Not Helping Your Case

http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/NotHelpingYourCase_157.png
Ellen is just digging herself deeper.

"Why don't they talk about my relationships with presidents? With people of culture? Why do they always talk about my mob associations?" And then he said, "Oh, by the way, Alan, say hello to Willie the Nose, Hymie the Hook, Nick the Knife—" I started to laugh, and he bristled. "What are you laughing at?!" "Nothing, Frank," I said. "Nothing."
Alan King on Frank Sinatra, Name Dropping

A character is widely distrusted, or maybe even actively disliked, by everyone else in the plot. Even though they're always innocent, this person is blamed for things that they didn't do, and is often the first suspect when something bad does happen.

Unfortunately, rather than make an effort to convince people of their innocence and good intentions, the character rebels and acts out, sometimes feeling they have nothing to lose by doing so; maybe even committing an actual crime in the process. When people discover the crime, that confirms their suspicions and "proves" to them that, yes, this person was really that bad all along.

For added ironic flavor, the newly-criminal character may be busted just as the others come around and start to believe their original claim—giving the cynic of the group something to snark about—"Well, I guess you're right, chumps, they really aren't a thief... they're just a graverobber."

Compare I Resemble That Remark!. Somewhat related are You Have to Believe Me (a character makes bizarre statements in a hysterical tone), Digging Yourself Deeper (the character tries to sound less creepy by justifying the original creepy remark), Then Let Me Be Evil (the character decides to live down to people's low expectations), and Sticky Fingers (habitual petty theft puts the character under a constant aura of suspicion). Contrast with Wrongful Accusation Insurance, where the character is not implicated for crimes committed while trying to clear their name. The tropes may overlap, though, if the character is called out for their crimes as they happen, yet unceremoniously pardoned after their name is cleared. Not to be confused with Don't Shoot the Message. For moments where someone or something else doesn't help your case, see Contrived Coincidence and Instantly Proven Wrong.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Monster: Dr. Kenzou Tenma. Dear Lord. Not as extreme as most of these examples, but it's easier to count the moments when he isn't acting incredibly suspicious. Granted, Tenma was less interested in proving his own innocence than in helping others, performing selfless acts... and trying to bring down a man who may well be the very embodiment of evil itself (and the one who is actually behind the crimes he's accused of).
  • This trope sort of crosses over with I Resemble That Remark! in Lucky Star where Konata's father insists that it's wrong to call him a paedophile because he likes both young girls and normal girls, so it's more correct to say that he's "also a lolicon"...really didn't help his case.
    Konata: You fail at life either way.
  • The Butt-Monkey of Genshiken, Kuchiki, is a shameless, perverted otaku who acts up at every occasion. At the culture festival, he spots someone nicking a cosplay costume of Ohno's; he gives chase and catches the thief, who throws the dress at him and walks off in disgust. Then the girls find him clutching the costume and accuse him of stealing it. Kuchiki pulls his trousers down, clambers into the dress and run-waddles off, jeans round ankles and hairy legs a-showin'.
  • Dragon Ball Super has Goku in the Universe Survival Arc. While he didn't know Zen'O's planned multiversal Tournament of Power would lead to all losing universes being destroyed, his nonchalant attitude upon learning the real stakes leads to other universes declaring him to be some ultimate evil, while he doesn't seem to understand why they're fearful and angry and just wants to fight. His response to Toppo calling him out on this only makes it worse.
    Goku: So I'm evil, huh? *grins*
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, aspiring wizard Shouta attempts to summon a demon as a Familiar, but gets Lucoa, who agrees to be his familiar. Shouta thinks that she's a succubus. Lucoa tries to correct him that she's a dragon in human form, but he won't believe her because she keeps shamelessly wearing revealing clothes (if even that much) and trying to seduce him.

    Comic Books 
  • In The Flash: The Dastardly Death of the Rogues, people are disqualified from the 25th-century time-traveling police by any criminal ancestry (going back at least to "present day"). One member, unbeknownst to the others, is descended from a murderer. Feeling it's unfair to hold someone else's crimes against him, he decides the solution is to make sure no one ever realizes it was his ancestor who committed the crime, by going back in time and perpetuating the frame job that keeps an innocent person in prison. He does this with more murder.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: During the War of Kings, the team is seen as a bunch of dysfunctional screw-ups (which, in fairness, they are) and psychopaths, which doesn't help their case when trying to ask the Inhuman royal family to stop the war. And then Bug makes a pass at Medusa, followed by Martyr deciding to point a sword at one of them. In their throne room. Before she takes Crystal, the one who'd been trying to hear them out, hostage.

    Comic Strips 
  • FoxTrot:
    • In one story, Paige accidentally reveals that she's been regularly seeing R-rated movies despite being underage. While her mother frets in horror at how much sex and nudity her daughter has been exposed to, Paige quickly adds "Some were just the violent kind, though."
    • Reflecting on this, in a later story, Peter suggests that Andy and Roger go see Kill Bill Volume 2, saying it was awesome, completely forgetting how his mother feels about R-rated movies. After she grounds him for a week, he angrily tells her he didn't get this upset when he saw the first Kill Bill. Andy replies that she didn't know he had seen the first one.
  • In Dilbert the CEO makes his own dumb statement worse in this comic.
  • In one Bloom County strip, Steve Dallas is defending a client in court and delivering the last bit of a finishing statement, when his client, completely unbidden, shows up by his side and announces that he'd like to add something. He then goes into a mad, spittle-filled rant about how he'll kill the whole court, their loved ones, and their housepets, if he's convicted. He then immediately calms down and returns to his seat, while the judge reconsiders the acquittal he was planning to announce, and Steve considers giving up as an attorney.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Monsters vs. Aliens, Susan argues to Gen. Monger that, despite now being almost 50-feet tall, she's "not a danger to anyone or anything." As she says this, she accidentally hits a helicopter with the back of her hand, causing it to crash.
    Pilot: Don't let her get me!
    Susan: [chagrined] Sorry.
  • In Robots: Bigweld fires Ratchet who hysterically begs for mercy claiming:
    Ratchet: No, wait! Please listen to me! You cant do this to me. This job is my LIFE! It means everything to me! You don't KNOW WHAT I'VE DONE TO GET HERE!! THE LIES I'VE TOLD! THE LIVES I'VE RUINED!!!!! ...Wait, this isn't helping me!

