Literature / And Then There Were None
A really bad weekend getaway.

Ladies and gentlemen, silence please. You are charged with the following indictments...

And Then There Were None is, without hyperbole, one of the most famous and popular murder mysteries in history. It's the best selling novel of all time, outsold only by The Bible and works of William Shakespeare.

Agatha Christie wrote the book in 1939 and later adapted the story into a play in 1943 (with a Revised Ending). The various film versions mostly use the play's ending or a variation thereof, which makes sense once you know the book's ending. Screen adaptations include a 1945 film, a 1965 film (titled Ten Little Indians), a 1974 film, a 1987 Russian film (titled Ten Little Niggers), a 1989 film (titled Ten Little Indians), and a three-part 2015 BBC miniseries. The Russian 1987 version and the 2015 BBC version are the only major adaptations that retain the original ending.

The novel has had a number of different titles as a direct result of Values Dissonance. Its original release title was Ten Little Niggers, which was not shocking in 1930s Britain. In the U.S, more sensitive publishers changed the title to And Then There Were None. The Soviet and the French adaptations retained the original title. The book was also published as Ten Little Indians on both sides of the Atlantic until people eventually came to see that title as racist as well. And Then There Were None has, more or less, become the official standardized title.

Whatever its title, every serious mystery fan knows the novel's plot by heart: ten people, strangers to each other, receive invitations to an island hideaway. A mysterious recording played for the group accuses each person of causing another person's death. Some time after the tape is played, members of the group start dying, and each person killed is done so in ways similar to those in the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme. Those still alive come to the only possible conclusion: one of them has killed the others. Paranoia and suspicion run high as each person tries to outwit the killer; who can be trusted when everyone around them is dying?

And how long will it be before the next Little Indian dies?

The group of ten consists of:

  • Dr. Edward Armstrong, a medical doctor; he is accused of causing the death of a patient by being drunk while operating on her.
  • William Henry Blore, a private investigator and former policeman; he is accused of lying in court and sending an innocent man to prison, where the man died due to frail health.
  • Emily Brent, a dour and staunchly religious woman; she is accused of firing her maid Beatrice and turning her out of the household when she became pregnant, which drove Beatrice to suicide.
  • Vera Claythorne, a young former governess turned gym teacher and secretary; she is accused of encouraging her lover Hugo's little nephew, Cyril, to swim out to sea alone and drown so Hugo could inherit the estate of Cyril's father.
  • Colonel Philip Lombard, a cool-headed and intelligent man; he is accused of causing the death of twenty-one African natives by abandoning them during his brief career as a mercenary.
  • General John Macarthur, a retired World War I general; he is accused of causing the death of his wife's lover by sending him on a war mission that guaranteed his death.
  • Anthony Marston, a handsome and vain youth with little concern for others; he is accused of accidentally and recklessly running over two children with his car.
  • Thomas and Ethel Rogers, the butler and the cook charged with accommodating the other eight guests; they're accused of killing their former employer, an elderly American lady, for monetary gain by withholding her medication.
  • Judge Lawrence Wargrave, a retired Hanging Judge with a no-nonsense attitude; he is accused of steering a jury into sentencing an accused murderer to death in spite of evidence supporting the accused man's innocence.

Which one of these ten hated the others so much that they would choose to kill them?

This story serves as the Trope Namer for the tropes "Ten Little Murder Victims" and "Acquitted Too Late". It is also the partial inspiration for the board game and film Clue.

The novel is in the public domain; you can read it in full on The Internet Archive.

Given the age of the book, several plot points that could be considered spoilers are unmarked.

And Then There Were These Tropes:

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    The original book provides examples of: 
  • A Storm Is Coming: On the way to the island, an old seadog tells Blore that a squall is on its way. Without a cloud in the sky, Blore naturally disbelieves him, only to ruefully remember the warning later on, when the island is indeed cut off by foul weather.
  • Acquitted Too Late: This book is the Trope Namer. Judge Wargrave remarks that only the dead are above suspicion. However, it's more of an Invoked Trope here than a straight example; once the "death proves innocence" idea takes hold, the killer fakes his own death to throw suspicion off himself.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: General Macarthur did send his wife's lover to his death but, by the time the story begins, he has become a somber man, living a rather unhappy life. Because of his act of jealousy, he's (unknowingly) condemned himself to live his retirement alone, when the rumors start to catch up with him. Also, his wife, whom he truly loved, never truly recovered after the death of her lover and died a few years after because of the 1918-1920 spanish flu pandemic, ultimately making his action pointless. When he has to face the fact that he will never leave the island alive, he calmly accepts his fate. The 2015 BBC adaptation goes one step further by showing that he ended up regretting not letting Leslie and her lover be together.
  • Apathetic Teacher: Vera Claythorne has shades of this at the beginning of the novel. Her regular job is being a "games mistress" (gym teacher) at what she describes as a third-class school. She has pretty much lost hope of ever working for a "decent" school, because of her past involvement in a Coroner's Inquest. And she clearly dislikes "looking after a swarm of children".
  • Asshole Victim: None of the victims is exactly an innocent, though a few are sympathetic to varying degrees.
  • Anyone Can Die: And they all do.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Well it ain't called And Then There Were None for nothin'. The killer pulls his plan off so well that the police can't figure out what happened.
  • Batman Gambit: The murderer guesses that left alone with a gun, three paranoid people will eventually either kill each other themselves or create the favorable conditions for him to do it.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Vera Claythorn and Philip Lombard meet each other by chance on a train, before actually getting to Indian Island. He daydreams about the attractive stranger, and estimates that she is a woman who can hold her own in love or war. He contemplates that "he would like to take her on". Philip has no idea at this point that he is going to face Vera in a battle to the death, and that he is staring at the woman who is going to kill him.
  • Big Bad: U.N. Owen.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Vera Claythorne.
  • Brainless Beauty: Anthony Marston.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Marston and Lombard don't see the fact that they killed people as anything important; with the former barely remembering that he did kill anyone, as he is more concerned with having lost his driving licence as a result.
  • The Butler Did It: Averted; Mr. Rogers is one of the first characters to be killed off. This is played straight in the backstory, as he and his wife did commit the crime they were accused of.
  • Call-Back: Like Linnet Ridgeway in Death on the Nile, Anthony Marston is a blithe, rich, good-looking young man who embarks on a "triumphal progress" in a flashy car. Unlike his female counterpart, Marston's blitheness had lethal consequences.
  • Censored Title: The book was originally titled Ten Little Niggers; later versions were changed to Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None. Desyat Negrityat, the Soviet movie version, kept the original title and translated it into Russian despite being produced in 1987 (though the term is not really offensive in Russian).
    • Recent versions have changed the in-world "ten little Indians" poem to "ten little soldiers". The video game changed it to "ten little sailor-boys".
    • Despite the word "nègre" being as offensive as "nigger", the original title was retained in the French edition, "Dix petits nègres"
    • As far as 2015, the novel is published in Spain as "Diez Negritos" (a literal translation from "Ten Little Niggers"). A few editions have the title "Y no quedó ninguno" ("And Then There Were None") and "Diez Negritos" as a clear subtitle.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The hook on the ceiling in Vera's room is one.
    • The rhyme, at least when it is first introduced, may also count.
    • The marble bear clock in Vera's room that gets a brief mention near the beginning is later used to kill Blore.
  • Closed Circle: The group of ten are trapped on an island.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The storm prevents anybody from leaving the island throughout the course of the story. It's downplayed, as it was common knowledge that the island is often isolated by the storm for a week or more, at least one experienced man is able to predict its coming in advance, and, finally, the island is situated rather far from the coast anyway. Essentially, as that same man says, "you can't never tell at sea".
  • Crapsaccharine World: The house is described as being very clean, bright, efficient, and modern. It is all the more jarring that its guests are all guilty of horrendous crimes—and are all meeting their end in such gruesome ways.
  • Crying Wolf: Vera took advantage of this as a contingency in her murder plot. Her young charge had a reputation for "telling stories," so if he survived and claimed she'd encouraged him to swim that far out she could simply play innocent.
  • Dirty Cop: Blore lied in court about Stephen Landor because he was bribed by the real thieves. In the epilogue, Assistant Commissioner Legge says that he always considered Blore a "bad hat".
  • Downer Ending: There's a reason why only the Russian movie adaptation initially used it. It was Agatha Christie's 125th birthday before an English-language adaptation tried it.
  • The Dragon: Both Armstrong and Isaac Morris can be considered this to U.N. Owen, who made sure they both got their comeuppance.
  • Driven to Suicide: Beatrice Taylor (Emily Brent's "victim") and Vera Claythorne both suffer from this.
    • In the first movie, Emily's victim is changed to her wayward nephew.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Hugo Hamilton became an alcoholic after he realized that Vera killed Cyril for him.
  • Dwindling Party: The guests on the island are killed off one-by-one.
  • Empathic Environment: The worsening weather coincides with the worsening situation on the island.
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: The only character to survive the story is Fred Narracott, unless you count the policemen who only appear in the epilogue.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The guests arrived on Indian Island on the 8th of August. According to the epilogue, a distress signal was spotted on the 11th and a rescue party was sent on the 12th.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Macarthur basically gives up on life as soon as it's clear the island can't be escaped, making no effort to defend himself.
