History Main / TheButlerDidIt

10th Jun '17 5:38:46 PM Az_Tech341
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The butler is the avatar of the most unlikely suspect that turns out to be guilty because the author wasn't creative enough to come up with a better way to surprise the reader. It's the mystery writer equivalent of the {{Asspull}}, except that you can see it coming a mile away, making it, for modern readers, TheUntwist. Ironically, because this trope is so well known, when an ''actual'' butler is involved he rarely "did it", or when he did then it's often a parody and PlayedForLaughs.

The expression "The butler did it" was probably coined by novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart, although it's likely to be a real-world example of BeamMeUpScotty. The earliest ''verified'' explicit statement of disapproval dates to S.S. Van Dine's 1928 essay [[http://gadetection.pbwiki.com/Van+Dine%27s+Twenty+Rules+for+Writing+Detective+Stories "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories"]] (it might be noted that these rules would disqualify the authors who defined the genre, including Creator/WilkieCollins, Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, and Creator/ArthurConanDoyle - indeed, rule 20 says that a good mystery should not include certain types of clue that Doyle introduced into the mystery genre on the grounds that [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny they were now overused]], and would more accurately be titled "20 Rules for Writing a FairPlayMystery"). [[http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030926.html This]] article explores in detail the origin of this strange semi-existent trope. It's possibly related to the RealLife stereotype that, if something goes missing in a home, the hired help likely stole it.

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The butler is the avatar of the most unlikely suspect that turns out to be guilty because the author wasn't creative enough to come up with a better way to surprise the reader. It's the mystery writer equivalent of the {{Asspull}}, except that you can see it coming a mile away, making it, for modern readers, TheUntwist. Ironically, because this trope is so well known, when an ''actual'' butler is involved he rarely "did it", or or, when he did then did, it's often a parody and PlayedForLaughs.

The expression "The butler did it" was probably coined by novelist Mary Roberts Rinehart, although it's likely to be a real-world example of BeamMeUpScotty. The earliest ''verified'' explicit statement of disapproval dates to S.S. Van Dine's 1928 essay [[http://gadetection.pbwiki.com/Van+Dine%27s+Twenty+Rules+for+Writing+Detective+Stories "Twenty Rules for Writing Detective Stories"]] (it might be noted that these rules would disqualify the authors who defined the genre, including Creator/WilkieCollins, Creator/EdgarAllanPoe, and Creator/ArthurConanDoyle - indeed, rule 20 says that a good mystery should not include certain types of clue clues that Doyle introduced into the mystery genre on the grounds that [[SeinfeldIsUnfunny they were now overused]], and would more accurately be titled "20 Rules for Writing a FairPlayMystery"). [[http://www.straightdope.com/columns/030926.html This]] article explores in detail the origin of this strange semi-existent trope. It's possibly related to the RealLife stereotype that, if something goes missing in a home, the hired help likely stole it.
29th May '17 6:24:33 AM Morgenthaler
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* During the very early [[ImperialJapan Meiji era]] (around 1865-1868), a butler from Yokohama named Shokichi led a gang that violently robbed his employer's house and killed the master's son. While the other robbers were "simply" [[OffWithHisHead beheaded]], Shokichi himself was ''crucified and speared''; this is because he ''was'' the servant of his victims, so he was considered the lowest of the low.

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* During the very early [[ImperialJapan [[UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan Meiji era]] (around 1865-1868), a butler from Yokohama named Shokichi led a gang that violently robbed his employer's house and killed the master's son. While the other robbers were "simply" [[OffWithHisHead beheaded]], Shokichi himself was ''crucified and speared''; this is because he ''was'' the servant of his victims, so he was considered the lowest of the low.
2nd May '17 5:12:49 PM Gamermaster
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* In ''Manga/{{Ojojojo}}, Gramps claims he took the missing picture from Haru's photo album, when in reality [[spoiler: Akane]] took it.

