow various other sleuths, though in something of a subversion he generally gives great credit to the intelligence, diligence, and capability of the police force (as a former detective in the Belgian police himself), quick to correct the common British notion of the average policeman as being stolid and slightly stupid.
  • Anachronic Order: The novels take place in more or less random order. The fourth novel takes place after Poirot's retirement, while the novel in which Poirot decides to retire was written much later. The final book (in which Poirot dies) was actually written more than thirty years before it was published, so that Christie could give the series a definitive end even if something happened to her in WWII.
  • Animal Motifs: Poirot's fastidious nature, his clever scheming, love of personal comfort, perception of fine details, and green eyes have all led him to be compared to a cat, often by Hastings.
  • Bluffing the Authorities: In the story The Stymphalian Birds, an English diplomat accidentally kills a young woman's jealous husband while on vacation in Central Europe. The woman's mother knows how things happen around there and is certain that she can hush everything up by bribing local officials and the hotel personnel, using money provided by the diplomat. However, it's all a scam (including the "death" of the husband, who was in fact the mother in disguise). Since the diplomat doesn't speak the language, he leaves the mother to do all the talking and isn't present to see any money change hands.
  • Book Ends: The novel Curtain is this for the whole Poirot cycle — the plot takes place in the same location as The Mysterious Affair at Styles, the first book in the cycle.
  • Brain Fever: In The Murder on the Links, Jack Renauld collapses with fever, which Hercule Poirot attributes to the shock of being disowned on top of ongoing mental strain following the death of his father. By the time of The Big Four, however, Christie has a doctor dismiss brain fever as an invention of writers.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Charles and Theresa Arundell from Dumb Witness frequently scheme to squeeze money out from their aunt. Exemplified in the TV adaptation, which Adapted Out Theresa's fiance, leaving the two to work together more often.
  • Busman's Holiday: Multiple times, sometimes lampshaded. For instance, Murder on the Orient Express, when he finds himself involved in a murder mystery while traveling home from solving another (and to another).
  • Cassandra Truth: There are several stories/novels where Poirot attempts to dissuade someone from following their chosen course of actions, telling them that it'll only end badly for them even if they manage to achieve their goals. His warnings are not listened to, and the person is duly caught in the end.
  • Catchphrase: Poirot's "little grey cells" and well-known love of "order and method" are invoked Once per Episode, if not by Poirot himself then by someone else.
  • Celibate Hero: Hercule Poirot would sometimes express admiration for good-looking women (he's a believer in the Buxom Beauty Standard) and it was hinted that he had a crush on Vera Rossakoff, a very stylish jewel thief who pops up in a few of the earlier stories and novels. But he never actually had a wife or a girlfriend over 50 years of books. Notably, in Hercule Poirot's Christmas he's staying with a police superintendent in the provinces because, apparently, he has no one else to spend the holiday with. Christie lampshades this in Mrs. McGinty's Dead when she has her Author Avatar Ariadne Oliver say of Oliver's fictional detective that "Sven Hjerson never cared for women."
  • Chemically-Induced Insanity: The Cretan Bull (part of The Labours of Hercules): the "bull" in this case is a huge and energetic young man named Hugh Chandler who is suffering from hallucinations and sometimes wakes up with bloodied hands and the news that animals have been found butchered nearby. As his family has a history of congenital madness, he's afraid of going off the deep end and resolves to commit suicide when he thinks he's close to harming his fiancé. He's perfectly sound in mind, the hallucinations being produced by drugs in his shaving cream. The actual madman is his father, Admiral Chandler- or rather, his mother's husband, who does suffer from the family insanity. As it turns out, Hugh is actually the product of an affair between Mrs. Chandler and a close family friend (it's implied that the lady in question sensed that her husband-to-be was beginning to go insane and sought refuge in her lover's arms, as she couldn't break the engagement). After the admiral found out, he murdered his wife, then resolved to drive Hugh to suicide in revenge. He shoots himself once found out.
  • Christmas Episode: The novel Hercule Poirot's Christmas and the short story "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a. The Theft of the Royal Ruby)".