    Literature 
  • Harry Potter:
    • Happens in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with Sirius Black: He is condemned for the horrible death of one Peter Pettigrew, former close friend, in front of many witnesses; having a role in the deaths of the parents of his godson Harry Potter at the hands of Voldemort, conspiracy in the attempt against the life of the mentioned protagonist, treason and other minutiae. It definitely does not help that he is found maniacally laughing at the scene of the crime, survives a punishment/Mind Rape in Azkaban that no sane person should and, succeeding an escape from a prison that was previously thought inescapable, goes on stalking his godson and entering Hogwarts with murderous intentions. Oh, and he let slip things like "could just as well have killed 'em myself" from time to time. As it turns out he went hysterical from the deaths of his friends the Potters thanks to treasonous Peter "Wormtail" Pettigrew (whom Sirius himself recommended as the ideal Secret Keeper), tried to avenge them confronting the latter, who managed to frame Sirius for his own (faked) death, was convicted and imprisoned without fair trial, went into an Heroic B.S.O.D. so epic it bordered Despair Event Horizon and made the Dementors' powers lose their effect on him, and was in Hogwarts purely to chase Wormtail.
    Sirius: I want to commit the murder I was imprisoned for!
    • Harry Potter himself and other characters of the cast will fall into the wrong side of this trope from time to time. Take for instance Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets where he is accused of being the Heir of Slytherin, the fact he is caught being near several crime scenes and is heard speaking the snake-tongue parselmouth really doesn't help despite the fact he was trying to do good.
    • Snape can hardly do anything without looking as suspicious and unlikable as he can; he practically goes out of his way to make the heroes suspect he's a bad guy in nearly every book. He's also quite resentful of the fact that anyone would suspect that he, a former Death Eater, might be a Death Eater. This turns out to be part of his Zero-Approval Gambit, allowing him to function as The Mole within Voldemort's inner circle.
    • In a meta-sense, Slytherin House is the go-to house for villains and jerks, breeding Death Eaters like nobody's business. The first Slytherin character to not be a colossal asshat is Horace Slughorn, who isn't ambitious for himself but instead sets up connections between students with strong potential (blatantly favoring them and ignoring others). In the seventh year, not one Slytherin is part of the resistance against the Death Eaters in the school, with only later Word of God clarifying that some of the later reinforcements were Slytherins. It takes until Cursed Child for 100% heroic Slytherins to show up (Malfoy and Harry's sons).
    • The textbook Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them mentions that Uric the Oddball subjected himself to three months of Fwooper song so he could prove that it did not cause insanity. He then showed up to the next Wizards' Council meeting naked save for a dead badger on his head, thus convincing nobody. One could also make the case that voluntarily pulling a stunt like that calls the results into question on account of the fact you'd have to have a pretty tenuous grasp on sanity to think it was a good idea in the first place.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Tyrion Lannister does this a lot, and is strange in that he works it to his advantage. As an example, when he assumed a position of authority in a city where everyone hated him and assumed he was a monster because of his unfortunate appearance, he used this as an excuse to bring along an entourage composed of vicious mountain barbarians who carry human body parts as trophies. This assisted immensely with his political goals.
    • In the third book, he's accused of murdering his nephew, unfairly imprisoned, and given a sham trial; and all this is happening shortly after he fought in an incredibly vicious battle during which he received a horrible injury from which he is still recovering. He snaps, and not one could blame him. And he still manages to work this to a minor advantage; convinced he's getting a sham trial, he demands trial by combat. He selects a member of the Martells as his representative; the Martells are longtime rivals of the Tyrells, the Lannisters' recent political allies. If he wins the trial, the Tyrells will be pissed that the alleged murderer of their daughter's fiance got away (And, although Tyrion doesn't know it, wary that Tywin might find out they actually killed Joffrey); if he loses the trial, the Martells will be pissed that their son died for him. It's one final "screw you" to his family.
    • In general, Jaime and Tyrion Lannister tend to use this trope in a "Then Let Me Be Evil" kind of way. They're constrained by bigotry (Tyrion) or unfair judgements (Jaime) and are unable to escape them despite their best efforts, so they tend to stop giving their "best" efforts and instead use an evil reputation to get their way.
    • One of the many things that Jaime and Tyrion Lannister share is a total and crippling inability to keep their big mouths shut when a clever remark occurs to them, no matter how many weapons are pointed at their heads at the time, or how testy the people holding them are. That tendency does more to nearly get them killed over the course of the series than all the Stark soldiers combined.
  • Frankenstein's Monster. Seriously, there's a bit in the book where a kid insists that the monster is an ogre who wants to kill him. The monster denies this, and then kills the kid for not listening. The monster is trying to abduct him at the time, so that would be an extra dose of really not helping his case.
