|Quotes • Headscratchers • Playing With • Useful Notes • Analysis • Image Links • Haiku • Laconic|
Sevarius: I was particularly proud of my death scene.
A character's death is faked, for one or more of the following purposes:
- To throw the villains off the trail.
- To allow said character to be taken into Witness Relocation.
- To make a criminal commit Just One Little Mistake.
- To allow two characters to live Happily Ever After.
- As part of a con.
- To gain a temporary advantage in combat - generally considered less than sporting.
- Unless it's done to fake out your teammates and throw them into an Unstoppable Rage... then it's heroic.
- To prevent a Time Paradox.
- To see how his heirs would react.
Often the audience will think the character has been Killed Off for Real. Extra points if a fake crime scene photo or Staged Shooting is used. Sometimes a John Doe's remains are substituted and destroyed beyond recognition, or everyone is simply told 'They Never Found the Body.' The person faking his death might attend his own funeral.
When the method of faking actually temporarily turns the character into a realistic-seeming corpse, this is Faux Death.
- Jojo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Jotaro is forced to do this during his fight with Dio, as he had just been struck with dozens of knives and can't survive another attack. He even goes as far as temporarily stopping his own heartbeat. Needless to say, Dio receives quite a surprise when he approaches the "corpse", only to get his skull smashed in with a wicked punch.
- It's not new: when Jotaro's grandfather Joseph was young, he pulled such a stunt on one of the Pillar Men.
- Cioccolata tries to do this in Golden Wind, but Giorno isn't fooled.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni - Revealed in Minagoroshi-hen that Takano Miyo, the villain mastermind, has been faking her own death for every Hinamizawa to appear as a victim of the curse.
- Also happens in Matsuribayashi-hen, when the True Companions decide to fake Rika's death so as to make Takano think that her research was wrong and give up on it, thereby saving Rika.
- Happens in Rurouni Kenshin, where Enishi is forced to kidnap Kaoru and fake her death, because Enishi can't bring himself to harm or kill any young woman, due to being traumatized by his beloved sister Tomoe's death. Enishi was very Genre Savvy, though, so he hatched a plan in base to this... and it worked horrifyingly well on Kenshin. By making his Mad Artist henchman build a flesh mannequin looking exactly like Kaoru beforehand, cornering and then kidnapping Kaoru, replacing her with said doll and impaling the mannequin to a wall with Enishi's sword before he leaves it for Kenshin to find, he pretty much destroys Kenshin's will to live for quite a while, and even fools a skilled doctor like Megumi. It takes the arrival of Misao and Aoshi for everyone to realize that Kaoru was still alive.
- In the Fullmetal Alchemist manga and the Brotherhood TV series, Colonel Mustang helped Maria Ross fake her own death when she was framed for murder. It was pretty convincing, too--he created a phony corpse with alchemy and burned it beyond all recognition, then faked the dental evidence to remove any doubt that the body was real. And, in case that didn't work, he asked the doctor in charge (an old friend of his) to overlook the possible mistakes.
- Occurs in Kuroshitsuji, in which Sebastian appeared to be deceased. It was false, and Ciel, although aware the whole time, was dang convincing in his seeming grief.
- In Yu Yu Hakusho, Toguro faked killing Kuwabara by stabbing him just around the heart, barely missing it, in order to give Yusuke the motivation to defeat him. Kuwabara played along for the same reason, only revealing himself to have been faking after the fight was finished.
- Also, both Toguro brothers fake the dead in the arc before the Dark Tournament, to let Yusuke and Kuwabara think that they are anywhere near close to them in power, at least for a little while.
- Aizen Sousuke of Bleach. Notable in that he later reveals himself to be not just alive, but the Big Bad as well, and that the death was merely one part of his elaborate Gambit Roulette.
- He did this again in the Fake Karakura Town arc.
- Matsuda in Death Note throws himself off a balcony and onto a mattress hidden below, to reduce the risk of being killed by Kira.
- Not to mention L Lawlliet in the live-action movie.
- Done hilariously in One Piece. Nami faked killing Usopp to get him away from Arlong. When he returned to Zoro and Sanji, they were having their first fight, and accidentally Double-KO'ed the arriving Usopp.
Sanji: He is alive.
- Rokudo Mukuro from Katekyo Hitman Reborn pretended to have suicided by shooting himself in the head. Turns out he shot himself with a special bullet that allows him possess others, and tries to surprise attack Tsuna using other people's bodies.
- Future Tsuna also does the same thing, as part of the gigantic Xanatos Gambit that is the future arc.
- Once he learns that the Queen of Midland and her nobles want him dead, Griffith of Berserk blackmails Foss, the head of the conspiracy, into helping him set up a Batman Gambit involving Faking the Dead that ultimately leads to the Queen and her nobles being locked into a burning castle to die.
- Briefly in Darker Than Black: When Hei was fighting Wei, he intentionally got his own blood on his mask and fell off the edge of a building. Wei smugly headed down to kill Alice and Hannibal Lecture Kirihara, and was rather unpleasantly surprised when the Black Shinigami smashed in through the window, kicked him in the head, and electrocuted him half to death through the blood he'd gotten all over the floor.
- Inverted in Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade where a witness to a government scandal is Killed Off for Real to guarantee she'll never be found by the opposition. As long as they believe she's still out there somewhere, they can't move against the protagonist's unit.
- In the Backstory of Mahou Sensei Negima, Ala Rubra faked High Queen Arika's execution. It's unknown whether or not she's still alive when the main story begins, though.
- There was a really elaborate one in Zetman, where old man Amagi tricked Jin into believing his 'Auntie' had died and had been turned into a player. To make this work they scan Jin's memory to digitally recreate his Auntie and their living room and have her be shot through the head. they made Jin experience this in a dream. After this they created a player that looked like a naked Auntie with a nasty case of Shot-To-The-Face and made a player designed to look like Zet mutilate her, in front of Jin's eyes.
- In chapter 487 of Naruto, it's revealed that Kisame faked his death with a Zetsu clone and is hiding inside Samehada so that he could infiltrate the Cloud Village and capture Killerbee more easily. He does note that the plan didn't go entirely without a hitch since Samehada liked the Hachibi(Eight tails) enough to actually give Killerbee chakra. Meaning that, when push comes to shove, Samehada might have Conflicting Loyalty.
