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Joggers Find Death

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Once Becky started stumbling over mass graves, she decided to take up swimming.

"It's the joggers I don't trust, they're always the ones to find the bodies!"

The health-conscious analog of Disposable Vagrant. Joggers have a tendency of being the target of Serial Killers, muggers, and monsters in the woods. Similarly, they are also the most likely to discover the victims of all of the above.

Why joggers? Because it can be a solitary activity and this can be played for scares by making audiences relate to the solitude and helplessness when danger strikes. Recent technology (starting from the Walkman days) has graciously provided joggers with means of distracting their ears as well, making them easier targets. Similarly, joggers are drawn to nature and secluded locations, both of which make for good places to snatch victims or dump bodies, and are often out first thing in the morning when everyone else is sleeping in. All in all, joggers in fiction are akin to Red Riding Hood; colorful targets moving obliviously through dangerous places where nasty predators do their work.

A less common variation relates to the other usual outdoors activity for common people: walking the dog. Expect the Evil-Detecting Dog to growl at the approaching danger, get killed defending their master, or run away in fear. It's less common because it doesn't give as good an opportunity for loving camera work on fit moving bodies, and people walking dogs would tend to be older and moving more slowly.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Happens in Case Closed, sometimes. Usually, when the murder takes place somewhere open, and if it's not the protagonist(s) who discover the body first.
  • In The Fable one of the corpses left behind by the unnamed Rumor boss is put in a thinking pose on a park bench. A jogger passes him several times and goes to investigate when the corpse hasn't moved in over an hour.


    Comic Books 
  • The first victims of Icon rogue Oblivion when he crash-landed on Earth were two unfortunate joggers. Those two also set an example that death was permanent on Earth, which Oblivion—who comes from a race of functionally immortal aliens—uses as incentive to try and butcher every single thing on the planet.
  • Ultimate Spider-Man: One issue has a woman out jogging in New York at night when she hears someone moving in a bush in Central Park. It's Eddie Brock, who proceeds to eat her.
  • Kate Bishop from the Young Avengers was raped while jogging, leading to her becoming a Badass Normal.

  • In this Glee/NCIS Crossover, Glee's Dave Karofsky is accused of murdering his friend and fellow Navy SEAL, Kimberly. She's attacked and brutally murdered during a morning run that he usually goes with her on, and since it's not allergy season, Team Gibbs initially don't believe his claim that he didn't go with her this morning because he had a bad allergic reaction the night before.

    Film—Live Action 
  • 21st Century Serial Killer: Aaron and Charles find a jogger one night, and ambush her. Charles proceeds to strangle her to death.
  • Ace Ventura: Pet Detective finds the first major clue of the killer's current whereabouts in the storage room of the asylum where he stayed: a newspaper clipping about a missing hiker named Lois Einhorn.
  • In Countess Dracula, the naked, exsanguinated body of the Hot Gypsy Woman is found by two boys collecting birds eggs in the forest.
  • In The Devil's Advocate Eddie Barzoon falls afoul of the main antagonist. When Eddie goes for a jog in the park it provides the perfect opportunity for two of John Milton's homeless mooks to beat the poor schmuck to death.
  • In I Saw What You Did, Steve Marek is almost caught in the act of burying his wife's body in the woods by a woman who is chasing her runaway dog. Steve thinks he was not spotted, but she did get enough of a look at him to give the police a vague description. Apparently the dog runs away again later, and this time the woman finds the shallow grave.
  • In Lady Frankenstein, a pair of anglers find the body of one the Monster's victims floating in the river. They are then attacked by the Monster.
  • Mystery Road starts when a truck driver stops to check his tyres and discovers a girl's body in a culvert.
  • In the opening scene of The New York Ripper, an old man is walking his dog under the Brooklyn Bridge and throwing a stick for it to fetch. He tosses the stick into the bushes and the dog goes in to retrieve it, but comes out holding a decomposing hand.
  • Sapphire opens with two children chasing a runaway ball who discover Sapphire's murdered body when the ball rolls to a stop against it.
  • The Undertaker (1988): Zigzagged. One male jogger doesn't witness a murder or find a body. Instead, he slips and falls in the blood of one of Roscoe's murder victims.

