Follow TV Tropes

Following

Kid Detective

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/conan_hinata.png
Hey, wait... Those are my footprints.
Advertisement:

A character type that's popular with children's mysteries and adventures that contain mystery elements.

The Kid Detective is part Snooping Little Kid, part Amateur Sleuth. This kid lives to snoop, but also sometimes to ask questions of the suspicious adults or those who may have seen or heard something important, and try to piece together what happened.

There are some notable differences between the Kid Detective and adult detectives, however, that make the Kid Detective a unique character. For example, while an adult can go straight to the authorities with evidence, a kid often has difficulty convincing adults of what s/he experienced. Hence, the kid often has to let the adults know what's going on in a roundabout way, or expose it somehow. Sometimes the kid is in fact trusted by detectives, and can go to them directly.

Advertisement:

Oftentimes the kid snoops and investigates without adults knowing. This presents many obstacles, such as finding out how to investigate not only without getting caught by the criminal, but also without getting in trouble with parents or authority figures. If the kid does get in trouble, additional restrictions are placed, meaning the kid now has to sneak outside to do any more investigating.

The Kid Detective tends to be more adventure-oriented than the adult detective, meaning that there's often more emphasis on snooping and less emphasis on, say, interrogating or asking questions. Heck, kids can't interrogate suspects anyway, so asking questions to trick the suspect into revealing something is more likely. Also, due to the greater emphasis on snooping and sneaking, getting captured is a bigger threat, resulting in the kid getting Bound and Gagged and having to either break free, attract help, or be freed by a fellow Kid Detective. However, the kid detective is more often pitted against a Harmless Villain, thus avoiding the violence and genuine life or death situations that would surely be part of the adult detective's life.

Advertisement:

This trope was a mainstay in the heyday of the Saturday Morning Cartoon like Scooby-Doo and its various imitations; it allowed for dramatic conflict, but focused on characters using their intelligence rather than force to solve problems.

If the Kid Detective comes from a detecting family, odds are they are a Born Detective. One who regularly wears a fedora and trenchcoat is probably trying to be a Hardboiled Detective. Subtrope of Artistic License – Law Enforcement.


Examples

    open/close all folders 
    Anime & Manga 
  • Azuki in Azuki-chan has to become a detective for a single anime episodenote  to find the whereabouts of her classmate, Ken.
  • Case Closed:
    • Conan Edogawa is a 17-year-old de-aged down to seven. Since everyone thinks he's seven, he has to find ways of cluing adults in disguised as being a nosy seven-year-old.
    • There's also Ayumi, Genta, and Mitsuhiko, the "Detective Boys" ("Shounen Tantei Dan"). As they're actual kids themselves, they aren't quite up to snuff as true Kid Detectives yet. They do try, though.
  • A Certain Scientific Railgun is a variation in which three out of the Four-Girl Ensemble detectives have super-powers. Toyed with in that two of the girls are actually official law enforcement personnel.
  • CLAMP School Detectives tells the adventures of the Elementary School Student-board, solving cases and easing the life of all kinds of women.
  • Death Note: The kids from Wammy's House seem to have shades of this, being a group of orphan geniuses raised to find the kid that will one day become L's successor. Near, especially, seems to fit early on, with his childish appearance and love of toys. He is, however, taken perfectly seriously by the authorities, if considered a tad unorthodox.
  • At least one episode of Doraemon has Nobita becoming Sherlock Nobita and using the Sherlock Holmes Kit to solve a mystery.
  • Doraemon Nobitas Secret Gadget Museumhave Doraemon's prized collar bell being stolen by a master thief named Kaito DX, so Nobita decides to play detective with Doraemon's Sherlock Kit to huntdown the elusive thief who's going to strike at a futuristic museum next. Most of the movie revolves around Sherlock Nobita's attempts to uncover Kaito DX's true identity and backstory.
  • The obscure OVA Girl Detective Club would be about this trope focusing on three private school girls, Yuriko, Shizuka, and Midori... except beyond the title no club is actually mentioned and the only mystery the girls solve concerns Midori's disappearance. It turns out she was abducted by the school chairman so he could steal some kind of war machine hidden in her family's mansion and then use it to take over the world. But then Yuriko and Shizuka accidentally find it, turn it on, and obliviously pave a swath of destruction through the city on their way to rescue Midori. It's a... very weird piece of animation.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Azusa's younger sister Makoto is in her high school's detective club and manages to solve her sister's kidnapping with uncanny speed.
  • Lupin III: Part II has Baranco, a one-episode character who's the son of the famous Columbo. The entire police force is willing to follow his plans.
  • Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro is a subversion. Although Yako is supposed to be the leader of the detective agency (and she is billed as such), Neuro is the one doing all the detective work and is using her as a front. Later on, it is hinted that Yako is actually a semi-competent detective on her own, though.
  • Narutaki from Steam Detectives, son of Steam City's greatest detective and a child genius.
  • In the Tamagotchi! Yume Kira Dream episode "Happy Birthday! What Gift Should We Get!?", the Dream School students Yumemitchi and Kiraritchi are briefly transformed into detectives by the Yume Kira bags and use their detective skills to help Mametchi and his other friends repair a broken coffee machine. The detective girls find a lightbulb logo in the broken pieces of the machine and trace it to Righttchi's father, Paparighttchi.
  • The aptly named "Sleuth Brigade" from The Voynich Hotel try to be this, but fail frequently, as they are constantly bogged down by their own issues and the usual weirdness doesn't make any attempt to conceal itself.
  • Inaho aka Hailey Anne from Yo-Kai Watch is an eleven-year-old Yo-kai Watch holder. She runs a youkai-centric detective agency alongside her Signature Mon Usapyon.

