->''"This one ain't rubber!"''
-->-- '''The Conductor''', ''Videogame/AHatInTime''

A [[MysteryFiction Murder Mystery]] trope.

The victim and the attacker are both actors, rehearsing or acting out a scene with a prop weapon. Unbeknownst to either, a third party has switched out the prop weapon for a real weapon, and the attacker kills the victim before realizing the switch.

SubTrope of AccidentalMurder. For the accidental version of this, please see FatalMethodActing.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Played straight in the ''Manga/TheKindaichiCaseFiles'': One case got kicked off as an actress died from drinking a glass of wine that has been poisoned. [[spoiler: Later averted when in the same case, a prop has been switched with a murder weapon that was about to be used but the would-be victim blocked it in time.]]
* Toyed with in ''Manga/DetectiveConan''. An {{otaku}} shoots himself in the head with a ''real'' gun in public, apparently thinking it was a fake one. For worse, he had just shot a cosplayer under the same belief. [[spoiler: This is intentional: the cosplayer who was shot is the one who tricked that {{otaku}} into first shooting him (he was wearing protection as a part of his outfit) and then shooting himself, in revenge for having caused the death of his younger brother.]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''ComicBook/TheMazeAgency'' story "The Death of Justice Girl", the actress playing Justice Girl is killed when the murderer swaps out a pistol loaded with blanks for one loaded with live ammo.

* In ''Film/TheManWhoKnewTooLittle'', Wallace gets embroiled in a political assassination plot, [[AndYouThoughtItWasAGame but thinks it's all experimental, interactive theatre]]. Plenty of BlackComedy comes from him casually threatening people with a real gun which he thinks is just a prop. He actually does shoot a wall and a phone, [[ComicallyMissingThePoint and mistakes the bullet holes for really good special effects]].
* In ''Film/TheClonesOfBruceLee'', the gold-smuggling director's yes-man suggests using this to kill the BruceLeeClone they suspect to be a secret agent. As [[WebVideo/TheSpoonyExperiment Spoony]] pointed out in his review, this is '''very badly''' HarsherInHindsight, since Bruce's son Brandon was killed on the set of ''Film/TheCrow'' by a weapons malfunction.
* Happens in the Music/ElvisPresley film ''Frankie & Johnny'' with a prop gun that's been loaded with real bullets.
* In ''Film/ShaunOfTheDead'', not only is the rifle displayed at the Winchester pub real, it's also loaded.
* In ''Film/ThePrestige'', Borden emphasizes that a bullet-catching trick where the (bulletless) gun is fired by an audience member is still dangerous, because the volunteer can slip something down the barrel and fire it for real. Guess what happens.
* This is the central plot point of ''Franchise/PerryMason: The Case of the Shooting Star''.
* ''Film/AnimalHouse'': As a prank, Bluto and D-Day get Flounder to shoot Neidermeyer's horse in Dean Wormer's office, the two formers assured that there are blanks in the gun. Flounder doesn't have the heart to shoot the horse so he aims it in the air and fires. The horse promptly dies of a heart attack. Bluto and D-Day panic when they hear the horse fall with a thud and see it dead on the floor.
--> '''Bluto:''' Holy shit!\\
'''D-Day:''' There were blanks in that gun!\\
'''Flounder:''' I didn't even point the gun at him!\\
'''Bluto:''' Holy shit!\\
'''D-Day:''' ''(checks the chamber)'' They ''were'' blanks!\\
'''Flounder:''' He must have had a heart attack!\\
'''Bluto:''' Holy shit!\\
''(All scream and run away)''
* In ''Film/TheShow'', the Greek's plan to murder Robin involves sneaking into Robin's performance--a staging of the Theatre/{{Salome}} story--and replace the prop sword with a real sword, thus lopping off Robin's head. The actress playing Salome notices this at the last second when she sees the Greek's dress shoes.
* ''Film/TheUncanny'': In 1936, in Hollywood, the actor Valentine De'ath replaces [[PendulumOfDeath the blade of a fake pendulum]] to kill his actress wife, and give his young mistress and aspiring actress a chance. The cat of his wife avenges her.
* In ''Film/GetOverIt'' Kelly playfully brandishes a crossbow found in a high school prop room, which turns out to be a functional weapon, as she learns the hard way when she accidentally [[IJustShotMarvinInTheFace shoots Berke in the arm]].
* In ''Film/SistersOfDeath'', the murderer swaps the dummy bullet used in the InitiationCeremony for a live round.