  • In City of Shadows, a support unit kills a jogger to steal their clothes after arriving in New York.
  • The opening of Richard Harris' novel and film Fatherland in which a Waffen-SS soldier out on a morning training run by a Berlin lake discovers the corpse of a retired high-ranking Nazi who has been murdered. Played with a bit, as it's implied that "jogging" was just a cover story and he was really up to something the Reich has strong opinions about, a fact the protagonist uses as leverage to get him to reveal a few extra details... And then the hapless young soldier gets abruptly reassigned to an extremely undesirable post occupied Russia, apparently with the specific intention of making sure he can't talk about what he saw, which becomes a Revealing Cover-Up.
  • An interesting variation in Brooks Stanwood's horror novel The Glow. A cadre of Evil Old Folks searches for young couples to whom they can offer a spectacular apartment and a fitness regimen, until the couples are healthy enough for their blood to be drained to create the cadre's life-extension serum. Much of the regimen for the young couples includes jogging and running.
  • In Homicide and Halo-Halo, Lila and Sana are on a jog when they find the local pageant's head judge floating dead by the bridge.
  • This happens at least once in The Savannah Reid Mysteries books.
  • Highly Downplayed in The Backyard Knows arc of Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note. Aya observed somebody dumping trash into Wakatake's school's yard from the outside while she was jogging, hence confirming Wakatake's complaint a day before.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Being Human, a vampire mentions attempting to eat a jogger. It was thwarted when the jogger fended the vampire off with a lead pipe.
  • In Criminal Minds:
    • In the episode titled "The Popular Kids", The first victim is snatched and killed while jogging.
    • Additionally, "The Footpath Killer", although he killed hikers.
  • CSI:
    • Subverted when the guy found dead dressed as a jogger wasn't really one; the killer just dressed and used a process to freeze him in position so he'd look like a dead jogger.
    • Played straighter with the jogger who was killed by the woman with porphyria, so she could eat his organs.
  • CSI: Cyber: "Fit-and-Run" opens with a young female jogger running through the park at night. She becomes the Victim of the Week when she is run down by a car. It is later revealed that the killer was using her fitness app to track her.
  • CSI: NY: While approaching a victim in Central Park, Mac asks Flack who found her. Flack gestures over his shoulder and says, "Richard Simmons over here." The camera pans to show a middle-aged man in a track suit holding a poodle on a leash and giving his statement to a uniformed officer.
  • It happens an episode of Degrassi: The Next Generation. Sean runs over a jogger.
  • Played with in the Doctor Who story "Image of the Fendahl", where a hiker gets murdered by the Fendahleen, then his body gets found by a man walking a dog.
  • The pilot episode of Grimm kicks off with a creature eating a jogger.
  • Harrow: "Aegri Somnia" ("Hallucinations") opens with a woman jogging along the beach in North Queensland. She finds a damaged Parks and Conservation boat washed up on the sand and, when she looks behind it, the Body of the Week, which has been gnawed on by sharks.
  • One episode of iZombie has a jogger going through the woods and walking his dog. When he takes a breather, his dog comes back with the severed foot from a nearby zombie victim.
  • This is occasionally how Law & Order gets from Start to Corpse.
    • Subverted in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episode "Signature". There are two bodies at the crime scene, a tortured women and a guy in a jogging suit. Initially everyone thinks the jogger was some innocent guy who stumbled on a Serial Killer and got killed for it. Then it turns out he is the serial killer.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Murder by Magic", the second Victim of the Week is discovered by one of the suspects out jogging in the woods.
  • Several Monk episodes and novels have played with this trope: a few times when bodies are found in parks or rural areas, mention will be made to a hiker or jogger finding the body. In the novel Mr. Monk and the Blue Flu, one serial killer preys on female joggers.
  • A season 7 episode of NCIS opens with two joggers finding a dead body in a park. It's NCIS jurisdiction because the one of the joggers is a Midshipmannote .
    • A Season 15 episode plays with this trope, as the jogger in this case is actually the murderer, who forgot about doing the deed due to Trauma-Induced Amnesia, and was drawn back to the crime scene by her subconscious memories of the incident.
    • In the opening of an NCIS: New Orleans episode, Agent Pride's daughter Laurel is attacked while out for her run. She fights back and shoves her assailant down a flight of stairs, killing him.
  • Øyevitne: After Ronny strangles his underage lover Zana to death when she becomes a nuisance, he strings her body up in a tree to make it look like suicide by hanging, which is discovered the next morning by a jogger and her dog.
  • In a fake commercial on Saturday Night Live, a jogger is running in Central Park and runs into a tunnel. Suddenly, his feet are glued to the ground and he can't lift either of them. As he looks around in horror, he sees another jogger struggling on the ground against the glue and in another spot, a skeleton wearing jogging clothes. As the screen fades to black, the jogger falls over struggling himself. The product: Black Flag Jogger Motel. The tagline: Joggers jog in, but they don't jog out.
  • Sisters. Cat, the daughter of second-oldest sister Teddy, is out for her run when she's suddenly dragged off into the shadows. Her assailant rapes her and beats her within an inch of her life.
  • The Sopranos: In "I Dream of Jeannie Cusamano", Paulie and Christopher ambush and kill Mikey Palmice while he's jogging.
  • In YOU Joe attacks Peach while she's jogging.

