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Defective Detective

 Defective Detective
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 Defective Detective
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Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_1'); })The greatest challenges a detective faces aren't always a devious criminal or a really tough case — all those are a cakewalk compared to managing their personal life.
The genius ones are nerds with trouble getting along with people or worse, have social or personality disorders. The hard-working ones are workaholics who let their family relationships slide because they're never home. The overworked and nervous ones dabble in drugs and court substance addictions (or blood). The Film Noir detective and his descendants have terrible luck with women, who either end up dead, broken or distant; if he has a wife he may be cheating on her. And gods help him and his friends if some of the bad guys or associates that they helped put in the clink come back to haunt him.
In short, it's rare to have a detective as a main character in a dramatic story and have them not have at least one serious character flaw that's tangential to them actually working cases.
Advertisement:propertag.cmd.push(function() { proper_display('tvtropes_mobile_ad_2'); })Not to be confused with Clueless Detective; he's definitely not clueless, though not quite great either.
See Also: Achilles' Heel, Bunny-Ears Lawyer, and Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?. Related to Dysfunction Junction.
Examples:
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2020-02-19T15:51:00Z
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Comic Book: Jannah Station
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Series: Longstreet
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Series: The Inspector Lynley Mysteries
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DiscoElysium
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In Sherlock, he's an outright (self professed!) high-functioning sociopath. He is also portrayed as literally addicted to the intellectual stimulation of his detective work— in the first episode, he engages in a likely-suicidal action just because he needs to know if a deduction is right.
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The Well of Lost Plots: Subverted. Thursday is hiding out in a very bad police procedural novel, and the protagonist, DI Spratt, is forced to have a dysfunctional family on the point of breaking up because the novel is so cliched. Thursday helps him out by making him subtly change the narrative. It turns out that the dreadful police procedural is a poor early draft of another Fforde novel, and when that novel is published Spratt and his family have become perfectly functional.
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 Thursday Next
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They are Jack Wyatt, a very Dirty Harry like detective with anger management problems who was fired after the city lost a number of lawsuits caused by his tactics. His anger management counselor Arnie is his helper. Wyatt uses these effectively in that we see him lead a SWAT team raid to capture a serial killer without any difficulty.
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Defective Detective
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Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Elliot Stabler's anger issues. Olivia Benson's Child-Of-Rape Guilt issues. Munch's crazy.
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 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
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Defective Detective
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Wonder Woman (1987): Diana befriends the PI Micah Rains, who usually is able to sort out the true perpetrator of a crime or find a kidnapped victim way quicker than the police, but is incredibly reckless, has no sense of self preservation, has been banned from most bars in Boston and is detested by the police for his rude, disrespectful cavalier attitude.
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 Wonder Woman (1987) (Comic Book)
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 Defective Detective / int_15d17004
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Defective Detective
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Robert Downey, Jr. plays Holmes in Sherlock Holmes (2009) this way even more than his written characterization. He is unable to "turn off" his Sherlock Scan, which may play a part in his addictions, and he is an extreme narcissist.
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 Sherlock Holmes (2009)
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Shuichi Sahara from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a Shrinking Violet who doesn't get much respect from his classmates. He actually hates his title at the start of the game - often claiming he doesn't deserve it at all - because the major case he solved had a Sympathetic Murderer and an Asshole Victim. Revealing his close friend and maybe-love-interest Kaede to be the first killer, leading to her execution, doesn't help either. It's somewhat subverted when his personality and backstory turn out to be false memories implanted for a Show Within a Show, although he actually auditioned with another variation of this in mind, wanting to play an Ultimate Detective who was an unrepentant villain.
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Vicki Nelson in Tanya Huff's Blood Books series. Had to quit the police force after developing a degenerative disease in her eyes, and became a PI who teams with a vampire because she can't see at night.
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Detective Conan:
Shinichi Kudo is a fantastic detective, but he's extraordinarily socially inept in many areas, particularly in picking up blindingly obvious cues that Ran is getting exasperated with his nonstop Holmes trivia (and that she may be flirting with him). Oh, and he's spent most of the series shrunk to the body of a child, which lends itself to more than a few hardships.
Ran's father Kogoro is horribly bad with money; is often seen drinking or gambling and can't fix his relationships with his estranged wife. Before Conan/Shinichi helped him gain some success as a detective, he was completely down on his luck, but even now he clearly has issues. Alternately Played for Laughs (because he's also quite the Butt-Monkey) or Drama (since it's been implied more than once that he's kind of a Sad Clown).
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MPD Psycho: The story is about Tokyo police inspector Yosuke Kobayashi, who receives a box at work containing his still-living but dismembered girlfriend. The gruesome sight, along with the culprit's insane unrepentance when captured, causes Kobayashi to snap and develop Dissociated Identity Disorder (split personalities), which becomes the focus of the story.
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Suikoden V's Oboro apparently has a Guilt Complex the size of a small planet regarding all the underhanded crap he had a hand in as Nether Gate's intelligence director, and it's heavily implied one of the reasons he hasn't chosen Redemption Equals Death is his desire to help those who've been scarred (mentally and physically) by his from his former organization. It's also more openly made aware that Fuyo, Sagiri, and Shigure double as his Morality Chain, and a living reminder of his guilt in the case of the latter two.
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 Suikoden V (Video Game)
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Monster: Lunge's obsession with Tenma verges on psychosis and ruins both his personal and professional life, Richard Braun is recovering alcoholic and Jan Suk is naive and trusting (which is a HUGE defect in a series with people with split personalities and/or false names, violent psychopaths and shady ex-intelligence operatives all out to try and control Johan, bystanders be damned).
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Aubrey in Anamorph is The Alcoholic and suffers from Super OCD.
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Hellraiser: Inferno: Det Joseph Thorne is a workaholic additionally obsessed with mysteries, puzzles and games of all types. When he does have time to go home to his beloved wife and kids, he often spends that time with a prostitute.
