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Hardboiled Detective

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"I needed a drink, I needed a lot of life insurance, I needed a vacation, I needed a home in the country. What I had was a coat, a hat and a gun."

A tough, cynical guy with a gun and a lot of Street Smarts, who solves mysteries with dogged persistence rather than astounding insight, the Hardboiled Detective was America's Darker and Edgier response to the classic ideal of the Great Detective.

Anything but clueless, the hardboiled detective is generally a Knight in Sour Armor or even an Anti-Hero who lives in a world of Black-and-Gray Morality. He's a Private Detective or Amateur Sleuth — usually the former. His services are required because the police are useless, corrupt, or both, so he'll never be a cop, though he may be a retired one. Expect him to keep a bottle of scotch and a gun in his desk, which is probably located in an office in the low rent district. Recent depictions typically include the trademark trenchcoat and fedora over a rumpled suit, made popular by Humphrey Bogart.

Originating in the early part of the 20th century, hardboiled detective stories put an American spin on the detective story. Unlike British mystery stories, which were set in large, elegant country estates filled with servants and relatives, hardboiled fiction is set in a Soiled City on a Hill, amidst cheap hotels, bars, racetracks, and gambling dens, echoing the gritty realism of Ernest Hemingway. As well, it has more sensationalist violence and sex, the latter supplied by a sultry, dangerous Femme Fatale and members of The Oldest Profession.

While the British detective in a classic mystery is educated, calm, and dispassionate as he makes his deductions, the hardboiled detective learned his trade from working as a cop, and he's likely to be emotionally involved in the case. The endings differ, too; a British mystery story ends with the Sherlock Holmes-type character announcing who the murderer is in an elegant drawing room. A hardboiled story is more likely to end in the hard-boiled detective being in a bloody shoot-out in an Abandoned Warehouse or No-Tell Motel.

The hardboiled style quickly became a major subgenre of Mystery Fiction and Crime Fiction. Later, they became strongly associated with stylish, dark Film Noir. Raymond Chandler is considered the master of the genre, but it was Humphrey Bogart's depiction of detective Sam Spade in the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon (based on a novel by Dashiell Hammett) that became the Trope Codifier.

By the 1960s, the hardboiled detective had nearly become a Dead Horse Trope, but continuing interest in Film Noir kept it from the brink of extinction. Today it is most often seen in parodies and genre crossovers (the Hardboiled Detective In SPACE!!), but can still be played straight in Noir revival or homage. The style, language, and fashion of the hard-boiled detective tend to remain solidly anchored in the 1930s and 1940s, though, no matter where he appears. Expect him to call his gun a "gat", to refer to women as "dames", and their legs as "gams". As such, it is also possible to call him a "Dick" and not be insulting.

See also: Private Detective, Amateur Sleuth, Film Noir and Fantastic Noir. Contrast with Great Detective, Kid Detective, and Little Old Lady Investigates. Photo Identification Denial may show up fairly often. Compare Defective Detective. If the character simply provides first-person narration the way detectives in Film Noir often do, that's Private Eye Monologue. This character type easily falls into the Stale Beer Flavour of Spy Fiction.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Animatrix: "The Detective's Story" stars a hardboiled detective.
  • Gai Kurasawa, a minor character in Darker than Black is an affectionate parody of the hardboiled detective.
  • Gintama has an entire chapter parodying hardboiled detectives. The hardboiled detective in question uses the phrase to describe so many things that nobody knows what it means anymore.
  • Samantha Spade from Noble Witches is a Distaff Counterpart homage to Sam Spade from the American film The Maltese Falcon.

    Audio Plays 
  • Decoder Ring Theatre's Black Jack Justice follows the adventures of two hardboiled detectives, occasionally switching between their often-conflicting narratives.
  • In the Big Finish Doctor Who story "Invaders From Mars", the Eighth Doctor gets mistaken for one of these for a while. This being Eighth Doctor, he enthusiastically takes to the role and starts speaking in Hammet-esque hardboiled lingo, much to the bafflement of everyone around him.
  • In The Firesign Theater's The Further Adventures of Nick Danger, from the album, How Can You Be in Two Places at Once When You're Not Anywhere at All?, the character Nick Danger, Third Eye is a surrealist take on the trope.

