A criminal gets away with many crimes before finally getting caught and appropriately punished... for something they didn't actually do.
May be the result of a colleague scorned, a variant of Framing the Guilty Party
, or just plain bad luck.
Often used as an ironic twist in a story featuring a Villain Protagonist
: the audience gets to cheer as the protagonist carries off his plans successfully, while the Moral Guardians
get an ending in which crime does not pay.
Not to be confused with Not Me This Time
, which is when an episode of a series features a recurring villain being innocent of a crime they'd usually commit.
- Kind Hearts and Coronets opens with the Villain Protagonist in prison, about to be hanged for murder, after bumping off his ignoble noble relatives to gain their title and fortune. He tells his story in flashback, and it eventually turns out that he's not in prison for any of those murders: he was framed for something else entirely by someone he antagonized along the way.
- "Joe Bean", a song by Freeman & Pober and famously sung by Johnny Cash, is about a career criminal who is ultimately convicted of a murder he didn't commit (he was doing an armed robbery in another state at the time).
He killed twenty men by the time he was ten; he was an unruly kid
Yes, they're hanging Joe Bean for the one shooting that Joe Bean never did