Follow TV Tropes


Clear My Name
aka: Wrongfully Accused

Go To

"Believe me, it is a great deal better to find cast-iron proof that you're innocent than to languish in a cell hoping that the police, who already think you're guilty, will do it for you."

The hero/es have been falsely accused of a crime they did not commit.

Maybe they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time—in line at the bank when it got robbed, or riding in the same subway car as a murder is committed and happens to look exactly like the one who did it. Maybe they were the ones who found the body and accidentally left their fingerprints on the murder weapon. Maybe the series' Big Bad has deliberately framed them to get them out of the way. Or perhaps it was a False Friend spreading the accusation via rumors to disrupt The Team. Maybe it's a Government Conspiracy to silence them because They Know Too Much. It might also involve an Evil Twin or some other type of imposter.

Whatever the root cause, the phony evidence is so convincing, or the convergence of bad luck that makes them look guilty is so unlikely, our hero struggles to convince anyone of their innocence. Even their own friends and loved ones seem ready to write them off guilty as charged. (With this belief sometimes persisting.)


While there are many different ways for the character to prove their innocence, the most common method used to set this Miscarriage of Justice straight is to find the real criminal and bring them to justice. This can take an episode or two, or it can be the premise behind an ongoing arc.

Sometimes this can be resolved while the hero is out on bail, or perhaps it has to wait until they complete their sentence. If they're supposed to be in jail, then it also becomes a Stern Chase. If they're in jail and put in a Deadly Game or Blood Sport, they become a Condemned Contestant.

If the protagonist actually commits some crimes in the course of trying to clear their name, then they will likely benefit from Wrongful Accusation Insurance—though most of them obey Would Not Shoot a Good Guy. Selective Condemnation is an extremely contrived Video Game variant. If the injured party (or a relation of theirs) won't stop blaming the character despite the new evidence, they're usually clinging to an Irrational Hatred.


If the hero has to clear someone else who has been wrongfully accused of a crime, it's Clear Their Name. When the hero accuses the (innocent) villain of wrongdoing, it's Not Me This Time. Contrast Taking the Heat, where an innocent person attempts to pin the guilt onto themselves to save someone else, and Then Let Me Be Evil, where the hero decides that proving their innocence is not worth it and straight up becomes exactly what they are accused of. Compare We Need to Get Proof.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Subverted in Fist of the North Star; Rei has been looking for "the man with the seven scars" who kidnapped his Ill Girl sister. The only person who fits that description that we've met so far is Kenshiro, but we know for a fact he didn't do it. His sister is eventually found and cured of her blindness by Ken, but when Rei finds out about Ken's seven scars, he laughs it off, saying that he knows Ken is too nice a guy to ever do something like that. Turns out the real culprit is Jagi, who has been trying to frame Ken the whole time.
  • Spoofed early in Love Hina, when Keitaro resolves to "clear his name" with Shinobu. Naru immediately points out that there's nothing to clear up - he really did do the things that made Shinobu upset with him.
  • Happens to the True Companions in Negima! Magister Negi Magi when Arch-Enemy Fate Averruncus destroys the gate port from Magical Land to the Muggle side, finding a way to alter the video footage so that it appears the heroes did it. Odd in that the Magitek cameras probably should've been able to pick up on that, seeing as A Wizard Did It (while several figures who actually witnessed the event clearly saw the True Companions trying to defend against Fate and his minions). Needless to say, the entire group is on the lam (and on top of it, scattered around the magic world).
    • Amusingly his father is in the nearly same situation in the flashback.
    • Apparently he got this problem from his parents: His mother Arika has it worse than Nagi or Negi ever did; she was framed for attempted genocide and generally turned into a scapegoat for everything bad that happened as a result of the war. As of now (20 years later), she still hasn't been officially exonerated; however, she was saved from execution by Nagi and his True Companions, so it's almost a safe bet that She's Just Hiding.
  • Averted in Glass Mask. Maya Kitajima is pretty much kicked out of the entertainment industry when Suzuko Tashiro aka Norie Otobe frames her for a scandal, yet she presses forward and starts back in theater, regaining her spot in the industry in few time. Ayumi does punish Suzuko/Norie with an Humiliation Conga, though.
  • Subverted in Death Note - Villain Protagonist Light gives up his memories of being the mass murderer Kira and proceeds to spend the next few months attempting to clear his name by catching the 'real' Kira. On doing so, he reverts to his original personality and proceeds to spend the next five years on a killing spree.
  • Happens to Jack Atlas in a multi-part episode of Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's when the Big Bad Duumvirate create a robotic Evil Twin of him that's so convincing that even Yusei, Crow, and Mikage (who has a major crush on him, no less), are convinced of his guilt. (Of course, the case against him is rather strong: The criminal is seen using Red Dragon Archfiend, a unique card that only Jack has access too, as far as anyone knows. As it turns out, the imposter has three copies of it, all of which are forgeries, and not very convincing ones when seen up close. Fortunately, the truth becomes clear when he challenges the imposter and defeats it.
  • Subverted in Monster. Everyone assumes that Tenma is trying to clear his name, but he just has other things on his mind.
  • Miki Hosokawa from Hell Teacher Nube is addicted to gossips, but makes a point about not spreading downright cruel ones. Well, at one point she was framed by a demon who impersonated her and made her friends believe she was spreading Malicious Slander, and all of them desert her. Miki has a tearful Heroic BSoD, but she decides to prove her innocence and find out who did this to her. She's successful and the demon almost kills her, but her Badass Teacher Nube saves her.
  • Happens in Cardcaptor Sakura, where the Mirror card frames Sakura by taking up her appearance and causing havoc around Tomoeda. When Sakura's brother Touya unmasks her and gets hurt, but still offers her his friendship, The Mirror has a Heel–Face Turn and lets Sakura seal her.
  • In the Vampire Princess Miyu TV series, a Shinma with shapeshifting powers frames the titular Dark Magical Girl in an attempt to lure her out. She has to fight and seal him.
  • The Soul Eater manga has Dr. Stein accused of the murder of Marie's boyfriend BJ, but his friends allow him to leave the city in order to clear his name. He succeeds, with the reveal of the true killer coming as a complete surprise. It was Justin Law, who had been The Mole until then.
  • Horribly inverted in Getter Robo Armageddon: At the beginning of the series, Ryouma Nagare's been in prison for the death of Professor Saotome, a crime he never committed. When it turns out Saotome's alive and armed with an army of Getter Robo Gs, the Japanese Government frees him, gives him a Getter Robo, and tells him to go kill him. At this point, Ryouma wants Saotome dead just so he can get revenge for ruining his life with the Getters.
  • D.Gray-Man: After the entire arc involving Kanda and Alma, Allen still gets in a lot of trouble for turning into a Noah, and now he's stuck in a prison.
  • In My-Otome, Arika leaves her uniform in the laundry room, and Miya, acting on Tomoe's orders steals it and sells it to frame her, as Arika had no source of paying tuition until her anonymous benefactor started paying it. She works to prove that she's not responsible for doing so, and while she and her friends incorrectly identify Mashiro's cat Mikoto as the culprit, the matter is solved and her punishment is lifted.
  • In Case Closed's "Ghost Ship" case, Kogoro goes to give some lectures on an island. When the people who invited him appear dead, all the hints point to Kogoro, so Conan has to help him clear his name.
    • More than one case involves someone going to Kogoro and asking him for help to invoke the trope. Whether they're actually innocent or not, it's something else.
    • There's also Chapter 646 to 651, where Shinichi appears after losing his memories and has stabbed someone. And Heiji tries to find evidence that it must have been a setup. Before pointing out it's exactly as it looks, except that it isn't Shinichi, just someone who got plastic surgery to look like him.
  • Lupin III often subverts this: whenever Lupin is framed for a theft he never committed, it usually leads to Lupin tricking the bastard who put the blame on him into getting arrested... and committing that theft for real. He's much less kind when he's framed for murder.
    • The second series finale has Zenigata telling the Police Chief that the Lupin sending the broadcast about the robot is a fake because it isn't Lupin's style. Zenigata is actually Lupin in disguise, and the gang films their efforts at revealing who really committed the thefts. Those guys were responsible for the deaths of innocents. Their corporation was burned to the ground when Lupin and his team left.
    • In Lupin III: Island of Assassins, Lupin was framed for killing Zenigata. Lupin took their money, and the entire island suffered from orbital bombardment.
  • Taken to extremes in the last few episodes of Tiger & Bunny: Wild Tiger, aka Kotetsu, is framed for the murder of Samantha, his partner Barnaby's housekeeper and mother figure, while having his Secret Identity wiped from his fellow Heroes and coworkers' minds and replaced with a fake android Wild Tiger. To make it worse, the man behind all of this is Mr. Maverick who owns Hero TV and practically the city of Sternbild itself and has almost direct control of Barnaby.
  • The entire plot to the second half of Tenchi Universe: Kagato had somehow ascended to the throne and framed the princesses Ayeka and Sasami for treason. Ryoko, already a criminal, was tossed into the mix for just being there; Tenchi, his father, grandfather and Washu were dragged in for breaking the girls out; and Mihoshi and Kiyone were dragged in for trying to help them.
  • Zigzagged into quite a fine paste in K. Shiro is presented to have murdered someone, with video footage of him doing it, and he seeks to clear his name until it turns out that he DID do it, but it wasn't really him. It was the Big Bad of the season in control of him, but was only able to take him over because he wasn't real to begin with? Yeah, it's a trip.
  • In one episode of Pokémon the Series: XY, Team Rocket disguises themselves as Ash, Serena, and Bonnie and frames them by causing havoc in a park and in a town. Ash and the others decide to take matters into their own hands and defeat Team Rocket.
    • Another episode has Clemont's robot Clembot getting blamed for a rash of incidents in Lumiose City (the culprit was a second Clembot built by another roboticist).
  • Since Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note is Children's Literature, the things that need to be cleared sounds petty, but it still counts: This is Wakatake's motivation for opening the case The Backyard Knows; despite his cleaning of the school yard he is still reprimanded for not cleaning it, which he believes to be some other people dumping trash into the school overnight. He is right about this.

