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Make It Look Like an Accident

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"Hey, someone's gotta check for the sharks."

Cathy Salt: And then just recently Mr. Cleaver, the government's nuclear advisor?
Margaret Blaine: Slipped on an icy patch.
Cathy Salt: He was decapitated!
Margaret Blaine: It was a very icy patch.

There's a person in the way. Maybe it's an Intrepid Reporter, or one of those Meddling Kids. It would be convenient if this inconvenient individual could be removed from the picture... permanently. But a murder rap would really make things even more inconvenient, especially if you're a Villain with Good Publicity who really cannot afford bad publicity. So your primary option as a Big Bad is to hire someone to take care of this little problem. But it can't look like murder, and it can't just be a mysterious death.

So what's the alternative? Make It Look Like an Accident. The villain or other inconvenienced party tells an assassin or other person that the inconvenient person has to die in a way that looks like an unfortunate happenstance, so suspicion will not fall on themselves or anyone else.

Note that the simple invocation of this trope is usually considered justification enough that the villains are playing by "real world rules", even if what they actually do can't be construed as being an accident by any stretch of the imagination.

This trope is probably thought of by many soon-to-be murderers, and so, a Truth in Television. Some people who kill themselves do this due to the stigma associated with suicide, or because suicide would make their loved ones ineligible for life insurance claims. It also happens to political dissidents and other undesirables in some countries; this is thought to be so prevalent in Russia that The Other Wiki has a whole article dedicated to the subject. Remember, just because it was ruled as an accident doesn't necessarily mean it truly was. Heh... heh... heh...

One reason a character may do this is to quickly gain their inheritance. In America (and many other countries), a person convicted of a crime is forbidden by law to keep any money they make as a result of the crime, so anyone killing for inheritance or a life insurance payout would probably try to make it seem like an accidental death.

Often used as a method of attempting to Murder the Hypotenuse, and as an excuse not to just shoot the bastard. If made to look like a death by animal attack, This Bear Was Framed. A more elaborate military murder, with the same intent, is the Uriah Gambit. Similar to the inverted form of Murder by Mistake, in which a murder is dressed up to look as if the killer got the wrong victim. When the villains want to make it look like someone else did the killing, it's a Frame-Up.

Super-Trope to Hunting "Accident". Sister trope of Never Suicide, where the murder is made to look like a suicide. Overlaps with Unfriendly Fire, depending on how careful the killer was to get caught. Can overlap with Obfuscating Postmortem Wounds. Compare with The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much and Mistaken for Suicidal. Contrast with Suicide, Not Murder. When the killer actually did do it by accident, it's Accidental Murder.

Not to be confused with Make It Look Like a Struggle, which is about staging evidence of a fight with or injury by someone to conceal the fact that they're on the same side.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2, it's revealed that Marco's death was not an accident but a murder as he was stripped of his ODM gear and left to be eaten by a Titan after overhearing Reiner's and Bertolt's conversation revealing they were the Armored and Colossal Titans respectively. Annie also participated in the crime, although unwillingly.
  • Jeremy plots (and succeeds) at this in A Cruel God Reigns by Vehicular Sabotage-ing Greg's car. He also ends up killing his mother Sandra in the process which causes him to suffer from some pretty bad My God, What Have I Done?.
  • Many, MANY murder cases in Case Closed are at first believed to be accidents. Then Conan (and sometimes other detectives) start digging in...
  • Death Note: Light makes the deaths he wants to hide look like accidents (such as the bus-hijacking incident). The deaths he wants attributed to him, or at least his persona of Kira, are heart attacks. Also inverted, as his stated long-term plan is for people to slowly become aware that he's killing non-criminals as well in subtler ways, which can't be distinguished from regular deaths. Once every single death is suspected of being his handiwork for that person's hidden sins, nobody will dare strive for less than perfection, creating a utopia and everything will go just as planned.
  • Cruelly subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. This is what Kimblee was supposed to do to Urey and Sara Rockbell, so the military would not be forced to waste resources ensuring their protection as humanitarians of their nation. He didn't get the chance, though: their last patient was a mentally and physically broken Scar, who had absolutely no control over his newfound powers, and ended up killing the Rockbells himself.
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula, Smith makes Hayato's father's car crash to make it look like he lost control of his car in order to obtain Asurada's documents so he can use it to make Asurada a weapon of mass destruction. Thankfully, Schumacher reveals the truth while he's recuperating from the incident with Smith.
  • Pulled on the Minister of Justice in Gasaraki, courtesy of Kazukiyo Gowa.
  • When the corrupt courts let a murderer go free and almost convict Togusa for trying to prevent the murder in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, the episode ends with a clerk at the garage of Section 9 watching a news segment about a man and his attorney being involved in a hit-and-run car accident. At the same time Bouma returns and leaves her the keys to a damaged car, saying that it needs to be scrapped and she should "lose the paperwork on it, too." She just nods and barely looks up.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • It's strongly implied that Jean Croce had Raballo murdered and disguised it as a traffic accident, when Raballo tried to expose (and presumably shut down) the SWA.
    • This is Angelica's backstory. Her parents decided to run her over with their own car, in an attempt to cash on her insurance. They failed in making it look like an accident though, and Angelica ended up in the SWA.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • In Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Yazan Gable pulls this when he gets Emma Sheen to fire at him, then dodges so that the blast will hit Jamaican, whom he hated.
  • Queen Millennia: Hajime's parents were killed in an explosion at their home lab, but his uncle believes that an accident is unlikely and Hajime should tell to any suspicious person that they're simply hospitalized. A Millennial Thief trying to shoot Hajime shortly after that before being chased out by Yayoi gives them an idea who may be responsible. In the end it turns out the explosion was an accident and Selene is really sorry for it.
  • Within Stellvia of the Universe, this is Ayaka's solution to anybody who she views as a threat to her status at the best student. She takes the unwitting rival on "practice", where "accidents" occur.

    Comic Books 
  • In Afterlife with Archie Cheryl's jealous brother Jason killed her puppy as a child but made it look like she had accidentally choked on her leash.
  • In All Fall Down, AIQ Squared's plot involves this, Siphon, and a Power Nullifier on the moon.
  • Blake and Mortimer: In The Voronov Plot, Blake convinced Nastasia to become a mole after he revealed to her that her father didn't die from a car accident, but from an assassination carried out by the KGB.
  • Block 109: After Himmler becomes Fuhrer, he is killed in an automobile accident several years later, obviously orchestrated by either of his Co-Dragons Zytek or Heydrich.
  • Drowntown: Grace Carter tries to dispose of Leo in a way that won't be identified as murder. Since he's frequently drunk, she figures that drowning him in sludge will work — people will just assume he fell in. When Leo manages to avoid that, she considers upgrading it to a bash on the head (again from "falling down drunk"), but she gets killed by a third party before enacting it.
  • Enemy Ace: In "War in Heaven- Book 2", shortly after being shot down, and parachuting into the Dachau concentration camp, Von Hammer gives a speech to the men in the airfield telling them to stop fighting and to stop supporting the Nazi regime. When Engels, an ardent Nazi, points a gun at him and is about to shoot after Von Hammer calls Hitler a "piece of excrement," Von Hammer's wingman kills Engels with a burst of the quadruple 30mm cannons of an Me-262 fighter jet, while "testing" the firing mechanism that he thought wasn't loaded.
  • In Judge Colt #4, a killer commits a string of murders designed to look like accidents: a railway engineer run over by a runaway locomotive, a miner killed in a mine explosion, a wrangler trampled by a horse, a gunsmith shot while repairing a gun, an engineer killed in a bridge collapse, and a stock agent trample by cattle. But despite this, the killer leaves behind a Calling Card: a medal pinned to the chest of each victim.
  • The Killer: The Professional Killer protagonist often makes his assassinations look like either accidents or suicides to dissuade any further investigation that might ultimately lead to his capture.
  • Nemesis the Warlock: Before his trial, Torquemada's followers assassinate the alien members of the jury in fatal tube "accidents".
  • In Preacher's backstory, Starr is ordered to kill a defector from the Grail who has currently been committed to a mental hospital because nobody believes his stories about ancient conspiracies. He is asked to make the death as non-suspicious as possible, lest people start taking the man seriously. Starr then subverts the heck out of this trope by blowing up the entire institution, killing all the staff and patients that were there that day. He justifies his action by saying that no matter how inconspicuous and innocent he made the guy's death look, it might still look suspicious to someone. With the hospital blown up entirely, any investigation would have to try to first see if it was an accident or not, whether it might be some kind of terrorism, and then try to check for a motive that would cause someone to want to kill any of the patients or employees that were in the institution. To any such investigator, their target's story would sound like just one more deranged fantasy from a disturbed mind, and there would be no more reason to follow up on it than on the delusions of any of the dozens of paranoid schizophrenics who also died in the explosion.
  • Red Ears: A shamelessly adulterous woman tells her husband that she's having an affair with his best friend during a car ride, declaring her intent to divorce him and demanding possession of their house, their bank accounts, and full custody of their children. He's fine with it, since he only needs one thing (as he's driving up at full speed towards a concrete wall): he's got his seatbelt on.
  • Long after Damian learns that he does not need to kill the then-current Robin Tim Drake to become part of the family, and even after Dick gives him the Robin mantle, Damian routinely sabotages Tim's equipment in ways that could kill him including cutting the line in his Grappling-Hook Pistol and damaging his glider cape.
  • Shazam!: The New Beginning: Billy Batson's parents died due to Sivana having somebody sabotage the car so that it would crash and cause an accident.
  • Squad: After Thatcher is killed by Becca, Arianna puts in body in the local stream. Said stream has a reputation for drunk kids hanging out near it, and she thought it was plausible that Thatcher could have stumbled into the stream while drunk, and drowned.
  • In Star Wars: Darth Vader, the villain protagonist becomes adept at this, usually by using the Force to arrange a "stray blaster shot" that happens to silence a witness. The Emperor encourages this to the various competitors for his apprentice, telling them not to kill each other and if they do not to get caught. Vader then averts the trope by dumping the corpse of one such rival, complete with lightsaber wounds, at the Emperor's feet.
  • Superman:
    • In Who is Superwoman?, Superwoman murders her ally Reactron's ex-girlfriend to eliminate a potential witness and makes it look like she died because of a fire caused by a gas leak.
    • The Unknown Supergirl: Lesla-Lar plans to pose as a hero as helping Lex Luthor kill Superman, and once the Man of Steel is dead, kill Luthor accidentally while pretending to capture him so he cannot reveal she was in cahoots with him.
    • In Starfire's Revenge, the titular queenpin is paid an exorbitant sum by a fashion designer to murder his greatest rival as making it look like an accident.
      Starfire: I have been offered 1,000,000 dollars for it if I can accomplish the theft and get rid of Paul de Paris and make it look like an accident. So the Salon of Paul is going to have a fire that will destroy his entire collection and Paul too.
  • Tintin: Bad guys often try to dispose of Tintin in ways that could possibly be construed as accidents if you squint hard enough. This has saved his life more than once.
  • In Vote Loki, this is the most obvious conclusion about the traffic accident that seemingly killed off the Hydra agents. It also neatly ties into the fact that Angela is a mercenary who would kill if you pay her enough.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side has a dog hiring a "hit elephant" to get rid of a cat and "make it look like an accident".
  • Garfield:
  • Modesty Blaise: In "Children of Lucifer", two henchmen are told to dispose of a defector who is fleeing on skis, and to make it look like an accident. They do this by forcing her into a tree, then knocking her out and leaving her to freeze to death. This probably would have worked if their forceful attempts to stop Modesty going down the same ski run hadn't aroused her suspicions.

    Fan Works 
  • In Amazing Fantasy, Tomura Shigaraki hates working with Mysterio or his cronies, but does so out of loyalty to All For Once. But if he can get away with it, he'll take any opportunity to spite the super villain. During the USJ attack, once he's sure no one can hear him, Shigaraki orders Nomu to kill Mysterio's subordinates Frog Man and Kangaroo once he's set loose on the UA students. This way, he can claim plausible deniability and say the two were caught in the crossfire of Nomu's rampage.
  • The side stories for A Brief History of Equestria showed that this was Princess Platinum's preferred way of dealing with those she felt endangered her plans for Equestria's future. Ultimately, she even did this to herself.
  • The Desert Storm: At the end of the Remembrance arc, Palpatine tries to assassinate Obi-Wan by sabotaging his lightsaber, causing it to explode in his hands. This was done as retaliation for the latter's interference with the Sith's plans for Kalee and Corellia. Luckily, Obi-Wan narrowly survives thanks to his lightsaber's beskar casing absorbing most of the blast.
  • In Dirty Sympathy, Klavier and Apollo always faced this threat early in the story. Kristoph would "hypothesize" what would happen if Apollo goes missing and Klavier knows that with Daryan's connections he can make it look like an accident. It nearly comes true when Klavier is nearly strangled to death by a "set malfunction".
  • Echoes of Eternity: Rei was publicly executed in front of Maria in order to make her fear Shadow. Rei's family was told that he had accidentally ended up in the Biolizard chamber.
  • Fallout: Equestria: Steelhooves is a quiet, taciturn pony in Steel Ranger armor who rarely makes his opinion on matters known. Which is why no one notices that racists and traitors have a surprising propensity for suffering terrible accidents around him. Littlepip sees in one of his memory orbs that he has been doing this for centuries.
    Steelhooves: (rehearsing to himself) There's been a terrible accident. No, I have no idea where he was flying in from. I could tell he was coming in too low, but I expected him to pull up before he hit the building. It was horrible. I feel it was my fault; I shouldn't have asked Wingright to fly in this weather. I should have known that the wind shear would be too much for him.
  • In Pain And Blood: Aksel killed his father but made it look as if he died of his bear attack injuries, instead of poisoning.
  • A variant is used non-maliciously in the Hyrule Warriors fanfic In Sotto Voce. The previous Zelda, Zelda's mother, was Driven to Suicide due to being forced into a loveless marriage by her family, who didn't like her affair with a Sheikah woman. The king, the current Zelda's father and the previous Zelda's husband, decided to tell everyone that his wife died of an illness instead. Princess Zelda is one of the few who knows because she's the one who found her mother dead.
  • Lost Boy:
    • Snotlout tries to kill Hiccup by pointing a catapult at the forge while he was still in it. When questioned, he insisted that he was aiming for dragons attacking the village and that it would have been a bonus if he got rid of Hiccup.
    • During the Battle of Helheim's Gate, Spitelout tries to kill Stoick as a means of making Snotlout chief, hoping to make it look like Stock died from a dragon attack.
  • In Mega Man Reawakened, Wily planned an explosion to kill Dr. Light, but ended up killing Robert's father instead.
  • My Father's Son: This was how The Lannisters killed Catelyn to play into Tywin's plan to get Cersei as Lady of Winterfell. They sent a secret assassin to meet up with her, then tossed her down the stairs to induce labor. The Baby survived. She didn't.
  • In Olivia Goes West, a crossover between The Great Mouse Detective and An American Tail, Professor Ratigan and Cat R. Waul employ this tactic in order to get rid of the snooping little kids Fievel Mousekewitz and Olivia Flaversham before they can ruin their carefully forged imago used to enthrall Green River's mouse community. They find out that Fievel has a secret raft in the eponymous river area where he's not supposed to go. When the children go to one of their rafting escapees, they are ambushed by the bad guys, trapped in the raft without oars and sent to float down the dangerous part of the river, cultivating them to fall down a waterfall (from which they survive though). Ratigan and Waul then feed Green River's people a sob story that the children lost their oars while rafting and couldn't be saved in time. To make it believable, both of the villains tarnish themselves with the muddy river and claim that they tried to find any trace of the children downriver. Finally, they present Fievel's hat and Olivia's bow they forcibly took, claiming them to be all they could find. The entire scheme is successful until Fievel and Olivia return weeks later and expose the villains' lies.
  • Run At The Cup: A non-fatal version. Landsman is careful to make her collision with Vi look like it could have been an accident (or at worst get her a penalty). The Sumprats don't believe it for a moment, and Mylo retaliates in a manner that very much averts this trope.
  • Spottedleaf was found drowned in Warriors Redux after having gone for a walk one night. It was thought to be an unfortunate accident until several months later another seer was attacked (but this one survived).
  • With This Ring: The protagonist is not opposed to using this for particularly egregious villains.
    • In conversation with a Gotham City police officer, Paul asks why the Joker hasn't "fallen down some stairs" yet, and the officer replies that it's because he hasn't yet been the one to bring the Joker in.
    • In his reverse shovel speech to Sportsmaster, Paul warns him that if he attempts to contact his family ever again, then he will go to sleep, develop a series of bubbles in the blood vessels to his brain, and never wake up.
    • Before leaving Earth for a while, Red Lantern Paul informs Raven that she doesn't have to worry about demon cultists any more, because there aren't any in North America.
      Paul: They seem to... Have fallen down some stairs.
      Raven: All of them?
      Paul: They were slippery stairs.
  • In Worldwar: War of Equals this is implied to be the fate of Hugo Chavez.

