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Hercule Poirot
DavidSuchet - Poirot.png
David Suchet as Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie's Poirot
First appearance The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920)
Last appearance Curtain (1975)
Created by Agatha Christie
Portrayed by Charles Laughton
Francis L. Sullivan
Austin Trevor
Orson Welles
Harold Huber
Richard Williams
John Malkovich
José Ferrer
Martin Gabel
Tony Randall
Albert Finney
Dudley Jones
Peter Ustinov
Ian Holm
David Suchet
John Moffatt
Maurice Denham
Peter Sallis
Konstantin Raikin
Alfred Molina
Robert Powell
Jason Durr
Kenneth Branagh
Anthony O'Donnell
Shirō Itō (Takashi Akafuji)
Mansai Nomura (Takeru Suguro)
Tom Conti
Voiced by Kōtarō Satomi
Gender Male
Occupation Private investigator
Police officer (former occupation)
Family Jules-Louis Poirot (father)
Godelieve Poirot (mother)
Religion Catholic
Nationality Belgian
Birth date and place c. 1873–1883
Spa, Wallonia, Belgium
Death date and place c. 1972–1975
Styles St. Mary, England

Hercule Poirot is a fictional Belgian detective created by British writer Agatha Christie. Poirot is one of Christie's most famous and long-running characters, appearing in 33 novels, two plays (Black Coffee and Alibi), and more than 50 short stories published between 1920 and 1975.

Poirot has been portrayed on radio, in film and on television by various actors, including Austin Trevor, John Moffatt, Albert Finney, Peter Ustinov, Ian Holm, Tony Randall, Alfred Molina, Orson Welles, David Suchet, Kenneth Branagh, and John Malkovich.



Poirot's name was derived from two other fictional detectives of the time: Marie Belloc Lowndes' Hercule Popeau and Frank Howel Evans' Monsieur Poiret, a retired French police officer living in London.

A more obvious influence on the early Poirot stories is that of Arthur Conan Doyle. In An Autobiography, Christie states, "I was still writing in the Sherlock Holmes tradition – eccentric detective, stooge assistant, with a Lestrade-type Scotland Yard detective, Inspector Japp".

Poirot also bears a striking resemblance to A. E. W. Mason's fictional detective Inspector Hanaud of the French Sûreté, who first appeared in the 1910 novel At the Villa Rose and predates the first Poirot novel by 10 years.

Christie's first book about Poirot was written in 1916 and published in 1920. Belgium's occupation by Germany during World War I provided a plausible explanation of why such a skilled detective would be available to solve mysteries at an English country house. At the time of Christie's writing, it was considered patriotic to express sympathy towards the Belgians, since the invasion of their country was the reason for Britain's entering World War I.


Poirot first appeared in The Mysterious Affair at Styles (published in 1920) and exited in Curtain (published in 1975). Following the latter, Poirot was the only fictional character to receive an obituary on the front page of The New York Times.

By 1930, Agatha Christie found Poirot "insufferable", and by 1960 she felt that he was a "detestable, bombastic, tiresome, ego-centric little creep". Despite this, Poirot remained an exceedingly popular character with the general public. Christie later stated that she refused to kill him off, claiming that it was her duty to produce what the public liked.

Appearance and proclivities

Captain Arthur Hastings's first description of Poirot:

He was hardly more than five feet four inches but carried himself with great dignity. His head was exactly the shape of an egg, and he always perched it a little on one side. His moustache was very stiff and military. Even if everything on his face was covered, the tips of moustache and the pink-tipped nose would be visible.

The neatness of his attire was almost incredible; I believe a speck of dust would have caused him more pain than a bullet wound. Yet this quaint dandified little man who, I was sorry to see, now limped badly, had been in his time one of the most celebrated members of the Belgian police.

In the later books, his limp is not mentioned, suggesting it may have been a temporary wartime injury. (In Curtain, Poirot admits he was wounded when he first came to England.) Poirot has green eyes that are repeatedly described as shining "like a cat's" when he is struck by a clever idea, and dark hair, which he dyes later in life. In Curtain, he admits to Hastings that he wears a wig and a false moustache. However, in many of his screen incarnations, he is bald or balding.

Frequent mention is made of his patent leather shoes, damage to which is frequently a source of misery for him, but comical for the reader. Poirot's appearance, regarded as fastidious during his early career, later falls hopelessly out of fashion.

