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Easily Condemned

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"Men's evil manners live in brass; their virtues we write in water."
Griffith, Henry VIII

An Easily Condemned character is one who has proven his goodwill and built an incredible reputation as an outstanding citizen who everyone loves... and suddenly has his previous actions forgotten by all, from the people he's saved to his friends and family, who'd sooner believe him a monster than accept his claims that he's being set up or that everything was a misunderstanding.

For a broader example, think about The Hero whose reputation as an upstanding citizen and paragon of justice's well known all throughout the land. People love him, kids look up to him, the king bows down when he enters the room, and even cats don't scratch him when he rubs their bellies. Then one day, the Big Bad takes a picture of him while he is playing soccer in the Beneficent Center for Disabled Children, and crudely photoshops a puppy in place of the soccer ball, but wait, everyone knows that the hero loves dogs right? Cats, too, and rabbits since he pets them every day, feeds them, and buys them chew toys out of his own pocket money even when he's starving. Everyone knows that, everyone sees him doing that every day, everyone has a pet dog that at least once he took care of while they were traveling, only for them to return later and find the dog was healthier than ever!

Silly villain with his silly plots, there's no way anyone would fall for - oh wait, there the populace is, running The Hero out of town with torches and pitchforks.

Well, this might fool the ignorant populace, illiterate fools that they are, I suppose, but surely the hero's True Companions will help him clear his good na-nope, they're saying they can't believe the hero did that while they obviously believe the hero did that.

It sucks and the hero will certainly rub their noses in it when this all blows over, but at least the love interest, his soul mate, after all those episodes and hardships that only strengthened their bonds, certainly she is now crying in a corner, cursing the Hero's dog-kicking name between sobs, and asking herself how he managed to deceive her all these years.

Simply put, any situation where someone's given no benefit of the doubt despite previous actions, and it doesn't matter how obviously out-of-character he or she acts or even how many times he/she's been the victim of Frame-Ups, Malicious Slander, and Insidious Rumor Mill; everyone will often conveniently forget those important details whenever the plot demands it, which the latter can't realistically justify under normal circumstances.

Please note that even though the victim's usually The Hero, it doesn't mean that the victim must always be the Hero as any character who has a reputation overturned by a single mistake or lie counts, even in the case of a Villain with Good Publicity who gets booed after the revelation of one single flimsy piece of evidence from The Hero also counts as being Easily Condemned.

If a character never even had the public's trust, to begin with at all, it's not this trope as he's just a Hero with Bad Publicity in that case, but that's not to say that a Hero with Bad Publicity can't be this trope as well because if a tight group of True Companions trusted him implicitly up until that point despite the general public's opinion of him and were subsequently swayed by the villain's lie, then he's actually an example of both of these tropes at once as he's now an Easily Condemned Hero with Bad Publicity on top of literally anything else by that point in time.

This Trope's quite often combined with both Ungrateful Bastard and Frame-Up for obvious reasons.

See also Villains Never Lie and Once Done, Never Forgotten for when a character actually did something bad but not bad enough that it should overshadow his or her past good deeds, and yet it still somehow does so anyway; Never Live It Down is for whenever the viewers outright condemn a character for one single bad deed, and Then Let Me Be Evil is for whenever the hero eventually becomes exactly what he was condemned for in the first place because of how the others around him regularly treat him, and also even compare Mistaken for Murderer.

Contrast Easily Forgiven, even though it's always possible for both of these tropes to overlap with one another, and see also Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bleach: The Soul Reapers are very grateful to Ichigo for both saving Soul Society and sacrificing his power to defeat Aizen. The anime's Gotei 13 Invasion Arc is set immediately after Aizen's defeat and just before the Lost Agent Arc. One piece of evidence implicates Ichigo in villainous events, and Yamamoto promptly orders Ichigo's arrest without bothering to look any deeper at the situation or talk to Ichigo. The Lost Agent Arc debunks the filler's portrayal of Yamamoto; when the canon Yamamoto learns Ichigo's fallen in with the wrong crowd, he cites Ichigo's past deeds as justification for breaking the rules of Soul Society to save him.
  • Code Geass: The Black Knights turn on Lelouch, the man that has led them to victory after victory over Britannia and is very close to helping them liberate their homeland, because of an unproven statement from their worst enemy without any sort of proof.
  • Happens consistently in Great Teacher Onizuka, where the students and/or teachers keep falling for faked evidence of Onizuka's wrongdoing, despite his history of regularly being framed for bad behavior and being vindicated and found to be completely well-intentioned every time.
  • In Kitchen Princess, Najika is bullied...then her Blithe Spirit triumphs, and she is adored...then a disaster strikes for which she was in no way to blame and everyone despises her again.
  • Love Hina: The Hinata girls, especially Naru and Motoko, are always fully prepared to believe the worst in Keitaro and beat the crap out of him at the slightest provocation, especially when they suspect him of doing something perverted. Honestly, after the first few misunderstandings, one would think they'd actually realize that it's Not What It Looks Like.
  • Pokémon the Series: XY: Jessie, James, and Meowth disguise themselves as the twerps and cause all sorts of minor havoc in a major city so they can trash the heroes reputation. When the gang does arrive in town, Team Rocket's victims look dumbfounded about their claims that Ash and the others just got there, but fail to notice that their Pikachu isn't floating like the other one (it's really James' Inkay turned upside down).
  • Sonic the Hedgehog:
    • The short Sonic the Animation included in Sonic Jam features Eggman successfully deceiving the public into thinking that Sonic is a vandal, by dressing up in a very bad Sonic costume and causing havoc on rollerskates.
    • An episode of Sonic X has Eggman convince everyone he has turned good and created a man-made form of sunlight after his artificial moon eclipses the sun. When Sonic starts destroying the satellites powering it, the public comes in angry mobs to confront Sonic's friends. This turns out to be a subversion however since Eggman's sunshine globes in fact had brainwashing technology so people worshiped him instead of Sonic. Only Chris, Knuckles, and the President's staff genuinely doubted Sonic (though both Chris and the President himself catch themselves on this in the original Japanese edit, while Knuckles argues that Sonic didn't help his case by not telling anyone, thinking it should have been obvious).

