Not Helping Your Case
"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."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.
—Alan King on Frank Sinatra, Name Dropping
open/close all folders
Anime and 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.
- 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 Lolicon 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'.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- In Turnabout Storm, Rainbow Dash is accused of murdering one of her rivals in an upcoming race, a rare crime that could cost her a one way ticket to the Sun if she's found guilty. As Phoenix is interrogating her, she comments that the prize for the winner of the race is flight lessons with her idols The Wonderbolts, and she'd do anything to get that chance.
- Clark falls victim to this trope in SmallvilleX:Evolution. Teleporter Alicia uses her power to teleport into Clark's bed while he's sleeping and deliberately gets them caught in bed together to make it look like Clark's been cheating on Rogue with her. Clark's protest that if he was going to sneak Alicia in he would have been smart enough to shut off the alarms first doesn't help his case, as it makes it sound like he's at the very least given serious thought as to how to sneak Alicia in, even though it never even crossed his mind.
- From Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), what not to say when you're being accused of being a magical mass murderer:
Light: Hey guys, the Shinigami's dead! I totally killed it! With magic powers that I totally have!
- When rumors spread of Sakura's mother Barako sabotaging her own child, a kunoichi neighbor decides to visit her to see if the rumors are true in the First Try Series. Barako digs herself deeper when she talks about forcing Sakura on a diet when she got too muscular, how she didn't believe Iruka's advice because he was friends with Naruto, and was "helped" by Mizuki, who told her exactly what she wanted to hear. The neighbor leaves the Haruno residence disgusted and driven to drink.
- Appears several times throughout For His Own Sake:
- When Seta is called into the school to discuss his daughter's tendency to bully others, Sarah proceeds to brag about how much more fun she had at the Hinata Inn, gleefully telling the principal about all the havoc she raised there.
- Called before her clan to explain her poor treatment of Keitaro, Motoko proceeds to blame him for everything because 'he's a perverted male'.
- Similarly, Naru attempts to defend her attacking a man over an innocent misunderstanding as 'just impulse', claiming that it's Keitaro's fault because she's so used to punishing him.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness:
Kokoa: I'm sorry, Gin. I didn't mean to hurt her so badly.
- Just about every time someone tries to lecture her about her Hair-Trigger Temper, Arial ends up blowing her stack.
- In Act III chapter 24, while explaining the reasons behind their Jerkass actions in the previous chapter, Apoch and Astreal insist that they didn't mean to be so cruel. Rrrright; they threaten the gang, blow up Felucia, lie to Ms. Nekonome to get the girls sent to the headmaster's office for simply asking them why they were mistreating Yukari, and try to kill Yukari right in front of God and everybody, and then say that they didn't mean to act like such bitches. So convincing.
- In the first few chapters of Act VI, while escaping from the HDA compound, Moka and co. are forced to fight back against the soldiers, even killing some of them; the group even acknowledges that it doesn't help their claims of peace, even if they had no choice but to fight back.
- In Act VI chapter 44, after it's revealed just how badly Kokoa injured Sun, Kokoa insists that she never meant for it to happen, whereas Felucia points out that Kokoa's actions beforehand speak differently:
Felucia: You were chasing me in the halls to slaughter her in your rage. To an observer, it would seem like you were trying to kill her.
Ageha: How dare you group me with those inexperienced and trashy sluts that claim they know how to satisfy a man. I'll have you know that I've slept with greater and more powerful men than you ever will!
- In Act VI chapter 47, when Tsurara tells Ageha that she looks like "a whore off the street," it leads to this exchange:
Tsurara: And that defends you against my statement of you being a whore how?
- In Lawn Dogs, Trent is widely distrusted by the town in which he works and treated with suspicion for being a lower-class outsider. He is accused several times of crimes he didn't commit. As such, he feels he has no love to lose from the town, and rebels with various acting-out behaviors that don't help people's perception of him at all. To make matters worse, in the end he runs over the pet dog of one of the people who bully him.
- The protagonist of Alfred Hitchcock's Frenzy is framed by a serial killer, who turns out to be his best friend. As he's hauled off to his cell he repeatedly screams "I've got nothing to lose now! I might as well do what I'm being put away for!" This almost comes back to bite him when he escapes, as his attempt to catch the killer results in the cop who's been trying to prove his innocence for the whole film finds him standing over a dead prostitute. The real killer then shows up in a way that implicates himself.
- In Street Kings, Keanu Reeves's character is suspected of having his former partner killed. The things he does afterwards (stealing the security footage, removing a bullet from his gun from the autopsy room, pressuring the detective investigating the death) make him look far guiltier than if he just told the truth about what happened.
- 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."
- The protagonist of Minority Report works for an organisation that predicts crimes and preemptively catches would-be criminals. Then he learns that he is predicted to murder a specific person at a specific location. Where does he flee from the pursuing cops? Why, to that very location! Apparently so he could... not kill that guy and thus prove his innocence. Makes perfect sense! It doesn't work, but for other reasons.
- It being a premeditated murder of a guy he had never met, the protagonist was trying to figure out who was framing him. Still not helping, but it was at least rational. Ironically, it is these very acts which make it premeditated even though he never met the guy, thus making the whole thing a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy (until he subverts the ending).
- In Salt, when a man claiming to be a defector accuses the title character, not very credibly, of being a Russian Deep Cover Agent, she immediately flees the government building where the interrogation is taking place, forcing American law enforcement to chase and attempt to capture her. Unlike most examples, the accusation is true, but the trope still applies.
- 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!
- Ghostbusters II: When the Ghostbusters are being carted off to the insane asylum, three of them visibly fight against the guards while screaming and ranting like lunatics. Venkman, however, is Genre Savvy enough to calmly accept it and go along without a fight, at least until someone wises up and lets them out.
- In Men in Black 3, J neuralizes some racist 1960s cops and berates them for assuming that because he was black, the nice car he was riding must've been stolen. He then sheepishly admits that he did in fact steal that car, but then forcibly states that it's NOT because he's black.
- 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 BSOD 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!
- Further lampshaded by Dumbledore, who specifically points out how Sirius has not acted like an innocent man when Harry and Hermione try to convince Fudge that he is.
- Harry Potter himself and other characters of the cast will fall into the wrong side of this trope from time to time.
- 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.
- Actually Snape does go out of his way to be suspicious and unlikable. It's part of his cover as a Double Reverse Quadruple Agent.
- Tyrion Lannister from A Song of Ice and Fire 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; 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."
Live Action Television
- 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.
- Lampshaded in an episode of Stargate SG-1 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.
- 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's tried and convicted of the murder of the crew of the Red Dwarf, but Kryten decides to act as his 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 kept insisting that her new college roommate was a demon because the roomie was 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Stand Up Comedy
- Brian Regan mentioned how reading is good for the human mind and how nobody could say otherwise without proving that statement true. He sets up a scene of a point/counterpoint show about reading, with a well-dressed scholar on the pro-side, and on the opposite side we see the village idiot.
Village Idiot: Hey, let me tell you somethin'. Readin', readin' don't never do'd nothin', 'cause if you had, if you have, have has, have hazzeded, if you did haveded, hazzedivizzed a book, and you looks, had looks, have looks, has looks, have looks at it, lookin' in is it, lookin' it, have lookin' is in it at it, then you might not even know why you had do dat.*Beat*Professor: I have nothing to add. I would like to yield the remainder of my time to my opponent, in the interest of fairness.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The current page image is from El Goonish Shive. Ellen's reaction to a party could've meant 'any number of things!'. Mr Verres figured that all of those reasons would justify having a more responsible chaperone.
- In this strip of Loserz, Ben doesn't exactly help convincing his mom that Video Games don't cause violent crimes.
- In Sandra and Woo, Larisa does this when accused of being a slut.
- Sandra: "Some people just shouldn't try to defend themselves…"
- Three Panel Soul: Matt gets fired for talking at work about buying a gun for target shooting, which makes his coworkers uncomfortable about him.
Matt: But I don't have any reason to go postal! Well, I guess hypothetically now I do. I mean ... wait, no.
- Dumbing of Age: this classic.
- In this The Order of the Stick comic, Xykon wants to recruit Hobgoblins, but Redcloak is against it, citing Hobgoblins' elitist attitudes towards regular Goblins;
Redcloak: All efficiency, and warrior's codes, and sense of duty, with their military this and discipline that, and- and I'm not helping my case at all, am I?
Xykon: It's official: Orange is the new green.
Demon-Roach: I'll inform Milan.
- Leela in Futurama, "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!"
- The Simpsons:
- 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.
- Homer, pointing a gun at Mr. Burns' head, in front of everyone: "Say I never shot you!... Before."
- Sideshow Bob's brother Cecil tricks him into doing this in one of the few episodes where Bob actually is innocent.
- Zee in The Zeta Project. He's 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 was 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's Genre Savvy enough to try 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.
- 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 Genre Savvy 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.
- 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 realise this).
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.
- 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:
Jet: I know they're firebenders! I saw the old man heating his tea!Guard: He works in a tea shop.
- 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.
- 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.
- My Little Pony:
- The Crabnasties in the My Little Pony And 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.
- 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.
- This is a big part of the plot in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic 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.
- Actually, Pinkie was more at fault than Luna, seeing as Luna soon realized her theatrics weren't necessary, and actually started making progress...only to be repeatedly foiled in her efforts by Pinkie causing a scene. To the understandable frustration of Twilight, who was bending over backwards to help Luna in the first place.
- Not to mention an earlier episode "Bridle Gossip". Despite how negatively people treat the cast's suspicions, Zecora did nothing to dissuade their suspicion until Apple Bloom cleared things up. If anything, she made 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.
- 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'."
- 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.
- In 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.
- A bizarre example happened on DuckTales 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 Lauchpad 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.)
- 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 one Penguins of Madagascar 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.
- Any character who has ever pleaded to be believed that their story about monsters, demons, zombies, etc is true and that they are NOT insane while screaming and flailing in an hysterical fashion.
- It would only take a modicum of common sense and Genre Savvy to simply call the police and tell them where the monster is located, but hold that specific detail to yourself and instead make up a story about two large gangs waving knives at each other while cussing and insulting each other, oh and I think I saw some guns in there too. Hang up and wait for the police sirens.
- 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 (details) 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.