To see him obviously framed
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Framing someone means providing fake evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime. "Frame" here means making someone innocent look guilty by "putting the person in a picture frame of suspicion".
Of course, it results in a need for the Hero to Clear My Name
. If the hero has to clear someone else who has been wrongfully accused of a crime, it's Clear Their Name
Framing the Guilty Party
is a subtrope where the party framed is actually guilty. It can be a Subversion
or even a Double Subversion
of the classic Frameup depending on the convolutions of apparent and actual guilt. In a similar vein, in Noir-themed crime dramas the frame can be rehung many times: a white-knuckle version of pass-the-parcel. If the framed party is an animal, This Bear Was Framed
. If the framed party is dead, then it's a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit
See also: Taking the Heat
, where an innocent person attempts to put themselves
in the frame to save someone else, False Flag Operation
, where it is an entire organization or nation that is being framed by another, and Mistaken for Murderer
, where the misleading evidence arises out of unplanned circumstances. Compare and contrast Abomination Accusation Attack
, where the accusation just mentions a type of crime, not any specific instance. Certain forms of a Motivational Lie
can be related in spirit.
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Anime & Manga
- In the series Nanatsu No Taizai where the main group, Seven Deadly Sins were framed for killing the Great Holy Knight and Gilthunder's father, Zaratras, and trying to overthrow the kingdom. It's not yet known who framed them but it's either a Holy Knight or a traitor amongst the Sins.
- Underdog: The Serial Killer Hiyuchi's first action in the tournament is to steal the protagonist Naoto's wallet so that he can plant it on the body of a high school girl Hiyuchi just murdered. He then breaks into Naoto's house to place her student ID on his desk.
- In Hell Girl Two Mirrors, Takuma is suspected to killed his father, who was murdered by another man. Unfortunately, the murderer was Dragged Off to Hell just before the police could even see him. That event gives the poor Takuma the nickname "Devil Child". And because of his reputation, the other citizens frame him up whenever they send someone to hell with the Hell Correspondence.
- This happens a lot in Detective Conan, the murderers make fake proofs to frame up innocent people.
- Rosario + Vampire: In his introductory arc, Gin sets Tsukune up to look like The Peeping Tom to cover his own trail; while Moka easily falls for it, Kurumu and Yukari play detective and manage to expose Gin as the real peeper to the entire school.
- InuYasha: Naraku has tried to frame Inuyasha for his own crimes on three separate occasions: the murder of Kikyo, the destruction of Sango's hometown, and the slaughter of Koga's pack. After initially attacking Inuyasha in retribution, all three soon discover Naraku's involvement and promptly focus their efforts on him.
- Batman, or rather Bruce Wayne, had to deal with this in Bruce Wayne Murderer and Bruce Wayne: Fugitive after his ex-girlfriend Vesper Fairchild was found dead in Wayne Manor. Lex Luthor had hired the assassin David Cain to frame Bruce Wayne for a murder after Bruce ruined his scheme to acquire Gotham's real estate in the aftermath of No Man's Land. The frameup went even further than that though: since Cain had deduced that Bruce and Batman were one and the same, he also planted fake evidence suggesting that Vesper had discovered Bruce's secret and was about to expose him. This actually made some of Bruce's allies (except Dick and Alfred who remain convinced that Bruce is innocent) briefly suspect that Bruce had snapped and killed Vesper to hide his secret. The story arc went on for as long as it did because Bruce didn't even try to clear his name; rather, he used this as an opportunity to ditch his identity as Bruce Wayne and become Batman full time.
- Sin City has two protagonists framed: Marv and John Hartigan. In a rare Gang War example, Dwight framed one crime family for attacking another in order to protect the Old Town girls.
- In X-Men Noir, Anne-Marie Rankin framed Captain Logan for the murder of Jean Grey by killing her with Wolverine Claws. However, between this and the Orgy of Evidence she provided, Thomas Halloway had her figured for the killer almost immediately.
- Manor de Sade starts out with the protagonist bragging to herself about how she managed to advance in her career by backstabbing his boss with a trumped-up accusation of sexual harassment. He had simply been friendly, but she had pretended to feel harassed. This resulted in him getting fired and her getting his job, just as she had planned. Only the audience (and her mirror) gets to know the truth. Or maybe not.
- Done to Spider-Man on a disturbingly regular basis, and considering his own reputation as a Hero with Bad Publicity, it's not at all a surprise that villains would try and frame him as a bad guy so often.
