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Video Game / Professor Layton

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Critical thinking is the key to success!

"Every puzzle has an answer."

Professor Layton is a Nintendo DS video game series created by Level-5. The series follows the adventures of the titular Professor Hershel Layton and his self-styled apprentice, Luke Triton, as they puzzle through various brain teasers in the pursuit of solving mysteries.

The series consists of:

Main series


Mobile games

  • Professor Layton and the Mansion of the Deathly Mirror
  • Professor Layton Royale
  • Layton Brothers: Mystery Room
  • Professor Layton and the Seven Phantom Thieves



  • Professor Layton and the Wandering Castle, a novel.
  • Professor Layton and the Phantom Deity, a novel.
  • Professor Layton and the Illusory Forest, a novel.
  • Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery, a manga.
  • Professor Layton and the Wandering Forest, a manga.
  • The World of Professor Layton, an art book.

Note: For the sake of spoilers, please put tropes pertaining to specific games on their respective pages. Also, put character-specific tropes in the Characters Sheet.

Compare to Capcom's Ace Attorney series, which as mentioned above had a crossover. Also compare the Zero Escape trilogy, which has similar puzzle-based gameplay but a much darker premise.

This series overall provides examples of:

  • Alertness Blink: The ! when you discover a puzzle or encounter a character or object with a puzzle.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Professor Layton doesn't go searching for crimes to solve, but even before the prequels he would occasionally help Scotland Yard on a case. Katrielle ended up actually becoming a private detective.
  • Anachronism Stew: The series takes place in supposed 20th century England, sometime before the 60s or after. Despite this, Layton and Luke dress like they're from The Edwardian Era, Luke takes a boat overseas, they meet characters obsessed with rock music and The Internet, their view of London contains buildings built in the early 2000s, London also looks incredibly Victorian and not at all modern, and some of the technologies showcased (like advanced robotics and time travel) are rather futuristic. To say nothing of the fact that, right near the beginning of Unwound Future, they mention that space travel has already happened. At this point, it's anybody's guess.
    • Space Travel was possible in the late 50s - late 60s In real Life, and rock music was popular since the early 60s, so it's entirely possible the series takes place from the 60s - 80s. However, there is an absence of personal computers, and instead most characters use typewriters and CRT TV's, so it must take place in that time range. Also, most of the cars look like they were made in the early 60s, and a lot of the tech used throughout the series looks to be analogue in design.
    • Though the Victorian clothing, and the fact giant mechas are common, as well as devices like Don Paolo's flying umbrella the series can safely be assumed to lean into Steampunk territory. The aesthetic design of the series is reminiscent of Art Nouveau, with some Art Deco elements (more so in the prequel trilogy).
    • According to The World of Professor Layton official guide, the creators were going for a 1960s aesthetic, but generally left it vague to avoid limiting themselves.
    • All that being said, there is a crossover game with the Ace Attorney series, which does have a definitive timeline (albeit one set Next Sunday A.D.). Going by that timeline, the crossover game takes place in late 2018 or early 2019.
  • Art-Style Dissonance: The series features topics such as revenge, government cover-ups, tragic pasts, implied murder, and the loss of loved ones... while the characters involved look like they came from The Adventures of Tintin. In Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, murder isn't just implied anymore. All its cases deal with homicides (among other things) but it still remains its cheery, bright art style though at least it has a 12+ age rating.
  • Baker Street Regular: Luke and Flora both fit certain aspects of the trope and could be considered variations thereon.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A few characters, including Layton himself.
  • Bluff the Impostor: How the Professor unmasks "Inspector Chelmey" in Curious Village, "Flora" in Diabolical Box and "Future Layton" in Unwound Future. Though in Unwound Future, the one bluffing is also a fake...
  • Book Ends: Professor Layton and the Curious Village opens with Layton and Luke driving to St. Mystere. This is also the very last scene for the professor's last game, Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Referenced and done in an Old Save Bonus scene in Miracle Mask in which the characters review and discuss the events of Last Specter, quizzing the player in the process. Grosky claims that it's required to file a permit in order to break the fourth wall.
  • Britain Is Only London: Professor Layton purportedly takes place in England, but other than London and a few well-known landmarks like the cliffs of Dover no actual, non-fictional places in England are named. Though with all of the fictional British towns and villages that Layton explores, the series could also be considered an aversion.
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Each game has a series of special post-game puzzles unlocked for beating the main game, fully completing each of the three special mini-games in each, and completing all of the previous puzzles. These puzzles are far more difficult than any of the ones you'll encounter in the main game, with many of the toughest ones being harder variations of already sadistically hard puzzles. If you can beat them all with most of your hair intact, you can truly call yourself a puzzling badass.
  • Call a Hit Point a "Smeerp": In place of points, you get "picarats." The number of picarats a puzzle can earn you is based on its difficulty (the more picarats it's worth, the tougher it's going to be). The more times you try a puzzle and get it wrong, the fewer picarats you can earn by getting it right, although after a few tries it stops lowering the score. They don't affect the outcome of the game as far as winning or losing, but you must earn certain numbers of picarats to unlock bonus material like character profiles; though, even if the lowest complete score (all puzzles completed after being failed enough to provide the smallest possible amount of picarats) is achieved, all bonus content is unlocked. The only motivation for getting things right the first try for maximum picarats is to have a high score.
  • Captain Ersatz: Professor Layton, Luke, Inspector Chelmey, and Don Paolo are essentially this universe's versions of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade, and Moriarty respectively.
