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Faking the Dead

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Sevarius: I was particularly proud of my death scene.
Xanatos: Frankly, Sevarius, I thought you overplayed the part.

A character's death is faked, for one or more of the following purposes:

Often the audience will think the character is genuinely dead. Extra points if a fake crime scene photo or Staged Shooting is used. Sometimes a John Doe's remains are substituted and destroyed beyond recognition, or everyone is simply told 'They Never Found the Body.' The person faking his death might attend his own funeral. Of course, when this happens to main characters in a series, the audience should not be fooled.

When the method of faking temporarily turns the character into a realistic-seeming corpse, this is Faux Death.

Death Faked for You, Playing Possum and Fake Kill Scare are subtropes. The inverse is Of Corpse He's Alive (a "live" person is actually dead) and El Cid Ploy (a faction pretending their leader is alive).

A play on the common turn of phrase "waking the dead". Contrast He's Just Hiding!. Not to be confused with Fake Weakness. See also Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated.

For what (usually) happens next, see Starting a New Life.

Remember that faking the dead may seem fun, but it is a criminal action in most countries and may cause legal trouble. Don't Try This at Home.



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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Episode 17 of Attack on Titan, while Armin, Reiner, and Jean are fighting the Female Titan, she knocks Armin off his horse. She then seems to be gaining the upper hand in the battle when Jean is unable to strike at the back of her neck, until Armin yells at Jean to avenge his best friend's death, meaning Eren, which this Titan killed earlier. While he is clearly lying, the Female Titan does stop attacking for the moment, giving Jean enough time to escape.
  • Once he learns that the Queen of Midland and her nobles want him dead, Griffith of Berserk blackmails Foss, the head of the conspiracy, into helping him set up a Batman Gambit involving Faking The Dead that ultimately leads to the Queen and her nobles being locked into a burning castle to die.
  • Occurs in Black Butler: Book of Murder, in which Sebastian appeared to be deceased. It was false, and Ciel, although aware the whole time, was dang convincing in his seeming grief.
  • Aizen Sousuke of Bleach. Notable in that he later reveals himself to be not just alive, but the Big Bad as well, and that the death was merely one part of his elaborate Gambit Roulette. He did this again in the Fake Karakura Town arc.
  • Part of the backstory of Code Geass: Lelouch and Nunnally Lamperouge are in fact disgraced royalty who faked their own deaths in order to hide in exile in Area 11 (formerly Japan). It gets used a few more times in the series, with Zero declared dead at the start of R2, Nunnally, Sayoko and Guilford presumed dead after FLEIJA detonated, Marianne revealed to have hidden in another character's body, and Suzaku "dying" in the final battle to take up the mantle of Zero. Despite all of that, Word of God says Lelouch is genuinely dead in the end.
  • Briefly in Darker Than Black: When Hei was fighting Wei, he intentionally got his own blood on his mask and fell off the edge of a building. Wei smugly headed down to kill Alice and Breaking Speech Kirihara, and was rather unpleasantly surprised when the Black Shinigami smashed in through the window, kicked him in the head, and electrocuted him half to death through the blood he'd gotten all over the floor.
  • Death Note:
    • Matsuda throws himself off a balcony and onto a mattress hidden below, to reduce his risk from Kira.
    • L Lawlliet fakes his death in the live-action movie.
  • Detective Conan:
    • In a case from volume 30, Captain Ersatzes of famous detectives were invited to an abandoned mansion and, being observed by surveillance cameras, fake killing each other off and/or dying via various ignoble means to deduced who the real killer was in order to Pull the Thread on her.
    • In a filler case, a desperate woman stuck with an abusive fiancè asked her friends and neighbors for help to fake her death and get away, and they agreed. But in an horrible subversion, they didn't count on said abusive fiancè finding out about the plan, killing the girl and then trying to use Kogoro as an Unwitting Pawn to put the blame on the friends.
  • In Detective School Q, this happenens several times:
    • The three-parts case that doubles as Ryu's introduction has three people from Class A murdered in very gory manners... but is actually a Secret Test of Character from Morihiko Dan and Class A, and the three "victims" are pulling this trope. The Class Q kids find out halfway through the deal and stage their own Faking The Death incident to reveal this.
    • A School Newspaper Newshound named Maya is found apparently bludgeoned to death by the murderer from the Boarding School case because, unbeknownst to herself, she has crucial information that could ruin his plans. It turns out Maya survived the attack, but the Q class pretended that she had died so she wouldn't be targeted again; she's hospitalized and in recovery, and this is revealed once the case is solved. However, this is a case of Spared by the Adaptation since Maya was Killed Off for Real in the manga.
    • In the case concerning a Mad Bomber who refuses to spill out where he hid his last and deadliest bomb, Class A and Class Q manage to trick the man into believing said last bomb had already detonated, which leads him to gloat about the destuction it caused and slip out where he had put it. The whole plan included Kintarou faking his death in the explosion, and Kazuma faking an Heroic B.S.O.D. over it. (The omake has Kintarou tragicomically wondering if this would happen when he died for real.)
    • A CEO who was going to be on a business flight that crashed but gave her ticket to someone else at the last minute chose not to come forward and admit she didn't die in the plane crash, because her life insurance policy was large enough to keep her failing company solvent. Unfortunately, when she tried to see her family one last time disguised as a Phony Psychic, her Locked Outof The Loop sons thought she was a con artist in cahoots with their Evil Aunt... and murdered her to protect their little sister.
    • At the very last case, it turns out that Ryu's father's death was faked by King Hades to give Ryu plausible motive to kill four of his former house servantsnote  in a case nine years after the event. Yes, it's much more complicated than it seems.
  • In The Familiar of Zero, Colbert dies onscreen in season 2. There is no hint that he might be alive until he shows up in season 3, saving the day at the last minute. It turns out his death was faked with magic.
  • Done in Fullmetal Alchemist with Maria Ross. Ross is charged guilty for killing Maes Hughes (who was actually killed by a shapeshifter assuming Ross's appearance). Roy Mustang, knowing that Ross wouldn't do this, forges a corpse and shows its wholly incinerated remains as evidence that Ross was properly punished, while Ross in actuality escapes and returns for the climax of the plot. The government does order the coroner to confirm the corpse's identity through dental records... but, as it turns out, the coroner was in on it too.
  • In Full Metal Panic!, the powerful psychic and temporal energies coming off of Yamsk 11 cause Sophia (possessing Kaname's body), Sousuke, and Tessa to see a vision of a possible future in which Sophia shoots the latter two dead. The real Kaname, a prisoner in her own mind, exerts enough mental influence to make Sophia believe that she really did kill Sousuke and Tessa so that she and her allies would turn their attention elsewhere, giving the heroes the breathing room they need to turn the tables. By the time she finds out, Sousuke is already en route to destroy her plans and it's too late to stop him.
  • In Gintama, Katsura slashed in the beginning of the Benizakura arc and disappears for the rest of the arc, until the final battler when Katsura reveals to have been hiding in an Elizabeth costume. Points to the person who killed him; Okada Nizuo was so confident in Katsura's defeat that Nizuo decided to cut off Katsura's hair as prize before he even checked Katsura's alive or dead status - allowing Katsura's to survive.
  • In Haiyore! Nyarko-san, Nyarko apparently gets killed Taking the Bullet for Mahiro. He sobs over her body, bemoaning how he should have been nicer to which point she grabs his head and pulls him into a very deep kiss, with plenty of tongue. It turns out the good luck charm she gave him in episode 2 acted as a Pocket Protector, and she played dead for this precise reason. Worth pointing out, during this episode the pair is in the middle of a "Freaky Friday" Flip, so from Mahiro's perspective his own body just gave him a giant French kiss; he's understandably not happy.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Jotaro is forced to do this during his fight with Dio, as he had just been struck with dozens of knives and can't survive another attack. He even goes as far as to have Star Platinum temporarily stop his own heartbeat.
      • Almost defied: Dio decides to cut his head off just in case, but Jean Pierre gets the jump on him, allowing Star Platinum to revive Jotaro and get him back in the fight.
    • Earlier than that, Avdol is seemingly killed by Hol Horse and J. Geil, but eventually shows up later in the story, explaining that he just barely managed to deflect the otherwise-fatal blow so that it only knocked him out instead. His party (sans Polnareff, who was Locked Out of the Loop along with the audience for fear that he'd accidentally blab about what they were going to do next) then decided to fake his death so that he could recover in secret and eventually catch up with them.
    • His grandfather Joesph pulls this on Wham, taking it to video game levels of Refuge in Audacity, as in he is moving around whenever Wham isn't looking. Wham does notice, but it's all a part of the plan.
  • Katekyō Hitman Reborn!:
    • Rokudo Mukuro pretended to have suicided by shooting himself in the head. Turns out he shot himself with a special bullet that allows him to possess others and tries to surprise attack Tsuna using other people's bodies.
    • Future Tsuna also does the same thing in the future arc.
  • In The Kindaichi Case Files volume 4 (or the first arc of the second season of the anime), Hajime fakes his death in order to get all the suspects in one place, while at the same time demonstrating an optical illusion that the culprit was using to throw everyone off.
  • Prior to the events of Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru was saved from certain death by Kobayashi after a battle with the gods. Since everyone in other world assumed she was dead, she took the chance to drop off the radar and be freed of her responsibilities, only informing Lucoa and Fafnir of her survival. This ends up causing quite a bit of friction with her rival/former best friend Elma.
  • In the Mobile Suit Gundam original show, Char and his sister fake their own deaths to go into hiding, taking on fake identities that lead them right back into the War. This formula is repeated for several other Char clones, such as Zechs and his sister Relena in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
  • When Balsa in Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit is hired to protect Prince Chagum, her first step is to set fire to the Second Empress' palace, hoping the assassins will assume he died in the flames. They aren't fooled for a second.
  • Naruto:
    • In chapter 487, it's revealed that Kisame faked his death with a Zetsu clone and is hiding inside Samehada so that he could infiltrate the Cloud Village and capture Killerbee more easily. He does note that the plan didn't go entirely without a hitch since Samehada liked the Hachibi (Eight Tails) enough to actually give Killerbee chakra. Meaning that, when push comes to shove, Samehada might have Conflicting Loyalty.
    • The most important use of this trope is the zigzagging with regards to Uchiha Madara. Believed dead after his battle with the First Hokage, he used the following decades to perfect his Evil Plan until he died of old age well before the main story began. At that point his identity was assumed by Obito, his chosen successor who utilized Madara's reputation and apparent miraculous survival to his advantage.
    • Obito is also a mild zigzag, having apparently died while on a mission only to survive with no means to contact anyone. The faking was unwilling at first as he wanted to return home but after witnessing Rin's death he decided That Man Is Dead and went with this trope.
  • Done hilariously in One Piece. Nami faked killing Usopp to get him away from Arlong. When he returned to Zoro and Sanji, they were having their first fight, and accidentally Double-KO'ed the arriving Usopp.
    Sanji: He is alive.
    Zoro: Nope, I think he's dead now.
    • The same arc featured the debut of Usopp's "Ketchup Star", which he uses to make it look like he's either dead or seriously injured. He successfully used this to get a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad to leave him alone, but soon finds it in himself to fight the guy anyway.
  • In The Rising of the Shield Hero Malty is sentenced to a Cruel and Unusual Death which is confirmed when her body is shipped back. This is later revealed to be a homunculus created by Tact's harem to hide her survival.
  • Quite the Tear Jerker in The '90s Sailor Moon anime— One episode revealed Minako's Back Story as Sailor V. She lived in London with a woman she saw as her older sister named Katarina and an older man named Alan who she clearly had a crush on for awhile, until one day when she went into a building to investigate a crime as Sailor V. The theif threw a grenade at her, which wrecked the building. Katarina barely escaped with her life, and Minako was alive, still hidden in the rubble, when she saw Katarina embrace Alan and realized those two were more than friends. She left and pretended she had died in the accident so those two would be happy together without her getting in the way. note 
  • In the two-part Weiß Kreuz OVA Verbrechen ~ Strafe, Aya and Yoji receive orders to kill Ken and Omi for refusing to complete a mission. Tipped off that the orders are fraudulent, the four stage a vicious battle which apparently ends with the deaths of Omi, Yoji, and Aya, and use it as an opportunity to get the jump on the source of the fake orders.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Toguro faked killing Kuwabara by stabbing him just around the heart, barely missing it, in order to give Yusuke the motivation to defeat him. Kuwabara played along for the same reason, only revealing himself to have been faking after the fight was finished.
    • Also, both Toguro brothers fake the dead in the arc before the Dark Tournament, to let Yusuke and Kuwabara think that they are anywhere near close to them in power, at least for a little while.
  • In Yuureitou, Reiko killed her adopted mother and apparently killed herself afterwards. As it turns out, Reiko was Tetsuo prior to his transition.
  • There was a really elaborate one in Zetman, where old man Amagi tricked Jin into believing his 'Auntie' had died and had been turned into a player. To make this work they scan Jin's memory to digitally recreate his Auntie and their living room and have her be shot through the head. they made Jin experience this in a dream. After this they created a player that looked like a naked Auntie with a nasty case of Shot-To-The-Face and made a player designed to look like Zet mutilate her, in front of Jin's eyes.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman and the Outsiders: The Outsiders led by Nightwing fake their death to be able to work undercover. The stratagem is blown in the One Year Later storyline, and the team then has to deal with the various consequences for their actions.
  • Batgirl: In an issue of Batgirl (2000), Cassandra Cain once fakes the dead to get the villain to trust Robin, who's supposedly taken her down. That includes staying still when Robin shoots her on the villain's orders.
  • In Issue #17 of The Batman and Robin Adventures, the Mad Hatter fakes his death as part of a plan to abduct his love interest.
  • In one Birds of Prey arc, Cheshire tied up Lady Shiva and stuffed her in the trunk of a car that had been wired to explode, hoping that the police would find the charred body of an Asian woman and assume it was Cheshire that had been killed. Fortunately, the heroes were able to rescue Shiva before the bomb could go off.
  • In the New 52 version of Green Arrow, it turns out that Henry Queen faked his death, and then became the masked figure that tortured Ollie on the island, to force his son to become the Arrow. Ollie's reaction is that his dad is a lunatic, and the Henry Queen he remembers is still dead.
  • Green Lantern: The Corps believes that Kyle Rayner pulled a Heroic Sacrifice to stop Relic at the end of the Lights Out storyline. In fact, he survived, but what he saw at the Source Wall and what it means for his own White Lantern powers and those of the other Corps means he's not ready to return.
  • In Legends, Doctor Bedlam fakes his own death while posing as Magno-Man in order to disgrace Captain Marvel for killing him by using his magic lightning bolt to transform back into Billy Batson. It's still rather traumatic for him to go through, though.
  • During Battle for the Cowl Tim survived his the near fatal injuries Jason gave him by accidentally faking the dead when he slowed his heart rate to slow his blood loss, it meant Jason didn't have a reason to keep trying to kill him when he found his "body".
  • In Supergirl Pre-Flashpoint story arc "The Hunt for Reactron", villain Reactron is being trialed when a mob breaks into the court intending to lynch him. Alura takes advantage of the ensuing chaos to fake his death in order to throw him into a cell and interrogate him.
  • In The Supergirl from Krypton story arc, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman stage Supergirl's death so Darkseid -who had previously kidnapped her and brainwashed- leaves her alone.
  • In her second series's final issue, Supergirl confronts a friend who has been taken over by his evil side. In order to get him snap out of his possession, Supergirl reminds him that he is no killer and then lets him believe he has killed her.
  • In the Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow??, Superman fakes his death by exposure by gold kryptonite (removing his powers) and walking to his death into the frozen Antarctic. In reality, he became Jordan Elliot, a regular working class guy.