  • No murder, but the Half Man Half Biscuit song 'Stuck Up A Hornbeam' depicts a man contemplating hanging himself in the woods.
    Stuck up a hornbeam, mind like a thickening fog
    Gonna get discovered by a bloke out walking the dog

    Stand Up Comedy 
  • Wanda Sykes has a bit about how women are always being told how to protect themselves and how the only way to really take the pressure off would be if vaginas were detachable.
    "I would like to go for a jog, but it's getting too dark...I know, I'll just leave it at home." Yeah, it could be pitch black, but you're still out there, just jogging, enjoying yourself. Some crazy guy jumps out of the bushes and you're like, "Ah — I left it at home. Sorry, I have absolutely nothing of value on me. I'm pussyless."
  • Inverted in one Dennis Leary routine on smoking. He recounts how a famous jogger, Jim Fixx, dropped dead of a heart attack while jogging, and posits that it was probably a couple of smokers who found him.

    Video Games 

    Visual Novels 
  • One of the several victims of Joe Darke in the first Ace Attorney game was a jogger who ran into him while he was burying his hit-and-run victim.
  • Zero Time Dilemma: The Disaster Dominoes that inspire Zero's "Life is unfair" philosophy and the events of the game start when a snail in the path causes a jogger (Eric's mother) to take a different trail than normal, where she is murdered by Mira.

    Web Animation 
  • In the pilot for Helluva Boss, one of I.M.P.'s clients (seen in the infomercial) is a murderer who hired them to take out the jogger who caught him hiding the body of his wife.

    Web Comics 
  • How to be a Werewolf: Kiley Seeger, Connie's first victim, was jogging near the "creepy house" when she was murdered.

    Western Animation 
  • In Regular Show, a jogger was one of the first things the Ybgir Jinx Monster attacked.
  • Parodied in a Robot Chicken sketch that was a Law & Order spoof with chickens.
  • In a The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror short, Homer runs over and kills Ned Flanders while he (Flanders) is out on a "fog walk". At the end of the segment, it's also revealed that he'd already been attacked (and transformed) by a werewolf, making this an example of both variants at once.
  • As shown in the page image, Street Sharks has the four presumed-dead protagonists dumped in a storm drain to hide their bodies, where they're found by a jogger.
  • In the Young Justice (2010) episode "Secrets", a woman jogging at night is accosted by a bunch of thugs. Fortunately, Artemis and Zatanna are patrolling that night.