    Asian Animation 

    Board Games 
  • The whole point of Clue.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • A storyline was devoted to Bruce Wayne: Murderer? and its follow-up, Bruce Wayne: Fugitive. The Batfamily members were the ones doing the clearing up, while Batman considered that "Bruce Wayne" had just become a burden to be abandoned, even saying that "Bruce Wayne doesn't exist".
    • Dick Grayson was once accused of murder and had to fight to prove he was innocent.
    • Renee Montoya is accused of murder in a storyline of Gotham Central when a criminal she has history with and a private detective hired to follow her are both killed. She is being set up by her Stalker with a Crush Two-Face, who thinks that by completely ruining her life she will have nowhere to go except into his arms. On that occasion, her colleagues try to prove she is innocent, Batman investigates the case, and everybody in the cast is confused (but grateful) when Bruce Wayne pays for her lawyer. Two-Face eventually has to resort to outright kidnapping once the lawyer manages to get her released on bail since he knows that once she is free she inevitably will be able to find enough evidence to clear herself. The whole debacle would have been unnecessary if Two-Face understood their Incompatible Orientation; Renee was a lesbian in the first place.
    • In a bizarre reversal, Batman races against time to clear the Joker's name in The Joker: Devil's Advocate, as his insanity defense finally fails and he's sentenced to death, but for a murder he didn't actually commit.
  • For decades, this is how Spider-Man stayed a regular guy without a support network, all thanks to J. Jonah Jameson.
    • And then Jameson became the mayor of New York, running the office just like he does the Bugle (what with the spider-slander, and sending Spider-slayers after Spidey).
    • If you didn't figure out that he was never going to ease up on Spidey after Captain America basically told him "look dumbass, this man is out there every day helping people no matter how much shit you dump on him, ease off already and we'll give you an exclusivity deal with the New Avengers", and this didn't help... no-one here can help you.
    • Jameson just makes sure everyone knows about it when there's the slightest possibility that Spidey may have committed a crime. Other cast members are the ones doing the framing, which they do with disturbing regularity. In the newspaper comics, Spider-man has averaged one frame job a year for decades. You'd think that by now the NYPD would get smart about the whole thing and just ignore the reports of him allegedly committing another burglary.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Sonic had this happen to him twice in the span of a year!
    • The first incident was the "Mecha Madness" epilogue: Sonic's arrested for becoming Mecha Sonic, disobeying a royal order from Sally. After outwitting an overzealous Antoine into realizing that the one who got him that way, Nack the Weasel, was missing and evidence was pointing towards him, Sally ordered Sonic to bring Nack back by sunrise or be exiled. Needless to say, Sonic did it.
    • The big one, however, was "EndGame". Sonic's framed from the supposed death of Princess Sally, in a manner befitting of The Fugitive, Sonic breaks free and is able to prove his innocence through Dulcy the Dragon. In short order, the true suspect is captured, Robotnik is utterly defeated and Sonic's reunited happily with Sally.
  • In one Batgirl (2009) story, Stephanie Brown was framed for murdering a fellow collegiate she'd actually tried to help before his death.
  • Averted all over the place in Sin City. Both Marv and John Hartigan are accused of crimes they didn't commit, but both realize that the system is so corrupt that there would be no point in trying to fight the accusations.
  • 2011's Magneto: Not a Hero miniseries revolves around the reformed (again) X-Men archvillain trying to clear himself after being framed for killing a group of anti-mutant protesters.
  • The first appearance of Time Commander in The Brave and the Bold comic book has him claiming that he didn't do the crime that originally sent him to prison, and attempting to get his name cleared. It's never established one way or the other in the story if he's telling the truth since he simultaneously starts a career as a supervillain with unrelated crimes.
  • In WWE Superstars, John Cena is sent to prison when $10 million he was responsible for turns up missing. The only way for him to clear his name is to find the money.
  • The "Victory" story arc from Astro City centers on Winged Victory being falsely accused of masterminding villainous activities to promote a pro-feminism agenda.
  • Legends of Baldur's Gate: Delina and Minsc are accused by the city guards of being responsible for deaths that were actually caused by the gargoyles pursuing Delina. (The gargoyles have shattered, so can't be presented as evidence.)
  • Misty: The story "Hangman's Alley" revolves around a girl named Jacey having to help the ghost of a maidservant Melinda Walpole prove herself innocent for stealing a necklace from her mistress, in order to get Melinda to leave her sister alone.
  • Robin (1993): During the period when Batgirl Cassandra Cain turned evil Tim Drake finds himself having to locate the evidence to clear his name when Cass frames him for her own murder by putting a dead gangster with a similar build in her Batgirl uniform and getting Robin caught "red handed" by the cops next to the body.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: By taking on her appearance when he steals the thing Dr. Psycho frames Wonder Woman for the theft of the War-Prevento Machine. She and Steve then have to figure out who was disguised as her and track them down to clear her name and prevent them from using the weapon to cause any harm, but Steve avoids telling her until they've recovered it so that they can just focus on dealing with the criminal instead of dealing with his superiors.
  • In X-Men storyline X-Cutioner's Song, Stryfe shoots Prof. Xavier disguised as Cable, forcing the latter to find evidence to clear his name.
  • Superman:
    • In Who is Superwoman?, the titular villain has framed Supergirl for Agent Liberty's murder, forcing the hero to figure out Superwoman's real identity to clear her name.
    • In Strangers at the Heart's Core, Shyla Kor-Onn manipulates footage to make a judge believe Supergirl Lesla-Lar is a criminal, and Kara has to find and provide proof of her innocence quickly if she does not want to be sent into the Phantom Zone.
    • In The Hunt for Reactron, Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird are framed for Mon-El's murder by General Lane. His only chance to clear their names is to capture Lane's minion Reactron and force one confession out of him.

    Comic Strips 
  • Modesty Blaise: In "The Murder Frame" Willie is the victim of an expert Frame-Up and he and Modesty have to use all of their resourcefulness to clear his name and bring the real culprits to justice.

    Fan Works 
  • In Christian Humber Reloaded, Vash, the main character tends to go on killing sprees for little to no reason, but there are a few cases in which he really isn't responsible. In one case toward the end of Part 1, his "corrupted side" kills many people, and while the judge doesn't believe Vash was waiting for his next mission, he kills his corrupted self (again) and clears the charges. Later on, Kekanu frames him for destroying a few city blocks after transforming into him, but this plot never gets resolved.
  • Calvin and Hobbes: The Series has a Lighter and Softer variation in "The Case of the Rogue Water Balloon"; for once, he actually didn't throw the titular balloon, and he sets out as Tracer Bullet to find the culprit. It turns out to have been Hobbes.
  • Subverted in Clouded Sky. When the protagonist, Tobias Talltree, is framed for theft and Pokémon abuse and is forced to go on the run, he never makes any real effort to clear his name. By the end of the story, the public still believes him to be guilty.
  • Valkyrie Nights has this plot in the second half of the story, when Roy Fokker is charged with murder. Anyone familiar with the source material would know how it ends.
  • Brandon is set up for having committed base treason in Pokéumans, while the person who set him up goes about stealing the crucial Gemstone Files.
  • In Graduate Meeting of Mutual Killing, the protagonist Akane Ogata gets framed and accused of the Chapter 1 murder. She proceeded to fight for her innocence and catch the real culprit during the first trial.
  • In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Mega Man is framed for Kalinka's kidnapping in Episode 6, and at the end of Episode 13, Chief Toombs is falsely accused of being a mole for the Conduit.
  • Happens twice in Despair's Last Resort. Kumiko Akamine is accused of the first murder due to being so close to the victim and claiming that they weren't in their room when she checked. Takara Tsukuda, the protagonist, knows that she didn't do it and spends the investigation gathering the evidence to back her up. Ryouta Hoshino is given this treatment during the second case, due in part to his shifty behavior and a string of unfortunate coincidences that suggests he did it. Takara sees through this ruse though and discovers the real culprit.
  • The main plot of Mare-Do-Well vs the Rainbow Menace. Rainbow Dash is framed by a doppelganger for crimes in Cloudsdale and thus has to work with the rest of the Mane Six to uncover the impostor's identity while wearing the Mare-Do-Well suit to hide her identity.
  • In Soldier Wars, one month before Kotori and Umi's wedding, Anju accuses Umi of her father's murder when she sees a connection between the string of deaths in her family and her past relationship with Umi. While Umi was partially responsible for his death (technically her teammate Maki killed him), it was a case of Pay Evil unto Evil, and a larger conflict in the plot means Umi is escaping arrest to save the country as much as it is to make the wedding pull through.
  • A Fandom-Specific Plot for Harry Potter's fanfics is that Harry gets framed for a murder, and either runs away to find out who did the framing or gets sent to Azkaban, in which case he will either escape to find the truth or has to stay in Azkaban until someone (normally Voldemort) reveals it was all a frame-up to drive Harry apart from the Light side.
  • My Huntsman Academia: After the boy's bathrooms are detonated, eyes immediately drift over to the boy with the explosion-based Semblance and Hair-Trigger Temper, Katsuki Bakugou. Katsuki himself is too annoyed to bother solving the mystery himself, following instructions from Ozpin to bear with the rumors until the official investigation is complete. Izuku rallies his friends to look into it themselves and clear Katsuki's name and begin their own investigation to find the true culprit.