    Comic Books 
  • Happens far too often to Asterix. In at least four comics (Asterix and the Soothsayer, Asterix and the Roman Agent, Asterix and Son and Asterix and the Secret Weapon) he is framed, shunned, or at least badmouthed by the Gaul village, despite being known as the village's official best-warrior-and-nice-guy.
  • Lucky Luke got accused of working with the Daltons once, being an outlaw using them as a hostage when they faked amnesia (granted the town was somehow unfamiliar with the cowboy and the Daltons but one aware of the situation condemned Luke immediately) and is easily framed for robbing a bank by the culprit who simply accuses him in front of the town and no one being able to remember he was sitting next to them when the robbery happened. It gets subverted during his adventure with Jesse James, where the townspeople condemn him instead of Jesse's cousin for taking over a train as a way to arrest the gang and warn him to shut it if he doesn't want to be prosecuted. The truth is that they were too scared of retaliation and they feel deeply ashamed of their cowardice when he is released. Luke even exploits it one time when after trying to have the town stand up to Billy the Kid, he decides to pretend he suddenly became an outlaw, nevermind that he is known to have never killed anyone in years and one of the biggest heroes in the West, so that they fear him more and Billy feels upstaged.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (IDW) has a Christmas special where Sunset Shimmer gets easily condemned when someone links her to an account that's been leaking secrets about her friends, even when it's established that she's reformed and has nothing to gain by being evil again.
  • In Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics), Robotnik succeeded in framing Sonic for treachery more than once. Granted these were often very elaborate acts of deception, but surely Sonic's closest friends at the very least should have known better, especially considering they've frequently seen what Robotnik is capable of themselves (and have even been a fellow victim in at least one case).
  • Spider-Man: As probably the biggest Hero with Bad Publicity, this happens to Spider-Man all the time. No matter how many times he saves the city it only takes one smear campaign or mistaken action seen by the public to turn New York (and a lot of his friends and loved ones) against him and declare he's a criminal.
    • The Superior Spider Man zig-zags with this trope so hard it's not even funny. On one hand, Peter explaining that his mind was taken over by Doctor Octopus provides him with Easy Forgiveness from The Avengers... and that's about the only people who forgive him, or wish to stay on speaking terms with him/be within a hundred miles of him (or don't do a Face–Heel Turn and want him dead/humiliated) in the aftermath.
  • X-Men: The X-Men frequently deal with this as heroes who protect a world that hates and fears mutants, who are often little more than people born with superpowers.

