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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.

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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    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.
  • Case Closed:
    • 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.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba: Main Protagonist Tanjiro has a fight against one the lower-ranked Moons Enmu, a demon who can cause his foes to fall into an illusionary dream via the sounds he creates from the mouths he grows on his hands. Tanjiro takes Enmu off-guard by repeatedly recovering from the latter's attempts to force him into the Illusions, causing the demon to realise Tanjiro must be killing himself inside the dream to wake up and keep fighting him, allowing Tanjiro to decapitate Enmu. Enmu survives his apparent demise by merging with the train they're fight on top of to become a massive tentacled monstrosity that can grow eyes everywhere, allowing him to keep putting Tanjiro into illusions simply by looking into them. This trope comes into effect when Enmu subjects Tanjiro to a rapid barrage of illusions whilst attacking him and then stops doing so, almost tricking Tanjiro into cutting his own throat to 'wake up' from the dream. He's only saved because he's joined mid-fight by his companion Inosuke, who habitually wears a boar mask over his face all the time, meaning that Enmu can't tell which way he's looking to place him into a dream and prevent him from stopping Tanjiro from killing himself.
  • Goblin Slayer once killed a giant Creature of Chaos (a.k.a. a Beholder) by using flour from Cow Girl's farm combined with one of Lizard Priest's skeletons and Priestess's Protection, setting things off by having High Elf Archer put an arrow into it to piss it off. It used its fire ray on the first thing it saw (the skeleton) and set off the flour, resulting in an explosion that obliterated the monster.
  • The 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 Ōoku: 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.
  • Pumpkin Scissors 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.

    Fan Works 
  • Batman 1939: Shortly before Arturo Bertinelli goes through a prison transfer, he receives a note that claims that friends will be waiting to help him escape at a stop along the way, along with a shiv. The note is actually from a police officer. At said stop, the prisoner stabs his guard to death, and is immediately killed by the police retaliating.
  • Between Three Rogues: While Galcian was going through his military training, a squad of fellow trainees that was mostly made up of noble-born youths got captured by some Nasrian brigands and held hostage. Galcian engaged in some guerrilla warfare, then infiltrated the fort and secretly armed the hostages, preparing them for a coordinated assault and uprising. However, Galcian had no intention of actually following through with his side of the plan — since they were noble-born, they had a higher chance of being promoted. So he used them as a distraction, signaling them to start their attempted uprising and getting them all brutally slaughtered while he busied himself sabotaging the Nasrian airships so the brigands couldn't escape once reinforcements finally arrived.
  • Danganronpa: Paradise Lost: In Chapter Four, one of the survivors engages in Cold-Blooded Torture of another victim, trying to get information about Monaca Towa. Afterwards, the torturer realizes that they need to dispose of their victim... but if they kill them themselves, they run the risk of being convicted in one of Monokuma's trials and executed. So they trick another one of the survivors into finishing their victim off.