    Films — Animation 
  • Justice League: Gods and Monsters finds Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman having to do this after being framed for the murders of many scientists.
  • The Lion King (1994) — both the 1994 original and 2019 photo-realistic remake — has story protagonist Simba doing this after being coerced by movie villain Scar to (falsely) claim responsibility in causing his father's death. Scar makes the mistake of — after cornering Simba at the top of Pride Rock — admitting he was responsible, thinking it would be a Just Between You and Me moment before throwing him to his death; instead, this gives Simba a Heroic Second Wind and he is able to turn the tables on Scar, forcing him to admit that he alone plotted and executed Mufasa's murder, thereby clearing his name.
  • Part of the plot of Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors involved Ghost Spider being blamed for a crime she didn't commit and being confronted by Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Ajnabee: The second half of the film has Sonia turn up dead with Raj as the prime suspect for her murder, due to being framed by Vicky. When he thinks he's not getting a fair trial, he escapes police custody so he can find the truth on his own.
  • The Avengers. Sir August frames Mrs. Peel for the destruction of the Prospero lab by having her Evil Twin clone do the job. Mother gives Mrs. Peel a chance to prove her innocence by finding out who was behind it.
  • Cruel and Unusual: Edgar is certain he didn't murder his wife, and that there has been some mistake, desperately trying to convince the authorities in the afterlife of this.
  • Crush: Paige gets accused of being a tagger who has been putting graffiti up around the school she goes to. She gets a deal to reveal the real culprit, or she'll be suspended. AJ, the real culprit, eventually confesses and exonerates Paige from the charge.
  • Inverted in The Dark Knight. After Harvey Dent ends up killing up to five people, two of them cops (one of whom definitely deserved his demise) before being killed, Batman was the one who came up with the idea of pinning the blame on himself.
  • In The Ex-Mrs. Bradford, William Powell must solve a murder because one of the victims was found in his apartment, and the police believe him to be the prime suspect because of this.
  • The Fugitive.
  • In G.I. Joe: Retaliation with the U.S. President not exactly being rational, the Joes' mission consists of not only clearing their names but driving Cobra out of the White House.
  • High Crimes: Subverted in that the accused is actually guilty.
  • Alfred Hitchcock's The 39 Steps. And The Wrong Man. And North By Northwest, Strangers on a Train, I Confess, Dial M for Murder and To Catch a Thief, Frenzy and The Lodger. Subverted in Stage Fright (1950), where it turns out the man whose name the heroine has been trying to clear really WAS guilty.
  • Inception: The reason that Cobb can't return to his children is that he is wanted as the primary suspect for the murder of his wife. In a variation, Cobb isn't really trying to clear his name, just make a backchannel arrangement to get out of the arrest warrant; he actually did accidentally drive his wife into suicide.
  • An Innocent Man is about this, not surprisingly, with the titular innocent man having to clear his name after he's framed by two Dirty Cops though he kills another inmate in prison.
  • The David Mitchell and Robert Webb movie Magicians plays with this trope a bit, in that the suspect, a magician whose wife is decapitated when a magic trick involving a guillotine goes wrong, is actually cleared by a coroner's court of murder and technically doesn't have to prove his innocence. However, since the circumstances that led to the accidental beheading involved the magician discovering his wife sleeping with his best friend and partner and there's no clear proof that exonerates him, he nevertheless has to live with the suspicion of everyone around him regardless. The climax of the film involves him not so much proving his innocence as convincing his now-former best friend that he's not the sort of man who is capable of committing a murder. It turns out that he isn't after all.
  • Minority Report puts a cool twist to this as the protagonist tries to prove his innocence for a crime that he's supposedly going to commit. Director Steven Spielberg amusingly described it as not a Whodunnit, but a "Who-will-doit".
  • Most Wanted: Dunn is set up to look like he'd murdered the First Lady, and has to show otherwise on the run.
  • Non-Stop: Air Marshal Bill Marks has to catch a killer to prove that he's not actually the one hijacking the plane.
  • The Parole Officer's plot is basically driven by this, as Simon Garden recruits a Caper Crew and breaks into a bank to steal the security tape that will clear his name (and indict the real killer).
  • Persecuted is about a preacher being framed for murder.
  • The Ramrodder: After the medallion the chief gave him is found next to Cochina's body, Rick is accused of her rape and murder. He surrenders himself to the tribal council in an attempt to clear his name.
  • RoboCop 3 has RoboCop blamed for the death of his partner, Lewis, after the Rehabs kill her.
  • Eddie Brock's photoshopping of one of Peter's old Spidey pics in Spider-Man 3, which had a quick resolution (though it was meant as one of many catalysts for his transformation into Venom).
  • Ballard spends the entirety of Silver Lode trying to prove that he's innocent of the murder and theft McCarty is accusing him of. He did actually kill the man and take the money, but he had already won the money fair and square in a game of cards and killed the man in self-defense.
  • In Tell No One, Alexandre has to clear his name after he's accused of murdering a friend of his late wife's and is also a suspect in the murders of two people associated with the murder of his late wife. Instead of surrendering to police custody, he flees from his office and teams up with a gangster to try and clear his name.
  • In Tumbleweed, Jim Harvey has to prove that he is not a coward or a collaborator after the wagon train he was guiding is wiped out while he was being held prisoner by the Yaquis.
  • Turkey Shoot: Rick in the 2014 film was framed for murder and hunted on a TV program. He has to exonerate himself as he outruns numerous assassins.
  • Welcome to the Punch (2013). The female detective who's the partner of the Cowboy Cop protagonist is choked to death by a Professional Killer after she uncovers crucial evidence. Her body is then stripped and planted in the protagonist's bedroom (they weren't lovers, but their relationship was close enough to appear otherwise). The cop gets his revenge on the killer, but the movie ends with him being arrested, so it's never revealed if he's cleared of the murder.
  • Where the Sidewalk Ends: Triggs is accused of murdering his son-in-law, but we all know that Mark did it. Unable to confess the crime, Mark tries to find him a good liar and dissuade his superiors from thinking of Triggs as a suspect. It doesn't work, however.
  • Subverted for laughs in The Wrong Guy. When he finds his boss murdered after a raging fight, executive Nelson is convinced he's the prime suspect and goes on the run to find the real killer. He has no idea the police know he's they have video of the real murderer committing the crime. The movie follows Nelson's bumbling in this trope, unaware the cops could care less about him.
  • In Murder Is My Beat, Eden is convicted of the murder of her boyfriend, Frank Dean; she admits to hitting him on the head with a figurine, but insists that she didn't mean to actually hurt him. When Eden thinks she sees Dean out of a train window, Patrick helps her escape so they can investigate.
  • The Night Clerk (2020) is about an autistic man accused of murdering a woman in a hotel room. He has camera footage that proves he's innocent, but he doesn't want to show it to the police, because that would show that he's guilty of being The Peeping Tom.

  • 2666: Klaus Haas, after being accused of committing the serial murders and left to rot in jail. It was declared a mistrial, and the book ends as Archimboldi heads to Mexico to get him out of prison.
  • Happens to Dmitri in The Brothers Karamazov. He doesn't end up clearing his name, however, and the main characters are hatching a plan for an escape attempt out of prison as the novel ends.
  • This happens to Finn and Uncle Stoppard in the fifth Finnegan Zwake novel.
  • "'Kjwalll'kje'k'koothaïlll'kje'k", one of Roger Zelazny's My Name Is Legion stories, has the protagonist sent to a cetological research facility in order to clear the dolphins of a claimed death-by-dolphin.
  • In Dan Abnett's Eisenhorn novel Malleus revolved about Eisenhorn's revealing that another inquisitor had really gone rogue, and framed him for it. (Cherubael, who set it up, was shocked that Eisenhorn was annoyed by it.)
  • In the Matt Helm novel The Retaliators, $20,000 is deposited in Matt's bank account to frame him for treason.
  • In Sophie Kinsella's book "Undomestic Goddess" the main character Samantha makes a mistake that causes her client to lose 50 million pounds. Actually,Arnold is trying to scam the company and put the article on Samantha's desk after the deadline to frame her and get her fired. Samantha then has to gain evidence that she didn't do anything wrong
  • In the Spellman Files novel The Spellmans Strike Again, sisters Rae and Isabelle both try to clear wrongfully convicted prisoners. This results in many people wearing tee-shirts reading "Free Schmidt".
  • At the climax of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it's revealed Sirius Black, the "dangerous" fugitive, was actually following a clue to the whereabouts of Peter Pettigrew, who framed him.
  • This forms the basis for the plot of the Agent Pendergast novels Dance of Death and Book of the Dead, as Aloysius Pendergast is set up by his brother for several killings as part of said brother's Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • Gawan's plot in Parzival concerns him proving his innocence in order not to fight a duel.
  • In Last Sacrifice, Rose is framed for the murder of Queen Tatiana and spends the brunt of the book as a fugitive on the run.
  • Lester Leith: "Cold Clews" has Leith recruited by a beautiful woman to clear her ex-con brother of a jewel theft. He succeeds while collecting a reward for the recovery of the jewels in the process.
  • In "Target: Domino Lady" in Domino Lady: Sex as a Weapon, gangsters frame the Domino Lady for murder and she has to clear her name.
  • In Rock of Ages by Walter Jon Williams, Drake Maijstral is a Gentleman Thief who would never steal from his friends, but when he visits friends on Earth, someone seems determined to frame him for doing just that, and he has to find out who before he's forced to fight a series of duels with people he likes—most of whom are better at dueling than he is.
  • SweetFreak by Sophie McKenzie is about a teenager who has been framed for cyberbullying. Though she protests her innocence, the evidence against her is so strong that even her own mother won't believe her, resulting in a string of unjust punishments both at home and at school. Eventually, however, her name is cleared and she is able to start rebuilding her life.
  • John Buchan:
    • In The Thirty-Nine Steps, Richard Hannay meets a secret agent who passes on a warning about a foreign spy ring and then gets murdered by the spies in a way that makes Hannay the obvious suspect. Hannay spends most of the novel on the run from the police, who think he did the murder, and the spies, who want him dead before he can tell anybody the truth.
    • In Mr. Standfast, a sequel, Hannay goes undercover as a visiting colonial named Brand to investigate a spy ring, but after the bad guys rumble him they turn the tables by denouncing Brand to the police as a suspected spy, leading to him once more finding himself on the run.
  • A recurring background plot point in The Dresden Files is that no one in the White Council really trusts Harry because he supposedly used magic as a teen to kill his guardian. Subverted in that Harry totally did that, but because the law is black and white, the fact that he did it in self-defense is immaterial: killing someone with magic is bad, no matter what the reason is. Harry basically spends the entire series trying to prove that he's not a psycho wizard to everyone else.
  • Mitch Tobin: Most of the second book has Tobin trying to prove a double-murder wasn't committed by his hippie second cousin. The last act of the fourth book also has him trying to prove the police have the wrong man (although in that case he's already figured out who the right one is).
  • In Saving Max, a boy is found stabbed to death in his bed, with Max curled up nearby covered in blood and clutching a murder weapon, while Danielle tries to pull him out of the room. Now Danielle has to prove that neither of them had anything to do with the death.
  • In Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief, the title character of the book series, Percy Jackson, is falsely accused of stealing Zeus's lightning bolt. In the Underworld, after Jackson drops a shield that Luke gave him, we learn that Luke was the real culprit.
  • Several times in the original Nancy Drew series and in the Files series, Nancy would have to do this for herself, or her father/friends/boyfriend.
  • In A Cry in the Night, Jenny has to find a way to prove her innocence after she's accused of murdering her ex-husband Kevin and potentially her baby son, among various other incidents. Her husband Erich and eventually other people suggest that she has been doing these things unknowingly during mental blackouts, and she has to fight to maintain her sanity while uncovering what is actually happening. She's able to prove that Erich has actually been behind it all by locating his cabin and finding his deranged paintings.