- Clouded Sky protagonist Tobias Talltree is at one point framed for stealing and abusing another Guide's Pokémon.
- The Tainted Grimoire has two separate instances.
- Crockett was framed for poisoning Micaiah.
- An innocent man named Hans was framed for poaching.
- Dirty Sympathy have Klavier, disguised as Kristoph, helps Olga Orly kill Shadi Enigmar in self-defense and pin the blame on his brother. Apollo frames Daryan for the murder of Romein LeTouse after his Batman Gambit on Machi killed the wrong man.
- In The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, the villain Peyton consider it convenient to get rid of Solomon. So she steals the panties of their employer's five-year-old daughter and plants them in his room. With this "evidence" in place, she starts accusing him of pedophilia.
- In Watchmen, Rorschach is framed for the murder of Moloch.
- The Hurricane, 1999 American biographical film starring Denzel Washington as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit: As the title indicates, Roger is framed for the murder of Marvin Acme.
- Subverted in Framed, because the title would make you expect it to happen but it doesn't. (At least according to the review at Something Awful.)
- The Crush: When Nick refuses her advances, Darien frames him for raping her, which results in his arrest and losing his job.
- Minority Report starts as Anderton thinks he was set up when the Precogs see a vision of him commiting a murder 2 days laters. When he arrives, the victim himself has been framed up, with lots of pictures of Anderton's disappeared son to rope Anderton into killing him. He tries arresting the victim instead, but since the guy's family would be handsomely paid if he died, he commits Suicide by Cop. Danny Witwer names the trope Orgy of Evidence in response to the crime scene, but a little later, Anderton is framed for Witwer's murder when the Big Bad shoots him with Anderton's gun.
- ...And Justice for All: Jeff had the knife which a guard was stabbed with planted in his cell, leading him to be sentenced to five years in prison.
- Payback: Porter takes care of two corrupt police officers with this method. He shoots a man with a gun with Cop A's fingerprints (which he leaves at the scene), then plants Cop B's badge (which he had earlier stolen) on the corpse.
- An Innocent Man has main character James Rainwood framed by two DirtyCops after they raid his house by mistake due to mixing it up with a drug dealer's, to cover themselves, and must then clear his name.
- Two of the leads in Down By Law end up in prison due to this.
- The Thin Blue Line is a documentary of the Real Life case of Randall Adams, framed by the Dallas police for the murder of one of their own by a teenage boy.
- Talk of the Town involves an unscrupulous mill owner burning down his mill for the insurance and framing Leopold Dilg (Cary Grant), who was blowing the whistle about unsafe mill conditions.
Live Action TV
- Babylon 5: Garibaldi is framed for sabotaging one of the station's hangar bays, and has to find who is responsible before he gets cornered by the Security staff... or the numerous enemies he's made amongst the criminal world of the station. The bad guys turn out to be members of a xenophobic "Pro Earth" organization, including the second in command of the security detail sent to capture him.
- CSI Warrick Brown in For Gedda. He cleared his name only to get shot just afterward by the real killer.
- CSI: NY: Sheldon Hawkes in "Raising Shane". Serial killer Shane Casey paid a guy to dress like Hawkes and rob a bar, then the money was planted in Hawkes' own hoodie.
- Probably also applies to Mac, when Clay Dobson jumped of a building and framed Mac for pushing him
- Played distressingly straight in Dancing on the Edge when Louie, who was initially excluded as a suspect since he was across town when it happened, becomes the prime suspect in Jessie's murder.
- A major plot point in Dong Yi - the innocent secret society Geom Gye are framed for murders they didn't commit, and are exterminated.
- Forever Knight in one of the early season 2 eps, Nick is framed for murder by LaCroix, whom Nick still thought was dead. Things got worse when the DNA Natalie substituted for Nick's vampire blood turned out to belong to the real killer.
- Renegade is about a cop framed for murdering his lover, and is constantly trying to confront the bad cops who framed him.
- The title character of Hannibal is fond of this tactic. Early in season one, he implicates Nicholas Boyle (whose sister was killed by Garret Hobbs) in one of his copycat killings. He later pins the death of Dr Sutcliffe on Georgia. In the finale, he frames Will for several of his murders. When Will is exonerated partway through season two, he switches targets to Chilton. That last one involved a drugged FBI trainee he'd been holding prisoner for years in advance.
- JAG: In "Ares", The Mole planted floppy discs with corrupted software code from the eponymous weapons system with an innocent colleague, to steer attention away from his own planned escape.
