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A character type that's popular with children's mysteries and adventures that contain mystery elements.
He'll always snoop around without the adults' knowledge. He must figure out how to investigate without getting caught by the criminal, while eluding trouble from authority figures. If he's caught by authorities added restrictions will be placed, so now he has to break even more rules to keep looking. If he's captured by the criminal he will be Bound and Gagged, and must either break free, call for help, or be freed by a fellow Kid Detective.
Obviously he's more adventure-oriented than adult detectives, with a focus on snooping rather than interrogation. Kids can't interrogate suspects anyway, so tricking them into revealing something is his best option.
And while an adult can go straight to the authorities with evidence, this kid often struggles with telling them what he experienced. He has to let them know what's up in a roundabout way, or expose it somehow. Rare is the one trusted by adult detectives, and can go to them directly.
- Born Detectives, those who descend from such families.
- Hardboiled Detective, whom they try to emulate.
Anime and Manga
- The CLAMP School Detectives
- Death Note has the kids from Wammy's House, particularly "Near". They're orphan geniuses raised to find the kid that will one day become L's successor.
- Detective Conan:
- "Conan Edogawa" is a 16-year old de-aged down to six. He has to find ways of cluing adults in disguised as being a nosy six-year-old. Though some flashbacks to his childhood do have him being genuinely helpful in some of his dad's investigations. . .
- The "Detective Boys" Ayumi, Genta, and Mitsuhiko.
- Ai Haibara too. She's actually Shiho "Sherry" Miyano, also a teenager de-aged down to six - though she was a Hot Scientist rather than a sleuth.
- Fuyuki from Keroro Gunsou in a few episodes.
- Lupin III's Baranco, a one-shot character.
- Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro has Yako Katsuragi. Although a talented head of the Detective Agency, she's simply a front for the demon Neuro who does all the investigations.
- Akise from Mirai Nikki
- Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok has the eponymous character
- Narutaki from Steam Detectives, heir to Steam City's greatest detective.
- Tantei Gakuen Q has budding sleuths compete to be Detective Morihiko's successor. Out of them Kyuu, Megu, Ryu, Kazuma, and arguably Sakurako and Kuniko are in the right age range (Kintaro is a bit older than them)
- To Aru Kagaku no Railgun has four girl detectives.
- The Dead Boy Detectives
- Little Lulu's Tubby occasionally acted as one, whenever Lulu needed his help with a problem at her house.
- Detective Story's Keito is a seven year-old boy with the deductive abilities learnt from a 26 year-old detective.
- Clubhouse Detectives is about a group of kids who work together to solve the murder of an opera writer's wife.
- The comedy Mystery Team parodies this; The main characters are 18-year olds still stuck in their crime-solving days. To raise their actual cred, they take on a little girl's case, who's looking for her parents' murderer.
- The Young Sherlock Holmes movie features the teen Holmes and Watson attending a Boarding School, befriending an inventor and his cute niece Elizabeth, and dealing with several mysterious deaths. The culprit, Holmes' fencing instructor Rathe, is revealed to be the younger Moriarty.
- A to Z Mysteries: Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose.
- The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents: Parodied with Malicia. She likes to think of herself as one, but she's really just an obnoxious know-it-all who's not quite Genre Savvy.
- Arthur The Boy Detective: Alan Coren's Arthur lives at 221A Baker Street and constantly shows up his downstairs neighbor.
- Enid Blyton wrote many such sleuths, including the Famous Five, the Secret Seven, and the Five Find-Outers.
- The Boxcar Children
- Brains Benton and Jimmy Carson, solved six cases in the late 50s and early 60s. Brains himself was a strong Sherlock Holmes stand-in.
- Cam Jansen is an elementary student who uses her Photographic Memory to solve crimes.
- Crooked House by Agatha Christie had Josephine. She investigates the murder of her grandfather, using her snoopy nature to provide clues that outsiders to the family never find. It turns out she's the murderer, having decided to kill her grandfather over his not getting her ballet lessons. She chose to investigate to get further attention from her family and the police. The subversion comes from the fact that readers were led to believe she was a genuine Kid Detective.
- The Dana Girls
- Diamond Brothers: Nick Diamond from the series by Anthony Horowitz.
- Diogenes Club: A couple of Kim Newman's stories include Richard Riddle, Boy Detective.
- The Disappearance of Sister Perfect: Jill Pinkwater's story has Sherelee Holmes. After finding that her runaway sister joined a cult, Sherelee posed as a rich teenager several years older than herself to sneak in the organization.
- Down the Mysterly River: Max the Wolf.
- Esp McGee: Played with in one book where the kid Watson visits the kid suspect's home to get some information. He barely manages to excuse himself when the suspect and his menacing father arrive early. Afterward, the experience weighs so much on him that he confesses to his parents what he was up to. They give him a firm lecture about taking such risks, then playfully suggest that since he's done it, he might as well contact McGee to give his report.
- Emil and the Detectives has about fifty kid detectives.