  • Final Girl: Vera Claythorne is seemingly the originator of this Final Girl trope -– in a work in which a Serial Killer preys on victims, she has the personality of The Ingenue, and is the last one standing. This, however, is an unbuilt example: unlike a straight example of a Final Girl, Vera is neither innocent nor alive at the story's end.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis: How Armstrong determines what killed Marston.
  • Foregone Conclusion: At first glance, the American title seems like it's trying to entice the reader by using the last line of the nursery rhyme it follows. In actuality, anyone who's read the book knows that it's actually telling you how many characters will be left at the end.
  • For the Evulz: The killer is an unusual example: he admits that he felt compelled to murder people, but his Knight Templar tendencies meant he believed all of his victims had to be people who deserved to die. Each of his victims had carried out murders that the law couldn't punish them for...but a vigilante killer could.
  • Forged Letter: The culprit sends a letter to all his victims under different names to trick them into meeting at Indian Island. He also sends a forged letter to himself and shows it off to make himself more convincing.
  • Genre Blind: It is very clear that Vera is becoming more and more genuinely unstable as the book progresses even relatively early on. This being the time period it is, the other (largely male) characters seem to more or less shrug it off because she is a woman, and, therefore, of course, overly emotional. Except for Wargrave, that is, who utilizes it to full effect.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold/Innocent Blue Eyes: Vera and Wargrave both recall that Edward Seton, hanged by the dubious court verdict issued by Wargrave, had them. Subverted when it turns out he was guilty after all.
  • Hanging Judge: Wargrave is infamous for his liberal use of death sentencing.
  • Haunted Heroine: Vera Claythorne's monologues shows that she's haunted by the death of her charge Cyril, and the strain it puts to her relationship with his uncle, and her lover, Hugo.
  • Have a Gay Old Time: General Macarthur's thoughts on Colonel Philip Lombard: "That fellow Lombard now, he was a queer chap. Not straight. He'd swear the man wasn't straight."
    • Also, there were startled and shocked ejaculations.
  • Holier Than Thou: Emily Brent is a deeply religious woman whose convictions made her think herself as more righteous than the other, common "sinners".
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: This was one of Christie's favourite tropes. In this book, such a song is central to the plot.
  • Irony: Only one of the guests is innocent of the crime they were accused of...and that person is the killer. Bonus points to Dame Agatha for explicitly making it a clue in the story.
  • It's All About Me: Anthony Marston fails to understand that the death of John and Lucy Combes was not just about the inconvenience of losing his license. The killer believes Marston's excessive narcissism makes him a danger to himself and others and killing him would do everyone a favor.
  • Judicial Wig: When Judge Wargrave is (apparently) shot and killed, part of what he was dressed in includes one.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Some of the guests are harder to feel sorry for than others.
  • Kill 'em All: When the authorities arrive, they find ten bodies. And then there were none.
  • Knight Templar: Wargrave was a borderline psychopath, but he still retained some morals. He preferred to use the law to get what he wanted, so he targeted only those who were truly guilty.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: When Emily Brent and Vera Claythorne are discussing Philip Lombard's guilt, the self-righteous Miss Brent is adamant that Lombard is guilty for abandoning twenty-one natives: "Black or white, they are our brothers." Vera starts laughing at this idea, though her sanity has been fraying steadily throughout the novel. Her laughter also makes more sense when you consider the original title—"our black brothers" being the subject of the Ironic Nursery Rhyme.
  • Last Survivor Suicide: This is done twice in the same book. Vera commits suicide out of guilt during the story proper. In the epilogue, we see Wargrave, who was alive at the time, commit suicide to leave a perfect puzzle. This also completes his view of justice, as he had considered himself innocent until he started killing people.
  • Locked Room Mystery: When the police arrive, all they find are ten dead bodies on an island, each with times and manners of death that completely contradict each other.
  • Meaningful Echo: Early in the book, Lombard, trying to get out of an awkward conversation, pretends there is a wasp on Vera's arm and 'pounces' to scare it away. At the end of the book, when they are the only two left on the island and he realizes she has the revolver, he distracts her with conversation, then 'pounces' to try and get it from her. It doesn't go well for him.
  • Message in a Bottle: In the epilogue, the police discovers a message in a bottle, written by the killer, describing their motive and methods of murder.
  • Mind Rape: Every single victim goes through a mild version of this thanks to U.N. Owen. The one who gets the worst of it is Vera Claythorne.
  • More Than Mind Control: The final victim, Vera Claythorn, has been slowly going insane over the course of the novel due to her own guilt and the Mind Rape that's been going on alongside the murders. So, when she ends up the last one left, she walks up to her room, sees the rope hanging, smells the sea, which is how she committed her murder, and decided that she has to hang herself because that's how the rhyme goes.
  • Murder by Inaction: The Rogerses killed their employer by withholding her medication while she's suffering from a heart attack.
  • Murder-Suicide:
    • Wargrave commits suicide after arranging the deaths of everyone else, as he feels himself to be no better than his victims. Besides, he's dying anyway—the story vaguely implies that he has late-stage cancer—and he wants to go out on his own terms.
    • Vera commits suicide by hanging after shooting Lombard on the beach.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "Wargrave" is a rather fitting name for a Hanging Judge. Plus the fact that he's the killer.
  • Old, Dark House: Averted. The story takes place in a normal, recently-built modern house. The narrator even remarks that, to some of the guests, the horror of the situation is exacerbated by everything happening in a nice modern house with no grotesque Gothic architectural features, no hidden nooks or dark corners, and nice bright electric lighting (when the generator's running).
  • One Steve Limit:
    • There are two Edwards — Armstrong and Seton — but the former is mostly known by his surname. They both happen to be connected to Wargrave.
    • Rogers and Assistant-Commissioner Legge are both Thomases.
  • The Perfect Crime
  • Poetic Serial Killer: The killer uses the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme as a warning to his victims.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain / Values Dissonance: Lombard has no remorse about stealing from the Africans he left for dead. They "don't feel death the way Europeans do".