- The most important use of this trope is in case of Uchiha Madara. Decades ago he barely escaped his battle with the Shodai Hokage alive and was assumed dead. This allowed him to move about as he pleased and manipulate events as needed to suit his Evil Plan. Or at least that's what was thought until the most recent reveal that he WAS dead. The true question now is who the hell is Tobi... And he turns out to be none other than one of Madara's descendants, Obito, once known as Minato's pupil and Kakashi's best friend..
- Quite the Tear Jerker in Sailor Moon anime-- One episode revealed Minako's Backstory as Sailor V. She lived in London with a woman she saw as her older sister named Katarina and an older man named Alan who she clearly had a crush on for awhile, until one day when she went into a building to investigate a crime as Sailor V. The theif threw a grenade at her, which wrecked the building. Katarina barely escaped with her life, and Minako was alive, still hidden in the rubble, when she saw Katarina embrace Alan and realized those two were more than friends. She left and pretended she had died in the accident so those two would be happy together without her getting in the way. But much later, Katarina was seized and transformed into an enemy by Kunzite...
- In Zero no Tsukaima, Colbert dies onscreen in season 2. There is no hint that he might be alive until he shows up in season 3, saving the day at the last minute. It turns out his death was faked with magic.
- In the two-part Weiss Kreuz OVA Verbrechen ~ Strafe, Aya and Yoji receive orders to kill Ken and Omi for refusing to complete a mission. Tipped off that the orders are fraudulent, the four stage a vicious battle which apparently ends with the deaths of Omi, Yoji, and Aya, and use it as an opportunity to get the jump on the source of the fake orders.
- Part of the backstory of Code Geass: Lelouch and Nunnally Lamperouge are in fact disgraced royalty who faked their own deaths in order to hide in exile in Area 11 (formerly Japan). It gets used a few more times in the series, with Zero declared dead at the start of R2, Nunnally, Sayoko and Guilford presumed dead after FLEIJA detonated, Marianne revealed to have hidden in another character's body, and Suzaku "dying" in the final battle to take up the mantle of Zero. Your guess is as good as mine regarding whether or not Lelouch is faking it. ... It looks like yes, he IS.
- The Code Geass example is actually one of the many inspirations the show takes from the Gundam franchise. In the original show, Char and his sister Sayla fake their own deaths to go into hiding, taking on fake identities that lead them right back into the War. This formula is repeated for several other Char clones, such as Zechs and his sister Relena.
- Used once in a while in Detective Conan. i.e., a lady named Motoko attempt to do this to escape from her abusive fiancé Haruki... which fails because Haruki is Genre Savvy enough to catch on, kill Motoko himself, and then frame Motoko's friends and neighbors (who were trying to help her escape) for it until Conan-through-Kogoro unmasks him.
- In Tantei Gakuen Q, several plans by the cast involve pulling this to flush out sneaky suspects and capture them.
- In Lion Voltron, Princess Allura has to do this at some point when she's almost fatally poisoned under Lotor's orders and the Voltron team even stages a funeral for her to keep the rouse.. Curiously, in the original GoLion the GL team was actually fooled into thinking Fala was dead - which was Sincline's intention, since he had her poisoned to almost death to kidnap her away from the group without opposition.
- In the What Ever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?, Superman fakes his death by exposure by gold kryptonite (removing his powers), and walking to his death into the frozen Antarctic. In reality, he only removed his powers, and became Jordan Elliot, a regular working class guy.
- In the DCU, the Outsiders led by Nightwing fake their death to be able to work undercover. The stratagem is blown in the One Year Later storyline, and the team then has to deal with the various consequences for their actions.
- In an issue of Batgirl, Batgirl once fakes the dead to get the villain to trust Robin, who's supposedly taken her down. That includes staying still when Robin shoots her on the villain's orders, who's Dangerously Genre Savvy.
- Occasionally pulled by Batman when he needs to lure a villain into a false sense of security.
- Tintin does this a few times. Once, he goes into a nose-dive while flying so his pursuers think he's been hit.
- Iron Man once faked his death when he was suffering from nerve disintegration. It was a ploy to get healed. Unfortunately, Rhodey didn't know about it and was pissed off.
- Professor Xavier faked his death so as to counter an alien invasion. An already dying shape-shifter named Kevin "Changeling" Sydney replaced him as atonement. Only Jean, of all his students, knew the truth.
- In X-Men Noir, Jean Grey fakes her death by killing Anne-Marie Rankin, cutting off/out any distinguishing facial features, and dyeing her hair. She them assumes Rankin's identity by dyeing her own hair. Why? She wanted out of the X-Men, essentially - and to collect Rankin's trust fund, of course.
- In Fear Itself, Bucky Barnes, the current Captain America had apparently been killed off while fighting Sin, the Red Skull's daughter. However, as revealed in a post-series epilogue....Bucky did survive the brutal attack and his death was faked by both Black Widow and Nick Fury in order to convince Steve Rogers to become Captain America once more, as well as to allow Bucky to deal with remaining Winter Soldier-esque sleeper agents without any trouble. How? A well-placed Life Model Decoy and the Infinity Formula did the trick.
Film - Live Action
- This is the setup for Double Jeopardy. A husband frames his wife for his murder so that he can run off with his wife's friend and the life insurance money while evading his creditors. When confronted, the husband has the audacity to claim that he intended to fake his suicide. That may have been believable, except for the blood and knife and the radio message claiming his wife was trying to kill him.
- Happens in The Dark Knight with Jim Gordon; the Joker also pulls this off at one point, but the audience knows it's clearly a trick from the beginning.
- Also near the end when Two-Face was about to shoot Gordon's son, Batman convinces him to shoot him instead. Which Two-Face does. And just when he was going to turn the gun back on Gordon's son, Batman tackles him.
- James Bond does it to himself in You Only Live Twice (hence the title.)
- The movie Eraser is about a federal agent who fakes people's deaths for the Witness Protection Program.
- In Red Dragon, Dolarhyde fakes his own death using the body of a man he shot to make his blind girlfriend think he shot himself.
- The Lady From Shanghai (1947) has a faked death that turns out to be real.
- Balin Mundson (Gilda's husband) in Gilda.
- Both Robert Redford and Paul Newman in The Sting.
- Raw Deal (1986). Arnold Schwarzenegger (playing an ex-FBI agent turned sheriff) fakes his own death before going undercover as a mob hitman. He drives his squad car into an oil refinery, opens a few valves then blows it up with a flare pistol.
- Jackie Chan playing the villain in Killer Meteors fakes his own death early on, and then later reveals to the hero (played by Jimmy Wang Yu) "You didn't see me die, you only saw me fall over". Makes perfect sense.