    Asian Animation 
  • In the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf season The Little Detective, goat kid Weslie becomes a detective and solves mysteries.
  • Samosa, the boy hero of Simple Samosa, briefly takes on the job of a detective in the episode "Tutti Frutti" to search for Tutti Frutti. He even wears a detective hat and carries a magnifying glass at first.

    Comic Books 
  • Darkly deconstructed in Alan Moore's Albion, which hints at what happens to your typical kid detective, especially those with adult arch-enemies. Ian Eagleton, the warden of Albion, was once known as "Eagle-Eye, Junior Spy" (a popular British comic strip from the 50's), and far from the light-hearted adventures this trope usually follows, his experiences traumatized him, especially the monstrous Grimly Fiendish. As a result, as an adult, Eagleton turned traitor and helped the British government imprison all superhuman or otherwise extraordinary people, villains or not, to keep them from upsetting the status quo of post-war Britain.
  • The lead characters of Gotham Academy are a small group of high school freshmen and sophomores who go around investigating mysteries and form a Detective Club.
  • Cat Curio in Hack/Slash is a deconstruction when she's first introduced, showing what it would really be like for a preteen to stick her nose in murder cases. She's extremely observant and ingenuous, but the police find her anything but helpful, she seems to have no concept of danger, and her snooping almost gets her killed. Instead of dying, she gets put in a coma for 13 years. When she awakes, she returns to her work as a detective and starts her own agency, but obviously she still has the mind of a 12-year-old autistic girl.
  • Kid Sherlock: The titular child detective is Sherlock Holmes, who investigates strange goings-on at Baker Elementary School.
  • Tubby from Little Lulu occasionally acts as one, whenever Lulu needs his help with a problem at her house.
  • In Revolutionaries, Mike Power, the Atomic Man of the G.I. Joe Adventure Team, is revealed to have worked as kid detective Mighty Mikey Power with his dog Smarts. In fact, one of his cases was the inciting incident that led to the creation of his atomic limbs.
  • Robin Series: Tim Drake was a detective at an early age, sneaking around Gotham with a camera and using subtle clues to put together big secrets like Batman's identity. His training for becoming Robin leads to him becoming an even more effective one.
  • Parodied with Young Jack Black in Viz, who is an extreme-right-wing Jerkass who often inflicts Disproportionate Retribution on people who, in some cases, weren't even doing anything legally or morally wrong.

    Comic Strips 

    Fan Works 
  • The Facing the Future Series features Mike Harris, a boy at Elm Street Middle School who likes to snoop on things and may be on the road to learning Danielle's secret.
  • Turnabout Storm:
    • Apple Bloom tags along Twilight in her investigation at one point. She doesn't do much proper investigation, but she does make Twilight stumble upon several pieces of evidence, and has a moment of useful Genre Savvyness.
    • Scootaloo tries to do this, but she just picks up some random junk as her "evidence", and doesn't show up until after the Judge has handed down his final verdict anyway.

