The Summation

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"Here's what happened."

The part of the show (typically at the end) where the protagonist explains how the crime was committed. An essential part of a Locked Room Mystery. Another common approach is to have the summation serve as a Framing Device for a Whole-Episode Flashback.

Related to the Kirk Summation. May take the form of a Summation Gathering.

Examples of The Summation include:

Anime & Manga[edit | hide | hide all]

  • The titular character of Detective Conan can't NOT do this. He does it so compulsively that the detective he regularly pretends to be has become famous for passing out and then giving a "deduction show" while unconscious. In fact, Conan does this SO compulsively that at the end of the 11th movie, the delay NEARLY KILLS the cast, as he's giving the summation in an underwater cavern filling up with water and poisonous gas during an EARTHQUAKE.
  • Happens all the time in Spiral.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya did this once, with plenty of Shout Outs to Phoenix Wright.
  • Basically the entire last episode of the first season of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex acted as one.
  • The arc in Black Butler animated as Book of Murder has three in a row. The first one is a subversion, as in it Ciel successfully frames Woodley for the murders. The second summation consists of Ciel and Sebastian telling Arthur what had really happened, and the third summation continues from the previous, with Sebastian explaining to Ciel how it was with the second, independent murderer.

Comic Books[edit | hide]

  • At the end of the first arc of Fables, Bigby Wolf, the Fabletown sheriff, gets to do one of these about Rose Red's not-murder, calling it the "parlor room scene" and explaining that it's basically every detective's dream to actually perform it.
  • Done by Gabe in just about every issue of The Maze Agency. Occasionally lampshaded by having another character think they've solved the mystery and do the summation, only for Gabe to explain why they are wrong and provide the true solution.
  • Being a Badass Normal detective, Batman naturally tends to do this.


Film[edit | hide]

  • The best summation ever was conducted by Tim Curry in full maniac mode at the end of the movie Clue, and included as much reenactment of every single event of the evening as he can very humorously manage.

Wadsworth: And To Make a Long Story Short--
Everyone Else: Too late!

    • It's also a bit of a subversion, since his summation is not really helpful in identifying the killer. In fact, in two of the Multiple Endings, his explanation of how the murders of Mr. Boddy and the cook were committed is flat-out wrong.
  • Sort of subverted twice in Hot Fuzz. Once where Sgt. Angel confronts Skinner, and lays out why he thinks he's committed the murders; subverted in that nothing comes of it, because as it turns out Angel's wrong on a few points, which (for the moment) exonerates Skinner. The second time is a Summation by the Neighborhood Watch Alliance, a subversion because it's the culprits giving it to the hero, who's just shocked and amazed by the meager justification they had for killing people.
  • Subverted as part of the infamous plot twist at the end of The Usual Suspects. Agent Kujan believes he has figured out that Keaton was Keyser Soze and explains this to Verbal Kint, complete with revelatory montage. The explanation seems to hold water and Verbal is allowed to go. But seconds later, Kujan realizes that Verbal's story, from which Kujan created his explanation, was completely fabricated--Verbal himself is Keyser Soze.
  • Spoofed in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, where the Private Detective argues over his right to give The Summation versus the Big Bad's right to his Just Between You and Me speech. They start alternating, then revealing the whole scheme simultaneously.
  • Subverted in Resident Evil: Degeneration, where Claire is making one at Senator Davis, explaining his motives for causing the havoc in the film...until Leon shows up and says someone they apprehended earlier has spilled the beans, and Senator Davis is entirely innocent, if still a sleazebag.
  • A Shot in The Dark. By the end of the movie Inspector Clouseau still hasn't been able to work out who the killer is, so he gathers everyone in the one room and starts giving an overly long summation of how he detected the killer, while ordering his deputy to turn out the lights at a particular time so the guilty culprit will panic and flee. Because their watches haven't been synchronised Clouseau has to ramble on for so long the guilty parties start confessing anyway (it turns out everyone in the room commited one crime or another) so when the lights go out they all flee and get blown up by a car bomb meant for Clouseau.
  • In Dial M for Murder, one of the characters gives the summation as a purely hypothetical imagining of what could have happened, not realizing that that is exactly what did happen.
  • Brick has the protagonist, Brendan, giving it to the mastermind behind it all, to prove they're well and truly caught. He only gets one detail wrong: the intended result.
  • The 2009 film of Sherlock Holmes uses this trope. The Detective does this almost constantly—he doesn't even wait until the end of the film! This is because this is how Holmes' mind works—he is constantly analyzing things to their conclusion.