    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 (1982) 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.
  • Peters is killed in Event Horizon when the ship makes her hallucinate her son across a bridge that isn't there, leading to her falling to her death.
  • Heathers: J.D. tricks Heather 1 into drinking drain cleaner by telling her it's a hangover cure.
  • How the protagonists of Kangaroo Jack were going to be killed if they had delivered the envelope with the $50,000.
  • 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.
  • The Little Shop of Horrors: When a robber asks Muchnick where his money is hidden, he says it is inside Audrey Jr, the man-eating plant. The robber walks inside the plant's mouth and is promptly eaten.
  • 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.
  • Mr. Right: this is Von's plan to kill his brother Richard and take over their gang. He spends the movie trying to get Richard to hire a hitman who Von knows kills anyone who contracts him.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • The Avenger had a habit of manipulating criminals into a position where they would suffer a Karmic Death when they attempted to kill him.
  • Played for Drama in the final act of The Butter Battle Book. Grandpa Yook is given a handheld nuclear weapon called the Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo by his commander and ordered to drop it upon the Zook's side of the village. While this is clearly a Suicide Attack, Grandpa doesn't realize that the blast will kill him too. What's worse, it turns out that his rival Van Itch has been given the same suicide mission, to drop his own Bitsy Big-Boy Boomeroo on the Yook's side.
  • 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. It's unclear whether he was tricked, or deliberately chose death over Vetinari's other alternative.
  • 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?
  • Nightmares & Dreamscapes: In "The House on Maple Street", four children discover that their house is slowly turning into an alien rocket ship that will blast off in the middle of the afternoon, when their abusive stepfather is usually at work and their beloved mother is usually at home. They go through a lot of trouble to make sure their stepfather is in the house and their mother isn't when it blasts off into space.
  • 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.
  • In the Wizard's First Rule, the first book of the Sword of Truth series, the Big Bad Darken Rahl is defeated this way, when the hero Richard tricks him into using the Boxes of Orden in a way that will kill him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Hightown: This is attempted with Krista by giving her extra strong drugs in the hopes she would OD. However, it doesn't work, and she's beaten to death instead.
  • Patrick Jane of The Mentalist realizes James Panzer, a supposed expert on the San Joaquin Killer, actually is said killer. Jane agrees to go on a live television show with Panzer, then manipulates him into making unfavorable comparisons between the SJK and series Big Bad Red John. Despite such on-air remarks directly and famously resulting in Red John having murdered Jane's wife and daughter, as well as Red John having murdered an interviewer who called him a "beast" and left her interviewee catatonic, Panzer openly disparages Red John, with predictable results.
  • The series finale of Peaky Blinders has Tommy dealing with a terminal brain tumor that will kill him in a year. After a Roaring Rampage of Revenge against his enemies, Tommy hands off control to his sister and head to an old cabin to take his life. Just as he's about to he gets a vision of his dead daughter saying "you're not sick" and told to "light the fire." Getting some old newspapers to burn, Tommy sees a notice about the wedding of his rival Mosley...and sees not only is Tommy's doctor one of the guests but the second doctor who provided the x-rays "proving" the tumor was the maid of honor. Tommy realizes he's not sick at all, this was all to push him to suicide as they knew "the only person who could end Tommy Shelby was Tommy Shelby." He does spare the doctor's life before leaving, having regained his old fire.
  • Probe's "Now You See It....": A murderer lures people into empty elevator shafts, by using a Hologram to make it look like the elevator cab had arrived.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series: In the original pilot "The Cage", the Talosian Keeper threatens to destroy the Enterprise unless Pike releases him. Vina confirms that he has the ability to carry out the threat by manipulating the crew's perceptions of the ship's controls and instruments. It turns out to be a bluff: while the Keeper is indeed capable of destroying the ship this way, he is not ruthless enough to actually do so.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 
  • Avencast: Rise of the Mage: One tyrannical ruler of the titular school executes undesirables with a Life Draining machine that transfers their power to him. The Player Character sneaks in on the eve of an execution and rigs the machine in reverse.
  • 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.
  • Chaser: After getting out of his Explosive Leash, Chaser plants it in the trunk of Vallero's car. When Vallero subsequently learns that Chaser had snuck off to Little Tokyo and killed his men there, he pulls the kill-switch, blowing himself up.
  • 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.
  • Divinity: Original Sin II: The Player Character can convince Gareth that he can charge the Shriekers and somehow avoid their instant-death effect. He's immediately proven wrong when he tries.
  • 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.
  • King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Throughout the game, the evil genie Shamir Shamazel uses his shapeshifting abilities to try and trick Prince Alexander into killing himself. For instance, he disguises himself as a young boy swimming and splashing about in the sea, calling for Alexander to jump in and join him; should he do so, Alexander is swiftly swept away by the currents and drowns. The biggest giveaway of the genie's identity is his Supernatural Gold Eyes.
  • Skyrim: During the Dark Brotherhood questline, Emperor Titus Mede II visits Solitude and enjoys a banquet served by Tamriel's greatest chef, The Gourmet. Unfortunately for the Emperor, The Gourmet has actually been replaced with an assassin and the potage is seasoned with an incredibly deadly poison (well, unless the player opts for a more blunt approach). He'll actually compliment the potage's excellent taste before dying. Unfortunately for the assassin, the Emperor is a double and the whole thing was a trap.
  • 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.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: You can silence Patty by telling her that the vampire she's obsessed over is planning a rave in the basement of the abandoned hospital. The basement is actually the lair of the cannibalistic Fully-Embraced Fiend Pisha — and Pisha thanks you for the snack afterwards.
  • 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.