Among Poirot's most significant personal attributes is the sensitivity of his stomach.

Poirot is extremely punctual and carries a pocket watch almost to the end of his career. He is also particular about his personal finances, preferring to keep a bank balance of 444 pounds, 4 shillings, and 4 pence. Actor David Suchet, who portrayed Poirot on television, said "there's no question he's obsessive-compulsive". Film portrayer Kenneth Branagh said that he "enjoyed finding the sort of obsessive-compulsive" in Poirot.

As mentioned in Curtain and The Clocks, he is fond of classical music, particularly Mozart and Bach.


In The Mysterious Affair at Styles, Poirot operates as a fairly conventional, clue-based and logical detective; reflected in his vocabulary by two common phrases: his use of "the little grey cells" and "order and method". Hastings is irritated by the fact that Poirot sometimes conceals important details of his plans, as in The Big Four. In this novel, Hastings is kept in the dark throughout the climax. This aspect of Poirot is less evident in the later novels, partly because there is rarely a narrator to mislead.

In Murder on the Links, still largely dependent on clues himself, Poirot mocks a rival "bloodhound" detective who focuses on the traditional trail of clues established in detective fiction (e.g., Sherlock Holmes depending on footprints, fingerprints, and cigar ash). From this point on, Poirot establishes his psychological bona fides. Rather than painstakingly examining crime scenes, he enquires into the nature of the victim or the psychology of the murderer. He predicates his actions in the later novels on his underlying assumption that particular crimes are committed by particular types of people.

Poirot focuses on getting people to talk. In the early novels, he casts himself in the role of "Papa Poirot", a benign confessor, especially to young women. In later works, Christie made a point of having Poirot supply false or misleading information about himself or his background to assist him in obtaining information. In The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, Poirot speaks of a non-existent mentally disabled nephew to uncover information about homes for the mentally unfit. In Dumb Witness, Poirot invents an elderly invalid mother as a pretence to investigate local nurses. In The Big Four, Poirot pretends to have (and poses as) an identical twin brother named Achille: however, this brother was mentioned again in The Labours of Hercules.

Poirot is also willing to appear more foreign or vain in an effort to make people underestimate him. He also has a tendency to refer to himself in the third person. In later novels, Christie often uses the word mountebank when characters describe Poirot, showing that he has successfully passed himself off as a charlatan or fraud.

Poirot's investigating techniques assist him solving cases; "For in the long run, either through a lie, or through truth, people were bound to give themselves away..." At the end, Poirot usually reveals his description of the sequence of events and his deductions to a room of suspects, often leading to the culprit's apprehension.


2011-07-26 Belgique - Ellezelles - Hercule Poirot 002
Statuette of Poirot in Ellezelles, Belgium


Christie was purposely vague about Poirot's origins, as he is thought to be an elderly man even in the early novels. In An Autobiography, she admitted that she already imagined him to be an old man in 1920. At the time, however, she had no idea she would write works featuring him for decades to come.

A brief passage in The Big Four provides original information about Poirot's birth or at least childhood in or near the town of Spa, Belgium: "But we did not go into Spa itself. We left the main road and wound into the leafy fastnesses of the hills, till we reached a little hamlet and an isolated white villa high on the hillside." Christie strongly implies that this "quiet retreat in the Ardennes" near Spa is the location of the Poirot family home.

An alternative tradition holds that Poirot was born in the village of Ellezelles (province of Hainaut, Belgium). A few memorials dedicated to Hercule Poirot can be seen in the centre of this village. There appears to be no reference to this in Christie's writings, but the town of Ellezelles cherishes a copy of Poirot's birth certificate in a local memorial 'attesting' Poirot's birth, naming his father and mother as Jules-Louis Poirot and Godelieve Poirot.

Christie wrote that Poirot is a Catholic by birth, but not much is described about his later religious convictions, except sporadic references to his "going to church". Christie provides little information regarding Poirot's childhood, only mentioning in Three Act Tragedy that he comes from a large family with little wealth, and has at least one younger sister. Apart from French and English, Poirot is also fluent in German.


Hercule Poirot was active in the Brussels police force by 1893. During his police career, Poirot shot a man who was firing from a roof into the public below. In Lord Edgware Dies, Poirot reveals that he learned to read writing upside down during his police career. Around that time he met Xavier Bouc, director of the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits.

