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Faking The Dead / Live-Action TV

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People faking their deaths in live-action TV.

  • The 2 Broke Girls episode "And the Big Opening" suggests Max tried to make her mother think she'd committed suicide two years earlier.
  • Jack shooting Nina in season 1 of 24 on the demands of the terrorists, and Jack himself at the end of season 4.
    • His fake killing of Nina is especially a nice touch, as she had no clue what was going on; and it was not revealed to the audience, or her for that matter, that Jack managed to slip a flack-jacket onto her. Surprisingly, she gets over it pretty quick.
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  • After the initial landing in The 100, the only remaining communication to the Ark is the medical telemetry from the wristbands the kids wear. Bellamy convinces/pressures them to remove the bands so that the people back on the Ark will think they are dead and not send anybody else down, thus leaving them free to do whatever they want from now on.
  • Lampshaded in the Season 1 finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Garrett quips that it must be "the only tag team match between four dead guys". Namely: Nick Fury let HYDRA believe they had killed him during their uprising and went into hiding. John Garrett had Ward feed S.H.I.E.L.D. false intelligence before they discovered Ward was a HYDRA mole. Mike Peterson had "died" in an explosion before HYDRA kidnapped him and made him into a cyborg. Phil Coulson really did die but was revived by Project T.A.H.I.T.I.
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  • Alex Rider: After Alex is hit by a snowplough during his escape, he's rushed to hospital. Eva Stellenbosch comes looking for him, just in time to see him dramatically flatline on the operating table. When she's gone, Alex looks up and says, "Did she buy it?"
  • Happens a few times in Airwolf Both Moffett and Hawke use a trick that involves firing the ADF missiles at just the right time to make it appear that Airwolf has been blown up. Then they activate the "whisper mode" and ambush the opposition.
  • In Babylon 5, an entire ship of people was captured by the Shadows. The ones who agreed to serve them got this (the others suffered a Fate Worse than Death).
    • Vir Cotto, the Centauri government's token nice guy, manages to free thousands of Narns from Centauri death camps by sneaking them away and officially declaring them dead.
  • Taken to a bizarre extreme on Benson. A businessman tries to have his way with Denise in exchange for a deal with the state. After the date, the gang pretends she's been murdered to get him to confess. Benson plays a British detective (dressed as Sherlock Holmes), Pete plays Denise's biker brother, Katie plays a starry-eyed witness, and Miss Kraus plays a psychic. Oddly, it works.
  • Bones In "The Pain in the Heart" Booth takes advantage of being shot by a Stalker with a Crush to fake his own death and nab some criminal he'd been waiting years to get. But it ends up causing conflict with Brennan, who's furious with him for not telling her about it.
  • This crops up from time to time in Burn Notice. Larry Sizemore in particular may Never Live It Down; just about every time he shows up, someone will say "What, dead Larry?" and his subtitle is "Undead Spy".
  • Cannon: In "Devil's Playground", a wanted felon plants his ID on a hitchhiker, murders him, then stages an accident and torches the car to convince the police he is dead.
  • The Cape: Vince makes it look like he died in an explosion. It sets everything in motion and allows Vince to take on his new identity.
  • In one episode of Castle, a woman fakes the deaths of herself and her young son in a desperate attempt to get away from her husband, who is as abusive as he is well-connected.
  • Charmed (1998): Phoebe, Piper, Paige, and Leo faked their deaths to lead a normal life in the same house, raising the same kids, but with magical disguises and magically created ID. It didn't last too long.
  • In one episode of Cheers rival Gary does this to Sam as a Halloween prank where it looks like Sam accidentally scared him to death. Another has Sam himself faking his death to get a clingy Abhorrent Admirer to leave him alone. When she later shows up at the bar and sees him, he claims to be his twin brother who came to settle the estate.
  • In Chuck, Orion did this to throw off those who were after him. Complete with explosion so the lack of a body wouldn't be too unusual.
    • And the Ring director (and some Mooks) did it to hide the fact that Shaw had turned traitor, and also to gain some unwitting help from their enemy. This one used squibs, and they were quickly revealed to be alive.