    Live-Action TV 
  • A plot point in 24 has Jack Bauer on the run from the FBI, after a Starkwood assassin frames him for the murders of 2 government officials.
    • And further complicating matters? Jack ends up killing the assassin (in self-defense) before he can get himself cleared. With a bulldozer. And an armor-piercing screwdriver. And a 2 by 4.
      • And since that still wasn't enough Jack-Bauer-level-badassness, he takes the screwdriver from the body, inserts said screwdriver into a pickup truck's ignition, starts it up, and drives away. Damn, Jack.
      • The sad thing? The next episode after Jack is set up almost immediately drops this whole plot when the FBI discovers the Starkwood conspiracy and realizes that Jack is being framed, which makes you wonder, "why the hell did they even bother?"
    • Another time this is used is in Day 5 when Jack is set up for the murders of David Palmer and Michelle Dessler and attempted murder of Tony Almeida by Charles Logan, among several others to make him a scapegoat for the real reason Palmer was killed (he discovered the plot of the true Big Bad for that season and had been planning on blowing the whistle on them).
  • The premise of The A-Team has a variation; they actually did commit the crime they're wanted for, but it was part of a secret military operation that wasn't criminal in this context. Unfortunately, their commander died shortly thereafter without explaining this to anyone...
    • A smaller version occurs in the episode "Showdown". The A-Team find out about a set of imposters posing as them leaning on a wild west show when a newspaper runs a scathing article on it. Of course, they can't let everyone think that they're a group of hired guns who will attack innocent people, so they go to the wild west show to defeat the imposters and prove their innocence.
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. ("Crystal Hawks"). Strangely, the plot was Brisco, a known bounty hunter, being accused of killing a man who had a bounty on his head. Since killing wanted criminals is basically the job description of a bounty hunter in the Old West, would he have actually been committing a crime even if he had done it?
  • In the Angel episode "Harm's Way", focuses on Harmony's attempt to find evidence that she didn't murder the ambassador to a pair of warring demon tribes. However no one actually accuses her, she just realizes it's going to happen and takes preemptive action as a result of him showing up dead in her bed with his blood drained. Though it should be noted that in the beginning, she wasn't sure herself whether or not she was innocent and every attempt at clearing her name made her situation worse.
  • Black Saddle: In "Client: Tagger", Culhane is arrested for committing a murder he was trying to prevent. He has to break out of jail and locate the elusive Tagger to prove his innocence.
  • On Bones,
    • Booth has to do this after a guy he was seen arguing with at a hockey game turns up dead.
    • Brennan was framed by murderous computer hacker Pelant for killing a friend of hers, which included hacking into a security camera to make it look like she was lying about her alibi, breaking into her car to plant DNA evidence, and hacking into her and a prosecutor's bank accounts to make it look like Bones had paid her off. All of this forced Bones to take daughter Christine and become a fugitive before she could clear herself of murder charges.
    • Booth is accused of murdering three agents in season 9's finale, but they were part of a conspiracy that nearly killed him. Brennan used Blackmail to free him and then he had to find the real culprits.
    • Hodgins, three times. Once he knew the victim and another suspect and hid evidence of it. Caroline was not amused. Then he was suspected of being Gormogon or his apprentice in season 3. Finally in season 10, he had to prove he didn't kill a woman who once stole an idea of his and patented it.
    • Cam is accused of fraud and has to prove her identity was stolen
    • Intern Clark Edison is a suspect in the murder of someone he went on an expedition with.
  • The entire premise of Burn Notice (for the first few seasons) is Michael trying to clear his name and find out why he was burned.
  • The Cape: This is Vince's quest after he gets framed for being supervillain Chess. In particular, proving it to his wife and son.
  • Castle: In "Probable Cause", Castle is framed for a murder and Beckett ends up breaking him out of lock-up to help find the real killer, Jerry Tyson, aka the Triple Killer or 3XK.
    • In "Veritas", Beckett is the prime suspect in the murder of Vulcan Simmons, a criminal who had nearly killed Beckett in the previous episode "In the Belly of the Beast" and was also involved in the conspiracy behind her mother's murder. By the end of the episode, she manages to both clear her name and find the evidence needed to bring down the man who ordered her mother killed, Senator Bracken.
  • Happens in the Criminal Minds episode "Profiler, Profiled" to Morgan.
  • Quite popular in CSI and the spinoffs.
    • In CSI: NY Danny has been accused of murder twice, once the victim was an undercover cop and once a gang victim, as well as a kid who had been dealing drugs to support his family. Later, he's accused of asking one of his rookies to lie for him during his stint as sergeant. Mac is accused of leaking sensitive information several times, and, on one occasion, of murdering a "helpless" serial killer, Stella is accused of murder when her blood is found on a victim, and Hawkes is framed for murdering a bartender as revenge for what the mastermind believes is a false guilty verdict.
    • In the original CSI, just offhand, Nick, Warrick, Ray, Greg, and Jim are all accused of murder. Ray actually did it, but got away with it, quitting the job.
      • Subverted with Greg, as everyone knew that he had killed the boy who died. The main question was whether or not he was justified in killing him, and whether or not the boy was part of a murderous mob.
  • Averted in Dancing on the Edge. As soon as it becomes clear that Louie is being framed for Jesse's murder, the few people still on his side realize that their only choice is to smuggle him out of the country.
  • The protagonist of Day Break (2006) is framed for a murder and must use a "Groundhog Day" Loop to figure out who's doing it and why.
  • Sgt. Doakes in Dexter comes under suspicion of being the Bay Harbor Butcher, while he is actually the only one in the department who sees the Devil in Plain Sight, and tries to clear his name while on the run. Subverted when the blood slides he took from Dexter's apartment are mistaken for his property, and when he tries to catch Dexter in the act, Dexter overpowers him and frames him. Also, Lila kills Doakes by blowing up the cabin he's in, which wasn't in Dexter's plan; he doesn't kill innocents.
  • Both Mark Sloan and Jesse Travis were framed for murder on separate episodes of Diagnosis: Murder. In Jesse's case it took Ben Matlock to clear his name.
    • Dr. Sloan and his team also had to clear their good names when, after the execution of a serial bomber whom Sloan helped bring to justice, a string of copycat bombings prompted the DA's office to believe that, thanks to Sloan's testimony, they arrested the wrong man. The copycat turned out to be the son of the original bomber, getting revenge on the man who helped get his father convicted.
  • In Disciple, Oliver is suspected of shooting Lois, but this time they quickly identified the culprit.
  • Dragnet had an ep where Sgt. Friday had to prove he didn't make a mistake about a robber having a gun when he shot him.
  • Drake from Drake & Josh was accused of somehow fitting a teacher's car into the classroom as a prank. The real culprit turned out to be Josh's former rival, Mindy Crenshaw, after that teacher gave her a "B" two years prior.
  • Done in a twisted way in Elementary. A Serial Killer escapes and goes on a killing spree to discredit a criminal profiler who ruined the killer's family because her book claimed his father molested him. It worked.
  • Ellery Queen: Ellery must clear his own name in "The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader".
  • This is the driving premise of Farscape. John Crichton spends most of the entire span of the show (including the miniseries finale) running from the current Big Bad, each one wanting his head on a platter for something he didn't do (or doesn't know he can do) until he gets sick and tired of it and decides to stop running.
    • Also, D'Argo was wrongfully imprisoned for his wife's murder. He is never fully pardoned, but he does get Crais, a high-ranking officer, to admit that he knew D'Argo's wife was actually killed by her own brother.
  • Father Brown: In "The Owl of Minerva", Inspector Sullivan is framed for murder. After breaking out of gaol, he is forced to team-up with Father Brown and his associates in order to clear his name.
  • The title character of La Femme Nikita (the series only) spends very little time trying to clear her name, but the wrongful accusation is an important point in the series setup. She's an innocent accused of murder, forced into government service as a disposable killer.
  • The Flash (2014): In the episode "Trajectory", Barry is suspected of theft because the perpetrator has Super Speed and wears a red costume. He spends the rest of the episode tracking her down.
  • For Life: This is Aaron's overarching goal-to get his conviction overturned and be exonerated, while he also helps fellow prisoners on their cases. He does at the start of the second season.
  • This happened to Will and Carlton one time in a Season 1 episode of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
