Wink Murder Rules and Gameplay

The complete rules for the party game known as Wink Murder, or Murder Handshake.

Group of young people sitting in circle on grass, elevated view
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Wink Murder -- a great parlor / party gamefor many players -- is also known as Murder Wink, Wink Wink Murder, Killer and Lonely Ghost. Murder Handshake is another way to play the same game.


6 to 30 players. Best with at least 10 players.


No equipment is needed to play Wink Murder.


The goal of the murderer is to kill as many other players as possible. The goal of the detective (or detectives) is to identify the murderer.

Wink Murder Rules: Version 1

One person (the selector) will not play; that person is responsible for choosing both the murderer and the detective.

All of the players sit in a circle and close their eyes. The selector walks around the outside of the circle and chooses the murderer by tapping someone on the head one time. The detective is chosen by tapping someone on the head twice.

After the murderer and the detective are selected (which can be done in any order), the selector tells everyone to open their eyes.

The detective moves to the middle of the circle. That player's goal is to determine who the murderer is as quickly as possible.

The murderer kills people by winking at them. When a player is killed, he should lay down or leave the circle. (Many players like to make the killing dramatic by, for example, pretending they've been shot.)

The detective has three chances to guess who the murderer is. If the detective does not guess correctly, he remains the detective for the next round. If the detective does guess right, the murderer becomes the detective for the next round.

Wink Murder Rules: Version 2

In this version of the game, everyone -- other than the killer -- is a detective.

Once a detective thinks he has determined who the murderer is, he can alert the selector by rocking gently back and forth and then whispering the answer to the selector. If the player guesses incorrectly, he is killed and should lay down or leave the circle.

Murder Handshake Rules

In the variant known as Murder Handshake, the murderer kills by using a special handshake determined before the game begins (usually scratching the victim's palm).

When a player is killed, he should wait several seconds to "die" so that it is not obvious to the remaining players who killed him.