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Faking the Dead

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Shhh. Don't blow his cover!
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, and will likely result in a Mistaken Death Confirmation.

Death Faked for You, Playing Possum, Disney Death, 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 act in most countries and may cause legal trouble. Don't Try This at Home.


Example subpages:

Other examples:

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  • When you wait forever for the cable guy, you get bored. When you get bored, you start staring out windows. When you start staring out windows, you see things you shouldn't see. When you see things you shouldn't see, you need to vanish. When you need to vanish, you fake your own death. When you fake your own death, you dye your eyebrows. And when you dye your eyebrows, you attend your own funeral as a guy named Phil Schiffly. Don't attend your own funeral as a guy named Phil Schiffly. Get Rid of Cable and upgrade to DirecTV. Call 1-800-DIRECTV.

    Asian Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • 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 the 2001 story "Close Before Striking", it's established that unlike it was pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, Batman's Dead Person Impersonation of Matches Malone missed one detail — Matches wasn't actually dead, but he'd faked his death to get away from circumstances he causednote , only to die for real when he decides to confront rumors of him being a rat thanks to Bruce's impersonation of him and end up being gunned down by Scarface thanks to Bruce using the "Matches" identity to get info to bust one of his operations.
    • The Batman Adventures
      • In Issue #17 of Batman and Robin Adventures, the Mad Hatter fakes his death as part of a plan to abduct his love interest.
      • Season two of The Adventures Continues sees Mayor Hamilton Hill fake his death so he could take over the Court of Owls.
    • 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.
    • During Battle for the Cowl Tim survived 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".
    • During Chip Zdarsky's run, Penguin fakes his death and leaves Gotham so that he can retire from the supervillain lifestyle.
  • The Flash has a field day with this with the infamous Heroes in Crisis. Within the series itself, there's Booster Gold's idea of cloning a dead body of Wally West to fulfill a Stable Time Loop involving the Trinity seeing Wally's corpse. As part of The Flash (Infinite Frontier)'s many attempts at undoing the damage done by HiC (with the first order of business being revealing that the Sanctuary massacre wasn't Wally's fault, by Savitar's attempts to take control of the Speed Force after Reverse Flash put him there and the Speed Force trying to kick him out) was revealing that Gold Beetle did what Booster, Blue Beetle, Batgirl, and Harley should've done, and did it to most everyone else too (barring Wally, who was already taken care of; Roy, who came during the events of DC Infinite Frontier itself back, anyway; and Poison Ivy, who came back during HiC itself).
  • In the New 52 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.
  • The Milestone Comics series Kobalt ends with Kobalt faking his death so he can lie low and form a better strategy in defeating his enemy St. Cloud.
  • 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.
  • Superman:
    • 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 (2004) story arc, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman stage Supergirl's death so Darkseid—who had previously kidnapped and brainwashed her—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 Superman's Pal: Jimmy Olsen (2019), after someone shoots a decoy of him, Jimmy doesn't dispute the general assumption that he's dead, instead going undercover to find out who was responsible.
    • 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.
    • In the Post-Crisis era, Lex Luthor had come down with Kryptonite poisoning due to wearing a signet ring with the stone in it. When amputating his hand doesn't work, he fakes his death by setting forth from an experimental aircraft and crashing. Meanwhile, what's left of Luthor's healthy body (down to his eyes, brain and nervous system) is placed in a clone body and he returns disguised as his son.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Dr. Psycho makes one of his semi-illusionary puppets of himself, which he then controls through his own execution while he escapes. As this is not the first time he's faked his own death to escape from the prison where it happened, Diana and Steve Trevor are quite unimpressed with the warden.
  • America vs. the Justice Society: The Wizard admits that he faked his own suicide via an illusion so he could escape from the Justice Society.