* This trope can also apply to blunt instruments. In the non-fiction book ''The Art of Coarse Acting'' by Michael Green, which sounds like it ought to be a guidebook for starring in an AwfulBritishSexComedy but is actually a combination memoir and AffectionateParody of amateur dramatics tropes, author Michael Green expounds on the importance of viewing realistic-looking coshes and blackjacks supplied by the props department with grave suspicion.
* The Polish book ''Dwie "Kobry"''. A character in a live TV production is supposed to be killed by a faulty electrical socket, but someone had the socket secretly connected to the electrical grid and the actor is actually electrocuted.
* The initial murder in ''[[Literature/InDeath Witness in Death]]'' is accomplished in this manner during a stage production of ''Film/WitnessForTheProsecution''. [[spoiler: It's subverted when it turns out that the actress who did the stabbing was the one who switched the prop knife with the real one, and knew very well what she was doing when she stabbed him.]]
* Caroline Graham's novel ''Death of a Hollow Man'' has the actor playing Salieri in a performance of ''Amadeus'' fatally injured when someone removes the protective tape from the blade of the prop razor that the character cuts his throat with. This stayed the same when the story was adapted into an episode of the ''Series/MidsomerMurders'' TV show also written by Caroline Graham.
* Creator/NgaioMarsh used this trope several times:
** In ''Enter A Murderer'' has a prop gun used for an on-stage killing loaded without the actors' knowledge.[[note]]This was a rare fictional work to acknowledge the real-world hazards of blank ammunition: because of the very close on-stage range of the shooting the pistol wasn't meant to be loaded with anything and the bang would have been provided by an off-stage sound-effect.[[/note]]
** ''Swing Brother Swing'' uses a sneaky variation of this. It's suggested that a musician was murdered during an on-stage gangster routine by a dart, not a bullet, being loaded into a blank-firing pistol. But actually [[spoiler: he acted the death as planned but was surreptitiously stabbed to death afterwards while playing dead before the scene ended, so everyone thought the on-stage killing had been real]].
** ''Literature/LightThickens'' has a loose variation, in which the fake severed head of Macbeth is replaced on the end of a pole with the head of the decapitated murder victim.
* Happens in the Joanne Fluke / Literature/HannahSwensen mystery ''Cherry Cheesecake Murder'', when the director of a movie shoots himself with a supposed-to-be-not-loaded prop gun, to attempt to demonstrate the emotion required in the scene to the actors.
* Inverted in ''Discworld/WyrdSisters'', when the Duke loses his mind and begins stabbing people, including himself, with a prop knife. No one is hurt, but he's convinced that everyone he strikes is dead, and even insists he's now a ghost to Death himself. [[spoiler: The discrepancy is soon resolved, when he attempts to use his ghostly powers to fly.]]
* In ''There Was an Old Woman'' by Creator/ElleryQueen, one man challenges his brother to a pistol duel, so friends replace all the bullets with blanks, but somebody else puts bullets back in the gun before the duel.
* Done by accident in a ''Selby the Talking Dog'' short story, where Selby accidentally glues up a retracting knife and then has to save Mrs. Trifle from it.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{Psych}}'' has used this plot, during a telenovela episode. Until Shawn is able to prove otherwise, everyone is convinced that the actor with the knife was obviously completely responsible (and dumb enough to stab someone in the chest on live television). In true ''Psych'' fashion, proving his hypothesis almost resulted in Shawn's own death by not-fake prop weapon, this time a nail gun.
* ''Series/{{Monk}}'' also did it. The weapon was switched [[spoiler:after the victim had already collapsed, due to peanut oil on the apple he had eaten]]. The actress accused of murder rightly points out that she would have been able to feel the difference in weight and balance between the prop knife and the real one.
* Done in ''Series/{{Oz}}'' during the prison production of ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', though with a shank.
* In the ''Series/TalesFromTheCrypt'' episode "Yellow," a soldier caught deserting is told by the general (who is his father), that the firing squad will use blanks, the soldier can play dead, and escape when the army leaves. At the last minute, when the soldier sees his father look away, he finds out this trope is in effect.
* In the 1980s version of the series ''Series/{{V 1983}}'', when an alien member of LaResistance is sword dueling with a human, the leader Diana turns on the plasma swords, making them lethal.
