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Any serious mystery fan knows this one by heart: Ten people, strangers to each other, are summoned to an island. There, a mysterious recording accuses each one of being the cause of another's death, and one by one, murders start cropping up among them, each one executed in a fashion similar to those in the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme. The remaining ones come to the only possible conclusion: the murderer(ess?) must be one of them. Paranoia and suspicion run high, as each person tries to outwit the killer at his or her game. Which one of them cannot be trusted? And how long will it be before the next Indian is offed...?

The ten people are, in alphabetical order:

  • Dr. Edward Armstrong, a medical doctor. Accused of causing the death of a patient by operating on her while drunk.
  • William Blore, a former policeman who tends to be too bold for his good. Accused of causing the death of an innocent man by planting false evidence and landing him in prison where he died.
  • Emily Brent, a dour and staunchly religious woman. Accused of causing the death of her maid Beatrice by firing her and turning her out of the household when she became pregnant and thus driving her to suicide.
  • Vera Claythorne, a young former governess, now gym teacher and secretary. Accused of causing the death of her lover Hugo's little nephew, Cyril, by encouraging him to swim out to sea alone and drown, so that Hugo could inherit his brother's (Cyril's father's) estate.
  • Colonel Philip Lombard, a cool-headed and intelligent man. Accused of causing the death of 21 natives by abandoning them in his brief career as a mercenary in Africa.
  • General John MacArthur, a retired World War I general. Accused of causing the death of his wife's lover by sending him on a war mission that virtually guaranteed his death.
  • Anthony Marston, a handsome and vain youth with little concern for others. Accused of causing the deaths of two children by accidentally running over them with his car.
  • Thomas and Ethel Rogers, the servants who accommodate the other eight guests (Rogers is a butler, his wife a cook). Both accused of causing the death of their former employer, an old and sick American lady, for monetary gain.
  • Judge Lawrence Wargrave, a retired Hanging Judge with a no-nonsense attitude. Accused of causing the death of an accused murderer by steering the jury into sentencing him to death, despite evidence supporting his innocence.

Of course, one of them is the killer. But which one?

Written by Agatha Christie in 1939 and then adapted into a play in 1943 by the author herself, with a Revised Ending. Several film versions have been made, most of which use the play's ending rather than that of the book (which makes sense once you know the book's ending). Four English-language films have been produced, in 1945, 1965, 1975, and 1989, the latter three all produced by Harry Alan Towers. A Russian film was produced in 1987, which is notable for being the only major adaptation to use the novel's original ending. There also was a videogame featuring an additional character as an investigator that has Multiple Endings, one of them the same as the play, as well as the original ending as lockable content after finishing the game.

The novel is known by a number of different titles as a direct result of Values Dissonance. The original title was actually Ten Little Niggers, which believe it or not, was not considered racist in 1930s Britain. For the US edition, the title was changed to And Then There Were None, and later it was published in both countries as Ten Little Indians. However, that title would come to be seen as racist as well, and so And Then There Were None has become more or less standardized as the official title. The Soviet adaptation, however, retained the original title.

Trope namer for Ten Little Murder Victims and Acquitted Too Late. Partial inspiration for the game and film Clue.

The "U.N. Owen" of this story provides inspiration for, but is not directly related to, the popular song U.N. Owen Was Her?.


The original book contains examples of:

  • Acquitted Too Late: The Trope Namer; Judge Wargrave remarks that only the dead are above suspicion. However, it's more of an Invoked Trope here than a straight example; once the "death proves innocence" idea is set in the party's minds, the killer fakes their own death to throw suspicion off themselves.
  • Asshole Victim: None of the victims is exactly an innocent, though a few are sympathetic to varying degrees.
  • Anyone Can Die: And they do.
  • Ax Crazy: Vera, and to a lesser extent Wargrave.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Vera, just...Vera.
  • Book'Em Danno: U. N. Owen's record. Inverted, as this happens in the beginning of the book.
  • Brainless Beauty: Anthony Marston.
  • The Butler Did It: Averted; Mr. Rogers is one of the first characters to be killed off.
  • Censored Title: Originally titled Ten Little Niggers; later versions were changed to Ten Little Indians or And Then There Were None. Desyat Negrityat, the Soviet movie version, actually kept the original title and translated it into Russian despite being produced in 1987 (though the term is not really offensive in Russian).
    • Recent versions have changed the in-world 'ten little Indians' poem to 'ten little soldiers'.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The hook on the ceiling in Vera's room. To a lesser extent, the rhyme when it is first introduced may also count.
    • In addition, the marble bear clock in Vera's room (briefly mentioned near the beginning), which is later used to kill Blore. Taken further in the game when you pick it up after finding Blore's body and use it to knock the gun out from Steel's hand before Vera is murdered.
  • The Chessmaster: The killer, with an elaborate Gambit Roulette.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The storm that just happened to show up and prevent any would-be escapee from swimming away from the island.
  • Downer Ending: There's a reason why only the Russian movie adaptation uses it. Highlight the spoiler in Anyone Can Die.
  • Driven to Suicide: Beatrice Taylor (Emily Brent's 'victim') and also Vera Claythorne.
    • In the first movie, Emily's victim is changed to her wayward nephew.
    • In the game, Wargrave's victim (Steel's lover) committed suicide after being found guilty in court.
  • Empathic Environment: The worsening weather coincides with the worsening situation on the island.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: The guests arrived on Indian Island on the 8th of August. According to the epilogue, a distress signal was spotted on the 11th, with the events shortly after resulting in the deaths of everyone left on the island., and a rescue party was sent on the 12th.
  • Fingertip Drug Analysis
  • Foregone Conclusion: At first glance, the American title seems like it's just trying to entice the reader by using the last line of the nursery rhyme it follows. In actuality, anyone who's read the book knows that it's actually telling you how many characters will be left at the end.
  • For the Evulz: An unusual example, the killer admits that his main motive was that he felt compelled to murder people, but his Knight Templar tendencies mean that he still feels that all of his victims have to be people who deserve it; that is, they had gotten away with murder and if he were their judge, he would have hanged them all.
  • Gambit Roulette
  • Hanging Judge: Wargrave.
  • Haunted Heroine: Vera Claythorne.
  • Holier Than Thou: Emily Brent.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune
  • It's All About Me: Anthony Marston completely fails to understand that the death of John and Lucy Combes was not just about the inconvenience of losing his license.
  • Kill'Em All
  • Knight Templar: Wargrave, who was a borderline psychopath, but still retained some morals and preferred to use the law and what he considered justice to get what he wanted.
  • Last Survivor Suicide
  • Locked Room Mystery: All that is left at the end is a bunch of dead bodies on an island. The times and manners of death are completely contradictory and baffle the police.
  • Message in a Bottle: Discovered at the end.
  • Mind Rape: The "mundane" version, that is. Every single victim goes through it, thanks to Wargrave, and the one who takes the worst part is Vera Claythorne.
  • Murder-Suicide: Wargrave commits suicide after arranging the deaths of everyone else, as he feels himself to be no better than his victims. Besides, he's dying anyway and prefers to go out on his own terms.
  • Old Dark House: Actually a very nice recently-built house in the novel.
  • The Perfect Crime
  • Poetic Serial Killer
  • Pride: Miss Brent is consumed by it.
  • Psychological Thriller: The book has elements of this.
  • Red Herring: Referred to in the poem; one character points it out, but with the wrong interpretation.
  • Red Herring Mole: While every single character is a suspect (right up until they die), the one who gains the most suspicion in the latter half of the book is Doctor Armstrong, who of course turns out to only have been a pawn in the serial killer's game.
  • Serial Killer
  • Sociopathic Hero: Philip Lombard, to some degree.
    • Also Wargrave, who basically describes himself as someone who likes killing and inflicting pain, but only does so to those he feels they deserve it by law.
  • Ten Little Murder Victims: Trope Namer, obviously.
  • Thanatos Gambit
  • Theme Serial Killer: The deaths were patterned after the "Ten Little Indians" rhyme.
  • Uriah Gambit: MacArthur's method of killing his wife Leslie's lover.
  • UST: Lombard and Vera, although it's only hinted at in a couple of places and never really goes anywhere.
  • Vigilante Execution
  • Vigilante Man: U. N. Owen.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Or wasps and bees, in Miss Brent's case.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Played straight with Philip Lombard and Vera Claythorne with disastrous results, as she shoots him to death.

