Follow TV Tropes


Death by Recognition

Go To

"Hey, what are you doing up here? Wait a minute...What the hell is this?! Oh my's YOU! The man or woman who's been killing everybody!"
Derek, Family Guy

Some (usually) minor character suddenly sees someone he recognizes, but who really shouldn't be here at the moment and whose face we can't see. Then he exclaims: "You?!.." or "What are you doing here?" and gets immediately killed.

This is a much used trope, to the point of being a cliché, in British TV mystery series of the more traditional kind, e.g., Midsomer Murders, Inspector Morse, or anything adapted from Agatha Christie. It's a way of letting the viewer see the murder without giving away who did it. We may also see the victim from the killer's viewpoint, in which case it's an overlap with Impending Doom P.O.V. or Murderer P.O.V..


Can become a Tear Jerker.

Related to Et Tu, Brute?.

As a Death Trope, all Spoilers will be unmarked ahead. Beware.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Kaji's last words are a casual "You're late".
  • Happens to Kyoraku in the second Bleach movie. After a few seconds of scuffling with a mysterious ice-wielding enemy, he manages to cut off his opponent's mask and get a look at his face. He remarks "You're...!" Cue scene cut to Kyoraku in the hospital.

    Comic Books 

    Film — Animated 
  • Metallo's "Oh it's you" in Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, where after the aforementioned heroes engage him in heated battle and escape from an apparent defeat, Metallo checks the place and is approached by a shadowy figure resembling Captain Atom or Major Force. A couple of hours later, at most, Metallo's murder is pinned on Superman.
  • In Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, the opening scene is shot from the serial killer's point of view, and the confused target lets out one of these before he gets cudgelled on the head with a rolling pin.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective: The death isn't shown on screen, but Ace figures out that Roger Pedacter was murdered because he saw Police Lieutenant Lois Einhorn and realized that she used to be disgraced former Miami Dolphins kicker Ray Finkle in the middle of a revenge plot.
  • In Clue, Yvette is killed by He Who Must Not Be Seen just after saying, "It's you!"
  • In the 2010 film Faster, Driver (played by Dwayne Johnson) shoots and kills a man who immediately recognizes him upon his entrance. Later scenes reveal him as the Telemarketer, one of five men who assisted in killing Driver's brother Gary.
  • In the original Friday the 13th (1980), this is how Steve Christy meets his end.
  • In The Man with Two Brains, Delores steps into an elevator, obviously recognizes the other occupant, smiles and says, "What are you doing here?" Then the other person (Merv Griffin) injects window cleaner into her butt. It kills her... mostly.
  • In The Usual Suspects, Keyser Soze finds the man who can identify him, who begs him, "I promise...I told them nothing..." Soze is bathed in golden light, and then there's a Discretion Shot as Soze shoots him.

  • At the start of Angels & Demons Doctor Vetra sees and identifies the killer just before he dies.
  • Discworld: The choir director's last words in Maskerade are "What are you doing here?
  • The Wheel of Time: The Forsaken Asmodean meets his death this way soon after his forced Heel–Face Turn, exploring a royal palace that The Chosen One had just liberated from one of Asmodean's erstwhile comrades. The identity of his killer is only confirmed eight books later.
    Asmodean pulled open a small door, intending to find his way to the pantry. There should be some decent wine. One step, and he stopped, the blood draining from his face. "You? No!" The word still hung in the air when death took him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The first episode of Charmed (1998) starts this way, when a witch says "What are you doing here?" and then gets stabbed to death.
  • Parodied on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Carlton and Ashley are playing "whodunnit", and "murders" (carried out with sucker darts) of this type happen throughout the episode. Played completely straight when Will is accused of being the murderer and ends up Acquitted Too Late (to his irritation, since he isn't playing). The murderer was Aunt Vivian, if you were wondering.
  • In Home and Away, Josh West says, "What are you doing here?" in the episode where he is killed. Arguably a subversion, as he had a brief conversation with the killer (later shown in flashback once he was exposed as such), before pulling out his own gun.
  • Lois & Clark: Elliott Gould says this just before he's killed by the baddie of the week, as Lois is in his bathroom and sees the killer. Subverted, though, in that we actually see the killer, too; but it turns out he's a Master of Disguise, so seeing him doesn't help. The person Lois thought she saw kill Gould was at a conference delivering a speech at the time of the murder.
  • One (of several) fan theories about the Fade to Black ending of The Sopranos is that it's Tony having a heart attack as he sees who's entering the restaurant.
  • In season 3, the Dean of Heart College in Veronica Mars gives us a "What are you doing here?" The next time we see him, he's dead.

    Video Games 
  • In Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Ocelot does this to a guard (he isn't hidden from the viewer, but it's a surprise that he's even there at all).
  • Heavy Rain. The mysterious Origami Killer visits a small-time crook in his office - a guy who had been renting space to Origami for his little 'games' in various derelict buildings. He goes, "Oh, it's just you..." and then chats a bit before the killer offs him so the victim cannot identify him to anyone.
  • In one of the Bad Ends of Remember 11, Kokoro manages only to say this before she is killed.
    • Given that it's highly implied the killer is Enomoto, Kokoro may have actually been trying to say "Who are you?"

  • Parodied in Irregular Webcomic! in that:
    1. The victim was the author himself, and
    2. The character who killed him was also the author himself, time traveled from the future to kill him.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Family Guy episode "And Then There Were Fewer", Jillian's husband, Derek, dies when he goes out to get a cell phone signal, but is cornered by the killer on a balcony. The trope is parodied when Derek refers to the killer as "the man or woman who's been killing everyone!". It's Diane Simmons