- The villain's master plan in Bruceploitation film Game of Death 2.
- Jigsaw does this in the entirety of the bathroom trap in Saw.
- And Agent Perez in Saw VI, who faked her death two movies before
- The Soldier (1982). A hot Mossad chick head-shoots a terrorist after he's identified by an informer. She goes into the next room after the interrogation where it's revealed via Latex Perfection that the terrorist is actually a Mossad Double Agent.
- X Men Origins Wolverine: Kayla Silverfox conspires with William Stryker to win Logan's heart and then fake her death in exchange for her abducted sister's safety.
- In Revenge of The Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau is targeted for assassination. After one of the (unsuccessful) attempts leads to the public mistakenly thinking he's been killed, Clouseau decides to maintain the ruse in order to find out who's behind the plot.
- In The Negotiator, Roman, the hostage negotiator-turned-taker, pretends to shoot one of the hostages in order to convince the police to take him seriously so that he can figure out who framed him via computer files. It's also used at the end, when Saban shoots Roman and he falls to the ground, motionless and with blood pooling on the gloor. He convinces Frost he wants a cut of the money at stake in order to get him to spill the beans about setting Roman up.
- It's part of the profession of the titular pair in The Brothers Bloom. They're con-men.
- Such an incident leads to most of the plot of Megamind.
- Laurie Strode fakes her death after Halloween 2 to escape her evil, murderous brother.
- In Bullitt, the police investigation ultimately uncovers a mobster's plot to fake his own death and escape scot-free. Johnny Ross embezzles money from The Mafia, then cuts a deal with a senator to testify against the Mafia in exchange for a pardon and witness protection. Ross then tricks an innocent man into going to San Fransisco in his place, where he's killed by the mob hitmen sent to silence Ross.
- Extreme Prejudice (1987). A govt black ops team is made up of people who supposedly died in action or training accidents. Unfortunately they go up against a sheriff in the United States who can access military records -- this is something of a Fridge Logic moment, as a more plausible means of establishing deniablity would be to have the ex-soldiers fired under made-up disciplinary charges.
- In Easy Money, Rodney Dangerfield's mother-in-law fakes her own death to trick him into changing his lifestyle in compliance with the terms of her will.
- In The Quick and the Dead, this is done by the Lady to gain an advantage on Herod, who cannot be beaten in a straight fight by anyone except for Cort, who is handcuffed most of the time and unwilling to kill except to save his own life.
- In The Usual Suspects, it's part of Dean Keaton's Backstory (and one of the reasons Agent Kujan has such a hard on for him). He was presumed dead long enough to dodge a murder rap. And while he was dead, every witness against him died under suspicious circumstances.
- Transformers: Dark of the Moon has the Autobots doing this when they realize that Sentinel's demand for them to leave Earth in exchange for peace was a trap. What they do is send up the ship with no one in it, so when Starscream destroys the ship, everyone including the Decepticons believe they are dead, allowing them to take on the Decepticons by surprise.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier has Nick Fury doing this to escape from the constant assassination attempts on him by the titular Winter Soldier (the Brainwashed and Crazy Bucky).
Film - Animation
- In Cars 2, secret agent Finn McMissile uses a set of decoy tires to pretend that he's been torpedoed by the enemy.
- The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible hides behind the skeleton of Gazerbeam to escape Syndrome's seeker robot - the robot scans the skeleton, assumes it's him, and flies off to report his demise.
- Finding Nemo: Nemo pretends to be dead in order to get flushed down the toilet and back to sea. Not only does it almost not work, it happens just as Marlin arrives, leading him to think his son really is dead.
- The Judge in Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None
- This is how Arthur Conan Doyle brought Sherlock Holmes back in "The Adventure of the Empty House" (1903) after previously attempting to permanently kill him off in "The Final Problem" (1893).
- David Gerrold's The War Against the Chtorr. Colonel Ira Wallachstein, head of the covert Uncle Ira Group, is reportedly killed by an escaping Chtorran worm in the first novel of this sci-fi series. However he comes back "apparently suffering only a mild case of death" in the fourth book. It turns out his death was faked. Given the way the Uncle Ira Group operates this is not particularly surprising.
- Caine does this in The Chronicles of Amber -- by murdering the version of himself from one of the closer Shadow worlds.
- Happens in the X Wing Series time and time again. Mostly, it's the Rogues managing to escape death and taking advantage of everyone's assumptions until they can come back triumphant, but Asyr Sei'lar instead goes back to her homeworld to fight her species' Hat of political treachery, and then there's Isard. The survival of the Rogues is believed by one minor Imperial character to be a fake - he believes that they really have died each time, and were replaced by clones.
- Another book in the Star Wars Expanded Universe has a birdman who really wants to quit the criminal business and return to his homeworld, but he's fairly high up in the criminal syndicate Black Sun, and Resignations Not Accepted something like that. His underlord even hints that if he tries, his world will suffer. In the same book, Darth Vader gives a character the terrible choice of betraying his friend, one of the last surviving Jedi, or having the plateau where his people live bombed from orbit. Both of them are eventually thought to have been caught in a nuclear blast, and both of them take advantage of being thought dead.
- In Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Harry pretends to be dead after surviving yet another Killing Curse from Voldemort. He pretends to be dead until the height of the battle, during which he leaps into the fray to save Mrs. Weasley from being fried by old Voldie.
- Not completely... It actually killed one of Voldemort's last horcruxes, which was in Harry, permitting his final defeat.
- Janus Thickey disappeared leaving only a hasty Oh Crap A Lethifold's Killing Me note. His family went into mourning until he was found living with the landlady of a local inn. It may be related that the hospital's ward for long term spell damage is named for him.
- Rowling is fond of this trope. As early as Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, she reveals that Peter Pettigrew was killed in a magical duel with Sirius Black, destroyed so utterly that only a single finger remained. Black was sent to Azkaban for the crime. Except Pettigrew faked his death in order to frame Black, get him out of the way, and promote his master Voldemort's agenda.
- In The Leper of St. Giles by Ellis Peters, Brother Cadfael discovers that a mourned crusader is still alive, but had his Saracen captors falsely report his death from battle-wounds. In reality, the unfortunate warrior had contracted leprosy and didn't want anyone to see or pity his disfigurements.
- A tactic employed in self-defense by the Count in A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, to avert a potential assassination.
- In Les Misérables, Jean Valjean fakes drowning in order to escape prison without being searched for.
