Spot the Victim
One game played by fans of murder mysteries is to try to spot the victim before the murder is shown. This game has been called "Where's Deado?" after the Where's Waldo?
series of books. In many works, this is an easy task because
the creators are making a whodunit and not a whodunin. The detective hero cannot start the job until the crime is established, so the killing is handled perfunctorily.
When the writers take an active part in playing this game with the audience, such as by actively misleading the fans, this becomes Where's Deado: The Trope. It is tricky to do if the corpse is generated in the teaser, but Six Feet Under
managed it on several occasions.
- Midsomer Murders frequently strays into this territory, although often enough it's dispensed with in the pre-credits sequence. The game doesn't end there, though: There are usually multiple murders per episode.
- Frequently happens in the teaser of House M.D., except of course it's more of a "Where's Sicko?".
- They really started playing about with it in the second season, when (for example) a completely incidental character fell past a window in the background, moments after Cuddy was seen coughing, triggering the opening credits. It's about 3 straight openers to every twist, roughly, so you're not expecting the shocks when they arrive.
- Double subverted in a first-season episode. The teaser focuses on a teenage girl in a diving competition. The suspense is built up well as she's about to dive—then she takes the dive, surfaces and smiles, just in time for a spectator to collapse. After the opening credits, we learn that an epidemic has started, but the focus returns to the girl, whose symptoms do not match everyone else.
- Only about half of Law & Order episodes actually fall into this trope. The other half open with a scene of typical New York City life interrupted by the discovery of a body.
- It has been the norm in season 18, however, with only a couple of episodes starting with an already dead victim.
- The book Dead Famous by Ben Elton focuses on police trying to solve a murder that took place on a reality TV show by watching tapes of the show. The identity of the victim is not revealed until the detectives reach that point in the tapes, about two thirds of the way through the book.
- A few episodes of Tru Calling play with this. Although the heroine normally knows whom she is trying to save, there are times when she never sees the victim's face before her day rewinds.
- The episode "Heroes" of Stargate SG-1 hinted constantly that one of the regular cast members was mortally wounded, and teased that it was Colonel O'Neill, complete with a slow-motion shot of the character getting hit with a staff weapon blast. You don't find out till halfway through the second episode in the two-parter that it was actually Dr. Janet Fraser.
- Every episode of the Ellery Queen TV series begins with an announcement that "one of these people is going to die...", facilitating the game.