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Never Suicide

McNulty: Turns out [he] got himself rung up as a suicide. D.O.D. of 7-21-03.
Coroner: [...] You want me to pull the postmortem on this?
McNulty: Yeah, he's kind of a made guy down there. I just want to make sure that nobody did the suicide to him.

The police are investigating Alice's death. It appears to be a suicide — there might even be a Goodbye, Cruel World! — but no matter the evidence, resident Cowboy Cop/Defective Detective Bob isn't so sure. Maybe Bob is a personal friend of Alice's and can't believe she would kill herself, or maybe the evidence just doesn't add up. In any case, despite Da Chief's warnings to let it go, Bob decides to investigate further.

Sure enough, Bob is right. In any Crime and Punishment Series, people never seem to kill themselves; with a few exceptions, every apparent suicide is staged to cover up a murder. This happens because simply confirming that it's a suicide is not very exciting, and doesn't take an entire 40-minute episode. Presumably the police come across a few real suicides between episodes, but if they investigate one onscreen, start looking for the killer.

As the examples below show, it's sometimes subverted by having the suicide be a real suicide, but for the most part this trope is used straight because it's the lead-in for any number of cleverly executed murders. Another reason for this trope's existence is because most societies frown on people committing suicide.

A common inversion is to have a death which is actually an elaborate suicide staged to look like murder in order to either allow loved ones to collect life insurance (something of a Discredited Trope nowadays, as most life insurance companies will pay out for suicides, though sometimes not as much as with a murder, or after a 1-2 year cooling off period, so to speak) or to frame the person(s) they feel are responsible for the circumstances that drove them to suicide.

In Real Life, suicide is far more common than murder; in the United States suicide is about 2-3 times more prevalent than homicide, and in many countries the difference is much greater. Sadly, in Real Life, a lot of suicide is treated as a murder investigation, because it's easier to comprehend a loved one fell victim to a homicide than that person killing him/herself off without his/her vicinity noticing anything.

Compare The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much - that's when the scary authority figures insist that it's not murder despite significant evidence otherwise.

Sister Trope of Always Murder.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Death Note's L is suspicious of Naomi's death, particularly since she just vanished and they Never Found the Body, just a few days after they discovered she was investigating the case on her own.
  • One of the first episodes of Detective Conan had this in reverse. A man killed himself in a way that would look like murder in order to frame an enemy of his. Likely a Shout-Out to the Sherlock Holmes example below.
    • Later episodes/chapters have plenty of fake suicide and accidents, though.
    • One episode subverted this by having a victim's death actually be suicide, to the surprise of everyone who thought the boyfriend had killed her (Why the woman had the means to blow her car up with her and was able to set it up and use it on a moment's notice was never explored).
  • Braun's death in Monster.
    • Which actually was suicide, it's just that Johan talked him in to it.
  • Donkey's death in 20th Century Boys, as well as the "banishment" of several Friend group chairmen.
  • In Tantei Gakuen Q, there are occasionally suicides and accidents where more than one death is being investigated - this suicide/accident serves to inspire the murders.
    • On multiple occasions they have dealt with murders that were engineered to look like accidents or suicide.
  • Souma's stepmother, actually murdered by Katsuragi and a reluctant Souma in Sakura Gari.
  • Double subverted in the Ace Attorney manga. Eddie Johnson meets with his boss Robin Wolfe, who wants to talk with him about his being disrespectful to others at work, and commits suicide on the way home. The police suspect that Robin killed Eddie, because he was the last person Eddie saw while alive, and Robin decides to hire Phoenix to represent him, but doesn't tell the whole truth about Eddie. However, after talking to the Wolfe family and Eddie's brother Brock, realizes that Robin may not have actually killed Eddie, but he essentially deliberately drove him to suicide, which is virtually the same thing, and which leads him to decide not to represent him.