Literature[edit | hide]

  • The Harry Potter series: Harry gets one in The Chamber of Secrets, near the end, he explains to Ron what the monster is and how it's been getting around the castle, having figured it out from the torn page they found in Hermione's hand.
    • And another at the end of the series.
  • Practically every book by Agatha Christie.
  • Erast Fandorin does this, of course. Subverted in Murder on the Leviathan, when another detective gave a summation 2/3rds of the way through.
    • Fandorin also has a related one where he sums up the evidence with "(Statement). That is one. (Statement) That is two," and so forth, but this is usually part way through while he is still considering hypotheses.
  • There's a long one at the end of China Mieville's The City and The City.
  • Isaac Asimov loved this trope, because he loved to write neat little stories with perfect logical solutions. Pick any Asimov short story, there's a 90% chance it'll contain one of these.
  • If not the Ur example., definitely a codifier for the trope: The Sherlock Holmes books are almost nothing but this trope.
  • Not exactly a crime, but at the end of Stephen Fry's novel The Hippopotamus, the narrator, Ted, gives a brilliant summation of how all of David's so-called miracles were not his responsibility at all.


Live Action TV[edit | hide]

  • This occurs in nearly every episode of Monk, usually from the title character. The line "Here's what happened" is normally used for these and is used in almost every episode (or possibly every episode)
    • This was hilariously subverted on one episode where Monk, driven insane by a garbage strike, does the summation line before a telling an insane story about Alice Cooper murdering a man so he could steal his antique wingback chair.
    • Another good one is when Monk and Disher are both Summating different cases, at the same time, in the same room, under sniper fire...
    • Or the one where Monk becomes traumatized because of an earthquake, and does the entire summation in gibberish. You can still kind of tell what he's saying because the show still gives you flashbacks to the crime.
    • The show tends to make this a gag about once every ten episodes: for instance, Lt. Disher explains it in Monk's style, complete with flashbacks, to a rookie officer, who then explains she already heard it from Monk.
    • The Summation is Lampshaded and parodied in the 100th episode special. While a documentary crew was interviewing several criminals Monk had put away in prison, the criminals complained that they found the Summation tedious, because Monk was basically reciting what they already knew (they were the criminals, after all!).
    • Lampshaded with the CSI parody episode. Captain Stottlemeyer walks into the editing room of a clear CSI Expy while the villain is helping put together the Summation scene of the episode they're working on and says, "You know, I love this part, when you explain how the crime was committed." The villain thanks him and the captain responds, "I wasn't talking to you," as Monk walks in and begins his Summation.
    • Subverted in the episode Mr. Monk goes to jail, when Sharona does the Summation instead of Monk.
    • And in the one with the farm, Disher does it and starts to doubt himself part way through, so Monk has to prompt him to continue.
    • Parodied in one episode when Monk has to join a therapy group and the members keep getting killed off. When Monk tells the rest of the group about the possibility of the deaths being homicides, Harold mimics Monk's investigation style and then goes into a The Summation-slash-Hannibal Lecture in which he points out that Monk had motive, opportunity, and a advantegeous position complete with fake flashbacks that portray Monk as an Ax Crazy psuedo-Yandere who wants Dr. Belle all to himself (Harold was right about the last part). This is effective enough to make Monk himself seriously consider that he might be unconciously killing people.
    • Parodied in another episode where Monk, being rushed, literally gives his summation in fast motion, complete with squeaky fast forward (or as he says, picture-go-fast) voice distortion. Unable to understand a goddamn word, he's asked to repeat it in normal speed (picture go regular).
    • Some fun is had in Mr. Monk and the Birds and the Bees when Natalie says "I've been waiting a long time to say this..."
    • "In Mr. Monk Gets Drunk", he attempts to deliver The Summation while drunk, having accidentally drank an alcoholic wine(which he believed was non-alcoholic.) It goes about as smoothly as you'd expect.
  • A subversion occurs in an episode of New Tricks, in which one of the squad explains how a suspected arsonist didn't burn down his factory; the explosion and fire was caused by an accident gasleak and a spark from the ringing of his mobile phone, which he had accidentally left behind.
  • Columbo is fond of this method, explaining to the perp of the week exactly how they tripped up.
  • Rarely done on Shark, except for the time that Stark turned a suicide into a murder victim and framed a guy.
  • Once an Episode on Jonathan Creek, following the obligatory Eureka Moment.
  • A whole bunch of episodes of Veronica Mars.
  • Spoofed in an episode of Angel, where the actual mystery plot takes place entirely offscreen, but the audience is nonetheless shown Wesley giving one of these to the gathered suspects at the end. The story he tells is long and complicated, featuring fraud and lies and betrayal, and when it is all over Gunn actually says that the entire scene was really damn cool. It makes you really wish we got to see the investigation.
  • Common in Pushing Daisies, but done by the Narrator instead of an actual character.
  • Psych typically has two: first Shawn's BS-laden explanation to the police of what's happened and how to prove it, and then his explanation to Gus and/or Henry of how he figured it out.
  • Parodied in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia when the gang is trying to figure out who keeps pooping in Charlie and Frank's bed. At the end of the episode, Artemis gives a long summation showing that each member of the gang is guilty. Frank then denies the story and admits that he did it all, because "poop is funny." He even pooped on the floor while Artemis was making her summation.
  • Poirot, he always does this.
  • Ellery Queen (NBC, 1975) always had one No Fourth Wall moment every episode. Immediately following Ellery's mandatory Eureka Moment, he would turn to the audience, briefly review the key evidence for the viewers, and ask them if they'd figured out who the culprit was. This came from the Ellery Queen books, where the authors would stop at some point and tell you that you now had enough clues to prove who the murderer was. After that, Ellery Queen would do the big 'one of you is the murderer' speech and solve the murder.
  • Generally averted in City Homicide, where the team works it out between themselves. Some notable exceptions include Sparkes' interview with Frances Deerborne in "Family Planning" and Rhys deducing what happened to Gisela Goldberg in "Gut Instinct."


