♫ Stuck in the middle with youuuu... ♫
The young police officer goes to visit the house of one of the suspects in a Serial Killer
case. Meanwhile, back at the police station, the detectives put together the clues to see who the killer is.
Simultaneously, the two parties figure out the truth — the detectives through the DNA test, the officer through finding
the Torture Cellar
. The suspect is
the Serial Killer
. The detectives try to contact them, but their mobile isn't working properly
They're alone in the house with a serial killer. Will they survive? The answer to that is generally "yes"
, although The Cavalry
almost certainly won't arrive until the very nick of time
The killer may take the opportunity to engage in some Evil Gloating
, probably involving I Have You Now, My Pretty
. If the would-be victim is feeling gutsy, she may respond with Shut Up, Hannibal!
The house-visitor is most often female and attractive
, although there have been male examples.
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Anime and Manga
- Happens frequently in Sci-Fi HARRY whenever someone(usually Harry or Catherine) gets a visit from the local Creepy Child, Chiniro.
- Happens in Suzumiya Haruhi, when Kyon is alone in a room with Asakura Ryoko who reveals to be a Stepford Smiler Knife Nut. She also uses her data manipulation skills to make the room inescapable. Luckily, Yuki Nagato, who is just as skilled with data handling, noticed it from outside and busted in for a rescue. This is par for the course as he also knows a girl who may destroy the universe whenever she gets PMS and another who kidnaps the entire world just to be alone with him.
- Inverted in Black Lagoon, when Balalaika finds herself alone with Psycho for Hire Hansel. The inversion is that Balalaika quite easily has him killed.
- Conan's friend Mitsuhiko finds himself in this situation in Detective Conan, when he goes firefly hunting in a forest... and the man who tags with him is a Serial Killer.
- Also happens to Conan himself, Ran, Sonoko and Officer Takagi. In Ran's case, she almost was drowned by said psycho; in a subversion, he didn't intend to kill her and just wanted an alibi. And in Takagi's, he ended up shot by the psycho, and only a Pocket Protector saved him from certain death.
- From Death Note this happens to Naomi Misora on two separate occasions, once in a prequel and once in the main story. She doesn't survive the second one.
- Anyone who has an encounter with Johan in Monster usually does not survive the ordeal, although there have been exceptions.
- The scene in which Dr. Reichwein counsels a mysterious patient, only to find out it's Roberto.
- A variant is done in Anatolia Story. Just as Prince Kail and his men catch a servant who spills the beans on who The Mole is in their group, Yuri discovers that she's been alone with the evil queen's right-hand man, and had asked him to help her find the MacGuffin the queen was looking for.
- Happens to Tohru in Fruits Basket. In that case, the psycho is Akito, who's going through a HUGE Villainous Breakdown. Tohru manages to turn the tables around via speaking to her gently and trying to offer her friendship. And then Tohru falls off a cliff... and Akito soon has a Heel-Face Turn.
- Happens in FAKE when NYPD cops Ryo and Dee vacation in England. They do their best so it doesn't become a Busman's Holiday but Ryo eventually finds himself alone with a serial killer. Who also happens to be the owner of the hostal they're staying in, and has a HUGE hate for Japanese people (like Ryo) since three Japanese tourists raped and killed his daughter.
- Uncanny X-Men 143 Demon in which newest X-Man/girl Kitty Pryde is left alone to deal with an Alien-style demon.
- Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Chromedome goes inside of Overlord's head, alone, to find out how he was upgraded to be so strong. Overlord spends most of it confused, and asking to die. However, when Chromedome reveals Megatron is alive, Overlord hijacks the mental link, wakes himself up and goes off on a killing spree.
- Really, most of Wait Until Dark, but especially the climax.
- The climax of The Silence of the Lambs.
- Graham's confrontation with Lecter at the beginning of Red Dragon.
- The ending of No Country for Old Men has the protagonist's wife encountering Psycho for Hire Anton Chigurh in her house even after her husband's death. Subverted in that she doesn't survive the encounter.
