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Murderer P.O.V.

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"Suddenly they're attacked by an underwater camera, which lunges at them in an unconvincing imitation of an offscreen threat."
Roger Ebert's review of Lake Placid

The start of many a Detective Drama.

We see the murder from the murderer's point of view.

Leads to a Reverse Whodunnit, unless the Murderer P. O. V. is composed in such a way as to keep the killer's identity a secret (for example, via an Over the Shoulder shot or an actual P.O.V. Cam shot).

The most common variety, mostly exclusive to murder mysteries, is when the victim casually greets their killer before realising their purpose. Genre Blind victims may even be relieved, and respond with "Oh, it's just you" or similar comments. Death by Recognition ensues.

See also "Jaws" First-Person Perspective.

Compare the related tropes Impending Doom P.O.V., Robocam, Stalker Shot, Shaky P.O.V. Cam.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Used for the death of Edward Blake in the first chapter of Watchmen.
  • A rare Anti-Hero example happened in the very first Sin City story where we get Marv's POV as he tortures a man for information.
  • Used to great effect in The Sandman (1989), where the Corinthian is first introduced from his POV (even though he doesn't actually have eyes!) and can be seen murdering and torturing people and eating their eyeballs with the mouths he has instead of eyes. Used again later on, where the Kindly Ones are never actually seen as they ravage the Dreaming, and only their weapons and shadows are seen.
  • Robin (1993): Lloyd Waite's death is shown from the point of view of the shooters' sniper scope.

    Film — Live Action 
  • The ABCs of Death: The entire "U" segment is shown through the eyes of the vampire. Even after decapitation.
  • Weaponized in Anon (2018), as everyone has eye implants that record everything they see. To avert the victim seeing him, the killer hacks the view from his own P.O.V. Cam onto that of the victims, leaving them too terrified and confused to put up a fight.
  • Used in much of Black Christmas (1974).
  • Blood Bags: Sometimes, the camera cuts to the P.O.V. of the murderer. Since the murderer appears to be colorblind, all of these shots are in black and white.
  • In Blood Drips Heavily on Newsies Square, several death scenes are filmed from the killer's point of view, usually with his hands visible just beyond the camera lens.
  • We often see things from Cropsy's point of view in The Burning; especially as he closes in on his victims.
  • The Dead Talk Back (as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000) opens with a rather poorly framed Murderer P. O. V.
  • The Elf: Sometimes, the movie cuts to the P.O.V. of the elf doll as it moves about the house, stalking its victims.
  • Quite a few scenes in Deep Red and Friday the 13th (1980).
  • The first scene of Halloween (1978) and frequently used throughout the remainder of the series.
  • Used in the 1981 slasher movie Happy Birthday to Me to hide the identity of the killer. In his review, The Cinema Snob refers to it as an "Oh, It's You!" movie.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles (1983), the attack on Sir Charles is shown from the Hound's P.O.V., rapidly intercut with shots of the Barrymores running towards Sir Charles' screams.
  • House Shark: The shark's P.O.V. is seen through a blue screen filter.
  • Even though the "murderer" in question is an animal and not a human, used frequently in Jaws.
  • To conceal the identity of the killer, most of the deaths in Killer Workout are shot via actual P.O.V. Cam from the killer's perspective.
  • Mortuary (1983): Twice in the movie, we get a P.O.V. of the killer, which is accompanied by haggard breathing noises.
  • Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight II: In one scene, we see Adas, Wanessa, Mariusz, and Janeczka inside the cabin from Zosia's P.O.V., while she's looking in on them through a window from the outside.
  • Used in Chevy Chase's death in Oh! Heavenly Dog, after which Chevy comes back to life in Benji's body to solve his own murder. Roger Ebert rightfully tore this movie to pieces.
  • Peeping Tom: The film's first scene depicts the Serial Killer protagonist picking up a hooker and killing her. It is shot entirely from the point of view of the camera he carries at all times.
  • Phantom of the Paradise: The scene where Winslow breaks into the Paradise, steals a costume and a mask, and then hides a bomb in a car takes place entirely from his perspective.
  • The Teaser to Seven Murders for Scotland Yard is shot through the eyes of the murderer as he walks the streets of London, meets a Disposable Sex Worker, accompanies her to her flat, and butchers her.
  • Shadows Of Our Ancestors opens when a poor Hustul man picks a fight with the village bigwig. From the poor man's POV, the bigwig hacks at him with his traditional bartok axe, and the screen turns red.
  • Sharkenstein: Before killing Coop, we see things from Sharkenstein's P.O.V. as it lurks in the woods after it gains the ability to walk on land.
  • In Strange Days, this trope is put to highly disturbing effect, as the killer wears a 'rig' that captures his sensory input during a murder/rape, and then sends a copy of it to the protagonist; in order to see what's on the disc, the protaganist puts it on, and experiences the killer's arousal as well. The victim had it even worse, as the rapist forced her to wear the viewing device during the act—so she'll feel the rape from both her own perspective and the perpetrator's, up to and including his enjoyment of her terror and pain.
  • The Undertaker (1988): Sometimes, the P.O.V. shows things from Roscoe's perspective, usually when he's stalking another victim.