    Comic Books 
  • Subverted in Daredevil; Matt refuses to believe that his ex-girlfriend Heather Glenn committed suicide, discovers that there was a break-in at her place that night, tracks down the thieves...and finds that she was already dead when they got there.
  • Done in Deadpool regarding time-travelling Hitler.
  • In order to get Nick Fury to finish his investigation about the possible drug relations in their Nicaraguan outpost during the Contra War, Barracuda in Fury: My War Gone By forces the Commanding Officer of the place to "confess" about trading drugs by having him telling about them on a suicide note that he was forced to write on a gunpoint, before killing him. Fury isn't fooled, and continues his investigations in secret.

    Fan Fic 
  • Taken to its parodic extreme in Hitman Miami; at one point, in order to avoid the police's undue attention, 47 has to forge suicide notes for every single dead body in a villa (and there are a lot). Then he blows up the entire villa anyway.

    Film 
  • In Batman Forever, the Riddler fakes the death of his boss by modifying security tapes and leaving a fake suicide note with accurate handwriting. The police are quite fooled.
  • A large plot point in the movie I, Robot. Although the death appears to be a suicide to any relatively sane person, the dead man knew that Spooner would automatically suspect a robot when one was found at the scene, and left him a trail of breadcrumbs to follow in order to uncover the bigger issue at stake. Subverted in that the robot did kill the man, but the man asked him to (and made him capable of doing such a thing) which makes it an assisted suicide.
  • Subverted in the film version of Constantine. Everyone believes Isabel killed herself except for her sister Angela, which leads her to Constantine and a supernatural plot. However, the investigation turns up that really did Isabel kill herself, specifically to avoid getting possessed by the Son of Satan; tragically, this has resulted in her being damned to hell, as Constantine discovers when he visits it halfway through the film.
  • Subverted in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. There is good reason to suppose that the suicide makes no sense, suggesting it was murder and causing further investigation. Turns out that though everyone else was killed like flies, and though this death was connected, the suicide really was a suicide (but we do find out what triggered it).
    Perry: Killed herself. There, I solved your "case" for you.
    Harry: Oh, no no no. Harmony's convinced that—
    Perry: I don't care, listen to me: lil' sis punched her own ticket, end of story.
  • Inverted in Narc. Henry Oak is investigating his friend's murder but it turns out he was covering up his suicide so that 1) his wife could receive a pension and 2) to frame the drug dealers who supplied him.
  • Subverted in The Shadow of the Thin Man, when the suspicious death of a jockey leads to more killings and the uncovering of a criminal gambling racket; Nick Charles eventually discovers the jockey did indeed commit suicide, but the gun he used slipped down a shower-drain.
  • Played Straight in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Everyone thinks that Captain Gregg committed suicide by closing all the the windows and doors and turning on the gas. He takes extreme offense to this and explains that he closed the windows and doors that night because it was raining and accidentally kicked the switch to the gas on when he fell asleep in a chair.

