Favorite fictional detectives
Whether they’re police officers, private investigators or just crime novelists with a hobby, these usually capable television and film characters often get to the bottom of whatever mystery is thrown their way.(Handout)
Detective name: Sherlock Holmes (
Sleuthing style: A pipe and deerstalker hat are classic Sherlock accessories, although it’s his intellect that makes him such a famed detective.
Claim to fame: The Londoner has become immediately associated with the detective trade and is frequently referenced in pop culture as a prototypical detective character.
Detective name: Columbo (Peter Falk) in “Columbo” (1971-2003)
Sleuthing style: Immediately identifying murderers and then spending the rest of the case making them squirm complete with bumbling anecdotes about the elusive Mrs. Columbo.
Claim to fame: The culprit is identified at the beginning of every episode, so instead of who-done-it drama, viewers tuned in for how-he-proves-it satisfaction.
Detective name: Inspector Jacques Clouseau (
Sleuthing style: French, bumbling and hilarious. Clouseau’s antics keep audiences coming back for more. Watching him trying to crack a case is a real crackup.
Claim to fame: The jazzy “Pink Panther” theme song, composed by
Detective name: Batman/Bruce Wayne (
Sleuthing style: Slick and modern. With his Batsuit and Batmobile, Batman is the baddest crime fighter in Gotham City or any city for that matter. Not someone you’d want to run into in a dark alley late at night, unless of course you needed rescuing.
Claim to fame: Arguably the most famous and popular comic book superhero of all time, Batman needs just one name, and one gets a mental picture of all he’s about. The most recent film version, with Christian Bale as Batman, holds its own against previous Batman flicks starring
Detective name: Angel (
Sleuthing style: Playing up the vampire hottie with a soul thing and taking down
Claim to fame: The most popular spin-off in the Buffyverse and another score for
Detective name: Veronica Mars (
Sleuthing style: Blond side-swept bangs and a quick wit. Mars isn’t exactly the most popular girl at Neptune High, but she’s definitely the coolest. A trusty messenger bag and cute jeans allow her to investigate in sensible style.
Claim to fame: The CW teen noir series has a strong following because of the title character’s likability factor. Mars is the underdog who wins in the end, a symbol to young girls that hard work pays off and you can even look good doing it!
Detective name: John Shaft (Richard Roundtree) in “Shaft” (1971)
Sleuthing style: Leatherclad, armed and ready to take back Harlem one Mafioso (or a dozen) at a time.
Claim to fame: Black America’s street-wise answer to James Bond and the inspiration behind Issac Hayes’ most iconic song.
Detective name: Ace Ventura (
Sleuthing style: A Hawaiian-style shirt, unbuttoned to reveal a white undershirt and high-waisted pants, was Ventura’s favored look. His badge was readily shown with great enthusiasm a trait he brought to all his wild cases.
Claim to fame: One of the many silly-face Carrey flicks that continues to get laughs today. Unpredictable animals and a classic physical comedian are a match made in
Detective names: Rico Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas) and Sonny Crockett (
Sleuthing style: Suits, hold the socks. The pair looked achingly casual-cool while cruising Miami’s mean streets.
Claim to fame: Aside from the famed socklessness and beltlessness, pastel T-shirts and a strong Miami tan was a 1980s look many men followed Sonny Crockett’s lead on.
Detective name: Sam Spade (
Sleuthing style: Classy and tough with a rock-solid moral code that not even the most cunning femme fatale can crack.
Claim to fame:
Detective name: Mick St. John (
Sleuthing style: The handsome vampire P.I. dons dark duds for his nights on the prowl, although he’s refreshingly heroic rather than ruthless.
Claim to fame: The
Detective name: Dick Tracy (
Sleuthing style: Tough-talking and quick-on-the-draw with a flair for style, especially yellow trench coats and fedoras.
Claim to fame: The 1930s comic strip brought to life by Warren Beatty won three Oscars.
Detective name: Thomas Magnum (
Sleuthing style: Prominent mustache and a red Ferrari perfect tools to be a chick-magnet, as Magnum was, in the decade of extravagance.
Claim to fame: The
Detective name: Jessica Fletcher (
Sleuthing style: The shrewd instincts and keen eye of a writer mixed with the unabashed nosiness and pestering only a grandma-type can muster.
Claim to Fame: Though Jessica’s
Detective name: Scooby Doo (voiced by Neil Fanning) in 2002’s “Scooby Doo.”
Sleuthing style: Scarfin’ lots of Scooby snacks and trying to lay low, and stay in costume, while his friends debunk criminals masked as supernatural creatures.
Claim to fame: The meddling kids in the groovy van have been on the air for over 40 years, reaching far beyond the Saturday morning cartoon crowd.
Detective name: Nancy Drew (Emma Roberts) in “Nancy Drew” (2007)
Sleuthing style: Collecting clues and taking down baddies while balancing a social life.
Claim to fame: The film grossed over $30 million worldwide, proving Nancy Drew is still everyone’s favorite girl detective.
Detective name: J.J. “Jake” Gittes (
Sleuthing style: Suave suits, sexy smirk, fedora, nose bandage.
Claim to fame: Jack Nicholson in his prime, the classic L.A. noir film directed by
Detective name: Jane Tennison (
Sleuthing style: Tennison’s short no-nonsence hairstyle and steely expressions help her fit in her male-dominated profession. This doesn’t always work with the squad, but Tennison shows them who’s boss in the end.
Claim to fame: Feature-film quality on the small screen. The British police drama is a BAFTA favorite, no surprise thanks to excellent work by Mirren and supporting actors such as
Detective Name: Philip Marlowe (
Sleuthing Style: Quick wit, ample amounts of alcohol, and the subtle seduction of all the ladies.
Claim to Fame: Based on the Raymond Chandler character, Philip Marlowe is the epitome of the hard-boiled private eye.
Detective name: Easy Rawlins (
Sleuthing style: Wet behind the ears and shirtless.
Claim to fame: Based on a 1990 Walter Mosley novel, Rawlins follows in the tradition of noir veterans like Philip Marlowe and Sam Spade, except he’s black and not a professional detective.