    Film 
  • Clubhouse Detectives, about a group of kids who work together to solve the murder of an opera writer's wife.
  • Enola Holmes adapts the eponymous books and follows Sherlock Holmes' 16 year old sister Enola as she investigates the disappearance of their mother Eudoria and a political conspiracy.
  • Kid Detective (2020) is, as the title suggests, about a kid detective who grew into an adult Private Detective. Abe is a close approximation of Encyclopedia Brown, who gained fame for minor crimes but was unable to do anything significant as an adult.
  • Mystery Team is a Parody of this character type. The main characters solved minor mysteries around the neighborhood as kids, and even became locally famous after solving a few real mysteries. Now 18-year-olds on the verge of graduating high school, they're immature Man Children still stuck in their past as kid detectives. In order to prove that they can be real detectives they take on a little girl's case to solve the double homicide of her parents.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes speculates on what might have happened if Holmes and Watson had first encountered each other as schoolboys; namely, that they solve a mystery together at their boarding school.

    Literature 
  • 2666: Lalo Cura spends so much time studying old procedural handbooks that he points out flaws in the officers' investigation of a crime scene.
  • Parodied with Malicia in Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, who likes to think of herself as one of these, but is really just an obnoxious know-it-all who's not quite Genre Savvy enough.
  • Walter "Ramses" Emerson from the Amelia Peabody series, the son of Egyptologists and incidental detectives Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, is an example (a master of disguise among other things) until, over the course of the series, he grows up. He eventually gets married and produces his own frighteningly precocious children. His mother feels it serves him right. Note that in the following passage, rescuing his parents, Ramses is about eight or nine:
    "Now, Mama, Papa, and sir," said Ramses, "please withdraw to the farthest corner and crouch down with your backs turned. It is as I feared: we will never break through by this method. The walls are eight feet thick. Fortunately I brought along a little nitroglycerine—"

