He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem. Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.
A scapegoat is one who, willingly
or otherwise, takes the blame and/or punishment for something for which he or she wasn't responsible—though depending on where the Sliding Scale Long Name
is, the relative innocence of said scapegoat will also vary. Any poor sap who runs afoul of a Powder Keg Crowd
can become this, especially if they have Torches and Pitchforks
; 0% Approval Rating
governments seem to execute nothing but innocent scapegoat victims just for the spectacle of it or to keep up the appearance that the government is tough on crime; the Glory Hound
will find a subordinate to take the blame for any failure. The idea comes from a practice of the ancient Hebrews, who would send a goat carrying the sins of the people out into the wilderness as part of the Yom Kippur ceremonies.
Sometimes, in a Distant Finale
, the scapegoat is finally cleared, if not in public, then at least in the eyes of those who cared for him or her and at least hoped, if not always believed, that they were innocent.
Compare Silent Scapegoat
, where the Scapegoat volunteered
for the job, and Wounded Gazelle Gambit
, where "Gazelle" wounds (or pretends to wound) themselves to frame someone else. See also Scapegoat Creator
, in which someone is blamed for stuff despite that their involvement on the finished product might have been drastically
reduced, and Misblamed
, in which the scapegoat gets all the blame for the mistake. If the product itself
is blamed for a public screw-up regardless of whether or not it's inherently flawed, that's a Disastrous Demonstration
Contrast the Windmill
, who among other things can be used as the scapegoat for something that hasn't even happened! Closely related to Fall Guy
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Anime & Manga
- Viral takes a lot of this, mostly self-inflicted, in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Later on, Rossiu uses Simon as one.
- Suzaku from Code Geass is blamed for the murder of Clovis early on.
- A somewhat smaller example at the end of R1 onward was when Lelouch met with his Too Good for This Sinful Earth half-sister Euphemia and agreed to back her phased democratization of Japan. An accidental chain of Diabolus ex Machina brought on by Analogy Backfire Up to Eleven and random Power Incontinence causes Euphemia's bodyguard, Lelouch's best friend since childhood, to believe he purposely Mind Raped her, foisted public blame for a horrifying False Flag war crime she committed under his influence on her, and then murdered her to take credit for putting an end to it. Lelouch never denied any of these accusations, despite numerous chances to do so.
- Later on, Schneizel uses the above accusation, among others (i. e. not warning them about FLEIJA, something he didn't believe because of Suzaku's apparent betrayal), to turn the Black Knights against their leader.
- Not to mention the end of the series, where Nunnally reveals that she worked with Schneizel because she wanted to use Damocles as the common enemy that would finally unite the whole world peacefully. Lelouch considered doing this, but decided that a mere object wouldn't hold peoples' hatred; a human being, on the other hand...
- Yu-Gi-Oh! features a card actually called Scapegoat that summons 4 Sheep Tokens. Since they can't be used for summoning, the exist primarily to be sacrificed in battle to protect the player's life points. You know, like a scapegoat.
- Oboro, the buttmonkey of Utawarerumono whenever one is called for, usually ends up taking the punishment for something Hakuoro/Karura etc did and gets beaten up by Eruruw/Touka/Benawi.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! example: Princess Arika was blamed and supposedly executed by the Magical Senate for destroying her country, killing her father the king, and starting the war. She was only guilty of the first two charges, and she did it to save the rest of the magical world from destruction. Kurt Godel's narration makes it perfectly clear that she was blamed because the world needed a target for its hatred and resentment after the tragedies and hardships of the war.
- In a filler episode of the D.Gray-Man anime, Kanda and his seeker come across a town that would isolate someone as a witch and force them to live alone in poor conditions, whenever something unexplainable and bad happened, they would blame it on the witch. This wound up biting them all in the ass when the previous witch (just a child, at that) died alone of illness and her sister, driven by hatred and grief, wound up becoming an Akuma and slaughtered the entire village, the seeker outright states he has trouble feeling sorry over the destruction of a town with such a terrible tradition.
