Professor Layton

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Critical thinking is the key to success!
I submit that it is a "Logic Opera." The game is beautiful, things are happening... But every person you meet breaks into "puzzle" the way that Viking ladies tend to break into song, out of nowhere, and now you're riddling out some jackhole's insane chicken scratches.
Tycho, Penny Arcade

Every puzzle has an answer.

Professor Layton is a Nintendo DS Widget Series created by Level 5. The series follows the adventures of the titular Professor Hershel Layton and his self-styled apprentice, Luke Triton, as they puzzle through various brainteasers in the pursuit of solving mysteries.

The series consists of (Note: Titles of products not yet released internationally go by their names on The Other Wiki.):

  • Other games
    • Professor Layton and the Mansion of the Death Mirror, a cell phone game.
    • Professor Layton Royale, a cell phone game.
    • Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, a crossover game for the 3DS with Capcom's Ace Attorney series.
    • Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, an iOS game.
    • An as-of-yet unannounced game for the Wii U.
  • Adaptations
    • Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, an animated film set between Last Specter and Mask of Miracle.
    • Two as-of-yet unannounced movies, one live-action and an animated follow-up to Eternal Diva.
    • Professor Layton and the Cheerful Mystery, a manga adaptation.
    • Professor Layton and the Wandering Castle, a novel.
    • Professor Layton and the Phantom Deity, a novel.
    • Professor Layton and the Illusory Forest, a novel.


Note: For the sake of spoilers, please put tropes pertaining to specific games on their respective pages. Also, put character-specific tropes in the Characters Sheet.

Tropes used in Professor Layton include:


  • Alertness Blink: The ! when you start a puzzle.
  • All There in the Manual: In all the games, you can unlock character profiles with extra information.
  • Amateur Sleuth: He doesn't go searching for crimes to solve, but even before the prequels he would occasionally help Scotland Yard on a case.
  • Anachronism Stew: So let's see. Layton and Luke dress like they're from the early 1900's, Luke takes a boat overseas, they meet characters obsessed with rock music, their London view contains buildings from the early 2000's, and some of the technologies showcased (like advanced robotics and time travel) are rather futuristic. To say nothing of the fact that, right near the beginning of the third game, they mention that space travel has already happened. At this point, it's anybody's guess.
  • Art Style Dissonance: One wouldn't expect stories about implied murders, tragic pasts, and cursed objects when looking at any of the cover art.
  • Baker Street Regular: Luke and Flora both fit certain aspects of the trope and could be considered variations thereon.
  • Big Bad: Don Paolo in The Curious Village, Anton in The Diabolical Box and Klaus/Clive in Unwound Future. Jean Descole in The Last Specter and The Eternal Diva, Miracle Gentleman in Mask of Miracle.
  • Black Bead Eyes: A few characters, including Layton himself.
  • Bluff the Impostor: How the Professor unmasks "Inspector Chelmey" in Curious Village, "Flora" in Diabolical Box and "Future Layton" in Unwound Future. Though in Unwound Future, the bluffer is also a fake...
  • Brutal Bonus Level: Each game has "Layton's Challenges", a series of special post-game puzzles unlocked for beating the main game, fully completing each of the three special mini-games in each, and completing all of the previous puzzles. These puzzles are far more difficult than any of the ones you'll encounter in the main game, with many of the toughest ones being harder variations of already sadistically hard puzzles. If you can beat them all with most of your hair intact, you can truly call yourself a puzzling badass.
  • Call a Hit Point a Smeerp: In place of points, you get "picarats". The number of picarats a puzzle can earn you is based on its difficulty (the more picarats it's worth, the tougher it's going to be). The more times you try a puzzle and get it wrong, the fewer picarats you can earn by getting it right, although after a few tries it stops lowering the score. They don't affect the outcome of the game as far as winning or losing, but you must earn certain numbers of picarats to unlock bonus material like character profiles.
    • Actually, even if the lowest complete score (all puzzles completed after being failed enough to provide the smallest possible amount of picarats) is achieved, all bonus content is unlocked. The only motivation for getting things right the first try for maximum picarats is to have a high score.