    Macarthur: You left them to die?
    • And also this exchange:
    Vera: They were only natives...
    Vera: (thinking) Our Black brothers. Oh, I'm going to laugh.
    • Lombard also refers to Isaac Morris as a "little Jewboy" and figures Morris called his bluff on his need for money because Jews just know these kinds of things.
  • Poor Communication Kills: By the time Vera and Lombard seem to be the last living people on the island, both are strained to the breaking point by fear and paranoia. They eventually turn on one another, never considering for a moment that neither of them could have possibly killed Blore. Vera shoots Lombard on the beach with his own revolver, then hangs herself shortly afterwards, completing the rhyme.
  • Properly Paranoid: Ten people are trapped on an island with no way of contacting help. Within a few days, people are slowly getting killed in gruesome ways. The remaining people don't know who the murderer is or who the next victim will be.
  • Reality Ensues: People keep getting offed, there seems to be no way to prevent their own imminent demises, the guests are scared, and so, naturally, all of them are more than happy to have a dominant figure of authority such as Judge Wargrave take things over... only, as it turns out, letting somebody in the group take decisive control over matters when that person in question is just as likely as any one of you to be the murderer can be a fatal error.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • Justice Wargrave swiftly establishes himself as this. As perhaps the most intelligent guest, as well as being one of the eldest (if not the oldest) and accustomed to being in charge, he assumes decisive control of the group after it is established they are all in mortal peril. He suggests the most reasonable measures to stop the killer from catching anyone alone (everyone sits in a room together and leaves one at a time). He even has the party lock up any potential weapons they might have, from Lombard's revolver to his own sleeping medication. Wargrave is also the killer.
    • Wargrave also subverts this trope: despite being a well-spoken and intelligent man, he sentenced an innocent man to death. Double subverted later, when it's revealed that Wargrave sentenced a guilty man and was always a very reasonable judge.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Okay, "redemption" might be a strong word. But most of the guests begin to feel varying degrees of guilt about their crimes. Especially true for Mrs Rogers and Macarthur. Even Emily Brent has nightmares about the girl she drove to suicide, and Vera suffers worst of all. At the end of the story, she chooses to hang herself rather than remain alive with her guilt. Averted with Marston and Lombard.
  • Red Herring: This is referred to in the poem. One character points it out, but with the wrong interpretation.
  • Red Herring Mole: While every character is a suspect (right up until they die), the one who gains the most suspicion in the latter half of the book is Armstrong—who was only a pawn in the serial killer's game.
  • Sadist: The group knows that the killer is screwing with their heads. In addition to all the Mind Rape the victims go through, the killer even kills them to mirror the nursery rhyme framed in all of their rooms just to remind the living that they're next. Wargrave claims to have been one since childhood.
  • Serial Killer: U.N. Owen gathers 10 people on the island for the sole purpose of murdering them one by one.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: The killer is one...sort of. All of his victims were not strictly Serial Killers, but guilty of at least one murder or manslaughter.
  • Shout-Out: The book actually contains an obscure one. Vera Claythorne mentions a story in which two Supreme Court judges come to an American town and administer justice—but they aren't really from this world at all. The reference is to The New Administration by Melville Davisson Post.
  • Significant Monogram: U. N. Owen is discovered to be a Sue Donym, standing for "Unknown".
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: U.N. Owen kills his victims based on the order of what he sees as an increasing guilt.
  • Spoiled Brat: This is how Vera remembers Cyril, but given how she caused his death, it's likely that her memories are self-serving. Hugo loved Cyril, even though Cyril was the reason he didn't become a rich man.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Judge Wargrave either kills all of the others on the island or drives them to kill themselves and others, then commits suicide in a manner that the police could confuse for a murder. He does it for three reasons: he wants to confuse the hell out of the investigating police, punish his victims for causing the deaths of others and getting away with it, and avoid a death caused by a painful illness.
  • Theme Serial Killer: The victim's deaths were patterned after the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Armstrong is oh-so-very this. He goes along with Wargrave's scheme to fake his own death in order to safely stalk the real murderer, then allies with Wargrave—all without realizing that the killer seeing a victim that is obviously not his might get suspicious. At that point of the story, the characters could get desperate and not think very rationally, but that one was taking it too far.
    • This is semi-justified by the fact that Armstrong once testified at a trial where Wargrave was presiding. Armstrong knows Wargrave is a real judge and Wargrave knows Armstrong is a real doctor (late in the book, the others suspect Armstrong isn't a doctor). In Armstrong's mind, anyone as respectable as himself and Wargrave couldn't possibly be the killer.
  • Twist Ending: The book is renowned for its mindfuck ending. The killer is someone you thought died four victims ago. It also ends in Everybody's Dead, Dave; given the modern title, this is probably a Foregone Conclusion.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: Hugo Hamilton had told Vera that he couldn't ask her to marry him because he hadn't a penny to his name. That confession motivated Vera to do away with the boy who stood between Hugo and a huge inheritance. Too bad Hugo loved the kid more than the idea of getting rich...
  • Uriah Gambit: This was Macarthur's method of killing his wife Leslie's lover. The story mentions that after his successful gambit, Macarthur always skipped church when Uriah's story was scheduled to be read.
  • UST: There is a hint of this between Lombard and Vera, though the story never really explores it.
  • Villain Has a Point: The killer is certainly correct about one thing, at least. All of the victims do more or less have it coming. (Some much more than others, though)
  • What an Idiot: In-Universe, Macarthur thinks this of himself for thinking his wife took on a maternal interest in his subordinate's career, forgetting that the two were the same age.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: This is played straight with Philip Lombard and Vera Claythorne. She shoots him to death anyway.
  • Yandere: Vera Claythorne, who, while working as a governess, murdered a child in her care so that her lover can become rich and free to marry her.

