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A staple of Mystery Fiction and Detective Fiction, the Great Detective relies on powers of deduction and educated thought to solve crimes. The Great Detective is usually an Amateur Sleuth or a Private Detective (because Police Are Useless).

The Great Detective tradition originates with Eugène François Vidocq, a Real Life criminal-turned-detective and founder of the French Sûreté. Vidocq pioneered many of the scientific methods of detective work which would later become common in fictional detective stories.

The first Great Detective in fiction was Edgar Allan Poe's C. Auguste Dupin. Poe rejected the Vidocq model in favor of a more fantastic kind of detective. Later, the Dupin model was further codified by Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the most famous example to this day.

In Japan, this type of character is called "Meitantei", and the detective may combine the Kid Detective with the Great Detective.

Compare: Hardboiled Detective and Little Old Lady Investigates.

Examples of Great Detective include:

Anime and Manga


  • There's this guy. Yes, he is a top martial artist. Yes, he is a great chemist. But first, he's the world's greatest detective.
  • There's also this ductile guy. He's just as good as the guy mentioned above, if not better, but is often overlooked because he's not a gritty, mean, tragic origin guy, nor has he had several movies and TV shows about him.
  • And thirdly, there's this faceless guy. He's pretty much staight up ace detective and lacks the gadgets and powers of the two above. He's also been referred to as the world's second greatest detective.
  • Gabriel Webb from The Maze Agency.
  • Abraham Moth from the graphic novel The Woman in Red: Son of Sherlock Holmes.
  • German example: Nick Knatterton.
  • Simon Archard from Ruse.


Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

Video Games

  • Subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney with the character Luke Atmey. As far as the player can tell, he devotes his life to his detective work, especially to cases involving a master thief named Mask☆DeMasque. By the end of the case, we find out that he's been the mastermind behind everything Mask☆DeMasque has ever done, blackmailing the thief into heists and then taking advantage of them to improve his image in the public eye. He goes so far as to murder someone, then allow himself to be accused of being the thief himself to avoid this information getting out.
    • That's arguably a deconstruction, since Luke explicitly states twice he felt himself so great he needed to deliberately create an adversary that could match him. But of course, he maybe was just an Attention Whore.
    • Considering that his name is "Look at me", and his theme is called "I just want love" (named after the pun in his Japanese name, Aiga Hoshiidake), he may be an Attention Whore.
    • While it's not his official job title, due to the absurd amount of evidence he uncovers it can be argued that Phoenix himself fits the trope.
    • There's a reason the Miles Edgeworth game is called Ace Attorney Investigations when he's technically a prosecutor; all he does is detective about. He even has a special power that's basically making logical deductions by connecting known facts.
  • Professor Layton from the series of the same name - although the extent to how awesome he really is doesn't come into play until near the end of the first game.
  • Erika Furudo from Umineko no Naku Koro ni.
    • Erika is known to infuriate fans of the Golden Age due to how annoying she comes off as- this is probably intentional, and she's arguably a deconstruction of the archetype. In episode 7 however, WILL MOTHERFUCKING WRIGHT is a truly great detective.
  • The entire cast of Guilty Party, though the most classically Great Detective-ish of them is their patriarch, The Commodore/Dorian Dickens.
  • Kyoko Kirigiri and Shuichi Saihara from Danganronpa, with both holding the title of Ultimate Detective.

Real Life

  • Speaking of Vidocq, there is a club aptly named The Vidocq Society. Made up of volunteers, they take on cold cases and many law enforcement agencies send them cases to review. Want to join? Well, you have to be an expert in some field of forensics to start off. Oh, and you have to be invited to join, pay $100 in member dues every year and attend at least one meeting yearly (meetings are every third Thursdays of the month, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania).

Web Original

  • Ryney from The Mystery Sphere certainly applies, though he is Brilliant but Lazy.
  • Dramatic Detective of LIS_DEAD claims to wear this mantle, and shows some deductive skill to back it up.