  • Captain Ersatz: Professor Layton, Luke, Inspector Chelmey, and Don Paolo are essentially this universe's versions of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson, Inspector Lestrade, and Moriarty respectively.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Looking at certain things will provoke snippets of dialogue from the characters present - even during points when there should be other stuff on their mind. Becomes a Crowning Moment of Funny in the third game, when Layton, Luke and Flora inspect the London skyline as it is being destroyed by the walking battlestation they are currently stuck on, and Luke and Flora comment on the view.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: All of the incidental characters come in different shapes and sizes, even the ones that don't give you puzzles.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Professor Layton and the [thing that is going to cause Layton and company a world of trouble]. And now you can generate your own Layton title too!
  • Collapsing Lair: No ominous tower/"vampire" castle/mobile fortress can withstand Layton's awesomeness, as none have seen the end of any game. Averted in Last Specter; the closest thing to an evil lair, the "abandoned" factory, remains intact and the climax takes place outdoors later.
    • While Layton didn't have anything to do with its destruction, the Tower Pagoda took a beating - what with the mobile fortress firing at it - and it wasn't even the main lair of Unwound Future!
  • Cool Car: The Laytonmobile, sort of. Luke and Layton seem to consider it as such (and yes, they actually call it "the Laytonmobile"), though the only difference from a normal car is its raised ceiling (to accommodate Layton's top hat). It, or rather its future version, earns its status in Unwound Future, thanks partly to Don Paolo's modifications.
  • Crossover: An upcoming one with fellow DS adventure game series Phoenix Wright.
  • Disney Death: Simon in The Curious Village; Andrew Schrader in The Diabolical Box; Beasley in The Unwound Future; every one of the 'contestants' in The Eternal Diva; and Lando Ascad in Mask of Miracle.
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting: The general feel of the setting, though certain elements of the game appear to make it something of an Anachronism Stew.
  • Did Not Do the Research: Largely averted. Level-5 have actually got British stereotypes down surprisingly well - comic and over-the-top, of course, but never unbelievable in the universe created for them. From the eccentric upper classes, to the professional footballer in Eternal Diva who complains no end about a possible twisted ankle, each character has at least one part recognizable in British culture.
    • Some have questioned whether Layton's tea-drinking habit is as British as it's meant to be. The tea famously drunk by Brits is black tea, topped with milk, whereas in cutscenes, Layton drinks tea without milk; in Diabolical Box it's noted that he likes his tea bitter. However, some teas are drunk without milk, such as Earl Grey or Lapsang Souchong. So rather than being a case of Did Not Do the Research, this instead suggests that he's a bit more upper class than your average Brit.
  • Doomed by Canon: Due to Layton meeting most of the supporting cast (like Inspector Chelmey and Granny Riddleton) for the first time in Curious Village, they cannot play major roles in the prequels. New characters (Inspector Grosky and Keats the cat) were brought in to fill their roles, and when the old characters cameo only Emmy interacts with them. Of course, this also begs the question of where the new characters are during the original games.
  • Dummied Out : All of the four first games have 52 Wi-Fi puzzles in the Japanese version. The English releases, on the other hand, have around 32.
  • Estrogen Brigade Bait: Anton from The Diabolical Box and Future Luke aka Klaus/Clive from The Unwound Future. Had he received more screen time, Crow from Last Specter could possibly also qualify.
  • Everybody Hates Mathematics: The hints for some puzzles point out they can be solved by algebra, but that isn't fun and you should solve it with puzzle skills instead. It's also a common trick for puzzles to make it seem like the solution is achieved through math when the real answer is hidden in some strange wording. Awkward Zombie demonstrates a typical example.
  • Face Palm: When Luke gets a puzzle wrong, he slaps his forehead. Prof. Layton is a fan of the pull-the-brim-of-your-hat-over-your-eyes variant when he botches a puzzle. Flora, when getting a puzzle wrong in the third game, does a two-handed variant with her hands on her cheeks. Emmy, in the prequel trilogy, puts her hand over her mouth.
  • Fight Magnet: With battles of wits rather than fistfights, but the trope still fits.
