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Hired to Hunt Yourself

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The maniac's far closer than he thinks.

Aramis: The King has ordered me to seek out the secret general of the Jesuits and to kill him.
Porthos: You should let the secret general worry about that.
Aramis: Problem is that, ah... I am he.

Bob is leading a double life, and one of his identities is instructed to spy on, capture, or kill the other. This can occur in one of two ways: When an organization discovers it has been infiltrated and The Mole is given the task of uncovering the spy (oops), or when a character is juggling dual identities and needs to throw others off the track.

Someone in this situation may find himself having to maintain a careful balance. He can't actually kill/capture/unmask himself; but being too intentionally incompetent might either cause suspicion to fall on him or else get another man assigned to the job — someone who won't hold back from completing it.

Sometimes a person might intentionally set himself up in this situation, using his position to Destroy the Evidence and cover his tracks. Other times, he may not even realize it himself, in which case the discovery that he's actually been hunting himself will be The Reveal.

Subtropes include:

Compare Bruce Wayne Held Hostage, in which the hostage the villains are using to lure in the hero is, unknown to them, the hero himself. Contrast Detective Patsy where a perp hires a detective in order to throw suspicion off himself. See also Double Reverse Quadruple Agent.

This trope is sometimes a SPOILER.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Death Note: L, the world's best detective, maintains several other detective identities. When someone hires the world's second- or third-best detective to uncover L's identity, they're really hiring him.
    L: I've found that people who try to find me usually fall for this.
    • L deliberately invokes this by inviting Light Yagami, his prime suspect for being Kira, to the anti-Kira task force. Both L and Light see this as the best way to get the information they need to beat the other.
  • A brief aside in Kino's Journey concerns a sentient tank that has unknowingly been tasked with hunting down and destroying itself. He gets another story in the novels, where he discovers this after befriending some kids.
  • An early Lupin III manga chapter featured Lupin paying an assassin to take down a crime lord. What the assassin didn't know was that he had multiple personalities and that the crime lord in question was one of them.
  • Early on in Ranma ½, before Shampoo joined the regular cast, the Amazon put Akane through forced amnesia to make her forget about Ranma. She agrees to give Ranma the cure if he does one thing for her - kill the female Ranma! (This was before Shampoo learned of Ranma's curse.) Ranma gets her to compromise by changing the demand from 'kill' to 'beat up'.

    Comic Books 
  • In the first issue of Action Comics, Daily Star editor George Taylor gives Clark Kent the job of finding more info on this "Superman" character.
    George Taylor: Reports have been streaming in that a fellow with gigantic strength named Superman actually exists. I'm making it your steady assignment to cover these reports. Think you can handle it, Kent?
    Clark: Listen, Chief, if I can't find out anything about this Superman, no one can!
  • Lance Temple hired himself to hunt himself, in the Blaze of Glory miniseries.
  • Iron Man: During Armor Wars, Nick Fury thinks Iron Man has gone rogue and asks Tony Stark to help SHIELD hunt him down, since they think Iron Man is just one of Stark's employees.
  • In Lobo vs. Mask, Lobo ended up unknowingly hunting himself due to a time loop caused by the Mask.
  • In Sleeper (WildStorm), the villain TAO's organisation goes on a hunt for the undercover operative in their midst. Naturally, Holden, the undercover operative, is right in the middle of it.
  • Peter Parker got a job taking pictures of himself and was continually instructed to find incriminating evidence to put Spider-Man behind bars.
  • Star Wars: Darth Vader: After the treasury of the Son-tuul Pride is confiscated by the Empire, Vader arranges a heist to steal it so he can fund his private agenda. Then Grand General Tagge assigns Vader to track down the people responsible.

    Fan Works 
  • At one point in Double Agent Vader, the Emperor becomes aware that there is a Rebel mole somewhere high up in the Imperial hierarchy, and assigns Darth Vader to locate and destroy the mole; the mole is Vader himself. It occurs to Vader that he could "succeed" at the mission with a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit, but he choose to fail because the punishment duty for failure will be something he actually wants — being assigned to the Death Star.
  • Quirrel from Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality refuses to help Harry speculate on the possibility that it was him who killed Hermione, noting that either he does too good a job, and convinces him he did it, or does too poor a job, and convinces him that he's covering up that he did it. And yes, that has happened to him before.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Paradise Calling, set during the events of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Sheik poses as an ally to Ganondorf because of past conflict between the Hylian royal family and the Sheikah, thus diverting him from sending anyone else to search for Princess Zelda.
  • Martian Manhunter sees Veronica Mars being sent into the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer; bound by a deal with the entity that sent her to this world that she cannot reveal her future knowledge to anyone, Veronica finds a loophole where she can use her knowledge of the past to help out, such as revealing the existence of Kendra or the clause in Angel's curse. When sharing this information with others, she goes in disguise under the name "Epimetheus", a mythical Titan of knowledge; at one point Giles hires Veronica Mars to hunt down Epimetheus, but Veronica is able to set up the investigation to give the impression she made the attempt but didn't succeed in finding anything useful.
  • In Pages Of Harmony, Twilight Sparkle helps organize the town to catch the pony who appears to be kidnapping other ponies from the town. Nopony realizes that she is actually the sinister pony they're looking for.
  • Played for Laughs in If I’m evil, and you’re evil, then who’s stopping Hawkmoth? where Marinette (as Multimouse) and Adrien (as Aspik) end up becoming Fake Defectors and join Hawkmoth in trying to take down Ladybug and Chat Noir. To prove themselves, they each stage a fake fight with their alter egos and easily take them down and "steal" the Ladybug and Black Cat Miraculous. Not only are Hawkmoth and Mayura shocked that two teens were easily able to "defeat" the heroes where they couldn't in months, they are horrified when they thought Multimouse had killed Ladybug.
  • In Harry Potter, Hit Wizard, Harry (after the events of the prequel fanfic) is a magical bounty hunter hidden under the name "Tom 'Snake' Aspheart" who gets requested to bring down Dumbledore and his attempt to turn Magical Britain into a False Utopia. Eventually, he is hired (as Aspheart) to hunt down himself (as Harry Potter).

