Nancy Drew: The shortest straw, and it broke the camel’s back

In 1893, Arthur Conan Doyle wrote “The Final Problem”, his 24th Sherlock Holmes mystery short story, along with two novels.  He killed off Holmes in a “blaze of glory” because he wanted to move onto other types of fiction.  However the public backlash made the character’s retirement impossible.  It was arguably the first time that fandom affected what the authors did and wrote.  Conan Doyle resurrected Holmes in “The Adventure of The Empty House”, writing 32 more short stories and two more novels.

It’s worth mentioning Conan Doyle killing off Sherlock Holmes, because the writers of Nancy Drew decided to “honour” the ninetieth anniversary of the character by killing her off, and having the Hardy Boys solve her murder.

Where did the HB’s find her body?  In a refrigerator?  Unless the writers plan a return like Holmes in “The Empty House”, this isn’t going to go over well.  Nor should it.

New Nancy Drew comic celebrates beloved sleuth’s 90th birthday by killing her

But it’s okay — the Hardy Boys are on the case

Nancy Drew, one of the most beloved characters in children’s literature, is dead. Don’t worry though, the Hardy Boys are on the case. At least that’s the premise of a new comic from Dynamite meant to celebrate the young sleuth’s 90th anniversary.


Despite the characters’ long history as friends and collaborators, killing off a female character and handing her job to two young men isn’t a great look. And hey, even if a quick plot twist reveals that Nancy’s death was all a fakeout, it sure doesn’t seem like the best way to publicize your Nancy Drew anniversary story. Especially given how strongly Nancy Drew has resonated with young women for nearly a century. Heck, in the introduction to the Nancy Drew Wikipedia page she’s cited as an inspiration for women like Sandra Day O’Connor and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

It’s not a good look, especially whith the way popular media has and still treats women as disposable, still uses the rape and murder of women as a motivator for men’s actions.  Killing one of the brothers and team up the two would not be as outrageous, unless you believe the world revolves around men and women are just tokens and accessories.

As a kid, I mostly read Encyclopedia Brown and Choose Your Own Adventure books, not Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys.  Even I knew then that the second class token treatment of Sally Kimball was problematic.  Imagine the uproar of Donald Sobol had killed off Kimball or Brown’s mother-without-a-personal-name as a plot device.

Nancy Drew books 1-56 can be found here and the Hardy Boys books 1-58 are here on the same site.  The legality of both is questionable.

The entirety of Sherlock Holmes is public domain, so there’s no worry about them.


  1. brucegee1962 says

    Sally was basically the Watson to Encylopedia’s Sherlock, but remember, she was also the brawn to his brain — it was made clear in every book that her fighting prowess was the only reason Bugs Meany didn’t grind him up into paste. She was also shown as being a more accomplished athlete than most of the boys. Although it was too bad she wasn’t out solving mysteries herself, the girl who could be a bigger jock than all the guys still felt pretty advanced for me in the late sixties when I read the books.

    • says

      When John Thaw died in 2000, the creators of the Inspector Morse TV series chose not to recast the character with a new actor, and author Colin Dexter no longer wrote him. Instead Morse’s long time and long suffering partner Inspector Lewis was promoted to Chief Inspector, and a new TV series rebuilt around the character and actor Kevin Whately.

      It would have been nice to see a “Sally Kimball, High School Detective” spinoff book series done in the same way, without killing off Brown to do it.

      • says

        Fun story! Laurence Fox, who played Inspector Lewis’ sidekick Hathaway, has just revealed himself to be a big ol’ racist, transphobic piece of crap who is rapidly becoming a new Adam Baldwin on Twitter.

        I can’t enjoy anything anymore.