    Fan Works 
  • Danny Phantom: Stranded: Lampshaded in Blackmailed; Team Phantom and their allies repeatedly remark on how remarkably quick people are willing to believe that suspicious photographs of completely unknown origin somehow serve as rock-solid "evidence".
  • Dekugate: In addition to absolutely despising Izuku and his mother for existing, members of the titular online community of Conspiracy Theorists will latch onto anybody they see as sharing their Irrational Hatred. But the instant any of these supposed "allies" makes a remark that can be interpreted a positive or even neutral towards Izuku or Inko, the Dekugaters turn upon them en masse.
  • Entering The Love Hina World: Keitaro grew accustomed to this after three years of working at the Hinata Inn. No matter how much he did for the Hinata Girls, the most violent residents constantly made baseless accusations and beat the crap out of him, because All Men Are Perverts in their eyes. When Anthony arrives, they attempt to subject him to the exact same treatment, only for Faye to intervene and their Karma Houdini Warranties to start expiring.
  • A Growing Fire In My Heart: Lord Redskull forces Spike to drink a potion that transforms him into a young adult and sends him on a rage-induced rampage through Ponyville. Afterwards, the majority of Canterlot's nobles and Ponyville's residents call for him to be exiled, despite how he had absolutely no control over what happened.
  • Harry Potter and the Mystic Force: When Harry is accused of faking Cedric's death as part of a scheme to take over the Wizarding World, his friends Ron and Hermione swiftly turn upon him. Eventually, it's revealed that "Cedric" was actually a disguised Ivan Ooze, and that he used a More than Mind Control spell to amplify any suspicion regarding Harry. Once the spell is broken, both Hermione and Ron are keen to atone for how they reacted.
  • Discussed and Played for Drama in Hell Is a Martial Artist. After yet another misunderstanding, Ranma lists off all of the things he's canonically done for the sake of Akane and her family, asking her just what it will take for her to ever give him the benefit of the doubt. Akane declares that there is literally nothing he can do to avoid this, asserting that she will always, always assume the absolute worst of him. This pushes Ranma past his Rage Breaking Point and helps convince him to agree to Hild resetting and retconning reality to retroactively make him her child.
  • In Loved and Lost, an extended retelling of the 2nd season finale of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic (see the Western Animation section below), Twilight's friends, brother, and Princess Celestia get to experience this themselves after the former. Right after Twilight herself has stopped the Changeling invasion, Prince Jewelius openly calls out all the other heroes, claiming to the entire city of Canterlot that the princesses, the Royal Guard's captain, and nearly all the Element Bearers made it possible for the Changelings to attack because they refused to notice anything suspicious about the impostor bride or postpone the wedding to first deal with the looming threat of unknown attackers due to their own selfish ambitions. The citizens and the Royal Guard quickly believe the prince who's often absent from Canterlot due to his travels, especially after the shaken heroes make the huge mistake of trying to run away, allowing Jewelius to overthrow the adored princesses and banish them along with Twilight's friends and brother. However, this about-turn is somewhat justified because the nearly successful invasion (which happened despite all the security measures) was just narrowly stopped, and since many civilians and Royal Guards were seriously injured, the atmosphere is auspicious to name scapegoats.
  • In the wake of "Chameleon", a common Fandom-Specific Plotline for Miraculous Ladybug is calling out Marinette's classmates for how easily they turned upon her thanks to Lila Rossi. The most frequent targets of these callouts are Alya, Adrien and Miss Bustier; Alya gets grief for proclaiming that "Good reporters always do their research!" while blindly trusting Lila's word over her "bestie", and failing to reevaluate her stance even after learning that Marinette is Ladybug in Season 4. Adrien knows that Lila is deceptive, but sees no reason to warn anyone else because "As long as [Marinette] and I know the truth, does it really matter?", pressuring her to Turn the Other Cheek and let her lies go unchallenged. And Miss Bustier is a Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher who lets bullies like Chloé run rampant and only ever enforces rules when condemning Marinette.
  • The Moon Cries in Reverse (Naruto): One of the central conflicts of Lunar Lamentations is how readily people are willing to accept the notion that Naruto, Sakura and Shikamaru would betray Konoha simply because the latter two's intelligence reminds Anko of Orochimaru. Since Hiruzen buys into her paranoia, the trio winds up heavily persecuted, and the only one who doesn't immediately buy the notion that they're monsters in the making is Jiraiya... or rather, he recognizes the potential of this becoming a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy. And after it does, he reacts as though they repaid his trust with betrayal rather than taking down the bastard responsible for so much of their suffering.
  • The Morality Civil War centers around the debate over whether or not Litchi deserves to be condemned for the lengths she was willing to go to in her efforts to save Arakune. Faction B takes a No Sympathy stance, dismissing all the mitigating factors as unimportant. Who cares if she was Forced into Evil; she should have been willing to destroy Arakune for the greater good!
  • In Movie Night At Freddy's, Freddy turns against Bonnie out of anger of the latter having a much larger role in the direct-to-DVD movie they're watching. Later, all of the animatronics turn against Mike after Freddy pins the blame for everything on him.
  • Rainbow Doubledashs Lunaverse:
    • When Greengrass arranges it so that it looks like Octavia has decided to play the Symphony of the Sun and Moon, an infamously difficult piece that has destroyed the reputation of anyone who's played it thanks to inevitably upsetting Princess Luna when they interpret it wrong, nigh-everyone treats Octavia like a dead mare walking. Most of them don't bother to check and ask if Octavia actually chose to do so. Not even Princess Luna.
    • After an incident involving Ponyville, a curse, and all the liquids in town that effectively wrecks the whole place, Trixie goes to try and get relief funding for the town. The pony in charge of that is Night Light, who already hates Trixie for a previous incident with Twilight Sparkle that ended with her going on the run, and now Greengrass and some associates have run a slander piece where Trixie supposedly criticized Night Light at length (so that Trixie will have no choice but to go to them for "help"). It's subverted when she actually gets to Night Light. He's read the article and doesn't believe it. But he still really hates Trixie.
  • The Unlikely Ally: Homura's cynicism makes her quickly assume that Key, Mami and Nagisa intentionally abandoned her in the woods, unaware that Slender Man is blocking Key's telepathy.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a mysterious masked killer starts offing old gangsters. Because the killer hides in the shadows, Gotham thinks Batman's gone insane and the GCPD launches a manhunt under Harvey Bullock to bring him in (as Commissioner Gordon refuses to believe Batman's the guilty party), with Councilman Arthur Reeves pushing the narrative of Batman's guilt. This is in spite of the fact that Batman has been helping the police keep some level of sanity in the city, but everyone can't tell the difference between a guy dressed like a bat and someone dressed like the Grim Reaper. What's worse is that even The Joker knows Batman isn't the killer.
  • In Toy Story, Woody starts off as The Leader of Andy's toys, a position earned in part by just being Andy's favorite but enforced by the fact that he actually is level-headed, responsible, and has a good friendship with most of them. When he accidentally pushes Buzz out the window, they easily believe he's become a murderer—although this is also because Woody had made no effort to hide his resentment and jealousy over Buzz taking Andy's attention. (And he had been trying to knock him out of Andy's sight, but only to the floor under the desk.) Slinky and Bo Peep at least give Woody the benefit of the doubt until he does an admittedly stupid ruse with Buzz's dismembered arm. He is able to set things right, and even in hindsight the other toys can see why he got jealous when they act similarly disturbed by Buzz's thinking he's a real space ranger, but they don't let Woody forget it. When Toy Story 4 comes along and introduces Forky at a time where Woody's not being played with, they view his attempts to keep the spork from throwing himself away as old habits dying hard (even though Woody was actually right this time).