  • Daredevil:
    • Matt 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 The Infinity War and was altered by a mutagenic virus.
    • Even earlier, Matt faked the death of Mike, an identity he created (and played), as part of a Fake Twin Gambit to throw Foggy and Karen off the trail of him being Daredevil, to end the gambit, claiming "Mike" fell in battle and had trained a new Daredevil. Then Charles Soule and Chip Zdarsky decided to have some Cosmic Retcons that made Mike a real, separate, and still-living person.
      • This culminates over in Devil's Reign when Kingpin, having regained his knowledge of Daredevil's identity, mistakes Mike for Matt and kills him in cold blood. Matt decides to use this to join Elektra in taking out the Hand.
  • Fantastic Four: In their first appearance, Alicia recognizes the Enclave as a group of famous scientists, who'd all supposedly died. Their leader admits they faked their death so they could commit mad science without being bothered.
  • 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.
  • Kid Colt (2009): The series ends with the heroes faking Kid Colt's death (using the corpse of Bounty Hunter Sherman Wilks, the story's main antagonist) and claiming the bounty. Dirty Cop Sheriff McGreeley, the Big Bad who employed Wilks to hunt Kid Colt, will presumably work it out eventually - but, at least for a little while, the authorities think Colt is dead.
  • Spider-Man:
    • This seems to be the MO of the Hobgoblin, Roderick Kingsley - set up some poor schmuck as the Hobgoblin and let him run around as him for a while; if he dies, no skin off Roderick's back.
  • Faking the Dead: Before his real death in Guardian Devil, faking it was something of a favorite tactic of Mysterio's.
    Mook: D'ya think he's...?
    Spider-Man: Please. He's Mysterio. He's probably halfway to Hoboken by now.
    • 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.
    • Spider-Man himself pulled this stunt on Venom. Trapped on a deserted island, with no way to beat Venom, Spidey used his costume and a dead body to allow Venom to think that the body was his and leave him to enjoy his time there. When Carnage makes his first appearance, Spidey is forced to reveal the ruse.
    • In a version of a planned ending for The Clone Saga that was ultimately used for the 2009 Alternate Continuity miniseries, its versions of Spectacular Spider-Man #200 was revealed to be this, Harry Osborn faking his own death so he could prepare for his plans as the Big Bad.note 
  • 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 then 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 prisoners. Only Wolverine's enhanced senses reveal the deception. Later, when ordered to kill Storm and Cyclops after he was brainwashed, Professor X apparently obeys, though it turns out he just put them in a state that made them look dead (Magneto says it was on an unconscious level, as he couldn't do it despite this).
    • In The Fall of the Mutants, an interesting variant happens here. In order to stop The Adversary, Forge is forced to kill the X-Men to seal it away. However, the sorceress Roma, impressed with their act, revives the team. After pondering it over, the team opts to let the world believe they were still dead, using the aid of a spell that hides them from electronics while they fight the good fight. Needless to say, their allies weren't terribly impressed when they found out.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader. A bounty hunter brings Darth Vader a charred corpse which he's told is Dr Aphra, but Vader is not fooled for a second and kills him. Aphra later says that Vader will never stop hunting her because she knows too much about him, but the only way to convince Vader that she's dead is if he personally executes her. So she lets Vader throw her out an airlock into space, which she told him before is the one thing she was really scared of, and has her colleagues hidden nearby in a spacecraft to rescue her. When it's pointed out that Vader could have simply killed her with a lightsaber, Aphra replies that Vader was always going to go for the worst option.


  • Black Dynamite: Sports star and athletic shoe promoter Chuck Taylor is revealed to have faked his 1969 death for unspecified reasons.
  • 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 off 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).
  • MAD: This is the modus operandi of one of the unlikely cop pairs - Dead and Buried. (Their B.O. greatly helps.)
  • In Misfit City, it's revealed that Captain Denby faked his own death to hide from people who wanted him dead.
  • Princeless: By having her tower burnt, Princess Adrienne misled everyone who'd be looking for her into thinking 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.
  • Rough Riders: In this universe, Amelia Earhart's death at sea was faked so that the American government could have her set up a surveillance hub in Asia to spy on the Japanese during the 1930s.
  • 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 BSoD 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 clothes 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.

    Fairy Tales 
  • In "King Goldenlocks", the king's servants take prince Goldenlocks to the woods as instructed, but then they set the prince free and use a shepherd's finger and a dog's eyes and tongue to make the king believe his son has been killed off.