    Real Life 
  • Jogging can be a stressful activity for those who have health issues or who aren't used to it. Heart attacks, asthma, heatstroke, etc can result in a dead jogger fairly quickly if there's no one around to help.
  • The investigation that led to the arrest of Ivan Milat, the Backpacker Murderer, was jump-started by the discovery of a body by two joggers.
  • This was tragically, the fate of Chandra Levy. After all the speculation that she had been murdered thanks to her affair with a married Congressman, it turned out she was attacked while jogging in the park.
  • Nearly the fate of Tricia Meili, the Central Park Jogger, who was raped, beaten and left for dead in April of 1989.
  • Also nearly the fate of Olympic biathlete Kari Swenson, who was abducted while out for a training run. She was held prisoner for approximately 18 hours and she and a would-be rescuer were shot when he came to her aid. He died, she survived.
  • It's often said that the popular idea of a "good" rape victim, i.e. one who can't be accused of being in any way complicit in her own assault, is the nice white lady who's out jogging when a masked, armed stranger jumps out from behind a tree and drags her off into the bushes. Jogging is a wholesome activity mostly done by middle-class or wealthier people, and this scenario doesn't include any of the elements — like the perpetrator being known to the victim, the absence of a weapon, or the involvement of drugs or alcohol — that are so often used as proof that the victim "asked for it." note 
  • The body of Elizabeth Short, the "Black Dahlia," was discovered this way. Local resident Betty Bersinger was walking with her three-year-old daughter when she discovered Short's hideously mangled body in a vacant lot.
  • After The Burial guitarist Justin Lowe was found dead inside his car under a bridge by a hiker.
  • The 12-year-old victim of the Slenderman stabbing was able to crawl out of the woods and onto the path of a passing cyclist, who was thankfully able to call for help.
  • On July 24, 1997, Amy Wroe Bechtel ran some errands, then set out for a training run in preparation for a race she was going to participate in. She has never been seen again. Speculation has ranged from her being injured and unable to call for help, to being set upon by a wild animal, but most believe she was the victim of foul play, either by her husband, or the still-unidentified Great Basin Serial Killer. note 
  • Within a 9-day period during the summer of 2016, three women were assaulted and murdered while running — Detroit's Ally Brueger on July 30, Brooklyn's Karina Vetrano on August 2, and Massachusetts' Vanessa Marcotte on August 7. The latter two crimes were so similar that there was even speculation that the same killer was responsible until DNA evidence showed otherwise.
  • On July 19, 2018, Mollie Tibbetts went out for a run and vanished. Her body was found nearly a month later. At this, much like after the abovementioned cases, a slew of women submitted numerous stories of being harassed while jogging.
  • A rare male example with Ahmaud Arbery, gunned down while running through his Georgia neighborhood by people who at best were misguided vigilantes (they claim that they thought he was a burglar), at worst motivated by racism. Like the Tibetts example above, the incident prompted numerous African-American and Hispanic men to submit stories of the harassment they dealt with when jogging.
  • Jerika Binks, who sadly has yet to be found.
  • The (slightly) less grim variant of this is also Truth in Television: the persons who found abandoned bodies, most often, are those who are used to wandering deep into the wilderness: joggers, huntsmen, and those who went mushroom picking or took their dog for a walk.
  • After Robert Chambers strangled Jennifer Levin to death in Central Park, her body was found the next morning by a cyclist.
  • Eliza Fletcher, abducted on 9/2/2022 during her Friday morning run and whose body was found the following Monday.
  • This is sadly, the likely fate of Tera Smith, a 16-year old girl who went for a run on the evening of August 22, 1998. . . and has never been seen again. Ironically, interest in her case was renewed following the disappearance of Sherri Papini, who seemed to be yet another example of this trope before it turned out that everything was a hoax. And sadly, either way, Tera's fate remains a mystery.
  • Laken Hope Riley, murdered in February 2024.