"Hercule Poirot just got off the steamy train. If you want my opinion, I think they all did it."A famous detective has gathered a group of likely suspects. They analyze the evidence, interview the suspects, and thoroughly investigate the crime scene in order to figure out which of the gathered people is the culprit. The conclusion? Everybody was. As opposed to having one or two people commit a crime out of several potential suspects, all the suspects were in on it to some extent. Not related to the other kind of "doing it." Usually. See also Everyone Is a Suspect and Lotsa People Try to Dun It. MAJOR spoilers in the below examples obviously.
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Anime and Manga
- A filler episode of the Ranma ½ anime had an investigation of "who stole the takoyaki?" complete with Shout Out to a famous samurai mystery drama series (famous in Japan, that is...)
- Chapter 30 of Franken Fran is set up as a typical murder mystery, and sure enough, people start getting attacked, although Fran manages to keep them alive. It turns out that they're injuring themselves, because they enjoy having Fran operate on them.
- Seems to be part of the point that the various narrators are trying to make in Umineko: When They Cry. Any time the parents find the gold, they will inevitably begin offing one another like crazy in a bid to keep it for themselves, making every single one of them possible culprits.
- Peter Milligan's Shade, the Changing Man used this to avoid solving the mystery of "Who Shot JFK?", instead Hand Waving with a glancing look at every possible speculation, then concluding that Everybody Did It. Justified in that Shade is a stranger to American culture, and that he was dealing with a madman's obsession covering up for grieving his lost daughter.
- In the Batman storyline The Long Halloween, Batman is looking for a serial killer targeting mobsters. All three of the suspects end up having done at least some of the murders, though none of them knew who the other killers were.
- Pretty much the solution to "The Roman Puzzle" (1994), a Mickey Mouse mystery story by writer Bob Langhans. Mickey, as a professional detective, has been hired by a famous film director (and producer) to find out who has been sabotaging the production of his latest film. The director's career depends on this film. While there are early hints that the villain is the Phantom Blot, the film is an unauthorized and unflattering depiction of the Blot's life, Mickey pays attention to how poorly the director treats most of his associates. At the end the Blot is revealed as the mastermind behind the sabotage plan, but the Blot's accomplices include the director's own wife, plus actors, screenwriters, and other people who have been working for and with him for years. They hate him because he has taken credit for their work, verbally abused them for years, derailed their careers to ensure that they keep working for him, and he has kept giving them empty promises about promotions. While the "villains" (except the Blot) are going to prison, the shocked director realizes his isolation. He may complete his film and rescue his career, but he just lost the closest thing he had to friends and family. Not exactly a happy ending.
- The murders committed in Hot Fuzz were pulled off by the NWA (Neighbourhood Watch Alliance), which consisted of almost every named character in town.
- Played for Laughs in the climax of The Pink Panther movie A Shot in the Dark. Clouseau's interrogation goes completely out of control as the different suspects start bickering amongst each other and shouting accusations; from this, he is somehow able to deduce that "they were all murderers, except for Maurice, who was a blackmailer!"
- This is how Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 ends... maybe...
- Inverted in the 1955 Hitchcock film The Trouble with Harry. A town of people find the body of a dead resident, Harry. Everyone believes themselves and everyone else to be responsible for the death. It turns out that no one did it, and Harry died of natural causes.
- The third ending of Clue. All but one of the surviving characters end up having killed someone, as does one of the victims. And it even makes sense in context.
- Half the town tried to kill the eponymous character in Drowning Mona, though most of them were pretty incompetent about it.
- The 1974 film version of Murder on the Orient Express is an even better example of this than the book.
- Though not really a detective, Italian giallo Il Profumo Della Signora In Nero provides one of the most extreme examples of the trope: in the ending it is revealed that virtually every living person (and possibly even most of the dead ones) appearing onscreen (including those with just one or two lines) except the protagonist was complicit in the events of the story.
- This turns out to be the reason Owen believed there actually was a killer in Cry_Wolf: It was a combination of an elaborate hoax and a pile of coincidences that more or less involved everyone around him playing pranks. Then you find out Dodger's one hell of a Chessmaster and set the whole thing up to get away with killing Mr. Walker.
- In The Hateful 8, it turns out that everyone who got to the haberdashery before Mannix, Ruth, and Warren was either directly involved with the effort to free Daisy or an accomplice of theirs. Additionally, the main conspirators also turn out to have slaughtered Minnie and all her employees and family.
- The former Trope Namer would be the Agatha Christie novel Murder on the Orient Express, where everyone was suspected, and for good reason. Not really a spoiler any more. Also the Trope Maker and Ur-Example.
- This is actually a rather more thoroughly analyzed version than you might think at first glance. Everyone on the train except the victim and the detectives was part of an elaborate conspiracy to execute the victim. The original idea was to provide themselves with an interlocking net of alibis, such that guilt could never settle on any of them and it would be assumed that someone from outside the train did it. If it hadn't been for a Closed Circle snowdrift cutting of the hypothetical murderer's escape, it might have worked. Moreover, the participation of all the suspects was a clue in itself: the murder took place during "dead season" but there were no vacant seats available in the wagon.
- Subverted in the Randall Garrett Lord Darcy story, The Napoli Express (whose name is an obvious shout-out to the Christie novel). When the non-hero detective comes up with the "they all did it" theory, the hero has to restrain himself from saying how silly the idea is. The people involved can't even hide that they all know each other, even though they're trying to. Hiding that they conspired together to commit the murder is quite ridiculous.
- The whole story is a Shout-Out to the Christie original. Garrett's solution even harks back to the one Poirot presents as the alternative to the trope.
- Reginald Hill's Dalziel and Pascoe series parodies this trope in Pictures of Perfection. Virtually every major character commits some sort of crime, except for murder. Much to Dalziel's irritation, nobody wants to file charges against anybody else.
- Older Than Print: The Trouble with Harry is based on "The Tale of the Hunchback" from The Arabian Nights.
- Farthing by Jo Walton is set up to appear like a classic interbellum country-house murder mystery. It's not. It's a political conspiracy. The "Farthing Set", a group of fascistically-inclined young upper-class political risers, arrange to kill one of their own members, James Thirkie. As a result, Mark Normanby becomes Prime Minister on a wave of sympathy; and the framing of an English Jew and an Irishman alleged to be an anarchist helps complete the country's slide into fascism. Other members of the Farthing Set also wind up well-placed in the new government. Widowed Angela Thirkie also benefits and takes off with the chauffeur. Anyone who knows anything disproving the conspiracy is Killed to Uphold the Masquerade, including Thirkie's own mother.
- T*A*C*K: The solution to "The Great Blueberry Pie Robbery." Everyone snuck a "little taste" of the freshly-made pie, to the point where all the "tasting" ruined it.
- In the Sherlock Holmes story The Doctor's Case by Stephen King, only one person technically did it, but once Watson explains how it was done, Holmes and Lestrade immediately work out that it could not have been done without the active assistance of everyone else in the household. Then they consider the fact that this would cause an entire family to be executed or locked away for life, the victim had been emotionally abusing his family for decades and forced them to put up with it or be disinherited, and then, when he learned that he would be dying of natural causes within the year, changed the will so that the entire estate would go to a pet shelter, leaving his kin penniless, out of sheer spite, they choose not to arrest anyone and instead quietly remove the evidence that the deceased had been murdered by his kin so they could destroy the revised will.
- 30 Rock episode "It's Never Too Late For Now" is a Whole Plot Reference to Murder on the Orient Express - Liz is even watching the 1974 film. The "crime" is that there was a conspiracy to get her laid with a Canadian gigolo. Like Poirot, she rejects the complex (though true) answer that all of her co-workers felt bad for her and got her laid, but the simple explanation that she met a guy, and had fun night.
- Veronica Mars: a late season 1 episode reveals that basically all the 09'ers were complicit in Veronica's rape, including her future boyfriend Logan, who supplied the drugs for the party.
- Comically subverted in the British spoof anthology series Murder Most Horrid starring Dawn French:
- In the episode "The Case of the Missing", everyone did do it, but the detective assigned to the case (French) is so confused and frustrated by their manipulation of the evidence that she finally snaps and concludes that she must have done it.
- Subverted again in the episode "Mangez Merveillac". Obnoxious travel writer Verity Hodge (French again) makes the French town of Merveillac a hugely popular tourist destination by forcing the locals to conform to stereotypes. Eventually, the locals grow tired of this, murder Hodge, and serve her up to the tourists at a local festival. However, once the credits roll, we discover that Hodge is actually alive and well, and the "murder" was part of a scheme to draw even more tourists to Merveillac by inspiring a Hollywood blockbuster.
- In The L Word, at the end, Cathy could have been killed by anyone.
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, this is basically how Cardassian mystery novels are said to play out, with all the suspects being guilty; the mystery is figuring out who is guilty of what.
- The episode where he went to a vineyard. He meets a guy, but the next day, everybody denies that he existed. The guy stole money from his employers and died of a heart attack. The other guests find out and agree to split the money, but hid the truth from Monk because he's honest, so they erase all traces of the man's existence.
- Another case involve a bank robbery in which the entire robbery was staged by all of the staff in bank.
- This was used in an episode of Cold Case—specifically, the one about the virginity club. The victim knew something incriminating about each other member of the club, so they decided to kill her together. By stoning, no less. (Yes, it was a touch Anvilicious.)
- One tongue-in-cheek episode concerned a man found dead in a swimming pool. Every time Doc Robbins finds a possible cause of death, it looks like a new suspect is to blame for his injuries, whether for intentional homicide or reckless endangerment. Eventually it turns out that the repeatedly-battered man sat down to recuperate, slipped into the pool when his deck chair collapsed, and accidentally drowned, meaning Everybody Failed To Do It.
- And played straight in "Unfriendly Skies", when mob rule took over and they all had a hand in killing the guy, who they mistakenly perceived as a threat to their own survival.
- Also played straight in "Rashomama" in that all the bridesmaids had a hand in the death of the mother of the groom.
- In "Suckers", pretty much everybody questioned about the casino robbery turns out to have been part of the owner's insurance-scam.
- The Jonathan Creek episode "Satan's Chimney", wherein the second murder victim was killed for inciting the murder of the first victim, by the first victim's friends.
- Played for Laughs in the Ripping Yarns episode "Murder at Moorstones Manor," which ends with a standoff between the characters claiming credit for the murder.
- In an episode of Foyle's War, the victim is hit over the head with a rock and then drowned in a trough. It turns out these assaults were committed by two different people, and witnessed by a third would-be assailant who never got his chance to do anything. The rock-wielder is let off, with lampshading to the effect that he's just lucky half the town was out to get the guy that night.
- Saturday Night Live once had a "Who Shot J.R." parody in which everyone shoots a Texan Jerkass, then discover one person did not have live ammo, and they try to figure out who didn't shoot him.
- Ellery Queen: Not everybody, but in "The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader", three of the five suspects end up being guilty of the murder.
- In The Mentalist episode "Red Tide", the CBI investigates a group of teenagers to see who among them killed a mutual friend of theirs. Through their investigation, it is eventually revealed by Jane that since everyone liked to pass the blame, they all committed the crime.
- Major Crimes: In "There's No Place Like Home", all of the tenants are responsible for the death of the landlord. As Major Crimes can prove conspiracy to commit murder, but not if the death was actually murder, the killers cop to a collective plea of manslaughter.
- On Dallas, one of the major plot twists was the shooting of J.R. Ewing. To avoid any leaks, the producers, cast, and crew shot scenes of everyone's character individually shooting J.R..... Up to and including J.R. himself ambushing himself in his own office and mercilessly gunning himself down.
- In the Law & Order: SVU arc in which Captain Cragen is accused of murder ("Rhodium Nights" to "Above Suspicion"), it turns out every single guest character in the episodes is involved in the murders in some way, including both of the defendants' attorneys, a rookie cop who initially seemed to just be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and even the prosecutor, who had been bribed by one of the suspects with money for her disabled daughter.
- Broadchurch: This is apparently what happened with the Sandbrook case. Lee had sex with Lisa, got caught by Ricky, Lisa mouthed off to Ricky, Ricky accidentally killed Lisa, Pippa overheard everything and thought Lee did the killing, Ricky had Claire drug Pippa while they cleaned up the crime scene, Lee smothered Pippa to keep her quiet but told Ricky she died due to him drugging her, and the three of them agreed to keep each other's secrets.
- Murdoch Mysteries: In "Body Double", the first murder was committed by only one person the leading lady of a theatrical company, but the coverup (which involves a second murder) is arranged by all of the acting company.
- On an episode of Veep, Selina tasks Amy with finding the White House staffer who called her the C word in an interview. It turns out to have been everyone (including Amy herself) with the sole exception of Gary, who thought that the C word was "crone".
- Death in Paradise: In "Dishing Up Murder", all of the suspects colluded to stage an elaborate cover-up to make it appear the Victim of the Week was murdered 12 hours later than he actually was. This provided them all with an alibi, except for the one person who didn't have a motive.
- Motive: In "A Bullet for Joey", three brothers shoot the victim at the same time. However, two of the three guns are loaded with blanks; the idea being that will never know which of them fired the fatal shot. But one of the brothers confesses to knowing which gun was loaded with the real bullet, and choosing that gun to ensure the murder happened. He is charged with murder, and his brothers are charged with conspiracy.
- The video for Who Spiked the Eggnog? by the group Straight No Chaser had the lead singer as an Unreliable Narrator, and tried to finger his fellow singers as the guilty parties. We see them around the eggnog in question, and a few of them DO seem to perform the deed. The last scene of the video shows the lead singer guilty of the act as well.
- In the Mercedes Lackey song "It Was a Dark and Stormy Night," it's implied that the Count was the man who murdered the Countess, though given how there was at least one servant able to testify as to where he was at any given minute that night, it was obvious that the entire household was in on it. The death was ruled as 'suicide'.
- "She tried to eat her lute."
- A non-murder variant: the children's song "Who Stole The Cookies From The Cookie Jar?"
- The JB Priestley play An Inspector Calls features this trope to a degree. Although the girl committed suicide, the entire Birling family drove her to it one way or another, and this drives the acceptance of social guilt that Priestley wrote the play to emphasize.
- When the YMCA or similar organizations hosts a murder mystery game for kids, they'll use this solution. What's more, there will be evidence pointing to everyone. Presumably, this is so no matter what you guess (unless you guessed suicide), you're never completely wrong, and all the kids go home feeling more or less satisfied.
- Older Than Steam example: Fuenteovejuna (1613) by Lope de Vega. Based on a True Story of a 15th century Spanish town that confessed (the whole of it) to murdering the mayor, rather than pointing the finger to one inhabitant in particular, and was "pardoned" by royal decree.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Callisto Yew claims to be the Yatagarasu before escaping custody. However, Kay claims the Yatagarasu was her father. Turns out neither is quite true. They were both members of the Yatagarasu—as was Detective Badd.
- Part of a Jedi test in Knights of the Old Republic. Two people are suspected of killing a man, when it turns out that both of them intended to do so independently of each other, but one of them (non-fatally) shot the other conspirator by mistake when he thought he was the victim, which allows you to find the truth yourself.
- In the Hidden Object game Madame Fate, all of the suspects are revealed to be plotting against the fortune-teller and/or one another. Subverted; someone else kills Fate — and all the suspects — before they can enact their schemes.
- The aptly-named "Murder Mystery" quest in RuneScape was initially not an example of this, as it involved narrowing down one suspect out of six, which varies from player to player. When a sequel was released, however, the earlier quest was retconned into a case of this trope, likely to avoid having to make six different versions of the harder, more complex quest.
- Played for Laughs in the All Just a Dream Daria episode "Murder, She Snored", in which Kevin is murdered and Daria is the main suspect. As it turned out, everybody but her did it, all unaware of each other's plots and thinking they were the sole murderers. Even though they all fess up when Daria starts pointing fingers, Daria gets convicted anyway.
- In the end of the South Park episode "Lice Capades", every single student in the class had lice.
- In What's New, Scooby-Doo? the guest stars are chased by an invisible madman and slowly proven that each suspect has an alibi Velma concludes that the "Scooby-Doo" Hoax was a group effort by the suspects, using a technology they were developing for the government.
- Also in "Mystery of the Samurai Sword", the Scooby-Doo Rule that "the first fully named character did it" is both played straight and subverted - ALL the named characters are in on the plot.
- Done in an episode of The PJs: Thurgood takes Calvin and Juicy's homemade go-cart for a ride, and wrecks it in the process. He plays innocent while the residents try to get to the bottom of who broke it. To which each one admits they had taken it for a joyride in some form or another.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode MMMystery on the Friendship Express, the Marzipan Mascarpone Meringue Madness was partially eaten by Rainbow Dash, Fluttershy, and Rarity. The other bakers also ate each others' desserts.
- In Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, all three suspects are Batwoman.