  • Clear My Name: Poirot is suspected of murdering Madame Giselle in Death in the Clouds after the real killer plants a poison blow pipe, of all things, beside his seat.
  • Clear Their Name:
    • In Mrs. McGinty's Dead, Poirot works to clear the name of a man accused of murdering the titular victim before he's hanged, as a favour to the local superintendent who doesn't feel right about the verdict, in spite of the evidence he himself collected.
    • Five Little Pigs offers a posthumous version, in which a young heiress hires Poirot to prove her mother — Caroline Crale, who died in prison sixteen years before the story began — was innocent of the murder of her husband, acclaimed artist Amyas Crale. Poirot has to work backwards, comparing the differing accounts of five witnesses who were at the house the day of the murder.
  • Comic-Book Time: Poirot is supposedly old and retired in the early 1920s, but is still detecting over forty years later, as Third Girl is explicitly set in Swinging '60s London.
  • Darker and Edgier: Christie herself saw "Hercule Poirot's Christmas" as this. She dedicated it to her brother-in-law, who was a fan of her work but had complained that the murders were too clean. She said she hoped that the brutal, bloody murder in this one would please him.
  • Dead Man's Chest: A key moment in "The Adventure of the Clapham Cook" is that the said cook's chest becomes a crucial piece of evidence which happens to contain the body of a murdered bank clerk.
    • "The Mystery of the Bagdad Chest" plays out this way as well. A man hides in a trunk to spy on his wife during a party, passes out from a drugged cocktail he drank earlier, and gets stabbed to death. The killer uses a folding screen to hide the trunk — and the bloodstains seeping through it into the carpet — until a servant finds it several hours later.
  • Death in the Clouds: The 1935 novel of that title is the Trope Namer. A wealthy moneylender is killed with a poisoned dart aboard a flight from Paris to London, with Poirot himself among the suspects.
  • Deconstructive Parody: "The Veiled Lady" is a literary Shot-for-Shot Remake of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", but with an extra Twist Ending.
  • Demoted to Extra: As Christie's dislike towards Poirot increased, his importance in the cases began to diminish as well. Many of Poirot's later novels actually feature very little of the Belgian detective, where he would have minimal involvement in the plot and only served to Info Dump the solution of the mystery during the denouement. Some examples include Cat Among the Pigeons, where Poirot only shows up in the last third of the books, and The Clocks, where he barely exists outside the reveal.
  • Detective Patsy: Poirot is far too clever to fall for this, but occasionally he despairs of Hastings. Several stories have the twist ending that the apparent victim or bystander who first called Poirot in actually committed the crime, and wanted Poirot there so the police would assume if he couldn't solve it, no one could. This despite the fact that Poirot's cases get published in-universe so they should know that this never works.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Beautiful women tend to have this effect on Hastings; his head is easily turned by a pretty face, he becomes smitten by a seemingly innocent beauty almost Once an Episode, and love makes him very dull-witted indeed (such as leaving a female suspect alone among critical evidence in The Murder on the Links).
  • Edible Theme Naming: Possibly by accident, but Poirot's surname literally translates as "little pear" (poire= "pear", and -ot is a diminiutive found in French names), and he then proceeds to hire an English secretary by the name of Lemon.
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Poirot will often say such things as "Ah, the light shines on the case" when he discovers a vital clue that leads to his solving the case.
  • Everyone Has Standards: As a general rule, Poirot has no patience for murderers, no matter how sympathetic their motives—in his eyes, only "le bon Dieu" (the good God) has power over life and death, and any human being who attempts to take that power for themselves is wrong. However, in Murder on the Orient Express, even Poirot is so disgusted by the nature of Ratchett and his past, and so sympathetic to the assembled group for seeking their revenge, that he creates a phony story for the police to make sure that the murderer gets away with the crime.
  • Failed a Spot Check: Some cases will have Poirot realizing he had a wrong assumption, saying something along the lines of "What a fool I've been!" or "Mon Dieu, I have been blind!", especially if an innocent party gets killed because he didn't realize it soon enough.
  • Fair-Play Whodunnit: The astute reader should be able to keep up. Part of the way at the very least.
