Follow TV Tropes


Never Suicide

Go To

McNulty: Turns out [he] got himself rung up as a suicide. D.O.D. of 7-21-03.
Coroner: [...] You want me to pull the postmortem on this?
McNulty: Yeah, he's kind of a made guy down there. I just want to make sure that nobody did the suicide to him.

The police are investigating Alice's death. It appears to be a suicide — there might even be a Goodbye, Cruel World! — but no matter the evidence, resident Cowboy Cop/Defective Detective Bob isn't so sure. Maybe Bob is a personal friend of Alice's and can't believe she would kill herself, or maybe the evidence just doesn't add up. In any case, despite Da Chief's warnings to let it go, Bob decides to investigate further.

Sure enough, Bob is right. In any Crime and Punishment Series, people never seem to kill themselves; with a few exceptions, every apparent suicide is staged to cover up a murder. This happens as a logical consequence of Always Murder because simply confirming that it's a suicide is not very exciting, and doesn't take an entire 40-minute episode. Presumably the police come across a few real suicides between episodes, but if they investigate one onscreen, start looking for the killer.

Note that in Real Life suicide is far more common than murder; in the United States suicide is about 2-3 times more prevalent than homicide, and in many countries, the difference is much greater. Sadly, in Real Life, a lot of suicide is treated as a murder investigation, because it's easier to comprehend a loved one fell victim to a homicide than that person killing themselves off without anyone close to them noticing anything. Sometimes, this is done to cover up honor killings.

As the examples below show, this trope is sometimes subverted by The Reveal that the suicide was indeed a suicide and only mistaken for a murder — or was a suicide that was also a murder. Contrast this against Suicide, Not Murder and Suicide, Not Accident, two common inversions where the suicide victim intentionally staged their death to look like murder or accident respectively, in order to either allow loved ones to collect life insurance or to frame the person(s) they feel are responsible for the circumstances that drove them to suicide. Accidental Suicide is also distantly related, where it really was an accident.

See Make It Look Like an Accident for another way to disguise a murder and The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much when the scary authority figures insist that it's not murder despite significant evidence otherwise.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Donkey's death in 20th Century Boys, as well as the "banishment" of several Friend group chairmen.
  • Case Closed:
  • Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Inverted in Future Arc with the time limit murders. Every single person who was near a monitor when the time limit was in effect killed themselves, as the monitors brainwashed them into doing it using Monokuma's "Gloomy Sunday" video. By the Mastermind neglecting to mention this aspect, they could sow dissent further into the branch heads and make them think they would kill another of their members during the knockout phase.
  • Death Note:
    • L is suspicious of Naomi's death, particularly since she just vanished and they Never Found the Body, just a few days after they discovered she was investigating the case on her own.
    • The plotline of its Prequel novel Another Note revolves around this trope.
  • In Detective School Q, there are occasionally suicides and accidents where more than one death is being investigated — this suicide/accident serves to inspire the murders. On multiple occasions, they have dealt with murders that were engineered to look like accidents or suicide.
  • In Maria no Danzai, Kiritaka's bullies blackmail him into jumping off a cliff, then fabricate enough evidence that his subsequent death is written off as a suicide during the ensuing investigation. Unfortunately for them, Kiritaka secretly kept a diary where he detailed the various brutal forms of torture they subjected him to on a daily basis; once his depressed mother finds it, she realizes that it was no suicide at all and vows to avenge her son by any means necessary.
  • Braun's death in Monster — which actually is suicide, it's just that Johan talked him into it.
  • Double subverted in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (2007). Eddie Johnson meets with his boss Robin Wolfe, who wants to talk with him about his being disrespectful to others at work, and commits suicide on the way home. The police suspect that Robin killed Eddie because he was the last person Eddie saw while alive, and Robin decides to hire Phoenix to represent him, but doesn't tell the whole truth about Eddie. However, after talking to the Wolfe family and Eddie's brother Brock, realizes that Robin may not have actually killed Eddie, but he essentially deliberately drove him to suicide, which is virtually the same thing, and which leads him to decide not to represent him.
  • Souma's stepmother, actually murdered by Katsuragi and a reluctant Souma in Sakura Gari.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Batman: Black and White: In "Fortunes", a woman apparently committed suicide by shooting herself, but the detective studying the crime scene immediately notices that the wound isn't right, and figures out that she was actually murdered with a blow to the head.
    • Inverted in "Close Before Striking", the arc that details the origin of how Batman started impersonating Matches Malone Post-Crisis. The real Matches and his brother Carver had come to Gotham to try their insurance scams and it seemed to Batman, the GCPD, and then-District Attorney Harvey Dent that Matches killed Carver to squeeze him out — only Carver actually committed suicide over the guilt that one of their scams resulted in the death of a homeless man and to save face for Carver, Matches was trying made it look like it was a random robbery gone wrong.
  • Subverted in Daredevil; Matt refuses to believe that his ex-girlfriend Heather Glenn committed suicide, discovers that there was a break-in at her place that night, tracks down the thieves...and finds that she was already dead when they got there.
  • Done in Deadpool regarding time-travelling Hitler.
  • In order to get Nick Fury to finish his investigation about the possible drug relations in their Nicaraguan outpost during the Contra War, Barracuda in Fury: My War Gone By forces the Commanding Officer of the place to "confess" about trading drugs by having him telling about them on a suicide note that he was forced to write on a gunpoint, before killing him. Fury isn't fooled and continues his investigations in secret.
  • In Jon Sable, Freelance #44-45, Jon is present on board a yacht when a movie star seemingly commits suicide inside his locked cabin by shooting himself in the head. Of course, it is Never Suicide, and Jon turns detective to work out what really happened.
  • Rorschach (2020) has this as part of the detective protagonist's initial and later summations of his case — one key figure was Diane Condor, a secretary to a man involved in a thwarted conspiracy to assassinate Governor Turley, who — shortly after it was stopped by Secret Service — was found dead in her bathtub, having slit her wrists. Initially, the detective is led to believe she was the whistleblower who called Secret Service, then panicked upon realizing that she'd be hunted down as the only person left alive who could explain the conspiracy. However, the detective later discovers other facts that make him realize the assassination attempt was concocted largely by Turley himself, set up to be thwarted and pinned on his political rival. In this context, the detective surmises that Condor was murdered by Secret Service as she knew the true intent of the plot and could be easily framed to lead any investigators on the false narrative.
  • In X-Wing Rogue Squadron, after Isard has an agent shoot Admiral Lon Isoto in the back, she tells the agent to make it look like a suicide. ...Exactly how you do this with a blaster wound in the back is unclear. Maybe the girl just shoved him into grinding machinery and told everyone he'd thrown himself in.