    • In the fourth season, one episode has Chuck figuring out the best way to draw out Casey's old team in order to find out more about his missing mother. The plan in question? To have Casey pretend to be dead, complete with the guy in a catatonic state to add authenticity to the "funeral".
  • One season of the Glaswegian sitcom City Lights opened with Willie and Tam at Loveable Rogue Chancer's funeral. On their way to the pub, they were joined by Chancer, who was just trying to get out of paying the poll tax.
    Willie: This is the stupidest wake I've ever been to!
  • In the Pilot Episode of Columbo, a psychiatrist murders his wife, then has his actress girlfriend pretend to be her in order to set up his alibi. Columbo figures out what happened and starts trying to get the girlfriend to confess because he has no evidence that would stand up in court. A little later, Columbo calls the psychiatrist to the girlfriend's house, where she has drowned herself in the swimming pool. Columbo tell the psychiatrist that the girlfriend was his last chance of proving murder, so Columbo has lost. However, he continues, the psychiatrist has also lost because he lost the love of his life, the reason he committed murder in the first place. The psychiatrist laughs, and says that, hypothetically speaking, if he had committed murder it would have been for his wife's money, and the girl would have been a dupe who would have had to be disposed of eventually. Cue the girl revealing that she had faked her death at Columbo's instigation, and now that she knows what her boyfriend really thinks of her she is willing to confess and testify against him.
  • Community: As revealed in the third season finale, Star-Burns faked his death in a meth lab explosion.
  • Control Z: Sofia's father faked his death, and was alive for all these years.
  • In the Crazy Like a Fox pilot, a man is freed from prison after serving 12 years for the murder of his wife, then finds out she's still alive.
  • For the last half of season six of Criminal Minds, Prentiss was believed to be dead by the rest of the team except for Hotch and JJ, who were the ones who set it up that way. When Paget Brewster came back to the show a season later, there was quite a bit of time spent on bringing her back from the dead and the team's anger over having been lied to. Especially Morgan, who thought he could have saved her.
  • Both Catherine Willows and DB Russell in CSI "Willows In The Wind", when a squad of hit men was after them.
  • In the season six finale of CSI: Miami, Horatio Caine himself fakes his death in order to get illegally sold "Fused Alloy" bullets off the street and arrest the salesman, his nemesis Ron Saris.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Death Warrant", Pike kills one of the bounty hunters on his trail. He then swaps clothes with the dead man, and smashes the his face in with a rock in an attempt to convince the rest of the Carnival of Killers that someone had succeeded. However, Joe Rule sees through the ruse immediately because Pike did not swap guns with the dead man.
  • Done in the Diagnosis: Murder episode "The Murder of Mark Sloan". Mark realises that someone who wants him dead has rigged the gas tank of his car to explode, so he blows up the car by throwing a match into the leaking gasoline, hoping that the killer will get careless once they believe he's dead.
  • Jimmy's girlfriend in Doctors, who was an undercover cop had to fake her own death at the hands of another undercover agent to make it seem like her partner was willing to kill cops and thus get closer to the heart of a drug smuggling ring.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Destiny of the Daleks": Romana uses her ability to stop her own hearts in order to escape from slavery by faking her own death. Earlier, she had been told that this was "the only way to escape the Daleks".
    • "Resurrection of the Daleks": Lytton's unit comes under fire (with weapons that kill you outright without any obvious damage) and everyone falls down. After the attackers move on, he gets back up, uninjured, and leaves.
    • "The Big Bang": In a combination of this and Stable Time Loop, the Doctor is shot by a Dalek that isn't at full power. He travels 12 minutes into the past with a vortex manipulator and fakes his death to his companions Amy and Rory, while telling his past self what's really going on. While everyone else is running around upstairs distracting the Dalek and thinking the Doctor is dead, it gives him time to rewire the Pandorica as part of his plan to save reality.
    • "Day of the Moon": Amy and Rory do this with the help of Canton Everett Delaware III to get back to the Doctor.
    • "The Wedding of River Song": The Doctor himself pulls this off with the assistance of his time machine and a shapeshifting robot.