* ''Series/MidsomerMurders'':
** Happens in the episode "Death of a Hollow Man", based on the novel above under Literature.
** And in "The Magician's Nephew", where the spikes inside a illusionist's 'Cabinet of Death' are coated with a fast acting poison.
* ''Series/BlackAdder'': The Black Adder tries this one, but changes his mind when he learns the victim has information he thinks can prove [[spoiler:he's the real heir]]. The information ends up [[spoiler:proving the opposite]].
* An episode of ''Series/TheProfessionals'' centered around a gun used in a crime being dumped in the prop bin of a theater company.
* ''Series/DiagnosisMurder'' featured a morning show staging a shooting between the hosts as a publicity stunt. Someone switched the real bullets for blanks and the cohost gets shot.
* ''Series/ElleryQueen'': [[WhoWouldWantToWatchUs A movie is being filmed based on Ellery]] and the man playing Ellery is killed by a gun that was supposed to be filled with blanks.
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'' had two variants:
** While the two guns used by the victim and the "murderer" were both real, they were so wildly inaccurate ([[CrowningMomentOfFunny as a disgruntled cop and a laser sight would attest]]) that there was no chance of one party hitting the other. The third party hid in a tree nearby.
*** Another time this is played with when the murderer modifies an actual prop gun to fire bullets.
** And another one earlier in the series, also with a real gun but the shooter didn't know there was a bullet in the barrel.
* An episode of ''{{Series/Bonanza}}'' has Hoss get framed for murder when the blank rounds from a prop gun get switched for real bullets and the blanks turn up in his saddle bag.
* A ''Series/{{Smallville}}'' episode had someone put live ammo into a gun that was going to used to "shoot" the lead actress in a movie filmed in the town. The would-be murderer learned about Clark's powers when he somehow saw him catch the bullet.
* One ''Series/OneThousandWaysToDie'' clip has a magician killed this way while performing the bullet catch illusion.
* Used in an episode of the 1994 revival of ''Series/BurkesLaw'', entitled "Who Killed the Starlet?" A woman is the bath while listening to some music, when a killer sneaks in and drops her boombox into the bathtub, killing her. It turns out that the killer and lady are merely actors on a movie set, and they're filming a murder scene. Then it turns out the boombox had been plugged into a live outlet by an unknown party, and the actress in the bathtub really ''is'' dead. [[spoiler:But the boom box was plugged in after the murder; the victim was actually poisoned.]]
* ''Series/{{CSI NY}}'' had a case that bore a few similarities to the RealLife John-Erik Hexum case. An [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assassin_(game) Assassin]]-esque game was going on around New York in which people eliminated each other from said game with water guns/balloons. One player, an aspiring actor, got extremely annoyed because the eliminator used a fake casting agency setup and made him go through the whole interview, thus humiliating him. He got back at the guy by hoping to scare him with a gun loaded with blanks. He didn't know that a blank gun fired at point blank range can be as lethal as a gun with real bullets.
* ''Series/LawAndOrder'' had a similar case, where an actor in a web video series is shot for real while filming an episode. The police investigate how the blanks could have been replaced with real bullets, and who would have done it. It turns out the gun really was loaded with blanks, and the death was just from poor gun safety: no one in the studio realized that blanks can still be deadly from that close.
* ''Series/RizzoliAndIsles'': In "No More Drama in My Life", the VictimOfTheWeek is an amateur actor killed when the killer packs ball bearings into the blank round being used in a prop gun during rehearsal.
* ''Series/MissFishersMurderMysteries'':
** In "Framed for Murder", the killer swaps the prop knife being used in a movie for the real knife used for taking stills. When the director demonstrates to the actress how he wants her to stab the leading man, he stabs himself in the heart.
** In "Death Defying Feats", the killer sabotages the prop guillotine being used in a magic act to turn it into a real one.
* ''Series/NewTricks'': In "Final Curtain", the UCOS team looks into the death of an actor who was shot dead during a performance of a play. The gun was loaded with blanks, but a piece of metal lodged in the barrel killed him. The death was originally ruled an accident, but new evidence makes the team reopen the case.
* ''Series/MagnumPI'': Happens during a shoot for the InUniverse film adaptation of ''Tahiti Kill.''