    Fan Works 
  • Blanket: William Manton was found dead in his cell a few days after being captured, officially having committed suicide. Since he won't actually be missed, people aren't digging very hard into it.
    "He managed to hang himself with strips from a Brute rated prison uniform after he cut out his own tongue and broke his legs… somehow."
  • In Embers and Frost, Thatch freaks out when he sees Ace climbing on the railing of the Moby Dick, as Ace was brutally tortured and it would be logical for him to think about suicide (actually, he was only really, really depressed). Then it gets worse when Haruta yells at Ace and the kid is later discovered with his wrists slits (after being assaulted by Pitch Black) which drives Haruta in full-blown My God, What Have I Done? mode.
  • Taken to its parodic extreme in Hitman Miami; at one point, in order to avoid the police's undue attention, 47 has to forge suicide notes for every single dead body in a villa (and there are a lot). Then he blows up the entire villa anyway.
  • * Johanna Mason: They Will Never See Me Cry:: Implied with Johanna's father, who supposedly hangs himself due to the trauma of seeing her kill people in the Games. Snow denies having anything to do with it, but despite his Villains Never Lie reputation, it likely was a murder, due to the Capitol knowing more about the circumstances of how the body was found than they should have otherwise.
  • In Kikaider The Abridged Series, every homicide seems to get written off by the police as a suicide case that is then promptly ignored.
  • A variation of this occurs "You cannot evade me..." with Rei's death being ruled a suicide and there being no evidence of foul play, besides a note with the title of fic. However, Ryuuko states that her death couldn't have been suicide, however, it wasn't a homicide either.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • About halfway through Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Roger Podactor is found dead after falling from his apartment balcony. The police investigation initially leans towards suicide at least partly because the murderer is on said police force, but Ace shows this couldn't be the case due to a spot of blood on the railing and the next-door neighbor hearing Podactor scream right before he fell and one of the officers needing to open the balcony door when the police first arrived — the glass is double-paned soundproof, which he demonstrates in typical Ace fashion.
  • In Andhadhun, Manohar attempts to kill Akash with a noose to make it look like a suicide. Akash manages to escape.
  • Bad Girls from Valley High: Although Charity was believed to have committed suicide, this wasn't the case as Danielle, Tiffany and Brooke lured Charity to a cliff, hoping to terrorize her into breaking up with Drew, but ended up killing her by accident.
  • In Batman Forever, the Riddler fakes the death of his boss by modifying security tapes and leaving a fake suicide note with accurate handwriting. The police are quite fooled.
  • Big Driver: Tess speculates that Lester and or his mother may have murdered Lester's father (his death was ruled a suicide) as it's possible he'd been intent on exposing Lester's crimes. It's never confirmed however-he might have just been distraught over finding out his son is a monster.
  • Bloodthirsty: Greta, Vaughn's wife, shot herself according to him. He later admits he'd killed her, but claims it was self-defense. Given just how murderous he gets revealed as however, this is dubious.
  • Subverted in Constantine (2005). Everyone believes Isabel killed herself except for her sister Angela, which leads her to Constantine and a supernatural plot. However, the investigation turns up that really did Isabel kill herself, specifically to avoid getting possessed by the Son of Satan; tragically, this has resulted in her being damned to hell, as Constantine discovers when he visits it halfway through the film.
  • In The Crime Doctor's Courage, Gordon Carson is found shot through the heart in his locked study with powder burns on his coat in what appears to be suicide. However, Dr. Ordway is in the room within seconds of the shot being fired and when he touches the gun, discovers it is cold and could not have been just fired. Later, forensics confirms that the bullet that killed Carson did not come from the gun found by the body.
  • In Electra Glide in Blue, an old hermit seemingly commits suicide by shooting himself in the chest, but Wintergreen thinks it was murder because the vast majority of gun suicides shoot themselves in the head. The autopsy confirms that he was also shot in the back of the head with a small bullet that left an easy-to-miss entry wound.
  • Parodied in Fatal Instinct when Lana murders her lover Frank and stages it as a suicide. The police find his suicide note shoved up his nose.
  • The first death after the plane explosion in Final Destination is caused by Death seeping water into the bathroom for the victim to slip on, landing them in a slick bathtub with their neck garrotted by a clothesline. After he finally dies, the water recedes back to the toilet, making it look like a suicide rather than a slip.
  • Played Straight in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. Everyone thinks that Captain Gregg committed suicide by closing all the windows and doors and turning on the gas. He takes extreme offense to this and explains that he closed the windows and doors that night because it was raining and accidentally kicked the switch to the gas on when he fell asleep in a chair.
  • The protagonist of The Ghost Writer believes that his predecessor's suicide was in fact murder made to look like a suicide. When it's mentioned that a potential witness is in the hospital following a fall down the stairs, it's heavily implied that this is a similar scenario.
  • In Glass Onion, Andi is dosed with sleeping pills and placed in her running car in the garage, where she dies in her sleep of carbon monoxide poisoning, clearly meant to look like a suicide. However, the circumstances surrounding her death make it clearly a murder, and by the time it's revealed to the audience that she's dead at all, there is a very clear (and small) pool of suspects.
  • In Goldstone, Jimmy's killers try to make it look like he hanged himself. Jay isn't convinced and, after a little digging, neither does Josh.
  • Played with in Heathers (movie and musical). JD and an unwilling Veronica kill three of their classmates and make it look like suicide. The laughably incompetent police barely bother investigating once they see the suicide notes.
  • A large plot point in the movie I, Robot. Although the death appears to be a suicide to any relatively sane person, the dead man knew that Spooner would automatically suspect a robot when one was found at the scene and left him a trail of breadcrumbs to follow in order to uncover the bigger issue at stake. Subverted in that the robot did kill the man, but the man asked him to (and made him capable of doing such a thing) which makes it a Suicide by Assassin with the man specifically requesting that the robot kill him in a way that would make the main character think that it's murder.
  • In Jack's Back, Jack strangles John and then makes it look like John hanged himself. the police buy this for a while, but John's brother Rick does not.
  • Jagged Mind: Alex murders Rose and makes it look like she'd killed herself.
  • Subverted in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. There is good reason to suppose that the suicide makes no sense, suggesting it was murder and causing further investigation. Turns out that though everyone else was killed like flies, and though this death was connected, the suicide really was a suicide (but we do find out what triggered it).
    Perry: Killed herself. There, I solved your "case" for you.
    Harry: Oh, no no no. Harmony's convinced that—
    Perry: I don't care, listen to me: lil' sis punched her own ticket, end of story.
  • Knives Out: Wealthy novelist Harlan Thrombey is found dead in his room with his throat slashed with a knife in his hand. The police declare his death to be a suicide, but private detective Benoit Blanc is hired by an anonymous party to investigate and believes that he might have been killed. Not long in the film, it is revealed that Harlan actually did kill himself, in a misguided and over-complicated attempt to protect his nurse/close friend Marta Cabrera from being charged with manslaughter after she mistakenly gave him an overdose of morphine instead of his medication. It is further revealed that this happened because the labels on the drugs were swapped by the real mastermind, who had been planning to kill Thrombey and frame Marta in one stroke, and subsequently hired Blanc with hope that he'd misidentify Marta as the killer.
  • In L.A. Confidential, Patchett's murder by Dudley is staged into a suicide. White notices that he decided to write a suicide note and open his wrists... while having two of his fingers broken.
  • The Long Goodbye: The police believe Terry Lennox murdered his wife and promptly committed suicide out of guilt. Philip Marlowe, of course, suspects there's more to it and that Lennox was murdered in order to posthumously frame him for the death of his wife. Turns out both sides are right, but no in the way they thought; Lennox really did murder his wife, but he definitely didn't commit suicide... because he's not really dead at all.
  • The Man They Could Not Hang: Over the month following Savaard's execution, six of the jurors from his trial are found hanged in apparent suicides, a commonality noticed by reporter 'Scoop' Foley.
  • The Man Who Turned to Stone: Deciding not to pass off Anna Sherman's death as a heart attack as they have with their previous victims, the doctors instead make it look like she hanged herself. However, Carol Adams is still suspicious.
  • Murder by Decree: Holmes is told that Annie Crook committed suicide. Holmes does not believe it.
  • In Murder, She Said, Harold dies by his own shotgun. The police are unsure if it was suicide by a remorseful murderer or the third victim. Needless to say, he is the third victim.
  • Inverted in Narc 2002. Henry Oak is investigating his friend's murder but it turns out he was covering up his suicide so that 1) his wife could receive a pension and 2) to frame the drug dealers who supplied him.
  • In Nothing but the Night, three trustees of the Van Traylen fund have died during the last few months in deaths looking like suicides. However, after a mysterious bus accident involving the last three trustees and thirty orphan kids, Colonel Bingham of Special Branch starts investigating.
  • Please Murder Me!: After shooting Craig Carlson, Myra attempts to make it look like a suicide. what she didn't know was that Engineered Public Confession had been Caught on Tape.
  • Rehearsal for Murder: Monica's murderer makes it look like she jumped to her death from her bedroom window. Alex is suspicious as soon as he arrives at the crime scene.
  • Subverted in Shadow of the Thin Man, when the suspicious death of a jockey leads to more killings and the uncovering of a criminal gambling racket; Nick Charles eventually discovers the jockey did indeed commit suicide, but the gun he used slipped down a shower-drain.
  • Sherlock: Case of Evil: Upon discovering Dr. Cruikshank hanged and leaving behind a signed confession as a suicide note, Inspector Lestrade is convinced that the case of the West End Killer is solved. Holmes is not convinced as the whole thing seems too pat. Ultimately, Holmes discovers that Cruikshank's 'suicide' is yet another of Moriarty's ploys to through the police off his trail.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Silk Stocking, the killer's first victim was pulled naked from the Thames and the coroner ruled her death a suicide. However, Holmes realises that the first victim he knows of was actually Not the First Victim and, upon exhuming the body, Watson is able to find a silk stocking stuffed down her throat. It's the discovery of this first victim that eventually leads Holmes to the killer.
  • Shooter. An FBI agent who knows too much is placed in a contraption that will force his fingers to close on the trigger of his own firearm, to fake a suicide. Fortunately our hero intervenes.
  • In The Sleeping Cardinal, Watson is certain that Roland Adair's is a case of suicide, but Holmes is able to prove it is murder.
  • In Starred Up, Dennis orders the prison director to kill Eric. While Neville is telling Dennis that he will not abide the death of his son, prison guards in the basement begin to hang Eric, so it will look like suicide.
  • In A Study in Scarlet, Murphy is found dead in the locked lavatory of a train and his death is ruled a suicide. Later, the killer shoots Dearing in such a way as to attempt to make it look like a suicide.
  • Thunderheart: Richard Yellow Hawk is killed by slitting both his wrists to make it appear like suicide.
  • In Tomorrow Never Dies, the assassin Doctor Kaufman, a professor of forensic science, claims to be a master of making it look like a suicide. (He claims he specializes in celebrity overdose cases.) He is also an expert in torture, but he calls that "just a hobby".)
  • Torture Garden: In "Terror Over Hollywood", Mike Charles threatens to spill the beans over the secret of the Top 10 who rule Horrible Hollywood. A bartender in their employ knocks him out and leaves him locked inside his car inside his garage with the engine running.
  • In Unfriended: Dark Web, the Circle initiates a Frame-Up by breaking into Damon's house and hanging him, staging it as a suicide, then writing a confession in his Word document.
  • In Vabank it is murder, but good luck telling the police that:
    Tadeusz's widow: Why are you doing this?
    Kwinto: Because I can't believe in Tadeusz's suicide.
  • In Vertigo, Elster kills his wife and makes it look like suicide.
  • In What Lies Beneath, Norman paralyzes Claire with halothane. He places her in the bathtub, filling it with water and staging a suicide for her.
  • In When Darkness Falls, Nina is honor murdered by her family by staging her suicide on a high-speed street in a foreign country.
  • In White Sands, an undercover FBI agent is found dead in the desert, apparently having shot himself. Ray strongly suspects there's more to his death. Turns out he was intentionally Driven to Suicide by Meeker.
  • Non-murder example: In World's Greatest Dad, Lance's teenage son Kyle dies by autoerotic asphyxiation. Lance, either out of his own embarrassment or wanting to give Kyle a shred of dignity in death, tells the authorities and the school where he teaches (and Kyle attended) that his son had hung himself; Lance even crafted a suicide note. This actually kicks off the main plot of the film as Lance decides to pass off his own mediocre poetry as Kyle's to gain recognition through him.



