Mystery Tropes Evident in Both Books and Television

If you are a sucker for films, TV shows, and books that revolve around solving mysteries and everything in between, then you probably have observed commonalities in each masterpiece. As a literary and film genre, mystery refers to the fictional tales that follow a case from the time it is made and the moment that it is solved. Both readers and audiences become more engrossed in the different outputs in this genre because their curiosities are being targeted and ignited. As a result, the patrons start to play detective and help solve the mystery.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, One for the Money by Janet Evanovich, and The Numbered Cups Mystery by JB Clemmens are some of the best mystery books that are widely read today. The 100, Riverdale, American Gods, and Elite, on the other hand, are among the most-watched shows on Netflix. Although most of these books and shows have different twists and turns, you can surely identify the common elements within them.

So, if you have observed some common aspects in a lot of mystery shows and stories, then listed below are the basic tropes that you should know.

Everyone is a suspect

This trope is the most basic one. You can see this either spoken or observed in many works. The characters found in the crime scene are already considered as suspects, even those who claimed to be innocent and just trying to help the victim or those who called 911.  In other words, the suspect can be anybody. Detectives start to investigate and uncover the underlying motive of each alleged killer until they narrow everything down and catch the actual suspect.

Hide the evidence

There are many instances that the perpetrator of the crime hides the murder weapon or other evidence that can lead to their capture. However, there are also events that the pieces of evidence are being tampered with by people related to the killer in the hopes of hiding the suspect’s crime because of a strong bond or whatnot. Because this trope is widely used, limiting its utilization might come in handy. This is to give the audience and readers something new to observe and look forward to instead of showing them the same predictable scene all over again.

An old, dark house

Settings help build the atmosphere of a story. Thus, genres including mystery, horror, thriller, and more almost have identical atmospheres and settings. There is just something about old houses that adds to the tension in a story. Take for example in the CW’s show Riverdale, the Thistle House where the Blossoms reside is poorly lit and is already old. It is where Cheryl hid the corpse of her twin brother, killed her relative, and cooked the corpse of her relative, and feed it to her aunts and cousin.

Red herring

Red herring is the term used to describe the bunch of clues that aim to stray the investigators to the real suspect. It becomes a great element when it interlocks itself to the happenings in the story. For example, the victim is an abusive husband and his wife has no alibi to present during the investigation. Then, it would directly be assumed that it was his wife. But, take note that the insufficient or lack of alibi of the wife is considered as a red herring because there are still other factors leading to the death of the husband.

Consulting a convicted killer

Have you observed that many shows and books consult a convicted killer in order to assess and map out the pattern of killing in a case? It is commonly seen in stories where the suspect is a serial killer since there is a pattern in their cases and identical aspects of the victims. Hence, detectives and profilers often come to prison and visit another killer to get more knowledge and tips on identifying the killer, assessing the motive, and crack the case.

Driving question

This trope often emerges when the foundation of a story is a mystery. The typical variation would be a Whodunnit story but can also be survival horror and such. In some cases, the question is often about wondering what’s happening.



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