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Suicide, Not Murder

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We should have known—he was always a backstabber.

When The Dead Guy Did themself.

Framing an enemy for a crime is a long-established tactic for dealing with them. Framing them for murder is even better. In some places, they could wind up dead! There is a snag, however: the police may well find evidence, witnesses, and so on to link the killing back to you. If only there was a way to get yourself above suspicion. Well, there is, but it is awfully extreme.

You take the part of the victim. Kill yourself and make it look like murder.

Of course you need to be pretty committed to it, but if you have nothing else to lose...

Often played as a refreshing subversion in shows where Never Suicide, the inversion, is the norm. Sometimes the idea isn't to frame someone in particular, but to cover up the suicide as murder anyway, e.g. as part of an Insurance Fraud or in order to avoid the stigmatization of suicide. Occasionally a suicide will be covered up by a second party who wants to protect the deceased's reputation.

Subtrope of Death Is the Only Option. Sister trope of Suicide, Not Accident where instead of murder, the suicide is made to look like an accident. Also see Suicide by Assassin for instances where you hire someone to kill yourself. Exists at the intersection of Wounded Gazelle Gambit and My Death Is Just the Beginning. Sometimes, but not always, a sub-trope of Thanatos Gambit. Similar to but distinct from Taking You with Me; that trope is more of a last resort for when you were going to die anyway.

As this is a Death Trope and sometimes The Reveal, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Case Closed uses this more than once:
    • The Idol Singer Yoko Okino's ex-boyfriend committed suicide to casts suspicion on her, but Conan clears her.
    • Another case alluded to was when the ex-CEO of a company committed suicide and tried to frame his former business partner, only to be found out by Conan's father Yusaku. Years later, his son tried the opposite and was foiled by Conan himself.
    • In the backstory for the Detectives Koshien mini-arc, a rich and mentally unstable young lady from Fukuoka hanged herself in her mansion. Due to a thief's meddling, her butler's silence about it and an Amateur Sleuth's mistaken deductions, the case was mistakenly filed as murder and her handmaid was blamed for it. The poor maid threw herself into the sea in despair, and her best friend (another Amateur Sleuth) created the whole Detective Koshien deal to find and punish the people who drove the girl to her death.
    • When a male Idol Singer hung himself a few days before he was about to make a huge comeback, his ex-girlfriend and now-manager decided to plant evidence that pointed more to a murder. She did it because they shared a very sad Dark and Troubled Past that would come to the surface if the press dug into his possible reasons to kill himself, so making people think he'd been killed would distract them.
  • A rich socialite in Franken Fran pulls this when her father intends to remarry. Fran, being the weirdo she is, sees right through it—and reanimates the schemer so she can confess.
  • Golgo 13: The Professional has a weird version of this. The film starts with a powerful man's son being killed by Golgo 13. At the end, we learn that the son had hired Golgo to kill him — he felt he could never live up to his father's expectations, but was too squeamish to kill himself.

    Comic Books 
  • In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Joker's final joke is to frame Batman for his own death. Batman did break Joker's spine, but didn't go through with murder as he originally intended — Joker then taunts him and laughs as he snaps his own neck despite being paralyzed. Sure enough, the police believe Batman broke his code and killed the Joker.
  • In the "The Too Many Cooks Caper" in Detective Comics #500, where a dying detective fakes his own murder at his retirement dinner, causing the other detectives at the dinner to go after the mobster he framed for the crime.
    • This story was based on the classic Golden Age Batman story "The Case Batman Failed To Solve!!!" from Batman #14 (December 1942-January 1943). The scenario is essentially the same but with Batman as one of the detectives present. Batman solves the case but doesn't disclose the solution to allow the dead detective Dana Drye's mystique to remain intact.
  • The opening scene of Marvel's Ruse miniseries has Simon Archard declare a nobleman's death suicide, not murder, despite the fact that he was stabbed several times in the stomach and his head was cut off. He cited evidence such as a lack of defensive wounds, the discoloration of the man's skin and blood, a faint but distinctive odor, and ink stains on his hands — which indicate that he hastily wrote a suicide note and did the deed with cyanide, after which the first person to discover the body staged it as a murder to avoid scandal.
  • Wonder Woman (1987) has an interesting play on this when Myndi Mayer commits suicide and is subsequently shot by a man intending to kill her without realizing she was already dead. It takes a while for the whole of the story to be revealed, and the fact that she was already dead before being shot is learned before the motives of her shooter.