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Poirot encounters numerous criminals who turn out to have framed themselves, most notably Nigel Chapman in Hickory Dickory Dock and Jane Wilkinson in Lord Edgware Dies.
  • Gambit Pileup: The Big Four, where most of the plans (on both sides) counted on their victims seeing through one layer of deception but not one another. Poirot's brother Achille's role also counts in the sense that he's a complete fabrication on Poirot's part.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The novels began in 1920 and lasted till 1975. A majority of them have this setting in mind, with their upper-class casts and manor house backdrops.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • "Gay" and "queer" are frequently used in their old meanings of "happy" and "peculiar".
    • One of Japp's cheerful terms of friendship for Poirot is "old cock".
  • He Knows Too Much: The surest way for an Agatha Christie character to sign his own death warrant is by attempting to blackmail a killer. Amberiotis of One, Two, Buckle My Shoe learned this the hard way. Also goes for anyone who didn't know that they knew anything significant (such as Celia from Hickory Dickory Dock), or who didn't know the whole story but knew something vital (like Miss Johnson from Murder in Mesopotamia). It happens twice in Death on the Nile to the maid and Mrs. Otterbourne. Basically, if you're in an Agatha Christie novel, you'd better hope and pray that you either don't have a major part, don't find anything out, aren't confided to by anyone; or if you do find something out, you know how to keep your mouth shut.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: In The Hollow Dr. John Christow has finally gotten closure on the love affair he fled years before, and has an epiphany about how much of a jerk he's been to the women in his life. He resolves to atone for his past behavior—and is promptly shot to death.
  • Hereditary Curse: In The Lemesurier Inheritance, the Lemesurier family had a curse since medieval times that no first-born son would ever live to inherit its estate. A baron had walled up his wife and son after suspecting her of being unfaithful and that the boy was not his (the wife was later proven innocent). The wife in response cursed the Baron and his descendants before she died. Poirot deduces that the youngest brother of the current generation has killed all the others in order to inherit, then gone insane and tried to kill the older of his two sons in order to maintain the curse. Poirot and Hastings stop him, but Poirot muses that the curse may still continue because the boy might not be his son.
  • Heroism Won't Pay the Bills: Poirot makes his money being an insurance investigator. Solving murder mysteries doesn't pay the bills, you know.
  • Impersonation-Exclusive Character: Christie was fond of the trope, which appears in various forms in After the Funeral, Cat Among the Pigeons, The Clocks, Hercule Poirot's Christmas, and Murder in Mesopotamia.
    • Two coincidental, unrelated cases in Hercule Poirots Christmas: among the guests who come to visit elderly Simeon Lee for the holidays are Stephen Farr, son of Lee's old business partner in South Africa whom he betrayed; and Pilar Estravados, Lee's Spanish-born granddaughter, on her first visit to England as civil war breaks out in Spain. Simeon is murdered, but both impostors end up being Red Herrings. A telegraph reveals that the real Stephen Farr is dead — Stephen's real name is Stephen Grant, a friend of the real Farr but also, as he explains, the illegitimate son of Lee himself, who came to England intending to confront his father not only for what he did to the Grants but for his own abandonment. Pilar, meanwhile, is actually Conchita Lopez, the real Pilar's maid, traveling with Pilar through wartorn Spain when the latter was killed by a bomb. Conchita seized on the opportunity to masquerade as her mistress, enjoying a brief respite in a wealthy home far from the war — only to find herself trapped by her own deceit, unable to reveal the truth without making herself even more of a suspect in the murder. In the end, both are cleared of suspicion, and Stephen asks Conchita to come back with him to South Africa so that the two of them can be married.
  • Incriminating Indifference:
    • Used unexpectedly in "Problem at Sea": This trope is in play, not after the murder, but before it. The saintly way the Asshole Victim's husband put up with her behaviour incriminates him after her murder — everyone wondered how he could be so patient with the awful woman. The truth was, he'd already worked out how to kill her.
