Sass, Vengeance, and a Dash of Heart: What Makes a Teen Sleuth?

Girl using mobile phone

Written by Amber Lynn Natusch

When I was asked to write a blog about my favorite teenage sleuth, my knee-jerk reaction was “What? You want me to write NON- FICTION? But there’s not dialogue in that…” (*stares at publicist like she has three heads*). But, after some thought, I realized I’d get to explain my love (should read obsession) with Veronica Mars. I’ve never felt more connected to a fictional character in my life. The cancellation of that show nearly ruined me.

Melodramatic? Yes. True? Also, yes.

So, here are the top five reasons (in no particular order) why the show was so amazing and why Veronica made a kick-ass teenage investigator.

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I feel like no main character for me is complete without a strong sense of comedic timing and fluency in sarcasm. Veronica Mars doesn’t fall short in either department. She’s a walking ball of sass, dipped in snark, wrapped in a cloak of simmering anger, all of which make for epic outbursts. Whether it’s someone from school, the local media, or the sheriff, she always found a way to get the last word in for better or worse (often worse). Her dry delivery only heightened the experience. Do any of these traits help her solve crimes? No, of course not. They just made it way more entertaining to watch her do it.


No teenage mystery solver would be complete without a band of merry misfits ready and willing to help her. To that end, Veronica surrounded herself with a rather motley crew, consisting of her BFF (the consummate voice of reason), the hacker, the leader of the local biker gang, the mayor’s kid, her pit bull (because holy intimidation factor, Batman), an ethically questionable attorney, her private investigator father, and a few others to boot. The eclectic mix allowed her to tap into a variety of resources, which balanced her self-sufficiency and made her a far more credible character. I mean…we all love a superhero but an eighteen-year-old kid who can do everything on her own? Even I can’t suspend that much disbelief.


Okay. I know what you’re thinking: how is a teenage badass’s vulnerability a plus? Have a seat, my friend, and I’ll tell you why. Tough is great and fun and can drive a character far, but at some point, it becomes monotonous like listening to your younger sister sing the chorus of her favorite song over and over again until you’re contemplating homicide (…or maybe that only happened to me). Veronica’s quiet moments the ones when she let us in made us cheer for her even harder. It made us need to see her succeed, not just want to.


Because all work and no play makes Veronica Mars a cranky girl. And what better place to find that angst than your sworn enemy? Your bitter rival? Your dead best friend’s ex-boyfriend? Sharp-tongued and swoony to boot, the tension between the two of them rounds out the dynamic in the show, but also creates conflict. Angst on mystery on suspense on tension? That’s a whole lot of “yes please” for me.


This one is by far my personal favorite because I relate to it the most. Nothing is more important to me than loyalty. It’s an incredibly strong quality in Veronica Mars, and you see how it drives her every decision. How it dictates her actions. Her singular focus is on righting wrongs at any cost, and she’s not too concerned about following the rules to make that happen a girl after my own heart. She’ll bend laws until they break in pursuit of vengeance because the ends always justify the means. This quality made Veronica a bit of a loose cannon and infinitely more fun to watch than someone cool and calculated. Few can pull off the latter (I’m looking at you, Sherlock Holmes) and still be entertaining.

So, there you have it! All the characteristics that made Veronica Mars my favorite teen sleuth. Now, if we could only get someone like, I don’t know, say Hulu, to reboot the series… Oh, wait. I think they’re in talks to do that RIGHT NOW! *faints* Looks like the Marshmallows have once again revived one of the best shows to ever hit the small screen. If you need me, I’ll be lighting candles and praying that they bring back the original cast.


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