ByHarsh Rakesh, writer at
  • They are all cocky
  • They all wear suits
  • They all like to play mind games
  • They are all observant
  • They all don’t like to call themselves detectives
  • They love to break rules

We all know that with some exception they all inhibit the same characters.

I know there are many such shows which feature ultimate and unique detectives or sleuths or agents or cops. But there are handful of characters that affect one (me at least) and inspire one to think and write about them and can truly be called as a sleuth. They are there to help the cops but are not cops (hence no agents here). Hell, some don’t even like to be called as detectives.

Here is a list of the characters, which are generally dressed in suit and tie and are very concerned about their cases:


Dearly Devoted Dexter
Dearly Devoted Dexter

Some might say “hey! He was a cop”. Well, a, He was a forensics expert and b, he was a serial killer. Dexter Morgan a character so well created by Jeff Lindsay that he truly became World’s beloved Serial Killer. I mean a character that is so sick, so disgusting and so dangerous is loved by people? And of course, kudos to Michael C. Hall, who brought “always thoughtful” Dexter on TV.

Dexter Morgan is a forensics expert (blood splatter expert, actually) who is an innocent, helping and caring person in the mornings, but as the sunlight fades, so does his altruism. At nights, he is a hound sniffing for a bad soul to free it and give his own soul relief. An incorrigible liar, Dexter often solves complex cases earlier than his team, chiefly to find a good prey to satiate his cravings of killing people. This talent of his (of solving crimes, of course) gave him a place in my list of top 5 detectives.


The average person lies 3 times for every 10 minutes of conversation.
The average person lies 3 times for every 10 minutes of conversation.

One of my favorite characters, Dr Cal Lightman deserved better response from the people. After all he used proper science to detect the guilty. My favorite, Tim Roth portrayed Dr Cal Lightman beautifully. I know this is a unique entry to the list, but hey! He solves crimes. What is more awesome about the world’s leading deception expert is that he is not cocky about his abilities. He is there to help people and not to show-off. His team The Lightman Group is a group of people who are learning the basic nuances of facial reading and body language analysis and often help the protagonist in solving cases. It’s really sad that the show was cancelled after season 3, but it has got its own fan base (me being one of them).

Dr Cal Lightman uses his expertise in reading the expressions and body language of the people. He is often seen to be watching the person he is interviewing very closely and infer from their behavior whether they have committed the alleged crime or not. The show is inspired by the works of Paul Ekman and hence is one of the shows which is closer to reality.


Unless you are good at guessing, it is not much use being a detective.
Unless you are good at guessing, it is not much use being a detective.

When I first read Hercule Poirot’s adventure on the Orient Express, I confess, I thought, “Bald Sherlock Holmes with a pin ended mustache.” But then I read “The Murder of Roger Ackroyd” and this time I became a fan of Queen of Crimes and his Belgian private detective. In TV, Albert Finney truly deserves applauds for his portrayal of the cocky, little, bald and oval headed detective over many other actors. His close competitor for me is David Suchet. Chiefly a novel based detective, Hercule Poirot did make his mark on TV as well.

Like many detectives, Poirot uses manipulations, deceit, interpretations and inferences to solve the crimes. He is very proud of his ways and methods. Unlike others in the list, he doesn't have broad shoulders, tall stature, beautiful features and sharp eyes. He is short, bald and little limping detective, who wears pince-nez to make his visibility clear and has unique pin-ended mustache. Poirot is a successful detective who deserves to be in our list.


Very nice to meet you.
Very nice to meet you.

The Mentalist is my number 2 in the list of best detectives on TV. As the show starts, a mentalist is “someone who uses mental acuity, hypnosis and/or suggestion. A master manipulator of thoughts and behavior.” Simon Baker has portrayed the character of Patrick Jane so well that to me, no one else could have done the same. He is smart, jolly, happy-go-right (not lucky always) and “he closes cases!” He is somewhat a link between Sherlock Holmes and Dr Cal Lightman.

The ever smiling Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) uses mental acuity, manipulations, lies, inferences and even create plots to find out the true culprit. As Teresa Lisbon (Robin Tunney) always says (at least during the whole first and second seasons), “he can be difficult, but he closes cases!” Nothing worries Patrick, except the topic of Red John, a serial killer who killed his family. Patrick Jane has a dark past, where he has been shown as a con man. It is after his time in rehab (which he joined after his wife and his daughter were brutally murdered), that he decides to join the CBI (here, California Bureau of Investigation).


It's obvious, isn't it?
It's obvious, isn't it?

No surprises here! He had to be number 1 sleuth in my list! I have written here Sherlock/Sherlock Holmes for a reason. Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes is not the original Sherlock Holmes (sorry here fans).

And fans be like...
And fans be like...

There are reasons for me to believe so:

a.) He is a 21st century consulting detective, while Doyle’s creation was a consulting detective of 1900s.

b.) Being a modern detective, Benedict’s Sherlock has access to search engines and other online materials, while Doyle’s Sherlock used his readings and at times Encyclopedias to find something new to him.

It is clearly visible that how the whole characterization of a character can change when timeline of the story is changed. Hence for me there are two Sherlocks. Both use the science of deduction to solve crimes. But as I always say Jeremy Brett (May his soul rest in peace) to Sherlock Holmes is what Christopher Reeves (May his soul rest in peace) was to Superman: a perfect match.

You know my methods, Watson.
You know my methods, Watson.

The character Sherlock Holmes was first created by Late Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in very late 1800s. Since then, he has appeared in various forms: new movies, TV series even new novels (that is not written by Sir Doyle). Adventures and stories of Sherlock Holmes are the ones which when presented in any way will always be respected and will always be watched/read/listened to. This has what made this TV/Novel detective (oops, consulting detective) number one in my list.

I liked Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and Jeremy Brett as Sherlock Holmes equally (remember my timeline theory?). Both have portrayed Sherlock Holmes so well that they have conditioned our minds and every time we read the stories, we can see Benedict or Jeremy in action. We all know what Sherlock is like: he likes to show-off, he likes to solve cases, he finds peace in complex situations and he likes to take the central stage every time. I personally wish that the stories of this great detective are preserved and are always presented to every generation to every person in every era.


Who do you think is your favorite Sleuth?


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