    • Played with in The Murder on the Links, where the victim's wife initially appears suspiciously calm about her husband's disappearance, only to completely break down when called upon to identify his body in such a way that removes any possible doubt that she could have been involved in his death. Poirot is confused but then later realises that the husband had planned to fake his death and the wife was in on it. She was initially playing it cool because she thought it was all part of the plan, but when she saw his body she was utterly horrified to realise that someone actually had murdered him before he could finish faking his death.
  • Insistent Terminology: Hercule will always remind people he is not French, nor German. He is a proud Belgian.
  • Inspector Lestrade: Various officers fall into the role of policeman as sidekick and Watson depending on the novel, some of them recurring such as Superintendents Spence and Battle, but Poirot's most frequent collaborator is Inspector (later Chief Inspector, later Commissioner) James Japp. In something of a Reconstruction, while Poirot is Always Someone Better, both Christie and Poirot himself take pains to point out that Scotland Yard's men are far from stupid, and in most cases they are more than sufficient to the task. But they are heavily taxed by the sheer number of crimes they have to solve, and the cases Poirot solves in the books are often somewhat difficult even for him to untangle, and often rely on manipulations and experiments rather than hard evidence, meaning that working as a private citizen there are avenues of investigation open to Poirot that would simply be outside the law as far as an actual police officer is concerned.
  • Insufferable Genius: Next to his mustache, his most prominent and recognizable character trait is his staggeringly colossal ego, which many characters tire of throughout his adventures. Even Agatha Christie herself found him such an insufferable know-it-all that she grew tired of writing about him. But le grand Poirot can definitely back up his sense of self-importance, as he never fails to solve a case over a career spanning literal decades.
  • It's for a Book: Poirot feels that if one must tell lies, they should be excellent lies.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Christie's novels occasionally revealed the solutions of previous works, a habit which vexed her publishers. For instance, in Cards on the Table, Poirot makes a reference to the solution to Murder on the Orient Express. The reference is very subtle, but enough to spoil it for someone who has not yet read that novel. Even worse, in Dumb Witness, Poirot casually mentions the names of the guilty parties from four previous novels in a single sentence.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: Poirot has allowed a few murderers to take what he sees as the 'honourable' way out in a few stories, such as Dead Man's Folly and Death on the Nile. A subversion in both cases; the killer already has the pistol, but Poirot believes the remorseful/despairing killer will use the pistol to give their co-conspirator an easy death, then kill themselves. In both cases, he's proven correct.
  • Let Off by the Detective: In "The King of Clubs," Poirot determines that a blackmailer has been killed by the brother of a woman he was targeting. She had claimed that a tramp was the culprit; Poirot decides not to reveal his suspicions to the police so she can marry a foreign prince.
  • Long-Runners: Fifty-five years' worth of bestselling novels isn't bad.
  • Love Forgives All but Lust: In one short story, a man is (separately) romancing both a young woman and her aunt. He's trying to get money from the old lady and claiming that to prevent people from looking down on them both, he'll pretend to be in love with her niece. So when the aunt and niece have a fight (neither suspecting the man), the aunt sends Poirot a letter asking him to investigate.
  • Love Triangle: "Triangle At Rhodes" is an interesting variation. Two married couples feature prominently in the story, and it's set up that the man from one couple is besotted with the woman in the other couple, and tries to Murder the Hypotenuse but kills his lover instead. As it turns out, however, the real cheating parties are the other two members of this quartet, and they did successfully Murder the Hypotenuse while setting up the other guy so as to make a clean getaway.
  • Malicious Slander: Poirot's main motivation for solving crimes involves protecting the innocent from this.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In the end of The Lemesurier Inheritance, Poirot is strongly implying that Ronald Lemesurier's real father is John Gardiner, secretary to Hugo Lemesurier, based on the similarity in hair color of Ronald and John.
  • Market-Based Title: Several of the novels had their titles changed for their US editions, for cultural reasons (US readers wouldn't know what a mews was, so the collection Murder in the Mews was titled Dead Man's Mirror after a different story in the collection, while Dumb Witness was changed to Poirot Loses A Client, as the usage of "dumb" to mean "mute" does not carry overseas), or to avoid consumer confusion (Murder on the Orient Express was changed to Murder in the Calais Coach because a mystery novel by the title of Orient Expressnote  had come out in the US that same year). The editions currently in print have restored the original British titles.note 
  • Masquerading As the Unseen: In The Big Four, one of the Four is a Master of Disguise. One of those disguises is an old Russian chessmaster, back from the gulags after many years of harsh treatments. The actual guy died in the gulags, and the Four are impersonating him to snatch up his huge inheritance.
