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Crime After Crime

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Captain Stottlemeyer: C'mon, Monk, are you sure about this? You've got him killing old ladies, dogs, and bums. What is he, some kind of a Serial Killer?
Adrian Monk: He's just a man who wants to get away with murder. The sad thing is, he has to keep killing to do it.

Commonly seen in crime dramas, especially of the noirish variety, this occurs when a character or characters, having committed one crime, perhaps one not even that serious, must then commit another crime to cover up the first, and so on, leading to an escalating series of crimes set off by what may have originally been just an accident. A very common manifestation of this trope is in criminals eliminating witnesses to their crime.

If the character had just come clean at the beginning, he might have gotten off with a relatively light sentence. After a little while with this trope, he's looking at death row if he gets caught. Can be Truth in Television, though it usually takes the form of a Revealing Cover-Up (eg: being caught for tax evasion, perjury, or obstruction, rather than the original crime).

A tendency to encourage this is what makes All Crimes Are Equal a Very Bad Idea. Compare He Knows Too Much, "Fawlty Towers" Plot (this trope's much less dark, non-criminal counterpart), Jumping Off the Slippery Slope, Unintentionally Notorious Crime, and Serial Killings, Specific Target (the trope's much more deliberate and heinous cousin). Contrast Revealing Cover Up and Not the First Victim (the specific instant where a character learns that the villain has committed many more crimes and/or had more victims than they previously suspected). Compare and contrast Trial Run Crime. A major cause of Never One Murder and Plethora of Mistakes.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In a Case Closed early story, Ran spots a shadowy robed figure -the Murderer of the Chapter- skulking around the woods. After murdering his target, the man attempts to murder Ran to eliminate any witnesses.
  • The first half of Death Note involves this. At first, Light receives the Death Note but thinks it must be a prank. He tests it out on two people and finds out that it really does work. At this point, he decides to kill criminals, but then the police start to get suspicious, so he starts killing people who are connected with the investigation, as well as criminals.
  • In one of The Kindaichi Case Files, "Smoke and Mirrors", the teacher Matoba ends up killing three people, and attempting to kill a fourth, to cover up a misdeed many years ago.
  • My Home Hero: The main character ends up killing his daughter's abusive boyfriend when he threatens to kill her, forcing him to commit a number of other crimes in order to cover up the boyfriend's death from his daughter and the yakuza organization the boyfriend belonged to.

    Comic Books 
  • The French comedic series Cosa Nostra (about Sicilian mafiosi) sees the depressingly dimwitted henchman Vincenze Abruto take out a witness in a public pool's changing room, carry the body out... the wrong door and into the pool itself, where dozens of people were swimming. We then learn (from the godfather yelling at him) that Vincenze managed to sink more than 100 people in cement in record time, completely destroying any chance of getting away with it.
  • Jean Loring did this as part of DC's Identity Crisis storyline in which she set up a murder and an attack in order to cover up her own accidental killing of Sue Dibny.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes vol. 5 #19, Saturn Queen murders one man and attempts to shoot Chameleon's brains off when he figures out she's the culprit.
  • Steve Ditko's Mr. A stories always revolve around this, the Objectivist moral being that there's no such thing as toeing the line between good and evil.
  • Robin (1993): Strader Pharmaceuticals decides to illegally experiment on Gotham's downtrodden to start formulating a super soldier serum. When people start investigating they hire mercenaries to dispose of their victims, surviving and not, then add the drug dealers they'd used and those investigating the deaths to the list.
  • Sin City: This happens from time to time, most notably Dwight McCarthy stories since he regularly gets in more and more trouble and technically has to break another law in order to get out of it.
  • A recurring plan in Starman is a Corrupt Corporate Executive hiring a Super Villain to go on a crime spree to cover up a single, financially motivated murder.
  • In Superman storyline Who is Superwoman?, the eponymous villain attempts to murder -and frame- Supergirl and Inspector Henderson to cover up her murder of Agent Liberty.
  • Transformers (2019): The series starts with Brainstorm being murdered. It later turns out he was caught by a bunch of Ascenticons stealing fuel, and they killed him (possibly by accident) as a cover-up. Then they start going after potential witnesses. Things soon snowball until Megatron decides going into a full on military coup is the only way they get out with their behinds intact.
  • In The Vision (2015), Virginia Vision kills the Grim Reaper in self-defense, but is caught disposing of the body by her neighbor, so she kills him, then kills his son to get rid of any witnesses. And then, of course, the Avengers send Victor Mancha to covertly investigate the family...
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The mobsters Etta runs into while trying to get to the dentist compound their insurance fraud with kidnapping and then attempted murder trying to keep their plans from getting out.