  • Played straight and offscreen in Dollhouse, "Epitaph Two: The Return" with this exchange:
    Echo: I thought we lost you in Reno.
    Alpha: I kinda wanted you to think that.
    • In another episode, Echo tried to smuggle a woman out of prison by injecting her with something that would slow her heart rate enough to make her appear dead. Unfortunately it wore off before she could get out.
  • The Dresden Files uses this to throw a demon off the trail, so an ex-demon and his girlfriend can go into the High Council's witness protection program and live happily ever after.
    • This particular death-fakery is done for all the reasons listed above, as Harry manages to get the demon in question arrested to boot.
  • The Dukes of Hazzard: Had several, most of which were played for laughs but some played for drama:
    • During the first season, an episode dealt with a man named Henry Flatt, a friend of Uncle Jesse's who staged his death rather than go to prison. A problem arises when the Hazzard Cemetery is going to be dug up, and Flatt asks for help because this means his grave will be opened and the ruse exposed.
    • Early in the series' run, "The Ghost of the General Lee" sees Bo and Luke presumed drowned after a pair of car thieves steal the General Lee and drive it into a lake, and no bodies are found. When Boss tries to take advantage of the situation by declaring his antique watch stolen and then, after declaring them responsible, suing the Duke boys' estate to collect its worth (so he can foreclose on the Duke farm, natch), Bo and Luke decide to "stay dead" long enough come up with a ghostly scheme to scare Boss and Rosco into admitting the watch was never stolen.
    • The Coy-and-Vance era episode "Ding Dong, the Boss is Dead", where Boss agrees to "die" to ensure that he will not be stalked by his old moonshining rival, "Big" Floyd Calloway (who was sent to prison on Boss' testimony for extortion). But matters are complicated when Calloway wants to pay his "respects" to Boss in person.
    • Another Coy-and-Vance episode, "The Great Insurance Fraud", has a pair of con artists call Boss on his crooked insurance policies scheme when they stage a phony fatal car accident to collect the $100,000 survivor's payment. The catch is that they swerve the car off the road just as they're driving toward Coy and Vance, and Coy - who was driving the General Lee – is deeply upset because he thinks he caused the accident, where the driver of the other car died after being trapped in his burning car.
  • One character in EastEnders faked his death to find out how his girlfriend really felt about him.
  • On Elementary, Mycroft Holmes is forced to fake his death as the murder victim was a mole and was going to blow Mycroft's cover. In order to prevent this, the NSA killed the mole and fakes Mycroft's death to throw off suspicion. Before he disappears in hiding, he tells Sherlock he loves him.
    • In the final episodes of the series, Sherlock himself fakes his death at the hands of Odin Reichenbach in order to give the police an excuse to open a full investigation into the previously untouchable Reichenbach's vast criminal conspiracy.
  • In the Flemish soap opera Familie, Bart accidentally got himself on a mafia family’s hit list during the 24th season. In order to save his family and himself, he fakes his own death with the help of Faroud, his sister's partner who is a secret agent. Together they burned Bart’s car and placed a death body inside of it, so that it would look like he died in a car accident. While his wife and 2 children and the rest of his family are mourning his death, Bart flees to Los Angeles to lay low. He eventually returns to Belgium roughly 1.5 years later, hoping to be able to see his family from a distance. His son accidentaly catches a glimpse of him, but no one beliefs him. Some weeks later, during the mid-season finale of the 26th season, Bart approaches Faroud and asks him to take him to the party his entire family is currently at. Everyone is in shock and disbelief when they find out that he is still alive, as Faroud never told anyone.
  • The Fate: The Winx Saga episode "A Fanatic Heart", reveals that Andreas has been alive all along, but let everyone think he died at Aster Dell. He has spent years raising Beatrix in hiding.
  • Father Brown: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau fakes with death with some strategically placed explosives and some pig offal to make it appear he had been killed by his own bomb. At the end of the episode, he fakes his death again and Father Brown performs a fake funeral to persuade the mobsters who are on his tail that he really is dead.