  • Bryony theorises that this is why Veil turned to thievery and delinquency in Outcast of Redwall, because she's one of the only three Abbeydwellers who don't immediately accuse him whenever something goes missing.
  • The Wheel of Time has quite a variety of these, on a sliding scale from "didn't do something mildly embarrassing" to "not a mass-murdering monster".
    • Perhaps the most explicit is when Galina Casban is mouthing off to her captors about all the horrible retribution they'll face when she's freed, unaware that she's making herself look extra guilty of the murder she's been framed for. Bonus: she is a conniving evil murderer, but didn't commit that particular crime.
    • And then there are all the instances where someone's not helping their case about true accusations. Everything from yelling "I'M NOT ANGRY" to shouting about how you're not mad... to the voice in your head.
  • In The Seventh Sword trilogy, by Dave Duncan, our hero, Shonsu, is a great swordsman who doesn't know the customs of the land he lives in. He often talks too much, which turns out to not help his case. In the end of the first book, Shonsu is asked about how he managed to survive an attack. He goes into detail about how he used a dagger and attacked two men at one time, then attacked a fleeing swordsman, chopping him down as he ran away. All of these actions were against the well-established rules of the land.
  • During Galaxy of Fear: The Doomsday Ship, Dash Rendar is accused of being the ship's saboteur. His weapons, strong antiauthority bent, and general cockiness don't help. Though when he risks his life to seal a compartment and stop decompression, people relax a little more. He'd been there in the first place to steal the ship, but got beaten to the punch.
  • In Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz, Dorothy's pet Eureka (in later books the Pink Kitten) is on trial for eating one of the Wizard's pet miniature pigs. She refuses to defend herself other than to point out how much she's wanted and tried to eat said pigs. Nobody wants her convicted, but nobody can believe she's innocent by this point. An representative excerpt from the trial (the Tin Woodsman is defending her):
    Tin Woodsman: Look at the kitten’s intelligent eyes; (here Eureka closed her eyes sleepily) gaze at her smiling countenance! (here Eureka snarled and showed her teeth) mark the tender pose of her soft, padded little hands! (Here Eureka bared her sharp claws and scratched at the bars of the cage.)
After some Courtroom Antics aimed at showing her innocent (which Eureka sabotages at every point), when the trial is reluctantly concluded, Eureka tells them where the missing piglet trapped itself. Trying to get away from her attempts to eat it. And "Eureka was much surprised to find herself in disgrace; but she was, in spite of the fact that she had not eaten the piglet."
  • Wolf Hall
    • Thomas Cromwell is intent on erasing his disreputable past as a brawler and soldier and giving himself and his family a respectable position in the world, often disturbed by the notion that he looks like a man who could easily kill someone. But Cromwell also uses his shadowy reputation and physically imposing presence whenever it would advance his agenda, and it advances his agenda often.
    • Cromwell is appalled when Wriothesley suggests that Cromwell used Anne Boleyn's trial as a means of revenge for Cardinal Wolsey's death and wonders if he might one day go after Henry himself. Cromwell is genuinely loyal to Henry (if irritated whenever the subject comes up, because Henry acts like he had nothing to do with it) but since he did use Anne's downfall to get revenge, it's not a wholly unreasonable line of thought.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Matlock: Matlock has several clients who live this trope. However, his client in "The Fugitive" takes the cake. He frequently interjects in court, knocks out the bailiff and flees the courthouse. Ultimately, Matlock shows his client was framed-for-murder. The judge, citing the extreme stress Matlock's client was under, recommends a lengthy term of community services instead of the "many years" in prison his actions would usually receive.
  • Jon Stewart on The Daily Show had to say this enough times that his art-department needed to design no less than three different graphics to keep the visual aid up-to-date with the show's evolving style.
  • All My Children: Bianca hides her pregnancy with Miranda from Erica because she is terrified of how she will react. When Kendall pretends to be pregnant herself with Michael's child to help her, Erica treats Kendall like scum and acts like being pregnant with the child of a monster like Michael Cambias is the most disgusting and immoral thing that anyone could do, thus perfectly justifying Bianca's decision.
  • Harmony on Angel, as part of her attempt to prove she hadn't murdered anyone, ended up knocking three of her coworkers unconscious and locking them in a supply closet. She also killed the person who framed her, thus silencing the only other person who knew she wasn't guilty. Nevertheless she did manage to convince them of her innocence.
    • After discovering he's now CEO of Occult Law Firm Wolfram & Hart, Cordelia accuses Angel of having made a Deal with the Devil. Angel is denying this when a Big Red Devil in a suit walks up and shakes his hand over some legal deal they've just made. Cordy walks off in a snit.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Lampshaded in an episode where, because of some contact with an alien substance, Daniel Jackson starts hallucinating, and ranting and raving. Midway through the episode, he asks, "Why does everyone think I'm crazy?!" pauses for a moment, then adds, "It's because I'm sorta acting that way, aren't I?"
