The following formula, found on Reddit and submitted by user TeraVonen, is a near perfect summary of the typical 2-part story pattern you find in the mystery anime and manga Detective Conan. Conan is the 4th best selling manga series of all time, and the anime has been on the air for over 20 years, and in that time a definitely formula to how the stories play out has developed. There is still a lot of variety within this formula, but it’s the basis of the majority of Conan episodes which aren’t directly linked to the overarching plot.
The typical murder case Detective Conan episode
Part 1 :
- Conan goes with some of his usual companions somewhere for leisure.
- Optional: Conan thinks about some plot progression elements he recently discovered. *
- Conan’s group run into a group of people. One of them is being a douche to everyone else and then goes somewhere away from the others. Conan will listen a bit to the argument then move on with his day.
- A scream. Conan and any detective he was with (Heiji, Sera, etc) will go running to the scene. It’s a murder. The person being a douche earlier got killed.
- The police come to the scene.
- Optional: The scene might appear as an accident/suicide initially, before the detective confirm it’s actually a murder.
- Conan starts citing strange things to the police. [Things that Conan notes as being strange about the case or situation- Rob]
- There are three suspects: The ones who argued with the victim earlier.
- End of the episode.
Part 2 :
- The suspects are searched and interrogated. At least one of them has a good motive for the crime.
- The police discovers new elements related to the crime, but still not enough to determine the identity of the murderer.
- Conan and the other detectives (if present) are close to the truth, then someone in Conan’s group will bring up a subject or say something unrelated that will make Conan or the other detectives realize how the crime was committed.
- At this moment, the three suspects want to go home and urge the police to let them go, they will explain again their own versions of the events to show how the murderer wasn’t one of them.
- This is when the case is resolved, either by one of the adult detectives, Sleeping Kogoro, or Conan himself. The method of murder is explained and the culprit identified. They will deny it, claiming no proof, this is when the detectives will use the “We will find your blood/fingerprints/DNA” card.
- The culprit admits his crime. His motive is either to punish an unpunished crime, getting blackmailed, or to avenge someone else. [Also hatred and jealousy are common ones- Rob]
- End of the case, Ending starts.
- Conan and his group move on from the case usually going home after having their leisure time disrupted.
- Optional: If there is any plot progression deductions from Conan, they will be shown here. *
[ * = These refer to the overarching story of the manga, not the individual mystery which this is a summary of. -Rob]
The above formula is best understood by watching a few episodes of Detective Conan (aka Case Closed in English) which can be found on Netflix or (better, because they have more episodes) Crunchyroll. Or, of course, you can also read the manga at various places online. It’s a nifty little mystery story structure for short stories that has been proven to work time and again.
If you wanted to use it for another type of detective story that wasn’t broken into two parts, however, you would need to make a few modifications. The audience knows who Conan is, whereas another detective would have to be quickly introduced. Also, in a short story you probably don’t need to have the suspects explain themselves twice, because that’s just for people who missed/forgot the first half to catch up before the reveal.
Anyhow, this was a great summary of the Conan story formula, so I thought it was worth archiving for future writers. Enjoy
P.S. Here is another slightly funnier and simple visual version of this formula found on Reddit:
Y’know…. this is also “Murder She Wrote.”