    Film — Animation 
  • In An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, during the train ride to Green River, Fievel stumbles upon the cats discussing their plan to eat the mice in Green River. He's discovered, but instead of killing him outright, Cat R. Waul recognizes that a freak disappearance would raise too many questions and lets the mouse go. The minute he's gone, Waul instructs his lackey Chula to make sure Fievel falls off the train;
    Cat R. Waul: Give him the Flying Ahh, and make it good.
  • Ballerina: During the story's climax, Camille's mother tries to kill Félicie and somehow hopes to pass her victim's death as accidental.
  • In Frozen, Prince Hans reveals that he planned to "stage an accident" for Queen Elsa after marrying Princess Anna, to get closer to the throne. When Anna is accidentally cursed by Elsa's ice powers, Hans uses this as an excuse to leave her for dead and then execute Elsa on grounds of having murdered her little sister, taking the throne himself.
  • This is part of Scar's bastardry in The Lion King, when he murders his brother Mufasa and convinces Simba that his father died in an accident for which Simba was to blame, then tells the rest of the pride that Simba also died in the same accident after driving him away.
  • In The Secret of NIMH, this is how Jenner almost gets away with murder.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 13 Minutes: Müller orders that Elser be shot and his death describe as having occurred due to Allied bombing. Later the truth came out though.
  • This trope is the premise of Accident, a Hong Kong movie about a group of assassins who specialize on creating very cunning circumstances that lead to target's death. During a job a member of their own team is killed by a runway bus, causing their leader to suspect that someone is using their own methods against them. The irony is it really was an accident, but his paranoia causes the deaths of three people, including his own.
  • This is the Modus Operandi of Debbie Jellinsky from Addams Family Values, having off'd her previous Husbands in various ways and making off with all of their money several times. She finally meets her match when she tries to perform another hit on Fester Addams, having tried to electrocute him in the bathtub on their Honeymoon, and later blowing him up in a purchased home; only for Fester to just happily walk it off like it's nothing. Pissing her off as she quotes the trope word-for-word to him.
    Debbie: (Holding Fester at Gunpoint) I've tried to make it look like an accident. I've tried to give you some dignity, but oh no. Not you...
    Fester: (Smiling) What are you saying?
    Debbie: I'm saying: I want you Dead, and I want your Money!
  • Angels with Dirty Faces (1938).
    Frazier: I don't care how you handle Sullivan. But it's got to look like an accident with that priest.
  • Assault on Wall Street: Jim kills an Assistant District Attorney who refused to help his case by shoving him in front of a taxi after he gets out of a bar, causing it to end up looking like an alcohol-induced accident.
  • In The Bandit of Sherwood Forest, William of Pembroke instructs the Sheriff to move the king to West Tower; pointing out how high it is and how easy it would be for the king to fall to hhis death from there.
  • Variation in military/mystery movie Basic, where Drill Sergeant Nasty West uses this as a threat to all of the potential recruits looking to get into his elite Ranger unit.
    West: Those of you I find lacking will quit. And those of you who refuse to quit will have a training accident. This base suffers three training accidents a year. Unfortunate accidents that I will not hesitate to repeat if you cross me!
  • In Batman Begins, when Dr. Jonathan Crane tells Falcone, that Assistant D.A. Rachel Dawes is snooping on their operations, Falcone says that they should bribe her into silence, but when Crane says that won't work, he places a hit in her. When Crane says that murdering her might bring even more attention, he says that they could make it look like a mugging gone wrong.
  • In Big Game, this is how one of the characters is disposed of – his neck is broken on a bathroom sink and soap is put on his shoes and the floor to make it look as if he slipped and fell.
  • The Blue Max: When the German High Command learns that fighter pilot and propaganda hero Lt. Bruno Stachel claimed two kills that weren't his and challenged another pilot to a contest of skill that resulted in his death, they give him the job of test-flying a dangerous deathtrap monoplane fighter. They even instruct him to push the new plane to its limits, guaranteeing that it will crash and kill him.
  • Blue Thunder. Murphy's rival Colonel Cochrane attempts to kill him by sabotaging his helicopter during an evaluation flight.
  • The Bourne Series
    • A variation in The Bourne Identity. The target Jason Bourne failed to kill before losing his memory was a deposed African ruler who had threatened to reveal his dealings with the CIA. Bourne was supposed to track his yacht offshore, swim out to it, assassinate his target and then swim away with no-one the wiser.
      Conklin: You were supposed to kill him in such a way that the only possible explanation was that it was done by a member of his own faction!
    • In The Bourne Supremacy, Bourne recovers a memory of his first assignment where he killed a Russian politician and his wife and made it look like a murder-suicide. At the end of the movie he apologizes to their daughter, who has lived for years thinking her parents died from a senseless domestic dispute.
    • The Bourne Legacy. The government arranges the deaths of everyone in Outcome through a variety of methods. The enhanced agents are given pills which cause aneurysms, Shearing's lab looks like a workplace shooting by a colleague who just snapped, and Bourne's handler from the previous film died of a suspicious heart attack. Cross and the other agent in Alaska just get a drone strike, because they're in such a remote location that witnesses are a non-issue. There's also a Nightmare Fuel scene where the female protagonist has her own gun forced to her head; fortunately our hero turns up just in time to stop her from becoming an apparent suicide.
  • The 1978 Conspiracy Thriller Brass Target has corrupt U.S. officers hiring a professional killer to fake General Patton's death in an automobile accident, to stymie an investigation into stolen Nazi Gold.
  • How the prisoners treat Wilson’s murder—being pushed into a metal press—in Brute Force (1947).
  • In Call Me Bwana, the Soviets refuse to shoot Matt no matter how many opportunities he gives them because of this trope. Instead they use methods like slipping a giant spider into his tent.
  • In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it's revealed that the car accident that killed Howard and Maria Stark, Tony Stark's parents, was actually an assassination arranged by HYDRA. Captain America: Civil War reveals that the brainwashed Bucky was the triggerman.
  • One of the villains in the Bruiceploitation flick The Clones of Bruce Lee does this - after one of the titular Bruce Lee clones infiltrates a movie shoot (actually a front for a gold smuggling racket) as a martial arts stuntsman, the director realizes that the clone could be a government agent and schemes to have him shot on-camera through a staged weapons malfunction... which sort of becomes Harsher in Hindsight when you recall what happened to Bruce's son, Brandon...
  • In Circus of Horrors, any woman who tries to leave the circus, suffers an 'accident' while performing, courtesy of Schüler.
  • This is G.J. Smith's primary advice to Jodie in Deadly Advice; explaining how he drowned his wives in the bath in such a way to avoid suspicion. It is on his suggestion that she tampers with her sister's heart meds to weaken her heart further.
  • In The Devil Commands, Sheriff Ed Willis eventually succeeds in suborning Mrs. Marcy to act as his spy, but the maid’s snooping gets her killed when she finds what the sheriff is looking for. Blanche is able to engineer a plausible-looking accident to account for the woman’s death by making it look like she she had fallen off the clifftop path while walking home in the dark, but Mr. Marcy is not persuaded by her ruse.
  • In the Warren Beatty Dick Tracy, Big Boy Caprice orders Tracy killed and he was assured by Flattop and Itchy that they can make it look like an accident. (Big Boy doesn't dare Just Shoot Him, because if Tracy were found murdered, he'd be the prime suspect.) Just how they can make a person found dead tied to a chair in a boiler room that had exploded look like an accident is never explained.
  • The murderers in Double Indemnity have to make the death look like an accident – specifically, a train accident – in order to collect the insurance money they're after. It ultimately fails.
  • Dredd. Ma-Ma orders her mooks to make it look like the Judges walked in on a gang turf war and were shot in the cross fire. If not an accidental death, it would at least seem like nothing unusual in the Crapsack World of MegaCity One.
  • In Dr. Minx, Carol's boyfriend Gus murdered her husband by releasing the brakes on a bulldozer so it ran him down: making it look like a workplace accident and doubling her insurance payout.
  • Played with in The Eiger Sanction. Hemlock is an assassin sent on a climbing expedition in the belief that one of them is The Mole. When he's the Sole Survivor after the expedition goes wrong, his superior assumes he decided to Leave No Survivors, and congratulates him. Hemlock decides Sure, Let's Go with That, but when his companion asks if all the climbers really did die accidentally, he avoids the question.
  • Face/Off: Castor strikes Lazarro in the chest hard enough to stun him, then restricts his throat while he's on the ground until he suffocates and claims it was cardiac arrest later.
  • In Fighting Mad (1976), goons kidnap Charlie and Carolee in their own car, force them to drink wine, and then push the car into a quarry so their deaths will look like a drunk driving accident. Tom isn't fooled, because Carolee was allergic to alcohol.
  • A Film with Me in It features the inverse; a whole load of people die in a Disaster Dominoes-prone flat in ways that are all completely accidental and which the protagonist had absolutely nothing to do with, but all happen to be either people who the protagonist would have a reason to murder, die in such a way that no one would possibly believe that the poor protagonist didn't murder them, or both.
  • Played with in the Final Destination series, in that all the deaths are genuine freak accidents... set up by a malevolent force that's Balancing Death's Books. The freakishness of the accidents varies within the series, from believeable, low-grade Paranoia Fuel to Kira was really bored (and possibly drunk) that week.
  • In Firestorm (1998), Shaye murders Loomis by pushing him off a cliff in an attempt to make it look like an accident.
  • Throughout A Fish Called Wanda, Ken attempts to kill a witness to a robbery while making it look like an accident. Unfortunately, he ends up accidentally killing her various pet dogs (much to his dismay, being an animal lover). Ironically, the death of the third dog causes her to have a fatal heart attack - which was then completely and entirely accidental, despite Ken's deliberate murder attempts.
  • The Fugitive. Richard Kimble thinks his wife's murder is the result of a botched robbery attempt. Only as the film progresses does he learn that it was an orchestrated hit. Later on, it's mentioned that a co-conspirator died in a hit-and-run car accident and strongly implied that this was a hit as well.
  • In The Godfather, Don Vito Corleone warns the Dons of the other four families that if his son Michael meets with an accident on the way back from Sicily, he will assume that at least one of them was responsible and restart the Mob War put on hold after Sonny's death. He goes so far as to explicitly include Michael committing suicide, being shot by the police, or even being hit by lightning.
    • In the game, there are at least three people you're asked to kill this way. For one of them, you're asked to throw him off a high ledge then plant a used bottle of alcohol nearby, making it seem as though he fell off while drunk.
  • The villains of Hot Fuzz focus almost entirely on murdering people in such a way that it looks like an accident, to the point where the local police have been effectively brainwashed into reporting nearly every death as an accident without conducting a proper investigation It helps that the killers include both the Chief of Police and the local doctor, who doubles as the forensic pathologist, plus the entire neighbourhood watch. Poor Nicholas Angel is the Only Sane Man who believes otherwise. The fourth murder is actually witnessed by Angel and despite that, and the fact that she has a pair of shears stuck in her throat, the police still don't believe it wasn't an accident.
  • In The Housemaid (2010), Hae-ra's mother feigns a stumble to knock over the ladder that Eun-yi is on while cleaning the second-floor chandelier. It fools no one in the house.
  • Justified in The Howling (1981), when the werewolves decide to do away with Karen White for figuring out their secret; Karen is a famous anchorwoman, and would definitely be missed.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, Ramius kills Political Officer Putin and makes it look like he slipped on tea, as a prelude to his defection.
  • The Iceman. Kuklinski and Pronge use pure cyanide to simulate the effects of a heart attack.
  • Has happened in several James Bond films, presumably to try and justify Bond Villain Stupidity or Why Don't You Just Shoot Him??. They are rarely if ever referenced as such, though, so they tend to get lumped in with the other over-the-top murder attempts.
    • In You Only Live Twice, SPECTRE agent Helga Brandt gets Bond into a plane under the ruse that she is betraying her employer...then jumps out with a parachute after trapping him, leaving him to die in a plane crash.
    • In Moonraker, Chang first tries to murder Bond by sabotaging the high-gee astronaut training he was taking part in (the Bond girl believes something had went wrong with the controls), and later Drax himself tries to have him shot and make it look like a hunting accident. Both attempts take place when Bond was on Drax's property as a guest and, when Bond leaves, later attempts are even more over-the-top but not set-up as accidents.
      Hugo Drax: Look after Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.
    • In Octopussy, General Orlov tries to sneak a nuclear warhead into a US Air Force base in West Germany and detonate it, making it look like an accidental detonation of one of the base's own warheads, which would make Western Europe push for rapid disarmament and leave them vulnerable for invasion by Orlov's forces.
    • In A View to a Kill, Max Zorin, playing a bit of Xanatos Speed Chess, takes advantage of a break-in by Bond and the Bond girl into City Hall, where the Bond girl worked under a Sleazy Politician in Zorin's pay, who had recently fired her. Zorin kills the guy and forces the pair into an elevator before setting the building on fire, making it look like they were responsible but were killed by the flames trying to escape.
    • In GoldenEye, Bond and Natalya are strapped down in a stolen helicopter linked to the hijacking of a Kill Sat, and the missiles are set to fire and then return back at them. They escape before the explosion, but the Russian authorities show up immediately, and the Minister of Defence accuses them of being involved in both. Presumably, they were supposed to find only the bodies and assume that the two of them were the criminals they were after, and write the whole thing off as a weapon malfunction.
      • While being interrogated by the Minister of Defence, Natalya revealed that General Ourumov was behind the theft of the helicopter and the destruction of the Goldeneye base. Ourumov crashes the interrogation, kills the Minister, and states his plan to make it look like Bond and Natalya killed the Minister and were then shot while escaping.
    • In Tomorrow Never Dies, Elliot Carver sends a hitman to kill Bond and his treacherous wife and make it look like a murder-suicide- he even had a taped news story made in advance. Bond is too late to save the girl but turns the tables and shoots Dr. Kaufman, at close range, making his death look like the suicide. It's heavily implied that this wasn't the only "suicide" Kaufman was responsible for while working for Carver.
      Doctor Kaufman: I am a professor of forensic medicine. Believe me, Mr. Bond, I could shoot you from Stuttgart und still create ze proper effect. My art is in great demand, Mr. Bond. I go all over ze vorld. I am especially good at ze 'celebrity overdose'.
  • The Killer (2023) opens with the title character staking out an apartment so he can snipe the man using it, while narrating how boring these assignments are in comparison to this trope. Later after he kills the Lawyer and is Disposing of a Body, the Lawyer's assistant promises to give The Killer the information he wants if he doesn't disappear her also, so her children will benefit from her life insurance. So he breaks her neck and throws her down the staircase.
  • Killer Elite has the Sheik request this specifically, so the SAS won't retaliate after the assassinations are carried out. The problem is he wants confessions from the victims as well, complicating the assignment.
  • Lady on a Train: After Josiah Waring is murdered, he body is moved to his mansion and arranged to to look as if he had fallen of a stepladder while trimming his Christmas tree.
  • In Lethal Weapon 2, The Dragon, Vorstedt, reveals that Riggs' wife's death was not an accident after all and that he sabotaged the brakes to make her car go off the road, as he was trying to kill Riggs himself (who was not in the car).
  • The 1966 Black Comedy Lord Love a Duck takes an unexpectedly somber turn when Barbara's Lady Drunk mother kills herself. Alan discovers her, and, to make things easier for Barbara, sets it up to make it look accidental.
  • The Boss in Lucky Number Slevin hires Good Kat to assassinate The Rabbi's son. He doesn't care if it looks exactly like an accident, it just can't look like a professional hit since the Rabbi will go to war if he knows the Boss was responsible. Goodkat's plan is to get some schmuck off the street to perform the actual killing, then kill the killer and stage the bodies so it looks like a mutual suicide pact. Except it turns out Goodkat is arranging everything behind the scenes, and just kills the Rabbi's son as another part in his scheme of revenge on the two crime lords. And the "schmuck" is actually his partner.
  • In Lust for Gold, the murderer attempts to force Barry off a cliff on Superstition Mountain so it will look like he died in an accidental fall.
  • In Massacre at Central High, David kills the three main bullies this way - hang gliding accident, high dive accident, van accident. When he starts killing other kids, his methods become a lot less subtle.
  • The specialty of the Villain Protagonist in the Charles Bronson film The Mechanic (1972). Likewise with Jason Statham in the remake. Both movies though (once they've established their characters) end up with gunplay for Rule of Cool reasons. Unfortunately Mechanic Resurrection continued the trope even though it made no sense plotwise.
  • My Big Fat Greek Wedding
    Nick Portokalos: I've never seen my sister this happy, Ian. If you hurt her, I'll kill you and make it look like an accident.
  • Parodied in Mystery Men, where the father of the Bowler "Fell down an elevator shaft... onto some bullets."
    Blue Rajah: Yes, I've always suspected a bit of foul play there...
    The Bowler: As have I.
  • The villains of North By Northwest try to kill Roger Thornhill, who they think is George Kaplan, an enemy spy, by pumping him full of whisky and making him drive a fast car on a cliff's edge. It doesn't work.
  • Spoofed in Outpost: Black Sun. Wallace is talking to the protagonist, a woman from a family of Nazi Hunters.
    Wallace: I heard about Matthew. I'm sorry. Car accident, right?
    Lena: Yeah, it was an accident.
    Wallace: That'll explain why Neurath didn't live to stand trial in Paraguay...
    Lena: That was an accident!
    Wallace: Right.
  • The Parallax View: Parallax has a remarkable ability to makes its targets die "natural"-seeming deaths, whether staging murders as car accidents or a pill that can induce embolisms.
  • The Dragon in Paycheck kills a scientist making it look like he fell out of his apartment window. Nobody buys it. The agent in charge of the investigation even lampshades this by claiming that he died of natural causes, "natural" being gravity.
  • The Phenix City Story: After killing Fred Gage with a blow to the head, the killer does the bare minimum to make it look like an accident by moving the body to a ditch to make it look like a traffic accident.
  • In A Place in the Sun, George plans to murder Alice by throwing her into the lake and pretending that it was a boating accident. It doesn't pan out good for him.
  • In Power of the Press, Trent shoves the newsie who can prove Jerry Purvis' innocence down an elevator shaft in an attempt to make it look like he accidentally fell to his death. Too bad he accidentally dropped his racing guide.
  • An inversion appears in Practical Magic. Sally is trying to get her sister Gillian safely away from abusive boyfriend Jimmy Angelov. Sally accidentally poisons him (she was only trying to put him to sleep), but the police officer who shows up believes it was a straight-up murder attempt.
  • Cobras, the villain of The Pumaman, uses the golden mask to make the eponymous hero commit suicide; when his henchmen arrive to confirm the death, he uses this as an excuse to keep them from just shooting him, not wanting to draw suspicion to himself. Of course, he doesn't know that the hero is Faking the Dead via a heretofore-unmentioned superpower. As as pointed out later, the whole thing was moot since Cobras is mind-controlling the police.
  • In Push, Hook Waters' wife died in a car accident. Except his wife didn't drive. He knew immediately that Division was involved and left the country.
  • All the murders in Relative Fear use this. Life support equipment malfunction, accidental suicide, dumbwaiter failure, marbles on the stairs...
  • In Revolver (1973), the kidnappers murder Vito's friend who was tailing them by hitting him with a car, and staging he body to make it look like he was the victim of a hit-and-run. Later the conspiracy makes Al Niko's murder look like an accidental overdose.
  • In Ring of Fear, O'Malley makes his attacks on the circus look like accidents, such as weakening the rope holding a tiger with acid or sabotaging Armand's trapeze. this causes some performers to believe the show is jinxed.
  • Averted in Rollerball (1975). The protagonist refuses to get on the helicopter taking him to his next game, as he's afraid of this trope. It's later revealed that the corporation has rejected the idea as it's important that Jonathan die during the game, as the purpose of Rollerball is to demonstrate the futility of individual effort.
  • Salvation Boulevard:
    • Inverted. It was an accident, but Pastor Dan is worried that it might be seen as manslaughter, if not cold-blooded murder, so he tries to make it look like a suicide.
    • Later, Jerry is implied to be trying to do the same when he asks Carl which hand he uses before attempting to shoot him in the head.
  • The Shawshank Redemption: Apparently Tommy was killed by Hadley during the former's "failed escape attempt". Andy knows better. Presumably, the beating death of "Fat Ass" is covered-up in the same way.
  • Shock: After murdering his wife, Dr. Cross throws her body down a canyon near their country lodge; intending for her head injuries to be written off as the result of a fall. This is initially successful, but an unrelated attack in the same area causes the local authorities to exhume the body.
  • A Shock to the System: All of the murders Graham commits are cleverly disguised as accidents, so the police can never prove he's guilty. There's not enough even to arrest Graham, let alone get a conviction.
  • In Silver Lode, Ballard (and the townspeople who support him) fears that he'll be killed in an "escape attempt" if he follows McCarty to Discovery, California (where the warrant for his arrest was issued). The charge is the murder of McCarty's brother, and they suspect he wants revenge.
  • A Simple Favor: Emily's "death". She murdered her identical twin sister, making her look like herself and that she accidentally drowned to disappear.
  • Averted Trope in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. After being wrongly convicted and sentenced to the penal colony of Rura Penthe, Kirk and Bones are helped to escape but quickly realise their fellow escapee Marta is setting them up to be killed.
    Kirk: An accident wasn't good enough.
    Marta: Good enough for one. Two would have looked suspicious. Killed while trying to escape? Now that's convincing enough for both.
  • In Sunrise, a farmer and his mistress plot to drown his wife and make it look like an accident.
  • Inverted in Tragedy Girls. The protagonists murder people so they can report on it for their true crime website, and are thus really irritated when the cops keep ruling their deaths as accidents. They wind up dismembering the corpse of one of their victims, just so there's no way anyone can deny it was murder.
  • Trap for Cinderella: Julia and Do planned to kill Micky by making it look like she'd died as a result of a gas explosion. However, Micky learned of the plan, and Do couldn't carry it out. So ironically it's Do who ended up dying in the apparent accident while Micky survived.
  • Also hilariously inverted in the Hillbilly Horrors parody Tucker & Dale vs. Evil. When Tucker tries to tell the truth to the sheriff, it comes across as a very weak attempt at this:
    Tucker: We have had a doozy of a day. There we were, uh, mindin' our own business, makin' some improvements to my new house, when all of a sudden, out of nowhere, these kids start killin' themselves all over my property.
    Sheriff: You must think that I'm some kind of moron to believe a story like that.
  • The Voyeurs: Pippa thinks Thomas didn't actually kill himself after noticing some evidence, but he was drugged by Julia and then hanged by her to make it look this way. It isn't explicitly confirmed, but strongly implied she's right.
  • In the second WarGames movie, a scientist is hit by a car while jogging but it was an assassination made to look like an accident.
  • What Keeps You Alive: Jackie tries to do this, pushing Jules off a cliff and thus making it look accidental. In the past, she murdered her first wife too and made it appear to be a drowning accident.
  • Where the Truth Lies: Reuben smothered Maureen when she was passed out. Lanny and Vince, on finding that she was dead, removed evidence which would show her death as anything except being accidental, without knowing what he'd done.
  • The Wild Geese II: The mercenaries plan to stage a car accident with the Vulnerable Convoy carrying Rudolf Hess, then carry him off in a fake ambulance. The driver they hire to fake the crash says he can use a specially reinforced car, but they insist it has to look real, so he uses an ordinary vehicle and gets killed.