[[folder:Professional Wrestling]]
* The Honky Tonk Man almost killed Jake Roberts when the prop guy got a real guitar instead of a prop.

* ''Radio/TheNewAdventuresOfSherlockHolmes'': In "The Adventure of the Notorious Canary Trainer", a criminal plans to fake his suicide so he can disappear. However, his partner double-crosses him and replaces the blanks in his revolver with real bullets.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In the ''VideoGame/HitmanBloodMoney'' mission "Curtains Down", Agent 47 has the option of switching a prop UsefulNotes/WorldWarI pistol for a genuine one in working condition to kill a target, who is to be executed in the play ''Theatre/{{Tosca}}''. (At the time you first gain access to the level, this will be the only method of completing the mission with a Silent Assassin rating, since you won't have access to a [[HollywoodSilencer suppressor]] for your rifle yet.)
** For bonus irony points, the scene in ''Tosca'' in which this takes place involves Mario Cavaradossi, who is played by your target, being killed for real as a result of bastard police boss Scarpia [[YouSaidYouWouldLetThemGo going back on his word]] that [[ScarpiaUltimatum he would let Mario live if Tosca slept with him]] and informing the firing squad to use real guns.
* Subverted in the first ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney'' game, done to distract the player. The victim is killed with a large prop used for the TV show he co-starred in. Phoenix tries to argue that if it's a prop, it shouldn't have worked, but we realize that the blade itself is actually reasonably sharp. Subverted further in that [[spoiler: the prop wasn't the murder weapon, it was a really sharp fence the victim fell on.]] The giveaway is that [[spoiler:the only possible suspects aren't strong enough to have shoved the prop into the victim's chest with any sort of force, ruling it out as a murder weapon]].
* Subverted again in the second case of ''VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorneySpiritOfJustice''. The prosecution's case is that the defendant murdered the victim with a real sword that had been swapped with a prop one. That turns out to not be the case.
* A case in a ''Series/{{CSI}}'' game involves an actress being killed on stage, supposedly by a prop gun. However, there are several inconsistencies: the man in charge of all props made the bullets and loaded them himself; the actress firing the prop weapon never actually pointed at the murder victim. It turns out the killer was the dead woman's husband, who found out that she was having an affair with the [[LesYay other actress]]. He fired a rifle from a balcony at the moment the prop gun was to go off.
* In the bonus chapter of ''Mystery Trackers 7: Blackrow's Secret'' it's revealed that director Alfred Richardson was in unrequited love with actress Emily Lockwood. Growing frustrated with her refusal of his advances, he switched the prop revolver with a real one, resulting in the fatal shooting of her fiance Jeffrey Dean.
* In one mission in VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood, [[BigBad Cesare]] plans to have his [[TheDragon Dragon]] kill an actor who is having an relationship with his sister by using a real spear instead of a fake one to kill him during a play. Ezio and his assassins take the place of the actors and stop the plan.
* In ''VideoGame/HotlineMiami2WrongNumber'', at the end of the mission "Final Cut" an actor playing a serial killer is peppered with shots by the actress playing his victim. It's then heavily implied that the gun was real (somehow) and the actor has really died, as he doesn't get up once the filming finishes.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* [[InvertedTrope Inversion]]: In ''Webcomic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja'', Gordito's father is killed during his gunslinger circus act because [[spoiler: PETA]] ''[[ItMakesSenseInContext sabotaged his guns before the performance.]]'' Had the [[spoiler: PETA]] assassin UNLOADED Gordito's father's guns, the veteran shooter would have noticed the weight difference and presumably halted the act or loaded them. He sabotaged the guns so they were fully loaded, but were incapable of firing.
** Played with, since [[spoiler: Gordito originally believed that he accidentally killed his father by forgetting to load his gun, and made up the story about PETA in order to sound badass. But then it turns out that PETA really ''did'' sabotage his father's gun, and he didn't notice for the reasons listed above.]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* The WesternAnimation/BugsBunny and WesternAnimation/DaffyDuck cartoon "People Are Bunny" ends with a passel of hunters in a TV studio opening fire on Daffy. Bugs assures us that they always shoot blanks on TV. Daffy shows up afterwards, his bill swiss-cheesed as he spits out a huge pile of lead shot.
-->'''Daffy:''' "Blanks," he says. Here. Have a handful of blanks! (''tosses them in the air'') Sheesh!

[[folder:Real Life]]
* While performing a suicide scene in a production of ''Mary Stuart'' by Friedrich Schiller in Vienna, [[https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/dec/11/actor-slits-throat actor Daniel Hoevels]] accidentally slit his own neck, as the theatre company's order for the originally sharp knife to be dulled for the stage was overlooked; it is unknown whether this was negligence or a conspiracy. The wound was almost fatal, but Hoevels quickly returned to the stage after an emergency treatment in the hospital.