Someone is accused of a crime they did not commit, and must haul ass to prove their innocence.

Sometimes, the person accused of the crime is someone else, who is incapable of proving their own innocence. Maybe they've already been arrested or convicted, and had the key thrown away long ago. Maybe the evidence is stacked up against them and almost nobody believes them. Maybe they're just not badass enough to do it themselves. Either way, it's up to the BigDamnHeroes to buck the odds and naysayers, find the evidence and Clear Their Name.

The poor sap locked up will usually have one person -- often a beloved relative or a best friend (who's actually in love with them, hence their fixated devotion) -- who remains committed to their cause, and who brings in the often-initially skeptical heroes to investigate the case. In some cases, the loved one's devotion to the wrongfully accused will persist even if the wrongfully accused has given hope of being exonerated. If the hero's good enough, they may learn of the case independently and offer their services to the skeptical police, who are convinced they've got the right person locked up. In some cases, the police might be corrupt and [[{{Frameup}} actively perpetuating]] a MiscarriageOfJustice in order to obscure the true culprit or another crime.

Given the nature of the trope, it usually occurs in media which involves defense attorneys or {{Private Detective}}s unaffiliated by the police, although particularly conscientious police officers may find themselves also working to clear some innocent's name.

Occasionally the person who's locked will up be guilty after all. Another popular twist is to have the guilty party be the one who wants the accused cleared (often because of feelings of guilt) but doesn't have the guts (or in some odd cases can't prove it as it looks like they're just taking the fall for them) to confess.

If it's the protagonist who has to prove himself/herself innocent in the face of a false accusation, it's ClearMyName.

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!!Examples

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime and Manga ]]
* Victorique from ''LightNovel/{{Gosick}}'' does this for her mother back in her home town, where she was accused of killing a priest and was banished.
* Variation in ''{{Anime/Monster}}'': the hero, Dr. Tenma, ''is'' WronglyAccused. However, he doesn't really care about clearing his name, considering stopping Johan, the actual culprit, much more important. However, some of his friends ''do'' care, and spend their time piecing together information in the interests of proving Tenma innocent.
* It's not really a ''crime'', but it would count into this trope: In ''Manga/KotouraSan'', Yuriko's mother was falsely accused of having faked her SuperSenses [[spoiler:and was eventually DrivenToSuicide]], an accusation that existed up to this day. This is Yuriko's motivation to study psychics and act as something akin of HeroSecretService.
* Takes place more than once in DetectiveConan, with people hiring Kogoro to prove that they didn't do something they've been accused of. Sometimes they're innocent, sometimes... well, they're not.
* In Manga/DengekiDaisy Kurosaki's reason for becoming a hacker was to prove to himself (and everyone else) [[spoiler: that his father was not really a traitor.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]
* An old Franchise/SpiderMan story revealed that Spidey's parents Richard and Mary had been secret agents who had been killed in action by a supervillain, then framed as traitors as a final insult. Spidey then went on a quest to clear his parents' names.
* The Franchise/{{Batman}} storyline ''ComicBook/BruceWayneFugitive'' had this. The Bat-family teamed up to figure out if Bruce truly did kill his latest girlfriend in an attempt to protect his identity. The kicker comes from the fact that, during this time, Batman's just said "Screw This" and abandoned the Bruce Wayne identity.
** Another Batman-related storyline, ''SelfDemonstrating/TheJoker: Devil's Advocate'', revolves around this: While vandalizing the post office, the Joker is suddenly arrested, tried, and sentenced to die for the incident involving the poisoned stamps, but he insists that he has been framed and asks Batman to help him find the real perpetrator for the poisoned stamps and clear his name. [[spoiler:Near the end, the real perpetrator is found and reveals himself, and the Joker is pardoned, just mere seconds before he is to be executed by the electric chair, knowing that his name is at least in the clear.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fanfiction]]
* One episode of ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfTime'' sees Literature/SherlockHolmes framed for murder, and [[Series/DoctorWho the Doctor]] and Watson must prove that his innocence before his sentence is carried out. They get their evidence, but not in time to keep Holmes from suffering an AndIMustScream sentence. [[spoiler:Fortunately, the Doctor is able to reverse the process, and Holmes is physically all right... but mentally scarred.]]