    • Again in another episode where the team accidentally goes back in time, and is confronted by guards demanding (in Russian) to know if they're Soviet spies. Without even thinking about it, Omniglot Daniel replies "Nyet!" a split second before obviously realizing what a terrible idea that was.
  • One segment of You Can't Do That on Television at Barth's had the usual gross jokes about the food, along with the accusation of Barth putting squirrel meat in the burgers, which Barth flatly denied:
    'Barth: I heard that, and it's not true! There are no squirrels in my burgers! Skunks, maybe, bit ''no squirrels!'
  • In the Top Gear episode in the US South, when the stars paint inflammatory slogans on each others' cars to rile up the locals, a gas station owner angrily (and rightly) accuses them of making small town folks look bad by deliberately baiting them. She doesn't help her case at all when she calls in a truckload of rock-throwing goons.
  • Misfits has Nathan demand that Simon use his power of invisibility to save him when they're both in danger. Simon asks him why he should, after Nathan's forgotten his name and made fun of him ever since they met. Nathan then yells at Simon and calls him a freak. Unsurprisingly, Simon turns invisible and scarpers.
  • Deconstructed in a remade Battlestar Galactica episode: After the Cylons are removed from a planet on which they'd rule the humans, a secret commission of almost Kangaroo Court trials ensues, and a man is taken as collaborating with the Cylons. He's asked to defend himself, but apparently sickened by the whole charade, he does not and almost gets himself Thrown Out the Airlock. It's only a snarly remark of one who wants to see him dead that reveals the guy to have been a Reverse Mole, prompting the others to realise their mistake.
  • This exchange from Modern Family, "Mother Tucker".
    Cameron: Missouri is a lot more cosmopolitan than you give it credit for. It's got a very vibrant cowboy poetry scene.
    Mitchell: You're not making the point you think you're making.
  • In the Red Dwarf episode "Justice", Rimmer is tried for the murder of the crew of the Red Dwarf due to a faulty plate. Kryten decides to act as Rimmer's defense ...which involves proving that Rimmer is not competent enough to have properly replaced the faulty plate himself. (Lister would have helped, but he was in stasis at the time, and only Holly was able to, somehow, keep the ship running for three million years.) Rimmer, being somewhat of an egotist, ends up falling straight into this one by objecting to his own defense (which Kryten uses to his advantage).
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Buffy keeps insisting that her new college roommate is a demon because the roomie is obsessively neat, demanding and her toenails kept growing after the roomie cut them. She even collected the toenail clippings in a plastic bag and showed them to The Scoobies. The roomie turned out to be a demon who was sucking Buffy's soul out at night, which is why Buffy kept getting more and more desperate sounding.
    • In separate incidents, Warren and Andrew both tried to defend themselves to Willow by pointing out to Willow that Warren didn't mean to shoot and kill Willow's girlfriend Tara. He was aiming for Willow's best friend.
  • In the first season of Homeland, Carrie Mathison's mental health declines as she begins to figure out Abu Nazir's agenda, the result being that she is only able to articulate her findings artistically. Screaming "Nazir was yellow, but now he's purple!" doesn't help her case.
  • In Sliders, the group lands on an Earth where the Red Scare never ended. Quinn and Arturo are reported as subversives while working on some sliding equations. The agents who come to investigate ignorantly assume they're working on a pipe bomb, to which Arturo indignantly responds that a pipe bomb is child's play by comparison. It doesn't help that, due to a head injury, Arturo spends most of the episode wearing a colorful rag as a bandage on his head, which makes him look like a hippie.
  • Smallville: Throughout the first two seasons, Jonathan had no problems with openly expressing his hatred of the Luthors, which made it easy for a Dirty Cop to shoot Lionel and frame him for the crime. Jonathan even acknowledges that his doing so has come back to bite him:
    Jonathan: No, I didn't shoot Lionel. But I let my anger get the best of me. I... I haven't exactly kept it a secret how Jonathan Kent feels about the Luthors. What jury could possibly believe me now?
  • In The Walking Dead episode "Try", Rick makes a very good case why the people of Alexandria are soft, and will have trouble surviving much longer. He's probably right, but the problem is, he's bloody from a fight with one of the other town residents and waving a loaded gun around wildly.
  • Played for Laughs in Daredevil. In an early episode, Foggy takes Karen to Josie's. As they talk, Karen tells Foggy that all she sees are threats. To prove her wrong, Foggy points to three random people in the room. The guy playing pool? He organizes a Thanksgiving food drive every year. The guy having a drink at the other side of the bar? His wife owns the dry cleaner near Nelson & Murdock's office space. The guy having dinner? ...Okay, he is a criminal, but he is turning it around. Seriously!
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Aquiel," the title character is accused of murdering her superior officer on an isolated communications outpost, but claims that he's the one who attacked her. Her personnel records describe her as belligerent and insubordinate, while he was a model officer, her own personal logs are dominated by her dislike of him, she erased some of his because he was planning to formally reprimand her, and she tried to flee the Enterprise when she realized suspicion was falling on her. As it turns out the murder was done by an alien life form who had absorbed the guy and attacked when it tried to jump bodies to her.