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Bones. With her lack of social skills, Temperance Brennan may have a mild case of Asperger's syndrome. According to the show's creator Hart Hanson, Zack Addy "almost definitely has Asperger's syndrome." Brennan is also traumatized from her childhood with her parent's disappearance.
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CSI NY:
Mac Taylor lost his wife to 9/11. Framed for murder by a killer who committed suicide in custody. Blown up several times. Taken hostage twice and nearly drowned the second time. Had a Stalker with a Crush for a while. Got a "Dear John" Letter via airmail from a girlfriend who stayed in London after convincing him to go there with her. Shot and left for dead but survived, although it caused a bout with speech aphasia which his trying to hide almost cost him his girlfriend. Of course, that was before he had to rescue her from kidnappers.
Lindsay Messer was the sole survivor of a massacre that killed her friends when she was a teenager. Had to shoot a deranged killer to protect herself, Danny and their infant daughter.
Stella: Orphan and foster child. Nearly killed by abusive boyfriend.
Jo Danville: Kicked out of the FBI by a vengeful senator after she turned in a Dirty Cop. Then the rapist in the case came back and nearly killed her.
Danny Messer: Shot in the back and left temporarily paralyzed. His brother was beaten by a vengeful mob guy and may or may not be dead or severely damaged. Had his and Lindsay's home invaded by a deranged serial killer who held his daughter hostage and who Lindsay had to shoot to stop.
Sheldon Hawkes: Framed for murder by the same guy who targeted Danny and Lindsay, caught in a prison riot by the same killer. Swindled out of his life savings. Got in trouble due to a random drug test right after he'd been exposed to marijuana second-hand. He and his girlfriend narrowly escaped being injured in an explosion while on a date...that he'd called in sick for.
Adam: Possible OCD issues, definite insecurity issues. Most likely from having an Abusive father who now has Alzheimer's and therefore doesn't remember his actions, so Adam gets no closure when he finally confronts him.
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Averted at first with Grimm concerning Nick Burkhardt. While he's dealing with his newfound status as a Grimm and the death of the only family he knows, he still generally avoids being a troubled or broken individual, and fairs quite well both as a person and as a detective...in the first season. Then his girlfriend loses her memories of him and his mom comes back, then he gets turned into an uncontrollable rage zombie who kills someone and leaves him with some Came Back Wrong issues, then he gets raped and loses his powers, and all the while he slowly-but-surely becomes more of a Blood Knight. After all that, he crosses into this trope.
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Gregory House from House is a narcissist, drug addict, and in great pain. Treating run-of-the-mill illness is beneath him. His only escape is diagnosing tough cases that have stumped other doctors, much in the same way that the Great Detective solves cases that have stumped the police.
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Defective Detective
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Shawn Spencer from Psych gets in his own way more often than not because he comes across so buffoonish that almost no one takes him seriously. He's a lot more well-adjusted and relaxed about things than most of the other detectives here though.
Shawn is, in fact, a brilliant detective pretending to be a crazy psychic because he believes the police won't believe the truth. Plus it allows him to act all goofy and solve crime without being a police officer.
He committed a prank that went bad and was convicted of car theft making it impossible for him to become a police officer if he wanted to. He enjoyed watching crimestoppers tapes and picking up clues that were very difficult to guess and sending them in on the police tipline. He did this so often, he was considered a suspect and had to claim to be a psychic to explain his knowledge to avoid prison time.
Shawn's major "defect" is refusing to grow up. He is rebelling against his father, a former police officer who tried to get Shawn to join the force too and made Shawn pretty miserable as a child (though from what has been shown his father was just strict and meddling, not a particularly Abusive Parent). Shawn can't let his dad "win," and so avoids adult responsibility as much as possible, and only used his gifts for observation by making crimestoppers' calls until the psychic detective schtick gave him the chance to use his skills and be an embarrassment to his father at the same time. (The show is in some sense a delayed Coming-of-Age Story.)
His rival/opposite number Head Detective Carlton Lassiter is socially stunted, coming down off of a difficult divorce, and extremely, unhealthily paranoid. He was also neglected as a child.
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Detective Kate Beckett on Castle plays with the trope; she's clearly got issues surrounding the murder of her mother, but has apparently managed to more or less put it behind her at the beginning of the series... until Castle unwittingly digs it all up again, leading to her eventually falling back 'down the rabbit hole' into her obsession with solving it over the course of the series. Season 4 further piles on by giving her psychological trauma following being shot in the chest in the Season 3 finale, leading to a complete PTSD breakdown in one episode. This aside this, even in the early episodes it's pretty clear that her mother's murder has left her more or less a cynical workaholic with little capacity to enjoy life outside of her job until Castle shows up.
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The protagonist of Fatherland, set in an alternate universe where Nazi Germany won WWII, Kripo investigator Sturmbannführer Xavier March is a socially isolated, rather taciturn workaholic, with hardly any social contacts except for two friends (one of whom turns out to be a betrayer at the novel's end), a marriage in total shambles (his wife either divorced or separated, which is not made clear in the novel, but living with another man at any rate) and a son who hates him - being a fanatical young Nazi while March is utterly disillusioned with the regime and the ideology, actively resisting Party membership, not participating in any "national events" and being a borderline dissident. As if that were not enough, he seems to have a mild (at least) case of PTSD from his service in the war and some unresolved father issues, seeing as his father -like March- had been in the Kriegsmarine and had died at sea, with March feeling pressured to follow in his footsteps. Nevertheless, he seems to be one of the best investigators the Kripo has, with the "cunning of a fox" and a determination that seems to border on the maniacal. This trait, together with his cynical, disillusioned outlook and the fact that despite having grown up in the Third Reich, he has a very well functioning moral compass, and his persistent drive to find out what happened to the previous owners of his apartment (who were Jews, so it's quite clear to the reader what happened to them ) both causes March a huge amount of problems and serves as the catalyst and main drive for the novel's plot.
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Dexter, by status of being a sociopath who has to fake social skills, and a Serial-Killer Killer in his spare time. Angel, Deb, pretty much everyone Dex works with to some extent, actually, also fall into this.
