Chief Inspector Jacques Clouseau (formerly Inspector) is a fictional detective in Blake Edwards's The Pink Panther series. In most of the films, he was played by Peter Sellers, with one film in which he was played by Alan Arkin and one in which he was played by an uncredited Roger Moore. In the 2006 Pink Panther revival and its 2009 sequel, he is played by Steve Martin.
He is also the inspiration of the main character in a series of short animated cartoon inspired by the titles of the feature films. Though the character in the animated late 1960s series was never given a name, he is clearly based on Clouseau. However, more recent animated depictions of Chief Inspector Clouseau since the 1970s on were redesigned to resemble Sellers, and later Martin, more closely.
Clouseau is a bumbling and incompetent police inspector of the French Sûreté, whose investigations are marked with chaos and destruction that he himself largely causes. His clumsy attempts at solving the case frequently lead to misfortune for himself and others; in the 1976 film The Pink Panther Strikes Again, he cannot even interview witnesses to a crime without falling down stairs, getting his hand caught in first a medieval knight's gauntlet and then a vase, knocking a witness senseless, destroying a priceless piano or accidentally shooting another officer in the backside. Clouseau is also not particularly intelligent, and will frequently follow a completely idiotic theory of the crime, solving the case only by accident. His incompetence, clumsiness and stupidity, with the fact that he is usually right, are enough to eventually transform his direct superior (former Chief Inspector Dreyfus) into a homicidal psychopath – to such a degree that Dreyfus even goes so far as to construct a doomsday device and threatens to destroy the world in a desperate attempt to kill Clouseau.
Regardless of his rather limited ability, he successfully solves his cases and finds the correct culprits, even if this success is achieved entirely by accident. As such, he is even promoted to Chief Inspector over the course of the series, and is regarded by many other characters who presumably have not met him as France’s greatest detective; those characters he actually encounters, nevertheless, are quick to realise his incompetence and limitations. He is immensely egocentric and pompous; despite his many failings, he is seemingly convinced that he is a brilliant police officer destined to succeed and rise through the ranks of the Sûreté. Despite this, Clouseau does appear to show some awareness that he is not the most competent or intelligent person, as he is notably embarrassed by and quick to brush aside his more extreme acts of clumsiness with phrases such as "I know that", and attempts to appear elegant and refined regardless of what calamity he has just caused.
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