[[quoteright:210:[[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/connect_the_deaths_588.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:210:"[[CaptainObvious I think the killer might be trying to tell us something]]."]]

->''"Saw it in a movie once. There was this serial killer running around, and the police detective, he puts this big map on the wall and puts pushpins in each of the murders and reckons the killer's writing out a sign of the zodiac. Capricorn or Cancer or sumthin'. Once he figures that out, he's able to track down the killer and stop him from killing the next victim, who just happens to be the cop's girlfriend. Cop shoots the killer just in time, but 'course he ain't dead the first time. He gets up when nobody's looking, even though he's got six bullets in him, and the girlfriend ends up having to shoot him a coupl'a more times."''\\
''"I think I saw that one."''
-->-- ''Gil's All Fright Diner'' by A. Lee Martinez

There's a SerialKiller on the loose! He may or may not be the [[PoeticSerialKiller poetic kind]], but there is one thing we know about him: he picks his locations very carefully. So carefully, in fact, that it's almost inevitable that each death connects with each other death to make the shape of... something. Maybe it's a [[ReligionOfEvil inverted pentagram]] or just a big arrow.

Alternatively, there's no killer, just a lot of weird stuff happening. To find the WeirdnessMagnet, you have to map out where all the weird stuff is and find the exact center.



[[folder:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* In ''Manga/CountCain'', the evil organisation Delilah were buying up properties which, when plotted on a map, formed a pentagram in order to use the entire city of London in a resurrection spell.
* ''Manga/DetectiveConan'' has a variation with criminal fires to write the kanji for well... "fire".
** Also in the movie "The Raven Chaser" has connected murder cases with Mahjong tiles placed near the victims. It's later found out the crime scenes mapped out a star constellation.
* Dramatically done in the ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' manga- [[spoiler:it turns out all of the conflicts that had excessive bloodshed involving the government in the history of Amestris could be connected to form a giant human transmutation circle that spans ''the whole country''.]]
* In the second episode of ''Re: Anime/CuteyHoney'', one of the villains goes on a rampage in the city, trashing buildings in a pattern which forms a kanji message insulting the heroine when viewed from above.

* One theory, which is also presented in the Alan Moore graphic novel ''ComicBook/FromHell'', is that UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper's murders were to draw a pentagram on the London map.
** Another theory is that he actually did draw a cross, and was attempting to draw one of those Jesus Fish, as well, in some sort of Satanic TakeThat against Christianity. This theory hasn't exactly caught on in most academic circles. To put it mildly.
** Also used in the ''[[ComicBook/TwoThousandAD Indigo Prime]]'' story "Killing Time", although with added [[NoodleImplements killer rabbits, multidimensional trains and death-by-harp]].
* A ''ComicBook/JusticeSocietyOfAmerica'' arc had the Rival (an evil speedster and arch-enemy of Jay Garrick) run through the United States, killing people in a certain pattern. It spelled out "Edward Clariss," the Rival's real name...and Jay immediately figured out that the last target was Keystone City, and his wife.
* One of the best (though it's not on a map) is in Grant Morrison's ''Marvel Boy'', in which the title character - the hero, mind you - rampages through NYC to spell out a message to humanity. The message? "FUCK YOU."
* Done in one [[Magazine/{{Mad}} Don Martin]] ''ComicBook/CaptainKlutz'' misadventure; the Captain plots Mervin the MadBomber's attacks on a map, which form an arrow pointing at the Captain's present location. The pin which marks the tip of the arrow is of course a disguised bomb.
* ''Franchise/{{Batman}}'': In Mr Polka-Dot's first appearance, his crimes mark out a stick figure on the map. Batman deduces that the next crime will be at the point that marks the head.
* In ''ComicBook/TheSimpingDetective'', Jack does this after his new boss, [[DirtyCop Sector Chief Daveez]] tells him to suspend his investigation into a number of deaths around the sector. Jack initially thought the deaths involved were all unrelated, but Daveez's orders makes Jack curious. He finds that the deaths all occur within a relatively short radius from a church, which turns out to be a front for the production of [[FantasticDrug Crystal Blue]].

[[folder:Fan Fiction]]
* In the ''Series/BuffyTheVampireSlayer'' / ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' crossover fic "[[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/2042677/1/Not_All_Monsters_are_Demons Not All Monsters Are Demons]]", Buffy Summers, assisting the police in tracking down a serial killer, figures out that the bodies are aligned in such a way as to point to the next body's dump site, and that the entire thing makes up a gigantic mystic sigil of some sort... but that the killer is getting the details wrong so the "mystic ritual" the man is trying to put into play just isn't going to work.

[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* Not quite the same, but in ''WesternAnimation/BatmanBeyondReturnOfTheJoker'', the Joker marks on a map possible targets for his KillSat, and NOT coincidentally they form a smiley face.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/SilenceOfTheLambs'' has a variant - the pattern is random, but "desperately random," as Lecter put it -- both the killer and his first victim were from the same area; later victims were abducted from random locations in an [[HiddenInPlainSight attempt to hide that fact]].
* Film, and thus, RealLife subversion: In ''Film/{{Zodiac}}'', despite the best attempts of Paul Avery, David Toschi, Robert Graysmith and everyone else involved, there is never a real perceivable pattern in the Zodiac Killer's killing, and thus, the real killer is never found.
* In ''Film/NightWatch'' (the film, not the book) mapping the vampire attack incidents gives a pentagram.
* In ''Film/SplitSecond'', the monster kills its victims in specific places in order to draw a dot-to-dot version of an astrological symbol on the city map.
* In ''Film/TheJanuaryMan'', the killer is murdering one woman per month starting in January: when seen on a map, the sites of the eleven murders form the constellation Virgo, and when photographs of the buildings are lined up, the floors on which the murders were committed are the notes on the scale that form the song "Calendar Girl". Yes, really.
** And the dates of the month on which the murders occur are, as the hero realizes when he sees a passing PRIME MEATS truck, ''prime'' numbers. As there are 12 that are less than or equal to 31, and 11 of them have been used on the eleven previous months, he's able to tell, which building, which floor, and which day the [[OscarBait murder will occur]].
* ''Film/{{Arachnophobia}}'' uses this when Dr. Jennings is figuring out where the spiders' nest is. [[spoiler: Naturally, given his crippling fear of spiders, it's his own house.]]
* Happens in the 2009 ''Film/SherlockHolmes'' movie, due to the villain trying to make it ''look'' like he is an EvilSorcerer and therefore marking out a pentagram, and later a cross, with the murders.
* In ''Film/Ghostbusters2016'', the team locates the villain's lair by mapping out recent hauntings.

* The above quote comes from one of the GenreSavvy characters in A. Lee Martinez's ''Gil's All Fright Diner''. He does exactly that and [[spoiler:finds that the diner itself is the WeirdnessMagnet]].
* Creator/AgathaChristie liked to play with this trope. [[spoiler: Often, the murderer is following a pattern to ''conceal'' his/her real target.]]
** ''The ABC Murders'': A serial killer is murdering victims in alphabetical order. [[spoiler: They killed the first two to cover up their motive for the third.]]
** ''A Pocket Full of Rye'': The killer is following the nursery rhyme.
** ''Three Act Tragedy''
** ''After the Funeral'': The killer [[spoiler: purposefully laid evidence to try and connect an otherwise natural death to the real murder in order to release herself from suspicion.]]
* Literature/JudgeDee is unsurprised to discover that two or more of his murder cases are actually linked to the same criminal plot - even when the victims involved seem to have no connection at all.
* In the second Literature/MercyThompson book the BigBad is demon-possessed and causes violence by just being nearby. The good guys try to locate him by tracking the outbreaks of violence but no pattern is visible at first. The pattern shows up when [[spoiler:they look at day-time incidents only - being a vampire, the villain can't move around to cover his tracks in daylight.]]
* The organizing principle of Reginald Hill's ''Dialogues of the Dead''. There's just one problem: [[spoiler: while Dalziel and Pascoe figure out the connections, they never realize that they've mistaken the killer's identity.]]
* Creator/JorgeLuisBorges's short story "Death and the Compass" is an early subversion. The AmateurSleuth carefully deduces that a series of three murders (that seem kabbalistically-related) committed at regular intervals in the North, East and West areas of the city, imply that a fourth murder will take place in the South, completing a perfect rhombus that symbolizes the four-letter name of God. He goes to the expected place at the expected time hoping to prevent the murder, only to find out that [[spoiler: it was all a BatmanGambit by a personal enemy of him to lure him to this deserted spot, and kill him.]]
** Which ironically winds up playing this straight anyway: the pattern itself holds up and ironically even for the exact same reasons as the AmateurSleuth thinks they do; [[spoiler: it's just that the pattern is not the main motivation for the killer.]]
* In ''Literature/TheHauntingOfAlaizabelCray'', the location of a series of murders forms the shape of the Chackh'morg -- basically an EldritchAbomination.'
* Averted in Creator/ElleryQueen's ''Cat of Many Tails''; while the deaths are plotted on the map, the pattern is irrelevant.
* In the first ''Literature/ProvostsDog'', Beka Cooper maps out the Shadow Snake kidnappings, since she knew her lord did something similar with his big cases, looking for patterns.
* Michael Slade's ''Ripper'', serial killings in Vancouver are arranged to trace a pattern of triangles derived from a Tarot card.
* The "weirdness magnet" version shows up in ''Literature/GoodOmens'', where Anathema Device is charting ley lines, and discovers said lines are forming a spiral converging on the town of Lower Tadfield.
* Used in ''LightNovel/AnotherNote''. The SerialKiller sends evidence that the next target lives in a particular condo complex, and has the initials B.B. Two people in the complex match that description, and Naomi and Rue evacuate them to a 5-star hotel. The last victim is actually [[spoiler: Rue himself. It turns out [[DetectiveMole he]] is the SerialKiller Beyond Birthday they've been looking for, and [[MurderSuicide he had this planned all along.]]]]

* Done in the ''Series/{{Angel}}'' episode "Apocalypse, Nowish" using a map of recent mystical disturbances to find out where the Beast was heading.
* In the ''Series/CriminalMinds'' episode "Masterpiece", Reid connects the sites of a series of murders to a Fibonacci spiral, with an incrementing number of deaths at each location, all centered around what he concludes must be the murderer's house.
** Another killer made a heart with his victims (well, with a little imagination it's a heart) [[spoiler: to show his love for another serial killer's widow.]]
* Averted on ''{{Series/CSI}}'', when confession-notes left on bathroom stall doors provided a clue to track a truck-driving serial killer. Although the graphic showing how all the restrooms' locations lined up resembled a Connect-The-Deaths diagram, the killer's girlfriend/accomplice is the one who left the clues, and the line merely plotted out the trucker's delivery route rather than a symbol.
** Inverted on ''Series/CSINewYork'', where a killer is identified because he'd turned on the lights in his downtown office suite, ''breaking'' the pattern of lights in which the victim had spelled out "Marry Me", as a grand romantic gesture.
* In a double episode of ''Series/DiagnosisMurder'', serial bomber wrote the name of her dead father on the city map. The absurdity of this is [[LampshadeHanging Lampshaded]] by Detective Steve Sloan, who draws a pig in the same pattern, though of course Dr. Sloan is right.
* ''Series/{{Fringe}}'' actually did this with the mysterious Pattern in the first series finale. [[spoiler:Each of the Pattern incidents were located near existing weak spots in the fabric of reality, and the [[MonsteroftheWeek Weirdo of the Week]] was attempting to open a doorway to another universe at these weak points.]]
* ''{{Series/Grimm}}'' season 5 episode "Star-Crossed" features a Wesen serial killer who ritualistically crucifies his muggle victims- mapped out, the kills [[spoiler:follow the shape of the big dipper]].
* Subverted/criticised in ''Series/JonathanCreek'', where a TV crime show decides that a serial killer is killing women if their names are the names of flowers, dubbing them the Daisy Chain Killer, purely because it makes a good story. In the end it turns out the killer was just generally disturbed and killing randomly, and only one of their victims had a flower name--the second victim that supposedly started the pattern was killed by someone else for unrelated reasons, using the serial killer as cover.
* ''Series/KamenRiderDecade'' used this in the [[Series/KamenRiderKuuga Kuuga]] story arc. The [[MonsterOfTheWeek Grongi]] are killing policewomen as part of their Gegeru ("game"); Tsukasa[=/=]Decade, [[UndeadTaxExemption posing as a policeman]], suggests that the victims' birthdays spell out "Kill everyone" in ''[[GoroawaseNumber goroawase]]'', letting them know who the fifth victim will be. Later he meets with a female detective and reveals that he lied about his first theory to cover up the truth, that the murders are based off of proximity to the [[SealedEvilInACan Grongi's sealed leader]] - which is precisely where they are. [[MagnificentBastard Then he spoils the Gegeru]] by [[KickTheDog punching the detective in the face]], since an additional rule was to avoid bloodshed.
* In an episode of the Austrian series ''Series/InspectorRex'', the main characters face off against a satanic cult that murders women and leaves their bodies so that they form a giant pentagram.
* ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent'' once featured a murderer who tried to randomize his crimes, but plotting them on a map showed repetition of a certain irregular shape. He was found out because he had autistic tendencies, and constantly arranged things into that shape without realizing it. The cops spotted him because they noticed things all over his house placed in the same pattern-- right down to the pushpins on his bulletin board.
* One ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'' episode had a killer lining up the arms on his victims to resemble a line of paper dolls when the crime scene photos were placed side by side.
* Parodied brilliantly in obscure BBC buddy cop show spoof ''LazarusAndDingwall''; What appears to be a serial killer with strange variations in his MO turns out to be ''two'' serial killers, using corpses whose names end with 'o' or 'x' to play a giant game of Noughts and Crosses on the map. To prevent the next murder, they must find the correct person with a name ending in 'o'... [[NeedleInAStackOfNeedles In the middle of the city's Italian district.]]
* ''Series/{{Life}}'': The SerialKiller from the "Find Your Happy Place" episode killed his victims by leaving them to suffocate in steamer trunks. When plotted out on a map, the trunk locations make a smiley face.
* Averted/Played With in an episode of ''Series/NCISLosAngeles'', when crossover guest [[Series/{{NCIS}} Abby]] was the only person to discerned that a serial killer's victims were unusually random mixes of ages, races, and sexes (and possibly killing techniques). When he captures her, he notes that he'll be able to cross "Caucasian Female" off his list.
* Practically every episode of ''{{Series/Numb3rs}}'', but in one of the early episodes, the main character develops an algorithm which, based on the inherent human inability to produce random numbers/circumstances, uses a map with pushpins to find where the next murder will/would have occurred.
* Parodied on ''Series/PeopleLikeUs'', when Roy follows around a police officer. One of the senior officers explains that a map of the borough covered with pins represents a string of recent thefts, and they're looking for a pattern. When Roy asks if they've found one, the officer replies. "Yeah - it looks like a rabbit." It does, in fact, look exactly like a rabbit.
* In the teen newspaper drama ''Series/PressGang'', Linda was locked in an airtight vault with a half-broken phone. When she didn't turn up at work and four co-workers all reported the same weird phone calls in the middle of the night, they drew a cross to find that X marked the spot.
* An episode of ''Series/RoboCopTheSeries'' had a mad bomber, The Spider. When they plotted out his bomb sites, they turned up a picture of a particular type of spider web.
* In ''Series/SueThomasFBEye'', Sue realizes that the sites of a serial killer's murders form a constellation. One point doesn't fit the pattern, which leads them to a [[JackTheRipoff copycat killer]].
* An episode of ''Series/TheXFiles'' had a killer whose pattern formed an upside down number nine (which was to be the intended number of victims). He was apparently unconsciously acting according to some numerological idea rather than doing it deliberately.
* In ''Series/YoungBlades'', Siroc connects several kidnapping sites on a map and adds another point to form an obelisk, predicting that this point is the site where the victims are being held.
* The 'weirdness magnet' version was often used on ''Series/{{Eureka}}'' by Carter and the scientists to track down the cause/source/solution to the mad science problem of the week. Good example: in "The Ex Files", using rocks and other items to stand in for locations allows Carter and [[spoiler:hallucinatory]] Stark to realize the resonance-frequency oscillations which are shaking things apart are moving ''toward'' G.D. not away--and thus the device at G.D. they thought was the cause was actually the target.
* On ''Series/GetSmart'', the Chief is showing Max a map of North America with pins representing identified KAOS agents. Max asks about the one "agent" with no obvious explanation, way up in Manitoba. He pulls out the pin and the entire map falls to the floors knocking out the other pins.
-->'''The Chief''': He ''was'' holding the map up!

* ''VideoGame/DiscworldNoir'' plays this trope straight.
* Strange example: The cover for the US manual of ''VideoGame/HeavyRain'' has the deaths forming the shape of one of the origami figures. This...[[CoversAlwaysLie has absolutely nothing to do with the case at all in-game]].
* You and the other main characters ''try'' to do this in ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'', they end up being utterly unable to prevent anyone from getting thrown into the TV world, and really can only do anything once the next victim has been thrown in (then again, if nobody got thrown into the TV, you would not have to dungeon crawl and there would be no real game, still, you can't help but feel that your party members are idiots)
* ''VideoGame/PoliceQuest III'' goes for the old standard pentagram killings. In defiance of the top quote, the player doesn't figure it out until ''after'' his wife stabbed into a coma.
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'', this can be done by players. Unlike [[EverythingFades most other things in the game]], player corpses do not despawn; they sit there on the ground for up to a week until reclaimed by their owners. This has, naturally, been abused for everything from rude jokes to [[RealMoneyTrade gold advertising]], by leaving elaborate patterns of corpses lying around a major city.
* In ''VideoGame/BatmanArkhamCity'', [[spoiler:Azrael]] is the WeirdnessMagnet, drawing random-looking patterns in the ground wherever Batman encounters him until they all line up and make a map to where you can find him.

* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', Thief and Black Mage attack a series of towns so that their rampage will spell out "You are next" on a map of the Dwarven Kingdom (when we're shown the [[http://www.nuklearpower.com/2003/11/18/episode-354-its-funny-to-hurt-the-innocent/ map]], the t is still missing). In ''cursive''. Naturally, the Dwarves can't figure it out.
* In ''Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick'', Nale arranges a series of murders so that [[http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0347.html a map of their locations points to the city park]], [[spoiler:where he's setting a trap for Elan]].
* Parodied in [[http://www.sluggy.com/daily.php?date=060615 this]] ''Webcomic/SluggyFreelance'' strip, where Torg puts together a map with push pins during his search for Oasis, but the pins don't actually represent anything.
-->'''Torg:''' "It's just a collage I threw together, but it sure makes me feel on top of things!"

* In the ''Podcast/AliceIsntDead'' episode "Alice," the Narrator {{Implie|d}}s that she collated, then eventually began to map out sightings of her missing and presumed dead wife Alice in the background of news reports on various deaths and disasters, leading her to become entangled in TheConspiracy Alice had been investigating prior to her sudden disappearance.
-->'''Narrator:''' I made a list of every place I saw you on the news, and that list became a map of America.

* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/InspectorGadget'', a series of very minor crimes committed by MAD agents, when plotted out on a map of Metro city, spell out MAD. The intent of this plan was for Gadget to figure this out and be waiting for them at the final crime scene, where they had laid a trap for him.
* ''WesternAnimation/TheMagician'': one villain sets fires in the city, Ace goes to the police station and shows that the locations form the letter '''M''' - as in Multifire (the name of the villain in question), then the officer arrests Ace, for being "the Magician" (his sign was also a M).
* Parodied (what else) in ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Homer The Vigilante": the police are investigating a series of robberies (not murders) using the map technique. After the titular family reports theirs and the police add it to the map...
-->'''Chief Wiggum''': Well...there doesn't seem to be any pattern yet... But I take this one and move it here...''[moves a pin]''...and I move these over here...''[moves more pins]'' Hello! It ''almost'' looks like an arrow!
-->'''Lou''': Hey, look, Chief! It's pointing right at this police station!
-->'''Chief Wiggum''': Let's get out of here!
-->''[All the cops flee in terror]''
* Referenced in ''WesternAnimation/{{Archer}}'' episode [[Recap/ArcherS3E8LoScandalo Lo Scandalo]] when Krieger gives the entire ISIS staff each a package containing part of a murder victim. He tells them specific dumpsters, to form a smiley face. Averted however, as they just dump it wherever they feel like.

* Example: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucas_Helder Lucas Helder]], who planted a number of pipe bombs in mailboxes in May 2002, with the intent of forming a [[http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=114878&title=Black---Back-in-Black---Mailbox-Bomber smiley face]].
-->'''Lewis Black''': God only knows what devastation would have been brought if he succeeded in applying the adorable curly hair.
* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphabet_murders The alphabet murders]]
* Possibly [[http://www.skcentral.com/articles.php?article_id=528 the Astrological murders]].