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Erika Furudo, the entitled detective in Episode 5 and 6 of Umineko: When They Cry, is first introduced as a Purity Sue but quickly turns out to be an arrogant, unempathic Attention Whore who is excited by the murders occurring, and treated even her boyfriend cheating on her as a criminal case. She describes herself as an "intellectual rapist". With a chopstick fetish. Yeah.
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Sam & Max: Freelance Police: One of the many detective conventions parodied. Both are totally insane, but as a Heroic Comedic Sociopath team rather than as The Woobie. That said, they'll sometimes dip into this reasoning to justify their ridiculous actions.
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 Comic Book: Sam & Max: Freelance Police
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Zeke Strahm of Seeking Truth has issues. He's grumpy, anti-social, and has no significant relationships outside of the one with his partner/friend with benefits Lizzie. Dealing with a certain mind-shattering Eldritch Abomination doesn't help.
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Tony Hill of Wire in the Blood is very socially awkward and eccentric, prone to getting lost in his own tangents and neglecting practical matters. The fact that he's better at relating to the serial killers he profiles than to normal people has surely been lampshaded more than once.
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Will Graham in Hannibal is odd and unsocial and is hinted to have an Ambiguous Disorder. To top it off, he has the gift of "pure empathy" which allows him to get into the minds of the criminals he hunts and causes him to experience nightmares and crippling anxiety. Not to mention the encephalitis (which causes hallucinations, disassociative episodes, and severe headaches) and his psychiatrist not only kept this from him but is Hannibal Lecter.
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Raines: Detective Michael Raines would be haunted by the Victim of the Week until he solved their murder... except in his case, the people only he can see and talk to aren't ghosts; they're hallucinations.
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Harry Hole is severely alcoholic, prone to bouts of depression, and has major issues with relationships. He's also probably the sharpest detective on the Oslo police force, which is likely the only reason he still has his job.
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Inspector Canardo takes pretty much every type of detective work (murder investigation for the police, discovering infidelity for private clients, finding where the dying men hid the gold etc.) with the same bored look on his face. His personal life consists solely of drinking in a bar by himself. While he has a good heart despite being jaded, his investigations rarely end with arrests (either the villain escapes or dies), which doesn't bother him after his fourth drink.
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Bron|Broen deconstructs this, as all of its detective characters eventually find the effects of their flaws catching up with them:
Saga Norén: By-the-Book Cop with No Social Skills (according to Word of God, she is definitely on the autistic spectrum) and a tragic backstory that unfolds over the course of the show. Endures a Trauma Conga Line in series 3 when her protective boss is murdered and replaced by a new one who is well-intentioned but completely fails to understand her disability and thinks she can be bullied into "normality", and her abusive mother commits suicide and frames her for matricide. By the end of the season she's suspended from the police and in serious danger of being prosecuted for murder, leading to a suicide attempt.
Martin Rohde: He appears to be more functional than Saga, but his inability to be faithful to women proves to have partially caused the murders of the first season, and at the end of the second season he despairingly murders the first season's killer and is imprisoned himself.
Henrik Sabroe: Functional Addict whose family disappeared several years ago. By the end of his season he has been suspended from the police after his drug abuse is discovered.
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The Dresden Files:
Harry's childhood is one long Trauma Conga Line. His mother died from childbirth (though, as it turns out, her enemies may have been pulling the strings begind that one), he spent his early youth living on the road with his father, who died of a burst aneurysm when Harry was six (again, not necessarily without "help"). Then, he ended up in the care of Justin DuMorne who taught him about magic while at the same time trying to Mind Rape him into a Tyke Bomb and Person of Mass Destruction, and only survived due to sheer luck and the intervention of some of his mothers' supernatural allies. This ended with his foster father dying by Harry's hand, which in turn led to him being tried by the White Council and would have led to his execution had Ebenezer McCoy not intervened.
Harry Dresden has serious woman troubles. His first love is Mind Raped into betraying him in the backstory (and he doesn't find out it was due to Mind Rape until later in the series), and she pretends to be dead so he thinks he killed her. His second love is half turned into a vampire and forever suffers serious temptation - which he blames himself for. His third love turns out to have been mind controlled into being with him, and doesn't actually have any (romantic) feelings for him. And to top it all off his second love comes back in Changes and reveals that she had his kid without telling him. And then he's forced to kill her. Various obstacles including his own death keep getting in the way of him and a female friend taking their relationship to the next level. To top things off, his best friend's daughter (who became his apprentice and ward for complicated reasons) is also in love with him, something which he has tried and failed to discourage.
Harry also develops severe pyrophobia after a close-range encounter with a flamethrower leaves him with a severely burnt left hand. In the following books, a lot of bad guys suddenly start using fire-based attacks... and that's without considering his own usual reliance on fire spells as part of his combat repertoire. For a while it's indeed bad enough that he can't even bring himself to light a candle with magic. Then in Turn Coat, his encounter with an Eldritch Abomination incapacitates him completely whenever he so much as remembers bits of the experience. Jim Butcher does love to torture Harry.
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Homicide: Life on the Street:
Frank Pembleton and Tim Bayliss come to mind. Pembleton's single-minded drive for justice leads him to renounce his Catholic faith and leave his wife, at least for a while, and he has a stroke that sidelines him for much of the fifth season. Bayliss has to deal with an unsolved child-murder that haunts him throughout the series, the trauma of being sexually molested by his uncle, and a gunshot wound that changes his entire outlook on life.
Nearly every detective on Giardello's shift fits this trope to varying degrees: Munch and his ex-wives, Gee's estrangement from his son, Kellerman being dogged by corruption allegations stemming from his time in Arson, the depression that drove Crosetti to suicide...and on and on.