By Author By Work
  • As might be imagined by the title, Carver of The Accident Man does this to bad men to create highly deniable operations.
  • Agatha H. and the Voice of the Castle: When Tarvek witnesses Higgs casually destroy the Muse of Protection before it can say too much, he realizes that there are about a dozen ways Higgs can kill him and make it look like just a random accident. The rock that could have cracked his skull, the live wire that could have electrocuted him, the clank itself... he agrees with Higgs' Blatant Lies very quickly.
  • Alex Rider:
    • Occurs in some of the books, including the death of a business man made to look like he missed his footing stepping into an elevator, and the mass-murder plans of some of the villains.
    • The seventh book, Snakehead, revolves around this as the Big Bad's plan, albeit on a larger scale than normal. The Nebulous Evil Organisation Scorpia have been tasked with wiping out all the attendees at a conference aiming to eliminate world poverty, but to avoid making them look like martyrs, their deaths have to seem accidental. Their solution is to detonate a specially adapted bomb underwater to create a tsunami which will destroy the island completely — as well as a large section of the Australian coast, killing several thousand more people, ensuring that the destruction of the island not only looks accidental, but is completely forgotten.
  • Inverted in And Another Thing... when the dragons of Asgard are instructed to kill Zaphod Beeblebrox by accident, and to make it look intentional.
  • In Animorphs, Visser One needs to disappear so she can continue her duties elsewhere in the galaxy. So she stages her own death by leaving on a fishing boat during a storm and never returning. The boat is found, damaged, with a frayed safety rope, and the Coast Guard assumes that her body is in the ocean somewhere.
  • Area 51: General Gullick orders Dr. Cruise to kill Von Seeckt with an insulin overdose to make it look like he died of a heart attack after the latter's strenuous objections to their upcoming test make him think he might blow the whistle on it. Luckily, Turcotte finds out and stops Cruise.
  • Arrivals from the Dark: In Envoy from the Heavens, Trevelyan visits the ruler of a minor province out in the boondocks. The ruler, named Rabban, is not a young man anymore and has no heir. He does have a recently-widowed sister, however, who catches the eye of an exiled Imperial nobleman named Alaja-Tsor. Trevelyan muses that, had Rabban's sister accepted the marriage proposal, Rabban wouldn't be long for this world, probably meeting his end as a result of a Hunting "Accident", like maybe a stray arrow in his head.
  • In Bad Monkeys, the Department for the Final Disposition of Irredeemable Persons (a.k.a. "Bad Monkeys"), which kills people who are determined to be truly evil, use "NC guns". The NC guns cause the person that is aimed at to die of natural causes such as heart attack or stroke, hence the name.
  • Bazil Broketail: The Cunfshon witches have assassinated many rulers in Argonath over the centuries whom they deemed as dangerous in some way, while making it appear accidental.
  • The Boys from Brazil (and The Film of the Book) has Nazis doing this, because the clone Hitlers need to lose their father under similar circumstances to the real one.
  • In Bulldog Drummond, the main staircase in Lakington's house has a built-in Booby Trap that can be set to kill a person in a way that makes them look like they accidentally fell and broke their neck.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries: The second murder in Book Bandit. It's revealed the victim was killed by a blow to the head, and then a bookcase was pushed over on her to fool everyone else.
  • Codex Alera: Max has been dodging "accidents" for years, courtesy of a Wicked Stepmother who wants the inconvenient bastard son out of the way. His mother already succumbed to one, and he's spent the intervening years being almost killed by things like a jar of rock salt, which hurts wind furies, falling on him while he's learning to fly and dropping him 30 feet to the ground and a legionaire recruit he's training "inexplicably" having his sword twist out of his hand and fly at Max's neck.
  • The Cold Moons:
    • Kronos and Buckwheat attempt to cross a river together using logs as a makeshift bridge. The logs are wet and slippery, so Kronos "accidentally" tips Buckwheat's log over when he puts his paw on it, drowning Buckwheat and making Kronos one step closer to becoming leader.
    • Kronos has some of his followers kill Dandelion and make it look like a fox attacked her. At first glance, the scene of the crime looks as if Dandelion killed and ate a litter of fox cubs, so the mother attacked her and they both died of their wounds. However, it's noticed that both Dandelion and the fox are covered in badger bites that likely came from several different badgers.
    • When the badger cubs are finishing their game of sliding down a snowy hill, one of the rocks suddenly dislodges. Eldon commits a Heroic Sacrifice saving Titan from the rock. When Beaufort and Fircone go to investigate they see badger pawprints around where the boulder was. Someone from Krono's group intentionally sent the rock rolling and tried to make it seem like it was the cub's fault.
  • In Coma, a hitman is given orders to kill medical student Susan Wheeler who has been snooping into suspicious deaths at the hospital. He is instructed to "make it look like a rape", as though Susan were the victim of a random street crime rather than a carefully orchestrated murder. In the film, the trope name is said word for word when the hitman throws a bucket of water over the janitor he's been told to kill.
    Kelly: What'd you do that for?!
    Hitman: They told me to make it look like an accident. [shoves him into a power board]
  • In The Commissar by Sven Hassel, 2 Section and the titular Commissar are disguised in Soviet uniform when they realize that they're being tracked through the mountains by an NKVD ski unit. Porta suggests they simply drive up innocuously in their tanks and open up at close range, but the Commissar points out that the NKVD will send off a radio message the moment they catch sight of them. The Commissar suggests they arrange a natural disaster instead.
    "You don't call it a disaster being sent to eternity by machine gun fire?"
    "Yes, but that's not the kind of disaster I'm talking about!"
  • In The Death of Achilles, the Big Bad goes beyond this, deciding that an accident would look much too fishy and arranges for his target to die of a heart attack (by using a very rare poison).
  • Debt of Honor: A hitman makes his target appear to have stumbled into traffic.
  • In The Destroyer, removing problems that cannot be removed legally by "making it look like an accident" is the entire reason for Remo Williams' existence.
  • In Devils & Thieves, Michael Medici's death was believed by most to be the result of a simple motorcycle accident, something unfortunate but incidental. Crowe, however, is insistent that he was actually murdered by someone of a rival gang, someone with the ability to make him crash. He's right; Darek killed him, and made it look like the result of a normal accident.
  • In Dolores Claiborne, this is the way Vera advises Dolores to get rid of Joe. She does.
    Vera: Husbands die every day, Dolores. Why, one is probably dying right now, while we're sitting here talking. They die and leave their wives their money.
    • Vera even hints that she offed her own husband (who died in a car crash) by this line:
      Vera: I should know, shouldn't I? After all, look what happened to mine. An accident is sometimes an unhappy woman's best friend.
  • Dora Wilk Series: Werewolf Bjorn gets rid of two drunk poachers threatening Alina by turning into a wolf, running circles around one of them until he accidentally shoots the other one, and then making him chase the wolf into a rusty bear trap. That's because according to Alina, if bite marks were found on any of the two, her dogs would be put down.
  • Dragonvarld: Braun gets murdered with his death made to look like an accident from being struck by lightning. Draconas' father as well died with this happening.
  • The Dresden Files: An Entropy Curse tends to cause deaths like this. Harry notes that the victim effectively dies of what looks like seriously bad luck. And then in Blood Rites, a group of rather unstable women finds a way to work a particularly strong one, and while the deaths caused certainly don't look like intentional murders, they are a long way from looking like mundane accidents. A few examples:
    • Death by allergic reaction to bee stings — specifically, twenty thousand bees that had somehow swarmed into a car in a couple of minutes.
    • Death by gunshot — but the gun had been aimed at someone other than the curse's victim, in the opposite direction and another room from the curse's victim, and the bullet ricocheted more than once before hitting the curse's victim.
    • Death by being hit by a car — while waterskiing.*
    • Near-death by simultaneous blood loss and electrocution — because the victim was taking a shower which suddenly turned hot on her, causing her to fall through a glass door and slash her throat open, and then a light fixture decided out of nowhere to fall off the ceiling and land in the water with the wires exposed.
    • The most prominent example: death by laser-guided frozen turkey, apparently dropped from an airplane. And then the timer dings. This one's implied to be because the curse was channeled through Harry to a new target, picking up his sense of the ridiculous on the way.
      Harry: For my next trick, anvils.
  • In the convoluted traditions of combat between Great Houses in the Dune universe, it is considered an extreme breach of protocol to kill a defeated opponent without offering them exile first; violation of this rule may cause the perpetrator to be exterminated by the other Houses, and there are Truthsayers to investigate any suspicious deaths. The solution: issue indirect orders to one's minions (who are unlikely to be subject to Truthsayer questioning) along the lines of, "No bodies must ever be found," and leave it up to their creativity to make the proper arrangements.
  • An arguably heroic example: Dungeon Crawler Carl successfully kills one of the admins of the dungeon by booby-trapping a robot toy that he was supposed to be carrying around as a marketing ploy. The toy included a self-destruct device if damaged, so that the party couldn't break it open for parts, and a string of earlier models had been destroyed by rough handling; such a shame that this one mysteriously followed suit at such a bad time when only Loita was in the room with it, and couldn't be evacuated and healed because the force field that blocked all teleportation was also the only thing stopping the whole building from being crushed by water pressure. Since this comes immediately after Loita declares that the whole human species was a cancer on the galaxy and that she wishes they could have exterminated everyone without running the World Dungeon first, and she's supposed to be their marketing manager in charge of managing sponsorships that may determine their survival, it's probably justified.
  • The Executioner: In the Able Team book "Texas Showdown", Carl Lyons is forced to kill a guard who catches him snooping around the Big Bad's headquarters. Because he's The Mole in their operation, Carl has to make it look like the man died in a house fire, so uses the wires from a video recorder (activated by its timer) to start a short circuit. However, this unreliable method goes off too late, after the body has been discovered.
  • The Ghost (2007): Mike McAra fell off the Woods Hole ferry and drowned. It looked like an accident, but it turned out later that it wasn't.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Ron once daydreams about pushing Malfoy off a glacier and making it look like an accident.
    • The villains' plot in the fourth book revolves around this kind of plot to kill Harry: make him a contestant in the Triwizard Tournament, then use a time when he's alone during a challenge to murder him. Contestants die all the time in the Tournament, don't they? Subverted, however, as the real plan is to make sure Harry reaches the trophy first, so it can take him to the graveyard where Voldemort's resurrection will take place.
  • In Heart's Blood, pretty much every major death at Whistling Tor is made to look like an accident by Muirne. She would have gotten away with it if she hadn't tried the fire trick twice.
  • The Villain Protagonist of the Keller series by Lawrence Block does this along with more conventional methods, through Keller notes that it's risky as a failed attempt would draw more attention to the client than a straightforward murder, which could have been done by a random criminal. There's a couple of occasions where the intended target really does die from an accident or heart attack before Keller can get to him; the client naturally assumes this trope was in play and pays him regardless, while Keller ponders just how difficult it would have been to arrange this particular accident in real life.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • A favored tactic of the People's Republic of Haven is to kill people in "accidental" aircar collisions — that is, when the people in question aren't simply "disappeared". This comes back to bite the new government of the Republic in the ass later on when a suspected traitor and his accomplice die in aircar accidents. One of them was arranged by the traitor's foreign paymasters to cover their tracks, and the other was a completely genuine accident, but they both inevitably got blamed on the government.
    • A specific non-Peep example occurs in Honor Among Enemies, where someone tries to off Ginger Lewis and pass it off as a suit failure. Unfortunately, the culprit tried too hard by disabling the comm system as well, and any savvy engineer knows that those two systems aren't connected.
  • The Hunger Games: President Snow uses the threat of killing the victors' families and loved ones like this to keep them in line and to make them do as he says. This is what happened to Haymitch's family and girlfriend after his Games, and it's implied to have happened to everyone Johanna loved. However, even Snow admits that if he did this to Katniss herself because of her "stunt with the berries", no one would buy it.
  • In I Heard That Song Before, it's speculated — and Phillip Meredith firmly believes — that Grace Meredith didn't accidentally drown, but that her husband Peter deliberately drowned her because she was drinking while pregnant (and possibly because he found out she was having an affair). It would've been easy enough; Grace was extremely drunk, so Peter could've theoretically picked her up and just dropped her into the pool while everyone else was sleeping, or that he could've seen her fall into the pool and simply didn't bother to save her. Grace was known for having a drinking problem, so no one would question it; Greco even speculates that someone could've deliberately spiked her drink on Peter's orders. It's revealed this was indeed what happened, but Peter wasn't the culprit; Richard set up Grace's drowning because he realized she could expose him as an art thief.
  • Inferno (2013): The Provost suggests they wrap matters up by making it look like Langdon was killed in a mugging. Later, Langdon has a front-row seat on the Provost arranging a similar scenario with Agent Bouchard's body.
  • James Bond:
    • In Moonraker, James Bond and Gala Brand survive a landslide while visiting the Dover cliffs that Bond later suspects of being this trope. He spots the signature white puff of smoke from an explosive, and when he returns to his host's property that night, he notices that Drax "forgot" to set a place for him at the dinner table.
    • The Smith brothers try to do this to James in the Young Bond novel Double or Die; he is force-fed a bottle of gin and they attempt to throw him into the Thames so that he'll drown.
  • In A Jar Of Goodwill by Tobias Buckell, the female protagonist is recruited for the crew of a spaceship but is worried that they might want a Sex Slave. She's told that the contract has a high payout for rape, but a good deal less for an accidental death, so she might want to lower the former so if she is sexually abused, at least the crew won't find it expedient to murder her afterwards to avoid paying up.
  • The protagonist of John Rain specializes in making assassinations look like accidental and (especially) natural deaths. The first kill he performs involves using a Palm Pilot to turn off a guy's pacemaker.
  • Once the heroes capture The Mole in Lammas Night, they realize they can't just have him locked up — yes, one of their members is in British Intelligence, but if their prisoner says anything about what he knows it will be impossible to prevent scandal. He gets a lethal overdose of the sedative they've been using as a DIY truth serum, and they stage a car crash. (Those British Intelligence connections keep an autopsy from being performed.)
  • In The League of Frightened Men, the suspected murderer has sworn vengeance against a group of men who inadvertently crippled him. The first two deaths look like accidents. Subverted, in that they actually are accidents, which the "murderer" has simply implied he's responsible for.
  • In Lockwood & Co., Anthony Lockwood's parents Donald and Celia were killed in a car accident, or so the story goes. They were actually murdered by the Orpheus Society because they knew too much about the origins of the Problem of ghosts and gave a presentation about what they knew to them, not realizing that they already knew most if not all of it and didn't actually want the knowledge to spread.
  • Played with in The Man Who Never Was: the Germans have to be convinced that a dead guy washed up on the Spanish coast with a suitcase full of Allied battle plans is a courier, and the battle plans are the Real Stuff. The book (and subsequent film) were based on the real-life Operation Mincemeat, which went to extraordinary lengths to Make It Look Like an Accident. It isn't this trope straight because the body that was used was that of a man who had died of pneumonia –- there was no murder at all.
  • In the Sidney Sheldon novel Master Of The Game, matriarch Kate notes that her granddaughter Alexandra is very accident-prone. When she discovers what an evil bitch her granddaughter Eve (Alexandra's twin) is, she suddenly realizes what the reader has known for pages — that all of Alexandra's "accidents" were Eve's attempts at killing her, starting when the girls were only 5.
  • Zigzagged in Mistaken Twin. At first Jenna believes that her sister Amy died in a car crash. She later has it revealed that no this was actually an intentional murder. Then once again, she learns that the whole thing was a set-up to put her in witness protection — so they staged a set-up to look like a murder then restaged it to look like an accident.
  • In the Modesty Blaise novel A Taste for Death, the villains dispose this way of several people who know too much; one drowns in a "boating accident", and another has his neck broken "falling down the stairs". At the end of the novel, Modesty sees to it that the big bad meets with a similar "accident".
  • In Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, we see a non-lethal version — when the rats free Mrs. Frisby from the birdcage, they loosen the door hinges to make it look like she pushed her way out on her own (rather than open the lock directly, which she would never be able to do).
  • This is the preferred method of the killer in Murder is Easy, which is where the title comes from. Four people have died at the beginning of the novel, and there has been little investigation into the matter since all the deaths seemed to be accidents, like a boy "falling" out of a window and a woman drinking paint that she "mistook" for medicine. The plot begins when a woman suspects that something fishy is going on, but is then "accidentally" hit by a car on her way to the police. The killer turns out to be an insane Woman Scorned who kills anyone who is unfriendly to her former lover, hoping that the police will eventually catch up and arrest him for the murders.
  • In Murderers Row, Matt Helm, undercover as a Mafia hitman, pretends to take a contract to kill a man's wife. The husband nervously asks, "It will look like an accident, won't it?" Helm says, "One day I'm going to have somebody ask me to do a murder that looks like a murder—"
