"Who I thought was my homie dropped the dime. So I gotta peel his cap with the nine. "It's easy to trust your childhood friends, or loyal minions with your secrets but even they have a limit to what they'll keep secret. Perhaps a group of drunken teens ran over a little kid, and decides to close ranks, make a pact, cover everything up and keep the crime to themselves. But one or more group members are uncomfortable with the secret and appears to be cracking under the pressure, and could possibly rat out the other party members that were involved. Whether or not they actually squeal, stay silent, or get killed by their supposed friends varies from movie to movie. Usually when this happens everyone becomes paranoid of one another when it comes to being a potential snitch. This trope is very common in horror/thriller/crime dramas/murder situations. Overlaps with A House Divided, Murder Is the Best Solution, and sometimes Defector from Decadence. Usually leads to a Plethora of Mistakes.
— Mc Eiht, Compton's Most Wanted
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Anime And Manga
- In Tsukigasa, while Kuroe never approved of thievery the robbers who saved him were surprised when he tried to make off with their maps and Tatsumi was surprised when he gave them to him to help arrest the criminals and Kuroe still wanted to turn himself in too. Ultimately it comes down to Kuroe being a righteous sort of person and wanting to protect Azuma, the criminal's next target.
- The entirety of Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity is a flashback derived from the Dictaphone confession of guilt-ridden insurance agent Walter Neff, beguiled by femme fatale Phyllis Dietrichson into murdering her husband.
- Another example from the noir canon is Too Late for Tears in which con man Danny Fuller (played by noir vet Dan Duryea) begins cracking up after killer housewife Jane Palmer pressures him to kill her sister-in-law to cover up the murder of her husband. Poor Danny is made to go away rather quickly.
- Violet from Stranger Than Fiction was starting to get panicky and erratic. She either hanged herself or one of her friends (presumably Emma) rubbed her out, and made it seem like a suicide.
- A key part of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rope.
- David Reynolds from The Liars Club is starting to doubt his best friend's innocence regarding the rape and murder of a fellow friend. But he's of the "kept silent" variety who continued to destroy evidence with the rest of the group.
- Rachel from The Haunting Of Sorority Row starts to show signs of this trope.
- Cleon from Dead Presidents is of the broke down and squealed variety.
- The protagonist of Armored quickly goes from accomplice to Spanner in the Works when the thieves' hideout is found to be not as secluded as they thought and his friend tries to solve the problem by killing the witness, breaking the head organizer's deal with the protagonist that there would be no casualties.
- John Grisham's The Associate has a rare case of a guilt-ridden mastermind. Baxter Tate, accused but never convicted of rape back in college, goes through rehab and decides to patch things up with the woman who accused him. Problem is, it's the evidence of this rape and the possibility of being labeled an accomplice that's being held over protagonist Kyle McAvoy's head by a mysterious conspiracy, and so the conspiracy has Tate killed to keep their leverage.
- Ghost Story reveals Molly Carpenter to be one of these. Harry- her teacher in magic and the Big Good who protected Chicago- has been murdered. The truth is that he was trying to escape A Fate Worse Than Death by committing suicide, and asked her to assist him with it. Harry hired a sniper, Molly erased his memories of the plan afterwards, and everything went as planned. Except for the fact that, with Harry gone, a lot of supernatural predators that would otherwise have stayed away are descending upon Chicago, and the city's living defenders are left severely weakened and comparatively ignorant about the supernatural world. Also, Harry's True Companions are traumatized by his death, and Molly has to live with the guilt of that and the pain of undergoing Training from Hell at the hands of a sadistic Fae to get strong enough to defeat said predators. She believes that all of that could have been prevented if she'd had the courage to tell someone else what Harry was planning, and she's not wrong. Morals of the story? Do not let the hero die or pledge Undying Loyalty towards someone with depression.
Live Action TV
- The murder victim from the episode of Law & Order: SVU that dealt with female-on-male rape turned out to be one of these. She and a couple of friends raped a male stripper at knifepoint during her bachelorette party. Years later she was confronted by her victim and she felt guilty enough to confess her crime and turn over the names of her accomplices. When she told the other women her plans, they killed her to cover up their crime.
- One of the victims in the Cold Case episode "Blood On The Tracks", who wanted to turn himself and his friends in for a crime they were involved in a decade prior that left another friend dead (the other being the only one who supported him in this). Very tellingly, the killers ended up being the two who not only wanted to keep everything quiet, but were least affected by what they had done.
- Parodied on the Friends Beach Episode when Joey had to come clean about peeing on Monica's leg after she is stung by a jellyfish.
Joey: I gotta get it out! It's eating me alive!
- A terrorist on 24 season 2 had second thoughts about their plan to trigger a nuke in LA. He and an accomplice end up killing each other.
- During One Life to Live's legendary gang rape storyline, one of the rapists, Powell Lord was this, having been bullied into committing the rape by the other two. The guilt drove him so mad that he tried to kill himself. . .and a year later, became a serial rapist himself.
- Valerie Hawthorne from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, helped stage a fake kidnapping and betrayed her accomplice, but years later, when the accomplice broke out of prison, decided to meet with him and tell the truth. This got her killed by Dahlia Hawthorne, who didn't want her revealing what they'd done.
- South Park:
- Parodied when the boys toilet paper a teacher's house and Kyle starts to feel guilty and wants to confess. Even includes Cartman trying to kill Kyle with a wiffle ball bat to silence him.
- Taken Up to Eleven with entire nations in another episode - when world governments are trying to hide something bad they did from extraterrestials, Finland's lets loose they can't take the guilt and want to squeal. Cue the other countries silencing them...with nukes. Then cue the aliens asking "Hey, what happened to Finland?" and the others making up lame excuses to explain why Finland is all of a sudden lifeless and glowing.
- Filmation's Ghostbusters: The Headless Horseman. Basically, Prime Evil enlisted his help in bankrupting a gold mine owned by Jake's great-grandfather. (The ghosts scared all the miners away.) Jake made his distrust of the Horseman very clear, even as the ghost protested that he wanted to help and try to redeem himself. So very tragic, and that sad voice...
- Spongebob Squarepants frequently to Mr Krabs, standout cases include when they try to cover up (supposedly) killing a health inspector and when he is forced to make a fraudulent newspaper with articles that destroy people's reputations.