    Fan Works 
  • In Elements of Justice, this is revealed to be the cause of Overall Concept's death in the first case. It is speculated to be due to his flare-up of depression, but the true cause is left uncertain for the time being. But it's subverted at the conclusion of the second case, where new evidence surfaces that seemingly not only proves that his death was a homicide after all but implicates Rarity as the new prime suspect.
  • Played with in Turnabout Storm. Ace Swift did get himself killed, but it was entirely by accident. He'd left a gap in his lightning-proof suit while trying to blackmail Rainbow Dash into losing the upcoming race. As Ace flew up towards a cloud later, he was struck with a lightning bolt in the exposed spot, causing his own death.
  • Inverted in Where Talent Goes to Die. The fifth murder victim is found drowned in the baths, and some suspect that it was a suicide, but there are a number of points indicating that it was murder- the victim's arms and legs were bound, there was a chloroform-soaked rag near the scene, and the victim, being a Christian, believed that committing suicide would send her to Hell. It ultimately turns out that the victim allowed the killer to kill her since Monokuma was threatening to harm the students' families if a murder didn't occur soon.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cookie's Fortune: Camille and Cora discover that their aunt Cookie committed suicide. Worried about how this will reflect on their family, Camille stages things so it looks like Cookie was instead murdered while being robbed.
  • Don Juan, or If Don Juan Were a Woman: Jeanne believes she committed a murder and calls on her priest cousin to confess. It's eventually revealed Jeanne told a musician he had to kill himself if he wanted sex from her. She was only joking though. She didn't stick around to see if he would do as "promised" and wasn't counting on it, but he did so anyway.
  • In End of Days, one of the cops investigating a crime scene involving a man having been crucified to a ceiling after the Devil paid him a visit suggests with no trace of sarcasm in his voice that "maybe he did it to himself". Jericho, speaking for the audience, mocks him for it. The man is later revealed to be a Satanist.
  • In the original ending of Fatal Attraction, the Stalker with a Crush slits her own throat to try and make it look like the man she'd been dallying with had done it to get rid of her. Played with, as she sent him an audiotape warning that she felt suicidal. It's implied that this tape would get him out of jail. But then, she may have been too crazy to think things through.
  • In Fletch, Fletch is hired by a wealthy man to break into his house and murder him. The wannabe-victim explains that he has bone cancer and will die horribly in a few weeks, but doesn't care to commit suicide as it would invalidate his life insurance. Turns out it's a scam on the victim's part ... but that's only fair because Fletch's "junkie drifter" facade is also a pretense by his Intrepid Reporter character.
  • Invoked in Inception, as part of the overall Mind Screw.
  • A double twist variant serves as the bookend for the story in I, Robot. The robot did kill Dr. Lanning, but it was actually because Lanning told him to.
  • Zig-zagged in Knives Out: Marta, Harlan Thrombey's nurse, accidentally injected him with an overdose of morphine, and when she realised it he set up a fake alibi for her and cut his own throat because he was very old and didn't want her to have her life ruined by one genuine mistake. However, it then turns out that the drug supply was deliberately sabotaged by a would-be murderer to ensure that Marta would make that mistake. And twisted one last time when it is revealed that Marta didn't overdose Harlan after all, making the suicide pointless.
  • Layer Cake: In the Back Story, Kilburn Jerry, a member of Mortimer's gang, committed suicide at a party (due to drug-induced delirium in the book and from the trauma of being raped by their leader, Crazy Larry, in the film). The rest of the gang panicked, feeling certain that the cops wouldn't believe the story of Jerry's suicide and would think that everyone at the party conspired to kill him. So they sent Morty to dispose of the body, and he was caught in the act. Ironically, the cops did accept the story behind Jerry's suicide, but Morty still went to prison for several years for unlawful disposal of a body.
  • In Leave Her to Heaven, the insanely jealous Ellen, despondent when she realizes that everything she's done to hang on to her husband Richard (allowing his invalid brother to drown, deliberately causing herself to miscarry) has instead driven him away (he's fallen in love with her sister Ruth), poisons herself and makes it appear as though Ruth (with or without Richard's encouragement) has killed her. It almost works.
  • Happens in Narc, similar to the insurance examples below.
  • Shadow of the Thin Man has two dead bodies show up in connection with a gambling racket; a jockey whose body was found in the shower, and a corrupt journalist on the take from the racketeers, both shot. Though the connection between them is tenuous at best, Nick bets Lt. Abrams that "there was only one murderer". He's right, but not in the obvious way; the jockey committed (accidental) suicide. He had thrown races on the orders of the racketeers, was afraid of being exposed, and planned to kill himself. He chickened out at the last minute, dropping the gun down the drain in the shower, but did so in such a way that the hammer hit a curve in the drainpipe and the gun went off. Nick figures this out and retrieves the gun, but conspires with Lt. Abrams to use it in Framing the Guilty Party; they will tell the press that the same person who killed the jockey killed the journalist, and the murderer will put forward a suspect to take the fall for both crimes.