    Comic Books 
  • From the Batman universe, Harvey Bullock is usually one of these. As was late 1980s supporting character Joe Potato.
  • The title character of the Spanish comic Blacksad is a hardboiled detective in the 1950s — and a cat.
  • The titular character from the short lived gamebook/comic hybrid Dice Man, Rick Fortune, was a variation on this trope, being a hard boiled psychic investigator with a pair of magical dice that could summon a demon amongst other powers.
  • Dr. Occult from The DCU is a hardboiled Occult Detective.
  • Bigby Wolf from the Fables series has all the archetypes of a hard boiled detective. In a way, Bigby subverts it; many hard boiled detectives take beatings, but Bigby is the only one who can (and does) retaliate by turning into a wolf and delivering violent beatdowns on his attackers.
  • As a cynical emotionally disturbed alcoholic detective Jessica Jones, fits this trope.
  • Hannibal King from Marvel Comics is a vampiric hard-boiled detective.
  • Hellboy is an otherworldly version of the noir classic model, a heavy-drinking, chain-smoking, cynical demon with Badass Longcoat who sticks his nose where it doesn't belong, takes a beating, etc. etc. He's often referred to as "The World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator".
  • Parodied in the Judge Dredd Alternity Special. Among the various elements of Dredd's world reimagined in different time periods is Mean Streets, putting Mean Machine Angel as a Private Investigator in a Film Noir setting. His "cases" end up being Bar Brawls that he blunders his way into (in the opening panels, he's got the wrong bar) that end up inadvertently disrupting The Mafia's operations. Mean himself is a bit of an Unreliable Narrator with him claiming that doing a particular action (going head on against a judge, going back to his office, etc.) is incredibly foolish, before immediately undertaking said action. He's also implied to be responsible for his Dead Partner being murdered.
  • Steve Ditko loved Hardboiled Detectives, and his two (very similar) characters Mr. A and The Question are objectivist takes on the Trope.
  • Ms. Tree, created by Max Allan Collins, is a relatively rare female hardboiled detective.
  • Muktuk Wolfsbreath, Hard-Boiled Shaman is based on "the realization that shamans were kind of like detectives".
  • The two Nathaniel Dusk mini-series from DC Comics in the mid 1980s were a loving homage to the genre.
  • The nameless protagonist of Potters Field by Mark Waid is another.
  • Jack Point of The Simping Detective puts a twist in this. Jack has all the attributes of a classic hard boiled detective: Cynical, snarky, fond of whiskey and women, and wears the standard Badass Longcoat and Fedora of Asskicking combo. However, he's also an undercover judge and underneath the coat and hat, dresses like a clown. He gives several reasons for the clown getup, most of which involve concealing a variety of Hidden Weapons cleverly disguised as clown accessories.
  • Dwight McCarthy of the Sin City series is a quite violent one of these, though he becomes more of a vigilante as the series goes on.
  • Slam Bradley is a hardboiled detective who had a regular feature in Detective Comics before Batman appeared in its pages, and has been incorporated into the DC Universe since then.
  • Leave out the gun and The Spirit has it all...two-fistedness, the ability to take it (in SPADES!) and the guy to makes the women swoon. Probably comics signature guy for this trope!
  • Nightbeat from The Transformers (Marvel), Transformers Classics, and The Transformers (IDW), is a Humongous Mecha homage to the genre, up to and including sporting a fedora and trenchcoat and "Bird of Prey!" in particular being almost a retelling of The Maltese Falcon. Whether he's an Amateur Sleuth, a "consulting detective" for the Autobots, or a Private Detective varies depending on the continuity, but he always has the same general hardboiled, noir-ish personality.
  • Rorschach from Watchmen has some elements that seem like a shout-out to the trope, including the trenchcoat and fedora and the Private Eye Monologue (which is actually excerpts from his journal).
  • Wonder Woman (1987): PI Micah Rains is a cynical man with a drinking problem who was working out of the back room of a bar when Diana first meet him and frequently gets in brawls. He isn't particually clever, just stubborn and hard working which gets the job done eventually and frequently puts him at odds with the police.