    Fan Fic 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 68 Kill: What starts out as a burglary eventually entails murder, kidnapping, car theft, assault, false imprisonment, and arson.
  • Airheads: Rex being called "Hollywood Boulevard trash" by station manager Milo causes the situation to degenerate from mere trespassing to hostage taking.
  • The whole film Armored is basically a big example of this trope. The main plot starts off with a plan by a group of six or so armored truck drivers to steal the money they're transporting. The protagonist has more of a conscience than the average felon but needs the money and agrees to go along with it. Things start out alright for them when they take the truck to an abandoned warehouse where they plan to hide the money and then retrieve it after they pretend their truck was attacked. At some point, they decide that they need to blow up the truck in order to hide the evidence, but things still look like they might go off without any major hitches. However: it turns out that a homeless man is living in the warehouse. When the homeless man sees them, the trigger-happy member of the heist team shoots him. When the protagonist suggests calling an ambulance, the team's leader finishes off the homeless man. Then, the protagonist turns on them and sounds an alarm that draws a police officer to the warehouse. The trigger-happy guy shoots the cop, seriously wounding him. Then, in order to force the protagonist to cooperate with them, the crooks kidnap a member of his family. Meanwhile, another member of the team decides he can't handle it anymore and says he wants out, to which the other criminals respond by murdering him. In the end, the gang's leader tries to run over the protagonist with an armored truck.
  • In The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans a Dirty Cop's life starts to spiral out of control as he has to keep committing new crimes in order to deal with the fallout from his old crimes. And since his old crimes were motivated by massive drug and gambling addictions he hasn't kicked yet, he keeps creating new problems just as soon as it looks like he's solved the old ones.
  • In the black comedy Big Nothing Simon Pegg's character convinces David Schwimmer's character that nothing could go wrong with their plan to blackmail a local Reverend. Unfortunately, no one is quite what they seem, and soon one thing leads to another...
  • In Cradle of Fear, Sophie and Emma start off breaking into an old man's house to steal a stash of cash they believe he has hidden. Things go wrong when the old man catches him and Sophie murders him, and then murders her partner Emma to keep the cash for herself. And then things keep going wrong...
  • Heat: In the opening, a crew has captured an armored car, has blown the back door, and has lined up the guards outside. Waingro (in a mask) is upset because one of the guards won't follow his instructions, and has to be told that because of the explosion, he can't hear. Waingro ignores explicit instructions not to kill anyone. The detective later investigating the robbery explains what happened.
    "Once it escalated to a murder one beef for all of 'em after they killed the first two guards, they didn't hesitate. Pop guard number three because...what difference does it make? Why leave a living witness? Drop of a hat these guys will rock and roll..."
  • The original crime in Fargo was a kidnapping of his wife arranged by Jerry Lundergard as a scheme to get money out of his father-in-law to pay off his gambling debts. The hired kidnappers were just supposed to kidnap Mrs. Lundergard, take her to a cabin at a fishing resort, and wait for Lundergard to get the ransom money, which they would split. Unfortunately, Lundergard forgot to put a license plate or an in-transit certificate on the car he gave the kidnappers, which causes them to be stopped by a state trooper, who looks inside the car when he hears the kidnap victim making noises, and this causes one of the kidnappers to impulsively shoot him in the head. Not only that, but a car with a teenage couple witnesses this, so they have to be murdered, too. So an arranged kidnapping scam turns into a triple murder, from one screw-up after another.
  • Both versions of The Ladykillers involve a gang of thieves who rent an old woman's basement under false pretenses in order to commit grand theft. She discovers the crime and threatens to go to the police, so they try to silence her. They all die in the attempt.
  • Panic Room: The burglary was supposed to be an easy "get in, take the money, get out" when Junior originally planned it and recruited Burnham on that basis and brings in Raoul without telling Burnham. He miscalculated when the house would be re-sold, so he didn't expect to find Meg and Sarah there. Worse still, they fortify themselves inside the panic room, which is where the money belonging to the previous owner is stored. The burglars commit even more crimes in their attempt to get it, including trying to gas Meg and Sarah, threatening Sarah when they find themselves locked in the room with Meg's daughter, torturing Meg's ex-husband Stephen and forcing her to watch, and ultimately Raoul stops caring about the money entirely and attempts to murder the entire family.
  • In Quicksand, Dan embezzles twenty dollars from his employer with plans to repay it the next day. To make up the shortage, he goes in debt for a hundred. Thereafter, every means he tries to get out of trouble only gets him deeper into financial difficulties that lead to bigger crimes as everyone he meets is out for themselves.
  • A Simple Plan is a rather harrowing example of this plot.
  • Basically the entire plot of Stag, in which the party-goers, having committed two counts of manslaughter in the second degree, spend the rest of the film debating whether to commit first-degree murder in order to keep a witness from talking.
  • The Talented Mr. Ripley runs on this. After killing once in self-defence after an argument gets out of hand, Tom is forced to commit another murder to cover it up, and another to cover that one...
  • Thelma & Louise. What starts as an act of self-defense ends with a multi-state manhunt.
  • The trope description doubles as a plot synopsis for Very Bad Things.
  • In Otto Preminger's Where the Sidewalk Ends, a Rabid Cop accidentally beats a suspect to death, and ends up inadvertently framing an innocent man while trying to throw suspicion off himself.

