Famous fictional detectives

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Famous fictional detectives are fictional characters in detective fiction and are not real-life detectives.

Famous fictional detectives rely on powers of deduction/rationalization and educated thought to solve crimes. These characters have long been a staple of detective mystery crime fiction, particularly in detective novels and short stories set in Britain and written during the "Golden Age of Detective Fiction" (1920s-1930s). These detectives include amateurs, private investigators, and professional policemen. They are often popularized as individual characters rather than parts of the fictional work in which they appear. Stories involving individual detectives are well-suited to dramatic presentation, resulting in many memorable theatre, television, and movie characters.

The first famous detective in fiction was Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin.[1] Later, the Dupin model was further codified by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the most famous example to this day. A "great detective" will often (but not always) be accompanied by a Dr. Watson-like assistant or story narrator.


Fictional detectives can generally be placed into one of four archetypes:

  • The amateur detective (Miss Marple, Jessica Fletcher, Lord Peter Wimsey);
  • The private investigator (Dupin, Holmes, Marlowe, Spade, Poirot, Magnum);
  • The police detective (Dalgliesh, Kojak, Morse, Columbo, Frost, Clouseau);
  • The forensic specialist (Scarpetta, Quincy, Cracker, CSI teams, Thorndyke);

Notable fictional detectives and their creators include:

Amateur Detectives[edit]

Private Investigators[edit]

Police detectives[edit]

Columbo is widely considered to be the greatest original TV detective.[3][4][5][6]

Forensic specialists[edit]

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation TV shows[edit]

Anime and Manga[edit]

See also[edit]


  • The Great Detectives: Seven Original Investigations,BY Julian Symons,1981,ISBN 0810909782
  1. ^ Silverman,Kenneth (1991). Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-ending Remembrance. New York: Harper Perennial. ISBN 0-06-092331-8. 
  2. ^ Silverman 1991, p. 171
  3. ^ "Best fictional detectives". latimes. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  4. ^ "Natalie Haynes's guide to TV detectives: #1 – Columbo". London: guardian.co.uk. 23 January 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  5. ^ "Clued In: The Top 10 Television Detectives". Time. 4 May 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  6. ^ "〈beランキング〉心に残る名探偵". 朝日新聞. Retrieved 15 March 2013. 
  7. ^ "Kindaichi Case Files 2008 New Anime" (in Japanese). Tokyo MX. Retrieved 2010-02-07. 
  8. ^ "Case Closed FAQ". Funimation. Archived from the original on March 27, 2004. Retrieved October 3, 2010.