In reality, no investigator can solve every case that comes across their desk, but TV is far from real life. The following prolific sleuths never met a mystery from which they couldn't tease the truth or a bad actor they couldn’t bring down.
While clearance rates in New York City, for example, generally land between 30% and 60%, these fictional detectives close their cases 100% of the time. Sure, it’s satisfying for the viewer, but it sets an incredibly unrealistic standard. If only there really were a Dr. Cal Lightman, who can spot any untruth a mile away, or Veronica Mars, who looks beyond her teenage melodrama to get to the bottom of every mystery that comes her way - and boy, there are a lot of devious plots for these genius investigators to work out!
Vote up these entertaining but thoroughly unrealistic small-screen detectives you'd want in your corner.
- Photo: USA Network
Job Description: Private investigator and consultant for the Santa Barbara Police Department working under the false identity of a psychic.
Partner: Gus is his business partner and best bud who helps him keep up his ruse.
Biggest Success: Discovering that a suspect has multiple personalities, only one of which is aggressive, and the suspect is truly unaware of this. They catch him just before he commits another slaying.
Special Talent: Observation and deduction skills so keen that they can only be explained by pretending they are psychic abilities.
- Played By: James Roday
- Photo: Fox
Job Description: Forensic Anthropologist at the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington, DC, and occasionally contracts with the FBI to help solve homicide cases.
Partner: Seeley Booth, FBI special agent. Their skill sets complement one another, as she provides scientific expertise by examining ' remains and Booth employs his experience with investigations.
Biggest Success: Based on the severed finger of a kidnapping victim, Dr. Brennan is able to determine that the boy is alive and where he is, allowing him to be rescued before it's too late.
Special Talent: Exstentive knowledge of forensics, anthropology, and kinesiology.
- Played By: Emily Deschanel
- Photo: BBC One
Job Description: Detective Sherlock Holmes is a consultant who helps people, often government authorities, solve crimes and find the truth in mysteries using his keen intellect and incredible, often off-putting, power of observation.
Partner: Dr. John Watson, a medical doctor and vet, assists Sherlock. The two are friends and partners. With a deep understanding of his friend, Watson helps translate Sherlock’s self-assured, often brusque, manner, while cataloging their cases in a blog.
Biggest Success: Finding his kidnapped partner while also foiling a plot to blow up Parliament.
Special Talent: He reads people and scenes immediately, seeing past facades and getting to the truth of matters far more rapidly than your average Joe.
- Played By: Benedict Cumberbatch
- Photo: USA Network
Job Description: Private investigator and occasional homicide consultant for his former employer, the San Francisco Police Department.
Partner: Sharona Fleming, once his nurse, becomes Monk’s assistant, but is later replaced by Natalie Teeger. Both women assist Mr. Monk by pushing him to his limits and helping him overcome his OCD behavior.
Biggest Success: While watching a news report about a serial killer case he’s worked, Monk realizes there was more than one culprit and delves back into the fray.
Special Talent: While Monk’s obsessive-compulsive disorder and phobias are hindrances in daily life, his acute attention to detail and incredible memory aid him in solving cases.
- Played By: Tony Shalhoub