  • This trope is the most common source of Never One Murder in the works of Agatha Christie; many a murderer finds themselves needing to bump off a blackmailer or unintended witness to the first crime. In several works, such as The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, A Murder Is Announced and Cat Among the Pigeons, the initial crime witnessed wasn't even a murder. In Death on the Nile, the second victim was murdered because of having witnessed the first murder; and the third because of having witnessed the second.
  • The elderly murderer in Dying to Live in Palm Beach accidentally took and used her wealthier friend's credit card, then began to do it deliberately until her friend mentioned her kids got her a bookkeeper. She poisons that friend, realizes she likes having money, arranges an overdose for another friend after abusing her card, and shoves a third off a boat when she catches her in the act.
  • Happens in the Gaunt's Ghosts novel Necropolis. A merchant cartel trader disobeys an general order from the Imperial Guard to seal off a fuel pipeline he owns, since he is making a fortune selling the fuel in the besieged city. Then the pipeline is used by Chaos forces to infiltrate the city (which is why the order was made in the first place) and his crime becomes an act of treason. To get rid of witnesses, he kills the civilian workers he used in his scheme, then kills his bodyguards who helped him kill the civilians, then his aide (or is planning to, at least), then tries to kill the medics of the titular Ghosts who are investigating the murders and how that Chaos infiltration even happened. Luckily, he is stopped by Gaunt, but one has to wonder how he'd plan to kill the 1500+ pissed-off Imperial Guardsmen that would have torn the city apart looking for him.
  • The Hot Rock (and the movie based on the novel) involves an escalating series of crimes dedicated to stealing a particular diamond.
    I've heard of the habitual criminal, of course. But I never dreamed I'd become involved with the habitual CRIME.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: In nearly all of the books, the villain engages in some illegal or unethical scheme to make money and/or preserve a certain status with no intention of killing anyone, but then commits murder to try and either avoid exposure or keep the plan from being derailed. The only exceptions are Banking on Death, where the murder is an unpremeditated crime of passion not related to any other crime and When in Greece, where the murder is ruthlessly premeditated and a key part of the villain's plan from the start.
  • In one of his novels, Bayard Kendrick has his blind detective explain that you kill the first person because you absolutely have to. Then you kill the next person because they know too much. Then you kill again because there are loose ends. In the end, you just keep killing because you've gotten good at it.
  • The villains in Murder on the Leviathan first killed ten people in Paris to steal the MacGuffin, then killed a professor onboard the luxury liner Leviathan when he got dangerously close to the truth, then, when the investigation began to catch on, decided to just sink the ship with all the passengers.
  • In Native Son, Bigger Thomas accidentally suffocates a white girl in her bed. Believing that society would presume a black man like him guilty of having raped and murdered her, he burns her body and writes a ransom note claiming she's been kidnapped. Before Bigger is tracked down and arrested, he rapes and murders a black girlfriend.
  • Nick Velvet: A comparatively mild example happens in "The Theft of the Banker's Ashtray", where Nick ends up having to steal the same ashtray twice (and the ashtray is actually stolen three times). Nick is peeved because he only gets paid for one theft.
  • In the Harry Turtledove novel Noninterference, the head of The Federation's pre-warp civilization Survey organization gets a report from a recent mission that a violation of the title Alien Non-Interference Clause had longer-lasting effects than anyone had anticipated. Instead of working on Spin Control (the guy responsible for the initial screwup was cashiered, his mission is used as a case study in What Not To Do, and more to the point he has been dead for over fourteen centuries) she orders the files erased... and goes after the copy downloaded by a xeno-anthropology professor. Her enforcer is surprised by the professor while trying to steal it, and kills him.This makes the Survey Service a lot more desperate to cover up that unplanned murder, leading to many more premeditated murders and attempted murders when she tries to shut up the survey team and track down which of the professor's students has a copy of the report.
  • In Tea with the Black Dragon, the villains start out with non-violent cybercrime. When an audit threatens to expose the money they've stolen, they commit other crimes to cover their tracks, including kidnapping the mother of an accomplice who's planning to go to the police. The hostage refuses to co-operate, and one of the kidnappers loses his temper and attacks her, apparently killing her. Finding themselves on the hook for one murder, they decide they might as well keep going, and plan to murder the accomplice as well, along with a friend of the family who has been investigating the kidnapping.
  • The murderer in Dorothy L. Sayers Unnatural Death would probably have gotten away with the initial murder if they hadn't got paranoid about who might know too much and started offing other people as well. At the end of the story, Chief Inspector Parker says of the first murder, "We can't prove it now — that's why I left it off the charge-sheet."