  • Newsflesh has a lot of this. Given that there's an ongoing zombie problem and everyone is infected with Kellis-Amberlee, the zombie virus, it's very easy to set up an outbreak. People are generally more likely to believe there was a security breach or a spontaneous amplification (when someone's KA levels rise and zombify them for no reason, as opposed to the traditional fluid transmission) than that someone deliberately weaponized KA.
    • In the first book, Feed, the Ryman Ranch and the convoy group were made to look like accidents.
    • In the second book, Deadline, most recent deaths of people with reservoir conditions were made to look like accidents.
  • A professional driver/hitman tries to kill Bob Lee Swagger's daughter by ramming her car off a mountain road in Night of Thunder.
  • In Nighttime Is My Time, most of the Owl's previous murder victims appeared to have been killed in accidents.
    • Catherine's car skidded off the road and crashed into the Potomac; she was known for being a careless driver so no one thought to check if her brakes had been tampered with.
    • Cindy is presumed to have been killed in an avalanche while skiing as her body was never recovered; the Owl actually killed her on top of the mountain and dumped her body in a crevice, with the avalanche just being an extra bit of luck for him.
    • The private plane Debra was piloting crashed after it was secretly sabotaged.
    • Alison's drowning death is initially thought to be accidental, with the police speculating she fainted after she dove into her swimming pool.
  • Nina Tanleven: The villain of The Ghost Wore Gray tries to kill Nina and Chris and make it look like either an accident or a suicide, via forcing them off a cliff.
  • Number the Stars: Annemarie's older sister, Lise, was hit by a car and died. In the end, it is revealed that she was intentionally hit by the Nazis, being part of La Résistance.
  • Out of the Dark:
    • One of the Hegemony's more pragmatic founding races basically tells the Shongairi that they'll look the other way if humanity doesn't happen to make it through this.
    • Later, when the Shongairi decide we're too dangerous to use as slaves, they plan to make the release of their bioweapon look like an accident to deflect political fallout.
  • Discussed in the Paladin of Shadows series. Though the Keldara never do it onscreen, they have a habit of making Kildars who are unworthy die mysterious deaths.
  • This is what the killer in the Phryne Fisher mystery Murder in Montparnasse tries to do. He crushes one victim beneath a car so it looks like the jack slipped while he was working under it, and gets another drunk and drowns him in an irrigation ditch.
  • The Power:
    • Roxy and Darrell lampshade this before they kill Newland. They make it look accidental as a "favor" so his family could get life insurance.
    • The Power can also be used to do this in general, as a jolt of electricity to the heart will kill many people, with it indistinguishable from a normal cardiac arrest.
  • Ready Player One: When IOI employees blow up the stacks where Wade lives because he refuses to join or help them, they plant some drug lab equipment between the rubble to make it look like the explosion was the result of an illegal meth lab blowing up. It works.
  • The protagonists of the Iceland plotline in Red Storm Rising attempt to make it look like a KGB patrol they ambushed died as a result of being drunk and driving off a cliff. Unfortunately, the stabbing damage to the body armor of one of the patrol members strongly suggests that their fate wasn't purely accidental.
  • Selena Mead has a variant: when spy Simon Mead is murdered, his teammates disguise the death as a car accident.
  • In the Dale Brown novel Shadows Of Steel, this is done with airplanes and military equipment. It Makes Sense in Context, but is justified in that the guy ordering it had to dance around the political sensitivities of traditional, highly visible overt action while still wanting to hurt the other side. It works.
  • Shadows of the Empire:
    • One of Xizor's former mistresses was buried by a construction droid "accidentally".
    • The Emperor, after Xizor bribed his best horticulturalist away, arranged for the unfortunate man to die in a turbolift accident.
  • Older Than Television courtesy of Sherlock Holmes. Appears to be a common MO for Moriarty's organization, along with "make it look like a much more small-time criminal is responsible".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: Given the cut-and-thrust nature of politics in this series, expect this to turn up a fair bit: eating, drinking, having sex, going hunting, taking part in sporting events, getting ill, using poorly maintained infrastrucure... all these turn up as rather suspiciously convenient ends.
    • These kinds or murders are the speciality of the Faceless Men, a religious cult of extremely skilled assassins.
    • Robert Baratheon's death was caused by a boar on a hunting trip, after being given far too much wine by a Lannister servant. Earlier there was a plot to bump him off in a melee tournament, but that failed because the Hand of the King Ned Stark talked Robert out of participating.
    • When Tyrion clears out Janos Slynt and his troublesome associates and ships them to the Wall, he suggests to his new (and loyal) City Watch commander, Ser Jacelyn, that it "would not be taken amiss" if a certain particularly brutal associate, one Allar Deem, were to fall overboard on the long and probably stormy voyage to the Wall. Ser Jacelyn takes the hint.
    • It's heavily implied that Balon Greyjoy's death (by falling off a rope bridge) was orchestrated by his brother Euron.
    • Cersei kills the second High Septon (the old one) by having a lackey smother him in his sleep, and blaming his death on old age. This backfires for her greatly.
    • Jon Arryn's death from sickness was actually the result of Lysa Arryn poisoning him on behalf of Petyr Baelish.
    • Randyll Tarly threatens to kill his son in a Hunting "Accident" if he does not join the monk-like Night's Watch and revoke his inheritance.
    • Jaqen H'ghar (who is a Faceless Man) kills two Lannister henchmen this way, making the first death look like the victim fell off of a battlement, and the second death look like the victim was mauled by his own dog turned rabid.
    • The use of the poison known as "the Strangler" in Joffrey's death was a case of a double-bluff/ Xanatos Gambit deliberately using this trope as a smokescreen. Had it gone undetected: great... people would think he probably died choking on his pie or wine (a few would always question it). If it got detected: great... most people would think it was a case of deliberately trying to make it look like Joffrey died on pie or wine to confuse exactly who among his haters killed him aka "a perfectly normal political death using very bog-standard tactics". If people start asking questions about who the actual target could have been, great: more suspects, more questions, more confusion. If people started pointing fingers in dangerous directions... great: out come the carefully pre-prepared Scapegoats you've wanted politically discredited or isolated for a while to further muddy the waters. All the floating question marks surrounding his death are a design feature, not a bug.
  • In The Speed of Sound, this is how the assassin Michael Barnes kills Jacob Hendrix. He disguises himself as a homeless man and releases a canister of tear gas in a subway station, causing everyone to think there's a chemical attack. In the commotion, he pushes his target in front of an oncoming train, which instantly cuts him in half. Everyone thinks he blindly fled in front of the train to avoid the gas.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise Relaunch: Apparently, a standard tactic of the Obsidian Order's for getting rid of people who upset them is saying they died in a domestic argument gone very wrong. What exactly they do to the supposed murderer afterward is not specified.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • General Grievous' backstory is given in Labyrinth of Evil: to put him in debt to the Confederacy and make him even more dangerous, Count Dooku staged a non-lethal shuttle crash, then offered to rebuild him as a Cyborg in exchange for his service.
    • Inverted in Young Jedi Knights. When a Bothan spy attempts to assassinate Lusa in Jedi Bounty, he explicitly says that he wants the death to not look like an accident so anyone who leaves the Diversity Alliance will think they can't hide.
  • In the Tempest (2011) trilogy, the selkie Kona hates the merman Sabyn because he used to date Kona's little sister Annalise, and he abused and cheated on her. Then she died in an "accidental fall." Kona is convinced that Sabyn killed Annalise, but he can't prove it, and most other people think Sabyn was innocent.
  • Terra Ignota: The Saneer-Weeksbooth bash', the members of which are responsible for the running and safety of the world's Flying Car system, has been involved in a conspiracy to stage car crashes and other accidents to kill off minor, unimportant relatives of famous people in order to calm down riots and other dangerous world events for the past 244 years. They went so far as to stage the deadly boat accident involving their own bash' parents. The Utopians are noted to be immune to being murdered in this manner; since they have their own Flying Car system and investigate any Utopian death with a single-minded fervor, no one wants to risk getting them involved.
  • The drowning of Camille in Thérèse Raquin is made to look like Camille just fell out of the boat and couldn't swim rather than a murder.
  • In one of the Track novels by Jerry Ahern, Track finds a New Old Flame has been murdered by her husband, who shot her in the guts so she'd die slowly and it would look like a robbery gone bad. When Track shoots the husband he says, "I don't care what this looks like at all."
  • Treasure Island: The death of Mr. Arrow, who apparently fell overboard one night in a drunken stupor. In most adaptations that include this incident, a scene is shown of Silver blatantly slipping him rum so that he would be drunk all the time and no one would inquire into his death too much.
  • In The Vazula Chronicles, this is how the tyrannical government of the triple kingdoms kills merpeople it sees as a threat. Methods include a stabbing that was passed off as a stingray attack, a venomous box jellyfish left in a mermaid's hammock, and poisonous pufferfish served for dinner because of a "kitchen mistake."
  • The War Against the Chtorr: The Uncle Ira Group attempts to kill two birds with one stone via this method. The rest of the world refuses to take the Alien Invasion seriously, arguing that the Chtorrans aren't particularly dangerous, while protagonist Jim McCarthy has unwittingly drawn attention to their secret organisation by publicly arguing otherwise. They order McCarthy to stand guard at a public showing of a captured Chtorran worm, which 'accidentally' escapes from its cage and starts eating the delegates. Fortunately McCarthy took the trouble to practice with his newly issued flechette rifle and succeeds in bringing down the creature on live television. Because McCarthy is now a hero, the Uncle Ira group makes the best of a bad situation and makes him a permanent member of their organisation instead.
  • Done a few times in the Warrior Cats series:
    • Tigerclaw attempted this a couple of times: first the Thunderpath trap to try and get Bluestar to run onto the Thunderpath, and then when he told Fireheart to cross a branch over a flooded stream and then knocked it loose. Even Fireheart wasn't sure whether it was an accident or not until he noticed the way Tigerclaw was looking at him later.
    • Darkstripe gave Sorrelkit deathberries to eat; if Graystripe hadn't seen what happened, every cat would have just assumed she found the berries and didn't know what they were.
  • Where Are the Children?: Nancy's mother Priscilla supposedly died when the steering of her rental car malfunctioned and she crashed into a ditch, but it turns out that Carl deliberately tampered with the car in the hopes she'd have a fatal crash, so that she couldn't break his influence over her daughter. Nancy suspected this deep down, but she had no hard evidence and the situation was so horrifying she tried to block it out.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing: Whoever pushed Chase Andrews off a water tower to his death set it up to make it look like he fell through a grate left open by accident.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun:
    • Dick suggested they kill Judith and make it look like an accident. When Mary refused, he replied "We're not going to make it look like an accident?!"
    • A later episode delivered this gem when referring to Evil Dick:
      Tommy: How should we get rid of him? You're the weapons expert!
      Sally: That doesn't mean I can just frag him with a grenade launcher while he's in the shower!
      Harry: Why not? People explode in showers all the time!
  • On The 100, the Council needs to kill 300 people to conserve oxygen on the Ark. They believe people would panic if they knew the government was planning to kill them, though, so they plan to make it look like life-support just happened to fail for a large section of the Ark.
  • In The Adventures of Superman episode "The Defeat of Superman", the crooks plan to throw Lois and Jimmy's car over a cliff to make it look like they crashed.
  • A zigzag version in the Alfred Hitchcock Presents episode "The Orderly World of Mr. Appleby" (written by Roald Dahl): Mr. Appleby successfully kills his first wife by making it look like she tripped and fell on a rug (that he pulled out from under her), but his second wife is suspicious and leaves a note with her attorney to call the police should something untoward happen. The attorney calls to check on her, and when going to answer the phone she really does trip on a rug and fall!
  • Andor:
    • "Kessa" has a variation. When Cassian kills two MegaCorp security officers, it's their superior officer who wants it made to look like an accident, as he's about to depart to his superiors in the Empire for a review of his efficiency in keeping crime in check, and the last thing he wants is awkward questions about two of his men killed in a Red Light District where they weren't supposed to be. Unfortunately for Cassian, the inspector assigned to the matter would rather investigate than cover up.
    • In "Nobody's Listening!" it's discussed by the ISB leadership after they capture a Rebel pilot. Knowing his absence would be noted soon and tip off his cell, they decide to make his death look like it's accidental after getting good intel from him. They have his ship left with his body for them to later find him so that won't happen.
  • The A-Team:
    • In "Bad Time on the Border", Hannibal has infiltrated an operation that sells illegal immigrants as slaves by pretending to be a Mexican man wanting to cross the border. Even when the plan goes off the rails, resulting in him being locked in a Punishment Box, he doesn't break down. Exasperated by Hannibal, the villains decide to put him on the truck with the other immigrants and push him out while it's in motion. That way, he dies, but their bosses can't prove they cut down their profits by killing a potentially valuable slave.
    • In "Lease With an Option to Die", twice Plout's men try to destroy the building and kill the tenants in a way that looks accidental; the first time they overload the electrical circuits with too many plugs, setting the building alight and the second time, they set a bomb to blow up the boiler.
  • Vice-president Clark used a staged accident to remove President Santyago in Babylon 5. Evidence is later discovered and shown to the public using a pirate news channel, resulting in a civil war.
  • The Barrier: A minister dies in an accident a suspiciously short amount of time after having expressed worry about his country becoming even more of a Police State than it already is. Looking into the death is one of the factors that contribute to his surviving friend creeping closer and closer to He Knows Too Much territory.
  • Batwoman (2019): In "Armed and Dangerous" Tavaroff plans to make it look like Jacob died from a Snakebite overdose after learning he's addicted, for fear of losing his career. Ryan intervenes just in time to stop him.
  • The Big Bang Theory: Leonard threatens Sheldon with this after getting fed up with his latest insane stunt (staying in his room and interacting with the world via TV Head Robot).
    Sheldon: At my age, do you know how I'm statistically most likely to die?
    Leonard: At the hands of your roommate?
    Sheldon: An accident.
    Leonard: That's how I'm gonna make it look.
  • The Boys (2019): A-Train shoots Popclaw up with heroin to make it look like an accidental overdose. He's terrible at it, since his poor control over his super-speed means he ends up pushing at least one needle into a bone, as referenced later by Starlight; it's not confirmed but is implied that he only got away with it because Vought did not want anyone looking too closely at her death.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: An odder version than normal.
    Bob: I was gonna throw Raymond over the side and make it look like a bird-watching accident.
    Jake: Oh, please, do you think anyone's gonna actually—
    Holt: It's genius. There's a red-tailed hawk roost a block away, and I've got a pair of micro-binoculars in my pocket, like a fool.
    Jake: Okay, well, I stand corrected.
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Dead Things", Warren Mears makes Buffy believe she killed Katrina by accident.
    • In the Angel spin-off, our vampire detective hero corners some suspects at a shooting range. They announce that Angel is about to die from an accidental discharge. Unfortunately for them a vampire is Immune to Bullets.
    • In one episode "Rm w/ a Vu", when in 1946 where Maude met her demise after she finished trapping her son, Dennis inside a brick wall, she murdered and haunted Margo Dressner in 1959, Jenny Kim in 1965, and Natalie Davis in March 7th, 1994 to make them look like suicides because she mistook her for Dennis' girlfriends. But when Cordelia moved in, turns out that she was mistaken for Dennis' fiancé.
  • Cannon:
    • In "Blood on the Vine", a vineyard owner suffers multiple 'accidents' (a falling wine rack, tainted wine, brake failure) in a short space of time, which causes his secretary to hire Cannon to investigate.
    • In "A Deadly Quiet Town", a university chemistry professor dies in a lab explosion that is written off an accident. However, Cannon is suspicious because a near identical explosion had occurred a week earlier. This turns out to be the murderer undertaking a 'rehearsal' for the eventual murder.
  • In City Homicide Sean Macready manages to light seven fires over nine years, killing over a dozen children, and each time makes it look like an electrical accident, each time convincing the arson squad.
  • The reason why some of the cases on Cold Case went cold in the first place is that the cops didn't even realize it was a murder:
    • "Blood on the Tracks". A married couple dies due to an explosion supposedly caused by a gas leak, only for the remnants of a bomb to be discovered 26 years later.
    • In "Slipping", the victim is thought to have hung herself after going mad.
    • Or even natural causes – in "The Good Death", the victim was thought to have died from a brain tumor, only for it be a Mercy Killing.
    • A benevolent variation happens in the episode "Wednesday's Women". The victim is run down, and the victim's friends end up dumping her body near a busy road to make it look like she was accidentally hit by a car. They did this because they got turned away by a racist cop when they tried to get help.
  • Columbo: In "Any Old Port in a Storm", the murderer goes to great lengths to make it look like his half-brother died in a scuba diving accident. However, he hadn't reckoned on Columbo's ability to spot little details that don't quite fit, such as the fact the victim had not eaten for two days prior to his death.
  • The killer in the Criminal Minds episode "Paradise" tries to do this, but he isn't very good at it.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Black Widow", Tanya kills her husband's Creepy Housekeeper by giving her a fatal Staircase and makes it look like an accident. Later, her husband reveals that his previous wife's fatal fall from a horse was caused by him slicing her saddle cinch with a razor.
  • Magnificent Bastard Al Swearengen says this early in the first season of Deadwood. Interestingly this is the only time he tries to conceal his involvement in a murder (it doesn't work), most of the time he doesn't care.
    Al: Anyways, Sheriff, I'm gonna walk past that bloodstain that mysteriously appeared in my office and go oversee my business interests.
  • Defending Jacob: Leonard Patz is strangled, then made to look like he hung himself.