    • One could also compare Professor Layton to Indiana Jones. Both mild-mannered Archaeology teachers who travel the world uncovering mysteries, discovering major lost civilizations, are badasses when fighting and both have iconic badass hats.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Looking at certain things will provoke snippets of dialogue from the characters present - even during points when there should be other stuff on their mind. Becomes a Funny Moment in the third game, when Layton, Luke, and Flora inspect the London skyline as it is being destroyed by the walking battle station they are currently stuck on, and Luke and Flora comment on the view.
  • Cast Herd: Made pretty simple to do since most characters are exclusive to whatever village, game, or other such continuity they appear in.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: All of the incidental characters come in different shapes and sizes, even the ones that don't give you puzzles.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Professor Layton and the [thing that is going to cause Layton and company a world of trouble].
  • Clueless Mystery: Most often, you won't have any clue as to what's going on in town. It won't be until the end of the game when Layton explains everything out of nowhere, with facts and clues he apparently kept to himself. Plot twists galore. Layton's Mystery Journey points out clues regularly with a short cutscene and a mini-puzzle where the player fits the clue into a jigsaw puzzle, and even then Katrielle often manages to keep a few details to herself before the reveal after the case is solved.
  • Collapsing Lair: The "final dungeons" of the games, most of which are inevitably destroyed. For example, Don Paolo destroys St. Mystere's tower, Anton cuts the rope that drops the chandelier that destroys his castle, and Clive's mobile fortress falls back underground and explodes, taking the fake Future London with it. This is averted in Last Specter, however, as Descole's factory remains intact and the climax takes place in the square in Misthallery. The same goes for Miracle Mask, as the Masked Gentleman villain doesn't have any lair to speak of, and the building that serves as the "final dungeon", (the Reunion Inn), survives mostly unharmed.
    • While Layton didn't have anything to do with its destruction, the Towering Pagoda took quite the beating, what with the mobile fortress firing at it.
  • Cool Car: The Laytonmobile, sort of. Luke and Layton seem to consider it as such (and yes, they actually call it "the Laytonmobile"), though the only difference from a normal car is its raised ceiling (to accommodate Layton's top hat). It, or rather its future version, earns its status in Unwound Future, thanks partly to Don Paolo's modifications.
  • Crossover: There is one with fellow DS adventure game series Ace Attorney.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • Curious Village had precisely one death, which happened before the start of the game, setting the plot in motion. Diabolical Box was the same, but also had a more sinister feel to it, referring to things like murder and pregnancy before marriage. Unwound Future ramps this up absurdly, involving a Bad Future ruled by a crime syndicate and a backstory involving a horrific accident. During the plot's climax, Clive's Humongous Mecha demolishes a good chunk of London, seemingly killing hundreds of people. Last Specter was significantly less dark than the third, but still had quite a bit of violence, especially during the Spectre's scenes. Eternal Diva wasn't quite as dark as the games, but the plot was started by the death of a young girl, and the premise of the Anti-Villain's plan was very disturbing. The thing that prevents the animated film from matching the level of violence of the games is that, when the Crown Pettone is destroyed, it is at first implied that everyone aboard it was killed, but it is later revealed that the Evil Minions had loaded them into a submarine and sent them back to shore. Then Miracle Mask had a Malevolent Masked Man as the antagonist and set up things for Azran Legacy, where the characters battle against a terrorist organization, Layton's birth father is its leader, Layton's brother is one of his enemies, Layton's assistant is The Mole raised by the organization, the backstory involves an ancient civilization that was wiped out by abused golems, and the main cast end up sacrificing themselves to save the world (it doesn't stick, but still).
    • Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney is dark by both series' standards. To mention one example of how hardcore this game can get: young girls accused of witchcraft are sealed inside a cage that looks disturbingly similar to an Iron Maiden, screaming and begging for help all the way, then plunged into a pit of fire. This is already horrifying by itself, but what makes it worse is the people's reactions. Because they are overly scared of witches and easy to refer to anything they don't understand as magic, they are quick to accuse any girl of witchcraft, rush their trials, and stubbornly refuse to listen to them. This leads to many innocent young ladies being burned to a crisp. Though it later turns out that the fire pit is fake and no-one convicted of witchcraft really dies, the real truth of the game is even worse. The event that kickstarted the plot was two children accidentally killing the population of a village by fire. One was traumatised so badly her father tries to make up the story about witches to convince her she wasn't responsible, and the lies piled up to the point where he had to brainwash a town with drugs into thinking they were a medieval society. It's also part of an elaborate experiment funded by the British government, which has very disturbing implications. Once one of the girls remembers the truth, she attempts to kill herself. In front of everyone, and in the middle of gameplay, no less. Moreover, both Layton and Maya seemingly die at certain points in the game, and Phoenix crosses the Despair Event Horizon as a result.
    • Layton Brothers: Mystery Room is much darker than the main series games. Bloodless Carnage is averted, Alfendi has a nasty and creepy Split Personality, people actually die, and the villains are genuinely evil people as opposed to the sympathetic villains of the main series. In particular, the main antagonists are two serial killers.
  • Declarative Finger: Played straight. It's one of Layton's stock poses, especially when explaining something.
  • Doomed by Canon: Due to Layton meeting most of the supporting cast (like Inspector Chelmey and Granny Riddleton) for the first time in Curious Village, they cannot play major roles in the prequels. New characters (Inspector Grosky and Keats the cat) were brought in to fill their roles, and when the old characters cameoed in the prequels Emmy was the only one to interact with them. Of course, this also begs the question of where the new characters are during the original games - Emmy says But Now I Must Go, but Grosky has no reason not to show. Subverted when Granny Riddleton returns in Miracle Mask, though she's wearing a Paper-Thin Disguise and calls herself "Nanny Grams" ("Elizabeth" in the British version). She doesn't have any particular reason to disguise herself other than to maintain canon... but hey, she is known as a clairvoyant!
