Where and When Does Dead Boy Detectives Take Place?

Image Credit: David Bukach/Netflix

Edwin Payne and Charles Rowland are at the center of Netflix’s ‘Dead Boy Detectives,’ running the titular agency to solve the cases that would not be possible to crack without intimate knowledge of the supernatural. For Edwin and Charles, being ghosts who died decades ago comes quite in handy as they get to the bottom of one paranormal case after another. While they start out with only one another as the support, their team slowly grows, including unexpected people they become friends with along the way. While the present cases are of the utmost priority, Edwin and Charles are also haunted by their pasts, making the time period and setting an important plot point in the story. SPOILERS AHEAD

Port Townsend Serves as the Primary Location for Dead Boy Detectives

Image Credit: Ed Araquel/Netflix

Edwin and Charles’ story begins in England, where they study in a boarding school called St. Hilarion’s. While they die in the school, they soon discover they are not strictly attached to the place. Being a ghost allows them the freedom to go wherever they want, whenever they want, without worrying about anything. It isn’t just their ability to pass through walls that helps them go places. They also have a special power, wielded primarily by Edwin, to use a mirror as their preferred method of travel, which means they can go anywhere in the world as long as there is a mirror around.

The duo moves to America, specifically to the town of Port Townsend, in the first episode while chasing the case of a young girl’s disappearance. They don’t expect to stay in town for long, but then, one mistake costs them their freedom to move around, and they are stuck in the town. The limits on their travel do nothing to lessen their workload as they continue to be bombarded with one case after another, with dozens left to spare. Apart from the cases, they are kept busy with a few other things, Edwin in particular, and it makes them even more familiar with Port Townsend.

Dead Boy Detectives Brings a Contemporary Take on the Story

Image Credit: Ed Araquel/Netflix

Neil Gaiman conceived the story of Edwin and Charles in 1991 in the Season of Mists storyline of ‘The Sandman.’ The characters appeared again in 1993, and it wasn’t until 2001 that they received their own miniseries. In the comic books, Edwin dies in 1916, spends seventy years in Hell after being sacrificed to a demon, and then returns to the Earth in 1990, which is when Charles Rowland dies. The Netflix series also follows the same timeline for the characters. However, instead of taking the tour back to 2001 or the early 1990s, the Netflix series brings the duo in 2024, in a contemporary world that offers as many opportunities as it does challenges.

The show goes back and forth in time to allow the audience a look into the protagonists’ past, giving us a sense of where they come from and what intentions drive them. The adjustment of the setting adds three decades to Edwin and Charles’s friendship, giving it more depth and meaning. It also increases the stakes so that the audience knows just how much they have to lose if they are parted or if one leaves the other.

The setting of Port Townsend also adds to the charm of the show, with several additional characters expanding the world of ‘Dead Boy Detectives.’ However, despite its contemporary settings, the show retains a gothic feel and relies more on supernatural tools to get the job done than current technology, which not only brings the story and the characters closer to the audience but also keeps the tone and overall vibe of the comic books.

Read More: Netflix’s Dead Boy Detectives: Exploring All Shooting Locations