• Debbie Rasure

75 Reasons Why Your Fictional Villain Might Commit Murder

I’m pretty sure my parents hated watching television with me when I was a child.


Precisely. I was intensely curious about why people did things and would ask the question over and over again.

As it turns out, “Why?” is also one of the most important questions a crime or mystery novelist can ask.

Why leads to motive and since motive leads to the murder, it should also lead to the murderer – at least in our fictional worlds.

One of the most daunting tasks I face as a mystery writer is coming up with a plausible reason for murder. Below are 75 possibilities – some are pretty standard while others are twisty and will challenge you to think. Some may be similar to one another, but the shade of difference can send you in a fresh direction. If you have any additions to this list, please share them in the comments.

  1. to gain Acceptance

  2. to be Acknowledged

  3. Ambition

  4. because one feels Betrayed

  5. to Better oneself

  6. Bullying

  7. to bring Catastrophe

  8. Conspiracy

  9. Control

  10. Crime of passion

  11. Curiosity

  12. Desperation

  13. to Destroy

  14. to Dishonor

  15. to Distinguish oneself

  16. Drugs

  17. a sense of Duty

  18. Ego

  19. Empathy for another

  20. Escaping a bad situation

  21. Evil spirit

  22. for the Experience

  23. to gain Fame

  24. for the sake of the Family

  25. Fear

  26. to win Freedom

  27. out of Frustration

  28. Greed

  29. Guilt

  30. Hate

  31. to Hide a secret

  32. to preserve Honor

  33. out of Ignorance

  34. Jealousy

  35. to exact Justice

  36. because of someone’s Knowledge

  37. to be Left in peace

  38. Love

  39. Loyalty

  40. Lust

  41. to Maintain status quo

  42. to Manipulate someone

  43. Mental disorder

  44. Money

  45. Obsession

  46. Peer pressure

  47. Persecution

  48. Personal vendetta

  49. Politics

  50. Power

  51. Prejudice

  52. Pride

  53. Proof of intentions

  54. Property dispute

  55. Protecting others

  56. a sense of Purpose

  57. Rebellion

  58. Religion

  59. to be Remembered

  60. Repaying a debt

  61. to gain Respect

  62. Revenge

  63. Ritual

  64. Rivalry

  65. as an act of Romance

  66. Sacrifice either the victim or oneself

  67. to gain Safety

  68. Save the world

  69. Self-protection

  70. Serve a master

  71. to feel Special

  72. to Steal

  73. Survival

  74. out of Sympathy

  75. for the Thrill


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