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Framing The Guilty Party / Known Guilty Parties

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When people known to be guilty get framed for other crimes.

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In the manga Cannon God Exaxxion, the invading aliens launch a propaganda campaign to make the human hero seem like a monster using doctored video... which the hero's support squad then counters using doctored video of the aliens making the doctored video.
  • City Hunter: In the manga version of Rosemary Moon's story arc, the villain, an international terrorist, gets also framed for Rosemary's murder in order to allow her to escape from her past as a sweeper. The rationale to get Saeko's help was that the villain had committed enough crimes he would get at least life prison, so adding another crime to his record wouldn't affect the sentence (that and Ryo promised to cancel her debt).
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: King Bradley is such a beloved politician that after the good guys win the day at the end of the manga, they elect to cover up his crimes. Instead, they pin the whole thing on the only two surviving members of the Military Conspiracy. Even though Bradley was a leading figure and these two were just pawns in the grand scheme of things.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! ARC-V combines this with Pretext for War, as LDS (Group A) convince the general population of their home that Academia (Group B) is invading and that they need to fund/build an army to defend themselves. While it's true that B instigated a genocide, produces sociopathic Child Soldiers, and has already started a major war, they hadn't launched a full attack on A's home yet.note 

    Comic Books 
  • In Blacksad, commissioner Smirnov not only covers for Blacksad's execution of Statoc, a powerful businessman who successfully muzzled Smirnov and the police into not investigating his crimes, he also uses the outrage of the henchmen who realized they have been set up as a reason to interrogate them about their crimes making sure the public knows what Statoc did.
  • In the Charmed (1998) Comic-Book Adaptation, Phoebe and the others barely stop Cal Greene from murdering Elise (and thus averting the Bad Future from the TV episode "Morality Bites"). Since they heal Elise, they use a Glamour to recreate the attack and put it up on the Internet, thus assuring he gets arrested and his reputation is ruined.
  • A variant happened in Diabolik. A rich man has ended up paralyzed and unable to do more than blink after his wife and her lover attempt to murder him. When Diabolik steals a collection of jewels from him, they meet and the man manages to ask him to euthanize and avenge him by blinking in Morse code (Diabolik catches on to this only because he once did the same thing to give Eva a message while standing trial). Diabolik decides to do so, and, after stealing the jewels, waits for the wife and her lover to be out of the house to enter masked as the lover and with Eva masked as the wife to murder him on camera, declaring they are doing it to complete the attempted murder that left him paralyzed. Then, as the wife and her lover are arrested, Altea, the fiancee of Inspector Ginko and a childhood friend of the deceased, finds evidence that they couldn't have done the murder, but, knowing they had attempted to kill her friend and unable to prove it, destroys the evidence.
  • Judge Dredd of all people does this. He knows the Mechanismo project is incredibly risky and has seen first-hand the danger that robot judges pose to the city. When tracking a rogue Mark I robojudge, Dredd is beaten to it by one of the new Mark II models. After the Mark II ignores Dredd's order to hold its fire, Dredd destroys the Mark II and persuades the only witness to say that the Mark I destroyed the Mark II and that Dredd destroyed the Mark I. It was noted as a rare Out-of-Character Moment for Dredd, though his fears were later justified.
  • In a variant on the theme in Justice Society of America, Wildcat reveals he once framed a man for the murder of his own family, because the man had, in retribution, killed the actual murderer and his innocent family, but there wasn't a way to get (or apparently plant) the evidence linking him to the crime of killing the other family. It's still played as being an act of Moral Dissonance for Wildcat, and he pays for it with all but the last of his supernatural nine lives.
  • When a storyline saw Spider-Man being provoked into assaulting Norman Osborn on camera- Spidey unable to reveal that Osborn is actually the Green Goblin due to all the work his foe has put into establishing himself as a Villain with Good Publicity- Peter spent some time assuming a new series of costumed identities so that he could continue fighting crime, with one of these identities eventually providing fake evidence that the Spider-Man who actually attacked Osborn was either Jack O'Lantern or Conundrum, villains he had just recently defeated with a knack for illusion and deceit.

    Fan Works 
  • From All You Need Is Love:
    Near's Agent: I can't just leave without [the notebook]!
    L: Certainly you can, just say Light Yagami gave you the run around and that his soldiers were undyingly loyal. Also tell him that we just don't trust you. Near will buy that.
    Near's Agent: Are you framing one of your employees?
    L: It'd be framing if there was any way to convince Near that Light was not in fact Kira and somehow not giving you the run around. You don't have to tell him that Light wasn't actually here and never actually met with you.
  • Fade: L plants fake evidence in Light's room just so he can be given an excuse to detain him.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero uses a variation of this trope: after too many attempts to kidnap Sasaki from esper leader Takahashi, the SOS Brigade manages to frame the latter for the inexistent kidnapping of Kyon's sister, making evidence by disguising themselves to get caught on camera.
  • In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything, B has indeed been stalking and spying on L and Light and threatening Light. Light just sets matters up so that it becomes obvious to L by drilling a hole in B's floor and into their ceiling so it looks like B has been or was planning to film them in bed together.
  • In Interventions, steps are taken at the conclusion to frame Eric Doyle for Sylar’s crimes, allowing all concerned parties to avoid closer investigation of Sylar now that he’s essentially been brainwashed into a powerless state.
  • In Bequeathed from Pale Estates, Gwyn Parren utterly hates Gregor Clegane and Queen Cersei, though she's unable to convince any of the latter's servants to move against her. However, the former is just as despised and isn't as politically protected, so she invents the rumor he's been skimming off the Westerlands' Miners' Guild funds. Everyone trips over themselves to find the evidence, eventually allowing Gwyn to get her hands on Petyr Baelish's backup records, which could prove critical in undoing both the Mountain and Cersei.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • At the end of Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, the protagonist goes into business with the drug kingpin whom he knows (but can't prove) committed the quintuple murder he's investigating, tricks him into taking a hit off of a crack pipe, then plants the pipe (with the kingpin's DNA on it) at the crime scene and suggests the other cops re-search it.
  • The premise of Fritz Lang's noir classic Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is an innocent man framing himself for a capital crime, with the intent of proving his own innocence at the last second in order to make a dramatic case against the death penalty. Things don't quite go as planned. It doesn't help that he actually did murder the woman, simply in different circumstances than the one he staged.
  • Fracture (2007): Detective Nunally suggests they plant evidence to insure Crawford gets convicted when the case is going south. Beachum refuses, though.
  • The film Guilty As Sin where a lawyer discovers that her client really did commit the murder — not for gain, but simply to see if he could pull it off. And so he did, without leaving a shred of evidence behind. She uses the details of the murder that he told her to fabricate bits of evidence that could have existed (if he hadn't disposed of it), and then anonymously arranges for the prosecution to find it.
  • The Illusionist: The Crown Prince has beaten and possibly even killed women before. But the murder accusation that eventually drives him to suicide is actually false. The frame-up is so good, even he believes that he did it.
  • Insomnia.
    • It's Det. Dormer's past sin. In Los Angeles, he investigated a child murderer whom he was absolutely sure was the guy he was looking for, and fabricated some evidence to put him behind bars. When he arrives in Alaska, internal affairs is looking into the case and threatening to undo his life's work by creating a precedent for more of Dormer's previous cases getting overturned or re-investigated.
    • A rather twisted example with Kay's actual killer in the film giving this reason for framing Kay's boyfriend for the crime (he has leverage on Dormer to cooperate with him), arguing that he beat her and "would have killed her someday anyway". Never mind that he is the one who violently beat her to death over the course of 15 minutes.
    • It backfires when Dormer tries to plant a gun on the killer, who figures he'd do this, finds the gun and plants it on the boyfriend, then goes to the police, knowing that Dormer can't reveal what he's done.
  • Mentioned in L.A. Confidential. Captain Smith tells Lt. Exley that Exley won't be able to handle being a detective precisely because he wouldn't be willing to frame a suspect he knew to be guilty. After murdering a gangbanger in cold blood for kidnapping and raping a girl, Bud White actually plants a gun on him to make the execution look like self-defense.
  • The 2004 remake of The Manchurian Candidate. Manchurian Agent Major Marko is programmed to murder the president-elect, but kills the vice president-elect and his mother instead (her son was also programmed to do as the Manchurian Global Corp. wanted, at her instigation, the idea being he would become president when his running mate was killed). Her son maneuvered them into Marko's sights so they would be killed instead and stop the plot. The FBI knew he wasn't responsible, and had to get the plotters. So they erased video of Marko coming in through security and put the footage of a presumed dead agent for Manchurian Global there instead to frame them, along with getting another employee arrested in London.
  • In She-Devil, Ruth Patchett has a former secretary get her into her ex-husband's office after the young lady tells her that he has been stealing money from his clients. In order to get him caught, they transfer several times more money to his bank account than he was skimming off. Ruth describes in narration that she "wasn't framing Bob, just making his thievery more obvious."
  • In the Mexican film Todo El Poder, the protagonists set a Honey Trap to kidnap the Dirty Cop who's leading the gang of robbers and kidnappers, in order to get a video confession from him; unfortunately, he dies of a heart attack before getting him to talk, so the protagonists make a fake video confession of him using his corpse as a puppet.
  • Used to great effect in Touch of Evil, where this is the main strategy of corrupt cop Hank Quinlan. "How many did you frame?" "Nobody that wasn't guilty!"
  • Delusions of Grandeur: It's extremely unlikely that Don Salluste, who's old and solely interested in money, would have fathered a children with one of the queen's handmaiden. In fact, he reacts with shock to the mere concept and heartily denies it. However, considering he's utterly crooked and has been stealing tax money that belonged to the kingdom for years now, it's obvious the queen had seized this pretext to quickly put him into disgrace, rather than bother proving his actual crimes.

  • Lawrence Block's Bernie Rhodenbarr mysteries end like this all the time. It helps that main character (and professional thief) Bernie has Corrupt Cop Ray Kirschmann as a close personal friend.
  • In the Black Jack Justice novel Dead Men Run, Big Bad Owen Grant is a nasty piece of work, dealing with sex trafficking and all but enslaving young girls. However, he always managed to skirt the law enough that nobody could make anything stick. Cue Jack and a cop buddy getting him busted for drug possession. The man had never been involved in that particular trade, but that didn't bother anyone on the side of law and order as he was sent to jail. Unfortunately, precisely because that was the only charge that he was convicted for and he was, technically, a first-time offender, he was eventually released on parole and immediately set out on a revenge plot.
  • In one of Andrew Vachss's Cross stories, Cross's crew discover a man plotting to abduct and sexually torture a young girl. They can't reveal their evidence, or their involvement. So they fake a letter in the pervert's name, threatening Chelsea Clinton. When the Secret Service scoop this guy up, he claims he did not send the letter — but can't explain why his cabin in the woods is filled with bondage equipment.
  • Discworld: Moist von Lipwig in Going Postal frames Reacher Gilt for the various murders and other crimes associated with his mismanagement on the Grand Trunk by sending a message claiming to be from the ghosts of the dead line workers. It should be noted that this in and of itself isn't treated as "proof" of wrongdoing; however, nobody catches Moist in the act, and the event triggers an investigation which leads to the gathering of proper evidence.
  • In The Judge and His Hangman, Comissar Bärlach comes up with a complicated scheme for disposing of the criminal he's been trying to convict for his entire career; it's a variant on framing the guilty.
  • In Pact, Officer Duncan Behaim of the Toronto PD arranges for Blake Thorburn to be found in the presence of the year-old preserved corpse of a pre-teen boy in order to frame him for the boy's murder. Blake isn't guilty of that, of course — he's just a diabolist and Valkyrie there to deal with the boy's spirit.
  • Happens in Val McDermid's A Place of Execution, where the man being framed for murder actually hasn't killed anyone, but is a multiple child rapist. In fact, not only has he not killed anyone, the girl he's hanged for murdering isn't even dead. She was one of his victims, he got her pregnant, and everyone in the village old enough to be trusted with the secret came together to whisk her away to relatives, then planted her torn underwear and enough of her blood to make it look like she was dead.
  • In Replay, Jeff tries this to stop the John Kennedy assassination, by forging a threatening letter to get Lee Harvey Oswald arrested. This leads to a nasty surprise for Jeff when Kennedy is still killed.
  • The Rifter: How Kahlil disposes of a conspiracy against Jath'ibaye. He has proof that Ourath is a traitor to the aristocracy, stirring up war between them and Jath'ibaye for purposes of his own, but Nivoun, the member of the aristocracy who'd be directly in charge of an investigation, is in on the conspiracy too, and he doesn't have proof of that. So he arranges to have Nivoun shot with Ourath's pistol, and Ourath plus the incriminating documents discovered on the scene. It works.
  • During the eighth and ninth Safehold books, the Inner Circle has kept an eye on a conspiracy by nobles in Sharleyan's Kingdom of Chisholm to overthrow the crown. For the most part, the Inner Circle repeats what they did in a previous similar occurrence: use their access to Surveillance as the Plot Demands to keep track of evidence so it can be later found by more mundane methods. In this instance, they also keep track of written messages passed between the conspirators so that, when it comes time for trial, exact replicas of that correspondence can be used as evidence even when the conspirators themselves have since burned the originals. As one character notes, they can't exactly say they know the evidence is fake because they already destroyed it, and destroying it in the first place is an admission of guilt unto itself.
  • Sage Adair: In Dry Rot, Earl Mackey's men plant evidence framing Leo Lockwood, because Mackey is wrongly convinced that Lockwood killed his father.
  • This is what Cersei thinks she's doing to Tyrion in his trial for murder in A Song of Ice and Fire. She is utterly convinced of his guilt, but fears the evidence isn't strong enough, so she gets her witnesses against him to exaggerate or just flat-out lie. There's a good chance many of the witnesses are doing it of their own volition.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Alex does this in Ashes to Ashes (2008), again to prevent a future crime. Ray also does this, and unlike Life On Mars, no one criticizes it, but this time they'd actually caught the guy red-handed.
  • Subverted in the Battle Creek pilot. Russ and Milton coach their witness into fingering a local drug dealer for the murder of the week. Unfortunately for them, the dealer refuses to play ball because he's completely innocent, and Russ only avoids a suspension because Milton (an FBI agent and therefore outside the Battle Creek PD's chain of command) tells Commander Guziewicz it was his idea (it was Russ's). Ironically, the witness himself was the actual killer.
  • Better Call Saul: Mike Ehrmantraut's first job as an enforcer for Gus Fring is to hit one of Hector Salamanca's drug-running ice cream trucks. Mike plants drugs on one of Hector's trucks by sprinkling it over the exterior as they pass under a pair of shoes Mike had thrown onto a telephone line, knowing that they are on their way to the border. In an interesting variant, the frame-up is only useful because they are guilty. There isn't enough planted drugs to implicate them, but just enough for the Border Patrol sniffer dogs to catch a whiff, which leads to the runners being detained, and triggers a more intense search, which finds the actual contraband they are smuggling.
  • In Blackadder II, Blackadder escapes his debt to the Baby-Eating Bishop of Bath and Wells — a sadist who describes himself as a colossal pervert who will do anything to anything — by drugging him and posing him in various... positions... to be painted. (With Percy. Poor Percy.) The audience isn't shown the result, but it is Head-Tiltingly Kinky.
    "It's beautifully framed, which is ironic, because that's what you've just been."
  • Revealed to be the secret behind Operation Daylight on Blindspot. The NSA illegally intercepted private American communications and passed on the information about illegal activity to (among others) Mayfair at the FBI. Mayfair concocted the cover story of having received information from confidential informants and passed it along to other FBI agents and law enforcement who were then able to get legal warrants for evidence, oblivious to the fact the "tips" had been fabricated and the informants were nothing of the sort.
  • Subverted in the Australian mini-series Blue Murder. Detectives arrest a criminal and, after he's cuffed, plant a gun in his car as a parole violation. He responds that they don't need that, as he's already carrying one for real.
  • On an episode of The Brave, the team plants a listening device on paranoid arms dealer Boothe under the guise of holding him up and stealing a case of cash from him. They then overhear Boothe noting to his guard that he must have been betrayed for someone to have known his route, and decides it had to be his girlfriend (who really was the source). In order to save her, they plant the money at the house of a Mexican Cartel leader Boothe has been working with, making him believe the cartel leader — who knew the information as he'd just given the money to Boothe for weapons — had ordered the robbery to get the money back, and Boothe kills him in revenge. This not only saves the girlfriend's life and preserves her secret, but the cartel leader had been responsible for torturing Hannah years before when she'd been undercover, so the team gets some payback on her behalf as well.
  • Michael Westen does this in almost every episode in Burn Notice. He's probably committed more crimes than many of the villains, but it's all for a good cause.
    • For the first act of season 3, Team Westen is being tracked by Paxton, a Miami-Dade PD detective. She's as honest and committed as they come so they can't get her busted as a Dirty Cop. Instead, they approach the subject of one of her other investigations and get him caught red-handed in an attempted robbery. Confronted by Detective Paxton after the arrest, Michael insists they're on the same side, and she can either keep quiet and drop her beef with him, or see the case against the gangster unravel. She agrees to let him go.
    • In one episode, a criminal steals a car full of drugs from his boss, and tries to frame someone for it by planting the car on their property. Michael figures it out in time, and sneaks the car back onto the criminal's property just in time for his boss to see it.
    • This ends up backfiring in one episode, where Michael plants evidence that will make it look like a mob boss' ruthless Loan Shark is an undercover cop. When they search the guy's apartment, they find evidence that Michael didn't plant, causing Michael to realize that loan shark really was an undercover cop. Michael has to improvise to keep the guy from being killed without breaking his own cover.
  • This is done by Columbo in nearly every case, though usually as a Bluffing the Murderer tactic.
    • A variant was used in one episode where the (eventual) murderer manages to trick Columbo into believing that a murder has taken place in order to discredit Columbo so he won't be believed when the murder does take place. The murderer doesn't get away with it, of course.
  • Conviction (2016): In order to prevent terrorist Rodney Landon from getting released after discovering he had planned another bombing from the one he was convicted of (but that the evidence for this isn't legally usable), Sam spreads a rumor in the prison that Landon is getting released because he snitched on other inmates. This causes them to attack him and he naturally fights back, stabbing another prisoner and ensuring he'll stay in prison.
  • The Coroner: This is attempted in "The Salcombe Selkie" (although the crime the guilty party is framed for is more serious than the one they actually committed). However, the guilty party is murdered before the frame can come fully into effect.
  • Used on an episode of CSI when Catherine, Brass, and McKeen fake the murder of a snitch so the forensics will point at a suspected murderer. The goal is to get the murderer to unwittingly reveal evidence for the murders he actually did commit. Their own team members (who initially think that Internal Affairs is just messing with them) eventually discover the conspiracy. It only falls apart because McKeen was supposed to let the judge and D.A. in on the scheme, but neglected to do so (which may be Fridge Brilliance as much later he turns out to be The Mole). They still get the bad guy, though, because he really was stupid enough to fall for it, and it turned out that he was the killer of the B-plot as well, and they had stronger evidence pinning him for that crime.
    • Another episode has Catherine reopening the cold case of a man her detective mentor got put in jail for murder, after the man, terminally ill, confesses to a different murder but protests his innocence of the one he was convicted of, that of Catherine's best friend Stephanie. It turns out Tadero, the detective, planted evidence because the DA had released the suspect even though he boasted to Tadero of having roughed her up. Catherine calls him out in a big way and is forced to have Tadero arrested for it, pointing out the flaw in his justification: Even though the guy was guilty, Stephanie's real murderer still got away.
    • Yet another episode had a badly burnt body being found inside the chimney of a guy previously found suspect of the murder of a teenage girl years earlier. The body is initially identified as belonging to the man's son, and during the course of the investigation, the corpse of the teenager is also found. However, the son turns up alive, prompting the question as to who the burned corpse was. Turns out the teenager's father stole the corpse from a morgue in order to get the house investigated so that his daughter's body would be found and her killer brought to justice.
  • One episode of CSI: Miami features a cop who is so convinced of a person's guilt in a series of murders that he murders someone else (Santana from Glee!) in order to provide the evidence needed to implicate them. Except the suspect turned out to be innocent.
  • In CSI: NY, Aiden Burn breaks the seal on a piece of evidence, intending to plant it to incriminate serial rapist D.J. Pratt after the victim who could have identified him backed down. Her conscience prevents her from going through with it and she confesses to her boss, Mac Taylor — but because she's already contaminated the evidence, he has to fire her. Pratt later murders Aiden Burn, but she managed to leave behind enough evidence for her former colleagues to put Pratt behind bars for good.
  • Dark Angel: A gangster commits murder by throwing his victim out of a window, thus making it look like suicide. Logan conspires with the coroner to put a cap in the corpse's head, then has Max plant the gun on the gangster as he attempts to board an international flight.
  • Felicia Tillman pulls this in Desperate Housewives; she knows Paul Young murdered her sister, but can't prove it without exposing her sister as the blackmailer who drove Mary Alice Young to suicide and revealing Zach Young's true identity. Instead, she tries to threaten him and scare him into skipping town (leaving Zach behind with her), then tries to have him killed, but both of these plans fail, so she spends several weeks draining her own blood bit by bit, sprays it around Paul's house and car, then chops off two of her own fingers and leaves them in his trunk before tipping off the cops. Needless to say, he's arrested and charged with her murder.
  • At least two episodes of Elementary have featured this on various occasions;
    • Holmes quickly figured out the "murder victim" had committed suicide in an attempt to frame a man for her death, as there was no proof of his guilt in another crime, but his curiosity is roused to uncover the real crimes the man committed.
    • A man is responsible for a series of crimes in the past which result in one of his victims committing murder, which Holmes and Watson prove. Unwilling to accept the Karma Houdini aspect of the man living free in a country without an extradition treaty with the United States, Holmes has a contact of his with the local police plant drugs on the man and have him arrested, which, because of the draconian local drug laws, will result in him having a life sentence in a very unpleasant penal system.
    • One case is shown in a negative manner, as a famous serial killer is revealed to have been arrested based on planted evidence even though there was no definite proof that he did it. However, his subsequent attempt to 'clear his name' from prison by having an accomplice commit crimes matching his (using information that was not available to the public about the cases) instead leads Holmes and his colleagues to evidence that genuinely proves the killer's guilt.
    • In the series finale Holmes (with Watson's help) fakes his own murder at the hands of corrupt CEO Odin Reichenbach. As it happens, Holmes knows that without any body, Odin will never be convicted of his murder but the arrest and investigation is enough to expose the man's numerous crimes of mass murder and others to put him in prison.
  • Father Brown: Happens in "The Hangman's Demise". The Victim of the Week actually commits suicide, but does it such a way as to make it look like murder, and frames someone he knows committed murder years before but whom the police cannot touch.
  • In The Flash, Ralph Dibny was a promising young detective. However, when he lacked evidence to prove that a guy he was certain was guilty of murder actually did it, he planted the evidence. Barry, still new to the job, went the extra mile to ensure that everything was in order, resulting in him discovering the planted evidence and exposing Dibny, causing him to lose his job. Years later, Joe is about to do the same to Marlize DeVoe in order to prove that she conspired with her husband to frame Barry for his murder. Ralph does open the door for Joe, but then he explains exactly what's going to happen to Joe if he goes through with it. Joe changes his mind, realizing Ralph is right.
  • An episode of Foyle's War reveals that Foyle's previous sergeant had gotten so obsessed with a known burglar that he stole a necklace from the last house the burglar broke into and planted it on him, framing him. This being Foyle's War, it's deconstructed, since doing so wrecks the case against the burglar, meaning that the burglar got a lighter sentence than he should have, and on his release got caught up in something that ended up getting him murdered. Foyle is not impressed:
    Foyle: You were so determined to see the man jailed that you wrecked the case against him to the point that the judge almost set him free. You perverted the course of justice and, what's more, he might still be alive if it hadn't been for your unforgivable interference.
  • Has been both used by and used against the team in Hustle; while they are legally criminals as they are con artists by profession, most of the time their cons are played out in a manner that ensures they haven't legally done anything more serious than trick unscrupulous characters into going along with a dodgy deal that (from the mark's perspective) didn't work out. A few episodes have seen them dealing with corrupt cops who attempted to frame the team for other crimes, such as possessing drugs, to force them to help with another scam, but in those cases the team have always managed to turn the tables and have the cops accused of whatever crime they intended to frame the team for.
  • Guilt: What D.S. Bruno did to a suspect in the past, which provides blackmail leverage against him.
  • Played with in an episode of Heartbeat. Nick Rowan and Phil Bellamy arrest two petty crooks who mugged Bellamy's gran, but find no evidence on them. Bellamy thus plants his gran's purse on one of them so it will be found by a second search. This being Heartbeat, Nick's reluctance to perjure himself results in him giving truthful but highly evasive evidence in court, resulting in Sergeant Blaketon realising what's happened and dropping the charges. He proceeds to take the two constables off the case, and then find evidence of another crime that the two crooks did.
  • Out-of-court example in the "Deception" episode of House: A patient with Munchausen Syndrome is discharged, but House thinks she has an underlying condition that doesn't show up enough, and gives her a drug to make it more obvious. Eventually subverted, as it turns out that he was wrong with that diagnosis.
  • Frequently seen on Law & Order when the prosecutors are tempted to put someone on the stand who they know (or believe) will commit perjury in order to implicate the accused.
    • In one case, a woman hired a convict to kidnap her daughter just to make her ex-husband squirm. Something went wrong and the girl wound up dead, forcing the woman to cover her tracks by killing her accomplice. With everyone thinking her the real victim, she walked on the murder charge with no jail time. McCoy managed to get her on her own daughter's murder instead, by coaxing information he knew to be false out of the dead convict's mother. Since the con's mother never took the stand, it wasn't perjury.
    • An interesting twist in one episode had a cop charged with a crime threaten to claim to have planted evidence in a large number of cases (thereby opening them up for appeal) unless the prosecutors let him off.
      • Two attorneys, one an old friend of Jamie Ross's and the other an old flame of Connie Rubirosa's, have also tried this by saying that their convictions would allow everyone they ever charged to appeal ("Your Honor, the lawyer who convicted me just went to jail for shooting witnesses that threatened his cases"). McCoy managed to get Ross's friend to plead guilty and not lie about misconduct by threatening to go after his wife, but Rubirosa's ex managed to bury the prosecutors in paperwork when his 100+ convictions all appealed.
    • 'Double Down', a Law and Order episode, and 'Immune', a Law and Order UK episode, also do a variant of this. Both feature a criminal who gets a reduced sentence and/or immunity in exchange for information on the whereabouts of a missing man he claims is in mortal danger. When police find the missing man, he's dead, and it's clear that the criminal knew this in advance (and may have killed the guy himself). McCoy is able to lie in court to get around the guilty plea he negotiated; Steele just has to have a detective perjure himself.
    • In one episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, recurring Big Bad Nicole Wallace does this, framing her fiance, Evan Chapel, in order to protect his daughter Gwen (the one person Nicole actually loves). Chapel had murdered his wife and tried to kill Gwen in an attempt to get his hands on his daughter's trust fund, but Nicole knew the detectives would never be able to prove those crimes, so she framed him for the murder of his brother, a crime she committed. Carver is reluctant to use it because he knows full well Evan didn't commit that crime, but he doesn't want him to walk free, so he bluffs Evan into believing that he will pursue a case based on the planted evidence...unless, of course, Evan pleads to the attempted murder of his daughter and a lesser charge for his wife's death. Evan believes the ruse and confesses to his crimes.
  • When the Leverage team can't prove the mark's guilt, they resort to this.
    • Key example: In "The Gold Job", a brother and sister running a fake "buy and sell gold" business are tricked into putting their gold into a vault that they previously said was useless. The team then use a drill that was purchased by the siblings to drill into the vault and steal the gold. When the duo try to report the theft of their own gold from a supposedly useless vault with a drill they bought, a cop literally laughs "that is the worst insurance fraud scam I've ever heard" and has them arrested.
    • Another good example: In "The Bank Shot Job", while in the middle of a "Rip Deal" scam, the bank Nate, Sophie and the mark are in gets held up by bank robbers. The team quickly figures out that the bank robbers are just a desperate father and son who got involved with the local meth dealers and need money to pay off a ransom for the mother of the family. The team agrees to lend them the money they were scamming off of the mark, but the mark finds out and in the ensuing conflict, Nate gets shot, his and Sophie's cover is blown, and the mark, believing that the robbery is part of the con, takes the bank hostage until he gets his money back. The rest of the team manages to rescue the mom, take out the meth dealers, and frame the mark for being responsible for the robbery in the first place, with the help of doctored security footage, some of the meth dealers' product, and some quick disguises. The rest of the bank, even though they all know what really happened, are all willing to back up the false story because the mark was that much of an asshole.
    • Like many of the team's tactics, this could backfire. In one episode, they instigate a mole hunt in order to serve as a big distraction for security in a company... only to find an actual mole.
  • Sam does this on at least two occasions in Life on Mars to prevent future crimes, and in both cases, his initial sense of rightness is subverted when in a Prophecy Twist, the events of the future end up happening because of his actions. However, if Gene Hunt tries this, Sam argues that it's highly unethical. Of course, on at least one occasion, Hunt — who is taking the By-the-Book Cop role for a change — notes the blatant hypocrisy at work.
  • When a man believed responsible for computer hacking and murder flees to Bahrain on Limitless, Brian concocts a way of getting him deported back to the United States so the FBI can arrest him by making it look like he's doing things that would be enough to annoy the local authorities (such as appearing to import 11 pounds of bacon to the Muslim country) so they'd want to get rid of him but aren't serious enough to get him imprisoned.
  • One episode of Lois & Clark had a photographer take photos of Superman and Lois in a compromising position (''after'' Lois and Clark got married). Superman is ready to reveal his secret identity in order to stop the adultery accusations... fortunately, the photographer had her film destroyed before it could be developed, and was forced to order a photoshopped copy.
  • The Meeting Place Cannot Be Changed: Zheglov frames known thief Brick to get valuable information from him.
  • Midsomer Murders subverts it in one episode where Barnaby reveals that one suspect had been properly arrested by him twenty years prior. Unfortunately, his superiors at the time pinned a whole bunch of unsolved cases on the guy, which were completely demolished in court and resulted in his doing 18 months of prison instead of several years.
  • Mission: Impossible: One of the standard tactics played by the Impossible Missions Force was to set up the target so the people the target worked for or with was convinced they were being betrayed or conned by the target, and letting them do the dirty work of the actual elimination.
  • Sort of happened in the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the Genius", as Patrick Kloster has practically admitted to killing his own wife, and the alleged poison matched that which could be extracted from oleander flowers in Patrick's garden. Unable to find adequate evidence and driven to his wits' end, Monk steals some of the flowers, extracts the poison, breaks into Patrick's house to leave it in plain sight on a shelf, and only gets caught when he went back to retrieve the planted vial after his conscience got the better of him, as Patrick had apparently anticipated him to try this move.
  • In the backstory of the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Brother's Keeper", it's revealed that when Detective Watts was a constable, he was involved in the arrest of a sadistic murderer, which collapsed amid claims of evidence fixing. It transpires that the key piece of evidence was the victim's thumbprint on the murderer's knife, but when the murderer's gang staged a disturbance outside the station and used it to sneak in and wipe the knife clean, Watts and the victim's brother conspired to replace it. Unfortunately, the brother - who was the only person with access to the body - got the wrong thumb.
  • The first episode of New Tricks involves a roundabout case of this. The cold case team are formed to find evidence that a recently-freed murderer who is claiming a frame-up was actually guilty, but they discover that he was innocent of the murder he was sent away for... but guilty of another murder that the investigating officer who framed him had believed he did. And to add insult to injury, the shoes that the officer 'fixed up' in order to frame him actually contained clear evidence that he did the other murder. Had the investigating cop simply done his job properly, he could have easily convicted the murderer of the earlier crime without any need for a frame-up at all.
  • In Oz, Jason Cramer was convicted of decapitating his gay lover, but the case against him starts to unravel two years later when a jury member admits to him that although she thinks he's guilty, she didn't think justice had been served, as one of her fellow jurors let his homophobia cloud his judgement. When Cramer is granted a new trial, the detective who arrested him, who is dying and wants to clear his conscience, confesses to have planted fingerprints on a knife. This and the fact that the only witness had since died results in Cramer being acquitted and released.
  • Carter pulls off a series of Magnificent Bastard level frames in Person of Interest episode "Endgame". She, in sequence, frames HR in the eyes of Russian mobsters for stealing a load of Russian mob drugs HR was being paid to protect; then frames the Russians in the eyes of HR for an apparent assassination attempt on the head of HR in revenge; and finally frames them both by tipping off the FBI that HR was going to massacre the Russians, who are caught as they are about to do it, and the FBI discovers the stolen Russian drugs in the trunk of a vehicle belonging to one of the HR shooters. Reese is very impressed, as Carter managed to do all this, including planting the drugs she had stolen on HR while HR had her under surveillance, so skillfully The Machine was fooled.
    • In another episode, a corrupt Federal Marshal is going to get away with his crimes, so Reese ends up driving him to Mexico and framing him for drug possession there. The ending of the episode implies that he's done this a few times before.
    • Northern Lights justifies its investigations after the fact by slipping intel into existing reports, since they can't reveal that the actual source is The Machine.
  • On The Practice, one story arc concerns the character of George Vogelman, who's rejected romantically by Ellenor, then shows up at the firm's office with a patient's head in his medical bag, claims he doesn't know how it got there and is being framed, goes on trial with Ellenor representing him, is acquitted, and is finally revealed to be a murderous psycho who's done everything he's done because of his obsession with Ellenor. Between the trial and The Reveal, in the episode "End Games," one of Ellenor's druggie clients rushes into the office on the run from the police. The police come in and arrest him, then search the office to find drugs. Instead, they find a knife secreted in a file cabinet, and tests reveal that knife to be the one used to murder Susan Robin, the woman Vogelman was acquitted of killing. Ellenor is arrested for concealing evidence and the firm struggles to try to understand this turn of events, since both Ellenor and Vogelman deny ever seeing the knife. In a brainstorming session, they reason out what happened: Police found the knife subsequent to the acquittal, but of course couldn't try Vogelman again, whom they are still sure committed the murder. So they sent Ellenor's client into the office to plant it, hoping to at least get something out of their discovery — if they can't get Vogelman, convicting Ellenor would be the next best thing and would serve as public vindication. The firm turns out to be correct in its theory, and Ellenor is freed.note 
  • In the two-part tv movie Secret Smile, Miranda, played by Kate Ashfield is haunted by her psychotic ex-boyfriend. After she dumps him, he gets engaged to her sister, manipulates her teenage brother into committing suicide, dumps her sister at the altar to marry Miranda's best friend instead, and then murders the best friend and gets away with it. At her wits' end, she enlists the help of his current abused girlfriend and manages to frame him with her own murder, then assumes her dead friend's identity and moves to Australia as he's incarcerated.
  • An odd partial example occurs in the made-for-TV A Slight Case of Murder. Partial because the detective a) is concerned not with justice, but with revenge for an unrelated slight and b) is wrong about it being murder — Terry's first killing was accidental.
  • Shark did this to a Serial Killer. Small subversion in that the supposed victim in this case actually committed suicide (but the killer had killed many women and continued to get away with it).
  • One of the Strike Team's favorite moves on The Shield. One egregious example is when they kidnap a Los Angeles serial killer and take him to Mexico to frame him on a gun charge, then burn his driver's license so he can't come back. Then, it is subverted when a fanatical IAD Detective plants evidence on Mackey, but has a crisis of conscience and turns himself in.
  • A version is present in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. There's no denying that the Dominion is a threat, but the Romulans have a non-aggression pact with them. Sisko, at Garak's urging and with his help, at first tries to convince a Pro-Dominion Romulan senator to join the cause with fake evidence that the Dominion will be coming for the Romulans soon rather than trying to make peace. Found out, he braces for the Romulans rejecting an alliance or even joining the Dominion... and then a bomb destroys the Senator's shuttle with him aboard, apparently Dominion-made after meeting with the Dominion and providing imperfections to the evidence that would explain their seeming falsity. Garak, knowing it would eventually come to that (and apparently also knowing that the shuttle wouldn't immediately send a message to Romulus contradicting the frameup), had planted the bomb in order to frame the Dominion for assassinating a prominent Romulan. This mirrors the Real Life Reichstag fire, which fully galvanized the German populace into accepting the Nazi party over the German Communist Party.
  • In Suits, the firm's client Ava Hessington is accused of instigating the murder of African villagers. The lawyers eventually find out that the real culprit is their colleague Stephen Huntley. Since there's no evidence implicating Huntley, they eventually manage to convince his boss Edward Darby to provide false testimony, in which Huntley "admits" to ordering the killings (in Darby's words, he's putting words to a conversation he should have had with Huntley after the incident). Being a respected attorney on both sides of the pond, Darby is believed, and the prosecutor gives him immunity from prosecution in exchange for Darby giving up the license to practice law in the US (this part was added by Jessica in order to dissolve their partnership). After being arrested, Huntley tries to strike back at the firm for the false testimony and provides his own fake evidence on another case. Fortunately, Mike manages to outwit him and get him to admit on record that the evidence is fake.
  • Terriers: In the pilot, the PI heroes figure out that a local developer had two people killed to get hold of an incriminating video. He's well-connected and the police are reluctant to go after him, so they plant the murder weapon in his desk drawer to get him arrested. The trouble really starts when the developer starts trying to prove the gun was planted...
    • And again in "Change Partners": Ray, a fellow thief from Britt's past, wants Britt to work with him again. He's recently robbed a bar, so Britt and Hank stage a second robbery and this time leave evidence pointing to Ray.
  • Done in The Thin Blue Line episode "Court In The Act": Inspector Grim is desperate to convict a drug dealer, so his subordinate Boyle suggests that evidence can be found — "found", in inverted commas. Inspector Fowler found out about the frame up and, unable to prove that the drug dealer had been framed, he told the criminal's barrister that Constable Kevin Goody, who found the planted evidence (he didn't know about the frameup), was wearing a new uniform that wasn't an official police uniform, thus invalidating any incriminating evidence found during the search and allowing the drug dealer to get Off on a Technicality.
  • Done in Trailer Park Boys when Ricky, Julian, Bubbles, Cory and Trevor are all arrested and tried for stealing gasoline. Ricky manages to trick the court into thinking that Cory and Trevor were the only ones who committed any theft. They end up being the only ones punished.
  • Done at least once by Mr. Chapel in Vengeance Unlimited: He kidnaps an accomplice of his target and ties him up blindfolded on the target's property, to make it look like the target kidnapped him so he wouldn't blab to someone about it. This, along with all the other Gaslighting Chapel does to the target, gets him put in a mental institution.
  • White Collar episode 3x06 "Scott Free" has a particularly notable example in that the guilty party is actually guilty of the exact crime he's being framed for. There's this kid, right? Stealing from Asshole Victims Just Like Robin Hood. Only his latest heist was from another thief who's fully capable of killing "Robin Hoody" for the hell of it. Neal's solution? Put the loot back and call Peter.
    Burke: Oh, you're alleging that a thief broke into your office to crack an uncrackable safe to give you millions of dollars in diamonds?
  • The Wire:
    • Virtually no one is willing to testify against members of the fearsome Barksdale drug empire, and that goes double after vicious enforcer Bird murders a state's witness in broad daylight, despite the fact that the trial in question had already ended and even though said witness' testimony hadn't been enough to get a conviction. In order to convict Bird, Jimmy McNulty and Bunk Moreland have to put Omar Little, a Karmic Thief Gayngster whose lover Brandon was tortured and murdered by Bird and Wee-Bey, on the stand as an eyewitness. Omar has extensive knowledge of Bird's crime due to his street connections, but he didn't actually see the crime happen. When it's time for the trial, everyone on both sides of the case knows Omar is lying — everyone except the jury.
      Stringer Bell: Word on the street is Omar ain't nowhere near them rises when the shit popped. The street says the little cocksucker was over on the east side, sticking up some Ashland Avenue niggas.
      Jimmy McNulty: That the word on the street, huh? [McNulty smirks] Trouble is, String, we ain't on the street. We're in a court of law.
    • Avon Barksdale uses the trope himself in season 2 to secure early parole. Wee-Bey is being harassed and bullied by Dwight Tilghman, a prison guard whose cousin Wee-Bey had confessed to murdering on Avon's orders a while back. (Far enough back that Avon doesn't remember it.) Avon and Stringer know that Tilghman runs a side business smuggling heroin into the prison. So Stringer approaches Tilghman's supplier and pays him to give Tilghman a tampered supply laced with rat poison. The bad drugs kill several inmates and put more in the infirmary. The authorities launch an investigation, aware that they'll have to offer the promise of reduced sentences to get cooperation from inmates willing to testify. Avon proceeds to come forward as an "informant" and names Tilghman as the culprit. The police then find drugs in Tilghman's car, corroborating Avon's "story", and arrest Tilghman despite his protests that the drugs were planted. Avon (through Maurice Levy) gets the prison officials to move his hearing up a year in exchange for his "testimony", a deal which they reluctantly have to agree to.
    • Omar is on the other side of this trope in Season 4. After Omar robs ruthless drug kingpin Marlo Stanfield, Marlo responds by having Chris Partlow, his chief assassin, and Old Face Andre, a store owner whose store is a front for Marlo, frame Omar for shooting and killing a deliverywoman at Andre's corner store. Marlo's scheme has a bit of a variation in that he doesn't intend for Omar to get convicted, just for Omar to be thrown in jail to await trial with dozens of criminals that he's robbed over the years, and who naturally want revenge on Omar. If that isn't enough to get Omar killed, Marlo sweetens the deal by offering a large bounty on Omar's head. Even the cops who know/have worked with Omar in the past are reluctant to help him, because they know perfectly well that he's gotten away with a multitude of crimes, which includes murder. Only Omar's reputation for refusing to harm innocents and Omar pointing out that if he goes down for this crime, then the real killer will get away with it prods Bunk into investigating further and finding evidence that Omar was framed.
  • In one episode of Witchblade, Danny Woo is revealed to have once planted evidence to get a Serial Killer convicted (they knew he was their guy but couldn't prove it). The plot kicks off courtesy of the killer's conviction being overturned because of the frame-up, forcing the team to catch him all over again.

  • In the play and movie Arsenic and Old Lace, the protagonist, Mortimer Brewster, must trick his sweet old aunts into committing themselves to a mental institution to prevent them from being arrested for the multiple murders they have committed and buried in their basement. The situation gets even more complicated when his Ax-Crazy brother Jonathan shows up and tries to drop off one of his dead bodies.

    Video Games 
  • The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion:
    • In an early Thieves' Guild mission, you return from a successful heist (revealed to be a false commission set up by the Guild to flush out a traitor in their ranks) to find that Imperial Watch Captain Lex and his men are besieging the Waterfront on a manhunt for your superior, tipped off by the traitor. To get them to back off, you plant the item you just stole in the traitor's house and then snitch to Lex on them, framing them for the theft.
    • The traitor to the Dark Brotherhood, on the other hand, is quite successful at framing Lucien Lachance for the murder of the majority of the Black Hand. It's this trope because Lucien's job is to murder people, he was just accused of murdering the wrong people.
  • Late in Ghost Recon Wildlands, it's revealed that the Santa Blanca terrorist bombing of the US embassy in La Paz, intended to kill DEA agent Ricky Sandoval, was perpetrated by Ricky Sandoval to frame Santa Blanca. Sandoval posthumously confesses that he was sick and tired of his superiors ignoring his reports about the threat that Santa Blanca posed and decided that the only way to get the US to give two shits about the situation in Bolivia would be to have the cartel upgraded from narco-traffickers to narco-terrorists.
  • In PAYDAY 2, this is the goal of the Framing Frame mission. The job involves framing a senator for drug possession by planting stacks of cocaine in his flat's hidden vault, but the senator already engages in shady, illegal deals across the globe, the most recent one involving gold, cocaine, and illegal weapons. If stealth fails, then this trope stops taking place, and you use footage of his actual crimes to finish the job instead.
  • In Saints Row: The Third, the S.T.A.G. Initiative is sent to put a stop to the gang violence by declaring martial law in the city. Thing is, they're entirely correct: the player-character is pretty much somewhere between Sociopathic Hero, Psycho for Hire, and Axe-Crazy. However, in the penultimate mission, Kia tries to fake a terrorist attack by the Saints, and whether it succeeds or not is up to the player.
  • In Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, Sam Fisher infiltrates a bank to find information regarding the villain's plot, and then steal some bearer bonds to disguise it as a simple robbery. An optional objective requires him to plant fake emails in the computers of key bank employees that make it look like it was an Inside Job. Sam questions why they're framing "innocent" bank employees for the theft, only for Lambert to point out that the "innocent" bankers were financing terrorists from the previous two missions.
  • Star Wars Legends: In Knights of the Old Republic, your investigation reveals that a key piece of evidence was planted by the Sith. However, if you dig deep enough, you learn that the Republic stole a video recording showing that Sunry is guilty as charged.

    Visual Novels 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • It turns up in "Rise from the Ashes", with the Joe Darke case, in which the corrupt police chief committed a murder himself, then set things up to look like an innocent was the unintentional culprit, so that said innocent's sister would frame the aforementioned Darke, a Serial Killer against whom there would otherwise have been insufficient evidence.
    • The fourth case in Justice for All shows the possible consequences of this trope. Adrian Andrews planted evidence to frame Matt Engarde for the murder of his rival, because she suspected that he had something to do with it. Indeed, he was the man who hired the assassin. But Phoenix manages to expose the contradictions and prove that she framed him... and suddenly she's the prime suspect in a murder she never committed!
    • The first case of the fourth game, Apollo Justice, plays it straight two ways: Phoenix is accused of a murder he didn't commit. The evidence has been destroyed, but Phoenix forges it to convict the real killer. Apollo is less than happy when he finds out about it. Olga Orly and Shadi Smith planted a card to make Phoenix look like a cheater; while the accusation is false, Phoenix occasionally cheated by relying on Trucy's ability to perceive the tells of opponents.
  • This trope is a gameplay mechanic in New Danganronpa V3 as the "Perjury" system. If you know someone is guilty but can't prove it, you can change a Truth bullet into a Lie to catch them off guard.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • In Mr. Pickles, when a gum thief is accidentally mixed up with a serial killer and arrested, Mr. Pickles just goes with the flow and catches the real serial killer by framing him for the gum thievery.

    Real Life 
  • Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were framed for being atomic spies because the government couldn't reveal how it really knew they were guilty — the Venona Intercepts.
  • During The French Revolution, there was a whole climate of Conspiracy Theories and paranoia and wild accusations were flung and hurled against each other from various parties. One especially weird circumstance for historians is when later evidence emerges that partially vindicates the extreme accusations.
    • Marie Antoinette was seen as a symbol for royalist excess in the years before The French Revolution, and liberals and moderates considered her a Lady Macbeth type, while recent fictional depictions see her as The Scapegoat. Recent research into the letters and foreign cables, however, shows that Marie Antoinette was virtually the leader of royalist opposition at Versailles and was against any diminution of power. She played a key role in orchestrating the Flight to Varennes and alongside a cabal known as the Austrian Commitee, she instigated the war of 1792note , and even betrayed secret information to the enemy. Historians doubt if these actions were influential in any way, but they agree that were this evidence available, it would be more than enough to judge her guilty of treason. As it happened, her trial was pretty much a farce with wild misogynist allegations hurled at her, and very little actual evidence for her guilt.
    • An even more ironic example is that of Jacques-Pierre Brissot. Jacobins accused him and other Girondins of being a counter-revolutionary. Camille Desmoulins in a pamphlet accused him of being a police spy and Agent Provocateur in stoking war against Europe. Most historians saw this as similar to other paranoid Jacobin accusations, and Desmoulins himself regretted Brissot's arrest and execution. In the 20th Century, however, the historians Robert Darnton and Sylvia Neely found evidence that Brissot was indeed a police spy, and diplomatic cables from Russia revealed that he hoped to contain the uprising by sending the sans-culottes off the street to the frontlines as a way to defuse the Revolution.
  • Charles "Lucky" Luciano got his first conviction on the charge of collecting money from prostitutes. However, Luciano would need to have been uncharacteristically stupid to collect from prostitutes in person. Also, at that point, it would have been like the CEO of Walmart personally emptying a cash register. Either way, it made the prosecutor, Thomas Dewey, a celebrity overnight and put him on the way to his (failed) bid for the White House.
  • It's often speculated that the LAPD tried to do this to O.J. Simpson, although we'll probably never know.


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