Cassandra Did It
The heroine became aware of an impending disaster and strenuously attempted to warn the people in charge, only to be brushed aside. This is The Cassandra
's lot in life, and she's resigned to it by now. Doom arrives, exactly as she foretold, and while she's scavenging through the ashes for what's left of her belongings, the authorities arrive. Oh, what an unexpected twist; they've realized they made a mistake and they've come to apolo—
Wait, they're here to arrest
That's right, ladies and gentlemen. When an Obstructive Bureaucrat
or a Fascist, but Inefficient
government fail to heed Cassandra, they can add insult to injury by blaming the whole disaster on her. Since this catastrophe was entirely unpredictable
, there's only one logical explanation: she did it, and we can make everything right if we just get rid of her.
As idiotic as this kind of reasoning sounds, it is possible to use it in such a way that's not completely stupid. The Unintelligible
may have shown up for the sole purpose of warning us about the catastrophe, but if we can't understand him, well, blaming him for the problem makes as much sense as anything else. Additionally, once Cassandra has been revealed as knowing something, the idea that she's an accomplice is plausible — although, since she's trying to warn you, treating her like a criminal is still pretty dumb. However, with certain subjects, or when the listener is in a certain frame of mind, their warning may be taken as a threat.
This is particularly likely if both the disaster itself and
Cassandra's ability to predict it are Sufficiently Advanced
to seem supernatural (or if they really are
supernatural); the instinctive conclusion is that the two incomprehensible things are directly connected. This is the kind of logic that gets wise women
and Plague Doctors
hounded out of town, wrongly accused of causing what they tried to fix.
It may go without saying, but this shows up commonly in Real Life
, particularly in regards to The War on Straw
A possible outcome of a Cassandra Truth
, as well as a potential fate of the Ignored Expert
. Related to Shoot the Messenger
and Hero with Bad Publicity
Anime and Manga
- A villain in Dragon Ball GT twisted this to his advantage, threatening a village by claiming to be able to create earthquakes, when in reality he was just predicting ones that were going to happen anyway.
- The Pokémon Absol is considered a bad omen, because it is only ever seen before disasters strike. It's even referred to as the Disaster Pokémon. The truth is it has the power to predict disasters and is trying to warn people.
- This happens to an Elgyem in episode 33 of Pokémon: Best Wishes.
- Bleach: When Yamamoto confronts Mayuri about the steps Mayuri's taken to counter the Vandenreich's potentially world-unbalancing activities, he briefly tries to pin the blame for the extent of the problem on Mayuri and his division's competence level. Mayuri retaliates by pointing out the only one to blame is Yamamoto himself for ignoring Mayuri's Cassandra Truth two years beforehand as paranoia when it was Yamamoto's own fault for not killing the cause of the problem years ago. Yamamoto's forced to back down.
- Monster: Inspector Lunge outright refuses to believe Dr. Tenma's story that a ten year old boy could have possibly committed multiple homicides, believing instead that Tenma is the real killer. He goes through various revisions to his theory starting with the Johan story being a poor attempt on Tenma's part to feign innocence, up to "Johan" being the good doctor's murderous Split Personality. He figures out the truth eventually, but by then there's already a massive body count.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Homura keeps trying to warn characters about the future, but they won't believe her warnings. When this future does eventually come true, Kyubey insinuates that the tragedy of it is actually all her fault, because it was her trying to warn everyone about the consequences that made said consequences even worse. Homura effectively turns the situation from "her friend dying" to "her friend becoming evil and so powerful the entire world is destroyed." This applies to timelines 1-4, in which Homura keeps making things worse; timelines 5 and 6 change everything Subtly subverted because it's implied that the events actually were in a way, The Cassandra's fault, rather than this being a scapegoat situation.
- In volume 5 of Empowered, the Superhomies (especially Major Havoc) blame Emp for the trouble Fleshmaster / dWARf! caused at the Capeys, since she "so obviously" could never win a fight against a supervillain on her own and must have planned it and may even be a closeted villain herself. The telepath Mindfuck reads Emp's mind and sides with Emp, but Havoc doubts Mindfuck's abilities and still thinks Emp had something to do with it and issued a gag order on all public discussions on the matter, leaving Emp unable to defend herself publicly against the already-started rumors.
- This happens to Dusk in the DC Comics Crisis Crossover Final Night. She arrived on Earth and announced the Sun was going to get eaten. The Sun was then eaten. Obviously her fault.
- The Last Warring Angel starts with the FBI questioning a man who tried to assasinate the president. The man informs them that he wasn't trying to kill the president, but his Evil Chancellor who's going to manipulate the U.S. into World War 3 after North Korea nukes Seoul. He's treated as a madman at first, and a North Korean spy once Seoul indeed gets nuked.
- This is one Alternative Character Interpretation concerning the Mothman, which appears in fiction in The Mothman Prophecies.
- A lot of the conflict of The Frighteners arises when people who think Frank is a complete fraud (rather than just running a Monster Protection Racket) interpret his warnings as threats.
- Happens to the protagonist of Werner Herzog's Heart of Glass, the clairvoyant cowherd Hias. When, true to Hias' prophecies, the local glass factory burns down, the townsfolk blame it on him, beat him up and turn him in to the authorities.
- In The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, the circus prophet Cesare foresees that Allan will die at dawn. Cesare then kills Allan in his sleep. The ending implies that Allan was actually murdered by the film's Unreliable Narrator, Francis.
- This becomes an Invoked Trope in An Enemy of the People (1978) when the protagonist is framed to look as if his objection to a tannery that was poisoning the town's water is a stock swindle.