  • Firefly:
    • Along with Kaylee in the pilot, as part of a mean-spirited joke played by Mal on Simon.note 
    • Simon and River do this in order to get into the hospital for the episode "Ariel".
  • The Flash (2014): In season 5, Sherloque Wells tries to fake his death to get out of his debt to Team Flash (he charged them an exorbitant amount of money to solve a crime for them, then faked the result). He mentions that he previously used it to get out of two of his marriages—to the same woman both times. In a later episode, said woman shows up and complains about it. One of the other ex-wives points out that she really only has herself to blame for the second time.
  • A French Village: Marcel helps Suzanne fake her death when he's ordered to kill her.
  • Done on General Hospital by Felicia Jones with the help of everyone in town in order to get local psycho Ryan Chamberlain to confess to his crimes—he had a Villainous Crush on her and since she was his weak spot, it was (rightly) assumed that his despondency over losing her would cause him to break down.
    • Luke and Laura fake her death after their mortal enemies the Cassadines return to Port Charles. This time, no one knew except Luke's best friend Sonny and local psychiatrist Tom Hardy who they needed to care for Laura's mentally ill mother, resulting in some very angry people when they finally returned.
  • In Get Smart, Max overhears a KAOS plot and is shot by two KAOS agents, but they believe he is dead. CONTROL allows everyone to believe he is dead so that they can stop the plot. But not every agent is told about the plan so that KAOS will be convinced that Max is dead. In fact 2 agents, besides Max know he's not really dead, The Chief and Agent 13. When Max figures out how to stop the evil plot, he is unable to contact the Chief or Agent 13 and when he tries to tell another agent, he disregards his comments because Maxwell Smart couldn't possibly be talking to him because he's dead.
  • Happy Days: The fifth-season, two-part episode "Fonzie's Funeral" had the Cunninghams stage a fake funeral for Fonzie to put him into protection. (Fonzie had gone to the police to turn in $100 bills found in a hearse he was repairing, but local crime lord The Candyman — wanted for counterfeiting, extortion, money laundering and robbery — finds out and sends his henchmen after him.) Fonzie is then declared "dead" to put him into hiding and allow the Cunninghams time to devise a plan to defeat the Candyman. Prior to the climatic scene, there is the "hilarious visitation" featuring the series' regulars and memorable guests saying their "farewells," and "Fonzie's mother" (Fonzie in drag) comforting the survivors.
    • "You have Fonzie's lips." "It runs in the family."
  • In an episode of Happy Endings, Max mentions having done this.
    Max: You sure you wanna do this, man? You could always fake your own death.
    Dave No!
    Max: I've done it, super easy. If you're ever in Newark, New Jersey, do not ask for a Joseph Reynolds. He's a ghost.
  • Doris McGarrett did this years before the show started on Hawaii Five-0. Her son (and the audience) only found out at the end of the second season.
  • Heroes: When Angela Petrelli poisoned her husband Arthur in an attempt to kill him, Arthur survived, though in a paralyzed state, where he telepathically gave commands out to his minions and planned his revenge.
    • Later used by Sylar, with the unwilling help of of a shapeshifter, supposedly to throw Noah Bennet off of his scent. However, Noah pulls it apart in record time... and runs headlong into a sadistic plan.
  • Frequently happened on Highlander as a result of the immortal nature of many characters.
    • They get killed and their killer drops his guard, not knowing his victim will resurrect.
    • They also fake their own death, or pretend their previous persona died of old age, in order to assume a new identity elsewhere.
  • House does this when he hires a hooker to die as a patient Kutner was advising under House's name. We figure this out at the end of the episode when House pretends to resuscitate her and she wakes up in an Oh, Crap! moment.
    • House does this to himself in the series finale by switching dental records with a terminal patient.
  • Hustle did this several times, referring to the practice as 'pulling a cacklebladder'. Mickey pulled one in the premiere, and a later episode had Celebrity Star Richard Chamberlain pulling a double-bluff cacklebladder, actually killing himself. It was then revealed to be a double double-bluff cacklebladder, and he really was alive. Damn.)