  • Follow the Leader: Konami's Dr. Lautrec and the Forgotten Knights; a puzzler with with a similar art design and a dapper French guy in a top hat. In the US it's even coming out within a few months after Last Specter, and a few fans have joked, "Oh, that's why Layton is getting a lawyer." It's not a complete knockoff, however, as gameplay isn't exactly the same and Dr. Lautrec is, shall we say, NOT a gentleman.
    • If you want some (excellent, by the way) carbon-copy versions of Layton, check Namco's Treasure Report, or Konami's Zack and Ombra, both of them for the DS appearing after Specter Flute came out, having the same interface, same cutscenes, same "Correct!" animation, same puzzle structure... Also, Level-5 with their own Atamania series, compromised of 6 puzzle games, with the seventh retooled into the iOS Layton Brothers spin-off after they bombed in Japan. Unfortunately, all of these games are a case of No Export for You.
    • One may argue that the Layton games are themselves this to the Brain Age series, as said by Level-5 developers.
  • Foregone Victory: Many puzzles, particularly the more physical ones like the Block Puzzle variants, have no wrong answer - you've either solved them or you haven't, and there's no way to get less than the maximum number of picarats for them. Of course, just because you can't fail doesn't mean they're easy...
  • Gentleman Detective: Even though he's an archaeologist, he spends most of his time solving weird mysteries and very little time doing any archaeology.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Whenever Layton, Luke, Emmy or Flora correctly solve a puzzle, including one during an animated sequence. Future Luke does it, too, in Unwound Future.
    • It becomes something of a recurring theme, with each game having an accusation scene. Also used notably in a trailer for the third game, with Future Luke mimicking Layton's moves in the first game's accusation scene perfectly.
    • A trailer for the movie also shows the Professor catching Luke practicing this.
      • And now Layton is crossing over with Phoenix Wright, another famous pointer. This can only end well.
      • Indeed, the trailer has Layton pointing his finger at a woman he's accusing of being a witch, only for Phoenix to point back with an Objection.
      • The second trailer has them both pointing fingers at the same time as Back-to-Back Badasses.
  • Gotta Catch Em All: Each game has a few meta-puzzles that you need to collect items to unlock. You acquire said items by solving regular puzzles, of course. Correctly solving the meta-puzzles unlocks even more puzzles, which are found in the "Bonuses" section of each cartridge.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: The explorer Pavel makes a habit of this. In multiple languages within the same sentence.
  • Guide Dang It: Have fun trying to find all the hidden puzzles in these games!
    • Easy compared to finding all the hint coins. At least Granny Riddleton/Puzzlette/Keats keeps puzzles from being Lost Forever.
    • You eventually get a pet in each game that can sniff out hint coins, though at least some coins will likely be Lost Forever by that point.
  • Guile Hero
  • Hello, Insert Name Here: In each game, you get a Non-Human Sidekick whose job is to sniff out hint coins and hidden puzzles. The player gets to name the animal each time, although the Robot Dog in the first game is never really referenced by Layton or anyone else. The parrot in the third game, however, interacts with the cast and is even spoken of by other characters. Rather than name the actual fish you get in Last Specter, though, you get to decide what its newly-discovered species will be called.
  • Hint System: Uses the "for payment" system; each hint costs a Hint Coin. Occasionally these "hints" will say that Hints Are for Losers, though.
  • Humongous Mecha: Plenty. We have the mobile fortress from Unwound Future, the specter mecha from Last Specter...
  • Inconsistent Dub:
    • Anton cameos in Unwound Future's Old Save Bonus puzzle and gives his name as the Japanese version's Anthony in the US version. The UK version rectifies it to Anton.
      • Though beating said puzzle shows that he doesn't want the puzzle-solver to reveal that Anthony's his real name; he prefers to go by "Anton".
    • Pertaining to the sound tests: If the Japanese games use the game's subtitle in the name of a track, count on the English version translating it as the object that the title refers to instead (e.g. the track "Akuma no Hako no Thema"/"The Diabolical Box Theme" was renamed "The Elysian Box Theme"). Additionally, Don Paolo's theme is "The Great Don Paolo" in Curious Village, but "Don Paolo's Theme" in Unwound Future.