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In T.J. Klune's gay fantasy novel The Consumption of Magic, the way the populace is turned against Sam of Wilds by baseless rumors of his arrogance and ambition contains elements of this, though the truth is more complicated.
  • Harry Potter. Books two, four and five, as well as their movie adaptions, basically follow the formula of "Harry is a good guy, but gossip says he is crazy, and everyone thinks he's crazy after a while."
    • In The Chamber of Secrets, Harry winds up using Parseltongue on a snake during a duel with Malfoy, which turns the whole school against him since that particular language is only used by descendants of Salazar Slytherin, an infamous figure in the wizarding world.
    • In The Goblet of Fire, Harry winds up in the Tri-Wizard Tournament against his will because his name had somehow been placed in the titular goblet. Most of his friends turn their back on him because they think he did for glory seeking, only to change their tune when they see how dangerous these games really are.
    • The Order of the Phoenix is probably the worst of it for Harry. The Ministry of Magic throws him under the bus and claims that he's lying about Voldemort's return, much of the school thinks the same thing of him, and he's nearly expelled from Hogwarts for using magic while underaged when he's attacked by Dementors (which he only gets overturned because Dumbledore not-so-subtly accuses the Ministry of framing him to keep him quiet). All this goes out the window when Voldemort makes his return as public as possible, vindicating Harry, but at a terrible cost.
  • A major plot point in Intrigues, book two of the Heralds of Valdemar series The Collegium Chronicles. Heralds with the Foreseeing Gift get a fragmentary vision of protagonist Mags attacking the King of Valdemar, and immediately everyone believes he's gone bad. His personality and history of total commitment to Valdemar don't matter. Neither does the well-known fact that visions of the future are often incomplete and lacking context. Most egregious of all, his status as a Herald-Trainee is ignored, despite it being a bedrock belief of all Valdemarans that "the Companion's choice is never wrong."