  • Daredevil once faked his death after it seemed that someone knew his secret identity. He ended up using the dead body of his Evil Knockoff Hellspawn, created during Infinity War and was altered by a mutagenic virus.
  • In Fear Itself, Bucky Barnes, the current Captain America had apparently been killed off while fighting Sin, the Red Skull's daughter. However, as revealed in a post-series epilogue, Bucky did survive the brutal attack and his death was faked by both Black Widow and Nick Fury in order to convince Steve Rogers to become Captain America once more, as well as to allow Bucky to deal with remaining Winter Soldier-esque sleeper agents without any trouble. How? A well-placed Life Model Decoy and the Infinity Formula did the trick.
  • At the end of The Infinity Gauntlet Thanos does this when everyone believes that he died due to a thermonuclear bomb on his belt. He used the opportunity to... become a farmer.
  • Iron Man once faked his death when he was suffering from nerve disintegration. It was a ploy to get healed. Unfortunately, Rhodey didn't know about it and was pissed off.
    • The script was then flipped years later during Matt Fraction's run. The Mandarin's machinations had made it virtually impossible for Tony to be Iron Man without government interference, so Rhodey faked his own death as War Machine so that he could take over as the new Iron Man. Once the whole situation was sorted out, Rhodey went back to the War Machine armor.
  • This seems to be the MO to Spider-Man supervillain Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley - set up some poor schmuck as the Hobgoblin and let him run around as him for awhile; if he dies, no skin off Roderick's back.
    • Carnage can do this as well, slipping a piece of the symbiote over a dead body to make someone think that he's dead, just so he can slip away or get in and gut someone. Of course, it doesn't work all the time, as it didn't fool Batman when he did it then. Of course, he was aiming for The Joker.
  • X-Men:
    • Professor Xavier faked his death so as to counter an alien invasion. An already dying shape-shifter named Changeling replaced him as atonement. Only Jean, of all his students, knew the truth.
    • In X-Men Noir, Jean Grey fakes her death by killing Anne-Marie Rankin, cutting off/out any distinguishing facial features, and dyeing her hair. She them assumes her identity by dyeing her own hair. Why? She wanted out of the X-Men, essentially - and to collect her trust fund, of course.
    • In God Loves, Man Kills, Purifiers make it look as if they've killed the Professor, Scott, and Ororo in an explosion, when they have actually taken the three prisoner. Only Wolverine's enhanced senses reveal the deception.


  • Black Moon Chronicles: After the Black Moon loses a massive battle against the Empire and both Haazheel and Greldinard are apparently killed off, it turns out that the whole thing was a diversionary tactic so that they could lay low for a while and rebuild their forces without the Emperor recognizing the urgency of nipping this threat in the bud.
  • Button Man: Convinced that the Voices will never stop following him unless they think he's already dead, Harry arranges his own "death" by cutting of his finger to a Button Man that is required to confirm a kill. He later kills the other for real just to be sure he wouldn't talk either.
  • Diabolik does it once in a while, starting with the third issue (Eva had a man executed while wearing a mask with his face). While they work with most people, Ginko tends to see through these schemes with ease (indeed, he saw through the very first a single instant before the victim died), and it takes a lot to fool him (such as fooling a DNA test).
  • Princeless: By having her tower burnt, Princess Adrienne misled everyone who'd be looking for her into think she was burned as well.
  • In a Radioactive Man story in which Madame Eczema reveals RM's secret identity, RM apparently dies (fooling even Fallout Boy), and then Claude Kane appears in public to counter the revelation. Upon learning the truth, Plasmo the Mystic points out that the whole deception will be rendered pointless when he has to reappear as Radioactive Man.
  • In Sonic the Comic, Amy, Tails, Johnny, and the Kintobor Computer use this to stop Super Sonic trying to kill them: Amy had the Kintobor Computer remotely fly their plane. Sonic doesn't realize this and goes into a Heroic B.S.O.D. thinking he killed his friends.
  • In Swordquest, Lady Wyla throws the Big Bad off the trail of her infant children by jumping into the ocean with two jars wrapped in swaddling cloths in full view of his guards.
  • Tintin does this a few times. Once, he goes into a nose-dive while flying so his pursuers think he's been hit.
  • In Wanted, Wesley's father faked his own death so he could set his son on the path to succeeding him and becoming one of the most powerful supervillains in the world.

    Comic Strips 
  • A The Far Side comic showed a couple feigning death to get some guests who'd overstayed their welcome to leave.
  • Garfield: When Jon asked Lisa if she already had plans for New Year's Eve she screamed and fell down. Jon told her she had faked her death "last year".
  • Dexter Sr. in The Knight Life faked his death in order to sell his rap albums.
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Fraser's Story", the Union Corse help Modesty and Willie to fake their deaths by staging an elaborate fake assassination. They even film the 'assassination' and the 'bodies' to convince the Big Bad that they are dead. This allows Modesty and Willie to travel to Panama without anyone watching for them.

