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Whodunnit to Me?

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Frank Bigelow: I'd like to report a murder.
Captain: Sit down. Where was this murder committed?
Frank Bigelow: San Francisco, last night.
Captain: Who was murdered?
Frank Bigelow: I was.

The protagonist has been murdered and is either dead or soon will be. The rest of the story concerns their efforts to solve the crime in the time they have left. A subplot can also be their trying to protect a loved one from the killer who did them in. This can be supernatural or non-supernatural depending on whether the protagonist is already dead or dying slowly but inevitably. If he or she is already dead, may involve Near-Death Clairvoyance, otherwise may be considered a form of Death by Origin Story. They may also possibly be hanging around as a ghost with Unfinished Business, hopefully a Friendly Ghost but a decent chance of the unfriendly kind. Solving (or avenging) their murder is one of the common Ghostly Goals.

A common science-fictional version involves characters who have the ability to back themselves up, through Brain Uploading or some similar technology. This is often used as a way to get around the issue that most victims know who murdered them: the version of the character that's trying to solve the murder is only as up-to-date as their most recent backup, which means they naturally have no memory of the murder or anything immediately before it.

Compare Discovering Your Own Dead Body, as this tends to be part of the evidence in the case. Contrast The Dead Guy Did It, when the deceased was the killer.

As this is a Death Trope, unmarked spoilers abound. Beware.


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    Already Dead 
Anime & Manga
  • Given a heartbreaking spin in one of the Black Jack anime series: A girl who's given a cornea transplant from another woman who supposedly perished in an accident starts having visions of a man trying to grab her. Everything points out at the dead woman's spirit trying to contact the person who has her original cornea and tell her that she was murdered... except that her death was a genuine accident, and what the poor woman saw last was her boyfriend trying to save her.
  • Lia in Le Chevalier d'Eon, who possesses her living younger brother to find out who murdered her.
  • In the Show Within a Show episode of Marginal #4, Atom plays a detective and Rui plays the ghost of his murdered partner. They have 24 hours to solve the case, before the ghost disappears forever. Except that was a lie — the "ghost" is actually the murdered cop's nephew, and he lies to his uncle's partner because he suspects (correctly) that he's the culprit.

Comic Books

  • Emily from Anya's Ghost wants to find the man who killed her family. Subverted later when it's revealed that there was no murderer... aside from Emily, of course.
  • This was the whole idea behind Deadman, who dies in his first story — and becomes a superhero as a result, fighting crime in spirit-form while investigating his own death. At one point, it looks like his killer is Joe Chill, the same thug who had murdered Batman's parents.
  • This was part of the title character's original motivation in Ghost (Dark Horse Comics).
  • In the original graphic novel R.I.P.D., this was Nick's motivation for joining the R.I.P.D.
  • The Shade, the Changing Man story arc 'The Road' becomes an inverse murder mystery.

Fan Fiction

  • The Ronless Factor opens with Ron Stoppable dying in a car accident and swiftly learning it was actually an attempt to kill Kim Possible; the first half of the story sees his ghost trying to make contact with Kim after learning that their school nemesis Bonnie Rockwaller has the ability to hear ghosts.

Film — Live-Action

  • The Crow: Eric Draven rises from the grave to hunt down the criminals who murdered him and his fiancée.
  • Ghost (1990): Sam Wheat becomes a ghost after being killed in a mugging gone wrong, and discovers there's more to his death than just making him an unfortunate statistic.
  • Trailers for The Invisible advertised this as the premise of the movie, but in the actual film, the identity of Nick's murderer is never in question, to him or the audience. The film is thus less of a whodunit and more of a character drama.
  • In I, Robot, the protagonist is guided through a murder investigation by pre-programmed holograms left behind by the victim. Subverted as it turns out that the victim actually arranged his own death, intending for the murder investigation to lead the detective to evidence of a real crime.
  • Oh! Heavenly Dog sends back a murdered human in dog form to investigate his death.
  • RoboCop: In both the 1987 original and the 2014 remake, Alex Murphy tracks down the criminals who all but killed him.
  • In Topper Returns, heroine Gail Richards is murdered in an Old, Dark House, only for her ghost to investigate her own death.
  • The 1950s movie You Never Can Tell tells the story of a murdered dog who was sent back by 'dog heaven' as a human to investigate his own murder.


