Someone claims to be raped. However, the accusation turns out to be a lie. Depending on the scenario, it can be a matter of this fact already being known by the audience or a plot twist. In the case of the former, the conflict is about the credibility of the accused instead of whether or not rape ever happened. This is a very specific form of a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
In order to qualify for this trope, the following is required:
- There must be an accusation of rape. The alleged victim does not need to be the accuser.
- The person accused must be innocent beyond a mere court ruling of "Not Guilty". This is because the "not guilty" ruling could also be played off as the criminal getting away with their actions.
There are also a few ways this can play out:
- Mistaken Identity: The accused did not have sex with the alleged victim at the time claimed. They may have had sex with the alleged victim at other times. This is generally seen in fiction with "stranger rape", cases where the alleged victim was too impaired to correctly identify the attacker or cases where the victim was also murdered and is unable to provide an identification. This is also the easiest type to clear up.
- Post-coital Regrets: The accuser decides (or has it decided for them) after the case that the sexual encounter was rape based on embarrassment, new information about the accused or social pressure.
- Malicious Slander: The accused is simply accused of having committed rape for the purpose of harming them. For this, there need not have been any actual sex or alleged victim at all. Usually does not involve legal charges, unlike some of the others as it is "just" a rumor.
See also either Frameup or Abomination Accusation Attack, depending on how the false rape accusation is done. Compare Unprovoked Pervert Payback, where an Accidental Pervert moment creates a backlash for the offender.
- In the Emergency! fic "The Long Road back", a woman with a history of such claims does this to John Gage. They are seen fighting, but it is realized he was trying to push her away as she nearly raped him in a sense. her previous victims resigned, went to jail or committed suicide, but she gets so obsessed with John that she kidnaps him and he later finds the courage to testify so she'll go to jail.
- The Crush. A 14 year old girl named Adrian develops a crush on an adult man named Nick. When he declines her advances she tries to get him in trouble, including using semen from one of his condoms as evidence to falsely accuse him of raping her.
- In The Hunt, a small girl's angry comments are misconstrued, and suddenly the protagonist has to flee for his life from a murderous mob convinced he's a pedophile (he's not, for the record).
- In Wild Things two teenage girls falsely accuse their high school guidance counselor of raping them in order to get revenge on him for various slights. Later on we find out that the guidance counselor was in on it; he sued the parents of one of the girls for a hefty sum after the false accusation and then the three of them split the money.
- In The Wizard, one of the main characters, a young girl, falsely claimed that a man touched her breast as a distraction so that he would be tackled by nearby bystanders and they could escape. The kids had run away and were on their way to a video game tournament and the man in question was sent to take them back to their parents.
- The Life of David Gale: One of the reasons David loses his job as a college professor. A female student who was failing his course for not showing up for classes later meets him at a party, seduces him, and then collects his semen so she can file rape charges against him. She doesn't even follow up on them since she has already left the country before it can go to trial, she just wanted to tarnish his reputation. It also makes him more plausible as a rapist and murderer later than otherwise he might be.
- In Atonement, Briony Tallis thinks her older sister Cecilia is being sexually harassed by their childhood friend Robbie Turner. (The sex they had was consensual.) When her cousin Lola gets assaulted at night and doesn't remember anything, Briony concludes that Robbie must be her attacker, even though he's innocent. Only Cecilia and Robbie's mother believe him. Briony's accusation and testimony drive the plot of the novel.
- Both played straight and thoroughly subverted in the book Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer. The main character is accused of molesting his daughter, and he is known to the reader (but not the other characters) to be innocent. However, a significant plotline involves him striking up a friendship with another teacher on the same university campus who was falsely accused of raping one of his students. They discuss how their allegations have affected them and the older peer comforts the main character. Near the end of the story, however, the other character admits that he actually did it.
- Holes's back story involves a man getting lynched because he was accused of rape by a third party. His partner was consensual.
- Of Mice and Men: shortly before the action in the story, Lenny had caressed a woman's dress - not the woman, just the dress - and she ran to the sheriff's office claiming rape. Lenny & George barely escaped town with their lives.
- A Passage to India: During a trip to the Marabar Caves, Adela accuses Aziz of attempting to assault her. Aziz's trial, and its run-up and aftermath, bring out all the racial tensions and prejudices between indigenous Indians and the British colonists who rule India.
- To Kill a Mockingbird. During the Great Depression, a black man in Alabama is falsely accused of raping a white woman. Even though his innocence is proved during the trial, he is convicted anyway by a racist jury. He is later killed while trying to escape prison.
- Under the Dome by Stephen King, the main character, Dale "Barbie" Barbara, is working as a short order cook at a grill when one of the waitresses starts hitting on him. He rejects her advances, but she keeps at it. Eventually it culminates in her cornering him in a backroom and groping him, while he angrily tells her off. The next day, the waitress's boyfriend storms in, demanding that Barbie come out into the parking lot to fight him. The reason? The waitress, angry at being spurned, lied to the boyfriend and claimed that Barbie had raped her, all in order to get the boyfriend to kick Barbie's ass.
- There was a Baywatch episode where one of the male lifeguards caught one of the female lifeguards using drugs and she accused him of rape when he threatened to report her.
