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Who Murdered the Asshole?

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Anne Oldman: A man as unpopular as Aiden Hawkchurch, must be a million suspects.
Radio presenter: ...Now I'm delighted to say we've just heard that the celebrity chef Aiden Hawkchurch has been murdered!
Jack Cloth: A million and one.

Someone has been murdered. The first step is simply to determine what sort of motivation someone might have had to kill them. There's just one problem: they were a complete and total asshole, so everyone wanted to kill them.


Establishing that the victim was widely despised makes for a more challenging murder mystery because of the sheer number of suspects with motives. This helps to draw out the investigation and makes obtaining a conviction harder, as the jury might sympathize with the killer. Expect the police to express the feeling at some point that maybe this guy deserved to die, and that his killer did a public service. Typically, at the end, it's discovered that the murder was unrelated to the victim's being so thoroughly despised, or at least not directly related. Either that or his targets got fed up enough to work together and create plausible deniability for any one suspect.

It might also be used to make the audience sympathize with the murderer when they're finally discovered. Because of the morally challenging nature of this plot, it's best to send in a By-the-Book Cop or a Knight in Sour Armor to solve the crime because they try to not become emotionally compromised. A common message in these kinds of stories is that two wrongs do not make a right.


See also Asshole Victim, the subject of a plot like this.

As a Death Trope, obviously beware unmarked spoilers.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the Ace Attorney Investigations manga, Emi St. Cloud is one, being a selfish Jerkass who puts on a good image for the public and plays the heroine in Othello Detectives. However, she was not killed by any of the people she wronged, but out of a belief that her death and her fiance, who is one of the male leads, being arrested for her murder would prevent Othello Detectives from being released.
  • In the Ace Attorney manga, this happens with Robin Wolfe. In the recent past, he invited Eddie Johnson, a talented employee who didn't work well with others, to his house for a private chat, and tortured him in the Den of Spiders, resulting in Eddie being Driven to Suicide. This angered Eddie's brother, Brock, as well as Robin's daughter, Lira (who was in a relationship with Eddie, and believed her father killed him because he didn't approve). When you consider that Robin's brother Bobby has long resented him for treating him like a nuisance, and Robin has a cold relationship with his wife, Theridia, virtually everyone wants him dead.
  • Detective Conan: The frequent use of Asshole Victim in this murder mystery series means this trope is commonly applied.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman (1987): Myndi Mayer started out as an amusing Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but by the time she was found murdered in her office she'd become far less pleasant and alienated and pissed off everyone she knew besides Wonder Woman after descending back into her cocaine addiction. The high number of people with motive to kill her is looked at before it's discovered she killed herself with an overdose, before getting shot by someone who didn't realize she was already dead.

    Fan Works 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Ace Attorney crossover Turnabout Storm, it's eventually revealed that the murder victim, Ace Swift, was a massive Jerkass who, among other things, threatened to take Cruise Control's injured little sister off of life support if he didn't keep intentionally losing to him, and attempted to murder his partner in blackmail, Sonata, when she started developing a conscience and wanted to walk out. However, this is later subverted in that while Ace Swift was indeed an asshole, he wasn't actually murdered. His death was a freak accident that he brought upon himself.
  • In the Danganronpa fanfic Dangan Ronpa Forever Despair, the Amoral Attorney, Ryo Nakahara, an abusive and overall Jerk with a Heart of Jerk, is killed in the third chapter. While there was an extra motive, it's hard to tell who had any additional emotional reasoning to kill her; because she was by far the most disliked in the group.
  • " Who Silenced Elly Patterson" is a Hate Fic of For Better or for Worse. In it, Elly was such an unpopular, domineering busybody that every citizen of her hometown starts as a suspect. It turns out to be her best friend Connie out of a jealous rage because of Elly's Incompatible Orientation. Connie claims it was an accident and her target was John.
  • In the first chapter of Where Talent Goes To Die, the victim, Shiro Kurogane, had made a negative impression on anyone who'd spent any significant amount of time with him and had a grudge against Kaori Miura, the protagonist, for defeating him in a game of shogi. The killer ended up killing him in order to frame Miura and graduate, although said killer did honestly dislike Kurogane.
  • In the Ace Attorney fan web animation Operation: Turnabout, the murder victim was the corrupt military Captain Janus Harvey, who was such a massive Jerkass that none of his subordinates or colleagues, past or current, had ever felt anything but contempt for him, with all of the ones who worked for him at the time of his death being relieved that he's gone. He was also responsible for causing the "Helios-6 Incident", which killed his entire platoon, four years prior to the case in order to silence them from revealing that he had smuggled explosives to insurgents, and from then on kept trying to pin the blame for the incident on one of the victims it claimed, the case's defendant's older brother Charlie November. In this case, however, him being an asshole was not the motive for his murder: the real murderer, Captain Adel Renard, killed him because he was going to receive legal immunity for the Helios-6 incident in exchange for a confession, which would mean he would have screwed Renard over by revealing that Renard was his accomplice in smuggling the explosives and the one who persuaded him to cause the Helios-6 Incident.
  • The Bolt Chronicles: Nearly everyone has a motive to kill the murdered Director in “The Murder Mystery.”
  • A very Downplayed example happens in I Predict a Riot. A riot breaks out at Hogwarts because the students have gotten tired of Slytherin's bullying, and demand "SLYTHERIN'S OUT!". During the chaos, Draco Malfoy is cursed and injured, and when his father arrives on the scene, he demands to know who did it. No fewer than 15 students raise their hands.
  • Retrograde Motion: The first half of the story deals with the murder of the Joker, who was killed not long after the younger Jason returned to Gotham with his teammates and Dick. Naturally, figuring out the motive is the difficult part, because everyone in Gotham has motive. The culprit turns out to be Artemis, who originally had no motive to hate the Joker until she found out he was Jason's original murderer. Even then, it was a crime of passion; she wasn't planning on killing him that night, but Bizarro and her stumbled upon him by chance, and Artemis had already sworn to kill him if given the opportunity.
  • In A Bad Week at the Wizengamot, after being put in jail, Umbridge was apparently murdered behind bars when she got too lippy with a witch who was much smarter and stronger than her. No one was ever punished for her death because she had become so loathed by everyone inside the prison: the warden, the guards, all the other prisoners, and even the house-elves.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The murder victim in the movie Bully, which is based on a real homicide of a teen who bullied and abused his best friend, his best friend's girlfriend, and all of his associates.