    Music 
  • "Komm wieder her" by Knorkator is a song about a man begging his wife to return to him. By telling her how much he needs her, he's really not helping his case.
    My fridge is empty, I have no clean socks. Nobody goes shopping for groceries or sweeps the floor. Who pays attention to me, and endures me.
    Who would make me coffee in the morning? Who would lock the door when I leave the house? Who would clean the windows and the shoes? Who would take the garbage out? Who, if not you?
  • "Put Another Log on the Fire" is similar. In the first verse, the singer gives a long list of chores for his significant other to perform, followed by the demand "Then come and tell me why you're leaving me."

    Mythology 
  • Eris, the Greek goddess of strife and discord, didn't get invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis because the other gods thought she'd just cause trouble. In revenge, she starts the Trojan War.

    Theater 
  • Peter Grimes. The title character could be the patron saint of this trope. People think he's a sadist who kills his boy apprentices on purpose, and possibly abuses them. He's more of a Doom Magnet actually, and haunted by the memory of the dead apprentices, but being an antisocial jerk whose attitude towards the town is "fuck you all and leave me alone" doesn't help much. He eventually goes mad and kills himself.

    Video Games 
  • Kingdom Hearts's Big Bad, Master Xehanort, wants to create Balance Between Good and Evil for the forces of Light and Darkness... so he somehow orchestrates a multi-game Complexity Addiction that ends up causing Dark Is Evil suffering to countless people, Worlds, etc., thus ultimately reinforcing the very Black and White Morality he obsessively opposes. ...Success!
  • This trope could easily be renamed The Max Payne Legal Defence. In order to prove that he's innocent of murdering his best friend, who was one of the two guys who knew he was undercover, he goes out and slaughters his way through what seems like half the rank-and-file of the New York Mafia. Most of those were probably self-defence, but still not going to look good if and when he can touch base with his superiors, to say nothing of the Enemy Mine arrangement he made with someone rather high-ranking in the local Russian mob. After Act 3 or thereabouts the trope is averted by way of Motive Decay (and probably Sanity Slippage); Max isn't interested in clearing his name anymore, he just wants revenge. He gets both, aided and abetted by some really impressive Hero Insurance.
  • Yggdra Union:
    • Nessiah in Yggdra Unison. In the game's backstory, he stole from Roswell and Rosary, and a thousand years ago, he made the Gran Centurio to absorb energy from war. During the game, he's actually just trying to collect said sword and make everyone stop fighting before he leaves Ancardia for good to go Rage Against the Heavens. He is constantly accused of planning world destruction, and you can bet that if anything disastrous happens or any new faction gets embroiled in the conflict, he will get blamed for it because of his track record. Ordinarily, someone in this situation might try to defend himself. Nessiah laughs his ass off at his accusers and mocks them before going on to take over their territory.
    • From the same 'verse, we have Mizer, who at the time sustained himself by sneak thieving. Upon being accused of stealing a pendant from Velleman, the party's noble sponsor, he first attempts to flee, then denies having done anything once caught, then rallies his mooks and sneak-attacks you... while attempting to run away a lot. Once you've finally wrestled him into submission, it turns out that Mizer was innocent — Velleman's pendant fell in the mud, and one of Mizer's flunkies picked it up, calling finders keepers.
  • As Spoony points out and parodies in his video review, John Anderton's way of proving the Precrime Division he's not a murderer in the Minority Report game adaptation... is to brutally beat down and murder everyone in his path, including fellow agents who are merely armed with Sick-Sticks and thus are not aiming to kill you.
  • In Dragon Age: Origins – Awakening, your introduction with Nathaniel Howe (son of Rendon Howe from Origins) has you encountering him in a jail cell after he infiltrated your new base to try and assassinate you. It took four Wardens to subdue him. He is openly disdainful of you, the Grey Wardens, the reigning monarch and the other noble families for the crime of...opposing his psychotic backstabbing rat bastard of a father. If asked what he will do if released, he openly admits he will probably come back and try to kill you again. If you tell him this trope, he'll tell you that he could lie if you wanted. It's then up to the player to either execute him, let him go or conscript him into the Wardens where he ultimately proves to be a better man than his dad, after being hit a few times with the cluebat.
  • James Tobin in the game In the 1st Degree really gets stuck in this trope. He is charged with murdering his business partner Zack and for stealing his own paintings. He ends up changing his story of what happened between him and Zack two or three times throughout the game. He ends up coming off as suspicious as a result of telling a different story more than once and shifting the blame to someone else more than once.
  • Golden Sun:
    • Will the Mars Clan of Prox please stand up? Start with stealing the artifacts to unleash the horrible power of Alchemy on the world, continue with repeated kidnappings and thefts in the pursuit of unleashing said horrible power, add in attempted murder of a Baleful Polymorphed girl, murder of innocent scholars (and less-innocent guards) between Tolbi and Lalivero, murder of enslaved workers at Babi's Lighthouse, and is it any wonder Isaac & Co. decided lethal force was necessary to stop them?
    • Then The Lost Age reveals that without the power of Alchemy the world will decay to nothing... and in comes the Mars Clan's second set of champions, led by a brute who openly believes Prox will Take Over the World and who will do everything in his power to make that happen, including double-crossing Felix & Co. who are working for him to save the world (and their parents). NOT. HELPING.
  • Throughout Dragon Age: Origins, Loghain insists that he didn't deliberately betray King Cailan at the battle of Ostagar, and that his withdrawal was the only sound tactical choice. The fandom continues to dispute whether or not this is true. However, two of the prisoners Locked in the Dungeon and tortured in his close ally's estate are a soldier who survived Ostagar and the friend of another (missing, likely dead) survivor who claimed Loghain retreated while there was still hope for the king. This revelation works against him at the Landsmeet, especially since the latter was a member of the nobility. Even if he didn't betray Cailan, suppression of the witnesses tends to suggest otherwise. Which leads to even more fandom dispute as to whether Loghain knew what his ally was doing in that regard...
  • In Mega Man X4, Repliforce stands accused of destroying a city (they were in fact framed). When they are declared Mavericks for this and refusing to come in for questioning, they start a coup, during which they destroy a city.
  • This applies to the entirety of Project X Zone: upon Meden Traore's final defeat, the story's main villains are utterly flabbergasted that the heroes (and several villains from other franchises) would get together to stop them from recreating existence. One of the villains out and out asks why some of the heroes would want to stop them, particularly given that these protagonists come from crapsack worlds. She actually has a point: had she not spent the whole game merging the worst of the worst entities from various franchises with everyone else's universe, double crossing people who had agreed to help her, and generally trying to kill the heroes while in league with some of their multiverse's worst scum, it's possible that some of the heroes might have even agreed with it.
  • Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness: The game begins with Lara as the main suspect of Von Croy's murder (and very likely the murder of Carvier, given the police knew Lara was there just before their death). She then proceeds to shoot up the security guards of an old nightclub, break in to the Louvre (killing many police and security personnel present), break into an archaeological dig and interfere with no less than two crime scenes (including that of the first victim, mentioned above). Of course all of this leads onlookers to her obvious innocence.
  • In City of Heroes, the leader of the Time Police organization Ouroboros, Mender Silos, was a far-future version of Lord Nemesis, the game's resident Chess Master. This revelation caused widespread distrust of the character, both in-universe and out-. Word of God stated that this was in fact a genuine redemption, but criticism from his more cynical peers would cause him to temporarily fall back on his old methods; unfortunately the game was shut down before any in-game content showing that could be added.

