Created By: PaulA on July 7, 2013 Last Edited By: PaulA on July 7, 2013

Not Guilty... Of This Crime

They're hanging Joe Bean for the one shooting that Joe Bean never did.

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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
Community Feedback Replies: 10
  • July 7, 2013
  • July 7, 2013
    Not Me This Time. Also, this is a very bad name because it's confusable with simply being not guilty.
  • July 7, 2013
    It's also a bad idea to use ellipses in a title because it won't be able to be part of the URL if it's made into a page.
  • July 7, 2013
    ^ Honestly, I don't think it's a very good title with or without the ellipsis, and I'm hoping somebody will suggest a better one.
  • July 7, 2013
    Guys, the trope description explicitly points out that this isn't Not Me This Time.
  • July 7, 2013
    I say the description needs help. Not Me This Time is, as stated, specific to a situation where the initial suspect is a recurring character and a Big Bad - misidentifying this as that may well be a case of Wrong Genre Savvy, as this trope is different (ostensibly).

    I've seen this recently, in reruns of procedural series like Law And Order and Criminal Minds; often enough the suspect character is introduced for a one-shot scenario, name-dropped by locals as the most likely suspect, and the preliminary investigation seems enough to confirm his guilt, thus getting him punished for a crime he really didn't commit (he may have recently committed other crimes, but that's irrelevant). Nobody believes him when he says it isn't him, until the Karma Houdini strikes again - proving his innocence (on at least this most recent single count of whatever).

    The heroes then track down the real Big Bad, and we maybe don't hear from the earlier suspect again on account of him being completely irrelevant to the plot.

    It's a very similar setup to Not Me This Time, but the first suspect isn't a Big Bad at all.

    I also agree on the count of needing a Better Name.
  • July 7, 2013

  • July 7, 2013
    I'm not familiar enough with Dick Tracy to tell you, but unless Big Boy Caprice isn't a recurring character, that's Not Me This Time.
  • July 7, 2013
    In the Angel episode "Damage" Spike is captured by an insane girl who is also a Slayer, thinking he is the man who had killed her family and kidnapped & tortured her when she was a little girl, and cuts his arms off. After he's rescued and in the demon-hospital, Angel comes to see him.
    Angel: A lot of pain?
    Spike: More than I'd like. But not as much as you would. Just what I deserve.
    Angel: (sighs) I didn't say that.
    Spike: No. I did. The lass thought I killed her family. And I'm supposed to what, complain 'cause hers wasn't one of the hundreds of families I did kill?
  • July 7, 2013

    Bob Marley's song "I Shot the Sheriff", where he says "I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot the deputy"--but the law is after him for the shooting of the deputy.