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Tricked to Death

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A person is tricked into making a choice that kills them without knowing it will. This is a convoluted method of murder counting on the victim to do themselves in — or, in the case of a prank gone wrong, a terrible accident.

Villainous examples are often an attempt to Make It Look Like an Accident to commit The Perfect Crime. That, or it's just a Sadist's cruel joke.

This is a more commonly heroic version of Murder by Suicide than most. After all, when the Big Bad is too powerful to directly defeat, the hero's best bet may be taunting him into using his Fireballs in a room full of explosive gas.

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A Uriah Gambit is a longer-term, less sure way of killing someone by sending them on a hopeless mission. This Is Not a Floor is where tricks meet Psychic-Assisted Suicide. May be the result of a Deadly Prank. Tampering with Food and Drink is the process of poisoning things they are intended to eat, but doesn't necessarily kill them - when it does, it is usually this trope. So is a Death Trap that involves an element of lying or Schmuck Bait. A Killer Rabbit is something that looks harmless but isn't, but that isn't this trope unless there's a sign that says "Free Bunnies" above it.

If the person knows the choice they're making will kill them, it's Suicidal Sadistic Choice — if they do it because it's the better option — and Ordered to Die if they do it out of obedience.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Bungou Stray Dogs, Port Mafia executive A is confronted by Fyodor Dostoyevsky and believes that dying in the illusion is the only way to break the latter's ability. Unfortunately for A, he ends up just killing himself since Dostoyevsky doesn't have an illusionary ability. He was simply playing mind games with A the whole time.
  • Detective Conan:
    • A filler Valentine's Day episode had a mother try to collect insurance money by poisoning her Jerkass-ish adopted son's coffee. The antidote was in the cake's icing—the lad, being on his uni's tennis team and professing hate for all kind of sweets, didn't eat the cake.
    • Failed: A "friend" of the victim tried to tamper with the guy's cigarettes via poisoning the filters, but he just cut said filters off on a whim and thus he failed.
    • A Jerkass Idol Singer fell dead after eating some rice balls... but the poison was not originally in said snacks. It was placed in a specific spot of his jacket: the killer knew that the guy liked to melodramatically take off said jacket during certain part of a song, so they put it in that spot so he'd touch the venom and 'transfer' it to the rice balls when he grabbed them to eat them.
  • Kindaichi Case Files: In "Santa's Slayings (European Hotel Murder Case)", a stage actress was murdered after drinking wine during a play in a scene where her co-performers also chose randomly from a bunch of them. The killer wrote a footnote in her script to pick a certain glass during that part.
  • In Monster Director Heinemann, Dr. Oppenheim, and Dr. Boyer are found dead when the three of them were mysteriously poisoned by candy left by Johan Liebert.
  • Poisoning is common in Ooku: The Inner Chambers:
    • Hisamichi slipped poison into the food and drink of Yoshimune's older sisters and the closest rival to the throne to ensure that Yoshimune got the shogunate.
    • Tokugawa Harusada, mother of Shogun Ienari, is quite fond of poison to pick off rivals and control people. Her Moral Event Horizon was when she slipped poison into her grandchildren's sweets to kill them and turn her son's wife (Shigu) and favorite concubine (O-Shiga) against each other.
    • However, Shigu and O-Shiga quickly figured out Harusada was behind those deaths and played a long game to poison Harusada in revenge. Part of that involved O-Shiga, now Harusada's taster, poisoning herself to ensure that Harusada would eat the poisoned food. She died not long after the poisoning finally incapacitated Harusada.
    • Unfortunately, this left a nasty legacy on Ienari's reign: his concubines quickly realized poisoning rivals was a quick way to get ahead, with the result that only about half of Ienari's numerous children made it to adulthood.
  • In Pumpkin Scissors, one episode features a visiting princess from a neighboring country, with a particularly draconian rule of succession: Whichever royal child survives, takes the throne. Poison is a favored means of sibling rivalry, and she reveals that on her 10th birthday, the cake was poisoned, causing the death of her favorite maid.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman has several contingency plans designed to do this to numerous members of the Justice League. For instance, he has a special nanite injection that would trick Wonder Woman into fighting an endless gauntlet of virtual opponents until her heart gives out.
  • Green Manor: The Lance of Longinus (or the spearhead, rather) has a coded message engraved on it that gives a recipe for an elixir of invulnerability. The alchemist who wrote it down says that it is destined to fall into the hands of a world conqueror, but as he himself is too old for it, he leaves the lance and the recipe in the hands of one more suited for the task. The elixir only confers a euphoric high on the drinker who thinks he's invincible, and quickly ends up trying to prove it (with fatal results) if he harbors such megalomania. The alchemist did this in the hopes of removing the kind of people with that level of ambition before they could get too dangerous, even centuries after his death.
  • Betty of Rat Queens carries a bag of candy mixed with poison just in case her stuff gets stolen. It pays off when she's captured by goblins who immediately gorge themselves and die.
  • In Secret Six Jeanette reveals that she eventually killed Elizabeth Bathory, who was imprisoned for life in her tower, by offering to "serve" her and putting crushed glass into her food for years. According to her, Bathory died in agony.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In the early Peter Falk flick The Bloody Brood, Falk plays a psychotic beatnik who feeds some poor kid a hamburger filled with broken glass to watch him die...just for kicks.
  • The massacre of adults of Gatlin in Children of the Corn (1984) starts when some diner patrons start choking from their poisoned coffee.
  • Conan the Barbarian sets up a number of traps in preparation for the Battle of the Mounds, including one calculated to take advantage of Thorgrim's penchant for smashing enemies' heads in with his big two-handed hammer, which gets the dumb brute Impaled with Extreme Prejudice.
  • In The Crime Doctor's Strangest Case, the bedbound Walter Burns is murdered by someone poisoning his coffee.
  • In Crooked House, the murderer doses Josephine's hot chocolate with cyanide, although Josephine is not the one who ends up drinking it.
  • Heathers: J.D. tricks Heather 1 into drinking drain cleaner by telling her it's a hangover cure.
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 2, Elle Driver reveals that she murdered Pai Mei by poisoning his fish heads.
  • Kind Hearts and Coronets: Unlike the more elaborate murders he concocts for his other targets, Louis disposes of the Reverend Lord Henry d'Ascoyne through the simple expedient of poisoning his wine.
  • Mom and Dad Save the World: The light grenade runs on this. It is labeled "Pick Me Up" and disintegrates anyone who does. Since the film takes place on a planet where everyone is an idiot, it destroys an entire squad of mooks, one at a time.
  • In Murder at the Baskervilles, Hunter is murdered when powdered opium is slipped into his curried lamb.
  • The horror movie Night of the Demons (1988) features a mean old man who puts razor blades in apples on Halloween to do terrible things to children. At the end of the movie, his wife makes an apple pie out of the leftover apples, which he eats. The blades slash through his throat and leave him dead.
  • Nightcrawler: Lou tricks his underpaid (well, non-paid) employee Rick into getting himself killed after he starts asking too many questions about the company's profits for Lou's liking. While following a gangland car chase, he instructs Rick to film the wreckage up close, correctly guessing that Rick will be shot by one of the gangsters in the confusion.
  • At the beginning of the Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Irene is smart enough to ask for a fresh pot of tea when meeting with Professor Moriarty, rather than drinking from the one already on the table. Unfortunately Moriarty has bought out the entire restaurant. All the potential witnesses get up and leave at his signal, and the new pot turns out to be poisoned. Cue Sound-Only Death.
  • In The Sixth Sense one of the dead people the kid sees was a small girl poisoned by her stepmother putting cleaning fluid in her soup.
  • Wild Things: Double Subverted. When after all the backstabbing between the conspirators only a final guy and girl are left, the guy is smart enough to expect the drink he's offered to be poisoned, but is assured when the girl tells him that she would be an idiot to try it because he's the only one who can pilot the sailboat they're on back to shore. This is a lie—the drink is indeed poisoned, and the girl is much smarter than she made herself out to be. Just to be sure, she releases one of the booms to knock him into the water to drown.
  • In Young Sherlock Holmes, the villain Mr. Tinkle shoots people with these weapons that make the victims have nightmarish hallucinations and (usually) kill themselves by accident trying to defend themselves.
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    Literature 
  • The Avenger had a habit of manipulating criminals into a position where they would suffer a Karmic Death when they attempted to kill him.
  • The Day of the Triffids, after most of the world population go blind. The protagonist overhears someone leading their blinded partner to what they're told is an exit. It is — the window.
  • Used to perform a nearly perfect murder in the Father Brown series. The murderer simply informs his (blind) lover that he is holding the elevator for her, then heads up a floor (the elevators are essentially silent), heads out onto his balcony where several hundred people can testify to his location, and waits for the lover to run into the now-empty elevator shaft.
  • Going Postal: Lord Vetinari offers (at different times) to let both Moist Von Lipwig and Reacher Gilt the opportunity to leave through a specific door, promising them "freedom" if they do. Moist is genre-savvy enough to suspect a trap and refuse, but Reacher does go through the door and falls into the pit just beyond it.
  • Played with in the short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?" by Frank R. Stockton. A king has a "justice" system where he puts criminals in the arena and makes them choose between two doors, one of which has a beautiful woman behind it and the other a vicious tiger. Normally that would just be a sick game of chance, but the story is about a particular criminal whose offense was having an affair with the princess, who knows which door is which. She comes to watch him in the arena, he looks to her to save him, she gives him a tiny signal telling him which to choose... so the question is, is she giving him up to another woman, or killing him?
  • The Silence of the Lambs: Hannibal Lector tricks Miggs into swallowing his own tongue, resulting in Miggs's death.
  • In Warrior Cats, this happens a couple times:
    • Tigerclaw attempts this by sending a message that he wants Bluestar to meet him in a spot where he claims ShadowClan was scented on their territory, and setting his scent marker close to the edge of a road so that she'd run out onto it. Cinderpaw was caught instead but thankfully didn't die.
    • In Hawkwing's Journey, Darktail gives a patrol false directions, leading the group directly to a badger den where Billystorm is slain.