  • Agatha Christie:
    • A variation in Murder at the Mews: The suicide had been without second intentions, but a friend of the deceased planted fake evidence to make it seem like it was a murder committed by the person who had driven her friend to suicide with his blackmailing.
    • Agatha Christie recycled this from "The Market Basing Mystery", which has the same method of suicide, and the same method of disguising it as murder.
    • This was attempted in Wasps' Nest. A dying man who has lost his fiancee to his best friend decided to kill himself using cyanide after convincing his love rival to purchase it for the purpose of getting rid of a wasp nest in his backyard. Thankfully, Poirot caught wind of his plot and switched out the poison with harmless soda.
    • Agatha Christie changed the ending of her Appointment with Death novel in the play adaptation. There, the tyrannical Mrs. Boynton cannot bear the thought that her family will be free from her psychological torturing of them when she dies, so she kills herself in a way that will make it look like one of them did it so she can still keep tormenting them in death. It Makes Sense in Context.
    • In And Then There Were None, the killer fakes his own murder and then commits suicide in such a way as to match the details of his 'murder'.

Individual works

  • The insurance fraud version is used in Arthur Hailey's Airport — however, here the culprit intends to blow up the whole plane he's flying in.
  • Margery Allingham's Albert Campion novel Police at the Funeral has a character who doesn't just do this, but also leaves lethal booby traps for all his relatives.
  • The Cat Who... Series: Book #6 (The Cat Who Played Post Office) has one of the people involved in a murder plot send Qwill a letter describing the plot and saying that she fears her partners will try to kill her and make it look like an accident or a suicide. Actually, it was a genuine suicide. She killed herself because her brother rejected her to marry another woman, and the letter was her way of getting revenge on him.
  • Daniel Hawthorne Novels:
    • Played with in The Word Is Murder. This turns out to be the key answer to how Diana was able to plan her funeral shortly before her murder. She was planning to commit suicide. But Robert didn't know that and he got there first.
    • In The Sentence Is Death, Greg's death has nothing to do with Philip's murder. He committed suicide rather than die, slowly and painfully, of a terminal disease.
  • The Father Brown stories use this twice, in "The Three Tools of Death" and "The Strange Crime of John Boulnois". In the first case, the fact that the death appeared to be murder was due to chance, but the second case had the more usual situation of the suicidal person deliberately trying to frame an enemy for murder. Most probably a Trope Maker.
  • In Fletch, the book by Gregory McDonald, the protagonist is hired by a wealthy man to break into his house and murder him. The wannabe-victim explains that he has bone cancer and will die horribly in a few weeks, but doesn't care to commit suicide as it would invalidate his life insurance. Turns out it's a scam on the victim's part he wants to murder Fletch... but that's only fair because the protagonist's "junkie drifter" façade is also a pretense by his Intrepid Reporter character.
  • Seishi Yokomizo's The Honjin Murders, strangely enough, combines this with Murder-Suicide; the perpetrator killed his newly-wed wife first, then used a complicated mechanism to kill himself and propel the murder weapon out of the building they were in in his last moments, in order to create the appearance of a double murder.
  • While there is plenty of reason to suspect murder, especially since it happens at around the same time as another character's disappearance, it is eventually decided that the death of Edward Janacek in the Honor Harrington series was a suicide.
  • One of Us is Lying: The essence of Simon's plan. He wanted to kill himself (because everyone hated him for publishing their secrets and someone else had come up with dirt on him) and take down four fellow students he hated (for very petty reasons) while being more original than just going on a shooting rampage, so he staged his suicide to look like one of them murdered him (in a Closed Circle so they'd be the only real suspects) so the investigation and potential murder conviction would ruin their lives.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • "The Problem of Thor Bridge". The villain sets up the evidence to frame her rival for murder, then figures out a way to shoot herself and hide the gun. Of course, Holmes discovers the one subtle clue that gives the game away. Most probably a Trope Codifier.
    • A variation in "The Norwood Builder" where the victim only faked his death in order to avenge himself on the supposed murderer- or rather the supposed murderer's mother for having refused him in his youth. He also did it to swindle his creditors by sending his money to a bank account with a different name. And it would have worked had it not been for a fingerprint belonging to the murderer being found by the police. Holmes knew the print wasn't there the previous day, which led him to realize the victim was still alive, and some quick calculations involving the size of the rooms and a straw fire led him to the truth.
    • In the Holmes sequel-by-other-hands novel The Red Tower by Mark A. Latham, a woman who is secretly dying of leukemia arranges to be found mysteriously dead in a locked room in a supposedly haunted tower, specifically for the purpose of attracting Holmes's attention. She expects that he'll eventually deduce the truth, but anticipates that in the process of doing so, he will expose the tangle of secrets and sinister forces that bedevils her family. Which, of course, he does.
  • In one of Robert B. Parker's Spenser novels, Widow's Walk, a wife covers up her husband's suicide by making it look like murder so she could collect the insurance. Not being the sharpest knife in the drawer, it didn't occur to her who the police would consider the prime suspect... He actually was killed by someone that wanted it to look like a suicide. Her rearranging things actually prompted a deeper investigation than if she had left well enough alone, especially since the life insurance would have likely paid out anyway since they had had it for several years, sidestepping most time limits on suicide.