    Live Action TV 
  • Black Mirror: The episode "Crocodile" takes place in a world where a person's memory can be accessed with a special device. Mia's boyfriend Rob killed someone in a hit-and-run 15 years ago and now wants to write a letter to his widow. Mia kills him so he won't drag her down with him. Then, when Shazia might investigate her memories and uncover the crime, Mia kills her to cover up the murder and then kills Shazia's husband and baby son to cover up that murder.
  • This is a running theme in Breaking Bad. Walt and Jesse want to make and sell meth but to do so they need to make deals with violent and unstable criminals who do not trust them. Sooner or later the other criminals turn on them and Walt and Jesse have to kill them to protect themselves. As they move further up the criminal food chain, they are forced to take more drastic measures and become more ruthless. The show is described by Vince Gilligan as an attempt to turn Walt from Mr. Chips into Scarface, so this trope was planned from the get-go.
  • Cold Case
    • An early episode had a guy shoot a man to death, and in attempt to cover it up, he set a fire... which killed at least twenty-two others.
    • In another episode the Big Bad doesn't even kill the victim — he just gets rid of the body to protect the idiot that killed her almost by accident. However, as the investigation goes on, he kills another man to keep the secret and when that also fails, he attempts to kill the detective in charge of the investigation.
  • CSI:
    • In an episode, a lawyer enjoys a few drinks and hits a pedestrian while driving home. The victim gets trapped in his windshield, but instead of taking him to a hospital or calling the police, the lawyer hides the man in his garage. In the end, it's revealed that the man jumped in front of his car intentionally to commit suicide, and the lawyer would not have been charged with anything had he not let the guy die in his garage.
    • Also, the infamous Max from the episode "Loco Motives". It would have worked out much better for him if he had just called the police and told them he accidentally killed his wife instead of what he actually did, which involved killing his neighbor and failing in disposing of his wife's body.
    • In another one there was a taxi driver who ran over a pickpocket who refused to pay her fare and ran off with his wallet, but he only did it because another driver bumped into him on purpose, causing his car to hit her in the head when she tripped. He wouldn't have gone to jail but the other driver convinced him that they both would, so they fled the scene and lied about the whole thing, and tampered with evidence, all of which were crimes. Since he's an immigrant, the first driver is likely to be deported, the very thing he was trying to avoid in the first place.
    • In the series' pilot episode, a thief returns to the house he'd robbed, presumably to clean up some clue to his identity, and winds up murdering Holly Gribbs, who is processing the scene.
  • In the CSI: Miami episode "Blown Away", two burglars are revealed to have killed a young woman who walked in on them robbing their house, then to have murdered their partner who walked in on them committing both crimes.
  • On CSI: NY, Mac spends some time being stalked by a criminal he put away while he was still a rookie, who has some unspecified grudge against him and his old mentor/first partner. It turns out that Mac's mentor stole some money the crook was caught with and stashed it at the scene. When he went to pick it up, the crook's girlfriend caught him so he killed her.
  • How to Get Away with Murder pretty much runs on this. Every character is sooner rather than later a murderer, a murder accomplice, committing crimes to cover up the murder, framing somebody else for murder, framing themselves for murder, committing crimes to get out of said framing or otherwise doing very bad things to hide a very bad thing they did in the past. And since the web of lies is ever expanding in severity and number of people involved, every time there's more people willing to do worse things to get out of trouble.
  • In Inside No. 9 episode "Once Removed", Viktor was tasked with killing one person; May. But thanks to May switching the number on Natasha's house, he ends up killing Natasha, her father upstairs, and her real estate agent to leave no witnesses. He looked like he was about to kill the removal man as well when May and her screwdriver intervened.
  • A favored trope of Law & Order - especially when the defendant has a rich (or mobbed-up) family to bribe, perjure and intimidate his way to an acquittal.
  • In the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Poison", a daffy woman wants to buy a baby-clothing franchise but needs money to do so. So she murders her husband by poisoning his aspirin, hoping to file a wrongful-death suit. But the company refuses to pay out for one death, so she engineers a string of poisonings to make it look like there was a bad batch but discovers that she can't collect a payout during an active crisis, so she then frames her mother for the poisonings. She finally collects her payout, but then discovers that the franchise she's trying to buy won't accept money from someone whose mother supposedly went on a killing spree...