    • Will presumably occur with London Life in Australia when Last Specter comes out due to getting the UK versions of Pandora's Box and Lost Future, as a number of characters got a Dub Name Change between the US and UK versions.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Layton and Luke.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: All games in the first trilogy have a tower of some description - Unwound Future has three!
    • There's one in the fourth game too, although it's smaller than those of previous games and they spend considerably less time in it.
  • Kid Sidekick: Luke, of course.
  • Latex Perfection: Don Paolo's disguises.
    • This trope is kicked Up to Eleven in Diabolical Box, considering he poses as Flora, who is shorter and several sizes smaller!
  • Lethal Chef: Flora, as seen in various games' ending credits and reiterated in her unlockable profile on Diabolical Box. Also Layton and Luke, when you screw up Diabolical Box's tea-brewing minigame.
  • Mad Scientist: Don Paolo, Dimitri Allen and Jean Descole.
  • Masquerade: Curious Village and Unwound Future had them; Diabolical Box looked like one, but it was a case of mass hallucination.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: Almost every logic puzzle is trying to trick you with its wording.
    • Lampshaded a couple times in Unwound Future: the results screen of one such puzzle stresses that, puzzles aside, you shouldn't use such misleading language; and Layton himself points out during his duel with Future Luke that an ambiguous wording in a puzzle can render it unsolvable.
    • Unless you're an absolute whiz at puzzles and/or have the patience of a saint, chances are you'll be taking a peek at a walkthrough for at least one particularly devious puzzle.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: At the beginning of every game, Layton comments about how something about the situation seems off, to which Luke always responds, "Oh, that must be your famous intuition again!"
  • Neutral Female: Flora stows away wherever the Professor's going, and basically does nothing else. Yes, she takes on a handful of Unwound Future's puzzles, but she only takes on one plot-important puzzle (the one at the factory entrance) out of dozens.
  • Nice Hat: Layton's top hat will be burned in your mind forever...
    • Additionally, he refuses to ever take it off, going through ridiculous lengths to avoid doing so, stating that "a gentleman never removes his hat." Even Luke doesn't know what he looks like under there. It briefly comes off in Diabolical Box, but the camera's angled so you can't see what's underneath. It's only at the end of Unwound Future that we get some good looks at him hatless.
      • As mentioned on the page for Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, the bit about a gentleman never removing his hat is a minor case of Did Not Do the Research. Proper etiquette requires a gentleman to remove his hat while indoors.
        • That is, until the events of Unwound Future, where the player is shown a possible reason why Layton never takes it off. The line in the previous game is most likely an excuse - he keeps wearing the hat in memory of his dead girlfriend Claire. Then again, Claire is the one who taught Layton to be a gentleman so keeping his hat on indoors would be dishonoring her. She is the one who told him that a gentleman never removes his hat, though, so he might just be taking her a bit too literally. And Luke keeps his hat on as much Layton does.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: The dub doesn't seem sure how to pronounce Descole. In Eternal Diva it was pronounced 'Day-Ko-Lay', but in Last Specter it became 'Dess-Ko-Lay'.
  • Old Save Bonus: Within each trilogy, each game offers a password that can unlock a bit of bonus content in the one before and/or after it.
  • One-Hour Work Week: Professor Layton teaches archaeology at university, but the moments when he's seen doing his actual job are pretty thinly spread.
  • Only Smart People May Pass: Pretty much the entire point of the games, but deliberately invoked in Curious Village and Unwound Future.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Flora's "going around town" outfit in Curious Village. The game even notes that absolutely no one in St. Mystere is fooled by it, but they pretend to be anyway.
    • Memetic Outfit: She wears a similar "disguise" at the beginning of Diabolical Box. Again, the game notes that Layton and Luke "must have been distracted, because that disguise isn't fooling anyone."
  • Parental Abandonment: Luke's parents are suspiciously absent. We don't even find out that they are, in fact, still around until Unwound Future, as Luke moves away at the end because his dad switched jobs.
    • Also, Flora. Both her parents have died, leaving her in the care of her Ridiculously Human Robot servants. Is it any surprise that Layton adopts her?
    • Unwound Future gives us Clive, who lost his parents in the blast that also killed Claire, and (even though he was Happily Adopted) this is what sets him on the path to villainy.
