And by the way, they are deeply sad
March 11, 2018 2:12 PM Subscribe
Why Are TV Detectives Always So Sad?
Sad detectives are about more than just getting you to stick around for future episodes, though. We’re so inundated with detective tropes that the detective has become her own breed of superhero — a figure who restores the status quo, who maintains the social fabric, who arrives in the midst of some unbearable horror and has the ability to not just interpret it, but track down the wrongdoer and bring him to justice. She brings order out of chaos. She finds answers. She is superhuman. Unless the goal is a cozy mystery where the resolution is never, ever in doubt (see: Poirot, Matlock, Jessica Fletcher), our collective vision of the fictional detective is of someone who’s arguably too powerful. Of course she’ll solve the crime! She’s a detective! Her sadness is a way to modulate that power, to soften her. It motivates her, perhaps — it explains why any person would be willing to show up and stare at murdered corpses day after day. But it’s also the convenient veil we all hold up to prevent ourselves from seeing how inevitable the mystery’s resolution still is. “Maybe this time she won’t solve it,” we think, “because she’s so, so sad.” She’ll solve it. But it’s a little easier for us all to briefly pretend she won’t.N.B. The author is using “detective” as a shorthand for all official and unofficial investigators: prosecutors, private investigators, etc.