Six Kick-Ass Paranormal Investigators (P.I.s)

David Boreanaz as Angel
Smile, you’re on Candid Camera!
Most investigative types are naturally pretty kick-ass—it comes with the territory. We’re talking smart, strong, dedicated people working against the bad guys; you really can’t go wrong. But imagine taking these attributes and ramping them up with paranormal abilities: vampire strength, fae DNA, even the ability to bring back the dead. Suddenly you have a formula for Awesome.

Here’s but a sampling of some of the most super of the supernatural…

• Angel •

After leaving Buffy and Sunnydale (for an eponymous spinoff series set in LA) and starting Angel Investigations, vampire-with-a-soul Angel’s mission statement is to help the helpless. Sounds simple enough. But in the midst of fighting demons (including his own), battling an evil law firm, and saving his friends (a lot) he learns that he’s the central figure in a prophecy about the apocalypse. The scary part is he could be on either side of the ultimate fight, but if he resists the dark side the Powers That Be just might make him a real boy again. (Although why he’d want to exchange super strength and immortality for a human lifespan and a tan is beyond me.)

Motto: “I’ve got two modes with people: bite or avoid.”

• Dirk Gently •

Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency
Alas, poor Dirk…
It’s not every PI that gets to deal with ghosts, time travelers, irate birds of prey, and Norse gods but when you’ve got a Holistic Detective Agency it stands to reason your cases will be slightly out of the ordinary. Dirk Gently (aka Svlad Cjelli) also utilizes some interesting methods of investigation, including quantum mechanics, trips to the Bahamas, and his psychic abilities (which he doesn’t believe in). Unfortunately Dirk’s career was cut short along with the untimely demise of his creator, Douglas Adams (RIP), but he still managed to distinguish himself—even if he never got paid.

Sayeth Dirk: “Let’s think the unthinkable, let’s do the undoable. Let us prepare to grapple with the ineffable itself, and see if we may not eff it after all.”

• Ned, Chuck and Emerson Cod •

Emerson Cod
Emerson Cod. Something’s fishy.
In Pushing Daisies Ned is a pie maker with the ability to bring back the dead with a touch. Unfortunately when he touches them again they die permanently, and if he doesn’t touch them a second time within a minute someone else will die instead (it’s a universe-balancing thing). Emerson Cod is a P.I. who discovers Ned’s ability and decides to team up with him to solve cases (catching murderers is a lot easier when you can ask the victim who did it). Chuck is Ned’s childhood sweetheart whom he brought back from the dead to say one last goodbye and ended up letting her stick around. Now they’re in love but can never touch. And you thought your life was complicated. The three of them solve all manner of bizarre and wacky crimes and still have time for baking, love triangles, and bursting into the occasional song.

Chuck: “You can’t just touch someone’s life and be done with it.”
Ned: “Yes I can. That’s how I roll.”

• Bo •

Just Bo of Lost Girl
The life of a succubus isn’t always so pretty.
Bo (“just Bo”) is the lost girl in the TV show of the same name. She’s a succubus who’s just discovered she’s part of a greater fae society hidden among the human world. Because she refuses to align herself with either the light or dark fae factions (choosing instead to side with the humans) she has a unique freedom to move between both sides. She uses that freedom, along with her succubus skills and general ass-kicking acumen to bring justice to those who most need it. If she happens to end up naked—and with one or more friends—along the way, well, that’s just part of the fun of being a succubus.

Ponders Bo: “It’s kind of tough growing up thinking you might have a shot at being prom queen and then find out that you’re part of some ageless secret race that feeds on humans.”

• Dirk & Steele •

Marjorie M. Liu, A Dream of Stone and Shadow
Para is the new normal.
Despite what the name suggests Dirk & Steele isn’t a pair of investigators but rather an agency (featured in a series of paranormal romance novels by Marjorie M. Liu) that employs those with unusual “gifts,” whether of shape-shifting, telekinesis, the ability to understand any language, or any number of others. Liu is an exceptional writer whose characters and storylines are unique and often unexpected (one heroine was tortured and left badly scarred; another has recently lost an arm). In the Dirk & Steele world the paranormal is just a part of daily life but the cases are anything but common.

Museth Soria in The Fire King “The girl’s age was impossible to determine—anywhere from thirteen to twenty, though her dark eyes were old as dirt and the set of her mouth was lethal. Soria herself was thirty years old, but she felt ancient and used when she looked at the girl, old eyes or not. She was no better than some grizzled gunslinger, too long alive in the world.

• Mulder and Scully •

Mulder and Scully of The X-Files
Putting the X in X-Files.
A list of paranormal investigators wouldn’t be complete without the X-Files’ Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Sure Mulder was prone to jumping to wild conclusions and Scully was infuriatingly closed-minded most of the time but these two were a great team. They had to deal with everything from the Jersey devil to human flukes, devil worshippers, and, of course, aliens. Not only did they usually get the bad guy but they had to do it while defending themselves and their work from their own bosses at the FBI. If the show got melodramatic or bogged down in conspiracies at times, it’s forgivable. After all, this is the team that brought the paranormal to the mainstream and taught us all that the truth is out there—however strange it may be.

Scully: “You have seen this before, I can tell. You lied to them.”
Mulder: “I would never lie. I willfully participated in a campaign of misinformation.”

Aspasia Bissas is a writer, blogger, and fan of both the paranormal and crime-fighters. You can reach her on Twitter (@bloodandpoppies) or at her blog, Bloodlines.


  1. Christopher Morgan

    Aww, no Dresden love? I put him over Angel any day.

  2. Deborah Lacy

    I loved Pushing Daises. I was so incredibly bummed when they cancelled that show!

  3. Carmen Pinzon

    I second the Dresden nom. I loved Angel and am currently enjoying Bo. As for book paranormal detectives, John Taylor from the Nightside series by Simon Green is plenty kickass too.

  4. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    FYI, FWIW, etc. There’s a new Dirk Gently TV series in the UK. Whether it will make it to the US I don’t know, but it’s getting a lot of positive attention. [url=]Here’s one article about it from the Telegraph[/url].

  5. Clare 2e

    Leslie- don’t steal our thunder : ) We were going to post about that, too!

  6. Leslie Gilbert Elman

    Sorry! I thought I was being helpful. 😉

  7. David Spiller

    Great article. There is nothing better than a sci-fi or fantasy/detective blend. I agree I would have to make room for Harry Dresden and John Taylor. I would also add Sam & Dean Winchester.

  8. Arielle

    Blood ties with Vicky Nelson, investigator. It was saddly short lived, but had so much potential.

  9. Carmen Pinzon

    @Arielle- The novels by Tanya Huff were so much better than the series, which was underrated, imo.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.