    Fan Works 
  • Before Twilight and its sequel Seeing Ghosts which cross NCIS and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and combine this with Death Faked for You.
    • The first story is focused on Ari Haswari, a Mossad operative who was born and raised to infiltrate Hamas (and has moved on to al-Qaeda) on his father's orders, but wants out of the whole thing... so he goes to his cousin Willow Rosenberg in the Watcher's Council and asks for her help in faking the deaths of first Caitlin Todd (in order to convince his superiors in al-Qaeda that he really is loyal) and then himself (to get him out from their thumb, and his father's). Once both are "dead", the two join the Watcher's Council, who give them new identities to help them stay hidden.
    • The sequel picks up some years later when Team Gibbs discovers the deception and learns that not only are Ari and Kate still alive, they've gotten married and had a daughter in the intervening years.
  • In The Boy Behind The Mask, while Hiccup originally left a note claiming that he ventured off to find a dragon worthy enough to be his first kill, Astrid finds black scales and a spot of Hiccup's blood in the cove and everyone assumes this means he was massacred by a Night Fury.
  • The final Calvin and Hobbes: The Series story has Jack doing this to fool Thunderstorm and Shadow.
  • In Deadly Love Tracey uses fake blood and Draught of Living Death to get Harry's abusive relatives arrested for pedophilia, rape and murder.
  • Fire Emblem Fates: Aftermath: In Chapter 5, Izana shows up and reveals that he faked his death in Fire Emblem Fates by using magic. He did so to guilt-trip Takumi into helping Corrin.
  • In Flam Gush this is mixed with Mundane Made Awesome when Lucilla forces Lina and Gourry to retreat through use of a single hidden archer and faking her death to sic a mob of untrained peasants on them.
  • In Game Theory, Precia sets things up to appear as if she and her allies had fallen into Imaginary Space to throw the TSAB off their trail, when she had actually found a way to revive Alicia without traveling to Alhazred.
  • The God Empress of Ponykind: The Chaos Gods did this as part of a gambit to get rid of the Emperor.
  • The Law & Order: UK fanfic "Happy New Year" has it revealed that DS Matt Devlin did not die, but was spirited away to a rehab center to recover from his gunshot wounds while his clueless loved ones were left to mourn in order to keep them safe.
  • In Supergirl fic Hellsister Trilogy, Darkseid fakes his death after his defeat at the end of the war between Apokolips and the rest of the universe. He spends the next 1,000 years sleeping and recovering and resurfaces in the Legion of Super-Heroes time.
  • Higher Learning: Ritsuko, Maya and Rei devise a complicated plot involving one of the clones of Rei to trick Gendo into believing that someone who stood in the way is dead.
  • In the Worm fanfic, Intrepid, Kaiser fakes his death after appearing to kill two teenage heroes as part of a plot.
  • In the Death Note AU New World Without End Light Yagami does this after his victory so he can live out his life in peace and continue to act as Kira. Light and Mikami added an extra body to the pile at the Yellowbox warehouse (and with help from the notebook they could ensure that the victim’s faces wouldn't be identifiable through dental records) and torched the warehouse. Afterwards Light and Mikami released the name Light Yagami as among the police officers that opposed Kira who were eliminated.
  • The One I Love Is: Kaji faked his own death to throw SEELE off his trail while he worked on exposing them.
  • In The Parselmouth of Gryffindor, Hermione, Dumbledore and Maximilian help Sirius make the Ministry believe he committed suicide so as to get the Dementors off everyone's back.
  • The Second Try: Kaji, after being warned about his impending termination by the letter Shinji gave him. A bulletproof vest, some blood packs and a bit of Playing Possum allow him to live through his encounter with the hitman sent after him. He's even helped by the incompetence of his would-be killer who walks away without checking his body.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fires That Weren't All My fault, Harry does this for the Targaryens after assassins try to kill them.
  • In The Witch of the Everfree, while Sunset doesn't actually intend for her escape from Celestia's guards to look like a death, after she realizes that it did look that way, she goes out of her way to avoid letting Celestia realize that she's actually still alive.
    • She's not quite as thorough as she hopes to be; Celestia realizes that she's alive as soon as she starts writing back to Twilight.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Cars 2, secret agent Finn McMissile uses a set of decoy tires to pretend that he's been torpedoed by the enemy.
  • Finding Nemo: Nemo pretends to be dead in order to get flushed down the toilet and back to sea. Not only does it almost not work, it happens just as Marlin arrives, leading him to think his son really is dead.
  • The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible hides behind the skeleton of Gazerbeam to escape Syndrome's seeker robot — the robot scans the skeleton, assumes it's him, and flies off to report his demise.
  • Inverted in Jinroh The Wolf Brigade where a witness to a government scandal is killed off to guarantee she'll never be found by the opposition. As long as they believe she's still out there somewhere, they can't move against the protagonist's unit.
  • Metroman's decides to do this in Megamind in order to switch from hero to musician. As he puts it: "No one said this had to be a lifetime gig."
  • Rio: Blu and Jewel play dead to trick the poachers.
  • Fiona briefly pretends that she's a ghost and that she's finally fallen in love with Lord Farquaad at the climax of Shrek 4-D, simply for the sake of mocking him.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Happens twice in the 1945 film adaption of And Then There Were None. Quinncannon fakes his death by placing a dot on his head which somehow convinces the others he's been shot and Miss Claythorne pretends to shoot Morley by aiming the gun to his side which looks as if she's shot him from the distance of the true killer.
  • In Ariel, Mikkonen fakes suicide by hanging to lure the prison guard into his and Kasurinen's cell in order to facilitate their escape.
  • Subverted in The Art of War (2000). At the end of the movie, the protagonists fake their deaths and meet up in a French village. As they walk off arm in arm, an unknown man takes their photograph.
  • It's part of the profession of the titular pair in The Brothers Bloom. They're con-men.
  • In Bullitt, the police investigation ultimately uncovers a mobster's plot to fake his own death and escape scot-free. Johnny Ross embezzles money from The Mafia, then cuts a deal with a senator to testify against the Mafia in exchange for a pardon and witness protection. Ross then tricks an innocent man into going to San Francisco in his place, where he's killed by the mob hitmen sent to silence Ross.
  • Averted by the Master Computer of Colossus: The Forbin Project. After learning of a plot to overload its system, Colossus demands the immediate execution of the conspirators by Firing Squad. The computer then orders that the bodies be left in the view of its CCTV cameras for 24 hours, then cremated on the spot, to prevent any chance of the executions being faked.
  • In the opening scenes of Commando, we see the members of Matrix's unit killed by Cooke. Turns out one of them, Bennett, faked his death (with the help of Arius' organization) so General Kirby would lead them to Matrix.
  • In Contamination we have Hamilton stage a wreck of his private plane several months before the film begins, so that he can focus on cultivating and distributing the evil alien's eggs.
  • The Dark Knight. A crime boss wants the Joker brought to him dead-or-alive, so is quite pleased when some gangbangers bring in the Joker in a bodybag. Until he jumps to his feet and puts a knife to his face. Later Jim Gordon is killed by the Joker, but is revealed to be faking his death when he suddenly appears to stop the Joker killing Batman. Also near the end when Two-Face was about to shoot Gordon's son, Batman convinces him to shoot him instead, which Two-Face does. And just when he was going to turn the gun back on Gordon's son, Batman tackles him.
  • The Dark Knight Rises. In his introductory scene, Bane fakes the death of a Russian scientist in a plane crash, so he can carry out his Evil Plan without his intentions being anticipated. He even orders one of his fanatical followers to stay behind and die to give the crash authenticity. Also Batman fakes his death during the climax in order to live a normal life, while giving Gotham a symbol of hope.
  • This is the setup for Double Jeopardy. A husband frames his wife for his murder so that he can run off with his wife's friend and the life insurance money while evading his creditors. When confronted, the husband has the audacity to claim that he intended to fake his suicide. That may have been believable, except for the blood, knife, and the radio message claiming his wife was trying to kill him.
  • A benevolent example in The Dragon Painter. Tatsu's love for Ume-ko and their happy marriage has ruined his ability to paint. So she fakes her suicide.
  • In Easy Money, Rodney Dangerfield's mother-in-law fakes her own death to trick him into changing his lifestyle in compliance with the terms of her will.
  • The Australian movie The Empty Beach (1985) has Private Eye Cliff Hardy hired by the wife of a businessman who's disappeared, apparently after some criminal associates gave him Cement Shoes. However Hardy's investigation makes the criminals believe this trope is in play, and they start to turn on each other, which was her intention all along. At the end of the movie she reveals that her husband really is alive and living overseas, and offers to hire Hardy to find him for real. Annoyed over how he's been manipulated, Hardy just walks off.
  • The movie Eraser is about a federal agent who fakes people's deaths for the Witness Protection Program.
  • Extreme Prejudice (1987). A govt. black ops team is made up of people who supposedly died in action or training accidents. Unfortunately they go up against a sheriff in the United States who can access military records — this is something of a Fridge Logic moment, as a more plausible means of establishing deniability would be to have the ex-soldiers fired under trumped-up disciplinary charges.
  • In FX, the protagonist is a Hollywood special effects expert, Rollie Tyler, hired by the FBI to fake the death of a mob informant. The whole thing seems to go horribly wrong and the hero is then wanted for really murdering the guy. It's eventually revealed as a double bluff by the government agents and mobster who want to make off with stolen mob money. Rollie subsequently uses his skills to fake his own death twice.
  • The villain's master plan in Bruceploitation film Game of Death 2.
  • In Gilda, Balin Mundson (Gilda's husband) takes off in his plane and leaves it to crash into the ocean while he secretly gets picked up by a boat.
  • Halloween H20: Twenty Years Later reveals that Laurie Strode faked her death after the events of Halloween II (1981) to escape her evil, murderous brother.
  • In Headhunters Roger survives a car collision, but convinces his attacker that he's dead to chase him more effectively.
  • The Illusionist does this with a very convincing temporary Faux Death.
  • James Bond does it to himself in You Only Live Twice, hence the title.
  • Jackie Chan playing the villain in Killer Meteors fakes his own death early on, and then later reveals to the hero (played by Jimmy Wang Yu) "You didn't see me die, you only saw me fall over". Makes perfect sense.
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947) has a faked death that turns out to be real.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • In Thor: The Dark World, Loki saves Thor from Kurse by impaling him, then is stabbed himself with the same weapon. Loki seemingly dies from his injuries. At the end, however, it is revealed that he survived (whether he was really injured at all is debatable - this is Loki we're talking about, after all), and sneaked into Asgard disguised as a soldier to tell Odin about his son's "death", then usurped the throne - at the end, Odin is revealed to be Loki in disguise.
    • During Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Nick Fury is the assassination target of Alexander Pierce, first by being assaulted on the streets of Washington DC and later sniped by the Winter Soldier while hiding out at Steve Rogers's apartment. The second attack seemingly fells Fury but it turns out to be a ploy by the loyal agents of SHIELD to make it seem like Fury had perished and the assailants' plot had succeeded.
  • In The Negotiator, Roman, the hostage negotiator-turned-taker, pretends to shoot one of the hostages in order to convince the police to take him seriously so that he can figure out who framed him via computer files. It's also used at the end, when Saban shoots Roman and he falls to the ground, motionless and with blood pooling on the floor. Saban convinces Frost he wants a cut of the money at stake in order to catch Frost in an Engineered Public Confession about how Frost set Roman up.
  • At the climax of Nerve, Vee and Ty stage an elaborate ruse where Ty shoots her (actually using blanks and fake blood), and Vee "dies", causing all the watchers to believe they're now accomplices to murder. They immediately log off of the app, crashing the servers and ending the titular game for good. Vee then reveals to Ian that she's okay, and that she and Ty were working together.
  • In Now You See Me, Jack Wilder's death is faked with the assistance of the other Horsemen.
  • At the climax of Oz: The Great and Powerful, Oscar fakes his death by tricking Theodora into destroying a hot air balloon she and the rest of Emerald City believed he was on, so that he can appear to come back as an incorporeal Person of Mass Destruction using fireworks and a video projector. The Wicked Witches, unfamiliar with the technology available in Oscar's world, believe it to be genuine magic and quickly flee the city.
  • In The Prestige, Angier pulls this with the help of a cloning machine: He arranges for the clone to die and frames Borden for 'his' murder.
  • In Puma Man our titular hero has this as his super power! He uses it to get Kobras off his back. Mystery Science Theater 3000 had a field day with this.
    Vadinho: You've succeeded! They think you're dead, and now they will leave you alone.
    Mike: To be left alone—the goal of every great hero!
  • In The Quick and the Dead, this is done by the Lady to gain an advantage on Herod, who cannot be beaten in a straight fight by anyone except for Cort, who is handcuffed most of the time and unwilling to kill except to save his own life.
  • Raw Deal (1986). Arnold Schwarzenegger (playing an ex-FBI agent turned sheriff) fakes his own death before going undercover as a mob hitman. He drives his squad car into an oil refinery, opens a few valves then blows it up with a flare pistol.
  • Early on in RED 2, Marvin stages his death in a car explosion, then plays his corpse at his own funeral. According to Frank, this isn't the first time he's done something like this.
  • In Red Dragon, Dolarhyde fakes his own death using the body of a man he shot to make his blind girlfriend think he shot himself.
  • In Revenge of the Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau is targeted for assassination. After one of the (unsuccessful) attempts leads to the public mistakenly thinking he's been killed, Clouseau decides to maintain the ruse in order to find out who's behind the plot.
  • Saw
    • Jigsaw does this for the entirety of the bathroom trap in Saw.
    • Agent Perez in Saw VI faked her death two movies before.
    • Jigsaw goes through some lengths to imply the original Jigsaw might still be alive. Subverted by this film's status as a Stealth Prequel. Any scenes featuring John Kramer are flashbacks, and anything that implies he is still alive turns out to be a misdirect planned out by the new Jigsaw.
      • Logan appears to die despite "confessing."
  • The Soldier (1982). A hot Mossad chick shoots a terrorist after he's identified by an informer. She goes into the next room after the interrogation where it's revealed via Latex Perfection that the terrorist is actually a Mossad Double Agent.
  • In Species, Sil pulls off a complex one. It involves a car, lots of gasoline, a live victim and her cut-off fingertip for the autopsy.
  • Both Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting.
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the Autobots doing this when they realize that Sentinel's demand for them to leave Earth in exchange for peace was a trap. What they do is send up the ship with no one in it, so when Starscream destroys the ship, everyone including the Decepticons believe they are dead, allowing them to take on the Decepticons by surprise.
  • In The Usual Suspects, it's part of Dean Keaton's Backstory (and one of the reasons Agent Kujan has such a hard on for him). He was presumed dead long enough to dodge a murder rap. And while he was dead, every witness against him died under suspicious circumstances. The interesting part is that Keaton claims to have lived in the same city under the same name ever since, and that Internal Affairs just dropped the ball and had him declared dead for no good reason.
  • X-Men Film Series:
    • X-Men Origins: Wolverine: Kayla Silverfox conspires with William Stryker to win Logan's heart and then fake her death in exchange for her abducted sister's safety.
    • The Wolverine: Ichirō Yashida is carried away in the middle of the night after passing away shortly after Logan arrives in Japan. The climax of the film shows that he's still alive, although just barely, and he attempts to steal Logan's Healing Factor to prolong his own life.