    Live-Action TV 
  • In The A-Team episode "Showdown!" a group of criminals poses as the A-Team in order to intimidate the owner of a wild west show into selling his show so that they can use his upcoming European tour dates to smuggle drugs from the U.S. to Europe. Naturally, all of the A-Team's allies instantly buy the story that they've turned bad; we see Face banned from his favorite nightclub, Hannibal kicked off a studio lot, and a particularly heart-wrenching scene in which the kids at BA's youth center show him the newspaper proclaiming his guilt before dejectedly walking out on him. Of course, this ends up being the inciting incident to get the team to go stop the imposters.
  • Batman episode "Deep Freeze". Mr. Freeze frames Batman for crimes such as accepting a bribe and stealing Commissioner Gordon's watch. The people of Gotham immediately conclude that Batman is a criminal and lose faith in him. Oddly enough the episode ends without any indication that the truth has been revealed to the public, but they're back to worshiping Batman the next episode.
  • During the fourth season of Babylon 5, Captain Sheridan, now the leader of La Résistance, is lured out to Mars and into a trap by his former Security chief, Michael Garibaldi. An unusual example is that while the character identified as being responsible did do what he was accused of, he did so as an unwitting Manchurian Agent, and the station's command staff learned about it from ISN, which wasn't exactly a reliable source of information at this point. A later story arc centered on the accused character's Redemption Quest.
  • Denji Sentai Megaranger also did this, but as a plot point: A monster attacks their school and exposed themselves as Megarangers. At that point, everyone drove away the Megarangers, it doesn't matter if they're model students like Kouichirou or a decent genius like Shun, everyone gets driven off. From that point on, the Megarangers' battle elevates from not just saving the world, but also restoring their status. They succeed in both.
  • House of Anubis: KT, despite having been a loyal Sibuna member and a genuinely nice person up to that point, was easily believed to be The Mole working for Team Evil, mostly because Frobisher-Smythe was her great-grandfather. When she tried to truthfully warn them that Patricia was the Sinner, rather than her, it only made things worse, to where they locked her up and stole the key her dead grandfather gave her. She nearly ran away because of it, but she decided she couldn't abandon her friends no matter what.
  • Kyōryū Sentai Zyuranger: One of the last filler episodes has the Bandora Gang unleash a monster that impersonates the Zyuranger to cause chaos, and that's enough for the townspeople to turn their backs against the Zyurangers and drive them away, in spite of them spending all the time protecting their kids. Only one grandma did not buy this crap, allowing the Zyuranger a chance to strike back and prove themselves.
  • Smallville: One episode has Clark go public with his secret identity, making him adored by everyone... until Linda Lake, a hack journalist who'd prompted said outing by trying to blackmail Clark, holds a press conference claiming Clark's the front-man of an alien invasion and murdered Lex Luthor. The FBI immediately tries to arrest/kill Clark and his friends.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
    • "Court Martial": Kirk easily ends up Convicted by Public Opinion for negligence leading to a crew member's death, despite his stellar reputation up to now. Only his True Companions insist he couldn't have done it. The supposedly dead crew member, Ben Finney, framed him by altering security footage as revenge for Kirk daring to mention a mistake he made that could have resulted in an entire ship blowing up with all hands.note 
    • "The Ultimate Computer": After the Enterprise begins attacking the other ships during a training exercise to show off the titular computer, Commodore Wesley assumes awfully quickly that Kirk has gone rogue rather than blame the M-5, which had been in command earlier.
  • Star Trek: Picard: Jean-Luc Picard, now a retired Admiral, was the Capitan of two starships Enterprise, a renewed scholar and diplomat, and a man who's done countless good for Starfleet and the Federation at large by saving the entire galaxy more than a few times. Yet in 2399, Starfleet holds him as a pariah because when their shipyards were attacked by terrorists, he chose to resign in disgrace for calling off the evacuation of Romulus rather than standing with them in their most desparate hour, and continues to disparage them for what he perceives is a dishonorable act. Naturally, when he comes in asking for their help on rather flimsy grounds and making quite a hefty demand for a ship and captaincy, they show him the door and chew him out for his hubris. To their credit, Picard does acknowledge he let his ego get in the way of seeing their side of the situation, but you'd think a guy who literally saved them from being turned into Borg drones, let alone being wiped from existence, wouldn't be so easily dismissed.
  • In the fourth season of Supergirl (2015), Lex Luthor uses the clone Red Daughter to attack the White House. President Baker (Luthor's pawn) declares her a traitor and institutes martial law. Despite how she has risked her life saving the world for four years (and the public knows about things like Martian shapeshifters and image inducers), everyone instantly accepts this. It takes Supergirl and Red Daughter being seen together and Kara writing a story exposing Luthor and Baker for Supergirl to be accepted as framed.
  • Walker, Texas Ranger: In Season 6's "In God's Hands", Trivette nearly has his reputation destroyed when he is placed on administrative leave following the accidental shooting of a 6-year-old boy while engaging an armed robber he and Walker were pursuing in a shootout, contending with an old rival who was passed over when they were both up for being named Ranger, annoying television reporters twisting his words and the victim's revenge-driven older brother. Luckily, the victim survives the shooting as his older brother is barely talked down from shooting Trivette with an illegally-purchased gun. In addition, Walker is able to prove that the bullet came from the villain's gun and Trivette's bullet was lodged in a tree.

    Video Games 
  • Played for Laughs in Crash Tag Team Racing's story mode: during the cutscene, before the player goes to the fifth and last hub, Coco deduces that the person who stole Von Clutch's Black Power Gem and the Park Gems powering the park had a love of Wumpa Whip because it was at the scene of every theft. When everyone sees Crash drinking a cup of Wumpa Whip, they immediately assume he did it, despite him being the unambiguous hero of the series and the gems all having been stolen long before the heroes and villains arrived, causing the real thief to confess and call them all out for jumping to such an idiotic conclusion. Even Crash himself seems to believe it for a moment!
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, a Gengar that's part of Team Meanies accuses you of being the human that touched Ninetales' tail, which is said to curse the individual and bring about the end of the world. Said accusation suddenly makes everyone try to hunt you down and kill you, despite the accusation coming from a shady individual, and your team doing nothing but good throughout the entire game.
  • Zig-zagged in Super Mario Sunshine: Mario is imprisoned and forced to clean up graffiti created by an Evil Knockoff of him, revealed midway through the game to be Bowser's son in disguise. He can't get a word in edgeways to defend himself despite having saved the whole Mushroom Kingdom more than once. Plus, nobody notices that said doppelganger is completely blue! While the residents of Isle Delfino didn't seem to know who Mario even was and the liquid blue look could've been seen as a transformation ability (which it was, though it wasn't Mario's), it doesn't excuse them not only overruling the attempted defence of Princess Peach, who, don't forget, rules the Mushroom Kingdom, but accusing Mario despite the attacks beginning before he'd even arrived on the island! However, everyone who does know Mario knows full-well that he's innocent, and don't believe he's guilty for so much as a second.
  • In Sonic Adventure 2, Sonic is mistaken for Shadow stealing a Chaos Emerald with the military instantly starting an almost lethal chase after him (granted, it was Knight Templar group GUN).
  • In a Watch_Dogs 2 side mission, DedSec operative Marcus Holloway discovers a whistleblower named Jason Fassbender within corrupt security company Greystrom, who has been framed for embezzlement by his employers, who have also sent his wife what Marcus describes as "a badly photoshopped pic of him cheating on his wife". Very much Played for Drama, as unless Marcus hacks his laptop to get the number of a report Jason was working with, both to send her the evidence of framing, and then to make his phone call her, Jason will be Driven to Suicide.