    Fan Works 
  • Aftermath: Inverted in the alternate ending, where Taylor has reincorporated herself in a body made from her insect swarm, and asks Director Piggot to help her fake not dying, pretending she was just in a deep coma, so that it's easier for her to pick up her life where she left off.
    Piggot: That's a new one on me.
  • 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.
  • Blind Courage: After becoming pregnant out of wedlock and refusing to abort the baby, Princess Zelda is exiled by her father. She had recently fell ill due to a botched abortion attempt by one of the royal advisors, so the king uses this as an excuse to say she's dead. He even throws Zelda a funeral using a fake body.
  • 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.
  • Calvin & Hobbes: The Series: The final story has Jack doing this to fool Thunderstorm and Shadow.
  • The Choices That Make Us: Regulus uses a memory charm to make Kreacher believe he was killed by the inferno when really he escapes, cutting off his arm and leaving it outside the Forbidden Forest so Death Eaters will find it and believe he was killed there, while journeying to Asia to live among Muggles.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Flight of the Alicorn: Two of the griffon guards use a potion called the catta tonic, which induces deathlike symptoms, to trick Rarity into thinking that they committed suicide so that she will let her guard down. In the penultimate chapter, it is revealed that Chancellor Ninetalons used the same tonic to fake his own assassination and so be able to conspire in secret.
  • 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.
  • Intrepid: Kaiser fakes his death after appearing to kill two teenage heroes as part of a plot.
  • Married to the Koopa King: Bowser's ex-wife Clawdia faked a car accident because she knew she couldn't legally divorce Bowser. She told Bowser afterwards (in a letter).
  • 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.
  • In the Arthur fic Proper Discipline, Mr. Ratburn planned on doing this with his lover. He has had an affair with Muffy's mother for several years now. The two planned on getting married but they also wanted to kill Millicent's abusive, adulterous husband Ed. They planned on killing him, faking their deaths, framing David Read, and running off to Miami under false names to get married. Their plan didn't work because David's dangerous daughter D.W. coincidentally burned down the family home before the couple could kill Ed.
  • Queen of Diamonds sees Jafar go a step further when convincing Jasmine that Aladdin is dead; rather than just tell Jasmine that Aladdin has been executed, he goes so far as to have someone beheaded who bears enough of a resemblance to Aladdin that Jasmine would be unable to tell the difference at the right distance.
  • 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 TRULY OUTRAGEOUS: A Jem Fan Film!, Emmett was Spared by the Adaptation by faking his death because he was being targeted by Cobra from GI Joe.
  • 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.
  • Glinda finds her parents' graves when she visits their abandoned house in Not Completely, Altogether Here. This turns out to be a ruse. They were hiding from Madame Morrible. Glinda learns this from Morrible in the same conversation where Morrible reveals that she found out and killed them when they returned to their house.
  • In Crimson and Emerald, with their obvious grief and clear mourning of Touya, it's clear that the Todoroki siblings believe their elder brother is dead. Dabi says otherwise.
  • In the RWBY two-shot Still Running, Weiss decides to fake her death so her father won't look for her.
  • Vigilantes' Dawn: After reuniting with Oliver in Russia, Laurel fakes her death to escape the League of Assassins with him. Unlike most examples, the decision was largely impromptu, Laurel had no plans to deal with the League when the ruse was blown to hell after her and Oliver's return to Starling City.
  • Dumbledore and Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, only one of those fake deaths is actually explained.
  • Adrien Agreste tries to do this in My-Crack-ulous: Robodrien AIgreste. Key Word: Tries. Hilarity Ensues.
  • In Missing and Presumed Dead Luke Skywalker has become traumatized after learning that one of the worst monsters in the galaxy (a.k.a. Darth Vader) is his father, and as a consequence of The Reveal, Darth Vader is now desperately pursuing his son, no matter who gets in the way. Leia gives Luke the idea to fake his death in order to both get Darth Vader off of his (and the Rebellion's) back and give Luke some privacy to recover and grow as a person.
  • The protagonist of Young Justice (2010) fanfiction With This Ring accidentally causes Larfleeze, the insane holder of the Orange Central Power Battery, to lose a large number of power rings, resulting in Larfleeze sending out his construct army to hunt the rings down and consume the thief. While it might have been possible for Paul to hide indefinitely, that would probably have resulted in considerable collateral damage if anyone panicked and took a potshot at the army, so instead, he contacts the local Green Lanterns to stage a fight and his own 'death'. This has the added benefit of making Larfleeze think that the Green Lanterns are powerful enough to easily defeat Orange Lanterns, and although he's unhappy with the situation, he does recall the army.
  • In the Law & Order: SVU fic Ring My Heart, Tied to Your Finger, Carisi is sent undercover to assist another operative, only to find out that said operative is his boyfriend Mike, who supposedly died eight months earlier.
  • In The Fable of Joyful Wing, the Wolf Queen pretends to die in front of Long Dog in order to motivate him to fulfill her "dying" wish of stopping her cursed husband from harming the children nearby. Dog is understandably annoyed to find her alive, well, and eating his food after he barely survives battle with the Wolf King and staggers back to his campsite.
  • In What Tomorrow Brings, Tobias helps Ax fake his death by cutting some of his limbs off and leaving them next to his Space Fighter so Visser Three won't be suspicious; they'll still remain when Ax heals himself by morphing.
  • In Ships Ahoy!, Queen Maria Pia of Savoy, the queen of Portugal, fakes her own death in a gambit to get Prime Minister Joao Carlos Saldanha, the duke of another country, to cooperate with her and the king on political matters. As part of the gambit, she names Oprah as her successor, which Senhor Saldanha doesn't take kindly to both due to Oprah being unfamiliar with Portugal's political issues, and the fact that she is a child. The gambit ends up working, however, and Senhor Saldanha agrees to cooperate with Pia once he finds out that she faked her death.
  • The New Adventures of Invader Zim: Bob does this in Season 2 Episode 11 after being exposed as a New Irken Order cell leader, setting up a rival leader who looks a lot like him as an unwitting body double and then blowing him up, in order to trick the guards who were chasing him into thinking he tried to pull off a suicide attack. This allows Bob to go into hiding and continue coordinating the NIO's activities full time.

