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The Summation

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"You'd already worked out where I was! You could have sent the police to arrest me at any time, but instead you had to have your big finale, bring everyone here to show them how clever you've been!"
Number Four, The Big Four (TV adaptation)

The part of the show (typically at the end) where the protagonist reveals how the crime was committed. An essential part of a Locked Room Mystery. Another common approach is to have the summation serve as a Framing Device for a Whole Episode Flashback. In a Fair-Play Whodunnit, the start of the summation is a signal to the reader that they have all the clues and should pause reading if they wish to solve the mystery themselves.

Frequently overlaps with After-Action Villain Analysis, with the distinction being that the AAVA is about the why and this is about the how. Also frequently related to the Kirk Summation. May take the form of a Summation Gathering and often includes Necro Cam. Flashback-Montage Realization is essentially a mental version of this.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Ciel and Sebastian from Black Butler sum just about everything that happened during the murder mystery arc and how it was to the Wordsmith Arther.
  • The titular character of Case Closed can't NOT do this. He does it so compulsively that the detective he regularly pretends to be has become famous for passing out and then giving a "deduction show" while unconscious. In fact, Conan does this SO compulsively that at the end of the 11th movie, the delay NEARLY KILLS the cast, as he's giving the summation in an underwater cavern filling up with water and poisonous gas during an EARTHQUAKE.
  • Basically the entire last episode of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex acted as one because the series is just that complicated.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya did this once, with plenty of Shout Outs to Phoenix Wright.
  • This is an essential element of The Kindaichi Case Files.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Naturally, Sherlock Holmes is fond of explaining crimes to people.
    • In A Study in "S", Sherlock explains the details of the crimes to John while riding in Hope's carriage so Hope can overhear the deduction.
    • In the The Two Detectives, he has a Summation Gathering to explain the crime to everyone and pin down the criminal.
    • In The Phantom of Whitechapel after lying about the culprit of the murders to Lestrade, he bursts out and confesses the real story he deduced, laying the blame on The Lord of Crime, to John.
  • Happens all the time in Spiral with Ayumi, primarily, explaining the various mysteries.
  • When Agero from Tower of God explains why and how he made his team lose the Hide-And-Seek test against Quant to Lero-ro.

    Comic Books 
  • At the end of the first arc of Fables, Bigby Wolf, the Fabletown sheriff, gets to do one of these about Rose Red's not-murder, calling it the "parlor room scene" and explaining that it's every detective's dream to perform it.
  • Done by Gabe in just about every issue of The Maze Agency. Occasionally lampshaded by having another character think they've solved the mystery and do the summation, only for Gabe to explain why they are wrong and provide the true solution.
  • Being a Badass Normal detective, Batman naturally tends to do this.

    Films — Animated 
  • Subverted in Resident Evil: Degeneration, where Claire is making one at Senator Davis, explaining his motives for causing the havoc in the film...until Leon shows up and says someone they apprehended earlier has spilled the beans, and Senator Davis is entirely innocent, if still a sleazebag.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Brick has the protagonist, Brendan, giving it to the mastermind behind it all, to prove they're well and truly caught. He only gets one detail wrong: the identity of the father.
  • At the climax of Clue Wadsworth the butler (Tim Curry) performs a reenactment of every single event of the evening at top speed by himself, including several impersonations.
    Wadsworth: And To Make a Long Story Short
    Everyone Else: Too late!
    • His summation is not helpful in identifying the killer. In fact, in two of the Multiple Endings, his explanation of how the murders of Mr. Boddy and the cook were committed is flat-out wrong.
  • Spoofed in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, where the Private Detective argues over his right to give The Summation versus the Big Bad's right to his Just Between You and Me speech. They start alternating, then revealing the whole scheme simultaneously.
  • In Dial M for Murder, one of the characters gives the summation as a purely hypothetical imagining of what could have happened, not realizing that that is exactly what did happen.
  • Played with in Hot Fuzz. Once where Sgt. Angel confronts Skinner, and lays out why he thinks he's committed the murders; Nothing comes of it, because as it turns out Angel's wrong on a few points, which (for the moment) exonerates Skinner. The second time is a Summation by the Neighborhood Watch Alliance, but it's the culprits giving it to the hero, who's just shocked and amazed by the meager justification they had for killing people.
  • Deconstructed in Knives Out. Blanc summons the villain to a room and explains in great detail how they committed the crime, and then an associate dupes them into confessing. The villain, with nothing left to lose, promptly grabs a nearby knife and attacks. If it hadn't been a prop knife, that would have been the end of poor Marta.
  • The first Mission: Impossible film shows Ethan Hunt's internal summations (there are two possible solutions, depending on whether or not there was an accomplice) during a conversation with the Big Bad, while Ethan is verbally agreeing with the Big Bad that someone else did it.
  • Sherlock Holmes (2009) uses this trope. The Detective does this almost constantly—he doesn't even wait until the end of the film! This is because this is how Holmes' mind works—he is constantly analyzing things to their conclusion.
  • A Shot in the Dark. By the end of the movie Inspector Clouseau still hasn't been able to work out who the killer is, so he gathers everyone in the one room and starts giving an overly long summation of how he detected the killer, while ordering his deputy to turn out the lights at a particular time so the guilty culprit will panic and flee. Because their watches haven't been synchronised Clouseau has to ramble on for so long the guilty parties start confessing anyway (it turns out everyone in the room commited one crime or another) so when the lights go out they all flee and get blown up by a car bomb meant for Clouseau.
  • The Usual Suspects: Subverted as part of the infamous plot twist. Agent Kujan believes he has figured out that Keaton was Keyser Soze and explains this to Verbal Kint, complete with revelatory montage. The explanation seems to hold water and Verbal is allowed to go. Seconds later, Kujan realizes that Verbal's story, from which Kujan created his explanation, was completely fabricated—Verbal himself is Keyser Soze.

