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Til Murder Do Us Part

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Hint #4: the way to a man's heart is Through His Stomach; preferably using a carving knife.
Lori: Doug... Honey... You wouldn't hurt me... would you, sweetheart? Sweetheart... Be reasonable! After all, we're married!
Quaid: Consider that a divorce.

Someone is attempting to kill their spouse (or already has), either to collect on life insurance, because the voices in their head told them to do it, or for some other reason. Maybe they're really a serial killer who marries their victims and then offs them in succession. Or maybe Divorce Requires Death in this setting.

Most often the couple is newly wed, and the unfortunate victim usually won't suspect a thing until after the wedding, when things start to take a turn for the disturbing.

A common parody is to have the protagonist think their spouse is trying to do this, often with several Stab the Salad moments.

A subtrope of Murder in the Family. Compare The Bluebeard and Black Widow, who do this over and over again.


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    Comic Books 
  • Played with in The Batman Adventures #16, where the Joker starts reciprocating Harley Quinn's affections and even proposes to her — just after she receives a letter informing her she's inherited a fortune. The twist is that the letter is a fake, which Harley sent herself; she's Genre Savvy enough to realise it will cause the Joker to marry and murder her, but mad enough to believe that if she reveals the truth once they're married, he'll have no reason to murder her and they'll live happily ever after.
    • The really messed up part? Harley was RIGHT. In the closest thing the Joker gets to a "sweet" moment, he finds it incredibly romantic that Harley went to such lengths and agrees to marry her anyway. Then Batman punches him in the face. "You hit a man while he's in love? That's fighting dirty!"
  • Implied with Empress Dowager Laranda-fa in Red Sonja: The Forgiving of Monsters. She was a commoner girl until she caught the attention of the emperor with her beauty. Shortly thereafter they were married, and shortly after that, he was dead.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: The villain the Mask, who has targeted and killed the seemingly distraught Nina Close's husband turns out to be Nina Close, who was pissed at her husband for, among other things, showing another woman with affection while ignoring and dismissing her.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animated 
  • In Disney's Aladdin, after Jafar loses the lamp, thus not allowing himself to wish he were sultan, Iago comes up with the idea of hypnotizing the sultan to force Jasmine to marry him. Once they're married, all Jafar has to do is "push 'papa-in law,' and the 'little woman' off a cliff."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 8 Women: Mamy reveals that she killed her husband because she didn't love him and couldn't stand the idea of spending her life with someone she didn't love. Her daughter Augustine is terribly shaken by this revelation as she never got over her father's death and now has to deal with the fact that her mother was responsible for it.
  • Adele Hasn't Had Her Dinner Yet: The backstory of the mysterious villain Gardener says that he married a wealthy lady, "The Apple King"'s widow. The visuals imply that they married too soon after his death. The Gardener devoted his green thumb skills to fruit-growing, and then killed his wife, being her sole heir.
    • Specifically, he killed her by squashing her with a HUGE apple.
  • Back to the Future Part II: According to Word of God, after giving his younger self the Sports Almanac, Old Biff was erased from existence because Lorraine shot Biff at some point after 1985 because he was such an awful husband.
  • Hellraiser: Hellseeker: Trevor was an adulterous jerk who wanted to be rid of his wife Kirsty. When he learns of her history with the Cenobites, he forces her to summon Pinhead by using the Lament Configuration, figuring she'll be Dragged Off to Hell. Kirsty instead makes a deal with Pinhead to offer him Trevor and four other souls in exchange for hers. Since he could just as easily have divorced her, it's implied that they had a truly Awful Wedded Life and just hated each other so much they were both willing to condemn the other one to hell.
  • A good chunk of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) involves the titular couple trying to kill one another.
  • Pitch (2009): Gene attempts to kill his wife for cheating on him. He ends up not going through with it, only for her to shoot him instead to collect on insurance money.
  • Humperdinck plans this in The Princess Bride to give him an excuse to invade the neighboring country.
  • Happens in the MSTed film The Screaming Skull with the husband trying to murder his new wife, just like he did to the old one.
  • In So I Married an Axe Murderer, Mike Myers’ character thinks his new wife is one of these.
  • Katherine's plan in Son of Dracula is to marry Dracula, and kill him after he has turned her into a vampire.
  • The Alfred Hitchcock movie Suspicion focuses on a woman who is frightened that her husband killed his friend and is trying to kill her. Turns out he didn't, and he isn't.
  • Tales from the Crypt: Based on the comic story, a young and good-looking wife murders her much older husband to get his money. The age gap suggests that this was at least partially planned long ago.
  • Mob hitman Jimmy Tedeski from The Whole Nine Yards won't divorce his wife because he was raised Catholic and believes strongly in the "'til death do us part" section of the marriage vows. He will, however, kill her and his old boss in order to collect on what is more or less a tontine.