    "Oh, good Gad," shrieked Inspector Cuff.
  • Alan Coren's Arthur The Boy Detective, who lives at 221A Baker Street and constantly shows up his downstairs neighbour.
  • Brains Benton and Jimmy Carson from the Brains Benton Mysteries series from the late 50s and early 60s solve six cases (preserved by Whitman Publishing) in their hometown of Crestwood, somewhere in Middle America. Brains himself is a strong Sherlock Homage, and possibly (for his age) even a better scientific detective. Jimmy is his Watson both as a sidekick and, unusually for these types of stories, as the POV chronicler of the cases.
  • Some of the Choose Your Own Adventure books feature kid detectives and their adventures, e.g., Mystery of Ura Senke features an American pre-teen who has solved cases in the past; they move to Japan with their family and is contacted by their best friend Kenichi, whose brother is a student in the Ura Senke tea ceremony school, to find the school's most valuable tea bowl, which has been stolen and is worth millions of yen.
  • Agatha Christie's Crooked House: Twelve-year-old Josephine investigates the murder of her grandfather, using her naturally snoopy nature to provide clues that the outsiders to the family never manage to find. However, it then turns out that she's the murderer, having decided to kill her grandfather over his not getting her ballet lessons. She had decided to investigate the murder to get further attention from her family and the police. The subversion naturally comes from the fact that readers had been led to believe she was a genuine Kid Detective, before we find out what was really going on.
  • A group of four young carnival freaks, Thomas the contortionist, Max the knife thrower, Sam the world's strongest boy, and Pippa the mentalist, solving the occasional murder mystery is the basis of the Curiosity House series. Even if the Police Are Useless, the kids will try to let the authorities do their job unless a friend or the tourist trap where they live and work hangs in the balance.
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg's neighbor Pervis Gentry solves neighborhood crimes (most of which are committed by the same delinquent) from his treehouse.
  • Kim Newman's Diogenes Club stories:
    • Richard Riddle, Boy Detective, who features in "The Gypsies in the Wood" and "The Case of the French Spy", is along the Enid Blyton model, starting out by solving mysteries for the neighbours and then levelling up to foiling kidnappers and murderers with his chums on their summer holidays. A surprisingly non-deconstructed example by Newman's standards, apart from the inevitable discovery that he's in a Cosmic Horror Story, and his sudden realisation that he's not sure what smugglers are actually smuggling.
    • A darker, deconstructed version appears in "Clubland Heroes" with Richard "Clever Dick" Cleaver; he's an off-the-scale detective genius who, unlike the more pleasant and engaging Richard Riddle (whom, ironically, his parents named him after), is also a snide, stuck-up, and humourless little snot. And then when he appears in "Cold Snap" following the ignominious end of his child-detecting career, he's let bitterness warp him into a genocidal maniac.
  • Jill Pinkwater's The Disappearance of Sister Perfect has Sherelee Holmes, who, after deducing that her runaway sister has joined a cult, poses as a rich teenager several years older than herself and infiltrates the organization.
  • Towards the end of Disgusting McGrossface, the boy holds up a magnifying glass and declares that he's going to look for clues. Subverted, in that he was just lying.
  • In the late 50s and early 60s, Andy Blair and Willie Perkins appeared in several stories in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, later collected in the Weekly Reader Book Club volume Andy & Willie: Super Sleuths. Unlike some of their contemporaries, their hometown of Wakanda is located in a specific state — Indiana — and, also unlike most contemporaries, their stories work both as mysteries for kids and as sly humor for adults.
  • Encyclopedia Brown. Notable here is the fact that his father is a police officer who knows of his son's activities, and is somewhat embarrassed that the smartest detective in town is a fifth-grader.
  • Enola Holmes: Enola is the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes. At only 14, she is able to live independently, establish a successful detective business through a lot of misdirection, and elude her brothers' best efforts to capture her until they wise up about her.
  • Played with in an Esp Mcgee book where the book's kid Watson decides to personally visit the home when the kid suspect is out to get some information. As it happens, he barely manages to excuse himself when the suspect and his menacing father arrive home early. Afterward, the terrifying experience weighs so much on him that he confesses to his parents what he was up to. His alarmed parents give him a firm lecture about taking such risks, but playfully then suggest that since he's done it, he might as well contact Mcgee to give his report, which proves to crack the case.
  • Flavia de Luce is a great example. Every novel is about her investigating a new case that's usually tangled up with a long, obscure past of the people involved. She's eleven, later twelve, years old in the novels. She also has some Mad Scientist tendencies that lead to her being an eleven-year-old expert on poisons.