  • Medication Tampering: In Dumb Witness, the victim’s liver pills are doctored with phosphorus. The hint is given by the ‘aura’ seen around the woman: the phosphorescence of her breath.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: In "The Adventure of the Clapham Cook", the abrupt departure of the aforementioned cook helps uncover a scheme to steal fifty thousand pounds worth of securities from a bank.
  • Mistaken for Dying: An intentional example in "The Adventure of the Egyptian Tomb". A young man commits suicide, calling himself a leper in his note. It turns out that this was not hyperbole: he really did think he had leprosy. This was a deliberate misdiagnosis from a doctor who stood to gain from his will. All he had was a harmless rash.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: "Triangle At Rhodes" has two. Marjorie Gold and Tony Chantry want to get married, but they're both already married. They decide to fix this problem by orchestrating a pretend love triangle between Tony, Marjorie's husband Douglas and Tony's wife Valentine, and then killing Valentine, making it look as though Douglas did it while trying to kill Tony, and letting Douglas be hanged for it. Unluckily for them, Poirot sees through it.
  • Mushroom Samba: In "The Flock of Geryon", one of the protagonists infiltrating the cult has what she believes to be a genuine religious experience; it turns out later that one of the cult's rituals involves secretly dosing the followers with hashish.
  • Neat Freak: In Poirot's own words, "order and method" play a huge role in his life, such as:
    • Arranging his books so that the tallest ones go on the top shelf, the next-tallest on the shelf below, and so on.
    • Picking up a single stray crumb from under the table and putting it in a trash can before allowing his landlady to admit a visitor.
    • Agonizing over damage to his prized patent-leather shoes.
    • Keeping a bank balance of 444 pounds, 4 shillings, and 4 pence.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Poirot's mustache is iconic enough to have appeared as part of various franchise logos, sometimes paired with his bowler and bow tie — perfectly waxed, full above the lips, not too wide, curling up into small, neat points. Poirot is fastidious about his appearance in general, vain enough to dye his hair and mustache for decades, with more than one character noting they are a rather implausibly dark shade of black; he can become noticeably self-conscious when called out on the former, flustered when so much as a hair is out of place, and offended by the lesser mustaches of messier men. Agatha Christie liked the 1974 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, and had but a single complaint: Albert Finney's mustache wasn't magnificent enough! Subverted in both The Big Four and Curtain, in which Poirot shaves his mustache in order to pretend to be someone else.
  • Noodle Incident: Poirot's vacation in Istanbul is cut short by a telegram alerting him of a development in the "Kassner case" in London, prompting him to book a trip home on the next Orient Express. We all know how that turned out, but never learned any further information about the Kassner case itself.
  • Old Shame: "The Chocolate Box" presents a case in which Poirot's failure to solve a murder is entirely his own fault, due to overlooking an important and glaringly obvious clue. He chooses to let the murderer escape justice, and she dies soon afterward of natural causes.
  • Once an Episode: Every Poirot novel has a character at some point say/think 'The man's a mountebank,' 'The old man's gaga, of course,' or 'Well, he's just a foreigner,' only to be promptly proven wrong.
  • Out-Gambitted: Poirot is a master at foiling the murderer's Evil Plan.
  • Poirot Speak: Naturellement. Although it's usually justified as being part of an Obfuscating Stupidity Funny Foreigner act; Poirot actually speaks very good English, but people tend to let their guard down around someone who doesn't even seem to speak the language clearly.
  • Put on a Bus: Hastings would make his last regular appearance in Dumb Witness, retiring to his farm in Argentina. He would not return again until Curtain.
