In a World
in which Start to Corpse
is a statistic vital to drinking games
around the globe, it is necessary to have a Victim of the Week
. No victim, no corpse. No corpse, no drinking.
Even if you are not going to kill the victim
, you still need one. Bad guys need to be bad to a person, and when a villain Kicks the Dog
needs to take the role of the poor dog in question. Your hero is not going to look very heroic if he just runs around arresting people for stuff like abuse-of-lawnchair. It is important to establish that the lawnchair was being kept by a saintly old widow as a fond reminder of her beloved, deceased husband. The bereaved widow is now bereft of her lawnchair and is inconsolable. Justice must be done. This lawnchair abuser is going down!
Did we say "lawnchair abuser?" Lawnchair terrorist
, more like! Pickin' on little old ladies...
The point being that, due to the compressing nature of having only 42 minutes to do the whole thing, a writer has to find a "sympathy" gong for the victim early and hit it hard. Sometimes subtlety may have to go by the wayside.
Common in series that use Monster of the Week
or Mystery of the Week
It should be noted that often in Mystery of the Week
shows, the Victim of the Week
is not sympathetic at all
. This is due to the fact that there need to be enough suspects wanting the person dead.
If it always seems to be the same person that fills this role (in a non-fatal way, obviously*
), then it's a Designated Victim
If the character is the point-of-view character in the opening, you have Intro Only Point Of View
Compare Patient of the Week
. See also Woobie of the Week
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Anime & Manga
- Detective Conan. Even when it's not a murder (which is rare), there's always a kidnapping or robbery (usually leading to murder).
- If you're in the Inu Yasha universe, you better pray that your occupation isn't "Random Villager." If it is, chances are you're going to have your soul stolen, get aged rapidly, eaten, decapitated, torn to shreds, ritualistically sacrificed or used as a human shield.
- In Blood-C this is taken to a new extreme with almost each episode, going from a single, unnamed character dying rather quickly to several main characters dying in a single episode.
- See almost any episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- And most episodes of Supernatural.
- Also the very premise of Angel, who relies on the victim to come and seek his help (or to appear in visions).
- Criminal Minds usually has someone, be it a young woman, or a whole family, or a couple, or even one of the agents being tortured or in some other way brought close to death by the Monster of the Week ("monster" here meaning "psychopathic killer") and the BAU tracking down the killer and saving them in the nick of time...unless the plot calls for something otherwise.
- Most Law & Order spinoffs, particularly Criminal Intent, which starts off with the crime.
- Although a few SVU victims fall into the "aren't dead" category.
- And, of course... CSI: Crime Scene Investigation.
- NCIS, obviously (although not always dead victims).
- Cold Case also has a victim of the week, but tends to focus on them much more than other shows of its genre.
- Castle features a victim of the week - as is common for any crime procedural or mystery genre show.
- See every last episode of Six Feet Under.
- Murder, She Wrote
- Gunsmoke. At least one commentator has noted that, in the real-life wild-frontier Dodge City, there wouldn't have been enough murders over the course of a few decades to account for one season of Gunsmoke.
- Raines is an interesting case, as he is a homicide detective who would hallucinate the Victim of the Week.
- Every episode of Pushing Daisies with the twist that Ned can raise the dead for a minute and thus can question the week's murder victim. Not that they're always all that helpful.
- Harper's Island's entire premise is that there is at least one victim every week.
- Most episodes of Dexter follow the titular character around as he dispatches the victim of the week.
- Almost any episode of any series of Kamen Rider.
- 666 Park Avenue: So far, every episode's had at least one.
- In The Conditions Of Great Detectives every episode involves at least one death.
- Ellery Queen
- The Ace Attorney series. In all of 'em, somebody's gotta get whacked for there to be an intriguing murder case.
- Subverted in 3-2, where the case in question is actually a theft. Then played straight when a murder actually does occur.
- Similarly, Investigations has a case involving a kidnapping. Not only does a murder occur, but the kidnap is revealed to have been staged.
- Superjail!: In nearly every episode, some inmates do wind up dead partly at the hands of the Warden. Hell, Lord Stingray's wife Mistress Kilda is murdered in "Lord Stingray Crash Party" by Alice.
Victims Who Aren't Dead
Anime & Manga
- Many Magical Girl shows use the less fatal variety of this.
- Sailor Moon is a primary offender: every week a new character with a backstory, an example of how the victim is better than Usagi, and a pure heart to exploit (or whatever the MacGuffin happens to be for that season).
- Ojamajo Doremi uses this about half the time, with the victims mostly chosen from the Ojamajos' classmates and family. Notably, there are Victims but no Monsters Of The Week; the problems are all emotional ones in which the Ojamajos really have no business interfering.
- Shugo Chara! does this as well. In just about any episode not dealing with the main villains or overall story, you can count on seeing a kid with an emotional issue or unfulfilled problem, resulting in their Heart's Egg being X'd or ?'d and then cleansed by Amu.
- Heartcatch Pretty Cure has kids with wilting Heart Flowers turned into Destorians (and then combined with an inanimate object to become a Monster of the Week) who the Cures need to purify. Notably, both Erika and Itsuki were Victims who then became magical girls themselves.
- Being a deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs, Muteki Kanban Musume subverts this trope because the various non-fatal victims of the week that we met at the series are regulars in her Debut Queue (they will not solve their problems) or people who will solve their problems themselves, despite the help the protagonist gives.
- Enma Ai, the Hell Girl, frequently deals with victims of this type, who have often suffered horribly at the hands of the tormentors that they want sent to Hell.
- On Burn Notice, the Victim of the Week always gets a caption that says "(Victim Name): THE CLIENT".
- The clients in Leverage fall into this category, too.
- "If you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire... The A-Team."
- Michael Knight of Knight Rider, as stated in the Series Bible, helps a different person (usually a woman) who is being messed with by bad guys every week.
- Robin Hood has a guest-star in every episode that Robin has to help; usually an oppressed peasant. In the third season, the show gained a Designated Victim in the form of Kate.
- A couple of Kamen Rider series have Monsters of the Week spawn from regular humans, which brings in a Victim of the Week aspect:
- In Kamen Rider Den-O, the monsters are Jerkass Genies who distort peoples' wishes (which are, with perhaps two exceptions, well-intentioned or merely misguided. The Hero, a very compassionate young man, makes helping the Victims as much a priority as fighting the monsters.
- In Kamen Rider OOO, the villains take normal if flawed humans and use their impure desires to make the monsters.
- In Kamen Rider Fourze, the Victims make a Deal with the Devil because they have reasons for wanting power (the first two are resentful towards the school's Jerk Jock and Alpha Bitch). One of the series' central themes is friendship, so the Victims are inevitably forgiven and befriended by Fourze and his team.
- Kamen Rider Double has Clients of the Fortnight, as the protagonists operate a detective agency and often the Monster will be the source of their problems.
- In Kamen Rider Wizard, Victims are known as "Gates," humans with high magical potential. The Monsters of the Week, Phantoms, are born from inside the Gates when said Gate reaches the Despair Event Horizon, giving birth to the Phantom while killing the Gate.
- The Fall Guy had Stuntman/Bounty Hunter Colt Seavers help out various people in trouble in every episode, with help from his cousin Howie.
- About half the time on Person of Interest, the titular person is someone who is going to be the victim of a violent crime and the protagonists have to intervene before that happens (the rest of the time, the person is someone who's going to commit a crime and they need to figure out who the victim is).
- For the Ace Attorney series, in addition to the dead victim in each case, there's also a falsely accused defendant whose name you have to clear.