- This happens to Detective David Mills' wife in the film Se7en. Unfortunately, Detective Somerset later finds her decapitated head in a box.
- Various scenes of Primal Fear.
- Jane in And Soon the Darkness runs to the cop that unbeknownst to her is a rapist and murderer who raped and killed both a Dutch backpacker three years before and her friend Cathy. Subverted because Paul isn't really dead and saves her.
- Marvin Nash is tortured and almost killed by sadistic sociopath Mr. Blonde in Reservoir Dogs because of this trope.
- Fargo seems to be heading for this kind of climax when pregnant Marge Gunderson, the Brainerd, Minnesota sheriff, ends up at the remote cabin occupied by Psycho for Hire Gaear Grimsrud. She captures him easily.
- In Patch Adams Patch's girlfriend and fellow doctor Carin responds to a call from a chronically depressed patient. After some creepy dialogue between Carin and Larry, we cut to a scene where the dean tells Patch he killed her and then himself. Quite a shocking development in an otherwise upbeat movie. Truth in Television in that Patch Adams' real life best friend died that way.
- Occurs in the climax of Hitchcock's Psycho.
- The latter half of Paperhouse.
- Occurs at the end of Zodiac. Subverted in that while the character played by Jake Gyllenhaal is convinced the clues all add up, the truth is never revealed.
- Happens in The Element of Crime, but gets subverted and perhaps even deconstructed in the most possible twisted way: detective Fisher and a potential victim of the child killer are waiting for him, in a small room. Suddenly, one of the killer's signature statuettes falls from Fisher's pocket. The little girl now believes she is Alone with the Psycho, and tries to flee
and in the ensuing panic, Fisher ends up killing her using the same method than the killer.
- An inversion happens in Kiss The Girls: the officer is visiting one of the victims and reveals himself to be the serial rapist/killer just as another detective is putting the pieces together back at the station. The killer manages to cut the victim's phone line just before the other detective tries to call.
- Sin City has a scene where Marv visits an old farm to search for clues and doesn't realize it is the home of the Serial Killer. He survives, but the killer does defeat and imprison him for a time.
- The climax of Julia's Eyes.
- From Russia with Love has James Bond cornered by the psycho SPECTRE assassin, Red Grant, who was planning a sadistic fate for Bond after he got the Lector. Fortunately, he was enough of a sucker to be tricked into setting off Bond's tear gas booby trap in his attache case, allowing Bond to tackle him.
- Happens in the climax of Klute.
- In the Swedish The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo film, Mikael was unaware who Martin really was until a tranquilizer dart was jammed into his neck. And Martin was probably going to let Mikael go if Mikael didn't make a slip in conversation.
- In Blood Simple the female lead winds up alone with a psycho killer in her apartment.
- Pepper with Aldrich in Iron Man 3.
- In Cruising, the cops' brilliant plan is to get their own man alone with the serial killer. Causes a moment of Fridge Logic later on. Burns allows himself to be tied up by a man he suspects is the killer. His cop buddies bust in to save him, and he tells them they have no evidence because they busted in too soon. But if they'd waited, he would have been sodomized and killed.
- Wife and daughter in Take Shelter experience one of these moments, locked up inside the storm shelter with the mad-going protagonist.
- Subverted in Con Air, where the creepy serial killer Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) is having a one-on-one session with a little girl. After a cutaway, we see him walk off with the girl's doll, implying that she's dead. However, a subsequent scene shows her well off. Apparently, the serial killer had standards.
- Older Than Radio: Near the end of Great Expectations, Pip is captured and imprisoned by violently insane Orlick.
- In one of the Zack Files books, Zack and a friend were stuck in a house alone with an actor who turned out to be a vampire.
- In Z for Zachariah, the main protagonist discovers the man she's nursed back from radiation sickness, possibly the only other living human being on the planet, turns out to be a controlling, borderline-sociopath who shoots her in an attempt to make sure she can't run away.
- In Crime and Punishment, Svidrigailov locks Dunya in a room with him and a gun... because he loves her. Alone With the Psycho indeed.