- Cao Cao spreads rumours of his death in Romance of the Three Kingdoms in order to set up an ambush for Lu Bu. Invoked/subverted by Zhuge Liang, who uses the fear of this (and a rather lifelike carving of himself) to keep Sima Yi from pursuing the Shu army when it retreats upon his death.
- In Annals of the Black Company, Raven pulls this -- twice.
- In the Claire Malloy mystery Tickled To Death, a character presumed to have died turned out to have had this trope applied to them without their knowledge. She'd quietly left town after embezzling a fortune from a wildlife-protection charity, and rather than admit what happened and see future donations dry up, her associates from the foundation faked her death in a boating accident.
- A favoured plot device of Christopher Pike - used in Falling, Chain Letter (Neal), Slumber Party (Nicole/Celeste), Weekend (Bert), Gimme a Kiss (Jane), Scavenger Hunt (Joe/Tom), Fall Into Darkness (Ann).
- The Westing Game: Sam Westing
- In the Foundation series, the entire Second Foundation pulls this off.
- Animorphs did this more than once. When Marco's father is targeted by the Yeerks for nearly discovering Zero-space, Marco has Erek and Mr. King, two of their android friends, use their holograms to impersonate him and his dad for when the Yeerks come to shoot them with their Dracon beams.
- Earlier than that, one was pulled on David: He killed a red-tailed hawk that stumbled into his path, but believed he had killed Tobias, who is trapped in red-tail hawk morph. Even though this wasn't intentional on the heroes' part, they're quick to play it up and take advantage of it.
- A major plot twist early in the series is Marco discovering that his mother was actually the host of Visser One, who faked her death when she left Earth to pursue other missions.
- Untold Story by Monica Ali focuses on a fictional princess, based on Princess Diana, who fakes her own death and escapes abroad because she is convinced she's about to be assassinated by the Secret Service.
- One of the alternative endings for The Dandee Diamond Mystery features the benefactor of the Will alive and telling the reader/protagonist he just faked his death so he could see how far his relatives would go to find the Dandee Diamond.
- In Detectives in Togas, his family fakes Caius' burial. (But the Romans cremated their dead...)
- In the Knight and Rogue Series Michael gets Rosamund listed as officially dead so his father won't interfere with her love life.
- In the Sword of Truth, this is called a "Death Spell". It's used to make people think someone is dead. Go figure.
- In the sequel to Ishmael, it's revealed that the titular teacher faked his own death so that his pupil would apply what he had learned.
- Happens as an inadvertent result of technology in The Moon Maze Game, in which Darla is "killed out" of the scenario just before armed kidnappers interrupt the proceedings to take the Gamers hostage. As she's in the process of crawling out of the play area on her belly, remaining unseen while her slain NPC persona's holographic "corpse" is left behind, she's already undercover when the thugs arrive and they don't realize her faux-body had previously been a living actress.
- Numerous people in Alias, so much that fans are suspicious of those who are supposedly Killed Off for Real.
- Jack shooting Nina in season 1 of 24 on the demands of the terrorists, and Jack himself at the end of season 4.
- His fake killing of Nina is especially a nice touch, as she had no clue what was going on; and it was not revealed to the audience, or her for that matter, that Jack managed to slip a flack-jacket onto her. Surprisingly, she gets over it pretty quick.
- Alex in Law And Order: Special Victims Unit. (This was a slight variation, in that the bad guys really did shoot her, but the Feds let everyone think it killed her.)
- And she was then whisked away into WitSec, not to be seen again for five seasons. Olivia's expression: made of pure Tear Jerker.
- The franchise has also used this ruse while Lying to the Perp, as when a rapist is accused of murder so he'll insist that he'd left his victim alive. Only after he's said this on tape do the cops reveal she didn't die from her injuries after all.
- In The X-Files, Mulder fakes his own suicide at the end of season four, only to return several episodes into the next season.
- Captain Kirk on Star Trek: The Original Series in "Amok Time" (where he has apparently been killed by Spock, but we learn that Dr. McCoy has actually given him a shot to knock him out), and in "The Enterprise Incident" (where Spock uses the fictional Vulcan Death Grip on Kirk so he can return to a Romulan ship in disguise).
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Quark's life is put in danger twice because of other people doing this. Grand Nagus Zek named Quark his successor, and "died", to see if his son would use business smarts to undermine Quark and take the title, but instead he just tries to assassinate Quark. And Morn once faked his death and left 1000 bars of gold pressed latinum to Quark, but the latinum was from a heist, and his partners were coming for their share.
- The Dresden Files uses this to throw a demon off the trail, so an ex-demon and his girlfriend can go into the High Council's witness protection program and live happily ever after.
- This particular death-fakery is done for all the reasons listed above, as Harry manages to get the demon in question arrested to boot.
- Done by George Senior on Arrested Development.
- House does this when he hires a hooker to die as a patient Kutner was advising under House's name. We figure this out at the end of the episode when House pretends to resuscitate her and she wakes up in an Oh Crap moment.
- House does this to himself in the series finale by switching dental records with a terminal patient.
- Hustle did this several times, referring to the practice as 'pulling a cacklebladder'. Mickey pulled one in the premiere, and a later episode had Celebrity Guest Richard Chamberlain pulling a double-bluff cacklebladder, actually killing himself. It was then revealed to be a double double-bluff cacklebladder, and he really was alive. Damn.)
- It almost ended in tragedy in the second episode when Mickey shoots Danny in front of the mark using a blank, then the mark pulls out his gun and shoots Danny for real. It took some quick thinking to save Danny's life while making the mark believe that he had killed Danny and go into hiding.
- PC Nick Klein in The Bill (The UK police drama).
- Stroker and his son do this in an episode of Stroker and Hoop to throw ninjas off their trail.
- This was done at least twice on Monk, the first in Mr. Monk Meets the Psychic, where Monk and the police pretend that the suspect killed his old girlfriend in order to get him to admit that he really killed his wife. More notably, in the Season 6 finale, After Monk has been accused of murder, Stottlemeyer pretends to shoot Monk to death in order to keep him under the radar while he looks for the real murderer.
- Tracy in Firefly
- Along with Kaylee in the pilot, as part of a mean-spirited joke played by Mal on Simon.
- Simon and River do this in order to get into the hospital for the episode "Ariel."
- This has been done in a final episode of a season of Smallville a couple of times. In season 3 witness protection faked Chloe's death by blowing up her house and burying her coffin. Lana Lang fakes her death in season 6 by substituting the body of one of her clones in place of herself.