  • The Fugitive focuses on Dr. Richard Kimball having to clear himself of a murder charge, just like the movie.
  • The Fugitive (2020): Mike Ferro is wrongly accused of a bombing that kills over twenty people due to faulty evidence, with the overzealous lead detective and an investigative reporter intent on pursuing him with little regard for what's true driving it further. He has to find the actual culprit, only being exonerated after doing so.
  • Full House: A tamer example: A major case of "wrong place, wrong time" and Not What It Looks Like lands DJ in hot water for underage drinking (she is completely innocent; she caught her former boyfriend, Kevin, and his friends drinking beer in the hallway at a school dance, one of the boys jokingly sprays her with beer, and her Uncle Jesse walks in on his apparently drunk niece with an open can and reeking of beer when she was actually just acting drunk to mock and chastise the boys for their behavior). Danny, Jesse, and Joey are understandably pissed off, Jesse especially so (he angrily drags her out of the building without even listening to her side of the story), and they pretty much completely lose faith in her. Any attempt she makes at explaining the situation is quickly blown off as lies, with only her sister Stephanie believing her because DJ kept eye contact with her throughout the whole explanation, which she apparently doesn't do when she's lying. DJ draws even more ire from Jesse after she flees the house to go back to the school and force the boys to clear her name, and Steph ends up explaining her reasoning for her continued faith in her sister. Jesse only comes around after Kevin tearfully confesses what happened after he and his two friends are caught red-handed offscreen and get suspended from school.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Tyrion is accused of an attempt on Bran's life because of Littlefinger's claim that the dagger found on the assassin belonged to him. Tyrion beats the charges thanks to Bronn winning the Trial by Combat.
    • Tyrion also faces trial for Joffrey's murder after being caught in the wrong place at the wrong time during a wedding in "The Lion and the Rose".
  • This was a go-to plot on Gunsmoke. A notable instance had Matt taking the gunman who killed his friend to Hayes City to be tried. As the two camp for the night, the killer's associates show up, lynch him, then they knock Matt out and set him up as the lyncher. The Army shows up, and the sergeant (who holds a grudge against Matt) is ready to act as judge, jury, and executioner right there on the spot.
  • In the second series of The Hour, Hector is falsely accused of beating up Kiki. Some characters are more ready to believe it's true than others, and not everyone is willing to come to his rescue and provide an alibi. When news of this gets out, his reputation is is destroyed, until the finale when Kiki herself agrees to go on the show and reveal why she accused Hector and who was actually responsible.
  • Part of season 2 of Gotham involved Jim Gordon having to clear his name after the Riddler sets him up when he suspects Gordon figured out he was a murderer.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Wrongly accused of murdering David Banner, who is actually the Hulk, and Dr. Banner's assistant, Elena Marks. This is ironic because Jack McGee was actually the one who, accidentally, caused the explosion that killed Elena.
  • A marine escapes prison to prove his innocence in the JAG episode "Secrets". And so does Harm too, in "People v. Rabb".
  • The ongoing plot of Just Cause, a short-lived legal drama about a woman framed for insurance fraud who is trying to gain a pardon so she can practice law.
  • The Season 7 finale of Law & Order: Criminal Intent has Det. Goren being framed for the murder of his brother by his Arch-Nemesis Nicole Wallace and mentor Declan Gage .
  • Liar (2017): In the second season, Laura is accused of murder and has to prove she's innocent, despite mounting evidence.
  • A M*A*S*H two-parter saw Klinger accused of stealing items around the encampment and faced a court-martial as a result.
    • An earlier, more comedic episode had Hawkeye accused of petty theft. He eventually tricked the real thief into revealing himself.
    • Major Burns charged Hawkeye with mutiny when Burns was once temporarily in charge. Once the truth of Burns' general incompetence came out, his case collapsed.
      Hawkeye: The Major's version of what happened was to say the least fascinating. It was to say the most perjury! No, to be fair I have no doubt that he remembers it that way. More's the pity. And there was some truth to the story. It was October 11 and we were in Korea. Other than that...
  • In the Season 6 two-parter finale of Monk, Monk is framed for murder and escapes custody to try and look for the real murderer.
  • In the Nip/Tuck episode "Granville Trapp," Christian was hauled into jail on suspicion of being the Carver — a hypothesis which would have demanded truly frightening devotion on his part, as both he and his partner had been Carver victims. The frame-up was, of course, perpetrated by the actual Carver team: Dr. Quentin Costa, aided by Det. Kit McGraw.
  • Ned falls victim to this in one episode of Pushing Daisies.
  • One episode of Quantum Leap has Sam leap into an already-convicted death row inmate, and he sets out to prove that "he" is innocent. In a subversion, Sam's efforts succeed only in confirming the convict's guilt. It's the convict's supposed accomplice, also sentenced to death, who ends up being exonerated.
  • RoboCop: The Series's second episode "Prime Suspect" has Murphy trying to clear his name after someone kills a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Jim Bakker.
  • In The Rockford Files, Jim Rockford deals with this frequently. In one such episode, "Pastoria Prime Pick," it turns out that the entire crime was set up by the county in an attempt to force him to plea bargain and pay a large fine
  • Shakespeare & Hathaway - Private Investigators: In "O Brave New World", Luella Shakespeare is framed for the murder of her new husband. She teams up with private investigator Frank Hathaway to clear her name and ends up becoming his new partner.
  • Smallville, in the appropriately titled Infamous. Clark uses the Reset Button instead. A good thing he did too, actually, because he unknowingly saved Chloe from being ripped to shreds by Doomsday.
  • Occurs about once a series in the Star Trek franchise. Usually, a senior officer is accused of committing a crime under alien law, the evidence at the trial looks pretty damning, and then at the end, the heroes present The Real Cause.
    • In Star Trek: The Original Series:
      • In the episode "Journey to Babel": Ambassador Sarek was suspected of murdering the Tellarite ambassador. In fact, an Orion posing as the Andorian ambassador had done so.
      • In the episode "Wolf in the Fold": Scotty appeared to be the obvious suspect for murders that were actually committed by Jack the Ripper in energy-being form.
      • In "Court Martial", Kirk is accused of causing the death of one of his crewmembers.
    • In Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
      • "Dax": Dax's previous host is a suspect in a thirty-year-old murder case.
      • "A Man Alone": Odo is framed for the murder of a smuggler, when the crime scene reveals DNA of only the victim's and Odo's. The smuggler himself was the perp. The victim was actually a clone he illegally created just for the purpose.
  • Starsky & Hutch:
    • In "Hutchinson for Murder One", Hutch is accused of murdering his ex-wife with his gun in his home. It was his ex-wife's associate Wheeler that did it, and Hutch would have been convicted if it wasn't for Huggy Bear hiding in a coffin while recording Wheeler's confession. Starsky, obviously, believes none of it, and spirits Hutch off to in the middle of his arrest in order to find the real murderer, blithely telling Dobey over the phone "if this doesn't work, you can visit Hutch and I in San Quentin."
    • Also in "The Set-Up", where first Terry Nash is set up as the assassin of a mob leader, and then Starsky and Hutch are set up as his accomplices and a warrant for their arrest is issued when they start uncovering evidence that something fishy is going on. They spend half the episode on the run and, unusually, the episode ends right before their hearing, and although they likely have enough evidence to prove their innocence, it still ends on a never-resolved cliffhanger.
  • In the Supergirl (2015) episode "The Darkest Place", a Vigilante Man murders a crook that Guardian has just apprehended, the placement of a nearest CCTV camera making it look like Guardian killed the man in cold blood. Guardian has to track down the Vigilante Man and bring him to justice to clear his name.
  • Angela Dede in Tinsel Season 3, after being wrongfully accused of murdering Reginald Okoh.
  • Tropical Heat: In the episode "Frame Up", Nick is framed for murder.
  • Veronica Mars spends a lot of her time doing this. Usually it's either her, Eli, or Logan being accused, but other people get their turns occasionally.
  • Jack has to do this in the second episode of Wild Boys after he is accused of murdering the Ryans and burning their farm to the ground. Jack may be a bushranger, but he is no murderer.
  • Voyagers!, "Jack's Back". Nellie Bly, who's only able to remember the black cloak and shiny watch of her attacker, comes to the wrong conclusion that Bogg is the Ripper. She clearly suspects she could have been wrong later and recants her statement to the police when Drake attacks her again.