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Discworld
Commander Sam Vimes: When we first meet him in Guards! Guards!, he's an miserable, misanthropic alcoholic, in charge of one of the most ragtag police forces that fiction has ever seen. The reader first meets him in a literal gutter, piss-drunk. (It is suggested later that he didn't start out like this, but had his idealism ground out of him by 25 years on Ankh-Morpork's (very) mean streets.) The arrival of Carrot, his first encounter with his future wife Sybil and the defeat of the dragon start him on his way back up towards at, the very least, Knight In Sour Armor-hood. But it takes until the third book for him to be completely on the wagon, and a full seven to give him a wife, a working police force, and a beloved son. And, after all of that, he's still more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold than your classic hero.
And he still has the small matter of the demon-brand of the Summoning Dark on his arm to worry about occasionally.
Angua herself is a better example, being a werewolf aware of her own species' propensity to mayhem and mental disturbances. Her psychopathic brother Wolfgang killed her sister and drove her other brother away from the family, and conspired with their mother to dominate Uberwald politics. Her fellow police can't help but carry silver in her presence, and even the city's resident undead are unfriendly to her because she's a cop.
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In Elementary, he is a socially inept recovering drug addict with serious Daddy Issues.
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Gorky Park: Arkady Renko is a workaholic, very cynical (especially in regards towards the Communist Party and their declarations), and is a chain smoker. Guess which one gets him in trouble while working a triple-homicide case in Moscow in the 1980s. His wife is having an affair behind his back, and while that is going on, he falls in love with a political dissident who is involved in the murder case he is investigating.
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Dr. Frost: The titular Frost himself. Although he's not a true detective, this still applies to him. While his inability to emphasize with others helps solve cases, it's also shown that it places him into just as much trouble as it does help, particularly through miscommunication.
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Innocent: Protagonist Yusuf exhibits elements of the trope at the start of the series, having a preteen daughter he rarely sees, a tumultuous relationship with his ex-wife, and a tendency to harass said ex-wife's new paramour. By the final episode, things are looking a little better for him.
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Nero Wolfe has the flaws of a considerable ego, a touch of agoraphobia (or simply a marked preference for staying at home), and his considerable girth (he is said to weigh "a seventh of a ton," approximately 286 lbs making him "morbidly obese" in the era in which the story was originally written, but hardly noteworthy today). Wolfe is shown to be able to have the will to overcome all these flaws when solving crime.
In fact, Wolfe arguably inverts this; he's at his happiest being an eccentric, slighty kooky shut-in and and one of his great peeves is having to work. Rather than his eccentricities getting in the way of his solving crimes, Wolfe in fact tends to view the situation as people making him solve crimes getting in the way of his eccentricities.
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In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, detective Eddie Valiant not only has an alcohol problem, but also has trouble with his relationship and is traumatized by his brother's death.
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Columbo either has shades of this trope, or pretends he does, so well that the audience never sees him slip. Certainly the suspects believe he's one.
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Caballistics, Inc.: Detective Absalom (who also starred in his own spinoff) is an alcoholic.
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Max Payne. Yes. Yes that's exactly what the title character has.
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Fitz in Cracker, an overweight alcoholic adulterer with a gambling addiction. For extra irony, he's a hypercompetent criminal psychologist who is capable of deducing anybody's issues in a heartbeat... including his own. He's just powerless to do anything about it. He does try, when it becomes obvious that his marriage and his relationship with his children is at stake. However, he finds he likes the way he is too much.
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The Method has an alcoholic Serial-Killer Killer with brain damage that causes hallucinations accept an apprentice for Passing the Torch before his hallucinations make him unable to work. Unfortunately, his method drives her to drinking too, among other things.
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Cop: The main character, an LAPD detective played by James Woods, is a workaholic and a bit of a lech. His wife leaves him halfway through the movie because of his erratic behavior (like telling his young daughter a "bedtime story" about a gruesome murder case he had to deal with).
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Persona 4 has Naoto Shirogane (at least pre-Character Development). Despite the impressive-sounding title of "Detective Prince", she's not that popular when she first comes to Inaba; the police look down on her for being a Kid Detective, and her attempts to overcompensate for this cause a lot of friction with her peers. Her parents died in a car crash when she was young, and she doubts she can live up to the family's reputation as detectives - particularly because of her gender issues - so she's a perfectionist with serious self-doubt issues. There's also the protagonist's uncle Dojima, who's inability to give up the chase for his wife's killer causes a major strain on his relationship with his daughter, and his partner Adachi, who is the department's Butt-Monkey and a major screw-up. Taken even further with Adachi when he turns out to be the villain, an Ax-Crazy misanthrope who killed two women for (in his mind) being whores, used his goofy veneer to trick another man into almost murdering several people, and was willing to let the world end basically because he thought he deserved a better lot in life.
Unsurprisingly, given that he's hailed as the Second Detective Prince, Goro Akechi has shades of this as well. He's much more charismatic than Naoto, but is actually a Stepford Smiler obsessed with making himself popular due to his childhood: born out of wedlock - something that's majorly looked down upon in Japan - he was passed around a series of abusive foster homes after his mother committed suicide out of shame (at one point he thinks to himself that his fans would surely turn on him if they knew he was an 'unwanted child', showing he has trust issues as well). Like Adachi, he's eventually revealed to be an antagonist, albeit a more tragic one - his father is the Big Bad, and used Akechi's desire for status and revenge to turn him into a hitman in middle school. Akechi's title is almost entirely a farce, built on solving mental breakdowns he caused himself, and his father knew all along that he was planning to stab him in the back.
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Unsurprisingly, given that he's hailed as the Second Detective Prince, Goro Akechi has shades of this as well. He's much more charismatic than Naoto, but is actually a Stepford Smiler obsessed with making himself popular due to his childhood: born out of wedlock - something that's majorly looked down upon in Japan - he was passed around a series of abusive foster homes after his mother committed suicide out of shame (at one point he thinks to himself that his fans would surely turn on him if they knew he was an 'unwanted child', showing he has trust issues as well). Like Adachi, he's eventually revealed to be an antagonist, albeit a more tragic one - his father is the Big Bad, and used Akechi's desire for status and revenge to turn him into a hitman in middle school. Akechi's title is almost entirely a farce, built on solving mental breakdowns he caused himself, and his father knew all along that he was planning to stab him in the back.