  • There is an interesting example in A Brother's Price where Keifer Porter was involved in a plan to kill (some of) his wives. It worked, but he was Too Dumb to Live and didn't get to safety before the bomb went off.
  • In general, Agatha Christie's characters repeatedly stated that the spouses of the victims are not only the most obvious suspects - they're actually the most frequent perpetrators. Judging by the list below, Dame Agatha tended to agree:
    • Three of the stories in The Thirteen Problems. "A Christmas Tragedy" begins with Miss Marple meeting a young couple, the Sanderses, at a spa, and stating that the moment she saw them, she knew Mr. Sanders planned to murder his wife. He does, despite Miss Marple's best efforts to stop him.. This trope also appears in "The Tuesday Night Club" and "The Blood-Stained Pavement".
    • In The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder at the Vicarage the murderer turned out to be the spouse, with their lover acting as an accomplice.
    • The initial murders in both 4:50 from Paddington and Lord Edgware Dies turn out to be the Divorce Requires Death variant.
    • Death on the Nile and Endless Night as well as "The Case of the Caretaker" (the short story of which the latter was based on) reveals that the victim's husband conspired with his mistress to kill her in order to inherit her fortune, in a Marrying the Mark-plot.
    • Murder in Mesopotamia seems to imply that the victim was killed by her first husband, who may have faked his death. Turns out she was killed by her current husband, who is also her previous husband, so played straight twice.
    • In "The Triangle at Rhodes", two lovers try to kill one their respective spouses and pin the crime on the other.
    • "Dead Man's Folly", though technically the victim wasn't a spouse as the murderer committed bigamy.
    • In Evil Under the Sun, the killer has this as part of his backstory, though it isn't the case for the main murder.
    • In Destination Unknown it turns out Mr. Betterton killed his wife in order to steal her scientific research.
    • A Caribbean Mystery begins with a chatty Major dying after appearing to identify a serial wife-killer. While his killer doesn't succeed in the end, he was indeed planning on killing his current wife as he had done twice before.
  • In Dark Shores Cassius agrees to marry senator Valerius's foster daughter Lydia in exchange for political favors but he arranges to have her murdered because he dislikes her independent thinking.
  • In The Divine Comedy, Dante meets two women who have been murdered by their husbands.
    • One is Francesca da Rimini, killed, along with her lover Paolo, by her husband and condemned, also together with Paolo, to the second circle of Hell for lust. Francesca says that Caina (the first ring of the ninth circle, for traitors of family) awaits her husband when he dies.
    • The other is Pia de' Tolomei, whom Dante meets in Ante-Purgatory among those who died violent deaths. She speaks of her death very gently and even avoids directly saying that she was murdered by her husband. The motive for her murder remains unknown.
  • The Elemental Trilogy: Lady Wintervale murdered her husband in retaliation for him betraying Prince Ariadne and getting her killed.
  • Indexing: Reflections: Ciara's husband, is a Bluebeard, but is on his first wife, and so, this hasn't happened yet:
    "There can be a long window between activation and spousal homicide."
  • Jaine Austen Mysteries: In Killer Cupid, as Skip Holmeier III is trying to kill Jaine, he also admits that a food injector filled with cyanide (the way he poisoned Joy's chocolate) is also how he murdered his wife, Nancy Ruth Holmeier.
  • The Mark of the Lion: Julia Valerian poisons her abusive second husband in A Voice in the Wind.
  • Murder for the Modern Girl: Francis Mather has been planning to poison his wife in order to get the money from the life insurance she has. However, he's unable to kill his wife because he gets poisoned by Ruby and dies.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians Sally is implied to have murdered her abusive first husband Gabe using Medusa's Head, and then selling the resulting statue.
  • There is a short story by Robert Sheckley (I think it is called "Trap"), where an alien sends a few animals and then his spouse through a teleporter disguised as an animal trap. He was tired of his wife, but they were married for life.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Despite the reader being led to believe otherwise, Jon Arryn is killed by their own spouse.
    • Later there's Joffrey Baratheon, who was killed by Olenna Tyrell and Littlefinger; the former wants him dead to prevent him from harming Margaery (and turning Loras into another Kingslayer) and the latter has no more use for the Lannisters.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An extremely common circumstance on Forensic Files. Doubles as Truth in Television, because this is a true crime show.
  • Miss Marple (1984): In the first season story "The Moving Finger", the killer is solicitor Mr Symmington, who poisons his wife and stages her suicide so that he can romance his childrens' attractive young governess. The novel it's adapted from has the same murderer and motive.
  • One episode of Psych had both spouses kill each other. The wife caused the husband to be electrocuted by a microphone after finding out he was having an affair, while she died from poisoning at his funeral. They were married for almost ten years and the husband wanted a divorce but didn't want to lose half of his money, so he poisoned his wife's powdered health shake mix. Since she was bulimic, it took longer than he expected for her to die.
  • Taboo: Zilpha finally has enough of her husband's abuse and rape, and stabs him through the heart with a marlin spike.
  • Las Vegas: An Arab Oil Sheikh is murdered by his three wives because none of them could stand his blatant gluttony (for more wives).
  • In Season 2 of Caïn, Stefan Jordel murders his wife, trying to disguise it as a suicide, and marries another woman who is in love with the killer side of him. He murders her too on the day of their marriage, just before Caïn arrests him.
  • The Orville: Attempted, but averted. In Molcan culture, the way one "divorces" a spouse is to stab them to death. Klyden, feeling neglected, attempted to murder his husband Bortus to end their marriage. Medical intervention saved his life.
  • Because episodes are Ripped from the Headlines, this a very, very common plot in Law & Order and its various spinoffs. Generally, if the husband or wife isn't eliminated as a suspect in the first ten minutes of the episode, there's a good chance he or she did it.
  • Why Women Kill: The first season is about three woman in different eras finding out that their husbands have been unfaithful, and how they deal with it, if you catch my drift...
  • The Cleaner (UK): The crime scene in "The Widow" is a result of a woman finally flipping after decades of a stiffling marriage and stabbing her husband 38 times.
  • You (2018):
    • Discussed. Natalie Engler's disappearance becomes a local sensation, and the true-crime enthusiast suburbanites claim that in cases like these, it's always the husband who does it. Natalie's husband Matthew is not the most approachable of multimillionaire tech bros, which doesn't help his public image.
    • In the season 3 finale, married couple Love and Joe make murderous moves against each other, with Joe eventually coming out on top by poisoning her, faking his death, and burning their house down.
  • Pushing Daisies: "Bitches" is about the murder of Harold Hundin, who (when asked) tells them his wife did it. Pleased at this easy answer, the protagonists check out his home life... and learn that he had four wives. They then have to find out which of them (if any, as he also had rivals) did it. It was the first one, Hilary, who disliked their marriage situation and framed the youngest one.
  • House of the Dragon: Daemon wants out of his marriage with Rhea, but lives in a Divorce Requires Death setting. He stages a Hunting "Accident" to get rid of her, but nobody buys it because she was a skilled hunter and rider.
  • Doctor Who: In "The Husbands of River Song", River asks the Doctor to remove her husband's head in order to get the diamond inside. He incredulously asks if that would kill him, to which she says yes, and that she really only married him for the diamond anyways.
  • Gun: Police suspect a woman of killing her husband, a Japanese businessman, in the episode “Ricochet.”

