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 Big Bad
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? Cats, too and rabbits and 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
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 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 True Companions
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
This Trope is quite often combined with Ungrateful Bastard
, for obvious reasons.
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
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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.
- 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.
- This is what happens to Spider-Man all the time. No matter how many times he saves the city it only takes one smear campaign or mistaken action seen by the public to turn New York against him and declare he's a criminal.
- In Scooby Doo Monsters Unleashed, Mystery Inc. is so famous and beloved that they have an entire museum exhibit dedicated to them, but a reporter turns the entire city against them with Manipulative Editing.
- Despite very publicly saving the city at the climax of the first movie, the Ghostbusters are 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!"
- Harry Potter. Books two, four and five basically follow the formula of "Harry is a good guy, but gossip says he is crazy, and everyone thinks he's crazy after a while." RiffTrax often jokes about this in their riffs on the films.
Harry: I was only [using magic in front of muggles] to save [them.]
Bill (continuing as Harry): Also I've saved the school four times and have a flawless record of being on the side of truth and justice.
- Some fanfics take it to extremes where people who were supposed to know better after learning Sirius Black was victim of a frame-up would believe Harry to be whatever he was being accused of. A few of them even had Sirius falling for that.
- 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.
- 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 (and have even been a fellow victim in at least one case).
- The short "Man Of The Year" including in Sonic Jam features Eggman successfully deceiving the public into thinking he's a vandal, by dressing up in a very bad Sonic costume and causing havoc on rollerskates.
- An episode of Sonic X has Eggman convince everyone he has turned good and created a man made form of sunlight after his artificial moon eclipses the sun. When Sonic starts destroying the satellites powering it, the public come in angry mobs to confront Sonic's friends. This turns out to be a Deconstruction however, since Eggman's sunshine globes in fact had brainwashing technology so people worshiped him instead of Sonic. Only Chris and the President's staff genuinely doubted Sonic (though Chris catches himself on this rather quickly).
- Both the Archie comics and an episode of Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had a story revolving Robotnik creating a "Pseudo Sonic" (a very clunky, mean looking robot duplicate of Sonic) to pose as the real deal and frame him for crimes. A similar case occurs in an early story in Sonic the Comic.
- In Super Mario Sunshine: Mario is imprisoned and forced to clean up graffiti he didn't create but an Evil Twin of him did. He doesn't get a word to defend himself despite saved a nation a couple times, Princess Peach RULER OF THE MUSHROOM KINGDOM gets her attempted defense overruled, and nobody notices that said doppelganger is completely blue!!
- In fairness, the residents of Isle Delfino didn't seem to be aware of just who Mario was, and everyone who did know Mario knew full well he was innocent, making it less an example of this trope. What's truly heinous, though, is that the doppelganger's attack came before Mario had even arrived on the island.
- 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.
- In the Thomas the Tank Engine episode "Dirty Work/Diesel's Devious Deed" (and The Railway Series story it is based on) Diesel rather easily convinces James, Gordon and Henry that Duck is a bully spreading bad names about them to the trucks. Arguably played deliberately given the trio's trademark arrogance and earlier insisting that Duck would never spread names about Diesel.
- A two parter in The Transformers had Megatron convincing Earth, with trivial ease, that the Autobots had really been the villains the whole time. This is after around thirty episodes of the Decepticons not hiding their actions or intentions and the Autobots helping whoever asked.