    Films — Animation 
  • 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, but it also 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 Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade when a witness to a government scandal is killed off to guarantee that 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.
  • The prologue of Scooby-Doo! and the Curse of the 13th Ghost, a continuation of sorts to The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo, consists of a monochrome flashback sequence where Vincent Van Ghoul and his friend Mortifer Quinch succeed in recapturing Asmodeus, the last of the 13 ghosts imprisoned in the Chest of Demons. Mortifer appears to be killed by demons after they recapture Asmodeus, but he's later revealed to be still alive when Velma unmasks Asmodeus in the present day as actually being Mortifer in disguise as part of a plan to steal the Chest of Demons, having used an illusion to fake his death to throw off Vincent in the past.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 6 Underground: All the "Ghosts" faked their deaths to become vigilantes against the international criminals and dictators of the world.
  • 8 Women: The big twist is that Marcel faked his own murder so he could discover the titular women's secrets that he'd never hear otherwise. He shoots himself at the end when the revelations prove to be too much to him.
  • American Psycho 2: All American Girl: At the end, Rachel fakes her death and takes another identity which she gets into the FBI using later.
  • 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 April Fools' Day (1986) Muffy fakes the murders of several of her friends to test whether her planned murder mystery vacation resort will work.
  • In Ariel (1988), 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.
  • The Awful Dr. Orloff: Morpho was a prisoner sentenced to death but revived by Dr. Orloff. Orloff filled out a death certificate for Morpho and arranged a fake burial, and spirited Morpho away to become his Igor. After finding Morpho's fingerprint at a crime scene, Tanner and his assistant dig up Morpho's grave and discover it is empty.
  • In Black Rat, Akane—wearing the rat mask—pretends to kill Kengo at the start of the massacre, allowing him to disappear and don the same costume as Akane to become a second Black Rat.
  • The Body (2012): One theory of how Mayka could have vanished from the morgue. Or she had an assistant administering an antidote via Shot to the Heart.
  • Body Heat: Matty/Mary Ann makes it seem like she died as a result of her own bomb, in order to frame Ned for her "death" and run off with the money they had stolen from her murdered husband.
  • 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.
  • Cadaver (2020): Hans is revealed to have faked his suicide when he turns up later, alive and well. He still has the fake skin on his neck, with the tube for the fake blood sticking out.
  • The Cherokee Kid: Isaiah and Jedediah’s mother pretends to kill Jedediah so Bloomington won’t kill him. As adults, Jedediah pretends to kill Isaiah as part of their plan to kill Bloomington.
  • The death of Gloria is faked as part of an elaborate blackmail scheme, and to turn Moose against his employers, in Circus.
  • In Clue, it's determined that Mr. Boddy had done this after switching off the lights in the lounge—The shot that was fired barely missed and only grazed his ear (Professor Plum thus lied about him being dead when he went for a pulse), as could be noticed by the drip of blood on it when everyone checks on him afterward. It's when he gets whopped with the candlestick (who did it depends on the ending) while trying to make a run for it that he's dead for real.
  • 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 body bag. 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.
  • Draw!: After realising that Holland faces no chance of a fair trial in front of Hanging Judge Fawcett, he conspires with Holland to stage a Showdown at High Noon. With the aid of Bess's stagecraft, they fake Holland's death, and Starret then takes Holland's 'body' out of town to bury it. Once they are out of town, Holland sits up and the two of them split the money Starret was paid to bring him in.
  • 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 Detective 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. Zombie Unit is a US government black ops team whose members supposedly died in action or training accidents. Unfortunately they go up against a Texas Ranger who can access US military records, causing him to ask why he's got several 'dead' US soldiers in his lockup. Which is why this trope is purely Rule of Drama; a better means of establishing Plausible Deniability would be to have the soldiers discharged under fake disciplinary charges.
  • The Fast and the Furious:
    • In The Fate of the Furious, Deckard Shaw's death was faked as part of Dom's plan to rescue his son from Cipher.
    • F9 reveals that Han faked his death in Tokyo Drift and was working undercover for Mr. Nobody to uncover Project Ares.
  • Fear, Inc.: All of the deaths during Joe's customized scare (except possibly for Bill's) are faked. But, at the end of the scare, Fear, Inc. kills all of the participants for real.
  • In F/X: Murder by Illusion, 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 Hammett, Crystal Ling—a Chinatown prostitute involved with blackmail—stages her own death by planting some of her own effects on another girl who gets brutally murdered.
  • In Headhunters Roger survives a car collision, but convinces his attacker that he's dead to chase him more effectively.
  • In High Heels and Low Lifes, Shannon and Frances use a Staged Shooting to fake the death of Frances to convince Mason that they are ruthless enough to kill. Unforntuately, a slip of the tongue later gives the game away.
  • Horrific: In Crypt of the Undead, Kristof stages a practical joke where he tells his friends that they Calvin has died and they will be attending a private viewing of the body. However, once at the funeral home, the still-alive Calvin sits up in the coffin.
  • The Illusionist (2006) does this with a very convincing temporary Faux Death.
  • In Invisible Avenger, the Generalissimo stages a fake execution of Pablo's twin brother Victor in order to lure Pablo out of hiding.
  • 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.
  • Killer Party: During Goat Night, Vivia fakes her decapitation by guillotine as a prank. The girls plan to repeat the prank during the party, but Blake and Albert fake Albert's death by stabbing before they have a chance to.