  • In Crooked House, Aristide Leonides was not a very nice man. He controlled his family by playing cruel mind games. Every single person related to him had a good reason for wanting him dead.
  • Inverted in Don't Torture a Duckling: the townspeople use the string of murders as an excuse to accuse all the local outsiders and misfits of being murderers, including a witch and a mentally ill man.
  • The film Drowning Mona centers around solving the murder of a cruel woman, found in her car at the bottom of a lake, who was hated by everyone in a small town, making almost everyone in the town a suspect. It turned out several characters were responsible for the murder, and none of them were working together or knew what the others were up to.
  • Gattaca has this as a subplot, though in this case, the murderer does turn out to be someone with a grudge against the victim. Complicating the investigation further is that one of the detectives believes the murderer to have been an "invalid" (person who has not been genetically engineered, the way everyone else at the institute has) and his motivation to have been the victim's finding this out about him. Moreover, the real culprit turns out to be one who was genetically engineered to have an even-tempered personality, despite having very brutally bludgeoned the victim to death.
  • Gosford Park. Though the victim as we see him is portrayed relatively sympathetically, seeming to be a fairly nice old duffer with a horrible harpy of a wife (she tears chunks out of him at dinner in front of all their friends), his past is not so clear and when he is murdered it turns out everyone had a motive. Though in fact all the people with real, personal motives are ignored as they are only the servants.
  • Invoked by police Captain Dudley Smith when he kills his business partner Sid Hudgens in L.A. Confidential. Hudgens ran a tabloid where he routinely outed people in Hollywood as gay or Communists (both career killers in the early 1950s), covered (or created) celebrity scandals, and speculated on organized crime and political corruption in Los Angeles. So when Hudgens is found murdered, the natural thought is that after years of doing that he finally ran a story or found dirt on the wrong person, not that he was part of an elaborate criminal conspiracy and became a loose end.
    Detective: Somebody beat him to death and stole a bunch of his files. Must've dug up garbage on the wrong way. Got it narrowed down to a thousand suspects.
  • In Murder Mystery, before the events of the film, Malcolm stole the fiancees of two of the suspects and treated his son barely for being gay. Shortly before dying, he tells everyone they're leeches and that he plans to cut them out of the will.
  • This trope is exaggerated with the victim in the various film adaptations of Murder on the Orient Express. See the Literature entry below.
  • Discussed in The Toxic Avenger after Toxie murders the criminal Cigar Face's associates Knuckles and Nipples to save the life of a policeman they were terrorizing. Mayor Belgoody and his cronies are trying to figure out who would kill Knuckles and Nipples, one of the men bringing up that the two crooks were hated by everyone.
  • Inverted in Knives Out. The people who had motive to kill Harlan Thrombey all thought that he was the asshole and try to convince Benoit Blanc of this, but it's soon made clear that Harlan was the Only Sane Man in his Big, Screwed-Up Family, trying to get them to finally shape up. The suspects all had legitimate reason to hate Harlan, but in each of their cases, it came down to them being assholes, not him.
  • In Blood Harvest, Jill's father is a banker who was hated by the community for foreclosing on farms. So when Jill's parents go missing and their home is vandalized, there's no shortage of suspects.

  • Isaac Asimov:
    • Toyed with in The Naked Sun, where the murder victim was the perfect embodiment of the planet's social code ("a good Solarian")... and therefore qualifies, since the definition of a good Solarian is an antisocial asshole. As the detective brought in from Earth just to solve the case has to explain to his audience at the Summation Gathering, everyone had a motive to murder the man who reminded them all of their imperfections.
    • Another story called The Dust of Death, features a famous researcher who dies in a lab explosion. Foul play is suspected. The problem is, it turns out this "researcher" never did anything except steal the ideas and results of his employees. So, not only did everyone have a motive, everyone was openly discussing the best way to kill him.
  • Ellis Peters' Felse novels:
    • Helmut Schauffler in Fallen Into the Pit. One of the police at the crime scene, asked to suggest someone who might want him dead, names seven without needing to think hard, and Sergeant Felse notes that he could have done the same without any overlap of names.
    • Arthur Rainbow, in Rainbow's End, manages to get on the wrong side of just about everyone before meeting his end.
  • Ellis Peters' Brother Cadfael series occasionally plays this straight but often subverts it.
    • For example, the victim in The Leper of Saint Giles was a smug Jerkass who treated everyone around him badly and was about to marry a child bride in love with someone else for her money... but his long-time mistress, a sympathetic character, was fond of him, and he treated her well even though she had aged and lost her looks, and she speaks of him with affection when she and Cadfael discuss him.
    • Interestingly, one of the rare victims in the series who plays this completely straight is a morally upright Well-Intentioned Extremist priest who, through his rigid self-righteousness and lack of compassion, made enemies of everyone he had power over. It's implied later that divine will killed him, helped along by an unsympathetic observer who commits Murder by Inaction and is absolved for it.
  • Scottish police detective Hamish Macbeth, in the mystery novels by M.C. Beaton, often finds himself investigating crimes in which the victim is someone who many people were glad to see go away. It's even right there in the titlesDeath of a Snob, Death of an Outsider, Death of a Poison Pen, etc.
  • Agatha Christie liked to do this as well.
    • Ratchett in Murder on the Orient Express is worth mentioning in particular, being doubly an Asshole Victim. He's portrayed as a total jackass from the minute he steps on board, so don't feel too guilty when he's splattered across a Pullman carriage for the watcher's entertainment. As more is learned about him after the murder, it becomes even clearer just how deserving he was of his fate. He murdered a baby girl, ruined her family's life in the process, and got away with it scot-free. Poirot eventually lets his murderers go. A nice twist on the "everyone had a motive" reason for an asshole villain, given that it turns out that everyone did it.
    • Mr. Shaitana in Cards on the Table, who has a collection of successful murderers — the ones he knows got away with it — and invites them to a party calculated to make them squirm. Christie plays with this one, as Poirot immediately points out that this is not a safe hobby. Much of the book is spent trying to find out what murders the suspects previously committed. As a further sign of Shaitana's arrogance, very late in the book, it is revealed that one of the so-called "murderers" was actually innocent of his original crime, and thus did not deserve to be put through Shaitana's mind game in the first place.
    • Simeon Lee in Hercule Poirots Christmas is a selfish old millionaire, who plays sadistic mind games with his family. Here, however, the murder was actually personal revenge.
    • The sadistic Lord Edgware in Lord Edgware Dies. However, as in Appointment with Death, the murder was committed for selfish motives.
