Created By: StrangeDwarf on June 28, 2011 Last Edited By: StrangeDwarf on July 4, 2011

The Narrator Did It

The narrator of the story did the murder.

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Page Type:
Trope
Up for Grabs.

So here you are, reading your Whoddunit. Fascinating book. It's written from the point of view of some random guy who has gotten very close to the detective. You like the guy, he seems like your average dude (it's usually a dude), with a sense of humor. The detective never tells him anything, darn him. Finally, you reach the last chapter. The Reveal is about to be made! Holding your breath, you run through the pages, read, read... and the murderer is...

... the narrator?

Alternatively, the story may not be a whoddunit. It could be the confessions of a criminal, a diary, or something similar. In such a case, you would (probably) know the murderer's identity from the beginning.

This could use a better description, but I hope you get the idea. Needs More Examples.

Spoilers ahead, obviously.

Examples:

  • Agatha Christie uses this two times:
    • The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd
    • Endless Night

  • In Edgar Allan Poe's The Telltale Heart, the narrator is a deranged criminal.

  • Happens in Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.

  • A Confession found in a prison in the time of Charles the Second by Charles Dickens in a confession about a committed murder.
Community Feedback Replies: 25
  • June 28, 2011
    Mozgwsloiku
    This page is too much of a spoiler to exist. Since this is one of the greatest twists (and just telling the title spoils it) it will be better for everyone if this page doesn't come to be.
  • June 28, 2011
    Aielyn
    That it's full of spoilers shouldn't stop you. It just means that you have to have that strong warning at the start of the Examples section indicating that all examples will be spoilers by default, and thus don't read on unless you're willing to be spoiled. Then, the examples section would be put into a click-to-expand section, to ensure that people don't see the spoilers unless necessary.
  • June 28, 2011
    Micah
  • June 28, 2011
    henke37
    I am not sure if that is quite it.
  • June 28, 2011
    Bisected8
    It might be worth splitting this from The Killer In Me. I think it's different enough to be seperate rather than an Internal Subtrope.
  • June 28, 2011
    Cuchulainn
    The narrator in The Last Broadcast.
  • June 28, 2011
    ArtisticPlatypus
    Murderer POV?

    EDIT: I take it back, murderer POV doesn't cover this, but it's definitely a related trope.
  • June 28, 2011
    Koveras
    Alice Is Dead reveals by the end of the first episode that that Alice was murdered by the White Rabbit... who is the amnesiac narrator.
  • June 28, 2011
    Hadashi
    Several children's stories do this, though I can't remember the names.
  • June 28, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    There are several closely related tropes here. Reverse Whodunnit (a la Columbo and Thorndyke) tends to have Murderer POV, either as first-person/confessional or third-person omniscient narration/camera angle. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd has a local physician get swept into a murder inquiry, so that he is present for many events and can therefore serve as the narrator; he is an Unreliable Narrator who glosses over some of his actions, using language to encourage the readers to incorrectly fill in details for themselves.

    It sounds like Strange Dwarf is trying to pick out those examples in which a first-person narrator is not merely unreliable, but also the culprit. I'm not sure if we're talking Internal Subtrope or related trope.

    The number of spoilers doesn't concern me. Ending tropes and death tropes are, by their nature, spoilerific.
  • July 1, 2011
    jcdietz03
    It should added to the description that this is an Ending Trope.
  • July 1, 2011
    EmbracingShadows
    Another work by Poe: The Cask Of Amontillado.
  • July 2, 2011
    MorganWick
    "Alternatively, the story may not be a whoddunit. It could be the confessions of a criminal, a diary, or something similar. In such a case, you would (probably) know the murderer's identity from the beginning." That seems to indicate that this is not solely an Ending Trope.
  • July 2, 2011
    StrangeDwarf
    Re spoilers: I don't see the problem. It just needs a strong warning, like Aielyn said.

    Unfortunately, something came up in Real Life and I'm going to be busy. I'm putting this Up For Grabs.
  • July 2, 2011
    Unknown Troper
    Can't think of any books at the moment, but there are tons of movies like this. However, many of them(SPOILERS AHEAD) seem to use the split personality trope as their twist ending, so that might be a separate category all together. - High Tension (slasher flick; main character has split personality a.k.a. dissociative identity disorder) - Hide and Seek - Secret Window - Perfect Stranger (although I don't think this one is split personality) - The Number 23 (amnesia, not split personality) - The Life of David Gale (The Main Character Did It without having some kind of mental abnormality)

    If this list looks familiar, it's because they're from a Cracked.com article http://www.cracked.com/article_15621_the-10-most-asinine-movie-twist-endings.html
  • July 2, 2011
    cityofmist
    In Curtain: Poirot's Last Case, the narrator is Hastings, who didn't do it.
  • July 2, 2011
    StrangeDwarf
    ^ *slaps self on head* True. Fixed that.
  • July 2, 2011
    chihuahua0
    Usually involves Unreliable Narrator.
  • July 2, 2011
    69BookWorM69
    For Unknown Troper 71.72.93.52

    Under Literature: L.Frank Baum's short story "The Suicide of Kiaros" is told by the narrator as he kills the title character and makes it look like a suicide.
  • July 2, 2011
    Leaper
    No, the narrator did not commit the murder in "The Suicide of Kiaros." The narrator was someone to whom the killer confessed the murder on (what he thought was) his deathbed.

    And The Killer In Me is a separate trope, IMO; despite what others believe, I don't think that narrator necessarily means hero.
  • July 2, 2011
    LeeM
    Radio variant: At the end of The Goon Show episode "The Phantom Head Shaver of Brighton" the show's regular announcer Wallace Greenslade turns out to have been the title villain, and in "The Spanish Suitcase" he's the one who ends up with the eponymous suitcase full of stolen money, while everyone else is imprisoned.
  • July 2, 2011
    Aielyn
    Can I suggest broadening it slightly to covering all cases where the story is being narrated by the villain or bad guy? And I've got a great trope name for such a trope: Nefarious Narrator.
  • July 3, 2011
    cityofmist
    That would be way too broad, considering that it would then include a vast number of Villain Protagonists from all genres, and I think this was originally supposed to refer only to instances where the narrator appears innocent and The Reveal is that they did it, not where the narrator was Obviously Evil all along.
  • July 3, 2011
    Aielyn
    There's a difference between a villain protagonist and a villain narrator. The protagonist of a story is the one being focused upon, and so a villain protagonist is where the story focuses on the villain rather than the hero. The narrator is usually not the same person as the protagonist, but can be in some cases.

    If you want to ensure that it's restricted to narrators that are revealed to be villains towards the end, then how about... Traitor Narrator? Alternatively, you could make it a "reveal" trope, and go with Nefarious Narrator Reveal.
  • July 4, 2011
    cityofmist
    Most narrators who are actually characters are the protagonist of their works. Anyway, your Traitor Narrator thing could be good.
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