  • "The Fugitive" by Iron Maiden.
  • "Hazard" by Richard Marx.

  • Dice Funk: Episode 17 begins an arc with this as the most pressing goal.

    Video Games 
  • The plot of Bacon Man: An Adventure is kicked off with the titular character being framed for the murder of his grandfather, the king.
  • Batman: Vengeance has this when the titular character is accused of hitting Commissioner Gordon with a batarang when in fact it was Harley Quinn who did it.
  • In Bombshell, Shelly was given an honorable discharge from the military after something called "the Washington Incident", but feels that she needs to "restore her name" anyway, suggesting that she's unofficially held responsible for it whatever the official position may be. Dealing with this is one of her main motivations (the other being revenge on the people who caused it).
  • Roughly one-third of Breath of Fire II is spent clearing the good name of Bow, Ryu's childhood friend. Halfway through that quest, you've got to clear the good name of another character.
  • In Breath of Fire III, Ryu is quickly implicated in a plot to kidnap Wyndian Princess Nina due to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Of course, once he rescues Nina from the actual kidnappers (which admittedly takes a while), she declines to go back home and continues to travel with Ryu, essentially making him guilty of actually kidnapping her. This doesn't get cleared up until years later in game, and by "cleared up", we mean that Ryu is 100% not welcome in Wyndia Castle anymore.
  • This is a plot point used in a late-game story arc in City of Heroes — in the course of your investigating the Corrupt Corporate Executive Countess Crey, she manages to fabricate charges against you, placing you on the top 10 wanted list and issuing an APB for your arrest. This being a memorpuger, of course, there's very little influence on your actual gameplay routine, aside from a couple of post-mission ambushes from villain groups looking to get the reward. The solution, of course, is to finally expose the Big Bad as the Villain with Good Publicity that she is, but again, successfully doing so won't change your gameplay routine for the better or anything.
  • In the very first Command & Conquer, this happens to GDI because of Nod's forged video footage about a village being burned to the ground.
    • Another case in a more recent game is in Red Alert 3, where Soviet General Krukov is branded a traitor by Premier Cherdenko. Krukov then believes the commander (the player) is a traitor instead. Neither of them expects that Cherdenko himself is the traitor. The result is the death of both Cherdenko and Krukov with the commander going on to destroy New York.
  • The plot of Condemned: Criminal Origins is based on this. At the end of the first mission, the killer who has stolen main character Ethan's gun shoots two police officers. Ethan's goal for the rest of the game is catching him..
  • Darksiders has War falsely accused of triggering the End War early and causing the destruction of Earth and the extinction of mankind. His mission is to go to the ruins of Earth and unravel the conspiracy, kill the perpetrators, and possibly absolve himself in the process (or die, as his jailers pretty much admit it's no skin off their backs if he gets killed). He quickly finds the conspiracy goes much deeper than he expected, up and including his own jailers knowing of his innocence but choosing to use him as a vengeance-seeking pawn to clean up loose ends and ultimately get rid of.
  • In Dead Rising 2, Chuck Greene is accused of releasing the zombies leading to the Fortune City outbreak, but in reality TK, the host of the zombie killing show Terror Is Reality did it so he could loot the casinos around the area.
  • In Dishonored, Corvo's main goal is to clear his name after being falsely accused of the assassination of the Empress, along with getting revenge on the people who caused this to happen.
  • Averted in Dragon Age: Origins. While the Grey Wardens are wanted for betraying King Cailan at Ostagar, you have more important things to do than clear your name, such as gathering the army you need to fight the Darkspawn horde. It also helps that, thanks to the near-mythic reputation of the Grey Wardens and the unpopularity of the current regent, almost nobody believes the accusation anyway. When people do try to bring you in it's not out of a genuine belief in your guilt but rather a desire for the bounty on your head.
    • Meanwhile, if a Human Noble, Arl Rendon Howe does everything possible to smear the Warden and his/her family's name after having entire said family slaughtered. As with the above, the Warden's father was one of the most beloved men in the nation, whereas Howe is despised by almost every nobleman in the nation. Almost every nobleman the Warden meets passes their condolences and assures him/her that they don't believe a word Howe says (though they basically do nothing to help you otherwise).
    • The Dwarven Noble Warden is either framed during their origin story for the murder of their elder brother Trian or forced to kill him in self-defense, as they were both manipulated by their younger brother Bhelen to believe the other was plotting to kill them. Despite returning to Orzammar later in the game, the Dwarf Noble never actually clears their name.
  • Dragon Quest IV: Late in the game, a thief sets you up to take the blame for his latest heist.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a questline in which corrupt guards frame you for murder. You can go to jail and then help the Forsworn natives, creating a distraction so everybody will forget your name or just kill every guard in the city. You'll eventually have to go through the Prison Episode if you ever want to set foot in the Reach again though.
  • Paul Luther of Eternal Darkness is accused of a murder and held to face the Inquisition. He spends his chapter collecting evidence that points to blasphemous occurrences going on within Oublié Cathedral. It doesn't save him in the end.
  • Fahrenheit is an interesting case. While Lucas, the main character actually killed the man at the beginning of the game, he was possessed while doing so and had no control over his actions. The game is instead an attempt to find out why he did it, and stop those responsible.
  • In Freelancer, part of Edison Trent's character trajectory is to find out who is really responsible for a series of strange incidents in the Sirius Sector, because he and his police contact Jun'ko Zane were framed and named as criminals on mass media.
  • Lynne has to do this in Ghost Trick after the police recover security footage of her shooting the man found in the junkyard.
  • Mildly Deconstructed in Kingdom Come: Deliverance: Hannekin Hare was accused of murdering a guest he had an argument with, escaped custody, and spent years as a leader of a poaching group. It's revealed that the reason he was framed was that his fiancee was forced to marry against her will, and willingly testified against him just to escape her loveless caste-based marriage. She and her husband are exiled for perjury, and Hare's reputation is restored but the damage is done; Hare and his associates have been exhausting the local wildlife and killed innocent guards to resist arrest, so Hare is also exiled and his merry band is disbanded, going back to their unstable self-employment. With nobody else left to retake the title of gamemaster, Sir Divish decides to appoint Henry - not realizing he is likely an unrepentant mass-poacher / kidnapper.
  • A significantly less serious version than most opens Kingdom Hearts II, as Roxas has to clear his name over stealing a few photographs.
  • Happened to Link in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. After Agahnim (aka Ganon) does away with Princess Zelda, his minions get the word out (with surprising speed) that Link has kidnapped her. Signs are posted in his hometown and if they spot him, his neighbors will yell for the palace guards to come and kill him.
  • This is part of the basis of the plots of the first two Max Payne games. In the first he witnesses his partner's murder, which he is framed for. His motive for uncovering the V conspiracy is both to avenge his slain wife, and to find his partner's true murderer. In the second he is again framed for the murder of his partner, although in this case, the partner turns out to be working for the Big Bad. After killing a legion of gangsters and junkies (admittedly in self-defense), he benefits from Wrongful Accusation Insurance, as he gets off scot-free and even ends up working back in the police under the man who was hunting him in the first game! This lack of accountability for his actions makes Max into a Death Seeker, as he is unable to reconcile his history of extreme violence with his survivor's guilt until he runs into Mona Sax at the beginning of the second game.
    Max: With no way to deal with the past, I kept my eyes on the road, and off the roadkill behind me.
  • Mega Man:
    • Mega Man 5, where Mega Man has to clear his brother Proto Man's name; even though Mega Man thinks that Proto Man is guilty at the beginning of the story, it turns out to be a fake named "Dark Man" created by Dr. Wily.
    • Mega Man 9 starts off with a variant of this trope - the robots that attack at the start of the game are designed by Dr. Light, and Wily further stains Light's reputation with a video recording and his Swiss Bank Account number for donations. The goal is, obviously, to clear Dr. Light. The truth is a bit more complicated. Anyone who's played a Mega Man game before has reason to believe Wily's behind it all, and they're absolutely right. However, the "expiration date" issue that Wily used to get the robots to rebel is absolutely Light's fault.
  • Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops had this as pretty much the entire reason for the plotline, as Naked Snake has to quell the FOX revolt and capture the person who instigated the revolt dead or alive in order to prove his, Major Zero's, Paramedic, and Sigint's innocence.
  • Used... in some form... in Modern Warfare 2. Shepherd frames Soap and Captain Price for crimes against the United States and manages to link them to a global terrorist group. Both Price and Soap realize that they're drastically outgunned, outmanned, etc., and decide to commit said crimes in their quest for revenge.
    • Specifically, averted. Soap and Price both realize it's too late to stop Shepherd's plan, and the best they can do is kill him so he doesn't go down in history as a hero. They succeed, but their names are most definitely NOT cleared: They are both still considered extremely dangerous terrorists and traitors.
    • But finally in Modern Warfare 3, Price's name is finally cleared after he rescues the Russian President's daughter, an act that heroically ends the war.
  • The plot of Nancy Drew Alibi in Ashes focuses on the River Heights Town Hall being burned down and Nancy being framed for it. Her goal is to prove her innocence and find out who did it with the help of her friends and boyfriend.
  • Roughly the first half of Act II in Neverwinter Nights 2 is spent in an effort to prove the PC innocent of slaughtering an entire Luskan village.
  • In Ninja Gaiden III: The Ancient Ship Of Doom, Ryu Hayabusa is framed for killing his Love Interest Irene Lew while she was on assignment. Ryu's mission is to find out who did so and why. Near the end of the game, it turns out she survived her assassination attempt, ordered on her by her former boss Foster.
  • Burakh is accused of killing his father from the beginning in Pathologic. He redeems himself by the end of Day One, with Dankovsky's help.
  • In Pokémon Colosseum a postgame questline revolves around Wes hunting down a rogue Cipher Peon who's been attacking people with a Shadow Togetic while dressed like him out of spite for their defeat at his hands. After his defeat, the media reveals it was an imposter and clears Wes' name.
  • In Pokémon Legends: Arceus, the protagonist is eventually exiled from Jubilife Village under the belief that they're responsible for the space-time rift that brought them to Hisui and is now driving wild Pokemon mad, and only allowed to return if they can conclusively prove their innocence.
  • In the PC game Secrets of da Vinci: The Forbidden Manuscript, protagonist Valdo goes overnight — almost literally — from undertaking a simple errand for an unknown employer to being suspected of treason. His only hope of avoiding execution is to solve da Vinci's mystery and throw himself on the King's mercy.
  • Silent Hill: Downpour: Early in development, protagonist Murphy Pendleton was originally a tragic hero — a man falsely incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit. However, after Vatra Games reevaluated what Silent Hill was, they decided that the location of Silent Hill was alive and that it could make your fears and sins manifest. Therefore, Murphy needed to be a little less innocent and was changed to a flawed but sympathetic protagonist. He's now a man on the run from his captors, his past, and himself — and that path has led him to Silent Hill.
  • The Gamecube remake of Skies of Arcadia features a Bonus Boss like this - the three main characters have impersonators they can go after for a bounty. This has no bearing on the plot, but does affect the player character's ingame title; he goes from his title marking him as a well-liked hero to "Vyse the Fallen Pirate" until the imposers are taken care of.
  • Sonic is captured in Sonic Adventure 2 because everyone mistakes Shadow for him. You'd think people would have noticed the fact they're completely different colors. Then again, how many anthropomorphic hedgehogs with super-speed do you see running around?
  • Subverted and played straight in Street Fighter Alpha III, when Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy Fei Long is accused of collaborating with drug trades directed by Shadaloo. In a subversion, this deal isn't necessarily the focus of his story-mode, though Fei Long's mid-boss battles have him fighting off Shadaloo attempts to recruit him. It's then played straight in fellow HK-native Yun's path, as he and his twin Yang take the rumors at face value so they chase after Fei Long to capture him and protect Hong Kong. Fei Long is Yun's path's last mid-boss, and if Yun wins the fight there's a short talk in which he explains what happened and Yun realizes his mistake. Then Bison shows up, and he's not alone...
  • The basis of Super Mario Sunshine has Mario having to clear his name after Shadow Mario/Bowser Jr. frames him for polluting the island.
  • In Tales of Symphonia the party is soon marked as traitors for trying to destroy Tethe'alla despite them only wanting to go back to Sylvarant to have a dwarf help get Collet's soul back. For the large part of the game, the party must use the sewer entrance to enter the capital city.
    • Justified, as one of your team members is an ex-con having been in prison for murder.
    • There are also a few places in Sylvarant where the party is accused of impersonating themselves because the people impersonating them got there first. In two places, this gets cleared up relatively quickly, but one guy never believes they are who they really are.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Rita Mordio is accused by Yuri Lowell (the game's protagonist) of being a blastia thief. She takes them to Shaikos Ruins stating that she'd "clear her name" — and use the rest of the party for help in completing her formula, naturally, though this isn't stated (by Karol!) until after the battle with Goliath.
  • In Temtem, upon entering the Underground City of Quetzal the Player Character learns that someone's been committing crimes around the city in their name, resulting in a Prison Episode.
  • In Time Crisis: Project Titan, Richard Miller must clear his name after he is framed for the murder of the President of Caruba.
    • In Time Crisis 5, Keith Martin from Time Crisis II is forced to go on the run and clear his name after his ex-partner Robert Baxter frames him as the VSSE traitor.
  • The titular character of Tin Star gets blamed for shooting the baby bandit Kid Johnson, causing him to be driven out of town and stripped of the title of Sheriff. Tin Star eventually puts on a Paper-Thin Disguise and rides back into town to clear his name, which succeeds when Tin Star stops a Bar Brawl and finds Kid Johnson hiding inside of his hat.
  • Gun in Verdict: Guilty! is convicted of cop killing, and breaks out of prison to prove himself not guilty. After doing so, he goes back to prison anyway.
  • The Witcher 2: Assassins of Kings: The king is murdered, and Geralt, currently serving as his bodyguard, is standing over the body when the guards rush in. Hunting down the real assassin makes up the main plot of the game.
  • The story mode of WWE Day of Reckoning 2 sees the main character framed for stealing the WWE Championship belt, and thus banned from Monday Night Raw; he must then prove his innocence while rebuilding his wrestling career as a member of the Smackdown roster.
    • Which is kind of odd since stealing the belt is a wrestling trope of its own. Usually the thief parades around with the belt and no officials ever order him to return it. The rightful champ usually has to steal it or win it back.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! BAM, after rescuing Joey, Yugi is mistaken for one of the Ghouls and is promptly arrested.