    • Colonel Protheroe of The Murder at the Vicarage is the most despised man in the village; even the local vicar says that killing him would be a service to the community. However, yet again, the murder turns out to have been committed for purely selfish motives.
    • Mrs. Boynton in Appointment with Death is one of Christie's more extreme examples: she's an almost hypnotic 'mental sadist' who uses sheer force of personality to absolutely control her family and uses that power to psychologically torture them. Her murder, while selfishly motivated, is related to her domineering nature, as she died by Blackmail Backfire.
    • The short story "The Under Dog" (1926) is another example by Christie. The victim was Sir Reuben Astwell, a wealthy businessman and a man of violent temper. He had poor relations with most of his family members and frequently quarreled with them, he managed to alienate his loving wife by threatening to get rid of her right-hand-woman, he was verbally abusive to all of his employees, and he owed part of his wealth to cheating business associates out of their share of the profits in business ventures. Almost everyone has a motive and nobody seems to mourn him. The murderer turns out to be Owen Trefusis, Reuben's loyal secretary for 9 years. He was noted throughout the story to be a particularly meek, patient, and soft-spoken man. It turns out that Reuben was systematically abusing Owen for years, using him as something of a punching bag for verbal abuse. Whenever anyone else got Reuben mad, he took out his anger on Owen. Because Owen, unlike the others, never talked back. During the last session of verbal abuse, Owen briefly snapped and killed his employer. The murder was not even premeditated, and Owen had nothing to gain from it.
  • Nero Wolfe: Too Many Cooks opens, before the victim has even died, with a man ranting not only about how much he wants to kill the soon-to-be victim Philip Laszio but also how every other person you are about to meet in the book has a motive to kill Laszio too. You almost expect Everybody Did It in this one.
  • Sherlock Holmes: Exaggerated in The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton, where the titular Milverton was such a terrible person, that Holmes not only flat-out refuses to investigate his murder, but he had personally witnessed it (because he and Watson were burglarizing Milverton's house to destroy incriminating documents) and chosen not to intervene. What makes this even more Exaggerated was that the story was Ripped from the Headlines. It was pretty much a fictional retelling of the murder of Charles Augustus Howell, an alleged blackmailer who was found dead or dying with his throat slit and a half-sovereign coin stuffed in his mouth. He was ruled to have died from TB, with the slit throat happening postmortem.
  • The Saint: In the short story "Nassau: The Arrow of God", Simon Templar investigates the murder of a man given to publicly announcing other people's sins for his own amusement. Templar "solves" the crime by determining that only one of the suspects has a prior felony (selling fraudulent stock) to conceal. Because nobody ever killed somebody for threatening to expose an extramarital affair or for claiming one's religion is fraudulent. Really, Simon's entire career consists of liberating a succession of asshole victims from (always) their money and (periodically) their lives.
  • Ali (actually Courtney) in Pretty Little Liars is pretty conniving and bitchy to her friends and ends up going missing and being found dead in her backyard. On the other hand, a reader may be able to find a little more sympathy as she was only 14 at the time of her death.
  • CC de Poitiers, the victim in Louise Penny's second Three Pines mystery A Fatal Grace, is self-obsessed, emotionally and verbally abusive to her husband and daughter, and universally loathed (even by the man she's having an affair with). Possible motives are not hard to come by.
  • Stella Rodes, the seemingly angelic victim in John le Carré's second novel, A Murder of Quality. It turns out that she runs the gamut from taunting people to outright blackmailing them (which is what finally gets her killed).
  • Ben Elton's Past Mortem, in which a series of grown-up school bullies are found murdered in ways similar to accounts of ways they used to bully their childhood victims. It's zig-zagged, however, in that while some of the bullies kept up being assholes in adulthood, others of them had clearly matured and, even if they didn't exactly regret what they had done, were at least not assholes worthy of death.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • King Joffrey I Baratheon's death leads to a massive dose of this trope. He was so deservedly hated and reviled that the characters who actually cared about finding the true killer said that practically all of Westeros had some motive to kill him and even the most occult of poisons isn't that difficult to get hold of, so... um. Where to find a long enough sheet of parchment to make a solid list? Yeah, sure, suspects were named, but it's clear that few in Court are truly convinced that they are actually the ones who did it, even though it's currently politically expedient to officially agree they must have.
    • Historically, Maegor Targaryen, a similarly cruel, vicious, and murderous king, was found dead on the Iron Throne. Nobody knew who killed him (though it's implied that he could have killed himself), and nobody cared to find out. A common superstition is that the Throne itself murdered him.
  • In one of Kate Ross's Julian Kestrel books (Whom The Gods Love) the victim is revealed to have been a complete monster, so the book quickly goes from "Who could have done this horrible murder?" to "Is there a single character without a motive?"
  • In Sage Adair Timber Beasts, an associate of the protagonist is for killing railroad bull Clancy Steele. Steele is known far and wide as a Jerkass, and Sage immediately learns about several other people with a grudge against him.
  • One of the Nikki Heat novels centers around the murder of a highly unpopular critic. When Nikki asks who might want her dead, Jameson Rook suggests that she get a copy of the Manhattan phone book and start with the letter A.
  • Lord Darcy: In The Eyes Have It, the first reaction to the discovery of the Count's corpse is "I knew someone would do you in sooner or later, my lord".
  • Zane in Welcome To Temptation (by Jennifer Crusie) was essentially trying to blackmail and/or harass almost every prominent person in town and annoyed the hell out of pretty much everyone else. Amusingly enough, despite his having been hit by a car, maced in the face, bundled up in a shower curtain, and disposed of... he died of a heart condition without actually having been murdered at all.
  • Parodied in the Agatha Christie pastiche "Death on the Line" in the I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue book Stovold's Mornington Crescent Almanac. Lady Violetta "Gnasher" Ickenham unleashes a stream of invective against everyone else at the dinner table and how much she's dedicated herself to making their lives hell, before adding that she's finally going to do something about the typing error in her will that names them all as beneficiaries...
  • Several cases in the In Death series have a wealth of suspects thanks to the victim being a terrible person. One textbook example is Richard Draco in Witness in Death, who proves to have been such scum while he was alive that Eve for the first time in the series admits that she can't feel any sympathy for him nor condemn his murderer. Since the murder takes place during a stage production of Witness For the Prosecution, nods to Agatha Christie abound.
  • In the Josh Lanyon gay murder mystery Somebody Killed His Editor, both of the victims were reprehensible jerks who habitually trod on and mistreated others. This has the effect of setting up the protagonist, writer Christopher Holmes, as a main suspect, since he'd been publicly humiliated by both and he had verbally shot back at each of them, just as publicly, in retaliation, in one case joking about how he'd poison the future victim if he had the chance.