    Visual Novels 
  • In the fourth game of the Ace Attorney series, Phoenix, the hero of the previous game himself, has his reputation sullied and is disbarred by a single piece of fake evidence nobody believes he didn't forge himself, despite his near-perfect record of justice-making. Fans were less than pleased. Justified because a recurring theme of the fourth and fifth games is that the legal system has become an outright Crapsack World where being an Amoral Attorney is just about the only way for anyone to get ahead, not to mention the fact that he really did still ultimately just spend the last seven years building up a case against the Big Bad who set him up and acting as his False Friend. Ultimately also mitigated heavily by the latter game revealing that Edgeworth, though absent in the previous game like nearly all of Nick's supporting cast, had been fighting to get him reinstated as he tried to combat this same dark age of the law, eventually rising to chief prosecutor between acting as the Hero of Another Story. When Phoenix actually tries to get his badge back, he gains it again very quickly.

    Web Animation 
  • In a typical GoAnimate "Gets Someone Expelled" video, a troublemaker will use a robotic lookalike of a non-troublemaker to frame said non-troublemaker for doing something very bad at school (which is most often destroying the bathroom area). Once the non-troublemaker is called into the principal's office, he/she gets expelled for destroying the bathroom area (despite his/her adamant claims of innocence), and it's only when the principal finally checks the surveillance footage captured in the hallways right before the incident that the non- troublemaker's claims of innocence are vindicated, allowing him/her to return to school the following day and resulting in the troublemaker getting Grounded Forever big-time.