- Seen in Men Who Hate Women (English language title: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo), with the satisfying twist that the older man, Blomkvist, is the idiot who goes to interview the murderer alone and gets captured. The attractive young woman, Salander, is the one who figures it all out and races over to take out the killer and save her partner's life. Considering that the psycho in this case was promising him rape, torture and death by strangulation in a short time frame, it's probably a good thing Lisbeth had access to a golf club.
- In the novel Falling by Christopher Pike, FBI agent Kelly Feinman thinks she has tracked down the Acid Man serial killer, Michael Grander. She goes to interview Michael's university professor, Gene Banks, to get background info to support her case on Michael. All the while she has kept her insights secret from the rest of the FBI. Professor Banks invites her to his apartment to supply information on Michael. While there, Kelly deduces Banks is the Acid Man and had all along planned to frame Michael. Banks holds her hostage and pours acid on her, with the FBI none the wiser.
- Mary Higgins Clark's Loves Music, Loves to Dance uses this trope in the climax.
- A variant is used near the climax of Otherland. Australian cop Calliope Skouros goes to an apartment on the trail of a Serial Killer after backtracking a suspicious Internet search. Knocking on the door, she encounters not Dread himself, but his unwitting conspirator, Dulcie Anwin, who has coincidentally just discovered Dread's secret and is in the throes of a Heroic BSOD over it. Skouros doesn't realize Dread is there until he stabs her in the back and subsequently shoots Anwin. Both survive, but it's a very close call.
- In The Cabinet of Curiosities, Smithback breaks into Dr. Leng's mansion expecting to rifle through an abandoned old house looking for clues to the murders 130 years ago. He finds he's stumbled onto the lair of the current killer and is quickly taken captive.
- In Still Life with Crows, (also by Preston and Child) Corrie runs off to investigate the cave without calling Pendergast because she doesn't want to look foolish if she's wrong. She ends up running into the killer and taken prisoner.
- In Murder Is Easy one of the amateur sleuths goes to stay with the suspected murderer, thinking that if the murderer does not know they know, they will be safe. In fact the pyscho has other reasons to kill her, with her partner only figuring out the vital clue at the last minute.
- Put the One Ring on? Now you're in the Wraith World, with only Sauron and any Nazgūl that happen to be in the area for company.
Live Action TV
- Played with in the first episode of Sherlock. Sherlock leaves the flat, ostensibly to "get some air", leaving John to sit about in confusion and continue trying to track down a victim's phone through its GPS. After only a few minutes, John realises that the phone was at Baker Street because the cabbie who was there a few minutes ago had it - and now it's moving again, because Sherlock went out after him, putting Sherlock Alone With the Psycho. Played with in that Sherlock knows full well he's Alone With the Psycho, and actively put himself in that position.
- The Avengers, episode "The Joker" has Emma Peel trapped in a house with a psychopath who is obsessed with her, and wants to drive her as insane as he is. The script was recycled from a previous Avengers story, "Don't Look Behind You", which starred Emma Peel's predecessor, Cathy Gale.
- The climax to season 1 of Dexter has Dexter's adopted sister, Debra, kidnapped by her boyfriend - who also happens to be Dexter's biological brother; another serial killer obsessed with having a "family reunion" with his long-lost sibling.
- And the ending of season 2 has Doakes and Dexter sharing a few deep, emotional conversations, and bonding a bit, while Doakes is Dexter's prisoner at the cabin.
- In season 2 of Carnivąle, Sophie becomes the house maid of a very particular psycho
- Played for laughs in Only Fools And Horses.
- In Criminal Minds, this seems to happen to Reid a lot, though usually he's not on his own:
- When Reid and J.J. try to interview a witness at his house but get turned away, they realize moments later that their witness is in fact the UnSub (serial killer they're trying to catch). Rather than wait for reinforcements and let him get away, they brilliantly decide to split up at which point Reid gets knocked out and kidnapped by the unsub. Turns out the guy has multiple personality disorder, with his timid actual personality being cowed by his domineering father's personality, so Reid has to withstand days of torture, emotional distress and drug injections as the rest of the gang races to track down the UnSub's hiding spot.