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Curious Village had no option to make notes on puzzles. Diabolical Box could only make notes in one color.
    • The first three games don't list the amount of hint coins and hidden puzzles unlike vs. Ace Attorney.
    • Curious Village is the only game in the series where Layton finds people's tendency to keep giving you puzzle to solve curious. In the other games, he never acts as if there's anything weird about it. And since Miracle Mask shows us that this kind of puzzle-mania was prevalent even in Layton's home village when he was a young man, it's a bit puzzling that he finds the villagers' love for brain-teasers so unusual. (Especially since he supplies Luke with more of them than any villagers do.)
    • In the English version of Curious Village, many of the puzzles revolve around certain anachronisms that wouldn't necessarily be possible in canon (such as mentioning keyboards, modern electronics, and texting).
  • Eccentric Townsfolk: The natives of the various villages Layton and company venture to. Itís made pretty apparent in the first game, where most of them exhibit some pretty bizarre behaviors. They appear more sensible and down-to-earth come later games, but they still have their fair share of quirky characters.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: The hints for some puzzles point out they can be solved by algebra, but that isn't fun and you should solve it with puzzle skills instead. It's also a common trick for puzzles to make it seem like the solution is achieved through math when the real answer is hidden in some strange wording note . And then some puzzles do require algebra to solve. In some cases, using algebra may be even easier than the reasoning they want you to use.
  • Exposition Already Covered: Stachenscarfen was the one who gave the hint coin tutorial in the first game and he has tried giving it multiple times since, only to be beaten to the punch by someone else.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The plot of nearly all the games occurs in less than 3 full days. Unwound Future is particularly notable, as it starts in the morning and ends on the same day at nighttime. A heck ton of events and revelations happen in that timespan, though. And no, we're not taking into account the whole Time Travel thing in this.
  • Face Palm: When Luke gets a puzzle wrong, he slaps his forehead. Prof. Layton is a fan of the pull-the-brim-of-your-hat-over-your-eyes variant when he botches a puzzle. Flora, when getting a puzzle wrong in the third game, does a two-handed variant with her hands on her cheeks. Emmy, in the prequel trilogy, puts her hand over her mouth. Randall, when failing to get a puzzle right in the fifth game, is seen grunting on his third animation before throwing his hands to the sides in defeat on the fourth.
  • Fight Magnet: With battles of wits rather than fistfights, but the trope still fits.
  • Foregone Victory: Many puzzles, particularly the more physical ones like the Block Puzzle variants, have no wrong answer - you've either solved them or you haven't, and there's no way to get less than the maximum number of Picarats for them. Of course, just because you can't fail doesn't mean they're easy...
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: How relevant the puzzles are to the plot varies wildly. While there are a lot of cases where a character will explicitly present Layton and co. with a puzzle, there are still many puzzles (less so in Curious Village than the others) where it is a character asking for assistance with an actual problem, and then the resulting puzzle may differ heavily on some of the details. For example, referencing a map of the local area that doesn't even remotely resemble any view you can get of said area. A serious case occurs in Diabolical Box where the content of a photo and the shape and orientation of the pieces it is torn in are plot-important, yet the actual puzzle of reconstructing it uses a differently oriented photo and a completely different set of pieces.
  • Gameplay Grading: In addition to picarats, each puzzle gets an icon of the protagonist's face upon solving. A normal-colored icon means you gave at least one wrong answer; a silver icon means you never gave a wrong answer but had to use hints; and a gold icon means you neither gave a wrong answer nor used hints.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The general feel of the setting, though certain elements of the game appear to make it something of an Anachronism Stew.
  • Gentleman Detective: Even though he's an archaeologist, Professor Layton spends most of his time solving weird mysteries and very little time doing any archaeology (though exploring the Azran civilization of the prequel trilogy brings out the archaeologist side of his personality a little more). Only during the end credits of Azran Legacy do we get to see a still shot of Layton lecturing an archaeology class. Katrielle wound up becoming a true detective.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger:
    • Layton or whichever character is tackling the puzzle of the moment does this whenever it's solved correctly, including one during an animated sequence. Two characters avert this trend: Randall gives a thumbs up when he solves a puzzle in the fifth game, and Emmy pumps her fists like a victorious martial arts fighter in the sixth game.
    • It becomes something of a recurring theme, with each game except for Azran Legacy having an accusation scene leading to Layton pointing at the culprit, who then does a dramatic unmask. For the first two games, the man under the mask is Don Paolo. For the third, it's Clive. For the fourth and fifth, it's Descole.
    • This happens in spades when Layton crosses over with Phoenix Wright, another famous pointer.
  • Gonk: Most of the NPC characters are definitely this, as the series' character designer seems to take a LOT of liberties in designing them...
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: A number of games have a few meta-puzzles that you need to collect items to unlock. You acquire said items by solving regular puzzles, of course. Correctly solving the meta-puzzles unlocks even more puzzles, which are found in the "Bonuses" section of each cartridge. Other games would just unlock new stages for them after solving certain puzzles. Later games also include "Collection" items that don't do anything but get collected.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The explorer Pavel from the first trilogy makes a habit of this. In multiple languages within the same sentence.
  • Guide Dang It!: Have fun trying to find all the hidden puzzles in these games! Easy compared to finding all the hint coins, though. At least Granny Riddleton/Puzzlette/Keats keeps puzzles from being lost. You eventually get a pet in each game that can sniff out hint coins and other collectables, though at least some coins will likely be gone by that point.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: In the first few games, you get a Non-Human Sidekick whose job is to sniff out hint coins and hidden puzzles. The player gets to name the animal each time, although the robot dog in the first game is never really referenced by Layton or anyone else. The parrot in the third game, however, interacts with the cast, is a minor plot point and is even spoken of by other characters. Rather than name the actual fish you get in Last Specter, though, you get to decide what its newly-discovered species will be called.