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: Huckleberry Finn does this to escape from his drunken and abusive father.
  • Animorphs:
    • When Marco's father is targeted by the Yeerks for nearly discovering Zero-space, Marco has Erek and Mr. King, two of their android friends, use their holograms to impersonate him and his dad for when the Yeerks come to shoot them with their Dracon beams.
    • David killed a red-tailed hawk that stumbled into his path, but believed he had killed Tobias, who is trapped in red-tail hawk morph. Even though this wasn't intentional on the heroes' part, they're quick to play it up and take advantage of it.
    • A major plot twist early in the series is Marco discovering that his mother was the host of Visser One, who faked her death when she left Earth to pursue other missions.
    • Finally, Jake fakes the deaths of all the other Animorphs in order to sneak them on the Pool ship in his final plan.
  • In Annals of The Black Company, Raven pulls this — twice.
  • BloodyJack: This happens several times over the series.
  • In The Leper of St. Giles by Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael discovers that a mourned crusader is still alive, but had his Saracen captors falsely report his death from battle-wounds. In reality, the unfortunate warrior had contracted leprosy and didn't want anyone to see or pity his disfigurements.
  • In Dark Angel, Troy Tatterton appears to have drowned. The next book in the series, Fallen Hearts, reveals that he had faked his death so that Heaven could marry her first love Logan, whom he believed was better for her.
  • In Chain Letter, Neil, Kipp, and Fran are presumed dead. In actuality, all three are alive due to one of them being The Caretaker and wanting to ensure everyone knows why he's doing what he's doing before he kills them.
  • Agatha Christie used this trope several times:
    • In the short story "The Yellow Iris", Hercule Poirot gets the intended victim to fake being poisoned, in order to catch the murderer.
    • The novels Peril at End House and Three Act Tragedy similarly have Poirot persuade the principal character (who is working with him to an extent) to fake their own death, but both cases add a twist in that this character turns out to be the killer.
    • And Then There Were None had the killer fake his own death.
    • In Murder on the Links, a man was murdered while attempting to fake his own death.
  • Caine does this in The Chronicles of Amberby murdering the version of himself from one of the closer Shadow worlds.
  • James of The Chronicles Of Steve Stollberg believes that Mickey Mouse faked his death, in spite of the overwhelming evidence that he was killed in a drive-by-shooting.
  • In the Claire Malloy mystery Tickled To Death, a character presumed to have died turned out to have had this trope applied to them without their knowledge. She'd quietly left town after embezzling a fortune from a wildlife-protection charity, and rather than admit what happened and see future donations dry up, her associates from the foundation faked her death in a boating accident.
  • Afafrenfere in Companions Codex, when he and his companions are held prisoner by the drow of Q'Xorlarrin, hangs in his cage and plays dead, so that the drow will leave him alone. He is so good at it, that he even fools Entreri into thinking he's a goner.
  • The Curse of the Blue Figurine: In The Chessman of Doom (book 7 of the series), Professor Childermass states that all of his brothers (naming three) are dead now. In the following book, The Secret of the Underground Room, it turns out that one of them was still alive after all - Humphrey Clinker Childermass had decided the world had gotten to be too much for him, so he faked his own death and went into hiding. He reveals his true status in order to help the professor, Johnny and Fergie with rescuing Father Higgins and defeating Rufus Masterman and his fellow knights.
  • One of the alternative endings for The Dandee Diamond Mystery features the benefactor of the will alive and telling the reader/protagonist he just faked his death so he could see how far his relatives would go to find the Dandee Diamond.
  • In Detectives in Togas, his family fakes Caius' burial. (But the Romans cremated their dead...)
  • Happens as an inadvertent result of technology in The Moon Maze Game, in which Darla is "killed out" of the scenario just before armed kidnappers interrupt the proceedings to take the Gamers hostage. As she's in the process of crawling out of the play area on her belly, remaining unseen while her slain NPC persona's holographic "corpse" is left behind, she's already undercover when the thugs arrive and they don't realize her faux-body had previously been a living actress.
  • Subverted in a Colin Forbes spy thriller. While investigating the backgrounds of his colleagues in the intelligence service, the protagonist finds an elderly woman living in a small village who was told by government agents that her soldier husband (apparently killed in a car accident just after WW2) had actually been sent on a deep cover mission behind the Iron Curtain. Actually the 'government agents' were KGB; her husband really was dead and had been replaced by The Mole.
  • Towards the end of Fort Hope, Greg figures out that the man who has tormented him most of his adult life is actually Alexander's brother, who faked his death over a quarter century before the events of the novel.
  • In Gone Girl, Amy had staged her "disappearance", correctly predicting people would suspect her husband of murdering her.
  • In Larry Correia's The Grimnoir Chronicle, both Browning and Lance were pretending to have died in the backstory, Browning from a heart attack, Lance in the attack that killed his wife and their baby. Faye uses it later.
  • Harry Potter: J.K. Rowling is fond of this trope.
    • In Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry pretends to be dead after surviving yet another Killing Curse from Voldemort. He pretends to be dead until the height of the battle, during which he leaps into the fray to save Mrs. Weasley from being fried by old Voldie.
    • Janus Thickey disappeared leaving only a hasty Oh, Crap! A Lethifold's Killing Me note. His family went into mourning until he was found living with the landlady of a local inn. It may be related that the hospital's ward for long term spell damage is named for him.
    • As early as Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, she reveals that Peter Pettigrew was killed in a magical duel with Sirius Black, destroyed so utterly that only a single finger remained. Black was sent to Azkaban for the crime. Except Pettigrew faked his death in order to frame Black, get him out of the way, and promote his master Voldemort's agenda.
  • The Infernal Devices: In The Clockwork Angel, Tessa fakes her own suicide to prevent Mortmain from using her power.
  • In the sequel to Ishmael, it's revealed that the titular teacher faked his own death so that his pupil would apply what he had learned.
  • Journey to Chaos: A Mage's Power: Aio is one of many guises worn by Tasio. He made this big show about fatal injury and Famous Last Words when it came time for his "death". It was necessary in order to galvanize Eric into action.
  • In the Knight and Rogue Series Michael gets Rosamund listed as officially dead so his father won't interfere with her love life.
  • In The Legendsong Saga Solen apparently downs himself after being caught out about taking Fay to Darkfall and accused of treason. He later turns up perfectly alive on Glynn’s ship from Fomhika, having shed his Shadowman agent cover.
  • In The Mayor of Casterbridge, Richard Newson buys Michael Henchard's wife Susan and daughter Elizabeth-Jane when Henchard auctions them off in a moment of Alcohol-Induced Idiocy. Susan always assumed that the sale was legally binding and that she was married to Newson from that day, but as Newson's uncertainty over the legality of his relationship with Susan grows, he finally decides the best thing for Susan and Elizabeth-Jane is for him to fake his death and for the two of them to return to Henchard. He therefore allows them to believe that he was lost at sea in a storm while sailing from England to Canada, and does not return until several years later (by which time Susan is dead).
  • In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean fakes drowning in order to escape prison without being searched for.
  • The Mortal Instruments, while posing as Michael Wayland, Valentine faked his own death to strengthen Jace.
  • A tactic employed in self-defense by the Count in A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, to avert a potential assassination.
  • A favoured plot device of Christopher Pike - used in Falling, Chain Letter (Neal), Slumber Party (Nicole/Celeste), Weekend (Bert), Gimme a Kiss (Jane), Scavenger Hunt (Joe/Tom), Fall Into Darkness (Ann).
  • Near the beginning of Price of the Stars, Beka Rosselin-Metadi attracts the wrong sort of attention nosing about the death of her stateswoman mother and is obliged to (with the aid of an old family friend) stage a messy spaceship crash complete with organic material smeared among what was left of a malfunctioning lifepod. Her father General Jos Metadinote  arrived to personally investigate the crash site and essentially dictated the findings which hinted at successfully subtle sabotage.
  • Cao Cao spreads rumours of his death in Romance of the Three Kingdoms in order to set up an ambush for Lu Bu. Invoked/subverted by Zhuge Liang, who uses the fear of this (and a rather lifelike carving of himself) to keep Sima Yi from pursuing the Shu army when it retreats upon his death.
  • In Sard Harker, the Big Bad Hirsch faked his death years before the main events of the story. Thus, although Kingsborough knows it's Hirsch who threatens Margarita, he's unable to get the authorities to believe him.
  • In Second Foundation, the entire Second Foundation pulls this off.
  • Shadow Police: Very late in Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?, the team realise that the ghost of Sherlock Holmes actually faked their 'murder', and is the really the killer they are hunting.
  • This is how Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes back in "The Adventure of the Empty House" (1903) after previously attempting to permanently kill him off in "The Final Problem" (1893).
  • Simon Ark: In "The Gravesend Trumpet", two conspirators fake the death of the one of them, making it look like the work of an ancient curse. However, one of conspirators is planning to later murder the other, taking advantage of the fact that everyone already thinks they are dead.
  • The Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch novel The Good That Men Do retcons the death of Trip Tucker in the show into being this.
  • In the Star Trek: Voyager Relaunch novels, B'Elanna Torres does this in order to stay safe from enemies. Her husband Tom is in on the deception, but Harry Kim is not, and does not take it well when he finds out he was lied to.
  • The Star Trek: Cold Equations trilogy retcons Noonien Soong's death into this. In fact he arranged for a Brain Uploading into an android body.
  • Star Wars Expanded Universe:
    • Ahsoka: Ahsoka and Rex did this on Mandalore after Order 66 by digging a fake grave, burying a clone trooper who had been killed earlier in the fighting in at least some of Rex's armour, and placing a gravestone claiming that Rex was buried there, having heroically taken down the treacherous Ahsoka Tano at the cost of his own life. Ahsoka leaves her first pair of lightsabers atop the grave to sell the deception.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Happens in the X-Wing Series time and time again. Mostly, it's the Rogues managing to escape death and taking advantage of everyone's assumptions until they can come back triumphant, but Asyr Sei'lar instead goes back to her homeworld to fight her species' Hat of political treachery, and then there's Isard. The survival of the Rogues is believed by one minor Imperial character to be a fake - he believes that they really have died each time, and were replaced by clones.
    • Coruscant Nights has a birdman who really wants to quit the criminal business and return to his homeworld, but he's fairly high up in the criminal syndicate Black Sun, and Resignations Not Accepted something like that. His underlord even hints that if he tries, his world will suffer. In the same book, Darth Vader gives a character the terrible choice of betraying his friend, one of the last surviving Jedi, or having the plateau where his people live bombed from orbit. Both of them are eventually thought to have been caught in a nuclear blast, and both of them take advantage of being thought dead.
    • Boba Fett spends a while doing this after escaping from the Sarlacc, complete with abandoning his trademark ship, Slave I. Of course, because he's kind of an asshole, he ensures he still has transportation by humiliating a rival bounty hunter and stealing his ship.
  • In the Sword of Truth, this is called a "Death Spell". It's used to make people think someone is dead. Go figure.
  • The Traitor Son Cycle: A few years before the story begins, The Hero, the Red Knight, faked his death to get his family off his scent after he ran away from home. It's why he's going by "Red Knight" rather than his given name.
  • Two Kinds of Truth: It turns out that Mickey Haller's elderly mentor David "Legal" Siegel had his own obituary published several years ago to discourage vengeful ex-clients from looking for him.
  • Untold Story by Monica Ali focuses on a fictional princess, based on Princess Diana, who fakes her own death and escapes abroad because she is convinced she's about to be assassinated by the Secret Service.
  • David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr. Colonel Ira Wallachstein, head of the covert Uncle Ira Group, is reportedly killed by an escaping Chtorran worm in the first novel of this sci-fi series. However he comes back "apparently suffering only a mild case of death" in the fourth book. It turns out his death was faked. Given the way the Uncle Ira Group operates, this is not particularly surprising.
  • In the first Warrior Cats book, Ravenpaw's death is faked in order to protect him from Tigerclaw, who had intended to silence him for witnessing something he shouldn't have.
  • The Westing Game: Windy Windkloppel did this twice, once as Sam Westing, setting the plot of the book in motion, and once as Sandy McSouthers to pull himself out of the game. Only Turtle Wexler figured out the truth.
  • In the historical novel Wings of Dawn: Lord Hawkwood.
  • The Witchlands: In Windwitch, Merik is presumed dead after an assassin blows up his ship, and he choses not to correct this assumption to give himself more freedom of movement.
  • Two of the Zachary Nixon Johnson books feature the antagonists faking their deaths:
    • In The Doomsday Brunette, Foraa fakes her death after a failed assassination attempt in order to let some of the heat die down.
    • In The Flaxen Femme Fatale, Natasha fakes her death so that the government will stop trying to use her psi powers for nefarious purposes.