    The various adaptations of this book provide examples of: 
  • Adaptational Alternate Ending: Most film adaptations (including the 1945 and 1965 versions) change the bleak Kill 'em All ending of the book so that one or more characters survive. Also, in the book, all the victims except the murderer were guilty of the crimes they were accused of by "U. N. Owen". Any survivors in the film versions turn out to be innocent.
  • Adaptational Heroism:
    • Christie's stage adaptation, which most of the film versions follow, has two of the ten characters be revealed as innocent of their crimes, survive, and fall in love. In the original books, those two characters are whom the murderer considered the most guilty and saved for last.
    • The Russian adaptation leaves out Wargrave's obsession with murder and paints him as more of a vigilante who got fed up with the corrupt judicial system and decided to stage a "perfect trial": "No two-faced sell-outs of lawyers, no ridiculous capes or wigs — just the judge face to face with the accused, and the criminal with his executioner." He never mentions his terminal illness either, so his decision to kill himself can be seen as a conscious act of self-execution, since in the end he is a mass murderer, and "the greatest judge" like himself would never let such a thing go.
    • The BBC adaptation turns Morris from a shady drug dealer to the owner of an employment agency.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Hugh Hamilton falls under this in the stage version, as he, not Vera, got his young nephew killed. This version doesn't go into how the victims were selected, but if it happened anything like the book—in which Wargrave learned about Cyril's murder from a drunken and melancholic Hugh—then he also blamed Vera, who he supposedly loved, for his own crime.
    • Several characters in the 2015 BBC adaptation are hit hard by this:
      • Rogers is seen abusing his wife and instead of simply withholding the medicine for his elderly employer, he smothers her with a pillow.
      • Blore and Macarthur, rather than simply sending their victims to a guaranteed death, are both shown to have actively murdered their respective victims with Blore beating his victim to death due to homophobia, and Macarthur shooting his wife's lover in the back of the head (likely because the use of flashbacks to the actual crimes made the indirect methods less visually interesting and harder to explain).
      • Vera is much more frigid and cruel than she appeared to be in the original novel. In the book, she is wracked with guilt and slowly begins losing her mind as she comes to terms with what she has done, but in the miniseries it is strongly implied to all be an act of a vicious sociopath. Also, little Cyril's death at sea is now shown to be a cold and calculated murder, while in the book it was implied to be a spur-of-the-moment crime of passion.
      • Lombard changes from a man who abandoned his followers to starve in the name of self-preservation to one who burned a village to steal diamonds.
      • Edward Seton was guilty of killing an old woman in the original novel. Here, he was guilty of killing several people.
    • The video game introduces a subplot exposing Anthony Marston as a Nazi spy. The character is dead by the time this is discovered, so he is never confronted about this additional offense.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole:
    • In the 1945 film, the way the killer disposes of William Blore has nothing in common with the rhyme's line of "a big bear hugged one" (crushing him with generic bricks instead of a bear-shaped clock like in the book). While not a full-blown plot hole, it can seem really weird that the killer went to lengths to make sure that each killing corresponded in some way to the rhyme except for one of them.
    • The 2005 video game adaptation changes the killer's identity but still has them fake their death, which opens up the plot hole of how they managed to fool Armstrong, a trained doctor, into believing they were dead because the killer doesn't have the book's justification of persuading Armstrong beforehand to help them fake their death here. The killer explains this by revealing that she intentionally provoked him into drinking even more heavily than normal, so he would not notice that she was still alive.
  • Adaptation Name Change:
    • General Macarthur becomes General MacKenzie in the stage play, in order to disassociate him from a real life General MacArthur who was a key figure in the Allied forces at the time of the play's release during WWII.
    • In the 1945 film, Macarthur is changed to Mandrake, Lawrence Wargrave to Francis Quinncannon, and Anthony Marston to Prince Nikita Starloff.
    • Most of the characters in the 1965 film. Vera Claythorne becomes Ann Clyde, Phillip Lombard is Hugh Lombard, Judge Wargrave becomes Judge Cannon, Emily Brent is Ilona Bergen, Anthony Marston becomes Michael Raven, and Ethel and Thomas Rodgers become Elsa and Joseph Grohmann.
    • In the BBC adaptation, Arthur Richmond becomes Henry Richmond, and James Landor becomes Edward Landor.
  • Adapted Out: Even adaptations that keep the original ending do not use the epilogue, so Sir Thomas Legge and Inspector Maine have yet to be played by anybody.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: In the 2015 version, Vera tries to bargain with Wargrave to save her wretched life. Wargrave patiently indulges her... then gives her a subdued "The Reason You Suck" Speech, kicks away the chair keeping her from hanging, and then leaves her to her (well-deserved) fate.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: The BBC adaptation manages to do this with Blore and Emily Brent of all people. While they are still guilty of their crimes, Blore is made sympathetic enough by his banter with Lombard and eventually breaks down and confesses his crime, showing actual remorse, while Miss Brent is shown to be much more affected by Beatrice Taylor's death than in the novel and, shortly before she is murdered, she loses her typical stern behavior, showing how frail and scared she actually is. The adaptation also pulls this off with Lombard who pleads with Vera while being held at gunpoint by her to believe him about the murderer being neither of them and how the murderer will win if she kills him — something he is completely right about. He had also developed what appeared to be a genuine connection of sorts with Vera beforehand.