- Encyclopedia Brown's father is a police officer who knows his son's activities, and is a little embarrassed that the smartest detective in town is a fifth-grader.
- Enola Holmes, the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes
- The Great Brain series by J.D. Fitzgerald. Subverted in that he swindles other kids of their pocket money during his spare time.
- Grey Griffins: Natalia in the series takes notes for clues, and sometimes snoops around alone to discover things.
- Half Moon Investigations: Fletcher Moon in the Eoin Colfer novel.
- The Hardy Boys
- Harry Potter: Harry, Ron and Hermione fit this in the first three books.
- Inspector Tearle appeared in five books in the late 60s and early 70s. He and his sidekicks, his athletic sister and his best friend, solved cases from a treehouse.
- Justin Richards' The Invisible Detective novels are about a group of kids who claim to be "Baker Street Irregulars" to the non-existent Brandon Lake, because no-one would take them seriously as detectives themselves.
- Astrid Lindgren's Kalle Blomkvist has a hyperactive imagination, but enough skills and knowledge of actual procedures to find evidence against real criminals.
- Lasse and Maja from Martin Widmark's Lasse-Majas Detektivbyrå-stories (20+ books, a TV series, The Movie...).
- The ten-year-old members of the McGurk Detective Agency, led by the clever and impetuous Jack P. McGurk.
- Nancy Drew, a young but brilliant teenage girl who solves mysteries with the help of her two best friends and her understanding father.
- Marjorie Weinman Sharmat's Nate the Great
- Walter "Ramses" Emerson. A child of Amelia Peabody and Radcliffe Emerson, a pair of Egyptologists and incidental detectives in a series by Elizabeth Peters. Ramses has since grown up, gotten married, and produced his own precocious children.
- In the following passage, Ramses (age eight or nine) rescues his parents:
"Now, Mama, Papa, and sir," said Ramses, "please withdraw to the farthest corner and crouch down with your backs turned. It is as I feared: we will never break through by this method. The walls are eight feet thick. Fortunately I brought along a little nitroglycerine--"
- The Roman Mysteries's Flavia Gemini, assisted by three friends and various adults.
- The Shirley Holmes stories depict the exploits of a certain detective's sleuthing teenaged sister.
- Paul-Jacques Bonzon's Les Six Compagnons, the French counterparts of Enid Blyton's Kid Detective series.
- The Stanley family kids from Zilpha Keatley Snyder's loose series of books about them.
- The Sugar Creek Gang (an evangelical Christian series) feature them having wilderness adventures (And a lot of preaching).
- The Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie's Flavia de Luce, who's also an eleven year old expert on poisons.
- Alfred Hitchcock's The Three Investigators, a long-running multinational series.
- TKKG combines this with a Five-Man Band.
- Trixie Belden, and the rest of the Bobwhites, are teen detectives in the Hudson Valley. Thanks to her rich best friend Honey Wheeler, they go on trips and conveniently solve mysteries wherever they go.
- PK Pinkerton from the The Western Mysteries
Live Action TV
- The Adventures of Shirley Holmes, starring Sherlock's teenaged great grand-niece.
- The Baker Street Boys has a gang of street urchins living in Victorian London who help Sherlock Holmes solve crimes (as well as their own).
- Eugenie Sandler P.I., an Australian TV series
- PBS's Ghostwriter involves kids and a mute ghost who solve mysteries.
- Letty, a popular UK children's series during the 1980s.
- The Sarah Jane Adventures has an investigative journalist and three teens investigate and fight aliens
- Stick With Me, Kid, a British series where the kid detective bypassed the hassle by using an out of work actor to pose as a detective while the kid did all the work.
- The Bloodhound Gang from 3-2-1 Contact
- Jake and Jennifer Eagle in the 1993-94 Eagle Eye Mysteries PC game series.
- Guilty Party's Rudy (Kid Riddles) and his cousin Ling-Ling.
- The Persona series has Naoto Shirogane from Persona 4 and Goro Akechi from Persona 5.
- Suikoden III has Kidd, heavily inspired by Detective Conan.
- Mackenzie from Touch Detective is a Born Detective in that phase of her life.
- Parodied with the Mystery Solving Teens from Hark! A Vagrant. They act like typical teenagers, so they rarely do anything relevant to the case.
- The youngest four of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan, especially Flip.
- Timmy Turner from The Fairly Odd Parents became one in the Where's Wanda? episode when he wished to become a real private investigator; trench coat and all.
- Fillmore is a rare example of a cop version.
- Inspector Gadget's niece Penny is well-known for snooping, being captured, and ability to stop the bad guys by herself every single episode.
- Numbuh 2/Hoagie from Kids Next Door occasionally acts as one, complete with film noir narration.
- Sally Bollywood, who's also a Born Detective.
- Scooby Doo's Mystery Inc, although old enough to drive, are called "those meddling kids" regularly.
- A Pup Named Scooby Doo is a straight example.
- The Simpsons did this numerous times with Bart and Lisa.
- This is what Hank and Dean, The Venture Brothers, want to be. This is what the Giant Boy Detective is.