In The Double Clue, Poirot mentions that he was Chief of Police of Brussels, until "the Great War" (World War I) forced him to leave for England.

Private detective

During World War I, Poirot left Belgium for England as a refugee, although he returned a few times. On 16 July 1916 he again met his lifelong friend, Captain Arthur Hastings, and solved the first of his cases to be published, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.

In Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, Chapter 1 Christie mentions the date for the case (1916) and that Hastings had met Poirot in Belgium. After that case, Poirot apparently came to the attention of the British secret service and undertook cases for the British government, including foiling the attempted abduction of the Prime Minister. Readers were told that the British authorities had learned of Poirot's keen investigative ability from certain members of Belgium's royal family.

Florin Court became the fictional residence of Agatha Christie's Poirot, known as "Whitehaven Mansions"

After the war, Poirot became a private detective and began undertaking civilian cases. He moved into what became both his home and work address, Flat 203 at 56B Whitehaven Mansions. His first case in this period was "The Affair at the Victory Ball", which allowed Poirot to enter high society and begin his career as a private detective.

Between the world wars, Poirot travelled all over Europe and the Middle East investigating crimes and solving murders. Most of his cases occurred during this time and he was at the height of his powers at this point in his life. However, he did not travel to Africa or Asia, probably to avoid seasickness.

It was during this time he met the Countess Vera Rossakoff, a glamorous jewel thief. Poirot later became smitten with the woman and allowed her to escape justice.

After his cases in the Middle East, Poirot returned to Britain. He moved into Styles Court towards the end of his life.

While Poirot was usually paid handsomely by clients, he was also known to take on cases that piqued his curiosity, although they did not pay well.

Poirot shows a love of steam trains, which Christie contrasts with Hastings' love of autos: this is shown in The Plymouth Express, The Mystery of the Blue Train, Murder on the Orient Express, and The ABC Murders (in the TV series, steam trains are seen in nearly all of the episodes).


Confusion surrounds Poirot's retirement. He has certainly retired at the time of Three Act Tragedy (1935) but he does not enjoy his retirement and repeatedly takes cases thereafter when his curiosity is engaged. He continues to employ his secretary, Miss Lemon, at the time of the cases retold in Hickory Dickory Dock and Dead Man's Folly, which take place in the mid-1950s. It is, therefore, better to assume that Christie provided no authoritative chronology for Poirot's retirement but assumed that he could either be an active detective, a consulting detective, or a retired detective as the needs of the immediate case required.

Post–World War II

Poirot is less active during the cases that take place at the end of his career. It becomes clear that Poirot's retirement is no longer a convenient fiction. He assumes a genuinely inactive lifestyle during which he concerns himself with studying famous unsolved cases of the past and reading detective novels. He even writes a book about mystery fiction in which he deals sternly with Edgar Allan Poe and Wilkie Collins. In the absence of a more appropriate puzzle, he solves such inconsequential domestic riddles as the presence of three pieces of orange peel in his umbrella stand.

Notably, during this time his physical characteristics also change dramatically, and by the time Arthur Hastings meets Poirot again in Curtain, he looks very different from his previous appearances, having become thin with age and with obviously dyed hair.


On the ITV television series, Poirot died in October 1949 from complications of a heart condition at the end of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case. This took place at Styles Court, the scene of his first English case in 1916. In Christie's novels, he lived into the early 1970s, perhaps even until 1975 when Curtain was published. In both the novel and the television adaptation, he had moved his amyl nitrite pills out of his own reach, possibly because of guilt. He thereby became the murderer in Curtain, although it was for the benefit of others. Poirot himself noted that he wanted to kill his victim shortly before his own death so that he could avoid succumbing to the arrogance of the murderer, concerned that he might come to view himself as entitled to kill those whom he deemed necessary to eliminate.

Poirot's actual death and funeral occurred in Curtain, years after his retirement from the active investigation, but it was not the first time that Hastings attended the funeral of his best friend. In The Big Four (1927), Poirot feigned his death and subsequent funeral to launch a surprise attack on the Big Four.