    Comic Strips 
  • In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin's imaginary alter-ego, Tracer Bullet, is an Affectionate Parody of the noir detective.
    "I keep two magnums in my desk. One's a gun, and I keep it loaded. The other's a bottle, and it keeps me loaded. I'm Tracer Bullet. I'm a professional snoop."
  • Garfield occasionally features Garfield as Sam Spade. Due to his being a cat, however, having people ask "Spade?" tends to get a "Why do people keep asking me that?" in response.

    Fan Works 
  • In Cowboy Noir, Dia Anderson is a snarky, outlaw hating hardboiled detective who despises Rattlesnake Jake. But she has to begrudgingly work with him in order to find the culprit of his attempted murder.
  • In My Huntsman Academia, Sun tries to invoke this image while investigating the White Fang with Izuku, handing him a hot beverage to sell it. The image falls apart when Izuku takes a whiff and realizes it's hot cocoa since Sun can't take coffee's bitterness.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The Big Sleep features Bogart again as detective Philip Marlowe, probably the second best known example.
  • Deckard (Harrison Ford) from Blade Runner is more of a deconstruction, being an Antihero with some serious psychological conflicts.
  • Brendan Frye of Brick is this despite only being in high school.
  • H. P. Lovecraft in Cast a Deadly Spell is an Occult Detective who is also a perfect example of a Chandlerian detective.
  • Jake Gittes in Roman Polański's Chinatown is an homage to (and subversion of) the archetype.
  • Parodied with hapless detective Rigby Reardon in the Steve Martin film, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, which features lots of actual footage from classic Film Noir to add to the atmosphere.
  • A lesser known example would be the Bogart film Dead Reckoning. He's actually an army man, so it's again more of an Amateur Sleuth type, but Bogart had a cool Private Eye Monologue, which he didn't have in the more iconic Bogart films.
  • Another Humphrey Bogart example is The Enforcer, where Bogie plays a hardboiled district attorney chasing gangsters. As a lawyer, he's more the Amateur Sleuth version in this one.
  • The 1971 film Gumshoe, starring Albert Finney, features a London man who decides to adopt a Sam Spade-like persona to escape his boring life, and quickly becomes embroiled in a plot involving drugs, gun smuggling, and gangsters.
  • Tequila Yuen (Chow Yun-fat) in Hard Boiled is John Woo's take on the character. He's even referred to as one by the Big Bad during the film's climax. And being a John Woo take on the character, he racks up a significantly higher bodycount than most examples.
  • Louis Simo from Hollywoodland is a deconstruction loosely based on a real detective, Milo Speriglio.
  • The Maltese Falcon features Humphrey Bogart as Sam Spade, one of the most iconic hardboiled detectives of all time, seeking revenge for the death of his partner and hunting for a missing statuette.
  • Sam Diamond (Peter Falk) in Murder by Death is a parody, especially of the Humphrey Bogart versions of the hardboiled detective.
  • Out of the Past is a classic Film Noir starring Robert Mitchum as a hardboiled detective trying to escape his past (no spoiler to say he's unsuccessful).
  • Ed Harris as Ed Du Bois III in Pain & Gain.
  • In Vice (2015), Roy Tedeschi is a rough and tumble sort of fellow, gruffly spoken and solves the Vice case through a combination of gritty determination and his connections with people on the rougher end of town.
  • Eddie Valiant, the protagonist of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which uses appropriately parodic Film Noir atmospheric touches.
  • Harry Kilmer from The Yakuza. He's cynical, sarcastic, and dressed in a shabby coat, but he's compelled to get involved in the main plot by his sense of duty and honor.
  • Hoyle from the surreal and cerebral Noir/SF crossover Yesterday Was a Lie is a distaff version, with fedora, trenchcoat and all, trying to find a missing scientist.