The various adaptations of this book contain examples of:

  • Bladder of Steel: If you want to listen to the culprit's entire Motive Rant at the end of the game, you'd better make a quick trip to the bathroom first.
  • The Butler Did It: Invoked in the game by Blore when you ask him who he thinks did it. It's still averted, however.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: A plot twist not in the book but in the many movie versions reveals "Philip Lombard" is really Charles Morley who came in Lombard's place after the real Lombard committed suicide upon receiving U.N. Owen's letter. And in the game, you have two dead person impersonators; one is Morley, the other is Gabrielle Steel masquerading as Emily Brent, whom she did away with earlier as part of her plan.
  • Fan Service: In the 1965 adaptation, Shirley Eaton, in the role of Vera, gets quite a few scenes in her underwear and at least one modesty towel. In the Russian version, Vera also gets a scene in her black underwear, which is followed by a bare back shot minutes later with Lombard...as he begins to rape her. Er, yeah...
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In the play, Emily Brent makes various comments on Vera Claythorne not wanting to appear flashy to her hostess right before making a nasty comment on how tight her dress appears (with Vera, of course, being utterly naive as to what she really means). And then there are the various instances of Lombard flirting with Vera, which include Lombard's line about being regretful he and Vera did not wake up at the same time because they could've gone down to the ocean to "have a bathe" together.
  • Hotter and Sexier: The 1965 version changed the elderly spinster character to a glamorous actress solely to allow another beautiful woman to be cast (a change that would be retained in both the 1975 and 1989 versions). It was also the first adaptation of a Christie work to contain a sex scene (which had not been present in the original novel). Christie was not pleased.
    • Well how do ya like that. Subverted in the PC game. A glamorous, or more accurately, an aging, washed-up, glamorous actress who got a little too into a character and never quite got out, killed the spinster and took her place.
  • Large Ham: Every actor who has portrayed the Anthony Marston equivalent in the Hollywood adaptations. Mischa Auer in particular could be said to the worst offender.
  • Lighter and Softer: The play and 1945 movie version fall under this, as do the Harry Alan Towers adaptations.
    • In contrast, the Russian version is darker and edgier. The first victim crashes through a plate and gets the glass stuck in the face for crying out loud!
  • Limited Wardrobe: Justified with Patrick in the game as he did not expect to be stranded on the island, but played straight with the other guests.
    • A particularly jarring example occurs later in the game during a cut scene, and what follows afterwards. Apparently, the remaining few guests didn't even bother packing pajamas.
  • Love Triangle: Between Lombard, Vera, and Patrick in the game.
  • Multiple Endings: The video game has slightly different endings depending on how you play it. The best ending allows three people to be saved, the next is just two surviving and the worst ending is your survival.
  • Not His Sled: The video game adaptation makes the killer's identity different than in the book. Additionally, all but one of the film adaptations avert the book's Kill'Em All ending.
  • Obfuscating Disability: Some stage versions place Judge Lawrence Wargrave in a wheelchair, leading to a dramatic reveal of the murderer, possibly as an obscure reference to another famous Agatha Christie show.
  • Psycho Lesbian: The 1989 film adaptation had Emily Brent replaced by Marion (Brenda Vaccaro), an actress who killed her lesbian lover when she started blackmailing her.
  • Psychological Thriller: The Russian movie version expands on the elements already present in the book and it works very, very well.
  • Revised Ending: When Agatha Christie adapted her own novel for the stage, she felt that the ending wasn't dramatically satisfying for the stage, so she altered it so the novel's most sympathetic characters were innocent, survived, and fell in love. In turn, the ending was used for nearly all the adaptations. This was surprisingly averted in both the Russian move version and Kevin Elyot's 2005 stage adaptation, both of which kept the novel's original ending.
  • Ship Tease: The film adaptations, especially the 1965 one, crank up the UST between Lombard and Vera into a full-fledged relationship. Deconstructed in the Russian version, however, where the UST is resolved in a more...disturbing way.
  • Take Your Time: At one point in the game, Patrick is poisoned and is told he must find the antidote within an hour or else he'll die...except no matter how much stalling you do, Patrick will only occasionally mention that he doesn't feel well, but otherwise nothing will happen until you find the antidote.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can do small favors for a few guests (such as giving Miss Brent some apple juice) in return for learning some revealing information about the others. Also, at the end of the game, you have the option of saving the victims.
  • You Look Familiar: Herbert Lom played Dr. Armstrong in the 1975 film version and General MacArthur (renamed General Romensky) in the 1989 film version.
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