  • 9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood involves a police officer who was shot from behind and resurrected in another man's body by the Celestial Fox.
  • The zombie-PI protagonist of Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. investigates his own murder along with several others. He mentions that a number of ghosts or other zombies have hired him to solve their murders.
  • Discworld:
    • Hogfather makes passing mention of a variant; apparently it's not unheard of for the Guild of Assassins to accept contracts from zombies with a score to settle.
    • The Watch has a rule where if someone comes Back from the Dead via the intervention of an Igor, the attack is still considered murder. True, they were only briefly dead, which is why the killer will be "briefly" hanged.
    • In the short story "Theatre of Cruelty", when reflecting on the difficulties with policing in a Dungeon Punk city, one of Vimes's observations is that murder investigations get really strange when the corpse is taking an interest. Discworld zombies, after all, are animated by Unfinished Business, and a strong desire to find your murderer could certainly qualify.
    • In Maskerade, a recently murdered character offers to assist in catching his killer, but Death dissuades him on the grounds that the living generally get uneasy when the deceased takes a constructive role in a murder investigation.
      They tend to lose concentration.
  • Emily Bones - City of Ghosts: Upon realising that she is a ghost, Emily very quickly learns that she was murdered. She immediately decides to find her murderer and take revenge, which is essentially what constitutes the plot for the rest of the book. The trope is also very important for the plot as Emily's murderer is a very powerful being who has long evaded detection by the forces of good, and it is precisely the fact that he murdered Emily personally that allows Emily to track him.
    Atop the Eiffel Tower stood an invisible girl and surveyed Paris, looking for her murderer.
  • Family Skeleton Mysteries: The first book revolves around Sid's trying to find out who he was when he was alive, and after discovering he was murdered (they find a dent in his skull and a knife wound on one rib, right over where his heart would be), who killed him and why.
  • Ghost Story, Book 13 of The Dresden Files, has this as its plot, with a ghostly Harry Dresden trying to find out who killed him, and the more important question of who ordered it done. As it turns out, the answer is... Harry Dresden. Also, he's not exactly dead...
  • Never Trust A Dead Man pairs this with Clear My Name and Enemy Mine: the protagonist, Selwyn, is forced to cooperate with his murdered rival (who has been brought back from the dead in the form of a bat) to find the real murderer and clear Selwyn's name.
  • James Herbert's Nobody True is told from the POV of a ghost seeking his killer ... who can astrally project to oppose him. In fact, it combines this trope with a subversion of An Astral Projection, Not a Ghost; he only got to find out whodunnit to him because he was off astrally projecting somewhere at the time of death.
  • Remember Me (1989): Shari begins the novel already dead. She was killed at a party, and being a ghost, she must figure out which one of her friends killed her.
  • Retired Witches Mysteries: Book 1 revolves in part around Olivia's murder and her ghost working with her fellow coven mates to solve it.
  • The Vampire Files starts with protagonist Jack Flemming waking up just after his death, and he spends the first novel Bloodlist figuring out who killed him and why.

Live-Action TV

  • In an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents titled "Whodunit" a deceased mystery author talks a recording angel into letting him go back to his last day alive to find out... you know.
  • An episode of Blood Ties (2007) has Vicki's old friend from the police department ask her to solve his murder... before walking through a closed door. It turns out she's the only one who can see him due to her experience in the pilot. Even Henry can't see him. When they try to find out who killed an undercover officer, they see his body walk around like nothing happened. Their resident occult expert finds out that his body has been taken over by a creature that quickly burns out its hosts before moving on to a new host. They manage to expel and destroy the creature, but the body has been already too burned out, and the guy dies a few minutes later.
  • CSI:
    • One episode has the corpses of murder victims talking about their murders (as the CSIs solve the cases).
    • When Jimmy investigates a death at his high school reunion, the victim's corpse nags him about his methods in the autopsy room.
  • Death in Paradise: In "Death of a Detective", Richard Poole has collected evidence to his own murder, knowing exactly who was going to kill him and why.
  • Ghosts (US): Alberta is convinced that she was murdered and asks Samantha to solve her murder, even though the other ghosts say she just had a heart attack. In "Alberta's Fan", we learn that she was right; her moonshine was poisoned.
  • Hotel Beau Séjour: Kato van Hoeven tries to find out who murdered her. Unfortunately, she has no memory of the 24 hours before her death, and only five people can see her ghost, all of who have their own secrets.
  • The first episode of Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) — original and remake.
  • The Rising: Neve, after discovering she's a ghost and was murdered, sets out to find her killer, helping the police investigating covertly.
  • Torchwood: In "Random Shoes", Eugene's ghost follows the Torchwood crew around as they investigate his death. He manages to appear briefly to his family before Ascending to a Higher Plane of Existence.
  • School Spirits: Maddie's ghost is bound to the school and doesn't remember a brief period before she died, and is working with her best friend Simon to determine which of the people in the surprisingly busy basement that day — her boyfriend, the girl he was cheating on her with, the janitor, her mother, her favorite teacher, her other best friend — killed her. In the first season finale, she learns that the answer is no one. Another ghost stole her body, which is still alive.