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DI Chandler from Whitechapel has OCD. Normally it manifests itself in a need to have everything neat and orderly (to the point where he makes sure clean clothes and soap are near at hand), but the stress of the job can have Chandler going into a full-blown breakdown. He's been shown stuck in his office going through a counting compulsion, repeatedly turning the lights on and off in a sequence as his panic increases because he knows he has to stop and leave but he compulsion prevents him from doing so.
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Ben Shockley in The Gauntlet, Clint Eastwood's Deconstruction of Dirty Harry, is a heavy drinker and a Punch-Clock Hero, with even fewer friends than the usual Cowboy Cop.
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Robert Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent has, over the years, had his quirks played up so much that, as of the current season, he recognizes that he's considered a nutjob by others in the department. Even he questions his sanity. And while Mike Logan isn't a brilliant detective, he's had to deal with a reputation as an out-of-control incident waiting to happen. Lampshaded twice: when he interrogates a fence while threatening him with a broken pool cue, and later when he gets a temporary partner who's even more of a hothead than he is. He even looks forward to being the diplomatic one for a change.
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In Den of Thieves, O'Brien is a Dirty Cop who is constantly hungover and has a terrible home life. In fact, most the criminals are shown as having a better home life than he does.
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An episode of Batman Beyond confirmed this is true in the Dinniverse as well. A villain tries to manipulate Bruce Wayne by using subsonics to simulate his subconscious. It is revealed that this didn't work because the "subconscious" referred to itself as Bruce. Apparently, this isn't the name Mr. Wayne calls himself in his own head and he realized it was a fake immediately.
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Subverted in Foyle's War - even taking into account the World War II setting, DCS Foyle is usually one of the most well-adjusted people around at the time. His assistant, Sergeant Milner, is closer to the trope, as he has to deal with having had his leg shot off in the Battle of Norway, but even he's got his head screwed on tighter than some of the others making this list.
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Brian 'Memory' Lane in New Tricks.
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The Last Detective Dangerous Davies is seen as a defective detective and given all the crappy jobs because he is a police officer who turns in one of his own. At the start of the series this has caused his relationship with his wife to deteriorate.
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Harry also develops severe pyrophobia after a close-range encounter with a flamethrower leaves him with a severely burnt left hand. In the following books, a lot of bad guys suddenly start using fire-based attacks... and that's without considering his own usual reliance on fire spells as part of his combat repertoire. For a while it's indeed bad enough that he can't even bring himself to light a candle with magic. Then in Turn Coat, his encounter with an Eldritch Abomination incapacitates him completely whenever he so much as remembers bits of the experience. Jim Butcher does love to torture Harry.
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In When Evil Calls, Detective Ringwald is an alcoholic, who lives in a rats nest of an apartment and eats Chocolate-Frosted Sugar Bombs and whiskey for breakfast. He staggers through the film in an drunken haze, speaking in Franch half the time, and being incomprehensible in either language.
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Lord Peter Wimsey has a lot of advantages, being a filthy rich aristocrat, but he also has a severe case of shell-shock (post-traumatic stress disorder, in modern terms).
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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Kyouko Kirigiri. As per her title, she's only a teenage detective, but like the rest of the cast has her share of problems. Her mother died when she was very young, her father abandoned her shortly after, the rest of her family look at her like a throwaway child thanks to the last two facts, and anywhere else she appears in the franchise reveals that she's seen enough death and violence that the idea of mortality hardly affects her anymore (to the point that she'll put her own life or the lives of others at risk without hesitation if it gains her an advantage in solving the school's mystery). All this culminates in an unfriendly disposition, a lot of trust-issues and a stoicism that prevents her from relating to anyone, save for the main character after a long while.
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Douglas Adam's Dirk Gently is a highly competent detective who can piece together the most bizarre cases thanks to his holistic approach (as advertised by his 'Holistic Detective Agency' operation) though his personal life is a complete mess. For one thing, he hasn't opened his fridge in years and is engaged in a daring game of chicken with his cleaning lady who are both trying to trick the other into opening it first.
An Alternative Character Interpretation is that Dirk is accidentally a highly competent detective, having created the entire notion of Holistic Detection in order to provide an explanation for submitting all-encompassing expense reports to his clients. He always solves the case, but his motivation is less about Justice, Closure, or Solving The Unsolvable, and more along the lines of "I want to do whatever I like, and get someone else to pay for it all." The TV Adaptation of the first book leaned very heavily in this direction, and gave Dirk some interesting new flaws. In particular, he was quite willing to hypnotize his apparent best friend into "investing" in the agency, said investment being promptly used to give himself a nice holiday.
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The extreme personality of Batman is the real one while "Bruce Wayne" is merely a facade.
An episode of Batman Beyond confirmed this is true in the Dinniverse as well. A villain tries to manipulate Bruce Wayne by using subsonics to simulate his subconscious. It is revealed that this didn't work because the "subconscious" referred to itself as Bruce. Apparently, this isn't the name Mr. Wayne calls himself in his own head and he realized it was a fake immediately.
As of the One Year Later storyline, Bruce realizes how fundamentally screwed up this is and is trying to strike more of a balance between his two lives.
This interpretation has only been valid since the mid-80s (i.e., more or less since Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). Prior to that, Bruce Wayne was his "real" identity.
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Chris Black, of the League of Magi novella "Coldheart" is a paranoid schizophrenic who can't even be certain the disappearance he's investigating is even happening.
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The Millennium Trilogy features Lisbeth Salander. She's small, antisocial, and has an Ambiguous Disorder.
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Ivo Sharktooth from Girl Genius. His main problem is that, being a jaegermonster, he is terrible at being an actual detective. His main talent appears to be an uncanny ability to be exactly in the right spot for Chandler's Law to kick in and someone getting assassinated in front of his eyes for knowing too much. How far Ivo is into an 'investigation' can be linearly plotted next to how many people currently want him dead.
