[The Grim Reaper points at one of the platters on the table]
Grim Reaper: The salmon mousse.
Geoffrey: Dearest, you didn't use canned salmon, did you?
Angela: I'm so dreadfully embarrassed!
[much later, as they're all being carried away to the afterlife]
Debbie: Hey, I didn't even eat the mousse!
In a comedy, when a bunch of characters are subject to some kind of punishment or awful revenge, there will often be exactly one character who doesn't deserve it. No matter how much this character voices his objection, he will never be recognized as an exception. He must suffer with everyone else.
Compare: My Friends... and Zoidberg, Can't Get Away with Nuthin', Go Among Mad People. If the character didn't do the listed thing, but DID do something else, may become I Take Offense to That Last One!. The opposite of this trope is I Am Spartacus, where people who aren't guilty deliberately associate themselves with the guilty party and Accomplice by Inaction, where people who didn't do the act are considered guilty because they didn't do anything to stop it. Jokes of this kind are a type of Black Comedy. See also Misplaced Retribution and Karmic Misfire, especially when the victim is the only one targeted for what their guilty association did. For people who are victimized by just being there, see Guilt by Coincidence.
This trope is NOT just any group of people where one person doesn't belong in the group for whatever reason.
- Mahou Sensei Negima! has one of these during the "Kiss Negi" competition during the class trip. Nitta tells the students that anyone caught outside their hotel rooms will be forced to do the Seiza Squirm in the lobby all night. Chisame is roped into the competition by Ayaka, realizes early on the whole game is stupid, heads back to her room. And is caught by Nitta on the way. Eventually everybody else is caught too... along with Negi, who had absolutely nothing to do with it (but he was also outside of his room, for different reasons). This makes even less sense when you consider that a teacher, 10 years old or not, really should be able to be out of his room.
- In one episode of Pokemon Advanced, Team Rocket steals some fruit from a group of Shroomish and as a result, six of them evolve into Breloom and send them flying. By a Contrived Coincidence, Team Rocket lands in Ash and Co's camping area and when the Breloom appear, they attack Ash and the others as well despite them having nothing to do with the situation.
- In one episode of Megaman NT Warrior, when the class gets into a rubber band fight while Lan is trying to solve a problem on the board, Ms. Suzaki takes away his recess time along with everyone else's.
- In Love Hina, Kanako's plan of driving away everyone who made hell of Keitaro's life also includes Shinobu, who throughout the series until that point was the only person to treat him fairly from the get-go and never did anything like Megaton Punching him into the sky, publicly embarrassing him, trying to bisect him for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, making him an unwilling test subject for dangerous machines, and so on and so forth. She ends up being the first to get run out of the Inn, however.
- In Devil Man the partygoers had every right to attack Ryo when he started slicing and stabbing them with a broken liquor bottle for no reason, he was doing it to summon demons as part of his ritual because he needed human blood to complete it, they then attack Akira even though he had nothing to do with it, just because Ryo was his friend and he was trying to help him.
- Yu-Gi-Oh!: In the artwork for Wrongful Arrest, Sangan was arrested with a Delinquent Duo imp for the crime of smuggling a Pot of Greed even though Sangan was just along for the ride.
- Throughout Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth Professor Milo appears in the background, calmly and rationally explaining how he is not insane and does not deserve to be in the asylum.
- A rare serious example: in Maus, the punishment comes from the Nazis towards a prisoner who may or may not actually be the race they claim he is. Every day at lineup, he desperately insists that he was a German soldier who doesn't belong with "these Yids and Polacks". This is emphasized when Vladek sees him as a cat (analogous to a German) but the other Germans see him as a mouse (analogous to a Jew.)
- Red Ears: In one comic a ridiculously sultry woman is dragged into a courtroom because she's being charged with being a communist infiltrator as she's visited the People's Republic of China several times. After putting on a show for the judge and even teasing him by Going Commando, she retorts that she's visited the Virgin Islands even more often than China, and surely the judge isn't naive enough to think she's still a virgin?
- In one strip of Peanuts, when Linus was being chased by an angry Lucy, he climbed on top of Snoopy's doghouse for safety. Along with saying she'd clobber Linus, Lucy also dragged Snoopy into it by saying he'd get beaten up to if he protected Linus. Snoopy immediately shoved Linus off the doghouse to his fate.
- In this fan epilogue of the popular fan comic Rarity Get Your Sword, it was shown that Pinkie's attempt at being Rarity's attorney was so bad that not only did she end up sharing Rarity's sentence of 90 days in prison, but she somehow dragged Applejack in with them, despite the fact that she wasn't involved in the trial in any way.