    Film — Animated 
  • In Incredibles 2, Elastigirl asks Winston and Evelyn to set up another interview with Chad Brently to create a scenario to track the Screenslaver. This creates an interesting situation because Elastigirl doesn't know that Evelyn actually is the Screenslaver and the person they're hunting is just some hapless pizza delivery guy hypnotized into being the fall guy.
  • Ultimate Avengers: S.H.I.E.L.D. contract Tony Stark to give them weapons to hunt down the mysterious Iron Man. Of course, Tony Stark is Iron Man, so he gives them the weapons, then effortlessly sabotages them the minute S.H.I.E.L.D. tries to use them.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • In Angel Heart, private eye Harold Angel is hired to find a missing singer called "Johnny Favourite", with horrific results. Harold discovers that he himself is actually Johnny Favourite and had erased his own memories to escape a Deal with the Devil he had made for money and fame, sacrificing a young man and stealing his identity to accomplish this. The Devil allowed Johnny to condemn himself to Hell by uncovering his own evil personality, and Johnny has murdered most of his past associates and raped his own daughter to death in the process.
  • Anon (2018): The killer turns out to be a hacking consultant brought in to catch the female hacker whom they wrongly assume is the killer. When the Commissioner roasts them about this, the detective protests that the Commissioner recommended him. Turns out he never did — the killer just faked the order, and no one bothered to check it with the Commissioner's office, as they're in a world with no privacy and so are used to accepting everyone at face value.
  • In The Big Clock, Earl Janoth drags George Stead back from his vacation to run the manhunt for 'Jefferson Randolph': not knowing that the man he believes to be Jefferson Randolph is actually Stead.
  • Happens in The Big Hit when Lou Diamond Phillips and his crew kidnap the daughter of their boss' friend and is ordered to get her back.
  • In Blade Runner 2049, Officer K finds information that leads him to believe that he's actually the missing Replicant child who he's been searching for. He's not.
  • Breach: Eric's supervisor at the FBI reveals to him that Robert Hanssen, the mole (see also Real Life below) was, at one time, in charge of a task force that was supposed to ferret out the mole in the FBI...namely, Hanssen himself. In the movie a subdued Hanssen lampshades this in a low-key Motive Rant after his arrest.
    Hanssen: Can you imagine, sitting in a room with a bunch of your colleagues, everybody trying to guess the identity of a mole and all the while, it's you they're after, you they're looking for? That must be very satisfying, wouldn't you think?
  • Corky Romano: Brick Davis is on the investigation into the Night Vulture, a ruthless heroin dealer who's murdered multiple rivals. It turns out the Night Vulture's actually him.
  • The Green Hornet: Chudnofsky hires the Green Hornet via e-mail to kill Britt Reid. Kato gets the e-mail and shows up (as the Green Hornet's sidekick) to rescue Britt from the villains, causing them to put the pieces together:
    Chudnofsky: Britt Reid is the Green Hornet!
    Scanlon: Yeah, I know. You hired a guy to kill himself.
  • In Infernal Affairs, both central characters are in this situation. One is a policeman undercover in a criminal gang, while the other is a corrupt policeman secretly working for the boss of the same gang. Both end up being ordered by their apparent bosses to find the mole within their team. The Departed, being a remake, has the same setup.
  • This is the premise of Looper, only in this case the protagonist has been ordered to kill his future self.
  • In The Man in the Iron Mask, the Jesuits are actively opposing the king, so he puts a man in charge of finding their father general and killing him. Of course, he chooses one of his close allies: Aramis, who turns out to be the Jesuit general.
  • Non-Stop: One of the people the air marshal asks to help locate the terrorist on his flight is actually working with them.
  • No Way Out (1987): A politician murders his mistress/secretary after discovering she's having an affair with someone else, then assigns Kevin Costner's character to find out who it was, under the guise of a hunt for a KGB mole whom the secretary was supposedly involved with. The problem being, Costner's character was the one having an affair with the secretary, and thus has been put in charge of finding evidence to implicate himself as a KGB sleeper agent. Complicating things further, he didn't kill the secretary, but he does work for the KGB. The film is based on The Big Clock, which is set in a media company rather than the CIA.
  • A variation occurs in Out of Time. Matt, the police chief trying to solve a double homicide, had nothing to do with the murder, but there was lots of incriminating evidence since he was having a secret affair with one of the victims. As a result, he had to find ways to hide the evidence against him from the other cops long enough to figure out what really happened.
  • The French movie Les Grandes Familles (The Possessors) has the business tycoon Schoudler (the patriarch of the titular Old Money family) learn that his niece is pregnant by his secretary Lachaume. One morning, he gives the secretary his usual orders and then tasks the unsuspecting Lachaume with finding out the father's identity so as to deliver a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown on him before getting back to his mail. Lachaume takes two steps before going back and confessing he's the father. Schoudler tells Lachaume he made a very good decision: had he gone out the door, it would have been for good.
  • Variant in Where Eagles Dare: Smith is put on the mission by Colonel Turner, who believes he is a double agent, in order to sabotage the mission and prevent the loyal British agents from carrying it out.