  • Agatha Christie:
    • Murder in the Mews is a subversion. A dead woman at first glance seems to have committed suicide, then after some sleuthing clues appear that she was really murdered, but at the end, it turns out that it had really been suicide and the clues had been planted by her best friend to frame the guy who was responsible for driving her into suicide.
    • The Market Basing Mystery: an older, Gender Flipped version of Murder in the Mews.
    • Inverted/Subverted in the Hercule Poirot mystery Wasp's Nest; events surrounding a young man and a nest of wasps on his property lead Poirot to believe that someone was planning to murder the young man, presumably with an insecticide used to kill wasps. Poirot ultimately discovered that the young man, who learned that he was terminally ill the same day he learned that his fiance was cheating on him with his best friend), planned to poison himself and frame his best friend for murder. Poirot secretly replaced the poison with washing soda, not wanting to see anyone die violently, either by poisoning himself or hanging for a murder he didn't commit.
  • Michael Connelly detective novels:
    • Averted in The Drop. A mysterious death is written off as a suicide, but Harry Bosch doesn't buy it and discovers there's a lot more to the case—but in the end, it turns out that it actually was a suicide after all.
    • The Narrows played similarly with the death of Terry McCaleb in that he was poisoned. It initially appeared a suicide but was later connected to the main case of the story, chasing the serial killer known as The Poet (from the titular novel). In the end, it was shown that it really was a suicide but the FBI covered this up and blamed the above serial killer so that his wife can keep his pension.
    • The Black Ice: Played straight with the apparent suicide of Calexico Moore. Subverted in that not only was it not a suicide, it wasn't Cal Moore, either.
  • Dorothy L. Sayers liked subverting this trope, playing it straight for minor characters but having one book where the main murder really was suicide (Clouds of Witness) and another where an accident that looked like murder really was an accident after all (The Nine Tailors).

Individual works:

