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Series / The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo

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The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo is a live-action series that ran on Nickelodeon from 1996 to 1999. The series is about a girl named Shelby Woo, who lives with her grandfather Mike at his bed and breakfast. The first three seasons take place in Cocoa Beach, Florida. After Season 3, the show was retooled, with Shelby and Mike moving to Boston.


The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo provides the following tropes:

  • Absence of Evidence: In "Fool's Gold", the absence of footprints inside the dive shop helps prove that Mr. Pappas actually staged the robbery.
  • Adult Fear: In many episodes, Shelby ends up in potentially life-threatening danger and has even gotten kidnapped at least once. It's small wonder both her boss and her grandfather worry about her investigations.
  • Amateur Sleuth: The title character
  • Black Best Friend: Cindy in the first three seasons.
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  • Boyish Short Hair: Sported by Angie.
  • Clear My Name: Detective Hineline in "The Hit and Run Case" and Shelby in "The Paul Revere Mystery"
  • Cool Old Guy: Mike
  • Conviction by Contradiction: Used frequently on the show
  • Cozy Mystery: Until season four, where she is in Boston.
  • Detective Mole: Detective Waterman in "The Alley Cat"
  • Dude Magnet: Shelby; any time there's a new guy in an episode, he'll very likely end up crushing on her.
  • Enemy Mine: A downplayed example since it's more rivals than anything else but a storyline featuring Shelby's Cocoa Beach friends coming to visit her in Boston had them not getting along with her new friends at all, to Shelby's distress. Then Shelby winds up missing and they end up working together to find her.
  • Eureka Moment: Used frequently on the show as well, usually just before The Summation.
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  • Faking and Entering: Mr. Pappas does this in "Fool's Gold"
  • Fiery Coverup: in "The Smoke Screen Case", Dr. Baxindine was burning down houses to hide the fact she was illegally harboring endangered animals inside the houses.
  • Foil: Both members of Shelby's two trios foil their same-gender counterparts. Cindy is a Jumps at Shelby's call type (and in one of the books, is implied to have been drawn to Shelby's unusual nature right away, though then it was Shelby being exotic rather than eccentric) who tends to make less than sensible decisions; Angie is initially thrown horribly by Shelby's ways and is prone to pointing out when a decision isn't well thought through (though she has her moments). Noah is a Sour Supporter who hates getting involved in the plot while Vince is immediately drawn into Shelby's mystery-seeking ways and remains as such; Vince also has a fair amount of Ship Tease with Shelby while Noah's relationship with her is strictly platonic.
  • Gaslighting: An unintentional example in "The Haunted House Mystery." It turns out the noises and odd disturbances going on in the house were being caused by the woman's grandson... because he was secretly trying to find proof of the supposed ghost.
  • Gender Bender Nickname: In "Hot Seats Part 2", Jo Rowan is actually Josephine Rowan.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In "The Alley Cat", the Waterman pearls were hidden inside the eyes of Tamara's teddy bear.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Shelby has this relationship with Noah, Cindy and Angie. Vince is another matter...
  • Identical Stranger: Noah having one in "Two Faced" winds up getting him kidnapped.
  • Is It Always Like This?: Angie is a bit unnerved when her new friend (Shelby) acts in a confusing and erratic manner. She adapts eventually, though she never quite stops being distressed when Shelby's investigations get them into uncomfortable and/or dangerous situations.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Detective Hineline and Noah, though more the former than the latter.
  • Mystery of the Week: The basic premise of the show.
  • Papa Wolf: Mike is fiercely protective of Shelby, as is Detective Hineline.
  • Reverse Mole: A few of the episodes, such as "Fool's Gold" and "The John Doe Mystery", featured characters who turned out to be this.
  • Rule of Three: Each episode usually featured three suspects, one of whom was almost always the culprit.
  • Sand In My Eyes: Inverted in the Wilton era Christmas episode. When the food at the restaurant that someone has been sabotaging all episode gets spiked with chili pepper, Angie, a server there, gets some in her eye. After Shelby reveals who the culprit is, she watches the culprit reconciling with her parents but then suddenly notices Angie's eyes getting redder and starts fussing over her friend, assuming that the chili powder is further irritating her eyes. Angie chokily informs Shelby her eyes are fine; she's just crying.
  • Sour Supporter: Noah. He snarks at Shelby and Cindy like no tomorrow but in the end, he's a dedicated friend who'll come through for the team. Especially if the girls are being threatened.
  • ¡Three Amigos!: Shelby always had a male and female ally.
  • Token Trio: Gender Flipped and minorities played with- Asian female hero with black female and white male sidekicks.
  • True Companions: Shelby has this relationship with both duos of friends she has over the course of the show; she has a tendency to freak out if they're in danger or hurt and they're guaranteed to have her back and fuss over her if she's hurt or in trouble.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Vince manages to be this, seamlessly adapting to Shelby's eccentricities.
  • Yandere: In "Wipeout." The culprit framed the suspect to keep him in jail so she could see him whenever she wanted.

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