  • Invoked by Vincent Rubio in Anonymous Rex. He's a detective — and a velociraptor! He claims he's not really hard-boiled, but he acts like he is because that's what the customers expect. He even uses the "Bogart" persona to pick up female dinos.
  • Boston Blackie is an ex-con who spent time in jail for safecracking, and became a detective after doing his time. He's tougher than any crook and knows the underworld well. Started in 1914 as a series of novels, before moving on to Movies, Radio, and Television.
  • Rosie Lavine from Melisa Michaels' Cold Iron and Sister to the Rain is a Chandleresque hardboiled detective recycled in Urban Fantasy. (Though she prefers gin to scotch.)
  • Sam Vimes of the City Watch from Discworld was originally intended to be a deconstruction of this, though he eventually evolved into a reconstruction and one of the most fleshed out characters in the entire series.
  • Harry Dresden from The Dresden Files is part this, part Sherlock Holmes (showing surprising deductive skills on occasion, to nigh Sherlock Scan levels), part Gandalf. With emphasis on the world weariness by around book 3. The snark continues unabated.
  • In the Eddie LaCrosse series, the protagonist is a Hardboiled Detective in a Sword and Sorcery and/or Low Fantasy world, being deliberately comparable to characters like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade. That said, the degree to which individual books fit the hardboiled sub-genre can vary a bit.
  • Detective Miller in The Expanse might be in space a couple hundred years in the future, but he dresses the part and drinks as much as one expects of the archetype.
  • Lazlo Woodbine, from the "Far-Fetched Fiction" of Robert Rankin, is a blatant parody. He insists on using the first person, getting knocked unconscious at his first appearance and can only appear in four scenes (his office, a bar, an alleyway and a rooftop). Considering the outlandish nature of his books, often involving things such as time-traveling Elvis doing battle with Eldritch Abominations out to unmake existence, this makes things awkward.
  • Garrett, P.I. is the Hardboiled Detective recycled in a Standard Fantasy Setting.
  • Conrad Metcalf, the protagonist of Jonathan Lethem's Gun, with Occasional Music is a hard-boiled detective in a world that doesn't really have a use for them anymore.
  • When Michael Connelly's Harry Bosch isn't in the employ of the LAPD, he usually has plenty of overtones of this.
  • Mina Davis of Hungover and Handcuffed and Asshole Yakuza Boyfriend is something of a Distaff Counterpart for Spade and Marlowe.
  • Jo Gar is a Filipino version of this in the stories written by Raoul Whitfield. Since Whitfield is a contemporary of Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett, Jo Gar even operates in the same time era, except halfway around the world—1930s Manila, then under U.S. colonial rule.
  • Patrick Kenzie from the Kenzie and Gennaro Series is an updated version set in Boston; a sort of homage to the classics, with all the style, but without many of the stereotypes found in parodies.
  • Kinsey Millhone from Sue Grafton's Alphabet Mysteries is another example of a female hard-boiled detective.
  • Ross Macdonald's Lew Archer is a postwar update.
  • The Marcus Didius Falco series starts out as the hardboiled detective recycled in Ancient Rome (though he mellows as the series goes on). Living centuries before Noir was invented makes him amusingly Genre Blind.
  • Mick Oberon embodies this trope, except that the bottle in his desk is milk, and he carries a wand in his holster instead of a gun.
  • Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer was an early, over-the-top, ultraviolent, Knight Templar example who is often credited with helping turn the genre into a parody of itself.
  • Neal Gordon in Moon Cops On The Moon is definitely one of these. In addition to the series parodying Cyberpunk this is what the series parodies most with Neal coming off as a 1970s (or Eighties) private detective transplanted to the distant future. He regularly ignores the rules, is surrounded by corruption, wears a hat and trench coat, and is a Deadpan Snarker.