  • Defiance: In the Season 2 premiere, a pair of brothers who have been arrested for protesting against the Earth Republic occupation of the town are being escorted to a prison camp when the transport stops so that the driver can pee. The doors to the transport then just so happen to unlock, allowing the brothers to run off... right into Hellbug territory. The number of coincidences required for this sequence of events to play out normally are so staggeringly high that when Amanda accuses Pottinger of having them set up to die in order to send a message, he doesn't even try to defend himself. He then agrees to pardon the surviving brother without so much as an argument, realizing that he may have gone a bit too far.
  • Dexter: New Blood: With drug dealer Jasper, realizing the police are closing in, Dexter Morgan overdoses him on his own Fentanyl to make his death appear to be an accidental overdose.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Boom Town": A reporter mentions to the Lord Mayor Margaret Blaine that nearly everyone opposing her proposed Cardiff nuclear power plant has died in a variety of mysterious accidents.
      Cathy Salt: And then just recently Mr. Cleaver, the government's nuclear advisor?
      Margaret Blaine: Slipped on an icy patch.
      Cathy Salt: He was decapitated!
      Margaret Blaine: It was a very icy patch.
    • "The End of Time":
      "The previous governor met with an 'accident' that took quite some time to arrange."
    • "The Time of Angels": The security officer chasing River Song on board the Byzantium tells his goons to wait for River to run and then shoot her, so it doesn't look like an execution, but rather that she was shot while attempting to flee. Which isn't much better, really.
    • The novelisation of "Warriors Gate" opens with an anti-slaver patrol ship on a "search and capture" mission. Secretly he's destroying the slaver ships by firing an energy torpedo at their vulnerable belly which overloads their lightspeed engine—it sounds like a near miss to the crew but destroys the ship when they do a Hyperspeed Escape. To Mission Control however, it would look like the slaver ship self-destructed or was destroyed by an unlucky shot, or even managed to escape (but with the engine destroyed it would be going nowhere, which literally happens to the Villain of the Week).
  • In Dollhouse, a woman's murder is made to look like a heart attack using an overdose of a performance-enhancing drug for horses and a masking agent that made it difficult to detect after the fact.
  • In Dossier on Detective Dubrovsky, villains hire an assassin to kill the attorney-general.
    Client: But remember, it must look like an accident and nothing but accident!
    Assassin: Don't you worry. It's going to be the most accidental accident possible.
  • Elementary:
    • In "The Rat Race", Donna Kaplan the secretary arranged four accidents and other inconspicuous deaths to climb the corporate ladder.
    • In "Flight Risk" Sherlock deduces that one of the plane crash victims was dead before the plane crashed. It turns out that he stumbled upon the plane being sabotaged, was killed, and was stowed away in the plane's cargo hold. The added weight, which the pilot didn't know about, threw the plane off balance and caused the crash earlier than the saboteur intended - all of the evidence was supposed to end up at the bottom of the ocean.
    • In "A Landmark Story", Sherlock tangles with a contract killer, named Daniel Gottlieb, who specializes in this. He kills one guy by hacking his pacemaker to make it look like it malfunctioned and killed him, another by tracking his daily routine and then making it look like a window air conditioner broke loose and fell on his head, and is about to provoke a swarm of Africanized honey bees to attack a jogger with an allergy to bee stings when Sherlock catches him refilling their food supply.
    • In "Lesser Evils", Sherlock determines that a hospital patient died of an overdose not natural causes. He starts looking at the hospital records and the morgue and determines that many of terminally ill patients died in such a manner, revealing the presence of an "angel of death" (i.e. someone who performs Mercy Kills to spare the patients the suffering). He also discovers that a surgeon deliberately altered a patient's chart to get the "angel of death" to kill her before his mistake is discovered.
  • Father Brown:
  • Frasier:
    Bob Briscoe: So, Roz, who's the proud papa? You got it narrowed down yet?
    Roz: That's nice, very nice. Frasier, will you excuse us?
    Frasier: Just remember the baby's future, Roz. Try to make it look like an accident.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • This is the specialty of Jaqen H'ghar, so long as you don't rush him to make the kill right the hell nownote . Heck, with enough time he'll prop the bodies up so that they look like they're simply standing guard!
    • Robert Baratheon falls victim to a Hunting "Accident" facilitated by his wife.
    • Jon Arryn dies of a mysterious fever and it's eventually discussed that he was killed using a rare and untraceable poison known as the Tears of Lys. In a devious touch of misdirection, the perpetrators do want people to suspect that he was murdered for knowing too much about Joffrey's real lineage.
    • Samwell Tarly joined the Night's Watch because his father threatened to kill him this way.
  • Get Smart. KAOS has a Contrived Accidents Division specifically for this trope. In "Run Robot Run" they arrange for all the Free World athletes to have accidents so as to leave the field clear for the Iron Curtain to win.
  • House of the Dragon: Larys Strong has his father and brother murdered by fire at Harrenhal. He tasks criminals he recruited in prison to put the castle on fire, and cuts their tongues so they won't be able to speak and the whole thing will be considered an accident.
  • Goodbye My Princess: Zhao Shi Xuan makes sure Gao Zhen's death looks like he was attacked by wild animals.
  • Gotham Knights (2023): The Court of Owls has murdered many people across the years that they made appear to be suicides or accidents.
  • Grey's Anatomy
    Dr. George O'Malley: He could kill me and make it look like an accident.
  • Harrow: In "Peccata Patris" ("Sins of the Father"), the Body of the Week is arranged to make it look like he slipped on a wet boat dock and hit his head on the step. However, there was no algae in the head wound which there should have been, as the step was covered in it.
  • Hightown: Frankie tells Osito to kill a witness by making her overdose. As she's an addict anyway, the police would not be likely to think it was a murder.
  • Subverted in an episode of Inspector Morse in which Morse believes the trope is in play, but it turns out it really was an accident. However, the investigation uncovers an art fraud ring and at least one actual murder takes place during the episode.
  • Innocent: After strangling his sister-in-law Emel, Taner buckles her into the passenger seat of his car and, with the help of his father, sends it rolling over the precipice. This serves a double purpose, as it also appears as though Taner has died.
  • Just Shoot Me!
    Nina Van Horn: She'll be gone by the end of the day.
    Dennis Finch: Great; just make it look like an accident.
    Nina Van Horn: No, no, no! She's leaving on her own.
    Dennis Finch: Got it; we never spoke.
  • Kingdom Adventure: When Pitts orders Napps and Gorf to kill Reagle, he tells them to do this word-for-word. They all know Reagle is the Emperor's bird, so they know they won't get away with it if they don't.
  • Law & Order: UK:
    • When James Steele's nemesis not-so-subtly threatens his son by reciting the boy's address, he also mentions the "busy roads on his way to school", further insinuating that he could easily invoke this trope and thus avoid prosecution.
    • Inverted in "Confession", when the beat cops who found a detective shot to death tried to make his suicide look like murder, knowing that his widow would get more money for this. note 
  • The Legend of Xiao Chuo: Xi Yin tries to murder Yan Yan by vandalising a staircase so it will break when she stands on it.
  • Inverted in an episode of Life On Mars; a death with all the outward appearance of a murder turns out to have been an accident.
  • The Little Drummer Girl: The Israelis make Salim and Anna look like they died due to a car accident.
  • On Longmire, the cops find a man who appeared to have been mauled by a bear after shooting himself up with drugs. While on the bear hunt, Vic is accidentally shot with a tranquilizer dart. She and Walt realize the mark the dart uses is just like the one on the victim. Thus, the guy was drugged and then placed in the path of the hungry bear to cover up a murder.
  • Lost: Juliet asks Jack to kill Ben during surgery because some of the others want change, "but it has to look like an accident".
  • Logan's Run: In "Crypt", Rem discovers the body of Frederick Lyman in the cryonics facility's administration office. He had seemingly been crushed by a machine that fell on him as a result of an earthquake aftershock. However, Rem determines that it was murder as the cobwebs on the machine were fully intact. Had it been toppled by the aftershock, they would have torn. Lyman's skull was already crushed when he was placed under the machine. It turns out that the culprit was Sylvia Reyna.
  • MacGyver: The bad guy in "Deadly Silents" goes to great lengths to make his attempts to kill Pinky and MacGyver look like an accident. After multiple failures, he gives in to his partner's urging of Why Don't Ya Just Shoot Him?.
  • Midsomer Murders:
  • In an episode of Monk, the titular detective stumbles on a murder while in police custody for witnessing another murder. A woman, sick and tired of her husband, electrocutes him in the bath tub with a radio, then puts him in his fishing boat and pushes it out onto the lake in the middle of a thunderstorm. When his body shows up, she claims that he was hit by lightning, so that her insurance company is forced to pay double for an "act of God". Naturally, it almost works, but Monk manages to convince the local sheriff that it was murder. The sheriff agrees to have the coroner examine the body to determine the real cause of death (a lightning strike can be distinguished from an electrocution).
  • Murdoch Mysteries: The season 2 finale, "Anything You Can Do...", features a contract killer who specialises in this.
  • My Life Is Murder:
    • In "Can't Stand the Heat", the killer smashes the Victim of the Week's head in with a frozen chicken in the kitchen of a cooking school. They then arrange the body to make it look like he slipped in spilled oil and hit his head on the metal bench.
    • In "Feet of Clay", the murderer shoves the Victim of the Week out into the street where they are hit by a car. This was actually a piece of improvisation on the killer's part, as their original plan involved a bus but it had been delayed by traffic. The killer lucked out and the car was being driven by a drunk driver who took the blame.
  • The Night Agent: The assassins make multiple victims look like they died due to accidents, or attempt this.
  • On one episode of NUMB3RS, Colby Granger mentions that he believes his father, who died when his truck went off a cliff on a mountain road, may have done this to himself. There's no proof either way, but since there's only one small stretch of that road that doesn't have a guardrail between the road and the cliff, Colby finds it a little suspicious that his father just happened to go off the road in that exact spot, especially given that he had been depressed over losing his job.
    • A couple of earlier episodes involve situations where a criminal tries to eliminate witnesses without being caught by staging accidents (and in one case a suicide), figuring that no one will connect these apparently separate incidents. In both cases, it works until someone makes a connection between the victims, at which point it becomes clear how unlikely it is to be a coincidence that all of these witnesses would happen to die in accidents within a relatively brief time frame.
  • Oz. An undercover policeman (posing as a drug dealer) is told he has to kill someone to prove himself. But because the new manager of 'Emerald City' has promised to turn a blind eye to the drug trade as long as there's no violence, he's told to "do it a long way from here, and make it look like an accident." The undercover policeman decides to kill two birds with one stone by offing a corrupt ex-cop (now a prisoner) who's threatening to blow his cover. He pushes him down an elevator shaft, after tricking him into going there supposedly to murder another prisoner who knows they're cops.
  • Princess Silver: Most of the main witnesses in the case of titles being sold die in "accidents" arranged by Yu Shi Hai.
  • Prison Break: "The General" ordered his Psycho for Hire to kill Don Self and "make it look like an accident".
  • Derren Brown's special Pushed To The Edge culminates with the unwitting participant being told to push a millionaire off a ledge in order to avoid everyone (including him) from going to prison, claiming that the rich guy climbed on the ledge on his own and didn't take his pills (which is true). The good news, he doesn't go through with it. The bad news, the other three people who went through the same scenario did.
  • In Pushing Daisies, Emerson Cod urges Ned the piemaker to re-kill someone his power brought Back from the Dead, but make it look like an accident so as not to upset someone else.
  • In "Homesick" from Resident Alien, when D'Arcy Bloom offers Harry Vanderspeigle more whiskey in "Homesick," he refuses, saying that the last time he drank it, he tried to kill someone. D'Arcy takes it as a joke or at the very least an exaggeration, having no idea that he really did try to murder the boy Max Hawthorne for being able to see through his alien disguise. She quips that if he does kill someone, he should make it look like an accident or else he won't be able to go bowling with her the next evening. This makes him decide to try again with Max. He first considers a gas explosion, and eventually settles on cutting the brakes on Max's bike, based on a comment of D'Arcy's about breaking bones while skiing. However, Max only ends up needing stitches, which Harry himself has to sew.
  • Romper Stomper: Kane kills Blake by shoving him into a skip, making it look like he'd just slipped and fallen.
  • On Rubicon, Spangler tells Mr. Roy that this needs to happen to Will because He Knows Too Much, suggesting that they make it look like a drug overdose as a result of his wife and child's deaths. It doesn't work out.
  • In the 1983 Australian mini-series Scales of Justice, a crime boss threatens to blow the whistle on the corrupt police he's been paying if something isn't done about the drug charge he's on. The police commander hints to one of the officers concerned that the whole matter is an embarrassment to the New South Wales police force, and it would be a good matter if the crime boss was to have an accident or commit suicide. So the corrupt officers give him a choice between being tortured by having his toes cut off, or blowing his own head off with a shotgun. And therefore he can't change his mind once they start cutting.
  • From The Shadow Line:
    • Ross McGovern is killed in what looks like a random traffic accident.
    • When Sir Richard Halton is killed, it's made to look like he drowned after falling and hitting his head on the side of his pool.
  • Starsky & Hutch: People who try to testify against the corrupt Judge McClellan tend to die in freak accidents. One witness slipped on a banana peel and fell on a kitchen knife. Another had a color TV fall on him from a third-story window.
  • Stargate SG-1: In a season 2 episode, a reporter who's about to publish an article revealing the existence of the Stargage program to the world is suddenly killed in a hit and run while he's on the sidewalk right in front of O'neill. General Hammond insists that it was nothing more than a freak traffic accident, but O'Neill is clearly skeptical.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Conspiracy", the deaths of a number of officers who are victims of the neural parasites infesting Starfleet Command are put down as "accidents".
    • In "I, Borg", upon learning the wreckage they're investigating is a Borg ship and there's a survivor in there, Worf, Honor-obsessed Proud Warrior Race Guy of a Klingon, suggests doing exactly this and making a run for it. Captain Picard, usually very compassionate, seriously considers this.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • The fifth Weyoun died off-screen thanks to a mysterious and inexplicable transporter accident, which despite some very serious investigation was never proven to be foul play, and definitely not tied to Damar in any way whatsoever. All the more suspicious since the Dominion didn't usually have accidents like that.
    • In "Improbable Cause", the shop of Garak, a former member of the Cardassian Obsidian Order, is bombed. Odo speaks with an informant who tells him that there were five former operatives of the order who had died on the same day that Garak's shop was bombed.
      Odo: Five operatives were killed yesterday?
      Informant: Killed? No. Three died from natural causes. The other two perished in accidents.
  • Superior Court: the 1980s courtroom drama frequently dipped into this trope, presenting cases where the defendant will claim that the victim's death was an accident; invariably, expert witnesses will disprove the defense's theories.
    • One example: A man claimed that his wife died after a car accident when the force of the crash sent a bowling ball, stored in the back seat, flying into the front seat and to crash into the back of the wife's head. However, the prosecution was able to prove: 1. That the defendant beat his wife down before delivering the final blow by smashing the bowling ball into the back of her head; and 2. That the car (which was traveling at 25 mph at the time of what was proven to be an intentional crash) would have had to have been traveling at more than 100 mph for it to even be likely to have the bowling ball to become airborne. Needless to say, the husband – it was proven he killed her because she had filed for divorce after years of abuse and he was going to lose everything in the settlement – was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
  • Supernatural: In the episode "Folsom Prison Blues", Nurse Glockner disguises her murders as heart attacks.
  • That Mitchell and Webb Look:
    • Parodied in a sketch where one of the minions of a Diabolical Mastermind is attempting to get them to stop using so much Double Speak and False Reassurance. He brings up the time they were told "Let's hope Professor Ritson meets with an unfortunate accident". It ended up being several months of literal waiting before the mastermind clarified that it was an accident they were supposed to make happen.
    • Played around with in another sketch in which Diana's murder is being planned — the planners' main concern about their plan of getting the chauffeur drunk, chasing them with fifteen hired paparazzi on motorcycles and hoping Diana doesn't wear a seatbelt is that it will be obvious that it wasn't an accident. Then, at the end of the sketch, it turns out it happened on its own while they were planning it.
  • An episode of Time Trax involves a 22nd-century criminal using a device that temporarily supercharges the target's heart to kill a person with a "heart attack". No 20th-century doctor can determine any other cause of death but natural. Naturally, Darien knows the cause.
  • Titus episode "Tommy's Girlfriend". Titus tells Tommy to run into (meet) his old girlfriend and make it look like an accident. Tommy takes him literally, and does it with a car.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Dead Woman's Shoes", Kyle Montgomery murdered his wife Susan by pushing her off a balcony. He later told the police that it was an accident and she fell to her death because she was drunk.
  • Vera: In "Darkwater", the body of the Victim of the Week is dumped into a lake in an attempt to make it look like an accidental drowning.
  • In one episode of Walker, Texas Ranger. The Big Bad says "make it look like an accident" and his Mooks promptly start destroying everything in sight with bullets. And fire.
  • In the Wallander episode "The Man Who Smiled", the father of a friend of Wallander's is killed in this manner after he blackmails someone involved in organ trafficking.
  • Why Women Kill:
    • Bertram makes it look like people he killed died from natural causes (he's a vet, therefore able to by his knowledge).
    • This has become Rita's goal in disposing of Carlo.