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* In ''Manga/{{Ojojojo}}, ''Manga/{{Ojojojo}}'', Gramps claims he took the missing picture from Haru's photo album, when in reality [[spoiler: Akane]] took it.
29th Apr '17 11:51:14 AM MitchellTF
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Added DiffLines:

*** [[spoiler: She's right.]]
23rd Apr '17 9:55:27 AM nombretomado
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* Discussed in a [[SweetValleyHigh Sweet Valley Twins]] book when the twins try to figure out who murdered a young heiress fifty years ago. Their older brother jokes that the butler must have done it because it's always like that in the movies. [[spoiler:He was surprisingly close. It was the chauffeur.]]

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* Discussed in a [[SweetValleyHigh ''[[Literature/SweetValleyHigh Sweet Valley Twins]] Twins]]'' book when the twins try to figure out who murdered a young heiress fifty years ago. Their older brother jokes that the butler must have done it because it's always like that in the movies. [[spoiler:He was surprisingly close. It was the chauffeur.]]
18th Apr '17 5:45:13 PM Aleal
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** One of Christie's short stories, [[spoiler:''The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman'']] also employs this trope, except that in this case the "Butler" is actually a Valet.

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** One of Christie's short stories, [[spoiler:''The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman'']] also employs this trope, except that in this case the "Butler" is actually a Valet.valet.



** [[spoiler:Subverted]] in ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone''. The butler, Mr. Rogers, and his wife Edith are two of the suspects, [[spoiler:but are two of the first victims. They're guilty of ''something else'', though (killing their former boss, a rich and sickly spinster whose meds they tampered with so they could inherit he state), and ''that'' is why they got killed. (Edith dies first and in her sleep since her husband pressured her into helping kill their old woman, Rogers is killed in a far more bloody manner a while later)]]

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** [[spoiler:Subverted]] in ''Literature/AndThenThereWereNone''. The butler, Mr. Rogers, and his wife Edith Ethel are two of the suspects, [[spoiler:but are two of the first victims. They're guilty of ''something else'', though (killing their former boss, a rich and sickly spinster whose meds they tampered with so they could inherit he state), her estate), and ''that'' is why they got killed. (Edith (Ethel dies first and in her sleep since her husband pressured her into helping kill their old woman, employer; Rogers is killed in a far more bloody manner a while awhile later)]]



* ''Series/SquareOneTV'' features this in a Mathnet series when George Frankly invites Pat Tuesday to join him at a mystery weekend in a mansion. Unfortunately, due to a road sign pointing the wrong direction due to a storm, they end up at a different mansion where six criminals have been invited to another party - they only show up because the invitations were to their real names instead of their assumed names they'd been living as for years. Over the week's episodes, they start disappearing one by one. When they all disappear, George finds a series of hidden passageways leading to a holding cell where they're being held by the butler. [[spoiler: It turns out the butler was a judge upset that these 'criminals' never went to jail, despite the fact that they've all proven their innocence with math. (For example, one man was exonerated from stealing gold when he pointed out that to commit the crime, he would have had to carry hundreds of pounds of gold by himself.) When he was exposed and went to jail, he learned to like math, taught it to others, and [[BreakingTheFourthWall became an advisor to Square One TV]]. ]]

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* ''Series/SquareOneTV'' features this in a Mathnet series when George Frankly invites Pat Tuesday to join him at a mystery weekend in a mansion. Unfortunately, due to a road sign pointing the wrong direction due to a storm, they end up at a different mansion where six criminals have been invited to another party - they only show up because the invitations were to their real names instead of their assumed names they'd been living as for years. Over the week's episodes, they start disappearing one by one. When they all disappear, George finds a series of hidden passageways leading to a holding cell where they're being held by the butler. [[spoiler: It turns out the butler was a judge court stenographer upset that these 'criminals' never went to jail, despite the fact that they've all proven their innocence with math. (For example, one man was exonerated from stealing gold when he pointed out that to commit the crime, he would have had to carry hundreds of pounds of gold by himself.) When he was exposed and went to jail, he learned to like math, taught it to others, and [[BreakingTheFourthWall became an advisor to Square One TV]]. ]]



* Snerdly in ''WesternAnimation/TopCat'''s movie ''Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats'' is the main villain of the story. Is unable to kill someone (is a kid's movie) but certainly tries.