* In "Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality", [[spoiler:Hermione is accused of the attempted murder of Draco Malfoy. He and she both have their memories magically altered so even she thinks she did it, and it's up to Harry to stop the Wizengamot from sending her to Azkaban]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]
* ''Film/WhoFramedRogerRabbit''.
* ''True Believer'', starring James Woods and Robert Downey Jr. as a couple of defense lawyers who re-open a previously closed case to expose a miscarriage of justice of this nature.
* ''NationalTreasure 2'': They're not trying to help an innocent person avoid jail, but rather clear the name of the main character's ancestor, who is being wrongly accused of assisting in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, when in fact he sacrificed himself to keep the South from regaining power based on a secret he discovered. A further twist is that the ancestor's name being smeared turned out to be [[spoiler: an EvilPlan orchestrated by the antagonist.]]
* In ''SinCity'', parole officer Lucille takes the cases for both Marv and John Hartigan and tries desperately to clear their names. [[spoiler: She doesn't and actually gets killed in the process in Marv's story.]]
* This is the plot of ''MyCousinVinny'', where the titular Vinny defends his cousin and his cousin's friend after they get accused of murder. [[CourtroomAntic Of course, this is also Vinny's first trial]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]
* Literature/SherlockHolmes did ''not'' commonly deal with this type of investigation in the original Doyle mysteries; however, several of the stories were reworked for the [[Series/SherlockHolmes Granada televised series]] in such a way as to ''make'' them into this. Such an episode frequently begins with InspectorLestrade or one of his peers smugly gloating to Holmes [[GenreBlindness that it's an open-and-shut case this time, and that the person Lestrade's got locked up is definitely the killer, no questions asked]]. Some examples which originally ''were'' (or became) {{Clear Their Name}}s in one way, shape or form, however, were:
** ''The Blue Carbuncle''; in this one, Holmes enters this plot independently of the main investigation, having [[WorkingTheSameCase entered the case following a seemingly unrelated and trivial matter elsewhere]].
** As is ''The Boscombe Valley Mystery''. Although he's brought in by Lestrade originally, Holmes becomes convinced that the suspect is innocent early on and is encouraged to investigate further by said young man's childhood friend, who'd very much like to be his girlfriend, actually.
** ''The Norwood Builder'' is another example, in which a young man was accused of murdering a wealthy old curmudgeon who had recently named him his heir.
** ''The Man With The Twisted Lip''. While not his primary objective, Holmes does prove that the titular man did not abscond with the missing man while figuring out what happened to him.
** ''The Beryl Coronet''. Holmes was mainly concerned with finding the missing part of the coronet, but he did prove that the banker's son was not the one who stole it in the process.
** ''Silver Blaze''. Holmes' primary concern was finding the missing horse, not proving that the man arrested for stealing it (and killing the stable master) wasn't responsible, even though he ultimately did both.
** ''Thor Bridge''. Holmes proved the governess had not murdered the client's wife.
** ''Sussex Vampire''. Holmes proved that the wife's apparent sucking of her child's blood was not malicious and had absolutely nothing to do with vampirism. [[spoiler: She was trying to SuckOutThePoison, as the baby boy had been cut with a poisoned dart [[TheUnfavorite his jealous, hunchbacked older half-brother used on him]].]]
** ''Lion's Mane''. Holmes proves that Murdoch was not responsible for [=McPherson=]'s death (not that there was sufficient evidence to arrest in this case).
** ''Dancing Men''. Holmes was hired to investigate some strange drawings by a man who is later killed. He cracks the code and proves that the man sending the coded messages was the killer, not the client's wife, who not only was wrongfully accused of killing the man but [[spoiler: had been seriously injured ''and'' quite at risk of being hanged if she ever recovered.]]
