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YMMV / Nero Wolfe

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  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Saul Panzer. Yes, there is enough of a fandom for this trope to apply.
  • Fanon: The theory that Wolfe is the son of Sherlock Holmes and Irene Adler. This idea, first voiced by sci-fi author John D. Clark in the '50s, is so popular in both fandoms that it has made into William S. Baring-Gould's fictional biography of Holmes and Nicholas Meyer's The Seven-Per-Cent Solution and was the basis for two novels by John Lescroart (Son of Holmes and Rasputin's Revenge). A variation is that Wolfe was sired by Holmes' smarter older brother Mycroft. He certainly shares a lot of Mycroft's characteristics (physical laziness and obesity, a fondness for unbreakable routines and the finer things in life, a slightly misanthropic reclusive tendency, etc).
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  • Fair for Its Day: As noted below, there's a lot of Values Dissonance in the earlier stories especially, but Rex Stout was a fairly progressive man for his day and often attempts to show the foolishness of a lot of the racist and misogynistic attitudes he was surrounded by. It's also possible in reading the stories at times to get a sense that Stout is ashamed or embarrassed by attitudes he displayed as a younger man that he's grown out of and is making a conscious effort to repudiate them. Wolfe himself is a bit of a complex example, in that he is openly misogynistic but he tends to treat women respectfully when he's directly interacting with them and many of his more ridiculous attitudes towards women are treated with an eye-roll by Archie's narration, so there is a question about how seriously we're supposed to take him.
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  • Hilarious in Hindsight: One of the characters in "Murder is Corny" is named Duncan McLeod. Towards the story's end, he blows himself up with dynamite, resulting in his decapitation.
  • Values Dissonance: Since each story is set in the year it was written, and the first one was written in 1934, there's lots of this, especially in the earliest stories.
    • In Fer-de-lance Archie takes an immediate dislike to a South American suspect, calling him a "spigotty." Stout may have deliberately been playing the Politically Incorrect Hero card here.
    • Too Many Cooks, set in the American South during the Thirties, reaches a level of casual racism — Archie included — that might startle even jaded modern readers (the N-word and similarly ugly epithets get thrown around a lot), but is also notable for weaving the issue into the plot in a serious and meaningful way, to the extent that recognising the foolishness of prejudice becomes crucial to solving the mystery. It should also be noted that Wolfe himself clearly rejects the racist attitudes of those around him and makes a point of treating the African American characters he deals with fairly, respectfully and with courtesy.
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    • Too Many Clients, set in 1960, has Archie seemingly condoning spousal abuse after a character who discovers his wife has been cheating on him beats her to the point where she's bedridden. This said, it can be read as ambiguous whether Archie's being sarcastic or not, and an earlier novel (Might As Well Be Dead) depicts another victim of spousal abuse who has fallen in love with another man, who is portrayed entirely sympathetically and her husband entirely in the wrong. Although the ambiguity comes in part from the fact that in the later novel the wife is depicted as being sexually unfaithful to her husband, whereas in the earlier novel the wife is never directly suggested to have slept with the other man despite her romantic feelings towards him; the problem is essentially sexual infidelity versus romantic/emotional infidelity. Furthermore, in the earlier story the wife does nothing that could be interpreted as provoking her husband's abuse, whereas in the later story the wife's open infidelity can be read as mocking and taunting her husband until he snapped; the earlier wife is depicted as an 'innocent' victim in a way that the later wife, by the standards of the time at least, is not.
    • Too Many Women has been out of print for decades, due to the title, and Archie being just a bit ''too' casual with his affections.
    • A Right to Die, as well as possessing some of this for modern readers (given that it was published in 1964), also demonstrates this trope operating over the course of the series. It's something of a sequel to Too Many Cooks (as mentioned above), features a significant character from the earlier work returning in a prominent role, and also examines American race relations. Accordingly, the N-word is thrown about quite casually... but unlike the earlier work, where even sympathetic characters demonstrated a rather alarmingly casual level of racism, not a single character who is supposed to be sympathetic uses or approves of that word. Archie himself demonstrates much more progressive attitudes, demonstrates clear attraction to an African-American woman who appears throughout the novel, and at the end is so disgusted with the murderer's casual racism that he finds himself unable to continue listening to their Motive Rant. As one introduction to the story notes, while the specific way Archie is written and that Stout addresses race may seem clumsy to a modern reader, it's clear that if nothing else both character and author have their hearts in the right place.
      • The trope does kick in with regards to interracial romance, however; while not explicitly condemned, even many of the sympathetic characters (both Caucasian and African-American) tend to disapprove of the idea of interracial relationships and view them as something to be discouraged. The story ends with an African-American character who was a suspect due to his interracial relationship with the victim eventually realise his "mistake" and begin to hook up with the African-American woman whom Archie was attracted to.
    • Wolfe's weight can also fall here. His "seventh of a ton" (roughly 280 pounds or 127kg) would have been a massive size when he was created in the 1930s, when the fallout of the Great Depression meant that food deprivation was common and a man who was sufficiently wealthy to have access to fine cuisine (and particularly foods which are especially fattening) to become obese would have been a lot rarer. In the early 21st century, however, fattening foods are a lot more easily available to the point where the western world is currently experiencing an obesity epidemic, meaning that while having the same weight would still see Wolfe classified as obese, he's less distinctive in this regard (and actually on the thinner side of the scale compared to some).

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