  • Public Domain Character: In the United States as the first four novels are over 95 years old, with one more entering the PD in 2024. Christie's death in 1976 means that the copyright will lapse in New Zealand in 2027. Poirot would have entered the PD in Japan and Canada at that same time, but both countries extended their copyright terms to "life plus 70", respectively in 2018 and 2020.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "Madame! WHO DO YOU THINK KILLED YOUR HUSBAND?", from Lord Edgware Dies.
  • Quintessential British Gentleman: Common throughout the series, with many a country squire, Indian colonel, and London man-about-town as major characters, with perhaps none so quintessential as Poirot's friend and Watson Captain Arthur Hastings. Hastings' Britishness is often a source of insight into conventional Britisher's way of thinking for Poirot — in knowing Hastings' opinion, Poirot often knows what a suspect wants him to think, regardless of whether or not it's true. Christie often uses Poirot's outsider perspective to comment on some of the absurdities of English life, frequently by virtue of how Hastings' assumptions about other English gentlemen and women of his class — upright, forthright, fair-minded pukka sahibs and flowers of English womanhood all — are often naive, as hypocrisy and duplicity abound even among some of Hastings' supposed friends.
  • Serial Killings, Specific Target: Three Act Tragedy and The ABC Murders.
  • Series Continuity Error: The Murder on the Links gives Hastings a love interest named Dulcie Duveen, whom he eventually marries. When he mentions his wife in a later book, Hastings calls his wife "Bella", who is actually Dulcie's twin sister and the fiancee of Jack Renaud.
  • Shipper on Deck: In many of his stories, he'll nudge two people together, seeing they make a perfect couple before they do.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare:
    • Taken at the Flood (and, of course, its US title There Is a Tide...) is a reference to Marcus Brutus' line from William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "There is a tide in the affairs of men / Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune" (IV, iii).
    • In Curtain, Poirot leaves behind two clues upon his death, one of them being Othello, which indicates the identity of the serial killer as Stephen Norton, the False Friend and Manipulative Bastard who fits the characteristics of Iago in that play.
    • And on a related note, according to the obituary on the August 6, 1975 edition of The New York Times, Poirot misquotes Shakespeare in the play Macbeth, whose actual line is spoken by Prince Malcolm to his father Duncan regarding the execution of the thane of Cawdor (and the same line holds true of the great Belgian detective): "Nothing in his life / Became him like the leaving it" (I, iv).
  • Starbucks Skin Scale: In "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a. The Theft of the Royal Ruby)", there is a young man from an unnamed Eastern country who has a "coffee-coloured face".
  • Spiteful Suicide: "Wasp's Nest" has a man named Harrison plot to destroy a romantic rival's life by committing suicide and making it look like a murder (Harrison has terminal cancer anyway). Fortunately, over the course of a conversation with him (having anticipated the plot), Poirot is able to switch out the poison with baking soda, ending with the would-be murderer tearfully thanking Poirot.
  • Stealth Insult: In Death in the Clouds Poirot muses bitterly that his travel sickness means that when travelling "he has no little grey cells, he is reduced to a normal human being of rather below average intelligence" and then immediately segues into asking after Giraud, his rival from Murder on the Links.
  • Stopped Clock: Subverted in at least two Poirot stories, where a smashed watch is found at the scene to give a false time for the crime.
  • Taking the Heat: Done numerous times to provide Red Herrings.
    • In Appointment with Death, the Boyntons all lie about their final encounters with the victim, the family matriarch. Each had their own ideas about who the murderer is, and lied to protect the other. None of them were the murderer. The killer was someone outside the family
    • In The Hollow, everyone seem to deliberately go out of their way to bring suspicion to themselves to divert the attention away from the most obvious suspect. She turned out to be the murderer. However, the others tried to protect her out of family obligations.
  • Take That!: In Death in the Clouds, one character (a novelist) says that the Sherlock Holmes stories are overrated and filled with logical fallacies.
  • Terminally-Ill Criminal:
    • "Wasp's Nest": A man named Harrison, who is diagnosed with terminal cancer, plots to commit suicide after leaving clues that will lead to his romantic rival being blamed for his "murder" and hanged for it. Poirot discovers and foils his plan by replacing the poison he used to kill himself with baking soda and chews out the man because his plan was effectively attempted murder. Harrison accepts the admonishment and makes peace with the fact that his ex-lover had chosen the other guy.