  • In Thank You for the Love by Yulia Voznesenskaya, Victor is afraid of getting murdered (by one of his three exes or their partners), and he steals Georgy's gun, it's implied, for self-defense. He ends up shooting himself as he realises what a mess his life is. There is another factor that leads to Georgy getting suspected: Victor is naturally left-handed but learned to use his right hand for most tasks and is believed to be right-handed by most of his acquaintances, so when the wound is revealed to have been inflicted by a left-handed person, at first people don’t realise Victor could have done it himself.
  • The Thinking Machine: In "The Great Auto Mystery", a woman is found stabbed to death in the front of an open-air automobile. It is ultimately revealed that the woman was not the one everyone thought she was, that the death was really suicide and that one of the passengers knew the truth but could not say anything as it would have raised a large number of awkward questions.
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union: Meyer Landsman is trying to solve the perplexing murder of a religious prodigy, Mendel Shpilman. It ultimately turns out that Mendel killed himself because he was gay and trapped in an ultra-orthodox society.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Bones had a murder turn out to be suicide where the victim planted evidence to convict three girls who had bullied her.
  • In an episode of Boston Legal, Alan Shore and Jerry Espenson defend a woman accused of hanging her girlfriend. She looks guilty, but Shore and Espenson shine a light on the ex-girlfriend and the ex-husband as possible culprits, the former because the victim had recently amended her will to have her inherit her money and the latter because he stood to collect on her life insurance policy. It turns out the victim committed suicide and the ex-husband made it look like murder because suicide would have voided the policy.
  • Chicago Justice: In "Lily's Law", at first it looks like the victim was murdered since her mouth was duct-taped and her hands bound but is then revealed to have done this herself. Despite this, Stone charges her abusive ex-boyfriend with murder as he argues he'd driven her to it.
  • In the third series of The Bridge (2011), Saga's abusive mother kills herself and frames Saga for it.
  • On Cold Case, a doctor was revealed to have paid his friend to shoot him and make his death appear to be a random street crime (he had ruined his family with his gambling, but knew his hefty insurance policy wouldn't pay out if he killed himself).
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton: Marguerite killed herself with a laudanum overdose, it's revealed, and wasn't actually murdered.
  • The Coroner:
  • In Criminologist Himura And Mystery Writer Arisugawa, a girl is believed to be the latest victim of a serial killer preying on women. It emerges that her brother is the killer, but has suffered spinal injuries and now needs to use a wheelchair. His sister realized that police would suspect him if the murders suddenly stopped, so made her suicide look like a murder in order to get him off the hook.
  • Crossing Lines: In "Enemy of the People" the victim at first appears to have been thrown out a window. It turns out he was blackmailed though and killed himself to expose the people behind this by making his death appear to be murder, along with ensuring his family got the life insurance (as most policies do not pay out for a suicide).
  • CSI:
    • A man who lost all his money in Blackjack (trying to use the double-every-bet tactic) wedging a knife between a door hinge and slamming himself into it making it appear he was stabbed to death, so his brother could collect his life insurance.
    • A hunter makes his suicide look like a hunting accident to allow for a generous life insurance payout to his wife.
    • "Deep Fried and Minty Fresh" has Catherine, Langston et. al. dealing with a woman who sought to escape her financial woes and rocky marriage by framing her husband for her 'murder'. The 'murder weapon' was ingested poison — namely, two full tubes of fluoridated toothpaste. (It Makes Sense in Context.)
    • A subversion occurs in "Who Shot Sherlock?", where the victim is the Holmes of a Sherlock Holmes club. Greg finds the gun attached to an elastic cord, concealed in the fireplace. It looks like The Problem of Thor Bridge, but it turns out the victim was drugged with morphine instead of Holmes' habitual cocaine, and it's a murder disguised as a suicide disguised as a murder.
    • Hodges' 'death' (actually a scenario for his board game) in "You Kill Me" turns out to be a staged suicide.
    • Another episode involves a man who shot himself in the back of the head outdoors with a gun attached to helium balloons. The gun floated away but did eventually come down to earth and is recovered.
  • CSI: NY:
    • "Cool Hunter": A woman fakes her suicide to look like (a) she'd had an affair with the married doctor she blamed for her child's death and that (b) he'd killed her.
    • Apparent murders are discovered to be the results of suicide pacts in both "Blood, Sweat and Tears" and "What Schemes May Come."
    • In an arc culminating in "...Comes Around", it is finally revealed that a serial killer arranged his suicide to make it look like Mac had thrown him off a roof while handcuffed, causing Mac's career to be in jeopardy for a while.
    • "Holding Cell": A young man stages his suicide to look like a murder to prevent his perfectionist mother from finding out he had inherited his father's depression. (During his childhood, his father had done the same. He'd discovered the body, but his mother had covered the suicide up to save face.)