- In "Damaged", Reid and Hotch are interviewing a death row convict when it turns out that the criminal planned the timing of their meeting so that the guards aren't present to stop him trying to murder them.
- "Somebody's Watching" has Reid alone in Lila Archer's house with Lila and her stalker.
- Reid and Prentiss are held hostage by a religious cult in "Minimal Loss".
- Reid also tries to do this at the end of "The Fisher King". Hotch and Gideon don't let him.
- Prentiss uses her similarity to the UnSub's victims to get into his house at the end of "In Name and Blood", and is nearly killed when he stuns her with a plank of wood.
- Hotch at the end of season 4 and beginning of Season 5. However, Hotchn, stabbed multiple times, is not rescued by his teammates, but rather by the Reaper, who ambushed him, and who takes Hotchn to hospital to makes sure that he survives to suffer.
- It was a seriously bad idea to let Elle go home at the end of Season 1...
- The end of "Our Darkest Hour" sees Morgan and Detective Spicer (then, when the detective's killed, just Morgan) held captive by the Prince of Darkness. After incapacitating Morgan, the Prince leaves with Spicer's daugher Ellie, who he keeps with him until his death.
- In "The Performer", JJ visits the house of the victim's friend. In accordance with the trope, the team discovers that she's with the UnSub while she's there, alone.
- Season 7 has Seaver get in trouble after she decides to go see someone who turns out to be the killer.
- Millennium: this trope is used several times, most notably in the episodes "The Mikado" and "In Arcadia Ego". In both, Frank Black figures out where the killer is before the police do, and has a confrontation with the killer.
- Monk loves this trope more than his deceased wife. Usually it's Monk himself who has to be rescued, sometimes it's Natalie or his other sidekicks.
- Both "Mr. Monk and His Biggest Fan", "Mr. Monk and the Magician," and "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend" have variants of this trope with just Monk.
- "Mr. Monk Buys a House" has Monk and Natalie chained up to a bathtub by a killing handyman, and Stottlemeyer and Disher barely manage to save them in the nick of time, thanks to a Chekhov's Skill that Natalie has.
- Happens to Annie in Episode 5 (Season 2) of Life On Mars.
- Heroes: Sylar gets this twice with the Bennets. But the dog loves him... actually make that three times, and this time he manages to steal Claire's power. And back in the first season, Mohinder visits a powered human, unaware that the "Zane" he's speaking to is actually Sylar. The real Zane's body is stashed in the kitchen.
- Any scene with Sylar and another character, really.
- In the season 2 finale of Veronica Mars Mac finds herself alone with Cassidy Casablancas, who Veronica finds out is responsible for the bus crash which killed their classmates and for raping Veronica at Shelley Pomeroy's party pre-season 1. This particular alone with the killer scenario seems to reference Psycho, with Cassidy intercepting a text from Veronica to Mac stating that he's the killer while Mac is in the shower, though nothing happens to Mac and he goes after Veronica instead.
- In the first season finale of True Blood, Sam recognizes the Serial Killer's scent from the jacket left in the bar by Rene, who's just driven Sookie home. Meanwhile, Sookie telepathically catches Rene thinking about his murder of her grandma.
- Happens quite often on NCIS, and almost always ends in a Redundant Rescue. Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, even Abby (who is a noncombatant Lab Rat) have all taken their turn here at least once.
- Neatly subverted in the season five episode "Recoil." Gibbs, Tony, McGee, and Abby check Michael Locke's fingerprints against those of a murderer, while at the same time Ziva takes Locke with her to walk herself back through a previous incident in which she was almost killed. The scene cuts back and forth between the lab and the site of the incident and seems to be building to an Alone with the Psycho realization - especially when Ziva turns around and finds Locke standing behind her in place of her earlier attacker - but when the fingerprint results come back, it's not a match, and Locke is proved innocent.