  • In the fourth of the Baccano! Light Novels, the infamous assassin Vino purchases the identity of retiring hitman Felix Walken for reasons which only really make sense to himself but involves having a legal identity under which to get married. Then an enemy of Vino's adopted family tries to hire "Felix" to kill Vino.
  • The Trope Codifier, which may have inspired many of the above examples, is Kenneth Fearing's novel The Big Clock (which was adapted into a film). This book is about a journalist who is having an affair with a woman who is also the mistress of the owner of the magazine he works for. When the owner discovers that his mistress is unfaithful, he murders her and then orders the journalist to find her lover so that he can frame the man for the murder.
  • Fun Jungle: An accidental example occurs in Lion Down, in which one of the guards trying to figure out who's been making the giraffes sick is the one who's been doing it themselves (by innocently feeding them a plant that they have a bad reaction with).
  • Garrett, P.I.: In Faded Steel Heat, Garrett mentions that this once happened to Pokey Pigotta, a former fellow detective who used a lot of false identities and disguises in his work.
  • I, Jedi: When a mysterious Jedi begins a Vigilante Man rampage on the mercenary groups working for Moff Tavira, she orders the leader of the Survivors' Bolt Squadron, Jenos Idanian (really a disguised Corran Horn), to find and deal with the Jedi. Unbeknownst to Tavira, Corran is the Jedi.
  • Lensman: Invoked by Kimball Kinnison in Second Stage Lensmen. Kinnison had the Patrol plant evidence that he (in his guise as the Lensman) was tracing the Boskonian communication lines so that he (in his cover identity as the Boskonian Traska Gannel) would be ordered to investigate. This was a cover for Kinnison to go off-planet and join the Dauntless in following a Boskonian ship traveling down a hyperspatial tube.
  • Mother Night briefly tells the story of a Hungarian Jew who managed to infiltrate the local S.S. division and made such a good impression on his superiors that he was tasked with finding who had been leaking information to the Jews about planned raids (which, of course, he did himself). When asked if he was successful in this mission, he happily reports that fourteen S.S. men were executed on his recommendation.
  • In Oathbringer, Highlord Dalinar appoints his son Adolin to investigate the death of the Arc Villain Highlord Sadeas, unaware that Adolin committed the murder himself. Adolin struggles with the assignment and finally comes clean to his father, but avoids punishment.
  • Sam Hall revolves around a man in a dystopian society deciding to create a fictitious rebel named after a drinking song, and he ends up having to hunt himself.
  • A Scanner Darkly: Bob Arctor, codenamed "Fred", a narc, goes undercover to find a drug dealer. His superiors, who don't know his true identity so as to protect him from corrupt cops, tell him that Bob is their prime suspect (mistaking money he received for successful tips for money earned from the sale of illegal drugs) and assign "Fred" to spy on himself. The screwy part is that the effects of the drug make it so that "Fred" forgets that he's Bob, so he starts to suspect himself too.
  • In Philip K. Dick's story "The Skull", a Boxed Crook is sent back in time to assassinate the founder of a religious cult, only to find that it's himself (thanks to a mistake with the time machine, he arrived after he 'died' and thus 'came back from the dead'.)
  • Too Many Cooks has a brief subplot in which Archie is assigned to help Crisler the house detective find out who's been throwing rocks at a guest, he quickly deduces that the detective has been doing it out of both revenge (over the guest trying to get him fired after Crisler caught the man's chauffeur stealing grease) and to make the guy shut up due to wanting Crisler to catch his mysterious assailant. Archie finds the whole thing hilarious and doesn't blow his cover (at least not to the hotel manager).
  • Tour of the Merrimack: In Wolf Star, an intelligence officer assigned to root out an enemy spy turns out to be the spy. He is discovered when he tries to frame someone else.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: In Brothers in Arms, Admiral Naismith is hired to kidnap Lord Vorkosigan — which is quite easy for him, since they happen to be the same person. The client knows about his double identity and successfully uses the job to lure him into a trap.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Arrested Development has Gob overhear his girlfriend Marta tell her mother over the phone that she's actually in love with a guy she calls "Hermano". Gob asks Michael to find Hermano for him. At the end of the episode, Michael discovers that "Hermano" is Spanish for "brother" and that Marta is in love with him.
  • On Season 6 of The Blacklist, Reddington is arrested and sent to prison after someone reports him. After he's freed, he asks Elizabeth to help find the person who turned him in. It was actually Elizabeth herself, who learned at the end of the previous season that Reddington is an imposter, and needed him out of the way so she could pursue her own private investigation.
  • This happened on Bones with some frequency, including the times that:
    • The hunt for the Gormogan's apprentice revealed that it was Zack Addy, who had been tampering with evidence for some time before his reveal.
    • The Grave Digger turned out to be the FBI agent assigned to head the Grave Digger investigation.
  • In Breaking Bad, Hank asks Walter for chemistry advice in tracking Heisenberg and candidly discusses the investigation with him without even thinking that Walt could be involved.