  • Dead Man's Gun: In "Death Warrant", Katherine Morrison exacts her final revenge on Bounty Hunter John Pike by framing him for her murder. Dying of a Convenient Terminal Illness, she waits until he is holding the eponymous gun on her, then suddenly reaches forward, grabs Pike's hand, and squeezes the trigger. With her dead by his gun, and no witnesses to prove his innocence, Pike is forced to go on the run: hunted like the outlaws he had pursued.
  • Death in Paradise
    • An episode featured an elderly woman who made a voodoo prediction about her own death at the hands of a "scarred man" and then died in suspicious circumstances the next day. As it turns out, she had long suspected this particular scarred man of her daughter's murder, and she faked her own murder at his hands in order to get the police to investigate him again.
    • In another episode, it looks like this when it a while into the episode turns out to be suicide made to look like a robbery gone wrong so the insurance pays out. There's one more twist left to be played, however... the victim had been manipulated into committing suicide by his doctor, who had gone so far as to lie the victim had a terminal illness.
    • In yet another episode, this becomes clear towards the end of the episode. Unlike the above examples, the person committing suicide wasn't involved in making it appear as if he'd been murdered. It was the victim's friends that arranged that when they found the body, in a bid to frame a faux-friend who was lying to and blackmailing the victim.
  • Downton Abbey: This is the fate of Vera Bates. It's confirmed in the third season that Vera did, in fact, kill herself with an arsenic-laced pie.
  • Elementary:
    • A woman faking her own murder got the plot rolling in the episode "On The Line", loosely based on the Conan Doyle Thor Bridge story. The audience saw her go through with it in the cold open, including a 911 call where she identifies an old enemy of hers as her "assailant". Sherlock figures it out pretty quickly but soon regrets exposing the plot, because the man she framed was a sadistic Serial Killer.
    • Season one episode "You Do It To Yourself" featured a professor shot dead in front of witnesses, in his eyes — which looked like a vicious revenge killing. The truth is, he hired his own hitman after being diagnosed with an incurable and fatal illness, whose first symptom manifests in the eyes — and out of spite, he arranged things so that evidence would point to his Teacher's Assistant (and his wife's lover) hiring the hitman.
  • A variant happens in one episode Ellery Queen. The Victim of the Week actually does commit suicide, but the two people who find the body make it look like murder so they can claim the victim's life insurance.
  • On Emmerdale, Chris Tate found out he had a brain tumour and only months to live, so he arranged a meeting with his Gold Digger wife Charity and drank poisoned wine in order to frame her for his murder.
  • Father Brown: Happens in "The Hangman's Demise". The Victim of the Week commits suicide in a manner designed to look like murder and leaves evidence framing one of his friends. Overlaps with Framing the Guilty Party, because the reason he did it was that he had learned his friend had committed a murder years ago and gotten away with it. By making him out to have committed this murder, he was attempting to ensure the friend would still go to the gallows.
  • A Forever Victim of the Week did this accidentally: she intentionally overdosed on her medication to induce a simple, quiet death with the intent of going out whilst looking upon a painting created by a long-lost lover. Unfortunately, an unanticipated delay between her overdose and her arrival at the painting caused her to fall down a flight of stairs and suffer severe injuries. Undeterred, she then crawled on the floor to get that one last look at her beloved's painting; this unfortunately created the impression that she had been beaten and that she desperately attempted to escape her attacker before she succumbed. The first suspect was the man who had unwittingly caused that delay.
  • Used in several soap operas, particularly on Guiding Light. Devastated when her husband Josh leaves her to reunite with ex Reva, Annie suffers a miscarriage. However, the baby remains in her womb. At a party, Annie lured Reva to the top of a steep staircase, provoked her into an argument, then made it appear as though Reva had shoved her down the stairs. Reva was charged with manslaughter for the death of the baby until it was proven that the baby had died long before Annie fell down the stairs.
  • Law & Order:
    • An unhappy husband on Law & Order framed his wife and her boyfriend. Awesomely pulled off, by the way. He hired a hitman with an account of his wife's. Planted evidence that incriminated the two in the boyfriend's apartment and among the wife's things. To pull all this off, however, he had to borrow money from his best friend. To make sure his friend wouldn't be caught up in his plot, he made a Video Will in which the "victim" revealed that it was his plot. Then the "victim" has a good laugh about it.]]
    • A woman on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit made her death look so much like a homicide (having several high-powered and/or married lovers and a sexually abusive father helped) that no one even thought it was a suicide until her sister received the note.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
      • A woman framed her husband for her murder to send him to prison while protecting her daughter from an Awful Truth: her husband was a Jew-hating serial killer and she'd discovered she was a Jew (which made her daughter one by extension)]].
      • In another episode, a young mother with severe, untreated postpartum depression blows up her car to kill herself and her children. She never specifically says she meant for it to look like murder, but it's mentioned that she rejected another method (carbon monoxide poisoning by intentionally breaking a space heater) because people would know what she had done, implying she wanted people to think someone besides her was responsible.
