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Spot the Victim

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One game played by fans of murder mysteries is to try to spot the victim before the murder is shown. This game has been called "Where's Deado?" after the Where's Waldo? series of books. In many works, this is an easy task because the creators are making a whodunit and not a whoitdunto. The detective hero cannot start the job until the crime is established, so the killing is handled perfunctorily.

When the writers take an active part in playing this game with the audience, such as by actively misleading the fans, this becomes Where's Deado: The Trope. It is tricky to do if the corpse is generated in the teaser, but Six Feet Under managed it on several occasions.


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    Films - Live Action 
  • Defied by Glen Morgan when casting Black Christmas (2006). He deliberately cast actresses who would aesthetically appear to be the Final Girl as every sorority sister; in the hopes of making it hard for the audience to figure out who would be killed off.
  • Downton Abbey: A New Era teased in its marketing that one of the main characters was to be killed off. Although the film tries to fool the audience with Cora revealing a possible cancer diagnosis, virtually everyone guessed it was the Dowager Countess, especially with the previous film ending with the revelation that she had some kind of serious illness.
  • Fear Street Part Two: 1978 is a whole flashback to The '70s, with the lone survivor of the Camp Nightwing massacre telling her story to the protagonists. She's only known as 'C Berman', and just says "a week later my sister was dead". The flashback introduces us to two Berman sisters, Cindy and Ziggy. The C initial hints that Cindy is the one who survives, especially since she fits the more obvious Final Girl mould. It turns out it's Ziggy who survives, and her full name is Christine.
  • House of Wax (2005) has real life marketing to thank for it, but Paris Hilton specifically marketed a series of t-shirts with the film's release date and the slogan 'See Paris Die'. Audiences turned up to the film in droves to see her killed off.
  • Exploited in Scream (1996), in which Drew Barrymore plays one of the opening victims. She was one of the biggest names in the cast at the time, and audiences savvy to Slasher Movie tropes would have expected her to last longer. The effect has been lost on audiences nowadays thanks to it becoming a franchise tradition for the opening scene to have a name actor killed off.

  • Dead Famous focuses on police trying to solve a murder that took place on a reality TV show by watching tapes of the show. The identity of the victim is not revealed until the detectives reach that point in the tapes, about two-thirds of the way through the book.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Big Little Lies establishes from the first episode that one character is going to be killed, with a heavy implication that it's a murder. The victim and culprits aren't revealed until the finale, but many viewers telegraphed that it would be Perry; given the character's connection to both Madeleine and Celeste, with the tight bond between them and Jane as well. But it's arguable that the real twist is The Reveal that Perry was also Jane's rapist who got her pregnant with Ziggy.
  • Midsomer Murders frequently strays into this territory, although often enough it's dispensed with in the pre-credits sequence. The game doesn't end there, though: There are usually multiple murders per episode.
  • Frequently happens in the teaser of House M.D., except of course it's more of a "Where's Sicko?".
    • They really started playing about with it in the second season, when (for example) a completely incidental character fell past a window in the background, moments after Cuddy was seen coughing, triggering the opening credits. It's about 3 straight openers to every twist, roughly, so you're not expecting the shocks when they arrive.
    • Double subverted in a first-season episode. The teaser focuses on a teenage girl in a diving competition. The suspense is built up well as she's about to dive — then she takes the dive, surfaces, and smiles, just in time for a spectator to collapse. After the opening credits, we learn that an epidemic has started, but the focus returns to the girl, whose symptoms do not match everyone else.
  • Only about half of Law & Order episodes actually fall into this trope. The other half open with a scene of typical New York City life interrupted by the discovery of a body.
    • It has been the norm in season 18, however, with only a couple of episodes starting with an already dead victim.
  • A few episodes of Tru Calling play with this. Although the heroine normally knows who she is trying to save, there are times when she never sees the victim's face before her day rewinds.
  • The episode "Heroes" of Stargate SG-1 hinted constantly that one of the regular cast members was mortally wounded, and teased that it was Colonel O'Neill, complete with a slow-motion shot of the character getting hit with a staff weapon blast. You don't find out till halfway through the second episode in the two-parter that it was actually Dr. Janet Fraser.
  • Every episode of the Ellery Queen TV series begins with an announcement that "one of these people is going to die...", facilitating the game.

Alternative Title(s): Wheres Deado, Where Is Deado, Predict The Victim