"Then he must take the two male goats and present them to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle. He is to cast sacred lots to determine which goat will be reserved as an offering to the Lord and which will carry the sins of the people to the wilderness of Azazel. Aaron will then present as a sin offering the goat chosen by lot for the Lord. The other goat, the scapegoat chosen by lot to be sent away, will be kept alive, standing before the Lord. When it is sent away to Azazel in the wilderness, the people will be purified and made right with the Lord."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 this scapegoat was innocent. Compare Silent Scapegoat, where the Scapegoat volunteered for the job, and Wounded Gazelle Gambit, where "Gazelle" wounds (or pretends to wound) oneself to frame someone else. See also Scapegoat Creator, in which someone is blamed for stuff despite that his/her involvement on the finished product might have been drastically reduced, and Mis-blamed, 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
- Suzaku from Code Geass is blamed for the murder of Clovis early on, namely by the Pureblood faction within the army to try and make a case of how Japanese can't be trusted in the military.
- 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....
- 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.
- 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.
- In Koe No Katachi, everyone in Nishimiya's class bullies her relentlessly. However, when the principal finally takes action and asks who was responsible for bullying her, the class immediately and unapologetically places all the blame on one of the main characters, Ishida.
- In Kotoura-san, Haruka Kotoura (a Telepath with Power Incontinence) is a perpetualone during Downer Beginning; her classmates constantly lie about their own thoughts and feelings to be personally secure among others, so blaming the Honest Advisor who also happens to be a Living Lie Detector was especially cruel and selfish on the other children's part. The kicker is that this behavior is apparently OK with the adults as well! It's no wonder how the setting became a Crapsaccharine World.
- 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 guilty of only 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 Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the movie reveals that Alejandro Corner, a Season 1 villain, was blamed for the Government Conspiracy and A-LAWS that were put down in the second season. The truth is that Alejandro probably did intend something like that, but was killed by Ribbons before he had a chance to enact any of it. It's implied that revealing exactly who and what was behind the conspiracy would prove to be problematic, now that Innovators are beginning to appear among the general population and there are multiple clones of Ribbons out there who had no role in his crimes.
- 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 Oreimo, 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 the stuff was his, and that Kyosuke 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 the 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.
- 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 extension, 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.
- 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. Ranma’s usual M.O. is to either eat beforehand or find something else to do, both of which will end up infuriating Akane. Later everyone else will chew out Ranma 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 to the people promises 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.
- Viral takes a lot of this, mostly self-inflicted, in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Later on, Rossiu uses Simon as one.
- Oboro, the Butt Monkey 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.
- Yu-Gi-Oh! features a card actually called Scapegoat that summons 4 Sheep Tokens. Since they can't be used for summoning, they exist primarily to be sacrificed in battle to protect the player's life points. You know, like a scapegoat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Given that almost no one knows this and few in the Republic would've had any idea what a "Sith Lord" even was, it's rather easy for Palpatine to scapegoat the Jedi.
- 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. RIFT seemingly remains oblivious to this possibility. 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.
- In Nineteen Eighty-Four, 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.
- 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. This 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. This is the pshot; the drash is something different.
- 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 Darkness at Noon, Gletkin explains that, since the necessity of scapegoats has 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 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.
- Peter Hatcher is often blamed for the antics of his brother in the Fudge series.
- 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 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.
- 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.
- The Infernal Devices: In all honesty, de Quincey from the first book (A Clockwork Angel) is not the poster boy for morality, but he is certainly not the Magister.
- Journey to Chaos: If you are The Trickster's Choice then you are blamed for disaster in the area, because it's believed that the Trickster made them happen to you. Whether or not thisis the truth is irrelevant. When Eric finds out that he is one of these "chosen" in Looming Shadow, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
- 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.
- 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.
- After learning about the corruption of his policeman father, Sonny Lofthus, the title character from Jo Nesbø's novel The Son, became a heroin junkie and started to take the blame for the crimes of bit-part criminals for cash that he used to buy the drug. After he turned eighteen, he took credit for two murders, and in the subsequent prison sentence, started to take credit for murders committed by others in exchange for pure heroin that was delivered to him by a corrupted prison priest. One day, he learns that his father wasn't corrupt, and he stops being a scapegoat and escapes from prison to get revenge for him.