- In CSI NY, the rapist who was let off after Jo reported a fellow FBI agent for botching evidence turns up in New York and a woman comes forward to say she was raped by him. However, her story falls apart when Lindsay's tests reveal that the levels of GHB in her system are still so high that she'd be dead if she ingested the levels she was supposed to have at the time she was raped. Eventually, it is revealed that the senator whose daughter was the victim of Jo's FBI case hired the woman to frame the guy and try to get him arrested. When it went bad, the senator killed her, hoping to frame the guy for murder, but that failed as well.
- In Dexter, Lila falsely accuses Batista of rape (in actuality, they had consensual sex before she took a dose of rohypnol and injured herself in order to frame him) in order to pressure Dexter into getting back together with her, implying that she will drop the charges if he does so.
- In the episode "A Minor Operation" of Hetty Wainthropp Investigates, DCI Adams is accused of attempted rape to conceal a larger crime.
- The McPoyle twins in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia accuse their elementary school gym teacher of molesting them, forcing Charlie to get involved in the charade.
- Las Vegas: A privileged woman claims that Danny forced himself onto her after she came onto him while they were both drunk. She then tries to blackmail Ed, Danny's boss and a former CIA agent, into using his worldwide contacts to get several of her company's overseas development projects approved in exchange for dropping the false charges against his employee and protégé. Ed blackmails her right back by using these same contacts to cancel most of her company's projects, and generally make her life a living hell, after which she backs off.
- The last episode of the original Law & Order features several teachers—including the Villain of the Week—whose lives were ruined by false accusations of molestation from their students. This includes a guy who tried to stop a student from taking a leak in front of the class, and was accused of sexually assaulting the boy.
- In an episode of M*A*S*H, a formidable and high-ranking nurse accuses Frank Burns of attempting to rape her when she gets caught trying to seduce him.
- In the Netflix original series Dark, Hannah accuses Ulrich of raping Katharina after she sees them having (consensual) sex, to get back at Ulrich for rejecting her. She then pins it on the school's resident nerdy wallflower Regina.
- The Bible: In the Book of Genesis, Joseph is the slave of the Egyptian Potiphar, a captain in the royal guard, Potiphar's wife wants him to sleep with her. Joseph runs away from her, but the wife tries to hold him back and tears off his garment. She immediately calls for help and claims that Joseph has assaulted her (as she now needs a cover-up that explains how she comes by Joseph's garment). Potiphar believes his wife and has Joseph thrown into prison.
- The Qur'an (surah 12): When Yusuf (= Joseph in the Bible) is the slave of a rich Egyptian (only referred to as Al-´Aziz, "Mighty One"), the wife of his master tries to seduce him. Yusuf refuses her and tries to run away, and as the wife is trying to hold him back, she rends his shirt from the back. Her husband comes by and she explains the situation as Yusuf trying to assault her. However, 'Aziz does not believe her, because he notices that Yusuf's shirt is torn from the back, not from the front. As a result, 'Aziz' wife is mocked by the other women of the city for being attracted to a slave. She retaliates by inviting the other women to their house so they can see Yusuf themselves, with the effect that all of them now want Yusuf. Yusuf again rejects them and is eventually thrown into prison on account of the scorned women (although the Quran does not say under what accusation he is imprisoned). More so than the Biblical account, the Quran is somewhat sympathetic to 'Aziz' wife because it makes clear that Yusuf is incomparably beautiful, and that Yusuf is also attracted to her in turn and rejects her only because adultery is a sin. Yusuf even prays to be thrown into prison because he fears otherwise he might eventually give in to seduction.
- In Classical Mythology, Proetus, King of Tiryns, takes in Bellerophon in his exile; Proetus' wife takes a shine to him and tries to seduce him. When Bellerophon refuses, she tells Proetus that Bellerophon has tried to rape her. Proetus, not wanting to take revenge openly because of Sacred Hospitality, sends Bellerophon on a mission to his friend King Iobates with a letter that asks Iobates to kill Bellerophon.
- In Seneca's tragedy Phaedra, Phaedra, wife of Theseus, accuses her stepson Hippolytus of rape after he has spurned her. Theseus calls on his father Neptune to punish Hippolytus, and Neptune causes Hippolytus to be dragged to death by his own chariot-horses. Phaedra mourns for Hippolytus and admits her accusation was false, then commits suicide. Not to be confused with Euripides' Hippolytus, in which Phaedra hangs herself right away, and Theseus just misunderstands the suicide note.
- In Scandinavia and the World, Sweden once accused Australia of raping him and his sister to get him to stop telling America's secrets.
- In Danganronpa, Consummate Liar Celestia Ludenburg convinced Otaku Yamada to team up with her to kill straight-arrow Ishimaru. Yamada was already not on good terms with Ishimaru, as they both believed that a laptop (with an advanced and friendly AI on it) belonged to them, and now it had gone missing, with each one blaming the other (this was a very serious problem for the entire cast, but they just took it personally). She did this by telling him that Ishimaru had raped her, took pictures and then blackmailed her into stealing the laptop and giving it to him. That Yamada believed that Ishimaru would ever consider anything of the type is a never-ending testament to his stupidity.