    • Curtain: Poirot himself commits murder to remove a sociopath capable of inciting people to murder for his own sick amusement, and his confession only comes to Hastings after his death of natural causes (that is, not taking the medicine for his heart condition).
  • Theme Naming: Hercule's brother appears briefly in The Big Four and is named "Achille" but is subsequently revealed to be fictional, created as a ploy on Poirot's part.
  • Third-Person Person: Poirot, when announcing his opinions, boasting about his accomplishments, or taking the Summation Gathering step-by-step through his deductions, often refers to himself as Poirot or Hercule Poirot. Often overlaps with …But He Sounds Handsome patting himself on the back, asking rhetorical questions about himself: they expected the great Hercule Poirot to be taken in so easily? Surely not!
  • Thriller on the Express:
  • Trademark Favourite Food: It's not particularly emphasised, but Poirot likes his hot chocolate and his omelettes. Also parodied in Death in the Clouds, where a writer of detective fiction mentions that his own detective creation is always eating bananas, both because he did it once and the fans liked it, and also because that's something the author himself does.
  • Trip Trap: In Dumb Witness, the victim is believed to have fallen down a staircase after tripping over a dog's chewtoy. Poirot, however, discovers the remains of a tripwire on the top step, a clue that points to murder.
  • Twist Ending: As Agatha Christie is widely considered one of the masters of the twist ending, this is to be expected; several of the Poirot novels are even claimed to have invented some notable twist endings.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Poirot, of all people, gets caught under mistletoe in "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding (a.k.a. The Theft of the Royal Ruby)", on account of being too busy exercising his little grey cells to notice where he's standing. He doesn't seem to mind the result.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Like Columbo, Poirot counts on people underestimating him thanks to his carefully cultivated Funny Foreigner personality, no matter how famed he may be.
  • Villainous Breakdown: The murderers in Death in the Clouds and Mrs. McGinty's Dead both experience rather dramatic ones.
  • The Watson: Deconstructed in certain books. Hastings starts out as a very typical example, an ex-military man like the original Watson who serves as a foil and leg-man to the brilliant Poirot, but quickly becomes more of a parody, kept around because of his friendship with Poirot, and seemingly becoming involved in cases only for the little Belgian's amusement before being phased out entirely. Poirot's more episodic sidekicks start out eager to see justice done, but are usually ill-prepared for just how diabolical or tragic the perpetrators of the crimes they are helping to solve are.
    • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd had a different Watson in the person of Dr. Sheppard, for the sake of putting a twist on the formula. This is a Discussed Trope in Death in the Clouds, where Christie's Author Avatar, a mystery writer, wonders at how mystery authors can't seem to get away from the "idiot friend" trope.
  • Wham Episode:
    • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, whose controversial solution (the narrator and Watson of the book turns out to be the murderer) not only made Christie a household name, but completely changed the course of detective fiction.
    • Curtain was also considered this given the events of the story. It was part of the reason Christie locked the novel up for 30 years before allowing it to be published shortly before her death.
  • Where It All Began: The final novel, Curtain, not only returns to the location of the first, The Mysterious Affair at Styles, but for good measure reunites Poirot and Hastings as well.
  • Who Murdered the Asshole: Appointment with Death, Hercule Poirot's Christmas, and many others described on their individual pages (some of which turn out to be subversions).
  • Worthy Opponent: Any villain (identity usually unknown at this point in the story) whom Poirot describes approvingly as 'a man of method' after studying his crime, much to Hastings' annoyance.
  • You Just Told Me: In Death in the Clouds:
    Poirot (confronting the killer): We found your finger prints on the bottle.
    The killer: You lie! I wore... (trails off)
    Poirot: Ah, you wore gloves?
  • You Watch Too Much X: in "The Adventure of the Christmas Pudding":
    Poirot surveyed her gravely for some minutes.
    'You see too many sensational films, I think, Annie,' he said at last, 'or perhaps it is the television that affects you?'

Alternative Title(s): Poirot