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 subtrope of Murder in the Family.
A common parody is to have the protagonist think his spouse is trying to do this, often with several Stab the Salad moments.
- 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.
- The Power of the Equinox: After Brutus Meadows gives his adoptive daughter Scootaloo a particularly savage beating, causing her to escape to the Everfree Forest, his wife Vibrant Glow yells at him for doing that. Having put up with a lot of anger with the wife whose gambling addiction has led the family becoming poor and himself an alcoholic, Brutus snaps and kills her.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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 Meyers thinks his new wife is one of these.
- Humperdinck plans this in The Princess Bride to give him an excuse to invade the neighboring country.
- 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.
- A good chunk of Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) involves the titular couple trying to kill one another.
- Katherine's plan in Son of Dracula is to marry Dracula, and kill him after he has turned her into a vampire.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 number of Agatha Christie stories used this trope:
- 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".
- 4:50 From Paddington includes the Divorce Requires Death variant.
- Lord Edgware Dies also includes Divorce Requires Death.
- Death on the Nile.
- Murder in Mesopotamia.
- "The Triangle at Rhodes".
- "The Case of the Caretaker".
- "Dead Man's Folly", though technically the victim wasn't a spouse as the murderer committed bigamy.
- The killer from Evil Under the Sun 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.
- In general, 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 above, Dame Agatha tended to agree.
- Despite the reader being led to believe otherwise, Jon Arryn's death in A Song of Ice and Fire is this.
- 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.
- The Mark of the Lion: Julia Valerian poisons her abusive second husband in A Voice in the Wind.
- 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 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
- An extremely common circumstance on Forensic Files. Doubles as Truth in Television, because this is a true crime show.
- Taken to an extreme degree in Monk, and somewhat less so in Psych, where pretty much every other mystery ends with someone trying to kill their spouse, ofttimes with little reason beyond just wanting to do it. The worst example was that one time in Monk where the husband found a suicide note his wife wrote years ago and decided to kill his wife simply because he realized he could with no risk.
- Actually he was having an affair and she also had a bit of money he would not have been able to get at if he simply divorced her.
- There was also that time the foreign diplomat was killed. Political Assassination? Someone trying to start an international incident? Nah, he picked up some guy's jacket by accident, and the guy killed him so that he could retrieve the evidence that he killed his wife, which was in the jacket.
- 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.
- This is a staple of many shows on the Investigation Discovery channel.
- 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
- 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 chewing...no, not chewing, POPPING! gum.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Sadly, Truth in Television, and one of the most common circumstances surrounding murder.