- In Danganronpa Abridged Thing
Monokuma: Oowada, shut your trap or face the penalty!
[Monokuma throws a dart at Hagakure's crotch]
Hagakure: AAAAUGH! SWEET ODIN, WHY ME!?!?
- In Chicago's "Cell Block Tango", five of the six women insist their victims "had it coming" while not accepting responsibility. The sixth protests that she is innocent; unfortunately, in Hungarian. She's the one who ends up being executed.
- Narrowly averted in Dogma, when the two angels Loki and Bartleby slaughter the whole board of directors of a fictional corporation, for "raising an idol (a cartoon character) that draws worship from the lord..." They had all also committed other, horrible sins to deserve their punishment. The only one who was spared was the sole woman among them, who had committed no sins... though Loki still almost killed her because she didn't say "God bless you" when he sneezed. Bartleby stops him at the last moment, but only because he's tired of waiting.
- A Fistful of Dollars has an example that isn't Played for Laughs. "I saw the whole thing; you killed all four of them." Uh, Sheriff Baxter, wasn't the grand total number of Baxters mocking Joe's mule three? Lampshaded by Joe himself as he leaves the area:
My mistake. Four coffins.
- In Ghostbusters (1984), when the team is arrested because of the explosion of their containment facility that was caused by Walter Peck, Winston brings this up, saying that he was just an employee at the company and wasn't even at the firehouse during the explosion.
- Monty Python films:
- The former Trope Namer from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life: Everyone at a dinner party dies because they ate a spoiled salmon mousse, and are carted off by the Grim Reaper. In the afterlife, one of them points out that she hadn't actually eaten any. It was, in a rare case for Monty Python, an ad-lib. What made that particular scene even funnier is that the character sounded more excited than anything, since they were in the middle of an intellectual debate about the afterlife when Death arrived.
- Another Monty Python example occurs in Life of Brian, during the crucifixion march scene. A kindly onlooker who tries to help a fallen prisoner by lifting his cross is marched off to the execution site by the guards after the prisoner ditches him and runs off into the crowd. This may be a particularly savage Take That! at Simon of Cyrene.
- Monty Python just loves this one— near the beginning of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, a man is loaded onto a cart full of dead plague victims. When he insists he's "not quite dead yet" and attempts to leave, the cart-pusher refuses to take him at first, but the man who brought him slips the cart-pusher some money. A hefty whack from his cudgel and the man wasn't complaining any more.
- The film version of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire puts a twist on the fight Ron and Hermione have during the Yule Ball over Hermione going with Victor Krum. When Harry shows up on the scene after seeing the discussion between Snape and Kakaroff, Hermione snaps at him while demanding to know where he was before shooing him off along with Ron, despite Harry having nothing to do with why she was angry.
- On Arrested Development, Oscar is constantly being hunted down and savagely beaten by police (and was actually imprisoned between the second and third seasons) for the crimes committed by his identical twin brother. It's especially ironic because he's probably the only member of the family who hasn't committed massive fraud and "...maybe a little light treason"; he never seems to be guilty of much beyond possession of marijuana and sleeping with his brother's wife.
- One episode of Father Ted features Ted and Dougal sneaking around after dark in a "rest home" full of sick and/or demented priests; the inmates all loom out of the darkness spouting deranged gibberish, except for one poor guy who enunciates quite clearly: "I really shouldn't be here!" He is of course left to his fate.
- Austin & Ally: After Austin, Trish, and Dez play a mean prank to break off the relationship of Chuck (Dez's Arch-Enemy) and his sister Didi, Chuck gets revenge by setting off explosive jam attacks on all four members of the gang including Ally, who was never even in on the prank in the first place.
- Non-Comedy example: In Ashes to Ashes (2008) the cops suspect someone protesting about the Docklands redevelopment might try something on the Royal Wedding day, so they round up members of the protest groups, and one man from the Anti-Nazi League by mistake; he gets the worst of it because he talks back.
- Mystery Science Theater 3000: Mike grew up in the 80s. Space Mutiny was made in the 80s. So when the SOL crew is forced to watch Space Mutiny, Tom and Crow turn their anger towards Mike:
Tom: Okay, okay, Mike, be honest with us, this music really kinda gets your blood pumping, right?
Crow: Yeah, Mike. This is your music done by your people, so I blame you for this entire movie.
Tom: Yeah, it's just like you to make a movie like this. Tsh.
- Stargate SG-1: SG-1 basically pleads guilty to this in "Thor's Chariot":
Jack: General, if we did screw up their world, we should take a little responsibility for fixing it, don't you think?
