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.
    • The calling card is accidental on Alex's part: like leaving pollen from the military complex he lives in.
  • 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.

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