For other uses, see The Hardy Boys (disambiguation).


The first book in The Hardy Boys, The Tower Treasure

The Hardy Boys is a entertainment franchise, based around the adventures of fictional crime-fighting brothers, Frank and Joe Hardy. The original young adult novel series, a creation of Edward Stratemeyer and his Stratemeyer Syndicate, debuted in 1927, with Grosset & Dunlap's publication of the first three volumes, and ran until it was discontinued in 2005, with Simon & Schuster's publication of the 190th volume. It is the all-time best-selling, and longest running series for boys.[1][2]

Although Stratemeyer's basic premise - two boy detectives fighting against crime and for justice - has remained the same over the years, many elements of series have changed, over the years. Beginning in 1959, the original Hardy Boys novels were revised. Stories were modernized, simplified, shortened, and some characters' personalities were even changed. Throughout the 1980s, the tone of the series again changed, when the Stratemeyer Syndicate was bought by Simon & Schuster in 1984, the company who took over publishing The Hardy Boys, from Grosset & Dunlap, five years earlier. The biggest changes came in 1987, when Simon & Schuster launched a new series, The Hardy Boys Casefiles, which saw the Hardy brothers battle terrorists, work with government agencies, and investigate murders. In 2005, The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers replaced the original series. Essentially a reboot of The Hardy Boys franchise, the Undercover Brothers has Frank and Joe work for a top-secret organization, American Teens Against Crime (ATAC).

In addition to the many Hardy Boys books, the Hardy brothers have appeared in a number of television series, comics, and, most recently, a video game series.


The series tells the adventures of teen brothers Frank and Joe Hardy, and their fight against crime. The two brothers live in the town of Bayport (the location of most of the books), along with their private investigator father, Fenton Hardy, their mother Laura, and their Aunt Gertrude.

The Hardy's detective skills are famous around the Bayport area, and are often helped by friends, Chet Morton, Biff Hooper, Tony Prito, Phil Cohen, and girlfriends Callie Shaw and Iola Morton. They also work with the local police. Because of this they have got to know some officers quite well, such as Con Riley and Chief Collig.

Series history

Original series (1927–1979)


A reprint of the original cover art of book #1, The Tower Treasure

Main article: The Hardy Boys (Original series)

The Hardy Boys is a creation of Edward Statemeyer’s Stratemeyer Syndicate, the creators of dozens of successful book series such as Tom Swift, the Rover Boys, the Bobbsey Twins, and later, Nancy Drew.

By the mid-1920s detective novels had become very popular in adult fiction. It was at this time that it occurred to Edward Statemeyer that a series of this sort might also appeal to young boys. What Statemeyer had in mind was a series of mystery novels on a juvenile level. So in the fall of 1926, he sent a letter to Leslie McFarlane, a Canadian journalist who had worked for Stratemeyer before on the "Dave Fearless Adventure Series". The letter contained information about Stratemeyer's new idea, and an outline for the first title, The Tower Treasure. McFarlane accepted and went on to write the first 22 books in the series; all under the name Franklin W. Dixon.

Substantial revisions to the first 38 titles began in 1959. Over the course of 15 years the series was revised to modernize outdated vernacular, reduce story length, age the characters and remove the ethnic and racial stereotypes prevalent in many of the early books (although the series was unusually inclusive for the era in having two non-WASP Hardy sidekicks who were portrayed as normal, fully assimilated teenagers—Tony Prito and Phil Cohen). The result of this process varied from one book to another. In some cases only minor changes resulted, while in others the entire plot and storyline were thrown out, resulting in an entirely new book bearing no resemblance to the original.

In 1979, after 52 years and 58 titles (and the spin-off, The Hardy Boys Detective Handbook), Grosset & Dunlap lost the rights to publish any new Hardy Boys adventures in a protracted court battle with the Syndicate. They did retain the right to continue publishing the first 58 titles and continue to do so to this day, despite several changes in ownership. In the meantime, Simon & Schuster continued the series in The Hardy Boys Digest series.