    Western Animation 
  • In the fifth season of Avengers Assemble, while trying to stop an unstable crown from exploding, Captain America puts his shield on it, at the cost of his own life. Soon after, Black Widow (who is actually Princess Zanda in disguise) accuses Black Panther of killing Cap, and the rest of the Avengers are quick to believe her. As a result, Black Panther's reputation is destroyed, and the nations of the world pledge unity against Wakanda with Atlantis included. Of course, this was all part of the Shadow Council's plan to turn the world against Black Panther and start a war between the surface and Atlantis, and Captain America did not die, as they originally thought.
  • This happens in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes cartoon. Captain America gets his reputation ruined due to a Skrull taking his place. This even though he's been an upstanding Avenger, the Skrull showed many clear uncharacteristic behaviors, and the Skrull secret invasion as a whole was exposed and defeated.
  • Played straight in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, when an evil Doppelgänger of Batman from an inverted morality Alternate Universe takes advantage of his absence to don Batman's costume and go on a crime spree. Every hero the real Batman runs into says they would never have believed him capable of it were it not for his doppelganger's many public crimes. And of course, the one character who does believe Batman is innocent? The Joker.
    • When the Tornado Champion beats up Major Disaster, Red Tornado figures it's a programming glitch that he can probably fix. Batman, Mr. Thou Shalt Not Kill, weighs in that Champion is too dangerous and must be destroyed immediately. Of course, Batman did witness Champion screaming how he was "above human morality" while he was whaling on Disaster, which isn't a good sign in your superpowered robot... and it quickly turns out Champion foresaw someone trying to turn him off anyway.
  • Ben 10: In the episode "Framed", Gwen and Max witness an attack on a shop by someone who looks like Ben's alien Fourarms note , after which Gwen immediately assumes Ben's gone bad and refuses to believe his pleas of innocence, until she comes face to face with "Heatblast" while Ben is behind her.
  • DC Super Hero Girls (2019): When someone goes around making it look like Supergirl is committing acts of vandalism, everyone around her immediately draws torches and pitchforks. Even Batgirl thinks Supergirl might be doing it, even though she's with Supergirl the whole time and therefore should know this isn't possible, something Kara calls her on.
  • In The Jetsons episode "Elroy's Mob", Elroy's incredibly annoying, disruptive, and disobedient classmate, Kenny Countdown tries to get out of trouble by switching his justifiably terrible report tape (four D's, an F, and an H) with Elroy's, which has all A's. George is way too quick to believe the bad card is Elroy's, and this becomes even worse when he finds out what happened from the brat's father (who is far better at telling lies from the truth than George, it seems, despite his son being far worse). Unfortunately, by then he's already scolded poor Elroy and sent him to bed without supper, and his attempt to apologize comes after Elroy has run away. (Leading to the main plot.)
  • Averted in the Justice League cartoon. At least two episodes have to do with league members being framed for a crime they didn't commit, but in both cases, the remaining league members decide to believe their side of the story first. It's played straight in one of them, "In Blackest Night", with the Green Lantern Corps. In said episode, John Stewart apparently destroys a planet while pursuing the criminal Kanjar-Ro, and the Corps assumes he's just as guilty (though in this instance, John himself believes he's just as equally guilty). Only Kilowogg and the Guardians bother to stand up for him, and when John finds out he wasn't responsible (the whole planet's destruction being faked), he's furious at having been framed. Once the crisis has passed and he stops the Corps from being wiped out, he backhandedly rejects his fellow Corpsman's apologies for doubting his innocence.
    • Before that, Superman: The Animated Series ends its run (with the "Legacy" episode) with Superman being heavily distrusted by the people of Metropolis because of his stint as a Brainwashed and Crazy soldier of Darkseid, a distrust that is the cornerstone of many people's excuses to be part of the Cadmus Project in Justice League Unlimited (several years afterward, In-Universe and out). Somewhat downplayed since Superman and the League have been under a longtime campaign of slandering from Luthor, and the Justice Lords gave a helpful demonstration of how possible it was for Superman to cross the Moral Event Horizon and become a tyrant.
  • In the King of the Hill episode "The Accidental Terrorist", Hank Hill is blamed for the torching of the cars of an Honest John's Dealership when the true culprits are a pair of teenage hooligans. Even his wife Peggy thinks he did it, and she of all people in the world should know that Hank Hill is so Lawful Stupid that he is A) baffled that the dealership had swindled him for decades (he seriously thought sticker price was always the correct price) and B) completely incapable of destroying another man's property in revenge (he was on the dealership grounds placing protesting pamphlets).
  • In Kung Fu Panda: The Dragon Knight, Po is on a food tour of China when a pair of weasel bandits attack a village he's visiting. Po tries to stop them from stealing a powerful gauntlet, but he accidentally causes a lot of damage in the process. Overnight, his reputation as the Dragon Warrior who saved China from Tai Lung, Lord Shen, and Kai turns to scorn, he loses his title as the Dragon Master, and his efforts to redeem himself only land him on the Emperor's most wanted list. Only his father, Mr. Ping, continues to stick by Po's side, with no word on how the Furious Five or Master Shifu reacted to the news.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • Once Lila Rossi takes her place as Marinette's Arch-Enemy in Season 3, a running plot point is how absurdly easy it is for her to manipulate all of the other teens in their class (being The Dragon to Hawk Moth also helps), which she uses to demolish Marinette's previous Loved by All status. In fan works that have appeared as a response to this, it is not unusual to see all of the other characters become Lila's personal Beta Bitch squad and truly horrible bullies to Marinette.
    • When Chat Noir is framed for stealing the Mona Lisa (granted, by an Akuma victim who was his exact duplicate), everyone in Paris except for Ladybug believes he's guilty. While this was early in his superhero career, he'd still very publicly saved Paris multiple times and should have built up enough goodwill that the police at least hear him out when he tries to protest his innocence.
    • In "Félix", Adrien's titular identical cousin impersonates him with a mean message to his friends. Once again, Marinette is the only one to even consider that something's going on. At this point, form-copying and shapeshifting Akuma victims are common knowledge and should at least cross someone's mind. What's more, even failing to account for magic, no one stops to think that maybe Adrien's just having one bad day and lashing out since it's the anniversary of his mother's disappearance. Nope. A few mean words from an impersonator, and everyone instantly believes that Adrien's secretly a jerk who's been lying to them.
  • Happens a few times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, even as the opposite has happened quite a bit as well.
    • In "Ponyville Confidential", the Cutie Mark Crusaders become the wrath of Ponyville after spreading gossip about the residents for a while when their secret identity of "Gabby Gums" was revealed to be them. Their own family and friends however, give them no benefit of the doubt whatsoever; Why a good-intended group of fillies would resort to exposing embarrassing secrets about them went unquestioned. (Diamond Tiara was forcing them to publish these articles.)