** ''A Study in Scarlet''. Inspector Gregson arrested a suspect for the first murder, and Holmes later found the man who committed both murders (to be fair, Gregson's suspect ''did'' have a plausible motive).
** ''The Sign of the Four''. Athelney Jones arrests virtually everyone present at the murder scene for complicity in the murder. After Holmes tracked down the parties responsible it turned out that ''one'' of the people Jones had arrested really was involved, which doesn't change the fact that Holmes had cleared the names of everyone else in that household.
** ''Noble Bachelor''. At one point the missing woman's maid was suspected of either kidnapping her or working with an unidentified kidnapper. Holmes proved that no kidnapping had taken place.
** ''Black Peter''. While Neligan was caught red-handed in attempted burglary (of stock certificates stolen from his murdered father, and thus were arguably his property to begin with), he did not kill Black Peter, and Holmes was able to find the true killer.
** ''Abbey Grange'' has a unique version. An unidentified American police officer clears the Randall gang of a murder in Kent by arresting them for their other crimes in New York the morning after the murder (overnight travel from England to America being impossible in 1897).
** ''The Bruce-Partington Plans''. A state secret has been stolen, and suspicion falls on a clerk who was murdered the same night (some of the papers, but not the most important, were found in his pocket). The dead man's fiancee appeals to Holmes to save his honor, as she puts it. He was already on the case for a different reason - figuring out what had happened to the missing papers.
* ''Literature/{{Wicked}}''. Glinda volunteers to tell the Ozians that Elphaba isn't a wicked witch - [[DefiedTrope but Elphaba makes her promise not to, so the government won't do the same to her to keep her quiet.]]
* This happens to pilot Tycho Celchu in the ''XWingSeries'' - he was briefly held by TheEmpire's mistress of brainwashing, so he's suspected of having been turned, they dumped thousands of credits into his bank accounts, he was seen with someone who from behind looked liked one of the prominent Imperials, and he was in position to kill Corran Horn. [[spoiler: Who did not actually die]]. All the Rogues indicate that they think he's innocent, but not a lot of others share that opinion. It's mentioned that most of the evidence is circumstantial, but there's a mountain of it, so it looks like he's either guilty and made to look innocent through a clumsy frame, or innocent made to look guilty clumsily made to look innocent. This is what the bad guys intend, since his trial adds to the New Republic's problems-it's planned that evidence will be released to prove him innocent after he's been found guilty and put to death.
** Wedge Antilles eventually does find evidence of the ''real'' traitor [[spoiler: Erisi Dlarit. It helps that just a few minutes prior, the "victim" had entered the courtroom (nullifying the murder charge in the process, but not the other charges), and had figured out not only the identity of the traitor, but also that one of the investigators--General Cracken, Intelligence chief--already knew that Tycho was innocent (but he did not if he wasn't a real Imperial agent, just framed in this case for some plot). Cracken, however, deliberately let the trial continue in hopes of flushing out the real traitor, and after the trial took steps to make sure that Tycho's good name was restored.]]
* ''Literature/ToKillAMockingbird'''s main plot is an iconic example in American literature.
* The premise behind ''TheLifeOfDavidGale'': a journalist tries to clear the titular character of murder charges while he is on death row [[spoiler:but she is doomed to just barely fail to stop his execution as the whole thing was a {{plan}} to end the death penalty by showing that innocents are killed with it.]]
* Another example from classic American literature is ''Literature/TheWitchOfBlackbirdPond''. Protagonist Kit is accused of witchcraft in Salem, and can't prove her own innocence. Luckily, her LoveInterest Nat finds the child who can verify that she hasn't done anything wrong, and brings her to the courthouse in time to save Kit from conviction.
* In the 1925 novel ''Not Under the Law'', protagonist Joyce Radway leaves home after a fight with her cousin and takes up residence in a city some miles away. No one knows what's become of her, but several months later she happens to see her hometown newspaper and discovers that a close childhood friend has been accused of her murder. She heads home in time to interrupt the trial and prove that she's still alive.