  • The Great Brain series by J.D. Fitzgerald: The Great Brain Himself, when there's a serious crime to solve. However, when there isn't, the Great Brain is more likely to be swindling other kids out of their pocket change.
  • Natalia in the Grey Griffins series carries a notebook to write down clues and figure things out. She sometimes snoops around on her own and tries to discover things, separate from her group of friends. Through most of the story, she is more of an adventurer than a snoop, though she still is often the one to piece together clues.
  • Fletcher Moon in Eoin Colfer's Half Moon Investigations is a 12-year-old detective. Somewhat strange is that Fletcher is a certified Private Eye, as in certified in the US (he took an online course), even though he lives in Ireland, where Private Eyes don't need a licence.
  • In the earlier Harry Potter books, Harry, Ron, and Hermione fit this pretty well, and this element runs through all the books. A big part of the books' structure (and their appeal) is that most of the plots are mysteries that they can solve ("What's hidden beneath the school?", "who is Slytherin's heir?", "who put Harry's name in the Goblet of Fire?", etc.), which is the main reason why three underage wizards can have any impact on the story at all.
  • Inspector Tearle appears in five books from the late '60s and early '70s. He and his sidekicks, his athletic sister Shirley and his best friend "Thumbs" Thorndyke, solve cases from a treehouse headquarters in East Widmarsh, somewhere in Middle America.
  • Ten-year-old Esmine plays this role in In The Snows Of Haz. He's only one of several characters trying to solve the murders, though, and spends decent part of the plot locked in a room or running from bad guys. He does pretty well, all considered.
  • Justin Richards's The Invisible Detective novels are about a group of kids who claim to be "Baker Street Irregulars" to the non-existent Brandon Lake, because no-one would take them seriously as detectives themselves.
  • Astrid Lindgren's Kalle Blomkvist, translated into English as Bill Bergson. He's thirteen to fifteen in the books and played quite realistically. He has a hyperactive imagination but enough analytical skills and knowledge of real detective procedures (like taking fingerprints, and even chemically detecting arsenic) to find real evidence against them when he's finally confronted with real criminals. Together with his friends, he's also resourceful enough, and suitably experienced in pretend warfare of sorts against their friendly rivals, to make it through sticky situations involving dangerous adults.
  • Lasse and Maja from Swedish author Martin Widmark's Lasse-Majas Detektivbyrå stories (30+ books, two TV series, multiple movies...). They have no trouble convincing the local chief of police of their findings — while well-meaning and competent, he is still unable to solve any crime without their help, so...
  • Harriet from Donna Tartt's The Little Friend, who plans on solving the decade-old case of her brother's murder. Deconstructed in that she has absolutely no bearing on what to do — as nobody wants to discuss the murder as it practically destroyed the family — and is acting like her favorite fictional heroes, getting herself and others into unrelated trouble. She goes entirely on hearsay and jumps to the utterly wrong conclusions while ending up severely injuring an old woman by throwing a poisonous snake into her car (believing it to be driven by the murderer), accidentally killing one of her brother's friends (believing him to be the murderer with no evidence at all) and causing herself serious bodily harm, while "killing" said friend. She does accidentally stop illegal drug dealing without knowing that it's drug dealing.
  • Partially deconstructed with Nickel of Nickel Plated. He's a Minor Living Alone who has a Dark and Troubled Past involving child pornography (and it's implied that he may have killed the people responsible). He catfishes pedophiles and sends their info to the FBI, and also grows and sells marijuana through a high-school middleman (who has never physically met him) for extra cash. The plot of the novel kicks off when a girl hires him to find her missing sister, and he uncovers a child trafficking ring.
  • Nina Tanleven: Nine and Chris, who are eleven years old. However, they only get involved in cases that also include ghosts.
  • Dwight of the Origami Yoda series carries around an origami finger puppet of Yoda and gives people advice with it. Occasionally, he tries to help people without Origami Yoda, and when doing so, goes into Kid Detective mode. He imitates Sherlock Holmes and speaks in a British accent.
  • Flavia Gemini of The Roman Mysteries is a Kid Detective who solves mysteries and has adventures in The Roman Empire, referring to herself as a detective, or detectrix in the Latin. She is assisted by three friends and various adults.
  • Scarlett Undercover: Scarlett is a fifteen-year-old Private Detective who solves crimes in her hometown.
  • The title characters of Zilpha Keatley Snyder's loose series of books about The Stanley Family. The concept is partly deconstructed with Janie's Private Eyes, where 8-year-old Janie ends up causing nothing but headache and trouble with her investigations.