  • Hints Are for Losers: Occasionally the "hints" won't help you at all in the puzzle, and will be just fun facts. See the "Too Many Queens 5" puzzle from Curious Village, for example:
    Hint 1: You're an old hand at these puzzles, so why not try to solve this one on your own? Just so you know, there are 92 possible solutions to this puzzle.
    Hint 2: Sorry, no hints!
    Hint 3: Hey, didn't you read Hint Two?! No hints!
  • Hint System: The series uses the "for payment" system: each hint costs a Hint Coin. As of Unwound Future, there is a fourth hint called the "Super Hint" which costs two coins — so you will end up paying 5 coins total if you purchase all hints.
  • Humongous Mecha: There's the mobile fortress from Unwound Future and the specter mecha from Last Specter, because why not.
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Anton cameos in Unwound Future's Old Save Bonus puzzle and gives his name as the Japanese version's Anthony in the US version. The UK version rectifies it to Anton. Though beating said puzzle shows that he doesn't want the puzzle-solver to reveal that Anthony's his real name; he prefers to go by "Anton".
    • Similarly, when Emmy runs into Granny Riddleton in the US version of Azran Legacy, she's at a loss for her name and guesses "Elizabeth", her alias in the UK version of Miracle Mask (in the US, it was "Nanna Grams"). Excusable since it's the wrong name either way.
    • Pertaining to the Sound Tests: If the Japanese games use the game's subtitle in the name of a track, count on the English version translating it as the object that the title refers to instead (e.g. the track "Akuma no Hako no Thema"/"The Diabolical Box Theme" was renamed "The Elysian Box Theme"). Additionally, Don Paolo's theme is "The Great Don Paolo" in Curious Village, but "Don Paolo's Theme" in Unwound Future.
    • Occurred in Australia with regards to London Life, since the version they got was based on the North American localization rather than the UK version, leading to many characters having different names than they had in the previous games.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Layton and Luke.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here:
    • In Curious Village, there's a creepy slapped-together-looking tower overlooking the titular village, St. Mystere, noticed soon after the start of the game and mentioned by multiple characters. Guess what you have to do in the climax.
    • Diabolical Box has the Herzen Mansion in the forest.
    • Unwound Future features the towering pagoda and a giant mecha.
    • Last Specter has a mansion on a hill.
    • Eternal Diva has a castle on a mountain complete with a huge digging machine that can go on a rampage.
    • Miracle Mask has a big hotel with a very high auditorium.
    • Azran Legacy has a skyscraper right in the middle of a city that acts as the base of the Big Bad.
    • vs Ace Attorney has the great archives, and more importantly, the Storyteller's tower. And if that wasn't enough, there are smaller towers at the top of the main tower.
  • Kid Sidekick: Luke, of course.
  • Latex Perfection: Don Paolo's disguises:
    • His Diabolical Box one takes this trope up to eleven, considering Paolo poses as Flora, who is shorter and several sizes smaller!
    • Some of his disguises in Unwound Future, namely Dean Delmona and Dr. Schrader, push this trope almost as hard as his Diabolical Box disguise does.
  • Lethal Chef: Flora, as seen in various games' ending credits and reiterated in her unlockable profile on Diabolical Box. Also Layton and Luke, when you screw up Diabolical Box's tea-brewing minigame.
  • Loads and Loads of Sidequests: The series has shades of this. While the entire gameplay is always puzzle solving, some puzzles are relevant to the story, either with the puzzle directly being related or the giver using a puzzle to test Layton's ability, but many puzzles are just completely random. This is often lampshaded in Curious Village, when people keep stopping Layton to have him solve random puzzles despite Layton telling he's has more important matters on his hands.
  • MacGyvering: Layton can usually patch together some device in a pinch. For example: In Unwound Future, Professor Layton built a machine gun out of a slot machine, in a matter of minutes. In Eternal Diva he builds a working helicopter out of random junk from a shed.
  • Mad Scientist: Don Paolo, Dimitri Allen and Jean Descole.
  • Marathon Level: If you don't know exactly what to do, the harder Block Puzzles can become this very easily. And there's no way to save your current progress through the puzzle, so if you want to play any other games you'd better have a spare system handy to keep Layton loaded up.
  • Masquerade: Curious Village, Unwound Future, and vs Ace Attorney had them; Diabolical Box looked like one, but it was a case of mass hallucination.
  • Master of Disguise: Don Paolo and Jean Descole are insanely good at that.
  • The Me Mobile: The Laytonmobile.
  • Metapuzzle: Being a series of Puzzle Games that employs several types of puzzle-based tropes in its games, Professor Layton showcases this type of puzzle in some of the games' special minigames.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Almost every logic puzzle is trying to trick you with its wording.
    • Lampshaded a couple times in Unwound Future: the results screen of one such puzzle stresses that, puzzles aside, you shouldn't use such misleading language; and Layton himself points out during his duel with Future Luke that an ambiguous wording in a puzzle can render it unsolvable.
    • Unless you're an absolute whiz at puzzles and/or have the patience of a saint, chances are you'll be taking a peek at a walkthrough for at least one particularly devious puzzle.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Anton from Diabolical Box and Future Luke aka Klaus/Clive from Unwound Future.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Puzzle solving. Get a puzzle right, and you are treated to the in-universe solver pointing to the screen proudly like "And that is my answer!" Puzzles often have an impact on the plot as well. Unwound Future even features Puzzle Battles at some points. Indeed, a puzzle solver is a person with great power.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: At the beginning of every game in the original trilogy, Layton comments about how something about the situation seems off, to which Luke always responds, "Oh, that must be your famous intuition again!"