* This is the plot of Sarah Caudwell's mystery ''[[HilaryTamar Thus Was Adonis Murdered]]'': Julia gets arrested for murder while on holiday in Venice, and Hilary has to remotely solve the murder so as to get her off.
* In Literature/TheRomanMysteries book ''Slavegirl of Jerusalem'', the main characters must clear the name of a slavegirl falsely accused of murder.
* In the second book of the ''KnightAndRogueSeries'' Fisk is called home to prove his brother-in-law innocent. Said brother-in-law, Max, was accused of having bribed several witnesses no falsely acuse two men so he could have them hung.
* This is most of the plot of ''[[Literature/{{Dragaera}} Iorich]]''. Aliera was arrested on a very stupid, transparent charge and she refuses to talk to a lawyer or put up a decent defense. Vlad decides that even if she is a {{jerkass}}, he'd still prefer she didn't get executed, and he finds the idea of her owing him her life hilarious.
* In ''Literature/HeistSociety'', Kat is dragged back into the family business when her father is accused of stealing from a very dangerous man. The only way to keep her father and the rest of her family safe is to steal the paintings back.
* In ''Literature/APassageToIndia'', set in the [[TheRaj British Raj]], Dr. Aziz is falsely accused of attempted rape by Englishwoman Adela Quested, prompting his friends Cyril Fielding, Vikram Hamidullah, and Mahmoud Ali to rally around him. [[spoiler: Adela ultimately withdraws her accusation]].
* In the ''Literature/TommyAndTuppence'' story "Finessing the King/The Gentleman Dressed In Newspaper", Inspector Marriot arrests the victim's lover, and tells Tommy and Tuppence repeatedly that it's an open-and-shut case. Tuppence realises that he's trying to wind them up, since his instincts tell him the man is innocent, but is constrained by the evidence.
* In the ''Literature/HerculePoirot'' novel ''Literature/FiveLittlePigs'', Carla Lemarchant hires Poirot to clear her mother of her father's murder, even though her mother died in prison sixteen years earlier.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action Television ]]
* Nine times out of ten, this is the plot that Franchise/PerryMason has to deal with.
* There's been a few episodes in the ''Series/LawAndOrder'' franchise where the detectives have had to either re-open an old case due to new evidence or have had to do a 180 on a guy they themselves locked up.
* In the popular and famous Korean television drama ''Jewel In the Palace'', protagonist Jang Geum's main purpose throughout the entire story is to clear the name of both her deceased mother ''and'' her mentor (who were both framed and wrongfully accused and executed for a crime they didn't commit).
** This trope commonly occurs in a lot of Asian historical dramas, normally in the form of children trying to clear the name of their parents. Justified in that family name is ''extremely'' important in such cultures.
* In the same vein as ''Perry Mason'', ''Series/{{Matlock}}''.
* This is a common plot in ''TheRockfordFiles,'' whether it's a relative of the accused or Jim's attorney friend Beth Davenport requesting that Jim clears an innocent person's name.
* ''Series/PrisonBreak'': Good thing Linc had Michael and Veronica.
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'': In "Sins of the Father" Worf has to clear the name of his deceased father, who has been accused by the Klingon High Council of treason. This is SeriousBusiness for a Klingon, as this means Worf and his descendants all become dishonored as well if his father can't be cleared.
* In the 1987 BBC adaptation of DorothyLSayers' ''Have His Carcase'', this trope is lampshaded by both Flora Weldon (the distraught widow and fiancee of Paul Alexis) and Lord Peter himself. After Alexis' body is finally found and an inquest is held, the coroner's verdict prompts comments that his name must be cleared of suicide. The book was written and set in the early 1930s and suicide was illegal for several centuries in England and Wales (until it ceased to be an offence with the passing of the Suicide Act of 1961)[[note]]A person who successfully committed suicide might be beyond the law's reach, but the dead person's corpse and property were not. Attempting suicide was originally a capital crime which people were hanged for, ironically.[[/note]]
* A rather convoluted example in ''LizzieMcGuire''. After Lizzie and Matt end up switching minds for some reason, they have to cope with it for the day. Lizzie, in Matt's body, ends up learning that he (or rather, her brother) was being punished for a prank that ([[NotMeThisTime this time]]) Matt was completely innocent of involving soap and the drinking fountain. It turns out the person responsible was actually a kid who wanted revenge against Matt because he often ruins his pudding.