  • Edith, in Season 6 of Old Harry's Game agrees to write Satan's biography in exchange for Satan investigating her murder.

Tabletop Games

  • Conversational Troping in one of the vignettes in GURPS Magic Items 3, when a private eye in a Fantastic Noir world discovers his client is a Brain in a Jar, and hopes it's not another "find my killer" case. (It's not, exactly; it's "find my body".)
  • Ratik Ubel, an NPC revenant from Ravenloft, has been acting out this trope for years. Normally a D&D revenant exists just long enough to eliminate its killer, but Ubel never saw his murderer's face and has been relentlessly pursuing one lead after another, seeking whichever of his (many) old enemies was responsible.

Video Games

  • The Dead Case revolves around a ghost trying to settle its unfinished business and move on, but it has Ghost Amnesia and so first it has to figure out what its unfinished business is.
  • The eponymous character of Ghost in the Sheet starts the game by getting run over by a bus. He's not quite satisfied with the "it was an accident" theory, but he has to put it on the back burner in favor of the job his new boss has given him. At the end it's revealed that his boss arranged for it to happen for reasons that aren't clear (at least, not clear as to why GITS specifically) but appear to revolve around a need for a lackey of some kind.
  • Sissel's motivation as the eponymous ghost in Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective is not only to find his killer, but to find out who he is in the first place, as ghosts have amnesia when they are formed and slowly remember things over time.
  • In Murdered: Soul Suspect, a murdered detective becomes a ghost and sets out to solve his own murder.
  • Scapeghost: Chance is killed, returns as a ghost, and has to discover the truth behind his death.
  • In Shadow of Destiny, a murder victim is revived by a mysterious being who offers him an opportunity to undo his death.
  • Sonny, from the flash game series of the same name, died prior to the first game's start. He cannot remember what happened to him or anything about his life prior death, and wonders who resurrected him and why.
  • Why Am I Dead features the ability to possess people in order to investigate the main character's death.
  • The World Ends with You Most of the plot of Joshua's week was about Neku trying to figure this out. By the end of game it becomes clear that this was because Joshua himself was the murderer.


  • Rachel-Rebecca the Third from Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures was a law school student who got murdered. After getting reanimated, she got her own murderer convicted and went on to establish legal rights for The Undead.
  • {...} in Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name has been dead for a while now, and recently been shown that he was murdered. He doesn't actively pursue his killer (he doesn't like to dwell on the past), but the point stands that {...} died, he came back and his killer is still presumably at large. He may not care whodunnit, but the readers and other cast members seem to.
  • In No Songs For The Dead, the main protagonist Hector wakes up to find himself undead and unable to remember anything about what happened to him or his identity. The story revolves more around Hector trying to figure out his past and why he is now back, than his death.
  • Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal once pointed out one of problems with vengeful ghosts.
  • Slightly Damned begins with Rhea already in purgatory, ready to be judged, with no idea how she got there. She got better, and there's only so many places that her killer can be...
  • One of the characters in the cyclist webcomic Yehuda Moon & the Kickstand Cyclery is the dead previous owner of the cyclist shop, killed by a car driver shortly before the start of the series. He seems to have a somewhat physical manifestation and seems to be unable to move to the next world unless his death is resolved.

    Not Dead Yet 

Comic Books

  • The Human Target (2021) features this as the driving plot. Christopher Chance, the titular Body Double/detective, gets poisoned while doubling as Lex Luthor, putting him on the hunt for whoever tried to murder his client before the poison kills him in 12 days.
  • In the first Top 10 miniseries, a teleportation accident results in two people and their car being partially fused with a giant minotaur. The woman in the car dies immediately; her husband and the minotaur are dying slowly, and there's no way to separate them without killing them both. A large part of the issue is about discovering what caused the accident, and helping the two survivors to accept their fates. The subplot was partly inspired by an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street, listed below.

Film — Live-Action

  • Crank: Chelios doesn't need to figure out who poisoned him, as the culprit leaves him a gloating video that admits and even shows the act. Rather, he needs to track him down for revenge.
  • Roger Mortis's situation in Dead Heat is a mix of both this and Already Dead. He gets killed while investigating a criminal conspiracy that involves raising the dead and is resurrected, but only has 12 hours before his body breaks down.
  • Played with in Dead Man. The protagonist William Blake receives a gunshot wound to the chest that is slowly killing him, although he doesn't realize it.
    Nobody: Did you kill the man who killed you?
    Blake: I'm not dead.
    [Nobody snorts in disgust]
  • In D.O.A., both the 1950 original and the 1988 "remake", a man has been given a slow-acting but irremediable poison, and races to discover who did it and why before it finishes him off.
  • Played with in Happy Death Day. Tree is murdered on her birthday, only to wake up in the morning again. She has to find her killer in order to escape the time loop. There's even a Failure Montage where she scopes out suspects, only to get killed in the process.
  • The titular assassin of Kate is poisoned with Polonium-204 and has 24 hours (once she wakes up in the hospital) to find out who poisoned her, why she was poisoned, and get revenge.


  • A story in Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine involves a man who is shot and has a near death experience. While still in the hospital, he tries to figure out who did it, and does. There's one more dangerous surgery to be done to get the bullet out, and the story ends with him saying "I'm ready."
  • In the Father Brown story "The Resurrection of Father Brown", the titular priestly detective is supposedly murdered and is just about to be buried before he wakes up in his coffin. It turns out he was fed a poison which caused him to go into a coma almost resembling death. The remainder of the short story concerns Father Brown's efforts to discover who did this to him.
  • According to More Information Than You Require, ninth US president William Henry Harrison was given a slow-acting poison at his inauguration that would kill him in thirty days, and told he would be given the antidote if he could figure out who poisoned him. As the book puts it, "Harrison was a great Indian-killer, but not much of a sleuth".
  • Noob is mostly set in a MMORPG in which the avatar's permanent banishment is a frequent punishment for breaking the game's rules. In the third novel, Gaea ends up in a Frame-Up for something that should have gotten her avatar perma-banned on the spot. It turns out to be still usable thanks to a little help from The Cracker (a frequent business partner of hers), who warns her that what he did to protect her avatar from the game's authorities won't last forever. She decides to use the time she has to figure out who the real guilty party is. Fortunately, the guilty party in question was practically waiting around the corner to gloat to her about it and got Caught on Tape.
  • Undead on Arrival features Glen Novak being bitten by a severed zombie head left in his footlocker and trying to find and kill whoever put it there before he turns.

Live-Action TV

  • Time Travel version occurs in the mini-series 5ive Days to Midnight when the protagonist is sent a futuristic briefcase by an unknown party, containing a police file on his murder to happen five days later.
  • Castle (2009): In the two-part season 6 opener, Rick is exposed to a nerve gas and given 24 hours to live. He and Beckett use the time to attempt to locate the perpetrators and recover the gas and (hopefully) the antidote.
  • Used in CSI when an attorney who'd been working with Sarah informs her that she won't be able to finish the case because the bullet lodged in her cranium from a previous crime has shifted inside the skull and will soon kill her. Subverted when, against all expectation, she survives the surgery to remove the bullet, which subsequently proves that she'd been shot while in the process of murdering her husband.
  • An early CSI: Miami episode is about a woman who is poisoned with radioactive materials by a Corrupt Corporate Executive (or rather, a level employee who she seduced to get information) because she happens to be the lawyer working the joint lawsuit against their illegal dumping practices.
  • Doctor Who has this as a significant plot point throughout Series 6, with the Doctor being "killed" in Utah in the first episode and having to find out why and by whom he was murdered, and the threads of it carry over into Series 7, as the Doctor now knows who did it, but is still trying to figure out the specifics of why, a question which is finally answered in the Christmas special "The Time of the Doctor".
  • Played with in the Father Brown episode "The Prize of General Gerard". After eating fish soup tainted with tiger's whiskers (which were earlier used to kill General Gerard), Father Brown insisted on continuing the investigation, even though he insisted he was beyond help. Subverted in that he was acting; he never ate the soup and only claimed to be poisoned to draw out the real killer.
  • Get Smart: In "Classification: Dead", Maxwell Smart is poisoned by a KAOS agent and has to Race Against the Clock to find the agent and get the cure.
  • In the Homicide: Life on the Street episode "Subway", a man is pushed off a subway platform in front of an oncoming train. However, instead of being run over, he gets wedged between the train and the edge of the platform. Essentially, the lower half of his body has been crushed, but the organs in his torso are kept in place due to him being pinned. He's dying slowly due to blood poisoning and other issues, but the paramedics say that as soon as they try to remove him, basically everything is going to fall out of his body like a leaky sack and he'll die immediately. This inspired the similar situation in the comic Top Ten, above.
  • Jake and the Fatman: In "I'm Gonna Live Till I Die", a mousy bookkeeper who's been poisoned spends his last days helping Jake find the rat who did it.
  • Law & Order: Criminal Intent:
    • The Alexander Litvinenko case was apparently Ripped from the Headlines in one episode. Litvenenko is actually mentioned by name.
    • A similar, earlier case in which a fight between two Northern European naval personnel ended with one pinning the other with a piece of equipment that discharged a radioactive field, and firing. It was reported that prosecutors were faced with the difficulty of how to press charges, because a fatal dose was delivered, but murder charges could not be pressed because it would take years for the victim to die.
  • An episode of The Mentalist has a scientist discover that a super-virus she's been working on has been released in the sealed lab. She immediately calls CBI and reports her own murder. The team spends the rest of the episode trying to track down the killer, since there's no cure for the virus. This turns into a real murder partway through, though, since the scientist dies after saying goodbye to her kid. The killer is another scientist at the lab who had been quietly stealing small quantities of the virus to sell on the black market. When a surprise inspection arrives, his plan was to cover up the discrepancy in their stock of the virus by spilling a vial of it in the lab, knowing that everyone would think the victim just made a fatal mistake and didn't want to admit it; it might have worked if not for Jane being brought in.
  • In the Monk series finale, Monk is poisoned. They find the culprit fairly quickly, but need the poison. Monk still has a chance to live.
  • NCIS:
    • In "Dead Man Walking", a naval lieutenant walks (somewhat weakly) into NCIS and asks Gibbs to solve a murder. When Gibbs asks whose murder, the lieutenant pulls out a clump of his own hair, revealing that he's been poisoned and needs the team to find out who poisoned him. Genre Savvy Tony makes a comparison by name to DOA.
    • Also when Tony gets pneumonic plague, though he doesn't die.
  • NCIS: New Orleans uses this as well in "The Walking Dead". A naval psychiatrist collapses and is found to have been poisoned with polonium-210 two weeks earlier, and he will be dead in another two weeks.
  • Person of Interest is about a Machine that can predict murders before they occur. In the episode "In Extremis", a computer virus is starting to affect its performance, so Team Machine arrive too late to stop the Victim of the Week from being poisoned with polonium that will kill him within a day, so they help him track down his murderer instead. He actually dies at one point, only to be revived with a Shot to the Heart.
  • In the Star Cops episode "Conversations with the Dead", a space freighter is knocked off course, with no way of reaching safety or being reached by rescuers before its oxygen supplies give out. The crew of the freighter interact with the cops investigating the incident by radio. Except it turns out that by a staggeringly improbable coincidence, their ship is carrying some untested experimental cryosleep chambers and the inventor of said devices just happens to overhear what's going on and steps in to help. Our heroes figure out what's probably going on quite quickly, but since all the evidence is going to take most of a decade to get back to Earth there's not much they can do about it.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "A Coffin for Starsky", the guys have one day to find out who poisoned Starsky before he dies.
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Reunion", Klingon Chancellor K'mpec reveals that he's been gradually poisoned and will be dead soon. He asks Captain Picard to find out who is responsible, focusing on the two challengers to his soon-to-be-vacant position; Duras and Gowron. However, K'mpec's request of Picard is less about the fact that one of his would-be-successors has murdered him, but rather that they did so using such a cowardly method as poison instead of challenging him directly.
    K'mpec: (to Picard) Find the assassin. A Klingon who kills without showing his face has no honor. He must not lead the Empire. Such a man would be capable of anything, even war with the Federation.
  • In the Timecop episode "D.O.A.", Jack and his boss Matuzek are suddenly killed at night by a car bomb in their headquarters' parking lot. Hemmings uses the time travel equipment to go back to that morning and warn Jack of his impending demise. Jack spends the rest of the episode rushing to put the pieces together, while Matuzek (though trying to help) treats it as his last day alive and takes care of family business. Jack also thinks he's the target due to Timecop-related business, but it turns out to be Matuzek due to "ordinary cop" business (even though the culprit knows about time travel). They actually fail to solve the case and appear ready to follow through with history, but their investigation changed things enough to prevent the explosive from being planted. Jack later figures out that the culprit was someone he met that day and saves Matuzek from being gunned down in an alley.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Happy New Year", the Victim of the Week is bitten by a venomous snake. Knowing he has 30 minutes to live, he uses the time to question the suspects.

Video Games

  • Discworld Noir opens on the protagonist Lewton's grave, and the player must then relive his memories as he tries to piece together the mystery of who murdered him. After the story catches up with itself Lewton is confused that he remembers being fatally stabbed but doesn't remember actually dying, but he reasons that being in a grave confirms that he is dead, or at least undead. It turns out that it is the latter, and Lewton is able to escape and solve the mystery with the help of his new werewolf powers.
  • In Mystery Case Files: Madame Fate, the fortune teller Madame Fate wants to find out which of her workers is plotting her death at the stroke of midnight. The answer? It's none of them as they are all found to be dead/doomed by midnight. The answer is the ghost of Charles Dalimar, the Big Bad of the series, who only gets involved because Madame Fate went to the Master Detective for help.
  • The Flash game Sixty Seconds to Live. The title is fairly self-explanatory here.

    Restored from Backup 

Anime & Manga

  • In Dorohedoro, both Risu and his curse magic spend a majority of the story trying to uncover the mystery behind the identity of the Cross-Eye man who killed him years ago.

Comic Books

  • The Death of Doctor Strange: Back when Doctor Strange began his career as a sorcerer, he sealed away a portion of his soul in the event of his death, with the result that, after he is murdered by an unknown attacker, this portion would manifest in the present, representing a week of his past that will act to tie up his loose ends and solve the mystery of his death. Unfortunately, this portion of his soul has never been 'updated', with the result that he is ignorant of details of Strange's future such as his current status as Sorcerer Supreme or his membership in the Avengers.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: The spinoff title The Wanderers from the 1980s revolves around a group of minor heroes, and begins with a scientist finding the bodies of the slaughtered team. The rest of the first issue sees the scientist, Clonus, have a clone of himself create clones of the Wanderers with enhanced powers and changed appearances so they can investigate their own murders during the first Story Arc.


  • Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom is set in a future where everybody has a technological backup system that will restore them at full health if they die, making murder particularly pointless — and yet someone murders the protagonist. After being restored, he sets out to find out why.
  • The Eight Worlds short story "The Phantom of Kansas" opens with the protagonist awakening and discovering that this is the third time she's been restored from backup. The original, and the two previous backups, have all been killed.
  • Count Sessine, one of the viewpoint characters in Feersum Endjinn, starts out his plot thread getting murdered, and has to figure out who did it and why before they do it again enough times to run him out of resurrections.
  • At the beginning of the The Goblin Reservation, Peter Maxwell describes how he ended up on another planet during a teleporter transit, with the data stream intercepted by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, only to be told that the stream isn't just intercepted but duplicated, meaning a Peter Maxwell has already returned to Earth, only to die in a freak accident.
  • The protagonist of the Hardwired sequel Voice of the Whirlwind is a clone whose original self has been murdered, and he decides to investigate who did it and why. The problem is that his memories from the original are fifteen years out of date as the original never bothered to update the initial brain recordings.
  • The cybrid Johnny from the Hyperion Cantos, essentially a cloned human body through which an AI interacts with the real world. He was injected with some nanoweapon that caused his AI to be erased, so a restored six day old backup goes to investigate.
  • In A Memory Called Empire, Mahit has her predecessor Yskandr's Virtual Ghost loaded into her brain implant, but that backup is fifteen years out of date and had no idea that his original was dead until they saw his corpse, and then had a mental breakdown and went silent. However, as Mahit investigates Yskandr's death, she gets flashes of his memory. She eventually does get the version of Yskander who remembers uploaded into her, but at that point, the who is less interesting than the why.
  • The Rook features an interesting variation of this; protagonist Myfanwy Thomas received at least four warnings that she would lose her memory in her immediate future, so spent some time preparing notes for her future memory-less self that would allow her to return to her life (or pick up a new one if preferred) and work out who and what was the cause of her amnesia.
  • Six Wakes has the crew of the Dormire, a Generation Ship running on Resurrective Immortality via cloning, all wake in the same room with the corpses of their previous selves, having been restored from outdated backups and missing the last twenty years or so of memory. The need to discover which of them massacred the rest during the missing time rives the plot.
  • The Takeshi Kovacs book Altered Carbon is a Film Noir-style thriller with an investigator hired by the restored backup of an apparent suicide. The victim does not believe that he could have possibly wanted to kill himself; indeed, it would be futile given that he was backed up and brought back to life in under 48 hours and instead believes he was murdered and demands justice.
  • To Live Again by Robert Silverberg is set in a future where the rich commonly back up their minds using Brain Uploading, and after a person's death their back-up becomes available to be downloaded into the brain of a living person as a technological Spirit Advisor. In a subplot, a young woman and her new advisor investigate the death of the advisor's original, which the advisor suspects was the result of foul play.
  • A story by Jack Vance has the main character kill someone who has discovered his real identity. The backup of the person spends the rest of the book screwing him over while trying to prove that he killed them the first time.
  • Who Censored Roger Rabbit?: Unlike Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Roger is dead, and his doppelganger (a temporary copy of himself) goes to Eddie to find out who iced the original.

Live-Action TV

  • One of the Arcs of the third season of Continuum was Original Timeline Kira trying to find out why almost the first thing she found when she crossed to the new timeline was New Timeline Kira's body.
  • In the Dollhouse episode "Haunted", Echo gets the personality of a recently dead woman who wants to solve her own murder.
  • Pushing Daisies: Chuck is killed in the pilot while on vacation only for Ned the Piemaker to bring her back to life using his ability to revive the dead. Once Chuck learns about the $50,000 reward being offered for information on her killer she decides to help Ned and Emerson Cod solve her murder.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "Future Imperfect", the Victim of the Week is brought back from the dead by having a robot redirect its 'life force' through him. He solves his own murder but is then killed again by a second attempt before he can announce who done it.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Eclipse Phase modules "Continuity" and "Acrimony", the player characters are backups investigating the fates of their originals. While in "Ego Hunter" all of the PCs are forks of a single person, who never showed up to re-integrate them.
  • Transhuman Space:
    • The scenario "In The Walls", in the Cities on the Edge supplement, is about a "ghost" (uploaded intelligence) who was murdered but restored from backup. He's annoyed about that, but livid that the backup has been tampered with, meaning he has no memories of the past six months.
    • A sidebar in the Toxic Memes entry on Derivatives, limited copies of Sapient AIs which are intended to be reintegrated later, mentions an InVid drama called Facets, in which a group of Low-sapient and Nonsapient derivatives have to work together to solve the murder of their "parent".

Visual Novels

  • The whole point of Higurashi: When They Cry is Rika finding out who kills her in June 1983, and consequently destroys the town. She keeps reliving the events leading up to her death in a time loop, but unfortunately is unable to keep memories of the period just before her death, so she has no idea who the killer is.
  • Umineko: When They Cry is a hard-to-classify example. At the end of the first installment, the protagonist, Battler, ends up dying in a mysterious mass murder on a Closed Circle island. He subsequently finds himself in an afterlife-like realm, and is challenged by a witch, Beatrice, to give a rational explanation for the murder. In the subsequent episodes, he is forced to play a game of wits with the witch, which involves unveiling the mysteries behind several alternate-timeline versions of the original mass murder. However, throughout all this he is actually a "player" dwelling on a higher plane of existence, while the version of his that dies in all these scenarios is just a "pawn" in a pocket universe. It's rather difficult to explain.

Alternative Title(s): Whodunit To Me