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The Murder After

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DI Bob Smith is in a bar. He meets Alice Jones, a rather attractive woman. They have a few drinks and a talk. A few more drinks, then a Ugandan discussion.

They finish and Bob falls asleep. He wakes up in the morning — with Alice's blood-covered corpse. He's just become the prime suspect for her murder.

That's one of a number of scenarios. Will Bob be Mistaken for Murderer? Is it an elaborate Frame-Up? What can Bob do to Clear His Name? Often What Did I Do Last Night? is a Driving Question— what if Bob really did kill the victim while he was under the influence? Looks like we have a Whodunnit on our hands, often with the extra twist that Bob himself can be a detective or a cop.

See Sex Signals Death, Out with a Bang. Compare and contrast The Schlub Pub Seduction Deduction, where it's the man who winds up the victim of a Honey Trap. Also compare You Wake Up in a Room, Bedmate Reveal. Overlaps with Body in a Breadbox, as this is an unlikely place to dispose of a corpse, and The Corpse Stops Here, as whoever is found next to the body will probably be the default suspect.


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     Anime and Manga 
  • In the Weiß Kreuz Dramatic Precious Drama CD collection, Yoji has this happen to him. As he's been suffering from PTSD and developed a tendency to freak out and start choking his partners during sex, he's not at all sure he didn't kill her. The actual murderer is his new "friend" Ayame, a member of La Mort.

    Comic Books 
  • This kicks off the first Sin City story, "The Hard Goodbye", which has Marv having the night of his life with a hooker by the name of Goldie who is murdered in his bed. He is swiftly framed for the murder, setting off a Roaring Rampage of Revenge as he hunts down the ones responsible.
  • Jack Point from The Simping Detective has this happen to him. Naturally, almost everyone he knows happens to visit him that morning...
  • The Scorpion: In In the Name of the Father, Trebaldi's brother wakes up to find his lover lying dead next to him. This is not an attempt to frame him for murder, but a warning from his father that he can get to him anywhere.
  • The Penguin does this to the governor of whatever state Gotham City is in in Batman #23.3 (a.k.a. Penguin #1). He drugs the governor with a venom derivative and arranges for him to murder a prostitute, filming the whole thing. The governor wakes up next to the murdered girl's body with no memory of what happened.

  • "The Hard Goodbye" part of Sin City: A Dame to Kill For follows the same storyline as the comic book, which is based on this trope.
  • Seen from the other side on The Godfather Part II, where Senator Geary is drugged in a room with a prostitute, plied with booze and what not. He wakes up - she's dead, the result of Michael Corleone having her killed so that way they can blackmail Geary into becoming an ally. It's implied that Al Neri is responsible as he is shown idly washing his hands afterwards.
  • In Barton Fink, Audrey spends the night with Barton in his hotel room. When he wakes up in the morning, she's an extremely bloody mess. In his panic, he turns to his neighbor Charlie, who disposes of the body for him… only to find out later that Charlie is in fact a serial killer and is making Barton a bit of a special project.
  • In Fletch Lives, the titular character sleeps with an attractive lawyer only to find her dead when he wakes up, leading to this priceless reaction:
    Fletch: [Deadpan] It was good, but not THAT good!
  • Happens at the beginning of Red Corner, starring Richard Gere. Also, the whole plot of this movie is based on this trope.
  • This is how Dark City starts, with John waking up in a bathtub and a dead prostitute in the next room. Of course he was framed, but the reason why is far more bizarre than he could have imagined: the entire city is being controlled by telepathic aliens who are trying to understand the human soul.
  • Subverted in Taking Lives. The morning after having sex, Illeana wakes up to find James partially covered in blood. James is fine, though, his stitches popped in the night and he just has to go back to the ER to have them reapplied.
  • In the Humphrey Bogart film In a Lonely Place, Bogart's character invites a woman to his apartment to summarize a book for him. Shortly after she leaves, she is found murdered, and he becomes the prime suspect. Despite what the woman and the police initially assume, "summarizing a book" is really all that happens between them.
  • The Morning After (1986). Jane Fonda's character wakes up next to a corpse after a drunken one-night stand. Is she the murderer or the potential next victim?
  • In 68 Kill, Monica and her gang leave an unconscious Chip in his motel room with a dead body: planning to call the cops and let him take the fall. Chip spoils the plan by waking up sooner than they expected and leaving.