  • In Luther, all DCI Ian Reed needed was some money... but it just snowballed from there...
  • On Magnum, P.I. (2018) Magnum lampshades this when he is held prisoner by two blackmailers. If they let him go immediately and surrender to the police, they will probably serve no time or might even have all charges against them dropped if they got a really good lawyer. Their blackmail scheme fizzled out before they even had the opportunity to demand money and given what they discovered, briefly holding Magnum at gunpoint might have been justified. However, if they want to proceed with their scheme they will have to kill Magnum and risk spending the rest of their life in prison. The criminals do not follow Magnum's advice and end in jail on attempted murder charges.
  • Midsomer Murders: "Talking to the Dead" is a textbook example. The original crime (which the viewer only learns about after several murders) was the comparatively minor one of stealing goods that were already stolen. When of the crooks they were stealing from discovered them, the murderer killed him and blackmailed his accomplice into helping him dispose of the body. However, things quickly escalated and he committed three subsequent murders to prevent his crimes from being discovered and would have committed a fourth if Barnaby had not caught him.
  • Common in Monk and Psych, particularly in Monk where many of the murders are relatively innocent people who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. The mystery is finding out why they were murdered in the first place, and it often comes down to the murder being used to cover up some other crime, which is only discovered through the murder investigation. If that's not the case, someone else is likely to be murdered in an attempt to cover up evidence from the first murder.
    • A typical use of this, for example, occurs in "Mr. Monk and the Very Very Old Man," in which a politician accidentally killed an innocent teenager in a drunken hit and run years before the plot happened. Unable to resist confessing somehow, he wrote a letter detailing his guilt and put it in a time capsule, which was supposed to be opened again sooner than expected if the world's oldest man were to live five more years. The politician was eventually forced to kill the man in order to stop the time capsule from being opened, during which he also had to kill a security guard. He goes down for triple homicide in an attempt to cover up his single hit and run.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: In "Murdoch Au Naturel", Irene provides a somewhat tragic example of one crime leading to a lot worse. She robs a stodgy businessman for some money to achieve her husband's dream of a Utopian nudist colony. Then a Pinkerton Detective who killed her outlaw brothers possibly in cold blood, and injured her several years ago recognized the family's Signature Move from the robbery and showed up to investigate. She killed him right before the episode begins. Then she shoots another member of the nudist colony after framing him but does so to save Murdoch's life (the man has genuine dark secret and holds Murdoch at gunpoint). Then, when Murdoch figures out her secret, she's about to reluctantly shoot him before being stopped.
  • In an episode of NYPD Blue a man murders his neighbor to keep the neighbor from testifying against him about a much lesser crime. The cops bust him as he's butchering the body in order to dispose of it.
  • In Person of Interest this is usually what gets Finch and Reese involved. The machine is unable to predict impulse crimes but once a crime is committed it can predict that the cover-up will involve murders. In the pilot when Dirty Cops kill some drug dealers the cover-up escalates to the attempted murder of a teenage witness and then the attempted murder of the prosecutor looking into the matter. The criminals were willing to escalate things even further since the prosecutor had his young son with him when they tried to kill him and they did not want any witnesses.
  • Prison Break contains several cases of this. Charles Westmoreland even tells Michael at one point that there's no such thing as an ex-con, which Michael repeats sometime in season two when he realizes how many crimes and deaths he's been directly and indirectly involved in, since he decided to break Lincoln out of prison. Sucre, C-Note, and Mahone are also arguable examples of this, as their backstory gradually reveals.
  • In The Shield, the very first episode shows Mackay and the team making deals with local drug dealers, allowing them to deal drugs in order to "steer crime away from normal citizens" (and make a profit by taking a cut). By the end of the pilot episode this has escalated to shooting a fellow police officer who had agreed to investigate the team and testify. Seven seasons are spent committing crime after crime trying to keep this under wraps.
  • Played with, or perhaps subverted in Veronica Mars season one, in which the Kanes commit various counts of conspiracy (mislabeled in the show as obstruction of justice) in order to conceal that Duncan did not kill Lilly. Well, technically, they thought he killed her and that's why they covered it up. In their defense, they did find him in a position where he was covered in her blood. Which could have been used against him, no matter how innocent he was.