  • The Harry Potter series:
    • Harry gets one in The Chamber of Secrets, near the end, he explains to Ron what the monster is and how it's been getting around the castle, having figured it out from the torn page they found in Hermione's hand.
    • In The Deathly Hallows, Harry works the Summation into his "The Reason You Suck" Speech as he and Voldemort are facing off in the climax.
  • Every book by Agatha Christie.
    • Averted in the first book to feature Miss Marple (The Murder at the Vicarage), where Miss Marple gives the summation to the police officers and the viewpoint character, but the criminal's actual arrest, breakdown and trial take place offscreen.
  • Murder on the Leviathan: A detective gave a summation 2/3rds of the way through.
    • Fandorin also has a related one where he sums up the evidence with "(Statement). That is one. (Statement) That is two," and so forth, but this is usually part way through while he is still considering hypotheses.
  • There's a long one at the end of China Miéville's The City & the City.
  • Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers story, "Northwestward": Just before Henry goes into his summation of why Cecil Pennyworth didn’t explain his failure to to go North Dakota, he asks Mr Wayne for the Exact Words used by Mr Pennyworth. From there, he’s able to explain how a servant couldn’t question their master and why Cecil wouldn’t imagine why they’d need to apologize for worrying Mr Wayne.
  • If not the Ur example., definitely a codifier for the trope: The Sherlock Holmes books are almost nothing but this trope.
  • Gideon the Ninth: Having worked out who the murderer is, necromancer Palamedes Sextus confronts the killer in their chambers and lays out everything they've done since their arrival at Canaan House, including their real identity, how they killed their victims and their reasons for doing so. Unlike most examples, the summation isn't done for the benefit of other characters. It's to stall for time, so that Palamedes can push the murderer's terminal cancer into overdrive and, in case that fails to kill her, so that he can blow himself up with her in the room.
  • Not exactly a crime, but at the end of Stephen Fry's novel The Hippopotamus, the narrator, Ted, gives a brilliant summation of how all of David's so-called miracles were not his responsibility at all.
  • Albert Campion mystery Dancers in Mourning. Campion has finished the summation when he realizes he's all wrong.
  • Radiance has a particularly strange one. Anchises summons together all the suspects needed to determine what happened to Severin on Adonis. This group includes people dead, people alive but normally in no condition to function properly, Severin herself, an in-universe fictional detective, and several cartoon characters. Everyone takes this all in stride.
  • In Star Wars: Kenobi, Ben stops by Annileen's room after rescuing Jabe from A'Yark's Sand People to explain how Jabe got caught up with Orrin's schemes, and exactly how and why Orrin has been defrauding the inhabitants of the Oasis out of their money. Then he lays out a rough plan for what he's going to do about it, and what he wants Annileen and her family to do.
  • Played with in The Patchwork Girl. The villain realises Gil Hamilton is closing in, so confronts him at gunpoint and invites Gil to talk himself out of being shot, leading to this trope. After all, there would be little point in killing Gil if another policeman could follow the same chain of clues.
  • Parodied by Dave Barry in "The Columnist's Caper":
    "Good job of saving the entire world, Crater," the president said. "But I have one question: How did you know Miss Prendergast never heard the cathedral bell?"
    "Easy, sir," answered Crater. "You see, Lord Copperbottom is left-handed, so the gardener couldn't possibly have taken the key from the night stand."