    • In the season 2 finale, Twilight accuses her brother's bride of being evil and brainwashing him (hysterically, admittedly, and without real evidence). However, she gets quickly disproven and banned from the wedding by said brother after the bride runs away in tears. Everyone in the room then ditches Twilight without giving her a chance to properly explain herself, despite all the good she has done for them over the two seasons, has had freakouts several times in the past, and the fact that they learned at the beginning of that same season a moral of not to easily brush off someone's concerns. The revealed Big Bad takes pleasure in mocking everyone for assisting her plan with their distrust during her Near-Villain Victory, leading Applejack to apologize to Twilight.
    • The Cutie Mark Crusaders become the victims of this once again in the Season 8 episode "Marks for Effort" when Twilight accuses them of sabotaging a student's test that they helped that student study for, and subsequently bans them from the school... even though she knows that their special talents are helping other ponies out with their cutie marks.
  • The Simpsons: In "Bart the Murderer", after Principal Skinner disappears and he's believed to have been assassinated by the Mafia (It Makes Sense in Context), Bart is very quickly set up by the Mafia as the mastermind of Skinner's murder (and being their "Capo Di Tutti Capi" while they're at it) with next to no evidence of him committing it — or that Skinner was dead in the first place. The judge justifies this with the track record given by everyone who's put up with him, including his father, and Bart ends up two seconds away from being sentenced guilty when Skinner barged into the courtroomnote .
    Homer: (breaking down in tears on the witness stand, after the prosecutor asks him if Bart would be so vile) Aw, it's true, IT'S TRUE! ALL THE PIECES FIT!! (bawls)
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Trusted Sources", the Cerritos is visited by a Federation News Network reporter to learn more about the crew. Fearing her daughter, Ensign Mariner, would badmouth the ship, Captain Freeman orders her not to speak to this reporter. She disobeys, and suddenly said reporter's opinion on the ship sours. Everyone on the crew believes that Mariner badmouthed everyone and turns against her except for her friends on Beta Shift, and Freeman is so pissed at Mariner that she makes good on her threat to send her to the dreaded Starbase 80. Unfortunately, it turns out that Mariner was the only one who said anything good about the ship; it was everyone else who spoke badly about things (albeit unintentionally) about their experiences and made Freeman look petty for transferring Mariner for speaking her mind. It gets even worse as Starfleet is prepared to decommission the entire California class, and Mariner quits Starfleet. Granted, Mariner's constant disobedience of every Starfleet relegation didn't exactly endear her to anyone, but even they should know that her loyalty is still to the organization, and even she wouldn't be that petty.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In a four part arc in Season Five, someone bombs the Jedi Temple, which leads to Anakin and Ahsoka investigating. Despite catching the culprit, Ahsoka is framed as the true mastermind of the ploy on flimsy and circumstantial evidence, and everyone in the Republic that isn't named Anakin, Obi-Wan, Plo Koon, Yoda, or Captain Rex assumes she's guilty (though her breaking out of jail to prove her innocence didn't help). The Council throws her to Tarkin's non-existent mercy to save face in light of the Clone Wars damaging their reputation, rather than bothering to conduct a halfway decent investigation (for instance, why would she be willing to look into the bombing if she was the culprit?) considering she's been nothing but a loyal Jedi for years. Anakin finds the real culprit, Barris Offee, and gets Ahsoka acquitted, but the fact the Council was so willing to throw her under the bus and acted like this was her "Great Trial" causes her to leave the order when offered to come back. The entire ordeal utterly destroys Anakin's faith in the Jedi, leaving him vulnerable to Palpatine's machinations, and Ahsoka herself spends her later years with a distaste at what the order had become.
  • In the Thomas & Friends episode "Dirty Work/Diesel's Devious Deed" (and The Railway Series story it is based on) Diesel rather easily convinces James, Gordon, and Henry that Duck is a bully spreading bad names about them to the trucks. Arguably played deliberately given the trio's trademark arrogance and earlier insisting that Duck would never spread names about Diesel.
  • The Transformers:
    • A two-parter had Megatron convincing Earth, with trivial ease, that the Autobots had really been the villains the whole time. This is after around thirty episodes of the Decepticons not hiding their actions or intentions and the Autobots helping whoever asked.
    • In the Stunticons' first appearance, they steal experimental fuel from a military base. The general, seeing self-driving cars, immediately assumes it's the Autobots. He never even thinks they might be new Decepticons, even though they all have Decepticon emblems.
  • Transformers: Animated: At the end of Season 1, Megatron is brought back online and rampages through Detroit, totaling the city and nearly killing the Autobots in the process. Although he is narrowly stopped, the next season sees the Autobots treated like pariahs by the city for causing so much destruction, apparently since they have no idea how to distinguish between the heroic robots that saved them and the bad ones that nearly destroyed then. Most of Prime's team groan about it, but Optimus points out that they have to just put up with it until they can rebuild the public's trust.
  • Totally Spies!, this happened a few times, the reason each time being Jerry jumping to conclusions:
    • In "The Fugitives", Jerry wrongly accuses the heroines of bank robbery (it was actually clones of them) and they spend much of the two-part episode being pursued by other WHOOP agents under his orders. (His apology when he finds out what actually happened...They don't take it well.)
    • In "Return of Geraldine", Clover is framed by the returning villain for several crimes that harm the rest of the main cast (stealing Sam's report and submitting it as hers, stealing Alex's car and trashing it, and stealing classified WOOHP weaponry) and is condemned by all three of them.
    • The three protagonists were guilty of this too, in "Spies vs Spies" where they're quick to label Alice, Crimson, and Pam - their older predecessors who have been presumed dead for seven years - are traitors when they find out they're working for an enemy. (Seeing as they themselves tend to be Brainwashed a lot, you'd think they'd have given the older spies the benefit of the doubt. Of course, Jerry firing the three simply so he could rehire his older Spies didn't do much to help the two groups like each other.)
  • The titular character of WordGirl has been a victim of this, and sadly, in several episodes. Even when she tells the truth and insists she's innocent, they still remain unconvinced at first. It's bad enough that the whole city keeps treating their superhero like that, but a child... sheesh, the poor kid can't catch a break.

    Real Life 
  • This trope is Truth in Television. As an old saying goes: "We write men's virtues in sand, their sins in stone", meaning that people are often quick to look past any of the good things that someone has done before ever committing a given bad deed, instead focusing on the one bad thing that they committed, but anger-managing tactics like either counting to ten or even just walking away are effective in part because of this psychiatric phenomenon; rather than escalating a quarrel to the point of no return, simply going quiet and really thinking about it allows one to cool off and also realize that it's probably not worth outright condemning someone for it in the first place.
  • Another related Dutch saying is that "trust arrives on foot but leaves on horseback", meaning that one single rash action can forever ruin trust or reputation that previously took years to build up in the first place, and it can also even apply to companies, not just individual people.


Video Example(s):


"Throw the bum out."

Oroku Saki managed to have Hamato Yoshi banished from the Foot Clan. How? By pinning him to the wall with his tanto. This leaves him unable to bow when his master walks in and is confused as a sign of disrespect. When he manages to get the knife out, they think that he pulled a knife on them and they "throw the bum out." Yoshi never even gets a word in edgewise.

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Example of:

Main / GeorgeJetsonJobSecurity

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