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Magician Detective

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Despite the cover, the mysteries have mundane solutions.

Who better to solve an "impossible crime" than someone who does the impossible for a living? The Magician Detective is a Stage Magician who uses his skills with illusion to solve crimes.

It is important to note that the Magician Detective does not have any actual supernatural powers and usually doesn't even believe in the supernatural. It is his disbelief that allows him to look at an "impossible crime" and realize that there must be a logical explanation and he possesses the skills to work out how it was done.

Not to be confused with the Occult Detective who has actual magical powers and deals with crimes that truly are supernatural. Although it's not impossible for them to overlap...


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Kindaichi, title character from The Kindaichi Case Files, also counts although it's more of "Detective who knows some magic tricks". This knowledge is very useful in solving several impossible crimes since several tricks uses similar basic concepts as how magic performance works.
    • Yoichi Takato, Kindaichi's Arch-Nemesis is a unique subversion of this. He's an aspiring magician who learned a few magic tricks from his mother and a lot more from his teacher abroad who became a murderer after finding out that his mother had been killed by her greedy disciples. After his debut, he created a lot of impossible murder cases which confuse Kindaichi and police. A straighter example comes from a spin-off Takato Shōnen no Jikenbo where he had to solve a murder case when he was in high school. In this time, he was shown giving street magic performance in a public park.
  • Kaitou Kid from Magic Kaito and Case Closed. At times, he has been known to use his intellect as a thief to solve things. Main example — the Golden Eye heist. Plus various other incidences.
  • Hayato Shiramine from Tantei Gakuen Q is a famous magician who enrolled in Dan Detective School. While he's a minor character since he's in A-class, he shows his his crime-solving ability when he won an analysis duel against Kazumanote .
  • A unique variation comes from Yusho Sakaki, an Entertainment Duelist in Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V. His deck contains spellcaster monster and a few spell/trap cards related with street magic Performance and psychic ability, giving him the magician motif. He's also good at deducing his opponent's strategy based on his/her reaction and words. A good example is how he manages to deduce Yuri's strategy on the first turn and take a short advantage of it. There's a reason why he's a Champion duelist.

    Comic Books 
  • Downplayed by Batman, but Bruce Wayne did train under the magician Zatara to become a skilled Escape Artist for his future in crimefighting.
  • Blackstone (see Radio examples below) also had a comic series in the late 1940s.
  • Mysto, Magician Detective from The DCU who ran as a back-up feature in Detective Comics in the 1950s.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Charlie Chan has to combine his detective skills with a magician friend's talents in Charlie Chan at Treasure Island.
  • Harry Houdini made several films, some featuring himself solving mysteries, and usually showcasing his escape acts. Houdini was, in real life, very good at exposing false mediums and psychics due to his magician background. However, his motivation was a genuine interest in finding a real one, rather than skepticism.
  • Now You See Me is about stage magicians who work grand thefts into their act... forcing investigators to find out how the hell they manage their tricks so they can actually prove it. Thaddeus Bradley, skeptic magician debunker, is not himself a detective, but he is called in as a consultant by the investigators.
  • The Phantom of Paris is about a Houdini-style escape act magician who is framed and jailed for murder, who has to use his skills to break out of jail and, eventually, prove his innocence.

  • Angel Killer and the later books in the series have Jessica Blackwood. The daughter and granddaughter of professional magicians. She was one herself until a trick went wrong nearly killing her and her family focused on mining that for PR rather than taking care of her. Now she is an FBI agent and her knowledge of magic tricks helps her solve serial crimes.
  • Banner Deadlines: Senator Brooks U Banner is a former magician, and as such, uses his knowledge of performance tricks to solve seemingly impossible locked room mysteries.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Dresden is most definitely not an example himself, but he's apparently had enough trouble with people getting this trope and Occult Detective mixed up in-universe to feel compelled to put a line about "no children's parties" in his ad in the Yellow Pages.
  • The Great Merlini is a fictional detective created by Clayton Rawson. He is a professional magician who appears in four locked room or impossible crime novels written in the late 1930s and early 1940s, as well as in a few short stories. He also appeared in a two movies and TV pilot.
    • Rawson also wrote four short stories about a very similar character called Don Diavolo.
  • The title character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series is — or was, it's unclear — a Member of the Inner Magic Circle. He loosely counts as an example of this trope, in that he does use his gifts with misdirection and escapology to help in his investigations, but never in an attempt to disprove the existence of magic, because he knows damn well that magic exists.
  • Norgil the Magician, a pulp hero created by Walter B. Gibson, creator of The Shadow.
  • For a time, Weird Tales was closely associated with Harry Houdini, publishing several short stories (one of which, Under the Pyramids, was written by H. P. Lovecraft!) that portrayed Houdini as an investigator and adventurer.
  • Patrick A. Kelley wrote a series of novels about Harry Colderwood, a down-on-his luck magician who found himself dragged into solving murder investigations.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Blacke's Magic was a short-lived American TV show about a magician, Alexander Blacke (played by Hal Linden), who, with some help from his con-man father, Leonard (Harry Morgan), solves mysteries that get in the way of his performances.
  • Rollie Tyler, the special effects expert from F/X: The Series, qualifies for this trope, as he uses similar techniques of deception and misdirection to fool suspects. Movie magic is still magic.
  • Jonathan Creek: Jonathan is not a stage magician, but he does design illusions for one and has, on occasion, demonstrated a few close-up magic tricks. He also showcases a few secondary skills in the field (usually when they will be important to the plot later); he knows how to pick locks, for example.
  • The Magician was an American television series that ran during the 19731974 season. It starred Bill Bixby as stage illusionist Anthony "Tony" Blake, a playboy philanthropist who used his skills to solve difficult crimes as needed. One of the big hooks in this series was that Bixby, a rather talented amateur illusionist, performed all the illusions without camera tricks of any kind.
  • The Mentalist: Patrick Jane was a professional psychic before his family was murdered. He admits that it was all fake.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Houdini Whodunnit", Harry Houdini fills this role, helping Murdoch to work out how a bank vault was robbed without any tampering with the lock.
  • Shawn Spencer from Psych is probably close enough to count here. He claims to be a psychic but actually solves crimes through his keen powers of observation.
  • Naoko Yamada, played by Yukie Nakama, the main character of the Japanese drama Trick.

  • Blackstone The Magic Detective was a 15-minute radio series which aired from October 3, 1948 until March 26, 1950. The series, starring Ed Jerome as "the world's greatest living magician," was based on real-life magician Harry Blackstone Sr. Storylines usually opened with Blackstone (Jerome) telling his friends John (Ted Osborne) and Rhoda (Fran Carlon) about an experience from his past, and this mystery story was then dramatized in a flashback. At the end, Blackstone challenged the audience to find a solution to the magical mystery. Each show concluded with Blackstone outlining a trick that listeners could perform for the amusement of their friends. The scripts were written by Walter B. Gibson, the ghostwriter of Blackstone's books.

    Visual Novels 
  • Somewhat in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, where Apollo's assistant Trucy is a practicing stage magician. However, it doesn't come in particularly useful. She does work out a magic trick that's vital to solving the case very quickly, but refuses to tell you.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • The main character from the Fox animated series The Magician is one of these, though he may have legitimate magic powers in addition to his Stage Magician ones, the show isn't really clear on this point.
  • In Phineas and Ferb, Dr. Doofenshmirtz imagines Agent P as one of these in the Show Within a Show "Doof 'n' Puss".

    Real Life 
  • Harry Houdini is perhaps the patron saint of this trope, having a Determinator-like passion for exposing psychics and mediums. Paradoxically, that was because he dearly wanted to find the real thing, and the phonies wasting his time really ticked him off. He even arranged a Trust Password with his wife so that she would know if a medium was really channeling his spirit after he died. She tried, but never received the code.
  • James Randi, a.k.a "The Amazing Randi", was a professional magician before turning his attention to debunking claims of supernatural ability (though he preferred to call himself an "investigator" rather than a "skeptic/debunker", as he felt the latter carried inherent negative connotations). He had a $1,000,000 reward set aside for anyone whose abilities withstood his investigation. It ran from 1996 to 2015, and no one collected. He is perhaps most famous for exposing Uri Geller as a fraud live on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, who also had magician training and an interest in debunking Geller. Randi also maintains that magicians are really necessary when debunking these charlatans since they are a lot better at catching deliberate fraud than other researchers and scientists.
  • Penn and Teller, good friends of James Randi, also frequently explain how various supernatural cons such as faith healing and mentalism are performed with sleight of hand and cold reading techniques. Their television show Penn & Teller: Bullshit! also frequently provided insight into various industries, covering everything from karate schools to New Age medicine, and how a lot of trickery and "stage magic" went into making claims seem more impressive than they actually were.
  • British illusionist Derren Brown has made several television specials investigating supernatural claims and eventually concluding that they are false; though he tends to leave the audience to decide for themselves what they believe, he will at that point have argued that all the evidence presented to him looks mundane and that he doesn't buy it. In other shows on TV and stage, he replicates precisely the kinds of things charlatans claim to do while explicitly stating that he has no paranormal abilities.