Playing With / Calling Card

Basic Trope: A serial criminal always leaves a signature clue to identify their handiwork.
  • Straight: Alex leaves a card saying "the victim is infected" for every victim infected by his virus creation.
  • Exaggerated: Alex arranges the entire crime scene the same way each time, complete with artistic lighting.
  • Downplayed: Alex merely leaves a footprint behind.
  • Justified: Alex has Super OCD, which compels him to leave something behind.
  • Inverted:
    • Bob the Cowboy Cop-turned-Vigilante Man brands each criminal he puts away with his (former) badge number. It's flagrant Police Brutality, but dammit, he gets results!
    • Alex goes to such unrealistically over-the-top lengths to make his every crime look like a completely different M.O. that they become distinctive in a whole new way. "He was nibbled to death by a flock of rabid hamsters? Sounds like The Randomer's work..."
  • Subverted: Alex leaves a card behind that turns out to be blank.
  • Double Subverted: ... which says "the victim is infected" in invisible ink.
  • Parodied: Alex leaves a copy of his photographic ID, birth certificate and last bank statement at the scene of each crime, along with a cheek swab and a labelled & dusted fingerprint. The police are baffled.
  • Zig Zagged: Sometimes Alex leaves a card, sometimes he doesn't.
  • Averted: Alex always commits The Perfect Crime, leaving no evidence behind whatsoever.
  • Enforced: "But if the villain doesn't leave something behind, how will the hero get his first clue?"
  • Lampshaded: "How convenient of Alex to just leave a clue here..."
  • Invoked: In a press conference, the police (entirely stumped for clues) insinuate that the killer must be too chicken to leave a calling card.
  • Exploited: Alex leaves conspicuous Calling Card clues at each of his crimes... except the particular ones he doesn't want the police to connect to the others. He gets a copycat to continue his distinctive MO after he's put away, throwing doubt on his conviction.
  • Defied: Alex knows that leaving something behind would just be aiding his capture, so he doesn't leave anything behind.
  • Discussed: "We've found a body. Jenkins, secure the perimeter. Thompson, start looking for extravagant clues that might link this crime to known villains."
  • Conversed: "You ever wonder why villains keep leaving some sort of item behind wherever they go?"
  • Deconstructed: Alex is immediately arrested.
  • Reconstructed: There is not enough evidence to convict at first - the calling card could easily be used by an imitator. The authorities are forced to find more information (or not) before they can try to have Alex incarcerated.

Back to Calling Card
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