  • Nohar Rajastan, from the Moreau Series takes the trope into the Bio Punk 21st Century, being an anthropomorphic tiger.
  • Idriel Ramirez of the sci-fi noir Nerve Zero seems like he has to shoot his way through his homeworld to find his old flame.
  • In the science fiction novel The Night Mayor, Tom Tunney is an author of historical detective stories featuring Richie Quick, a hardboiled private eye who lands somewhere between Philip Marlowe and Mike Hammer. He's called on to impersonate his own character in a virtual reality realm based on old Film Noir movies. (The realm has its own native hardboiled detective, said to be an amalgamation of Bogart's trope-defining film characters, but he doesn't appear in the story, having already fallen victim to the problem Tunney is being sent in to fix.)
  • Calisle Hsing in Nightside City by Lawrence Watt Evans' is a Hardboiled Detective, with all the typical attributes of the genre - even through the scene in a faraway planet of a future interstellar civilization , and with first-person narrator being a woman detective.
  • Neil Gaiman wrote some short stories featuring Lawrence Talbot, the Wolfman, as a hardboiled private investigator. "Only the End of the World Again" is one.
  • Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, protagonist of The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and other novels, is an iconic and much-copied example. Even the introduction to Marlowe in recent prints sums this trope up pretty well:
    I'm a licensed private investigator and have been a while. I'm a lone wolf, unmarried, getting middle aged, and not rich. I've been in jail more than once and don't do divorce business. I like liquor and women and chess and a few other things. The cops don't like me too well, but I know a couple I get along with. I'm a native son, born in Santa Rosa, both parents dead, no brothers and sisters, and when I get knocked off in a dark alley sometime, if it happens, as it could to anyone in my business, nobody will feel the bottom has dropped out his or her life.
  • Nick Feldman's Put the Sepia On stars an unnamed detective who owes the lion's share of his personality to Spade and Chandler, though he's a bit more self-loathing and less effective.
  • Dashiell Hammett has several, most notably, Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon, as well as the recurring, nameless character called The Continental Op, as seen in Red Harvest.
  • Robert B. Parker's Spenser, especially when he was first created, was about as close to a classic version of this trope as you could get while still living in modern times.
  • Rex Stout:
    • Archie Goodwin, in the Nero Wolfe series, played with the trope. Created during the trope's peak years, Goodwin had many of the classic elements, but he worked for Wolfe, the fat, home-bound Great Detective. Archie did all the footwork and fighting and had a pretty good line in sarcastic snark, but tended to avoid the cynicism and world-weariness of the true hardboiled detective. As an illustration, while the typical Hardboiled Detective knocks back hard liquor like it's going out of style, Archie's more likely to unwind with a tall glass of milk.
    • Stout had another, much smaller and less popular series starring Tecumseh Fox, who was much more the straight hard-boiled type.
  • In the introduction of Tales of the Black Widowers, Dr Asimov contrasts this type of Mystery Fiction with Hercule Poirot, which is his favourite type of mystery.
  • Carroll John Daly's "Three Gun" Terry Mack is possibly the Ur-Example of this trope, predating Hammett's Continental Op by several months. Daly's Race Williams is also an example.
  • Travis McGee: Though not a private investigator(he self-describes himself as a "salvage consultant"), Travis is a detective as dogged, streetsmart, and heavy-drinking as the best of them.
  • Clyde Umney, in Stephen King's metaleptic novella "Umney's Last Case."