- In two episodes of Law & Order: SVU, Stabler gets falsely accused of being sexually abusive.
- In the episode "Doubt", the accusation is made by a emotionally disturbed woman who is either traumatized by a real case of abuse or simply an attention-whore who realized just how much attention a false accusation can give her. In either case, she recants her accusation against Stabler and the audience never gets to know if the guy she accused of rape got convicted or not - the episode ends as the jury is about to read the verdict.
- In the episode "Delinquent", a young sex-offender makes up a nonsense accusation against Stabler, and then try to get his own charges dropped in return for dropping his own charges against stabler.
- Merlin "Queen of Hearts": Morgana frames Gwen for using magic on Arthur
- Double subverted in the fifth-season Modern Family episode "Spring-a-Ding Fling." Gloria accuses Lilly of having broken the glass on her phone. Lilly maintains to both Gloria and Jay that, contrary to what they believe, Joe (an infant at the time) can walk and reach high enough to have gotten to Gloria's purse. When they see Joe walk for the first time at Lilly's prompting, they believe her. Later she confesses to the camera that she actually did it and framed Joe, to the point of taking Joe's shoes off and making fake footprints in spilled baby powder.
- But in the show's stinger one of her dads asks her why Joe's shoes are on the wrong feet.
- Once Upon a Time: In the late first season, Regina frames Mary Margaret for killing Kathryn. The case is about to go to trial, and looks hopeless, when Kathryn is found alive.
- Happens in Orange Is The New Black, when Daya frames the prison guard Mendez for rape. Daya is pregnant by Bennett, another prison guard, and since inmates cannot legally consent, Bennett would possibly be arrested for rape. She has sex with Mendez and then deliberately gets caught so that Mendez(who none of the inmates like) will be the one punished. It backfires somewhat when Mendez is simply suspended without pay. In Season 2, Bennett takes things into his own hands and reports Mendez himself, which leads to Mendez's arrest.
- Every episode ever of Perry Mason and Matlock (since they're defense attorneys and all "good" defense attorneys have innocent clients...right?).
- Happens in the Star Trek episode "Court Martial" - Ben Finney fakes his death and frames Captain Kirk for his murder. However, Finney did not count on a) Spock discovering the computer that held the damning evidence had been tampered with and b) Finney's daughter turning over the letters he had written blaming Kirk for denying him his own command.
- Played with in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "A Matter Of Perspective" - Riker is accused of murdering a scientist working for the Federation in a fit of jealousy. It turns out the scientist was trying to murder Riker (via transporter accident) because he feared his plan to sell his research to another galactic power would be exposed. But the energy beam he used reflected off Riker's transporter beam and destroyed the station's power core, which made it look like Riker used his phaser to blow up the core. Attemped murder of the innocent party turned into a frame job of the same one!
- Both the TV series The Fugitive and the movie start with a Doctor framed for murder.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the second season finale "Becoming," after Kendra is murdered by Drusilla, Buffy shows up at just the right time for the cops to assume that she was the one who killed Kendra, with Principal Snyder being all too eager to support that thought. By the time of the third season, Buffy has been cleared of all charges.
- In mothy's vocaloid song The Escape of Salmhofer, the Witch, Meta Salmhofer is framed for the murder of Eve Moonlit's children.
- The Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" about the imprisonment of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
- Paranoia specifically encourages this. Depending on play style, this can fall anywhere from "Traitor!" *ZAP ZAP ZAP* to planting and doctoring evidence in advance.
- Ace Attorney has several cases where someone is framed: three of five cases in the first game ( Rise from the Ashes doesn't count, since the framed person was still complicit), two of four cases in the second game, and a whopping 4 of 5 cases in the third game.
- Ghost Trick: Lynne is framed for the murder of Yomiel by Yomiel. He controls her to shoot his immortal shell, makes sure it's caught on tape, then leaves his body to be found by the police. Since few people see the corpse before Cabanela steals it, no one else notices that it's a person who supposedly died ten years earlier.
- Happens to the player twice in GoldenEye Wii — first for the death of Valentin Zhukovsky, then later for Russian Defense Minister Mishkin.
- Knights of the Old Republic: Subverted. Sunry is accused of murdering a Sith woman and he says that the case is a complete Frame Up. Evidence reveals that he did do it, and when you confront him with this, he will explain himself. It's up to you if you want to get him free or send him to his death. One interesting element is that the Sith did frame him, but only after the Republic covered up the crime.