- Happens to Yuuto in Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. After dropping her bookbag due to a student running into her accidentally, Haruka's bag spills its contents, including a catalog for an anime/manga convention. Yuuto immediately blurts out that he was wondering what happened to his catalog, which the student body immediately accepts, as Haruka is a Closet Otaku. However, she ends up going into a severe Heroic BSOD because she fears that Yuuto would be ostracized the way she was in middle school a few years back.
- In Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai!, Kyosuke does this twice for his sister Kirino. The first time their father discovers her eroge/anime fascination, Kyosuke defends her hobby, and then after the father points out that he's not okay with eroge, Kyosuke claims that that stuff was his, and he had her hold it for him, causing the father to punch him in the face.
- The second time is when Kirino's modeling friend Ayase finds her in a town where she was doing some modeling, which coincidentally happened to be in the same area where the anime convention was taking place. Kyosuke once again defends her actions, and while Ayase seems okay with her hobby later, she wonders why Kirino had siscon eroge. He immediately and passionately says that that stuff caused him to be closer to his sister, and says that he loves her, to which Ayase immediately rushes off with Kirino, lest he perverts her mind into doing some forbidden things.
- Ranma ˝: Due to a combination of Insane Troll Logic, Never My Fault and Selective Enforcement Ranma is very much this. One of the most common examples is the fact that none of the Tendo household residents are willing to eat Akane’s cooking and will run for the hills any time she does. Ranma’s usually M.O is to either eat before hand or find something else to do both of which will end up infuriating Akane. Later everyone else will chew Ranma out for for making Akane angry.
- The fact that Genma keeps thrusting his past mistakes on to Ranma is an example of this as well.
- In Rurouni Kenshin (and Real Life) after the revolutionary government made promises to the people that they could not keep they blamed the Sekihōtai, telling the people that they were a fake army who had been spreading lies and executed the members of the first unit.
- For a meta example, there's Porygon from the Pokémon anime, who played a major role in the infamous episodes in which many Japanese children suffered from seizures. As a result, it (and, by default, its evolved forms) has not appeared in a major (or even minor) role ever since, and may or may not have been effectively banned from doing so. The only problem? Porygon had absolutely nothing to do with the seizures...it was actually Pikachu who caused them. Naturally, they can't axe the Series Mascot, so it was Porygon who ended up taking the blame.
- Akira from Eden of the East eventually ends up taking the fall (sometimes even willingly) for every single thing done by the series' villains, becoming a wanted terrorist in the process.
- Generals Cremin and Edison in Fullmetal Alchemist are, by the end of the series, the last two survivors of Amestris's treasonous Central Command and are happily blamed by the heroes for the entire Homunculi conspiracy even though they were actually near the bottom of the evil totem pole. This is because the actual masterminds of the conspiracy included some very well-regarded public figures and it was considered a better choice to frame the guilty party than risk mass panic.
- Etrigan's little brother is an actual goat demon named Scapegoat, more or less forced to punish himself for all Hell's sins. He comes off as a total woobie.
- Superheroes in general get the Beware the Superman view by the public in many stories, this is common in DC and Marvel comics. Especially Marvel.
- In Spartacus, his second-in-command tried to sacrifice himself in his leader's place, but I Am Spartacus ensued and their captors decided to just crucify all of the slaves.
- In the Star Wars prequels, the Jedi go from the Republic's protectors to fugitives after Palpatine's Evil Plan pays off. They did try to arrest him, but it was because he was a Sith Lord attempting the overthrow the Republic.
- In Transcendence, the FBI and the military reluctantly work with RIFT to stop Will, planning to use them as a scapegoat when everything goes south. Whether or not that actually happened, however, is completely ignored.
- In Transformers, the Autobots get scapegoat for the Decepticons presences on Earth, the Earth governments try to appease the Decepticons twice by getting the Autobots to leave Earth. But they don't realized that the Decepticons don't care about making deals with them, and would outright conquer and enslave Earth either way.
- At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman becomes the Scapegoat for Harvey Two-Face's murders, so that the work Dent did against organized crime could continue. The Dark Knight Rises shows some of the repercussions of this deception.
- The Bible is the Trope Namer: During the Day of Atonement, one goat would be slaughtered and offered as a blood sacrifice while the other, the scapegoat, symbolically carried the sins of Israel out into the desert.
- Which makes the use of Jews as scapegoats for, well, just about everything over the last fifteen hundred years or so kind of paradoxical.
- The Bible is also a subversion, however: the scapegoat (literally, the goat who escapes) is the one who doesn't get killed, but instead gets to go free. Well, that's the pshot; the drash is something different.
- In Fahrenheit 451, the government comes up with a supposed live feed of Montag being killed after he successfully evades them; it's just some random dude they shot so they don't look bad.
- In the second section of A Canticle for Leibowitz, the Poet Sirrah makes an elaborate 'jest' (read: rant) about a blue-headed goat, the titular Saint, and a crown, but not quite in the usual way.
- In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, while CaoCao was campaigning against Yuan Shao, one of Cao Cao's officers told him that they were running low on supplies. Cao Cao told him to falsify numbers so that the troops would push on, and then when word got out that food was getting scarce, Cao Cao then had the officer executed and rallied the troops to make a raid on enemy territory, implying that if they failed they would starve. This eventually led up to the rout of Yuan Shao's forces at Guan Du.
- In 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein and his supposed resistance are blamed for any problems the people under Big Brother and the Party suffer. Whether or not there's any truth to these accusations is never made clear, but given the nature of the book it doesn't seem likely.
- Similarly, in Animal Farm Snowball and his agents are routinely blamed for anything that goes wrong.
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The God in the Bowl", Dionus intends to execute Conan if they don't catch the murderer, even though he doesn't think he's the killer.
- In Men at Arms, we're told that the Patrician's general view on law and order is that if there's a crime, there must be seen to be a punishment. It's nice if they involve the same person, but it's not necessary. On the other hand, Quirke's decision to arrest a random troll for the murder of a dwarf because "he must have done something" is an invitation to race war.
- Peter Hatcher is often blamed for the antics of his brother in the Fudge series.
- In Darkness at Noon, Gletkin explains that, since the necessity of scapegoats have been accepted throughout human history, it is only natural that the failures of the Party be explained away by having men like Rubashov denounce themselves as saboteurs.
- In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it's revealed Hagrid has been this to Tom Riddle for 50 years.
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had the eponymous prisoner, Sirius Black, described as an accomplice to the murders of James and Lily Potter and a mass murderer who killed Peter Pettigrew and several bystander Muggles. Then we learn Peter Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius Black with everything.
- This continued through the Goblet of Fire with Fudge blaming Voldemort's actions on Sirius rather than considering it was actual Death Eater activity.
- Infernal Devices: De Quincey, who unknowingly took the blame for being the Magister.
Live Action TV
- In Star Trek: The Next Generation, it's revealed that Worf's father Mogh was unjustly blamed for the slaughter that killed him and thousands of other Klingons because the real traitor belonged to a prominent family and the truth would have caused civil war.
- The High Council also believed that, with Worf serving in Starfleet and no other known sons of Mogh to defend the family honor, they could declare him a traitor and no one would challenge it. Too bad they didn't know about Worf's younger brother Kurn, who convinced Worf to face the Council and make them play this deception out openly.
- Sheppard's team becomes this to the newly formed Coalition of Planets in Stargate Atlantis. Said coalition is entirely civilizations that are stuck in Medieval Stasis (since the Wraith destroy ones which advance past that), so naturally the actual effectiveness of this alliance is basically non-existent. But they need to do something, so they single out his team for all the crap they've been through (rightfully or not). They can't target the expedition as a whole (because they're too powerful) and can't do anything to the Ancients (who are dead), but Sheppard's team is something both small and guilty enough that they can reasonably do something to punish them.
- Happened in an episode of In Plain Sight, where a teenaged girl witnessed a gang crime and her entire family had to go into hiding. She was essentially shunned by her own father for having gone to the forbidden part of town in the first place. Come The Reveal, and the parents learn that she only went there to collect her younger sister, who was in trouble, and that both girls witnessed the crime. The older sister ordered the younger to keep quiet because "that way Daddy will only hate one of us."
- What happened to Snow White in Once Upon a Time. The Evil Queen held a grudge against Snow for unintentionally telling her abusive mother about her lover Daniel, who then would kill Daniel in front of her. Instead of accepting that a little girl made a well-intentioned mistake and that it was her mother's doing, she would maintain this grudge and persecuted Snow for years and it would eventually result in the Evil Queen cast a curse and ruin the lives of everyone in her world to "win for once" against Snow.
- "It wasn't 4Chan, it was eBaum's World. eBaum's World did it."
- "It's not 4Chan's fault <fill in the blank> happened, it was the furries."
- In 1996, Triple H took the blame for the "Curtain Call" incident that saw himself and then-WWF Champion Shawn Michaels say goodbye to their Real Life-friends Kevin Nash (Diesel) and Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) as they depart to WCW. As a result, Triple H was demoted to jobber status for a while. Ironically, before the incident, he was supposed to win that year's King of the Ring tournament (that honor would go to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and the rest is history).
- The Garrison Keilor radio comedy sketch "The Fall Guy" is about a poor schmuck employed by a huge corporation solely for the purpose of taking the blame for everything that goes wrong. In order to keep the stress from killing him they've provided the fall guy with a whipping boy and the whipping boy with a (literal) scapegoat.
- While Paranoia does have real Commies performing real crimes, a lot of what they get blamed for is actually carried out by PURGE, or some other secret society, or just self-serving individuals.
- In Final Fantasy VII, Rufus Shinra tries to publicly execute Tifa and Barret, even though he knows they're not responsible for the accelerating disaster - because he feels that the people need a scapegoat, to help them rally behind Shinra to stop Sephiroth. (Fortunately, he used a rather... slow-acting gas, and some of his personnel had different views. Oh, and Gaia's Vengeance Ex Machina happened too.)
- In the previous game Final Fantasy VI the Back Story of a little backwater town Thamasa is that it was founded by mages fleeing persecution after being made scapegoats for a massively destructive war in the backstory for this game as such they treat outsiders with distrust out of fear they find out about their ancestors and try to finish off the job that that nearly killed the towns founders.
- The US Marines are used as a scapegoat by Blackwatch in the game Prototype. A bit of Fridge Brilliance justifies the combat tactics in-game because of this: what's the best way to make sure the marines are highly visible during the destruction of New York? Use forms of warfare that result in high attrition, lots of collateral damage and see an overwhelming military force crashing through civilian areas. The Marines were also used as shock troops to absorb the brunt of the casualties, which accounts for the Blackwatch's relative rarity on the field in comparison with them.
- They get better in the end though, when they are credited for stopping the infection (which you actually did most of the job).
- Also there is an ability called Patsy where you can scapegoat an innocent person and make the military believe that person is you, resulting in their instant death why they plead they are normal. This is done for as a distraction or just because it's funny.
- In Suikoden IV, Lazlo is banished from Razril and set adrift, left to die for a crime he didn't commit. Eventually, after her own fall from grace, his ex-superior Katarina admits that she suspected he wasn't responsible, but went along with the charade because she wanted to see someone pay for Glen's death.
- In Final Fantasy Tactics, Ramza gets branded a heretic by the Corrupt Church—while he does kill a cardinal, it was in self defense when the cardinal reveals that he's really a demon.
- In Chrono Trigger, the Evil Chancellor tries to have the King Guardia XXXIII framed for selling the Rainbow Shell under false pretenses... the Chancellor was actually a descendent of the Yakra monster you defeated earlier, seeking revenge for its fallen ancestor.
- In Skyrim, this happens to you during the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy".
- Halo 4 Dr. Halsey is made into this, by her superiors, by calling her methods of recruiting SPARTAN-IIs as abhorrent, simply to justify that the SPARTAN-IVs are better than them.
- Angra Mainyu aka Avenger from Fate/stay night. An unlucky random villager chosen to bear all of the sins of the rest of the villagers and be tortured and killed so that they could feel better about themselves. Because his death brought them a form of salvation he technically qualified as a Heroic Spirit, but the Grail interpreted his existence as a "wish" by those villagers for there to exist a God of Evil, which it then attempted to grant.
- Archer's final fate was to be blamed and executed for starting a war he had tried to stop. Worse yet, the person who started the war and blamed him was a person Archer had saved.
- Beatrice in Umineko no Naku Koro ni plays the Wicked Witch role to the hilt, making herself a much more attractive culprit than anyone in Battler's family.
- Ultra Fast Pony:
- When it becomes clear that Winter Wrap Up has been completely ruined, the ponies all put the issue to a vote and agree to blame Rainbow Dash for everything. (Dash did screw up big-time, but she was hardly the only one.) This apparently wound up being an official position: one season later, Dash took a vacation, and someone else had to fill in as scapegoat while she was away.
- Apple Bloom blames all of her mistakes on her Imaginary Friend, Twist. Even after she realizes that Twist doesn't exist. Her real friends try to convince her "You can't keep blaming Twist for everything!" but they occasionally get in on the act themselves, anyway.
- In Family Guy, Meg, after finally losing it and verbally ripping the entire family a new one, reaches the conclusion,that being the scapegoat is her purpose in the family, and that, without her acting as a sort of lynchpin, everything would come undone.
- The Fairly OddParents: Whenever something goes wrong in Timmy's family, his father's first reaction is to blame his neighbor Dinkleburg or Timmy himself (especially if Timmy, for once, did not do something).
- Taken Up to Eleven in later seasons were he blames everything, from not having milk for his cereal to the newspaper being wrong, on Dinkleburg.
- Charlie Brown is a Butt Monkey on his best day, but he becomes this in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. During the last play of the football game, Lucy - typically - pulls the football away before Charlie can kick it, causing their gang to lose the important game. She deliberately screws up the play, but somehow this is Charlie Brown's fault. This is the primary reason that many Peanuts fans hate that special.
- Teacher's Pet, Leonard, he always gets blamed for things that are obviously Spot/Scott's fault. Leonard once got senselessly blamed and beat up for something Scott did to help him on Valentines Day. When people find out that the cards were fake, the girls beat him up to teach him a lesson. This is one of the many reasons fans hate that episode because they didn't like the main character get senselessly humiliated, blamed, and beat up.
- Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that burned down a huge chunk of Rome; it didn't help the Christians that they were thought to have some downright bizarre religious rituals about eating the flesh of the dead (taken from the "This is my body" section of the Last Supper).
- The Christians turned right around and blamed Nero for the fire. Possibly the most successful use of the "No, you did it!" defense in history.
- The Jews also got blamed for a great number of things throughout history, up to and including the death of Christ, the Blood Libel, the Black Death and others, leading to many pogroms against them.
- The Curse of the Colonel, for why the Hanshin Tigers haven't won a Japan Series since the last time they won some excited fans tossed a statue of Colonel Sanders (yes, the KFC icon) into the river.
- An actual goat is blamed for the Chicago Cubs' woes - namely, that said goat was ejected from the Wrigley Field stands during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, which infuriated his owner and proclaimed a curse on the team. The Cubs lost that series and have not played a World Series game since.
- As far as baseball goes, there is probably no one who has gotten figuratively slaughtered more publicly or mercilessly than Cubs fan Steve Bartman. Just one action of reaching for a foul ball coming your way, something every fan in attendance would do a million times over, means you knock it away from Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou and perhaps prevent him from bringing your beloved Cubs one out closer to ending the curse. Never mind that it was Bernie Mac who sang "Root, root, root, for the champs" instead of "the Cubbies" during the 7th inning stretch, or that it was still one out in the top of the 8th and the Cubs were still up 3-0, or that Cubs starting pitcher Mark Prior was starting to miss the strike zone after working the entire game, or that, with the Cubs still leading 3-1 later that inning, Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez, one of the surest gloves in the game, misplayed a ground ball that would have been an easy inning-ending double play, or that the Cubs were still up 3 games to 2 in the series and could still have won the pennant in Game 7 even if they had lost Game 6. No, as far as all Chicago was concerned, it was your fault Alou was angry and acted out and completely changed the mood of all 42,000+ in attendance and 150,000 more in the streets outside; it was your fault the Florida Marlins' bats suddenly smacked eight runs across that inning; it was your fault the Cubs lost Game 6 AND Game 7 of the series, the latter of which you didn't even attend because everyone around you was throwing "Asshole! Asshole!" chants, food, cups of beer, and death threats in your direction in Game 6. And overnight you became the most (in)famous man in America, your face front and center over every news station from here to Honolulu, your home being protected by a line of cops to stop the ravenous media from bothering you and irate fans from chucking rocks at your windows, your city inflamed with expressions of rage and hatred of your mere existence. And now you can never again go to the hitherto Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field to watch your favorite team or show your face in public lest some fan decides to slug your teeth in, at least not until the Cubs finally break this curse. And all because you reached for a foul ball.
- Before Bartman, there was Bill Buckner. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Red Sox were up 3 games to 2 in the series and held a 5-3 lead with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning with bases empty. One more out, and the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. Everyone recalls the ending as Buckner letting a slow ground ball up the first base line between his legs which let the winning run for the Mets score, and the Mets also winning Game 7. Fewer will remember that Buckner's error was just the last in a series of plays that allowed that situation to come up in the first place: a Gary Carter single, a Kevin Mitchell single on an 0-2 countnote , a Ray Knight single that scored Carter (now 5-4 Red Sox) and got Mitchell to third base, Red Sox closer Calvin Schiraldi (who was working his third inning - it's rare for closers to pitch more than one in a game) being pulled for Bob Stanley, Stanley being worked to a 2-2 count on Mookie Wilson before Stanley threw a wild pitch near Wilson's feet which rolled to the backstop and let Mitchell score the tying run. This was all before Wilson tapped the grounder to Buckner (in other words, the Red Sox's lead was already blown by the time Buckner committed the error). Nonetheless, sports radio and Red Sox fans remembered Buckner as the guy responsible for the Red Sox losing in '86, and after retiring in 1990 he didn't appear at Fenway until 2008 (after the Red Sox had won the World Series in '04 and '07). Buckner's career was quite impressive - 2,715 hits (more than Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio), .289 batting average, 1,208 runs batted in - but anytime his name is mentioned among baseball fans, this one error will be the first thing that comes to mind.
- This happens very often in baseball. Just ask Tony Fernández, who was shaping up to be a potential MVP for the 1997 World Series for the Cleveland Indians. Then, in the 11th inning of Game 7, Bobby Bonilla of the Florida Marlins shielded him on a soft grounder by Craig Counsell, and Fernández ended up doing his best Bill Buckner impression. The Marlins won it all three batters later.
- The President of the United States might as well be changed to "Scapegoat of the United States". No matter what happens, it will somehow be blamed on the President. Riot related to a football team losing? President's fault. Vocal Minority Muslim terrorist tries to blow something up? The President did it.
- It's often been said that the single best indicator for whether or not a sitting President will win reelection is the state of the economy.
- America in general. Even on this very wiki.
- This has often been parodied on comments on news, where when something happens, someone jokingly comments "Obama/Bush did it".
- Whoever the person in charge of a country is. The Prime Minister's title should be changed to "Prime Scapegoat", just like the U.S. President.
- Although that person gets to use "the previous government" as a scapegoat, at least for some time.
- Dictators with a very bad image are often used as scapegoats, and few people will bother to defend them from blatantly false accusations. For example, Chile's Pinochet has been unfairly accused of: antisemitism (actually, he had several Jewish ministers, and Palestinian-descended ones as well), removing "civic education" classes from high schools (actually, Pinochet's government *added them* in the early 80s; Eduardo Frei, in 1992, was the one who took them out) and causing a drought (you figure that one out).
- Apple Inc. and Microsoft have Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, respectively. They supposedly do all of the research, all of the marketing, all of the designs, and receive all of the criticism.
- You yourself probably know a scapegoat. You know, that person who everyone always seems to actively seek out and take it all out on? One can easily wonder if there's a personality disorder that practically requires someone to have a scapegoat in their life - Dave Pelzer and then his brother Richie, for example, were scapegoats to their mother's wrath.
- Clinical psychologists actually have a term for this when dealing with dysfunctional families: the "identified patient." Sometimes in a family where at least one parent is alcoholic, abusive, or mentally ill, one child gets designated as the scapegoat and the rest of the family is encouraged to blame that child for all their problems. That child is often the first one to get into therapy, and the first to face up to all of the family's problems, because the rest of the family is in denial about the real issues that are causing so much suffering. Without the scapegoat, a dysfunctional family is forced to deal with their own problems, which they are often unwilling to do.
- The entertainment industry, particularly video games, typically take some amount of undeserved blame any time a school shooting occurs. Thanks a lot, Jack Thompson.
- Not Always Right has quite a few examples; people will look for ways to pin anything on anyone so long as it's not their own fault.
- After the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, Stalin executed many of the commanding generals on the western border. It is still argued how much of the fault was actually theirs, but a notable case is where they executed the chief veterinarian and the head of the warehouses, but an army commander was spared and later promoted - because the communications with him were lost at the time.
- Queen Elizabeth I blamed her advisers for 'tricking' her into signing the order of execution for her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Whether this was actually the case, no one will ever know.
- Of course, the Tudors were great at assigning scapegoats. Nothing was ever the fault of Elizabeth's father Henry VIII either, especially not his inability to sire healthy male offspring.
- Emancipated blacks were this for the dominant whites up to the Civil Rights Movement (and even then, such incidents like these can be depressingly common in low income areas now).
- People accused of witchcraft were often accused of doing something which often occurs naturally like a bad/ruined crop, babies dying, widespread illness, ect.
- Tojo Hideki volunteered to be the scapegoat to all of Japans war crimes, so that the Emperor would keep his position and be cleared of anything he may have took part of in the war.
- The well-known Mayan Doomsday was a bunch of apocalypse theories that had to do with the Mayan Calendar "ending" in December 21, 2012. However, many people believe that it's the Mayans who believed that the Apocalypse was happening, while it was actually the theorists who believed the Apocalypse was going to happen. In fact, Mayans believed that the calendar would reset like any other calendar.
- Atlanta security guard Richard Jewell was the man who found a backpack full of explosives during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, thus saving what could have been potentially thousands of lives. At first he was hailed as a hero... but then an FBI agent leaked the fact that they (the FBI) were checking into Jewell just in case. (This is a standard law enforcement procedure.) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper turned "We're checking into him just in case" into "He's our number one suspect", and the public crucifixion of Richard Jewell began. He was finally exonerated in 2005, nearly ten years later, when terrorist Eric Rudolph confessed that it was he who planted the explosives and not Jewell.
- There is the anecdote, told by Francisco Herrera Luque in his book "Bovez el urogallo", about a rich woman in colonial Venezuela, that has the misfortune of having a bad case of loud intestinal gases, which embarrassed her on church and other social situations. The solution her family come with? Put a young slave girl as a constant companion of the lady, so when the master farted the poor girl was Mis-blamed and received a bump in the head or a fan hit, and received the nickname of "la pagapeos, lit. "the one who pays for the farts"". To this day, the term "pagapeos" is more or less equivalent of "scapegoat" in Venezuela.
- Some conspiracy theorists believe the car accident that took Gunpei Yokoi's life was actually caused by an assassin hired by Nintendo. Heaven knows why, because even though this was shortly after he left Nintendo (disgraced after the high-profile failure that was the Virtual Boy) to work on the WonderSwan, Nintendo still holds respect for the man.
- Many times a player might be Misblamed into the cause of a huge defeat, the so-called "Quarterback Syndrome". Though at least once the scapegoat earned it: in 2010, Brazil's Felipe Melo crowned a FIFA World Cup of irregular play and Unnecessary Roughness by scoring an own goal and being expelled due to taking down an adversary and stomping on his leg in his team's elimination game to the Netherlands. His career barely recovered ever since.