- On Bones, Booth takes advantage of being shot by a Stalker with a Crush to fake his own death and nab some criminal he'd been waiting years to get.
- Heroes: When Angela Petrelli poisoned her husband Arthur in an attempt to kill him, Arthur survived, though in a paralyzed state, where he telepathically gave commands out to his minions and planned his revenge.
- Later used by Sylar, with the unwilling help of of a shapeshifter, supposedly to throw Noah Bennet off of his scent. However, Noah pulls it apart in record time... and runs headlong into a sadistic The Plan.
- Jimmy's girlfriend in Doctors, who was an undercover cop had to fake her own death at the hands of another undercover agent to make it seem like her partner was willing to kill cops and thus get closer to the heart of a drug smuggling ring.
- On character in Eastenders faked his death to find out how his girlfriend really felt about him.
- Despereaux the "master thief," in an episode of Psych. He's quite annoyed when the heroes find him.
Despereaux: Do you have any idea how hard it is to find a convincing body double? This one's too tall, this one's too fat...this one's just right, but he's an Eskimo!
- Kyle XY, of all shows, recently used this: as part of a Batman Gambit to get Kyle into Cassidy's trust, after having Kyle pretend to kill Jessi in self-defense for trying to kill Cassidy (it's complicated), Jessi slows her heartbeat down to two beats a minute. This is enough to fool Cassidy, who checks her pulse and declares her dead. She wakes up a few minutes after Kyle and Cassidy leave, completely unharmed.
- Lost: Locke's father fakes his death in order to avoid the wrath of some men from whom he stole money. Locke helps, after the fact.
- A Threes Company episode has Jack doing this after he's threatened by a man who thinks he's trying to steal his girlfriend.
- The title character, in the first series of The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin.
- Happy Days: A two-part episode has Fonzie running afoul of a bunch of comic gangsters after he discovers a stash of Counterfeit Cash inside a hearse he's repairing. He stages his own death and funeral to try and throw them off his trail.
- Done by Lytton in Doctor Who. His unit comes under fire (with weapons that kill you outright without any obvious damage) and everyone falls down. After the attackers move on, he gets back up, uninjured, and leaves.
- In the series six finale, the Doctor himself pulls this off with the assistance of his time machine and a shapeshifting robot.
- Being immortal, Captain Jack pulls this off a few times in Torchwood to get the drop on enemies, most noticably on the villain of the first episode.
- In Charmed, Phoebe, Piper, Paige, and Leo faked their deaths to lead a normal life in the same house, raising the same kids, but with magical disguises and magically created ID. It didn't last too long.
- Happened in NCIS a couple of times:
- Agent Fornell faked his own suicide to find a mole in the FBI, and clear his own name.
- Agent Gibbs faked being shot, as part of a sting against a crooked ATF agent.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, Hal is recognized by a woman who thought he was dead. Years ago, he faked his death--involving blowing up a phone booth--to avoid repaying her the $400 he'd borrowed from her.
- In Babylon 5, an entire ship of people was captured by the Shadows. The ones who agreed to serve them got this (the others suffered a Fate Worse Than Death).
- The Korean Series Shining Inheritance has the father, Go Pyung Joong, hiding after after a body found in a gas explosion is thought to be him. He did this to give his family the insurance money.
- Played straight and offscreen in Epitaph Two: The Return with this exchange:
Echo: I thought we lost you in Reno.
- In another episode, Echo tried to smuggle a woman out of prison by injecting her with something that would slow her heart rate enough to make her appear dead. Unfortunately it wore off before she could get out.
- This crops up from time to time in Burn Notice. Larry Sizemore in particular may Never Live It Down; just about every time he shows up, someone will say "What, dead Larry?" and his subtitle is "Undead Spy".
- In Chuck, Orion did this to throw off those who were after him. Complete with explosion so the lack of a body wouldn't be too unusual.
- And the Ring director (and some Mooks) did it to hide the fact that Shaw had turned traitor, and also to gain some unwitting help from their enemy. This one used squibs, and they were quickly revealed to be alive.
- In the fourth season, one episode has Chuck figuring out the best way to draw out Casey's old team in order to find out more about his missing mother. The plan in question? To have Casey pretend to be dead, complete with the guy in a catatonic state to add authenticity to the "funeral".
- A Mash episode has Hawkeye mistakenly listed as dead. Frustrated with his lack of success in getting the Army bureaucracy to rectify the error and unable to get in touch with his father (who he learns received a letter informing him of his son's "demise"), he decides to allow himself to be transported home as a "cadaver"...before wounded arrive and he feels duty-bound to remain.
- Played for Laughs in My Name Is Earl. Earl had been in a relationship with a Naive Everygirl after a hookup at a Halloween party. But, when things began to get too serious too fast, Earl faked his own death to avoid hurting her feelings. (Her current boyfriend got the idea from Earl and did it, too.) Later that episode, the woman in question faked her own death to get back at Earl for yelling at her about being an Extreme Doormat. (Thus marking the point where she becomes more assertive than ever before.)
- Lois of Lois and Clark had Superman freeze her using his superbreath as a ploy to get a villian.
- In one episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Charlie and Mac fakes their deaths in an outrageously sloppy manner that seemingly couldn't fool anyone. It does anyway, or so it seems. Turns out the others just pretend to be sad and throws a fake funeral to make fun of them.
- In Get Smart, Max overhears a KAOS plot and is shot by two KAOS agents, but they believe he is dead. CONTROL allows everyone to believe he is dead so that they can stop the plot. But not every agent is told about the plan so that KAOS will be convinced that Max is dead. In fact 2 agents, besides Max know he's not really dead, The Chief and Agent 13. When Max figures out how to stop the evil plot, he is unable to contact the Chief or Agent 13 and when he tries to tell another agent, he disregards his comments because Maxwell Smart couldn't possibly be talking to him because he's dead.
- Taken to a bizarre extreme on Benson. A businessman tries to have his way with Denise in exchange for a deal with the state. After the date, the gang pretends she's been murdered to get him to confess. Benson plays a British detective (dressed as Sherlock Holmes), Pete plays Denise's biker brother, Katie plays a starry-eyed witness, and Miss Kraus plays a psychic. Oddly, it works.
- Jim Rockford of The Rockford Files uses this several times throughout the series. Usually it is the "part of a con" variety, but he uses "one little mistake" once or twice as well.
- Being a show about running cons, the Leverage team uses this every so often to convince their mark of the seriousness of the situation - in one notable instance, Parker was run over by a car, with the mark standing right there. In another, someone tried to assassinate a team-member, so they pretended the attempt succeeded - complete with funeral - to figure out who it was.