  • Crime and Punishment is a famous example, being an entire novel of Murderer P. O. V.
  • Venus Prime 3 ends with Nemo arranging the murder of his associate Lord Kingman. Whereas most of the series up to that point had been narrated in third-person and past tense, this scene is entirely done in first-person present tense.
  • A story in Real Quick Flash Fic has the first third or so being the thoughts of the murderer.
  • Thrillers employ this trope quite frequently—Mary Higgins Clark and Tess Gerritsen frequently devoted random chapters of their books to the still-unknown killer. In Clark's case, the killer would often refer to an encounter he'd had with the protagonist as a means of enticing the reader to figure out who it was.
  • The first book of The Balanced Sword trilogy opens on the night of Kyri's parents' murder, told from the viewpoint of one of the attackers, complete with a "You!" Exclamation from the victims when they recognise their assailants. At intervals through the book, there are interludes from the viewpoint of the attackers' ringleader; each interlude reveals more about him, but the audience doesn't learn who he is until Kyri does. In the second and third novels, interludes feature the Big Bad, again without explicitly revealing Its identity.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • This happens in "Smoke and Mirrors" — we see the murderer loading the gun in slow motion, aiming at Senator Kinsey, and firing, without actually seeing the murderer's face. Moments later, Jack O'Neill (actually the murderer using Imported Alien Phlebotinum to disguise himself) exits the building and casually walks away. Of course, O'Neill is framed, and the rest of the episode is spent on the SGC's attempts to free him.
    • In one episode, Mitchell believes he's guilty of a murder with all evidence leading toward him. A mind-reading device shows the murder from his perspective to investigators, needless to say, the mind-reading device is also a mind editing device which was used by the real killer to wipe his own mind of the vile deed and implant the memory into Mitchell's mind. This entire premise is a complete rip-off of an earlier (by 7 years no less) episode of Star Trek: Voyager (see below).
  • Used in the Doctor Who episode "The Unicorn and the Wasp", which is a gentle pastiche of works of Agatha Christie.
  • A calling card of several Monk episodes. The most notable is "Mr. Monk and the Critic", in which John Hannigan shows up at Callie Esterhaus's hotel room, acts like he is going to propose to her, then throws her off the balcony, and the entire scene is done from Hannigan's POV in one continuous shot.
  • Inverted in the Star Trek: Voyager episode "Ex Post Facto", in which Tom Paris is convicted of a crime he didn't commit based on evidence supposedly taken from the victim's mind showing the murder from his perspective. Paris is forced to relive the murder from this perspective every 20 minutes for the rest of his life as punishment (a punishment Deep Space Nine writers wouldn't inflict on O'Brien)... until it is discovered that this memory was planted by the real killer and the charade comes to light.
  • Almost every episode of Columbo started out from the villain's point-of-view as he or she committed a supposedly perfect murder. Then Columbo came onto the scene and proved that it wasn't.
  • Pretty Little Liars frequently ends episodes from A's point of view.
  • The CSI episode "Killer" was mostly told from the killer's POV.
  • Soaps murder mysteries often employ this.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Living Hell", this is justified in-universe when an experimental neural implant allows the protagonist to see through the eyes of a serial killer with the same implant.
  • Played for Laughs in Father Ted, when in "The Old Grey Whistle Theft", Father Damo steals Mr. Benson's whistle, which we see from his perspective.
  • Unsolved Mysteries would occasionally use this—in one segment, a young man's killer climbed the steps of his dormitory, opened his room door, walked up to his bed. . .cue Gory Discretion Shot.

    Video Games 
  • Used at the climax of The Suffering, in the neutral and evil endings.
  • Many, many of the intros to the cases of the Ace Attorney games. Just as frequently subverted by presenting the case intro in the exact same manner... but from the point of view of a bystander, or even the eventual victim.
  • Used to brutal effect in God of War III, which basically forces you to murder the entire Greek Pantheon in order to advance the game. They have it coming though, so it's okay.
  • The independent horror game Eyes features a ghost vision letting the player see what the specter sees.
  • Disco Elysium has a pretty subtle example of this. It turns out that the Start Screen is the view of Revachol from the murderer's perspective from on the island he is hiding on.
  • Any First-Person Shooter with a Villain Protagonist, if you want to take the trope literally.

    Web Animation 
  • The Wrath of Giga Bowser: Giga Bowser slamming into Peach is seen from the former's point of view, with the camera zooming into the princess as she flails helplessly before cutting to black right as the impact happens.

    Western Animation 
  • The Family Guy episode "And Then There Were Fewer" lampshades the way this trick is used to maintain the anonymity of the one whodunit. "Why, it's you!" says the murderer's next victim to the camera. "The man or woman who's been killing everyone!"
  • In the American Dad! episode "Tears of a Clooney", Stan finds his and Francine's apartment completely trashed and realizes that Francine knows about Stan's friendship with her enemy George Clooney and went berserk. The lights suddenly go off and a we get a "night vision" look from Francine's point of view.\, with Stan backing away as she brandishes a razor toward him and apparently murders him. She merely cut off his sideburn.
  • Parodied in an Animaniacs segment titled "It", where Wakko is being chased through the dark by an anonymous figure. It turns out to be Dot, and they were merely playing a game of tag.


Video Example(s):


Family Meeting

After Santa's Little Helper destroys her heirloom quilt, Homer tries to comfort the distraught Marge, saying they can't get attached to things like that, only to freak out when he saw that SLH had eaten his macadamia nut cookie. This proves to be the last straw for Homer as he calls for something the Simpsons have never done before - a family meeting.

How well does it match the trope?

4.86 (14 votes)

Example of:

Main / HypocriticalHumor

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