  • The Lady from Shanghai (1947) has a faked death that turns out to be real.
  • Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, a belated sequel to Fist of Fury, retcons that the death of Chen Zen at the end of the latter movie is faked; the rifles used to shoot him in the film's infamous Bolivian Army Ending turns out to be duds. In the sequel, Chen Zen (since Darrin-ed from Bruce Lee to Donnie Yen) is alive, hiding in Europe for eight years before returning to Shanghai to settle one last score with the Japanese.
  • In Madhouse (1974), Paul Toombes locks himself on the Dr. Death set, and sets both the set and and himself on fire to convince authorities that he is dead, while he escapes to extract vengeance on the real killer.
  • Major Grom: Plague Doctor. The vigilante known as the Plague Doctor frames Major Grom for his actions, but Grom escapes and goes to confront him. The Plague Doctor admits he escaped earlier than expected, then activates a remote bomb to blow up the police station where Grom was imprisoned, as well as leaving a fake Video Will from the Plague Doctor saying he has no intention of going to prison, so it looks like Grom blew himself up after being captured. He then does his best to kill Grom for real so no one else will know the truth.
  • Mandalay: Tony fakes his suicide to make the authorities think he offed himself by drinking iodine and jumping out the ship’s window.
  • The Man Who Came Back: While suffering Unwilling Suspension in the prison, Paxton pretends to have died order to escape.
  • 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. In the end, however, it is revealed that he survived (Marvel Studios' president Kevin Feige suggested in a behind-the-scenes video that his injuries were real), 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 S.H.I.E.L.D. to make it seem like Fury had perished and the assailants' plot had succeeded.
    • According to The Daily Bugle's website made as promotional material for the home video release of Spider-Man: Far From Home this is the case of the second ex-wife of Peter Parker's science teacher Mr. Harrington. When half of all life in the universe was snapped away by Thanos, she faked being one of the trillions of victims so she could run away with another man.
  • Mission: Impossible Film Series:
    • Mission: Impossible (1996): In the opening sequence Claire is drugged and splattered with blood to appear dead after getting the mark to think her a call girl, so that when he wakes up he freaks out about the murder he thinks is about to be pinned on him and is unconcerned about talking of other matters to the helpful Ethan in disguise.
    • Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol: It turns out Jules death was faked, and only Ethan and the IMF Secretary know that she actually survived the attack on her and Ethan.
  • In Murders in the Rue Morgue (1971), Marot faked his suicide and used a deep breathing trick taught to him by Orsini to survive being Buried Alive.
  • 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 Night of the Demons (2009), Maddie pretends to hang herself in order to fool the demons. This buys her the time she needs for the sun to rise and banish the demons.
  • Nite Tales: The Movie: In "Karma", Dice orders one of his henchmen to murder another of the bank robbers who is wounded and slowing them down (and who is the first henchman's cousin). Unable to do it, the henchman fires a couple of shots into the ground by his cousin's head to convince Dice he is dead.
  • Nothing Sacred: On learning that it is going to be exposed that she does not have radium poison, Hazel decides that her best plan is to fake her suicide before that can happen. This does not run according to plan.
  • In Now You See Me, Jack Wilder's death is faked with the assistance of the other Horsemen.
  • In Operation Fortune: Ruse de Guerre, Ben Harris does an extremely short term version by planting his cell phone (which he knows Orson and his team are tracking) in another man's jacket pocket, and then shoving the man off the top of an observation tower. When JJ arrives at the foot off the tower, he initially assumes the body is Harris, and Harris takes advantage of his supposed deatth to get the drop on Orson.
  • Outbreak: Daniels orders Salt to fire a couple of missiles into the forest below them so it looks like their Loach has crashed. This fools the pursuing Hueys long enough as they check for wreckage that they're able to get away.
  • During the final gunfight in The Over-the-Hill Gang Rides Again, the Kid is shot dead. The citizens of Waco bury the Kid again, this time with honors. The old Rangers leave, but, at the end of the town, the Baltimore Kid is waiting, very much alive, now able to lead a life of peace and quiet.
  • 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.
  • Painkiller Jane: At the end, Jane's death is faked by Watts, giving her a completely new identity, with even a gravestone he visits to show her supposed resting place.
  • The Parallax View: Joe Frady, an Intrepid Reporter, is trying to track down Austin Tucker (former campaign manager for Senator Charles Carroll, who is assassinated at the beginning) to see what he might know about the Parallax Corporation, which Frady believes was responsible for Senator Carroll's murder. Joe goes out with Austin on his boat, along with Austin's bodyguard. Unfortunately, a bomb goes off in the boat, killing Austin and his bodyguard. Joe manages to escape alive, but convinces Bill Rintels, his editor, to report him dead to make it easier to infiltrate the Parallax Corporation and find out the truth. Unfortunately, all it does is get them both killed.
  • 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 The Pumaman our titular hero has this as his superpower! 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 Relative Fear, Gary Madison was believed to have died in a fire, but he was really living under the name of a tutor he murdered and dumped in the swamp.
  • The Return of Sherlock Holmes: In keeping with the original story, Holmes reveals that he faked his death at Reichenbach Falls.
  • 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.
  • Ring of Fear: After stealing a railroad worker's clothes, O'Malley dresses the worker in his uniform from the insane asylum and shoves him in front of a train: causing authorities to believe he had died attempting to hitch a ride on the train.
  • Sapphire: After Johnny Fiddle stabs Horace Big Cigar in a fight over a card game, Horace decides to lay low and Horace's friends tell Johnny that Horace has died, leading Johnny to assume the police after him from Horace's murder when they come looking for him.