- Halfway through Season Six of Supernatural, Crowley is seemingly Killed Off for Real, but a few episodes before the season finale, it's revealed that he faked his death with help from Castiel so that he could continue his plans under the Winchesters' noses.
- Happens a few times in Airwolf Both Moffett and Hawke use a trick that involves firing the ADF missiles at just the right time to make it appear that Airwolf has been blown up. Then they activate the "whisper mode" and ambush the opposition.
- Both Catherine Willows and DB Russell in CSI "Willows In The Wind", when a squad of hit men was after them.
- Frequently happened on Highlander as a result of the immortal nature of many characters.
- They get killed and their killer drops his guard, not knowing his victim will resurrect.
- They also fake their own death, or pretend their previous persona died of old age, in order to assume a new identity elsewhere.
- Fraser on Due South in the episode 'Dead Men Don't Throw Rice".
- Arthur did it on Merlin to get his father to cry tears of true remorse, the only thing that would break the troll magic used on him (Uther).
- In accordance with the original Doyle canon (see Literature above), this trope appears in the Sherlock episode "The Reichenbach Fall".
- For the last half of season six of Criminal Minds, Prentiss was believed to be dead by the rest of the team except for Hotch and JJ, who were the ones who set it up that way.
- A favorite trope of Soap Opera s, of course. Most cases are inadvertent, but quite a few have been deliberately done, usually to escape an enemy or escape punishment for a crime.
- So ends House, with the doctor allowing the world to think he died in a burning building to avoid going back to prison, and instead spend time with a dying Wilson.
- Older Than Feudalism: In Electra, Orestes' plot to murder his mother and step-father relies on lulling them into a false sense of security by sending a messenger stating Orestes died in a chariot race. Electra is devastated by the loss until the moment her brother reveals himself.
- Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Henry The Fourth Part 1 and Much Ado About Nothing.
- A Winter's Tale in which Hermione apparently fakes her own death for sixteen years just so she can pose as her own statue (voluntarily or otherwise) and come back to life in front of her husband and now grown-up daughter.
- Notably used in Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra tells a messenger to tell Antony that she is dead. This results in Antony killing himself and Cleopatra hitting the Despair Event Horizon.
- Wicked the Musical, where Elphaba pretends to melt, but goes down a trapdoor instead to wait for Fiyero... who, by the way, is the Scarecrow. She sings a final refrain with Glinda and vanishes to another land with Fiyero, leaving Glinda to beleive that she died for real. (Glinda did not realize she had back-up on the refrain) As Fiyero says "She can't know. No-one must know." Oh, by the way, before she carries out this charade, she makes Glinda promise to never try and clear her (Elphaba's) name so that Oz will stay peaceful under Glinda's rule and the people won't turn against her. Whew.
- Note that this is not what happens in the book version of Wicked. In the book, Elphaba meets exactly the same end as in the original Wizard of Oz movie -- Dorothy flings a bucket of water at her, and she dies.
- In Angels in America, Roy Cohn pulls this trick on the ghost/hallucination/whatever of Ethel Rosenberg, who happily pushes the nurse's call button?only to have Roy spring back to life and gloat at her about falling for it. Subverted almost immediately, when the monitors Roy's hooked up to flatline, and he dies for real.
- World of Warcraft has Feign Death as an ability of the Hunter class.
- In Suikoden II, the main character's not-quite-biological sister fakes her own death in order to avoid distracting him from his important task of ending a war -- she's tired of all the fighting and wants to leave the war behind, but knows that he'd never leave her alone if he knew she was still alive. All this only happens in the good ending, however -- if you make even the slightest misstep, before or after her apparent "death", she was actually Killed Off for Real.
- In Bioshock Atlas is actually mobster Frank Fontaine who supposedly died in a shootout with Rapture police forces 2 years before the game is set.
- Solid Snake fakes his own death in Metal Gear Solid 2, in order to escape being witch-hunted as a terrorist. Interestingly enough, he does this by dressing up the corpse of his identical twin and presenting him to the authorities. Thus, later in the game, when the body is exhumed for a DNA test, it passes as genuine.
- In Metal Gear Solid 3, Snake carries a Cyanide Pill he can use to fake his death in front of enemies. "Dying" will fool every enemy and boss once, and popping back to life in front of them will scare them enough that you can get a cheap hit in; the only boss this doesn't work on is the one that taught you this trick.
- In Metal Gear Solid 4, there is the corpse camo and the Big Boss mask to complete it that allows Snake to play dead which can fool even the machines.
- Pulled by the entire Global Defense Initiative in the first Command and Conquer, goading the Brotherhood of Nod into going on the offensive. Even the player gets suckered into it.
- Kane also pulls this off in Command and Conquer 3; announcing his return by flipping out and ordering the player to nuke Sydney, Australia. And at the end of Kane's Wrath, Nod apparently pulled this off until Kane's Gambit Roulette finally pays off.
- In Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, Oliver is presumed dead after battle. In Radiant Dawn, he turns out to have been hiding for three years. Though it's strongly implied that Oliver really did die, as when he's recruited and then Ike talks to him, he mentions visiting Death's villa. Somehow he was brought back and THEN went into hiding.
- Ditto the Black Knight, although to be fair, they Never Found the Body. Still, they dropped a fucking tower on him; No One Could Survive That!
- Earlier in the series, Prince Zephiel is poisoned in an assassination attempt by his father, King Desmond, but survives. He arranges a fake funeral and stabs his would-be murderer to death when Desmond approached the coffin to view the body. The exact details of this incident are revealed in Binding Blade, but they are mentioned in the epilogue of Blazing Blade suggesting that they happened around that time (15 years after the events of Blazing; five years before Binding).
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush Threepwood needs to convince a local inkeeper that he is a member of the Goodsoup family and then feign death in order to cash in his life insurance policy (which only requires him to present his death certificate, regardless of whether or not he's actually alive) and gain admission to the Goodsoup family crypt, which technically isn't the cleverest way to go about doing either of those. His means of faking his death aren't that clever either: he mixes medicine with alcohol and passes out. And then the credits roll. Okay, not the REAL credits.
- This trope is a major gameplay element in the mediocre shooter Haze: Mantel Corporation mercenaries have a drug called Nectar injected into their bodies which gives them superhuman abilities and alters their brain chemistry to make them more useful for Mantel. One way they do this is trying to avoid PTSD by making Mantel troops incapable of seeing dead bodies. Once a soldier, friendly or enemy, dies, they become incapable of perceiving them. This is extremely easy to abuse once you make the inevitable switch to the anti-Mantel rebels; with the push of a button your character pretends to die, and the bad guys literally forget that you're there.