    • On Law & Order: UK, Matt is rocked when a police officer who's his longtime friend is found shot dead in his car in a park. Matt is strident hunting his killer and thinks it might have been a suspected pedophile priest. But the evidence soon indicates that Pete actually shot himself. The two patrol officers who found the body admit they had discovered Pete with the gun in hand and made it look like a murder so his wife could collect on his pension (which she wouldn't be eligible for under a suicide). Matt is convinced Pete's suicide was driven by abuse from that priest and dedicates himself to bringing him to justice.
  • In The Leftovers, Kevin wakes up from a fugue state to find he's kidnapped cult leader Patty Levin and driven her out to the woods. She eventually stabs herself in the throat with a piece of glass and Kevin buries her with help from Matt Jamison. When Kevin eventually confesses, the cops tell him they're done protecting cults and they don't care if his version of events is true or not.
  • Happened in a McMillan & Wife episode where the "victim" was trying to frame cast regular Sgt. Enright.
  • Murder, She Wrote:
    • The wife of a chronically ill man who killed himself concealed the suicide because he would have not been buried in the church if she hadn't, suicide being a sin and all. Interesting as there was no "murderer" set up.
    • Another example: Jessica has to save an old Irish cop friend who is set up by a career criminal dying of brain cancer. He used a hollow wall and a stone to drag the gun out of view.
    • Another episode had a dying Italian winery owner who invited his daughter's latest boyfriend, who he knew to be a Mob hitman, to the house in hopes the hitman would kill him and his death would make the family work together. Unfortunately, the plan went wrong and the vintner killed the assassin.
    • A prison doctor commits suicide via overdose in her office out of fear that the graft and corruption she's been a part of for years is going to be found out thanks to the new warden's reforms. The reason Jessica and everyone else thought the doctor had been murdered was because of the deputy warden hiding the suicide note and using a false set of fingerprints to identify the ones on the morphine vial. The episode later does feature a straightforward murder when the deputy warden has an accomplice kill a potential loose thread.
    • One episode began with the viewer apparently witnessing the murder, albeit with a restricted view, only to eventually reveal that what we saw was the victim commiting suicide in front of his blackmailer (who, of course, can't tell the police why he was there). He didn't even intend to frame the guy, he just wanted him to know why he was doing it.
  • NCIS: "Reasonable Doubt" has the wife and the mistress of a Navy journalist accuse each other of his murder. The problem is, Team Gibbs can't arrest either of them because no matter who they chose, there's enough ambiguity in the evidence to establish reasonable doubt that it could have been the other one, making it impossible for a jury to convict. It turns out the guy killed himself, and that the two women set up the ambiguous crime scene to collect and split the life insurance money as it wouldn't pay out on a suicide.
  • The assassin variation occurs in The Odd Job, which was originally a half-hour comedy skit starring Ronnie Barker, later remade as a film starring Graham Chapman. The main character asks a hitman to kill him but then changes his mind. Hilarity and death ensues.
  • Similar to one of the examples for The Coroner above, one episode of Pie in the Sky has two partners in an air delivery service disguise the suicide of a third partner as a murder and burglary to avoid having their insurance invalidated. This, coupled with one of their clients being a known former drug dealer, leads ACC Fisher to think they were involved in the drug trade and killed the third partner to keep him quiet.
  • In an episode of Psych, Shawn spends the whole episode trying to figure out who's been sabotaging a stunt biker, until realizing that he's dying of cancer, and only insured for ring accidents so he's been sabotaging himself so his wife and son could be well off after he dies.
  • An episode of Quantum Leap had Dr. Beckett playing an attorney whose client was accused of murdering a neighbor. The neighbor's daughter had disappeared under mysterious circumstances when a little girl and the neighbor always believed that the client was responsible. Sam eventually discovers that the neighbor slit her own throat with one of the client's kitchen knives to invoke this trope.
  • Remington Steele In the first season episode "In the Steele of the Night", a group of Laura’s former colleagues gather at their old boss’ house. He is killed in the elevator – and different staged evidence points to different people. The last set of evidence points to Laura – but Steele proves it was suicide. In this case, the goal was to give them all a bad weekend of being accused. Scheduled service for the elevator would have revealed his suicide.
  • This sort of situation caused a client of Jim Rockford's to do 20 years on the The Rockford Files.
  • The title character of Sherlock apparently drew this conclusion when he and Watson played the board game Cluedo in the "The Hounds of Baskerville" episode, thinking it's the "only possible solution".
    John: It's not actually possible for the victim to have done it, Sherlock!
    Sherlock It was the only possible solution!
    Watson: It's not in the rules!
    Sherlock: Then the rules are wrong!
  • In Stargate Universe, the episode "Justice" deals with the crew investigating what looks like a suicide, but the gun used was missing from the scene, only to be found in Colonel Young's room and turning it into a murder trial. It later turns out that Spencer had committed suicide and Dr Rush planted the weapon in Young's room, not to frame him, but to throw enough doubt on him to get him replaced by someone would would permit Rush to conduct experiments on the Ancient Control Chair.
  • Wild Bill: In "Welcome to Boston" the victim whose death Bill investigates who was beheaded turns out to have killed herself, jumping from a wind turbine which beheaded her.