  • Neutral Female: Flora stows away wherever the Professor's going, and basically does nothing else. Yes, she takes on a handful of Unwound Future's puzzles, but she only takes on one plot-important puzzle (the one at the factory entrance) out of dozens.
  • Never Bareheaded: Layton's top hat will be burned in your mind forever... He refuses to ever take it off, going to ridiculous lengths to avoid doing so, stating that "a gentleman never removes his hat". Even Luke doesn't know what he looks like under there. It briefly comes off in Diabolical Box, but the camera's angled so you can't see what's underneath. It's only at the end of Unwound Future that we get some good looks at him hatless. We also get in that game a reason why Layton never takes it off: he keeps wearing the hat in memory of his dead girlfriend Claire, who gave him the hat. Then again, Claire is the one who taught Layton to be a gentleman so keeping his hat on indoors would be dishonoring her. She is the one who told him that a gentleman never removes his hat, though, so he might just be taking her a bit too literally. And Luke keeps his hat on as much Layton does. Finally, in Miracle Mask, it's revealed that Layton sported an afro instead in his younger days.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The games are done in a quaint-looking French style, but some characters are noticeably more Animesque than others. Try comparing your average non-player background character to, say, Luke or Emmy or Randall.
  • Old Save Bonus: Within each trilogy, each game offers a password that can unlock a bit of bonus content in the one before and/or after it.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Professor Layton teaches archaeology at university, but the moments when he's seen doing his actual job are pretty thinly spread. Azran Legacy finally justifies it, with Layton arranging support and a teaching sabbatical while going on a field expedition. Averted in Mystery Journey which Katrielle's job is solving mysteries.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Pretty much the entire point of the games, but deliberately invoked in Curious Village and Unwound Future.
  • Orient Express: The Molentary express.
  • Parental Abandonment:
    • Luke's parents are suspiciously absent. We don't even find out that they are, in fact, still around until Unwound Future, as Luke moves away at the end because his dad switched jobs.
    • Also, Flora. Both her parents have died, leaving her in the care of her Ridiculously Human Robot servants. Is it any surprise that Layton adopts her?
    • Unwound Future gives us Clive, who lost his parents in the blast that also killed Claire, and (even though he was Happily Adopted) this is what sets him on the path to villainy.
    • In Last Specter you finally get to SEE Luke's family. Turns out his father and Layton have a history together as fellow archaeologists, and are in fact close friends. But Luke's mom is missing, and the plot also heavily involves a couple of orphans.
    • Exaggerated in Azran Legacy. Layton himself and his brother, Descole. Their parents were abducted by Targent, and their mother died shortly after, and their father was never heard of again. He became the greedy leader of Targent. While Layton got Happily Adopted, his older brother lived the rest of his life on his own. Also Emmy Altava's father died when she was a child.
    • In Mystery Journey, Professor Layton himself is the missing parent to Katrielle. Ernest also lost his mother when he was young.
  • Permanently Missable Content: Almost every game in the series has some level of it: because some locations can't be revisited, any hint coins (and, in later games, collectibles) you may have missed there will be unobtainable. However, this is never true of puzzles: if you happen to miss any puzzle, they will be sent to a puzzle keeper (Granny Riddleton or one of her friends) who'll keep them safe for you to solve whenever you visit them. Mystery Journey avoids this by allowing you to revisit any of the game's cases at any time, where all of the puzzles, coins, and collectibles are still available.
  • Previously onÖ: Whenever you save the game and turn off the DS, then come back to it later, it will bring you up to speed when you load the save file. "Our Story So Far..." Some suspect that this is solely a feature to drive anybody attempting Save Scumming completely insane.
    • Likely, since the restart function (L+R+Start+Select) is actually disabled, despite being built into the system rather than the game. They REALLY want you to either get it right or lose picarats.
  • The Real Remington Steele: Inspector Chelmey is actually an impostor in Curious Village, but guess who shows up in Diabolical Box? You learn of the existence of the real person in the first game, but he doesn't show up in person until the second.
  • Red Herring: Many puzzles in the games give misleading or irrelevant information in the instructions.
    • In Curious Village, Puzzle No. 8 says that a land is split in two, and two boys, Alfred and Roland, are going to work on one half each. Then it points out that Roland takes longer to plow but sows faster than Alfred, and finally asks how much money does Roland deserve. The fact that one finishes the work faster is irrelevant; the only thing that matters is that each boy works half the land, so they are paid the same amount.
    • Diabolical Box:
      • Puzzle No. 117 features a photograph of three men and their wives. Two of the women are sisters and your task is to determine who's married to the third woman. The answer is straightforward based on the instructions' statements, so the puzzle adds a couple of irrelevant facts like "No man is behind his own wife in this photo" and "The woman who's not a sister to any of the other is in front of the man who's married to the older sister" to possibly make you think it's necessary to find out everyone's identity, but you don't need to do that at all. In fact, the women could be out of the photo and it wouldn't make a difference in terms of resolution.
      • Puzzle No. 93 has you figuring out a little girl's age based on four pieces of information comparing the ages of her parents, her older sister, and herself. However, only two of these are useful; the rest are pointless. It's one of those mathematical problems with two equations and two unknown quantities ("My sister is twice my age" and "In five years, I'll be my sister's age").
    • In Unwound Future, Puzzle No. 70 features 10 siblings. Luke is (let's imagine) the eighth of them, and then the wording rambles about the order in which some of the siblings were born and their gender. At the end, the question is: is the third-to-last sibling male or female? The answer is male because we assumed that Luke was the eighth. The rest of the information is pointless.
