Crime Fiction’s Ten Greatest Bromances

The medical mystery bromance of House.
As a genre, mystery is famous for its loners, guys like Jack Reacher, Monk and Lucas Davenport. But mysteries are also rife with bromances, all you have to do is look. What exactly is a bromance? The term is used to describe a non-sexual relationship between two men that are unusually close. In mystery, this can take the form of a traditional sidekick, a work colleague, or even a dog.

Here is my take on the top ten ten mystery bromances, in reverse order:

Number 10: Hercule Poirot and James Japp in the PBS Mystery! Series Poirot

Technically Poirot spends more time with Captain Hastings, but it is the unlikely evolution of his relationship with Scotland Yard’s Inspector Japp that is most impressive. The Brit and the Belgian are as different as two men can be, yet they develop a mutual respect and fondness for one another. Poirot invites Japp to stay at his house, and when Japp gives lectures about his career, he gives all the credit to Poirot. It’s a friendship of international detection perfection.

Shaggy and Scooby
Man’s best friend bromance.
Number 9: Shaggy and Scooby in the Classic Cartoon: Scooby Doo, Where Are You!

This duo cannot be separated and although one is technically a dog and both are two dimensional. Shaggy and Scooby share interests, such as their intense love of food and running away from just about anything. Shaggy even eats dog treats (the so-called “Scooby snacks”) to be close to his friend, although some attribute this to other things.

Number 8: Shawn and Gus from the USA Network series, Psych

Best friends since childhood, Shawn and Gus have now teamed up to run a psychic detective agency where fun is often prioritized over the psychic crime solving. Although they are polar opposites, their mutual passion for anything from the 80s to quatros quesos dos fritos make them fabulous to watch.

Magnum and Higgins from Magnum, PI with Tom Selleck
Bromance under the sun
Number 7: Magnum and Higgins (and TC and Rick) from Magnum P.I.

Thomas Magnum and Jonathan Quail Higgins are yet another unlikely pair. One refined and formal focused on garden shows and club dinners, and the other into drinking beer with his buddies. (A bit like The Odd Couple, in fact!) But as many times as they argue, and as many times as Magnum gets on Higgins’ last nerve, their deep sense of right and wrong  binds this friendship together.

Number 6: Detectives Ryan and Esposito from ABC’s Castle

The romantic tension between Beckett and Castle might be the star of the show, but Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito super sidekick bromance often steals it. This bromance even has its own fan fiction website. The friendship between this comedic duo will be seriously tested this season.

Flynn and Provenza from The Closer
Baseball and bromance.
Number 5: Detectives Flynn and Provenza from The Closer

Flynn and Provenza were already late for the Dodger game when an unexpected dead body showed up in Provenza’s garage. The two decided to head to Dodger Stadium, and call in the murder after the game. Why waste skybox seats when the poor slob was already dead? This episode alone would land them in the top ten, but there’s so much more.

Number 4: Starsky and Hutch from the 70s TV series.

Kenneth “Hutch” Hutchenson, the well-read, deep thinker, and David Michael Starsky, the brash former Brooklynite, are tough guy opposites, but through car chases and crime fighting, they weren’t afraid to show their affection for one another. And then there was Huggy Bear.

Robert Craid, The Monkey’s Raincoat
Literary tough guy bromance.
Number 3: Elvis Cole and Joe Pike from the books by Robert Crais

Elvis Cole has Disney figurines on his desk and wears Hawaiian shirts, while Joe wears his sunglasses—all the time.  If you haven’t read this series, you’d be well-advised to start at the beginning with The Monkey’s Raincoat. Elvis is the protagonist in most of these books, but, trust me, if you ever get in trouble you want Joe Pike to back you up. The next book in this series is due out in January 2012 and Joe will get his second run as the star of the show when Elvis gets Taken.

Number 2: Spenser and Hawk from the TV show Spenser for Hire and the books by Robert B. Parker

Both the books by Robert B. Parker, and the old TV series Spenser for Hire starring Robert Urich and Avery Brooks feature Spenser and Hawk as good friends who often draw the line between good and evil in different places. It’s a complicated friendship that often makes the thoughtful Spenser question his own behavior.

Custom Sherlock and Watson mini figs from
Historical bromance figures by
Number 1: Sherlock and Watson

Each Sherlock and Watson portrayal is different, but this relationship is always a bromance, otherwise why would Watson spend so much chronicling their adventures and why would Sherlock allow him to tag along? They live, fight and detect together. Occasionally, they even allow their affection for one another to show through. It’s the fact that this bromance can last through so many different imaginings—the books, multiple TV series and multiple movies—that make it number one.

So there you have it, my take on the top ten mystery bromances of all time. Who did I miss? What’s your favorite mystery bromance?

Deborah Lacy is an avid mystery reader who lives in California.


  1. KimHammond

    This is excellent. I didn’t even think of Shaggy and Scooby and that’s my favorite cartoon of all time.

  2. Kerry Hammond

    This was a great post and so fun to read. What flashbacks to some of the classics like Magnum P.I. Gave me a warm fuzzy on a cold Friday, great job Deb.

  3. Terrie Farley Moran

    You are so right!!! I never thought about how Bromance fills out so many of my favorites. I am always delighted when Ryan and Esposito or Flynn and Provenza do whatever it is that makes me smile or groan. At the gym one of the songs they play a lot is the theme from Magnum. Invariably, I see Thomas and Higgins arguing. Makes my jumping around way more fun. And several of my grandkids are big Scooby fans. We laugh at scobby and Shaggy a lot. I could go on and on. Thanks for a fabulous and fun post.

