Series / Whodunnit?
Are you the Killer's most worthy adversary?
"My name... is Giles. And I've been the butler for this... cursed estate, for only a few weeks now. Although I've never met my current employer, It has been painfully made clear that I must follow...murderous orders, for my life is at stake, ...As well as our guest's. In a few moments, 13 strangers will be arriving here to play a game. But, what they don't know is.... The game is murder. "
Made by the creator of CSI
is a murder mystery Reality Show
that premiered June 23, 2013 on ABC
and ended on August 18.
Thirteen contestants are invited to a cursed mansion called Rue Manor. Each week, at least one of them is "killed," and the others must solve the mystery while trying to figure out who among them is the Killer
. After collecting evidence, the contestants stand one at a time in the library and reconstruct the murder as best they can. The person whose theory is farthest from the truth becomes the next victim.
The evidence-collection phase of each episode has two stages. In the first stage, the contestants gather clues by examining the room where the body was found, the body itself in the morgue, or a relevant third location (usually somewhere the victim had been shortly before the murder) — but each contestant may visit only one of the three locations. The second stage is a treasure hunt: the contestants are given a clue which leads to another clue and so on; the first person to follow the chain of clues to its end finds the murder weapon and gains an insight into the murder method — and ends the hunt before anyone else gets to complete it. Thus, it is not possible for any one person to find all the available clues, and strategies for gaining truthful information from other contestants can be key to a successful solution.
The last contestant alive gets to unmask the Killer and wins $250,000.For the long-running British mystery game show, see Whodunnit? (UK)
.For the Pinball game from Bally, click here.
- 13 Is Unlucky:
- There are thirteen contestants to begin with.
- In one episode, a clue in the murder weapon hunt requires contestants to find a flight of thirteen steps that the victim fled down, and the Killer's note says that in this case thirteen was unlucky for the victim.
- Amateur Sleuth: Most of the contestants aren't homicide detectives in real life.
- Annoying Laugh: Lindsey without a doubt. In one congratulatory message the Killer gave her on her performance, they even noted how annoying her laugh was. She hinted in her "post-death" interview that it's why the Killer put an arrow in her throat.
- Art Shift: The murder scenes are shot more cinematically compared to the rest of the show.
- Anyone Can Die: It's a pseudo reality show so, yes, everyone is up for grabs (except the host).
- Artistic License: Let's just say that liberties have been taken when it comes to how most murders worked, starting with more than one instance of a poison working faster than it does in real life and going from there.
- As the Good Book Says...: A riddle in the first episode refers to 2 Kings 13:17, a passage about "shoot through the east window" as a clue to the murder. (The contestants looked at Ezekiel 13:17 first because they missed the "2 Kings" part and that's what the Bible in the house was open to, but it didn't seem to mean anything.)
- At Least I Admit It: Part of Kam's Moral Myopia is his insistently calling the others 'lying backstabbers'; he makes no secret of only being out for himself, and claims the others are hypocrites for wanting to hedge their bets as much as possible.
- Back for the Finale: The Killer "resurrected" their victims in the final episode to run the challenge tasks and congratulate the winner as they exited Rue Manor.
- Big Red Button: One with a bomb on it was on the remote the Killer used to blow a victim up.
- Brats with Slingshots: The first murder weapon.
- Break Them by Talking: Melina, being the last person outside of Kam's alliance still left alive, turned into a complete badass in the next-to-last episode by single-handedly deducing many of the details of Ronnie's murder, just by how well she knew the victim. She then went and confirmed her suspicions by telling the other alliance nearly every single piece of information they knew that she shouldn't, and stunning them into silence.
- Briefcase Full of Money: The winner is presented with one at the end of the finale.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Do NOT let Lindsey's Annoying Laugh and bubbly personality fool you, she's worked as a chemical engineer, she knew Cris was the Killer the whole time, and she came within less than a minute of beating Cam and winning the whole thing.
- The Butler Did It: "You don't think I'm the Killer, do you?" He wasn't. His employment contract, which the players had to read to prove his innocence, stated he wasn't responsible for any murders in Rue Manor.
- Cartoon Bomb: In the death-by-explosion episode, the first clue for the murder weapon hunt arrives in the form of a cartoon-style bomb with fuse fizzing.
- Clueless Detective: The eventual winner proves to be one, as they never correctly identified the Killer at any point in the show - during the finale, they even named Giles as the Killer when prompted, as they'd missed Giles' instructions to Read the Fine Print of the contract they were to get. The win came mainly came from succeeding at primarily-physical challenges, not any kind of deduction. The finalist that did suspect the Killer correctly was killed off due to finishing the challenge last. It just goes to show how the show treated the identity of the Killer as essentially an afterthought.
