Train journeys provide a number of advantages for plotting a thriller. They are an enclosed space with a sense of claustrophobia, uncomfortable proximity to strangers with several good justifications for [[ClosedCircle why people can't leave]]. Long distance train journeys take several days during which the train is locked into a course going through wild terrain with no reception. This may or may not be the best time to commit a murder but it's a damn good time to write about one.

Thus it is that several works create thrillers set around a train. Despite all the advantages noted above, there may need to be adjustments made. Sometimes you just need that extra space or cubby holes to hide in so they'll make use of those places on trains people won't normally see, the kitchen cart and luggage compartment. If train companies have made any security measures to stop people walking off the back door or getting onto the roof, they won't be in this film.

The train no longer has to be part of the whole work. You might have a train based episode in a series but it won't be much of a BottleEpisode since it requires a new set and extras. There may be brief departures from the train but the time spent on the train should be enough to set up enough plot elements to stop people wandering too far or going to get help.

Plane based thrillers...are almost exactly identical but they're covered by DeathInTheClouds. Compare TrainJob. May occasionally but not frequently contain a TraintopBattle, most likely as a climax.

Not to be confused with dancing to MichaelJackson's ''Thriller'' on a train.
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!! Examples:

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[[folder: Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' has a terrorist attack inside a train.
* ''LightNovel/{{Baccano}}'''s "Pussyfoot Express" plotline has several criminal plans [[CollidingCriminalConspiracies clashing at each other]].
* ''SoulEater'': episode 30 of the anime, "The Red Hot Runaway Express". Kid, Patty and Liz have to board the speeding train and fight an enemy on board for possession of a magical artifact, while a third party outside is fighting both sides.
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[[folder: Comic Books]]
* The ''Comicbook/SinCity'' short story "Wrong Track" features a man who thinks he has gotten lucky by finding a lover on a train. [[spoiler: It turns out, she is an assassin who snaps his neck and throws him off the train.]]
* One issue of ''Comicbook/TheTombOfDracula'' had the count doing his thing on a moving train. Coincidentally, the vampire killers after him are also on the train.
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[[folder:Film]]
* Hitchcock's spy thriller ''Film/TheLadyVanishes''. A old lady who had befriend a young woman on a train vanishes. This added a psychological element because everybody else denies seeing the old woman and there's no apparent way they are all in a conspiracy. One them is a nun and two of them are English toffs who don't want to be held up [[QuintessentialBritishGentleman and miss the cricket.]]
* The Creator/GeneWilder- Creator/RichardPryor film ''Film/SilverStreak'' has Wilder's character see a man thrown from a train. The film doesn't stay on the train, in fact he meets Pryor's character off the train, but in that first stretch he gets set up for the crime which means that he gets isolated from society and has to get back onto the train to solve the issue himself.
* ''Film/{{Transsiberrian}}'' takes the elements of this trope to the extreme. It's the longest train journey in the world against some of the most famously inhospitable territory involving Americans travelling from China to Moscow. In order to work in some believable chase and action sequences they don't stay on the same train but they stick to their guns and have them steal a section of train.
* The 1946 ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' film ''Terror By Night'' has the detective solving a case of murder and a theft of an priceless diamond in a train. The film was touted with the TagLine "One Way Ticket To ''DEATH!''"
* In ''Film/SherlockHolmesAGameOfShadows'', Watson and his wife are on a train for their honeymoon. However, Moriarty sends a number of henchmen dressed as British redcoats to attack them as a distraction for Holmes, who snuck onto the train earlier disguised as a woman and hid in the lavatory. Holmes throws Mary off the train deliberately before he and Watson manage to defeat Moriarty's men.
* The original ''Film/UnderSiege'' was a well known example of [[DieHardOnAnX Die Hard On A Boat]] so for [[UnderSiege2DarkTerritory the sequel]] they went for Die Hard On A Train Based Thriller.
* An alien from ancient times is set loose on a moving train in ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horror_Express Horror Express]]'' (starring Creator/ChristopherLee, Creator/PeterCushing and Telly Savalas).
* The SlasherMovie ''Film/TerrorTrain'' has a killer extracting revenge on a train full of masked partiers.
* In ''Film/RunawayTrain'', tension is building between a train operator and the two escaped convicts who hijacked the vessel made of four locomotives.
* A significant portion near the end of ''Film/FromRussiaWithLove'' takes it place in a train, where the TheDragon finally makes his move to kill Film/JamesBond.
* Snakes from a victim of a curse start attacking people on train onroute to L.A. in ''Snakes on a Train''.
* ''Train'', where the eponymous vehicle turns out to be operated by organ snatchers.
* ''Film/TheCassandraCrossing'': A terrorist breaks into a NATO lab in Geneva, accidentally infects himself with an artificial virus, and escapes on a transcontinental express train. A US GeneralRipper finds out about this incident and orders the train not only sealed but rerouted to Poland and dropped into a gorge, all thousand passengers aboard killed, and any evidence of this top-secret biological weapon outside the lab destroyed that way.
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[[folder:Literature]]
* ''Literature/MurderOnTheOrientExpress''. Murder = thriller. The Orient Express = train. Bear in mind it comes from the same author who mastered the NastyParty and uses it in much the same way for the purpose of subverting one of the big conventions of that trope.
** Another Creator/AgathaChristie work, ''The Mystery of the Blue Train'', also deals with a homicide on board a train, though unlike ''Orient Express'', the entire novel does not take place on the train. (It's an expanded and relocated version of "The Plymouth Express" in ''Poirot's Early Cases'', which of course is another example.)
** Also ''4.50 From Paddington'' - the story opens with Miss Marple's friend witnessing a murder on a train running next to hers, and the first mystery to be solved is why there is no body to be found on the train or even lying in ground near the tracks where it might have been thrown from the train.
* Short story "The Napoli Express" is Literature/LordDarcy's version of ''MurderOnTheOrientExpress''.
* The ''Literature/SolarPons'' story ''The Adventure of the Orient Express''.
* The Literature/PhryneFisher novel ''Murder on the Ballarat Train'', although only about a thrid of the novel is actually set on he train.
* TimothyZahn's ''Literature/QuadrailSeries'' is this setting [[InSpace IIIN SPAAAACE!]]
* Alexey Tolstoy's story ''The Beautiful Stranger'' is a spy thriller on the Express.
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[[folder: Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/TheBennyHillShow'' has a ''Murder on the Orient Express'' sketch once using various US TV detectives (Kojack, [=McCloud=], etc.) along with Hercule Poirot (all played by Creator/BennyHill).
* ''{{Chuck}}'' season 3, episode 14, ''Chuck vs. the Honeymooners''. Chuck and Sarah are on a train and see an ETA member and try for an impromptu mission using the other passengers' items as gadgets.
* ''Series/TheGoodies'' parodied this trope in "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express''.
* ''TheHardyBoysNancyDrewMysteries'' did this in "Mystery on the Avalanche Express".
* ''LaverneAndShirley'' - "Murder on the Moosejaw Express."
* The ''MurderSheWrote'' move ''South by Southwest'' begins as a version of ''The Lady Vanishes'', with Jessica on a train to El Paso.
** The episode "Murder Takes The Bus" has most of the trappings of a Thriller on the Express, [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin only...]]
* ''Series/MurdochMysteries'' has the tense episode "Midnight Train to Kingston."
* ''QuantumLeap'': "Honeymoon Express"
* On ''{{SCTV}}'' there was a parody sketch of ''Orient Express'' called "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C8VMdBaCPg Death Takes No Holiday]]," featuring John Candy as Hercule Poirot uttering the immortal lines, "Someone abord zis train is a Murderer! -- Perhaps ''even ze Train Itself ... '''IS A MURDERER!'''''
* ''Series/GetSmart'' had an episode titled "Aboard the Orient Express". No prizes for guessing where the action is set.
* The aptly-named ''Series/AgentsOfSHIELD'' episode [[Recap/AgentsOfSHIELDS1E13TRACKS "T.R.A.C.K.S."]] takes place largely on a moving public train.
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[[folder:Tabletop Games]]
* ''TabletopGame/CallOfCthulhu'' supplements ''Fearful Passages'' ("The Iron Ghost" adventure) and ''Horror on the Orient Express'' both have train-based adventures.
* TSR's ''Top Secret'', adventure [=TS005=] ''Operation: Orient Express''. A set of espionage adventures that occur on the famous title train.
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[[folder: Video Games]]
* ''TheLastExpress''. The Pre- World War 1 Orient Express setting gives it a very Christie feel and then it actually tries to use some of the same setting advantages that you might get in other media using this trope by having the game take place in real time.
* Chapter 6 of ''VideoGame/PaperMarioTheThousandYearDoor'' is a BreatherLevel that largely takes place on the luxuriant Excess Express. You get roped into solving a mystery that follows this formula during the three-day trip, and, except for a brief rest stop at an abandoned station, is totally devoid of actual fighting until the [[TraintopBattle Traintop Boss Battle]] on the last day.
** It also averts the lack of security normally present in these stories--the train staff refuses to let Mario into restricted areas, let alone outside the train. The boss battle is on the traintop because [[spoiler:the boss had already captured everyone on the train except the conductor, leaving an unobstructed path out]].
* The Ecliptic Express level in ''VideoGame/ResidentEvil0'' has zombies (naturally) and a giant scorpion onboard.
* The game ''ChaseTheExpress''/ ''CovertOpsNuclearDawn'' is sort of a clunky ''Franchise/MetalGear'' FollowTheLeader set on a trans-European train that will launch a nuke when it reaches its destination - although unusually for this type of story, there are a few stages that take place on a different train running adjacent to the main one.
* The first part of ''VideoGame/ProfessorLaytonAndTheDiabolicalBox'' is set on the Molentary Express, theough the mystery is more about the train's destination than the train itself.
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[[folder: Western Animation]]
* The ''RubyGloom 2''-parter "Last Train to Gloomsville" parodies just about every train-thriller cliche to the max.
* The WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes short ''Boston Quackie'' takes place on board 'Le Cloak and Dagger Express'.
* The ''KingOfTheHill'' episode "Strangeness on a Train" has Peggy set up her birthday party on a disco-themed murder mystery play on a train. When her streak of unlucky birthdays leads to the mystery getting spoiled[[note]]Mostly due to Dale being a JerkAss[[/note]], Hank tries to cheer her up, which leads to their having sex in the bathroom. Kahn discovers the "evidence" and starts a new mystery to try and figure out who it was, as Hank and Peggy desperately try to prevent it.
* ''WesternAnimation/DangerMouse On The Orient Express'' takes place on said train, where DM and Penfold must retrieve a document that would allow Baron Greenback to raze all of Europe's tourist attractions and lure tourists to his (''shudder!'') museum of Barry Manilow record sleeves.
* The BugsBunny cartoon ''Wild And Wooly Hare'' climaxes with Sam and Bugs playing chicken with trains.
* ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' episode ''[[Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS2E24MysteryOnTheFriendshipExpress MMMystery on the Friendship Express]]'' is about an investigation into who ate the cake Pinkie Pie was guarding. Much spoofing of mystery tropes ensues.
* The ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime'' episode "Mystery Train".
* The ''WesternAnimation/TotalDrama Action'' episode "Get a Clue".
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