    • Invoked in Last Specter. Luke, having locked himself in the room, issues a test for Layton, to do something he can hear from inside his room in order to gain entry. Around Luke's door, various items have the numbers 1 to 7 on them. The solution is to do nothing; Luke says he deliberately set up the puzzle to test Layton.
    • A lot of the puzzles in Layton's Mystery Journey make use of this. A few particular examples:
      • Puzzle No. 78 involves the player seemingly needing to work out how much ice is needed to keep a dead fish fresh. However basically the entire question is irrelevant, and the actual solution is to just not kill the fish in the first place.
      • Puzzle No. 134 tells the player a little bit of information about pH measurements, and asks them what pH 0+0 indicates. The question is actually just asking "what does pH 0+0 look like", the answer to which is "photo". Everything else is just to throw you off.
      • Puzzle No. 168 displays cars at a starting line of a race. Most of the cars have letters on them, but there's one car between cars "S" and "A" with a question mark on it. The question asks you to look at the starting area and work out what letter goes between "S" and "A". The cars are a complete red herring, the relevant part is the "START" printed on the starting line, making the answer "T".
  • Replay Mode:
    • The Puzzle Index, present in all games, stores all puzzles obtained in the main campaign, both solved and unsolved. However, in the event you solve a puzzle after failing one or more times and/or spending Hint Coins to unlock the puzzle's hint(s), solving it again on the first try and without viewing the hints will not give you the Picarats you lost during the original attempt's failures, nor the Hint Coins used.
    • After finishing a game, it is possible to unlock a menu where you can replay the cutscenes if your total number of Picarats is high enough (luckily, even if you have failed in many puzzles, at worst you'll merely have to solve all of them in the game as you can unlock the feature with the minimum amount rewarded in each case; not failing and thus getting more Picarats will simply unlock the menu more quickly).
  • Retro Universe: The probable reason for the Schizo Tech and Anachronism Stew.
  • Riddle Me This: Used as a plot point in Curious Village by the fact that most of the characters are literally puzzle-dispensing robots. The next few games explain the presence of some of the puzzles, but by Last Specter they've given up trying to justify it.
  • Rule of Cool / Rule of Drama: Professor Layton tends to, after a certain point in the story, suddenly ditch all concerns about logic and proceed to sail along purely on these.
  • Save Scumming: You don't want to lose picarats in a hard puzzle? You can simply save before giving it a try, and if your answer is wrong, just reset and repeat until you get it right. It's not very gentlemanly, but it is quite doable.
  • Say My Name: Whenever someone undergoes a Villainous Breakdown or the like. "LAAAAAAAYTOOOOON!!!"
  • Scare Chord: The sound that plays at "Holy Crap" moments. A particularly notable one in Last Specter. Shortly after the first specter attack, the specter escapes, but Layton notices the specter's glowing red eyes staring out from a mass of machinery. The Scare Chord is timed perfectly.
  • Scenery Porn: The background art is very colorful and detailed, from pastoral locations to even the inside of buildings. Notable examples:
    • Folsense in Diabolical Box.
    • Monte d'Or in Miracle Mask, in 3D.
    • Misthallery in Last Specter, but special mention goes to the Golden Garden.
  • Schizo Tech:
    • Is this set in 1920, or 2020? The plots involve things like time machines, robots, and Humongous Mecha, and it's mentioned in Unwound Future that humanity has already sent a man into space. On the other hand, the Professor wears a top hat and drives a decidedly old-fashioned car, and most correspondence shown is snail mail as opposed to the telephone or email.
    • In Unwound Future, all the buses shown are old-fashioned Routemaster buses with conductors, which were pretty much nowhere to be found by the mid-2000s, but one character complains about bendy buses, which were only introduced in 2001. Of course, this could pin the games somewhere between 2001 and 2005 when the last Routemasters were removed from service, but by the time that bendy buses were in service at all, Routemasters weren't common.
    • The Lab seen in Unwound Future doesn't look far off from what a typical 50s-60s lab would be like, considering they mention infrared sensors and fairly analog-tech as far as asthetics go.
    • The Internet and cell phones are referenced in a couple of Curious Village's puzzles, but chalk it up to Inconsistent Dub or Dub-Induced Plot Hole - the localization team had to replace a few puzzles because they didn't translate well; they just didn't choose ones with the same tech level as the rest of the game.
    • In Last Specter, Luke got a typewriter for a present on his seventh or so birthday, and later, a tourist mentions being in the digital age.
    • And then in Miracle Mask, karaoke and breakdancing are mentioned, yet Layton (admittedly 18 or so years in the past) leaves Stansbury in a carriage.
    • Layton Brothers, set a generation later, shows technology consistent with The '80s (big CRT TVs and fax machines, with not a computer in sight). However, Layton's Mystery Journey is set in the same era and looks just like the original series, tech-wise; it shows a movie theater with film-reel projectors and a newsroom with typewriters. Yet at the same time, one case involves a researcher studying the modern field of plant genetics.
  • Sequel Escalation: Each game has a bigger amount of puzzles than the previous one, in order of release. Curious Village is about finding a wealthy baron's legacy. Unwound Future almost ends in a destroyed London. Azran Legacy is about saving the world. Inverted in Layton's Mystery Journey, which scales back to standard crimes and other mundane problems.
  • Sequel Hook: All the games end showing a picture relating to the next game, with "To Be Continued" on the bottom screen, except for Unwound Future.
    • Miracle Mask ends with a full-blown cutscene that ties together the events of Last Specter, Eternal Diva, and Miracle Mask and sets up the next game.
    • Zigzagged with Azran Legacy, as the "next game" preview is the opening cutscene of Curious Village, the next game chronologically.