- The original Unreal Tournament had the feign death feature. This would later return in Unreal Tournament III. This was taken from Team Fortress.
- Team Fortress 2, on the other hand, doesn't have this feature; what it does have is the unlockable pocket watch for the Spy, the Dead Ringer. It creates a fake corpse the instant any damage is done to the user, and immediately makes the user completely invisible for a short period of time (not even bumping into other players reveals him, unlike the other two watches), at the expense of a really, really loud "becoming visible" sound effect. Naturally, like all of the Spy's tricks, it was useful for about a few days before players wised up.
- Played straight in Team Fortress Classic: Spies could drop to the floor (much like dead players' ragdolls) at any time, quietly or otherwise, and go into third-person view.
- Army of Two allows you to use the "Feign Death" command if your mercenary is getting hammered with a lot of incoming fire. This generally causes the enemy to direct their fire at your partner, giving you either time to (slowly) heal or a chance to spring up and go for cover. Naturally, the enemy will only fall for this once per encounter, and keep shooting you if you try it again.
- In Halo, The Flood will try to pull this on you. Dropping dead to the ground only to jump to their feet moments later. It can be difficult to tell when they are genuinely dead due to this, and the only real way to ensure they are is to watch them for a moment or punch/pump them full of lead.
- The starting novice class of Ragnarok Online can learn a Play Dead skill that renders all monsters non-aggressive by making the player out to be dead. They lose this skill when changing to a first class or supernovice, however.
- Similar to the above Hitman example, one of the Dark Brotherhood missions in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has the player "kill" an NPC with a special poison and revive him later to throw other assassins off his trail.
- The Nancy Drew game Lights, Camera, Curses! reveals that a famous actress's long-ago death was faked, to ensure that she wouldn't suffer the stigma of having done such a horrible acting job.
- This plays a key role in Steins;Gate: to prevent the Bad Future from unfolding without sacrificing anyone, the heroes have to replicate a grisly scene that Rintaro glimpsed in a vision right at the start of everything. It's a bit of a Mind Screw how it all unfolds.
- In Hitman Blood Money, the Agency sets up a false death for 47 so that he can get close to the mastermind of the plot to kill him that drives the main plot of the game. When Diana gives him a kiss, she's administering the antidote for the drug that she used on him (though if you let your life bar go down all the way during the "credits," it's Game Over for you).
- This also happens to Smith earlier on in the game, in order to sneak him out of rehab.
- In Mafia II, Henry has to kill Leo Galante to get into the Falcone crime family. Vito tries to get Leo out before Henry can whack him, but when Henry catches them and learns the facts, Leo offers to take the bullet. Vito leaves the kitchen, there's a gunshot, and Henry walks out, telling him "You owe me big for this one." Vito then drives Leo to the train station so he can leave Empire Bay.
- Veithel of Juathuur, before the beginning of the story.
- Agatha in Girl Genius. The unusual part is that given both circumstances and the habits during lifetime, it may double as a bizarre form of the funeral honours to the unfortunate who became their substitute corpse. Scamming the overlord of Europe into thinking she's the Heterodyne heir would be really hard to top.
- In Zeetha's opinion, however, this "perfect plan" had a flaw.
- Renard/Reynardine in Gunnerkrigg Court, as he phrased it himself, "had the perfect disguise". Whether this happened mostly by coincidence or was planned by the mythological trickster himself is perhaps the biggest point of disagreement in the fandom.
- In Beyond the Canopy, Greliz and Jojo plan to do this as part of a confidence scheme. They organize a prize fight and serve as bookkeepers for the gambling. Their plan is to fake a fire before the fight ends, escape to the caves underground with all the gambled money, and then blow up the building after them--convincing all onlookers that they and the money went up in smoke.
- In Spacetrawler, Dmitri uses holograms to make his attempted assassin (and the government that hired her) believe the assassination was successful.
- Bugs Bunny does this on a regular basis. Usually this causes his pursuer to feel remorse and go into a crying fit, only to have Bugs "come to life" and give him a kiss on the nose or something equally impudent.
- Pepe Le Pew did this in one of his skits. Penelope the Cat that he regularly chases decides to lock herself in a reinforced glass safe that he can't get into, and being his usual self he acts as if she is playing hard to get and jokingly asks why she won't come out. Her response is that Pepe stinks, in despair he pulls out a gun, smiles, and then waves goodbye to Penelope as he walks behind the safe and a gunshot is heard. Penelope in despair rushes out of the safe to see if he really went through with it, and to her surprise Pepe is waiting for her, "I missed... Fortunately for you."
- Gargoyles has Sevarius faking his own death as part of Xanatos' plan to turn Talon into an Unwitting Pawn.
- In one episode of Family Guy, Quagmire marries a woman he barely knows, realizes he made a terrible mistake, and tries to break it off. When she reveals herself to be unstable, the guys help him fake his death so as not to end up with a Fatal Attraction case on their hands.
- Justice League Unlimited did this as well with Green Arrow taking a nerve relaxant so that he appeared to have been killed in the illegal Metabrawl at Wildcat's hands, to show the aging fighter what he could unintentionally do if he continued fighting in it.
- The second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender ends with Katara pulling Aang back from the ragged edge of death after the latter was struck down by Azula. Come the third season premiere (three weeks of unconsciousness later)...
Sokka: Yep, the whole world thinks you're dead! (stands up and raises his arms triumphantly) Isn't that great?!
- There's also Zuko at the end of the first season--he survives an assassination attempt in which his ship is completely destroyed, but he and Iroh pretend that he did die so that he can stow away on one of the ships to the North Pole and catch the Avatar there.
- In The Simpsons, Homer has a dummy of himself made and tosses it off a cliff into a river where it falls over a waterfall, has its limbs crushed by rocks, is attacked by beavers, and ultimately is sucked into a turbine while his coworkers watch in horror... in order to get out of an afternoon of community service. "Best 600 bucks I ever spent!"
- What makes the scene hilarious is the Comedic Sociopathy of it all: rather than thinking to help Homer, all his co-workers think that all they have to do is say "Oh no! He's hit the rocks!" "Don't worry, those beavers will save him." "Oh no! The beavers are taking his clothes!" No one thinks to, you know, move and help him.