    Visual Novels 
  • Happens a lot in Ace Attorney, but the crowning king of the trope is probably Larry Butz. In Ace Attorney Investigations, he elevates this into an art-form by actively trying to counter Edgeworth's arguments... while Edgeworth is in the middle of trying to prove him innocent of committing murder.
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2: During the second trial, Hiyoko becomes the main suspect, due to several damning clues - including her footprints at the scene of the crime. Instead of telling the truth (she was lured there and drugged by the killer, so she would leave her footprints as she left), she compulsively lies and changes her story multiple times.
    • The same thing happens in the first trial to Fuyuhiko, except instead of compulsive lying, he makes angry death threats.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: The White Fang began as a peaceful protest group, promoting equality for the Faunus, but a change of leadership five years prior to the series' beginning turned them into a terrorist organization who use violence to promote their cause. Their actions have done nothing but cement humanity's prejudice against the Faunus, especially after the events of Volume 3, where Adam Taurus and his White Fang faction play an instrumental role in the invasion of Vale and the destruction of Beacon Academy. In "Dread in the Air," Sienna Khan, the organization's High Leader, even calls Adam out on it.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • In the first trial of Doubt Academy, Akari's over-the-top defensive behavior and anger at everyone believing that she was the culprit only lead the other students to push for her death even more. The kicker? She didn't do it. Akari was defending photographs of her she found in her room.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • You know, Zuko, telling the Gaang about that assassin you sent after them and accidentally attacking Toph really isn't going to convince them that you now want to join them. (At least he's smart enough to realize this.)
    • In an earlier episode, the gang force their way into the Earth King's palace, leaving a trail of unconscious guards and wrecked masonry behind them, and then try to convince the King that they're on his side. The King is understandably not impressed:
      Earth King: You invade my palace, lay waste to all my guards, break down my fancy door, and you expect me to trust you!?
      Toph: He has a good point.
    • A minor case, but when trying to expose Iroh and Zuko, Jet's ranting does not help his case, especially since it makes him a bit incoherent.
      Jet: I know they're firebenders! I saw the old man heating his tea!
      Guard: He works in a tea shop.
    • In Sequel Series The Legend of Korra: sheltered Country Mouse Avatar Korra tends to stumble into this.
      • In "Welcome to Republic City" When she discovers and tries to argue against an Equalist protestor decrying benders as an oppressive establishment, he easily manipulates her confrontational attitude to make her look like the bad guy in front of a large audience of listeners.
      • Later in the same episode, she's incredulous when police insist she be arrested for causing property damage during her well-meant Curb-Stomp Battle of a trio of protection racket enforcers. Instead of coming along quietly to explain her presumption of Hero Insurance, she flees the police, fighting them as she bolts, forcing them to use an Airship to bring her in, which earns the enmity of their chief.
      • Matters worsen in "The Revelation" when, desperate to find a friend kidnapped by Equalists, she shakes down the same protester for information in public, smashing his megaphone, flipping his table and hoisting him by the shirt, and must again flee the police when the protester wails (quite rightly) that he's being oppressed.
      • Played for laughs with Varrick when he tries to defend himself, stating that he's helped each of Team Avatar in his own way. He points out how he warned Korra of Unalaq, made Bolin a film star, helped Asami rebuild her company and had Mako framed and thrown in prison. He takes a moment to realize that the last one was bad.
      • And Zuko does it again at the beginning of the third season, as he's taking the elevator to visit a combustionbender's prison, reminiscing about the time he'd hired a combustionbender to kill the Avatar... in the company of Korra's cousins, who'd tried to kill her last season, and Korra's father.
  • This pops up too often to list off with Dan from Dan Vs., but at one point is notably inverted. Dan declares in court that it's not his fault he smashed through the wall of a church during a wedding because he was going to run over a nun who jaywalked. Of course, the judge misunderstands him and we get this exchange:
    Judge: So you were swerving to avoid her?
    Dan: Uhhhhh... yeah.
  • In the Donald Duck short "The Vanishing Private", Donald gets doused in experimental "invisible paint" and Pete, his sergeant, tries to track him down. Pete naturally does several things that make the General think Pete's lost his marbles, up to and including wearing what looks like a bicorne hat while running around with an armload of grenades, ranting about "a little guy that you can't see".
  • A bizarre example happened on DuckTales (1987) where Launchpad was trying to convince everyone in Duckberg not that he hadn't done a bad thing, but that he wasn't doing good things. After he was mistaken for Gizmoduck, things started to get out of hand, so he went on live TV to tell everyone he wasn't Gizmoduck; but accidentally said the command word for Felton's armor, while his mother, who was keeping it in her trailer, was watching the broadcast. After the armor flew all the way across town and affixed itself to Launchpad in the middle of his denial, it kind of spoiled it. (Fortunately - or unfortunately, depending on your point of view - people realized he wasn't Gizmoduck after he wrecked half the city in a vain attempt to control the suit.)
  • Leela in the Futurama episode "The Sting": "I'll find Fry's coffin, get his corpse, and keep it under my mattress to remind me that he's really dead. That'll prove I'm not insane!"
  • Gravity Falls:
    • Mabel is having a hard time taking Dipper possessing his sock puppet self (long story) seriously because of how silly he looks when mad, at which point Dipper pulls off the a perfect angry Kermit face while comically growling in frustration.
    • In another episode Blendin Blandin tries to point out that it was Dipper and Mabel causing all the chaos he's been blamed for, he calls Waddles the pig their leader. Lolph and Dundgren are less than impressed.
  • Invader Zim: When at one point offered to refute some rather convincing evidence Dib had collected on national television, Zim replied to a question of "are you an alien?" with "LIES! THE FILTHY EARTH BOY LIES!", before catching himself and adding "...I mean, 'no'."
  • Project Cadmus in Justice League gets no respect or approval from the Justice League (other than Batman grudgingly admitting that they do have a legitimate point in how dangerous the League would be if it went rogue). This is because of three reasons. Firstly: they allow Lex FREAKING Luthor to have control over them for most of the series, meaning everyone is confident they're being played like puppets in Lex's feud against Superman. Two: they seem more interested in goading the League into going off the rails, with incidents like sending agents to the Watchtower to steal an alien superweapon that the Legion impounded, than in legitimately opposing them should they genuinely go rogue. Three: everything they plan completely fails to work, meaning they actually produce more danger to the free world than the League does, what with things like trying to use a Kryptonite-fuelled nuclear missile on an inhabited island or creating insane superhumans.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball: In "The Car," the Wattersons accidentally destroy the Robinsons new car, and when he finds out, he tries to sic the police on them. While the Robinsons are certainly justified in being furious at the Wattersons, they don't do themselves any favors when they get in the Doughnut Sheriff's face and scream at him to arrest them, destroy the Wattersons' own car as payback right in front of him, and then try to attack him when he tries to calm them down; the episode ends with them getting arrested.
  • In the "Keeping Up with Our Joneses" episode of King of the Hill where Hank, Peggy and Bobby try to quit smoking, they go to a support group where everyone is shocked when Bobby reveals that he's been a smoker ever since his dad let him smoke a whole carton. Hank then claims that he didn't let Bobby smoke the carton, he made him as a punishment.