  • Lindsey Davis's novel Alexandria has a subversion. By the end of the book, Falco concludes that Theon's death was most likely a suicide and the locked doors of his office were an accident. There's no irrefutable evidence to support this, but it's clearly meant to be the answer.
  • In Altered Carbon, this is averted in all sorts of ways. Not only is the victim exceedingly powerful, wealthy, and nigh-immortal (and hence unlikely to just off himself, especially as he'd be brought back to life from a backup soon enough), but there's a fair list of people keen to have him killed.
    • Extra points for the fact that the investigator is hired by the victim whose backed-up memories were restored to a clone body shortly after his death, who is determined to prove that his death was a murder.
      • And just for kicks it actually was suicide, albeit to prevent his memories of murdering a prostitute under the influence of a drug from being uploaded to his backup.
  • Inverted in Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases, in which L and Naomi Misora investigate a series of murders, except for the last, which is a suicide meant to look like a murder.
  • The Raven at the Foregate, a Brother Cadfael mystery by Ellis Peters: Subverted; it was suicide.
  • The Cat Who... Series: In book #6 (The Cat Who Played Post Office), the victim even leaves a note saying that if she apparently commits suicide, it was most likely murder at the hands of the most obvious suspect in the murder Qwill was originally investigating. However, the trope is subverted at the very last page. As Qwill himself says, "It wasn't murder made to look like suicide, it was suicide made to look like murder!" On top of that, it's entirely possible that the victim wasn't exactly the manipulated patsy of an accomplice she makes herself out to be. She was, after all, the brains of the family law firm.
  • Chocoholic Mysteries:
    • As discussed in Bridal Bash, when Sally TenHuis' fiancé Bill Dykstra was found dead, it was believed to be a suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning; he'd shut himself in his car with a rubber hose leading from the exhaust pipe. One of his friends, however, managed to convince himself for years that it had to have been a murder, and by the book's end, he turns out to be right.
    • Happens again in Castle Clue, where Dan Rice's death was ruled a suicide forty-five years before. His wife remained convinced it was an accident, but it's ultimately proven to have been murder.
  • The Crowner John Mysteries: In Crowner's Quest, John is called in to investigate when a priest hanged himself in the privy. John becomes suspicious when he notices that the short priest short not have been able to reach the beam he was found hanging from. He then finds ligature marks on the priest's neck that indicate he was strangled before being strung up.
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Next of Kin", Winston apparently commits suicide using the eponymous gun. However, during the denouement, Jeb points out that if he had shot himself, there would have been powder residue on his hand.
  • Ellery Queen: The Greek Coffin Mystery: The second solution involves a "suicide" not meant to convince the reader.
  • In the Mercedes Lackey book Four and Twenty Blackbirds, everyone except Tal Rufen is willing to accept the murder-suicides as an enormous series of unrelated incidents where a man kills a musician and then commits suicide. He figures out that they're actually a chain of double murders committed by a mage controlling the apparent killer from a distance.
  • James Patterson's Four Blind Mice has this. Almost all the police think that a military man killed his wife and then himself, but the main characters are lucky to find the one guy who knows exactly that it was a staged murder done by three men. Well, isn't that convenient.
  • During Galaxy of Fear, at one point Zak appears to have eaten poisonous cryptberries, well aware of how lethal they were, and died. The readers know that's not what happened, though he did have reason and it didn't look entirely unexpected. Apparently aware of this trope, or possibly afflicted by the fear that her only surviving relative may have killed himself, his sister Tash soundly rejects what it looks like and bullies her uncle into agreeing that there's probably more to it.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Subverted when the leaders of Manticore eventually rule a recently disgraced lord's death a legitimate suicide, while at the same time fully acknowledging that his death would have been very convenient for someone else who'd had to make a quick getaway.
    • Not long after, Manticore's opposite number, Haven, investigates the death of Yves Grosclaude, who appears to have driven his aircar into a vertical cliff wall at over 600 kph. There doesn't appear to be any evidence of foul play, especially since the only remains are in tiny pieces thanks to the speed of the collision. One of the investigators starts to suspect that nanotechnology may have been involved, but can not prove it. There is no doubt for the reader, however, as the entire event is described in detail including Grosclaude being taken over by the Puppeteer Parasite nanomachines.
    • We never find out whether Sandra Crandall's death in Mission of Honor was suicide or murder. On the "suicide" side of the ledger, a Fleet Admiral who screwed up as spectacularly as Crandall did in the Battle of Spindle certainly has reason to kill herself, and the pulser was found in her hand. On the "murder" side, suicides don't normally shoot themselves in the back of their heads. It's eventually ruled a suicide, but several people are skeptical.
  • Two examples in I Heard That Song Before:
    • Nicholas Greco investigates as to whether Grace - who drowned in her swimming pool after getting drunk -intentionally drowned herself, as her marriage was failing, she’d started drinking again after months of sobriety and she may had feared she'd damaged her unborn child via excessive alcohol consumption. However, upon talking to those who knew her best, he comes to the conclusion suicide is unlikely; Grace would've wanted her baby to live after having three miscarriages and she was planning on leaving her husband Peter for her lover; she only stuck it out after getting pregnant because she'd subsequently receive more money in the divorce settlement.
    • It's revealed that Jonathan Lansing didn't commit suicide when his body turns up on the Carrington estate with his skull bashed in; he was murdered and his death made to look like a suicide to prevent Susan's body being uncovered (Jonathan had planned a garden in the area where the body was buried and wanted the Carringtons to see the plans even after he was fired).
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: Kirk from Death of a Bachelorette appears to kill himself via a drug overdose. Jaine isn't convinced, of course.
  • Hank Palace, the detective hero of Ben H. Winters' The Last Policeman suspects and tries to prove that an actuary found choked by his own belt in McDonalds was murdered although he looks like a suicide. This idea gets even more resistance because there is a worldwide suicide epidemic due to the rogue asteroid that's expected to end all human life on Earth.
  • Matilda: When Miss Honey tells Matilda about her father's death, she says that the cops ruled it out as suicide. Matilda doesn't believe it, instead suggesting that Trunchbull may have been the one who killed him, and given her reaction when Matilda uses her powers to make it seem that Magnus' "ghost" is haunting her, it's all but confirmed that she was right.
  • In Me, Who Dove into the Heart of the World, Japan's minister of agriculture, livestock, and fisheries commits suicide by hanging himself from the living room door of his apartment. Karen becomes convinced he couldn't have done it - suicide is seen as honorable, but being seen in your pajamas and being strangled with a dog leash are not honorable, and it's impossible to hang yourself from a door without going through the time-consuming process of nailing the leash to something. Karen doesn't think much about it for the next few years, until the same group of eco-terrorists threatens to kill her if she doesn't stop fishing tuna, and later blows up all seven of her fisheries.
  • Mistress of the Art of Death: Bertha in The Serpent's Tale and Brune in A Murderous Procession are believed to have killed themselves. Adelia disagrees.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: Thanks to his deep knowledge in forensics, Guy Rosewood figures out that a bunch of men whose deaths were ruled suicides, accidents, or from disease were actually murders. This puts him on the track to uncovering the murderer, Ruby Newhouse.
  • Jo Nesbø's novel Nemesis subverts this - Anna Bethsen really did kill herself.
  • ''One of Us is Lying": Averted. Instead of a murder disguised as a suicide, the victim Simon Kelleher committed suicide and disguised it as a murder
  • Pretty Girls initially averts this with the death of Sam Carroll. It was considered suicide because it was done in their home, cause of death was an injection of animal medicine that they would have access to as a vet and a suicide note was found. It's not until near the end of the novel, that it's revealed that it was a murder performed by his future son-in-law, Paul Scott.
  • The central question of Reconstructing Amelia is whether the title character threw herself off the roof of the school or if she was pushed, and if so who pushed her. It turns out she was pushed, and the culprit was none other than her best friend, who got into an argument with her and accidentally did it.
  • Inverted in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Problem of Thor Bridge": The servant of the house is accused of murdering the mistress, the evidence initially points to the murder being likely, until Holmes realizes the gun he found wasn't the murder weapon, and it was an elaborate suicide made to frame the servant.
    • The story was based on a true incident, and there's been at least one known case where that was attempted after the Holmes story was published.
  • Sir Henry Merrivale: In She Died a Lady'', Dr. Luke spent the novel trying to prove the two deaths were not suicide.
  • In the third Spaceforce (2012) novel, the detectives are investigating a suspicious but apparently accidental death. Then a woman who was unrequitedly in love with the (female) victim is found dead, in a classic suicide scenario. They immediately suspect murder.
  • The Speed of Sound: Henry Townsend, a congressman backed by the American Heritage Foundation, accidentally strangles a hooker during sex and calls the Foundation to get him out of trouble. Instead, the Foundation sends two assassins who force him to shoot himself to protect their reputation.
  • Played with in the first Spenser novel, The Godwulf Manscript. Spenser discovers the body of a young woman who had been involved in the case he was working on, lying dead in her bathtub. The crime was made to look like a suicide, though Spenser spots evidence that makes suicide seem unlikely. Unfortunately, the police captain in charge of the investigation is on the take, and the crime lord responsible for the murder leans on him to brush it under the rug, so he states that it's clearly a suicide and washes his hands of it.
    • A later Spenser novel, Widow's Walk, features a somewhat more complex take on the same basic deal: a wealthy banker is killed as part of a real estate scam and his murderer attempts to make it look like a suicide. Instead, the banker's ditz of a wife takes the gun and hides it with an old friend of hers, because she's under the impression that her late husband's life insurance won't pay out if it was a suicide. It's a homicide made to look like a suicide made to look like a homicide.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24 had at least two characters who appeared to have committed suicide, but turned out to have been murdered to preserve a conspiracy: Jamey Farrell in season 1 and Walt Cummings in season 5.
  • Subverted in The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.. The cancer-ridden Asshole Victim and his accomplice set up his death so it looked like the man sleeping with his wife had killed him.
  • Agatha Raisin: In "Agatha Raisin and Hell's Bells", everyone is prepared to write off the death of the Victim of the Week as suicide; except Agatha, who keeps pointing out all of the discrepancies in this theory. Naturally, Agatha is proved right.
  • Barry: After murdering Chris, Barry puts the gun in his hand to make it look like a suicide.
  • Better Call Saul:
    • Invoked. In the flashback during Season 1's "Five-O", Sergeant Fensky and Officer Hoffman, the Dirty Cops who killed Matty Ehrmantraut, planned to kill Mike by making it look like he decided to eat his gun while drinking. Unfortunately for them, Mike was Playing Drunk and deactivated the gun they planned to use.
    • Lalo's murder of Howard is covered up as being a suicide because if the police were to investigate it as a murder, it would most likely result in them asking too many questions about the circumstances, potentially uncovering Gus' massive drug operation in the area. Saul and Kim's earlier unrelated scheme of making everyone believe that Howard was a cocaine addict factored into it, as did the recent death of his longtime friend and business partner Chuck, his marriage falling apart, and his family's law firm teetering towards bankruptcy, together making his suicide seem plausible. Although Kim's guilty conscience eventually gets to her, and she confesses the whole truth to Howard's widow, several years later (at that point, Gus and nearly all his associates are either dead or on the run, so there was little point keeping it a secret anymore).
  • Bones does it often too, normally either with Booth not believing it was suicide or Brennan finding some evidence that suggests murder even if suicide would have made sense.
  • Boston Legal subverted this in one episode that started where the girlfriend of Missi Pyle's recurring character was found by police (hanged) in a manner that suggested murder (hands bound behind back, etc.), and Missi is arrested and charged with the then it's later revealed that the victims ex-husband actually found her dead (still hanged, but that was all) of suicide and staged it to look like a break-in murder. He'd altered the scene since he was still the beneficiary of her life insurance policy, which would not pay out on suicide. Missi's arrest for her murder seemed to actually be accidental on his part, as he hadn't deliberately framed her.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The first season episode "I Robot, You Jane" has the Sunnydale high computer geek Dave murdered by his friend Fritz, under the influence of the demon Moloch, and made to look like he hung himself.
  • Charmed (2018): After his accidental death, Trip is made to look like he hanged himself by Charity as a cover.
  • Clarice: Joe Hudlin is incapacitated with an injection of a drug, then shot (made to look like he did it himself).
  • Averted in an episode of Cold Case, where a girl's first fiance seemingly jumped off a balcony on the night of their wedding. After an episode's worth of questionings and suspicions, his best friend finally reveals that the groom was already married. He thought his wife, who has spent years in a hospital, was calling for him. Then he found out she died. He then jumped off the balcony right in front of his friend.
  • Colonel March of Scotland Yard: In "Passage of Arms", the killer attempts to make it look like the Victim of the Week committed suicide by leaving an empty bottle of sleeping pills by her body. However, he had actually smothered her with a Vorpal Pillow and then forced some of the pills down her throat after she was dead.
  • Subverted in an episode of Cracked (2013), where it turned out the victim really did commit suicide and his mother cleaned the scene when she found him.
  • Columbo occasionally has this trope as the plot for the Villain of the Week where the killer will try to pass the murder off as a suicide—which Detective Columbo would inevitably uncover.
    • In "Etude in Black," Alex Benedict murders his mistress by bludgeoning her over the head, then stages her house so it looks like she committed suicide with her coal gas oven, and the head wound was from when she passed out from the fumes and fell over. Columbo suspects foul play from the suicide note being improperly aligned in the typewriter (Benedict pre-typed it and put it there) and the fact that it also killed her beloved cockatiel.
    • In "Dagger of the Mind's Eye," the late Sir Roger's butler Tanner figures out that Nicholas and Lillian murdered his former employer, so he demands they hire him to buy his silence. However, they're more willing to kill than be blackmailed. Nicholas breaks into Tanner's home, strangles him, and then stages it as a hanging. He also tries to make it seem like Tanner is the one who killed sir Roger as well.
    • In "Columbo Likes the Nightlife," Justin Price kills journalist Linwood Coben for trying to blackmail him and makes it look like a suicide. Columbo discovers that Linwood couldn't have written the suicide note on his computer, since his fingerprints aren't on some of the keys necessary to type it.
  • Criminal Minds
    • Played straight and subverted in an episode. A number of parents of children who died in a school accident begin committing suicide at a rate far above what would be expected for the situation. Sure enough, there's a serial killer disguising his murders as suicides. Except for one of the deaths, which turns out to have been a real suicide after all.
    • In another episode, a number of high school kids appear to be committing suicide by hanging with little obvious connection between the victims. It turned out they were actually being tricked over the internet into playing a dangerous game whereby the kids hang themselves near to death and cut the wire at the last minute to obtain a natural "high"- the deaths are those who failed to cut it in time and thus "lost" the game. The mastermind turned out to be an abusive father who has Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy; he forced his son to hang himself near to death over the years in order to get attention and pity as the poor dad with the depressive, self-harming son. The idea of making this an internet game came about when he got tired of abusing just his own kid.
  • The Japan episode of Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders is centered all around these. The team is called in to investigate an uptick in American suicides in Japan, while the local authorities are sure they're legitimate suicides. It turns out to be a man killing the people he holds responsible for his parents' suicides, framing them as suicides more because he feels it's "appropriate" than to fool the authorities.
  • CSI
    • Subverted when an investor shoots himself at a party. It originally looks like a staged suicide since he's still holding the gun, which usually doesn't happen, as the muscles relax after death, but this guy had a rare condition that made him an exception.
    • Another variation was when the villain of an arc staged identical suicides of men who were born on the same date that his father was murdered in the same manner (this was also his father's birthday). Up to and including a faked suicide note (well, tape). He did all this to prove his father's murder wasn't a suicide.
    • In "Overload," a construction worker falls from the twelfth story of a construction site. It is at first thought to be suicide, since his life was falling apart and he was alone at the time. Grissom remarks, "On the day you decide to end your life, why would you go to work?" He investigates and finds that the man's equipment was tampered with, leading to him being electrocuted, then falling.
    • Inverted in another episode when a man is found in some woods with all the evidence initially pointing towards murder... only it turns out to be an extremely elaborate suicide designed to look like a murder so his wife would receive his life insurance money.
    • And subverted YET AGAIN in another episode, when one man throws himself in front of a car. The entire episode runs like an ordinary investigation, the suicide letter being the final twist, only seconds before the episode ends. And the car's driver would've been acquitted of all charges, had he not been a narcissistic Jerkass who left the guy bleeding to death on his car's hood, thus turning a suicide into a murder, rather than the usual vice versa.
    • One more double inversion, when a Sherlock Holmes impersonator is found shot to death. Like the above example, the episode runs as a murder investigation, until the team discovers the gun tied to an elastic in the chimney, revealing that when the victim shot himself and let go of the gun, the elastic snapped it back into the chimney. Then we find out that the real murderer had set the whole thing up to look like a suicide that had been set up to look like a murder, as an appropriately Holmesian mystery. Yes, a murder, made to look like a suicide, made to look like a murder. Which references "The Problem of Thor Bridge".
    • There's yet another subversion in the episode "The Happy Place", which opens with a woman in a bikini jumping from her apartment window onto a bus and dying. The subsequent investigation throws The Erotic Mind Control Story Archive a bone by revealing that a hypnotist was behind it all. She got her clients to rob banks and forget about it via post-hypnotic suggestion; the woman's suicide was the result of the trigger phrase "It's time for your honeymoon." When the woman heard this, she began thinking she was in Hawaii and thought she was jumping from her hotel balcony into a swimming pool.
    • Another inversion in an episode where a man is found with stab wounds in his chest and back. Everything looks like murder until it's revealed that the man was deep in debt and had a life insurance policy that would pay out to his brother. He actually jammed the knife in-between a door and a frame and ran into it several times, making sure the knife fell.
    • In another odd inversion, an old lady drives her car through the window of a bar. The team either assume she died from something and the car went out of control or she was trying to kill someone inside; turns out she committed suicide so her grandson could use her life insurance policy to go to college (they were too poor to avoid it otherwise). Unfortunately, the company wouldn't pay out for suicides, so her death was meaningless.
  • CSI NY had one where Stella was adamant it was homicide even though the rest of the team felt the evidence said "suicide." She was proven right, naturally.
  • Dark Desire:
    • Brenda is theorized to not have really killed herself, with it being murder made to look that way. It turns out that she did though.
    • Julieta in Season 2 appears to have jumped off a roof initially. It soon becomes apparent she was pushed.
  • Da Vinci's Inquest averts this more than once. More unusually, the accidents sometimes really are accidents.
  • Death in Paradise:
    • In "Hidden Secrets", the owner of a surf shop committed suicide (to avoid a prolonged death from a terminal disease), and then a friend of his staged the scene to look like murder so the victim's wife would receive the insurance money. Except that the victim didn't have the disease he thought he did: his doctor friend had faked the disease in order to push the victim into committing suicide, so the doctor could have the victim's wife.
    • In "The Secret of the Flame Tree'', a young student seemingly throws herself to her death off a cliff in imitation of a literary suicide. However, one look at her suicide note is enough to make Humphrey suspicious that this was not a suicide.
    • In "Murder from Above", a bride-to-be seemingly throws herself to her death off her hotel balcony. Everybody, including the Commissioner, wants to write this off as a suicide, but Mooney can't move beyond the fact that she painted one thumbnail before jumping.
    • In "Wish You Weren't Here", the second Victim of the Week is killed in such a way as to make it look like he had committed suicide by overdosing on his heart medication. However, as he was the prime suspect in the first murder, DI Mooney is immediately suspicious and the method confirms his theory regarding the first death.
    • In "Murder in the Stars", an astronomer dies after apparently throwing himself off a cliff, but DI Parker becomes suspicious when he finds a half-completed crossword in the victim's pocket, convinced that it isn't something someone who had chosen to end their own life would keep. The victim had tried to fake his death in order to avoid the consequences of a scandal, but his accomplice in the death-faking had a reason to want him dead and took advantage of the situation.