  • Pulled by Michael Weston from Burn Notice on a couple occasions, and the ever-present narration points out the advantages of such a situation.
    Michael: When you're playing the role of spy-hunter and the person you're hunting is yourself, the trail of evidence can lead anywhere you say it does... and no one can create more fear, more paranoia, than the spy-hunter.
  • Downplayed in Charmed (2018), where Maggie kisses Lucy's boyfriend and then is instructed by Lucy to find out who he's cheating with. She debates what to do for a while, but when Lucy "realizes" that there is no other woman and the problems in their relationship are her own fault, Maggie comes clean.
  • In one episode, Columbo consults one of his colleagues, a CSI lab tech, on the murder case he's working on, unaware that his friend is in fact the murderer.
  • Dexter: Dexter Morgan, as a serial killer who works for the police, is sometimes put into the position of having to investigate his own crime scenes — the first instance of this is the Season 1 episode Return to Sender.
    • Also all of season 2, in which the police are hunting the "Bay Harbor Butcher"—Dexter himself.
    • And again in Season 3, when Dexter accidentally murders the District Attorney's brother.
    • And again in season 5, when Dexter has to cover up that he and Lumen are the vigilantes hunting down Jordan's circle.
  • In Season 1 of The Good Place, protagonist Eleanor Shellstrop finds herself in this position. She's a bad person who wound up in the good afterlife and wants to stay there, but her old ways of negative behavior cause foundational chaos in the neighborhood that alerts the celestial architect, Michael. Eventually, Michael in his stress asks Eleanor to help him in his investigation to find the flaw in the neighborhood, all while Eleanor knows it's she. Since the faux Good Place neighborhood the cast are is actually a psychological torture chamber in the Bad Place, this hunt-yourself scenario was just one of Michael's many tortures for Eleanor.
  • In the Grimm episode "Face Off", Nick is assigned to investigate the deaths of a group of Hundjägers he killed as a Grimm.
    • An earlier episode has an arson expert called in to investigate a series of seemingly unrelated explosions when it turns out both victims were brothers. He claims both explosions were accidental, though the second victim (who survived the explosion) is shot to death. He later confesses he had both brothers killed as his family members were killed by the victims' sister.
  • Hannibal:
    Jack Crawford: Would you care to help us catch the [Chesapeake] Ripper?
    Hannibal Lecter AKA The Chesapeake Ripper: How could I refuse?
  • Highlander: This is essentially the reasoning for Methos joining the Watchers as Adam Pierson and getting made head of the Methos Project.
    Methos: I'm in charge of finding myself, and I make sure it never happens.
  • Jessie: In "Someone Has Tou-Pay", the person behind Bertram's toupee disappearing was Jessie herself, as she accidentally fed it to Mrs. Kipling without warning.
  • Law & Order: Organized Crime: In "Unforgiveable" Stabler is ordered by Kosta to find the mole (himself, an undercover cop in his organization) and prove that he isn't through doing so.
  • A Leverage episode called "The D.B. Cooper Job" reveals that one of the agents sent to track down the infamous hijacker was, in fact, the hijacker himself (who used the money to help the widow of a dead war buddy). There are hints indicating that his partner may have suspected it from the beginning but chose to "redeem" the criminal by having him hunt down other criminals. After all, he did swear to "bring D.B. Cooper to justice", he just didn't specify on which side of justice. When first approached by the agent to be his partner, "Cooper" is hesitant at first, but his wife (the stewardess on the same plane) convinces him to invoke this trope.
  • Wheelchair-bound Miles Hawkins created a suit of Powered Armor to help himself walk and uses it to fight crime as the superhero M.A.N.T.I.S.. Ironically, when the police start looking into the M.A.N.T.I.S., they turn to Hawkins for help.
  • In one episode of The Munsters, Herman has insomnia and goes on long walks every night out of boredom. Since he's not doing anything with his time anyway, he contacts the police and offers his services as a citizen deputy during his walks. Meanwhile, Lily is suspicious of Herman's late-night walks and thinks he's having an affair, so she contacts the police to have him followed. You can see where this is going...
  • An episode of Nash Bridges has Bettina ask Joe (who runs a private detective agency on the side) to investigate his girlfriend who he thinks is cheating on him. Since Nash is working on another case, Joe asks Evan to join him. As soon as Evan hears the girlfriend's name, he solves the case...because he's the one she's cheating with.
  • In Once Upon a Time, King Leopold orders the Genie to identify the Queen's lover, not realising...well, you know what trope you're reading.
  • In Orphan Black, Sarah (impersonating Beth) is brought in to investigate the death of Katja... whom Sarah herself buried after Katja was murdered by Helena. To add to the complexity, all four of these characters are clones played by the same actress, so it's in Sarah's best interest to ensure Helena isn't caught.
  • Pushing Daisies: In "The Fun in Funeral", Emerson brings Ned in on his latest case, investigating the death of a funeral director. Emerson knows full well that Ned killed (or "accidentally involuntarily manslaughtered") the funeral director when he brought Chuck back to life, but he points out to Ned that the best way to cover it up is for them to take the case and make sure no one else solves it.
  • The Saint: Happens to Simon Templar in the episode "To Kill a Saint". When nightclub owner Paul Verrier is tricked into believing that The Saint has tried to murder him, Templar goes to see him to try to resolve the situation. However, Verrier assumes that he's Braddock, a hitman whom Verrier has hired to kill Templar. Templar quickly adopts the role, and so becomes the hitman with a contract on himself.
  • Star Trek:
    • The Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Wolf in the Fold": When a murder occurs on the planet Argelius, the chief city administrator, Mr. Hengist, takes charge of the investigation and continues investigating as more murders take place. It later turns out that the creature inhabiting his body is responsible for the murders.
    • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode The Mind's Eye, Geordi La Forge works with Data to uncover a Romulan ploy to assassinate a Klingon governor and drive a wedge between the Klingon Empire and the Federation, completely unaware that he had recently been kidnapped by the Romulans and was a brainwashed Manchurian Agent tasked with sabotaging the investigation and ultimately assassinating said governor. For bonus points, a Klingon ambassador who is encouraging this investigation and seemingly supporting Geordi in his efforts is actually a corrupt double agent working with the Romulans himself, and Geordi's secret handler giving him instructions and setting him up to be caught at the end.
    • In an episode of Star Trek: Voyager, an alien committed a crime and then erased his own memory of it. Afterward, he worked so hard on solving the crime that he ended up revealing himself as the culprit.
      • In "Relativity", that plays heavily with the Timey-Wimey Ball, some time cops from the future are hunting a saboteur aboard Voyager. The villain turns out to be a future version of the timeship's captain, whose many run-ins with Janeway had driven (will drive?) him insane.
  • Similar to Star Trek: Voyager, an episode of Stargate SG-1, with the added wrinkle that the criminal didn't just erase their own memory, but also transferred it to someone else, knocked them out, and left them at the crime scene to frame them.
  • In Tin Man, DG and the others arrange a meeting with a bounty hunter, who they wish to hire to track down DG's father, Ahamo. They soon find out that he's deliberately become a renowned bounty hunter so that whenever anyone, palace forces or otherwise, come looking for him, he can judge their motives and misdirect as necessary.
  • In the 2009 V miniseries, a Fifth Column member is chosen to co-head an FBI task force to track down the Fifth Column.
  • On Veep, Selina reads a story about a White House staffer calling her the C-word and tasks Amy with finding out who it was. The person who did so was, of course, Amy, but fortunately so did everyone else.
  • The Wire:
    • Burrell dragged his feet while investigating the Barksdales in season 1 because he and other high officials of the city government were being bribed by the Barksdales.
    • In season 5, Jimmy McNulty is the lead investigator on the case of a Serial Killer he invented.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • In Dino Attack RPG, being a Communications Officer, Ata was instructed by Specs to constantly review the team's communications to see if there were any suspicious messages, hoping to track down The Mole. Ata used this to his advantage by leading Specs to investigate Red Herring Moles such as Scout while covering up his own tracks.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Clue the players are attempting to uncover the identity of Mr. Boddy's killer. Of course, depending on how many people are playing, the odds that one of the players is the guilty party can range from possible to guaranteed. And you could very well win by proving that you are the guilty party yourself.
    • In the movie adaptation, one of the multiple endings shows that, with everyone splitting up to search the house for the killer, this trope applies to almost all of them because everyone who died was killed by a different person in the house.
  • Dungeons & Dragons: a Tumblr post talked about a female dragonborn paladin being the knight, princess, or dragon as the circumstances require. Another user created a concept scenario where said character is hired to rescue herself from herself.
    Priest: Sir Aldes of Mosley, the church has evidence that Princess Miranda of Foxley has been kidnapped by Firefang the Ruthless. Will you rescue her on behalf of His Holiness?"
    Sir Miranda Aldes, born in Foxley, honorably knighted in Mosley as a Black Knight after winning a jousting tournament, who's [sic] rebellious teenage nickname was Firefang: So, about all that...
  • In Paranoia, Troubleshooter teams are sent on missions to root out traitors. Not only are all Troubleshooters traitors, sometimes they even committed the specific treason that led to the mission being assigned.
    • And then there's the Wobblies. The Computer found some old information on them and sent a Troubleshooter team to investigate, but they'd died out long ago, so the Troubleshooters reported finding nothing. And were executed for dereliction of duty. So was the next team, and the next, and the next... until one of them created a new version, so there'd be something for them to "find". Every member of the Wobblies is a spy for Internal Security or another secret society; they're allowed to succeed sometimes, so they won't realize how heavily they're infiltrated.

