Blame Game

Your Fault! No, your fault!.

Jack: Wait a minute though, I only stole the gold to get my cow back from you!
Little Red Riding Hood: (to the baker) So it's your fault!
Jack: Yes!
Baker: No, it isn't! I'd have kept those beans, but our house was cursed. She made us get a cow to get the curse reversed!
Witch: It's your father's fault that the curse got placed and the place got cursed in the first place!

This is when something has Gone Horribly Wrong and it's time to determine who is at fault, but the consequences for this blame can wreck careers and reputations, or even get people killed. Either that or just stubborn pride.

So when someone is blamed, that person tries to pass off the blame to another plausible person, and that person either tries to put the blame back on the first person or pass it to someone else. Essentially the blame is now like a game of "hot potato", hence we call it the Blame Game.

This can happen in comedy as well as drama. In Real Life, a staple of politics, right after any tragedy. Also common among young children when somebody has done something naughty. As well as every other age group.

Compare Never My Fault, when someone consistently tries to avoid taking responsibility for his mistakes.

Remember, this isn't just trying to pass off blame once. There has to be at least one return volley.


Anime And Manga

  • Four generals at the end of a film version of The Charge of the Light Brigade all try to avoid blame for the order for the charge.
  • Mystery Men features a blamethrower that makes a couple groups of mooks do this, allowing the heroes to beat them while they're distracted.

  • In Discworld, every time a plan formulated by the Auditors goes wrong, some time is spent on this one. The outcome inevitably goes like this: the plan was a group effort, therefore it's everyone's fault, and if it's everyone's fault, it's no one's fault, because the amount of blame that attaches is as close to nothing as makes no difference. They're very corporate that way.
  • In The Bible (Genesis 3), God confronts Adam about his having disobeyed His commandment not to eat the Forbidden Fruit. Adam says, "The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate," thus passing the blame not only to Eve, but to God. Eve, in turn, says, "The serpent tricked me, and I ate." God punishes all three of them.

Live-Action TV
  • In an episode of The Tudors, Cromwell and another lord try to pass off blame for Henry's displeasure with Anne of Cleves. Unsurprising, given that they could well get in quite a lot of trouble if the king's wrath falls on them.
  • In a skit on Mr. Show, a group of film executives each try to pass the buck for greenlighting Coupon: The Movie, an abysmal flop. Each time the buck is passed, the group starts chanting the name of the new accusee, until the last man in the room realizes that he's chanting his own name.
  • This seems to be the main skill that they are looking for on The Apprentice. Donald Trump is most likely to send home the Project Manager of the losing team, so Genre Savvy PMs will find someone else to blame for the loss.

  • As Skyclad put it in "Eirenarch",
    Successes have fathers — but failure's a bastard.
  • Kanye West has a song called "Blame Game", about a couple that doesn't get along.
    Let's play the blame game, I love you, more
    Let's play the blame game for sure!

  • An episode of the Show Within a Show on Adventures in Odyssey deals with a cat burglar who pleads "Not Guilty By Reason Of Temptation": "The devil made me do it!" Investigators interview several witnesses, including the above-mentioned Adam and Eve, who have also tried to shift the blame for their sins to the devil.

Tabletop Games

  • The second act of Into the Woods has the songs "Your Fault" (where the protagonists try to name the source of the problem) and part of "Last Midnight" (where the Witch calls the protagonists out on wasting time placing blame rather than solving the problem). It's also a Dark Reprise of the song "Ever After," where everyone had congratulated themselves on their bravery and cleverness to find their Happily Ever After.
  • The musical Titanic has the ship's captain, owner, and builder singing "The Blame".
  • Friedrich Schiller's Intrigue and Love ends like this, until the hero's father finally accepts responsibility for his actions.

Western Animation
  • DuckTales
    Huey: Whose idea was it to not to do our homework?
    Dewey and Louie: YOURS!
    Huey: Whose idea was it to listen to my idea?
  • In the Avatar: The Last Airbender episode "The Chase," Katara blames Toph for them being on the run for days without sleep because she never helps them set up camp when they land, Toph blames Appa for leaving a trail of shed fur, and Aang blames Toph for making Appa carry extra weight after she joined the group, leading to fun exchanges like this one:
    Toph: You're blaming me for this?
    Aang: No, she's not blaming you.
    Katara: No, I'm blaming her!
  • South Park: The first Christmas Episode has one of these when the audience is dissatisfied with the the changes made to the yearly Christmas pageant.

Real Life
  • Politicians, political parties, and even countries seem to love to play the Blame Game at each other for all the political problems that they have to face, even if all or even no parties are at fault. Even if it isn't political, the Blame Game can still occur whenever an argument devolves into an argument about who started the original argument. We won't list examples; that would be playing the Blame Game in itself.
  • In a corporate environment, this is called "blamestorming". A Direct TV commercial even uses that phrase.
  • "Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?"
  • Everything associated with the But Not Too Black trope. Especially when concerning the lack of dark skinned models in the fashion industry, or the entertainment industry as a whole. The industry blames the agencies for the lack of hiring, the agencies blame the industry for not booking said models, thus causing the agency not to hire them. It becomes a "Chicken or the Egg" argument.
  • Happens with disappointing frequency in MOBA games, where teamwork is essential and no one ever considers that losing may have been their own fault as well. More often than not, the losing team will have a Flame War raging among them about who's failed the most, which will inevitably be taken to all-chat, much to the annoyance of the winning team.
  • This happens whenever anyone complains about the types of movies being made today, whether they're arguing about unoriginal ideas, racial stereotypes, or anything else. Is it the movie industry's fault for making those kinds of movies, or is it the people's fault for making those kinds of movies popular?