- Also subverted in a third season episode where Ziva is in a log cabin and finds a missing woman who was to be the next victim. The Serial Killer is with Gibbs and the others.
- In parent series JAG, it also happened along a similar patterns.
- Used in an episode of New Tricks, with the slight modification that the mild-mannered murderer was not even a suspect in the case at the time.
- In almost every episode of Pushing Daisies, someone from the investigation team is directly endangered by the criminal.
- In the Seinfeld episode, The Opera, Elane creeps into the apartment of "Crazy" Joe Davola. a potentially murderous psycho who she's been dating and is, unbeknownst to her, stalking Jerry. She sees photos of her on the wall taken with a telephoto lens, and Davola invites her into his dark room. It is a surprisingly tense scene.
- In an episode of The Closer, Chief Johnson goes to the docks to notify the ex-husband of a serial killer's victim that his ex-wife has died and ask him a few questions. Right in the middle of the notification, she gets a call from her team; they just found the long-dead body of their top suspect. She quickly realizes that she's alone in the shop of the new most likely suspect, and tries to get out and call for backup without raising his suspicions. It doesn't work; he attacks her, and she's forced to shoot him.
- Shameless: This is how Mandy Maguire dies
- Jekyll a variation of this occurs when Tom Jackman's assistant, Katherine, ends up trapped alone in their apartment after he transforms into Hyde. Worse still, Katherine has switched the power off as part of a very risky gambit to get past Tom's security, meaning that the security cameras that normally keep Hyde in line are also off; fortunately, after toying with her for a while, Hyde lets her live- so long as she explains why she drugged Tom and switched off the power in the first place.
- CSI NY has done it twice, once with Stella in "All Access" and more recently with Jo in "Means to an End." Both cases resulted in the would-be killer being shot in self defense.
- CSI: Crime Scene Investigation also did it with Catherine in season 3's "A Little Murder", when a uniform cop failed to clear the scene completely and Catherine got jumped.
- Supernatural had Dean assume the sad eyed little girl he comes across is another victim of the MOTW, turns out she and her family are the MOTW in "The Benders".
- Wire in the Blood has this right out of the gate in the first episode, "The Mermaids Are Singing", all of the victims willingly let their killer into their house: they thought the killer needed help, including Tony for whom the killer had began to fixate on. This happens to Tony a lot throughout the series as he displays extreme empathy towards the killers, using his ability to see their POV to catch them but it also makes them fixate on him in return.
- Pretty Little Liars is apparently in love with this trope, so much that they pulled it off three times:
- Season 1 finale has Spencer alone with Ian at the church.
- The second season finale has Spencer again, this time with Mona.
- And in "The Lady Killer", it's Emily's turn to be alone with Nathan St Germain.
- Used in Good Eats. Alton goes to visit Coco Carl in a maximum security prison, to ask him about the ingredients in a store-bought protein bar (which included palm kernel oil, high fructose corn syrup, and large amounts of sodium), that was being marketed as a health food.
- Sherlock in Elementary sometimes goes out of his way to be alone with someone who he knows is the psycho to confront them without the police or anyone else knowing, such as in the episode "The Deductionist".
- Happens to Joan in "Heroine" when she was forced to go out to a fancy restaurant for lunch with Irene/Moriarty.
- The Following Before Ryan realizes that Joe is the man he's looking for he goes to him for help on the case and they become extremely close, to the point that Ryan feels comfortable casually drinking in Joe's house.
- This happens threefold in Episode 12 when Ryan, Mike and Debra go to investigate a suspects house and get separated from each other with Debra getting knocked out, tied up and felt up by Jacob, Mike getting trapped in a bulletproof room with Joe and Ryan trapped outside while Joe forces Ryan to watch as he beats on Mike until Ryan agrees to talk about his father's death.
- Claire, Joe's ex-wife, gets weeks of this when Joe has his followers kidnap her and their son.
- In the season one finale Joe, after having Ryan's partner kidnapped and murdered, having a hit put out on his protege' and leaving messages for Ryan that he was going to kill Claire, gets Ryan to give himself up to him, has him drugged and taken to an isolated lighthouse so that Joe can explain to him why he has to kill Claire and how he fell in love with Ryan at first sight.
