->'''Frank Bigelow''': I'd like to report a murder.\\
'''Captain''': Sit down. Where was this murder committed?\\
'''Frank Bigelow''': UsefulNotes/SanFrancisco, last night.\\
'''Captain''': Who was murdered?\\
'''Frank Bigelow''': I was.
--> --''Film/{{DOA}}''

The protagonist has been murdered and is either [[DeadToBeginWith dead]] or [[YourDaysAreNumbered soon will be]]. The rest of the story concerns their efforts to solve the crime [[LivingOnBorrowedTime in the time they have left]]. A subplot can also be their trying to protect a loved one from the killer who did them in. This can be supernatural or non-supernatural depending on whether the protagonist is already dead or dying slowly but inevitably. If he or she is already dead, may involve NearDeathClairvoyance, otherwise may be considered a form of DeathByOriginStory.

A common science-fictional version involves characters who have the ability to back themselves up, through BrainUploading or some similar technology. This is often used as a way to get around the issue that most victims know who murdered them: the version of the character that's trying to solve the murder is only as up-to-date as their most recent backup, which means they naturally have no memory of the murder or anything immediately before it.

!!'''As a DeathTrope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.'''


[[folder:Already Dead]]

* Lia in ''Anime/LeChevalierDEon'', who possesses her living younger brother to find out who murdered her.

* The ''ShadeTheChangingMan'' story arc 'The Road' becomes an inverse murder mystery.
* This was the whole idea behind the DC Comics character Comicbook/{{Deadman}}, who died in his first story - and became a superhero as a result, fighting crime in spirit-form while investigating his own death. At one point, it looked like his killer was Joe Chill, the same thug who had murdered Franchise/{{Batman}}'s parents.
* This was part of the title character's original motivation in ''ComicBook/{{Ghost}}'' from Creator/DarkHorseComics.
* [[CuteGhostGirl Emily]] from ''ComicBook/AnyasGhost'' wants to find the man that killed her family. Subverted later, where it's revealed there was no murderer. Aside from [[{{Yandere}} Emily]], of course.
* In the original graphic novel ''Film/{{RIPD}}'' this was Nick's motivation for joining the R.I.P.D.

* ''Film/TheCrow''
* Roger Mortis's (Treat Williams) goal in ''Film/DeadHeat''. Note that he's a cop who was investigating the bad guys ''before'' he's killed; becoming a zombie just lets him see the case through till the end.
* ''Film/{{Ghost}}''
* The '50s movie, ''Film/YouNeverCanTell'' tells the story of a murdered dog who was sent back by 'dog heaven' as a human to investigate his own murder.
* The movie ''Film/OhHeavenlyDog'' reverses this, sending back a murdered human in dog form to investigate his death.
* In ''Franchise/RoboCop'', both versions, Alex Murphy tracks down the criminals who all but killed him.

* ''Remember Me'', a novel by Creator/ChristopherPike. Shari begins the novel already dead. She was killed at a party, and being a ghost she must figure out which one of her friends killed her.
* The novel ''Never Trust A Dead Man'' pairs this with ClearMyName and EnemyMine: the protagonist, Selwyn, is forced to cooperate with his murdered [[TheRival rival]] (who has been brought back from the dead in the form of a bat) to find the real murderer and clear Selwyn's name.
* ''[[Literature/NineTailFox 9Tail Fox]]'' by Jon Courtenay Grimwood involves a police officer who was shot from behind and resurrected in another man's body by the Celestial Fox.
* ''Ghost Story'', Book 13 of ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'', has this as its plot, with a ghostly Harry Dresden trying to find out who killed him, and the more important question of who ordered it done. As it turns out, the answer is...[[MemoryGambit Harry Dresden]]. Also, [[AnAstralProjectionNotAGhost he's not exactly dead]]...
* James Herbert's ''Nobody True'' is told from the POV of a ghost seeking his killer ... who can astrally project to oppose him.
* The zombie-PI protagonist of KevinJAnderson's ''Death Warmed Over'' investigates his own murder along with several others. He mentions that a number of ghosts or other zombies have hired him to solve their murders.
* ''Literature/TheVampireFiles'' starts with protagonist Jack Flemming waking up just after his death, and he spends the first novel ''Bloodlist'' figuring out who killed him and why.

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* One episode of ''Series/{{CSI}}'' has the corpses of murder victims talking about their murders (as the [=CSIs=] solve the cases).
** When Jimmy investigates a death at his high school reunion, the victim's corpse nags him about his methods in the autopsy room.
* The first episode of ''Series/RandallAndHopkirkDeceased'' - original and remake.
* ''Series/{{Torchwood}}'': "Random Shoes". Eugene's ghost follows the Torchwood crew around as they investigate his death. He manages to appear briefly to his family before [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence]].
* An episode of ''BloodTies'' has Vicki's old friend from the police department ask her to solve his murder... before walking through a closed door. It turns out she's the only one who can see him due to her experience in the pilot. Even [[FriendlyNeighborhoodVampire Henry]] can't see him. When they try to find out who killed an undercover officer, they see his body walk around like nothing happened. Their resident occult expert finds out that he his body has been taken over by a creature that quickly burns out its hosts before moving on to a new host. They manage to expel and destroy the creature, but the body has been already too burned out, and the guy dies a few minutes later.

* Edith, in Season 6 of ''Radio/OldHarrysGame'' agrees to write Satan's biography in exchange for Satan investigating her murder.

* Ratik Ubel, an NPC revenant from ''TabletopGame/{{Ravenloft}}'', has been acting out this trope for years. Normally a D&D revenant exists just long enough to eliminate its killer, but Ubel never saw his murderer's face and has been relentlessly pursuing one lead after another, seeking whichever of his (many) old enemies was responsible.

* ''Videogame/SoulSuspect'', which is basically ''VideoGame/LANoire'' [[AC:[[RecycledInSpace as a ghost]]]].
* ''VideoGame/ShadowOfDestiny'', although he's trying to reverse his death as well.
* The Flash adventure game ''[[http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/173654 The Dead Case]]''
* ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou'' Most of the plot of Joshua's week was about Neku trying to figure this out. By the end of game it becomes clear that this was becuase Joshua himself was the murderer.
* Sissel's motivation as the eponymous ghost in ''[[VideoGame/GhostTrick Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective]]'' is not only to find his killer, but to find out who he is in the first place.
* The eponymous character of the PC game ''VideoGame/GhostInTheSheet'' starts the game by getting run over by a bus. He's not quite satisfied with the "it was an accident" theory, but he has to put it on the back burner in favor of the job his new boss has given him. At the end it's revealed that his boss arranged for it to happen for reasons that aren't clear (at least, not clear as to why GITS specifically) but appear to revolve around a need for a lackey of some kind.
* VideoGame/{{Sonny}}, from the flash game series of the same name, died prior to the first game's start. He cannot remember what happened to him or anything about his life prior death, and wonders who resurrected him and why.
* ''Why Am I Dead?'' features the ability to possess people in order to investigate the main character's death.

[[AC:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/SlightlyDamned'' begins with Rhea already in purgatory, ready to be judged, with no idea how she got there. [[BackFromTheDead She got better]], and there's only so many places that her killer can be...
* {...} in ''Webcomic/HannaIsNotABoysName'' has been dead for a while now, and recently been shown that he was murdered. He doesn't actively pursue his killer [[LaserGuidedAmnesia (he doesn't like to dwell on the past)]], but the point stands that {...} died, he came back and his killer is still presumably at large. He may not care [[WhodunnitToMe whodunnit]], but the readers and other cast members seem to.
* [[http://www.missmab.com/Demo/undead.php Rachel-Rebecca the Third]] from ''[[Webcomic/DanAndMabsFurryAdventures DMFA]]'' was a law school student who got murdered. After getting reanimated, she got her own murderer convicted and went on to establish legal rights for TheUndead.
* ''SaturdayMorningBreakfastCereal'' once [[http://www.smbc-comics.com/index.php?db=comics&id=297 pointed out]] one of problems with vengeful ghosts.
* In ''Webcomic/NoSongsForTheDead'', the main protagonist Hector wakes up to find himself undead and unable to remember anything about what happened to him or his identity. The story revolves more around Hector trying to figure out his past and why he is now back, than his death.
* One of the character's in the cyclist webcomic ''YehudaMoonAndTheKickstandCyclery'' is the dead previous owner of the cyclist shop, killed by car driver shortly before the start of the series, he seems to have a somewhat physical manifestation and seems to be unable to move to the next world unless his dead is resolved.


[[folder:Not Dead Yet]]

* ''Film/{{Crank}}'': Chelios doesn't need to figure out ''who'' poisoned him, as the culprit leaves him a gloating video that admits and even shows the act. Rather, he needs to track him down for revenge.
* ''Film/{{DOA}}'', both the 1950 original and the 1988 "remake".
* Played with in ''Film/DeadMan''. The protagonist William Blake receives a gunshot wound to the chest that is slowly killing him, although he doesn't realize it.
-->Nobody: Did you kill the man who killed you?
-->Blake: I'm not dead.

* A story in ''Creator/AlfredHitchcock's Mystery Magazine'' involving a man who is shot, and has a near death experience. While still in the hospital, he tries to figure out who did it, and does. There's one more dangerous surgery to be done to get the bullet out, and the story ends with him saying "[[BolivianArmyEnding I'm ready.]]"
* In Creator/GKChesterton's short story "The Resurrection of Literature/FatherBrown", the titular priestly detective is supposedly murdered and is just about to be buried before he wakes up in his coffin. It turns out he was fed a poison which caused him to go into a coma almost resembling death. The remainder of the short story concerns Father Brown's efforts to discover who did this to him.
* According to ''Literature/MoreInformationThanYouRequire'', ninth US president UsefulNotes/WilliamHenryHarrison was given a slow-acting poison at his inauguration that would kill him in thirty days, and told he would be given the antidote if he could figure out who poisoned him. As the book puts it, "Harrison was a great Indian-killer, but not much of a sleuth".

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/{{NCIS}}'':
** "Dead Man Walking". GenreSavvy Tony makes a comparison by name to ''DOA''.
** Also when Tony gets pneumonic plague.
** ''Series/NCISNewOrleans'' used this as well in "The Walking Dead". A naval psychiatrist collapses and is found to have been poisoned with polonium-210 two weeks earlier, and he will be dead in another two weeks.
* ''Series/HomicideLifeOnTheStreet'', episode "Subway".
* ''Series/StarskyAndHutch'', episode "A Coffin for Starsky".
* An early ''Series/CSIMiami'' was about a woman who was poisoned with radioactive materials by a CorruptCorporateExecutive ([[RedHerring or rather]] a level employee who she seduced to get information) because she happened to be the lawyer working the joint lawsuit against their illegal dumping practices.
* Used in ''Series/{{CSI}}'', when an attorney who'd been working with Sarah informs her that she won't be able to finish the case because the bullet lodged in her cranium from a previous crime has shifted inside the skull and will soon kill her. Subverted when, against all expectation, she survives the surgery to remove the bullet, which subsequently proves that she'd been shot while in the process of murdering her husband.
* The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Litvinenko Alexander Litvinenko]] case was apparently RippedFromTheHeadlines in ''Series/LawAndOrderCriminalIntent''. Litvenenko is actually mentioned by name.
** A similar, earlier case in which a fight between two Northern European naval personnel ended with one pinning the other with a piece of equipment that discharged a radioactive field, and firing. It was reported that prosecutors were faced with the difficulty of how to press charges, because a fatal dose was delivered, but murder charges could not be pressed because it would take years for the victim to die.
* The ''Series/{{Monk}}'' series finale: Monk is poisoned. They find the culprit fairly quickly, but need the poison. Monk still has a chance to live.
* In the ''Series/PersonOfInterest'' episode "In Extremis", Dr Nelson has been poisoned with polonium that will kill him within a day.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' had this as a significant plot point throughout Series 6, with the Doctor being "killed" in Utah in the first episode and having to find out who and why he was murdered, and the threads of it carried over into Series 7, as The Doctor now knew WHO did it, but was still trying to figure out the specifics of WHY. Season 7 left some fans puzzling as to whether or not they'd had [[ChrisCarterEffect all the explanation they were going to get]], although [[DoctorWho2013CSTheTimeOfTheDoctor ''Time Of The Doctor'']] appears to have set things straight.
* In the ''Series/StarCops'' episode "Conversations with the Dead", a space freighter is knocked off course, with no way of reaching safety or being reached by rescuers before its oxygen supplies give out. The crew of the freighter interact with the cops investigating the incident by radio.
* The short-lived ''Series/{{Timecop}}'' series had "D.O.A.", where Jack and his boss Matuzek are suddenly killed at night by a car bomb in their headquarters' parking lot. Hemmings uses the time travel equipment to go back to that morning and warn Jack of his impending demise. Jack spends the rest of the episode rushing to put the pieces together, while Matuzek (though trying to help) treats it as his last day alive and takes care of family business. They actually fail to solve the case and appear ready to follow through with history, but their investigation changed things enough to prevent the explosive from being planted. Jack later figures out the culprit was someone he met that day and saves Matuzek from being gunned down in an alley.
** Jack also thought he was the target due to Timecop-related business, but it turned out to be Matuzek due to "ordinary cop" business (even though the culprit knew about time travel).
* ''Series/{{Castle}}'': In the two-part seaon 6 opener, Rick is exposed to a nerve gas and given 24 hours to live. He and Beckett use the time to attempt to locate the perpetrators and recover the gas and (hopefully) the antidote.
* ''Series/WhodunnitUK'': In "Happy New Year", the VictimOfTheWeek is bitten by a venomous snake. Knowing he has 30 minutes to live, he uses the time to question the suspects.

[[AC:Video Game]]
* The Flash game ''[[http://armorgames.com/play/4966/sixty-seconds-to-live Sixty Seconds To Live]]''. The title is fairly self-explanatory here.
* In ''VideoGame/MysteryCaseFiles: Madame Fate'', the fortune teller Madame Fate wants to find out which of her workers is plotting her death at the stroke of midnight. The answer? It's none of them as they are all found to be dead/doomed by midnight. The answer is the ghost of Charles Dalimar, the Big Bad of the series, who only gets involved ''because'' Madame Fate went to the Master Detective for help.

[[folder:Restored From Backup]]

* ''WhoCensoredRogerRabbit''. Unlike ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit'', Roger is dead, and his doppelganger (a temporary copy of himself) goes to Eddie to find out who iced the original.
* ''Literature/DownAndOutInTheMagicKingdom''
* ''VisualNovel/UminekoNoNakuKoroNi'' has the detective challenged by a witch to solve his own deaths (plural.) If he can't find a rational explanation for his impossible murder, the witch will eat him alive.
** Drawn to an epic MindScrew at the end of Umineko Ep4 with this gem:
--->'''Beatrice''': "[[color:red:Battler Ushiromiya, at this time, I will kill you. And right now, there is no one on the island other than you. The only one alive on this island is you. Nothing outside the island can interfere in any way. And of course, I am not you. However, I am here now and will kill you.]]"
--->'''Battler''': "[...]So?"
--->'''Beatrice''': ".........Who...aaam I...?"
** Especially since it is said in red ([[LanguageOfTruth which means it must be true]]) and that he (and the reader) is supposed to figure who that person is.
* The whole point of ''VisualNovel/HigurashiNoNakuKoroNi'' is Rika finding out who kills her every June, and consequently destroys the town.
* ''To Live Again'', novel by Creator/RobertSilverberg
* ''Literature/AlteredCarbon'' by Creator/RichardKMorgan is a FilmNoir style thriller, with an investigator hired by the restored backup of an apparent suicide. The victim does not believe that he could have possibly wanted to kill himself; indeed it would be futile given that he was backed up and brought back to life in under 48 hours and instead believes he was murdered and demands justice.
* A story by Jack Vance has the main character kill someone who has discovered his real identity. The backup of the person spends the rest of the book screwing him over while trying to prove that he killed them the first time.
* Count Sessine from ''Feersum Endjinn'' by [[Creator/IainBanks Iain M. Banks]].
* The cybrid Johnny from the ''Literature/HyperionCantos''. He is essentially a cloned human body through which an AI interacts with the real world. Killing the body didn't destroy the AI, but before the backup could be brought online, someone deleted several days' worth of its memories.
* The Creator/JohnVarley short story, "[[Literature/EightWorlds The Phantom of Kansas]]", opens with the protagonist awakening and discovering that this is the ''third'' time she's been restored from backup. The original, and the two previous backups, have all been killed.
* ''Voice of the Whirlwind'' by Walter Jon Williams.

[[AC:Live-Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/{{Dollhouse}}'' episode "Haunted", Echo gets the personality of a recently dead woman who wants to solve her own murder.
* ''Series/PushingDaisies'', in the pilot.
* ''Series/WhodunnitUK'': In "Future Imperfect", the VictimOfTheWeek is brought back from the dead by having a robot redirect its 'life force' through him. He solves his own murder but is then killed again by a second attempt before he can announce who done it.

* The ''TabletopGame/TranshumanSpace'' scenario "In The Walls", in the ''Cities on the Edge'' supplement, is about a "ghost" ([[BrainUploading uploaded intelligence]]) who was murdered but restored from backup. He's annoyed about that, but livid that the backup has been tampered with, meaning he has no memories of the past six months.