Recurring characters

  • Captain Arthur Hastings - a former British Army officer, who meets Poirot during Poirot's years as a police officer in Belgium, becomes Poirot's lifelong friend and appears in many cases. As a loyal, although somewhat naïve companion, Hastings is to Poirot what Watson is to Sherlock Holmes.
  • Mrs Ariadne Oliver - a detective novelist, considered to be Agatha Christie's humorous self-caricature. She first met Poirot in the story Cards on the Table and has bothered him ever since.
  • Miss Felicity Lemon - Poirot's secretary. On a number of occasions, she joins Poirot in his inquiries or seeks out answers alone at his request.
  • Chief Inspector James Harold Japp - a Scotland Yard Inspector who appears in many of the stories trying to solve cases that Poirot is working on. They meet in England where Poirot often helps Japp and lets him take credit in return for special favours.

Major novels

The Poirot books take readers through the whole of his life in England, from the first book (The Mysterious Affair at Styles), where he is a refugee staying at Styles, to the last Poirot book (Curtain), where he visits Styles before his death. In between, Poirot solves cases outside England as well, including his most famous case, Murder on the Orient Express (1934).

  • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926)
  • Murder on the Orient Express (1934)
  • The ABC Murders (1935)
  • Cards on the Table (1936)
  • Death on the Nile (1937)
  • Five Little Pigs (a.k.a. Murder in Retrospect) (1942)

In 2014, the Poirot canon was added to by Sophie Hannah, the first author to be commissioned by the Christie estate to write an original story. The novel was called The Monogram Murders, and was set in the late 1920s, placing it chronologically between The Mystery of the Blue Train and Peril at End House. A second Hannah-penned Poirot came out in 2016, called Closed Casket, and a third, The Mystery of Three Quarters, in 2018.




Austin Trevor

Austin Trevor debuted the role of Poirot on screen in the 1931 British film Alibi. The film was based on the stage play. Trevor reprised the role of Poirot twice, in Black Coffee and Lord Edgware Dies. Trevor said once that he was probably cast as Poirot simply because he could do a French accent. Notably, Trevor's Poirot did not have a moustache. Leslie S. Hiscott directed the first two films, and Henry Edwards took over for the third.

Tony Randall

Tony Randall portrayed Poirot in The Alphabet Murders, a 1965 film also known as The ABC Murders. This was more a satire of Poirot than a straightforward adaptation and was greatly changed from the original. Much of the story, set in modern times, was played for comedy, with Poirot investigating the murders while evading the attempts by Hastings (Robert Morley) and the police to get him out of England and back to Belgium.

Albert Finney

Albert Finney plays Poirot
Albert Finney as Poirot in the 1974 film, Murder on the Orient Express

Albert Finney played Poirot in 1974 in the cinematic version of Murder on the Orient Express. As of today, Finney is the only actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for playing Poirot, though he did not win.

Peter Ustinov

Ustinov is Poirot
Peter Ustinov as Poirot in a 1982 adaptation of the novel Evil Under the Sun

Peter Ustinov played Poirot six times, starting with Death on the Nile (1978). He reprised the role in Evil Under the Sun (1982) and Appointment with Death (1988).

Christie's daughter Rosalind Hicks observed Ustinov during a rehearsal and said, "That's not Poirot! He isn't at all like that!" Ustinov overheard and remarked "He is now!"

He appeared again as Poirot in three television films: Thirteen at Dinner (1985), Dead Man's Folly (1986), and Murder in Three Acts (1986). Earlier adaptations were set during the time in which the novels were written, but these television films were set in the contemporary era. The first of these was based on Lord Edgware Dies and was made by Warner Bros. It also starred Faye Dunaway, with David Suchet as Inspector Japp, just before Suchet began to play Poirot. David Suchet considers his performance as Japp to be "possibly the worst performance of [his] career".

Kenneth Branagh

Kenneth Branagh played Poirot in film adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express in 2017 and Death on the Nile in 2022, both of which he also directed. He is currently set to return for a third film.


  • Anatoly Ravikovich, Zagadka Endkhauza (End House Mystery) (1989; based on "Peril at End House")


David Suchet

David Suchet starred as Poirot in the ITV series Agatha Christie's Poirot from 1989 until June 2013, when he announced that he was bidding farewell to the role. "No one could've guessed then that the series would span a quarter-century or that the classically trained Suchet would complete the entire catalogue of whodunits featuring the eccentric Belgian investigator, including 33 novels and dozens of short stories." His final appearance was in an adaptation of Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, aired on 13 November 2013.