    Live Action TV 
  • Once an Episode in Death in Paradise, following a "Eureka!" Moment and coupled with a Summation Gathering. The trend was started by D.I. Richard Poole and continued - complete with lampshading at least once that this isn't normal or even particularly sensible as regards making an arrest - by his successors Humphrey Goodman, Jack Mooney and Neville Parker.
  • This occurs in nearly every episode of Monk, usually from the title character. The line "Here's what happened" normally starts them.
    • This was subverted on "Mr. Monk and the Garbage Strike": Monk, driven insane by a garbage strike, gets the summation wrong several times, culminating in an insane story about Alice Cooper murdering a man so he could steal his antique wingback chair. Once he's brought to a clean room so he can think straight, he finally figures it out for real: "Here's what happened... I mean, here's what really happened...
    • "Mr. Monk Gets Cabin Fever": while pinned down by sniper fire, Monk and Randy each get their Eureka moment at the exact same time, and say in perfect unison, "Oh my God, I've got it! Here's what happened:"... then the camera jumps back and forth between their summations.
    • "Mr. Monk and the Earthquake": Monk becomes traumatized because of an earthquake, and does the entire summation in gibberish. You can still tell what he's saying because the show gives you flashbacks to the crime.
    • The show tends to make this a gag about once every ten episodes: for instance, Randy explains it in Monk's style, complete with flashbacks, to a rookie officer, who then explains she already heard it from Monk.
      • "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm" does a similar variant: Randy gives the summation, but Monk had fed it to him by impersonating his self-motivational CD while he was sleeping. Monk has to prompt him to continue when Randy doubts himself partway through.
    • The Summation is Lampshaded and parodied in the 100th episode special. When James Novak interviews Jimmy Belmont, Joey Krenshaw and Hal Tucker, all of whom were put away by Monk (in "Mr. Monk Visits a Farm," "Mr. Monk and the Daredevil," and "Mr. Monk Makes a Friend"), they complain that they found the Summation tedious, because Monk was basically reciting what they already knew (they were the criminals, after all!).
    • Lampshaded again with the CSI parody episode "Mr. Monk and the TV Star". Captain Stottlemeyer walks into the editing room of a clear CSI Expy while Brad Terry is helping put together the Summation scene of the episode they're working on:
      Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: This is my favorite part, where everyone stands around and you sum up the case.
      Brad Terry: Thanks.
      Captain Leland Stottlemeyer: I wasn't talking to you. I was talking to Mr. Monk.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to Jail," Sharona does the Summation instead of Monk.
    • Parodied in "Mr. Monk Goes to Group Therapy" when Monk has to join a therapy group and the members keep getting killed off. When Monk tells the rest of the group about the possibility of the deaths being homicides, Harold mimics Monk's investigation style and then goes into a The Summation-slash-Hannibal Lecture in which he points out that Monk had motive, opportunity, and a advantegeous position complete with fake flashbacks that portray Monk as an Ax-Crazy psuedo-Yandere who wants Dr. Bell all to himself (Harold was right about the last part). This is effective enough to make Monk himself seriously consider that he might be killing people.
    • Parodied in "Mr. Monk and Sharona" where Monk, being rushed by Sharona, literally gives his summation in fast motion, complete with squeaky fast forward (or as he says, picture-go-fast) voice distortion. Unable to understand a goddamn word, he's asked to repeat it at regular talking speed.
    • Some fun is had in Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees when Natalie says "I've been waiting a long time to say this..."