- Hannibal makes generous use of this trope.
- In a flashback, Miriam Lass visits Hannibal Lecter at his office. When Miriam realizes that Hannibal is the Chesapeake Ripper, he asphyxiates her.
- In season 1, Abigail flees from Will during his mental breakdown. She finds Hannibal at her old house, where he admits to her that he's a serial killer and murders her offscreen.
- In the season 1 finale, Will realizes that Hannibal is a serial killer when the two are alone at the old Hobbs home. Jack arrives just in time to stop Will from shooting Hannibal.
- In season 2, Beverly suspects that Hannibal is a murderer. After breaking into Hannibal's house and uncovering evidence of his cannibalism, a VERY unhappy Hannibal discovers her and kills her offscreen.
- Occurs several times in The X-Files, perhaps most frighteningly in the episode "Irresistible" where Scully is captured by the Serial Killer they're investigating— all the more unsettling since this particular case has no paranormal elements.
- This trope is applied in Baldur's Gate II during the 'skinner murders' sidequest. If, after finding the necessary clues, you decide to present the implications of them to the watch inspector on the case first instead of confronting the suspect directly, you'll find the inspector's corpse stuffed in an oven in the killer's house when you finally do it yourself.
- The DLC for Heavy Rain focused on a journalist entering a suspected serial killer's house and finding all the proof she needs, just in time for him to come home. Depending on the way the player, um, plays, the main options are for the journalist to hide and sneak out, just plain sneak out, get found but escape, and die.
- Happens more than once in the game proper.
- Condemned has this in its second to last level, with a bit of a twist in that the psycho doesn't even get to the house until the end of the level, and the main character tricks him into thinking he is dead so he can take him by surprise.
- Clock Tower: The First Fear lives and breathes this trope only with, not one, but two active psychos and a third one waiting in the wings in the sequel. Sure, it may not be played straight at first, what with Jennifer (the player) also having three friends with her, one of which, Lotte, is fighting competent, but when the numbers could slowly dwindle down to just Jennifer, and the only ones left eventually are either the scissor-wielding-manically-laughing-deformed Bobby and his equally insane-satanic-vicious-Yandere-potential mother, Mary, this trope is played more straight.
- This is especially jarring in the C Ending, where (with all three friends dead) Jennifer goes to the second floor and comes face to face with Mary, who proceeds to calmly greet Jennifer (who knows the truth), and attack her with a knife.
- Action Doom 2: Urban Brawl has a level where, at the behest of an old woman, you seek her lost son in a forest and come across a lonely farm. Exploring, you find a Room Full of Crazy with lots and lots of newspaper clippings about kid disappearances, an imprisoned and beaten cop in the basement, and eventually confront the Serial Killer himself in a barn full of butchered child corpses.
- Penny and Aggie has an unusual variant presented in its "Missing Person" arc. Cyndi is trapped with Charlotte, who has kidnapped her and is threatening her. However, despite being taped to a chair, Cyndi herself is very dangerous. Eventually, her words drive Charlotte to slit her own throat. It's only the interference of an FBI agent monitoring Charlotte's house that she survives. The arc ends with Charlotte in prison and Cyndi in a mental institution. So technically either girl qualifies as the psycho here.
- Chopping Block likes to use its protagonist as the "psycho" in this situation. Naturally, the girl is much less likely to survive here.
- In the episode of Futurama where Fry was put into a Robot Insane Asylum, he was roommates with the psychotic Roberto. The room was 10 cubic feet and Roberto liked to practice his stabbing.
- Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: Ed Machine goes home to find Professor Pericles waiting for him, true to form, he left his phone in the car when Angel tries to call him. Sound-Only Death ensues.
- In episode 20 season 2 of Wakfu, Qilby the Traitor reveals his true self to Adamai and Grougal after he lures them to his secret lab. They put up a valiant fight but they are ultimately no match for him.