  • Glen Novak, the "hero" of Undead on Arrival is a violent thug who solves his own murder by beating everyone in sight until he finds the right one.
  • Sara Paretsky's VI Warshawski is a distaff version of the (usually) male hardboiled detective.
  • Eddie Valiant from Who Censored Roger Rabbit? is an homage.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The main cast from the supernatural neo-noir series Angel act as a general deconstruction of the trope, although play some parts to a T.
  • Michael Garibaldi of Babylon 5 has flashes of this from time to time. Picked up, bizarrely enough, by G'Kar of all people.
  • Parodied in the PBS Kids' show, Between the Lions, which had a recurring skit featuring "Sam Spud, parboiled potato detective".
  • In Brooklyn Nine-Nine, one of Jake's idols was one of these- a Hard-Boiled Cop from the 1970s whose memoir was his favourite book ever. Then Jake met him, only to discover that the guy was as corrupt, racist, sexist and homophobic as one would expect for the time period.
  • In the noir-esque South African Sci-Fi thriller, Charlie Jade, Charlie is an homage to the older Chandler/Hammett style of hardboiled detective. He even sports the classic trenchcoat (though no fedora), and uses the Private Eye Monologue.
  • The Electric Company (1971)'s Fargo North, Decoder was as hard boiled as a kid's show could show.
  • In a Storybook Episode of Fringe, Walter casts Olivia as this.
  • Jessica Jones (2015): The title character is a crass, hard-drinking, and cynical private investigator who is very good at her job.
  • Kamen Rider Double uses this concept as its main motif.
    • Protagonist Shotaro Hidari very much wants to be hard-boiled but is too emotional, leading his friends to dub him "half-boiled"; eventually he realizes that this is a strength. Each two-episode Story Arc begins and ends with him doing a Private Eye Monologue, and the second half starts with a corkboard diagram showing the character relationships.
    • His late mentor Sokichi "Boss" Narumi, on the other hand, had much more success modeling himself on the Chandler-esque ideal of manliness. Chandler is name-dropped in The Movie, and Sokichi named the young man who would become Shotaro's partner after Philip Marlowe.
    • Ryu Terui, although a police detective rather than a private eye, comes rather closer to the trope than Shotaro, with comparison explicitly drawn to his being the kind of person Shotaro aspires to be. However, all that goes out the window in his Roaring Rampage of Revenge quest to find the man who murdered his family. Thankfully, interacting with Shotaro and Philip helps Ryu level out, eventually leading him to marry Sokichi's daughter Akiko.
  • Magnum, P.I. has the voice over and cynicism, but wears loud Hawaiian shirts instead of a trenchcoat.
  • Mannix was pretty old-school hardboiled for a late-'60s/early-'70s TV detective.
  • The 1980s TV adaption of Mike Hammer is either a straight example or a parody, depending on who you ask.
  • Our Miss Brooks:
    • In "Postage Due", Miss Brooks plays the hard boiled detective as she searches for the missing postman.
    • "Clay City English Teacher" has Mr. Boynton consciously imitates Sam Spade in an attempt to lure Miss Brooks away from the eponymous teacher.
  • Peter Gunn made from 1958-60, was a Hardboiled Detective with a 50s Jazz cool to him.
  • In Quantum Leap, Sam Beckett leaped into one of these in the episode "Play It Again, Seymour".
  • Richard Diamond Private Detective
  • Spenser For Hire was a rarity; a Hardboiled Detective with an even harder-boiled partner.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, Dixon Hill is a hardboiled detective holodeck character that Captain Picard is fond of playing.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway? has a game called "Narrate", where Colin Mocherie and Ryan Styles act out a scene as if they are both hard-boiled detectives in a film noir. Every few lines of the scene, one of them will break into a narration of his inner thoughts, like in a film noir detective novel or movie. Bluesy jazz music plays in the background. See an example here.