    • In "Mr. Monk Gets Drunk", he attempts to deliver The Summation while drunk, having accidentally drank an alcoholic wine (which he believed was non-alcoholic.) It goes about as smoothly as you'd expect.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Kid," it's read in the form of a bedtime story. And it really works.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Miracle," Monk and Natalie disguise themselves as actual monks to sneak into a monastery to rescue a converted Captain Stottlemeyer. It's funny because they actually have to harmonize their voices to blend in the summation. You get your usual flashback shots, but Monk and Natalie are speaking in emotionless bass voices. Natalie sounds like she's trying to do a bass.
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Rapper," Monk has just accused a major rap producer, but his crew isn't willing to shut up and let Monk give the summation, so Special Guest Snoop Dogg gets up on stage and raps about what happened instead.
  • New Tricks, in which one of the squad explains how a suspected arsonist didn't burn down his factory; the explosion and fire was caused by an accident gasleak and a spark from the ringing of his mobile phone, which he had accidentally left behind.
  • Columbo is fond of using this method in a Reverse Whodunnit, explaining not whodunnit, which we already know, but how exactly the perp of the week missed a spot in covering it up.
  • Rarely done on Shark, except for the time that Stark turned a suicide into a murder victim and framed a guy.
  • Once an Episode on Jonathan Creek, following the obligatory "Eureka!" Moment. In an interesting twist, the very first summation that Jonathan ever gives, in "The Wrestler's Tomb", is promptly shot down by the man himself about ten seconds after he's finished giving it, when he points out that while his solution is possible, it's hardly plausible. His second, at the end of the same episode, is more conventionally handled.
  • A whole bunch of episodes of Veronica Mars.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Angel, where the actual mystery plot takes place entirely offscreen, but the audience is nonetheless shown Wesley giving one of these to the gathered suspects at the end. The story he tells is long and complicated, featuring fraud and lies and betrayal, and when it is all over Gunn actually says that the entire scene was really damn cool. It makes you really wish we got to see the investigation.
    • Wesley admits afterwards that when he started the summation, he wasn't sure who did it. He just kept talking and going over the evidence until it made sense.
  • Common in Pushing Daisies, but done by the narrator instead of an actual character.
  • Psych typically has two: first Shawn's BS-laden explanation to the police of what's happened and how to prove it, and then his explanation to Gus and/or Henry of how he figured it out.
  • Parodied in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia when the gang is trying to figure out who keeps pooping in Charlie and Frank's bed. At the end of the episode, Artemis gives a long summation showing that each member of the gang is guilty. Frank then denies the story and admits that he did it all, because "poop is funny." He even pooped on the floor while Artemis was making her summation.
  • Poirot, he always does this.
  • Ellery Queen (NBC, 1975) always had one No Fourth Wall moment every episode. Immediately following Ellery's mandatory "Eureka!" Moment, he would turn to the audience, briefly review the key evidence for the viewers, and ask them if they'd figured out who the culprit was. This came from the Ellery Queen books, where the authors would stop at some point and tell you that you now had enough clues to prove who the murderer was. After that, Ellery Queen would do the big 'one of you is the murderer' speech and solve the murder.
  • Generally averted in City Homicide, where the team works it out between themselves. Some exceptions include Sparkes' interview with Frances Deerborne in "Family Planning" and Rhys deducing what happened to Gisela Goldberg in "Gut Instinct."
  • Used in the Reality Game Show Whodunnit? (2013). After the investigation phase, each player gets a chance to summarize how they believe the crime took place, culminating in naming who they believe their murderous host is. Whoever is closest to the mark "impresses" the killer and is safe from elimination. Whoever's the furthest off gets to be the next victim.