Digest series (1979 – 2005)

Main article: The Hardy Boys (Digest series)

Being a continuation of the original series, the Digest series was worked on by many of the same authors and was written in very much the same style. The first 27 volumes were published in hardcover and paperback, but all books after that, were published in paperback format only. After publishing eight books in 1979 and 80, Simon & Schuster started publishing six new titles a year, and did so until 1986, in this year no books were released. The Digest series resumed publication in 1987, also a new series was started, The Hardy Boys Casefiles. The last Digest, #190 Motocross Madness, appeared in stores in March 2005.

The Casefiles (1987-1998)


Casefiles #1 Dead on Target.

Main article: The Hardy Boys Casefiles

The Casefiles series, was aimed at early to mid-teens and was a big change in the Hardy Boys world. In the very first volume, Dead on Target, Joe's girlfriend Iola Morton is killed by a car bombing. As the story goes on Frank and Joe start work with a top secret organization, the Network, and discover that a terrorist group, named the Assassins, is responsible for the bombing. The Assassins become the Hardy boys’ arch nemesis, and along the Network are featured in many of the 127 Casefiles.

Over its ten-year run, the Casefiles had two spin-off crossovers, first the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys SuperMystery series, which ran for ten years and 36 volumes, and second the less successful two volume Hardy Boys and Tom Swift Ultra Thriller series.

The Clues Brothers (1997-2000)

Main article: The Hardy Boys are: The Clues Brothers

The Clues Brothers series was aimed at Grade one and two readers. The stories were fairly simplistic, such as figuring out Who Took The Book, along with other mysteries that didn't require travelling to different towns. Frank and Joe are 8 and 7 years old, respectively, and Fenton Hardy has an actual office that he goes to, compared to the other series where he tends to work out of his home. The series only ran for 17 volumes before being discontinued because of lackluster sales.

The Undercover Brothers (2005-2012)


#23 House Arrest

Main article: The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers

In 2005 the Digest series was discontinued and replaced by The Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series. Unlike the books published in the previous 78 years, these books are not told in third person narrative style, but in first person, with Frank and Joe alternating chapters.[3] The first four books of the series appeared in bookstores in April 2005 with a publishing date on the copyright page of June 2005.

In this series Frank and Joe work for ATAC, American Teens Against Crime, a top-secret government organization co-founded by their father, Fenton.

Adventures Series (2013 - Present)

Main article: The Hardy Boys Adventure Series

In 2012 the Undercover Brothers series was discontinued due to low sales and discontent from fans. The Adventure series was created to replace the Undercover Brothers, although like the previous series, this series is told in the third-person, however, the Hardy Boys are no longer members of ATAC. Also in this series the boys are on probation from investigating due to having had charges laid against them for doing so.

TV appearances

The Hardy Boys have appeared in five different television shows.

The Mickey Mouse Club, Hardy Boys TV series (1955-1957)

In the late 1950s, Disney contracted with the Stratemeyer Syndicate to produce two Hardy Boys TV serials, starring Tim Considine and Tommy Kirk. In 1955, The Mystery of the Applegate Treasure was made, based on The Tower Treasure. The second serial, The Mystery of the Ghost Farm was released in 1957. Both aired on the Mickey Mouse Club. The first serial has been released to DVD.[4]

The Mystery of the Chinese Junk pilot (1967)

Main article: The Mystery of the Chinese Junk (1967 TV)

In 1967, an hour-long pilot of a new Hardy Boys TV show was aired on CBS, starring Tim Matthieson (later Matheson) as Joe Hardy and Rick Gates as Frank. But the show was not popular and the series wasn't continued. The pilot was closely adapted from The Mystery of the Chinese Junk.[5]

The Hardy Boys animated series (1969-1971)

Main article: Hardy Boys cartoon

In 1969, ABC ran a Saturday Morning cartoon series produced by Filmation.

In this series the Hardy boys are in a rock band and use it as a front to investigate mysteries.