* Common in the ''Series/{{CSI}}'' franchise. In the original, the team has to clear Nick of murdering a prostitute. And much later, Warrick of killing a gangster. ''{{CSI NY}}'' has Hawkes and Danny both having to have their names cleared by Mac and the team at various times.
* Shawn and Gus help a man freed from prison find out who committed the crime he was imprisoned for in the {{Psych}} episode "True Grits." One episode has another cop frame Lassiter to become the suspect of a murder. There's also an episode called "Gus's Dad May Have Killed an Old Guy," in which Gus' father is suspected of killing his {{Jerkass}} neighbor.
* Tony finds out he sent an innocent man to prison in the ''Series/{{NCIS}}'' episode "Bounce".
* ''Series/ElleryQueen'': In "The Adventure of Caesar's Last Sleep", Sgt. Veelie is accused of the murder and Inspector Queen and Ellery have to clear his name.
* In the case of ''Series/DeviousMaids'', the reason Marisol is working as a maid for a wealthy couple is that [[spoiler: her son is being framed for the murder of another couple's maid so she goes to work as a maid for one of their friends in order to find out the real culprit.]]
* ''Series/CriminalMinds'': This becomes the plot of the episode "25 To Life" when it turns out that a man who's just been paroled didn't commit the murders he was convicted of, and the hunt for the real killers begins.
* In the first episode of ''TheMusketeers'', the Musketeers and Athos in particular was framed for murder and robbery. Aramis and Porthos set out to clear his name and D'Artagnan becomes involved since his father was one of the murdered.
** Porthos in episode 5 was found passed out drunk next to a dead man, his gun and [[ItMakesSenseInContext a melon]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]
* The music video for Music/{{Madonna}}'s "Like a Prayer" features a rowdy white gang who attack and gang-rape a white woman and leave her for dead, while a black man (portrayed by Leon Robinson) tries to stop it but they pin the crime on him and have the police arrest him. The heroine witnesses all that is happening, then goes to a church and intercedes with a black saint for help, then gathers up her courage and has to clear the black man's name of the murder.
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]
* About the first 1/3 of ''BreathOfFire'' 2 is about Ryu persuing the culprit of a robbery his friend Bosch/Bow was accused of.
* In ''VideoGame/EmeraldCityConfidential'', Petra, the resident private detective, is hired by Trot to investigate a ship explosion at the city docks. Though the authorities are convinced that the ship's captain caused the explosion, Trot is convinced that he is innocent and asks Petra to find who the real perpetrator is.
* There's a number of quests in ''Franchise/TheWitcher'' games, where corrupt and racist guards are about to execute people of some minority for apparently made up crimes. True to the general style of the series, the accusers may be biggoted asses, but their [[AssholeVictim victims not much better either]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Visual Novels ]]
* ''VisualNovel/AceAttorney'' is another one that stands with Perry Mason and Matlock. The goal in every case to clear the name of their client and determine the true culprit. A good third of the suspects even insist on pleading guilty, making the lawyer's job that much harder. In ''Investigations'' Edgeworth usually has to clear at least two suspects per case in order to get to the real murderer- even though he's usually a prosecutor!
** [[spoiler: Done twice]] in the second game's final case. [[spoiler: First Phoenix accuses Adrian to get Matt cleared, then discovers that neither were technically guilty--Matt had hired an assassin to do the job for him. Phoenix must then clear Adrian's name in order to re-incriminate Matt, all the while pretending that he's still defending Matt.]]
** In case 4 of ''ApolloJusticeAceAttorney'', getting the culprit and clearing the defendant's name are the defense's ''only'' goals after [[spoiler: the defendant starts suffering from an apparently mortal poisoning.]]
