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Caught on Tape

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Nick: Well, it's my word against yours.
(Judy holds up a recorder and hits "replay")
Judy: Actually, it's your word against yours.

When you need rock-solid evidence that something happened or that someone committed a certain act, having it all caught on video (or audio) tape is just about the most convincing piece of proof there is. Even a Villain with Good Publicity won't be able to just wave criticism away when footage of them kicking dogs to death reaches the public.

In fact, the absolute certainty that video evidence provides is such a common trope that subverting it has become a very popular plot twist, usually by revealing that the footage has been doctored, or that the camera angle involved resulted in Not What It Looks Like.

And, yes, the video doesn't have to be recorded on actual tape; DVDs or computer files, or even perhaps that video recorded from your cell phone will work just as well, but old idioms die hard. However, the photographic version (which is frequently less damning due to being still) is Convenient Photograph.


Often used to achieve an Engineered Public Confession or an Accidental Public Confession. May be achieved by a Magical Security Cam.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, where the Tachikomas discuss the fact that video footage is practically useless as evidence due to how easily it can be tampered with. Indeed, the Laughing Man's MO relies entirely on this, as he hacks into any recording devices around him (including other people's cyberbrains) and edits himself out of the footage, effectively letting him become invisible.
  • Zombie Land Saga: Okoba finds photos of all of Franchouhcou's members when they were alive, piecing together that they must have all been revived somehow. It's not until he catches video of Tae's head coming off that he suspects they're zombies.

    Fan Works 
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence: Having been warned about Lila before meeting her, Cole makes a point of audio-recording every conversation she has with her to collect evidence proving that she's a Consummate Liar. She also geotags pictures of her and her friends whenever they're out having fun, and uses one such picture to prove that they couldn't have cornered and threatened Lila in the bathroom like she claims they were doing at the time.
  • The Devil's in the details: Having been raised by a lawyer (and being very clever himself), whenever Peter is backed into a corner, expect to have him secretly recording everything that was happening on his phone.
    • When he first meets Tony, he has their conversation recorded to ensure that Tony can't strong-arm him into Avengers business (complete with a legally binding restraining order against him).
    • In "Back in the Ring", Matt catches a loan company in the act of attempting to take May's home with a fraudulent mortgage loan claim allegedly signed by Ben after his death. When the manager attempts to get away with it by putting it onto a protracted in-company investigation, Peter reveals that he recorded the entire thing with threats to use it against him.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail: Trip records several of Chloe's classmates bragging to her little brother about how they bullied her... and how much they enjoyed it. Several other bystanders also record their Engineered Public Confession on their cell phones.
  • Happens twice during The Karma of Lies:
    • Hawkmoth's downfall is solidified when news cameras catch him detransforming, revealing his Secret Identity to the world.
    • During the Final Battle with Mayura, Adrien offers a hand up to Nathalie, only for her to steal the Black Cat Ring and use it alongside the Peacock Pin to transform again into a more powerful form. As with Hawkmoth's last fight, this is caught on camera, and completely ruins Adrien's reputation, as it looks as though he willingly handed his Ring over.
  • When the heroes confront William Stryker in TMDDF: Danny Chooses Alex After the Many Dates, Alex makes sure to record his confession of having Nightcrawler attack the president in order to scare him because she knows that, as a high-ranking government official, he'll get off scot free without any proof to their accusations.
  • In Steven Universe: and the Hunters of Arcadia, the trollhunters go to Beach City to investigate the images of Jamie in his true form posted on Keep Beach City Weird.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Coco, the family is able to record Ernesto on a TV camera attacking Hector and admitting to murdering him and broadcasts it and his attempted murder of Miguel to the entire audience.
  • In The Incredibles, Dash's teacher suspects that he'd been pulling pranks during class, so he has a camera running to show the principal. But Dash moves so fast that it barely registers on the tape, and it just makes the teacher seem crazy.
  • In Monsters, Inc., Sullivan tricks Mr. Waternoose into the simulation chamber, where he unwittingly confesses to planning to kidnap human children for their screams. Mike then reviews the incriminating footage for the CDA agents in the control room.
    Mike: You know what? Let's play my favorite part again, shall we?
  • In Onward, Barley denies to Officer Colt having anything to do with protesting the destruction of an ancient fountain and is immediately presented with a video of himself tying himself to the fountain to try to prevent it from being destroyed.
  • Zootopia:
    • This is how Judy blackmails Nick into working with her. Using a pen with a built-in voice recorder, she records his boast about all the money his schemes have made, then threatens to bust him for tax evasion (since he hasn't reported it as income) unless he helps her.
    • Later, Judy uses her smartphone to record the conversation between Mayor Lionheart and a doctor about the berserk animals, making him look like the one responsible for their disappearance.
    • After Judy comes back to Nick after quitting the force, she apologizes to him saying "I really am just a dumb bunny." He records this, then plays it back, saying that he'll let her erase it in 48 hours.
    • Finally, Judy uses her pen to record Bellwether's confession, ensuring that the police she called herself now have evidence to arrest her.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ajnabee: Raj manages to clear his name by recording Vicky as the later is gloating and explaining his entire plan to kill his wife and have Raj framed.
  • Andhadhun: When Simi denies killing Mr. Sinha, Akash points out that she did kill Mrs. D'Sa. When she starts making excuses for it, it is revealed that her confession was recorded.
  • The Avengers (1998). Emma Peel is the prime suspect for the destruction of the Prospero Project after the security tape shows her entering and killing people. It was actually her Evil Twin clone who did it.
  • In Death Bell, Ji-Won accidentally videos her own murder when she drops her phone while being strangled.
  • The 1997 Direct-to-Video thriller Exception to the Rule features two old school examples:
    • The villainess uses video footage of the protagonist's affair with her to blackmail him into doing her dirty work. Since this is a 1990s movie, an actual VHS tape is used.
    • Later on the hero turns the tables by recording an incriminating conversation using a Hidden Wire.
  • Gorky Park (1983). The investigator Renko discovers that his friend the Chief Prosecutor is actually corrupt and working with the man who committed the Gorky Park murders. Renko pretends that he too is open to bribery, but then reveals that he has a tape recorder hidden under a nearby towel. This leads to a Gun Struggle and the Prosecutor's death.
  • The plot of Heist (2001) starts when Joe Moore's face is captured on a security camera he wasn't expecting to be there.
  • In The Invisible Guest, a bugged ball-point pen is used to record Adrian's confession.
  • Subverted in Judge Dredd. A security cam captures the murder of a crusading newsman by what appears to be Judge Dredd. Instead of the tape proving his guilt, it's pointed out that anyone could obtain a Judge's uniform and appear to be Dredd, so more conclusive evidence is needed - a DNA match.
  • The villains of Machete are completely Too Dumb to Live in regards to this trope. Booth is pretty dumb for crucifying a priest while explaining his villainous plan and not bothering to remove the clearly visible security cameras, but the Senator takes the cake for actually asking that someone videotape him while he's committing murder, and actually requesting that he get a copy of the DVD afterwards.
  • Mannequin: How the inside man for The Rival is found out:
    “When I fired this idiot the other day, I decided to replace him with one of those fancy camera surveillance systems. I have Richards and this moron on videotape!”
    • Incidentally, the new security officer for The Rival is referred to as an idiot here.
  • Mulholland Falls: Alison's gay friend recorded a lot of her liasons at the motel on film through a two-way mirror. Both Hoover and the General are after these film reels because of the potential embarrassment they could bring to, respectively, the former's wife and the latter's reputation. It also turns out that Alison had filmed proof of illegal nuclear tests in the desert, which the bad guys killed her for.
  • The Omega Code 2 has the "doctored" variant.
  • In Ruthless People, there's Carol and Earl's unintentional blackmail of police chief Benton: they think they sent him evidence of Sam Stone killing his wife Barbara. However, because Earl is Too Dumb to Live and he didn't watch while taping it, didn't realize he'd actually taped Benton having sex with a hooker.
  • Robot Jox. Before he kills another character, The Mole's confession is videotaped, which eventually leads to his unmasking.
  • Shandra: The Jungle Girl: Armstrong is recording his observations on tape when he is attacked by Shandra. He drops the still running Dictaphone with the result that his near-fatal encounter with Shandra is recorded.
  • Spies Like Us. Emmett Fitzhume and Austin Millbarge are videotaped while cheating on a State Department advancement test, which leads to them being chosen as expendable decoys.
  • The entire plot of Strange Days revolves around a murder caught on tape, with the added problem that the murderers are cops.
  • This Is Your Death: When the woman who suicides inside the car turns the engine off and attempts to get out,Adam pushes her back in and starts the engine again so she dies. However, he doesn't realize that the cameras inside the car are still recording and capture the murder. Sylvia copies the footage and then deletes it. At the end of the movie, she hands the recording over to the FBI.

  • A very, very nasty example in Dean Koontz's False Memory: a woman, who knows someone keeps breaking into her house and raping her in the night, suspects her ex-husband but has no idea how the hell he's doing it, since she locks her house up tight every night, and it's still locked in the morning. She sets up a video camera in a potted plant and discovers it's her psychiatrist, who's pretty much mind-raped her into granting him complete control over her psyche with a series of code words. Ick.
  • Lisbeth in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo uses of a video recording of her parole officer raping her to blackmail him.
  • House of Robots: In the first book, Sammy brings Hayseed and Brittney 13 along when he confronts Cooper Elliot to get him to confess to kidnapping and dismantling E with the help of his brothers, Johnny and Trevor. He picks those robots because Hayseed has an internal recorder, and Brittney 13 can send out messages to the authorities once Cooper confesses.
  • In No Way to Treat a First Lady by Christopher Buckley, a secret recording of the President and his mistress the night before he died exonerates his wife of murder.
  • In Andre Norton's Plague Ship, representatives of one of the big trading corporations tried to push the Free Traders into giving up a lucrative trade arrangement. They made a not-especially veiled threat of armed attack, mentioning that they were far away from any authorities who might defend the Free Traders. And then J. Van Rycke pulled a small disc out of a belt pouch and commented, "Very interesting. I shall treasure this recording—"
  • The plot of The Player of Games is triggered by a pseudo-aversion. Thousands of years into the future, video manipulation is so advanced and commonplace that no one would dream of considering videos as proof of anything, because it is trivially easy to produce pixel-perfect representations of anything you want. The eponymous grandmaster is very surprised when he is blackmailed by an unexpectedly advanced drone, and has to learn that there are indeed levels of event-recording that will be accepted as genuine when a sufficiently sophisticated AI vouches for them.
  • In Relativity, Sara and Greg have just gotten married when they bump into Sara's old flame, Martin Bling. When Bling finds out Greg is a chef, he mentions that he may want to visit his restaurant one day. Sara mutters under her breath, "Maybe you'll get food poisoning." Ten stories later (and over a year, in-universe), Bling does go to Greg's restaurant... and gets poisoned. His lawyers dig up the security footage of Sara and hire lip-readers to figure out what she said. Oops.
  • Secrets Not Meant to be Kept has an example involving the victim rather than the villain. Realizing that no one believes Adri's warnings that her three-year-old sister Becky is being molested at preschool, Adri and her boyfriend devise a plan in which Adri gets Becky to talk about the molestation, secretly tape-recording the conversation.
  • In Star Wars Dark Disciple, Asajj Ventress lies to Quinlan Vos, telling him that Count Dooku killed his Jedi Master, Tholme. When Count Dooku captures Vos, after hearing this from Vos, he plays a holorecording showing that it was Ventress who did the deed. It doesn't convince him because Dooku has falsified tapes in the past. Dooku, however, knows that Vos has the skill of psychometry, the ability to experience past events by touching an object, so he makes him touch Tholme's lightsaber.
  • In the novelization of Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith, when the Jedi come to "arrest" him, Chancellor Palpatine/Darth Sidious activates a recording and puts on a dumb show, just enough to make a great performance for play back at the first Empire Day before the Imperial Senate. Then he smiles, winks, and lightsabers the device to the point that it can no longer keep recording, declaring "That's enough of that."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the fifth season of 24, former President David Palmer is assassinated and the wife of current president Charles Logan, Martha Logan, is convinced it has something to do with something he wanted to tell her. She says that they had a phone conversation the night before in which he expressed that he wanted to talk to her in person about a matter of national security. So somebody dredges up a recording in which Palmer says that "it's hardly a matter of national security" but he wants to invite her to charity dinner. Of course, everyone dismisses her as crazy because she's had mental issues in the past and is on meds, but later it turns out the recording is doctored or fake.
  • A key component of Americas Dumbest Criminals and a good portion of Maury episodes that don't involve parental/cheater DNA tests.
  • In Better Call Saul, Chuck baits Jimmy to confess to doctoring legal documents. Unbeknownst to Jimmy, he is recording the conversation on tape.
  • In Better Off Ted Veronica turns out to have a tape of the time Ted and her had sex, confiscated off a security guard who apparently had dozens of similar tapes. Ted ends up showing the tape to Linda, not because of the sex (which she already knew about), but because it revealed that the e-mail Linda swore she had sent Ted had been accidentally deleted during the act, explaining why Ted never received it.
  • The Bill. A Dirty Cop realises his informant is carrying a Hidden Wire, so says, "Are you threatening me?" Then he drops a knife into the informant's hand and starts to attack him in "self defense". Which would have worked quite well, if they hadn't caught all this on video too.
  • The Boys (2019). The Boys get their first break when they catch Popclaw on tape accidentally killing a man during sex, and use it blackmail her into acting as their informant. Unfortunately Popclaw was secretly taping her own sex acts, so this subsequent blackmailing was also caught on tape, which is found after her death, revealing the faces of The Boys to the people they're investigating.
  • A Babysitting Episode of Clarissa Explains It All has her having to babysit a monster child who always makes her life hell, and managing to get her to behave by recording her bragging about everything she's done and gotten away with.
  • Columbo
    • The episode "Etude in Black" has this as what breaks the killer's alibi. The killer was filmed conducting a concert without his signature boutonniere, but later at the crime scene the news crews present record him leaving with it. Faced with this, the killer's wife refuses to lie for him anymore.
    • Similarly, in "Playback" Columbo notices in security footage that a party invitation on the desk in the room where the victim was killed mysteriously vanishes. Since the man he suspects is the killer presented the invitation at the party, Columbo figures out that he prerecorded an empty room and spliced in the footage to convince the security guard on duty that the murder occurred after he had left.
      Columbo: How did it get to the art gallery? By your own testimony you took it there. But in order to get it off the desk you practically had to step over the body. That woman was shot before you left the house... and you shot her.
  • Death in Paradise: In "In the Footsteps of a Killer", the team reopens an old case where the victim was shot while on the phone, and her murder recorded on an answering machine.
  • Eli Stone: One episode featured a baseballer that was charged with murder because a ball he hit had killed a person he hated and the prosecutor claimed the baseballer aimed for the victim. The prosecutor tried to introduce a DVD suggesting he defendant did have the skills to aim but, since the DVD was anonymous, it became inadmissible as evidence for being more prejudicial than reliable. (The prosecutor couldn't prove it wasn't doctored.)
  • On Friends Ross and Rachel argue about which of them initiated the sex that resulted in Rachel getting pregnant. Ross insists that it was Rachel who hit on him, and shouts out that he can prove it because he videotaped the whole thing. This does not make the situation better.
  • The Spanish drama Gran Hotel has a scene where the lead character gets his ex-girlfriend to admit to a murder that she'd framed him for... on a phonograph.
  • Happy Endings has an early episode, with Dave newly moved into Max's apartment, with food going missing. After learning from Alex that Dave sleepwalks, Max borrows Jane's nanny-cam (that she uses to keep an eye on Brad, but that Brad uses to his own advantage) to catching in the act Turns out, there's an artist squatting upstairs in their crawl space who's been stealing the food.
  • Herman's Head: Herman helps a loony executive break into an office, but worries on hearing that the security cameras have caught it on tape. The executive isn't worried, producing a tangle of magnetic tape from his drawer and telling Herman that the night security guard just got promoted to Head of Security.
  • JAG: Admiral Chegwidden is caught on tape hitting a high school student in the episode "Code of Conduct".
  • On Joe Schmo 2, the second season of The Joe Schmo Show, this is one of the things that leads Ingrid Wiese (the show's first "Jane Schmo" character) to realize that something is very much off about what's going on and possibly the final nail in the coffin. Cammy leads her into the bathroom to tell her an embarrassing story about having been in a food fetish video called Porked 'n Beans, saying that she's worried the producers are going to find out about it and use it against her. As she's telling the story, the cameraman has to step outside because the batteries on his camera have gone out. Any normal person would keep telling the story and probably be grateful for not having the cameras there. Cammy, however, or rather her actress, Jana Speaker, stops telling the story, deliberately waiting until the cameraman returns to resume it, as if she actually wants everything she says to be on camera. (Which she does, as this whole scenario is going to be an important plot point going forward with the series.)
  • The Leverage team love this way to take down marks. Notable is a few times, the marks almost know they're on camera, they just don't know how bad it'll look.
    • In "The Homecoming Job," a corrupt Congressman and his CEO partner are tricked into summoning reporters to find the truck packed with millions of dollars in cash they've been stealing from military contracts. The pair try to play off that they've uncovered this scam which point, all the reporters' cell phones go off to play video of an argument the pair had exposing their greed so they both go down.
    • In the Leverage: Redemption episode "The Tower Job," just as it looks like Krista is about to get away with it, the team sends a video to her rich friends showing Krista practically bragging about knowingly building shoddy buildings so she could pocket more money for herself. Even if she avoids jail time for it, that friend makes it clear that once word gets around, Krista "will never sell so much as a timeshare again."
  • Mathnet: The Karamasov brothers frame George for armed robbery by one of them wearing a George mask and robbing a bank. He stops to make sure the security camera has a clear view of him, even posing straight on and in profile like those pictures they take when the cops book someone.
  • One episode of The Mentalist featured a suspected murderer that got off because the tape proving that he lied about his alibi hasn't been introduced on time to become admissible as evidence. It was later revealed he was really innocent and the real murderer had doctored the tape.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "The Ballad of Midsomer County", the killings all centre around a murder accidentally recorded on a master tape 20 years earlier, with the master tape then being hidden.
  • Murder, She Wrote: The murderer in "The Return of Preston Giles" accidentally records their confession on tape.
  • In NCIS episode "Dead Reflection", a suspect is framed by the perpetrator being seen on a security camera while wearing a mask. the victim was killed because she recognized the voice wasn't right.
  • On the fourth season of Profiler, slimy FBI boss Marks tries to get Rachel thrown off the team by planting a wire falsely implicating her in an affair with a student. Rachel confronts him in a men's room with Marks smugly saying he has the advantage.
    Marks: So yeah, I planted the wire. Because when you have someone by the short hairs, you pull.
    Rachel: Like this?
    ''(lifts her jacket collar to reveal her own wire and saunters out as Marks just stands there in shock.
  • Search: A camcorder records the entire 1997 incident, including Min-guk's murder. The survivors assumed the camera either wasn't working or would never be found. Twenty years later Dong-jin finds it and watches the video. Then Jun-seong destroys it to protect his father, the murderer.
  • In the series finale of Seinfeld the Main Characters are arrested because they watched an armed robbery take place and didn't call the police or do anything else to help. In court, footage that one of them shot themselves is used as evidence against them, showing them watching the robbery and, not only doing nothing to help, but actually mocking the victim as the robbery's going on.
  • Subverted on The Shield when Vic realizes a supposed ally is wearing a wire. He decides to use it to claim his supposed corrupt reputation is all an act to make crooks think he's a renegade cop so they'll give up information. Since they think Vic didn't know he was being recorded, Internal Affairs buys Vic's "confession."
  • Silk Stalkings: In "S.O.B.", a charter boat skipper has a hidden camera concealed behind a two-way mirror in the master stateroom which he uses to record his rich clients having sex with a prostitute so he can blackmail them. It also records Rich in Dollars, Poor in Sense trust-fund kid assaulting, and apparently killing, the Victim of the Week, and sends the tape to the police take the heat off himself. He had riled the rich kid up and sent him there hoping he would kill the victim, but he was only knocked out. The skipper finished him off and dumped him overboard.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Court Martial". Captain Kirk is brought up on charges of causing the death of a crewman. The main evidence against him is the Enterprise computer log. It's later determined that the log was altered to frame Kirk for the crewman's death.
  • Whodunnit? (UK): In "The Q43 Experiment", the murder of the Victim of the Week is caught on the tape recorder the victim was using to rerecord his lab notes. The killer, in fact, is planning on this and uses the tape to plant a Red Herring.

  • This is just one of the many, many ways the guy in Shaggy's song "It Wasn't Me" is caught out by his girlfriend with the girl next door.
    Saw me banging on the sofa (Wasn't me) / I even had her in the shower (Wasn't me) / She even caught me on camera (Wasn't me)

    Video Games 
  • Among Us: The Skeld and Polus maps include security cameras that Crewmates can use to try and spot the Impostor, who can also disable them by sabotaging the communication systems.
  • In Command & Conquer: Tiberian Dawn, a camera in a studio filming Nod propaganda catches Kane in the middle of discussing copying and distributing his faked news reports. He then notices.
    Kane: Is that camera still running?! (gunshot)
  • In Full Throttle, Ben has to expose Ripburger by placing the photos Miranda took of the murder of Malcom Corley and the audio tape of Corley's will on the projector.
  • Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective: In Chapter 5, Lynne is shown to have shot Sissel on a security camera. Chapter 17 reveals that Yomiel intentionally framed Lynne with his manipulation powers.
  • In Heavy Rain, if Ethan is captured by the police, Jayden decides to help him escape. If the camera recording Ethan's interrogation room isn't turned off, Carter will call out Jayden for this and threatens that he will be suspended of duty.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
    • In Justice for All Case 2-4, you learn that Matt Engarde put a spying camera into the room that turned into the crime scene, specifically to record the murder happening. Later on, a video tape becomes evidence - whether the contents on the tape is the murder or something else is never revealed, as the video is never watched.
    • The case specifically created for the DS "Rise from the Ashes" deals with a murder in the evidence room at one point. Said room had a security camera recording everything, but nothing conclusive was seen because a moving thing was in the camera view all the time. Turns out that no murder took place in that room, merely a fight that resulted in two people being injured. Well, a murder DID happen in that room however the incident caught on tape wasn't this murder but just a fight between two people. The actual murder took place prior to this fight.
  • Jonathan Ingram in Policenauts exposes Gates' true colors after exposing his motive rant on what he, Toscanini, and Tokugawa have been doing on Beyond by using a small camera on his ear.

    Web Comics 
  • In Dominic Deegan Nielen tried to break up Dominic and Luna by bottling words they said at some point and using his elemental powers to rearrange a few things. It doesn't fool either of them.
  • In Homestuck, there is a scene where One of the many Araidabot's Soulbot Video Logs shows the battle against the Black King. This technically counts as caught on tape as proof for Andrew Hussie to prevent the readers bugging him about what happened during the battle.

    Web Original 
  • Quick, a ferret-like being uses Terra's digital camera to capture evidence of conspirators against the Kingdom of Halen in Engines of Creation.
  • In Noob, Master Zen should really know better than to admit being behind the events of the Wham Episode while playing a MMORPG, in front of the other player he framed for the whole thing, especially if said other player has a habit of filming in-game events.

    Western Animation 
  • On American Dad! a traffic camera records Roger running someone over and leaving them to die. However, he's wearing a paper thin Kevin Bacon disguise at the time, so it's the Hollywood actor who gets arrested. Even Bacon himself, who was thousands of miles away when the hit-and-run happened, believes he must have committed the crime and repressed the memory, because "it's clearly me on the tape!"
    • In "Bully for Steve", Principal Lewis showed the Smiths a tape of Stan bullying Steve caught on the security cameras. It also caught Principal Lewis downing a twelve-pack of beer and urinating on the basketball court, and a janitor turning into a werewolf and attacking a student.
  • In "Movie Night" from Butterbean's Cafe, Butterbean and her crew decide to host a movie night at Butterbean's Cafe. Ms. Marmalady hatches a plan to ruin it and force everyone to come to her place for movie night. She goes around to the crew of the cafe one-by-one, each suggesting a different type of movie that's supposedly popular in Puddlebrook in order to get them arguing about it so they can't decide on what movie to show. Unfortunately for her, Cricket is onto her and films her interactions with everyone, then plays them back after the arguments begin to reveal that they're only fighting because Ms. Marmalady stoked them to.
  • The Dinosaucers tried it with the Tyrannos once, but it failed because they put Bonehead in charge of taping the confession. Instead of doing so, he covered the villain with adhesive tape.
  • DuckTales (1987) had an episode where Flintheart Glomgold framed Scrooge with art theft by showing a tape of 'Scrooge' stealing the painting. It worked at first but Huey, Dewey and Louie eventually found out the tape caught a reflection of 'Scrooge' taking off his disguise, revealing himself as Flintheart Glomgold.
  • An episode of The Fairly OddParents had Timmy get out of a Clear My Name situation by having Cosmo turn into a camera and catch the real culprit: Francis.
  • An Overly Long Gag in Futurama's Trust-Building Blunder episode, in which it seems that half the office has simultaneously decided to get hidden camera evidence against the other half (on floppy disks, no less).
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie: Scheck tried to demolish several homes and businesses to erect a shopping center and avenge an ancestor. He gloated to Arnold and burned the document that established the area as a historical site, thus making it illegal to demolish it. Arnold managed to obtain a videotape from Scheck's own surveillance cameras showing the document fully.
  • The House of Mouse short "Big House Mickey" had Mortimer try to get Mickey in jail to go on a date with Minnie. He did so by having Mickey arrested for stealing a baseball from his house and shows the court a tape of "Mickey" breaking into Mortimer's house to steal the ball. The court fell for it, but Mickey got released when the police found the words "Property of Mickey Mouse" on the ball.
  • An episode of Johnny Bravo had the main character being sent to prison for littering, but Little Suzie and Mama Bravo was able to clear his name when the video taken from a security camera across the street showed that Johnny did throw the candy wrapper inside the trash can, and that the wrapper on the ground was actually thrown by some random passer-by. However, Johnny, who was accidentally sent to a women's prison, didn't want to be released.
  • Parodied on an episode of The Mask series. When the Mask gets falsely accused of counterfeiting, he takes out a tape recorder and claims to have recorded a confession from the real criminal. But then when he hits the button, polka music plays instead and he goes "Alright, alright, who's the wise guy?!"
  • In Megas XLR episode "Buggin' the System", after Jamie accidentally knocks Kiva out when fending off the metallic creatures, he claims one of them got Kiva. After leaving the archive world, Jamie presses a button in Megas that makes a monitor show the moment of him hitting Kiva, who proceeds to beat him up.
  • In The Owl House episode "Yesterday's Lie"; Vee, a basilisk who impersonated Luz in the human realm is caught on a hidden camera set up by a museum curator to expose witches and demons. Luz's mother then threatens to go to the police because he set up the camera (and a bunch of animal traps) on her private property.
  • A Paramount Modern Madcap had the quick-change villain Mike the Masquerader identified by an elephant as the robber of a bank. The elephant is put in police protection, while Mike schemes to get rid of him through his disguises. When he's exposed later, the elephant can now not remember him. He's got such a lousy memory he has to keep them all on a tape recorder—which was on "record" when Mike asked him if he remembered he robbed the bank.
  • The Scooby-Doo episode "Jeepers, It's The Creeper." The flame will tell the Creeper.
  • The Simpsons did it when Homer was accused of groping a woman. Apparently Groundskeeper Willy, like all Scottish people, secretly videotapes random people in cars, and he uses his tape to prove that Homer was just trying to grab a piece of candy off the woman's butt.
  • The Smurfs (1981) episode "Memory Melons" had Selwyn trying to present an "I love you" message to his wife Tallulah using a magical melon that captures whatever a person speaks into it. However, the melon captures Selwyn speaking about needing to get rid of "that old bag of wind" (referring to a literal bag of wind) and Tallulah thinks that he's talking about her.
  • In one episode of The X's, after not pulling any pranks for some time, Truman takes the jet for a joyride, Home Base catches him in the act. Except he forgot that he disabled his cameras so he didn't record anything.
  • Wheel Squad: Akim and Johnny were once arrested for robbery and a security tape from World Mart had been introduced as evidence against them. It turned out that Enzo, the manager of World Mart, doctored the tape because his boss wasn't satisfied that the extra cameras had yet to diminish the place's theft rate.

    Real Life 
  • The fall of Richard Nixon gave this trope a big boost, as the tape recordings he had ensured would be made (after the model of Lyndon Johnson) damaged him not only by implicating him in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in and other crimes, but destroyed the public image of him as an wholesome believer in American values he had carefully constructed when they displayed him as a profane, angry, bigot.
  • Mitt Romney's campaign for the Presidency in 2012 was damaged when audio surfaced in which he claimed that 47% of the populace were would-be parasites who therefore wouldn't vote Republican.
  • Averted; in 2008, Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency survived the damage inflicted by the surfacing of audio of him asserting that many middle-class Americans injured by the system instead 'bitterly cling' to guns, religion, racialism, and anti-immigrant sentiments rather than blaming those actually responsible and voting in their own best interests.
  • Hillary Rodham Clinton's campaign for the Presidency in 2016 was damaged by the revelation of her assertion that half of Donald Trump's core supporters—that is, half of 40% of the Republican Party, that is at most 10% of Americans—had legitimate grievances, but the other half were simply a bigoted and/or extremist 'basket of deplorables', the already insulting remark frequently being distorted into a condemnation of all Trump supporters or of most Americans.
  • Averted: In 2016, Donald Trump was elected President one month after an old tape surfaced in which he bragged of adultery attempted with the aid of a shopping trip and claimed that his celebrity allowed him to commit a form of sexual assault with impunity.
  • Hillary Adams, daughter of Judge William Adams released a very disturbing video of her father beating her with a belt when she was a teen. It received national attention and Judge Adams will most likely Never Live It Down. He ultimately lost the re-election in 2014.
  • In an age when cellphones have built-in cameras and High Def video cameras are very affordable, you can easily get caught on video; doubly so if you're brazen enough to commit your misdeeds in public. Need we mention that the video could even go viral on the net before you even get the chance to confiscate the person's phone/camera?
    • Check the laws in your area first, however—some places require all involved parties to consent to being recorded for it to be legal, at least where there's an expectation of privacy (i.e. not in public). Not, of course, that that stops some people anyway.
    • Many court cases these days involve video evidence. Still, even if they have you dead to rights, it's probably better to plead not guilty unless you get some sort of plea deal, as you can't be sure where things will go.


Video Example(s):


Fletcher's 'Special' Broadcast

R.J. Fletcher's attempt to defame Channel 62 and delay their telethon are foiled when Philo hijack the broadcast with footage of Fletcher saying what he REALLY thinks of his audience.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / EngineeredPublicConfession

Media sources: