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Occult Detective

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"I'm the one who steps from the shadows, all trenchcoat, and cigarette and arrogance, ready to deal with the madness. Oh, I've got it all sewn up. I can save you. If it takes the last drop of your blood, I'll drive your demons away. I'll kick them in the bollocks and spit on them when they're down and then I'll be gone back into darkness, leaving only a nod and a wink and a wisecrack. I walk my path alone... who would walk with me?"
John Constantine, Hellblazer

A detective who investigates paranormal mysteries and a staple of Fantastic Noir. Like traditional fantasy genre, occult detective fiction also contains magic and supernaturality, albeit in a more contemporary time and setting, whether Urban Fantasy that's Like Reality, Unless Noted or a setting where a standard fantasy world evolved to become urbanized. The most common image of an occult detective is that of a member of the Trenchcoat Brigade, as long coats are the most popular and badass item in the occult detective's arsenal. May or may not be a Blue-Collar Warlock or a Muggle with a Degree in Magic. The protagonist of a Vampire Detective Series or a Paranormal Investigation show tends to be this.

See also Hunter of Monsters, whose occupation is to hunt the paranormal (though the two may overlap). Compare Police Psychic, which is when a superpowered individual helps law enforcement solve mundane crimes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • The Witch and the Beast is centred entirely around this as the two main characters come from the Order of Magical Resonance, which is essentially the magical FBI in charge of investigating supernatural and fantastical oddities.
  • Nightwalker centers on a penitent vampire who operates a private investigator business specializing in crimes caused by monsters.
  • Phantom Quest Corp.: Detective Karino, of U Division, is a paranormal investigator who has a working-class relationship with Ayaka Kisaragi, the president of Phantom Quest Corp. As such, he often commissions his extra assignments to her as a personal favor, which lightens his workload. Of course, that's not the only reason he does it.
  • Ghost Talker's Daydream: Misaki Saiki is a freelance medium, who occasionally works with Kadotake Souichiro, a liaison officer from the Livelihood Preservation Group.note  Their assignments involve investigating murders and suicides in order to allow the victims' restless spirits to move on.
  • The Spirit Detective, Yusuke Urameshi from YuYu Hakusho. Although he is less of a detective than one would expect. All he does is beating the crap out of the main threat to end all the bad stuff that is happening.
  • L from Death Note. Although the supernatural isn't his specialty in the story, he still nonetheless fights supernatural foes. He succeeds in the film version.
  • Muhyo & Roji, the main characters of Muhyo & Roji: Bureau of Special Investigators. Neighbors are skeptical at first, but initially come to rely on them, particularly Nana the reporter and early client. Nearly all rival characters or villains are also occult detectives, eldritch abominations, or some combination of the two.
  • Rosario + Vampire features the Newspaper Club, who do on occasion investigate supernatural occurrences. Since all the students attend a Monster Academy (except for Tsukune, the normal highschooler pretending to be a disguised vampire or other creature) most of the culprits are fairly obvious and much of the real plot centers on harem-based romantic comedy.
  • Occult Academy involves a time traveler and the head of the titular Occult Academy finding the source that would cause the end of the world. When they're not busy working on the apocalypse case, they will spend some time solving supernatural cases around the city.
  • Hieda Reijiro is the Youkai Hunter, a former archaeologist who roams rural Japan in search of the supernatural.

    Comic Books 
  • Dylan Dog, a penniless nightmare investigator ("L'indagatore dell'incubo") who defies the whole preceding horror tradition with a vein of surrealism and an anti-bourgeois rhetoric.
  • Marvel Comics had an entire agency of these in the 1990s series Nightstalkers. It was called Borderline Investigations and was run by Frank Drake, Blade, and Hannibal King.
  • Dr. Occult from The DCU. He debuted in New Fun Comics #6 in 1935. He was a supernatural detective, whose detecting style was very much in the style of Sam Spade, only with supernatural abilities. He was assisted by his butler Jenkins in one adventure. His girlfriend/partner called Rose Psychic appeared in his first adventure and then returned again later in the series.
  • Hellblazer: John Constantine, Trope Codifier for the most common occult detective accessory, the trenchcoat — though in the DCU alone, fellow Trenchcoat Brigadiers Dr. Occult, the Phantom Stranger, and Mister E all rocked the look decades earlier.
  • Hellboy, more or less — he investigates occult occurrences, despite being one himself.
  • Cal Macdonald from Steve Niles' Criminal Macabre, as well as series of novels. Cal takes illicit drugs and befriends a network of ghouls to assist him in his cases. Policemen do not really care to be involved with Cal.
  • Ambrose Bierce from the Stanley and His Monster mini-series in The DCU, who was himself created as a Captain Ersatz version of Constantine, along with others such as Rasputin and Willoughby Kipling; It's since been established that the four of them (Constantine included) pretty much do the exact same sort of work as one another, and Kipling has met and compared notes with Constantine.
  • Dr. Terrence Thirteen, a.k.a. the Ghost-Breaker investigates and debunks seemingly-occult events. He has been appearing in DC Comics on and off since the 1950s, originating before DC formally combined all its titles into The DCU, and the fact that he is now pursuing his debunking career in a world that contains genuine superpowers and supernatural beings is frequently lampshaded.
  • Usagi Yojimbo:
    • Usagi occasionally acts in this capacity, like when he frees the town from a ghost of fallen general... by assisting him in finishing his Seppuku.
    • Recurring character Sasuke the Demon-Queller, who's much more experienced at this.
  • Caballistics, Inc., a strip appearing in 2000 AD.
    • The main characters. Cabbalistics, Inc. was formed when Department Q, a Ministry of Defense department originally created in the 1940s to combat Nazi occult warfare, is privatized by the British government.
    • Absalom is a more literal example, as he's an actual police detective attached to the department in charge of maintaining the peace deal between the British crown and the forces of hell.
  • Psi Judges from Judge Dredd are usually responsible for investigating and combatting the more supernatural threats to Mega-City 1.
  • Mallory Hope, titular character from Hope, another strip appearing in 2000 AD also set in the 1940s, this time a private investigator delving into the occult side of Hollywood.
  • Hieronymus Borsch by Danish comic creator Mårdøn Smet is a Funny Animal example — though a decidedly adult one. Imagine Disney creators making a comic for Vertigo.
  • Doctor Strange. He has a number of artifacts which make this much easier, particularly the Eye of Agamotto.
  • Sara Pezzini from Witchblade. While she gets to fight against countless demons, monsters and supernatural creatures lurking inside New York, everybody at the NYPD thinks she just happens to be a detective who gets too many weird cases.
  • The Goon, although he's more of a thug whose "detective work" usually amounts to "beating information out of zombies and redneck werewolves."
  • Zatanna: The Zatara family can be this on occasion, either investigating odd events involving magical creatures or being asked in by cops who know when things go out of their realm and into theirs.
  • The Hoax Hunters investigate supernatural phenomena and cryptids. Then, after finding them (they usually do), they do their best to cover them up, using their TV show to denounce whatever it is as a hoax.
  • In his 2014 series, Moon Knight delves into this, especially in his role as "Mister Knight". He's not an official detective in the idea that he knows the law well, but helps the New York police through his knowledge of murder.
  • In Robyn Hood, Robyn and Marian found Nottingham Investigations; a P.I. firm that specializes in investigating supernatural cases.
  • Kate Kane deals with this as Batwoman fairly often, enough that it's one of her operative niches.
  • Simon Dark: Tom Kirk is a GCPD detective with a bit of arcane knowledge who keeps an eye out for magical and otherworldly threats to his corner of Gotham. He also confers outside of the police force when he does come across such things, and is hiding the fact that he was murdered on the job years ago before being stitched back together and brought back with his aging stopped and regenerative powers.
  • When crime takes a turn for the weird, the Manila police call Alexandra Trese.
  • The protagonist of the Argentine horror comic Martin Hel, created by Robin Wood.
  • Invincible: Damien Darkblood is a demon detective who worked for the Global Defense Agency.

  • Played with in Sherlock Holmes (2009). Almost everybody believes Lord Blackwood actually has magical powers, and even Watson considers the possibility. Holmes himself doesn't completely rule this out, but he insists on exhausting all other more mundane possibilities first. He investigates several of Blackwood's labs and magical rituals, and in the end it's revealed that Blackwood doesn't have any such powers at all.
  • 2001's Vidocq, which the previous example might be a Whole-Plot Reference to, has the title character investigating some paranormal murders, and it's implied he has some occult knowledge himself.
  • Indiana Jones is an adventurer rather than an official detective, but he uses his skills as a historian and archaeologist to find MacGuffins that are almost always occult in power: The Holy Grail, the Sankara stones, the Ark of the Covenant, the Crystal Skull, etc.
    • The Temple of Doom resembles an occult detective story the most, with the theft of the holy Sankara stones, the perpetrators being an evil cult who brainwash people by forcing them to drink a liquid, one of them harming Indy by harming a doll of him, etc.
  • Constantine (2005): John Constantine is definitely an occult detective and an exorcist to boot, a demon hunter...
  • Dr. Zimmer, from Kiss Of The Vampire, is an expy of Abe Van Helsing.
  • In The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow an unseen viewpoint character who is the recipient of a photo from Mister Hollow, during an active investigation of paganism in Ontario.
  • Lord of Illusions: Harry D'Amour is a noirish private detective in the present day who has investigated several paranormal cases, including an exorcism that he recently performed. Mostly by accident he is then introduced into the world of magicians and wizards.

    Folklore and Mythology 

  • Dr. Martin Hesselius from In a Glass Darkly by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. Credited as the first embodiment of the trope in fictional literature, and thus, the Trope Maker.
  • Dr. Abraham van Helsing of Dracula is the Trope Codifier. Although he doesn't start this way, he quickly becomes one. Yet while most adaptations portray Helsing as an adventuresome monster hunter, in the book he is just a doctor with very eclectic experience, who approaches vampirism as he would any other disease, albeit one that has symptoms including supernatural belligerence and fantastic powers and weaknesses.
  • Downplayed in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer novel Revenant. Art Sledge is a normal Hard Boiled Detective who mainly works in divorce cases, but working in "work{ing] out of the shadows in this town" causes him to know about the supernatural forces of Sunnydale and be prepared to deal with them.
  • David from Haunted (1988) investigates ghosts though he doesn't believe in their existence.
  • Mark Gatiss' character Lucifer Box turns into one despite a (relatively) straight first book. In the sequel, The Devil in Amber, suddenly he's stopping Satan from manifesting on earth.
  • The Thomas Carnacki stories by William Hope Hodgson. Some of Carnacki's cases are not occult at all; it is Carnacki's trick that he is open to both possibilities.
  • Andrew Doran: A lot of Andrew's activities when he's not doing archaeology or outright war with the monsters is this sort of thing, including investigating murders as well as other Cthulhu Mythos activity.
  • Dirk Gently is a subversion, as he doesn't believe in the occult or paranormal; to him, it's just an elaborate con. He is repeatedly frustrated to find his cons coming true, however.
  • Harry D'amour from Clive Barker's The Last Illusion, The Great and Secret Show, Everville, and the forthcoming The Scarlet Gospels, in which he gets to uhm, "detect" Pinhead from Hellraiser. Good luck with that, Harry.
  • Kim Newman's works include several:
    • Sally Rhodes, the heroine of Organ Donors and The Quorum. In one story it mentions she trained under D'amour.
    • The agents of the Diogenes Club, including the psychic Richard Jeperson, his also psychic assistant Vanessa, and the non-psychic but handy-to-have-around Fred Regent; in an earlier period of the Club's 'history', the detective role is taken by Edwin Winthrop and his assistant is Catriona Kaye.
    • Winthrop also appears (along with Newman's vampire heroine Genevieve) in a small role in The Big Fish, in which a hard-boiled pulp fiction detective (who enjoys reading hard-boiled pulp fiction) investigates a case that mixes organized crime and the Cthulhu Mythos. His actual name is never revealed, though he does bear a striking resemblance to Philip Marlowe from the novels by Raymond Chandler. (Word of God has been ambiguous about whether he's actually Marlowe or just some guy with a similar shtick.)
  • Several of Manly Wade Wellman's recurring characters; Judge Pursuivant and John Thunstone are two of the more prominent.
  • The Dresden Files: Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, provider of the current page image. With the added twist that not only does he know that all the occult stuff is completely real, but he also cheerfully uses it to blow stuff up. He provides the page image for a reason, and in recent books he's more of a magical cop, having joined the White Council's Wardens. He provides the current page image because, aside from maybe Abraham Van Helsing, he is possibly the best known, and has probably the most Iconic Outfit. He even manages to make the Badass Longcoat practical instead of just a fashion statement - it's enchanted to be magical Kevlar.
    • First a detective, then a cop, now a supernatural Knight, Prison Warden for the most hardcore magical supermax in the universe and by all indications, Chosen One.
    • Karrin Murphy is this for Special Investigations. So was her late father, back when they were called the "black cat" files.
  • The Hollows: Morgan, Tamwood, and Jenks though Rachel tends to do more fighting than investigating.
  • An awful lot of Nancy Drew's and The Hardy Boys' investigations appear to be supernatural at first, although they generally wind up busting smugglers or industrial spies or whatever.
  • The Three Investigators had a fair amount of them as well.
  • Many of H. P. Lovecraft's protagonists could be thought of as "non-professional" Occult Detectives, in that they are highly educated, academic types (geologists, folklorists, librarians, 90% of them graduates of or professors at Miskatonic University) — with at least a cursory knowledge of cults, dark legends, occult practices and that terrible old book in Armitage's library. Most of them get thrown in the midst of some terrible supernatural happening, usually with less than great results.
  • Repairman Jack, although not technically a detective, keeps running into spooky stuff he must protect his vigilante-for-hire clients from. Fortunately he's getting pretty good at it, and packs more heat than most of the above examples.
  • In the Simon Ark short stories by Edward D. Hoch, Simon looks to be an ordinary man in his sixties but claims he is actually over 2000 years old, a Coptic priest who travels the world looking for evil—specifically Satan. It is said that he is cursed by God, that when Jesus carrying the cross wanted to rest, Ark refused him and in turn has never known rest himself, doomed to wander the globe forever. However the immortality element is not played up in any way and is just incidental. The Simon Ark stories have supernatural themes, although the crimes in them are always found to have been committed by mundane means.
  • Harper Blaine from Kat Richardson's Greywalker series, who actually was a qualified P.I. even before she began having supernatural experiences.
  • October Daye is, roughly speaking, Harry Dresden's female Fae counterpart, down to the PI's license and the Volkswagen Beetle. She also serves as a Knight for the local Fae Duke, having earned the position through investigative prowess.
  • Foucault's Pendulum is a darkly satirical Deconstruction of this trope.
  • Anita Blake: In addition to raising the dead, she's a Federal Marshal, and consults with the local police force's preternatural task force.
  • Felix Castor: An exorcist rather than a detective by trade, but he usually ends up having to solve some mystery or another.
  • The Section 13 Case Files has an entire secret division of NYPD officers to investigate the supernatural. Some members of their ranks aren't even human.
  • Subverted in Eater of Souls, a period mystery set in ancient Egypt. While the crime turned out to be the work of a mortal serial killer, sleuth/spymaster Lord Meren pursues it under the presumption that something supernatural could be to blame, even going so far as to remind his son to wear protective amulets while investigating.
  • Inverted in the Garrett, P.I. novels, as Garrett is a Badass Normal from a world where the fantastic isn't hidden at all, and he frequently discovers that a crime had been committed for completely mundane reasons, even if its methods of commission were magical.
  • Lord Darcy (although he exists in a world where magic is real and is fully understood).
  • The protagonists of The Longing of Shiina Ryo may become this, depending on their sensei's mood.
  • Nelly Rapp in the Swedish childrens' book series Monsterakademin. She works for a secret society, and while her title is "monster agent" she rarely does anything violent and often acts more like an occult social worker — Dark Is Not Evil, and some "monsters" mostly need help. She is a Kid Detective because the Academy starts training very early.
  • The Titus Crow series of books by Brian Lumley, in which the protagonist enters the world of H.P.Lovecraft and kicks ass.
  • DCI Nightingale, and Detective Constable Peter Grant, from the Rivers of London books, are official Occult Detectives.
  • In the Shadow Police novels, DI James Quill's team were ordinary police until they all got cursed with True Sight. Now they're Occult Detectives, though most of their fellow police don't know that.
  • Sunshine has the Special Other Forces (SOF), which deals with all paranormal threats and crimes. Fully-funded, non-secret government agency as the book's setting is The Unmasqued World.
  • In James D. Macdonald's Bad Blood series, Freddie Hanger fights supernatural dangers with a research-and-deduction-oriented method.
  • Mercedes Lackey's character Diana Tregarde isn't officially a detective, but a Guardian's job description includes finding out whether the Bad Stuff Going On is mystical, and ending it if it is.
  • Seabury Quinn's Jules De Grandin defended New Jersey from monsters and mad scientists.
  • The Twenty Palace Society tries to track down spell books and monster summoners.
  • Diana Rowland's Kara Gillian series features a detective for a small-town Louisiana police department... who summons demons and ends up dealing with assorted arcane threats to said town.
  • The title character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series, among other jobs, hunts down and catches illegal monster-slayers for a living.
  • A group of Dutch children's book writers called Het Griezelgenootschap (The Horror Society) wrote two Gamebooks featuring a boy who takes over his uncle's business of being a private detective specialized in supernatural problems, like demons and vampires.
  • The titular character of Skulduggery Pleasant. He's a living skeleton with magic who basically works as as P.I. for magicians. When he's not busy saving the world.
  • Theodore "Teddy" London, star of the Teddy London books by C. J. Henderson (though the original six were published under the name Robert Morgan), used to be a normal private investigator, until he discovered Fate had chosen him to be the latest to bear the mantle of "The Destroyer", the one man chosen to stop Q'talu, an extra-dimensional Eldritch Abomination that's trying to break into our world. Since then, he has confronted vampires, werewolves, ghosts and the devil himself... though none of them are exactly like the myths that inspired them.
  • Simon R. Green loves this trope.
    • Forest Kingdom: The Hawk & Fisher spinoff series features the fantasy beat-cops Hawk and Fisher, who typically investigate cases involving magic and/or monsters.
    • Ghost Finders: Features a trio of haunting-investigators.
    • Nightside: John Taylor is a private investigator in the Nightside, where he investigates all manner of supernatural cases.
    • Secret Histories: Eddie Drood is part of whole family of paranormal investigators and eliminators.
  • Daniel Gonzalez uses this trope in three different novels; anthropologist Zarate Arkham in Un grito en las tinieblas, cryptozoologist duo Isabel Walsh and Montserrat Le Febre in Algo se oculta en la oscuridad and the entire Raven Corporation in Ravencraft
  • Henry Darger wrote a spinoff Vivian Girls mystery called Crazy House: Further Adventures in Chicago. Here the little girls and their companion/secret brother Penrod investigate a house where several people, including children, have been found horribly murdered. The house is either haunted or possessed; it's like the Overlook in Stephen King's The Shining.
  • Acatl, main character of Obsidian & Blood, is a High Priest of the Dead in pre-Colombian Tenochitlan (modern day Mexico City). He uses Blood Magic to solve supernatural crimes, ones which often turn out to have the machinations of gods behind them.
  • John Justin Mallory in Mike Resnick's Stalking the Unicorn, Stalking the Vampire and Stalking the Dragon. The crimes he investigates take place in an alternate reality where everything from leprechauns to cat-people really exists.
  • Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. was originally a human investigator who specialized in working cases in the Unnatural Quarter. Then he got shot in the head, rose from the grave, and is now just as much an "unnatural" as his clients.
  • There are whole agencies of them in Lockwood & Co. to deal with the Problem—a sudden influx and infestation of ghosts and ghostly activity.
  • The Pardoner's Tale features Nick Pardoner who is a part-time detective and a part-time exorcist and a werewolf. So he's an occult Occult Detective.
  • Elizabeth from the Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mysteries, though it's downplayed after the second book.
  • John C. Wright's story "Pale Realms of Shade", which involves Matthew Flint and Sylvester Steel who run the agency "Flint and Steel Investigations" specializing in the supernatural, with the help of a plethora of artifacts. Though the story itself is less about the agency and more about Matthew's experiences in the afterlife.
  • Downplayed in The Peculiar Exploits of Brigadier Ffellowes and its followup novel The Curious Quests of Brigadier Ffellowes by Sterling E. Lanier. While the titular brigadier has done quite a few paranormal investigations on whether by chance encounter, misadventure or on behalf of the British government, many of his adventures don't involve the supernatural and his stories are as much Edgar Rice Burroughs as William Hope Hodgson.
  • 17 and Gone follows Lauren, who uses her dreams and visions to try and track down missing girls, Abby in particular.
  • In Vampirocracy, Leon and Ling head a PI firm specialized in supernatural cases, and Leon puts his skill as a Vampire Hunter to work for the police investigating supernatural crimes.
  • Daniel Faust insists he's "vengeance for hire", being a former mob hitman, but he's not as dissimilar from Harry Dresden as he would have you believe. Lampshaded in "The White Gold Score":
    Daniel: I sell vengeance for hire. I'm not some kind of...magic detective."