  • Even Dexter had one. In a bit of a twist, the deaths actually were suicide, but the victims' therapist had purposely driven them to it.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "For Whom the Bell Tolls", when a man falls to his death from the Ballarat fire station bell tower, it is initially assumed to be suicide when an apparent suicide note is found. However, Lucien thinks the position of the body is odd for someone who jumped and keeps investigating. It turns out to be murder, and the 'suicide note' was constructed from a letter the victim had sent his murderer.
  • Averted in the Ellery Queen episode "The Adventure of the Judas Tree", where the death is revealed to be a suicide made to look like a murder.
  • The Fantasy Island episode "Seance" has a woman who wants to contact her twin brother, who threw himself off a bridge. He was actually the victim of an Inheritance Murder by their cousin, who drugged him, dragged him to the bridge, and shoved him off.
  • Forever:
    • Twice over in "Look Before You Leap." First a near-hysterical grad student climbs over the railing of a bridge in front of witnesses, then falls to her death. Henry finds evidence of paint under her nails from digging into the bridge to try to hang on, as well as a fragment of skin in her teeth; he also climbs out onto a ledge on the bridge and finds two different footprints and a carabiner the killer used to avoid falling themself. Her mentor, a much older professor, is accused of killing her. When he's found with slit wrists and a suicide note, Henry determines based on drugs in his coffee, the angle of the cuts, and a grammatical error in the Gratuitous Greek in the suicide note, that his death was also a faked suicide.
    • Inverted in "The Art of Murder" when everyone, including Henry, thinks that Gloria Carlyle was murdered, but it turns out it was a suicide gone wrong.
  • Forever Knight
    • An intern at a hospital is murdered in a way that makes it look like a suicide (slashed wrists in the shower when she was already depressed), but Nick correctly suspects that the woman was murdered.
    • Averted when Nick insists on digging into the death of an astronomer who shot herself after predicting an extinction-level asteroid would strike the Earth. Turns out she really did kill herself, but Nick is right to suspect there's something dodgy going on as one of her colleagues faked the evidence for a financial scam.
  • It's never suicide in Foyle's War, although in one episode it wasn't actually murder either, but a spy organization staging the suicide of one of its members to cover up that he had died about a minute into his mission due to his superiors' incompetence.
  • One of the earliest and most important kickstarters of The Good Bad Mother is Young-soon’s husband being killed by a ruthless CEO and his death is staged to look like a suicide.
  • Harrow: In "Audere Est Facere" ("To Dare Is to Do"), what at first appears to be a tragic accident starts to look like suicide. However, as Harrow continues to dig deeper, he discovers that the 'suicide' is actually a carefully planned murder.
  • Zig-zagged in the Hawaii Five-0 episode "Nalowale I Ke Ehu O He Kai". The victim, a reformed gangbanger turned priest (and also Noelani's uncle), initially appears to have died of a heart attack, but evidence not in the coroner's report suggests suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. However, the coroner left the evidence out of his report because he was threatened by an old enemy who had once tried to kill the priest. As it turns out, that man is also reformed, the two became friends, and, believing the priest committed suicide, he made the coroner conclude otherwise so as not to undermine the priest's legacy of helping adolescents avoid the gang life. But then the suicide theory falls apart and it turns out he was murdered by someone else who was not a prior suspect and who made his death look like a suicide.
  • In Healer Jung Hoo's father was murdered and then staged to look like he'd killed himself out of guilt after murdering his best friend after being framed for his friend's murder by the same group that killed them both.
  • Subverted in Heroes, where Claire discovers her college roommate apparently having committed suicide by jumping out the window, even leaving a note about how depressed she was, despite having planned out her whole life. Learning that being pushed will send a body a further distance than jumping, Claire jumps out the window herself (Good Thing She Can Heal), only to land on the same spot. Double Subverted a few episodes later, when it turns out she was pushed out the window by an invisible girl.
  • Subverted in Homicide: Life on the Street when Crosetti dies, it's almost immediately apparent to everyone that it's a suicide (even if they'd rather not face up to it), but Lewis has a major case of denial and refuses to believe that Crosetti would kill himself and under the cover of 'investigating' what 'really' happened attempts to undermine the investigation by tampering with witnesses. Eventually the call from the coroner comes in to confirm that it was suicide - and Lewis breaks down.
    • Double subverted later on when Beau Felton is found with his head blown off. Everyone including Lewis is sure it's suicide this time since Felton was a troubled alcoholic whose wife had split with the kids. Then the medical examiner reconstructs the skull fragments and finds a bullet hole from a handgun in the back of his head. The killer used the shotgun to both stage it to look like a suicide and obscure the actual cause of death.
  • Played straight in The Honourable Woman. One character, an amoral and ambitious British civil servant who wants to be head of MI6, spends the entire series scheming and playing off one side against another. Her efforts are actually successful, but she makes so many enemies that, in the final episode, before she gets to fulfil her ambitions, she is strangled to death by a black ops team that have infiltrated her bedroom while she sleeps, and then she's hung from a clothes hook to make it look like suicide. By that point, the character has so enemies that nobody is even interested in investigating her death; they're just glad she's not around any more.
  • The plot of The Hour is kicked off by Ruth's death, which the police have ruled as a suicide but Freddie is sure isn't.
  • Played with on House. When Kutner was found dead of a gunshot wound, House was temporarily convinced it must have been murder because he hadn't noticed any signs that Kutner was depressed (possibly because they had to Drop A Bridge On Him at the last minute), but there was no way that could have been the case.
  • The Indian Detective: Aarav's mother is told that he offed himself with a gun to his temple (although she asks if there was a note, which of course there wasn't). The show makes it very clear that his uncle / her brother Gopal was actually responsible, with one of his henchmen pulling the trigger.
  • Inspector George Gently:
    • In "Gently with Honour", Gently and Bacchus return to a psychiatrist with a warrant for the medical files of one of his patients and find the psychiatrist hanged; an apparent suicide. Gently suspicions are immediately raised, especially when he finds the medical file he was after is missing. It is later discovered that the psychiatrist's neck had been snapped and he was then strung up to make it look like he hanged himself.
    • Averted in "Breathe in the Air" where the Body of the Week really is a suicide, and the discovery of why she killed herself reveals another crime altogether.
  • Subverted several times in Inspector Morse. Morse insists on investigating several cases of suicide which are actually suicide. He has become quite knowledgeable on what details to look for.
  • In the Dark: Sam habitually makes her hits look like suicides, according to Stirling. Within the show, we see this when she murdered Detective Becker.
  • JAG: In "With Intent to Die", Admiral Chegwidden’s mentor decease at a hunt, and Chegwidden refuses to believe it was either a suicide or an accident. Turns out he had the right hunch.
  • Jonathan Creek:
    • A wonderful example from the episode "The Tailor's Dummy": The titular character and several other witnesses see the Victim of the Week jump from his bedroom window. In the end, they discover the victim had gone blind (which he and his family had covered up as he was a fashion designer) and his daughter had killed him by taking advantage of his pyrophobia and playing a tape which made him think there was a fire and they were waiting to catch him below the window.
      • Though it was still played straight, however, this one was an interesting example, as the "suicide" in question wasn't actually the reason Creek got involved and was assumed by everyone, including him, to be a normal suicide, so it seemed to be simply a background event until further investigation began to cast doubt on it.
    • Another episode subverted this. In 'The Eyes of Tiresias', a man made his own suicide look like murder to frame the man his wife was sleeping with
    • It also combined this with a Locked Room Mystery in the first episode, where an old man apparently shot himself in the head within a sealed bunker but would have actually been physically unable to do so due to his crippling arthritis. Ultimately played with by the fact that the murderer committed suicide, overdosing before sealing himself within the wall of the bunker after killing the guy for revenge, having previously faked his own death at sea.
  • Inverted in the Law & Order episode "Bad Faith." There are signs that a detective's death might be murder, but it turns out that responding cops tampered with the scene so his widow would get benefits. The case is still a can of worms because he and Logan were both altar boys under the same Pedophile Priest.
    • Another episode had a construction mogul killed in a professional hit; it turns out that he had hired the hitman himself, both as a way of escaping his crushing debt, and to frame his cheating wife and her lover for his murder.
      • A third played it a bit more straight, with a key witness "committing suicide" at her desk before she could testify. However, as soon as the Autopsy was done, evidence of massive head trauma was found, more consistent with the victim's head being slammed into the desk than just falling over.
    • Law and Order managed to pull off "Not Assisted Suicide" in the episode "Called Home." A victim was killed with a euthanasia machine invented by a Kevorkian expy, but it's later discovered that medical charts were switched around and the guy did not, in fact, want to go through with ending his life. He was killed anyway as part of a plot by the doctor and his daughter to get revenge on a TV producer. This episode also involves a spectacular case of Suspect Existence Failure, as the doctor poisoned himself in order to die on the witness stand.
  • Subverted in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "A Murderer Among Us". The detectives intially suspect a man of killing his wife, but ultimately determine that the victim staged her own suicide to frame her husband. She had discovered that her husband murdered a number of Jewish men and she had been his unwitting accomplice; she had also recently learned of her own Jewish heritage. Before cutting her wrists, she inflicted wounds on herself similar to those her husband inflicted on his victims. The detectives infer the woman wanted to spare her daughter from learning the truth about her father.
  • Subverted in an early episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Olivia and Elliot are investigating the death of a young woman who fell from her apartment window onto a parked car. Suicide is ruled out about thirty seconds after the opening credits, and with good cause: there is evidence of someone else in the room, and the victim appeared to have been thrown through the windowpane all the way into the street. As it turns out, the victim did kill herself, having been Driven to Suicide by a series of emotionally and physically abusive relationships, beginning with the father who raped her when she was a child.
  • The Law & Order: UK episode based on this, "Confession", also inverts this, as just like in the original, the cops tried to make the suicide look like a murder. But it's also subverted when the prosecutors manage to press manslaughter charges against the Pedophile Priest in question, arguing that the man was Driven to Suicide via PTSD that resulted from the sexual abuse he endured.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Sister Brenna is said by the Prelate to have killed herself in "Dark." However, Richard soon discovers it was really murder. Additionally, a Resistance member had apparently killed himself as related in "Confession", but no one believes this, and it's revealed to have actually been murder.
  • In the Level 9 episode "A Price to Pay", the team investigates the apparent suicide of Annie's mentor and finds a larger conspiracy at work.
  • Played with on Lost: Upon hearing that "Jeremy Bentham" has committed suicide, Jack is driven to suicide himself, but fails to kill himself. Sayid remarks that "they said it was suicide," to which Hurley responds "what do you mean, they SAID it was suicide?" Finally, after Bentham's identity is revealed as John Locke, we are shown that he really did intend on killing himself via hanging...before Ben appeared, talked him out of killing himself, learned valuable information about Jin and Ms. Hawking, and then proceeded to kill Locke by strangulation, making it look like a hanging.
  • Midnight Sun (2016):
    • Evalina is related to have killed herself by jumping from a waterfall. It later turns out she really was murdered because she'd learned a secret.
    • Tardieu is made to look like he'd killed himself by taking pills. Kahina realizes he was murdered however based on prior information.
  • Midsomer Murders: "Dance with the Dead" begins with what appears to be a Suicide Pact gone wrong. Of course, being Midsomer, it is never suicide.
  • Monk does it all the time.
    • Most notably, Stottlemeyer recalls Monk's first-ever case: a woman had overdosed on pills, and everyone up to the medical examiner agreed that all the evidence pointed towards suicide. However, Monk takes one look at the crime scene and destroys the suicide theory by asking, "Where's the water?" Turns out, the pills were too big to swallow unassisted and there was no evidence of any liquids in the room.
  • The second episode of Moonlight has an alleged murdered acquitted when a book writer lobbies that his case is reviewed and inconsistencies are found. It turns out he did shoot his wife and stage it as suicide. Mick knew it all along, as he was the one who warned her not to get a gun, afraid something like this would happen. The worst part for Mick is that the guy knows he's a vampire and is out for revenge, having spent years reading up on his vampire lore.
  • Inverted in a Moonlighting episode, the protagonists are hired by an old man in a wheelchair and on life support to witness his murder that he plans to stage by hiring a killer in order for his daughter to get life insurance. When David shows up, the old man is already dead with no killer in sight. Instead, the police are after him as the murderer. In the end, Maddie figures out that the old man was only partially paralyzed and could walk. He shut off his own life support just before David got there, planning to frame him all along.
  • Motive: In "The Vanishing Policeman", the team investigates what appears to be the extremely public suicide of a police officer. The officer was actually murdered hours earlier and the 'suicide' was an elaborate piece of misdirection.
  • One of the stories in Mrs Cop involves a teenage girl accidentally being murdered and it being covered up as a suicide. Luckily the protagonist doesn't believe it is - mainly because the girl was a Catholic and had previously bought tickets for a concert - and she keeps on pushing for them to investigate further. Eventually an autopsy proves she was killed.
  • The Murders: A suspect in "The Long Black Veil" was murdered with it staged to appear like a suicide by hanging.
  • Subverted in a Murder, She Wrote episode, "To The Last Will I Grapple With Thee". Sean, a friend of Jessica's from Ireland was arrested for the murder of an old enemy of his from Ireland. Jessica proved that the victim (whom she learned was terminally ill anyway) committed suicide, but staged his death to look like murder so that Sean would be convicted of murder.
  • NCIS has an interesting take on this trope. When investigating the death of two women, an agent suggest it might be suicide only to be told that it didn't matter, standard procedure insists that all deaths are to be treated as murders until proven otherwise. Naturally in this instance, going by procedure pays off.
  • Noah's Arc: It's heavily implied that Guy plans on killing Alex, as shown when he writes a fake note to make it look like a suicide.
  • NUMB3RS did a subversion. Charlie, upset over the death of a student, gets Don to look into it to see if it was really suicide. It was, but in the process of investigating it they uncover another crime.
    • Played straight in two later episodes, one involving an ex-girlfriend of Don's, the other an old college friend of Charlie's. In the former case, Don simply doesn't believe the victim was suicidal and asks Charlie to look into it, prompting him to discover a key piece of evidence. In the latter, Charlie is suspicious because his friend had told him she was afraid for her life and because three of her colleagues had also died in apparent accidents in the past few weeks, which Charlie knows is statistically unlikely. In both cases, it turns out that the women were killed because they knew something their killers wanted to keep secret.
  • The episode "Second Soul" of the revived The Outer Limits (1995) series involves aliens using human corpses to survive. The best friend of the man in charge of the operation to help the aliens appeared to have committed suicide after his wife's corpse is used. His friend isn't so sure, since he had been investigating the aliens and thought they were conspiring right before he died. Subverted however, since there was no conspiracy, and it really was a suicide.
  • Psych, too. There was even an episode about a Serial Killer who went after people who had called a suicide hotline and made their deaths look like suicides.
    • In a later episode, this trope gets twisted around when Shawn notices that a daredevil's stunts are being sabotaged. Naturally he assumes attempted murder, but it turns out the daredevil is sabotaging his own stunts because he has cancer and a secret life insurance policy that pays more if he dies in a stunt than of natural causes.
  • Psychopath Diary: In-woo's modus operandi is to make his murders look like suicide. Bo-kyung is the only person who suspects foul play.
    • He causes a gas leak in an elderly woman's home and gets her to lock herself in.
    • He drugs the homeless man and sets fire to the building. The police put it down as suicide by arson.
  • Pushing Daisies: at least twice (in "Pigeon" and "Bad Habits").
    • Played with in another episode. Turns out the deaths are suicides, but the... victims? were hired to test an experimental drug that drove them to do it, making the drug company culpable.
  • Resident Alien: Sam's death initially appears to be suicide in Harry's judgment, although those close with dispute that he had any reason for that. On further examination, though, it turns out he was poisoned.
  • The Rockford Files uses this trope a lot. A common plot is for a relative or friend of someone whose death was deemed a suicide by the police to hire Rockford to prove that it was actually a murder. It always is.
  • Scandal: Played with in "Spies Like Us" when an ex-B613 agent shoots himself in a residential neighborhood in broad daylight with several witnesses - to show his death wasn't a hit.
  • Sherlock:
    • "A Study in Pink": The first episode revolves around a series of near-identical suicides. You don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that after four people commit suicide in almost exactly the same way, something else is probably going on.
    • "The Great Game": The presumed train jumper was actually killed by accident by his future brother-in-law and then placed on the train by Moriarty's suggestion.
  • Silo: George died by falling off a rail with no witnesses. Juliette maintains that it was murder, not suicide, because he was intent on telling her something important the day before, and spends the show trying to verify her suspicion. It's eventually revealed that he killed himself after all — but only to avoid imminent interrogation and torture by Judicial agents.
  • On a Spenser For Hire episode a parish priest engages Spenser because the death of a young woman about to enter the convent is about to be ruled a suicide and he has doubts. There are suspicious facts around the death, including her pregnancy. It turns out to be an accident rather than suicide or murder. Her mother confronted her about the pregnancy on a rooftop, and she fell over while backing away.
  • In Stargate Universe everyone assumes that the emotionally unstable marine with discipline issues was murdered. And to be fair, he didn't get along very well with a large number of the crew. However, the trope ends up subverted when it turns out he did commit suicide and Rush framed it so it looked like a murder, to get Colonel Young removed from command, but making sure to make it look enough like a suicide that Young wouldn't be convicted by the impromptu jury..
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "Murder Ward," a Mad Doctor tests a drug he invented on mental patients, four of whom die of respiratory failure. He hangs two of the corpses, knowing that no one will be suspicious of a mental patient's suicide.
  • An apparent suicide sets the events of State of Play in motion. Proving it was actually murder is just the start.
  • A fair number of episodes of Supernatural have the boys investigating "suicides". Given that ghosts, demons, and other creature can easily enter locked rooms, and often don't leave any evidence, it's fairly justified that these are ruled as such by Muggles.
    • One episode had a man whose death was ruled a suicide when he shot himself in the head...4 times.
  • The Twilight Zone (1985): In "Red Snow", KGB Colonel Ilyanov does not believe that Major Yuri Andreev, the previous investigator sent to the Siberian gulag, cut his own throat as is generally believed. When he examines Andreev's frozen body, he immediately notices that there is no blood on the wound, indicating that the cut was made after his death. He later learns that Andreev was killed by vampires.
  • Unsolved Mysteries did this with about half its cases. Nearly every next-episode preview featured at least one case in which someone had been found dead, and narrator Robert Stack would always end it with "the police ruled it a suicide, but the family says...murder."
  • Vera: Played straight and later averted in "Sundancers". The first death is a murder made to look like a suicide. Vera thinks it looks too much like a suicide to actually be a suicide. When a second near-identical death occurs, Vera assumes it is the work of the same killer. This sends the investigation down a blind alley till she realises that the second death actually was suicide.
  • Veronica Mars:
    • Subverted with Logan's mother. It really was just a suicide. (Probably. They never did find the body.)
    • Played straight with Dean O'Dell, whose murder is an elaborate suicide set-up to eventually implicate his unfaithful wife and her lover.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): "All Part of the Service" starts with the police arriving to investigate an apparent suicide. Immediately lampshaded by host Jon Pertwee in his introduction when he says that if it really was a suicide, they wouldn't have a show.
  • Why Women Kill: Isabel is murdered and Bertram made this look like suicide.
  • In The Wire Stringer Bell orders D'Angelo Barksdale's murder because he was afraid D'Angelo would become a snitch, and also likely he was having an affair with his sort-of girlfriend Donette. The killer made it look like a suicide. McNulty isn't convinced.
    Brianna: I heard you visited Donette. Told her that my son's death couldn't be no suicide. Is that right?
    McNulty: I did do that.
    Brianna: ...D'Angelo hung himself. Hm?
    McNulty: Not with the belt they found around his neck. Not at that distance between the door knob and the floor.
  • More episodes of The X-Files than you could count. If the victim looks like a suicide, rest assured that they were rather cleverly murdered or Driven to Suicide by supernatural creepiness.
  • You (2018): Joe kills Peach and sets it up to appear like a suicide. This is helped due to her having attempted suicide in the past.