Live Action TV
- On The 100, Murphy almost becomes one of these twice. First when he's almost hanged for Wells's murder, before the real murderer confessed, and then again when Raven suggests trying to pin all of Finn's crimes on him. In both cases, the actual guilty party is someone the other characters all like and want to see protected, while Murphy is a Jerkass that no one really likes and of whom everyone's willing to believe the worst; he's quick to point out the main characters' hypocrisy here.
- Happened in an episode of In Plain Sight, where a teenage 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."
- 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 killed 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 maintained this grudge and persecuted Snow for years, and it eventually resulted in the Evil Queen casting a curse and ruining the lives of everyone in her world to "win for once" against Snow.
- In Orange Is the New Black, Vee manipulates Crazy Eyes into becoming one of these after her attack on Red. It would have worked, too, if not for the efforts of others in the prison.
- 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.
- Pawn Stars:
- When the Old Man buys a pair of Western studio dummies for $500 (for the pair), Rick blows a gasket. He thinks that Chumlee was the one who purchased them, given his apparent record of dumb purchases, and is floored when the Old Man speaks up and reveals the truth. He bought them because he thought they were neat; he even named them Ed and George.
- Chumlee purchased a Leslie revolving organ speaker from the 1960s, took it to get restored to operating condition, then brought it back to the shop. Later, Rick hears somebody fiddling around with a keyboard and the speaker in the back room, grumbles about Chumlee goofing off during working hours... and opens the door to find the Old Man at the keyboard.
- During inventory time, Rick announces there will be a booby prize for whoever bought whatever item had been sitting in the store the longest. Chumlee is blamed for the two worst purchases, but he points out that Rick and the Old Man bought them and that his name is on the paperwork only because they had him write up the sale.
- 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).
- Bryan Danielson was the scapegoat when one of WWE's sponsors found the NXT Riot that lead to the formation of The Nexus "too violent". Danielson was singled out for being the veteran and for performing "imitable violence" when he choked Justin Roberts with a tie. WWE would hired him back later.
- Low Ki ...ahem...Kaval was the scapegoat for NXT Season Two, both for Vince McMahon's choice not winning (the contest was supposed to be 50% fan votes, 50% "pro decision", which means at least one pro was a turncoat since the fan vote was overwhelmingly in Kaval's favor, never falling below 60%) and for the horribleness of the "Genesis" segment which was a result of Vince McMahon's fury at the fact Alex Riley did not win. Then Low Ki was the scapegoat when New Japan Pro Wrestling's sponsors got upset at the fact Low Ki dressed up as Agent 47, who was apparently a trademark of a sponsor's competitor whom they felt New Japan just gave an awesome free commercial to. These resulted in his release from both companies. Unlike Danielson, Low Ki would get injured by Akebono at an All Japan Pro Wrestling show before New Japan could hire him back.
- Former New Japan Pro Wrestling booker Fumihiko Uei was who paid for the disaster title bout between Kazuyuki Fujita and Kensuke, despite having been Fujita himself who booked the match finish.
- You could argue that many recipients of X-Pac Heat are ultimately scapegoats for WWE management's incompetence. When it comes down to it, the performers answer to management and many don't really have a say in the matter, at least not without getting into hot water with somebody up on the corporate ladder. Since the fans obviously can't boo directly at creative or management besides the McMahons, they boo the performers instead. Take, for example, the 2014 and 2015 Royal Rumble winners.
- 2014: The two people who received the worst of the vitriol were Rey Mysterio and eventual winner Batista. With Rey, it was because he was the last entrant in the match and the fans realized runaway crowd-favorite Daniel Bryan wasn't going to be in it. With Dave, it was a mishmash of factors — he won when Bryan was left out of it, one week after returning no less, and the fact that he would be winning was completely telegraphed. Many felt he hadn't earned the shot over the current roster after coming back so soon, and the match itself made it clear that he had a severe case of ring rust. Then there's the fact that he returned a face; while Batista's face work is above average at best, his heel work is where he really shines and what he clearly enjoys, and the above situation just made it too much of a cognitive dissonance to pan out (he himself admitted in interviews that he didn't want to return as a face but creative kept pushing for it, no doubt to capitalize on Guardians of the Galaxy). Combined with the fact that he was playing a face who was playing nice with The Authority, the most hated faction in the entire company, creating the sense that the Authority were outright manufacturing a controlled main event for WrestleMania, and when it comes down to it, Dave never stood a chance. When he turned heel, the resentment died down and everyone was much, much happier, including Dave himself, though that didn't stop him from leaving over the Creative Differences months later.