    Greenbriar: When you do jobs for people, do you use magic? And these jobs. Do they require investigation? Research? Perhaps looking for clues and assembling those clues in the correct order? You're a magic detective.
  • The Talamasca from The Vampire Chronicles is a secret organization dedicated to the investigation and documentation of the supernatural. They gather documents and artifacts, work to hide evidence of paranormal activities from the public and often help people troubled by such phenomenon. Many members of the organization possess supernatural abilities like telepathy. Among Talamasca's many interests are, of course, also the vampires. Unfortunately for them, agents who have a brush with vampirism tend to end up turned and leave the order.
  • The most popular stories from Weird Tales were the Jules de Grandin tales. These were the stories of Dr. Jules de Grandin, a decorated French surgeon, police detective, soldier and occult investigator and his sidekick Dr. Trowbury. The two would tackle supernatural menaces that dare threaten New Jersey and neighboring counties.
  • Rivers of London features the magical investigation arm of the Met. Both of them.
  • Joseph Payne Brennan created the character of psychic detective Lucius Leffing.
  • Michael Cummings in Amelia Reynolds Long's short story The Thought-Monster.
  • Lord El-Melloi II Case Files features its titular character as one working on behalf of the various clients, students, and associates that come to his department of the the Magic Association. His method usually is to unravel the esoterica behind the magic rituals used in each case in order to figure out what happened and then let his assistant Gray clean up the mess when the culprit inevitably become aggressive.
  • In Mercedes Lackey's Sacred Ground, Jennifer Talldeer is a private investigator who normally works the usual PI beat (adulterous or abusive spouses, checking out job seekers, and so on). She's also an Osage Warrior Shaman who tracks down lost Indian artifacts and investigates cases of Bad Medicine. The case in the book involves an insurance case relating to a construction project tainted by an evil shaman from long ago.
  • The main character of The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump isn't a detective, working for his world's equivalent of the EPA, but he investigates crimes and uncovers a conspiracy in a world where magic is and always has been normalized.
  • The Devil's Detective and its sequel, The Devil's Evidence, by Simon Kurt Unsworth follow the career of Thomas Fool, an "Information Man" (essentially a police detective) in Hell.
  • Miles Pennoyer would describe himself as a "psychic doctor" and claim that his line of work focuses on administering to the maladies of the soul. That being said, the majority of his work in that field involves sussing out just what sort of paranormal factors are causing those maladies and occasionally doing battle with them to aid his patients. His powers include the ability of sense paranormal forces, to broadcast waves of suggestive force to weak-willed individuals, and to manipulate the psychic energy of a space to protect himself and others from the influence of the supernatural. Additional training in quasi-magical disciplines allows him to perform rituals to identify and control some otherworldly entities.
  • In the Warlock Holmes series of Sherlock Holmes pastiches by G.S. Denning, Holmes is the occultist, Watson is the detective. Neither can function as an occult detective alone, because Watson doesn't understand the world of magic, and Holmes doesn't understand even the most basic concepts of logic and rational thought.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Constantine (2014), being a Live-Action Adaptation of Hellblazer, has the eponymous John Constantine as one of these. He's ostensibly up to saving the world, but it's mostly a case-by-case basis to get there.
  • Agents Mulder and Scully of The X-Files. The show largely consists of their special FBI unit (that is, just the two of them) investigating bizarre, inexplicable things. Very frequently what they run into does involve the supernatural, or mutants, or aliens, or especially the government conspiracies.
  • Lost Girl has succubus Bo reluctantly becoming an Occult Detective, who specializes in cases involving the fae.
  • Sapphire and Steel, if you stretch the definition to include nonhuman entities investigating other nonhuman entities.
  • Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) more the Noughties remake than the original 1969-70 series; there the cases were more usually normal crimes... it's just that one of the detectives was a ghost.
  • Angel. It's the entire premise of the show, although it occasionally riffs on Angel being better at battling evil than actual detective work. At one point he's reduced to hiring another private detective with a Friend on the Force, his own police insider having left the show.
  • Averted in Pushing Daisies, where the hero is an investigator with a superhuman power, but all the crimes he investigates are non-occult, though still incredibly weird.
  • Fringe: Special Agent Olivia Dunham, along with Mad Scientist Walter Bishop and his son Peter, doesn't really investigate "occult" stuff, but rather incredibly strange and bizarre incidents.
  • Twin Peaks has Dale Cooper investigating the unusual death of Laura Palmer. Said death involved an evil entity that can possess certain living people, an alternate universe that looks like a art-deco hotel lobby, and a one-armed man whose arm is now a dwarf.
  • In Supernatural brothers Sam and Dean, and other Hunters are dedicated to hunting down supernatural menaces.
  • The Chicago Police Department had an entire division devoted to supernatural investigations. It was designated Special Unit 2.
  • The characters of Kamen Rider Double investigate strange happenings as caused by Dopants, humans-turned-monsters by use of Gaia Memories, giant USB sticks from the center of the Earth. The show is technically science fiction, but it's soft enough to be considered Urban Fantasy, particularly considering how much Shoutaro is concerned with being hardboiled.
  • Grimm. Homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt of the Portland Police Bureau learns he is descended from a line of "guardians" known as "Grimms", charged with keeping the balance between humanity and the mythological creatures of the world, called Wesen.
    • It's worth noting that Nick is actually fairly unique in this regard. It's all but stated that most Grimm tend to act as the occult hunters rather than detectives, who'd gladly kill any Wesen, regardless of whether they've done anything to warrant it, whereas Nick only goes after Wesen who commit crimes and leaving the peaceful ones like Monroe and Rosalee alone. Understandably, this throws a lot of Wesen for a loop when they meet him.
  • Dark Intruder (a failed pilot movie for the TV series The Black Cloak) was set in Victorian Era San Francisco. It featured Leslie Nielsen (of all people) as a (seemingly) happy go lucky playboy who solved Occult-related mysteries in his spare time.
  • Kolchak: The Night Stalker (and the later remake) featured Carl Kolchak, who kept stumbling over supernatural doings. In the original series, he usually ended up working alone, and there were never any witnesses when he finally defeated the Monster of the Week.
  • A variant is part of the setup for The Dead Files. Co-host Steve Di Schavi is a retired detective who conducts a real-world investigation of the circumstances behind a haunting, while psychic medium Amy Allen does a reading of the haunted location. The two then combine their work before the client(s), with Steve's research often giving grounding to Amy's impressions.
  • One skit on Monty Python's Flying Circus has the police taking up magic to fight crime. They use magic wands to turn crooks into toads, vanish illegally parked cars, and teleport old ladies across the street, as well as attempting to use a (rather rude) Ouija Board to investigate crimes. Things go wrong when the press spots them sacrificing a criminal though.
  • The Strange Calls is a humorous and fairly mundane example. The series focuses on a night-shift police officer in a small town. Though he has no special powers, every case involves some kind of supernatural element, from a ghost vandal to fried chicken that turns people into chickens.
  • The Paranormal Unit in Wellington Paranormal.

  • Wormwood: A Serialized Mystery follows Doctor Xander Crowe, a former psychologist who was "forced down the dark pathways of the occult" by an unnamed tragedy, as he investigates hallucinations of a drowned woman that lead him to the Town with a Dark Secret Wormwood, where all manner of underworld hellishness proceeds to break loose.

  • Bellingham Terror: June Harper, the co-star, quickly shakes off her disbelief to become an occult detective.
  • Ectoplasm (2000): Lord Zimbabwe, the protagonist, is a "walker in the ether", or occult investigator.

    Tabletop Games 
  • All the PCs in Call of Cthulhu are "investigators" of the Cosmic Horrors, of course.
    • PCs can also have such occupations as Police Detective, Private Investigator, and Parapsychologist. Although some campaigns feature PCs stumbling across the occult, others have them actively investigate it from the word go.
    • Delta Green offers an entire organization of them.
    • The Call of Cthulhu card game also has The Agency, a faction made up of police and government investigators of strange happenings. They're the ones most likely to be trying to punch out Cthulhu. Sometimes, they succeed.
  • CthulhuTech has the Arcane Investigator profession, from the "Vade Mecum" sourcebook.
  • In Munchkin Cthulhu, there is the investigator-class. Given the setting, they also investigate the Occult, more precisely the horrors of Lovecraft's works.
  • Bureau 13 from Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic, which also spawned a series of novels and a video game. Bureau 13 (the 13th Bureau of the Justice Department) was founded in 1862 by Abraham Lincoln to deal with supernatural and paranormal threats to the Union (and suppress any public knowledge of them). The original agents were a motley crew of military personnel, Pinkerton detectives, civilian consultants, freed slaves, paroled criminals, and even Confederate prisoners of war. The job of Bureau 13 is as it has always been: Investigate the strange or unusual, analyze the evidence to see if there is a supernatural or paranormal cause, and assess whether the cause is hostile or dangerous.
  • Chronicles of Darkness:
    • Hunter: The Vigil has the Null Mysteriis, or: The Organization for Rational Assession of the Supernatural. The other organizations are more interested in hunting and destroying the supernaturals than uncovering facts about them.
    • Mage: The Awakening is explicitly inspired by Hellblazer and The Dresden Files, and a big part of Mages' shtick is "shoving their noses into Mysteries where they really, really don't belong".
  • Pathfinder has two classes that can function as this: The Investigatornote  (especially the Psychic Detective archetype), which uses their intuition to solve mysteries and fight monsters, and the Occultist, a psychic mage who uses items to channel his power. The latter is a much more clear-cut example, as the description of the class even mentions using their powers to research things.
  • Ravenloft: Rudolph van Richten, an Expy of Van Helsing.
  • One of the pre-gen characters in the Iron Kingdoms quick-start adventure is Eilish Garrity; Arcanist/Investigator, knowledgeable in matters arcane, mundane and forensic while still able to blast someone's face off at twenty-paces. He's also a subversion of Armor and Magic Don't Mix thanks to his suit of tailored plate mail.
  • In Shadowrun 4th and 5th editions, one of the "archetypes" (example characters) is the Occult Investigator.
  • GURPS Mysteries has a chapter on "Paranormal Mysteries" including vignettes featuring Lady McKelvery, a police detective mage in a Generic Fantasy City, and a sidebar mentioning GURPS Technomancer (which has Special Weapons and Talismans teams).
  • Princess: The Hopeful: This is one of the common hats for the Seeker Calling. They are the Princesses specifically called to seek out and share the truth, and they have affinity for the Learn and Govern charm trees (which have to do with seeking out knowledge and interacting with other supernatural forces, respectively).
  • Faye Diamond aka Nightmist in Sentinels of the Multiverse started out as a regular private detective before running afoul of a magic curse while investigating a Coven. After that she dealt almost exclusively in the occult and became the go to gal when other superheroes had magic related problems. Eventually, following a trip through the Void, she transitioned from a detective into more of a Sorcerer Supreme-type character.

    Video Games 
  • Sheriff Bigby Wolf from The Wolf Among Us fits the description. The reformed big bad wolf, it's his job to protect "Fables" (Fairy tale creatures whom fled to our world) from each other. The events of the game have him trying to find the murderer of a local hooker and uncovering a sinister conspiracy in the process.
  • Gabriel Knight, the titular character in the Gabriel Knight series of adventure games, who investigates murders related to things such as Voodoo, Werewolves, and Vampires. Interestingly, in the first game, he's just a occult author, looking into crimes to get ideas for his books. He only becomes an actual Occult Detective (and Hunter of Monsters) through the events of the story, and seems reluctant to actually fulfill that role in the second game (though he's all over it in the third).
  • Despite the subtitle of 'Phantom Detective', Sissel of Ghost Trick originally subverts this. It's only in pursuit of his own identity and murderer that he solves the multitude of mysteries around him. And all of them turn out to be related to his identity anyway.
  • The protagonist of Murdered: Soul Suspect is a detective who dies within the first minutes of the game. He spends the rest as a ghost investigating his own murder, which, being set in Salem, Massachusetts, of course involves witchcraft and the supernatural.
  • Edward Carnby from every version of Alone in the Dark is a detective who, for whatever reason, ends up stumbling across seemingly mundane mysteries that end up inveigling him in the occult and battling against monsters.
  • The protagonists of both Knights of the Old Republic and Jade Empire end up very frequently investigating and/or fighting ghosts, Force ghosts, demons and the like.
  • Touhou Project has The Sealing Club duo: Marybery Hearn (student of Relative Psychology), and Renko Usami (student of Super-unifying Physics). They mainly give a glimpse of how dangerous and terrifying Gensokyo is from the view of a muggle.
  • Hawke from Dragon Age II, due to Kirkwall being a hotspot for demonic possession, blood magic and all manner of the arcane.
    Hawke: Someday I'd like to go one week without meeting an insane mage... just one!
    • In Varric's companion quest in Act 3, Varric calls on Hawke to help him investigate a haunting at Bartrand's mansion, because having grown up in a household full of magic users (and potentially being a mage him/herself), s/he has a lot of experience with all kinds of "weird shit."
    • Emeric, an ageing Templar and one of the few in Kirkwall still concerned about actually protecting people. Hawke meets him while he's investigating a spate of 'disappearances' he believes are linked. He's right.
  • A popular trend in Hidden Object Games is to frame the Featureless Protagonist as a detective who gets drawn into the supernatural plots of the games. For example:
    • While the first two Mystery Case Files games lacked supernatural elements, the Master Detective's investigations since the third game, Ravenhearst, have pitted her against ghosts, curses, and dangerous mystical artifacts.
    • The detective in Mystery Trackers by Elephant Games works for an agency that specializes in this sort of case.
    • The player character of the Dark Parables is a variant of the trope. She works for a detective agency that specifically solves mysteries connected to fairy tales, and thus naturally she encounters a plethora of magical items, characters, and disasters.
    • Dupin and the player character in Dark Tales may not consider themselves to be this; however, roughly half of the cases they solve in the course of the series have some sort of supernatural genesis. Usually this takes the form of a ghostly encounter of some kind, although The Fall of the House of Usher takes the weird factor to the next level.
    • The three detectives who make up the Detectives United are each this in their own origin series. Anna Gray is a psychic investigator who solves the Grim Tales mysteries; James Blackthorne is a ritual magic expert and paranormal researcher who features in Haunted Hotel; and Agent Brown is an invisible investigator with the Mystery Trackers. The three join forces when the occult mystery in question is too much for one of them to handle alone.
  • In The Secret World, players get to do this in Investigation Missions which are a special kind of quest that features no combat, only clue finding and puzzle solving. The game's setting, where everything is true, provides the occult part.
  • In The Vanishing of Ethan Carter the Player Character is occult detective Paul Prospero, tasked with exploring Red Creek Valley and using his unique psychic insight to solve the titular mystery.
  • Rosangela Blackwell hunts for ghosts in The Blackwell Series.
  • David Young from D4 is a former BPD detective who, after the death of his wife and a bullet injury to the head, gained mysterious powers to use special items called "mementos", "diving" back to their past. Obviously, he uses this power to solve crimes in his search for "D".
  • Nearly half of the Nancy Drew adventure games have her investigating spooky events, and one suspect in "Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon" is a TV ghost hunter himself.
  • Like previous Lovecraftian related or inspired stories, The Hunter from Bloodborne is an occult detective, but in this case it's downplayed. The Hunter originally came to Yharnam with the intention of getting cured of an unknown disease, but after waking up on The Dream, they set out to kill monsters and discover the mysteries of the town. How successful they are, given that pretty nearly everything around them is incredibly aggressive, depends on the player.
  • Blunder and Folly from Yo-kai Watch 3 are two detectives who focus on youkai. They're Shout Outs to The X-Files's Mulder and Scully.
  • The protagonist of The Sinking City is a somewhat unhinged private investigator who gained sanity-breaking Postcognition abilities after a brush with an aquatic Great Old One. The plot of the game revolves around him coming to investigate a city that has been cursed with perpetual rains, violent oceanic activity, and an infestation of monsters by the doing of a Lovecraftian cult dedicated to that same Great Old One.