  • My Little Pony:
    • The Crabnasties in the My Little Pony 'n Friends episode "Fugitive Flowers" turned out to be the good guys, but the fact that they were introduced literally tearing the forest apart looking for the deceptively cute Flores, and they then proceeded to recklessly trample Posey's garden trying to arrest their quarry, didn't really help their case. They also ought to reconsider the name. (An Aesop about not judging by appearance that can only have been written by writers who hadn't seen the first half of the story then follows.)
    • In the My Little Pony Tales episode "Stand By Me", a mock trial is staged after Melody accuses Teddy of stealing her tape deck. Teddy blurts out that he would "do anything" to get a tape deck like hers, making him seem more guilty in the eyes of the jury. Also, Flash Back sequences give us more evidence of Teddy's Jerkassery as Sweetheart tries to tell us that he's actually good, no, really. It's unlikely that anyone ended up with a better opinion of him just because one instance of theft was Not Me This Time.
    • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
      • In the episode "Bridle Gossip", despite how negatively people treat the cast's suspicions, Zecora does nothing to dissuade their suspicion until Apple Bloom clears things up. If anything, she makes herself even more suspicious. On the other hand, Apple Bloom says that Zecora told her that whenever she came to town, all the stores "mysteriously closed", implying she didn't know why the ponies hid whenever she came to town and may not have had any idea they thought she was a witch.
      • This is a big part of the plot in the episode "Luna Eclipsed". Princess Luna returns after a thousand-year banishment as the evil Nightmare Moon in an attempt to reform her public image. Unfortunately, between her spooky Big Entrance, her booming voice, and her hair-trigger temper, it's hard for her to convince anyone that she really isn't an evil villainess. And Pinkie Pie's screaming and running doesn't help either. Especially since nobody else realizes that Pinkie isn't actually scared. Pinkie is more at fault than Luna, seeing as Luna soon realizes her theatrics aren't necessary, and actually starts making progress... only to be repeatedly foiled in her efforts by Pinkie causing a scene. To the understandable frustration of Twilight, who is bending over backwards to help Luna in the first place.
      • In "No Second Prances" Trixie accidentally lets it slip that she only became friends with Starlight to get back at Twilight. She then says she does consider Starlight a friend, but then digs herself even deeper when she says that getting back at Twilight was "Just a bonus."
  • In The New Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show, singer Enrico Caruso is put on trial for causing the Great San Fransisco Earthquake with his voice and Mr. Peabody tries to scientifically prove that this couldn't possibly be the case, but the fiercely competitive Caruso takes hitting 10 on the scale to be a challenge.
    Mr. Peabody: Enrico, I'm trying to prove your innocence...
    Enrico: No! I must strive to better than FIIIIIIIIVEEE!!! (Hits 10, triggering another Earthquake)
  • The Penguins of Madagascar: In one episode, a peanut-deprived Burt the Elephant believes Julian is a peanut and chases after him. Maurice points out that Julian's head doesn't even look like a peanut, only for an insulted Julian to comment that his head is peanut-shaped, at which point Burt shoves him down his trunk. Also in the episode, when Mort goes crazy with Skipper and Private trying to calm him down, Private tries to assure him they weren't going to hurt him...only for Skipper to state he did authorize force.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Round Springfield", after Bart got appendicitis after swallowing a jagged metal piece inside a box of Krusty-Os, Krusty said at a press conference he would prove the metal O was safe by eating one personally, on live TV. Unfortunately for him, despite the fact that he actually ate a regular Krusty-O, he collapsed from horrible stomach pains after doing so.
    • "Who Shot Mr. Burns: Part II" Homer, pointing a gun at Mr. Burns' head, in front of everyone: "Say I never shot you!... Before."
    • In "Brother From Another Series" Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil tricks him into doing this in one of the few episodes where Bob actually is innocent.
    • In "A Fish Called Selma", Troy McClure, who spent the episode fighting back against the rumors that he has a deviant attraction to marine wildlife, announces that he's going to celebrate his new movie deal by happily proclaiming that he's going to... Sea World.
  • In one episode of SpongeBob SquarePants, when SpongeBob thinks there's something wrong with Gary (really Plankton is disguise), he takes him to the pet hospital and is later seen hyperventilating after hearing the diagnosis. The nurse tries to assure him that all the doctor was saying was they just need to run a few more tests...only for the doctor to tell her he wasn't saying anything like that at all.
    • In another episode where SpongeBob has an accident and becomes paranoid to the point that he won't leave his house anymore:
    Sandy: Don't worry, Patrick. We'll get SpongeBob to come outside, and then he'll see there's nothing to be afraid of.
    Patrick: (Wearing a boxing glove) And that's when I punch him, right?"
    (Sandy gives a flat stare)
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • "The Lost Commanders": The Ghost crew is sent to recruit an old, experienced war veteran. When he turns out to be a clone, Order 66 survivor Kanan is automatically mistrustful of him and the other two clones he lives with. The fact that one of them, Wolffe, is The Paranoiac and sold out the crew to the Empire doesn't help matters.
    • "An Inside Man" has two examples:
      • Thrawn asks Lieutenant Lyste for his opinion of some graffiti left by Sabine of her phoenix symbol on a piece of the retaining wall. Lyste ignores the graffiti and flatly states it's a piece of the wall. Thrawn next asks Agent Kallus, who gives an informed and correct answer. Lyste clenches his fist in the background when he realizes he screwed up.
      • The Reverse Mole, Kallus, orders a disguised Kanan and Ezra into a lift with him under the pretense of coming with him to check the perimeter. As soon as the elevator door closes, he says "Don't move, rebels," in an Implied Death Threat tone, which causes Kanan and Ezra to beat him up and pin him before he can explain he's on their side.
  • In the El Tigre pilot, Rodolfo is about to leave on a business trip and instructs Manny to be on his best behaviour. Manny assures that he will, jokingly asking, "What do you think I'm gonna do, rob a bank?" and his chuckles quickly snowball into a full-scale evil laugh.
  • The Zeta Project:
    • Zee is accused of being re-programmed by a terrorist, and no matter what he does the FBI always make it out to be a crime. During most of the series, he is pursuing his creator so he can convince them that he's good, but his actions are taken as an assassination attempt when he accidentally set off the cryogenic chamber, almost killing him. The poor guy just can't win.
    • When Agent Bennett tries to convince his superiors in the second season he hasn't gone insane on this mission, the fact one of his own Agents left the NSA over his behavior is pointed out. He counters he hasn't had a bad call on his record other than Gotham, which is not a good incident to bring up since he nearly got part of the city blown up during that incident. Agent West facepalms audibly in the background.
    • When Agent West is right about where Zeta is at one point, he points out the other times he found Zeta... which everyone knows were either accidents or Agent Lee doing the legwork.
    • Agent Lee goes back and forth: initially she gets this when attempting to explain Zeta isn't evil, but she tries that exactly once and then turn to the much more provable and equally true objection to her superiors that Bennett is becoming unstable. When she feels it isn't taken seriously, she quits, an act extreme enough to prompt investigation into Bennett's behavior. But she's unable to get Zeta's case heard afterwards when she's viewed as a Mood-Swinger who turned on her boss, and any response she has damages her case.
    • Zeta's main character witness for the entire series is a runaway minor who has a criminal record. The show lives and breathes this trope.