  • A Study in Charlotte:
    • When he was little, Jamie Watson fantasized about solving mysteries with Charlotte Holmes and outwitting all the adults together, but his dream didn't come true until he was legally an adult.
    • Charlotte deconstructs this trope. She was trained from birth in the arts of deduction and solved mysteries when she was as young as 12, but she missed out on all the typical kid things, like candy, and friends, and learning what to do when someone's bullying you. Since she was homeschooled by her parents, college was her first time at regular school. She not only didn't really know how to interact with people or make friends, she also had no idea what to do when a boy started sexually harassing her and making violent threats. Jamie points out that her childhood sounds awesome, but was actually pretty lonely.
  • Sugar Creek Gang: These evangelical Christian-themed books feature kid detectives solving mysteries and having wilderness adventures. And a lot of preaching.
  • The Detective Team KZ in Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is a group of seventh-grade Amateur Sleuths.
  • TKKG falls into this category, combining it with a Five-Man Band. Also the problem with the authorities is not that big since the father of one of the kids is with the police. And since in later books they also have a reputation for solving crime.
  • Trixie Belden (and the rest of the Bobwhites) are teen detectives in the Hudson Valley. Thanks to Trixie's rich best friend Honey Wheeler, they frequently go on trips and conveniently solve mysteries wherever they go.
  • The premise of the Ulysses Moore adventure series. Jason, Julia, and Rick solve mysteries of the seaside village Kilmore Cove, with an occasional Time Travel to various historical epochs and places and solving mysteries there.
  • PK Pinkerton in the The Western Mysteries is a twelve-year-old who aspires to become a detective. At the end of the first book, he sets up his own private detective business.
  • Whateley Universe: A number of students at Whateley Academy are either aspiring detectives (most notably Reach and Spade in Gen 1, and Osmic Ace, Deduce, and Trace of the "Card Sharps Detective Agency" training team in Gen 2) or spend their time snooping into unusual events for their own reasons (such as the Lit Chix). A number of students also end up in situations which call for them to do some investigating, either with or without adult assistance. Indeed, it seems that would-be detectives — and other students such as Hardsell who simply want to join the police force after they graduate — are common enough that the school has multiple classes in criminology, though students looking to be superheroes — or supervillains — make good use of them as well.
  • The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series is set in an Alternate History where Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley become friends as tweens and form the titular agency. It is Ada's idea, because she compares solving crimes to solving fun puzzles.
  • Dalton Rev, the teen Hardboiled Detective in You Killed Wesley Payne.
  • The Young Sherlock Holmes books feature a teenaged Holmes who is still developing his deductive genius while getting involved in adventures that are a lot more action-oriented than his later ones will be.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Bloodhound Gang on 3-2-1 Contact are a whole detective agency of kids.
  • The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, starring Sherlock's teenaged great grand-niece, who solves crimes in the fictional town of Redington.
  • The Baker Street Boys: A gang of street urchins living in Victorian London assist Sherlock Holmes in solving crimes and find themselves tackling cases of their own.
  • Control Z: Sofia is basically a female, teen Sherlock Holmes. After a hacker discloses many people's secrets in her school, causing them great harm, she sets out to track them down.
  • Eugénie Sandler P.I. is an Australian TV series about a teenage girl whose father is private investigator. When he disappears, she is forced to turn detective in order to find him.
  • PBS's Ghostwriter involves kids and a ghost who solve mysteries. The ghost communicates only by typing, as it cannot speak.
  • Gotham casts a younger Bruce Wayne as this, investigating a possible conspiracy involving corruption in his parents' company following their death.
  • Subverted in the 1970s TV version of The Hardy Boys, where the Boys are allowed to grow up in the final season and become professional detectives for the US Department of Justice.
  • Ted Mosby of How I Met Your Mother claims to have been one in his youth, teaming with his sister as "The Mosby Boys". His friends don't think much of his detective skills, but they are portrayed inconsistently throughout the series and there are cases where he's quite insightful in putting clues together, such as in "Blitzgiving".
  • The InBESTigators is an ABC Me series distributed by Netflix featuring four elementary school classmates who form a detective agency.
  • The Sarah Jane Adventures has an investigative journalist and three teens investigate and fight aliens.
  • Stick with Me, Kid is a British series where the kid detective gets around his age by using an out-of-work actor to pose as a detective while the kid does all the actual detective work.