    Literature 
  • Bertha in The Serpent's Tale and Brune in A Murderous Procession are believed to have killed themselves. Adelia disagrees.
  • Agatha Christie:
    • Murder in the Mews is a subversion. A dead woman at first glance seems to have committed suicide, then after some sleuthing clues appear that she was really murdered, but at the end it turns out that it had really been suicide and the clues had been planted by her best friend to frame the guy who was responsible for driving her into suicide.
    • The Market Basing Mystery: an older, Gender Flipped version of Murder in the Mews.
    • Inverted/Subverted in the Hercule Poirot mystery Wasp's Nest; events surrounding a young man and a nest of wasps on his property lead Poirot to believe that someone was planning to murder the young man, presumably with an insecticide used to kill wasps. Poirot ultimately discovered that the young man, who learned that he was terminally ill the same day he learned that his fiance was cheating on him with his best friend), planned to poison himself and frame his best friend for murder. Poirot secretly replaced the poison with washing soda, not wanting to see anyone die violently, either by poisoning himself or hanging for a murder he didn't commit.
  • The Raven at the Foregate, a Brother Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters: Subverted; it was suicide.
  • Sir Henry Merrivale: In She Died a Lady, Dr. Luke spent the novel trying to prove the two deaths were not suicide.
  • Ellery Queen: The Greek Coffin Mystery: The second solution involves a "suicide" not meant to convince the reader.
  • Subverted in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Problem of Thor Bridge": The servant of the house is accused of murdering the mistress, the evidence initially points to the murder being likely, until Holmes realizes the gun he found wasn't the murder weapon, and it was an elaborate suicide made to frame the servant.
    • The story was based on a true incident, btw, and there's been at least one known case where that was attempted after the Holmes story was published.
  • Inverted in Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, in which L and Naomi Misora investigate a series of murders, except for the last, which is a suicide meant to look like a murder.
  • In Altered Carbon, this is averted in all sorts of ways. Not only is the victim exceedingly powerful, wealthy and nigh-immortal (and hence unlikely to just off himself, especially as he'd be brought back to life from a backup soon enough), but there's a fair list of people keen to have him killed.
    • Extra points for the fact that the investigator is hired by the victim whose backed-up memories were restored to a clone body shortly after his death, who is determined to prove that his death was a murder.
      • And just for kicks it actually was suicide, albeit caused by a third party
  • Dorothy L. Sayers liked subverting this trope, playing it straight for minor characters, but having one book where the main murder really was suicide (Clouds of Witness) and another where an accident that looked like murder really was an accident after all (The Nine Tailors).
  • James Patterson's Four Blind Mice has this. Almost all the police think that a military man killed his wife and then himself, but the main characters are lucky to find the one guy who knows exactly that it was a staged murder done by three men. Well, isn't that convenient.
  • Subverted in the Honor Harrington series. The leaders of Manticore eventually rule a character's death a legitimate suicide, while at the same time fully acknowledging that his death would have been very convenient for someone else who'd had to make a quick getaway.
  • In the Mercedes Lackey book Four and Twenty Blackbirds, everyone except Tal Rufen is willing to accept the murder-suicides as an enormous series of unrelated incidents where a man kills a musician and then commits suicide. He figures out that they're actually a chain of double murders committed by a mage controlling the official killer from a distance.
  • Lillian Jackson Braun's Cat Who series. In "The Cat Who Played Post Office", the victim even leaves a note saying that if she apparently commits suicide, it was most likely murder at the hands of the most obvious suspect in the murder Qwill was originally investigating. However, the trope is subverted at the very last page. As Qwill himself says, "It wasn't murder made to look like suicide, it was suicide made to look like murder!" On top of that, it's entirely possible that the victim wasn't exactly the manipulated patsy of an accomplice she makes herself out to be. She was, after all, the brains of the family law firm.
  • Averted in Michael Connelly detective novel The Drop. A mysterious death is written off as a suicide, but Harry Bosch doesn't buy it, and discovers there's a lot more to the case—but in the end it turns out that it actually was a suicide after all.
    • The Narrows played similarly with the death of Terry Mc Caleb in that he was poisoned. It initially appeared a suicide but was later connected to the main case of the story, chasing the serial killer known as The Poet(from the titular novel). In the end it was shown that it really was a suicide but the FBI covered this up and blamed the above serial killer.
  • Played with in the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manscript. Spenser discovers the body of a young woman who had been involved in the case he was working on, lying dead in her bathtub. The crime was made to look like a suicide, though Spenser spots evidence that makes suicide seem unlikely. Unfortunately, the police captain in charge of the investigation is on the take, and the crime lord responsible for the murder leans on him to brush it under the rug, so he states that it's clearly a suicide and washes his hands of it.
    • A later Spenser novel, Widow's Walk, features a somewhat more complex take on the same basic deal: a wealthy banker is killed as part of a real estate scam and his murderer attempts to make it look like a suicide. Instead, the banker's ditz of a wife takes the gun and hides it with an old friend of hers, because she's under the impression that her late husband's life insurance won't pay out if it was a suicide. It's a homicide made to look like a suicide made to look like a homicide.
  • During Galaxy of Fear, at one point Zak appears to have eaten poisonous cryptberries, well aware of how lethal they were, and died. The readers know that's not what happened, though he did have reason and it didn't look entirely unexpected. Apparently aware of this trope, or possibly afflicted by the Adult Fear of her only surviving relative killing himself, his sister Tash soundly rejects what it looks like and bullies her uncle into agreeing that there's probably more to it.
  • Jo Nesbř's novel Nemesis subverts this - Anna Bethsen really did kill herself.
  • Lindsey Davis's novel Alexandria has a subvertion. By the end of the book, Falco concludes that Theon's death was most likely a suicide and the locked doors of his office were an accident. There's no irrefutable evidence to support this, but it's clearly meant to be the answer.