  • When Agatha Christie adapted her novel Appointment with Death into a play, she wrote a new ending which is also a subversion. The tyrannical Mrs. Boynton wished to still wield power over her family, even after her death, so she committed suicide in a way that would appear to be murder. Therefore, everyone would be suspicious of each other, and not believing their claims that they didn't do it.
  • In Heathers, JD kills Heather Chandler, Kurt, and Ram, framing their deaths to looks like suicides, complete with forged suicide notes. Heather's fake note makes her seem like a Lovable Alpha Bitch who was secretly suffering inside, and Kurt and Ram's note claims that the two are gay lovers who see death as the only way to be together. Eventually, JD plots to blow up the school with everyone inside and make it look like a mass suicide, but is fortunately stopped by Veronica before having a change of heart and using the bomb to blow himself up. In the end, neither JD nor Veronica are ever caught for their roles in the deaths.

    Video Games 
  • In the first Chzo Mythos game the characters are trapped in a house whose original owners supposedly died in a murder-suicide. Over the course of the game, they discover that both owners were actually murdered, and coerced to murder, by the evil spirit of an ancestor who was beaten to death by his father.
  • Deadline has you investigate a suicide, with the possibility that it was a murder. The game would be over pretty quickly if it actually was.
  • In the Shivering Isles expansion for The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion Sheogorath needs the player to rise within the court, so their only options are to take over for one of the two dukes. The title of duke of Mania is transferred via the Ritual of Mania, in which the current duke takes an intentional overdose of a certain drug, so someone wanting to go this route will have to make it look like he did it on purpose. Not that the Ritual of Dementia is any more noble.
    • There's also the Hill of Suicides, where Sheogorath teleports anyone who angers him. Give or take a few thousand vertical feet. It's so named because anyone daring to anger a physical god is considered to be committing suicide.
  • In the epilogue of Max Payne 3, the Big Bad is found hanged in his cell. His death is officially ruled a suicide, but it's strongly implied that he was killed in retribution for his organ-harvesting scheme.
  • One such incident forms the basis of OMORI: Sunny accidentally kills the Mari from the real world and then gets his best friend Basil to help him hang her body from a tree. The game is about his efforts to make amends 4 years afterwards.
  • In Persona 5, the Non-Standard Game Over you receive when failing to steal your quarry's treasure before deadline ends with you shot in the head by a mysterious assailant in the interrogation room, and the police assuming you had offed yourself.
  • Relatively early in The Suicide of Rachel Foster, hints start popping up early that Rachel might not have committed suicide. In reality, she was murdered by Claire.
  • The first Tex Murphy game is kicked off by a suicide investigation. The victim's daughter needs to prove that he didn't kill himself so she can claim his life insurance. The twist is that the victim really did commit suicide, but he did it to escape the effects of a mind-screwing computer chip implanted into his brain, which makes it count legally as a murder.
  • Trauma Center: Trauma Team's Naomi Kimishima has a Locked Room Mystery as her first in-game investigation.
  • One way to get rid of a victim in Yandere Simulator is to drag her to the roof and shove her off; if done right, it will be accepted as a suicide. (Although, another way is to destroy their reputation badly enough that they do kill themselves; though the threshold for Senpai to reject them is well below the threshold for them to kill themselves, meaning the only reason to keep going at that point is just to be a dick.)