  • In Aunt Dimity: Detective by Nancy Atherton, no one in Finch particularly mourns when Prunella "Pruneface" Hooper, possibly the most obnoxious person in town, is found dead under mysterious circumstances (Aunt Dimity, the narrator's ghostly adviser and confidant, as good as states outright that Prunella has gone to Hell). Pretty much everyone but the narrator and her immediate family has a motive, and there's a very long chain of witnesses providing evidence pointing directly to someone else, who has evidence pointing directly to someone else, who has evidence pointing directly to someone else... The final witness actually reveals the truth: Pruneface died of an accidental head injury, and the witness assumed she'd only been knocked out and went about their day.
  • The Stormlight Archive, Highprince Sadeas' murder is met with a general "Good riddance" from his peers, and even the steadfastly honorable Highprince Dalinar finds it difficult to investigate, given that Sadeas betrayed him and got six thousand of his soldiers killed. It's lampshaded several times throughout the investigation that there are a lot of suspects. Basically everyone except for his wife had a motive. However, the readers know the whole time that it was Adolin, Dalinar's son, who killed him. Sadeas had explained how he was going to continue undermining Dalinar at every turn, but they were alone, so Adolin snapped and killed him. Once Dalinar discovers the truth, he's as vexed by the inconvenient timing as he is by the whole "murder" thing.
  • "Murder in Pastiche" by Marion Mainwaring. It's mainly a detective novel pastiche (gee) but that trope occurs too (and naturally, gets lampshaded on the spot).
  • Magical Cats Mysteries: In book 3 (Copycat Killing), Kathleen accidentally discovers the skeletonized body of Tom Karlsson, the biological father of her friend Roma (Tom had disappeared when Roma was just a child). When speaking to Roma's mother Pearl about it later, asking who would want to kill him, Pearl admits she knows who: "Pretty much anyone who knew him." Tom, it turns out, had worked for the town bootlegger, cheated at cards, and was abusive to his wife.
  • "Clubland Heroes" revolves around the murder of a small-minded, pompous little busybody whose hobby was apparently suing almost everyone he came into contact with, and who seemed to take great pleasure in getting the law imposed as harshly as possible on people for even the mildest of infractions. Everyone in town is glad of his death — even the local police because he recently got several of them fired for a technical dereliction of duty.
  • One Of Us Is Lying revolves around the murder of a high school student who ran a highly damaging gossip app and delighted in using it to tear others down. He was murdered while in detention with four other students, each of whom he was about to publish some major dirt on. As the murderer clearly had to be in the room at the time, the police investigation focuses pretty much exclusively on the "Bayview Four" but, as others point out, there were plenty of people who might have wanted him dead.
    • Similarly with the victim of One of Us is Next. Brandon Webber is a spoiled, misogynist Jerkass who killed Phoebe's father and got off scot-free.
  • There's no actual (successful) murder, but in one of the Artemis Fowl books, Butler thinks to himself that this trope would very much come into play if something were to happen to his obnoxious young charge.
    Butler rolled his eyes. Who would want to kill Artemis? Every waiter and tailor in Europe, for a start.
  • In the Mercy Thompson book Iron Kissed, Mercy has to clear Zee's name in the murder of a man named O'Donnell. Unfortunately, he was a part of an anti-fae hate group who was such a dick to friend and foe alike that it's hard to find the real killer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alfred Hitchcock Presents: In the three-part episode, "I Killed the Count", the titular Count is such a screaming asshole that there are not only multiple suspects, but multiple confessions. The multiple confessions are actually part of the murder; a group of people who were friends of the Count's long-suffering wife cooperated. The intended murderer drew the short straw (literally) and placed evidence that each person in the conspiracy could use to "confirm" their guilt, resulting in more suspects than can be legally held for a single crime. The Hitchcock Twist was that none of them were guilty, as the wife had finally had enough... but their actions saved her from the consequences.
    Raines: It's lucky he deserved killing, isn't it, sir?
  • All My Children:
    • In 1992, Will Cortlandt was bludgeoned to death with a crowbar and had become such a pariah that there were no less than 15 suspects, including his own SISTER.
    • Later, in 2004, after Michael Cambias raped Bianca, he earned the hatred of everyone in Pine Valley, especially after he gets Off on a Technicality because Bianca destroyed the physical evidence. After he turns up dead shortly after, all of Bianca's loved ones and friends attend his funeral just to give eulogies on how much they hate him, with Tad Martin himself stealing his body from the morgue and burying it in the city dump. When it is revealed that Bianca herself confronted Michael and shot him dead in self-defense when he tried to rape her again, the judge, who was sympathetic to Bianca and believed her from the start, leaned hard on the prosecution not to press any charges against Bianca.
  • Bones:
    • Probably happens with about the same 50/50 frequency as other crime shows. An example is a parody of The Office, where a hateful manager is dumped down an elevator. It turns out she had an aneurysm burst when one of the couple she busted for a forbidden affair — one of whom she was already blackmailing to sleep with her — threw a stapler at her head in frustration, and the two dumped her body in a panic.
    • Perhaps the biggest example of the show is The Gravedigger a.k.a. Heather Taffet, a serial killer who buried her victims alive then demanded a ransom. After finally getting caught and convicted, she gets her head blown off while on the way to try and appeal her conviction. The killer turns out to be Booth's former mentor, who was in turn hired by the father of two of the Gravedigger's victims.
  • Burke's Law: "Who Killed the Asshole?" Most episodes deal with Capt. Amos Burke seeking the answer to that question among The Beautiful Elite of Los Angeles, all of whom would have some motive in that week's murder.
  • City Homicide: The episode "Cut and Dried" has a convicted child molester murdered in prison, and few of the detectives are motivated to investigate too thoroughly. It's then subverted when it turns out he was genuinely repentant, was intending to give evidence against the pedophile ring he belonged to, and was in fact silenced by two of the prison guards.
  • Cluedo:
    • Most of the victims on this Game Show were straight-up ass-lacquers. Definitely helps for a show with a small, recurring cast of potential murderers.
    • Similarly, the cast of the movie Clue was either the blackmailer, his accomplices, or the blackmailed suspects (who all survive the movie), except FBI agent Mr. Green.