    • It almost ended in tragedy in the second episode when Mickey shoots Danny in front of the mark using a blank, then the mark pulls out his gun and shoots Danny for real. It took some quick thinking to save Danny's life while making the mark believe that he had killed Danny and go into hiding.
  • Innocent: Yusuf's investigation into the Bayrakçi family revolves around the actions of Taner, who (with his father's help) fakes his own death after killing his brother's wife and attempting another murder.
  • In one episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Charlie and Mac fakes their deaths in an outrageously sloppy manner that seemingly couldn't fool anyone. It does anyway, or so it seems. Turns out the others just pretend to be sad and throws a fake funeral to make fun of them.
    • Later on Dee decides to join in, she does a better job selling it and Dennis admits he actually thought she might've been dead, he just didn't care.
  • Jonathan Creek: In "The Seer of the Sands", a pair of fake gypsies burn down their caravan and leave a skeleton dug up from the local graveyard inside it to cover their escape and allow them to slip out of the country with no one looking for them.
  • Season 4 of Justified centers on the mystery of Drew Thompson, a pilot and drug smuggler who three decades ago plummeted to his death after he jumped out of an airplane with a bag full of cocaine and his parachute malfunctioned. Raylan discovers that Drew faked his death and the dead man was actually Waldo Truth. Noone discovered the switch because Waldo was a no-good lowlife and wife beater so his wife simply paid another man to pretend to be Waldo and kept collecting his government disability cheques. Drew faked his death because he witnessed mafia boss Theo Tonin kill a government informant and decided not to take his chances in Witness Protection. Before leaving he burned every photo of himself he could find which makes identifying him after 30 years quite a challenge. After making everyone think he was dead, he assumed a new identity and settled in Harlam. In the end Raylan discovers that Drew has been hiding as Shelby, a longtime police officer and current Sheriff of Harlan County.
  • Knight Rider begins with the protagonist, Michael Long, being shot and left for dead. He is rescued, given Magic Plastic Surgery, and a new identity, Michael Knight. His Faking the Dead status is rarely mentioned after that except in an Easy Amnesia episode.
  • Kyle XY, of all shows, recently used this: as part of a Batman Gambit to get Kyle into Cassidy's trust, after having Kyle pretend to kill Jessi in self-defense for trying to kill Cassidy (it's complicated), Jessi slows her heartbeat down to two beats a minute. This is enough to fool Cassidy, who checks her pulse and declares her dead. She wakes up a few minutes after Kyle and Cassidy leave, completely unharmed.
  • Alex in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. (This was a slight variation, in that the bad guys really did shoot her, but the Feds let everyone think it killed her.)
    • And she was then whisked away into WitSec, not to be seen again for five seasons. Olivia's expression: made of pure Tear Jerker.
    • The franchise has also used this ruse while Lying to the Perp, as when a rapist is accused of murder so he'll insist that he'd left his victim alive. Only after he's said this on tape do the cops reveal she didn't die from her injuries after all.
    • In one episode, a murder suspect takes out a hit on Olivia and a guest character, so they arrange a scenario where a supposed hitman, who is actually Fin, will intercept them as they're transporting her between jails, supposedly helping the prisoner escape and leaving the detectives dead, with the double motive of keeping the contract from being picked up by a real hitman and allowing Fin to present himself as an ally to the suspect in order to manipulate her into talking about her crimes. It goes down just about perfectly.
  • Leverage's team of con artists protagonists are not at all above faking someone's death to further the con du jour. The audience is rarely warned ahead of time, which can create some suspense - "The Two Live Crew Job," one of the most dramatic examples, cuts directly from a bomb exploding in Sophie's apartment to her funeral, and it's not until after she's been eulogized and the coffin interred that it's made clear they're simply faking the death of her current public alias to try to flush out who tried to kill her.
    • The final episode starts with a failed interrogation in which it seems like a failed heist has left the entire team but Ford dead. This is actually all part of the plan, so the team can get inside as part of the investigation of the first, fake heist. Complete with actual fake bodies in body bags, with realistic-looking fabricated heads!
  • Liar: It turns out Andrew intended to frame Laura so the police would think that she killed him, and then disappear. However, he ends up being Killed Off for Real by her.