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The protagonist of 1997 Blade Runner video game, Ray McCoy, often seems a little bit dim and sometimes overly impressionable.
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Death Note: All of the Wammy's House detectives have problems. For a start, they're all orphans. Now for the individual issues: L's social skills are awful and he has no friends, Mello has a violent inferiority complex, and Near's ability to live everyday life is ranked by the supplementary 'How To Read' material as being almost zero.
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Monk:
The central character is the Trope Namer. He's a detective with obsessive–compulsive personality disorder, along with a plethora of smaller issues like a laundry list of phobias orbiting it. (Occasionally other characters and the promos even call him "the Defective Detective"). In the Russian dub, the name of the show is The Defective Detective!
To a lesser extent, Captain Stottlemeyer counts. He has had two failed marriages (his first one actually only lasted a week! The other lasted 20 years and fell apart in the normal way). His next serious girlfriend is Linda Fusco, who Monk and Natalie expose in "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend" as having shot and killed her business partner.
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Special Agent Alex Mahone of Prison Break, fully as smart as escape mastermind Scofield ... also a drug addict constantly teetering on the verge of a mental breakdown.
Plus he has the body of a criminal he had previously hunted buried in his backyard. Something that gives him troubling flashbacks and allows The Company to blackmail him.
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Law & Order: Lennie Briscoe had two failed marriages, a battle with alcoholism, and his daughter got involved with drugs and was later murdered by a drug dealer.
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Danganronpa:
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: Kyouko Kirigiri. As per her title, she's only a teenage detective, but like the rest of the cast has her share of problems. Her mother died when she was very young, her father abandoned her shortly after, the rest of her family look at her like a throwaway child thanks to the last two facts, and anywhere else she appears in the franchise reveals that she's seen enough death and violence that the idea of mortality hardly affects her anymore (to the point that she'll put her own life or the lives of others at risk without hesitation if it gains her an advantage in solving the school's mystery). All this culminates in an unfriendly disposition, a lot of trust-issues and a stoicism that prevents her from relating to anyone, save for the main character after a long while.
Shuichi Sahara from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a Shrinking Violet who doesn't get much respect from his classmates. He actually hates his title at the start of the game - often claiming he doesn't deserve it at all - because the major case he solved had a Sympathetic Murderer and an Asshole Victim. Revealing his close friend and maybe-love-interest Kaede to be the first killer, leading to her execution, doesn't help either. It's somewhat subverted when his personality and backstory turn out to be false memories implanted for a Show Within a Show, although he actually auditioned with another variation of this in mind, wanting to play an Ultimate Detective who was an unrepentant villain.
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Code of Silence: Detective Cragie is an older, alcoholic cop who is well-liked within the department, but covers up his accidental shooting of a teenager.
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Oxymoron: Mary Clark has Addison's Disease, an auto-immune disease that makes her dependent on steroids. She had an episode that inadvertently caused the death of her partner, which she still feels guilty about. It also got her booted down to beat cop, until the commissioner reinstates her to deal with Oxymoron.
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CSI: Miami: Horatio Caine's mother and wife were murdered. Abused by his father.
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Waking the Dead: Detective Superintendent Peter Boyd, who believes that every problem can be solved by just shouting loudly enough. Violence prone, estranged from his son, and occasionally everyone else. Story arc in which he undergoes anger management therapy has somewhat predictable results.
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Several in the Law & Order franchise:
Law & Order: Lennie Briscoe had two failed marriages, a battle with alcoholism, and his daughter got involved with drugs and was later murdered by a drug dealer.
Robert Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent has, over the years, had his quirks played up so much that, as of the current season, he recognizes that he's considered a nutjob by others in the department. Even he questions his sanity. And while Mike Logan isn't a brilliant detective, he's had to deal with a reputation as an out-of-control incident waiting to happen. Lampshaded twice: when he interrogates a fence while threatening him with a broken pool cue, and later when he gets a temporary partner who's even more of a hothead than he is. He even looks forward to being the diplomatic one for a change.
Speaking of Mike Logan, shall we mention his violently abusive mother? And how it's heavily implied a local parish priest sexually molested him as a child? All of which contributed a teeny bit to that little bit of a temper problem he has?
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: Elliot Stabler's anger issues. Olivia Benson's Child-Of-Rape Guilt issues. Munch's crazy.
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Ewart Backstrom in the Backstrom novels, an overweight boorish alcoholic of little ability and inflated ego.
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Ironside (1967) and its remake Ironside (2013). In both versions, the title is a reference to the main character's wheelchair and his name, Robert Ironside.
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Subverted to some extent with Jonathan Creek, who is often seen as weird and out-of-touch by his sidekick, but usually deals with life a lot better than they do.
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Charlie Eppes of NUMB3RS - a mathematical genius who uses his talents to help his FBI agent brother solve crimes, he has emotional difficulties to the point that he locks himself in the garage to work on unsolvable problems when he can't deal with life.
Charlie is a university teacher who perceives criminal cases as interesting mathematical problems. So he is more Ditzy Genius than Defective Detective.
In any case the garage thing seems to me to be little more then a mild eccentricity.
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Parodied in The Areas of My Expertise with a list of ridiculous detectives, including one who was his own worst enemy, one who was a Satanist, and one who never got out of his bathtub.
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Due South
Benton Fraser: Lost his mother to a killer at age 6. Lost his father to another killer as an adult. His father (now a ghost) takes an intrusive interesting in spending time with him post-mortem. Framed for murder by vengeful ex girlfriend (who he had previously put in prison after they fell in love with each other).
Ray K: Caught in a bank robbery that scared him so badly he wet his pants in front of his future (now ex) wife. Had his whole life uprooted so he could pretend to be Ray V while the latter went undercover, leaving him to deal with the fallout from Ray V's previous actions without knowing anything about them.