  • Happens frequently on Cold Case, in which long lists of suspects are common for even sympathetic victims. Not entirely surprising, given that most cold cases exist for one of two reasons: either the case was only just discovered, in which case relevant details (not to mention physical evidence) may be hard to piece together, or that the case hit a dead end, which usually means that either any obvious leads were ruled out or there weren't any to begin with.
  • Columbo: Most of the victims in the first two seasons, allowing Columbo to have a cozy time with the murderer.
  • Coronation Street had a non-murderous example when local Smug Snake Manipulative Bitch Tracy Barlow was beaten up by an unknown neighbour. Stepfather Ken Barlow informed the police that the number of people who didn't want to do it was lower.
  • The South Korean whodunnit game show Crime Scene frequently uses this trope, likely because the format requires there to be 6 suspects, and therefore 6 motives because the game would be too easy unless Everyone Is a Suspect.
  • CSI:
    • Subversion in one episode. The victim is an asshole to his four co-workers, all of whom were the only ones to have access to the room he died in. The audience is led to believe that a combination of two or more of the four are the ones who offed the jerkass (all of whom are pretty jerkassy themselves). Turns out it was the janitor cleaning the vents, who killed the man when his hammer fell out of the pocket and through the grate. He didn't know the guy and removed the hammer because he didn't want to go back to jail.
    • It happens many, many times in the CSI franchise, usually coupled with a Sympathetic Murderer. Examples include:
      • A clingy ex-wife who insisted on making life hell for her ex-husband and children. She tried to put a hit on herself to frame her ex-husband and when she couldn't do it, she tricked her own son into killing her for the same reason.
      • An egomaniac Paris Hilton-esque reality show star.
      • A convicted pedophile on parole. He was staying at his brother's house, and the stress of having him around plus the associated harassment by the neighbors caused said brother's pregnant wife to miscarry. The brother then catches the pedophile spying on a playground which turns out to be the last straw and kills him.
      • A millionaire serial litigator. Murdered by a chef whose life she had completely destroyed as she was getting ready to do the same on his new workplace.
      • A horribly corrupt Deputy Mayor of NYC responsible for embezzling several million dollars out of various charities and refusing to raise policemen's salaries leading to a city-wide strike. Murdered by his 10-year-old OCD son after he planned on sending him to a boarding school out of frustration for his condition.
      • A young man who was poisoned by a cheerleader who he had mocked when she was overweight. After suffering a completely undeserved Humiliation Conga, the girl managed to lose weight and carry out a Gambit Roulette to get her revenge.
      • A woman who trained dogs for underground dog fighting rings, and who had become a Villain with Good Publicity by having built a reputation as a big-time animal philanthropist (who focused on saving animals trained for underground fighting rings). The man who killed her? An FBI informant who was fed up with the Bureau having its hands tied even after he had given them truckloads of evidence.
      • Three men, guilty of various crimes, who brutally beat the girl who had got them arrested — and wasn't even supposed to have to testify. They were killed by their attorneys, who didn't much care if their sleazy clients killed, intimidated, or beat up their (usually) equally sleazy accusers, but couldn't stand what the men had done to that girl. When one of the killers points out to Mac that they're likely to get away with it and asks, "Can you really say we shouldn't?", Mac doesn't look too happy — but doesn't say "no" either.
      • A particularly vicious high school bully who had given at least one of his victims permanent physical damage. Murdered by the school guidance counselor, who had previously worked at a school where a copycat murder of Columbine took place and figured it was only a matter of time before someone shot up the school to deal with the bully.
      • On one episode a contestant on a cooking show is found killed and cooked, and then later another one is found poisoned. Turns out the female producer of the show offed them both because she discovered that they were the ones who raped and murdered her sister years before, and had lied about the truth to her face while pretending to comfort her.
      • The episode Take My Life, Please had an unusual Victim of the Week in a dumped body that had been shot so many times and with so many different calibers that it was literally possible to see through him. The investigation eventually revealed that the man had bombed an abortion clinic (doing enormous collateral damage and hurting a lot of people) and then gone off the grid to avoid retaliation, eventually sneaking into an outdoors firing range to spend the night. The murderers were given much grief over trying to cover the murder, but nobody really lamented the man's death.
      • A handyman at a brothel who was shot in the neck with a crossbow, bludgeoned, suffering from anaphylactic shock, and poisoned with rattlesnake venom. He'd been sleeping with the brothel owner's wife (who gave his wife shrimp when he knew she was going to see the victim, who had a shellfish allergy), abusing one of the prostitutes (who injected him with rattlesnake venom from a snake she caught and later hit him on the head with a crowbar when she thought he was trying to attack her while he was delirious from the snake venom and anaphylactic shock), and shot in the neck with a crossbow by another coworker he'd been bullying (which miraculously hit him at just the right place to give him a tracheotomy without hitting the jugular). But he actually died when he sat in a chair that he hadn't fixed, causing it to break, dumping him into the brothel's swimming pool, where he drowned. The team let everyone off the hook on the grounds that it was apparently judged a (self-inflicted) accidental death, and Nick even snarking that if the case made it to trial, the defense attorneys would just say that the chair was the real killer.
      • On CSI: Miami, we had the example of an Alpha Bitch of such horrible caliber that she had driven a teenage boy into attempting suicide and coerced a girl into getting gang-banged by three boys to showcase that they were "losers", and none of the other students wanted to stop the bullying in fear of what she could do to them. The Papa Wolf and Mama Bear collective of every kid she bullied banded together to kidnap her, tie her to a touchdown pole and force her to hear their children's confessions to the school psychiatrist, and then stoned her to death when she had the stupid idea to not only not show any regret, but also tell the parents that the kids deserved everything that she did to them because they were losers.
  • Dallas: While he survived, J.R. Ewing, hence the "Who shot JR?" plotline.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Dishing Up Murder", the Victim of the Week was an obnoxious celebrity chef who was loathed by his entire inner circle. He was cheating on his girlfriend and partner (both romantically and professionally), dominating and abusing his son, blackmailing his sous chef, having an affair with his pastry chef, and had allowed his brother to take the fall for a crime he had committed.
  • Decoy: The murder victim in "The Tin Pan Payoff" was fond of seducing his friends' girlfriends simply to spite them, leaving a lot of men who were angry about being cheated on and a lot of women who were angry about being discarded once they'd served their purpose.
  • Diagnosis: Murder: Subverted in one episode where the victim was a blackmailing, mean-spirited nurse with several personal enemies. Why is it a subversion? The only reason she was actually killed was that she walked in on another murder; the killer was one of the few people who didn't seem to hate her.