    Print Media 
  • A Nintendo Power comic dedicated to Blast Corps played this troupe ridiculously straight. While loading up the robot Cyclone to bust a scientist out of prison, the pilot is advised that "it has to look natural." The robot then proceeds to smash a single cell of the prison and get the scientist out. The glory is that one of the prison guards says, "The fury of mother nature."

  • Bleak Expectations: Should anyone at St. Bastards actually live long enough to reach their eighteenth birthday, they'll suffer a "horrible accident". And sometimes the headmaster will arbitrarily move someone's birthday ahead, just so he can kill them quicker.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The boardgame 13 Dead End Drive has players committing an Inheritance Murder through this trope, positioning other characters below heavy objects, atop slippery stairways, or in front of faulty fireplaces to bump each other off.
  • In Mysterium, players must solve the murder of a ghost whose death was ruled an accident.
  • Because randomly gunning people down in Paranoia is considered poor form by Friend Computer, it's usually a good idea to make your shaftings look like accidents, treason executions, or - best yet - the work of some other Commie mutant traitor you'd like to see gunned down.
  • Happens all the time in Shadowrun. Often the PCs will be hired to do so. Or stop someone else from doing so. Or to get back at someone who did so...
  • In Warhammer, the Tomb King codex specifies that it wasn't illegal per se for tomb architects to refuse being sacrificed and buried with their king, but it was accident-prone. Oddly enough, this actually happens less often then you'd think: Necrotects really did view it as an honor to serve their king in the afterlife (that, and the prospect of being around to maintain their monuments instead of letting them fall to wind and sand).
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • One of the 5th-edition Necron Lords (the one that made them Tomb Kings In Space) is brain-damaged, so he sees everything as it was prior to his awakening, when Necrons were the only living creatures in the galaxy, and so thinks captured enemy leaders are rival Necron claimants to the Throne. His bodyguard has no such problems, and is always regretful to announce to his master that his latest guests have suffered an "unfortunate accident".
    • The Catachans used to have a special rule to reflect their independent nature. Whenever attaching a Commissar to a squad, you had to roll to make sure the Commissar hadn't suffered an equally unfortunate "accident" preventing him from carrying out his duties.