  • The Taylor Swift song "No Body, No Crime", the narrator's friend Este is murdered by her husband after she finds out that he's been cheating, with his mistress then moving in with him. He successfully gets rid of the body, and the police don't suspect him at all. Unfortunately for him, Este going missing the day she (Este) was going to confront him about his infidelity tips off the narrator as to what really happened, and she (the narrator) makes sure that he ends up a corpse at the bottom of a lake in short order, framing his mistress for the murder by taking advantage of the large life-insurance policy she (the mistress) had recently taken out on him to make it look like his mistress killed him for the insurance payout; the mistress is soon in very hot water with the police, and, although she (the mistress) suspects that the narrator did it, the narrator's covered her own tracks so well that she (the mistress) can't do squat to clear her name.

  • Mabinogion: Blodeuwedd is an Artifical Human created to be the wife of Lleu Llaw Gyffes. However, while her husband is away, she falls in love with Gronw Pebr, the ruler of a neighboring land, and the two conspire to kill Lleu so that they can be together. He managed to escape after they severely wounded him, and the couple would get their comeuppance when Lleu returns and kill Gronw Pebr, while Gwydion punishes Blodeuwedd by turning her into an owl.

  • This is what some of the women in the "Cell Block Tango" of Chicago are guilty of. The innocent one was framed for murdering a guest, and two killed lovers they weren't married to, but one killed an overly jealous husband who accused her of cheating, one killed her husband and her sister for actually cheating, and one killed her husband for, not chewing, POPPING! gum.
  • In Richard III the Magnificent Bastard Richard does this to his wife Anne because he wants to marry his niece.