  • Dickensian: The murder victim was Jacob Marley, who is portrayed as not just as mean and grasping a moneylender as his partner, but sadistic on top of it. Scrooge is quick to point out to Inspector Bucket that the difficulty will be finding someone who didn't want him dead.
  • The Doctor Blake Mysteries: In "A Difficult Lie", the Victim of the Week is a disagreeable journalist who is later revealed to have been a blackmailer as well. The man seemed to create enemies wherever he went, with everyone from his caddie to the president of the golf club having a motive to kill him.
  • EastEnders:
    • The "Who Shot Phil?" storyline, though as with J.R. Ewing, Phil survived. The culprit turned out to be his ex-girlfriend Lisa, who was upset with his abusive treatment of her.
    • The "Who Killed Archie?" storyline, in which Archie Mitchell is bludgeoned to death on Christmas Day by an unseen assailant. There were no less than ten suspects, all of whom rehearsed scenes in which they revealed themselves to be the killer, in order to keep the cast in the dark. The storyline culminated in a live episode on the show's 25th anniversary, in which prime suspect Bradley Branning (whose wife Stacey had been raped by Archie) falls from a roof to his death while being chased by the police. The murderer then turns out to be Stacey herself.
    • The "Who Killed Lucy Beale?" storyline took this Up to Eleven. Lucy was murdered in April 2014, and the premise was that every single character on the show was a potential suspect. It wasn't until New Years' Day 2015 that this was finally whittled down to a paltry fourteen; a live episode in February 2015, the show's 30th anniversary, revealed that the culprit was none of them. It was Lucy's kid brother , Bobby Beale. The story wasn't properly wrapped up until June 2016, two years after it had begun, but even then it led to another storyline in which Max Branning, who'd been falsely arrested for the murder, returned to carry out a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Elementary:
    • In the episode "Poison Pen", where the victim's wife's alibi is that at the time of his poisoning she was buying the same poison that the actual murderer, her step-son, used. The son wanted to kill his father because the man had been sexually abusing him and was starting to turn his attention to the younger brother. The wife and son had the same idea of framing their nanny since she had killed her own abusive father that way twenty years before.
    • In "You Do It to Yourself", Trent Annunzio is a sadistic wife beater, so his wife (actually his Sex Slave whom he never even legally married) Jun starts seeing another man. When Trent learns he's terminally ill, he has himself murdered and frames Jun's lover for it so she can be deported as an act of posthumous revenge. Fortunately, Holmes and Watson discover the truth before it's too late.
  • Ellery Queen: Every Victim of the Week. This was to maximise the number of suspects by giving everyone a motive to want the victim dead.
  • Emmerdale: When Cain Dingle was beaten up and stabbed, there were no shortage of suspects, seeing how he'd antagonised nearly have the village by that point with his general Jerkass scumbaggery.
  • The Expanse: Miller recalls a murder investigation he once worked on. The victim was a property manager responsible for maintaining a bunch of cheap apartments on Ceres station. He was Cutting Corners and did not replace old air filters. Mold started growing in the air ducts and residents of the apartments started getting sick. While this would have been pretty bad on Earth, on a Belter space station this was an unforgivable crime. Respiratory disease can be a death sentence to Belters who often have to live in low oxygen environments and in general messing with another person's air supply is considered a capital crime in Belter society. After the cops found this out they stopped investigating since any "proper" Belter on the station would have gladly killed the guy, including most of the cops.
  • Game of Thrones: Joffrey's death leads to this. He was so hated and reviled that the characters who actually cared about finding the true killer said that practically all of Westeros had motive to kill him. His uncle Tyrion is framed for it on circumstantial evidence, but it was actually Littlefinger and Lady Olanna Tyrell.
  • iZombie: In "Virtual Reality Bites", Liv tries to find the killer of a hacker called Sin Reaper. Thing is Sin has hundreds of enemies taking credit for his death, with a website popping up just to celebrate it. The real killer is the brother of a call center girl, who kept the hacker on hold through no fault of her own. The hacker then proceeded to systematically destroy her life, resulting in her suicide.
  • The L Word: Jenny Schecter in the final season. Each teaser seems to end with yet another person having a reason to hate her.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit:
    • In one episode, two convicted sex offenders are murdered. Elliot even balks at having to work the case, especially when he learns that one of the victims is someone he had previously arrested for raping and torturing a child.
    • "Angels" deals with the death of a man who kept two Central American children as sex slaves. In this case, the detectives take it very seriously, because they suspect that his killer might be a fellow child molester. They're right.
    • "Pandora" starts off as this when Stabler finds out that his victim was apparently trading child pornography online. Subverted when it turns out she was actually working with the FBI to trap pedophiles.
  • Law & Order has an episode where a notorious paparazzo is murdered just outside a high-end restaurant. It turns out that essentially all of the customers and staff had at one time or another been a subject of his sleazy behavior, or who had friends and family who were, and they break out in applause when they find out whose body is lying dead in the street. The detectives realize it might be difficult to narrow down the suspect pool.
  • Midsomer Murders:
    • One character, played by Orlando Bloom, who was sleeping with at least three different women (one of whom was paying him for it) until he got pitchforked through the chest in the first five minutes. He was also a petty thief and a vandal with a serious attitude problem.
    • In "Down Among the Dead Men", DC Ben Jones openly wonders why they're working so hard to solve the murder of known blackmailer Martin Barrett when "everyone's glad he's dead!"
  • In Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, the Victim of the Week from "The Green Mill Murder" turns out to have been a blackmailer who had a string of people who wanted him dead for entirely understandable reasons.
  • Mock the Week: As a recurring topic on "Scenes We'd Like to See" is "Lines you wouldn't hear in a TV detective show", this trope gets played for comedy:
    It's the TV presenter Noel Edmonds!
    Any idea why he was killed?
    ...It's the TV presenter Noel Edmonds!
  • Monk:
    • One episode has the title character investigate the deaths of a bunch of violent mobsters. It turns out that they died because they pulled guns on another criminal, making it difficult to determine to what extent their deaths count as acts of self-defense. The killer tries to excuse himself by pointing out that his victims were assholes.
    • Also, in the episode "Mr. Monk and the Red Headed Stranger", Sonny Cross, the murder victim, was a person who embezzled a lot of money (embezzling $400,000 from Willie Nelson, and it is implied that this is not the first time he has done so later on in the episode), and he also did time for drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter. In regards to the latter incident, he also received a very lenient punishment, spending only 18 months in prison. Also, the murderer was a blind woman (well, half-blind, she regained the sight of one of her eyes from slipping on the floor at a Supermarket) who was the sole survivor of her family, the family who was killed by Cross's drunk driving, and it was because of his manslaughter that she was even blind in the first place.
