Death and Other Details: Is Rufus Cotesworth Inspired by a Real Detective?

In Hulu’s ‘Death and Other Details,’ a luxury vacation takes a turn for the worse when a grisly murder happens on board. A man is killed in his room with a harpoon, and there is only one person who was in his vicinity around that time: Imogene Scott. She didn’t commit the murder, but whatever little evidence there is, it points towards her, which means she is bound to go down for it. Unless she helps the man she hates the most, she cannot solve the case.

There is a history between Imogene and PI Rufus Cotesworth, which makes their dynamic even more interesting. While she hates him, Imogene cannot help but accept that he just might be what the world calls him: the world’s greatest detective. Watching Rufus in action is bound to make the audience wonder if he is based on a real detective. SPOILERS AHEAD

Rufus Cotesworth Is Inspired by the World’s Greatest Detectives

Image Credit: James Dittiger/Hulu

‘Death and Other Details’ is a fictional drama series created by Mike Weiss and Heidi Cole McAdams, and all the characters in the series are entirely fictional, Rufus Cotesworth being one of them. While they created the character out of thin air, the showrunners revealed that they were inspired by the classic detectives in literature and pop culture, like Hercule Poirot from Agatha Christie’s Universe and Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Cotesworth is tagged as a genius who has never come across a case he couldn’t solve. He claims he doesn’t like the puzzles where the answer is obvious. He likes it when the case seems unsolvable. He has been called the “world’s greatest detective,” but one case drove Cotesworth out of business. It was the only case he didn’t solve. Yet. While the world might see him as a washed-out has-been, the detective proves that neither age nor idleness has dimmed his wits. He is still as sharp and cunning, if not more, and he is ready to keep his streak going by solving his next case.

Even in the introductory episodes, Cotesworth proves himself an eagle-eyed investigator who is quick on his feet and is already way ahead in his investigation. There is a clear resemblance with Christie’s Poirot, whose influence on the series extends far beyond Cotesworth. The locked-room mystery in confined surroundings, with everyone but the detectives being the suspects, is a trope straight out of Christie’s works. Tonally, the show is closer to Rian Johnson’s ‘Knives Out,’ which is another great murder mystery inspired by Christie. But Weiss and McAdams have added more layers to their detective.

Unlike Poirot, for whom the cases fall into his lap by happenstance and are often removed from the situation due to the lack of personal connection to the cases, Cotesworth is already knee-deep in things by the time the murder in the show takes place. The history between Cotesworth and Imogene allows the audience to get to know both of them better, though a veil of mystery still remains as the secrets are unraveled with each episode. It is personal for him because he becomes attached to the case and the daughter of the victim when he knows how essential it is to keep a distance, especially emotionally. This shows that despite being bright, Cotesworth isn’t exactly perfect, and it is these mistakes that hamper his investigation.

To sum it up, Rufus Cotesworth is a fictional detective created solely to serve the plot of ‘Death and Other Details.’ However, through him, the writers pay homage to some of the best detective characters in history while also making sure that Cotesworth is presented as a unique character who will feel infinitely more relatable to the audience as opposed to the classic characters we have grown to love.

Read More: Best Murder Mysteries on Hulu