- Bart tried something like this, as well, but the Blind Without'Em Milhouse unintentionally shoves the real Bart off of the cliff instead of the dummy. He, of course, didn't suffer the fate of the Homer dummy.
- The episode "Bart the Fink" has Krusty the Clown faking his death to collect on an insurance policy after the IRS strips him of his assets.
- In fact, he faked his death twice in that episode. First to escape his IRS debts and start a new life as "Rory B Bellows" and second to escape his new life, commenting as he does so that "The life of Rory B Bellows is insured for a surprisingly large amount".
- In one episode, Lisa sits up in a tree that's slated to be cut down, but ends up coming down to go home for a few hours. She wakes up to learn the tree was hit by lightning, and that the town assumes she's dead. She goes along with this so the tree will be made into a nature preserve, only to reveal she's alive when the Rich Texan announces it'll be an amusement park instead.
- The boys force Butters to do this in the South Park episode "Marjorine".
- In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Norman Osborn (AKA Green Goblin) pulls this off in the final(?) step of his 2 season long Evil Plan.
- It was just revealed in Metalocalypse that Charles Ofdensen did this, for reasons currently unknown.
- Mr Herriman does this in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends during Halloween, in a group prank to get back at Bloo for pranking them all the last Halloweeen.
- When the Teen Titans are first attacked by the HIVE (Jinx, Mammoth and Gizmo), Robin falls to ominous doom, and the others only find his utility belt. He resurfaces after his teammates get kicked out of their own home.
- In Johnny Test, Johnny and Dookie get overworked as their alter egos, Johnny X and Super Pooch. Ultimately, the only way to get out of the mess is to convince the town they're dead. They try once on their own, only to fail, so they get Susan and Mary to help them, disguising themselves as alien supervillains and making it look like they've vaporized the two. Susan and Mary actually seem to enjoy this...
- Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats: When it seemed Mrs. Vandergelt's butler would finally get her fortune, it was revealed she had faked her death.
- In the Pilot Movie for Justice League, J'onn J'onnz telepathically prevents everyone from noticing Batman, leading to the villains (and heroes) not realizing he was there until it was time for him to attack. Of course, being Batman, this was a plot he was used to; see the episode in his own series where everyone thinks a minor crook offed him.
- Rhinox/Tankor does this for a while in Beast Machines in order to be able to further his own agenda. Too bad for him that Megatron figured it out...
- Superfriends episode "Dr. Pelagian's War". Dr. Ansel Hillbrand fakes his death in a deep sea diving accident to allow him to prepare for his enviroterrorist activities as Dr. Pelagian.
- The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest: Dr. Zin faked his death to see if his daughters were ready to take over his criminal empire. They failed.
- In the second season opener of the 90s Iron Man cartoon, Tony Stark fakes his death by allowing the Mandarin's flunkies to blow up his private jet.
- Philomena, the Phoenix pet of Princess Celestia does this in an episode of My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic. Unlike most examples, Philomena is just doing it to be a jerk to Fluttershy
- Martin Gardner (renowned recreational mathematician - yes, it's a real job) did this to the character Dr. Matrix in his column in Scientific American. Dr. Matrix, an agent for the CIA, was disguised as an Arab named Abdul Abulbul Amir in order to assassinate a KGB agent named Ivan Skavinsky Skavar. They dueled on the shores of the Black Sea, and fired simultaneously; Ivan died instantly, but "Abdul" was only knocked out, and the CIA paid two natives to confirm his death.
- Dr. William Griffin in Kate Modern
- Parodied in The Spider Cliff Mysteries. After surviving an explosion, Barlow suggests doing this. Crystal tells him it's a stupid idea.
- Pulled with appropriate magnificence by Dr. Blackgaard in the Adventures in Odyssey episode "A Name, Not a Number". The scene where he reveals himself to his unwitting accomplice is priceless.
Blackgaard: Actually, once I got out of the morgue, I'd never felt better in my life...
- Dumbledore and Voldemort in A Very Potter Musical, only one of whose fake deaths is actually explained.
- Lear Dunham in Broken Saints. Rare variation in that the faked death is part of backstory, not a depicted event.
- This is an actual crime, called "pseudocide" (literally 'pretend murder').
- Though not usually a crime, the same term is used when someone on the Internet pretends to die. They used to arouse suspicion by their ability to still post from the hospital, but nowadays it is possible to get wireless Internet access and not just blog, but make video logs from the hospital, as CTFxC demonstrates. Depending on the blogging software, it is entirely possible for someone to queue up a post to be made automatically in the event they die.
- Reported by Talking Points Memo.
- The police sometimes use this tactic to nab suspects. In one case, a woman hired a contract killer (actually an undercover cop) to kill her husband. The police then faked his death, providing photos and "evidence" in order to fool the wife into incriminating herself.
- In Russia where political and business-related assassinations are unpleasantly common, this is a very common tactic for the local police.
- In matters of national security, or if the person's life will be in ongoing danger because of their testimony, the FBI may go as far as staging a closed-casket funeral for someone who is going into the Witness Relocation Program.
- Christopher Marlowe, sometimes theorized to be the "real" Shakespeare, is also sometimes theorized to have faked his own death. Even though a coroner confirmed the knife in his skull.
- People have been claiming since April 3, 1882, that Jesse James and Bob Ford faked James' murder. There was a two hour special on History International about this, albeit with very shaky reasoning on the "he didn't die" side. (At one point, a photo of a 20-something James is compared to the official post-mortem photo. The two photos have different hairlines, which "proves" they are of two different men. Because no male ever suffers from receding hairline.)
- These theories were largely put to rest after after an exhumation proved that the man in Jesse James' grave was a descendant of Jesse James' mother.
- Agatha Christie faked her own disappearance after the husband dumped her for another woman and her mother died. Her Genre Savvy made the situation rather pulled of one of her own novels, and in the end the police found her ten days later in a nearby hotel, pretending to be amnesiac. People still wonders if this was true or just the media having fun with creativity...
- Many kinds of animals fake their own death as a last resort to protect themselves from predators. For some reason, many hunters won't eat what is already dead.
- There had been a myth saying that if cornered by a Brown Bear, a human should play dead to escape it, for bears would not eat corpses. Although it works in Real Life, as people with knowledge of the wild can tell, bears and other carnivores can and will scavenge corpses and can easily tell the difference between a still man on the ground and a dead one. The true reason behind the playing dead issue is to convince the bruin you're not a threat: if the beast sees the potential opponent stays down and does not move, will examine it for a little and then move away to more useful things like searching for food.