Wink murder

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Wink Murder
Gale Henry.jpg
Players 4 or more
Age range 5 and up
Setup time less than 5 minutes
Playing time Approx. 2–20 mins per round
Random chance Low
Skill(s) required Stealth, bluff, creativity

'Wink Murder, Murder Wink or Wink Wink Murder is a party game or parlour game. It is also variously known as Killer, Murder in the Dark, Lonely Ghost, and Killer, Killer (in the Philippines).[1] The practical minimum number of players is four, but the spirit of the game is best captured by groups of at least six players, and can be played by any number.


In each round of play, one player is secretly assigned the role of "murderer", perhaps by handing every player a playing card with a particular card signifying that the recipient is the murderer. The murderer has the ability to "kill" other players by making eye contact and winking at them. If a player is winked at, they must count silently to five before feigning sudden death, and either lying on the floor where they died, or silently leaving the playing area.[2]

If a player suspects they know the identity of the murderer, they may raise their hand and announce "I accuse", without naming their suspect. At this point, the game pauses and the accuser asks for somebody to second their accusation, again with neither naming a suspect. When they have a seconder, both of these players simultaneously point to their suspect; if they are both pointing to a player who admits to being the murderer, the game ends. Otherwise (if they are pointing to different players, or to an innocent player) the accusers are both eliminated as if they had been murdered. Players are forbidden from communicating their thoughts on who the murderer might be, and players who are not the murderer are not allowed to wink.[2]

The objective of the murderer is to murder as many people as possible without being caught.[2]


In one variant of the game, sometimes played by children as a class activity in primary school, another player, unaware of the murderer's identity, is assigned the role of "detective". All other players sit in a circle around the detective, whose objective is to correctly identify and accuse the murderer, minimising the number of murder victims. A limit is often imposed upon the number of accusations the detective can make. In this version of the game, players other than the murderer and detective do not know the murderer's identity, and have no role to play in the game other than to die noticeably if winked at.

Harpo Marx in his book Harpo Speaks described a version of this game at the home of Alexander Woollcott, called "Murder". Lots are drawn to choose a District Attorney, then drawn a second time to choose (known only to him- or herself) a Murderer. The D.A. leaves the house and the social evening proceeds as normal. As soon as the Murderer is alone with someone, he says to that person "You are dead". The victim must immediately feign death until discovered, then the D.A. is summoned and questions the suspects (everyone) as to where they were, what they were doing, and with whom. The D.A. then uses deductive reasoning to solve the case. Marx said he played the Murderer once, and wrote the deadly phrase on a piece of toilet paper. His victim, Alice Duer Miller, pulled it down and properly "died" on the toilet, but grade-school dropout Marx was immediately identified when she was found; he had written "You are ded".



  • Variation where players blink continuously at a fast rate and only the murderer can wink.

"Scratchy Murder"

  • Also called "Murder Handshake", this variation has players walk around and shake hands, and the murderer kills by using a special handshake, usually scratching the victim's palm. Many[who?] prefer this version to the winking version because "killing" someone is not as easily noticeable by third parties, and there's less chance for error (e.g. if a player blinks while looking at someone from the side, it could be interpreted as a wink even if the player is not the actual killer).


  • The murderer kills by subtly baring his or her teeth at a victim.

"Froggy Murder"

  • Froggy murder is like poison dart frog.* All players close their eyes as a non-player taps one person's shoulder once and another person's twice, designating them respectively murderer and detective. The detective announces their role and gameplay begins. In order to kill someone, the murderer sticks out their tongue at the victim. The victim then dies in one of three ways: sitting or lying on the floor; leaving the circle; or, in more theatrical settings, dying dramatically. The detective gets a limited number of guesses, usually three. If the detective finds the murderer within those three guesses, they win and pick the next pair. If the detective uses all of their guesses on innocent people or the murderer manages to kill all non-detective players without being discovered, the murderer wins and picks the next pair.

"Lonely Ghost"

  • A player may challenge the murderer (the "Lonely Ghost") by approaching them and asking them directly.[1] In another variant of the basic game, a player may simply point to their suspect and call out their accusation.[3] If the accuser is correct, they win the game, otherwise they are eliminated. In some variants, a wrongly accused player is also eliminated.[3]

Another variant would be the other players have a schedule except the murderer (they will make up their own schedule.) The murderer kills by whispering "You're dead". The person 'killed' will wait one minute and then drop dead, the first person to find them shouts out "MURDER!" The entire group then convenes around the body of the person that just died and they try to figure out who the murder is. When two or more agree on one person being the murderer, the suspect is immediately put on trial and will be asked a series of questions unless they confess everyone will come to a vote. If the suspect is found guilty they are 'hung' and out of the rest of the game.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "National Geographic – Lonely Ghost". Retrieved 2013-07-12. 
  2. ^ a b c Collard, Mark (2005). No Props: Great Games with No Equipment. Project Adventure, Inc. ISBN 9780934387057. 
  3. ^ a b "Wink Game". Retrieved 2013-07-12.