Hammond: I understand that. But let me play devil's advocate for a moment here. It's not our world. Is it really any of our concern?
Teal'c: The destruction of the hammer device to save my life may have caused this. If so, I am responsible.
Jack: General, I gave the order.
Daniel: And I fired the staff at the machine.
Sam: And I ... was there.
- In the All in the Family episode "Archie And The Lock-Up", Archie gets guilt-tripped into going out to rescue Mike from a protest that is turning ugly. He ends up getting arrested and stuck in a jail cell with the "pinkos, commies, and fags".
- At the end of one episode of Jessie, she makes the Ross kids work to pay off a video game that Ravi stole. Despite Emma being the Only Sane Man in that situation, Jessie made her work too so she could have the day off.
- Drew Blood and Rory Mondo of CZW's Forgotten Ones described Nation Of Intoxication members Devon Moore and Danny Havoc as horrible people they were going to unleash unrighteous vengeance upon. Rory admitted Lucky 13 technically didn't deserve it but they were going to take him down simply because he was in the group too.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, the Avatar suffers from this in Vaike's C and B support conversations, where the Avatar catches Vaike peeping on the bathing females of the army and both end up being chased off by Sully's horse, despite the Avatar not having peeped themselves.
- Early in Persona 4, Yosuke makes the boneheaded mistake of waving a couple of weapons around in public. You, the MC, are arrested along with him, capped off with a lecture from your uncle. Being a Silent Protagonist, you make no apparent effort to defend yourself, even though you were just sitting there the entire time.
- The Demented Cartoon Movie: "GAAAAAAH! Even when they fix the whole thing with the Zeeky Words, it still blew them up!"
- In 8-Bit Theater, the Light Warriors are all to be killed by Sarda because they're horrible people. Except for Fighter. "He's a casualty."
- In Drowtales, this winds up happening to Kyo'nne when the Kyorl'solenurn arrive. She seemed to think she'd get off easily because unlike her friends she wasn't tainted and even mocks her friends for being "screwed" as they start to run, but the Kyorl go after her anyway for being "corrupted", literally guilt by association, and would have "cleansed" (read: brainwashed) her if Chirinide and Shan'naal hadn't interfered. For extra irony she was the only one the Kyorl actually managed to catch. Because Shinae tripped her.
- Greg becomes the target of Ted's ex-girlfriend's homicidal rage as Ted manages to escape, leaving Greg to fend for himself. Although he has never met her, the guilt has already been transferred.
- Warrior U: Finn gets all the class to skip school and go to the beach, where they are joined by recurrent antagonist Hevvin the Unicorn. After a while, they are caught by the teachers and locked in detention. Hevvin loudly protests that he shouldn't be there because he doesn't even to go that school.
- The Order of the Stick: Even though he wasn't involved in Vaarsuvius's Deal with the Devil, due to being their familiar, Blackwing was dragged down with Vaarsuvius into the Lower Level by the IFCC.
- In The Nostalgia Chick's review of Freddy Got Fingered (guest-starring Oancitizen), the two ultimately decide that Canada must be punished for Tom Green. The episode ends with them beating up Phelous and Luke Mochrie.
- Achievement Hunter Minecraft Series: In the episode "Freezeezy Peak", Geoff loudly talks over Matt's instructions for the game, angrily claiming it as his "revenge" for all the times the others have talked over him. However, as the others point out, Matt has never talked over him, so in this case he's only punishing the one who doesn't deserve it.
- In the episode "Fear of a Bot Planet", Leela objects to being sentenced as a human by the human-hating robots because she is a one-eyed alien. (Although before going, The Professor did warn her that the robots are "not fans" of humanoid aliens.) Turned out much later that she actually is human, albeit a mutant one.
- Then another time Leela got fired with Fry and Bender when the two took the ship out for a joyride around the world with the Planet Express building tethered to it, but she did leave the key in the ignition.
- In "The Cyber House Rules," a B-plot about Bender adopting twelve orphans for the government stipends ends with him getting arrested and jailed for child endangerment, along with not only his roommate Fry but all twelve of the kids. A deleted scene explains this last: the police "got a tip they were in on it" (from Bender himself, no less).
- In Metalocalypse, Toki is often the one who doesn't eat the mousse. One of his catch phrases is even "Evens Toki?" When Dethklok comes out with a line of clothing, their humanitarian fashion designer berates and abuses them all for not being in shape, including Toki, who is in great shape and who didn't lie about his measurements. (At least his new clothes fit perfectly.)