The animated series produced two bubblegum music albums released by RCA: Here Come The Hardy Boys and Wheels. Several singles from the albums were also released.[6]

The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries (1977-1979)

Main article: The Hardy Boys Nancy Drew Mysteries

The Hardy Boys & Nancy Drew Mysteries was an ABC prime time series starring Parker Stevenson and Shaun Cassidy that first aired on Sunday, January 30, 1977. The Hardy Boys alternated with Nancy Drew, and once every fifth week in January and February 1977 with The Brady Bunch Hour. In the second season, the Hardys were joined by Nancy Drew (played by Pamela Sue Martin and, later, Janet Louise Johnson) for some episodes. Nancy was dropped altogether in the fall of 1978. The show went for three seasons with forty-six episodes, including 28 Hardy Boys episodes, 10 Nancy Drew only episodes, and 8 Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew cross-over episodes; the show went off the air in January 1979.[7]

Most of the Hardys' friends never made regular appearances in the show, although Chet Morton does show up twice in the first season, while Callie Shaw was featured as Fenton’s part-time office assistant.[7]

All three seasons have been released on DVD.

The Hardy Boys (1995)

Main article: The Hardy Boys (TV series)

In 1995 a TV show simply called The Hardy Boys staring Colin Gray and Paul Popowich was produced and syndicated by New Line Television, a division of New Line Cinema. The show was co-produced by Nelvana Ltd. and Marathon Productions, S.A. in association with Westcom Entertainment Group Ltd. of Canada.

The same company also produced a Nancy Drew series and the two shows were normally booked into a one hour time slot together. Both series were also produced in French and shown in France and French-speaking Canada.

In this series Frank works for a newspaper and Joe is a college student. The show only lasted one season with 13 episodes and two episodes crossed over with Nancy Drew.[8] Both "The Hardy Boys" and "Nancy Drew" series have been released to DVD.

TV Show memorabilia

The Mickey Mouse Club series, the animated series and the 1970s ABC-TV series were responsible for the creation of many items of Hardy Boys memorabilia such as board games, comic books, jigsaw puzzles, dolls and other items.


The Hardy Men

Main article: The Hardy Men

It is reported that actors Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise are in discussion to film a grown up version of the Hardy Boys for the big screen. The film will portray the boys as grown adults, thus naming the film The Hardy Men.

Video games

Nancy Drew

The Hardy Boys have appeared in two games in the Nancy Drew PC games series by Her Interactive. They appeared Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon (2005) and then in 2006 for the first time as playable characters in The Creature of Kapu Cave.

Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys: Super Mystery Series

Based on the Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys Super Mystery book series, this PC computer game (by Her Interactive) was set to come out on December 31, 2007, and feature both Nancy Drew and the Hardy boys.

The Hardy Boys (2008-Present)

JoWooD and The Adventure Company, announced on September 26, 2007 that they have entered into a partnership with Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing to develop a series of interactive games based The Hardy Boys. The titles release worldwide over the next five years, with the first title The Hardy Boys: The Hidden Theft set to release in the fall 2008. [9]

See also

Further reading

  • Billman, Carol; The Secret Of The Stratemeyer Syndicate
  • Carpentieri, Tony; Frank & Joe Turn Blue
  • Carpentieri, Tony & Mular, Paul; Hardy & Hardy Investigations
  • Connelly, Mark; The Hardy Boys Mysteries, 1927-1979: A Cultural and Literary History
  • Garis, Roger; My Father Was Uncle Wiggily
  • Greenwald, Marilyn S.; The Secret Of The Hardy Boys
  • Johnson, Diedre; Stratemeyer Pseudonyms and Series Books
  • Johnson, Diedre; Edward Stratemeyer and the Stratemeyer Syndicate
  • McFarlane, Leslie; Ghost of the Hardy Boys; an autobiography
  • Prager, Arthur; Rascals At Large


  1. Baldwin, Douglas (2000). The 1920s, p24. Weigl Educational Publishers. ISBN 1896990665. Retrieved on June 5, 2009.
  2. Lurie, Maxine N.; Mappen, Marc (2004). Encyclopedia of New Jersey, p211. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 0813533252. Retrieved on June 5, 2009.
  3. Grant, Tracy (July 19, 2005). Extreme Danger: Book 1 of Hardy Boys Undercover Brothers series. The Washington Post. Retrieved on June 5, 2009.
  4. The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page, R.W. Finnan: On Television, 1950's
  5. The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page, R.W. Finnan: On Television, 1960's
  6. The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page, R.W. Finnan: On Television, 1960's Animated
  7. 7.0 7.1 The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page, R.W. Finnan: On Television, 1970's
  8. The Unofficial Hardy Boys Home Page, R.W. Finnan: On Television, 1990's

External links

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