    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.
  • After the initial landing in The 100, the only remaining communication to the Ark is the medical telemetry from the wristbands they 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.
  • 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.
  • Numerous people in Alias, so much that fans are suspicious of those who are supposedly Killed Off for Real.
  • 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.
  • On Bones, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In Charmed, 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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:
    • Done by Lytton in "Resurrection of the Daleks". His 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.
    • In "Destiny of the Daleks", Romana used her ability to stop her own hearts in order to escape from slavery by faking her own death. Earlier, she had been told that "the only way to escape the Daleks was to feign death."
    • In "Day of the Moon", Amy and Rory do this with the help of Canton Everett Delaware III to get back to the Doctor.
    • In "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.
  • Fraser on Due South in the episode "Dead Men Don't Throw Rice".
  • 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.
  • The title character, in the first series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tracy in 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".
  • 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 The 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • 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 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.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Despereaux the "master thief", in an episode of Psych. He's quite annoyed when the heroes find him.
    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!
  • 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 accordance with the original Doyle canon (see Literature above), 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.").
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Being immortal, Captain Jack pulls this off a few times in Torchwood to get the drop on enemies, most noticeably on the villain of the first episode.
  • White Collar: Neal, at the very end.
  • In The X-Files, Mulder fakes his own suicide at the end of season four, only to return several episodes into the next season.

    Music and Music Videos 
  • The music video for Rammstein's "Haifisch" takes place at singer Till Lindemann's funeral. It's only after the other band members start fighting each other and Flake crashes into the coffin that they find out the coffin's empty. Cut to Till mailing a postcard from Hawaii that says 'greetings from the arse of the world!'

  • Lear Dunham in Broken Saints. Rare variation in that the faked death is part of backstory, not a depicted event.
  • Dr. William Griffin in KateModern.
  • Martin Gardner (renowned recreational mathematician - yes, it's a real job) did this to the character Dr. Matrix in his column in Scientific American. Dr. Matrix, an agent for the CIA, was disguised as an Arab named Abdul Abulbul Amir in order to assassinate a KGB agent named Ivan Skavinsky Skavar. They dueled on the shores of the Black Sea, and fired simultaneously; Ivan died instantly, but "Abdul" was only knocked out, and the CIA paid two natives to confirm his death.
  • Parodied in The Spider Cliff Mysteries. After surviving an explosion, Barlow suggests doing this. Crystal tells him it's a stupid idea.
  • Dumbledore and Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, only one of whose fake deaths is actually explained.

  • The Magnus Archives: It turns out that Mary Keay, whom the narrator of one episode seemingly met, is on public record as having been murdered by her son Gerard. Whether the murder or the person is fake is not clear.

  • Adventures in Odyssey:
    • In the Novacom arc, Connie's friend Robert Mitchel who is secretly trying to stop the bad guys from taking over the world, fakes his death to make sure the bad guys won't actually try to kill him like they did to another person who found out their plans.
    • Pulled with appropriate magnificence by Dr. Blackgaard in the episode "A Name, Not a Number". The scene where he reveals himself to his unwitting accomplice is priceless.
      Blackgaard: Actually, once I got out of the morgue, I'd never felt better in my life...

    Tabletop Games 
  • A major element of many plots in Spycraft, for obvious reasons.
    • In the same system, the "Zeroed" feat is essentially this, making the trail of clues to break your cover identity significantly longer.

  • In Angels in America, Roy Cohn pulls this trick on the ghost/hallucination/whatever of Ethel Rosenberg, who happily pushes the nurse's call button — only to have Roy spring back to life and gloat at her about falling for it. Subverted almost immediately, when the monitors Roy's hooked up to flatlines, and he dies for real.
  • Older Than Feudalism: In Electra, Orestes' plot to murder his mother and step-father relies on lulling them into a false sense of security by sending a messenger stating Orestes died in a chariot race. Electra is devastated by the loss until the moment her brother reveals himself, and from then on she helps him keep the deception.
  • William Shakespeare:
  • Wicked the Musical, where Elphaba pretends to melt, but goes down a trapdoor instead to wait for Fiyero... who, by the way, is the Scarecrow. She sings a final refrain with Glinda and vanishes to another land with Fiyero, leaving Glinda to believe that she died for real. (Glinda did not realize she had back-up on the refrain.) As Fiyero says "She can't know. No-one must know." Oh, by the way, before she carries out this charade, she makes Glinda promise to never try and clear her (Elphaba's) name so that Oz will stay peaceful under Glinda's rule and the people won't turn against her. Whew. Note that this is not what happens in the book version of Wicked. In the book, Elphaba meets exactly the same end as in the original Wizard of Oz book — Dorothy flings a bucket of water at her, and she dies.