    • In Last Specter you finally get to SEE Luke's family. Turns out his father and Layton have a history together as fellow archaeologists, and are in fact close friends. But Luke's mom is missing, and the plot also heavily involves a couple of orphans.
  • "Previously On...": Whenever you save the game and turn off the DS, then come back to it later, it will bring you up to speed when you load the save file. "Our Story So Far..." Some suspect that this is solely a feature to drive anybody attempting Save Scumming completely insane.
  • The Real Remington Steele: Inspector Chelmey is actually an impostor in Curious Village, but guess who shows up in Diabolical Box? You learn of the existence of the real person in the first game, but he doesn't show up in person until the second.
    • London Life in the fourth game includes several characters from the previous games. Presumably the returning characters from Curious Village are not robots and the ones from Diabolical Box actually exist and look like that.
  • Riddle Me This: Used as a plot point in Curious Village by the fact that most of the characters are literally puzzle-dispensing robots. The next few games explain the presence of some of the puzzles, but by Last Specter they've given up trying to justify it.
  • Save Scumming: It's not very gentlemanly, but it is quite doable.
  • Scare Chord: The sound that plays at "Holy Crap" moments.
    • A particularly notable one in Last Specter. Shortly after the first specter attack, the specter escapes, but Layton notices the specter's glowing red eyes staring out from a mass of machinery. The Scare Chord is timed perfectly.
  • Scenery Porn: The background art is very colorful and detailed, from pastoral locations to even the inside of buildings.
  • Schizo-Tech: Is this set in 1920, or 2020? The plots involve things like time machines, robots, and Humongous Mecha, and it's mentioned in Unwound Future that humanity has already sent a man into space. On the other hand, the Professor wears a top hat and drives a decidedly old-fashioned car, and most correspondence shown is snail mail as opposed to the telephone or email.
    • The Internet and cell phones are referenced in a couple of Curious Village's puzzles, but chalk it up to Inconsistent Dub or Dub-Induced Plot Hole - the localization team had to replace a few puzzles because they didn't translate well; they just didn't choose ones with the same tech level as the rest of the game.
    • It's possible that the games are set in the modern day (albeit slightly idolized). Yes, Britain still turns out historical throwbacks every so often. You only need to go to go into the rural areas, and you'll still see plenty of villages and hamlets that wouldn't look out of place in a Layton game. Still, don't expect people to be writing with feather quills.
    • Adding to this, in Last Specter, Luke got a typewriter for a present on his seventh or so birthday, and later, a tourist mentions being in the digital age.
  • Sequel Hook: All the games end showing a picture relating to the next game, with "To Be Continued" on the bottom screen, except for Unwound Future which doesn't have a picture.
  • Shout-Out: Any fan of The Triplets of Belleville will notice that the game has a quirky style quite similar to it.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Layton regularly leaves his adopted daughter behind alone while he goes gallivanting off into danger with someone else's son. If social services do exist, they're pretty bad at their job.
  • Solve the Soup Cans: Curious Village gives something of a justification. Any other games in the series range from everybody wanting to stump the Professor Layton to the puzzle representing some actual in-story event (like switching train cars in Diabolical Box or fixing the giant clock in Unwound Future) to no reason at all, here's a puzzle. Any particularly blatant example will be lampshaded by Luke.

LUKE: A puzzle? At a time like this?

  • Spell My Name with an "S": Remi or Emmy? Anton or Anthony? Especially rampant in Mask of Miracle, with Lando/Rando and Sharoa/Sharon.
  • Spiritual Sequel: Word of God states that this series is a successor to Brain Age. This game was built to capitalize on the success of the latter as well as correct perceived shortcomings.
  • Steampunk: Present in all games, but most notably in Unwound Future.
  • Stock Puzzle:
  • Stock Lateral Thinking Puzzle: So many. A good idea with each riddle-type puzzle is to make sure the answer is not "0" or "1" or "all of them" before thinking too hard about it. Or when they offer options A, B, C, and D, make sure there's not a possible option E off to the side. Flipping 6 to become 9 is very common as well. For puzzles involving moving objects around, common tricks include stacking them on top of each other or utilizing space outside what would initially seem to be the boundaries of where you can put the objects.