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura has one quest where this trope features: a jerk of an elven wizard stages a suicide to look like murder to frame the hypotenuse]]. The player character can unravel the scheme... or play right into it. It'll only work if you play into it, too, since the people 'investigating' the case just jumped to the obvious suspect — who as it turns out was not the actual target for framing since he was really only the obvious suspect for being the wrong race and having an obvious motive (whether he had opportunity was not looked at).
  • In A Hat in Time, the chapter "Murder on the Orient Express" has the protagonist starring in a detective film where the victim has apparently been stabbed in the back with a knife. One of the suspects that you can accuse is the victim himself, who reveals that he was indeed faking it.
  • Right before the end credits roll on Max Payne 3, a news report states that the Big Bad was found hanging in his jail cell, and though it's speculated that he most likely killed himself out of grief for the hand he played in the game's events, it was mentioned that it was also probable that he may have been killed to keep the truth from leaking out.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney features this in case 4. The trial which eventually leads to Phoenix's disbarment is one in which Phoenix is defending Zak Gramarye (real name: Shadi Enigmar), who is suspected of murdering his mentor, Magnifi Gramarye. During the trial, it's shown that Zak was sent instructions to kill Magnifi by Magnifi himself (who was already dying of cancer); however, it's revealed that Valant, Magnifi's other apprentice, also got the instructions and that Magnifi was testing his apprentices to see who was worthy of his inheritance. Phoenix proves that Valant manipulated the time of death, leading one to the thought that Valant is the murderer. However, after investigating, Phoenix learns that both Zak and Valant could not have committed the crime, leaving no other possible suspects. It's not until seven years after the trial ends that Phoenix finds out Magnifi committed suicide, as he had always planned to.
    • Happens in Case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Spirit of Justice. It isn't until the end of it that Phoenix concludes that Tahrust Inmee wasn't murdered — he killed himself and framed Maya Fey. But not on a personal vendetta; he just wanted to hide his pregnant wife's previous Accidental Murder and cover up a secret hideout of an organization he belonged to — It Makes Sense in Context.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Sakura Ogami's death in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc turns out to have been a suicide; the victim had just admitted she was blackmailed into being The Mole, and she knew her continued presence was a ticking time bomb that would eventually get someone killed. So she locked herself in a room and drank some poison. Unfortunately for the player, Monokuma tampers with the suicide note, leading Aoi Asahina to believe she did what she did out of despair and try to cover up the suicide to get everyone killednote , since she considered them responsible for the despair Sakura supposedly felt that led to her committing suicide.
    • Nagito Komaeda's death in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair turns out to be a convoluted assisted suicide. He had a number of knife wounds and a spear sticking out of him. All these were self-inflicted in an elaborate way to make it look like they weren't, but he didn't die of injury. He actually tricked one of the students into poisoning him, so that whether he died of the poison or by dropping the spear (as a result of being poisoned), the student would have technically killed him. This would still be ruled a suicide in a real court, but Monokuma has a vested interest in having a Blackened in every case, so poor Chiaki is executed anyway.
    • Kokichi Oma's death in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony was a very similar gambit. After he and Kaito were poisoned by Maki, he gives Kaito the antidote and emotionally blackmails him into helping him with his Thanatos Gambit so she wouldn't be labeled as his killer. He comes up with a plan to end the Deadly Game by turning his death into a "murder" that not even Monokuma knew the answer to and has Kaito pilot a mech with a voice changer and a script of lines he prepared in advance to pretend to be him.