    Video Games 
  • Army of Two allows you to use the "Feign Death" command if your mercenary is getting hammered with a lot of incoming fire. This generally causes the enemy to direct their fire at your partner, giving you either time to (slowly) heal or a chance to spring up and go for cover. Naturally, the enemy will only fall for this once per encounter, and keep shooting you if you try it again.
  • In Batman: Arkham Origins, at the end of the Cyrus Pinkney case-file, you learn that the Spirit of Amadeus Arkham can make a potion that does this. It probably explains how the Joker faked his death at the beginning of Batman: Arkham City.
  • BioShock:
    • Atlas is actually mobster Frank Fontaine who supposedly died in a shootout with Rapture police forces 2 years before the game is set.
    • Some splicers pretend to be corpses so they can leap up and attack you by surprise.
  • In Bravely Second, as Nikolai is actually The Mole for the Empire, the last thing he wanted was to fight Yew, so he faked his death at the hands of the Empire to try and persuade Yew to abandon his crusade against said Empire and live his life in peace. Unfortunately for both men, it only strengthened Yew's resolve.
  • Command & Conquer:
    • Pulled by the entire Global Defense Initiative in the first game, goading the Brotherhood of Nod into going on the offensive. Even the player gets suckered into it.
    • Kane pulls this off in the third game, announcing his return by flipping out and ordering the player to nuke Sydney, Australia. And at the end of Kane's Wrath, Nod apparently pulled this off until Kane's Gambit Roulette finally pays off.
  • In The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood needs to convince a local inkeeper that he is a member of the Goodsoup family and then feign death in order to cash in his life insurance policy (which only requires him to present his death certificate, regardless of whether or not he's actually alive) and gain admission to the Goodsoup family crypt, which technically isn't the cleverest way to go about doing either of those. His means of faking his death aren't that clever either: he mixes medicine with alcohol and passes out. And then the credits roll. Okay, not the REAL credits.
  • Discworld II puts a bit of a twist on it: one puzzle requires Rincewind to fake being undead (something currently very common, due to the game's Death Takes a Holiday plot) to receive a death certificate and get transported out of Ankh-Morpork. The player needs to find some way to present no breath, pulse or body temperature while being examined by a mortician.
  • Similar to the below Hitman example, one of the Dark Brotherhood missions in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has the player "kill" an NPC with a special poison and revive him later to throw other assassins off his trail.
  • In classic EverQuest, the Feign Death skill was the hallmark of the Monk class (though some other classes eventually received weaker versions of it) and was the most effective countermeasure for a number of the game's more tedious and frustrating mechanics.
  • In Fantasy Life, it turns out that the Former Dark Sultan has been doing this all along.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, you witness Sultana Nanamo ul Namo succumbing to a poisoned wine and you and the Scions blamed for her murder at the end of Patch 2.55. However, partway through the Heavensward expansion, you learn that One of the Monetarists, Lolorito, learned of the assassination attempt and had the poison replaced with a potion that put her in a deep sleep. He helps you revive her and clear everyone's names, but he walks away scot-free as he had a hand in a lot of the things that happened before and because of it and wouldn't help them if he were punished.
  • Fire Emblem:
  • Zig-zagged in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective. Yomiel pretends to be killed by Lynne to frame her for murder. The twist is that he's a ghost who was animating his dead body. Pretending to be alive, then faking his "death" by letting his body go back to being dead.
  • In Grand Theft Auto V, With the help of FIB Agent Dave Norton, Michael Townley fakes his death after a bank robbery gone awry and goes into Witness Protection. Afterwards, he and his family move to Los Santos under the surname 'De Santa'. The plan works Until nearly a decade later when Michael unintentionally reveals to his best friend Trevor Phillips that he's alive.
  • In Halo, Flood Combat Forms will try to pull this on you in Halo: Combat Evolved, dropping dead to the ground only to jump to their feet moments later. It can be difficult to tell when they are genuinely dead due to this, and the only real way to ensure they are is to watch them for a moment or punch/pump them full of lead.
  • This is a major gameplay element in Haze: Mantel Corporation mercenaries have a Fantastic Drug called Nectar injected into their bodies which gives them superhuman abilities and alters their brain chemistry to make them more useful for Mantel. One way they do this is trying to avoid PTSD by making Mantel troops incapable of seeing dead bodies. Once a soldier, friendly or enemy, dies, they become incapable of perceiving them. This is extremely easy to abuse once you make the inevitable switch to the anti-Mantel rebels; with the push of a button your character pretends to die, and the bad guys literally forget that you're there.
  • One of the early options for Henry in Fleeing the Complex is to play dead. It gets him thrown out the trash disposal to his actual death. The "Presumed Dead" ending also plays this trope straight, as the Warden thinks Henry chose to fall to his death instead of surrendering, when he clung to the side of the cliff and waited till the guards left to escape.
  • Hitman: Blood Money:
    • This happens to Smith in order to sneak him out of rehab.
    • The Agency sets up a false death for 47 so that he can get close to the mastermind of the plot to kill him that drives the main plot of the game. When Diana gives him a kiss, she's administering the antidote for the drug that she used on him (though if you let your life bar go down all the way during the "credits", it's Game Over for you).
  • Inazuma Eleven
    • Ichinose suffered a bad accident in his childhood when he jumped on the road in front of a car to save a puppy, leading Aki and Domon to believe that he had died, but he gets better with medical treatment, enough to become a football legend in America and visits his friends in Japan to show them that he's alive. He told his father to tell them that he had died because he didn't want them to see him depressed.
    • Daisuke, Endou's long-thought deceased grandfather, turns out to be alive in the third game.
  • Lost Eden has several examples:
    • Moorkus Rex fakes the death of Mungo, Dina's lover, in an attempt to invoke a Heroic B.S.O.D. in Adam and company.
    • Adam's mother and sister both escaped from the Tyrann raid to Shandovra, where Adam's sister changes her name to Shazia and became queen of the Chorrians.
  • In Mafia II, Henry has to kill Leo Galante to get into the Falcone crime family. Vito tries to get Leo out before Henry can whack him, but when Henry catches them and learns the facts, Leo offers to take the bullet. Vito leaves the kitchen, there's a gunshot, and Henry walks out, telling him "You owe me big for this one." Vito then drives Leo to the train station so he can leave Empire Bay.
  • Mass Effect:
    • If loyalty was secured back in Mass Effect 2, Kasumi will turn out to have survived the explosion of the rigged terminal of the mission "Citadel: Hanar Diplomat" in Mass Effect 3.
    • Played with in Mass Effect 2. Shepard really was killed and brought back, but that information was known to only a handful of people. Everyone not aware of the Lazarus project, including most of Shepard's friends and allies, concluded that Shepard's death had been faked, and some were not happy about it. It is one of the biggest contributors to Shepard becoming a Hero with Bad Publicity.
  • Metal Gear:
    • Solid Snake fakes his own death in Metal Gear Solid 2, in order to escape being witch-hunted as a terrorist. Interestingly enough, he does this by dressing up the corpse of his identical twin and presenting him to the authorities. Thus, later in the game, when the body is exhumed for a DNA test, it passes as genuine.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake carries a Cyanide Pill he can use to fake his death in front of enemies. "Dying" will fool every enemy and boss once, and popping back to life in front of them will scare them enough that you can get a cheap hit in; the only boss this doesn't work on is the one that taught you this trick.
    • In Metal Gear Solid 4, there is the corpse camo and the Big Boss mask to complete it that allows Snake to play dead which can fool even the machines.
  • The Nancy Drew game Lights, Camera, Curses! reveals that a famous actress's long-ago death was faked, to ensure that she wouldn't suffer the stigma of having done such a horrible acting job.
  • Persona 5: In order to avoid the Bad Ending where he's murdered, the Protagonist exploits a phone equipped with the Metaverse app to remotely send his assassin into a section of his interrogator's Palace that looks like the real world and is inhabited by a mental projection of the main character. The assassin kills the projection, leaving the real Protagonist and his team free to track his would-be killer back to his employers.
  • The starting novice class of Ragnarok Online can learn a Play Dead skill that renders all monsters non-aggressive by making the player out to be dead. They lose this skill when changing to a first class or supernovice, however.
  • Ring Runner: Flight of the Sages has a Feign Death Device, which creates a hologram of you that gets blown up while you turn invisible and fly away.
  • This plays a key role in Steins;Gate: to prevent the Bad Future from unfolding without sacrificing anyone, the heroes have to replicate a grisly scene that Rintaro glimpsed in a vision right at the start of everything. It's a bit of a Mind Screw how it all unfolds.
  • In Suikoden II, the main character's not-quite-biological sister fakes her own death in order to avoid distracting him from his important task of ending a war — she's tired of all the fighting and wants to leave the war behind, but knows that he'd never leave her alone if he knew she was still alive. All this only happens in the perfect ending, however — if you make even the slightest misstep, before or after her apparent "death", she was actually killed off for good.
  • Played straight in Team Fortress Classic: Spies could drop to the floor (much like dead players' ragdolls) at any time, quietly or otherwise, and go into third-person view.
  • Team Fortress 2 Has the unlockable pocket watch for the Spy, the Dead Ringer. It creates a fake corpse the instant any damage is done to the user, and immediately makes the user completely invisible for a short period of time (not even bumping into other players reveals him, unlike the other two watches and the official reskins), at the expense of a really, really loud "becoming visible" sound effect. Naturally, like most of the Spy's tricks, it becomes much less effective against more experienced players, especially those backstabbed by a "dead" spy before. However, it has another use that can remain effective even against veteran players: the reduced damage. This can easily allow spies to survive otherwise inescapable situations, and is often considered the main feature of the item. This was even worse before the many Nerfs it received that disabled recharging it with ammo packs and dispensers and reducing it's damage reduction. Until it was finally nerfed to not recharge with ammo packs, a skilled spy with good map knowledge could easily survive several "deaths" and kill the enemy once they mistakenly assume the spy is Deader Than Dead.
  • Early in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, after Katherine Marlowe steals Drake's ring from our hero, Nate and Sully appear to get fatally shot by a disgruntled thug in front of her. After she leaves, assuming them to be dead and leaving the thug behind, it's revealed that the thug, Cutter, was working with Nate and Sully the whole time, and set up the act to throw their enemies off their tail with a fake ring, Nate still having the real deal. With them assumed dead, they could follow after them to the location they intend to use the ring.
  • Flowey the Flower does this in Undertale in response to you choosing to kill him at the end of your first Neutral run. You can catch on to the deception by noticing that he's still stalking you when you backtrack in certain rooms, and the faker will reveal the deception directly if you defeat Asgore and get a Neutral ending again, or go for the True Pacifist ending. Zigzagged a bit in that you really did kill him; what he's faking is that he didn't get better when you reloaded. Since he's the only character other than yourself with full Ripple Effect-Proof Memory, you might have been tempted to think his death would persist the same way.
  • The original Unreal Tournament had the feign death feature. This would later return in Unreal Tournament III. This was taken from Team Fortress.
  • World of Warcraft has Feign Death as an ability of the Hunter class.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • It's revealed in Minagoroshi-hen that Takano Miyo, the villain mastermind, has been faking her own death for every Hinamizawa to appear as a victim of the curse.
    • Rika pulls one back in the final arc to throw Takano for a loop.
  • New Danganronpa V 3 has this done by Kokichi Oma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader during one of the investigations. Why? Just to mess with everyone. Though his bloody state is crucial to finding out how the killer murdered Tenko.
    " It's a lie!"
    • The first Dangan Ronpa reveals that The Mastermind is actually Junko Enoshima, the second person in the game to die. Or rather, her twin sister posing as her was the second person in the game to die, while the real Junko was hiding behind the scenes the whole time. Another example is Alter Ego, an AI program created by Chihiro who has the laptop she's hiding in subject to an Execution, only to reveal later on that she's infected Hope's Peak's computer systems just in time to save Naegi from his own Execution, and returns later in Super Dangan Ronpa 2.
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice, Manov Mistree, supposedly the magician Mr. Reus, plays dead in "The Magical Turnabout" as a part of a prank to Trucy. Unfortunately for him, Roger Retinz, the real Mr. Reus, takes advantage of the prank and kills him for real when he least expects it.