    Podcasts 
  • Ten-year-old Angus Mcdonald of The Adventure Zone is this to a tee. In Angus's introduction, Merle cites this trope almost by name.
    Angus: My name's Angus Mcdonald, that part you already know. I am, and I'm not being braggy, 'cause my grandpa says not to do that, but I am the world's greatest detective!
    Travis: [narrating for Magnus] I roll my eyes.
    Angus: Okay. I mean, I did detective good enough to see through your horseshit, so I can't be too bad.
    Merle: Are you saying you're a boy detective?
    Angus: If you want to be reductive.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The Puzzle Place: In the episode The Mystery of the Fabulous Hat, Leon emulates Sherlock Holmes to search for Jody's missing hat, with Ben as his Watson. At first this doesn't work out because Leon wants to solve the mystery all by himself and won't let Ben help him, but when they finally do work together, they find the hat thieves: Nuzzle and Sizzle.

    Video Games 
  • Walnut Cookie from Cookie Run. She is shown to be worthy enough to solve mysteries and crimes. Even her skill has portraits where you have to select who's guilty based on the evidence you collected earlier.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Kyoko Kirigiri of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc may be the most extreme application of this trope: as the Ultimate Detective, she's essentially the best in the world for her age-group, and as a requirement of that title, is a professional in her daily life (which can be seen in her prequel novels where she's taking on cases while still in junior high). She also comes from an entire family of lifelong detectives, with her father being the black sheep of the family simply for leaving the business to be Headmaster of Hope's Peak, the school at the center of the franchise. How competent he was at his job is... debatable. With the world outside the academy gone to hell with so few people left alive, she may actually be the best in general by default, although that depends on if her grandfather was killed in Towa City, which is never resolved.
    • Shuichi Saihara from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is also an Ultimate Detective, and in his case received it for solving a murder before the police department could. He is however far more insecure about his skills than her. And unlike Kyoko, who stays as a sidekick, he eventually becomes the protagonist in his own right. But the end of the game suggests that he might not have been a detective at all.
  • The protagonist and Ayumi Tachibana in Famicom Detective Club are both 15-17 years old and are out investigating murder cases outside of school. More than a few people are a bit bewildered at how young the characters are, but nonetheless let it slide.
  • Granblue Fantasy has Sarya, a young female apprentice of Barawa. But when it comes to some Detective Drama events, she can prove that she's a better one then her employer, as she focuses on clues and facts, while Barawa relies on his physical strength and determination to chase the culprit for most of the time.
  • Lily from Kindergarten becomes this in Kindergarten 2. While she does do some snooping in the first game, it's for personal reasons, namely to find her missing brother Billy. In the second game though, despite not having any personal stakes anymore, she more actively stakes out her new school for secrets along with the now-rescued Billy. They find out that the kids that were "rezoned" to make room for the first game's cast in the new school were actually kidnapped by the principal to be turned into mutant monsters for use in her evil plans. To really drive home the point, her unlockable outfit is called the "Sleuth's Dress".
  • In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora takes on a detective role in Timeless River to figure out who has been attacking Disney Castle, using the windows as clues. It was obviously Pete, but there are two versions of him here. In the Japanese version, the cutscene where Pete reappears to steal the Cornerstone of Light is even called "Detective Sora".
  • Pip Whipple of Max Gentlemen Sexy Business! was one in her youth, though in her twenties she still shows great enthusiasm and excitement at the prospect of solving another "whodunnit". It should be noted that she's more an Affectionate Parody, showing just how stressful and dangerous this job can be.
  • Persona:
    • Naoto Shirogane of Persona 4, who's known all across Japan as the "Detective Prince". Dissected, as well: The police force hates having to call Naoto in on the serial murder case, and she's passed herself off as a boy for years because of how male-dominated the police are. Her Shadow taunts her over how mature she tries to act to get past the "young detective" bit — it's worth noting that her Shadow flip-flops between overly mature dialog and crying like a baby. It's also debated how intentional it is that Naoto's detective skills come off as an Informed Ability - Naoto never uncovers any information that the party doesn't already know (aside from Mitsuo not being the real killer), and if the player can't solve the mystery themselves, the game comes to a premature end even with Naoto on the team.
    • Goro Akechi from Persona 5 appears to be a Naoto-like Kid Detective, to the point where he's known as "The Second Coming of the Detective Prince", but since the heroes are on the other side of the law, he has a more antagonistic relationship to them at first. It turns out that he's a fraud who's the true culprit behind all of the cases he "solved".
  • Johnny in Shadow Hearts: From The New World runs a detective agency despite looking like he might be at most 14-16 years old. He's actually much older than he looks.
  • Mackenzie from Touch Detective is a Born Detective in the Kid Detective phase of her life. She becomes officially accepted into the Great Detective Society by the first game.
  • Yandere Simulator:
    • Sonoko Sakanoue, the final rival of 1980s Mode, is a former student of Akademi who made a name for herself solving a murder mystery that had stumped police, and left Akademi early to pursue a career as a detective. She returns to Akademi in the final week of 1980s mode, ostensibly to finish her schooling and graduate, but really as the Journalist's eyes and ears to find clues that prove that Ryoba Aishi murdered Sumire Saitozaki. The "canon" means of eliminating her as a rival is to gain her trust by burning compromising photos of her a pervert took, which convinces her that Ryoba couldn't have killed Sumire. This, of course, was Ryoba's plan all along to get away with murder.
    • If School Atmosphere gets low enough, the Photography Club will start investigating the strange circumstances on their own to try to find a murderer. This makes them a difficult obstacle for the Yanderes, as if one of them catches her committing murder, they'll snap a picture for proof, forcing her to kill them before they can show someone.
  • Yo-kai Watch 3 introduces Hailey Anne, an elementary schooler who runs the Hapyon Detective Agency alongside her yokai friend Usapyon.