  4. Nevea Lane

    I am only commenting because I was literally just thinking about Spencer and Hawk from Spencer for Hire. I loved the show and your blog has turned my attention to some new reading I need to pick up.

  5. Barb in Maryland

    Elvis Cole and Joe Pike for the win!! I love those guys. Sigh. I can’t wait for January and the release of Taken.

    Thanks for the list.

  6. Jacynth Rich

    Love these bromances! I’m a sucker for Ryan and Esposito because I’m a huge castle fan. But I’m also glad to see classics like Poirot and Japp made the cut! They remind me of Lord Peter Wimsey and Bunter a bit.

  7. Elyse Dinh-McCrillis

    This is a great, fun list. I wouldn’t have been able to come up with Scooby & Shaggy but agree they belong here. Well done, Deb!

  8. BrooklynShoeBabe

    Ahhhh…Spenser and Hawk. Favorite mystery series ever as well as mystery bromance.

  9. Anon

    What Fan Fiction website does Ryan & Esposito have?

  10. Clare 2e

    Lots of people also Tweeting Lewis & Hathaway. Yes! And I think even more than Lewis & Morse, at least in the televised versions. Morse was always too prickly for closeness, and I like how L&H discover and surprise each other.

    No fic here, but fanful pics and captions:

  11. Deborah Lacy

    I’m so glad you guys liked this post…

    @Kim Hammond- I know – the original Scooby Doo was the best. I have to admit that I find later version somewhat annoying – probably because I was outside of the target audience by the time I watched them.

    @ Kerry Hammond – I’m glad you liked it – Magnum is an old favorite of mine. What are some of your other old favorites?

    @Nevea – Thank goodness for new reading. You may want to give the Robert Crais books a look as well.

    @Barb in Maryland – Me too. I’m so glad Joe is the protag in this one…

    @Jacynth Rich – I didn’t even think of Lord Peter Whimsy and Bunter, but of course!

  12. Deborah Lacy

    @Anon – the Ryan and Espisito Fan site is here:
    You have to click a button stating that you are over 14 years of age to get in, so I hope you are…

  13. Deborah Lacy

    @BrooklynShoeBabe – I love Hawk much more than I should. It would be great to have him around – most of the time…

    @clare2e – there are lots of people tweeting, for those of you’d who’d like to follow along on Twitter check out @crimehq

    Twitter suggestions included Lewis and Hathaway from the Inspector Lewis Mysteries on PBS, Hap and Leonard from Joe Landsdale’s books, and Walt and Henry from the books by C. Johnson. I’m familiar with Lewis and Hathaway, but I don’t know the other two pairs. I will have to check them out.

  14. Laura K. Curtis

    It’s not really a “bromance,” because it’s a ROMANCE between two dudes, but Angel and Louis, who function as Charlie Parker’s dual sidekicks in John Connolly’s work, are great. Both as a bromance between the two of them and in their sidekick roles.

  15. Barb in Maryland

    Partial answer to @15
    Craig Johnson has written a series of mysteries set in Wyoming featuring Sheriff Walt Longmire and his friend Henry Standing Bear. Fabulous mysteries and the two of them don’t have anywhere enough scenes together. They’re great. FYI–A&E is filming several of the stories now- –show will be called “Longmire”. The author says he’s happy with the casting and the shows. I’ll be tuning in, that’s for sure.

  16. Deborah Lacy

    @LauraKCurtis – I haven’t read those books! I am starting to feel like a slacker.

    @Barb in Maryland – thanks for the info. I have not read these books either! I had Longmire on my list of things to watch because of Katee Sackoff. Loved the character of Starbuck on Battlestar Gallactica and wanted to see what she did in this one, but now I have more reasons to watch.

    And, of course I sat down to watch Chuck last night and thought — ack — I missed Chuck and Morgan. It’s more thriller than mystery, but they are pretty fun. I am going to miss the Buy More…

  17. Louise Partain

    Actually, I am so into the USA series now that I offer 2 more really great bromances: Neil Caffrey and Peter Burke of [b]White Collar[/b] (and you gotta add Mozzie although he’s in my bad books right now), along with Mike Ross and Harvey Specter of [b]Suits.[/b]

  18. Sylvie Nickel

    Chet & Bernie, from Spencer Quinn’s mystery series (Chet is the narrator; he’s a dog).

  19. Rebecca L

    Good article Deb. I had forgotten about Flynn and Provenza. Thanks for the info on the fan fiction website for Ryan and Esposito.

  20. Deborah Lacy

    @Louise321 – thanks for the two new additions! They sound like fun. I’m adding a lot to my DVR list…

    @Sylivie Nickel – I haven’t read those books either. Dog narrator – could be great, could be not so great, but since you’re recommending, I’ll go with great.

    @Rebecca L – Flynn and Provenza rock! I hope they continue on Major Crimes. Ryan and Espo rock too. Somehow I can’t see all four of them hanging out, but that might make some interesting fan fic.

  21. librarypops

    Nash Bridges and Joe Dominguez!

  22. Barbara G

    Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin?

  23. Deborah Lacy

    @librarypops and @BarbaraG – both excellent bromance options.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.