  • 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."
  • Scare Campaign:It turns out that Emma and not Rohan is the intended 'stooge' of the episode. Rohan is actually an actor and all of the murders Emma thinks she sees him commit are actually faked as part of the show. The real murders start later.
  • In Sherlock: Case of Evil, Moriarty is shot and seemingly killed by Holmes in the opening scenes. However, they Never Found the Body and the whole scenario is later revealed to have been orchestrated by Moriarty to allow him to continue his evil scheme unhindered by making the world believe he is dead.
  • In Sherlock Holmes (1932), Holmes deduces Moriarty's scheme to frame him for Gore-King's murder, and conspires with Gore-King to fake the latter's death.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear, the murders of the members of The Good Comrades turn out to be an elaborate case of Insurance Fraud, with the 'victims' faking their deaths and leaving behind unrecognizable corpses, pocketing the insurance payouts, and then absconding while leaving behind the one innocent member of the club to take the fall for the 'murders'.
  • In Six Reasons Why, The Nomad hires The Criminal to shoot him so that his horse will think he is dead (It Makes Sense in Context). Unfortunately for him, a Gambit Pileup gets in the way of his plan.
  • In Snuff Movie, Jack's murder by X, Teeth and Youth is faked, so that when the police turn up to investigate, he can reappear alive and make Andy look like a lunatic.
  • 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 that the terrorist is actually a Mossad Deep Cover Agent wearing a blood bag under his Latex Perfection.
  • Sorority Row: The prank the girls play on Garrett involves Megan pretending to die from a drug overdose, and the others convincing Garrett this is all his fault. Turns into a case of Gone Horribly Right.
  • 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.
  • Stiletto: After Raina stabs him and leaves him for dead, Virgil has it announced that he died on the way to the hospital.
  • Both Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting.
  • Briefly happens in Taken. After Bryan Mills kills a room full of villains, he realizes their cohorts are on their way to kill him. So, he lays down with the corpses of the men he killed. It works and gives him the much-needed element of surprise.
  • Tell No One: Margot killed Phillipe Neuville, a pedophile who had beaten her up before. Because he knows Phillipe's father, a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing - an aristocrat who's really a gangster - will be coming after her, Margot's father, Jacques, gets her to fake her own death in an "attack" on her and her husband Alexandre. However, when she finds out Alexandre, whom she also thought was going to be dead, is alive and thinks she's dead, she comes back.
  • Titanic (1997): After the Titanic sinks, Rose passes herself off as "Rose Dawson" to the officials so she can escape her stifling upper-class life. Researchers in the present-day frame scenes note that "Rose DeWitt Bukater" was listed among the dead.
  • In the epilogue of Torture Garden, the fifth patron goes berserk and uses the shears of Atropos to "kill" Dr. Diabolo in front of the others, causing them to panic and flee. It is then shown that he is working for Diabolo, and the whole thing was faked.
  • 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 believes they are dead, allowing them to take on the Decepticons by surprise.
  • In The Usual Suspects, doing this is part of Dean Keaton's Backstory, and the fact that he apparently got away with it is one of the reasons Agent Kujan is so determined to arrest or otherwise ruin Keaton. Keaton was presumed dead long enough to dodge a murder rap when a building he was inside blew up. While Keaton was "dead", somebody else wound up being convicted of the murder he was supposed to have committed, and after that happened, both of the witnesses who swore they saw Keaton go into the building right before it exploded died under suspicious circumstances. For his part Keaton claims that he never faked his death at all; Kujan reluctantly admits that Keaton never profited from his death in any way, and while being questioned by the police Keaton points out that he kept living in the same city under the same name, which is not the typical way one acts if they want to effectively fake their death. Keaton’s version of the story is that the authorities dropped the ball by having him declared dead without being sure that he really did die.
  • The Voyeurs: Julia faked her suicide in the bathroom, showing up alive later as part of the ambush she springs with Sebastian on Pippa.
  • What a Carve Up!: Gabriel and Edward conspire to fake Gabriel's death, with Edward signing the death certificate. Gabriel then murders Edward first as Edward is the only one who knows the truth and could expose Gabriel's scheme.
  • White Men Can't Jump does this in an interesting way. During the film, Billy owes money to some gangsters and a pair of enforcers hound him. At one point, they show him pictures of their past victims who have been killed in some pretty painful-looking ways. At the end, he manages to pay them off, but they get him to pretend they killed him so they can take a picture of his "corpse" for future use. Naturally this casts doubt on whether the pictures of the other "victims" and what their fates actually were.
  • The White Orchid: The White Orchid made it look like she'd been murdered, but actually used another woman who'd had surgery to appear like her.
  • Wild Things 2:
    • Brittney's stepfather Niles turns out to have faked his own death with Brittney's and Maya's help so he could get out from under any criminal investigation for having stolen money from his own company to feed his gambling addiction.
    • Brittney's mother is also revealed to have faked her suicide with Brittney's help, as part of a plot to get revenge on the abusive Niles.
  • 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.
  • You Don't Mess with the Zohan: The titular Zohan is a legendary Israeli counterterrorist who, sick of the constant conflicts that wrack his homeland, fakes his death and stows away on a plane to New York so he can pursue his dream of becoming a hairstylist.
  • In You Might Be the Killer, one of the counselors who was non-lethally injured by the killer pretends to be dead so that the killer will move on to another target.

