Easily Condemned
There is no such thing as the benefit of doubt for characters.


(permanent link) added: 2012-01-03 15:21:10 sponsor: Grandy edited by: Desertopa (last reply: 2013-03-06 05:28:41)

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*laughs* "This is like the most easily led crowd in the world. Hey everybody! Childbirth is bad!" (*crowd sneers*)

An Easily Condemned character is one who has proven his goodwill and built an incredible reputation as an outstanding citizen who everyone loves... and suddenly has his previous actions forgotten by all, from the people he's saved to his friends and family, who'd sooner believe him a monster than accept his claims that he's being set up or that everything was a misunderstanding.

For a broad example, think about The Hero, whose reputation as an upstanding citizen and paragon of justice is known throughout the land. People love him, kids look up to him, the king bows down when he enters the room, and even cats don't scratch him when he rubs their bellies. Then one day, The Villain takes a picture of him while he is playing soccer in the Beneficent Center for Disabled Children, and crudely photoshops a puppy in place of the soccer ball.

But wait, everyone knows the hero loves dogs right? And cats, too. And rabbits. He pets them every day, and feeds them, and buys them chew toys out of his own pocket money even when he is starving. Everyone knows that, everyone sees him doing that everyday, everyone has a pet dog that at least once he took care of while they were traveling, only for them to return later and find the dog was healthier than ever!

Silly villain with his silly plots, there's no way anyone would fall for - oh wait, there the populace is, running The Hero out of town with torches and pitchforks.

Well, this might fool the ignorant populace, illiterate fools that they are I suppose, but surely the hero's True Companions will help him clear his good na- nope, they're saying they can't believe the hero did that while they obviously believe the hero did that.

Oh forget them, I mean yeah it sucks and the hero will certainly rub their noses in it when this all blows over, but at least the love interest, his soul mate, after all those episodes and hardships that only strengthened their bonds, certainly she- ...is crying in a corner, cursing the Hero's dog-kicking name between sobs, and asking herself how he managed to deceive her all these years.

Simply put, any situation where someone is given no benefit of doubt despite previous actions.

Please note that even though the victim is usually The Hero, it doesn't mean the victim must always be the actual Hero. Any character who has a reputation overturned by a single mistake or lie counts, even a Villain with Good Publicity who gets boo-ed after a single flimsy evidence from The Hero is being Easily Condemned

If a character never had the public's trust, it's not this trope, he's just a Hero with Bad Publicity. That is not to say a Hero with Bad Publicity can't be this trope; if a tight group of Nakama trusted him implicitly up until that point despite the public's general opinion and were swayed by the villain's lie, then he is both; an Easily Condemned Hero with Bad Publicity.

See also: Villains Never Lie, Never Live It Down (for when a character actually did something bad, but not bad enough that it should overshadow his past good deeds and yet somehow it does)

Contrast: Easily Forgiven

Examples

Anime And Manga
  • In Kitchen Princess, Najika is bullied...then her Blithe Spirit triumphs and she is adored...then a disaster strikes for which she was in no way to blame and everyone despises her again.
  • Happens consistently in Great Teacher Onizuka, where the students and/or teachers keep falling for faked evidence of Onizuka's wrongdoing, despite his history of regularly being framed for bad behavior and being vindicated and found to be completely well-intentioned every time.

Comic Books
  • Happens far too often to Astérix. In at least four comics (Asterix and the Soothsayer, Asterix and the Roman Agent, Asterix and Son and Asterix and the Secret Weapon) he is framed, shunned, or at least badmouthed by the Gaul village, despite being known as the village's official best-warrior-and-nice-guy.

Film
  • In Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, Mystery Inc. is so famous and beloved that they have an entire museum exhibit dedicated to them, but a reporter manages to turn the entire city against them with Manipulative Editing.
  • Despite very publicly saving the city at the climax of the first movie, the Ghostbusters manage to be hated and destitute by the beginning of the second movie, because the public was so easily swayed against them.
  • Anchorman. When Veronica Corningstone fixes Ron's teleprompter to say "Go fuck yourself, San Diego!"

Literature
  • Harry Potter. Most the books seem to follow the formula "Harry is a good guy, but gossip says he is crazy, and everyone thinks he's crazy after a while."
  • A Song of Ice and Fire. It is eventually revealed Jaime Lannister didn't actually kill the previous king and break his oath, but he was Genre Savvy enought to realize he was caught in a situation nobody would believe his words, so he went with it so people would think of him as a traitor and not a traitor who is also a coward and liar.

Live-Action TV
  • Batman episode "Deep Freeze". Mr. Freeze frames Batman for crimes such as accepting a bribe and stealing Commissioner Gordon's watch. The people of Gotham immediately conclude that Batman is a criminal and lose faith in him. Oddly enough the episode ends without any indication that the truth has been revealed to the public, but they're back to worshiping Batman the next episode.
  • During the fourth season of Babylon 5, Captain Sheridan, now the leader of La Résistance, is lured out to Mars and into a trap by his former Security chief, Micheal Garibaldi. An unusual example in that while the character identified as being responsible did do what he was accused of, he did so as an unwitting Manchurian Agent, and the station's command staff learned about it from ISN, which wasn't exactly a reliable source of information at this point. A later story arc centered on the accused character's Redemption Quest.

Video Games
  • In the fourth game of the Ace Attorney series, Phoenix, the hero of the previous game himself, has his reputation sulled and is disbarred by a single piece of fake evidence nobody believes he didn't forge himself, despite his near-perfect record of justice-making. Fans were less than pleased.
  • Happens a few times with Sonic the Hedgehog with him being framed by villains for crimes (deliberately or not) and friends or authorities being very quick to blame him. In Sonic Adventure 2 he is mistaken for Shadow stealing a Chaos Emerald with the military instantly starting an almost lethal chase after him (granted it was Knight Templar group GUN). In the comic series as well Robotnik succeeded in framing him for treachery more than once. Granted these were often very elaborate acts of deception, but surely Sonic's closest friends at the very least should have known better, especially considering they've frequently seen what Robotnik is capable of themselves.

Western Animation
  • Averted in the Justice League cartoon. At least two episodes have to do with league members being framed for a crime they didn't commit, but in both cases the remaining league members decide to believe their side of the story first.
  • Averted in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, when an evil Doppelgänger of Batman from an inverted morality Alternate Universe takes advantage of his absence to don Batman's costume and go on a crime spree. Every hero the real Batman runs into says they would never have believed him capable of it were it not for his doppelganger's many public crimes. And of course, the one character who does believe Batman is innocent? The Joker.
  • This happens in the The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon. Captain America gets his reputation ruined due to a skrull taking his place. This despite the fact that he's been an upstanding avenger, and the skrull showed many clear uncharacteristic behaviors.

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