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    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind: According to some tellings of his final days, Lord Nerevar, the first ruler of united Morrowind, was poisoned by his wife Almalexia and the other members of the Tribunal, his advisors. The Tribunal wanted to go against the wishes of Nerevar (and his Daedric patron, Azura) in using the "profane" Tools of Kagrenac on the Heart of Lorkhan and achieve immortality. During the events of the game's main quest, the Nerevarine, Nerevar's reincarnation, unbinds the heart and strips the Tribunal of their immortality. In the Tribunal expansion, Almalexia attempts to kill the Nerevarine and use his death maintain her rule, but this time the Nerevarine slays her.
  • Variant in Final Fantasy X: Yuna marries Seymour as part of a ploy to get him Sent (the only way to kill someone off for good in that 'verse), she figures he'll be too... "distracted" to put a stop to her until it's too late. And Seymour himself is marrying Yuna as part of a ploy to get her to become attached to him, as he knows that only The Power of Love can kill Sin, and thus, once he gets Yuna to love him, he will become her Final Aeon and become Sin, which will kill Yuna in the process. So, in short, both of them are planning to off the other.
  • James in Silent Hill 2 killed his wife, although it was revealed to be a Mercy Kill, as she was suffering from a terminal illness.
  • Hitman: Blood Money features a mission called "'Til Death Do Us Part" wherein the player must kill the groom at a wedding. It is implied that the bride is the one who called the hit. There are instances where the groom's death will cause her to say "Finally."
  • Fallout 3 has an instance of this during the Tenpenny Tower sidequest. One of the residents in the titular apartment building is discovered to be two-timing his wife and the wife can be shown love letters as proof. Upon doing this, she angrily storms off to confront her husband and his mistress; when he tries to justify it, the wife reminds him of their wedding vow with a particular emphasis on the "death do us part" segment, then empties the whole magazine into him.
  • Rave Heart: When Count Vorakia Estuuban's conspiracy starts becoming impossible to hide from the rest of the council, Lady Marselva Zephyr kills Lord Falric Zephyr so that he can't get in Vorakia's way.

    Visual Novels 

    Web Comics 
  • Girl Genius: Agatha's paternal grandmother Teodora poisoned her husband Saturnus Heterodyne when he expressed his intent to murder their sons when he realized they would not change their heroic ways and try for new heirs. It's implied she only married Saturnus in the first place because he threatened her family.
  • In Monsieur Charlatan, the count hires an assassin for it.
  • Unsounded: Karl's plan is to marry Emne for her noble title and then arrange for her to have an accident, bringing up the dangers of childbirth when discussing his plan with Bell.

    Web Original 
  • In Helluva Boss, Stella wants to pull this on Stolas for cheating on her, hiring Striker to kill Stolas at the Harvest Moon Festival. His life is only spared because I.M.P got to Striker before he could pull it off.
  • Played for horror in RWBY: Oz was previously married to Salem, but tried to leave her when he realized she was murdering anyone who questioned her godhood. When she found out he was taking the kids, she lost her temper and attacked him. Since they were both immortal, they both survived - but the children didn't. They've been bitter enemies ever since.

    Western Animation 
  • The trope concept was exploited in DuckTales (1987) during the episode where Ma Beagle faked a marriage with Scrooge. Scrooge fakes his own death by diving into the money vault, and the servant accused the wife of killing Scrooge for the money. She quickly backpedals about being married, with Scrooge confirming the denial a few seconds later.
  • Elena of Avalor: Downplayed in that the victim just gets Taken for Granite, but throughout the past handful of episodes, Ash has lost her spark for Victor as she blames him for robbing her of their daughter Carla's childhood (as Victor argues that they had to move on with their lives when it seemed like she wasn't coming back because she may have been killed) and spends the next few episodes being hostile towards him and rejecting his advances. Eventually, Victor finally puts his foot down on Ash's evil scheming out of concern for Carla's safety, she's had enough of him and casts a petrification spell on him. To the surprise of no one but Ash herself, this ends up killing her relationship with Carla, who ends up allowing herself to be recaptured by the Royal Guard by staying with Victor's petrified form.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Selma marries Sideshow Bob, who plans to kill her on their wedding night, and then go after his now-nephew Bart. Luckily, Bart is able to convince the family of Bob's intentions, and Selma divorces him.
    • In the episode Bart Of Darkness, Bart thinks Ned has killed his wife Maude and buried her body in the backyard Ned didn't kill Maude, just her favorite houseplant.

    Real Life 

Alternative Title(s): Uxoricide, Mariticide