    Web Animation 
  • In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, it is revealed that Rogal Dorn actually faked his death (which is portrayed in Warhammer 40,000's canon, making this a plot twist), and spent the last 10,000 years protecting the Emperor while masquerading as a Centurion.
    Kittenstodes: How are you here? Didn't you die while trying to stop a Black Crusade?
    Rogal Dorn: No.
    Kittenstodes: Well, what happened then?
    Rogal Dorn: I survived.
    Kittenstodes: How?
    Rogal Dorn: By being dead. In pretend.

    Web Comics 
  • In Beyond the Canopy, Greliz and Jojo plan to do this as part of a confidence scheme. They organize a prize fight and serve as bookkeepers for the gambling. Their plan is to fake a fire before the fight ends, escape to the caves underground with all the gambled money, and then blow up the building after them—convincing all onlookers that they and the money went up in smoke.
  • In Bob and George Protoman planted items to make himself look dead.
  • Agatha in Girl Genius. The unusual part is that given both circumstances and the habits during lifetime, it may double as a bizarre form of the funeral honours to the unfortunate who became their substitute corpse. Scamming the overlord of Europe into thinking she's the Heterodyne heir would be really hard to top. In Zeetha's opinion, however, this "perfect plan" had a flaw.
  • Renard/Reynardine in Gunnerkrigg Court, as he phrased it himself, "had the perfect disguise". Whether this happened mostly by coincidence or was planned by the mythological trickster himself is perhaps the biggest point of disagreement in the fandom.
  • Veithel of Juathuur, before the beginning of the story.
  • In Spacetrawler, Dmitri uses holograms to make his attempted assassin (and the government that hired her) believe the assassination was successful.
  • In When She Was Bad, Max pretends to die after being shot in the chest by Jasper, both to hide his Healing Factor and to stop Gail's group of villains from trying to track him down. He has them fooled until he happens to bump into Gail on the bus.
  • Wapsi Square: Bia faked her death "to make her daughter stronger".

    Web Original 
  • In Worm, Coil successfully pulls this off, staging a public death in his masked identity to allow his plans to go forward with his civilian identity taking a position of power.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Adventure Time episode "What Have You Done", in order to make Ice King cry because his cries are the cure for a disease he accidentally caused Princess Bubblegum's people to have, Finn pretends that he's dying after Ice King accidentally hits him. It works, but Ice King soon demands to dispose his carcass. Finn takes offense at that and Jake says that he would mourn dramatically for ages if he had found his dead body and the episode ends with Finn pretending to be dead and Jake pretending to mourn him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • At the end of the first season, Zuko survives an assassination attempt in which his ship is completely destroyed, but he and Iroh pretend that he did die so that he can stow away on one of the ships to the North Pole and catch the Avatar there.
    • The second season ends with Katara pulling Aang back from the ragged edge of death after the latter was struck down by Azula. Come the third season premiere (three weeks of unconsciousness later)...
      Sokka: Yep, the whole world thinks you're dead! (stands up and raises his arms triumphantly) Isn't that great?!
  • Rhinox/Tankor does this for a while in Beast Machines in order to be able to further his own agenda. Too bad for him that Megatron figured it out... Probably because he pulled a similar scheme in Beast Wars. When the Maximals install a camera in the Predacon base to spy on them, Megatron uses it to stage a fake uprising that seemingly blows the Predacons up (complete with a small explosion and a set of fake Trantulas legs). In reality, they'd been hiding in a nearby crevice, waiting for the Maximals to salvae parts from the Predacon ship, so they can hijack the Maximal ship and use it to scoop up the Protoforms in orbit.
  • In the Biker Mice from Mars episode "My Cheese is Quick", the main villain Lawrence Limburger fakes his death to avoid paying his taxes and to get Charley Davidson in jail for his murder.
  • The Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "The Ghost of Porkaloin Past" had Hoggish Greedly's grandfather Don Porkaloin fake his death as part of a plan to try and persuade his grandson to abandon his eco-unfriendly lifestyle.
  • The Defenders of the Earth do this in "The Mind Warriors II". Ming, having found a way to turn the virtual creatures the Defenders face in their Battle Simulation Room into reality, has Kshin (who is under Ming's control) create beings capable of wiping out the Defenders. Realising these "Mind Warriors" will not leave Monitor unless they think they have succeeded in their mission, the Defenders use a combination of holograms and Mandrake's "disappearing act" to fake their own deaths.
  • Family Guy:
    • In "I Take Thee, Quagmire", Quagmire marries a woman he barely knows, realizes he made a terrible mistake, and tries to break it off. When she reveals herself to be unstable, the guys help him fake his death so as not to end up with a Fatal Attraction case on their hands. When Death comes to collect him, he "comes back to life", but Death insists on collecting Quagmire. When she jumps in front of Glen, she touches Death and drops dead.
      Peter: Technically, her name was Quagmire.
      Death: Works for me!
    • "Thanksgiving" shows that Joe's son faked his death in order to go AWOL.
    • A Cutaway Gag shows Peter faking his death up to the point where he's in a coffin and being buried while his family and friends mourn him. Inside the coffin that's being covered with dirt, Peter says to himself, "Hehehe. No dentist appointment for this guy."
  • Mr Herriman does this in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends during Halloween, in a group prank to get back at Bloo for pranking them all the last Halloweeen.
  • Gargoyles has Sevarius faking his own death as part of Xanatos' plan to turn Talon into an Unwitting Pawn.
  • Gravity Falls has a version of this: Grunkle Stan's real name isn't Stanford, but Stanley and was in fact impersonating his brother. Dipper and Mabel find a news article saying that Stan Pines was dead, but Stanley later admitted to faking his own death while taking up his brother's identity and trying to rescue him from another dimension. After the finale, Grunkle Stan drops the whole charade and goes by Stanley again.
  • In the Grojband episode "Hologroj", Corey tells the news that his band has mysteriously disappeared.
  • In the Hey Arnold! episode "Dino Checks Out", singer Dino Spumoni was presumed dead on the news. But it turns out that he only faked his death in order to have his record sales skyrocketed.
  • In the second season opener of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, Tony Stark fakes his death by allowing the Mandarin's flunkies to blow up his private jet.
  • Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures: Dr. Zin faked his death to see if his daughters were ready to take over his criminal empire. They failed.
  • In Johnny Test, Johnny and Dookie get overworked as their alter egos, Johnny X and Super Pooch. Ultimately, the only way to get out of the mess is to convince the town they're dead. They try once on their own, only to fail, so they get Susan and Mary to help them, disguising themselves as alien supervillains and making it look like they've vaporized the two. Susan and Mary actually seem to enjoy this...
  • Justice League:
    • In the Pilot Movie, J'onn J'onnz telepathically prevents everyone from noticing Batman, leading to the villains (and heroes) not realizing he was there until it was time for him to attack. Being Batman, this was a plot he was used to; see the episode in his own series where everyone thinks a minor crook offed him.
    • In "A Better World", after the Justice Lords capture the Justice League, Flash speeds up his heartbeat so that it appears flatlined to the sensors, causing Lord Batman to frantically rush to his cell and unshackle him, enabling him to escape and free his comrades.
    • The successor series Justice League Unlimited did this as well with Green Arrow taking a nerve relaxant so that he appeared to have been killed in the illegal Metabrawl at Wildcat's hands, to show the aging fighter what he could unintentionally do if he continued fighting in it.
  • On King of the Hill, Peggy gets involved in a pyramid scheme while Dale is confronted by the man whose identity he (somewhat accidentally) stole years ago. While hiding in the same hedge they decide to fake a murder/suicide to get out of their respective predicaments. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Looney Tunes:
    • Bugs Bunny does this on a regular basis. Usually this causes his pursuer to feel remorse and go into a crying fit, only to have Bugs "come to life" and give him a kiss on the nose or something equally impudent.
    • The most unique form of faking death was in "What's Opera, Doc?", with Elmer Fudd using a Magic Helmet to strike the rabbit with massive lightning. Elmer Fudd felt remorse for killing the rabbit, but Bugs showed he was alive by Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Well, what did you expect in an opera — a HAPPY ending?".
    • Pepe Le Pew did this in one of his skits. Penelope the Cat that he regularly chases decides to lock herself in a reinforced glass safe that he can't get into, and being his usual self he acts as if she is playing hard to get and demands she come out, and since it was shown from Penelope's side of the safe, we can assume Pepe was swearing. When Penelope refuses, Pepe asks why, and her response is that Pepe stinks. Shocked and ashamed, Pepe pulls out a gun and waves goodbye to Penelope as he walks behind the safe and a gunshot is heard. Penelope, in despair, rushes out of the safe to see if he really went through with it, and to her surprise Pepe is waiting for her, "I missed... Fortunately for you."
  • Daffy does this in The Looney Tunes Show when he becomes too popular as member of the city council and discover the "Prop 14," which is to make Daffy's seat on city council permanent because of his overwhelming popularity. Unwilling to be in city council forever, Daffy decides to fake his own death by driving his parade float off a bridge and into a river.
  • One episode of The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has Captain Knuckles pretending to be dead so that Flapjack, who has been annoying him throughout the episode with his overprotectiveness, would leave him alone.
  • It was revealed in the season 3 premiere of Metalocalypse that Charles Ofdensen did this. It's not until the penultimate episode of season 4 that we find out why: when Mr. Selacia brainwashed Crozier, Ofdensen witnessed it and it caused his soul to separate from his body, making him 'The Dead Man' in the prophecies regarding Dethklok, and invisible to Selacia. He spent the time investigating the prophecy and spying on the Tribunal until Dethklok needed him again.
  • Philomena, the Phoenix pet of Princess Celestia, does this in an episode of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Unlike most examples, Philomena is just doing it to be a jerk to Fluttershy.
  • Pixie, Dixie and Mr. Jinks: "Ghost With The Most" had Jinks clobbering Dixie with a fireplace shovel during a chase. Dixie fakes his death and dons a bedsheet for a ghost disguise which he uses to scare Jinks into subservience to Pixie. When Jinks catches on to Dixie's charade, he leaves a suicide note (faking his own death) and does the same ghost set-up to haunt Pixie and Dixie.
  • An old Fleischer Popeye cartoon had Popeye thinking that Olive was taking him for granted, so he feigns a severe illness and is taken to the hospital. He fakes his death, but only to see if Olive really cared. When he stages his "resurrection," Olive proceeds to beat the hell out of him.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! offers us the Ghost of Captain Cutler, whose identity is revealed to be Captain Cutler himself, who's alive but masquerading as his own ghost.
    • In The Scooby-Doo Show, Voltner would do this as the 10,000 Volt Ghost.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Mother Simpson", Homer has a dummy of himself made and tosses it off a cliff into a river where it falls over a waterfall, has its limbs crushed by rocks, is attacked by beavers, and ultimately is sucked into a turbine while his coworkers watch in horror... in order to get out of an afternoon of community service. "Best 600 bucks I ever spent!"
      • What makes the scene hilarious is the Comedic Sociopathy of it all: rather than thinking to help Homer, all his co-workers think that all they have to do is say "Oh no! He's hit the rocks!" "Don't worry, those beavers will save him." "Oh no! The beavers are taking his clothes!" No one thinks to, you know, move and help him.
      • Bart tried something like this in "Milhouse of Sand and Fog", as well, but the Blind Without 'Em Milhouse unintentionally shoves the real Bart off of the cliff instead of the dummy. He, of course, didn't suffer the fate of the Homer dummy.
    • "Bart the Fink" has Krusty the Clown faking his death to collect on an insurance policy after the IRS strips him of his assets.
      • In fact, he faked his death twice in that episode. First to escape his IRS debts and start a new life as "Rory B Bellows" and second to escape his new life, commenting as he does so that "The life of Rory B Bellows is insured for a surprisingly large amount".
  • The boys force Butters to do this in the South Park episode "Marjorine".
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Norman Osborn (AKA Green Goblin) pulls this off in the final(?) step of his 2 season long Evil Plan.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "Deception", Obi-Wan fakes his own death so he can go undercover as his supposed killer to investigate a plot against the Chancellor.
  • Steven Universe: It's revealed in "A Single Pale Rose" that Pink Diamond faked her own death and assumed the identity of Rose Quartz... by pretending to be murdered by Rose Quartz.
  • Stroker and his son do this in an episode of Stroker and Hoop to throw ninjas off their trail.
  • Super Friends episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Dr. Ansel Hillbrand fakes his death in a deep sea diving accident to allow him to prepare for his Eco-Terrorist activities as Dr. Pelagian.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode, "The Late Mr. Kent", Superman is stuck with the dilemma of everyone believing his alter-ego to be dead after Clark Kent's car is planted with a bomb when he uncovers a near Miscarriage of Justice. He only manages to come up with an explanation for Clark surviving after realizing the one eye-witness is actually incredibly near-sighted and wasn't wearing his glasses.
  • When the Teen Titans are first attacked by the HIVE (Jinx, Mammoth and Gizmo), Robin falls to ominous doom, and the others only find his utility belt. He resurfaces after his teammates get kicked out of their own home.
    • And at the end of season two, Terra seemingly killed the Titans, only for them all to somehow survive and later attack her when her guard is down. Needless to say, Slade was not pleased with her.
  • Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats: When it seemed Mrs. Vandergelt's butler would finally get her fortune, it was revealed she had faked her death.
  • In season 2 of Young Justice, Artemis does this in order to infiltrate The Light with Kaldur.
    • Both Artemis and Kaldur do it in the second season's penultimate episode. When their cover is blown, they're both immediately shot dead by Deathstroke- who was really just M'gann in disguise, armed with a fake gun, and the death were used as a catalyst to break down the uneasy partnership between The Light and The Reach.
    • Professor Ivo was apparently presumed dead prior to the episode "Schooled".

    Real Life 
  • Elvis Presley: Elvis' death has been denied by some of his more obsessive fans. Similar conspiracy theories abound around other dead celebrities and/or historical figures, such as Adolf Hitler, Bruce Lee, Jim Morrison, Lady Diana, ...
  • This is an actual crime, called "pseudocide" (literally 'pretend murder').
  • Reported by Talking Points Memo.
    • Also the John Darwin case. Found out after a Google search.
    • A woman in Des Moines faked her own death to avoid paying traffic tickets. Her scheme fell apart when she got pulled over for yet another traffic offense.
  • The police sometimes use this tactic to nab suspects. In one case, a woman hired a contract killer (actually an undercover cop) to kill her husband. The police then faked his death, providing photos and "evidence" in order to fool the wife into incriminating herself.
    • In Russia where political and business-related assassinations are unpleasantly common, this is a very common tactic for the local police.
  • In matters of national security, or if the person's life will be in ongoing danger because of their testimony, the FBI may go as far as staging a closed-casket funeral for someone who is going into the Witness Relocation Program.
  • Christopher Marlowe, sometimes theorized to be the "real" Shakespeare, is also sometimes theorized to have faked his own death. Even though a coroner confirmed the knife in his skull.
    • Indeed, his autopsy report, witness reports and court documentation make this one of the best recorded events of the Elizabethan era. And people still believe this man lived on to impersonate Shakespeare for decades.
  • People have been claiming since April 3, 1882, that Jesse James and Bob Ford faked James' murder. There was a two hour special on History International about this, albeit with very shaky reasoning on the "he didn't die" side. (At one point, a photo of a 20-something James is compared to the official post-mortem photo. The two photos have different hairlines, which "proves" they are of two different men. Because no male ever suffers from receding hairline.)
    • These theories were largely put to rest after after an exhumation proved that the man in Jesse James' grave was a descendant of Jesse James' mother.
    • Similar theories exist to claim that Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid faked the former's killing of the latter. The story (which has no real evidence to substantiate it) is that the lawman and the outlaw were actually childhood friends, and they created a win-win situation out of the Kid's fugitive status: Garrett got the bounty and the Kid got to start a new life in Mexico. Several people have even come forward many decades later to claim they were Billy the Kid. There's even been a DNA test done from the remains of one of the claimants against blood allegedly from Billy the Kid, but the test results have not been revealed. The location of the body that was buried as Billy the Kid, regardless of whether it was really him, is not known for sure, due to a flood that washed away all the tombstones in the cemetery. A marker currently designates where the grave is estimated to be, but the uncertainty means testing that body against the blood sample would be pointless.
  • Many kinds of animals fake their own death as a last resort to protect themselves from predators. For some reason, many hunters won't eat what is already dead.
    • If you find something dead, it may well have started rotting already. If it's suddenly dead but with no traces of injury, it can be assumed that it died from poison or some form of sickness that makes it undesirable to eat. While a human might stop to check the prey more thoroughly, many animal predators don't, and leave it alone due to instinct. Dead, but not eaten, and I didn't kill it? There must be something wrong with it.
    • Hognose snakes are really good at this; they even produce a smell to make sure any predator with a sense of smell thinks they're dead. (They also pretend to be venomous snakes; the weird thing is that they need a plan B.)
    • Play Possum: Possums don't only fake their own death when they feel threatened. They also mimick the smell of rotten meat thanks to a foul-smelling fluid that they secrete.
    • Horned toads (actually small spiky lizards) not only flip onto their backs and hold still and stiff to fool predatory snakes, they also flatten themselves and suck in their bellies to look like a dry, desiccated carcass whose innards have shriveled.
    • More a single animal example than anything: At the Tower of London, noticing how much attention the recently deceased raven James Crow got, another raven, by the name of Edgar Sopper played dead to such a degree that the ravenmaster seriously thought he had passed away. When the ravenmaster came and picked up his "corpse", he bit him and flew off, laughing his raven laugh.
  • There had been a myth saying that if cornered by a Brown Bear, a human should play dead to escape it, for bears would not eat corpses. Although it works in Real Life, as people with knowledge of the wild can tell, bears and other carnivores can and will scavenge corpses and can easily tell the difference between a still man on the ground and a dead one. The true reason behind the playing dead issue is to convince the bruin you're not a threat: if the beast sees the potential opponent stays down and does not move, will examine it for a little and then move away to more useful things like searching for food.
  • According to the historian Suetonius, when Nero held special musical recitals and refused to let anyone leave for hours no matter how pressing the reason, some members of the audience would pretend to die in order to be carried away for burial.
  • In The Big Con, Maurer expains how if the con didn't go quite as smoothly as it should have done, somebody would get mad at the con man and punch him, when he would release the cacklebladder he prepared earlier, leaking blood everywhere. Now the victim of the con would believe he was guilty of/an accessory to murder and would be happy to run away, no further questions asked.
  • Sometimes done by victims in school shootings, where everyone except the gunman is unarmed, and frequently trapped in classrooms with only one way out. Often it succeeds because most mass shooters don't double-check to make sure every single victim is actually dead, but fires off round after round into a loaded classroom and leaves everyone for dead. On especially heartbreaking example of this is of one of the first-grade students whose classroom was attacked by Adam Lanza in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. Lanza fired enough to shoot most of the people in the classroom multiple times; but missed her. She threw herself to the floor, in her classmates' blood, and waited for him to leave. Of course, he killed himself when he heard the police coming.

Alternative Title(s): Feign Death, Faking The Death