Created By: Idler on August 14, 2008

Dead Person Impersonation

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Killing a person, then pretending to be them. This can crop up in a number of circumstances. A common ploy in murder mysteries is to have the killer impersonate the victim in order to throw off the time of death. The very first episode of Columbo used this plot. Can be used to create dramatic irony if the audience is made aware of the ploy, or a plot twist if they aren't. Obviously becomes a lot easier when the killer is a [1].

  • Monk has had this happen at least once.
  • Ditto Jonathan Creek.
  • Sylar from Heroes did this after he killed Zane Taylor. And a couple of other times.
  • Happens in the Pushing Daisies episode Pigeon, though the death was an accident there.
  • Quite a few Ace Attorney murderers have used this ploy.
  • A key plot twist in the John Dickson Carr novel The Hollow Man/ The Three Coffins relies on this.
Community Feedback Replies: 7
  • August 14, 2008
    Major plot point in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
  • August 14, 2008
    Silent Hunter
    Agatha Christie did it at least once.
  • August 15, 2008
    Unknown Troper
    So, do you think we have enough replies to launch? And if so, where should it go? I've never launched a YKTTW.
  • August 15, 2008
    Silent Hunter
    You've got enough examples.

    It should go under Crime And Punishment Tropes.
  • August 15, 2008
    HP Lovecraft's The Whisperer in Darkness.
  • August 15, 2008
    It's generally a good idea to wait 3 days before launching, just to get a few more examples.
  • August 15, 2008
    Professor Thascales
    Happened in one of Baroness Orczy's The Old Man In The Corner (written sometime around 1900), making this one of The Oldest Ones In The Book.