** In case 4 of ''Trials and Tribulations'', Mia takes on the case of a death row convict already convicted for murder once before. [[spoiler:She very nearly gets him cleared on both charges, but he commits suicide rather than let the real killer, his ManipulativeBitch of a girlfriend, go to jail for her crimes.]]
* In ''VisualNovel/DanganRonpa'', most of your classmates have a tendency to spring to conclusions, fingering the first and most obvious suspect. On top of this, the accused often act in ways that [[NotHelpingYourCase only make them look guiltier]]. Thus, it falls to you to clear the accused's name while working towards exposing the real culprit.
** The first game's second case has a particularly twisty example: [[spoiler:someone tampers with the crime scene ''solely'' to expose another's secret, meaning you have to clear ''them'' of suspicion before fingering the true murderer]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Web Comics ]]
* In ''Webcomic/NoRestForTheWicked'', [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/03-22.html November sets out into the woods to look for a way to clear Claire's name]], [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/03-24.html Perrault follows]], and [[http://www.forthewicked.net/archive/03-26.html reveals that Red also went, first.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]
* In one episode of ''WesternAnimation/DuckTales'', Uncle Scrooge is sentenced to prison for the theft of a priceless piece of art, thanks to some pretty damning evidence -- footage from the museum security camera. Huey, Dewey and Louie believe in his innocence, however, and ultimately uncover the proof that [[spoiler:it was really Flintheart Glomgold in an Uncle Scrooge costume]].
* The very first Sideshow Bob episode in ''TheSimpsons'' had Bart trying to clear Krusty the Clown of committing armed robbery. Bob pulled it off with a very convincing disguise, but was foiled when Bart pointed out that the real culprit (Bob), unlike the real Krusty, had really big feet. Bob and Bart have been [[ArchEnemy Arch Enemies]] ever since.
** Bart himself was suspected of having Principal Skinner murdered by gangsters after Skinner's keeping him in detention prevented him from getting to work at [[TheSyndicate Fat Tony]]'s club and caused Fat Tony a lot of trouble with a fellow crime boss. The mobsters do everything they can to make Bart look like the mastermind and make themselves look innocent, and it looks like Bart is going to go to jail until Skinner himself interrupts the trial and proves Bart's innocence. As it turns out, the reason Skinner disappeared was because he became trapped under a large pile of newspapers while cleaning out his garage. He was stuck for several days before he managed to free himself.
* One of the ongoing plotlines in ''WesternAnimation/SkysurferStrikeForce'' is clearing the name of the deceased, Dr. Adam Hollister, father of Jack Hollister aka Skysurfer One.
* In the third act of the ''WesternAnimation/MrBogus'' episode "[[Recap/MrBogusS2E7BogusPrivateEye Bogus Private Eye]]", Mr. Anybody's watch was stolen by a mysterious criminal who had entered the house at night, even after Kevin the family bulldog's attempts to try and get the watch back only succeeds in the watch band getting broken in two and the thief escaping with the actual watch. When Mr. Anybody comes downstairs after hearing the racket and sees Kevin with the piece of the broken watch band in his mouth, he assumes that Kevin stole his watch, calls him a bad dog, then takes him outside as punishment. Bogus then works hard to see if he can solve the mystery and prove Kevin's innocence. The next night, when the thief returns, Bogus sics Kevin on the thief, who, this time, fails in trying to escape as Kevin catches him. [[spoiler: After the thief is unmasked, he is actually revealed to be Ratty in disguise the whole time. When Mr. Anybody shows up again and sees that Kevin caught Ratty and got the watch back, he realizes that it was actually Ratty who stole the watch, thereby vindicating Kevin.]]
* The forms the basis of the pilot film for ''WesternAnimatoin/ChipNDaleRescueRangers'': The two chipmunks' personal hero is framed for stealing a priceless ruby, so they set out to clear his name and in the process meet their future teammates Gadget, Monterey Jack, and Zipper.
[[/folder]]

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