- An old Paul Bunyan tall tale has the logger stumble across a pair of mysterious whimpering shoes. Sometime after it whimpers, something incredibly strange happens, such as it raining upside-down. The other lumberjacks demand the Paul get rid of the shoe (sort of hard to blame them since stuff this weird only happened right after Paul found the shoe), but Paul, realizing the shoe's value, keeps them hidden away, only bringing them out when he was playing poker with lumberjacks who wouldn't recognize them.
- Often happens to Gary when he tries to fix the next day's events that he read about in the Early Edition.
- According to the eponymous detective of the BBC series Sherlock, certain members of the London Metropolitan Police have assumed that the self-proclaimed sociopath demonstrating extensive knowledge of the crime and attempting to insert himself into the investigation must be the killer. No kidding?
- This set in motion the plot of Psych. Main character Shawn was trained to be hyper-observant by his father, in hopes that he would follow in his footsteps and become a police detective. Unfortunately, Shawn goes through a rebellious streak and instead takes on a plethora of odd jobs while occasionally using his skills to solve crimes based on mere minutes of news footage. The police refuse to believe Shawn could really be that good an amateur sleuth, and decide he was actually right all of those times because he's a criminal in the know. So Shawn claims that he's really psychic, then uses a number of things he's already noticed to correctly deduce information about his interrogators. The chief realizes he's a useful tool, and by the end of the episode, Shawn's set up a fake psychic detective agency called Psych.
- In Doctor Who, more than once, the Doctor has been blamed for bringing about whatever catastrophe of the week he's there to save everyone from, despite them having ignored his warnings about it. In-Universe, he's gained something of a reputation as a herald of doom, given that he nearly always shows up on the heels of disaster and a ridiculously high body count is likely to follow. Never mind that if he weren't there, many planets and indeed the whole of reality would have been obliterated several times over. To some extent, this is his fault, as he rarely accepts credit or reward for his actions and prefers to remain anonymous to the universe at large, guaranteeing that he will be Shrouded in Myth.
- A variation occurs in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, when a "psychic" shows up to help the detectives find a girl who's been kidnapped and raped. He tells the team that she's beneath running water; later on, they find her body underneath water pipes. Stabler, being who he is, immediately suspects that the psychic was somehow responsible. He was.
- Another twist on the trope from an episode of Death in Paradise. An old woman psychic prophesies her own death - "I am to be MURDERED!!", and gives a detailed description of the killer in front of an audience including some police officers. The next day she is found dead from poison owned by her former son-in-law, who exactly fits the description, and whose wife mysteriously vanished some time ago. The solution, to the amazement of anyone not paying attention was Suicide, so she could frame her daughter's murderer.
- This can be found in the Book of Jeremiah, making it Older Than Feudalism. Jeremiah had spent the last years of the kingdom of Judah warning about the exile that the Judeans will go through if they continue worshiping pagan gods. Then the exile happens, and the people blame Jeremiah's crowd stopping the worship of the pagan gods as the reason for the exile! Jeremiah 44:17-18:
Judean pagan worshippers in Pathros: "On the contrary, we will do everything we have vowed - to make offerings to the Queen of Heaven and to pour libations to her, as we used to do, we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty to eat, we were well off, and suffered no misfortune. But ever since we stopped making offerings to the Queen of Heaven and pouring libations to her, we have lacked everything, and we have been consumed by the sword and by famine!"
- In Dragon Age, it's heavily implied that Teyrn Loghain believed that the Wardens were lying about the Blight to gain power and influence over the idealistic King Cailan, allowing them to mass Orlesian Wardens and forces in Ferelden to enact a military coup. Thus, his decision to quit the field at the Battle of Ostagar, sacrifice the King and leave half the army to perish at the hands of the Darkspawn was entirely justified, as it eliminated a major threat to the realm. Unfortunately, he was utterly wrong and his actions plunge Ferelden into a Civil War, leaving the Blight to grow unchecked.
- And, of course, leaving Ferelden greatly weakened so that Orlais might be able to sweep in anyway, even if Loghain hadn't had the Blight to deal with. After all, half of the standing military force had just been sacrificed.
- In the Neopets plot "The Curse of Maraqua", two sisters with the gift of foresight deal with this trope. The first sister, who sees happy events in her dreams, is lauded and welcomed; the other, who sees bad events in her nightmares, is feared and shunned.
- The Pokémon Absol gets this treatment, according to its 'dex entries. They have a natural ability to sense disaster, and a natural desire to warn humans of it — but they can't communicate effectively with humans, and so are believed to be the cause of the disaster when it does arrive.
- In a Jaws parody storyline in Schlock Mercenary, Der Trihs tells the authorities that a shark is behind the killings, but they don't believe him because sharks aren't native to that world. He sarcastically suggests that it must have been a stealth submarine with a shark-jaw mechanism, and they immediately decide that Der Trihs is responsible, and it was his stealth shark-submarine, and arrest him. Even when the Mad Scientist who created the sharks confesses, the police are convinced that he was Der Trihs's co-conspirator.
- This is the main reason the Good Samaritan Law exists to protect people from such accusations.
- This is frequently invoked in politics. That's all we need to say.
- When Hitler's forces invaded the Soviet Union, the authorities refused to believe it, insisting the reports were a trick to start a war. Two air force pilots flew off to investigate and confirmed that German troops were advancing well into Soviet territory, only to be arrested for spreading disinformation on their return. They were later court-martialed, despite having been right all along.