TV mystery series starring a pair of detectives in which the genius detective is not the white male.

It’s quite common for a mystery show to feature a brilliant detective and his sidekick; obviously Conan Doyle’s Holmes stories are the archetype. In tv-land in particular these tend to be either a pair of white males or a white male paired with a female of any race or a non-white male, and it’s almost always the white male who is the genius. I’m interested in talking about stories in which the genius is either the woman (regardless of race) or the non-white man.

Of the top of my head I can only think of one–a show called Unforgettable, in which Poppy Montgomery played a detective with a photographic memory–but I’m sure there must be others.

One show that I would say does NOT qualify is In the Heat of the Night. I don’t think TV!Tibbs is supposed to be a genius; he’s not exactly partners with TV!Gillespie; and anyway, TV!Gillespie is as apt to solve the case as TV!Tibbs is anyway.

And of course there’s also the fact that ItHofN is so incredibly bad that it makes me question my faith in Athena.

Ideas, anybody? Remember, this once I’m looking specifically for television shows, not novels, short stories, plays, or movies.

Well, Bones comes to mind.
Almost Human, with the smarter character being a robot that looks like a black guy.
Continuum, arguably.

On Remington Steele, Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) was a brilliant detective, while the handsome white male everyone knew as “Remington Steele” (Pierce Brosnan) was a mere figurehead, and a dolt who knew only what he’d seen in movies.

In I Spy, 1965, "As a strait-laced Rhodes scholar fluent in many languages, Cosby’s “Scotty” was really the brains of the team. "

More problem solvers than detectives but in the same vein. Peabody’s Improbable History

Tony Shalhoub of Monkwas pretty middle eastern looking and is of Lebanese heritage. Is that “white” these days?

I thought about Bones, but Temperance Brennan is only uber-brilliant in one area–forensic anthropology. Bones knows more about criminology in general.

Haven’t watched it.

Never even heard of it. Can I trouble you for details?

I’d count Monk as being white. It’s the ethnicity of the character, not the actor, that I’m looking for. And even if it weren’t, Shalhoub looks white to me. But then I have difficulty distinguishing among Caucasian ethnicities.

Perhaps I should have specified that all characters must be, you know, HUMAN.

That’s a good example, though Steele swiftly grew competent as a detective. He and Holt were never as unbalanced a team as Holmes & Watson (in most iterations), or Goren and Eames.


Tubbs was arguably the smarter of the Miami Vice team.

Angie Dickenson in Police Woman.
Cagney & Lacy.
Detective Frank Pembleton is the smarter of the team on Homicide.
*Prime Suspect. *

It’s a science-fiction series set in Vancouver. The female lead is a law-enforcement officer tossed ~60 years back in time along with the core membership of a future anti-corporation ultraviolent terrorist group, Liber8. She poses as a member of a hush-hush government agency and is partnered with a rather stereotypical hunk-cop.
Though she has a better handle on how Liber8 operates and is very well trained and equipped for combat and police work, she isn’t really the genius of the show, though. That’s the young kid she’s in contact with who will eventually invent all the technology she uses and be a major driving force in creating the future corporate dystopia that Liber8 is fighting against, the implication being that his older self helped engineer the time-travel incident that brought all this about.

Joe Bob says check it out.

Bobby Hill was definitely more everything than Andy Renko. More intelligent, more compassionate, better looking. They were uniform, not detectives, though. I don’t remember which of the detectives was the smarter. I don’t even remember their names.


Nobody remember Charlie Chan?

Castle, though I suppose it’s technically not a pair of detectives, as one of the pair is a mystery writer (but, if Bones qualifies, so should Castle).

Kate Beckett is the brilliant homicide detective (and was before Castle was ever on the scene); Rick Castle is a bumbling idiot-savant manchild – he does get better as the series goes on, but he still maintains the knack for doing the dumb thing at the inopportune moment, then uses his charm and / or blind luck to get out of it.

(Note that I post all of that as a big fan of the show. :slight_smile: )

I have not watched it for many years, but didn’t Jessica Fletcher on *Murder, She Wrote *have an effective partner in the police chief? Wasn’t he of roughly Lestrade-like astuteness?

Washington and LaRue. Washington was black (and Blaque), and IIRC much more competent than his partner.

Get Smart.

I expect these are rather common in non-white parts of the world, like India, China, and Japan.

Yah think?

Same with Miss Marple. It wasn’t always the same police officer or detective - she went on vacation a lot - but she did a lot of out-sleuthing the sleuth du jour.

Another…I always thought on Inspector Lynley that his partner, Barbara Havers might not have been a “genius” but she was more present and a better all-around detective.

The British series Prime Suspect isn’t a buddy cop thing but the main character is a female detective.

Does this one qualify? :dubious:

Idris Elba can appear in anything he wants and i will watch it.

Lance Link, Secret Chimp