  • In Cultist Simulator, these are the Hero Antagonists to your own Villain Protagonist. As the player attempts to attain immortality, usually through illegal and immoral means, Hunters from the Suppression Bureau will be sent to track them and turn their Notereity into evidence that can be used to imprison them.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright of Ace Attorney isn't occult himself (nor, technically, a detective), but his assistant Maya is a spirit medium who channels her sister Mia. In the second and third games he also carries a Magatama, a device that lets him see the 'locks' around people's hearts when they keep secrets. Despite being a defense counsel, he frequently goes to crime scenes and investigates on his own to bolster his case, since the actual detectives are on the prosecution's payroll and usually not helpful.
  • Demonbane: Protagonist Kurou Daijuuji makes his living as such a detective, due to possessing a cursory education in magic he knows the basics of things. He's frequently seen using dowsing to search for things on his investigations. The story begins when he's hired to obtain the Necronomicon, and shortly thereafter he partners with her and gets involved in a war with sorcerors and Great Old Ones.
  • Spirit Hunter: NG:
    • Ban and Rosé, the second set of companion characters, are part of a supernatural investigation group who were hired by Yashiki, the protagonist of the previous game Spirit Hunter: Death Mark, to investigate the spirit that puts them in the path of NG's protagonist. After his son was killed by a spirit, Ban was motivated to hunt them down and expose the truth behind their existence. Rosé's motives, meanwhile, are a mystery.
    • Ooe is a police officer who hounds Akira not because she's interested in him, but because she's interested in the occult cases that he has ties to. Akira convinces her to help him by agreeing to tell her all he knows about the supernatural. At the end of the game, she tries to get a department opened up in the precinct that's devoted to supernatural investigation.
  • "Witch Hunters" in the fourth episode of Umineko: When They Cry. They're a community of crime enthusiasts obsessed with finding out the truth of the Rokkenjima Massacre, with theories ranging from the realistic (one or more of the people present killed the others) to the fantastical (demons and witchcraft were involved). The name of the group is a Shout-Out to the Fan Translation, Witch Hunt.


    Web Original 
  • In The Cartoon Man, Roy and Karen work at an agency that investigates unusual phenomena. The Oswald Sherzikien case is their first encounter with real magic.
  • Austin Jones, the protagonist of Antlers, Colorado ends up helping the police of the titular small town with a series of supernatural crimes. His family also runs a secret government organization known as the Department of Paranormal Research, which is pretty much Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

    Western Animation 
  • Scooby-Doo: The Mystery Gang. Well, sort of. They try investigating, but they mostly just run around. Only Velma really searches for any clues.
  • Invader Zim's Dib considers himself a paranormal investigator. Several other paranormal investigators appear throughout the series with varying degrees of sanity.
  • Martin Mystery: Martin and his stepsister Diana work for the covert organization "The Center", which secretly protects the people of Earth from extraterrestrial and supernatural threats.
  • Dipper and Mabel from Gravity Falls. After finding a mysterious journal, they start noticing unusual happenings around their summer home, involving cryptids, mythical creatures, and a two-dimensional demon.
  • Alexandra Trese. The police call on her to solve supernatural crimes such as an aswang massacre on a train, and she's also seen making circles for exorcising.

    Real Life 
  • Joe Nickell was sometimes known as "the real-life Scully" or "the modern Sherlock Holmes", a skeptic and forensic authentication expert who describes himself as "the world's only full-time professional paranormal investigator".
  • Charles Fort bordered on this. He wrote several satirical books on news stories from around the world that were ignored by Western scientists. Many of the supposedly "impossible" phenomena he wrote on, deemed too ridiculous to warrant an inquiry by mainstream scientists, later turned out to be true - for instance: blood-red rains, fish and frogs falling from the sky, and ball lightning. They weren't supernatural, though.
  • David Icke has made a career out of researching the British Royalty, the Trilateral Commission, the Council for Foreign Relations, and the Bilderberg Group. He concludes that the movers and shakers behind international banking and governments are in fact suffering-eating reptilians from another dimension. In his defense, no one has ever held the Baron de Rothschild down for long enough to take a DNA sample, and Mitch McConnell is the top Google result for the search term "Senator Turtle".
  • Psychologist Ian Stevenson was so impressed by the claims of illiterate Hindu children in India that he devoted the rest of his life to studying Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation.
  • John Lilly was a medical doctor and psychoanalyst who patented many inventions including the sensory deprivation tank. He began to experiment with long periods in the tank, causing vivid hallucinations(?) of communication with extra-terrestrial entities. He began to experiment with Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic and was firmly convinced he could talk with dolphins. The movie Altered States is based on his life and experiences, and Wonko the Sane from the Hitchhiker's Guide is an Affectionate Parody. His experiments into teaching dolphins to talk and belief that he contacted aliens through sensory deprevation inspired Ecco the Dolphin.
  • James Randi, a scientific skeptic and former stage magician, described himself as an 'investigator' in the occult, paranormal and supernatural (which he collectively refers to as "woo-woo"). He claimed that, for over seventy years of his adult life, his search for true woo-woo had been unsuccessful.
  • Beginning in 1952, Ed and Lorraine Warren claimed to have investigated over 10,000 hauntings across America, writing several books about them in the process. Said cases inspired such well-known media franchises as Amityville and The Conjuring Universe. There is skepticism however about this.