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney
    • Inverted in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney. Magnifi Gramarye, who was dying a slow death, kills himself, after passing on his magic to one of his apprentices via Secret Test of Character and once the other apprentice fails said test. The failed apprentice then manipulates the scene to make it appear that the successful apprentice committed murder.
    • Inverted again in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. Tahrust Inmee killed himself as part of an elaborate ruse to disguise the fact that his wife killed Puhray Zeh'lot in self defense, pinning both crimes on Maya Fey in the process. The reason he felt this was necessary was due to the Defense Culpability Act making a successful plea of self-defense practically impossible.
    • Otherwise, the Ace Attorney franchise averts this trope. The killers in the series never use this as part of their cover-ups, for the simple reason that Phoenix and the other protagonists are defense attorneys. They defend people accused of murder, most of them being framed, so this kind of murder does not fall within their line of work because there's no one to defend. As a result, Phoenix never deals with any suicide cases directly except for the above cases, but that was because the scenes of the suicides were tampered with to look like murders, and when suicides do show up in the story, they are definitive with no doubt that they were indeed suicides.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc has a case which is presumed to be a suicide, but is treated as a murder anyway. Even though multiple characters confess, this trope is averted because, despite the fact that the characters in question did actually attack the victim, neither of those attacks was fatal, the case was actually a suicide since she killed herself after they both left.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: The third case has what appears to be a suicide, but it's immediately treated as a murder anyway. It's eventually proven that the victim was strangled rather than hung, and it becomes clear that Mikan, who had never been wrong in her autopsies before, was hiding her cause of death because she was the culprit all along.
      • The fifth case is an especially strange example, as although it is treated as murder it is technically manslaughter as the killer wasn't aware that their actions would cause a death. Pushing it into this trope is that the victim Nagito arranged his own death by setting everything up so he would be killed by someone else by accident. So Nagito ended up killing himself by arranging for another person to kill him.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony: Like the above, in the third chapter it is speculated that Tenko committed suicide, but as it turns out the weapon was planted in the cage before Tenko even got inside it and her death was too quick for her to have thrown it away, thanks to a trap the real killer, Korekiyo, had set.
  • Most of the "clawing out your own throat" deaths in Higurashi: When They Cry. Turns out it's the last stage of the Hate Plague; Tomitake's death in particular is always a murder via an injection that worsens the symptoms.
  • In Shinrai: Broken Beyond Despair, after the first victim Momoko is found hanged, the group is initially unsure whether it was suicide or murder, but Taiko and Raiko lean toward the latter, especially after more people die. It really was suicide. Momoko had pretended to hang herself before killing Hiro (and possibly Kotoba), then actually hanged herself.