  • Nick Spade from WHO dunnit (1995) is a detective in 1934 who's tasked with investigating a series of murders in Tony's Palace. He wears a fedora and trenchcoat, has a penchant for one-liners, and ends up getting into various scrapes during his investigation.

  • Varyingly Played for Drama and Deconstructed by Juno Steel of The Penumbra Podcast. His typically hard-boiled mannerisms - depressive tendencies, cynicism, perpetual defense mode, loneliness, a Dark and Troubled Past - are seen less as genre conventions and more as signs he needs professional help.
  • Podcast Rex Rivetter Private Eye also qualifies. Part homage/part tongue-in-cheek send up of the old radio shows, he utters lines like "If I get out of this alive, remind me to have a talk with the voice in my head", and "I may not be able to bring light to man, but I can take away some of the darkness" in his Private Eye Monologue. He has a sarcastic wit, and ability to take and dish out a punch or two.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • The wrestler Alan Kuroki from Fighting Opera HUSTLE, with his appropiate fedora and suit. This isn't merely a case of Wrestling Doesn't Pay, HUSTLE is rather famous(infamous?) among pro wrestling fans for having an ongoing narrative beyond grudges and title belts(hence "fighting opera").

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode Uskerty, Arthur and Douglas are drinking in an airport bar, and Arthur tries to channel this trope.
    Arthur: Hey you guy. The dames, eh? Yeah the dames. Stupid dames. Do you have any luck with the horses? No, the horses are all idiots. You know between the dames and the horses sometimes I don't even know why I put my hat on. That's how we talk in bars, isn't it?
    Douglas: No, Arthur. That's not how anyone talks... anywhere.
  • On A Prairie Home Companion, the character of Guy Noir is a parodic example.
  • The Golden Age of Radio had dozens of hardboiled detective series, including
    • Sam Spade
    • Phillip Marlowe
    • Pat Novak, for Hire
    • Jeff Regan
    • Harry Lime
    • Box 13
    • Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
    • Richard Diamond
    • Bold Venture
    • Big Town
    • Michael Shayne
    • Nightbeat
    • That Hammer Guy
    • Rogue's Gallery
    • The Falcon

    Tabletop Games 
  • Joe Diamond in Arkham Horror. He was even given this assignment by a classic dame.
  • A Call of Cthulhu scenario included "Artie Gumshoe - Tough Private Investigator" as a pregenerated character, packing a .45 Automatic and with an illustration showing him with a cigarette wearing a fedora and trench coat, inviting him to be played like this trope.
  • Cyberpulp is an in-development RPG about detectives fighting crime in a New York like Mega City where The Night Never Ends. The central character class of the game is meant to be this.
  • Although Rocket Age acknowledges that regular PIs exist, the writers state outright that if you are playing as a member of the Wolfgang & Long Detective Agency you should essentially be playing as Humphrey Bogart.
  • One of the first and third edition pregen characters in Shadowrun is one of these. Trenchcoat and fedora, too. And a .38 revolver. Just ignore the fact that he's an ork... or embrace it, actually.
  • Urban Jungle has the "Hardboiled" type and "Detective" career, among other classic noir characters.

  • Beast Wars: Uprising: The story "Trigger Warnings" revolves around Wolfgang, a jaded Maxcop who is secretly a Predacon agent, getting into a crime noir story, complete with Femme Fatale. He's jaded because he's (despite the spy thing) one of the few honest cops on the force, on the Crapsack World that is Cybertron.