  • In Dark Sarah's "A Grim Christmas Story", a woman murders her husband on the Second Day of Christmas for lying to her. On each of the subsequent days of Christmas, she murders someone else, usually because they're asking why somebody she killed in a previous verse is missing (Plus one count of Murder the Hypotenuse). In the last verse she poisons some policemen who have realized that she's the common thread behind all the disappearances and flees the area.

  • Older Than Steam: Macbeth is famous for this one. Macbeth's first crime, murdering the king, is the worst. His subsequent crimes are committed not to cover up the first but to hold onto the throne.

    Video Games 
  • One of the scenarios in Frostpunk has you deal with evacuating the inhabitants of your doomed city with a shuttle to a transport (that is not big enough for everyone) in order to go somewhere else. Unfortunately, you as leader don't know of any other place to go, but you can choose to lie about it and claim you know of another city in order to prevent people from losing heart and working less efficiently for the rest of the scenario. If you lie however, nothing happens at first, but soon one citizen will figure it out and confront you, threatening to expose you unless he and his family is given priority in the evacuation. You can agree to his demands, refuse or have him killed since He Knows Too Much. If you give in, he will leave and not expose you, but this leads to four more citizens confronting you about the same thing, and this time the options are only to kill them or to allow them to tell the truth. If you allow the truth to come out or refuse the blackmail, a riot will break out. This leads either to you having to suppress it by force, injuring or killing dozens of citizens, or to a great number of people leaving for the transport on foot instead of via the shuttle meaning most of them will die on the way there, and to the remaining citizens despairing to a point where you are likely to get an uprising on your hands, which leads to a Game Over. Maybe you should just have accepted that slight efficiency loss from the start...
  • the white chamber: Revealed in the end, this is what happened to the original crew, at the hands of the main character. The first death was an accident, and she hid the body. The second happened because he found the first body. Then the others followed in the same vein, for ever weaker excuses as her paranoia increased and her sanity slipped further...
  • A good possibility of happening in Yandere Simulator, and why the game is billed as a stealth game. If you commit murder in front of a witness, they'll react in a way that varies with personality type, but is almost always a major hassle if not a straight game over. The only way Ayano can stop this is to kill the witness before they can complete their reaction (or, in the case of delinquents, after winning a fight minigame), which in turn means more corpses to haul around and get spotted with, and more chance that Ayano aggroes someone she can't take on and gets her ass kicked or gets sloppy with evidence and gets arrested. The key to not winding up with the police (or worse, Senpai) catching you red-handed is to commit singular crimes well enough that nobody can pin you to them in the first place. Random stabbing massacres may be fun, but are a very good way to end your game early.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The bonus case in the first game has this as the motive for Joe Darke in the backstory (though it's noted that this is police speculation) - a seemingly normal man who accidentally killed a cyclist in a car accident, which was seen by a witness. He killed the witness to try and cover up his initial crime, but someone else came along and saw him do that, so he had to kill that witness too, and so on, and so on, until he had five kills under his belt.