But he must have had Ray V's files, which he could read to find out about him and his cases. Ray V may not have put everything in the file, however. I don't think he's as defective as Fraser or Ray V. The fandom just likes to make him into a victim.
Ray V: Abusive, alcoholic dad whom he continued to have issues with even after the guy died.(another case of arguing with the ghost). Had his whole life uprooted to go undercover with The Mafia, only to have it happen again and have to deal with having been replaced by Ray K in the meantime when he returns to the force.
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Norman Jayden is an FBI agent with a serious drug problem (which it's implied he only developed in the first place because the drugs in question were to meant to counteract the effects of the virtual reality system he makes use of on the job). Scott Shelby, who's a more conventional noir detective, doesn't have any obvious issues, but he does lead a pretty solitary and occasionally violent life. Oh, and he's also the serial killer Jayden and everyone else are trying to catch.
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The Unusuals (as its name implies) features a whole bunch of quirky detectives, but the two who deserve special mention are Banks and Delahoy, who are partners:
Banks, whose father, grandfather, and uncle all died at the age of 42, has himself just turned 42. He wears a bulletproof vest everywhere he goes (including to bed) and has basically idiot-proofed his entire apartment. He sometimes has panic attacks when he thinks he's going into a dangerous situation.
Delahoy, who has been diagnosed with a potentially-fatal brain tumor, is a Death Seeker who suffers from visual and auditory hallucinations. Sometimes, he receives messages from fortune cookies that help him crack his latest case.
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The Yiddish Policeman’s Union: Meyer Landsman of Michael Chabon's novel is an alcoholic mess, has massive problems about family, guilt, religion, and chess, and is a hard-as-nails Determinator to boot.
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Played mostly for comedy in Tenspeed And Brown Shoe, and zig-zagged for one of the two leads.
Lionel Whitney zig-zags the trope in that his biggest problem is that he decided to become a detective (after spending most of his working life as a stockbroker) as a way of living out his pulp fiction-inspired dreams of being a hard-boiled gumshoe, and as a result tends to see the cases his agency takes on in melodramatic genre terms. At the same time he's not quite equipped to handle the grayed morality and action that requires in practice, being something of a Knight in Shining Armor. More straightforwardly, he's also prone to The Dulcinea Effect, is overly trusting of others (he gets conned by two kids in the course of 13 episodes!), and in the last episode it's revealed that his parents are deeply disappointed he gave up his old life for a career that leaves him in Perpetual Poverty.
E.L. Turner, his partner, is an ex-con out on parole. While Lionel especially is determined to keep him on the straight and narrow, E.L. is prone to hatching zany schemes to counteract the aforementioned Perpetual Poverty — usually by way of his Master of Disguise skills — which sometimes run headlong into the case of the week with varying consequences.
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Holland March in The Nice Guys. His wife is dead, lost in a fire that was partly Holland's fault. He's also kind of a bumbling idiot; but, he is damn good at his job.
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Doctor Who: In "The Robots of Death" the two detectives are the least mentally stable members of the cast, with the exception of the villain and arguably the Doctor. Poul spirals increasingly into madness between his paranoid agent hyperawareness and his initially mild Uncanny Valley Phobia getting triggered by the situation, and has a complete mental breakdown at the beginning of the fourth act that makes him useless from that point on. D84 is more helpful, but is clearly an eccentric by the standards of robots - somehow, it is able to go against its own programming in pursuit of its work, which leaves it less than stable, and its story ends with it blowing out its own brains in order to save the Doctor.
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In The Alphabet Killer, Detective Paige always knew that she was different from her colleagues in her uncanny obsessive tendencies. She did not know, however, that these were the first signs of a mental illness that would lead to a psychotic break.
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Ned in Pushing Daisies has the ability to raise the dead, making him the best murder investigator on the planet, and while not as obviously dysfunctional as someone like Monk, has layer upon layer of personal trauma that manifests as issues with intimacy, a paucity of real passions aside from his love of baking and his rewarding but frustrating relationship with his girlfriend, hyper-cautiousness and a general malaise. No wonder Ned has intimacy issues: if he even touches Chuck, she'll die, because he's already brought her back from the dead.
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Both of the main characters for season one of True Detective embody this trope: outwardly, Rust Cohle is extremely quiet and stoic or even depressed. Get him to talk and he shows himself to be an incredibly cynical nihilist who claims human consciousness is a mistake of nature, mostly as a result of his deceased daughter. Cohle also suffers the effects of multiple substance abuse, both current and former, mostly due to an overlong period as a DEA undercover agent. His partner, Martin Hart, is outwardly a much better-adjusted family man, but in truth he's a self-justifying adulterer, so possessive of his family and mistress that he borders on treating them like devices to make him feel better, prone to solving his personal issues with violence or abuse of his authority, and also has some alcoholism issues.
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Hercule Poirot: Poirot suffers from a minor case of OCD; the books go into more detail regarding his love of neatness than the television series — the first novel actually has him finding a vital clue as a result of rearranging the decorations on a mantelpiece.
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Many of the police characters in The Wire are flawed to some degree:
Bunk Moreland is a pretty competent by-the-book detective, but does have problems staying faithful to his wife.
Cedric Daniels is fairly competent, but has a past corruption allegation from his time in the Eastern District hanging over him.
Jimmy McNulty is shown to be a supremely talented detective, but is also a foul-mouthed, alcoholic, arrogant, self-loathing womanizer who has a tendency to give a fuck when it ain't his turn to give a fuck. It's repeatedly shown that he has little-to-no life outside of detective work, and only shines as a person when he briefly demotes himself down to a beat cop.
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CSI, let me count the ways:
Grissom is socially awkward and gets in trouble because he doesn't play the politics game. Early in the series, he had a near-brush with hereditary hearing loss that would've ended his career.
Sara's laundry list of issues only start with having witnessed her mother kill her abusive father when she was young and worring from then on whether murder is a genetic trait.
Catherine divorced her husband and work keeps her from spending enough time with her daughter, and oh, her father may be connected to the mob but no one can prove he's done anything. Then he got shot and died in her arms.