    Video Games 
  • Booker DeWitt, the protagonist of BioShock Infinite, is a hardboiled ex-Pinkerton PI sent on One Last Job to clear the debts of his gambling addiction. Unlike most hardboiled detectives, however, his milieu is the bright, shiny, blue-skied floating city of Columbia (although you barely have to scratch the surface before realising how screwed up that place is, and that's before finding out about its real secrets...).
  • Donald in Maui Mallard portrays Donald Duck as a "medium-boiled" tropical detective-ninja based on Thomas Magnum. The game goes for a Darker and Edgier yet comical feel and Maui's prose in the game's manual and cutscenes befit the genre.
  • Lewton in Discworld Noir both embodies and parodies this trope, due to the Disc's Theory of Narrative Causality; he doesn't know why being a private investigator means he has to wear a trenchcoat and fedora, but he's quite sure it does.
  • Sebastian Castellanos from The Evil Within. He has lost a daughter, is estranged from his wife, has a drinking problem, works too hard, and has an unkempt, haggard appearance.
  • Nick Valentine of Fallout 4, despite living in post-apocalyptic Boston circa 2287, has this whole archetype down pat. On top of being a zombie robot. It's not just Rule of Cool: Nick's personality and memories are based on those of a pre-war police officer.
  • Scott Shelby from the game Heavy Rain is an aging, asthmatic retired-cop-turned-PI who's on the edge of hardboiled. (Softboiled?)
  • Manny Pardo from Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is a detective working for the Miami Police. The first time you play as him? He goes to a shopping mall who's under siege by criminals, takes a shotgun from the trunk and slaughters them all.
  • Incredibly prevalent in the aptly name L.A. Noire, with the character of Rusty Gollaway topping the set as the hardest boiled.
  • Max Payne borrows just as much from Hardboiled Detective fiction and Film Noir as it does the Heroic Bloodshed genre. In the first two games, he's an actual police officer as opposed to a private detective, going on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge. The third game plays the spirit of the trope a bit straighter, however. Max is no longer a police officer and works as private security, and spends most of the game trying to rescue a Damsel in Distress and overcoming his alcoholism. Though, the setting switches (mostly) from gritty and dark New York to bright and vibrant São Paulo.
  • Pokémon
    • Pokémon X and Y invokes this with a sidequest featuring Looker (who notably wears a long trenchcoat), having you tag along with him in a series of film noir-esque cases. He even describes himself as "hard-boiled." Parodied as Looker isn't all that talented at acting dark or gritty, as hard as he tries. Also subverted in that he isn't actually a private detective, he's just playing the role to hide his true status as an International Police member.
    • The eponymous Detective Pikachu. Apart from wearing a Sherlock Holmes-esque deerstalker cap and being well.. a Pikachu, he behaves like a kid-friendly version of a stereotypical hard-boiled detective.
  • Randal's Monday: Kramer, who is incredibly sharp and does not stand for stupidity or snark.
  • Big Band, from Skullgirls, is a hardboiled Cyborg detective outfitted with a suite of brass instrument-themed weapons.
  • Richmond from Suikoden II is an homage to the classic noir version.
  • Tex Murphy from the Tex Murphy/Mean Streets series of noir/thriller video games is an Affectionate Parody of the genre.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth Tyrell Badd's appearance and demeanor are intended to evoke the hardboiled detective image. He has a bullethole-riddled trenchcoat, Perma-Stubble, a gruff and cynical attitude, and his color scheme is Deliberately Monochrome. However, he works for the actual police when he's not moonlighting as a Phantom Thief.
  • Jake Hunter 's titular character is the spitting image of this trope. He left the police to become a private eye (while still having friends in Aspicio's police force, such as his best friend Scott Kingsley, Samantha Martin and Detective Luis) he lives on scotch and cigarettes, can take a beating as well as dish one out. He isn't good at comforting people or kids, but he has a soft spot yet full of regret at the same time.


    Web Original 
  • Detective Bogart in Dino Attack RPG.
  • Jamal Kaye in Ghosts in Quicksilver is a subversion; she's cranky, bad at socialization and a genius with a smoking problem, but she's also seventeen and it shows in her stressed-out moments.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the Animaniacs episode "This Pun for Hire".
  • Cornfed on Duckman is usually a parody of the humorless mid-century Police Procedural detective, but on occassion he slips into Hard Boiled Detective mode instead. Never is this more blatant than in the show's Noir Episode "Noir Gang", where he's given a Private Eye Monologue and explicitly describes the episode's Femme Fatale as a "dame" — "and I never say 'dame' unless creatively obligated by a film noir parody".
  • The Fairly OddParents! in Where's Wanda; Timmy wishes to become such a detective after the disappearance of Wanda, and ends up spoofing Sam Spade and Rick Blaine.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Daffy Duck tries to be this in The Super Snooper as he tries to whip up evidence that a voluptuous femme fatale committed a murder at the Axhandle Estate. All Daffy is doing is getting the female (as a duck herself) aroused.
    • Daffy again in Boston Quackie a parody of the Boston Blackie books, movies, and radio shows.
  • Parodied in "Rarity Investigates!", an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. The episode sees Rainbow Dash accused of a crime and Rarity gets to the bottom of it the old fashioned way: looking for clues, interrogations and muted trumpet music/lighting.
  • Ruby Rocket Private Detective. Ruby.
  • Private Detective Shamus H. Goldcrow from The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat is a parody of the archetype.
  • In The Venture Brothers, Hank gets a fedora and affects a classic hardboiled detective personality whenever he's wearing it. It gets him laid for the first time.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Gumshoe


Luis, the Ex-Officer

A longtime friend of Albert, Luis is a stoic, unfazed private detective who comes to the Estate to investigate his friend's disappearance, demonstrating his exceptional aim and impeccable levelheadedness by saving his cab driver from a zombie.

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / HardboiledDetective

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