    Music 
  • King Diamond's album Abigail II: The Revenge has Abigail tricking Jonathan to eat food with glass shards on it after he rapes her in the songs "Broken Glass" and "More Than Pain".
  • In the music video for No Doubt's "It's My Life", Gwen Stefani mixes rat poison into a man's dinner to kill him.
  • Saga's song "Perfectionist" has the protagonist murdering his dinner guests by serving poisoned wine.

    Radio 
  • An old radio mystery involved an interesting variation of this: A man was found locked in a room full of food, yet somehow dead of starvation. His murderer locked him in the room and lied to him about the food being poisoned. He believed the killer and refused to eat the food, so he eventually starved to death.

    Toys 
  • Attempted, at least, in Animula's backstory in Little Apple Dolls. In order to avoid losing his wife, her father have her to a warlord prior to her birth. On her seventh birthday, the warlord came for her. The little girl was made to live in a cage, however, a fox came along and helped her. The fox told her that the warlord was going to give her milk that would turn her into a demon, so Animula was given eggs in order to protect her. It turns out the fox was really the warlords' jealous wife, who was attempting to kill the girl herself. After deciding she can never escape, the child ended up drinking both the allegedly poisonous milk and eating the bad eggs.

    Video Games 
  • Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia: in the bad ending, Shanoa is tricked into using the Dominus glyphs together on Dracula's coffin, unaware that Dominus will, in fact, revive Dracula at the cost of the caster's life.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert:
    • At the end of the Soviet campaign, Nadia successfully kills Joseph Stalin by tricking him into drinking a poisoned cup of tea.
    • At an earlier point in the campaign, Marshal Gradenko is killed by the same person in the same way. It even features the same dialogue.
  • Final Cut Death On The Silver Screen: The PC discovers early in the game that her father's death was caused by medication tampering. (The game is set in the 1950s, which might justify the coroner not catching this before her.)
  • In Harvest Moon DS, you can do this at the Harvest Festival by adding a poisonous toadstool to the town's stew. Usually, doing this will result in the whole town falling ill (as well as making it taste like crap), but if you cultivate a level 99+ toadstool and add it to the stew, the game ends with your character eating the stew, choking, collapsing, and dying, with the same fate suggested to befall the rest of the town.
  • In Heroes of Might and Magic III, King Gryphonheart was killed by poisoned food.
  • One of the many methods of killing in the Hitman series is to put poison into food or drink, that gets delivered to the target/ victim. It's such a staple of the franchise, that as of Hitman (2016), almost all of the story mission targets can be poisoned, as most of them eat or drink something as a part of their routine around a given part of the map.
  • Played With in The Stanley Parable. Just before the Mind Control room is a path that reads "Escape", however, this path actually leads to the player's violent death. The narrator outright tells the player that taking this path will kill Stanley, but in-universe, Stanley would have no way of knowing this fact without the narrator's warning, making it a trick only avoidable with a dose of Medium Awareness.
  • Yandere Simulator: A high biology grade lets Yandere-chan identify poisons which she can swipe and slip into a student's lunch. This allows her to eliminate rivals without drawing suspicion upon herself.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Long Live the Queen, Elodie may be sent poisoned chocolates and die from eating them if she lacks the skills required to realize that there's something suspicious about them.
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
    • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney: it looks like Vera Misham killed her father Drew by putting poison in his coffee... but in reality, Kristoph Gavin poisoned a stamp that Drew licked few minutes before having the supposedly fatal drink. And later he poisons Vera herself by poisoning her nail polish, knowing that she has the habit of biting her nails when nervous.

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