    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI, Warrick and a stripper who is found dead in his car.
    • Happened in an earlier episode to Nick with a recurring character (who was also a prostitute). By all means it shouldn't have been an issue (he informs his superiors that he was there and does everything by the book) but then the actual killer (a man who was harassing her before Nick came along) comes forward and claims he saw Nick carry out the murder.
    • Subverted in another episode, where an extremely overweight woman falls asleep on top of her date, and he suffocates to death. She decides to cover up the deed and when the evidence starts pointing towards her, even "confesses" to the team that she murdered him preferring to go to jail than deal with the humiliation of the truth getting out (which eventually does).
    • And it is used straight again as a tertiary case in another episode, where a dead prostitute is found next to a man who claims to not remember a thing. Turns out she slipped off in the bath, cut her head open, then tried to get the guy to call for help but he was too drunk to wake up, and she eventually passed out while dialing 911 herself.
  • Likewise in an episode of NCIS, where a murderess seduces a man in order to let him be found in the bed with her victim. It looks pretty bad.
  • A non-cop example: the entire plot of the BBC1 five-part drama Criminal Justice.
  • In the Angel episode "Harm's Way", Harmony woke up with a man drained of all blood after Angel instituted a zero-tolerance policy on drinking human blood. Her attempts to clear her name were..somewhat inept.
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Reno 911!. The male members of the squad find Garcia in bed with a dead woman. Everybody starts to panic, then Dangle starts ordering the others to clean up the room, using bleach to eliminate forensic evidence and preparing to load up the body. Finally the woman pops up, and everyone yells "Surprise!" It turns out to be a surprise birthday party and cruel prank all in one.
  • Happens in Stargate SG-1. Cameron Mitchell is framed for the murder of an alien scientist, including memory implantation so that even he thinks he did it. It was actually another guy, but after implanting the memory into Mitchell he erased the memory in his own head, thus they can't prosecute him because he doesn't remember it.
  • A lot of episodes of the Law and Orders use this.
    • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: A guy wakes up with the corpse of a woman he'd just met who was killed by his mistress and her lawyer/lover
    • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: A guy wakes up to find his head split open and a dead woman in his bed he killed her when he was blacked-out drunk and doesn't remember. He does feel sorry in the end though
  • Happens to Mulder and Scully's superior, AD Walter Skinner, in The X-Files. Except it turns out the woman who's found dead next to him might be in fact a succubus... Or it could have been set up by the conspiracy group.
  • Happens to Lex Luthor in an episode of Smallville.
  • Faked as part of a con in the Leverage episode "The Morning After Job".
  • Happens in an episode of Hercules: The Legendary Journeys where Hercules wakes up to find his wife murdered in bed next to him and becomes a suspect having believed to have gone insane It was actually the work of his half-brother Ares
  • This is the Inciting Incident for the investigation in The Night Of. The first episode shows, well, the night of: Nasir gets lost in Manhattan and meets a beautiful woman who gives him drugs and booze and persuades him to play Five-Finger Fillet with her (badly) before they have sex. He wakes up hours later in the kitchen, goes upstairs, and finds her brutally murdered. Freaking out at finding himself in a crime scene so damning only a TV writer could come up with it, he grabs the bloody knife they played with the night before and flees the scene. He's convinced he didn't do it but has no other explanation for what could have happened while he was blacked out.
  • Motive: In "Best Enemies", a sleazy photographer wakes up following a drunken party next to the Body of the Week: his assistant whom he had been pressuring to have sex with him.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent: In "Lonelyville", a writer is blackmailed after waking up next to the body of one of the two women who picked him up in a bar.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: In Season 5's "Texas vs. Cahill", Alex wakes up next to an ex-boyfriend and finds him shot to death. Unusually, this wasn't after having sex; he'd stopped by her house to talk and she doesn't remember anything afterwards. It turns out that he drugged her so that he and some criminal associates could blackmail her with incriminating pictures, but they double-crossed him and decided to frame her for his murder.

  • Unsounded: Duane's body was dragged to a love hotel to hide out while his soul was in the khert, and he wakes to find that he's sharing a bed with a ripped apart and half devoured body. He is horrified and quite disgusted because he'd usually quite good at restraining his body before night falls, but in this case there's no question it was Duane responsible, even if he wasn't "home" at the time.