  • John Finnemore's Souvenir Programme: Spoofed with one Storyteller sketch, where he's asked to tell them of a murder mystery, but "without all the boring working it out", skipping right to this part.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Isaac Asimov's Robots: Detective Baley begins the final summary of events just before time runs out. He reveals that the attempted murder was actually an attempt to destroy a robot; the Han Fastolfe in Spacertown is actually a robotic duplicate of the Han Fastolfe on Aurora. It's pointed out that this doesn't change the crime, and that Baley has yet to apprehend the criminal involved. So he turns to you, the player, and asks you to name the suspect and describe their motives.

  • The Mrs. Hawking play series: In part three, Base Instruments, in the form of a crime scene reconstruction where Mrs. Hawking, Mary, Nathaniel, and Clara work out what happened and who did it.
  • "Your Fault" from Into the Woods is a version of this, with the various surviving characters attempting to piece together what's happened so far in the story so they can find out who to blame.

    Video Games 

  • Both of the Laura Bow games end with this, as you are prompted to explain who committed each murder and why. The Dagger of Amon Ra takes this a step further: if you make too many accusations without evidence, the murderer tracks Laura down and kills her in her sleep.
  • In Detective Di: The Silk Rose Murders, each case ends with Di methodically explaining how the crime was committed. As he talks we see a re-enactment of the crime, with the backgrounds in black-and-white, but with Di and the victim and the perpetrator in color. As Di explains, the player is tasked with choosing the correct deductions.
  • Due to the story of Persona 4, this happens multiple times over the course of the game, with different twists based on the evidence you get. The second to last one is done by the killer themself, and fantastically tears down the entire structure of the case thus far.
  • The climax of Pink Panther's Passport to Peril requires you to collect evidence against the Dogfather exposing his plan to replace the children with androids and turn Camp Chilly Wa-Wa into a burger restaurant.
  • The Professor Layton series generally averts this. Despite every game having a classic "parlor room" scene (generally with Layton sipping tea before giving the culprit the pointer finger, it's usually closer to the middle of the game, or the start of the third act. Layton generally knows who did it by this point, but sometimes the motive and exact method are missing.
  • The Forensics chapters of Trauma Team have the player figure out what happened to the victim. A few of them are quite...ugly...and depressing.

    Visual Novels 
  • The Ace Attorney games have this. Except for case 1-4, they are set to that game's version of "Announce the Truth."
  • Related to the above, Umineko: When They Cry has this at the end of the fourth arc. It's downplayed because Battler's explanations for the mysteries are completely wrong, and though he defeats Beatrice he isn't even close to the truth.
    • Also, the Court of Illusions in the fifth arc (same as above), and the Will versus Claire battle in the seventh (right, but delivered in semi-cryptic sentences).
  • At the end of the murder mystery visual novel Jisei, you must correctly pick out the correct order that the suspects arrived, the cause of death, and finally, the identity of the murderer.
  • Danganronpa requires the player to put together the summation themselves in the form of a manga that is missing panels. Evidence is used to fill in the gaps in the story, and once everything is in place the main character will walk the others through the crime. This phase of the game called "Climax Inference" (or simply "Closing Argument" in the English translation).


    Web Original 
  • Exploited in the Whateley Universe Story solving Reach. It was For the sole purpose of getting the bad guy to flee, scared stiff, and reveal where she kept the hostage. The Summation, however, was real. They just needed that last info. (And the bad guy needed to accomplish his/her plan.)

    Western Animation 
  • In the Scooby-Doo franchise, providing the Summation usually done by Velma, with the others either assisting or even leading it themselves on occasion (even Scooby-Doo gets a go at it sometimes). On rare occasions, the culprit does this themselves after being caught.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Bart (and sometimes Lisa), gets to do this, displaying uncanny reasoning skills you wouldn't associate with him, whenever Sideshow Bob shows up, notably in his first two appearances when he frames Krusty for robbery and tries to kill Selma. Even though his third appearance in the episode Cape Feare isn't so much of a mystery plot, but has more of a straight forward "I'm coming to get my revenge!" premise, Bart still tells a gathering at the end of the episode how he managed to distract Sideshow Bob.
    • There's also "The Great Money Caper", where it is revealed that Homer and Bart's entire comeuppance was staged by Marge and Lisa. Homer then realises the implication that the police force, the TV news, a courthouse full of people, and a popular entertainer had nothing better to do than to help deliver An Aesop to them. Lisa starts to tell him "a simple and highly satisfying explanation", but everyone goes surfing instead.
  • Larry on Clue Club does this once he has all the suspects in one room with Sheriff Bagley waiting to hear whodunnit.
  • In the Futurama episode "Dial L for Leela" (part of "Anthology of Interest I"), Dr. Zoidberg investigates the murders around Planet Express, eventually calling everyone into the accusing parlour to reveal a boot print on Professor Farnsworth's lab coat and Amy Wong's corpse in a clock. Throughout the summation, Leela (who is an impulsive murderer in this story) keeps turning the lights off right as another character (Cubert Farnsworth, then Scruffy the Janitor, then Nibbler) is about to reveal the murderer, with said character revealed to be stabbed upon the lights coming back. Eventually, Zoidberg receives a letter from Bender (who also had been killed) revealing who done it.
    Zoidberg: My God, it can't be! The murderer, it was—
    Fry: [yawns] I'm bored. You're boring, Zoidberg; I'm gonna go watch TV.
    Leela: Could you get the lights on your way out?
    [Fry turns the lights off]
  • In Beware the Batman episode "Twist", once Bruce Wayne learns the truth about Slade Wilson's past, he pieces together the villain's elaborate scheme throughout the past few episodes to Alfred and Katana. The one part he misses, Dane Lisslow's supposed death, is answered by Slade himself in the next episode.


Video Example(s):


Invisible Intruder

The part of every Forensic Files episode where they explain "Here's what happened"

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