  • Murder, She Wrote: Almost to the level of Once per Episode. However, there are actually some exceptions scattered throughout the show's long run of some perfectly nice people getting killed, but one in particular stands out as a very deliberate subversion of this trope. It centers around this Smug Snake Corrupt Corporate Executive where everything about him just seems to scream Asshole Victim... until you get to the halfway point and the murder victim is the exec's much nicer brother.
  • Rather frequent on Murdoch Mysteries.
    • The victim in Season 1's "Child's Play" was murdered by his wife after discovering he was molesting the daughter they adopted - and had done so with their own biological daughter, who he murdered when she grew old enough to fight back. While questioning the adopted girl's brother, who was the prime suspect at the time, Inspector Brackenreid (an orphan himself) reassured him by saying that he would have done it too. Over the course of the investigation, it was also revealed that the victim employed orphans (including their adopted daughter's brother) to steal horses to supply his glue factory.
    • The victim in "Me, Myself, and Murdoch". The prime suspect for his murder is his stepdaughter, who has multiple personalities that resulted from her seeing her stepfather hack up her mother with an axe when she was a child. The man got another woman to marry him and pose as his original wife, and throughout the years he's been abusing his daughter and locking her up in the basement where he dismembered her mom. The murderer is his stepson from his first wife, who ran away as a kid and came back years later disguised as a farmhand, who was suspicious of why another woman was posing as his mother, and axed his stepfather to death. Inspector Brackenreid even said he would do his best to avert the death penalty for the stepson, saying about his stepfather, "Bastard bloody deserved it."
    • The victim in "Downstairs, Upstairs" was the master of a wealthy household who used his position to rape the maids in his employ without consequences, dismissing them without a thought if they became pregnant (a situation similar to Gosford Park above. When interviewed, the murderer said he did not regret it in the slightest.
    • In season 4, the victims of "All Tattered and Torn" are three men that were guilty or accomplice of raping a young woman and escaped justice years ago. The murderer is a former cop who was obsessed with the case and executed them.
    • In season 6, three young women are beaten and murdered by drowning. You feel less sympathetic when it is discovered that they accidentally killed another girl by repeatedly submerging her in cold water to "cleanse" her of her love for her Persian teacher and that one of them was also blackmailing her employer with threats of publishing news of his marriage to a Native woman in the newspaper.
  • NCIS:
    • Many episodes of this show contain these certainly, however the episode "Smoked" has an interesting twist. Because of evidence found during the autopsy, the entire team, and the viewer, believes their victim is a serial killer who murdered dozens of women who look like his wife. Gibbs and Fornell believe the wife to have found out and killed the husband, and they are sympathetic during the interview. Then, in the last five minutes, due to some more forensic magic, it is determined that the husband was completely innocent and SHE is the serial killer.
    • NCIS also did this in the backstory with Gibbs's murder of Pedro Hernandez (in cold blood and premeditated), who had murdered Gibbs's wife and daughter earlier. At first, this is only sporadically brought up in flashbacks (particularly during the "Hiatus" arc while Gibbs recovers from trauma and memory loss). It later comes back to haunt him in the "Rule 51" arc concluding season 7, where the idea of vengeance is also heavily deconstructed.
    • Another example is the episode "Caged", where a guard in a women's prison gets stabbed to death, and the team must find out who killed the guard. The guard is blackmailing an inmate's high school daughter for sex. It's implied that said inmate (who had less than one year left on her sentence and wants to be a mother to her kids) stabbed the guard, but another inmate (on a 175-year sentence), who McGee was sent to get a confession from, confesses to the murder. The team agrees that they won't lose any sleep over that.
    • Two men are killed in very gruesome ways, by Ducky's girlfriend to attract his attention. She points out that they were unpleasant adulterers and deserved to die. Then this is subverted as Ducky proceeds to point out that they didn't deserve to die any more than she deserves to be their judge jury and executioner.
    • Even though the murderer isn't a sympathetic one, few are sorry when Eli David is shot. Said man is the one who twisted Ari (his own son) into a murderer and a terrorist and treated Ziva more like a tool for his own goals than like a daughter. One of his last actions is murdering a journalist to keep his own return to the USA secret.
    • Even the birth of NCIS came about with one of these. The two-parter JAG episode "Ice Queen"/"Meltdown" that served as the NCIS pilot introduced Gibbs and DiNozzo investigating the death of Lt. Singer and her five-month fetus, the token "Evil Witch" on JAG.
  • The NUMB3RS series finale features the murders of two drug dealers and a dangerous drunk driver (who were assassinated with a Glock stolen from Don Eppes, an error that could get Don fired, and then passed along to a chain of wanna-be vigilantes). The motives are so numerous that they have to turn to social media to identify the killer of the drug dealers, and they never do find out who killed the drunk driver.
    • A non-murder example takes place earlier in the series when the son of a controversial music producer is kidnapped. When Colby tries to ask the father if he has any enemies, the man suggests he "pick up your mugbook and pick a page". (Fortunately, some later hints dropped by the kidnapper give the team the information they need to zero in on a suspect.)
  • Perry Mason: Most but not all of this show's episodes deal with trying to identify the murderer of an unpleasant person when there's no shortage of people suspected to have killed the bastard.
  • Power Rangers in Space alludes to this in "Flashes of Darkonda". When Darkonda screams in agony after the strength serum he's consumed has caused him to start melting, Cassie asks who would do that sort of thing to Darkonda. T.J. quips "Probably about half the galaxy."
  • Psych has featured its share of these. One notable example is the fashion mogul couple from "Black And Tan: A Crime of Fashion". The husband is revealed to have stolen some of his recent designs from their assistant and is having an affair with one of their models. The wife is incredibly mean to everyone, including the aforementioned assistant. In an interesting twist, it turns out they killed each other. The husband poisoned his wife, but it took longer than it should have due to her bulimia. By the time it did kill her, she'd already killed him through electrocution.
  • An episode of the old Superior Court courtroom procedural had an episode where the town bully ended up dead. Queue no less than six different witnesses other than the defendant killing the guy, motives ranging from the guy raping a couple of the women, to revenge for the bully burning down houses and shops, to self-defense.