The writers of the "Binge!" article of Entertainment Weekly Issue #1343–44 (26 December 2014 – 3 January 2015) picked Suchet as "Best Poirot" in the "Hercule Poirot & Miss Marple" timeline.

The episodes were shot in various locations in the UK and abroad (for example Triangle at Rhodes and Problem at Sea), whilst other scenes were shot at Twickenham Studios.


  • Heini Göbel, (1955; an adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express for the West German television series Die Galerie der großen Detektive)
  • José Ferrer, Hercule Poirot (1961; Unaired TV Pilot, MGM; adaptation of "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim")
  • Martin Gabel, General Electric Theater (4/1/1962; adaptation of "The Disappearance of Mr. Davenheim")
  • Horst Bollmann, Black Coffee 1973
  • Ian Holm, Murder by the Book, 1986
  • Arnolds Liniņš, Slepkavība Stailzā (The Mysterious Affair at Styles), 1990
  • Hugh Laurie, Spice World, 1997
  • Alfred Molina, Murder on the Orient Express, 2001
  • Konstantin Raikin, Neudacha Puaro (Poirot's Failure) (2002; based on "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd")
  • Anthony O'Donnell, Agatha Christie: A Life in Pictures, 2004
  • Shirō Itō (Takashi Akafuji), Meitantei Akafuji Takashi (The Detective Takashi Akafuji), 2005
  • Mansai Nomura (Takeru Suguro), Orient Kyūkō Satsujin Jiken (Murder on the Orient Express), 2015; Kuroido Goroshi (The Murder of Kuroido), 2018 (based on "The Murder of Roger Ackroyd"); Shi to no Yakusoku, 2021 (based on Appointment with Death)
  • John Malkovich was cast as Poirot in the 2018 BBC adaptation of The ABC Murders.


In 2004, NHK (Japanese public TV network) produced a 39 episode anime series titled Agatha Christie's Great Detectives Poirot and Marple, as well as a manga series under the same title released in 2005. The series, adapting several of the best-known Poirot and Marple stories, ran from 4 July 2004 through 15 May 2005, and in repeated reruns on NHK and other networks in Japan. Poirot was voiced by Kōtarō Satomi and Miss Marple was voiced by Kaoru Yachigusa.


From 1985 to 2007, BBC Radio 4 produced a series of twenty-seven adaptations of Poirot novels and short stories, adapted by Michael Bakewell and directed by Enyd Williams. Twenty five starred John Moffatt as Poirot; Maurice Denham and Peter Sallis played Poirot on BBC Radio 4 in the first two adaptations, The Mystery of the Blue Train and in Hercule Poirot's Christmas respectively.

In 1939, Orson Welles and the Mercury Players dramatised Roger Ackroyd on CBS's Campbell Playhouse.

On 6 October 1942, the Mutual radio series Murder Clinic broadcast "The Tragedy at Marsden Manor" starring Maurice Tarplin as Poirot.

A 1945 radio series of at least 13 original half-hour episodes (none of which apparently adapt any Christie stories) transferred Poirot from London to New York and starred character actor Harold Huber, perhaps better known for his appearances as a police officer in various Charlie Chan films. On 22 February 1945, "speaking from London, Agatha Christie introduced the initial broadcast of the Poirot series via shortwave".

An adaptation of Murder in the Mews was broadcast on the BBC Light Programme in March 1955 starring Richard Williams as Poirot; this program was thought lost, but was discovered in the BBC archives in 2015.

Other audio

In 2017, Audible released an original audio adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express starring Tom Conti as Poirot. The cast included Jane Asher as Mrs. Hubbard, Jay Benedict as Monsieur Bouc, Ruta Gedmintas as Countess Andrenyi, Sophie Okonedo as Mary Debenham, Eddie Marsan as Ratchett, Walles Hamonde as Hector MacQueen, Paterson Joseph as Colonel Arbuthnot, Rula Lenska as Princess Dragimiroff and Art Malik as the Narrator. According to the Publisher's Summary on, "sound effects [were] recorded on the Orient Express itself."

In 2021, L.A. Theatre Works produced an adaptation of The Murder on the Links, dramatised by Kate McAll. Alfred Molina starred as Poirot, with Simon Helberg as Hastings.

Video games

The game Agatha Christie - Hercule Poirot: The First Cases has Poirot voice acted by Will De Renzy-Martin.

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Hércules Poirot para niños

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