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Tontines have often appeared in fiction, usually, but not always, as a motive for murder.

  • In The Wrong Box, a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson, the object is to conceal the death of one of the last two investors. The novel was the basis of the 1966 film The Wrong Box starring Michael Caine, Peter Sellers, Dudley Moore and Peter Cook.
  • In a second-season episode of the 1960s science-fiction Western series The Wild Wild West entitled "The Night of the Tottering Tontine", the protagonists James West and Artemus Gordon are assigned to protect a scientist developing a secret weapon who is also a member of a tontine.
  • In an episode of The Simpsons, Grampa and Mr. Burns enter into a tontine during World War II, involving a treasure of antique paintings stolen from a German castle. When the two of them become the only surviving members, they compete for the rights to the prize. Eventually, they both lose once the US State Department interferes and takes the paintings back to the German baron (and stereotypical Eurotrash) who is the rightful owner.
  • A tontine is also used as a plot device in the novel Seventy Seven Clocks by Christopher Fowler, and in one of the Dr. Syn books.
  • P.G. Wodehouse used a similar idea in his novel Something Fishy (titled The Butler Did It in the U.S.). In Wodehouse's version, the money did not go to the last survivor, but to the last son of the investors who remained unmarried.
  • The plot of the Agatha Christie murder mystery 4.50 From Paddington, with Miss Marple, is based on a tontine will. A kind of tontine also features in Christie's The Pale Horse.
  • The French writer Alain-René Lesage wrote a play called La Tontine in 1709.
  • The 2001 comedy film Tomcats features a similar arrangement, where several young men put money into a fund to be paid to the last unmarried man among them. The comic interest stems from the efforts of one of the last two to get the other one married.
  • The Being of Sound Mind episode of Diagnosis: Murder uses a tontine as the motivation for multiple murders.
  • Thomas B. Costain, a popular writer in the 1950s, wrote The Tontine around 1955. This novel, set in the 19th century, gives a good overview of how a tontine worked historically. It ends with three elderly aspirants for the last survivor of the fictional "Waterloo Tontine", and those betting on who will outlast the other two--or trying to do away with one to increase the odds.
  • In an episode of Barney Miller, which aired 7 January 1982, an old man attempts suicide to allow his cousin to become the survivor of a tontine.
  • Tontine is the name of a reality TV game show based on the premise of a tontine: competitors contribute to a common fund, which is awarded to the person who remains in the competition the longest.
  • In one of the last seasons of the television show M*A*S*H, a more innocuous version of a tontine was portrayed. Col. Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan) is very depressed for much of one episode "Old Soldiers". At episode's end, he discloses, to the men and women under his command, he has learned he is the last survivor of a tontine, a group of World War One soldiers/close friends who pledged the last of them would drink a toast to the others. The tontine award is the last bottle of brandy from a cache the unit had discovered. In the last scene, he and his campmates drink a toast to all his departed comrades.
  • Lawrence Block's Matt Scudder mystery A Long Line of Dead Men features a fraternal society which, while it is not a tontine itself, is repeatedly described in terms of a tontine in the novel. It is also described as a tontine on the blurb to the paperback edition. Here, the privilege given to the last surviving member of the group is to choose a disparate group of men to replace all those who have died during his own time in the organisation, and then, at their first meeting, to read a list of the deceased for a final time. Meeting once a year for a ceremonial meal, the sole purpose of the society is to mark the passing of its members.
  • Hawley Smart's 1881 novel, The Great Tontine, describes fraudulent goings-on to secure a tontine award of £8000, which was then considered to be a vast amount of money. The characters wager on which of a group of elderly people will be the last to survive.
  • In Jody Lynn Nye's novel Taylor's Ark, the members of a colony that has succumbed to an epidemic have entered into a tontine; all of their money goes to the little girl whom the heroine, Dr. Shona Taylor, saves. Her superior officers, however, attempt to kill the girl so that the money and property the colony owned reverts to them.
  • In Will Self's novel The Butt, the central character Tom enters into a tontine with Prentice and much of the plot in the latter half of the book revolves around Tom's assumption that he is meant to kill Prentice.
  • In the Hellraiser comic book series story "The Tontine", WWII soldiers enter into a supernatural tontine that involves a game of russian roulette every three years where the survivors inherit the life force and luck of the loser. The piece was adapted into a short film by the co-author and illustrator, Scott Hampton in 2006, which he directed.
  • In Mrs. Jeffries and the Feast of St. Stephen by Emily Brightwell, a tontine is central to the plot of a murder mystery.
  • In the Bugs Bunny cartoon The Fair-Haired Hare (1951), Bugs Bunny and Yosemite Sam sue each other over a house. However, they are forced to share ownership and are bound to a tontine, the judge declaring "and in the event that one should pass on, the other shall inherit the land fully." Yosemite Sam spends the rest of the cartoon trying to find ways to dispose of Bugs.
  • In the Neil Gaiman short story "Sunbird", which appears in Gaiman's third collection of short stories Fragile Things, the Epicurean club was created with the proceeds of a tontine collected by club Chairman Augustus Twofeathers McCoy.
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