The 6 Traits Shared By Telly Crime Solvers

TV detectives come in all shapes and sizes, and they’d probably have a scrap if they were all put in one room. But our favourite sleuths definitely have a number of traits in common…

The Inspector Lynley Mysteries

1. DOGGED DETERMINATION

It's a real headache, cracking cases on telly. Whether they're murders, kidnappings or robberies, they're never straightforward, with more twists and turns than a bowl of tagliatelle. Wading through it all requires something more than mere dedication to duty. It requires the kind of dogged determination that annoys suspects and even rubs fellow officers up the wrong way. Case in point: Barbara Havers, who is determined to the point of fury. Quiet fury, to be sure - but those piercing eyes, scowling lips and corrugated brow give away just how much she lives and breathes the grim business of police work. It probably helps that her social life mainly consists of brooding in her kitchen, but that's the lot of a TV detective for you.

DS Jackie Reid played by Blythe Duff.

DS Jackie Reid played by Blythe Duff.

2. PHYSICAL SKILLS

A number of small-screen detectives have shown themselves to be rather good at deploying a punch, or giving hot pursuit when suspects do a runner. True, most of the time our sleuths will be treading gingerly through crime scenes, peering at clues, and having sudden brainwaves while nursing a pint in the pub, but every so often they need to show their physical skills as well. A sterling example is Jackie Reid in Taggart, who always gives as good as she gets, violence-wise. Like the time she thwacked a perp's face into a shop front till his nose gushed like a ketchup bottle, or - even better - when she turned on a terrifying home intruder, leaving him a blubbing broken mess on the floor.

Maisie Raine played by Pauline Quirke.

Maisie Raine played by Pauline Quirke.

3. CASUAL RULE BREAKING

One of the perks of being a telly detective is that you can brazenly bend or even break the official rules without suffering any long term consequences (unless your subsequent demotion forms part of a new story arc, of course). Casual rebellion is a common trait, whether it's the regular wry quip behind a superior's back, or outright impatience with basic etiquette. Take Maisie Raine, a square peg and proud of it. Bolshy, unorthodox and utterly unperturbed at the prospect of shoving other coppers aside, this DI cracks cases in just one way: her own. And woe betide anyone who stops to quote regulations at her.

 Detective Inspector Edmund Reid played by Matthew MacFadyen.

Detective Inspector Edmund Reid played by Matthew MacFadyen.

4. PERSONAL DEMONS

You don't just do the hours, clock off and veg out at home when you're a TV detective. Goodness, no. You have to set aside plenty of time to angst, agonise, and dwell on your past traumas. Personal demons are as much a part of the job as the sarcastic one-liners and regular alcohol intake. One of the most haunted of all coppers is Ripper Street's Edmund Reid, whose very eyes seem to shimmer with melancholy and regret. Whether he's blaming himself for letting Jack the Ripper escape justice, or thinking about the apparent death of his daughter, Reid has more personal demons than you can shake a silver-topped cane at.

Dr Grace Foley played by Sue Johnston.

Dr Grace Foley played by Sue Johnston.

5. QUIET EMPATHY

It may sometimes seem like detectives are a hardened, jaded and cynical bunch. But what makes them heroic, and worth sticking with through thick and thin, is their softer side. The fact that, when they're not glaring at suspects, they also have the ability to empathise and think about things in a considered way. That's what sets them apart from their more obtuse colleagues. Dr Grace Foley, the psychological profiler in Waking the Dead, is a class act when it comes to empathy. Even in the midst of some pretty horrific crimes, she's able to keep a level-head, empathizing with both the relatives of victims as well as the potential perpetrators. And that's what makes her so special.

Dalziel (Warren Clarke) and Pascoe (Colin Buchanan).

Dalziel (Warren Clarke) and Pascoe (Colin Buchanan).

6. BEING THE CHALK TO SOMEONE'S CHEESE

And so we come to perhaps the most important qualification a TV detective should have: being able to work alongside someone utterly ill-matched. Because let's face it, that's the inevitable destiny they must all face. Look at poor old Pascoe, the smart, compassionate, well-mannered detective who is lumbered with the oafish Dalziel, a man with all the sensitivity and social graces of a wild boar. Not only does Pascoe put up with his partner like a pro, but his own skills are enhanced by Dalziel's very different methods. Chalk and cheese have never gone so well together.