- The Comically Serious: Giles starts becoming this in the later episodes.
- Condensation Clue: Left on a mirror in the victim's suite during the pilot episode.
- Confession Cam
- Contractual Genre Blindness: The players get this when they've been eliminated and it's time for their death scenes. Glaring example: the third elimination; the player in question knows he's been marked for death, the others are begging him not to go off alone, but he blows them off and leaves anyway.
- Cosmic Plaything: Implied in the books as to why the games are happening: Giles is cursed by the first killer so that whenever job he takes, it turned out to be for/hijacked by a serial killer who sets up a Deadly Game and forces Giles to host for him/her.
- Cowboy Episode: The episode in which the victim dies while horse-riding is stuffed with Western clichés and shout-outs.
- Creator Cameo: The Killer's creepy, mechanical voice in the finale was done by the executive producer, Anthony E. Zuiker. He and fellow producer Cris Abrego — not to be confused with the contestant named Cris — also appeared as the cops who arrested the Killer, who is the contestant Cris.
- Criminal Mind Games
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Many deaths are in this fashion.
- A Death in the Limelight: Getting a lot of screentime can result in this.
- Detective Mole: It's assumed the Killer is sabotaging the investigation. Downplayed, however, as everyone is sabotaging someone else's investigation to avoid being the next victim.
- Double Entendre: At dinner after the sixth case, Giles tells the guests they're all gonna get "lei'd." They're having a luau.
- Disproportionate Retribution: According to their first note, the killer chose their first victim because she dropped a wine glass during the meet-and-greet.
- Dramatic Drop: One victim dramatically drops a bowl of breakfast cereal after receiving a threatening message from the Killer.
- Eliminated From The Race: Players are judged by their ability to accurately determine how each murder took place; those who were furthest off the mark are in danger of being eliminated via becoming the next victim.
- Establishing Series Moment: The death of Sheri around five minutes into the pilot episode sets the morbid tone for the rest of the series.
- Elimination Statement: At the end of each episode after the first, the eliminated player whose "murder" was the focus of that episode delivers an elimination statement from the morgue (or equivalent, as in the case of the victim whose corpse spent the episode up a tree) while wearing their death scene makeup and costume.
- External Combustion: One victim is killed by a car bomb planted in a golf cart.
- The Faceless: The Killer — until The Reveal, of course.
- Face Death with Dignity: Adrianna is considerably calm when she gets Scared for the first time, even saying "If it's my time, it's my time." Sure enough, she's the next victim.
- Failed a Spot Check: Happens on occasion, such as when the players at the morgue missed the wooden splinters in Ulysses' wound. After the seventh case, the killer calls out the final five for missing a great deal of evidence and how it was unacceptable that late into the game, to the point where the idea of a second double murder may be on the table as a result.
- Fair-Play Whodunnit: Somewhat. The audience is presented with all the clues the players find, but each individual player is denied a share of the clues and must share information with others to get what they're missing. And if players miss certain clues entirely (as is the case in some late episodes), not even the audience is informed of them until the murder is explained at the end of the episode.
- Falling Chandelier of Doom: One is dropped following the sixth case, though it's not actually the murder weapon.
- Final Exam Finale
- In one episode's investigation, Cris states that her dad taught her to handle and use guns when the situation ever came where it would be necessary. It becomes clearer when you find out that she's the killer.
- According to the Killer, the luau murder was originally going to involve them strangling the victim with their kukui nut lei, but since the victim didn't wear the lei to the luau, the Killer had to kill them another way. In the finale, Melina is strangled and killed with the same lei.
- Gilded Cage: Rue Manor. Not even the staff can leave its grounds — Giles reveals to the survivors at the start of the second episode that he's got an ankle bracelet that prevents this.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Cris' Catch Phrase is, "Son of a biscuit!"
- A God Am I: The Killer refers to the contestants as "mortals." Not a good sign.
- Hollywood Silencer: One of the murders is committed with a silenced handgun while the other contestants are only a few feet away. It's treated as entirely reasonable that none of them heard a thing.
- Hope Spot:
- At the third case's end, it seems the two potential targets are gonna see another day... Then Don goes to cook his steak, and a mountain lion is released from a hidden passage...
- Following the sixth case, Giles announces that the Killer has told him that nobody is going to die that night. Unfortunately for the victim, this was because the Killer intended to strike at 12:01 the next morning.
- Hurricane of Puns: Giles and the Killer love to make puns based on the murder the players are investigating.
- After Dontae was killed by burning, the episode was filled with fire puns up to and including "Dontae's inferno."
- Ulysses was offed using "finishing" nails.
- As Geno makes a toast, he becomes "toast".
- A slew of acting/award puns were used when describing the deaths of Sasha and Dana.
- Hysterical Woman: Some of the contestants, particularly Melina and Dana, get really emotional during the Spared or Scared ceremonies. At times they appear to have forgotten that they are playing a game, and seem to actually think they're going to be murdered.
- I Did What I Had to Do: Ronnie justifies his betrayal of Geno, which ended in his death this way.
- I'd Tell You, but Then I'd Have to Kill You: Remarking on the public response to the series while introducing the season finale, Giles mentions that some viewers have asked if the failed contestants were really murdered. The Killer would be able to tell you, Giles says, but then he — or she — would have to kill you.
- I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Kam. Big time.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: Lampshaded in the first episode, when one of the contestants compliments the Killer in making a heck of a shot in their first murder: yards away, through an open window, hitting square in the back of the neck, and with a slingshot.
- Impromptu Tracheotomy: The final victim of season one took an arrow to the throat.
- Improvised Weapon:
- The murder weapon in the fifth case was a simple 2x4 pulled from the floor of an abandoned hut with a pair of nails coated in poison nailed into it.
- One also would have been used for the "luau" death — two rings fastened onto the ends of a kukui nut necklace; in the Killer's own words, a homemade choking device — but the intended victim went off track and forced the Killer to use an actual weapon. The Killer made sure to use it in a later murder for good measure.
- Instant Sedation: In one episode, the Killer used the traditional chloroform-soaked rag to subdue the victim. And the other victim.
- Jack-of-All-Trades: The Killer demonstrates skill with a wide variety of weapons and devices.
- Jerkass: Kam, particularly when he hopes that Sasha is the next one murdered even when he isn't also Scared, meaning he just wants her gone for the hell of it. His gloating after her demise just makes him look even worse.
- Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: As abrasive as Kam was, when he was approached by the opposing team to betray his own at Ulysses and Lindsey's expense, he refused to keep information from them, which would later result in him being scared instead of their primary target, Lindsey. Also, when his closest ally, Ulysses, was nominated alongside him, he seemed genuinely saddened that Ulysses would have to be eliminated if he wanted to continue in the game. Kam was never willing to betray his team, leading to its members being the final three contestants in the game.
- Large Ham: Giles. Melina also has her moments.
- The Jeeves: Giles the butler.
- Lights Off, Somebody Dies: During the luau at the end of the sixth case. When the lights came back on, everyone saw that Geno had been crushed by a chandelier.
- Linked List Clue Methodology: The murder weapon hunts.
- Man Hug: The winner and Giles in the finale.
- Man on Fire: How the first eliminated player "died".
- The Mole: The Killer is one of the contestants.
- Moral Myopia:
- After a small alliance forms of four players who refuse to share any of their information with the others/blatantly lie about whatever they find, the rest decide to close ranks and return the favor. This leads to members of the first group complaining about the others shutting them out in the exact same way they treated them.
- Kam repeatedly talks about all of the people outside his alliance being 'lying backstabbers only out for themselves'... including immediately after he breaks a promise to help one of them, with no apparent sense of irony on his part.
- Though, to be fair, Ronnie refused to adhere to his end of the deal by deceiving Geno and feeding him false information, when Kam told him to isolate Geno and not reveal anything. This would've allowed Ronnie to rejoin Geno if he figured out the riddle, whereas Kam wanted him to cut off all ties to Geno
- Mystery Fiction: Naturally.
- No Animals Were Harmed:
- After the mountain lion incident, Giles makes a point to state that the lion was shot with only a tranquilizer dart and is unhurt.
- Likewise, the horseback murder makes a point of emphasizing that the horse was merely startled, and not physically harmed.
- Nonindicative Name: Absolutely no focus was placed on figuring out the Killer's identity. Instead, it was all about how the murders were pulled off, making the mysteries "Howdunnits". Lampshaded in the final episode by one of the contestants.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: Melina stated in a Confession Cam that this is her plan: pretending to be a weaker player than she actually is in order to lure others off their guard.
- Old-Timey Bathing Suit: Giles the butler wears one while sunbathing by the pool.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: Used to draw the players to the victims following the fifth case.
- One Steve Limit: The name "Cris" tripped some fans up. Cris Crotz (female) was one of the contestants. Cris Abrego (male) is one of the executive producers; he made a cameo appearance in the finale as one of the cops who arrested The Killer, who happened to be Cris Crotz.
- Open Secret: Don, a retired homicide detective, is one of several contestants with professional detective experience who lies about his occupation to the others. In his case, he's so obviously an old cop that nobody believes him for a moment.