  • Jhariah's A BEGINNER'S GUIDE TO FAKING YOUR DEATH follows a man who executes an impromptu plan to fake his death. After he does so, he leaves towns and starts a new life, which he enjoys more. It eventually dawns on him that his past is catching up to him, he doesn't feel safe, and he worries about what sort of revenge people would seek if they found out. He accepts that his plan has gone downhill and kills himself because he can't live with himself, wanting to just disappear from everyone's memory altogether.

    Music Videos 
  • The stinger of Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance". The supposedly dead lady he'd carried back from the morgue and romanced throughout the video suddenly opens her eyes after he leaves her in the water.
  • 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!'

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance: in Murder on the Rockport Limited, Jenkins, does this, specifically by killing the Engineer and switching clothes with him.
    • In The Crystal Kingdom, the Tres Horny Boys help Lucas Miller do this so that the Bureau doesn't lock him up.
    • In Reunion Tour, Taako and Merle pretend that Magnus is dead, when in fact he's a mannequin.
  • In The Hidden Almanac, this may have been the case with the pirate Ribbon Jack, who "was never allowed to make a public statement and was hanged while wearing a hood. Autopsies indicated that the notorious pirate may actually have been an eighty-five pound bag of seaweed." On the other hand, it has to be said that an animate bag of seaweed with piratical proclivities would fit right in with some of the other historical figures mentioned in the series.
  • "Vanish," an episode of the podcast Criminal, discusses the many difficulties of doing this in real life. As it turns out, a lot of people fail at this because they just don't disappear fully enough - they leave too many clues online or elsewhere that they're still alive. Some of them even blow their own covers by directly contacting family or friends. It's hard to give up absolutely everything and everyone in your life.

    Print Media 
  • 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.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • According to a 2010 interview with Paul Bearer, in preparation for one such memorable Funeral Parlor segment, Paul and The Undertaker and the others had to remove the airtight rubber seal from the lid of the casket they had bought and decorated and drill holes in said lid to allow breathable space inside, so in that manner the Ultimate Warrior would not suffocate when they locked him in the casket. Which explains that once inside, Warrior would tear up the coffin for show before closing his eyes and calmly relaxing in order to create the apparition of a Disney Death when the casket was unlocked and opened. Warrior must have been very good in convincing his rescuers and everyone involved that he was Only Mostly Dead, giving them quite a scare (before the administration of CPR, of course).
  • Also happened in WrestleMania XV when The Undertaker summoned the Brood to throw down the long harness cord/noose in his effort to string up the Big Boss Man after winning the Streak; if one looked carefully and closely, they could see Boss Man trembling in fear as the "noose" was put around his neck. Taker, knowing that he would never strangle his opponent during the hanging procedure, gave him a quick reassuring look as if to say, "It's okay. Trust me"; and it was when Taker attached the cord to the safety harness Boss Man was wearing underneath his suit, that the latter realized that he would be okay and decided to play along with the (kayfabe) hanging procedure. When Paul Bearer pressed the button to lift up both the cage and Boss Man by the harness, the latter made a good impression of a hanging/strangulation victim, giving everyone quite a scare. When the procedure was done, only the live audience could watch him get safely taken down onto a stretcher so that he could get to a hospital just fine with minor injuries.

  • 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 Sentinels of the Multiverse, long-time villain Baron Blade teams up with the heroes to battle the universe-destroying OblivAeon, and is apparently killed in the fight. The 'incapacitated' side of his Collector's Edition hero card features his funeral, with preeminent hero Legacy delivering a eulogy...while a shadowy figure overlooks the scene from the background; the "Incapacitated" side of the regular edition confirms that said figure is Baron Blade. Sure enough, Blade returns as a villain in both main future timelines.
  • In Shadowrun, the Expanded Universe book "Night's Pawn" saw the Great Dragon Alamais seemingly killed by an orbital laser. Later sourcebooks would reveal he was alive but hiding (obviously not wanting to come back until whoever shot him couldn't repeat the process), but his attempt to do so was foiled in 2057 when fellow Great Dragon Dunkelzahn was Killed Off for Real and spent a section of his (extensive) will giving Alamais back the fruitcake the two had spent over thirty years exchanging every Christmas, with the addendum that "unlike you, I'm really dead".

  • 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:
    • In Romeo and Juliet, Juliet fakes her death to avoid being forced to marry Paris. It goes badly after a message letting Romeo know that she's really okay fails to reach him.
    • Henry IV, Part 1: Falstaff plays dead during a battle to avoid getting really killed.
    • Much Ado About Nothing: Hero fakes her death after Claudio is tricked into denouncing her, as part of a plot to uncover the guilty party and find out Claudio's true feelings.
    • The Winter's Tale, in which Hermione apparently fakes her own death for sixteen years just so she can pose as her own statue (voluntarily or otherwise) and come back to life in front of her husband and now grown-up daughter.
    • Notably used in Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra tells a messenger to tell Antony that she is dead. This results in Antony killing himself and Cleopatra hitting the Despair Event Horizon.
  • 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.

    Theme Parks 
  • At the climax of Shrek 4D at Universal Studios, Fiona briefly pretends that she's a ghost and that she's finally fallen in love with Lord Farquaad, simply for the sake of mocking him.

    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.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
      • 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.
      • 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 Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.
      • In Chapter 3, Hifumi briefly pretends to be dead as part of his and Celeste's murder plot. He doesn't last long before getting Killed Off for Real, though.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony has this done by Kokichi Oma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader during the Chapter 3 investigation. Why? Just to mess with everyone. Though his bloody state is crucial to find out how the killer murdered Tenko.
  • 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.
  • I Love You, Colonel Sanders!: The unnamed student faked his death after eating undercooked braised octopus tentacle prepared by Man Man for a really petty reason- to get people to talk about him for once. It somewhat works, as he starts appearing in all the weird dreams and hallucinations the protagonist gets from that point on.

