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File:Murder on the orient express ver4 7581.jpg

Murder on the Orient Express, or Murder in the Calais Coach, is an Agatha Christie detective fiction murder mystery first published in 1934. Hercule Poirot, the famous Belgian detective, is ready to return from his case in Syria when he is snowbound on the Orient Express. He is disturbed in his sleep by dead quiet and a passing figure in a red kimono, and when he awakes, the contemptible Ratchett is found having been stabbed 12 times to death. Poirot discovers he was actually a notorious American gangster, who had kidnapped and murdered a three-year-old heiress. The mystery begins to unravel as he discovers that the passengers have connections to the murdered man and the family of the child that man murdered.

The book was made into a successful movie in 1974, again into a Made for TV Movie in 2001, and once again in 2010 for David Suchet's Poirot.

Tropes used by Murder on the Orient Express (there will be non-concealed, highly spoilerific material later: you have been warned):

  • Actor Allusion / Casting Gag: Anthony Perkins plays a guy with severe mommy-issues.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: In the original novel and most adaptations, Hercule rather cavalierly lets the murderers go free, but in the 1974 film and especially the 2010 Poirot versions, he is deeply conflicted before finally making the choice.
  • All-Star Cast: The 1974 film version, which starred Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Sean Connery, Ingrid Bergman, Michael York, Vanessa Redgrave, Jacqueline Bisset, Anthony Perkins, Richard Widmark, and Sir John Gielgud, among others.
  • Artistic Title: The 1974 film opens with a montage sequence by Richard Williams depicting the kidnapping and murder of Daisy Armstrong via various Spinning Papers.
  • Asshole Victim: Ratchett's portrayed as a terrible man, so there isn't much sympathy when he is killed. We find out that he's so deserving of his fate that Poirot eventually lets his murderers go.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Averted, subverted, played straight, or something... It really depends on your definitions of "bad guy" and "win".
  • Bittersweet Ending: While the murderers do get off scot-free, that's because even Poirot agrees that Ratchett's crime against the Armstrong family (who they all had connections to) had been paid back justly, with interest.
  • Busman's Holiday
  • The Butler Did It: He was one of the people who did it, that is. Also spoken word-for-word, but as part of a Running Gag by the line owner always implicating the most recent interviewee.
  • Closed Circle: Not only are they on a train, but trapped in a snowdrift.
  • Darker and Edgier: The 2010 adaptation, in spades.
  • Eagle Land: The portrayal of the U.S. makes it obvious that Christie didn't know very much about it. For example, Poirot says that it is "obvious" that the Hungarian ambassador stationed in Washington D.C. must have been acquainted with the Armstrongs, a prominent family from Chicago.
    • Caroline Hubbard embodies this whenever the opportunity presents itself Then again, it's all an act.
    • The Americans are also referred to as subjects rather than citizens. Of course, it is Poirot and Bouc doing this, and they might not consider the distinction to be important.
  • Dead Little Sister: Most of the people directly involved in the Daisy Armstrong case.
  • Enclosed Space: Being snowed in was the only reason the crime wasn't a total success.
  • Everyone Is a Suspect: Deconstructed. Many murder mysteries set up the plot so that every character had a motive; but why would someone be in a situation where everyone in the vicinity has a motive to kill them? If the whole situation is the result of a conspiracy plotted by all the people with a motive to bring the victim among them.
    • The trope plays pretty much straight too. The only characters who are not suspects are Poirot himself, who was hearing some of the key events of the murder taking place and was asleep through others; and M. Bouc (Signor Bianchi in the 1974 film) and Dr. Constantine, who were incapable of being in the place of the murder at the time of the murder. In the 2010 adaptation, even the latter is one of the killers.
  • Evil Is Deathly Cold: In the 2010 adaptation, the train's generator fails soon after it runs into the snowdrift, so everything gets progressively colder and darker as Poirot comes closer to the truth.
  • Follow the Leader: Very influential, inspiring many "trapped on a transportation device with a murderer" stories.
  • From a Certain Point of View: How Princess Natalia Dragomiroff explains everything.
  • Funetik Aksent: Mrs. Hubbard, the Amurrican headed to Parrus.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress
  • The Killer Becomes the Killed
  • The Killer Was Left-Handed: One clue Poirot notices is that the victim was stabbed by both a right handed and left handed person.
  • Let Off by the Detective: Being an Asshole Victim of the highest order, Poirot rationalises that his murder meant justice was done. Instead of revealing the real solution to the police, he manages to come up with a plausible enough explanation involving an unknown assassin that doesn't incriminate the guilty party.
  • Massive Multiplayer Scam
  • Off on a Technicality: How Ratchett managed to walk free after the killing of Daisy Armstrong. He still recognised that the public would have torn him apart the moment he left court, hence why he fled America and changed his name.
  • One Degree of Separation: The passengers all are closely connected.
  • Orient Express: Obviously.
  • Orgy of Evidence: Not only are there a dozen suspects with a connection to the victim, but there are also a misplaced match, a pipe cleaner, a handkerchief, a button from a railway worker's uniform, a watch broken at entirely the wrong time, and sightings of a woman in a red kimono. Poirot, to his credit, dismisses most of these fairly quickly as Red Herrings.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: The victim had been guilty of the kidnapping and murder of a small child years before. Poirot finds the man is so deserving of his murder that he decides not to turn the murderer over to the police, and even offers them a theory of how the murderer escaped the train which is as plausible as it is false.
  • Pinkerton Detective: Cyrus Hardman in the 1974 film version. The original novel has him employed by McNeil's.
  • Playing Against Type: Director Sidney Lumet is best known for serious, gritty crime dramas based in New York.
  • Poirot Speak
  • Pretty in Mink: The 1974 film had a few furs, and even the 2001 adaptation had a fur stole at the end.
  • Proper Lady: Mary Debenham.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The kidnapping and murder of heiress Daisy Armstrong is very much based on the Lindbergh kidnapping case.
  • Sand in My Eyes: The reaction that the snow was dazzling a suspect's eyes actually turns out to be a clue.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Everyone on the train was a part of the murder. They had to make up several lies to throw Poirot off their trail. This was something like a dozen people. That kept up a lie under the scrutiny of Poirot. On a train in the middle of the Alps.
  • Sherlock Scan: Poirot "has, perhaps, a nose for fine dining". Okie dokie. Maybe it makes more sense in the book.
    • It's an insult about his huskyness.
  • Snowed In
  • Thriller on the Express: Trope Namer, along with the numerous examples that use the title format for a reference.
  • You Never Asked: The solution to the mysterious handkerchief with a H on it. It involves the Cyrillic alphabet and Princess Dragomiroff's first name.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Cassetti kills three-year-old Daisy just after the ransom had been paid and flees the country. He gets what he deserves.
  • Zig-Zagging Trope: The Bad Guy Wins. Trust us, the "bad guy" and "wins" parts are tossed every which way.