  • Little House on the Prairie: The first-season episode, "If I Should Wake Before I Die" is played as a straight drama, and sees Charles help an elderly woman, who had been virtually left for dead by her long-absent children, stage her own funeral to lure the fortune-seeking kids back to Walnut Grove for that coveted visit.
  • Lois of Lois & Clark had Superman freeze her using his superbreath as a ploy to get a villian.
    • In another episode, Clark was forced to do this after being shot by a mobster at point-blank range. Being in a room filled with people, if he didn't drop to the ground and pretend to be dead, everyone would have realized he was Superman.
  • Lost: Locke's father fakes his death in order to avoid the wrath of some men from whom he stole money. Locke helps, after the fact.
  • The Magician:
    • In "Man on Fire", a female Con Artist stages a Staircase Tumble to convince her boyfriend that he has killed her. Her partner then arranges to dispose of the 'body', so he can blackmail the The Mark into handing over industrial secrets.
    • In "Illusion of Black Gold", Tony helps the CIA fake the death of a defecting scientist so his former government will stop looking for him.
  • In Malcolm in the Middle, Hal is recognized by a woman who thought he was dead. Years ago, he faked his death—involving blowing up a phone booth—to avoid repaying her the $400 he'd borrowed from her.
  • A M*A*S*H episode has Hawkeye mistakenly listed as dead. Frustrated with his lack of success in getting the Army bureaucracy to rectify the error and unable to get in touch with his father (who he learns received a letter informing him of his son's "demise"), he decides to allow himself to be transported home as a "cadaver"...before wounded arrive and he feels duty-bound to remain.
  • In the fourth season finale of The Mentalist, Jane "shoots" Lisbon in order to deliver the body to Red John as a gift of friendship. At the same time, Rigsby's death is also faked with the use of a corpse from earlier in the episode.
  • Arthur did it on Merlin to get his father to cry tears of true remorse, the only thing that would break the troll magic used on him (Uther).
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Habeus Corpus", the murderer fakes his own murder, and then fakes his corpse being stolen before the police arrive (It Makes Sense in Context) as part of a particularly elaborate plot to take revenge on someone.
  • This was done at least twice on Monk, the first in "Mr. Monk Meets the Psychic", where Monk and the police pretend that the suspect killed his old girlfriend in order to get him to admit that he really killed his wife. More notably, in the Season 6 finale, After Monk has been accused of murder, Stottlemeyer pretends to shoot Monk to death in order to keep him under the radar while he looks for the real murderer.
  • Motive: The murderer in "Oblivion", who meticulously fakes her own murder before going on to commit actual murder: being 'dead' being the perfect alibi for a crime.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Test of Wills", the patriarch of a wealthy family fakes his own murder to see how his heirs react to his death. However, his charade ends up resulting in an actual murder.
  • Murdoch Mysteries:
    • Cecil Fox, who was sentenced to death by hanging, sits up on the autopsy table and grabs Julia. He had a tracheotomy tube and a helpful hangman who used a short rope so he would be seen to be hanged yet actually survive.
    • James Gillies. He made a deal with a dying person who was hanged instead of him, and he made his escape.
  • Played for Laughs in My Name Is Earl. Earl had been in a relationship with a Naïve Everygirl after a hookup at a Halloween party. But, when things began to get too serious too fast, Earl faked his own death to avoid hurting her feelings. (Her current boyfriend got the idea from Earl and did it, too.) Later that episode, the woman in question faked her own death to get back at Earl for yelling at her about being an Extreme Doormat. (Thus marking the point where she becomes more assertive than ever before.)
  • Mystery Hunters: One episode explores alleged claims that the Outlaw Jesse James faked his assassination in order to escape law enforcement. DNA evidence though suggests Jesse James was indeed assassinated.
  • Happened in NCIS a couple of times:
    • Agent Fornell faked his own suicide to find a mole in the FBI, and clear his own name.
    • Agent Gibbs faked being shot, as part of a sting against a crooked ATF agent.
  • NCIS: New Orleans: In "Second Line", a navy reservist fakes his death in car crash to allow him desert with the proceeds of a crime he has committed.