  • Signature Headgear: The titular Professor Hershel Layton wears a tall top hat, and is the only character to do so. This becomes a plot point in Professor Layton and the Unwound Future, where several characters in Future London recognize the Professor by his hat alone, with one even hiding in fear from him.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Layton regularly leaves his adopted daughter behind alone while he goes gallivanting off into danger with someone else's son. If social services do exist, they're pretty bad at their job.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Curious Village gives something of a justification. Any other games in the series range from everybody wanting to stump the Professor Layton to the puzzle representing some actual in-story event (like switching train cars in Diabolical Box or fixing the giant clock in Unwound Future) to no reason at all, here's a puzzle. Any particularly blatant example will be lampshaded by Luke.
    Luke: A puzzle? At a time like this?
  • Spell My Name With An S: Remi or Emmy? Anton or Anthony? Especially rampant in Miracle Mask, with Lando/Rando (which was localized as Randall) and Sharoa/Sharon (changed to Angela for the English release).
  • Swapped Roles: In the teaser trailer for New World of Steam, Layton, who is famous in England for his puzzle-solving knack, is treated as a nobody in America. Luke, in the meanwhile, has gained a reputation in the town of Steam Bison for his mystery-solving skills, earning him the nickname "Detective Luke".
  • Talk to Everyone: The only way to advance the games is to talk to everyone and solve their puzzles. Even if you avoid talking to people, eventually Layton runs into a lock that only opens (or a character who only lets you pass) after you have completed a certain number of puzzles.
  • That Reminds Me of a Song: More like That Reminds Me Of A Puzzle. For when the games cannot think of a good reason for Layton and Luke to solve a puzzle. You'll hear some variation of the actual phrase pretty frequently.
  • There Are No Therapists: Pretty much every villain in the series. Don Paolo and Dimitri haven't gotten over Claire at all in ten years; the same applies to Layton, but much less so and with greater justification, since they were actually a couple. Anton basically went mad from isolation and heartache, and Arianna (though not a villain) was possibly on her way there. Clive, Descole, and Ernest/Miles spend most of their lives obsessed with revenge, and Bronev threw himself into his work to the point of obsession as a direct result of being forcefully separated from his children followed by the death of his wife. Espella (also not a villain) and Darklaw both have repressed childhood trauma from accidentally wiping out their hometown. Layton himself is the closest thing they all have to professional help.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The series loves this trope. St. Mystere is populated with robots, Folsense is a massive hallucination, Future London is actually underground, beneath present-day London, and Labyrinthia is a test in long-term hypnosis and the previous town on the site burned down with next to no survivors. Misthallery's secret isn't dark in itself, but drew people with their own dark secrets: it hides a small, pristine Lost World. Monte d'Or follows Misthallery's pattern somewhat, as the Ruins of Akbadain drew Descole to the city, though that secret isn't exactly dark in itself either. It doesn't really come into play in Azran Legacy; most of the towns visited don't really have secrets and those that do aren't particularly "dark", with the exception of Hoogland, though its Dark Secret is brought up right away, and fixing it is one of your main goals while you're there.
  • Try Everything: Some of the puzzles will inevitably result in the player screaming in frustration and doing this instead of working through the puzzle. It helps that after a certain number of wrong answers, the game will stop deducting picarats, letting you start guessing with impunity. Lampshaded in Diabolical Box where one of Layton's lines after getting a puzzle wrong is "Well... I suppose that's one possibility eliminated."
  • The Unreveal: At the beginning of Diabolical Box, Layton is about to explain his official relationship to Luke when Luke insists he's the Professor's apprentice, thank you very much. He does a lesser version in Unwound Future, again cutting off Layton's introduction of him in order to say he's an apprentice. (That game does reveal a bit of their actual relationship, however, and Last Specter explains it completely.)
    • In Layton's Mystery Journey, it takes until after the end of the game for Sherl to remember that Katrielle was supposed to solve the mystery of his identity — but before she can start working on it, she's interrupted by Hastings with another case, meaning she never ends up solving it.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: The main trio in Diabolical Box and Unwound Future features Layton, Luke and Flora. In the prequel games, it's Layton, Luke, and Emmy.
  • Unscientific Science: Any plot that relies on "supernatural" happenings will be debunked in a fashion that makes even less sense than, say, a vampire. It's blatantly lampshaded in vs. Ace Attorney as Phoenix boggles at the "rational" explanation for the witchcraft.
  • Updated Re-release:
    • Curious Village and Diabolical Box received "Friendly" editions in Japan with easier-to-read text, DLC puzzles built in, remastered cutscenes, and other improvements. Miracle Mask had a similar "Plus" edition, with extra cutscenes, events, and puzzles.
    • The first trilogy recieved updated ports on mobile devices, with improved graphics, all weekly puzzles available, and for Curious Village, collectible Puzzle Charms that unlock extra bonus galleries and double as a Call-Forward to Layton's Mystery Journey.
  • The Very Definitely Final Dungeon:
    • Curious Village has the Tower. You've been talking about it since the start of the game, heard strange noises coming from it, and just acquired the obscure key needed to unlock the way to it. Now you just need to complete 10 extremely difficult puzzles to get to the top and have everything revealed.
    • Diabolical Box has Herzen Mansion. Believed to be haunted by a vampire, Layton and Luke must traverse the woods, lake, and bridge leading to the castle where they must then be tied up by the Big Bad only to escape, solve several more puzzles, and prepare for the final confrontation where everything is revealed.
    • Unwound Future has a gigantic mobile fortress full of weapons ready to destroy London, controlled by The Man Behind the Man who ran away during The Reveal, kidnapping Flora in the process.
