Someone is attempting to kill their spouse (or already has), either to collect on life insurance, because the voices in their head
told them to do it, or for some other reason. Maybe they're really a serial killer who marries their victims and then offs them in succession
. Or maybe Divorce Requires Death
in this setting.
Most often the couple is newly wed, and the unfortunate victim usually won't suspect a thing until after the wedding, when things start to take a turn for the disturbing.
Compare The Bluebeard
and Black Widow
, who do this over and over again.
A common parody is to have the protagonist think
his spouse is trying to do this, often with several Stab The Salad
- Played with in The Batman Adventures #16, where the Joker starts reciprocating Harley Quinn's affections, and even proposes to her — just after she receives a letter informing her she's inherited a fortune. The twist is that the letter is a fake, which Harley sent herself; she's Genre Savvy enough to realise it will cause the Joker to marry and murder her, but mad enough to believe that if she reveals the truth once they're married, he'll have no reason to murder her and they'll live happily ever after.
- The really messed up part? Harley was RIGHT. In the closest thing the Joker gets to a "sweet" moment, he finds it incredibly romantic that Harley went to such lengths and agrees to marry her anyway. Then Batman punches him in the face. "You hit a man while he's in love? That's fighting dirty!"
- Happens in the MSTed film The Screaming Skull with the husband trying to murder his new wife, just like he did to the old one.
- In So I Married an Axe Murderer Mike Meyers thinks his new wife is one of these.
- Humperdinck plans this in The Princess Bride to give him an excuse to invade the neighboring country.
- The Alfred Hitchcock movie Suspicion focuses on a woman who is frightened that her husband killed his friend and is trying to kill her. Turns out he didn't, and he isn't.
- A good chunk of Mr. and Mrs. Smith involves the titular couple trying to kill one another.
- Katherine's plan in Son of Dracula is to marry Dracula, and kill him after he has turned her into a vampire.
- Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet: The backstory of the mysterious villain Gardener says that he married a wealthy lady, "The Apple King"'s widow. The visuals imply that they married too soon after his death. The Gardener devoted his green thumb skills to fruit-growing, and then killed his wife, being her sole heir.
- There is a short story by Robert Sheckley (I think it is called "Trap"), where an alien sends a few animals and then his spouse through a teleporter disguised as an animal trap. He was tired of his wife, but they were married for life.
- A number of Agatha Christie stories used this trope:
- Three of the stories in The Tuesday Club Murders. "A Christmas Tragedy" begins with Miss Marple meeting a young couple, the Sanders at a spa, and stating that the moment she saw them, she knew Mr. Sanders planned to murder his wife. He does, despite Miss Marple's best efforts to stop him.. This trope also appears in "The Tuesday Night Club" and "The Blood-Stained Pavement".
- 4:15 From Paddington includes the Divorce Requires Death variant.
- Death on the Nile.
- Murder in Mesopotamia.
- "The Triangle at Rhodes."
- The killer from Evil Under the Sun has this as part of his backstory, though it isn't the case for the main murder.
- Julia Valerian poisons her abusive second husband in A Voice in the Wind.#
- Despite the reader being led to believe otherwise, Jon Arryn's death in A Song of Ice and Fire is this.
- Taken to an extreme degree in Monk, and somewhat less so in Psych, where pretty much every other mystery ends with someone trying to kill their spouse, oft times with little reason beyond just wanting to do it. The worst example was that one time in Monk where the husband found a suicide note his wife wrote years ago, and decided to kill his wife simply because he realized he could with no risk.
- Actually he was having an affair and she also had a bit of money he would not have been able to get at if he simply divorced her.
- There was also that time the foreign diplomat was killed. Political Assassination? Someone trying to start an international incident? Nah, he picked up some guy's jacket by accident, and the guy killed him so that he could retrieve the evidence that he killed his wife, which was in the jacket.
- One episode of Psych had both spouses kill each other. The wife caused the husband to be electrocuted by a microphone after finding out he was having an affair, while she died from poisoning at his funeral. They were married for almost ten years and the husband wanted a divorce, but didn't want to lose half of his money, so he poisoned his wife's powdered health shake mix. Since she was bulimic, it took longer than he expected for her to die.
- This is a staple of many shows on the Investigation Discovery channel.
- This is what some of the women in the "Cell Block Tango" of Chicago are guilty of. The innocent one was framed for murdering a guest, and two killed lovers they weren't married to, but one killed an overly jealous husband who accused her of cheating, one killed her husband and her sister for actually cheating, and one killed her husband for chewing...no, not chewing, POPPING! gum.
- Variant in Final Fantasy X: Yuna marries Seymour as part of a ploy to get him Sent (the only way to kill someone off for good in that 'verse), she figures he'll be too... "distracted" to put a stop to her until it's too late. And Seymour himself is marrying Yuna as part of a ploy to get her to become attached to him, as he knows that only The Power of Love can kill Sin, and thus, once he gets Yuna to love him, he will become her Final Aeon and become Sin, which will kill Yuna in the process. So, in short, both of them are planning to off the other.
- James in Silent Hill 2 killed his wife, although it was revealed to be a Mercy Kill, as she was suffering from a terminal illness.
- Hitman Blood Money features a mission called "'Til Death Do Us Part" wherein the player must kill the groom at a wedding. It is implied that the bride is the one who called the hit. There are instances where the groom's death will cause her to say "Finally."
- The trope concept was exploited in DuckTales during the episode where Ma Beagle faked a marriage with Scrooge. Scrooge fakes his own death by diving into the money vault, and the servant accused the wife of killing Scrooge for the money. She quickly backpedals about being married, with Scrooge confirming the denial a few seconds later.
- In an episode of The Simpsons, Selma marries Sideshow Bob, who plans to kill her on their wedding night, and then go after his now-nephew Bart. Luckily, Bart is able to convince the family of Bob's intentions, and Selma divorces him.