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* Snerdly in ''WesternAnimation/TopCat'''s movie ''Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats'' is the main villain of the story. Is He is unable to kill someone (is (it is a kid's movie) but certainly tries.
17th Apr '17 11:06:10 PM DustSnitch
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* ''Podcast/PlumbingTheDeathStar'' did an episode about ''Film/TheForceAwakens'' fan theories, and how they mostly involve some minor character, generally one none of the main characters' have a relationship with, secretly being the BigBad, Snoke. The theory they find, if not the worst, the most boring is the one where the Supreme Leader of evil is actually a grown-up version of Darth Vader's butler from ''Film/RogueOne'' who appeared for five seconds to get Vader out of his evil bubble bath once guests arrived.
-->''"How does, like, the most evil, cunning man in the universeŚnow that we now know he was a butler, how does that make it better?"''



17th Apr '17 5:37:08 PM Golondrina
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* Film/{{Clue}} only plays this straight in a fourth ending that was filmed but never used. Two endings are aversions and the third is a subversion, as detailed further down.

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* Film/{{Clue}} ''Film/{{Clue}}'' only plays this straight in a fourth ending that was filmed but never used. Two endings are aversions and the third is a subversion, as detailed further down.
17th Apr '17 6:43:54 AM dotchan
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** And even on a couple cases where it looks like the butler or the housekeeper/groundskeeper ''could'' have done it because s/he had motive, it turns out it's not the case. One of the best examples is in ''Billionaire Birthday Blues'' wherein the [[spoiler:two victims had caused the death of the housekeeper's granddaughter]], which would give the "Butler" character the most visible motive out of ''anyone''. But, it's shown that [[spoiler: she's not only beyond any desire of revenge, but she even delivers a ShutUpHannibal to her granddaughter's suitor who had just invoked LoveMakesYouEvil as his FreudianExcuse. She even closed the victim, her former mistress's eyes to give her the [[PeacefulInDeath final peace]], [[TearJerker while saying that even when she doesn't really forgive her deeds, nobody deserves to be murdered since there always be someone else in pain]].]]

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** And even on a couple cases where it looks like the butler or the housekeeper/groundskeeper ''could'' have done it because s/he had motive, it turns out it's not the case. One of the best examples is in ''Billionaire Birthday Blues'' wherein the [[spoiler:two victims had caused the death of the housekeeper's granddaughter]], which would give the "Butler" character the most visible motive out of ''anyone''. But, it's shown that [[spoiler: she's not only beyond any desire of revenge, but she even delivers a ShutUpHannibal to her granddaughter's suitor who had just invoked LoveMakesYouEvil as his FreudianExcuse. She even closed the victim, her former mistress's victim's eyes to give her the [[PeacefulInDeath final peace]], [[TearJerker while saying that even when she doesn't really forgive her deeds, nobody deserves to be murdered since there always be someone else in pain]].]]
27th Mar '17 8:01:16 AM Gosicrystal
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* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyJusticeForAll'' slightly subverts this in [[spoiler: the final case, where the killer is revealed to be a butler who later is revealed to be a hitman, disguised as a butler, who was hired by the defendant.]]
** Played straight in ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice Spirit of Justice's]]'' DLC case where the culprit turns out to be the family butler, who committed the murder to [[spoiler:avenge the death of his fiancée; by [[FrameUp framing the fiancée of her brother]], who caused the car accident she died in.]]

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* ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyJusticeForAll'' slightly subverts ''Franchise/AceAttorney'':
** ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneyJusticeForAll Jusitce for All]]'' [[ZigZaggingTrope mostly]] plays
this straight in [[spoiler: the [[spoiler:the final case, where the killer is revealed to be a butler who later is revealed to be a hitman, disguised as a butler, who was hired by the defendant.]]
defendant]].
** Played straight in ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice Spirit of Justice's]]'' Justice]]'''s DLC case where the culprit turns out to be the family butler, who committed the murder to [[spoiler:avenge the death of his fiancée; by [[FrameUp framing the fiancée of her brother]], who caused the car accident she died in.]] in]].
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http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/article_history.php?article=Main.TheButlerDidIt