  • Vocal Evolution: This is noticeable between Curious Village and Miracle Mask, particularly for Chris Miller's Layton voice. It's amazing how much the cast have grown into their roles in the series — and how much their voices have brought us to love the characters.
  • Voodoo Shark: Zigzagged. In some games, the explanation for all the weird things going on requires some thought to make sense, sometimes it works in context of the series logic and other times it is straight up this.
    • Curious Village has The Reveal the titular village, St. Mystere, is populated by robots and the place is a Secret Test of Character to see who is worthy of taking care of the late founder's daughter and claiming his fortune. Why a simpler solution was not used or how these robots could be so realistic is never addressed, but considering the plots of the next two games, it is logical at least.
    • In Diabolical Box, Anton Herzen is seemingly an eternally young vampire living in Folsense, where nothing changes from many years ago. In actuality, he only pretends to be a vampire as a Batman Gambit to keep his family's fortune safe. As for his eternal youth and how unchanging the town is, it's just that hallucinogenic gas leaking from the nearby mine has caused a Shared Mass Hallucination, with the residents aging but not realizing it. So how is it possible for no one to notice they are aging while the town crumbles around them? If the residents are hallucinations as well, how can everyone have conversations with them? How can everyone have the exact same hallucinations? Finally, there is the matter of the titular diabolical box. The box is rumored to kill anyone who opens it. The reason is the hallucinogenic gas is embedded in the structure of the box and it kills anyone who opens the box believing the rumors while those who don't believe survive. How the gas is capable of doing that is anyone's guess.
    • In Unwound Future, Layton appears to travel in time to London's future. In actuality, he's traveling by elevator to an exact copy of London built in a giant sinkhole and cavern directly underneath the real London, which has been built and populated in secret without anyone ever realizing it. So how does no one in future London notice they are underground (if you look closely there are hints the sky is permanently foggy or full of industrialised smoke so it is possible this is obscuring everything), are all the residents of Future London in on the act and if not how is that possible? Then there is how a second city could exist under London without anyone noticing.
    • Last Specter is fairly logical if thought about. The Spectre is the result of a giant machine the Big Bad is using to destroy the town and a prehistoric sea creature battling. The fog used to hide the machine's appearance means the two end up looking like one creature.
    • Completely averted in Miracle Mask and Azran Legacy. Every strange thing happening in these games are the result of stage magic and Lost Technology respectively.
    • In vs. Ace Attorney, it is eventually discovered that all of the magic witnessed in the town of Labyrinthia was faked by a corporation as a part of a scientific experiment. Everyone in town had been living under hypnosis thanks to a substance that made them extremely susceptible to suggestion that they were constantly exposed to. One of the effects of the hypnosis was that residents could not see material of a certain color, thus allowing the operators to make themselves and their equipment "invisible." Furthermore, a contamination in the local groundwater meant that anyone in town who heard the ringing of a silver bell would instantly pass out, making it possible to set up complicated illusions "instantly" because any witnesses would not notice the missing set-up time. Fair enough. The problem is that magic is also used outside of Labyrinthia on people who had not been hypnotized and were immune to the bells in locations that the company could not possibly have foreseen magic would be necessary, including Professor Layton's own office. One particular example is from the opening cutscene: A statue in a public park in the middle of London is brought to life and appears to punch a speeding car into a tree. What really happened? The statue was actually a robot that the company coincidentally had donated to the park, and it literally punched the car into the tree. The Reveal also completely overturns an earlier case in which the culprit used a spell to create a magic portal through a wall. The best explanation given is that the company literally cut a hole in the wall and patched it up without anyone being able to tell afterwards.
    • Parodied heavily in this video, where Layton explains that a slightly oversized dog is in fact a detailed simulation created by holograms from a satellite, shared hallucinations, dozens of paid actors, and Descole dressing up as the dog, all in the name of a man trying to impress his neighbor. The idea that it's just a regular dog is immediately dismissed.
    • Generally averted in Layton's Mystery Journey, where the cases Katrielle takes and their solutions are far more mundane. Ludicrous explanations do happen (in the game's first case, Big Ben's clock hand was missing because it was a replacement made of pastry that melted in the rain), but they're largely outnumbered by ones that are, at worst, merely improbable.
  • The Watson: Layton is such an intellectual badass that Luke's job is to have things explained to him so that the audience can catch up. This is especially apparent during the final sequence in Curious Village, in which Layton calmly explains every single remaining mystery to Luke in casual conversation as they climb the tower (though the foreshadowing and hints throughout the game allow you to piece most of the answers together yourself, unlike later games).
  • Wham Line:
    • In Curious Village, Professor Layton to Inspector Chelmey: "No inspector, it has quite a bit to do with you. If there is any criminal element involved in this case... then it is you, sir!" The finger-pointing that goes along with it has since been repeated in every game.
    • In Unwound Future, Celeste reveals herself as a temporarily time-shifted Claire by saying, "You've taken good awfully good care of that hat I gave you", and also, in the line before, addressing Layton by his first name rather than "Professor".
    • In Miracle Mask, when Professor Layton is faced with the Masked Gentleman, he says the following line, revealing the latter's identity:
      Layton: It pains me to see you like this, Randall.
    • In Azran Legacy, during a flashback with a younger Professor Layton: "But Hershel, I want to stay with you!" To better explain this, Hershel is what we thought was the Professor's name. The real Hershel is Layton's older brother who would eventually become Descole.
    • Near the end of vs Ace Attorney, the Storyteller utters one during his testimony that cements The Reveal.
      The Storyteller: Although you may know me as the Storyteller, I have one more identity. I am the president of Labrelum, Inc. This whole town... is one of Labrelum's research facilities.
  • Where Are They Now: The credits usually include a small snapshot-slideshow version of this.