- The Simpsons:
- In the "Heck House" segment of episode "Treehouse of Horror XVIII", Bart, Milhouse, Nelson and Lisa are sent temporarily to hell, yet Lisa took no part in the chaos they wreaked. She points this out along the way to hell: "I warned you, and yet my punishment is no less severe. That's odd."
- A different episode, "Simpsons Bible Stories", ends with the Rapture. The Simpsons are to be sent to Hell...except Lisa, who is pulled heavenward in a beam of glorious light. Disturbingly, Homer is able to reach up and pull her down to hell with them saying "Where do you think you're going, Missy?"
- In another episode, "Grade School Confidential," Martin Prince's parents throw him a birthday party...but they serve raw oysters instead of cake. The children all come down with food poisoning. Including, at first glance, Lisa (a vegetarian). However, it's a subversion in that she only pretended to be sick so she wouldn't have to stay at the disaster of a party.
- In yet another Halloween episode, everyone in town is cursed by a witch, causing them to turn into their Halloween costumes, including Hans Moleman, who turns into a mole despite not wearing a costume.
- In the middle of his long-repressed rage rant during "Hurricane Neddy", Lenny gets this from Ned.
Ned: And as for you, I don't know you but I'm sure you're a jerk!
Lenny: Hey, I've only been here a few minutes. What's going on?
- In "Revenge is a Dish Best Served Three Times" when Milhouse gets Drunk with Power in his quest to get Revenge against everyone he thinks has wronged him, at one point he runs into a random student who explains he is new to this school and has never done anything to him. Milhouse attacks him anyway, claiming it's "prevenge" for the bad things he will do to him in the future.
- On Ed, Edd n Eddy, Edd is always beaten up along with the others when Eddy's schemes go south even though he's usually the voice of reason, trying to convince the other two that they should be doing something productive instead. This was Lampshaded on one occasion: after beating up the Eds, Sarah admits that Edd didn't deserve the beating but then she adds "Give those cute ones an inch, and they'll take a mile!"
- An even more egregious example is in "If It Smells Like an Ed" where Jimmy framed the Eds for ruining the kids' friendship appreciation day even though Eddy, and ONLY Eddy, gave him a wedgie while Ed and Edd did absolutely nothing to deserve the crime other than stick by Eddy.
- Much in a similar manner, Frizz and Nug of The Dreamstone are usually dragged kicking and screaming into each scheme by the Urpneys, usually via bullying from Sgt. Blob and Urpgor or threat of death from Zordrak. The heroes have no problem punishing and humiliating them as much as they would their superiors, to the point they usually get the worst of it.
- The Hey Arnold! episode where a drill sergeant replaced Mr. Simmons. He punished 3 kids by making them stand in room's corner. He makes Stinky do the same because of "symmetry".
- In one episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, a phantom duck caused many people to get thrown in jail, including Hector Con Carne who stated "I'm not even on this show anymore!"
- Happens in American Dad!, when Steve is targeted with his other friends, who misled him into believing three of the Alpha Bitches sabotaged girlfriend Debbie's chances for election, leading to some Misplaced Retribution. Steve apologizes and reveals it was his friends, but he gets targeted along with them.
- Ultimately inverted, as the friends posted bad things about Debbie, but it was Steve who carried out the (brutal) retribution on the girls. The friends were at fault for tricking him, but everyone was mad at Steve because he did those horrible things.
- In one teaser of an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the sidekicks were forced to fight a training simulation as punishment for fighting each other. Speedy was one of them even though it was Robin and Aqualad who fought each other.
- This trope saved Broadway's life in the Five-Episode Pilot of Gargoyles. Goliath catches Brooklyn and Lexington arguing with friendly humans, and sends all three of them to the rookery (nursery, or more accurately the room where they keep the eggs), even though Broadway was just hanging out nearby, eating something. The next night, the Trio emerges to find that Vikings sacked the castle during the day and smashed all the sleeping gargoyles above ground, but overlooked the rookery.
- Same goes for Bronx, Goliath orders the trio to take him down into the rookery for doing nothing other than making his presence known by panting during the current conversation.
- Happened at the end of The Fairly OddParents! movie Channel Chasers when Timmy wished that everyone forgot the events of the movie. Crocker had nothing to do with the plot (in fact, he only appeared in the movie at the end), but he was still affected by this wish anyway. Which was a gag to throw in his brief moment of sanity from his FAIRY GOD PARENTS! obsession and reinforce the status quo.
- A frequent gag in Dan Vs. Dan and Chris enter some establishment together. Dan proceeds to rant, make a scene, and piss people off, while Chris tries to stop him. This escalates until Dan and Chris get thrown out, and possibly get beaten up beforehand. In the episodes where Dan is arrested, Chris is often accused of being an "accessory" to the crime, and punished as well.