  • May be one of the oldest ones in the book as this happens in Hamlet. Claudius proposes a fencing match between Laertes and Hamlet in which Laertes will fight with a poison-tipped sword, so it looks like an accident. He also gave out that Hamlet Sr. had died of a snakebite.

    Video Games 
  • In the Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown mission Faceless Soldier, the Spare Squadron gets ambushed by Erusean AI controlled aircraft using spoofed Osean IFFs. Tabloid suggests that the squadron form an element on Trigger, and for AWACS Bandog to label anyone not formed up an Trigger as an enemy. When they do, Bandog asks for Full Band’s location, and he gets tagged as an enemy. After Count shoots him down, the Spare squadron calls Bandog out on it, but he insists that it was an accident.
  • One of the missions for Nod in Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn's "Covert Ops" expansion involves you fabricating evidence of a GDI chemical leak that killed innocents by killing those innocents with Chem Warriors. This involves deliberately avoiding destroying any GDI buildings, since that would prove it was a Nod attack and not GDI's negligence.
  • Some of the assassination plots in Crusader Kings are this, with incidents such as carriages falling over cliffs, a section of the castle wall suddenly breaking apart, or the target being bitten by a snake. However, it is always possible for the plot to fail and the perpetrators being caught.
  • One of the CSI games has a stage actress shot by, apparently, a prop gun loaded with blanks during a rehearsal. The other actors and the stagehands are suspected, but it's pointed out that actors are specifically told to never aim a gun directly at the other person. They're supposed to aim it slightly to the side but still make it look like they're aiming at the target to the audience. The reason murderer is the victim's jealous husband who found out that she was cheating on him with another actress. He shot her from a theater balcony from about the same angle.
  • In Darkstalkers, B.B. Hood ("Bulleta" in Japan), the resident Token Human who's also an Ax-Crazy The Fake Cutie Psycho for Hire the developers intend to epitomize human evil, has some of her standard hits look completely unintentional — e.g. trying to grab one of her butterflies which acts as a punch, reclining happily which trips the opponent, turning to call Harry whilst kicking her leg up behind her, sneezing so her foot kicks up from the reflex, kneeing the opponent as she leaps away in surprise from a cute mole that burrows up underneath her feet, and doing a mock-curtsy to drop a landmine from inside her dress.
  • Deus Ex: Human Revolution has a side quest in China that calls for this to take place.
    • Another sidequest in the same location has you investigate a murder that was made to look like an accident, though in that particular case, the murderer was a complete idiot and it was painfully clear that the victim's death was anything but an accident.
  • A rare benevolent variation from Disgaea. King Krichevskoy dying from choking on a black pretzel was merely what the people were told; he actually died sealing Baal away, and this was kept secret to keep him from escaping.
  • In Dishonored, the player can take this approach to eliminate many of the targets. One such way is by filling a room with steam.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • During the Dwarf Noble origin story, you can potentially order the death of another dwarf this way in the first five minutes of the game.
    • Zevran once did this by accident. He had fallen in lust with his mark, and was going to let her go until she tripped and broke her neck.
  • Dwarf Fortress provides plenty of opportunity to orchestrate fatal "accidents" for nobles, who are generally annoying and often useless.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Morrowind:
      • Unlike the Dark Brotherhood missions in later games, the more Professional Killer Morag Tong averts this trope. As they are legally sanctioned by the Dunmeri government as an alternative to destructive House warfare, they have no need for this trope. In fact, even if one of their agents could get away without getting caught following an assassination, they are still encouraged to turn themselves in and present their Honorable Writ of Execution to ensure that everything remains above board.
      • A play on this trope is present when using the "Taunt" conversation option with NPCs. If you can successfully taunt someone into attacking you, you can kill them "in self-defense" without incurring a bounty.
    • Oblivion:
      • One of the assassin missions will give you a bonus if you can make the victim's death look like an accident by dropping a moose minotaur head on him.
      • Another one will give you a bonus if you can make the death look like natural causes, by secretly poisoning the already ill victim's medicine supply.
    • Skyrim: There's a Dark Brotherhood assassination that gives you the option to push a statue onto a target. However, the Clairvoyant Security Force suggests that the game's AI does not view it as an accident at all. The player can pull this off and sneak away, but the odds are harsh. What makes this ridiculous is that another option to perform the assassination is to snipe the bride from an even lower, easier-to-see perch, with a unique bow and some arrows, both planted in there by your assassin pals. Against all rational logic, this route manages to be less conspicuous and is easier to escape from. And finally, as a magical extreme, you can simply 'pretend' you completely fumbled the unscheduled magical lightshow and 'accidentally' cast some high-grade, meth-simulating rage spell when then hit your target from a straight vector, forcing their friends and family to kill them in self-defense - and this doesn't count as a murder by the AI.
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy's Huan Lo Pan intends to kill the player in "an accident"... which he says right to the player's face. You can then respond that the only accident you fear is his head falling into a vat of acid with you wearing his face as a party mask.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 2 has a quest for John Bishop to eliminate the NCR politician Roger Westin, which he asks you to do in a way that doesn't look like a murder; options include poison, sneaking chems (which will trigger a heart attack), or, bizarrely, planting explosives on him. Every crime boss in New Reno also has some unique way to die that looks like an accident, from changing the combination on Bishop's trapped office safe to giving Orville Wright's child a loaded gun and telling him to wave it in his dad's face and pull the trigger.
    • In Fallout 3, Tranquility Lane requires you to accomplish several tasks for Betty before she will tell you what happened to your dad. The third is to kill Mabel Henderson, which must be done in a "creative" fashion - rigging a chandelier in the hallway to drop on her, a roller skate at the top of the stairs for her to trip on, sabotage her oven so it explodes when she tries to cook a pie, or sabotage her security system so that she gets locked in and her security robot recognizes her as a threat.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, one of the ways to deal with Pacer is to spike his Jet with Psycho so that he gets a heart attack.
  • In The Forgotten City, you meet a woman named Livia who warns you about an assassin lurking about in the bath house, looking for his mark and kill him, which would violate the Golden Rule and doom everyone in the city. On your first encounter, she'll hide in a nearby empty shrine that collapses and kills her as soon as she enters it, and there is no way to reason with the assassin to not try to kill anyone. On your next time loop, you can tell Livia to hide somewhere else and lure the assassin to the shrine, killing him via accident. If you talk to Livia afterwards, she'll ask if you knew about the collapsing shrine. If you admit you did, that'll count as murder and the Golden Rule gets broken. The correct choice is to lie and say you didn't, but she'll get the idea.
  • The Big Bad of Full Throttle arranges for Ben to die in what appears to be a road accident (when, in fact, his goons sabotage Ben's bike), so that he can lead Ben's gang into a trap. Needless to say, Ben survives and gets back at him.
  • In The Godfather: The Game, you occasionally have to make some assassinations look like an accident in order to get bonus benefits. This usually involves making someone fall off a building.
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas: Tenpenny is "Just a cop that died in a traffic accident". Also, San Fierro police occasionally shout "I can make this look like a suicide, you know?".
    • A mission in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City similarly has you assassinating someone and your goal is to make it look like a car accident. Of course, in practice it's less an 'accident' and more 'relentlessly hounding the person until you make their car explode'.
    • An Easter egg in Grand Theft Auto V has a ghost lady appear at around 11:00 PM at the north eastern section of the map. If she is approached, she disappears, but a name spelled in blood is labeled Jock. A newspaper in the internet of the game references a tragedy transpiring at the cliff she is spotted. This happens to be the same Jock running for governor in game.
  • Hitman: The series involves various methods to poison, sabotage, or nudge your victims to death without directly implicating yourself. While the majority of missions allow you to kill almost anyone at any time with any implementation, killing indirectly means less evidence to clean up for your handlers and therefore nets you a larger score.
    • In Hitman: Blood Money, the best way to make Silent Assassin rank is to make the killings of your targets look like accidents, which you can do by many means in the game (falling chandeliers, explosively igniting grills, and other creatively nasty ways). This is also the only means of killing non-targets without affecting rank or getting a cash penalty. Of course, some methods of arranging accidents would probably start people wondering in Real Life. For example, the best way to off a pair of actors during a rehearsal is to swap out the prop gun for a real one. Then, when one of the targets shoots the other and comes to check, drop a lighting fixture on them. It would be hard to explain that with a series of a freak accidents.
  • In Jade Empire, you're "encouraged" to kill your boss' boss in the Lotus Assassin fortress, which in this case means "kill him and then stick his body in the golem press" (you can also drop a golem on your boss as well, doubling the trope).
    • A more satirical example is Kang's suggestion you make Gao the Greater "fall down a flight of punches".
  • In Ketsui the war-stimulating arms dealer EVAC Industry's destruction at the hands of the protagonist is claimed to be caused by a weapons-testing accident, making it a rare heroic example of this trope.
  • Happens in two cases in L.A. Noire:
    • In "A Marriage Made in Heaven" a man is hit by a car. He was stabbed first and then stumbled out into the road.
    • "The Fallen Idol" starts with a drunk driving crash. The driver and passenger were drugged, and the accelerator pressed down so the car would go over a cliff, but it hit a billboard instead.
  • Subverted in The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV. Imperial Governor Carl Regnitz, the father of one of your playable characters, Machias Regnitz, tells the party that a number of people have spoken out about the Erebonian Empire's Operation Jormungandr against the nation of Calvard have died in accidents. It certainly sounds like he's talking about this trope, but then he explains that they really did die in accidents... accidents caused by the curse of the Great Twilight, which has been stoking the nation of Erebonia to war and is powerful enough in certain cases to alter fate itself.
  • Occurs in the backstory of Loopmancer; five years prior, the hero Xiang Zixu, was nearly killed in an automobile accident arranged by the ruthless triad boss, Wei Long, after the latter finds out Xiang is investigating him. While Xiang survives the incident, his daughter was killed and his wife crippled, with Xiang taking careof her for half a decade; meanwhile Wei Long's lawyer managed to convince the authorities that it is indeed an accident, leading to the villain going scot-free.
  • "Foxdie" in Metal Gear Solid is a genetically engineered virus that can be customized to only infect people with specific DNA sequences to make them either a carrier or cause a heart attack within 5 to 15 minutes. It's secretly injected into Snake by Naomi at the beginning of Metal Gear Solid to make sure that nobody who knows about the terrorist's plan leaves the island alive. In the fourth game, he's injected with a new version, which includes kill orders for Big Boss and EVA.
  • The Big Bad of Nancy Drew: Danger on Deception Island tells Nancy that he will make her death look like an "unfortunate kayaking accident'' or an attack from the snake horse.
  • Persona 5: "Black Mask", The Heavy for the villains, uses this method to kill people: By destroying their minds in the Mental World of the Palace, he leaves them as Soulless Shells that will "accidentally" walk into traffic, fall off buildings, crash their vehicles, and so on. And in the Nonstandard Game Over where you fail to complete a Palace before the time limit, you yourself meet this fate.
  • The Reincarnation (2008) Flash Game series has the protagonist kill targets respecting two conditions: they have to die after committing a sin, and as a result of circumstances or their own actions. The objective of the game is to manipulate the environment so that the latter happens.
  • The second Sniper Assassin game has you take a mission from a woman who wants to kill her husband for the life insurance, but you can't outright shoot him because she's denied the money if he's murdered. However, he goes on runs every day, so you kill him by shooting a tree branch to drop it on him.
  • Sniper Elite III: In the Siwa Oasis mission, you have the option to "make it look like an accident" when you kill an officer near the end. You make it look like an accident by following him around until he's near some explosives, and then shooting the explosives.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, Alex attempted to make their first murder look like his victim stumbled and fell on the tracks, but though it initially works, soon eyewitnesses abound and the case is re-classified as homicide.
  • Terra Invicta: Towards its ending, the Protectorate resorts to framing the destruction of the United Nations HQ and most of New York City to an accidental misfire of one of its orbital weapons platforms. This not only shocks the world into surrender a la the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and eliminates the remaining organization opposed to the administration imposed by Earth's new benefactors, but also conveniently wipes out anyone who might know the truth about humanity's surrender.
  • Trouble in Terrorist Town allows players to at least try to set this up, with the use of weapons such as discombobulators, which do no damage but can be used to throw players off high places.
  • World of Warcraft: Cataclysm: One quest undertaken by the Alliance has your character attempt to take out several key members of the Dark Horde (not to be confused with the main faction called The Horde) in Burning Steppes using a certain tranquilizer. While this trope isn't explicitly in your mission orders, each one you take out dies in a manner that fits this trope (one falls from a great height, another falls into a lava pool, and a third is attacked by the hounds she keeps), which pleases your superior.
  • In Yandere Simulator, Yandere-chan can kill her victims by throwing them off a roof and slipping off their shoes before they take the plunge, thus making it look like a Barefoot Suicide. If you leave the body undisturbed for the rest of the day, the police will conclude the death to be accidental. Too many unexplained falls from the roof will start to come off as suspect, though, and the school may erect a chain-link fence around the roof to prevent any more falls. If you leave a suicide note after dumping the body, though, you can stave off suspicion.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the second week of Seven Kingdoms: The Princess Problem, someone puts a thorn under your horse's saddle blanket to agitate it into running away with you. It's obvious that it's an attempt to kill you in a way that looks like an unfortunate accident, and if you're playing on Challenge Mode and don't have the necessary self-preservation skills or someone who cares about you looking out for your safety, it can succeed.
    • Again in Week 5: The protagonist is lured to the set of the play the delegates are putting on the next day, awhere someone attempts to drop a heavy set piece on her.

