Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of All-Time

By Andrew Bridgman / February 6, 2014

  Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

After over 400,000 votes, you (the voters) have solved the greatest mystery of all - who's the greatest fictional detective ever? You found the clues, questioned witnesses, planted evidence, threatened the jury...actually, you used some pretty underhanded methods. Regardless, you got results. And here they are - the 20 greatest fictional detectives of all-time!


20. Professor Layton

Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

While Professor Layton is, obviously, a professor (teaching Puzzology 101 at Why Does Everything Have To Be Puzzles??? University), the reality is that he's really a detective - solving mysteries and puzzles much more than setting office hours for his students. He's like Indiana Jones but if literally everyone Indy ran into made him steal a relic to answer the simplest questions. The top-hatted professor (along with his usual sidekick, Luke) spends his time running around Europe, solving mysteries through time and space, all while having a collar so popped they should call him Bro-fessor Layton.


19. Thomas Magnum

Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

Thomas Magnum basically lived most people's dream life - he was a suave detective, he lived on an island paradise, he was the "fun" kind of alcoholic, and he has one of the greatest mustaches in the history of the art of facial hair. And the only thing slowing him down even a little was his landlord's assistant, Higgins, occasionally trying to keep Magnum in line. But let's take a moment to recognize that - thanks to Magnum PI's existence - Tom Selleck had to drop out of Raiders of the Lost Ark, allowing Harrison Ford to become the mustacheless adventurer we know and love as Shia LaBeouf's dad.


18. Shawn Spencer

Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

Psych has quietly become one of the funniest and longest-running detective shows ever - currently in its 8th season, it follows the adventures of Shawn Spencer, a guy who pretends to be psychic to get work from the police, but actually just has Sherlock Holmes' powers of deduction, without the sociopathy and British accent. In fact, Shawn's about as far from Sherlock as you can get - he's sorta smarmy, funny, loose, and pretty friendly. He also has a Watson-type in Gus (also without the British accent), and a Lestrade in Lassiter. And, much like Sherlock Holmes, he even has a cheap rip-off in CBS's The Mentalist, which is literally THE SAME SHOW but a lot worse.

Update: should be noted that USA juuuuust cancelled Psych. BET YA DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING, DID YA SHAWN? (*runs off to the bathroom to cry*)


17. Cole Phelps

Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

As one of the few decidedly-non-corrupt members of the LAPD in 1940s Los Angeles, Cole Phelps was your typical do-gooder cop (who just happened to look an awful lot like that one guy from Mad Men). From forcing his partners to drive him around, awkwardly fondling dead nude bodies for "clues," and desperately trying to escape the labyrinthian police station, Cole Phelps was not exactly the best detective around, but he always tried his best (minus the Homicide desk cases, where he literally gets every single one wrong).


16. Dick Tracy

Toplist Results: The 20 Greatest Fictional Detectives of AllTime

Wait a sec - how many of you even know who Dick Tracy is? Dick Tracy began his life squeezed between other popular newspaper strips, "Lasagna-Enjoying Obese Feline" and "Bald Sad Child", except Dick Tracy wasn't bothering with punchlines about how Mondays stunk, he was busy being the prototypical square-jawed detective (albeit in a yellow overcoat) - solving cases and puttin' away the bad guys and occasionally going into space. And for a newspaper comic, Dick Tracy wasn't afraid to get hyperviolent if necessary, shooting perps right in the face if the situation called for it. Let's see Hagar the Horrible push the envelope like that.

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