  • 13 Reasons Why: Season 3 of the show centers around the mystery of who killed Bryce Walker. Bryce in the previous seasons had raped two girls, one of which later killed herself, has gaslit his emotionally devastated friend Justin so much that he was powerless against him even when he knew he had raped his girlfriend, was a general bully and asshole, beat up Clay when the latter confronted him with the truth and got off almost completely scot-free from the trial that made up season 2. The general reaction by even the viewers when the first teaser for the season revealed this was extremely positive.
  • To Catch The Uncatchable: In this Hong Kong comedy detective show, a majority of the victims are often Jerkass and should had it coming to them. The female protagonist's previous boss had several affairs and tried to rape the protagonist as well. Turns out his jilted lover was the one to kill him. Another man was a cult leader who put drugs into his believers' drinks so they would follow his orders and would later force the drugs down a believer's throat for disobeying him and also going out with his son. His wife tried to stop him from killing the girl and accidentally pushed him too hard, causing him to fall off the building. There was a woman who was a model who chased after men, then dumped them after she had exploited them for all they were worth. She was pushed off the stairs by a fan of hers after she insulted him for being worthless.
  • A Touch of Cloth: Parodied with the first episode's second murder victim, 'sushi despot' Aiden Hawkchurck. This walking turd was so despised that his featured magazine covers had headlines like "Enemymaker" and "Someone kill him already!". Even random radio broadcasters celebrate his death right after the protagonists muse that there must be a million suspects.
  • The Unusuals: In the pilot, the late Detective Kowalski is revealed to have been a Corrupt Cop, an adulterer, a blackmailer, and an all-around Jerkass for the purpose of making everyone a suspect. However, his widow is shown to love him and genuinely mourn him.
  • Victorious: In the episode "Who Did It To Trina," Trina's harness at a stage show is sabotaged, causing her to end up in a crazy accident. She survives, but the central characters are all each suspected of doing it not only because they were there when it happened, but because Trina was such a jerk to each of them earlier on in the episode and each flashback about each character's potential motive (those mostly blown wide out of proportion) does not make any effort to make her likable in any way to the point that viewers probably wished she'd died.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): Most victims. In the most extreme case, every suspect tried to claim credit for killing the victim (a South American dictator) and the mystery was to work out who was telling the truth rather than who was lying.

  • In the whodunnit Panel Game Foul Play, the murder victim was always someone that all three suspects had reason to want dead, often but not always because they were a terrible person.
  • The Julia Tinnberg mysteries, five radio drama series about a crime novelist with a tendency to encounter real crimes, are practically built on this trope. The murder victim is always a despicable person that very few people actually like or even tolerate... curiously enough, they never show up in person to have any actual dialogue. Either they're dead before the story begins, or the body is discovered in the first chapter, and we only get to know the victim through the (usually negative) descriptions of the rest of the characters. The fourth series is the only one to break the norm here; not only is the victim a sympathetic person but she actually appears in a couple of scenes to talk to the protagonists before she's murdered.

  • Consul Karl Baumer in Margin for Error is a Nazi of the least likable sort. When Adolf Hitler is making a speech, he turns up the volume on the radio so loud that nobody hears the gunshot that kills him.
  • Walter Breckenridge in Ayn Rand's Think Twice is a wealthy philanthropist who uses his power to keep people dependent on him, so he can run their lives. When he's murdered, nearly everyone is happy about it.
  • Mrs Boyle in The Mousetrap spends most of her time on stage pissing and moaning, coming across consistently as a reactionary, entitled, elitist, obnoxious, and just generally unbearable person. She dies at the end of the first act, and if it wasn't for the "three blind mice" motif leading to a high chance of another death, there wouldn't be much of a mystery because it would be hard to care who killed her. The first "blind mouse", Maureen Lyon, was also this (although in her case she died before the play's beginning). She was an abusive foster parent to the three Corrigan brothers, which lead to one of them dying (her husband also took part in it, but died in prison). It's suspected that the killer is targeting people who were involved in the Corrigan case (Mrs. Boyle was the judge who placed the Corrigans with the Lyons), out of revenge for the youngest brother's death.

    Video Games 
  • In L.A. Noire the Body of the Week with whom Cole Phelps makes detective turns out to be an anti-Semitic jerkwad. He tried to use his connections to sabotage a non-competing store because it was owned by a Jew, who finally snapped and filled him with lead.
  • In Paradise Killer, it's less surprising that the Council was massacred than that one of the enslaved, tormented, mortal Citizens they ruled with an iron fist was able to do it.

    Visual Novels 
  • The victim in the Murder Mystery Visual Novel Jisei was working with her company to steal information from a rival corporation, but decided to doublecross her employer in favor of a third party that offered her more money.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair has Hiyoko Saionji, a massive brat who treated her classmates like garbage (especially Tsumiki) and had a habit of abusing small animals. However, even though Tsumiki was the one who killed her, this turns out not to be the case; Hiyoko wasn't targeted, she just walked in on a murder already underway and had to be silenced.
    • Two cases later, there's Nagito Komaeda, who'd alienated everyone with his insane obsession with hope and had recently threatened to blow up the island in order to out the traitor. Said "asshole" is found brutally murdered, and it's initially thought that the killer might have tortured the victim in an attempt to learn the bomb's location. Nagito actually arranged for himself to be murdered in an unsolvable murder (with the traitor being the one to actually kill him) so that said traitor could graduate.

    Web Comics 
  • In Girl Genius, when Agatha arrives at London's Queen's Society, nearly everyone has a bad word to say about the mysteriously absent Tobber ... who meanwhile has just been discovered ground into pulp and washed down the drain. Subverted in that it's quickly determined his death had more to do with his research than his personality.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: A non-lethal version comes up in "Golem" when the car of the school's Jerk Jock is found crushed like a soda can. Bruce asks Terry whether anyone might be holding some kind of grudge or otherwise seeking revenge against said jock. Terry promptly admits "The line starts with me and goes around the block, twice."
  • In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns survives the events of "Who Shot Mr. Burns" after being shot by an unseen gunman. The whole idea of the Cliffhanger is that practically everyone in Springfield wanted to kill him, and in many cases, few would have blamed them. However, not only does he survive, the shooting was an accident (presumably) making it a subversion twice-over.
  • In the Moominvalley episode "The Strange Case of Mrs Fillyjonk", Moominmama has been accused of murdering Mrs Fillyjonk, Moominpapa, trying to clear her name, says he can't imagine why anyone would want to kill Mrs Fillyjonk. After a Montage of her barking disapproval at Snufkin, the Hemulen, the Muskrat, the Snork Maiden, Little My, and the Woodsies, he concludes the answer is everyone in Moominvalley.


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