    Web Animation 
  • Parodied in Battle for Dream Island. In the penultimate Season 1 episode "Insectophobe's Nightmare 2", after Flower bursts open an insect egg, this ends up resulting in the emerging insects going on a rampage that kills everyone except for the Announcer and David. When the Announcer decides to continue the rest of the competition with David clones he had made, the contestants suddenly all return, claiming that they had faked their deaths, despite there being no plausible way on how they could have done this.
  • Lear Dunham in Broken Saints. Rare variation in that the faked death is part of backstory, not a depicted event.
  • 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.
  • Parodied in The Spider Cliff Mysteries. After surviving an explosion, Barlow suggests doing this. Crystal tells him it's a stupid idea.
  • Dr. Arthur Watts, one of the antagonists of RWBY is remarked on as a "disgraced Atlesian scientist" by Raven. The people of Atlas presume Watts to be dead in something they call "the Paladin Incident". When Jacques Schnee remarks on it, Watts admits that he wanted everyone to think him dead, presumably so that he could begin working for Salem.

  • 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.
  • Vin in Kevin & Kell, with help from Rudy and Fiona, to escape retribution from R.L. Some time later, we see him living happily with a mate and offspring in The Wild.
  • 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.

    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, ...
  • The second-most famous performer believed to have faked their death is Andy Kaufman, Anti-Humor pioneer and performance artist (who, notably, was a huge Elvis fan and an impersonator). As the theory has it, he pulled his greatest prank in 1984 by faking his own death from lung cancer and will eventually deliver the punchline by revealing himself to have been alive and well for the past few decades. Kaufman himself often said this was something he wanted to do, though he ultimately pulled back on the idea because he didn't want his family to suffer (either by keeping the secret or believing he was dead). In 2014, his long-time friend Bob Zmuda and Kaufman's girlfriend Lynne Margulies released a book titled Andy Kaufman: The Truth, Finally which claimed that the performer was still alive...
    • The Kaufman Biopic Man on the Moon incorporates this cheekily by playing Kaufman's illness and death straight, only to have the final shot be interpretable as either revealing that Kaufman did fake his death and is now performing again as his Tony Clifton alter ego or that he died and someone else not identified for the viewer is just keeping the legend alive.
  • 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 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.
  • According to NAVIGaTR, George Wood from Gaming in the Clinton Years allegedly died between 2006 and 2008. However, in 2009, a video showed up on YouTube showing George Wood on a local talk show talking about President Obama. Not to mention that NAViGaTR had been making a huge fuss about George Wood in anticipation for their big Halloween cruise party, in such a way that if he isn't alive then it's pretty disrespectful - not to mention how NAVIGaTR publicly and loudly claim his cause of death was a drug overdose, which is something you wouldn't really want to publicize regardless of whether someone was dead or alive. For the longest time, NAVIGatR had been very "nudge-nudge-wink-wink" about his supposed death and it was difficult to get the actual truth of the matter out of them. However, in April 2015, they released multiple videos proving Wood is still alive.
  • 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.)
    • Playing Possum: Possums don't only fake their own death when they feel threatened. They also mimic 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, but 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.
    • Some spiders curl their legs and stay stiff, looking as a dead one. Convincing most of the time, not so much when they do so while for example descending to the ground using a thread, that keeps coming from the supposedly dead spider's spinnerets.
  • There had been a myth saying that if cornered by a Brown Bear, a human should play dead to escape it, as 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 explains 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 an 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.
  • A man in Sanshui, Guangdong, attempts to evade his bank loan debt by purchasing a corpse with $4000 YMB, crashing his car into an electric pole and setting it on fire. In order to fake his own death, he contacts his friend, who happens to be a mortician in a hospital, to purchase a corpse, claiming that he needs it for a ghost marriage. He then uses the corpse to fake a traffic accident. However, his attempt is eventually foiled when the investigators find out that not only does the DNA not match the man's parents, the corpse he uses to fake his death turns out to be a woman, and she was already severely rotten long before the man uses her. The man ends up being convicted of deliberate corpse destruction for his troubles, whereas his mortician friend is convicted of illegal corpse trade and disrespecting corpses.
  • SAVx of NoPixel apparently faked reports of his own suicide after receiving a 30-day ban from the server, according to the server owner. Sav's name had previously been memorialized in the server's memorial wall, but was quickly removed once they determined that he actually wasn't dead.
  • In September, 2020, Susan Meachen's daughter (or Meachen pretending to be her daughter) posted on Facebook that she, Susan, had committed suicide in response to online bullying, which devastated the tight-knit group of fans and friends she had made. Come early 2023, she reemerged and admitted her suicide was staged. Needless to say, her fans were pissed.
  • Ramon Sosa faked his own death after being informed by his friend Mundo that his wife Lulu had plotted to hire a hitman to kill him and make it look like a carjacking gone wrong. To make his faked death look genuine, police painted on him so that he looked like he was killed from a single headshot, and then sent a photo of his "corpse" to Lulu by an agent who posed as the hitman Mundo "hired". Once her payment to the "hitman" was revealed, police began to fake Ramon's death, and upon Lulu's belated reaction to his "death", the police quickly arrested her. The full story can be found here.

Alternative Title(s): Faking The Death


Death Star Orientation

Every Imperial Officer has to learn a few things about dealing with Darth Vader.

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Main / FakingTheDead

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