Created By: foxley on February 2, 2011 Last Edited By: foxley on February 10, 2011
Troped

Too Many Clues

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Do We Have This One??

A common tactic for fictional criminals (especially murderers) is to plant false clues at the scene of their crime: either to deliberately frame someone else or merely to throw suspicion away from themselves. Sometimes, however, they take things too far and the sheer amount of clues they plant has the opposite effect. No detective will believe that any criminal could be so careless as to leave that much incriminating evidence behind.

Rolling Updates.

Examples:

Comic Books
  • In Daredevil: Born Again, this phenomena was what finally convinced Matt Murdock that the recent misfortunes he had suffered was being caused by the Kingpin rather than simply being a string of bad luck.
    Murdock: "You shouldn't have signed it, Kingpin. Now I'm coming for you."

Film
  • In the movie Minority Report, Danny Witwer outlines the basics of this trope:
    [viewing the crime scene of Leo Crow's murder]
    Danny Witwer: I worked homicide before federal. This is what we call an orgy of evidence. You know how many orgies I had as a homicide cop?
    Officer Fletcher: How many?
    Danny Witwer: None.
    [crouches down and looks back up]
    Danny Witwer: This was all arranged.

Literature
  • Murder on the Orient Express: A bewildering array of clues, much of them contradictory, serve to alert Hercule Poirot that someone is making massive attempts to muddy the waters. the clues include a dropped handkerchief, a dropped pipe cleaner, a dented watch showing the time of the murder, a lost button, someone pretending to be the victim (and speaking a language he did not speak) after he was supposedly dead, an abandoned conductor's uniform, and a sighting of a mysterious woman in a scarlet kimono.
  • Deliberately invoked in the Discworld novel Jingo where a vast amount of stereoypical evidence implicating Klatch in a murder is planted, as the Klatchian ambassador releases this will cause Sam Vimes to look everywhere except Klatch for the killers.
    • Also lampshaded in Discworld/Feet of Clay. Vimes states that he instinctively distrusts clues because "you could walk around with a pocketful of the things."

Live-Action TV
  • Parodied in The Goodies episode "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express" where the clues they find include a a Union Jack waistcoat, a pair of glasses, and a beard...

Video Games
  • In the Ace Attorney games, this happens a few times. For instance, in the fourth case of the second game, a character has been murdered and is found with your defendant's knife in his chest while one of the bloodied buttons on his costume was found in your defendant's pants. This is considered too incriminating and casts suspicion upon another character with a motive to frame your defendant. As it turns out, she did plant that evidence to frame him, but the defendant actually is the murderer after all.
Community Feedback Replies: 15
  • February 2, 2011
    randomsurfer
    I've seen it a couple of times where a murderer only wants to murder one person, but becomes a serial killer and kills a bunch of people instead to throw the cops off track.

    A varient of that is done in the 1944 Sherlock Holmes film The Pearl of Death: bad guys are looking for a pearl which was hidden in one of six china busts of Napoleon. They track down the owners of the busts and hire the Creeper to kill them, and then break open the bust to see if it's the right one. To cover their tracks, the Creeper breaks all of the victim's china, to disguise the fact that they're only really interested in the Napoleon busts.
  • February 2, 2011
    mayofspace
    ^ Me too. I just can't bring a specific example to mind, but that should be a sister trope.. "Misleading Trail Of Bodies"? As to this trope, Red Herring Collection can be the alt title.
  • February 2, 2011
    PaulA
    I tried ykttwing the misleading-trail-of-bodies thing once, but it didn't go anywhere. I don't know if it's possible to dig up discarded ykttws and steal the examples, but I remember the one I kicked it off with was the serial killer in the "Blades" story arc from Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #32-34.

    Meanwhile, I'll note that the Lord Peter Wimsey novel Clouds of Witness is not an example of this trope. It is all about the murder investigation being hampered by a plethora of false leads, but they weren't deliberately planted by the killer, it just happened that there were several other surreptitious happening in the same place on the same night.
  • February 2, 2011
    foxley
    I think the trail of bodies is a related but seperate trope. I might start a new YKTTW on that as I can think of several examples of that off the top of my head (I'm a bit of a mystery buff).
  • February 4, 2011
    foxley
    Bump. I'll put up a 'Trail of Bodies' YKTTW tomorrow.
  • February 4, 2011
    Generality
    Also lampshaded in Feet Of Clay. Vimes states that he instinctively distrusts clues because "you could walk around with a pocketful of the things."
  • February 4, 2011
    thedreadednyondo
    In the movie Minority Report, Danny Witwer outlines the basics of this trope:

    [viewing the crime scene of Leo Crow's murder]

    Danny Witwer: I worked homicide before federal. This is what we call an orgy of evidence. You know how many orgies I had as a homicide cop?

    Officer Fletcher: How many?

    Danny Witwer: None.

    [crouches down and looks back up]

    Danny Witwer: This was all arranged.
  • February 4, 2011
    Stratadrake
    ^ I was about to mention Minority Report myself. (And Orgy Of Evidence is a nice candidate for titles.)
  • February 4, 2011
    foxley
    Orgy Of Evidence would make a good title.
  • February 7, 2011
    foxley
    Bumping. There must be more examples than this.
  • February 7, 2011
    Fanra
    No detective will believe that any criminal could be so careless as to leave that much incriminating evidence behind.

    Any defense made in court that, "I wouldn't be that stupid", is an Epic Fail. Even if you prove to the court that you have an IQ of 200, so many other criminals have done stupid things that you would not be believed.

    So, yeah, a detective would believe it.

    See every episode of Cops.

    In one of Donald E. Westlake's books, a judge reflects that his job is mostly locking up people for being stupid, as most smart people both a.) don't commit most of the crimes he sees and/or b.) don't get caught.
  • February 7, 2011
    antialiasis
    In the Ace Attorney games, this happens a few times. For instance, in the fourth case of the second game, a character has been murdered and is found with your defendant's knife in his chest while one of the bloodied buttons on his costume was found in your defendant's pants. This is considered too incriminating and casts suspicion upon another character with a motive to frame your defendant. As it turns out, she did plant that evidence to frame him, but the defendant actually is the murderer after all.
  • February 9, 2011
    Worldmaker
    Comic Books
    • In Daredevil: Born Again, this phenomena was what finally convinced Matt Murdock that the recent misfortunes he had suffered was being caused by the Kingpin rather than simply being a string of bad luck.
      Murdock: "You shouldn't have signed it, Kingpin. Now I'm coming for you."
  • February 9, 2011
    Stratadrake
    The reason in fiction that the detective doesn't believe the evidence is generally that the detective is Genre Savvy; the amount of evidence they find is so disproportional to the norm that it not only strikes them as unusual but implausible. That's why they start to suspect that it was planted deliberately.
  • February 10, 2011
    foxley
    Will launch this weekend. Probably as Orgy Of Evidence.
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