Video Games[edit | hide]

  • Dangan Ronpa requires the player to put together the summation themselves in the form of a manga that is missing panels. Evidence is used to fill in the gaps in the story, and once everything is in place the main character will walk the others through the crime. This phase of the game called "Climax Inference".
  • The Professor Layton series generally averts this.
    • Played straight at the end of the fifth arc, by Erika...except for the fact that the 'solution' she gives is completely bogus and she knows it.
  • Due to the story of Persona 4, this happens multiple times over the course of the game, with different twists based on the evidence you get. The second to last one is done by the killer themself, and fantastically tears down the entire structure of the case thus far.
  • The Forensics chapters of Trauma Team have the player figure out what happened to the victim. A few of them are quite...ugly...and depressing.


Visual Novels[edit | hide]

  • The Ace Attorney games have this. Except for case 1-4, they are set to that games version of "Announce the Truth."
  • Related to the above, Umineko no Naku Koro ni has this at the end of the fourth arc. It's subverted, as it seems as though Battler's explanations for the mysteries are badly wrong.
    • Also, the Court of Illusions in the fifth arc, and the Will versus Claire battle in the seventh.
  • At the end of the Murder Mystery Visual Novel Jisei, you must correctly pick out the correct order that the suspects arrived, the cause of death, and finally, the identity of the murderer.


Web Original[edit | hide]

  • Subverted in the Whateley Universe Story solving Reach. It was For the sole purpose of getting the bad guy to flee, scared stiff, and reveal where she kept the hostage. The Summation, however, was real. They just needed that last info. (And the bad guy needed to accomplish his/her plan.)


Western Animation[edit | hide]

  • Scooby-Doo. Providing the Summation is part of Fred Jones and Velma Dinkley's job description on the show.
  • Bart (and sometimes Lisa) from The Simpsons, gets to do this, displaying uncanny reasoning skills you wouldn't associate with him, whenever Sideshow Bob shows up, notably in his first two appearances when he frames Krusty for robbery and tries to kill Selma. Even though his third appearance in the episode Cape Feare isn't so much of a mystery plot, but has more of a straight forward "I'm coming to get my revenge!" premise, Bart still tells a gathering at the end of the episode how he managed to distract Sideshow Bob.
    • There's also "The Great Money Caper", where it is revealed that Homer and Bart's entire comeuppance was staged by Marge and Lisa. Homer then realises the implication that the police force, the TV news, a courthouse full of people, and a popular entertainer had nothing better to do than to help deliver An Aesop to them. Lisa starts to tell him "a simple and highly satisfying explanation", but everyone goes surfing instead.
  • Larry on Clue Club does this once he has all the suspects in one room with Sheriff Bagley waiting to hear whodunnit.