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Born Detective

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The culprit must be the one who forgot to change his diaper.

For some people, solving mysteries is just in the blood.

This trope is when a Kid Detective grows up to be a Private Detective, usually with the help of his/her Badass Family. In short, the parent was a PI (or other profession) and raised their child from a young age to help Mommy/Daddy spy on other people. Likely a Family Business, but not always.

For heroes instead of detectives, see Kid Hero All Grown-Up.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Case Closed: Although not a detective himself, Shinichi Kudo's father is a mystery writer, thus giving Shinichi his detective streak and easy access to the books of Conan Doyle. The fact that he and Shinichi's mother are able to put on a performance that baffles even Shinichi early on, they both clearly have the background to qualify Conan for this trope. To help further the cause, Yusaku Kudo is Brilliant, but Lazy. Megure and Kogoro have both tried on several occasion in his Backstory to recruit him to being a police detective... just for Yusaku to catch on and prove smarter.
  • Death Note: Light Yagami's father is a police inspector and it's mentioned that Light has used his vast intellect to help solve crimes in the past. For this reason, he ends up helping the Kira investigation. Too bad he is Kira...

    Comic Strips 
  • Dick Tracy:
    • Dick's adopted son Junior accompanies Dick on cases during his childhood and grows up to be a police forensic artist.
    • Dick Jr's Half-Human Hybrid daughter Honeymoon is still in the preteen/teen range, but she's helped the Tracy family on cases too.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The protagonist of Kid Detective (2020) was a former child sleuth who grew up to become a private detective. Unfortunately rather than solving any worthwhile mysteries he deals with the same petty crimes and odd jobs that he worked on as a child and is still haunted by the case of his missing childhood friend from years ago. The film has him investigating an actual murder case as his way of truly becoming a proper detective. The film also deconstructs this very concept by that rather than some genius Abe was just a fairly clever kid who got lucky but never really developed the skills necessary for true detective work as an adult.

  • Isabel and Rae Spellman of the Spellman Files book series. (David appears to have been brought up to be a PI as well, but he rebelled.)
  • Encyclopedia Brown's father was a police detective and amazingly enough all the cases that stumped his entire police force were always solved by his son over dinner.
  • Ellery Queen (the character rather than the Authors) was a mystery writer who who would frequently aid his father Inspector Richard Queen, as well as running independent investigations.
  • The Hardy Boys: Joe and Frank Hardy, who helped their PI father solve cases. Or, in some cases (especially where a reward was involved) competed with their PI father.
  • Distaff Counterpart Nancy Drew also started this way, although her father was a lawyer, not a detective. She started by doing some low-level work to help him, but slowly evolved into a full-fledged detective (and like Frank and Joe, occasionally went against him when she thought the case didn't all add up.)
  • Sherlock Holmes, in the single story where he talks about his family ("The Adventure of the Greek Interpreter"), acknowledges that his observational skills are a family trait, and that his elder brother Mycroft has an even greater share of them than he himself.
    • In the pastiche series Enola Holmes, the title character, who is the far younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft, runs away and finds that she is no less talented as a detective as her brothers.
    • And the tradition continued into at least the late 20th Century with Shirley, Mycroft's Canadian-born great-granddaughter (Or it might have been one of Holmes' other brothers. Sources vary.).
    • There's a new series called The Sherlock Files which feature the great-great-great grandchildren.
  • Walter "Ramses" Emerson is the son of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, both archeologists and both Amateur Sleuths. He has been detecting with them since he was six or so. Whether they want him to or not. He follows them in both careers, with a side-order of secret agent.
  • The Crime Through Time books are a quasi-Generational Saga, following different members of a family of detectives as they solve mysteries in various decades of the 20th and 21st centuries. By the 1920s book, people are pointing out that the protagonist takes after their parents, and by the 2000s book, the family home sports an extensive forensic lab.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The titular Veronica Mars, raised by her sheriff-turned-PI dad, was already running her own PI business in High School (it was well-known that the girls' bathroom doubled as "her office" during school hours). A lawyer-friend of the family would leave cases open on the desk she had at her father's office while he was with clients in case she decided to "take a look".
  • Emerson Cod of Pushing Daisies (who started out so early, he was being used in stings as a baby).
  • Shawn Spencer of Psych was trained by his police officer father to have observational skills on the Sherlock Holmes level. He uses them to pretend he's psychic.
  • The Wire:
    • Detective McNulty uses his preteen sons to trail a drug kingpin through a market, and judging by their skill at it, he's taught a few things about tailing a suspect. While he is a loving father, this is an example of how terrible a person McNulty is at everything but being a detective. His ex-wife is pissed when she finds out and tries to take away his custody rights.
    • While not necessarily used about people who actually have been detectives since childhood, the Baltimore cops call anyone whose instincts for policework seem like they've been doing it since they've been in diapers "natural police". McNulty is regularly termed "a natural police" (sic — a Baltimore cop is almost always called "a police"), as is Lester Freamon (after he's allowed to show what he can do).
  • He wasn't reared to be a detective, but Monk's neurotic mother probably caused him at least in part to develop the OCD that makes him such a skilled investigator, and the episode "Mr. Monk and Little Monk" revealed that he solved his first (admittedly minor) crime in middle school. A mini-series called Little Monk was created during its eighth season, which shows Adrian and his brother Ambrose serving as his Watson solving several cases in school.
  • On Crossing Jordan, Jordan Cavanaugh was a crime-solving medical examiner whose father, Max, was a retired cop.
  • Dexter: Both Deb and Dexter Morgan are cops, as was their father, Harry. Played with, in that Dexter is actually Harry's adopted son (and a serial killer). And not actually a cop, but a forensic analyst.
  • Walt Disney Presents: In "Michael O'Hara the Fourth", the eponymous Michael O'Hara is the teenaged daughter of a police detective, who is the a himself a third generation cop. Michael the Fourth is already proving herself to be an adept Kid Detective.

    Video Games 
  • Persona 4´s Naoto Shirogane, who is the fifth generation in a family of professional detectives.
    • Naoto's successor in Persona 5, Goro Akechi (dubbed the "second coming of the Detective Prince"), plays with this. Akechi is legitimately brilliant, but his actual detective skills are a sham. All of his cases were actually perpetrated by him in the Metaverse causing mental shutdowns that made it appear that the victims were actually the culprits.
  • The Touch Detective series shows Mackenzie as this, but still in the Kid Detective phase.
  • Danganronpa:

    Visual Novels 
  • Averted with Mortelli in Daughter for Dessert. He mostly became a cop to follow in his father’s footsteps, and he long thought of himself as too stupid to do the work that would be required of him as a detective.

    Western Animation 
  • Inspector Gadget's niece Penny would likely have grown up to be one of these, after all the practice she has "helping" her uncle solve his cases. Subverted, in that Gadget is chiefly useless and Penny does most of the work.