- In one episode of The Jetsons, when Elroy brought home a bad report tape (that a failing student switched with his), George sent him to bed without dinner, but he also sent Astro to bed too, just because Astro believed Elroy wasn't lying about the tape being wrong. Boy, talk about strict.
- In one episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog, Eustace swindled Shirley the Medium out of a necklace for Muriel by giving her an oil bill he claimed was a deed to an oil well. In response, Shirley put a swindling curse on both him and Muriel, even though Muriel was completely innocent of the scam.
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang and friends infiltrate a Fire Nation temple and are confronted by a group of Sages who are loyal to the Fire Lord. However, one of them, Shyu, is still loyal to the Avatar and helps them on their mission. After they manage to escape, Commander Zhao angrily arrests all five Sages, despite the Head Sage's protests that only Shyu helped the Avatar.
- The Kim Possible episode "Stop Team Go" begins with Electronique luring the Team Go siblings into a trap to be "turned from valiant heroes into evil little henchpeoples". Shego tries to explain that she is no longer a hero, but Electronique doesn't listen.
- In one episode of The Super Mario Bros. Super Show, Mario and Luigi mention they used to play in their plumbing school's band before being thrown out for eating during a concert. Luigi clarifies that Mario was the one eating. Luigi was merely holding his salami sandwich while he turned his music page.
- In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Big Sister Sam", Squidward insults Patrick's elder sister, which causes her to cry. In response, Patrick shames both Squidward and SpongeBob, even though Spongebob has just been standing there watching the whole thing.
- Played with in a Dudley Do-Right cartoon where Dudley was kicked out of the Mounties for eating peas with a knife. When asked why his horse had to go with him since Dudley was the one who ate the peas, Dudley pointed out it was with his horse's knife.
- In the Teen Titans Go! episode "Hey You, Don't Forget about Me in Your Memory" when the Titans go to high school Robin repeatedly beats Beast Boy up throughout the episode because he's playing the jock role and Beast Boy is a nerd. Every time, the principal witnesses this and gives all the Titans detention: Cyborg, Raven and Starfire for just standing nearby and Beast Boy for getting beaten up, apparently.
- My Gym Partner's a Monkey:
- In the episode "Basic Jake", Jake plays a prank on Principal Pixiefrog, who gives both him and Adam Saturday detention, ignoring Adam's protests that he had nothing to do with the prank.
- In the episode "The Two Jakes", Jake clones himself and Adam (without consulting the latter) and brings the clones to school, even though clones are against the rules. When he and Adam are forced to hide so Pixiefrog doesn't learn the truth, we get this exchange:
Jake: We are so busted if Principal Pixiefrog finds out we brought clones to school.
Adam: We didn't.
Jake: "Semantics" is another word I don't know.
- In one episode of The Flintstones, Fred and the others end up getting attacked by the Flintstone family's generation-long rival, the Hatrocks. When Barney tries to explain to the Hatrocks that he isn't a Flintstone, just a friend of theirs, the Hatrocks shoot at him, claiming "Any friend of the Flintstones is an enemy of the Hatrocks!".
- Les Sisters:
- Wendy is often punished for things Marie did. Marie is banned from the local swimming pool for life? Wendy is also banned because the pool authorities know that theyre sisters, even though Wendy never did anything bad. Marie painted on the walls and released snails into the house? Their parents force Wendy to help Marie clean up the mess.
- Rachel picks on Marie, who is several years younger than her, for no reason other than Marie being related to Wendy, whom Rachel hates.
- Edgar & Ellen: In "Commander in Stripes", Ellen becomes the class president, gets Drunk with Power and starts mistreating all her classmates. Stephanie and Edgar work together to oust her from her position. In the end, Ellen is punished for her actions... and so is Edgar, by virtue of being her twin brother.
- Schools often employ this tactic to keep students under control in chaotic classrooms, much to the chagrin of well-behaved students. In more recent years it's become something of a Discredited Trope, as teachers have gradually come to realize that the badly-behaved students often enjoy getting their more well-behaved peers punished for no reason, and can actually cause the ones who normally behave to start being disruptive themselves once they realize they're going to be punished either way.
- This can be used as a punishment in military training, and can and has been exaggerated to the point of only one person "eating the mousse". This can have the intent of banding the group together against an unfair superior or of having the group further punish their guilty peer and leaving the guilty party an outcast for at least as long as they continue to misbehave. Whichever result is intended can, of course, backfire into the other result.
- The police rounded up a demonstration which went haywire. And you were just accidentally there? Tough luck.