    • The Big Bad of Trials and Tribulations (Dahlia Hawthorne) killed their sister to keep her from talking about a fake kidnapping they had staged years ago to steal a jewel from their family. Spoiler elaboration 
    • The Big Bad of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney (Kristoph Gavin) winds up causing most of the troubles before and during the game. It all starts with Kristoph wanting to successfully win a high profile murder case, with him serving as the defense while his brother is the prosecutor. To that end, he hires a forger to manufacture a piece of faulty evidence (Crime #1) that will exonerate his client (who, as it turned out, was innocent all along, meaning absolutely none of this was necessary in the first place). In order to avoid being accused of forgery, he attempts to poison both the forger (#2) and his daughter (#3) (who was the one actually responsible for the forgery). But before he can have his day in court, his client abruptly fires him for being untrustworthy and instead hires Phoenix Wright. Enraged, Kristoph surreptitiously passes off the forged evidence to Wright while informing his brother of its existence; thus, when Wright brings up the evidence in trial, he's immediately accused of forging evidence and disbarred (#4). The defendant manages to flee before the trial can continue, but Kristoph eventually tracks him down and kills him (#5), and tries to pin the crime on Olga Orly as the defense co-counsel (#6). Pretty ridiculous considering this whole thing sprung out of a desire to win one case.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Nikolaos, the PC of Iliad Quest, assists Odysseus and Diomedes in their revenge plot to murder Palamedes for endangering Odysseus' son's life to get him to answer the call to arms in the First Mustering. When Palamedes' father Nauplius comes calling to investigate the death, he gets killed off as well.
  • In a banned video by Smosh, Ian pours mercury into a friend's drink as a prank, only for it to kill him. Desperate to hide the evidence, he ends up assaulting/killing witness after witness. Then it's revealed that his friend had been Playing Possum the whole time.

    Western Animation 
  • Parodied in the first Futurama "Tales of Interest" episode, in which a What If? machine shows what it would be like if Leela (normally the Straight Man) was more impulsive. She ends up killing The Professor for his inheritance and then slowly working her way through the cast as they catch on, except for Fry, whom she seduces. Then kills gets kinky.
    Leela: I don't know what came over me! I killed one person on impulse, then I had to kill another, and another!
    Fry: Well, that covers the first three killings.

    Real Life 
  • The Watergate scandal that brought down Richard Nixon started with a simple break-in to a hotel. A foiled "third-rate" burglary at the Watergate complex led to the subsequent investigation by Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, which uncovered suspiciously diverted funds and a massive conspiracy to manipulate the US election that went right up to President Nixon himself. As well as adding a new suffix to the English language with Scandalgate. Even the burglary itself was tipped off by a tiny clue: A security guard found the lock on a stairwell door taped open. Thinking it had been left by maintenance workers, he removed the tape. The guard came back to find the lock taped again, and decided to make a more thorough search, catching the burglars in the act. Ultimately, this break-in led to corruption, attempted interference with the FBI and a special prosecutor, and even an attempt to steal the US election, all from an attempt to cover up the first crime by committing even more of them.