  • In My Deepest Secret, Emma's perverted professor is suspiciously found hanged the day after he made creepy advances on her. The audience is well aware that he was killed by her yandere boyfriend. However, in the comic Amateur Sleuth Yohan is also thinking it was murder...just that it was Emma who killed him.
  • Inverted and parodied in Schlock Mercenary's CSI tribute storyline: A crime-solving AI takes one look at an obvious murder scene and declares it to be an attempted suicide. The AI immediately catches itself by nothing that their victim is dead, and tries to figure out an alternate solution. The 'parody' aspect kicks (again) at the end of the arc when it turns out that the 'victim' wasn't quite dead, and that the corpse was that of his gate-clone, who had attempted to kill him. Thus, attempted killing of yourself = attempted suicide.

    Western Animation 
  • Inverted on King of the Hill — the death of Buck's mistress Debbie looks like a murder and there are plenty of people with a motive to kill her, but it turns out she accidentally killed herself while trying to murder somebody else.
  • Played for Laughs in American Dad! when Steve stages the suicide of the best friend of a promiscuous transfer student as part of a scheme for her to sleep with him, only for her to declare the suicide note to not match the friend's handwriting, and insist they find her murderer. The friend in this case being a doll the girl is convinced is alive.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Make It Look Like A Suicide


Active cooperation

Marjan vists Faraz and speaks to him about "Active cooperation". Of course, she has information to suggest that Ali's death (which was being reported as a suicide) was staged to make it look like he killed himself.

Marjan also mentioned that Faraz will be in trouble if she sends the photos of him in Arak at the time Ali was shot and killed.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / NeverSuicide

Media sources: