The Best Fictional Detectives

With the small-screen return of private investigator Cormoran Strike on Sunday in Career of Evil, I look at some of the best fictional detectives to grace our televisions.

Strike stars Tom Burke and Holliday Grainger

Sherlock Holmes

Image result for sherlock holmes benedict cumberbatch

Featured In: Many film and TV adaptations over the years, most recently the BBC’s Sherlock.

Lives: At 221B Baker Street, London.

Loves: Knowledge. Problem-solving. John Watson. Danger. Playing the violin.

Hates: A lack of crimes to solve. Being sociable. Anybody who he perceives to be ignorant or slow-witted – so essentially everyone besides himself.

Jurisdiction: Mostly the City of London, but has been known to gallivant around globally to get things done if needs be.

Traits: Deductive brilliance. Emotional detachment. Verges on being a sociopath. Often exhibits all of these within a matter of seconds.

Most likely to: Insult someone’s intelligence and solve a fiendish puzzle simultaneously.

DCI Gene Hunt

Image result for gene hunt

Featured In: Life on Mars; Ashes to Ashes

Lives: Manchester, 1973 / London, 1981.

Loves: His Ford Cortina. Later, his Audi Quattro. Putting away bad guys. The pub.

Hates: Bad guys. Occasionally, his fellow officers. Anybody who messes with his car(s).

Jurisdiction: Manchester, 1973, and later London, 1981.

Traits: Dogged. Straight-talking. For a copper, extremely non-PC, but with a heart.

Most likely to: Demand that his colleague gets their hands off his motor whilst dismissing their sissy modern policing methods in rather fruity language.

Honourable Mentions: Aurelio Zen; Rust Cohle

Saga Norén

Image result for saga noren

Featured In: The Bridge

Lives: In a lonely-looking Swedish apartment.

Loves: Justice. Getting the job done, preferably on her own.

Hates: Things that are not work-related. The minefield that is talking to other people.

Jurisdiction: Malmö, with the occasional hop across the Øresund Bridge to Copenhagen.

Traits: Intellectually brilliant. Committed to her work. Extremely socially awkward.

Most likely to: Fix a colleague with a blank yet disdainful stare when they attempt to make office chit-chat.

Laure Berthaud

Related image

Featured In: Spiral

Lives: In Paris.

Loves: Her job. Her team. Office banter. Swearing colourfully.

Hates: Her job. Her team. Making mistakes. Any hint of long-term commitment.

Jurisdiction: Paris, particularly the dangerous parts.

Traits: Not above breaking the rules to get results. Fiercely loyal to her colleagues. Often an emotional mess outside of work.

Most likely to: Make a catastrophic error that jeopardises an entire case, then unearth something just in time, rush in and save the day.

Honourable Mentions: Miss Marple; Veronica Mars

Career of Evil will be broadcast on BBC One at 9pm on Sunday 25th February, and its second, concluding part will be broadcast the following Sunday.

Alex Nicholson


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