  • The play Oedipus Rex is about Oedipus's attempt to hunt down the murderer of Laius, not connecting it with that time twenty years ago when he killed an old man he met on the road...
  • In The Revenger's Tragedy, the Anti-Hero Vindice is introduced to one of his targets, Lussurioso, as the pimp/scoundrel for hire Piato. After double-crossing Lussurioso under that identity, Vindice is introduced to Lussurioso as himself by his brother and co-conspirator. Lussurioso then hires Vindice to kill Piato.

    Video Games 
  • Three examples from Ace Attorney
    • Luke Atmey is trying to catch the Kurain Urn thief, but actually committed the crime himself in order to have an alibi for the murder he would commit later.
    • Tyrell Badd planted himself as the head of the Yatagarasu case to conceal evidence that would incriminate himself and his partners as the Yatagarasu.
    • And a double-agent. Calisto Yew defended agents of the smuggling ring in court, in order to have access to their information and facilities to uncover the ring's dealings for the Yatagarasu...but she was double-secretly an agent of the ring herself.
  • Batman: Arkham Series:
    • Batman: Arkham City: In the "Identity Thief" Side Quest, Batman investigates a series of bizarre killings and is stunned to find eyewitness accounts and fingerprints all point to Bruce Wayne. Oracle suggests that Batman has been under a lot of stress, and that it could be the work of the Scarecrow. Subverted when it is revealed to be Dr. Tommy Elliot, Bruce's childhood friend, who has committed the murders to harvest the face and finger tissue he needs to turn himself into a perfect doppelganger of Bruce Wayne to destroy his life.
    • Flipped around in Batman: Arkham Knight. Elliott takes Lucius Fox hostage and demands that Batman bring him Bruce Wayne. Batman simply unmasks himself. Elliott is so freaked out that Batman and Lucius take the opportunity to knock him out.
  • In Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Adam Jensen, the Sarif Industries corporate security chief, receives emails about office thefts which give passcodes to said offices. When you plunder more stuff, more emails arrive about further thefts... which can be really embarrassing if you don't realize that picking up a newspaper in an office (the only way to read it) counts as stealing it, get the email, and diligently try to track down the thief.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, one minor side quest has a runaway Argonian slave who poses as a guide to the slave hunter hired to bring him back in. For bonus points, the alias the guide uses is a direct translation of the name under which he is wanted, as only other Argonians (who obviously aren't going to help), the odd slave trader, and an extremely intelligent Player Character know the language.
  • In Gunpoint, Conway (a freelance spy) gets hired by the chief of police to help gather evidence for a murder case. Conway actually is innocent, but through Contrived Coincidence everything points towards him being the killer. With each piece of evidence you find, you can choose whether or not to withhold it. Best not withhold the fake one that's part of a Secret Test of Character, though.
  • Scott Shelby of Heavy Rain pretends that he's been hired by the families of the Origami Killer's victims in order to interview the parents of his latest victims and gather any evidence that might be left behind. This claim actually comes back to bite him in one ending of the game. If she survives, Lauren does the legwork, learns that no one hired him, realizes what he's done, and guns Shelby down in the street.
  • Kult: Heretic Kingdoms: If Alita tells the authorities that Joran Cynessa is a weapons smuggler, she can later find him back in town offering to pay anyone who can track down the lowlife who got him in trouble. Alita can take the case — and insist on half payment up front.
    Quest log: Find out who sold out Joran. Here's a hint — it was you.
  • Persona 5: Black Mask brought fame to his civilian identity by causing mental shutdowns and psychotic breakdowns to make people commit crimes, then solving said crimes as they happened. During the events of the game, it becomes clear that these mental attacks are not random coincidences and someone is perpetrating them, so Black Mask's civilian identity is publicly hired to find the Metaverse killer. The keyword being publicly, as Black Mask has been killing for his boss, who all but owns the law enforcement, and they're trying to frame the Phantom Thieves as the culprits.
  • In the NES game The Portopia Serial Murder Case, Yasu is assigned to help the player character solve a murder that Yasu himself committed.
  • In Ripper, the identity of the eponymous Serial Killer is randomized partway through the game between three possible characters. One of them is Vince Magnotta, the crooked detective assigned to the case. The result is that he's assigned to investigate the murders that he himself is committing.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R., the Marked One is hunting down Strelok, who turns out to be himself. It turns out that it was a coincidence because the entity that brainwashed the protagonist before the start of the game wasn't aware that he was Strelok, mistaking him for one of the many mooks assaulting his base.
  • Occurred as a Good Bad Bug in Uplink. It was possible to get a "track down the IP of the hacker who brought down our mainframe" mission in which you are the hacker. You could then report yourself for a reward, with no negative consequences. This was fixed in a later patch.
  • In a sidequest in Yakuza, Kazuma Kiryu recovers a cell phone from the body of a man killed in a mugging gone wrong. He then receives several instructions from someone on the other end who assumes that Kiryu is the phone's owner, and following them reveals that the dead man was a hitman hired to assassinate someone. The last instruction he receives is to kill the infamous ex-yakuza and Patriarch killer, Kazuma Kiryu.
  • In Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number, Manny Pardo is involved in the investigation to catch the Miami Mutilator.

  • In Darths & Droids, Qui-Gon (as played by the shortsighted-when-roleplaying Jim) gets the help of the sand people by promising to help catch a Jedi who's been seen in the area. He intends to be (and, mostly due to large amounts of dumb luck, actually is) far out of the way before the alleged hunt takes place.
  • In Girl Genius Zola spends several pages extolling the virtues of her plan to usurp the Wulfenbach Empire and how in her plan no one needs to be killed except the Wulfenbach heir to Gil while trying to recruit him to join in toppling the Empire. Unbeknownst to her Gil is the Wulfenbach heir, he's also savvy enough to realize that her plan will cause considerable bloodshed regardless of the way she's trying to present it, though he doesn't realize that her plans include becoming the Other 2.0.
  • I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!!: In a bonus story, Ursula is hired by a PI to catch a woman having an affair in a women's bathroom and take photos. As the lover in question, she forgets the camera.
  • Marilith: Marilith, an assassin looking to make a little money on the side, kidnaps a rich businessman's daughter to hold for ransom. The businessman puts a bounty on the kidnapper's head. Marilith's boss then gives her the assignment of hunting down and killing the kidnapper for the bounty.
  • One particular Schlock Mercenary storyline had the Toughs hired to steal the corpse of their hated enemy General Xinchub. Shortly afterwards, they got a call requesting to hire the Toughs, an otherwise (presumably) neutral party, as funeral security... to prevent the body from being stolen. There were a lot of Spit Takes during that conversation.
    "Kevyn, do I need to get a doctor in here?"
    • In another arc, they are hired to deal with some terrorists who caused a riot in a public library and then holed up in the attached data center, shortly after learning that a squad of their men beat up some unruly frat boys in the library while trying to get to the attached data center.

    Web Original 
  • Reds!: A Revolutionary Timeline: George S. Patton, himself an undercover spy for the Socialist movement within the US Army, is put in charge of the part of the Army intelligence apparatus that is meant to sniff out any subversives and communist sympathizers in the military. Though many of the conservative hardliners in the military do suspect a communist mole somewhere high up in the organisation, they all fail to realize that it is the seemingly loyal and very trustworthy Patton.

    Western Animation 
  • Towards the end of All Hail King Julien, Julien's arch-nemesis Karl announces his plan to retire and holds a contest to determine who will fill in the position of Julien's arch-nemesis. Julien himself decides to enter the contest realizing if he's his own arch-nemesis then he doesn't have anything to fear.
  • Occurs in the American Dad! episode "Office Spaceman" when Roger leaks photos of himself to make money, which leads to the CIA forming an Alien Task Force. Roger then ends up leading the task force and frames Stan as the alien to cover his tracks, only for Stan to soon end up exposing him.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Green Streets", Cricket slips on a Banana Peel and teams up with Officer Keys to find the litterbug who left it on the floor and bring him to justice. Then one night, Cricket happens to look through Keys' surveillance tapes and discovers that the litterbug is himself, carelessly throwing stuff away wherever he went, including the very peel he slipped on. Keys also discovers this and chases after Cricket.
  • In the Easy Amnesia episode of Donkey Kong Country, DK ends up a pirate working for Kaptain Skurvy. After some decent plundering (Including the show's MacGuffin), Skurvy decides to get rid of 'Donkey Kroc' by sending him off to find...Donkey Kong. The minute DK leaves, the pirates start laughing about the Snipe Hunt.
  • Family Guy: Peter accidentally kills Quagmire's new pet cat and hides the body. Quagmire is frantic to find it. At the end of the episode, Quagmire offers a reward for information leading to his cat. Peter tells him "I killed your cat" and takes the money.
  • The Fanboy and Chum Chum episode "The Great Bicycle Mystery" has Lenny's favorite bike mysteriously destroyed, and FB and CC round up everyone who has been to the Frosty Mart at that time to interrogate whomever destroyed it. By accessing the security footage though, the guilty party was FB and CC themselves, as they were attempting to jump off the roof on a motorcycle and accidentally crashed on top of the bike without knowing.
  • In an episode of DPFE's The Inspector series, Inspector Clouseau and Sgt. Deux-Deux are called to a mad scientist's castle to investigate reports of a rampaging monster. Deux-Deux unwittingly drinks a secret formula to soothe a tummy-ache. Each time Deux-Deux burps he turns into a hulking green monster, violently attacks his boss, and turns back again none the wiser. Traveling in close quarters with the sergeant, who's been pressed into duty to help catch the beast, Clouseau finds himself assaulted repeatedly whenever his partner transforms into the great green man-beast. Having finally suffered enough, the frightened Inspector winds up fleeing the castle with a monstrous Deux-Deux behind him. At the end the monster they seek is real enough, but he's a tiny, fairly harmless Frankenstein's monster, annoyed by all the noise the officers have been making.
  • In the Spongebob Squarepants episode "Hall Monitor", SpongeBob and Patrick take it upon themselves to catch a maniac loose in Bikini Bottom, not realizing that said "maniac" was actually SpongeBob himself, wreaking havoc in his misguided attempts to help the citizens.
    • In "The Smoking Peanut", Patrick tries to solve the mystery of something SpongeBob apparently caused, but when accused of being the culprit himself, he believes he really might have done it. Subverted when it's revealed that Mr. Krabs did it.
    "Wow, you guys are good, I'm the last person I would have suspected, but I was looking for me all the time! It's the perfect crime."
    • In "Patty Caper", it was Mr. Krabs himself for being responsible for the stealing of the krabby patty secret ingredient; he secretly took it for himself to avoid paying and has SpongeBob frame everyone in Bikini Bottom before framing SpongeBob when he fails, to avoid being caught.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: After the Galra Empire figures out there’s a mole in high command who’s helped the Paladins escape a trap, Haggar puts the ever-dutiful Lieutenant Thace in charge of finding the traitor. Thace, of course, is The Mole. When Haggar finds out, she’s highly unamused and makes it known.

    Real Life 
  • Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent who was spying for the Soviet Union and later Russian Federation, was at one point the head of the FBI task force looking for a mole in the Bureau—Hanssen himself.
  • Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Marshman Bailey, while operating in Taskent in 1918 using the cover of an Austrian POW, was hired by the Cheka to hunt down a British agent operating in the area...
  • A section of the Nixon tapes where President Richard Nixon and White House Chief of Staff HR Haldeman discussing who should deal with "Deep Throat," aka the person leaking information to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post (6/23/72):
    Haldeman: Pat [FBI Director Patrick Gray] does want to. He doesn’t know how to, and he doesn’t have, he doesn’t have any basis for doing it. Given this, he will then have the basis. He’ll call Mark Felt (Deep Throat) in, and the two of them …and Mark Felt wants to cooperate because…
    Nixon: Yeah.
  • After it was determined that Serial Killer Marcel Petiot had not left Paris, several members of the French Forces of the Interior were drafted to search for him, including one Henri Valéri. Valéri was Marcel Petiot with a beard.
  • Joseph DeAngelo, the man identified through DNA as the Golden State Killer whose modus operandi was the hot prowl burglary, was a police officer during 2/3 of the crime spree and was promoted to head of the anti-burglary task force at one point.
  • French gendarme Alain Lamare was tasked with searching for a man prowling the Oise who had shot a woman to death and attempted to kill several others, at one point booby trapping a stolen car with explosives that injured an officer. His higher-ups started to have suspicions about him over time and he was arrested, this wannabe Serial Killer having only killed one person due to his habit of looking away when he shot his victims. The movie Next Time I'll Aim for the Heart was based directly off the case.
  • In 1887, French police detective Robert Ledru was asked to investigate the murder of André Monet on the beach at Le Havre. Examining all the evidence, including a print of a left foot that was missing one toe, Ledru determined that he himself had committed the murder while sleepwalking, and confessed to the crime. The authorities soon determined that he was only dangerous while asleep, so he was allowed to walk the streets freely during the day and returned to his cell at night so as to prevent another occurrence.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Hired To Hunt Himself


Cricket is the litterbug!

Cricket realizes he is the litterbug gone loose, and boy is Keys shocked to hear.

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Example of:

Main / HiredToHuntYourself

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