  • Artistic Licence Biology: In the 2015 adaptation, Blore casually calls Lombard aside and asks him to confirm by smell that Marston died by cyanide poisoning. Given that the ability to smell cyanide is genetic and only shared by 40% of the population, it's more likely than not that Lombard wouldn't have been able to confirm this.
  • Ascended Extra: The boatman is the protagonist of the video game adaptation. There's a tweak, though: the boatman and sole surviving named character in the novel is Fred Narracott; the protagonist of the video game is his brother, mentioned in one sentence of the novel. (He's unnamed in the novel; the game names him Patrick.)
  • Barefoot Suicide: Invoked in the play.
    Lombard: One shoe—just one shoe—sitting prettily on the cliff edge. Inference—Doctor Armstrong has gone completely off his onion and committed suicide.
  • Bee Bee Gun: The game decides to take the "playing with a hive" verse more literally by actually including an apiary on the island. This apiary comes along with an optional honey-collecting side quest. It's also used to dispatch Miss Brent.
    • Of the deaths in the game, Miss Brent's is the first to be drastically changed from the original, which is a hint that she has faked her death and is really the killer.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In most of of the film versions, the killer tries to persuade Vera to hang herself, as "the only survivor found on an island with nine corpses will certainly be hanged. Take a piece of friendly advice; do it now, privately." What he doesn't know is that Lombard is still alive.
  • Black Comedy:
    • The 1945 film in particular is loaded with this. Rogers reacts to the accusation that he poisoned the cocktails by indignantly drinking all of them; he then serves dinner drunk.
    • In the 2015 adaptation, we get this exchange:
    Vera: Has Mrs. Rogers got worse?
    Armstrong: Somewhat - she's dead.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Marston, very copiously and gorily, when he dies in the 2015 BBC adaptation.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The 2015 BBC adaptation in spades - not only are the deaths more bloody, but several characters have hallucinations and dreams that expose their crimes in gruesome detail, particularly Armstrong's nightmare.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the 1945 film, after the guests arrive at the island, four of the characters introduce themselves to each other, and all look straight at the camera when they do it. Later, Blore looks straight at the camera and says "I get it!" right before his head is caved in by a falling turret.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In some of the adaptations, Lombard has a bag with a different set of initials when he arrives. See Dead Person Impersonation, below.
  • Cute Kitten: A housecat turns up in the 1945 and 1965 films.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • The 1987 Russian version qualifies compared to the other film versions. The first victim crashes through a plate and gets the glass stuck in his face, and the UST between Vera and Lombard culminates in him raping her.
    • The 2015 BBC adaptation goes for this to some extent, including scenes such as Marston taking cocaine, Rogers beating his wife, gorier deaths than those described in the book, and very brutal flashbacks to the murders committed by each victim. And to top all that, all but two of the indirect deaths caused by the guests in the novels are turned into straight up murders committed by their own hands, presumably to make said flashbacks more interesting.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: A plot twist exclusive to several of the movie versions reveals "Philip Lombard" is really Charles Morley, who came in Lombard's place. The real Lombard committed suicide upon receiving U.N. Owen's letter.
  • Death by Adaptation: Blore was killed by a bear-shaped clock crushing his head in the novel, but in the 2015 BBC adaptation, he is stabbed by U.N. Owen, who is wearing a bear rug.
  • Disney Death: Lombard has one in the 1943 play and the 1989 film.
  • Dramatic Drop: Elsa the cook does this in the 1965 film when her name is called out in the U.N. Owen recording.
  • Dramatic Thunder: The 1945 film has a dramatic clap of thunder sound right after the doctor confirms that the third victim was murdered. There's another instance of dramatic thunder right after Judge Wargrave says that the murderer must be one of them.
  • Dull Surprise: A large share of the game's voice acting falls into this territory, which does take away from the whole "psychological horror" aspect the story is meant to have later on.
  • Exact Words: In the 1945 film, Lombard is asked about the accusation that he left 21 natives in his unit to die. He says, "Mr. Lombard is unable to deny a thing." That's because the real Mr. Lombard isn't there.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: In the BBC version, this trope is averted when several of the other, more sanctimonious guests try to chew out Lombard for his crime, (because he flat out admits it's all true almost immediately) as he points out (quite accurately) that they're all hypocrites. It is played straight, however, when just about everybody in the room is horrified that Anthony Marston thinks running down two children was bad luck for him because he got his license taken away for six months.
  • Failed a Spot Check: In the 1945 film, two characters argue about whether Rogers is the killer, while dead Rogers' shoes are visible in the foreground of the shot, just a few yards away and in plain view.
  • Fanservice:
    • In the 1965 adaptation, Shirley Eaton (Vera) gets quite a few scenes in her underwear and at least one modesty towel.
    • In the Russian version, Vera also gets a scene in her black underwear, which is followed by a bare back shot minutes later with Lombard... as he begins to rape her. Er, yeah...
    • The 2015 adaptation makes liberal use of Vera in a tight red swimsuit, and has Lombard walk around in just a towel during all the searches while the other guests wear dressing gowns.
      • The scene with her in the swimsuit does also appear in the novel, although it's not played for titillation.
  • First-Name Basis:
    • In the play, Vera gradually starts referring to Lombard as "Philip".
    • In the 2015 BBC version, Vera and Lombard have a conversation in which each asks the other to use their first name. His addressing her as "Vera" is remarked on later.
  • Flashback Nightmare: Armstrong has one in the 2015 adaptation.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the play, Emily Brent makes various comments on Vera Claythorne not wanting to appear flashy to her hostess—right before making a nasty comment on how tight her dress appears (with Vera, of course, being utterly naive as to what she really means). There are also the various instances of Lombard flirting with Vera, which include Lombard's line about being regretful he and Vera did not wake up at the same time because they could've gone down to the ocean to "have a bathe" together.
  • Go Out with a Smile: In the 2015 BBC version, the killer's corpse has a noticeable smirk after succeeding at killing everyone else and subsequently arranging their own death.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The Soviet adaptation actually shows the poisoning of Marston's cocktail from a revealing angle, so one can learn the identity of the killer after the very first murder. Very few people (unless they know beforehand what to look at) spot it on the first viewing, since it's all in the edge of the frame.
  • Hope Spot: In the 2015 TV adaptation, U. N. Owen gives one to the last victim: She's trapped in the noose, struggling for balance on an overturned chair, when he arrives. She tries to convince him to spare her. He compliments her, tells her she's his favourite... and then pulls the chair away.
  • Hotter and Sexier:
    • The 1965 version changed the elderly spinster character to a glamorous young actress, solely to allow another beautiful woman to be cast (a change that would be retained in the 1975 and 1989 versions). It was also the first adaptation of a Christie work to contain a sex scene (which had not been present in the original novel). Christie was not pleased.
    • The 2015 TV adaptation also amped up the sex, but rather than change the spinster to a hot actress, they cast current TV sex god Aidan Turner as Lombard.
  • Hypocrite: In the 2015 version, after "U.N. Owen's" recording has played, everyone offers either a flat denial or an implicitly self-serving account of the crime they've been charged of... except for Lombard, who bluntly admits that the recording was entirely true in his case. As his crime is obviously appalling, everyone present self-righteously lays into him, until he points out that he at least is willing to stand up and own what he has done:
    Lombard: So either I'm embellishing a story for shocking effect, or I'm the only one telling the truth in a room full of liars.
  • Lady in Red: In the 2015 version, Vera's bathing suit is bright red. She had been wearing it when she tricked Cyril into swimming out to the rocks and later puts it on at the house when a search of all clothing and possessions is being made. It naturally triggers her memories of that day and catches Lombard's attention.
  • Large Ham: Every actor who has portrayed the Anthony Marston equivalent in the Hollywood adaptations gets to be one. Mischa Auer in particular is often considered the worst offender.
  • Lighter and Softer: The play and 1945 movie version fall under this, as do the Harry Alan Towers adaptations.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Occurs in the game:
    • Justified with Patrick, as he did not expect to be stranded on the island.
    • Played straight with the other guests. A particularly jarring example occurs later in the game during a cut scene, and what follows afterwards. The remaining few guests didn't even bother packing pajamas.
  • Lost in Translation: In the poster for the Russian adaptation, the Black Cap Of Death is changed to a mortarboard. This is probably due to the cap being peculiar to the British law system and being often called "square".
  • Miscarriage of Justice: In Christie's own theatrical adaptation and many of the following adaptations, the murderer's plan unintentionally involves this, as two of the nine characters he sees as guilty of murder are actually innocent. They both survive and avert the trope.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Some stage versions place Wargrave in a wheelchair, leading to a dramatic reveal of the murderer, possibly as an obscure reference to The Mousetrap.
  • Only the Leads Get a Happy Ending:
    • Played straight in the play and most of the film adaptations.
    • Viciously subverted in the original novel, the Russian film, and the 2015 BBC miniseries.
  • Pet the Dog: In the stage version, Vera shows more sympathy toward Rogers after the death of his wife by defending his seemingly unemotional behavior to a suspicious Blore and chasing after him to offer him coffee. This foreshadows that she is actually innocent.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain:
    • Emily Brent in the 2015 adaptation in relation to Isaac Morris.
      Miss Brent: Jews. Wherever there's a problem, Jews are at the bottom of it.
    • It's blink-and-you'll-miss-it, but in the 2015 series Blore is shown going over the list of guests he's been given in his letter. He writes 'Fenian' next to Phillip Lombard's name, and at one point claims that Lombard's the obvious suspect because he's Irish, and out to kill all English. Probably, a Pragmatic Adaptation / Real Life Writes the Plot due to Aiden Turner being Irish.