  • In Riverside Extras, the death of Henry Baxter, member of the Ink gang. The widespread assumption is that Ophelia killed him as part of the ongoing gang war between the Ink and the Roses. She was the last person with him that night, but she didn't come to kill him but instead to offer him a place with the Roses, now that Baxter had lost power in the ink following an internal coup. Baxter, loyal to the old Ink regime and filled with bitter hatred for the Roses, kills himself rather than compromise. Unfortunately, Henry's daughter Meredith believes that it was murder, and she almost kills Ophelia for it.
  • Implied in Something*Positive. Kharisma and her fiance's uncle, Avogadro, don't like each other, but he issues a challenge out of boredom: he would change his will to make her his sole heir, then change it back on Thanksgiving. If she could kill him by then and get away with it, then his fortune would be hers. She tries repeatedly, but fails, only for him to die the night before Thanksgiving. It's never clear if it was suicide or just his terrible health, but either way, all the evidence from Kharisma's actual murder attempts points to her as the culprit. She's convicted, and to add insult to injury, he lied about putting her in his will.

    Web Original 
  • Black Jack Justice
    • "Justice Be Done" features Jack and Trixie going to the reading of the will for Mordecai Brasseau, an occasional but not particularly well-liked client. The will, actually a recording of Mordecai reading it, requests the detectives find out who murdered him. He was poisoned gradually over a long period, a period so long that none of the suspects, his last wife, his son, his daughter, and his lawyer, were ever around him long enough to pull it off alone and mostly hated one another too much to do it together. Because of this, Jack and Trixie realize that Mordecai's murderer was Mordecai himself, that his "murder" was an act geared towards getting his estranged family to realize how insensitively they had behaved towards him since all they had seemed to want was his wealth. To honor Mordecai's wishes, they decide to put on a big deductive show making it clear why each person is a suspect, revealing why they couldn't have done it, then revealing the truth. They aren't particularly proud of themselves over the act, regarding this as the worst of the multiple bad cases Mordecai had brought them.
    • "A Simple Case of Black and White" features Jack and Trixie being hired by a pro bowler, Jim White, who wants to reunite with the woman and child he ran out on. However, when Jack and Trixie find the woman and her little boy, they return to their client to find him murdered, shot in the stomach by a gun registered to the woman's current husband, Donald Black. The gun was reported stolen a year ago and the detectives realize that White was in town for a tournament at that time. Their theory becomes that White was in town last year, found his ex with a new husband and son with a new father, and plotted revenge against the man he felt had taken what was his. To this end, they determine, the gutshot was deliberate, a slow and painful means of death in order to give himself time to get rid of the evidence of his suicide. The episode ends with police lieutenant Sabien telling everyone that confirmation of this theory was waiting on snaking the glove White had worn to keep powder burns off his hands from his toilet.

    Real Life 
  • A Darwin Award was awarded to someone who (supposedly) accidentally did this in Real Life. He climbed into his neighbor's bathroom and stabbed himself in the chest, planning to blame his neighbor for it. Thinking the first wound didn't look deep enough, he stabbed himself again, this time fatally.
  • Popular opinion believes that writer (and Sherlock Holmes scholar) Richard Lancelyn Green's death was an elaborate suicide, intended to look like murder, in order to cast suspicion upon one of his rivals.
  • It's believed that Arthur Conan Doyle's Trope Codifier was based on an incident described in the homicide investigation handbook of criminalist Tom Gross, in which an Austrian grain merchant in serious debt attempted this in hopes of providing a life insurance payout to his family
  • A suicide staged to look like a murder was the official conclusion in the 1978 death of Leonard Fagot.
  • Books on forensic medicine usually include case histories or crime-scene descriptions of real deaths that initially appeared to be suicide and were later ruled to be murders or vice versa.
    • A particularly well-thought-out one was where the woman pointed the gun at herself from above and in front of her chest and shot herself through her clothes. A woman who commits suicide by gun usually does it from below and under her clothes. The forensic specialist had one of those indescribable hunches, and performed a test on the woman's hands for gunpowder residue; it came back positive. This, combined with the total lack of gunpowder on her ex-boyfriend's hands (and he'd been tested far too soon to wash or otherwise destroy the evidence) led to the verdict of suicide, not murder. (Yes, it was a revenge plot.)
  • Fox Lake, Illinois cop Charles Joseph "Joe" Gliniewicz committed suicide on September 1, 2015, and tried to make his death seemingly look like he was murdered with his own gun by unknown assailants. He did so because he was about to get caught for embezzling money from a youth police explorer's program.
  • In 2009, prominent Guatemalan attorney Rodrigo Rosenberg planned his own assassination with the intent to frame Alvaro Colom, president of Guatemala. Rosenberg's mistress and her father had been killed in a shooting a month before, and Rosenberg was convinced the government killed them to cover up a money-laundering scheme.
  • Attempted by Thomas G. Doty when he blew up an airplane. Facing charges of armed robbery, he decided to purchase a number of generous life insurance policies along with a bundle of dynamite, which he detonated in the lavatory. Unfortunately for his family, when his plot was uncovered the insurance companies denied their attempts to collect a payout, giving them only a 3$ refund.
  • A case report describes an attempt to try this using a method similar to the one described in A Return to Thorn Bridge. Unfortunately for the man, the rope wound up getting caught on a drainage opening, causing police to realize what had happened.