    Visual Novels 
  • Phoenix Wright had this happen to him in the second case of the first Ace Attorney game, forcing him to represent himself in court. Also, this was what he was doing throughout the entire fourth game (not representing himself, but clearing his name).
    • One case in Trials and Tribulations opens with the news that Phoenix not only lost a case but did such a horrible job in the process that some speculate that he deliberately threw the trial. Not remembering this happening at all, he concludes that somebody must've impersonated him, and manages to get a re-trial in order to restore his reputation and find the imposter.
  • Most of the first case of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc involves Makoto trying to do this after Maizono is murdered in his room's bathroom. He succeeds, logically, or the game would stop there.
  • Subverted in Double Homework. The protagonist and Tamara know full well that the avalanche that killed 12 people on Barbarossa was caused by them, and furthermore, another passenger in the cable car warned them about what would happen. Double subverted on the Rachel path, as Rachel points out that the avalanche might well have happened anyway.
  • The Jake Hunter series occasionally has a variation of this, with Jake getting framed for a crime he didn't commit and he gets held in custody (much to his longtime friend and police collaborator Scott Kingsley's chagrin), so the player controls someone else (like his assistant Yulia) until they're able to prove his innocence. The tendency of these scenarios happening gets lampshaded in Ghost of the Dusk.
  • In the Murder Mystery Visual Novel Jisei, the main character is found next to the victim's body and is automatically accused of committing the murder. The protagonist tries to convince the detective at the scene that he is not guilty by questioning other suspects to gather more information and clear his name.
  • In the third act of Tom Walker's route of Queen's Gambit, the protagonist - a private intelligence operative codename Shield - is cut loose by her organization and has to go on the run after a mission gone sour leaves her wanted by the authorities for the attempted assassination of the President of the United States. The evidence against her is particularly damning, since her mission actually was to kill President Robertson; aware that her company's client in the case is The Conspiracy and that they're putting pressure on her organization to go against their usual policies, she opted instead to poison Robertson with a non-lethal compound and hope that the scare would cause his security to be strengthened against any future attempts. In the "Super Spy" and "Agent" endings, she manages to exonerate herself; in the "Rookie" and "Nightmare" endings, she fails.

    Web Animation 
  • hololive: In the October 23 hololive EN Among Us collab, after Gura witnesses Ina leaving the electrical after killing Kiara and reports the body, Ina skillfully casts suspicion upon her to discredit her as a witness by claiming to have seen her walking out of the electrical after killing Kiara. This results in Gura being the prime suspect for quite some time, to the point where everyone would panic when she's around. However, Gura sees the security camera footage showing Ina and IRyS walking into the same room and only Ina leaving it. She goes into said room with Kronii and finds IRyS' corpse. In the ensuing meeting, she explains what she saw to the other crewmates, and with Kronii vouching for her and Ina being unable to come up with a good defense, everyone realizes that Gura is actually innocent and votes to execute Ina.

  • Main point of second Energize adventures.
  • Acrobat has to worry about this when Kid Laser frames him for Blackhawk's murder.
  • In Kevin & Kell, Kevin's ex-wife Angelique goes on a date with R.L., head of the predator corporation Herd Thinners, and sells him secrets about the rabbit evasion techniques. Since Kevin is married to Kell, a wolf, the Rabbit Council assumes that he did it and takes away his rabbit license until Fenton, using sonar, identifies R.L. as Angelique's new husband. Later on, R.L. and Angelique are accused of falsifying Herd Thinners' earnings, and Kell manages to find out that Vin cloned previously caught prey species.
  • In General Protection Fault, when Trent tries to frame Trudy for attempting to drop a safe on Dwayne, as she had on several of GPF's competitors, she enlists the help of Fooker and Nick to clear her name, and after obtaining the evidence that indicates Trent's responsibility, destroys the evidence that would have incriminated her in the other incidents. Later on, Fooker and Dwayne get convicted of going on a shooting spree and burning down GPF for insurance, (actually caused by the "Fookinator" and Trudy, respectively), and Fooker convinces Dwayne to flee after their prison bus crashes in order to clear their names.