  • The New Avengers: In "Dead Men are Dangerous", Mark Crayford starts his scheme of revenge against Steed by having himself declared dead and a death certificate issued in his name, so Steed will not suspect him.
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Unnatural Selection", Tony and Fran Blake faked the death of their son Timmy, to the point of bribing a undertaker to hold a fake funeral, after it became clear that he was suffering from Genetic Rejection Syndrome. They proceeded to hide him in their house as it is government policy that all GRS sufferers are to be destroyed due to the threat that they pose to the general public.
    • In "Skin Deep", Sid Camden pretends to commit suicide so that he can take over the life of Chad Warner, whom he had just killed, using a Holographic Disguise.
    • In "Zig Zag", the cyberterrorist Zig Fowler, who is opposed to the personal information technology regime, faked his death by removing his chip and burning down the warehouse where he had been hiding. He then assumed the identity of Cliff Unger, a staunch advocate of the regime. He is despised by the Syndrome, the resistance movement which practically worships Zig. As Cliff, he manages to gain the trust of the regime, which ultimately allows him to defeat it.
  • The Outpost: Garret's death is faked when he's sentenced to death for killing a Blackblood, using a drug which made him seem dead.
  • Pandora: Atria's former master, the son of The Seeker is not as dead as we're first led to believe, having faked his death to elope with his true love, another Atria clone.
  • Person of Interest
    • After those involved with the Machine caused the death of his friend Nathan Ingram in a suicide bombing, Finch faked his death to protect himself and his fiance. It helped that a massive bomb blast over water makes it plausible there was No Body Left Behind, and Finch was already an Unperson.
    • In "Mors Praematura", the CIA fake the death of a terrorist informer ostensibly to protect him, but he discovers it's actually so he can be indefinitely detained for interrogation in a Black Site.
  • In Powers Johnny Royale was presumed dead for a long time before the start of the series, but it turns out he's still alive.
  • In Pretty Little Liars, Alison fakes her death to get away from A, it's still not known how.
  • Probe's "Untouched by Human Hands": Austin believes that Brian Kingsley created the accident and left a homeless man that he murdered in the radiation lab dressed in his clothes. However, when Austin sends in a robot to verify this, the video shows Kingsley is lying there in the lab. He doesn't prove his theory until he finds Kingsley (dead) in a crate leaving Serendip.
  • Psych:
    • In order to escape the room they had lied to get access to, Gus plays dead while Shawn screams about accidentally killing him. Their stunt causes enough confusion to allow them to hightail it out the door.
    • Despereaux the "master thief" is quite annoyed when the heroes find him because he had been trying to be declared dead.
      Despereaux: Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a convincing body double? This one's too tall, this one's too fat...this one's just right, but he's an Eskimo!
  • In the final episode of Return of Ultraman, when Hideki, Ultraman Jack's human host who had merged with his Ultra, needs to leave the human world to fight a war on his home planet, he then fakes his death by piloting a malfunctioning plane to battle Alien Bat and Zetton. His plane crashes, and after Hideki transforms into Ultraman Jack to defeat the monster, the MAT holds a Meaningful Funeral for Hideki... only for Hideki to reveal himself (in private) to his two closest friends, Rumiko and Jiro, after the funeral, that he's in fact still alive, actually an Ultraman, and must leave Planet Earth for the time being.
  • Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files uses this several times throughout the series. Usually it is the "part of a con" variety, but he uses "one little mistake" once or twice as well.
  • In Scrubs JD imagines his own funeral and how his acerbic mentor Dr Cox will finally admit how he'd always valued JD as a great doctor and a friend and gives his corpse a hug, whereupon JD would come to live, having faked his death for that exact purpose. Whereupon Dr Cox would snap his neck, killing him for real, but that would be worth it.
  • In accordance with the original Doyle canon (see the literature page), this trope appears in the Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall". He did it to prevent Moriarty's henchmen from killing his friends.
  • The Korean Series Shining Inheritance has the father, Go Pyung Joong, hiding after after a body found in a gas explosion is thought to be him. He did this to give his family the insurance money.
