marcoasalazarm on Dec 13th 2018 at 11:05:13 AM
Last Edited By:
randomtroper89 on Mar 11th 2019 at 1:00:21 PM
Page Type: trope
Do We Have This One? Now with name crowner: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/crowner.php/AlternativeTitles/MysteriouslyPrematureDeathCertificate
The criminal investigation is undergoing like any other, with fiends doing mysterious and insidious things and the cops trying to figure out what they're planning before it's too late.
But there is a sudden complication, a sign that things are more dire than they first seemed: the crooks that have been taken out so far and are rotting down in the morgue, or in a best-case scenario were arrested and are now being held? They were declared dead some time prior to the events of the story, with official certificates and all. Bonus points if the coroner that makes mention of this is the very person that signed the death certificate (which means that they are now dealing with having to tell the investigators that "You Have to Believe Me!").
This is a sign of many things, but the regular possible reasons are:
1) There is a conspiracy going on, dastardly enough to "pre-kill" its members, so that when whatever they are being forced to do finally kills them they will be unmourned.
2) The crooks are mercenaries, professional and well-connected enough to become "un-persons" so they can act with impunity. And if they are not the ones with the connections, then their employers surely are, which leads back to the "conspiracy" bullet point.
Subtrope of Legally Dead. Contrast Dead All Along. Compare Chekhov M.I.A.. A sure-fire method to declare that Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot. A Prematurely Marked Grave is one of the ways this can manifest.
While there is a connection to Death Faked for You and Faking the Dead, the former Trope mostly showcases the "being declared dead" part as a reward provided by a third party at the end of the story so the hero can spend the rest of his life (or until sequels come) not having to bother about being hunted by both his enemies and the law and the latter Trope mostly showcases the hero executing a plan so he will be declared dead (or exploit someone's misconception that they are dead), while this Trope is about the plot twist that comes when someone (often a protagonist) discovers said declaration. "Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated", which is the Lampshade Hanging by one of the "dead" characters that they were declared dead, may ensue.
- Hero Mask: The first two Mask users that appear in the series, Serial Killer Jeremy "Grimm" Payne and Theo Lowe, are prisoners that the cops discover were reported dead some time before the series starts (Theo is especially driven to try to go back to his family because of this). Turns out that they were taken by medical Mega-Corp LIVE Corporation to be used as guinea pigs for the Masks, especially because of a bug that the Corporation hasn't been able to get rid of: the Masks' powers are Cast from Lifespan.
- In The Charm School, Soviet spies are being trained to pass as Americans in a mock American village, with kidnapped Americans teaching them how to perfect their accents. The male "trainers" at the facility are former Air Force pilots in training who have been declared killed in flying accidents, which is told to them by the one of the Soviet agents that abducted them (with the obvious implication that it will become truly official if they try to escape).
- Die Hard 2: John Mc Clane discovers that General Stewart's soldiers have been declared dead in action with their bodies never found after killing a few of them early in the film and running the fingerprints of one past his friends in the LAPD. He even calls it a sign that the man was a professional mercenary.
- Dead Heat: One of the early signs that the rash of violent robberies that have been plaguing Los Angeles for the past few weeks is stranger than it looks is when Rebecca Smythers, one of the forensic experts, points out that a few of the people who committed the robberies were in the morgue before, and she's sure of this because she made the autopsies and signed the certificates herself. Her supervisor Dr. McNab, who is the man who stole said dead bodies so he could resurrect them and use them as muscle for his Get Rich Quick Scheme, tries to dismiss her as being confused, but Smythers essentially says "look, I swear I cut these guys up earlier this week! Look, there's the stitches!".
- Extreme Prejudice: The opening Avengers, Assemble! montage of Major Hackett's black-ops team has them all cheerfully reuniting at the airport... and then the film showcases their military records, complete with mention that they were all allegedly killed in action and the government Never Found the Body. Texas Ranger Jack Benteen (The Hero of the movie) eventually gets hold of said records after having fought (and killed a few members of) the team, and instantly figures out that they're black-ops.
- Shooter: The supervisor of FBI Agent Nick Memphis mentions in passing during a call to Nick that the goons that abducted, tortured and tried to assassinate him (and were killed by Bob Lee Swagger) were declared legally dead years before, and asks Nick what the hell is going on. Nick, who now knows without a shadow of a doubt that the people who killed the Arch-Bishop of Ethiopia (and framed Swagger, and tried to kill him) are members of a Government Conspiracy, tells her to not tell anyone else for the time being.
- In Star Wars: A New Hope, after capturing the Tantive IV, Darth Vader tells an Imperial officer to send a distress signal from the ship, and then tell the Imperial Senate that all aboard were killed. Whether or not anybody in the Senate ever got suspicious goes unsaid (not that it matters, because a few scenes later Leia is told by Tarkin that the Emperor abolished the Senate), but once they arrive to Yavin Leia is told that the Rebels got wind of that information and one of the generals tells her that he's glad to see she's safe.
- Brazil: After Sam manages to hack into the government's files and declares Jill dead so the government will stop looking for her, having become Mistaken for Terrorist thanks to his bumbling, a government raid team breaks into the apartment where they're hiding and Jill is shot dead while trying to resist arrest. A later scene has one government official acting incredibly puzzled at the fact that Jill's been declared dead twice, and sure enough, with physical evidence that Sam tampered with government files, he's accused of this among a long litany of crimes (some of them alleged), the most serious of them (at least in the eyes of the man that reads them all to Sam) is wasting the Ministry's time and paper.
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