    Web Original 
  • In The Gamer's Alliance, Marcus is framed when Yamatians masquerading as him and his followers massacre various Remonian villagers. The Yamatians do this in order to make Marcus look like an omnicidal would-be-tyrant and turn the people of Remon against him, which would make Marcus's campaign for becoming the rightful king of the kingdom, uniting the bickering races under one banner and driving the Yamatian occupiers out of the country impossible. Marcus and his allies spend a lot of time and effort trying to undo the damage and convince Remoners that he is not responsible for the massacres.
  • This is Veldron's primary motivation for finding the person abducting superheroes in Super Stories.
  • In SuperMarioLogan, Mario is constantly accused of the crimes committed by some of his housemates. Played more so with Jeffy, who has thrown every speck of blame on Mario, for things such as causing the death of Harambe, getting raped by Mario despite the latter only spanking him, and calling a prostitute.
  • The main character of Where the Bears Are aren't formally charged in Season One, but they want to do this to clear up any suspicions. Subverted in Season Two, when it looks like Reggie will be charged with murder but is swiftly released.
  • Even since the Wham Episode shared by all incarnations of the Noob franchise, this is a major part of Fantöm's character arc. After being Locked Out of the Loop about the illegal enhancements performed on his avatar by the game creators that eventually became publically known, he has to rebuild his Broken Pedestal.
  • In We Are Our Adventuring Avatars, Lancelot was framed by Mordred and given a false bounty when he found out that Mordred was planning on creating an army of killer rabbits. The group decided to help him out after a misunderstanding.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Arthur episode "Arthur Accused!", Arthur was wrongfully accused of stealing the quarters for a fundraiser, although earlier on he actually gave them to Mrs. MacGrady, so Mr. Haney and Miss Tingely gave him a week of detention and banned him from going to the 3rd Grade Annual Picnic. It is up to Buster to solve the missing quarters mystery in order to prove Arthur's innocence and let him come to the picnic. However at the end, it turns out that Mrs. MacGrady had accidentally mixed the quarters into the brownie batter.
  • In the episode "Avatar Day" of the second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang and his friends stumble upon a town that's holding a celebration honoring past Avatars. They decided to go only to find out that it's an anti-Avatar celebration and Aang isn't welcome there because the last Earth Kingdom Avatar, Kyoshi, had killed their leader. Aang possessing a Thou Shall Not Kill rule feels the need to defend her honor and allows himself to stand trial for murder. In a subversion, Kyoshi's ghost appears and unequivocally said that she did kill him during the trial(even if, strictly speaking, murder isn't exactly what she did. She just lets him fall to his death). Aang ends up saving the town and gets off with "community service".
  • Hawkeye, after being framed by The Black Widow in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes!.
  • Happened on Batman: The Animated Series, episode "Feat of Clay", where Matt Hagen (prior to becoming Clayface) impersonates Bruce Wayne and gets him framed for an attempted murder — the man was saved by Batman. Since his only alibi is being Batman, he's faced with having to clear his name some other way.
    • Also happened in the "On Leather Wings" episode of Batman: The Animated Series and the movie Mask of the Phantasm when the police assume Batman has gone rogue after vaguely bat-like figures are seen leaving the scene of violent crimes.
  • Halfway through Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Dark Knight is framed for a rash of robberies by an interdimensional Evil Twin wearing his original costume.
  • Happens in the Biker Mice from Mars two-parter "The Reeking Reign of the Head Cheese" when Lawrence Limburger frames the Biker Mice for kidnapping the mayor by having his goons disguise themselves as Throttle, Vinnie, and Modo when they capture the mayor.
  • In the ChalkZone episode "Teacher's Lounge", Reggie accuses Rudy of making a rude drawing of Mr. Wilter on the blackboard. To avoid getting detention every day as a result, Rudy goes into ChalkZone to find the drawing and have him tell him who drew him. Turns out Reggie was the real culprit.
  • An ongoing Arc in Danny Phantom is the hero himself having to clear his name and prove he's the good guy to his Untrusting Community due to an elaborate plan by a disgruntled ghostly sheriff. It takes him several episodes and a near sacrifice, but he succeeds.
  • It's the entire premise of Detentionaire, where Ordinary High-School Student Lee Ping gets framed for a massive prank on the first day of school. While it does give him popularity, he is sent to detention for a year (and grounded) as a result, and spends every day in detention sneaking out and mingling with the school's social cliques in order to collect more information on the real culprit and prove his innocence. Eventually, the goal of finding out who set him up is expanded to include investigating the mysteries and conspiracies which he runs in to on his way.
  • In the Doug episode "Doug Didn't Do It," Doug has been framed for stealing Mr. Bone's yodeling trophy. He spends almost the entirety of the episode trying to prove his innocence—before Roger gloats that he was the one who planted the trophy in Doug's locker in the first place, via an Accidental Public Confession. Once Mr. Bone finds out, Roger gets what he deserves: having to polish Mr. Bone's trophies after school.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy, "If It Smells Like An Ed": The Eds are framed for wrecking the other kids' "Friendship Day" celebration, and try to find out who set them up.
    • It was Jimmy. Unfortunately, in what could be considered one of the lowest points of the series, Jimmy gets away and the Eds get the punishment from the kids and Kanker sisters.
  • In an episode of The Fairly Oddparents, Timmy ends up getting blamed for a wave of shoplifting when he can't explain how he got everything he wished for. He ends up having to escape from the police to prove his innocence.
  • The Galaxy Rangers episode "Mindnet" has Shane's fellow Supertrooper turned Psycho for Hire Killbane using a cross of his shapeshifting and biodefense abilities to steal a top-secret device from Longshot labs. The rest of the team rallies around him and goes rogue to clear him.
  • The entire plot of G.I. Joe: Renegades is that Duke, Scarlett, Roadblock, and Tunnel Rat have to clear their names after being framed as terrorists. And now a major sub-plot, as Snake Eyes' back-story reveals that he stands accused of a grievous crime against his clan.
  • Jem plays this trope straight in "One Jem Too Many" in which Misfits fan Clash disguises herself as a rude version of Jem. The ploy falls apart when she's challenged to sing by Jem, which reveals Clash to be a member in good standing of Hollywood Tone-Deaf.
  • In Justice League, the Flash himself was arrested for robbing some isotopes from a police impound. Though he did do it, it was under influence of a brainwashing ray via Dr. Corwin, an agent of Dr. Grodd.
    • Green Lantern manages to clear Flash's name quite easily, though, simply by pointing out that if Flash was guilty, there would be no way the police could hold him.
    • In the first season, John Stewart was framed for accidentally destroying an entire planet, and even he was convinced he did it, forcing the rest of the team to clear his name.
    • In Justice League Unlimited, the whole League is framed when Lex Luthor seizes control of their headquarters' Kill Sat to destroy a government base and half of a city. While six of the senior Leaguers turn themselves in as an act of good faith, Batman calls that a stupid move, refuses to cooperate, and does the hard investigative work to save the day instead. Once cleared, the rest get to be his Big Damn Heroes.
  • Kim Possible: In the episode "Fashion Victim", Kim was framed for stealing the latest designs from Club Banana. The real culprit was Camille Leon, using her Humanshifting powers to impersonate Kim.
  • The Legion Of Superheroes had Timber Wolf being accused of killing his father, out of the Legionnaires (except for the ones who recruited him) only Phantom Girl and Chameleon Boy were convinced of his innocence. However Timber Wolf did kill his father, but it was a clone of him. The real one used nanites to trigger his son's fury and transformations in an elaborate plot to get him to work with him again.
  • "Devil Asteroid" from Mighty Orbots, but subverted a bit when Rondu tells Ohno and Rob that SHADOW has control of the asteroid.
  • In the Christmas Episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot, Jenny is hijacked and reprogrammed to ruin all of the holidays in Tremorton for a year before snapping out of it, all while not knowing what she's done. It's up to her and Sheldon to clear her name.
  • The Powerpuff Girls are put in jail after three thugs dressed like them commit crimes and Townsville's citizens think they're the girls. Ms. Bellum believes the girls are innocent, so they break out of jail and battle their imposters. Of course they have to go back to jail for breaking out.
  • Recess gives us the episode "The Trial", where Spinelli is accused of hitting Randall with a rock during a dirt clod war. Despite claiming her innocence, she is sentenced to playground court and if proven guilty, which everyone besides her alibis thinks she is, a swirlie afterwards. What really happened, Randall hurt himself with a rock just to frame Spinelli because he was jealous over her getting a thank you from Miss Finster for helping her cat down a tree.
  • In Rick and Morty, Rick is accused of murdering some of the other Ricks in alternate realities. He escapes custody so he can find the real killer and prove his innocence.
  • The Ricochet Rabbit and Droop-a-Long Coyote episode "Two Too Many" had the dwarf criminal Half-Pint Peto don a Full-Body Disguise and mask as Ricochet Rabbit (complete with coil springs on the bottom of his footpaws so he can zip around like the real Ricochet) to frame him for robberies as an attempt to get back at him for putting him in jail in the first place.
  • An episode of Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated has the title character being accused of going on a rampage caused by a robotic dog created by the idiot bad guy of the week so that Mister E can tell the gang that the Team Pet of the previous set of meddling kids is somehow the focus of the Curse of Crystal Cove.
  • An episode of Sheep in the Big City had Sheep getting accused of a string of burglaries. He's eventually arrested, put on trial in a Kangaroo Court, found guilty, and broken which point the police just let him go, because they figure he's learned his lesson and won't do it again.
  • An episode of Hanna-Barbera's Snooper and Blabber had Snooper framed for crimes committed by a Snooper robot created by a mad scientist who has a whole platoon of Snooper robot lookalikes. He infiltrates and tells Blabber to wait thirty minutes before calling the police. Blabber mistakenly believed he said thirty seconds, so he called the police anyway. Snooper lampshades the trope when the police tell him he qualifies for a reward for capturing the real mastermind:
    Snooper: Reward? I just wanted to clear me good name! I ain't interested in no reward! And when do I collect it?
    • It seems Hanna-Barbera loved this trope. This variation happened again with the original Secret Squirrel when a mad scientist created a whole army of robot Secret Squirrel lookalikes to commit crimes and frame the real Squirrel.
  • The South Park episode "Mystery of the Urinal Deuce" has Kyle try to clear his name with Stan's help after Cartman accuses Kyle of being involved in September 11 during show-and-tell, claiming that "1/4 of the population is retarded". Earlier, Kyle's mother Sheila tried to help, saying that "our kids are confused", but it didn't go anywhere. As Stan and Kyle try to solve the mystery, they get into more and more trouble along the way, until they get captured by the government and President George W. Bush tells the truth, which leads to a more confusing predicament where Stan confesses that he's responsible... for taking a dump in a urinal in the boys' restroom at school.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, this happens to Spider-Man when Master of Disguise the Chameleon impersonates him in a series of robberies. Though he clears his name, the damage to his reputation has been done.
    • And again when Venom returns. Subverted when Captain Stacy notes that, not only does Venom have a different build than Spider-Man (when he was wearing the black suit), but that he has a different fighting style, prompting Stacy to see Venom as an imitator.
  • The Spider-Man (1981) episode "Carnival of Crime" had Spider-Man having to clear his name when the Ringmaster and the Circus of Crime frame him for their misdeeds by using a gas to make witnesses hallucinate Spider-Man as the perpetrator.
  • The Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends episode "Attack of the Arachnoid" had Spider-Man framed for crimes by a scientist named Dr. Zoltan Amadeus, who gave himself spider powers by injecting himself with a formula that had the side effect of eventually mutating him into a centauroid spider monster.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series
    • In "The Menace of Mysterio", Mysterio attempted to pose as a hero against the "evil" Spider-Man, done so by committing robberies in a customized costume identical to Spidey's own. This was all revenge for the web-head bringing Quentin Beck to justice for using illegal materials as special effects.
    • In the two-part episode "Framed"/"The Man Without Fear", Peter Parker is framed by Richard Fisk for selling government secrets and has to clear his name as Spider-Man with the assistance of Daredevil.
  • The plot of Spider-Man Unlimited is set off by Spidey being blamed for sabotaging John Jameson's shuttle when he's trying to stop Venom and Carnage from boarding it to hitch a ride on its mission to Counter-Earth and deciding to take another shuttle to rescue Jameson.
  • Gwen Stacy's, aka Ghost Spider's, plot in her Marvel Rising: Secret Warriors shorts. S.H.I.E.L.D. is after her for allegedly murdering a young Inhuman named Kevin. In reality, Kevin was her best friend and he died after being attacked by another Inhuman when trying to go crimefighting alone. Gwen got to the crime scene after the fact, thus getting the blame.
  • In Star Trek: The Animated Series ("Albatross"), McCoy is accused of being responsible for a plague that wiped out much of a planet. Played with in that McCoy Angsts about the possibility that it is unintentionally his fault. It's the rest of the Enterprise crew who are adamant that he is completely innocent and spend most of the episode searching for proof.
  • In Star Wars: The Clone Wars' 5th season finale Ahsoka is framed and convicted of an attack on the Jedi Temple and is expelled from the Jedi Order so she can be tried in front of a Senate Court. When she's proven innocent, the Council members apologize profusely and offer to take her back to the Order, going as far as claiming the ordeal was her Jedi trial. Unfortunately, her faith in them is so shattered by the way they abandoned her, that she refuses the offer.
  • Strawberry Shortcake: Pets on Parade (1982) has her judging a pet show; the Purple Pieman and Sour Grapes frame her for taking a bribe from them so she'll be disgraced. She ultimately forces the Pieman to admit the truth by threatening to torment him with her "berry talk" if he doesn't.
  • In the "Sisters" episode of Teen Titans, a group of Space Police show up to arrest Starfire. As it turns out, the actual fugitive is her sister, Blackfire, who deliberately gave her a necklace to make them think Starfire was her. Fortunately, the mistake is cleared up. (This is not the last time Blackfire will be a threat to her sister in the series.)
    • Becomes a plot point during Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, with Robin as the one who needs to clear his rep after apparently murdering the criminal Saiko-Tek.
  • Happened in an episode of Timon & Pumbaa. With a subversion of Wrongful Accusation Insurance, no less.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures: Montana Max once framed Buster Bunny with the theft of an ice cream machine.
    • He also set him up for trying to cheat during the class election in "Citizen Max". Fortunately, Plucky decided to switch sides and helped Buster and Babs reveal the truth.
  • Stargate Infinity: The series' premise is that of the main characters, particularly team leader Major Gus Bonner, being framed for an attack on Earth and being forced to flee through the Stargate, effectively exiled until they can gather enough evidence to clear their names and return home.
  • The Loud House: In "Crimes of Fashion", Leni is fired from her job in the clothes store after being wrongfully acccused of stealing multiple scarfs. This prompts Lincoln and Clyde to find out who the real thief is.

    Real Life 
  • David Milgaard was convicted of raping and murdering a nursing student in 1969 in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He would spend almost 23 years in prison even escaping and turning himself back in so he could clear his name legally before being freed. A man named Larry Fisher would later be proven guilty of the crimes. The Tragically Hip's song "Wheat Kings" references Milgaard's story, and a TV movie was also made about his life.

Alternative Title(s): Wrongly Accused, Wrongfully Accused