  • This has been done in a final episode of a season of Smallville a couple of times. In season 3 witness protection faked Chloe's death by blowing up her house and burying her coffin. Lana Lang fakes her death in season 6 by substituting the body of one of her clones in place of herself.
  • Used in Space: Above and Beyond as a battle ploy, with the unintended side effect that the 58th's fellow Marines believe it too, until West can convince them otherwise.
  • In the Stargate Atlantis episode "The Siege, Part 3", the expedition allows the Wraith to believe that Atlantis was destroyed via nuke. In reality, the expedition merely cloaked the city after weathering the blast under the city's shield.
  • Captain Kirk on Star Trek: The Original Series in "Amok Time" (where he has apparently been killed by Spock, but we learn that Dr. McCoy has actually given him a shot to knock him out), and in "The Enterprise Incident" (where Spock uses the fictional Vulcan Death Grip on Kirk so he can return to a Romulan ship in disguise. However, Dr. McCoy mentions a danger that most characters don't think of when pulling this trick, "You're lucky they didn't do an autopsy on you.").
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation. In "The Most Toys", the android Data is kidnapped by a Collector of the Strange, then has his destruction faked in a shuttle accident. He has his mooks scan Data and load the equivalent amount of raw materials in the shuttle first, so apparent traces of his destroyed body will be found when Enterprise scans the wreckage. However Geordi LaForge realises that Data failed to make a routine transmission that he was leaving the Fajo's ship. A human pilot might not have bothered, but not an android like Data who was working strictly by the book.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark's life is put in danger twice because of other people doing this. Grand Nagus Zek named Quark his successor, and "died", to see if his son would use business smarts to undermine Quark and take the title, but instead he just tries to assassinate Quark. And Morn once faked his death and left 1000 bars of gold pressed latinum to Quark, but the latinum was from a heist, and his partners were coming for their share.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "Visiting Daze", Victor Ehrlich learns that his parents Lewis and Helen Ehrlich, whom he had believed had been killed in a car accident in 1961, are alive and well. It turns out that their real names are Lech and Olga Oseransky. They were CIA operatives who were captured after the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The CIA faked their deaths as a cover story. Lech and Olga were imprisoned on the Isle of Pines until the US government managed to negotiate their release in 1987.
  • Brutus of the series Sun Trap fakes his own death twice in order to escape the financial hold of his money-grabbing ex-wife.
  • Halfway through Season Six of Supernatural, Crowley is seemingly killed off, but a few episodes before the season finale, it's revealed that he faked his death with help from Castiel so that he could continue his plans under the Winchesters' noses.
  • Taken: In "Jacob and Jesse", Tom, Becky and Sally fake Jacob's death by burning down the shed in which Sally had been building a transmitter in the hope of contacting John. They tell the Lubbock sheriff that Jacob died in the fire and he passes the message along to the UFO project. However, in "Charlie and Lisa", Eric learns the truth when Lisa's stepfather Danny Holding innocently mentions that Lisa's father Jacob was the brother of the well-known ufologist Tom Clarke. After that, the project turns its attention to Lisa and eventually her daughter Allie.
  • A Three's Company episode has Jack doing this after he's threatened by a man who thinks he's trying to steal his girlfriend.
  • Torchwood: Being immortal, Captain Jack pulls this off a few times to get the drop on enemies, most noticeably on the villain of the first episode.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "Queen of the Nile", on the last day of shooting for the Silent Movie version of Queen of the Nile in about 1920, Constance Taylor was supposedly killed in a cave-in in Egypt. In reality, the immortal woman faked her death. She had re-emerged as the stage actress Gladys Gregory by 1923 and assumed her latest identity of Pamela Morris by 1935.
  • Upstart Crow has Christopher Marlowe faking his own death because he wanted to quit his espionage work.
  • In Wild Boys, the bushrangers attempt to fake their deaths by blowing up a cottage with pig carcasses inside.
  • The ending of the Without a Trace episode "Silent Partner" heavily implies that the Victim of the Week has done this so as to ditch his wife and run off with another woman.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder fakes his own suicide at the end of season four, only to return several episodes into the next season.


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