    Live Action TV 
  • 24 had at least two characters who appeared to have committed suicide, but turned out to have been murdered to preserve a conspiracy: Jamey Farrell in season 1 and Walt Cummings in season 5.
  • Subverted in an early episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Olivia and Elliot are investigating the death of a young woman who fell from her apartment window onto a parked car. Suicide is ruled out about thirty seconds after the opening credits, and with good cause: there is evidence of someone else in the room, and the victim appeared to have been thrown through the windowpane all the way into the street. As it turns out, the victim did kill herself, having been Driven to Suicide by a series of emotionally and physically abusive relationships, beginning with the father who raped her when she was a child.
  • Monk does it all the time.
    • Most notably, Stottlemeyer recalls a case where all the evidence pointed towards the victim committing suicide by overdosing on pills. However, Monk takes one look at the crime scene and destroys the suicide theory by asking, "Where's the water?" Turns out, the pills were too big to swallow unassisted and there was no evidence of any liquids in the room.
  • Psych, too. There was even an episode about a Serial Killer who went after people who had called a suicide hotline and made their deaths look like suicides.
    • Also, in a later episode of Psych, this trope gets twisted around when Shawn notices that a daredevil's stunts are being sabotaged. Naturally he assumes attempted murder, but it turns out the daredevil is sabotaging his own stunts because he has cancer and a secret life insurance policy that pays more if he dies in a stunt than of natural causes.
  • Even Dexter had one. In a bit of a twist, the deaths actually were suicide, but the victims' therapist had purposely driven them to it.
  • Bones does it often too, normally either with Booth not believing it was suicide or Brennan finding some evidence that suggests murder even if suicide would have made sense.
  • NUMB3RS did a subversion. Charlie, upset over the death of a student, gets Don to look into it to see if it was really suicide. It was, but in the process of investigating it they uncover another crime.
  • Subverted in Homicide: Life on the Street when Crosetti dies, it's almost immediately apparent to everyone that it's a suicide (even if they'd rather not face up to it), but Lewis has a major case of denial and refuses to believe that Crosetti would kill himself, and under the cover of 'investigating' what 'really' happened attempts to undermine the investigation by tampering with witnesses. Eventually the call from the coroner comes in to confirm that it was suicide - and Lewis breaks down.
    • Double subverted later on when Beau Felton is found with his head blown off. Everyone including Lewis is sure it's suicide this time, since Felton was a troubled alcoholic whose wife had split with the kids. Then the medical examiner reconstructs the skull fragments and finds a bullet hole from a handgun in the back of his head. The killer used the shotgun to both stage it to look like suicide and obscure the actual cause of death.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation
    • Subverted when an investor shoots himself at a party. It originally looks like a staged suicide since he's still holding the gun, which usually doesn't happen, as the muscles relax after death, but this guy had a rare condition that made him an exception.
    • Another variation was when the villain of an arc staged identical suicides of men who were born on the same date that his father was murdered in the same manner (this was also his father's birthday). Up to and including a faked suicide note (well, tape). He did all this to prove his father's murder wasn't a suicide.
    • Inverted in another episode when a man is found in some woods with all the evidence initially pointing towards murder... only it turns out to be an extremely elaborate suicide designed to look like a murder so his wife would receive his life insurance money.
    • And subverted YET AGAIN in another episode, when one man throws himself in front of a car. The entire episode runs like an ordinary investigation, the suicide letter being the final twist, only seconds before the episode ends. And the car's driver would've been aquitted of all charges, had he not been a narcissistic Jerk Ass who left the guy bleeding to death on his car's hood, thus turning a suicide into a murder, rather than the usual vice versa.
    • One more double inversion, when a Sherlock Holmes impersonator is found shot to death. Like the above example, the episode runs as a murder investigation, until the team discovers the gun tied to an elastic in the chimney, revealing that when the victim shot himself and let go of the gun, the elastic snapped it back into the chimney. Then we find out that the real murderer had set the whole thing up to look like a suicide that had been set up to look like a murder, as an appropriately Holmesian mystery. Yes, a murder, made to look like a suicide, made to look like a murder. Which references "The Problem of Thor Bridge".
    • There's yet another subversion the episode "The Happy Place", which opens with a woman in a bikini jumping from her apartment window onto a bus and dying. The subsequent investigation throws The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive a bone by revealing that a hypnotist was behind it all. She got her clients to rob banks and forget about it via post-hypnotic suggestion; the woman's suicide was the result of the trigger phrase "It's time for your honeymoon." When the woman heard this, she began thinking she was in Hawaii and thought she was jumping from her hotel balcony into a swimming pool.
    • Another inversion in an episode where a man is found with stab wounds in his chest and back. Everything looks like murder until it's revealed that the man was deep in debt and had a life insurance policy that would pay out to his brother. He actually jammed the knife in-between a door and a frame and ran into it several times, making sure the knife fell.
    • In another odd inversion, an old lady drives her car through the window of a bar. The team either assume she died from something and the car went out of control or she was trying to kill someone inside; turns out she committed suicide so her grandson could use her life insurance policy to go to college (they were too poor to avoid it otherwise). Unfortunately, the company wouldn't pay out for suicides, so her death was meaningless.
    • CSI NY had one where Stella was adamant it was homicide even though the rest of the team felt the evidence said "suicide.". She was proven right, naturally.
  • A wonderful example from the Jonathan Creek episode "The Tailor's Dummy": The titular character and several other witnesses see the Victim of the Week jump from his bedroom window. In the end they discover the victim had gone blind (which was covered up by him and his family as he was a fashion designer) and his daughter had killed him by taking advantage of his pyrophobia and playing a tape which made him think there was a fire and they were waiting to catch him below the window.
    • Though it was still played straight, however, this one was an interesting example, as the "suicide" in question wasn't actually the reason Creek got involved, and was assumed by everyone, including him, to be a normal suicide, so it seemed to be simply a background event, until further investigation began to cast doubt on it.
    • Jonathan Creek also subverted this. In 'The Eyes of Tiresias', a man made his own suicide look like murder to frame the man his wife was sleeping with
      • It also combined this with a Locked Room Mystery in the first episode, where an old man apparently shot himself in the head within a sealed bunker, but would have actually been physically unable to do so due to his crippling arthritis. Ultimately played with by the fact that the murderer committed suicide, overdosing before sealing himself within the wall of the bunker after killing the guy for revenge, having previously faked his own death at sea.
  • Subverted on Veronica Mars with Logan's mother. It really was just a suicide. (Probably. They never did find the body.)
    • Played straight with Dean O'Dell
  • Inverted in the Law & Order episode "Bad Faith." There are signs that a detective's death might be murder, but it turns out that responding cops tampered with the scene so his widow would get benefits. The case is still a can of worms, because he and Logan were both altar boys under the same Pedophile Priest.
    • Another episode had a construction mogul killed in a professional hit; it turns out that he had hired the hitman himself, both as a way of escaping his crushing debt, and to frame his cheating wife and her lover for his murder.
      • A third played it a bit more straight, with a key witness "committing suicide" at her desk before she could testify. However, as soon as the Autopsy was done, evidence of massive head trauma was found, more consistent with the victim's head being slammed into the desk then just falling over.
  • The Law & Order: UK episode based on this, "Confession", also inverts this, as just like in the original, the cops tried to make the suicide look like a murder. But it's also subverted when the prosecutors manage to press manslaughter charges against the Pedophile Priest in question, arguing that the man was Driven to Suicide via PTSD that resulted from the sexual abuse he endured.
  • Pushing Daisies: at least twice (in "Pigeon" and "Bad Habits").
    • Played with in another episode. Turns out the deaths are suicides, but the... victims? were hired to test an experimental drug that drove them to do it, making the drug company culpable.
  • Criminal Minds
    • Played straight and subverted in an episode. A number of parents of children who died in a school accident begin committing suicide at a rate far above what would be expected for the situation. Sure enough, there's a serial killer disguising his murders as suicides. Except for one of the deaths, which turns out to have been a real suicide after all.
    • In another episode, a number of high school kids appear to be commiting suicide by hanging with little obvious connection between the victims. It turned out they were actually being tricked over the internet into playing a dangerous game whereby the kids hang themselves near to death and cut the wire at the last minute to obtain a natural "high"- the deaths are those who failed to cut it in time and thus "lost" the game. The mastermind turned out to be an abusive father who has Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy; he forced his son to hang himself near to death over the years in order to get attention and pity as the poor dad with the depressive, self-harming son. The idea of making this an internet game came about when he got tired of abusing just his own kid.
  • Subverted several times in Inspector Morse. Morse insists on investigating several cases of suicide which are actually suicide. He has become quite knowledgeable on what details to look for.
  • Inverted in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "A Murderer Among Us". The detectives determine that the victim staged her suicide to frame her husband; she had discovered that her husband murdered a number of Jewish men and she had been his unwitting accomplice. She had also recently learned of her own Jewish heritage.
  • NCIS has an interesting take on this trope. When investigating the death of two women, an agent suggest it might be suicide only to be told that it didn't matter, standard procedure insists that all deaths are to be treated as murders until proven otherwise. Naturally in this instance, going by procedure pays off.
  • JAG: In "With Intent to Die", Admiral Chegwidden’s mentor decease at a hunt, and Chegwidden refuses to believe it was either a suicide or an accident. Turns out he had the right hunch.
  • Played with on LOST: Upon hearing that "Jeremy Bentham" has committed suicide, Jack is driven to suicide himself, but fails to kill himself. Sayid remarks that "they said it was suicide," to which Hurley responds "what do you mean, they SAID it was suicide?" Finally, after Bentham's identity is revealed as John Locke, we are shown that he really did intend on killing himself via hanging...before Ben appeared, talked him out of killing himself, learned valuable information about Jin and Ms. Hawking, and then proceeded to kill Locke by strangulation, making it look like a hanging.
  • Subverted in a fairly painful way on an episode of The Closer.
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.. The cancer-ridden Asshole Victim and his accomplice set up his death so it looked like the man sleeping with his wife had killed him.
  • Played with on House. When Kutner was found dead of a shotgun wound, House was temporarily convinced it must have been murder because he hadn't noticed any signs that Kutner was depressed (possibly because they had to Drop A Bridge On Him at the last minute), but there was no way that could have been the case.
  • Subverted in Heroes, where Claire discovers her college roommate apparently having committed suicide by jumping out the window, even leaving a note about how depressed she was, despite having planned out her whole life. Learning that being pushed will send a body a further distance than jumping, Claire jumps out the window herself (Good Thing She Can Heal), only to land on the same spot. Played straight, actually. She was pushed out the window by an invisible girl, but we don't find that out for a few episodes.
  • The episode "Second Soul" of the revived Outer Limits series involves aliens using human corpses to survive. The best friend of the man in charge of the operation to help the aliens appeared to have committed suicide after his wife's corpse is used. His friend isn't so sure, since he had been investigating the aliens and thought they were conspiring right before he died. Subverted however, since there was no conspiracy, and it really was a suicide.
  • An apparent suicide sets the events of State of Play in motion. Proving it was actually murder is just the start.
  • In Stargate Universe everyone assumes that the emotionally unstable marine with discipline issues was murdered. And to be fair, he didn't get along very well with a large number of the crew. However, the trope ends up subverted when it turns out he did commit suicide and Rush framed it so it looked like a murder, to get Colonel Young removed from command, but making sure to make it look enough like a suicide that Young wouldn't be convicted by the impromptu jury..
  • Unsolved Mysteries did this with about half its cases. Nearly every next-episode preview featured at least one case in which someone had been found dead, and narrator Robert Stack would always end it with "the police ruled it a suicide, but the family says...murder."
    • When the segment aired, it would always be highly sympathetic/slanted in favor of the family's claim that the victim had been murdered, and dismissive of the police's theory, even when all the evidence pointed to suicide and the only thing the family had to go on was a vague insistence that "she would never kill herself." Of course, basic logic would dictate that the family is far more likely to let their affection for the deceased cloud their judgment, and anyway, they're not trained professionals at this sort of thing like the police are. But "Unsolved Mysteries" would routinely imply that the police in a given case had no idea what they were doing.
      • A better name for the show might have been "Mysteries That Have Been Solved but Which Victim's Family is Still in Denial About."
    • Although in the interest of fairness, they did profile quite a few cases like this that were so obviously not suicide, involving things like multiple types of blood found on the scene and a man being bound hand and foot before being dumped in an incinerator. you wonder who the police were fooling.
  • The Rockford Files uses this trope a lot. A common plot is for a relative or friend of someone whose death was deemed suicide by the police to hire Rockford to prove that it was actually a murder. It always is.
  • The first episode of Sherlock revolves around a series of near-identical suicides. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that after four people commit suicide in almost exactly the same way, something else is probably going on...
  • Da Vinci's Inquest averts this more than once. More unusually, the accidents sometimes really are accidents.
  • Boston Legal subverted this in one episode that started where the girlfriend of Missi Pyle's recurring character was found by police (hanged) in a manner that suggested murder (hands bound behind back, etc.), then it's later revealed that Missi actually found her dead (still hanged, but that was all) of suicide and staged it to look like a break-in murder. She'd altered the scene since most (if not all) insurance policies (one of these which her girlfriend had had) don't pay out on suicides.
  • A fair number of episodes of Supernatural have the boys investigating "suicides". Given that ghosts, demons and other creature can easily enter locked rooms, and often don't leave any evidence, it fairly justified that these are ruled as such by Muggles.
    • One episode had a man whose death was ruled a suicide when he shot himself in the head...4 times.
  • More episodes of The X-Files than you could count. If the victim looks like a suicide, rest assured that they were rather cleverly murdered or Driven to Suicide by supernatural creepiness.
  • It's never suicide in Foyle's War, although in one episode it wasn't actually murder either, but a spy organization staging the suicide of one of its members to cover up that he had died about a minute into his mission due to his superiors' incompetence.
  • The second episode of Moonlight has an alleged murdered acquited, when a book writer lobbies that his case is reviewed and inconcistencies are found. It turns out he did shoot his wife and stage it as suicide. Mick knew it all along, as he was the one who warned her not to get a gun, afraid something like this would happen. The worst part for Mick is that the guy knows he's a vampire and is out for revenge, having spent years reading up on his vampire lore.
  • Inverted in a Moonlighting episode, the protagonists are hired by an old man in a wheelchair and on life support to witness his murder that he plans to stage by hiring a killer in order for his daughter to get life insurance. When David shows up, the old man is already dead with no killer in sight. Instead, the police are after him as the murderer. In the end, Maddie figures out that the old man was only partially paralized and could walk. He shut off his own life support just before David got there, planning to frame him all along.
  • Subverted in a Murder, She Wrote episode, "To The Last Will I Grapple With Thee". Sean, a friend of Jessica's from Ireland was arrested for the murder of an old enemy of his from Ireland. Jessica proved that the victim(whom she learned was terminally ill anyway) committed suicide, but staged his death to look like murder so that Sean would be convicted of murder.
  • Averted in the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of the Judas Tree", where the death is revealed to be a suicide made to look like a murder.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The first season episode "I Robot, You Jane" has the Sunnydale high computer geek Dave murdered by his friend Fritz, under the influence of the demon Moloch, and made to look like he hung himself.
  • Subverted in an episode of Cracked, where it turned out the victim really did commit suicide and his mother cleaned the scene when she found him.
  • Inspector George Gently: In "Gently with Honour", Gently and Bacchus return to a psychiatrist with a warrant for the medical files of one his patients and find the psychiatrist hanged; an apparent suicide. Gently suspicions are immediately raised, especially when he finds the medical file he was after is missing. It is later discovered that the psychiatrist's neck had been snapped and he was then strung up to make it look like he hanged himself.