Warrick started the series with a gambling addiction and a rookie dies on his watch because he left the scene to place a bet, near the end of his tenure on the show he starts abusing prescription drugs.
Brass has an estranged daughter and left his old job in New Jersey because he couldn't be bought.
Nick was abused by his babysitter when he was nine and has an issue with closed spaces after the "Grave Danger" episodes.
Greg was traumatized after the explosion in the lab and later the entire "Fannysmacking" story-line.
Julie Finn got fired back in Seattle for breaking the rules during a case. Of course, DB was that boss and she's working or him again...
Morgan Brody dealt for years with her father, Conrad Ecklie, not doing anything to stop her mom from taking her and leaving when she was 14. Though they've gotten closer after she moved to Vegas and he got shot.
The only one who mostly averts it is DB, at least in his background. During the series,though, he had his granddaughter kidnapped and his son suspected of murder for a time. Plus having to deal with the same son getting mixed up with the actual killer.
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Find me a recurring Criminal Minds character who isn't dealing with PTSD flashbacks, traumatic childhood experiences, a family history of mental illness, a slight substance problem, intermittent explosive episodes, or chronic relationship trouble, and then be prepared to be proven wrong half a season later.
Ever since JJ became a full-time profiler in season seven, she now fits the Defective Detective description (she was previously the media liasion). She had PTSD after Reid's kidnapping, she shot the guy that shot Garcia, her older sister committed suicide when she was eleven, and the fact that almost every time the team has a case involving young blond women or small town women her demeanor changes. She either gets angry faster ("North Mammon") or just has that look on her face ("Birthright"). It's not as bad as any of the others' (Hotch, Reid, and Emily have the hardest time hiding it. Emily is blatantly obvious if you go back and watch "A Higher Power".), but it's still there.
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This interpretation has only been valid since the mid-80s (i.e., more or less since Batman: The Dark Knight Returns). Prior to that, Bruce Wayne was his "real" identity.
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Cool McCool is like Maxwell Smart, only stupider.
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Nick Moss, the gumshoe of City of Devils, Fifty Feet of Trouble, and Wolfman Confidential is not an impressive man.
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Dr. Thorndyke was written as a very deliberate aversion of this trope according to his author R. Austin Freeman, who felt that the trope had become overused, clichéd and exaggerated in many authors inspired by Sherlock Holmes. Thorndyke is a brilliant but humble and pleasant man whose only vice is a particularly disgusting variety of cigars.
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Everett Backstrom in Backstrom, an overweight boorish alcoholic of little ability and inflated ego.
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Inch High, Private Eye somehow manages to solve his cases. Though his niece, her friend, and her dog help.
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As of Tekken 4, detective Lei Wulong's girlfriend broke up with him because he'd rather solve cases rather than spend time with her. Considering he's not found another girl even until Tekken 6, he likely is still a huge workaholic. (Note that every time Lei enters a Tekken tournament, it's always because of a case he's on at that time.)
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Actively subverted with DCI Tom Barnaby of Midsomer Murders, an easy-going, well-adjusted family man who is by far the most stable and sane character presented in the series, given that he lives in the deadliest rural county in England.
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The title character of the Mediochre Q Seth Series has some, uh, issues. In fairness, so would you if you were trapped in a teenage body for ever.
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Lupin III has Inspector Kouichi Zenigata, who despite being badass enough to be one of the only law enforcers in the world to consistently even get close to arresting the titular thief, sometimes gets reduced to being a bumbling idiot who is incredibly easy to fool. In fact, the Filipino dub explicitly has Lupin refer to him jokingly as "Defective" instead of detective!
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The Bone Collector: Lincoln Rhyme is paralysed following an accident yet continues to help solve crimes despite being bedridden. He has to be one of the most extreme examples: he can only move his head and one finger, and the only body function he is in control over is his breathing!
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As mentioned under Literature, this aspect of Sherlock Holmes is often exaggerated in adaptation:
In Elementary, he is a socially inept recovering drug addict with serious Daddy Issues.
In Sherlock, he's an outright (self professed!) high-functioning sociopath. He is also portrayed as literally addicted to the intellectual stimulation of his detective work— in the first episode, he engages in a likely-suicidal action just because he needs to know if a deduction is right.
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Hong Kong Phooey. How everybody, even the crooks, take this buffoon as a champion is mind-boggling.
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Psycho-Pass: Most of the Enforcers have a lot of emotional baggage which is why they're latent criminals in the first place. Inspectors are not exempted from this and when their Psycho-pass goes high due to the amounts of stress, they'll eventually get demoted to Enforcer. For examples:
Shinya Kougami used to be an Inspector until his Psycho-pass exceeded into high level when he saw the corpse of his Enforcer, Sasayama, and eventually got demoted.
Tomomi Masaoka is a veteran detective before the Sibyl System was implemented. He got demoted into Enforcer when he got frustrated on the new system which caused a strained relationship with his son.
Shuusei Kagari diagnosed as a latent criminal at the age of 5. Given how latent criminals are treated, he has lived his entire life in rejection from society, and the resulting sullen resentment towards the Sibyl System.
Yayoi Kunizuka used to be a former guitarist until her Psycho-pass exceeded into high level and was placed in a institution. She decided to become an Enforcer when someone she knew turned out to be a rebel against the Sibyl System.
Nobuchika Ginoza resents his father who became a latent criminal while his former partner, Kougami, got demoted. As the series goes by, he regularly visits his psychiatrist who warned him about his rising Psycho-pass rate. At the end of the show, he became an Enforcer after he saw his father died to save his life.
Though Akane Tsunemori seems to have no emotional baggage when she joined the bureau, her failure to save her friend's life from Makishima became a turning point to her and then, she learned the truth about the Sibyl System which made her lost faith in them.
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The following is a list of statements referring to the current page from other pages.

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Madness Tropes
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Seekers
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 Role Play: Cumberholmes Role Play Twitter Community
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