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Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Dinner Party, also known as Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Invite Only Casual Dinner Party / Gala For Friends Potluck is a 2016 comedy/thriller webseries produced by Shipwrecked as a sequel to Socially Awkward Poe, their previous work centering on the daily life of a comically moody, humorless and socially backwards Edgar Allan Poe. You can find the prequel, the prologues, and the web series itself on YouTube.

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Edgar Allan Poe is still hopelessly infatuated with the gentle, lively Annabel Lee, and he yearns to impress her. Sadly, while she likes him in spite (or maybe because) of his peculiarities, she's already set her eyes on the infuriatingly boring example of human perfection that is her suitor, Eddie Dantes. Poe's co-dependent frenemy/life coach/troll-in-residence Lenore the Lady Ghost, armed with her superhuman ability to give zero fucks about everything, helps Poe concoct a scheme that will gain him Annabel's love.

Together, they will invite/kidnap Poe's large circle of famous litterary acquaintances in order to dazzle her with his connections and sophistication, thus making Eddie "look like a disfigured orphan that kills animals for fun". To justify the party, Poe crafts a gothic murder mystery complete with roleplay, imaginary clues and lights that go off before each "victim" is murdered. That fateful evening, a colorful cast assembles: Emily Dickinson, Ernest Hemingway, Mary Shelley, Louisa May Alcott, Oscar Wilde, George Eliot, Charlotte Brontë, Fyodor Dostoevsky, H. G. Wells and Agatha Christie.

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Everyone is almost-not-quite ready to have a good time when the light unexpectedly goes out. When it comes back, tragedy has struck… right in the soup!


This work contains examples of the following tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Fyodor and Lenore have that in common. He's delighted !
  • Anachronism Stew: For starters, some of the authors come from different time periods.
    • The biggest outlier is Hemingway — all the other writers are from the 19th century while Hemingway was born in 1899 and his most famous writing was about World War I. (Agatha Christie is also from the 20th century but she turns out to be a case of We Hardly Knew Ye.)
    • It's also notable that Jane Austen makes a surprise appearance only to be killed off by the Brontë sisters when in Real Life she died before any of them was born.
    • Ironically, the Brontë sisters' plot arc nails down the setting to a very specific year — the fact that Emily Brontë died last year and Anne Brontë is still alive means it must be the spring of 1849. Interestingly, this is the year Poe wrote the poem "Annabel Lee", his last completed poem before he went mad and died, perhaps hinting at her fate at the end of the show and his fate afterwards.
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    • Obviously, many, many other things contradict this, such as Poe's house having a telephone (which means that even if he has "one of the first telephone numbers" it can't be any earlier than 1876).
    • If we're using the Brontës to try to impose a chronology on this show it's worth noting that their brother Branwell died before Emily, making the scene where Charlotte and Anne kill Jane Austen to prevent her from revealing his philandering even more impossible than it was.
    • Early on, Charlotte claims to have taken a CPR course. CPR wasn't even invented until 1960.
    • Openly lampshaded when the constables arrive looking for Agatha Christie, referencing her disappearance in 1926.
    Constable Jim: We found this on the passenger seat of her car...
    Edgar : What's a "car"?note 
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: Poe's accusation of Hemingway being the murderer.
    Poe: And this man (smacks Wilde across the face while pointing at Hemingway) is a liar and indebted to Eddie for losing a sports bet. And he hates going to Spain.
    Wilde (scandalized): Whaaat?
  • Artistic License – History: Openly, unabashedly and gloriously. See Anachronism Stew and Flanderization for specifics.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...: When trying to find someone to take notes on possible motives for murder, Lenore asks, "Which of you is the best writer?" Cue everyone (except Annabel) raising their hands. Lenore rolls her eyes and tosses the pen to H.G. Wells.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Several times, including a memorable one by Hemingway.
  • Bitch Alert: Charlotte Brontë's introduction has to be one of the most unexpected examples, and it efficiently tells us everything we need to know about her character.
    Edgar: Here is your character card for the evening !
    Charlotte: Ugh, she sounds poor ! Did you write this ? Is this going to take very long ?
  • Bittersweet Ending: The killers are caught and punished, but most of the cast is dead. The epilogue has Annabel and H.G. return as ghosts, opening the door for them reuniting with Edgar and Lenore respectively.
  • Blatant Lies: George Eliot is totally a man! He has two masculine names, that's how you can tell!
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Oscar Wilde after defeating the Brontë sisters with the Wells microwave all the while having a gun safely tucked in his jacket. He takes a look at it, looks at the camera and declares: "In hindsight I really should have just used this gun!"
  • Broad Strokes: This show's relationship to the previous Socially Awkward Poe "canon", where Annabel Lee was already a ghost, the idea of this dinner party was mentioned but without any of the murder, and Lenore ends up with John Proctor as her ghostly soulmate rather than H.G. Wells.
  • The Butler Did It: Played with and deconstructed. Lenore maintains that she can't be the killer because she is already dead, and also seems to be the only member without a motive to kill anyone. However, Oscar Wilde points out that murdering others would provide her with undead friends.
    Lenore: I am not the killer! What would my motive even be?!
    Oscar: Feeling lonely? Make some new ghost friends!
  • Camp Gay: Oscar Wilde
  • Captain Obvious: Agatha Christie is found dead, with a knife and nine additional holes in her back. Edgar's conclusion:
    "She was stabbed."
  • Cannot Convey Sarcasm: In the first episode, Mary Shelley makes the lamest joke possible about her own novel. Through a combination of the joke's stupidity and her dead serious delivery, everyone present misses it or charitably prétends they did.
  • Casting Gag: Episode 11 reveals Laura Spencer as Jane Austen, referencing her role as Jane in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. This is especially noteworthy as she is acting alongside fellow stars Ashley Clements and Mary Kate Wiles
  • Cerebus Syndrome: Downplayed example. They never really take the dark premise seriously, but the death of Annabel is a genuine tearjerker, and things are a bit less silly afterwards.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Literally. In Chapter 11, Charlotte wields a gun given to her by her lover, Anton Chekhov. It's a subversion though, as it has never been established before and when it's fired goes off harmlessly into the ceiling. (Although note that this is also true of the Trope Namer in Uncle Vanya.)
    • The actual Chekhov's Gun turns out to be the "pet rock" Edgar gave Annabel and then retrieves from her corpse as a Tragic Keepsake, which he then uses to kill Dantes in self-defense.
  • Closed Circle: Everyone’s stuck in Edgar Allan Poe’s mansion, as the killer kills anyone who tries to leave.
  • The Comically Serious: Our two gothic authors, Mary and Edgar, seem to share a propensity for both dourness and dramatics.
    Edgar: Parties aren't the place for jokes, Lenore.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Eddie is found dead, head plunged in his plate of soup, EVERYONE gets their turn at completely misunderstanding the situation as Poe desperately tries to state that This Is Reality. Has to be expected for writers.
    • H.G. Wells thinks it's a game and sticks his head in the soup too.
    • Charlotte Brontë corrects him: they're supposed to wait out turns to stick their head in the soup.
    • George Eliot imagines that this is the beginning of a game… investigating the nature of the soup.
    • Louisa May Alcott understands that they should rather investigate the murder… for the murder mystery game. She then proceeds to read her character card, and wait untill this somehow solves the murder mystery.
    • Ernest Hemingway thinks everyone has gone mad… the murder mystery game must be solved logically, looking for the motive of the murder.
  • Control Freak: Charlotte Brontë quickly takes control of her character card and makes a few changes. Has to be expected from a fellow succesful author.
  • Costume Porn: One of the main draws of this production, aside from the comedy, along with Scenery Porn (the show was filmed in a gorgeous century home) and even a little Food Porn (too bad nobody eats the delicious looking roast Lenore made in the first episode opening titles once the murders start).
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Made fun of with Frankenstein. Oscar Wilde quotes the Signature Line "It's ALIVE! when Mary Shelley is electrocuted — both of these are from the movie and not her book. Later on he and George Eliot get embroiled in a Seinfeldian Conversation over the famous I Am Not Shazam dispute over the name of Frankenstein's monster (Eliot corrects Wilde that the monster was not named "Frankenstein" and thinks it might have instead been named "Karen").
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Poe loses no time in being disagreeable to Eddie, and has interesting ideas about table plans…
  • Deadpan Snarker: Almost all of the characters get to snark at some point, but Lenore, Charlotte Brontë and Oscar Wilde reign supreme.
  • Death as Comedy: The deaths are usually ridiculous and none of the characters take things that seriously.
    • Besides the many deaths that occur onscreen, Charlotte Brontë casually mentions the sudden death of her sister Emily as the punchline to a funny story. An early hint that this version of Brontë is evil.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: H.G. Wells and Annabel.
  • Disconnected by Death: Krishanti’s using a phone right before the killer strangles her to death with the cord.
  • Dying Declaration of Love: Annabel’s final words to Edgar Allan Poe: “It was always you.”
  • Flanderization: Much of the show's humor comes from this, building the characters' personalities entirely off of a stereotype based on one or two elements of the real person's work and then exaggerating it Up to Eleven, often to a level that's almost Canon Defilement for people familiar with the real history. It's particularly notable that while some of the characterizations were just exaggerations of how they were seen in life — Poe's neuroticism, Dickinson's reclusiveness — others are wildly divergent.
    • H.G. Wells is imagined as an Adorkable Shrinking Violet nerd simply because he wrote science fiction, while in Real Life he was a brazen womanizer who almost defined the Kavorka Man.
    • George Eliot using a male pseudonym and having a nasty attitude about other women writers gets flanderized into her entire role in the story being that she poses as a Rated M for Manly stereotype in public. (The real Mary Ann Evans never actually dressed or acted as a man in public, although her fellow literary George, George Sand, famously did.)
    • Perhaps most of all, Charlotte Brontë gets a massive Historical Villain Upgrade into a flanderized version of one of the protagonists of the romances George Eliot hated so much — a status-obsessed wealthy Alpha Bitch — when in Real Life Brontë was very much a Shrinking Violet who was reluctant to emerge from her pseudonym and join the literary social scene due to her impoverished background. (The title character of Jane Eyre was very much an Author Avatar.) And, of course, she also wasn't actually a mass murdering psychopath.
    • The idea of Charlotte Brontë shrugging off the death of her sister Emily as Emily being a Drama Queen, or Anne joining in on a killing spree with her while dying of the same tuberculosis that had just taken Emily is some really dark Black Comedy for any Brontë scholars watching.
  • Granola Girl: Louisa May Alcott's birthday party will be tree-themed. Everybody comes dressed as their favorite tree!
  • Embarrassing First Name: Combined with Embarrassing Middle Name, as Wells declines to reveal what H.G. stands for until he lays dying in Lenore's arms.
    Wells: It's Herbert. Herbert George.
    Lenore: …That's a terrible name.
  • Emotionless Girl: Mary Shelley's default setting.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Everyone.
    • Edgar sits in silence, waiting on his guests, before beginning to fuss over whether or not anyone, specifically Annabel Lee, will actually show up.
    • Lenore puts a shot glass inside her wine glass and drinks them both at once, before snarking at Edgar.
    • Hemingway reveals he didn't bring food, he brought a knife so he can catch a wild boar for their dinner. He then rudely throws his coat at Lenore for her to catch.
    • Charlotte Brontë gets a Bitch Alert to end them all, upon reading her character card: "Oh, she sounds poor."
    • Oscar Wilde sets up a dramatic entrance for himself, and announces, "You can never be overdressed or over-educated."
    • George Eliot attempts to posture and pass herself off as a Jerk Jock, but goes way overboard and fools no one.
    • H.G. Wells shows up with an invention of his own creation and shyly starts rambling to explain it, only to get talked over and ushered inside.
    • Emily Dickinson knocks and politely introduces herself, admitting she doesn't leave her room much. Edgar and Lenore barely notice.
    • Louisa May Alcott brought weeds for her dish. "You can eat anything if you're desperate enough."
    • Mary Shelley responds to Edgar making a pun about her most famous work with a stony stare, only to make one herself — and get irritated when Edgar and Lenore don't laugh.
    • Dostoevsky is initially an intimidating presence, startling Edgar and glowering as he announces he brought vodka. However, when Lenore steals the vodka for herself, he reacts with good humor.
    • Annabel cheerfully greets everyone and fawns over her date.
    • Eddie is also cheerful and happy to be there, and casually establishes himself as The Ace. This last one turns out to be a subversion.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: As the series continues, it is gradually revealed that almost every guest had a motive to want Eddie dead.
  • Faking the Dead: Eddie was alive the whole time and one of the killers.
  • 555: Edgar claims that, thanks to having one of the first phone numbers in the country, his number is just 555.
  • Forgettable Character: Everyone (besides Annabel) forgets Emily Dickinson exists. The series itself gets in on the act, with her pushed to the background in many shots. In the introductions to each episode, while other characters (including Agatha Christie who is killed off as soon as she shows up) are introduced with their place card being put down and a picture of their actor, Emily Dickinson is introduced with no picture and her place card being taken away.
  • Hammer Space: Comes and goes as per Ruleof Funny. In Chapter 3 H.G. Wells produces a poster board, stand, and relevant photographs offscreen; in Chapter 8 Hemingway pulls a pint of beer out of his jacket. Lampshaded both times, as other characters ask where those items came from. Also Oscar Wilde always has a change of clothes for every occasion.
  • Historical Beauty Upgrade: The actors are all very good-looking people (as the comments reflect) in very good-looking costumes (with the exception of Louisa May Alcott's dress). As the pictures in the Creative Closing Credits indicate, they're quite an upgrade over the real writers in many cases.
  • Homage: The series is modeled after Clue and loaded with references.
  • Informal Eulogy: Mary Shelly delivers one after the authors find Louisa May Alcott dead.
    Shelly: Louisa May Alcott, a spinster through and through, has now reached the pinnacle of transcendentalism. May she be at one with the Earth, and may she find her peace.
    Shelley: I'm just really good at eulogies!
  • The Ingenue: Annabel Lee is an innocent, gentle young girl.
  • Irony: Electricity is used to kill Mary Shelley, when it was used to bring Frankenstein's monster to life.
  • Let's Split Up, Gang: In Chapter 4, following Hemingway's suggestion in the previous chapter.
  • Lights Off, Somebody Dies: In the first episode the lights go off and Eddie’s found face-first in his soup. The final episode reveals he faked his own death.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Poe and Lenore have this vibe, aided by the fact that they are played by a pair of siblings. They mock each other a lot, but there's underlying affection between them.
  • Mad Scientist: H.G. Wells is in the early stages of inventing the microwave. He's not quite there yet.
  • Masochist's Meal: The literary guests belong in two categories: those who didn't even bother to bring food and those who brought this kind. Charlotte Brontë and Dostoevsky did think of bringing alchohol. But then, Brontë's wine was poisoned.
    Louisa May Alcott: You'll find you can eat anything… if you're hungry enough.
  • The Nicknamer: Charlotte has a demeaning nickname for almost all of the guests. Lenore is no slouch either.
  • Of Corpse He's Alive: Poe tries to pretend H.G is just drunk in front of the constables.
  • On the Next: Every episode ends with a Stinger showing very short out of context Funny Moments from the next episode. About half of these are real, while the rest are Deleted Scenes or Bloopers. Most memorable is an anxious Hemingway working a cigarette around in his mouth until he swallows it.
  • Overly Long Gag: The slow clap in Chapter 11.
  • Overly Long Title: The full name of the show, and of the in-universe event, is "Edgar Allan Poe's Murder Mystery Invite Only Casual Dinner Party / Gala For Friends Potluck". As a result most fans just call it Poe Party. The original announcement video shows that Poe keeps adding extra words to the invitation despite Lenore's objections.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: George Eliot wants to appear male, and plans to achieve the goal by using a Wig, Dress, Accent setup, a persona that's oozing with bro stereotypes and heavy heaps of Suspiciously Specific Denial. Literally no one is fooled.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Poe and Mary Shelley.
  • Police are Useless: Constables Jim and Jimmy.
  • Pun: Poe tries to make one on Frankenstein, as an ice-breaker upon meeting Mary Shelley. She seems unimpressed, but this turns out to be a Subverted Trope, as she quickly tries to join in the fun with her own joke, to similar (LAME) results.
    Edgar: I get it, I got it the first time.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Louisa May Alcott attempts this in the second episode.
    • And Mary Shelley later on which results in her death when she was electrocuted by the door handle when trying to get out.
  • Shrinking Violet: Emily Dickinson is so shy and unconspicuous that she remains invisible to Poe and Lenore untill she speaks up.
  • Silent Snarker: Lenore makes instantly clear which guests she likes and who she doesn't, using her epic eye roll skills. Oscar Wilde comes in a close second, the latter also being a master of stylish Facepalms.
  • Skewed Priorities: Eddie is found dead in his plate. Lenore's reaction ?
    Lenore: Right in the soup!
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Jane Austen's role is comparatively small, but very important as her death gets the Brontë sisters involved with Eddie.
  • Songs in the Key of Panic: The Title Sequence gets shorter and shorter every episode as characters get killed off and removed from the credits, and the Theme Tune accelerates in tempo to compensate, giving the sense of increasing frantic anxiety as more and more people die.
  • String Theory: H.G. Wells manages to generate one of these offscreen in Chapter 3.
    Annabel Lee: …Where did you get those pictures?
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: George Eliot. It's two male names, easy to remember.
    You seem to have me confused with some sort of damsel. I understand, I have very soft skin. Now, show me to the billard room… or a voting booth !
    My character is a duchess… Since I have no insight into the mind of a woman, I wondered if anyone would be ready to trade ?
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: The primary plot. Edgar Allan Poe invites fellow famous writers to his home, offering them with a fake murder mystery that soon turns all to real. The guests even include Agatha Christie, who runs suspiciously late and misses the first murder and when she arrives in episode 5, she has also been murdered, with a knife in her back.
  • Two Dun It: It turns out Charlotte Brontë was the murderer after all, despite spending half the story tied to a chair after being accused of Dostoevsky's murder, because she had an accomplice in the form of her sister Anne. Then after it's pointed out this still doesn't explain the simultaneous deaths of Agatha Christie and George Eliot while Charlotte was still incapacitated, it's revealed they were both accomplices to the real mastermind... Eddie Dantes.
  • Villain Ball: After the killers are revealed, they proceed to explain how they killed everyone, what they are going to do next and how why they did it in the first place. They also do quite a bit of Evil Gloating, which provokes Poe into attacking them.
    • Special mention hast to be given to Anne Brontë, who knocks Oscar out with her fists, but instead of taking the gun from him and properly finish him off she just leaves him there and walks towards her sister.
  • You Meddling Kids: Anne Brontë drops one of these at the end, blaming the evil plan's failure on Annabel Lee, although her sister Charlotte disagrees and blames it on Jane Austen .
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