    • Blore also refers to (in the 2015 version) the homosexual Landor as a 'degenerate,' amongst other things, and it's implied Blore viciously beat him to death entirely for this reason.
    • In the Russian adaptation it's Vera who's callously lenient towards Lombard's crime (abandoning two dozen native Africans to their deaths), because "Well, they were only negroes", and it's Emily who retorts that: "Black or white, they're our brothers." (As mentioned above, they have this conversation in the novel as well.)
  • Psycho Lesbian:
    • The 1989 film adaptation had Emily Brent replaced by Marion (Brenda Vaccaro), an actress who killed her lesbian lover when she started blackmailing her.
    • The 2015 BBC adaptation implies that Emily had feelings for Beatrice (who in this version is shown to have been underage), and dismissed her out of jealousy when Beatrice became pregnant.
  • Psychological Thriller:
    • The Russian movie version expands on the elements already present in the book—and it works very, very well.
    • Also done in the 2015 BBC adaptation.
  • Racist Grandma: Emily Brent is shown to be blatantly antisemitic in the 2015 BBC adaptation.
  • Revised Ending: When Agatha Christie adapted her own novel into a play, she didn't think the ending was dramatically satisfying for the stage. She altered the ending so the novel's most sympathetic characters proved their innocence, survived, and fell in love. The 1945 film altered that ending by introducing Charles Morley, who came to the island impersonating his friend Lombard to find out why he'd killed himself after receiving U.N. Owen's letter. These two variations on the happy ending were used for nearly all the adaptations. The Russian film version, the 2015 TV version and Kevin Elyot's 2005 stage adaptation avert this by keeping the novel's original ending.
  • Right-Hand Cat: In the 1945 and 1965 films, the Judge holds and strokes the house cat while explaining his scheme to Vera.
  • Rule of Symbolism: The game adaptation provides a ceramic table centerpiece, which has ten sailors on it. Anytime someone is killed, one of the sailors is broken off.
  • Setting Update: The 1965 film changed the setting from an island to a snowbound mansion and the 1989 film changed it to an African safari.
  • Scare Chord: A very over-the-top scare chord in the 1965 version when the Judge says "Isn't it obvious that Mr. Owen is one of us?"
  • Serial-Killer Killer: In the 2015 BBC miniseries, Wargrave is a literal one in the backstory, as Edward Seton undergoes Adaptational Villainy to become a genuine serial killer.
  • Ship Tease: The film adaptations — especially the 1965 one — crank up the UST between Lombard and Vera into a full-fledged relationship.
  • Slap-Slap-Kiss: Vera and Lombard (or Morley, depending on the adaptation) get into this.
  • Slasher Movie: "And Then There Were None" is often considered the ur-text of the genre, and its film adaptations among the earliest examples.
  • Sleeping Single:
    • The Rogerses' beds in the game are arranged this way. This was probably more of a practical decision, considering how one bed is needed to host each of their corpses. (In the original story, Rogers moves to a new room once his wife dies. In the game, he remains in the same one, leading to the implication that he had to spend a night sleeping in the same room as his dead wife.)
    • The BBC adaptation has the group bursting into Marston's room to find Rogers all but under the bed. When questioned (at gunpoint, mind) Rogers brings out a folded-up camp-bed. They'd stored it under Marston's bed originally, because 'young gentlemen never look under the beds'; he intended to use it in a spare room. Given how he treated his wife during the brief time we see her alive, it's possible that Ethel insisted on separate beds. Or even that it was simply the only below-stairs bedroom with enough bed/s for two people. (U.N. Owen didn't want two of his killers/victims to have easy access for hanky-panky??)
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • In the 1945 film and several other adaptations, the last stages of the killer's plan are foiled by Philip Lombard unexpectedly committing suicide after receiving his letter and another man taking his place and gaining Vera's trust.
    • In the 2005 PC game, the killer didn't count on Blore wrecking Patrick Narracott's boat and stranding him on the island too.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Characters who are subject to Adaptational Heroism in the various adaptations are often spared.
    • Vera is spared in the play and all but one of the English-language films.
    • Lombard is spared in the play and the 1989 film. (The adaptations featuring Charles Morley avert this, as Lombard committed suicide before the story began.)
    • Isaac Morris in the BBC adaptation.
  • Staged Shooting: In all English-language adaptations except for the 2015 BBC miniseries, Vera's shooting of Lombard turns out to be a faked one to draw the killer out of hiding.
  • Suspect Existence Failure: The trope occurs several times. Ultimately subverted and then played straight, as the murderer faked his death precisely to eliminate himself as a suspect. Of course, then it is ultimately played straight as he then commits suicide to complete his perfect crime and, again, eliminate himself as a suspect.
  • Truer to the Text: The Soviet and BBC versions are both much closer to the novel, compared to the other film versions which are adaptations of the stage play (and frequently take liberties even with it).
  • The Voice: An uncredited Christopher Lee provides the tape-recorded voice of "U. N. Owen" in the 1965 film.
  • Wham Shot: In the BBC version when the last survivor goes to hang herself, someone else opens the door. The person is shown with a waist-level shot that pans up to reveal that Justice Wargrave was the killer.
  • Zip Me Up: Ann (the Vera character) asks Lombard for help zipping her dress in the 1965 film; kissing ensues.

Alternative Title(s): Ten Little Indians