- Paranoia Fuel: In-Universe; anyone who gets Scared has to go to sleep being terrified at every sound they hear, knowing that death could come for them at any moment.
- Passed in Their Sleep: The first time she gets Scared, Dana wishes that death will come in the form of carbon monoxide poisoning so she can die peacefully in her sleep.
- Patron Saint: For bonus irony points, the Killer provided a medallion of Saint Agatha (patron of protection from flames) to the victim s/he intended to set on fire.
- Plot-Irrelevant Villain: Having one of the guests be the killer was completely irrelevant. The killer could have been someone outside of the players without the story or gameplay going through any significant changes.
- Poisoned Weapons: Ulysses' death, as a result of being stabbed with a pair of nails (attached to a 2x4) laced with oleander.
- Previously On: Every episode except the first and the last begins with a two-part previously-on; the first part recaps the premise of the series and is much the same each episode apart from updates of the murder montage, and the second part recaps the previous episode in detail. The last episode has a completely new previously-on recapping the entire season.
- Read the Fine Print: In the season finale. In the last part of the puzzle challenge, Giles told the players to read the fine print on his employment contract to prove whether or not he was the Killer. One player didn't listen to that part, but he ended up winning anyway.
- Reality TV
- Reality TV Show Mansion: Rue Manor.
- Red Herring: Naturally, these are all over the place. In most cases, the obvious cause of death is the wrong one.
- Rhymes on a Dime: In the finale, The Killer spoke to the winner in rhyme. Obviously, it's a habit.
- Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: The Killer's murders are elaborate to the point that one player eventually thought that using a trained monkey could be a plausible explanation. (For the record, it wasn't, and he was so far off base with the trained monkey idea that he was the next victim.)
- Self-Deprecation: In the description of Adrianna's death, Giles gets a mocking tone in his voice when he explains how she spent the night watching reality television. Bonus points for it being Rock Of Love, a show with the same production company as Whodunnit? (51 Minds).
- Spiritual Successor: To classic early 2000s reality shows like The Mole and Murder In Small Town X, although those programs played things much more straight.
- Escape The Night is this to the show itself, as it features a similar scenario. Hell, it even features a grey haired host!
- The Strategist: Kam seems to be the primary one from the first season, forming alliances and solving many clues. It was one of the reasons he won.
- Stuff Blowing Up: Early previews for the series particularly loved one shot of a fiery explosion. (This was later revealed to be Adrianna's golf cart.) We get another blast later on, as a victim is blown out of the hot tub. This was later revealed to be Ronnie.
- Sublime Rhyme: Most of the Killer's clues are rhymes. The finale is stuffed to the gills with them.
- The Summation: Following each investigation, each player gets to make one of these in the Library outlining their version of events. At the conclusion, they name their strongest suspect.
- Tempting Fate: When Geno makes a pitch to Kam's team where they point out how they haven't been Scared yet, you just know they're asking for it.
- Ten Little Murder Victims: Pretty much the whole plot of this show.
- Those Two Girls: Sasha and Dana. They form a partnership in the first episode, bonding over their common background as Southerners (nicknaming themselves "the Southern Belles"), and stand as pretty good friends and teammates during the series. They even get killed together in the series' only double homicide.
- Title Drop: The finale contains the line "You have unmasked whodunnit." Giles then gives the winner a pair of golden handcuffs to arrest the Killer—coincidentally, "Golden Cuffs" was the name of the season finale.
- Together in Death:
- Tonight, Someone Dies
- Too Soon:
- The night after the Man on Fire murder, Giles taunts the players by serving roast pig flambé for dinner. He trollingly asks "Too soon?", which they agree it is.
- The morning after two females are murdered, Giles briefly dances with a maid before reminiscing olden times when he did the same with a British debutante in London; he was, in his words, "a little bit of a lady killer." This provokes less-than-amused reactions from both Melina and Cris.
- Took a Level in Badass: Melina, once everyone else in her alliance was dead.
- What the Hell, Hero?: The killer mentions that one of the reasons that he killed Geno is that, by stealing Giles' cell phone in an attempt to be spared (due to a note left by the killer), he proved that he was an unworthy adversary.
- When the Clock Strikes Twelve: One murder takes place on the stroke of midnight.
- Wire Dilemma: One of the challenges in the season finale is a bomb with a blue and a red wire, which must be defused by cutting the wire that matches the color of a clue item from early in the season. One of the competitors never got to see that item, and doesn't recall anyone mentioning what color it was...
- Writing Indentation Clue: Used in one episode to uncover a message left on the victim's bedside memo pad.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Said word by word by Kam during the "snakebite" case.
"Is there anywhere in particular you would like to go?"
"Home it is."