    Real Life 
  • This Cracked article mentions how gamers who are angry about anti-piracy measures pirate more and points out that this is not helping their case.
  • Check any Michael Jackson hate group on the Internet (especially those that claim that anybody who loves him must be completely insane). You will find posts by serious fans who joined the group just to gush about Michael Jackson and spew hate on all other members.
  • This also happens in groups for people who don't like the Twilight series; die-hard fans will often join just to insult the other members and gush about the series.
  • During a motorcycle protest ride against a helmet law in New York state, one of the protester had a fatal accident in which a helmet "would have likely saved him".
  • Similarly, this man protested the wearing of seatbelts, only to die as a result of not wearing one. He even said that it was his choice if he wanted to flirt with death, so it could be seen as a case of someone dying for their ideals, even if it is a needlessly dangerous one.
  • The infamous antics of the British protest group "Fathers 4 Justice," who felt that parental access rights are unfairly biased towards the mother under British divorce laws. They might or might not have a point, but that is not a debate for this wiki. What is not up for debate is that when the general thrust of your argument is, "we can too be trusted to look after young children", participating in what can only be described as wacky hijinks involving hilariously cheap superhero costumes, flour-filled condoms and various national monuments to make your point is definitely counter-productive.
  • Soon after Tesco was found to have horsemeat in their ready-made beef lasagne, which wasn't entirely their fault as it turns out, one of their delivery trucks hit and killed a horse.
  • Piers Anthony was once asked about the sexual content in his books, which some people thought had highly creepy tones of ephebophilia or pedophilia. After some musings on biological and societal pressures that didn't do a lot to help his case either, he ended with, “But about membership in an anti-pedophelia organization—I do oppose pedophilia, but don’t belong to any such outfit. In fact I correspond with some pedophiles in prison.” Yeah most people, um, don't do that. And even fewer would apparently feel no need to provide further explanation on that front.
  • Lawyers berated an editorial by Isaac Asimov in which he said they were the only high-powered profession that doesn't involve math (as opposed to engineers, doctors, etc). The lawyers said that they absolutely do have to calculate billable hours, figure taxes, and perform other examples of comparatively simple arithmetic, to which Asimov replied "I rest my case."


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NotHelpingYourCase