    Theater 
  • When Agatha Christie adapted her novel Appointment With Death into a play, she wrote a new ending which is also a subversion. The tyrannical Mrs. Boynton wished to still wield power over her family, even after her death, so she committed suicide in a way that would appear to be murder. Therefore, everyone would be suspicious of each other, and not believing their claims that they didn't do it.

    Video Games 
  • In the fourth Ace Attorney game, Magnifi Gramarye, who was dying a slow death, kills himself, after passing on his magic to one of his apprentices via Secret Test of Character and once the other apprentice fails said test. This is significant, because the latter apprentice manipulates the scene to make it appear that the first apprentice committed murder.
  • Most of the "clawing out your own throat" deaths in Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. Turns out it's the last stage of the Hate Plague; Tomitake's death in particular is always a murder via an injection that worsens the symptoms.
  • In the first Chzo Mythos game the characters are trapped in a house whose original owners supposedly died in a murder-suicide. Over the course of the game they discover that both owners were actually murdered. and coerced to murder, by the evil spirit of an ancestor who was beaten to death by his father.
  • The first Tex Murphy game is kicked off by a suicide investigation. The victim's daughter needs to prove that he didn't kill himself so she can claim his life insurance. The twist is that the victim really did commit suicide, but he did it to escape the effects of a mind-screwing computer chip implanted into his brain, which makes it count legally as a murder.
  • Deadline has you investigate a suicide, with the possibility that it was a murder. The game would be over pretty quickly if it actually was.
  • Trauma Team's Naomi Kimishima has a Locked Room Mystery as her first in-game investigation.
  • Danganronpa has a case which is presumed to be a suicide, but is treated as a murder anyway. Even though multiple characters confess, this trope is averted because the case was actually a suicide.

    Web Comics 
  • Inverted and parodied in Schlock Mercenary's CSI: Crime Scene Investigation tribute storyline: A crime-solving AI takes one look at an obvious murder scene and declares it to be an attempted suicide. The AI immediately catches itself by nothing that their victim is dead, and tries to figure out an alternate solution. The 'parody' aspect kicks (again) at the end of the arc when it turns out that the 'victim' wasn't quite dead, and that the corpse was that of his gate-clone, who had attempted to kill him. Thus, attempted killing of yourself = attempted suicide.

     Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted on King of the Hill—the death of Buck's mistress Debbie looks like a murder and there are plenty of people with a motive to kill her, but it turns out she accidentally killed herself while trying to murder somebody else.


My Death Is Just the BeginningChoosing DeathNothing Left to Do but Die
Never One MurderMystery TropesNotable Non Sequitur
Never Speak Ill of the DeadDeath TropesNight Swim Equals Death
Nasty PartyMurder TropesNot-So-Fake Prop Weapon

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