- 2015: Roman Reigns. Poor, poor, Roman. Vince is so desperate to find another John Cena as the man himself nears forty, and Roman's the one who got stuck with that role, despite being relatively green. It soon became very clear that the character did not fit him. He was eaten alive in the aftermath of the 2015 Royal Rumble, and reactions have been mild even after all the backlash died down during the aftermath of WrestleMania. However, Vince is so goddamn stubborn with making him the top face of the company that the fans have been force-fed him for months even though it's very obvious that they don't want to see anymore of him unless he turns heel like Batista did, which is what everyone (including, if the rumors are true, his own son-in-law) is telling Vince he needs to do — barring his corporate stooges, that is. He's now the current embodiment of everything fans hate about the WWE and the lightning rod for all the rage people have at Vince's booking decisions. Just like Dave before, he's constantly being set up for failure by Vince and his Yes Men, but since he doesn't have the clout Batista has, he's got no choice but to do as he's told. The only thing that actually got him over after ten months of being booked as Cena 2.0 was a genuinely character-motivated berserker rage beating of Triple H — and the McMahons figuring from there that people liked seeing Roman embarrass them (though they've become so hated that embarrassing them would get anyone over). As it turns out, Reigns makes a great Troll.
- The A Prairie Home Companion 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.
- The Book of Mormon: Elder Price's great shame is that, at the age of five, he ate a doughnut and blamed it on his brother.
- 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 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this happens to you during the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy."
- 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.
- 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 either a human who's been possessed by a demon or always has been a demon, just in human guise. Later, when Olan writes the Durai Reports covering the true story of Delita's rise to power and the Church's attempt to manipulate politics in the background, he also gets branded (and executed) as a heretic.
- 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 and to keep the knowledge that the UNSC allowed the kidnapping and genetic modification of children to take place and make the SPARTAN-IIs.
- 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.
- Assuming Five Nights at Freddy's 4 shows what it appears to (which may or may not be the case), the Toy animatronics were this for all of Freddy's franchise woes. After being publicized as the new face of the restaurant, they were quickly consigned to the scrapheap when child deaths started piling up, despite not being responsible for any of them (not even the Bite of '87).
- In Spec Ops: The Line, John Conrad turns out to be this in the end. Walker used an imaginary version of Conrad to cast all his self-loathing onto: The man himself was Dead All Along. He does not take it well when he realizes he's got no-one to blame for this but himself.
- In case 2-4 of Ace Attorney, Phoenix is forced to accuse Adrian Andrews of murder, despite knowing that they're innocent, in an effort to draw out the trial.
- In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, the player character is blamed by Gengar for touching Ninetales' tails. Because the person who did it is the one whose reincarnation is cursed to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, this leads to everyone trying to hunt you down and kill you in order to stop the curse while you have to go on the run to clear your name.
- Angra Mainyu aka Avenger from Fate/stay night. An ordinary man, his fellow villagers one day declared him to be the reason all of their sinful urges existed and tortured him for the rest of his life in an attempt to purge themselves of evil. Because his death brought them a form of salvation he technically qualified as a Heroic Spirit, but as a Servant during the Third War he was as weak as a human. After he was killed 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: When They Cry plays the Wicked Witch role to the hilt, making herself a much more attractive culprit than anyone in Battler's family.
- In If the Emperor Had a Text-to-Speech Device, the Emperor claims that he brought Magnus in to take the blame for events of episode 18. He may be joking, though.
- 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.
- Early on, El Goonish Shive crew used to find their teen Mad Scientist fitting for this purpose. Of course, there are good reasons why he had to repeatedly explain that it wasn't his fault when someone is transformed.
Nanase: It's a standard procedure.
- In addition, the author has started jokingly blaming a certain "Kevin" every time something in the comic isn't quite right. It is usually only in the commentary, but it found its way into the strip itself here. He has been rather elusive on who this Kevin is, or if he is even a real person.
- Yuki was going to become Kira's scapegoat in Mitadake Saga until she sacrificed herself for him
- In No Rest for the Wicked, Claire realizes she's being sacrificed because parents are guilty of something. She just doesn't care.
- Precocious: Down with Jacob!
- Something*Positive explains how American justice works. Of course, that being Something Positive, it explains specifically how media-justice tandem works on scapegoats.
- 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.
- 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.
- Fillmore! used this for the reason Fallejo's partner Frank Bishop was kicked out of the Safety Patrol and became a recluse - while chasing a Bingo rigger Frank dumped gazpacho onto the perp to slip him up... only it turned out that the perp was allergic to gazpacho. Fulsom chose to shift the blame entirely onto him rather than face a lawsuit from his parents.
- Peanuts: Charlie Brown is a Butt Monkey on his best day, and a Chew Toy on average, 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.
- The Simpsons:
- In "Lisa the Vegetarian," when Lisa ruins Homer's barbeque by stealing the roast pig:
Marge: "Bart, nooooo!"Bart: (Standing beside her) "What?"Marge: "Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!"
- "Two Dozen And One Greyhounds"
- Lisa, Marge, and Homer wonder who was causing various problems within the house lately (such as tearing up all her test papers, a broken vase, and spreading garbage all over the neighbor's yard before Homer got the chance to, respectively). Bart quips that he was this time innocent of these, and felt they were simply senseless destruction without any of his usual commentary. Turns out, it was the dog, who was continuing his path of destruction even in the room where they were located discussing what's happening.
- Santa's Little Helper himself was implied to have this same trope applied to him. When they discover some stuff buried underneath the house (specifically, Lisa's bongo drums, Bart's strobe light, and Homer's "best of Ray Stevens featuring 'The Streak'" record) Homer guessed that it was the dog that buried all of their stuff. Marge's response to Homer implies that it was in fact she who buried at least one of the items that Santa's Little Helper uncovered.
- Bart has been expelled from Springfield Elementary School twice, both times for something that he didn't actually do.
- In "The Seven-Beer Snitch," Fat Tony's Mafia, while they are in prison, deduce that one of their fellow inmates was The Informant, to which Johnny Tightlips points to Frankie the Squealer as the rat. However, not only does Frankie deny being the rat, but he also reminds him that he's actually The Stool Pigeon. It was Homer Simpson who was the rat.
- In "Lisa the Vegetarian," when Lisa ruins Homer's barbeque by stealing the roast pig:
- In Arthur, after Francine's bike was allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspected that Binky may have stolen the bike. During a meeting, Binky stormed over to Muffy and asked if she was the one who is accusing him of stealing her bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
- In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Frightful", the Frightful Four are damaging the FF's reputation. Since Johnny's already known to be careless with his powers, it's very hard for him to convince anyone he wasn't responsible for burning down a building ... especially as he has to keep specifying "I did not burn down that building".
- One episode of Rugrats has Suzie blame Angelica for stealing her brand-new tricycle and punishes her by tying her doll to a balloon and letting it go. Despite the evidence against her, Angelica was completely innocent - Suzie's trike was under her porch, Angelica's trike was her own and Angelica's red hands (which Suzie thought was from opening her garage's painted doors) were actually from her finger painting an apology letter. Thankfully for Suzie, a miracle (or a low-flying plane) gets Angelica's doll back to her and everyone's happy again. Except for poor Chuckie, since it was his balloon tied to the doll. The lesson he learned that day was "Never let Suzie borrow your balloon".
- On Recess, Randall also had this happen to him twice:
- The first time, most of the secrets that TJ and the others held were exposed to the teachers and staff, to which they ended up busted. They initially think Randall was behind their being ratted out, but Randall (who was in the garbage can to listen in) insisted that he did not. A chase to the bathroom later, and they end up discovering that Randall really wasn't behind their being ratted out that time: It was the so-called "cool kid" Stone who joined up with their posse who was in fact an undercover department of education individual who disguised himself as a student so Superintendent Skinner could find out the going abouts by the school who did it.
- The second time was when Randall hired the Ashleys' younger brothers, the Tylers, to act as proxies for him for his snitching job due to his getting cold at his sleuthing skills. One day, a lot more kids were put in The Box, including King Bob, who blamed Randall. However, Randall mentioned that reporting higher authority figures was a low even he wouldn't go as low as, and immediately told off the Ashleys' brothers for it, and attempted to put a stop to it, although they were one step ahead of him and reported him for it as well. Both instances also resulted in an Enemy Mine between Randall and the other kids.
- On an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon, Garfield and Odie are camping at a park. The ranger mentions that campers have been complaining about their lunches mysteriously disappearing over the last few weeks. Jon immediately glares at Garfield who says "Don't look at me. I just got here."
- 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 Christnote , 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.
Bob Costas: Tony Fernández, who has worn hero's laurels throughout the postseason, including earlier in this seventh game of the World Series—now, cruel as it may seem, perhaps being fitted for goat horns.
- Fortunately for him, most of the heat for the loss ended up falling on Jose Mesa, who blew the save in the bottom of the 9th.
- Similar to Bartman, Michael Beason, a Charlotte Hornets fan who sat courtside and loved to Trash Talk Charlotte's adversaries, became infamous during the 2016 playoffs against the Miami Heat, wearing a distinctive shirt that earned the nickname "Purple Shirt Guy\Man". He heckled Dwyane Wade on Game 6 up until he scored two crucial three-pointers and stared back at Beason. Charlotte then had to fly to Miami and lost game 7. People blamed Beason on game 6, and still blamed Beason on game 7, even if that was on the road.
- The President of the United States might as well be changed to "The 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. Avalanche in the Rocky Mountains? 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. Something the President has very limited ability to influence. And essentially no ability to influence in the areas of the economy that an average American is likely to personally experience, like the price of gasoline or food (the former often being a driver of presidential approval ratings).
- 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". It's also echoed in the now-memetic line "Thanks, Obama!" in which Barack Obama gets blamed for literally everything. Including things that happened before he was the President or even born yet. Especially things that happened before he was the President or even born yet. For instance, it's frequent to blame Obama for 9/11.
- Whoever the person in charge of a country is. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom's title should be changed to "Prime Scapegoat of the United Kingdom", 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 as it will simply be assumed that they did so many bad things that one more on the list is plausible. For example, Chile's Augusto 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. Lucky for him no one had any knowledge of cellular biology at the time and thus it was impossible to be aware that the father always determines the offspring's gender.
- 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.
- Wolves do this. Either a single wolf or (less commonly) a small group of them, called omega wolves, are singled out to take the brunt of just about everything. They will be attacked for anything from trying to stand up for themselves or if their packmates are just upset, and in some cases may be killed or driven out of the pack. In a twist, the omega wolves are often as important to the pack as the alpha pair. Their presence acts as a sort of lightening rod to absorb tension and keeps the pack from turning on each other, sort of like taking your aggression out on a punching bag.
- The Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome were often blamed when things weren't going well. It was insinuated that someone among them had taken a lover or two (a big no-no as they were sworn to celibacy until their term of service was up or they died, whichever came first), or that they had allowed the fire in the Temple of Vesta to go out.
- For lots of Narcissist Abusive Parents this is basically the role they assign to the child they consider the Black Sheep of the family, when they're really they're the White Sheep.
- During World War II, an infamous event called the Katyn Massacre occurred. The Soviets and the Allies claimed that Nazi Germany committed the Massacre, while Germany said that the Soviet Union was responsible for the atrocity. The Soviet Union even tried to condemn Germany for the Katyn Massacre during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (it didn't work). Records released after the Soviet Union collapsed eventually revealed that, for once, Germany was innocent of that war crime, and it was in fact the Soviets who did it.
- LaDondrell Montgomery had his life sentence for armed robbery cancelled when it emerged he was in prison when the stick-up happened.
- Following the Sony Hack of '14, North Korea vehemently denied all responsibility for the attack, and indeed, top security experts believe it could only have been an inside job at work here. Not that the U.S. government is ready to listen to them, of course.
- Shortly before the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger was set to start a potential witness named Stephen Rakes was found dead in the woods near his home. Due to the timing it was initially theorized it had something to do with his testimony, but when asked about it Whitey pointedly said he had nothing to do with it, and it turns out he was telling the truth: Rakes was killed by a business associate for reasons completely unrelated to the trial.