Top Ten Fictional Private Eyes

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There have been many fictional private eyes over the years in literature, comics and film. Some have paved the way for future generations, while others are so unique that we’ll never see another one like him or her. However we see them, one thing is for certain: we are fascinated with the fictional private eye.

With our audience’s demographics in mind, here are Gunaxin’s picks for the Top 10 Fictional Private Eyes, with a few honorable mentions at the bottom. Note that we’re not trying to list them all – just our favorites.


Inspector Gadget
Inspector Gadget

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Let’s start with one of the first detectives introduced to us, the Saturday morning cartoon character Inspector Gadget. The bumbling inspector introduced kids to not only the fine art of sleuthing, but also how many cool gadgets there are to fight Dr. Claw. We’re not really sure if he’s a private eye or a cop or what, but figure it doesn’t really matter.


Ace Ventura
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective

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We can’t forget the pet detective. Jim Carrey broke ground with this character and taught us how to talk with our butts.


The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew

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Let’s pay homage to the books that little boys and girls read which made them want to be detectives.


Adrien Monk

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After the death of his wife, Monk gets a job working as a private detective and a consultant despite suffering from obsessive–compulsive disorder, which has grown significantly worse after the tragedy.


Derek Strange
George Pelecanos Books


Here’s a sleeper for you. Not everyone knows author George Pelecanos, but he writes a much better, darker version of James Patterson’s Alex Cross with the Derek Strange character. The books are based in the Washington, DC area and are far better than anything Patterson has EVER written. Anyone who likes urban detective stories should pick up a copy of Right as Rain for starters.


Jessica Fletcher
Murder, She Wrote


Murder, She Wrote revolves around the life of a retired English teacher who becomes a very successful mystery writer. I don’t know anyone who watched the show, but it was popular enough to make Angela Lansbury a household name back when we were playing Super Nintendo.


Thomas Magnum
Magnum, PI

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Magnum is the detective we all want to be, because he lives in Hawaii, has the use of a Ferrari 308 GTS, and many other perks. That’s the ultimate private eye right there.


Philip Marlowe
Raymond Chandler Books

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Made popular in The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye, Marlowe is foremost within the genre of hardboiled crime fiction.


Sam Spade
The Maltese Falcon

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Spade is the protagonist detective in the classic film The Maltese Falcon (1930), and on some lists, tops even our no. 1 private eye.


Sherlock Holmes
Sherlock Holmes

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The king of the detectives, Sherlock Holmes taught us about the importance of deductive reasoning when trying to solve a crime. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s creation is one of the best-written detectives in literature and will be relevant in pop culture for many years to come.

Honorable Mentions
Charlie’s Angels (calling these chicks private eyes is like calling the Baywatch babes lifeguards… but they’re hot so let’s give them an honorable mention)
Herc (The Wire)
Mike Hammer (I, the Jury)
Jim Rockford (The Rockford Files)

Check out Wikipedia for a working list of all the fictional private investigators.