    Webcomics 
  • The kids from Bad Machinery regularly deal with crimes and mysteries, mostly with a supernatural spin. This trope is somewhat subverted in "The Case Of The Forked Road", where after the kids consider all sorts of devious ways to fool railway men into pulling the levers to switch a train to a different track to prevent a crash, or to get the men out of the way so they can pull the levers themselves, Shauna finally takes the direct, straightforward approach as an adult investigator might, and tells the men that the track has been sabotaged and they need to flip the switch; they believe her and take immediate action.
  • Parodied with the Mystery Solving Teens from Hark! A Vagrant — unlike most teenage detectives, they act like typical teenagers, meaning they rarely do anything relevant to the case.

    Web Original 
  • Homestar Runner: Spoofed in the Strong Bad Email "highschool", where Strong Bad claims that he, Marzipan, Homestar, and Strong Mad were "a team of super sleuths" in high school, and that they spent their time either "debating the existence of mysterious", playing in a band, or trying to get Homestar out of these "ridiculous stripéd pants" he used to wear.

    Western Animation 
  • The Amazing Chan and the Chan Clan: The youngest four fit the role perfectly, especially Flip, who jumps at the mystery call fastest among them. The others are teens though.
  • Numbuh 2 of Codename: Kids Next Door occasionally acts as one, complete with noir film-esque narration.
  • Timmy Turner from The Fairly OddParents ventures into this trope in the episode "Where's Wanda" when he wishes to become a full, typical private investigator, trench coat and all.
  • From the creators of Scooby-Doo below, Fangface is about a gang of teenagers who solve mysteries. The big twist here is that one of them is a werewolf.
  • Fillmore! is a cop version of this trope; the title character is a hall monitor at his middle school.
  • Dipper and Mabel become this in the Gravity Falls episode "Headhunters", when they set out to solve the mystery of who beheaded a wax sculpture of their Grunkle Stan. Over the broader Myth Arc of the series, Dipper's efforts to crack the secret of the Journal and the weirdness of the town itself also count.
  • Penny, the niece of Inspector Gadget, is well-known for her snooping, her being captured, and her ability to stop the bad guys singlehandedly every single episode.
  • In Madeline, the title character plays this role now and then, usually with Pepito as her helper: for example, in Madeline and the Forty Thieves, Madeline and the Lost Crown, and Madeline on the Orient Express. In Madeline's Detective School, she teaches child Expies of Hercule Poirot, Sam Spade and Miss Marple how to solve mysteries too
  • Mira, Royal Detective follows a young girl who gets appointed as a detective.
  • Darby from My Friends Tigger & Pooh. The series is all about six-year-old Darby leading the Super Sleuths on their sleuthing adventures. They don't investigate any actual crimes, though, focusing more on everyday "mysteries" a child might realistically encounter.
  • Noddy, Toyland Detective focuses around the child character Noddy solving mysteries in Toytown.
  • Oh Yeah! Cartoons features a short about a child detective entitled "Peter Patrick, P.I.: What About Lunch?"
  • Punky Brewster: In the episode "Punky P.I.", Punky opens a detective office from her school locker as she and her friends try to solve an in-school mystery involving a classmate's sabotaged project.
  • Mitchell from Ready Jet Go! might as well be one of the prime examples of the trope. He not only looks a typical detective, but he also idolizes Sherlock Holmes and has his own noir-esque Leitmotif. Mitchell is always trying to be a detective and find proof that the Propulsions are aliens, but to no avail.
  • The entire premise of Sally Bollywood, whose title character is also a Born Detective.
  • Scooby-Doo is on the older end of this trope, since the members of Mystery Incorporated are supposed to be in their teens, but they're constantly called "meddling kids" and variants thereof by the various villains of the week. A Pup Named Scooby-Doo leans into this trope with child versions of the characters.
  • The Simpsons has done this numerous times with Bart and/or Lisa. The first such instance is when Krusty gets arrested for armed robbery in "Krusty Gets Busted", but some sleuthing discovers that it was actually Sideshow Bob trying to frame Krusty.

Top