    Web Animation 


    Web Original 
  • This is not recommended in the Evil Overlord List Cellblock A:
    "I will not waste time making my enemy's death look like an accident — I'm not accountable to anyone and my other enemies wouldn't believe it."
  • In A Golden Island To The West, the time-displaced California government, aware of the downtime US attempt at blockading the Pacific, dispatch a sub to to destroy the incoming fleet and invoke this trope. Ambushing them at the Strait of Magellan, all the sub has to do to destroy six of the seven incoming warships is to fire a single torpedo, and Disaster Dominoes does the rest.
  • A non-fatal Invocation occurs in this Not Always Right story; an elderly customer suffers a seizure while shopping, and after being informed that his insurance will kick him off if he has another seizure the manager on duty grabs a water bottle and starts pouring it on the floor while telling the OP (another customer) to tell the paramedics that he slipped. This has the double purpose of screwing over the store owners, who are bleeding the story dry to line their own pockets, and when the store closes down a few months later the OP learns that the insurance company stuck them with a hefty fine for negligence.

    Web Videos 
  • In his "The Sixth Day" crossover with That Sci-Fi Guy, The Nostalgia Critic threatens that if he doesn't do most of the work, he'll slit TSFG's wrists and leave him for housekeeping to find.
  • Sips has a comedic version during his Skyrim playthrough. After killing someone (even if they are a bandit), he puts a bucket on their head to make it look like they somehow killed themselves with one. It doesn't really affect the gameplay.
  • In SMPEarth's Octangula ARG, Laramie Online attempt to murder Mariah by "disconnecting her from BIGPRISM without following protocol", with the intent of making her disappearance look like an accident.
  • Inverted in a discussion by Pat from Two Best Friends Play about how to prepare yourself if you end up dying like David Carradine.
    Pat: Girlfriend, if,somehow for whatever reason,you find me in such an uncompromising position, there is a baseball bat in the other room, I want you to cut me down and I want you to fake a murder by thugs. And yes I know it's gonna look like you murdered me but you need to take that risk for my pride.
  • Unwanted Houseguest: In issue 3 of the comic Melody and the Houseguest do this to cover up their role in Dr. Tigani's death. In this case it technically was an accident since they were trying to torture him, not kill him.

    Western Animation 
  • In every iteration of the Xylophone Gag, the schemer says this line. How a xylophone/piano rigged with explosives is supposed to look like an accident is an exercise best left to the reader.
  • Commonplace in the Batman related animated shows:
    • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Bane", Rupert Thorne's moll, Candace, suggests that this might be a way of getting rid of her employer/lover.
      Candace: With Batman out of the way, Gotham could be yours. So could I.
      Bane: What about your employer?
      Candace: Accidents do happen.
    • In the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Chill of the Night" Batman, with help from The Spectre, witnesses Joe Chill being contracted to kill Thomas Wayne, complete with "Just make it look like an accident." Since a mugging gone bad does not look like an accident, this shows the blurry line between "make it look like an accident" and "make sure it can't be traced back to me".
  • Blue Eye Samurai. In "Peculiarities", Mizu is contracted to Mercy Kill a gangster's Sex Slave, so she snaps her neck and leaves a dead mook on top of her with the hairpin used to take him out in the girl's hand, making it look like they were both killed during an attempted rape. Unfortunately, Mizu's seen on the way out of the building and could not bring herself to murder another innocent. This brings the gangster and his army of killers down on her and she has to spend the next episode killing them all.
  • Cow and Chicken. The Red Guy plays a collection agent who threatens the titular duo with an accident. When they ask what kind, a train spontaneously runs The Red Guy over. "This kind."
  • Futurama introduces the trope with some dialogue among the Robot Mafia.
    Donbot: I think he's gonna have a little on the job accident in the near future.
    Joey Mousepad: With all due respect, Donbot, I don't think we should count on an accident happening. Let's kill him ourselves.
  • In a rather chilling scene from Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Sinestro arranges for a criminal he deemed too dangerous to slowly suffocate to death. His reply when questioned by his fellow Green Lanterns?
    Sinestro: I didn't kill him, Jordan. I simply didn't save him... in time. A tragic accident.
  • Played for laughs in Home Movies.
    McGuirk: Drew is a nice guy, right?
    Brendon: Very nice.
    McGuirk: He means well, he knows soccer, kids seem to like him…
    Brendon: Kids love him.
    McGuirk: He could have my job, couldn’t he?
    Brendon: In a heartbeat. But why would a guy want a dead end job like that?
    McGuirk: I can’t take that chance, Brendon. That’s why it has to look like an accident.
    Brendon: What does?
    McGuirk: The accident.
    Brendon: Oh, right… well that’s it! Dwayne, The strings on Dwayne’s guitar, would suddenly just, strangle him, it would be perfect!
    McGuirk: Or I could just frame him…
    Brendon: We could exchange murders. Criss-cross.
    McGuirk: What are you talking about, Criss-cross?
    Brendon: I’m talking about Christopher Cross.
  • In Iron Man: Armored Adventures, Magneto wants to get rid of Senator Kelly, but doesn't want to create a martyr for the Senator's cause. So he kidnaps Jean Grey to use her mental powers to make it look like a heart attack.
  • Jonny Quest:
    • "Double Danger". The doppleganger Race Bannon tells the Thai Jungle Guide to get rid of Jonny and Hadji, and to make it look like an accident.
    • "Werewolf of the Timberland". The Big Bad of the episode tells Pierre over the radio that the Quest team team must not be shot, but must be killed in a way that makes their deaths look like an accident.
  • Mandragora taunts Faraday in Justice League Unlimited by describing a witness as having unfortunately wandered in front of a train.
  • The King of the Hill episode "Fun with Jane and Jane" opens with Buck Strickland telling Hank to go shoot his emus because the bottom fell out of the market. The last thing he says before he leaves is "Make it look like a heart attack."
  • In the Looney Tunes short "From Hare to Heir", Yosemite Sam plays the nephew of a king who is desperate for money. Bugs comes by his castle offering him 1 million pounds if he can prove himself a man of mild temper (with penalties deducted from the sum for every time Sam loses his cool). After failing to control his fits of rage, Sam decides the easiest solution is to simply off Bugs and make it look like an accident (saying so out loud, no less). Needless to say, he fails in rather spectacular fashion.
    • In another Looney Tunes short "Show Biz Bugs", Daffy Duck is resentful at being upstaged by Bugs, his performance partner, and tries to compete with him. When he learns that Bugs is going to play a tune on a xylophone, Daffy decides to off Bugs and make it look like an accident, by booby-trapping the xylophone Bugs is going to play on so that it blows him up. Again, naturally, the duck's attempt on the rabbit's life backfires spectuarly.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Subversion: In an episode, Moe wants to get Mr. Burns off the bowling team because of how terrible he is, so he sinisterly suggests that Mr. Burns "just might have a little accident on his way to the tournament." Mr. Burns then walks into the building sporting a leg injury, but it's the result of an actual accident. Moe then sneaks up behind Mr. Burns in disguise and hits him in the leg with a lead pipe, but it actually pops his leg bone back into place.
    • Taken to an extreme in "Double, Double Boy in Trouble" when Mr. Burns explains how he came by his inheritance, despite having 10 older siblings:
      Mr. Burns: You know, Master Simon, I too was once the youngest in a wealthy family.
      Bart: [disguised as Simon] You were once the youngest of something?
      Mr. Burns: But fortune ended up smiling on me while snuffing the life from my siblings. [pulls out photo] My older brother was trampled by a horse. My sister died of a poisoned potato. My twin was shot. That girl was stabbed. He ate another poisoned potato. Spontaneous combustion. Fell down a well, potato, potato, and impaled on the Chrysler Building.
    • Also parodied in "Mayored to the Mob": The mayor, due to plot unrelated actions, got the mob anger on himself. Cue Fat Tony to say on television that the mayor has to look out. "Because accidents happen all the time. Like the killing of you. By us."
    • Also added as humor by Willie, stating he could kill Bart with a hoe to the back, claiming he could make it look as if Bart committed suicide.
  • Star Wars Rebels. In "Call to Action", Ezra Bridger uses a loth-cat to disable a probe droid so the Imperials won't be alerted to the fact that they're scouting a communications tower. Unfortunately, a feral cat isn't quite as thorough as a blaster, so the probe droid is still able to transmit an image of them back to base.
  • Woody Woodpecker: "Wet Blanket Policy" features Buzz Buzzard trying to kill Woody to collect insurance. Because of the policy's terms, Woody's death must be ruled as an accident otherwise Buzz won't collect even if he's not proven to be the killer.


Video Example(s):


Explosion Is a Good Option

In "Homesick" from "Resident Alien," Harry Vanderspeigle tells D'Arcy that he tried to kill someone the last time he drank the local whiskey. She suggests that if he's going to kill someone, he should make it look like an accident or else he won't be able to go bowling with her. This leads him to fantasize about killing the boy Max (who can see through his human disguise to his alien form) and his family in a gas explosion. Then, while conducting a therapy session with the boy's father, he continues to sketch ideas for "accidental" deaths.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / MakeItLookLikeAnAccident

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