  • Summation Gathering: Once a game, usually invoked by Chelmey. Diabolical Box suggests he does it out of a form of Contractual Genre Blindness.
  • Super-Deformed: In several places, like the map screen and some menus and the like.
  • Talk to Everyone: The only way to advance the games is to talk to everyone and solve their puzzles. Even if you avoid talking to people, eventually Layton runs into a lock that only opens after you have completed a certain number of puzzles.
  • The Tetris Effect: Play the games enough, and you'll want to point at people whenever you answer a question correctly.
  • That Reminds Me Of A Puzzle: For when the games cannot think of a good reason for Layton and Luke to solve a puzzle. You'll hear some variation of the actual phrase pretty frequently.
  • There Are No Therapists: Pretty much every villain in the series. Don Paolo and Dimitri haven't gotten over Claire at all in ten years; the same applies to Layton, but much less so and with greater justification, since they were actually a couple. Anton basically went mad from isolation and heartache, and Arianna (though not a villain) was possibly on her way there. And Clive...well, where do we even start with Clive? Layton himself is the closest thing they all have to professional help.
  • To the Bat Noun: Lampshaded with the Laytonmobile here.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The series loves this trope. St. Mystere is populated with robots, Folsense is a massive hallucination, and Future London is actually underground, beneath present-day London. Misthallery's secret isn't dark in itself, but drew people with their own dark secrets: it hides a small, pristine Lost World.
  • Try Everything: Some of the puzzles will inevitably result in the player screaming in frustration and doing this instead of working through the puzzle.
    • Lampshaded in Diabolical Box where one of Layton's lines after getting a puzzle wrong is "Well... I suppose that's one possibility eliminated."
    • Some puzzles have only two possible answers. If you get one of these wrong, the Incorrect screen will usually note that, while you now obviously know what the answer is, you should try to think about why that answer is right.
  • The Un-Reveal: At the beginning of Diabolical Box, Layton is about to explain his official relationship to Luke when Luke insists he's the Professor's apprentice, thank you very much. He does a lesser version in Unwound Future, again cutting off Layton's introduction of him in order to say he's an apprentice. (That game does reveal a bit of their actual relationship, however, establishing that Luke lives with his dad and therefore Layton is not his legal guardian.)
  • Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The Tower in Curious Village, Herzen Mansion in Diabolical Box, The Mobile Fortress in Unwound Future, The Ghost Factory in Last Specter though the final confrontation takes place in town, and Descole's Castle in Eternal Diva.
  • Voodoo Shark: Most of the explanations at the end turn to fall into this. ** In Curious Village, the entire town is populated with puzzle-dispensing robots who were designed as a test to find a worthy guardian for a young girl living at the top of a tower.
    • Diabolical Box has an even MORE Egregious example: Although it appears the town of Folsense is under the rule of a vampire who never ages, that's just because the entire town is filled with hallucinogenic gas that causes everybody to constantly hallucinate a number of bizarre things. But it's not magic. Of course not. Why would you think that?
    • In Unwound Future: the time-travel machine is actually just an elevator that takes its riders to a underground city, go figure. Interesting enough,it seems that there is a huge cavern containing a huge metropolis and a huge number of people living on it under one of the biggest cities in the world. If it's not impressive enough, the construction of this area started only around five years ago or so. This game somehow managed to fill explanations not with plot holes, but with literal holes!. And on top of that, it is revealed that time-travel is actually somehow possible after all!
    • In Last Specter the specter attacks are not caused by a vengeful ghost, but are actually a giant, bipedal steampunk mining mecha and prehistoric manatee fighting in the streets and just happening to form the shape of a specter every time that no one ever sees because of fog.
  • The Watson: Layton is such an intellectual badass that Luke's job is to have things explained to him so that the audience can catch up. This is especially apparent during the final sequence in Curious Village, in which Layton calmly explains every single remaining mystery to Luke in casual conversation as they climb the tower.
  • Where Are They Now: The credits usually include a small snapshot-slideshow version of this.
  1. Professor Layton and the London Holiday was a pack-in for the Gold/Silver releases
  2. Professor Layton's London Life was a pack-in for all releases except the European versions