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Mistaken for Murderer

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"You really should've come to me sooner. You were carrying so much tension in that shoulder!"

"How dare you! Murdered my wife and buried her in the garden? I have never been so insulted in my life! You know how much I've spent on that garden! You think I'm going to dig a hole in it?"

A major character is somehow convinced that another major character is trying to kill him/her, or has already killed someone else, regardless of how long they have known the character.

In addition, a coincidental series of completely innocent accidents and happenings occur that seem to support that fear, often witnessed through a window in a direct homage/parody of the Hitchcock classic Rear Window.

Often the result of Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon. If the police think that the character is guilty but their friends stand by them, then it's Clear My Name. See also Guilt by Coincidence. Expect a Mistaken Confession if it's a comedy. If the misunderstanding was deliberately engineered, it's a Frame-Up. Not to be confused with Mistaken for Own Murderer, in which a person who is disguised or shapeshifted is accused of killing their normal selves.

Compare Fall Guy and Easily Condemned.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This is what drives Kaede Kayano/Akari Yukimura's motivation for killing Koro-sensei in Assassination Classroom. Her sister Aguri was working in the lab that the future Koro-sensei was being experimented on, and when Koro-sensei broke out of containment, Akari arrived at the destroyed lab only to find him looming over her sister's corpse as well as a letter he left saying he would be teaching Aguri's class in her stead. As such, she implanted herself with tentacle cells, changed her identity to Kaede Kayano, and transferred to Class 3-E at the start of the story so she could exact revenge on the monster that seemingly killed her sister. As it turns out, Koro-sensei did not kill her sister; rather, Aguri was killed trying to calm him down, which prompted his Heel Realization and thus him taking up the role of Class 3-E's teacher as The Atoner. Koro-sensei only gets to clear this matter up with her once he removes her tentacles.
  • In Battle Angel Alita, Alita notices that Ido goes out at night and turns up in the morning with inexplicable injuries, all while a series of unsolved cyborg murders take place. Believing that he's the killer, she follows him and — upon seeing him attack a seemingly harmless woman — directly confronts him. Little does she know that Ido's a registered Bounty Hunter and the supposedly innocent woman in question is the actual murderer...
  • This happens to Jun in Bokurano. Everyone thinks Jun pushed Waku off the mecha into the sea but the truth is the kids die after they pilot the mecha. Waku just happened to die right when Jun playfully pushed him. He would have fallen anyway.
  • Case Closed:
    • Though they are not major characters, Kogoro Mouri frequently accuses the wrong people of the murders that happen. To be fair, he isn't the only one: many cases feature clearing someone's name before they're formally accused of stuff they didn't do.
    • In one instance, Andre Camel, an FBI agent that worked with Conan in the previous arc, is taken in as a suspect for a hotel murder when the police find him jogging up and down the stairs (he was exercising). When everyone suspects he's the murderer due to him being bad at talking his way out of it (for example, they ask him what his job is, which he stutters over because he's not allowed to tell them he's an FBI agent), being a foreigner, and having the Face of a Thug, Conan has to call in Jodie to explain.
  • In Deadman Wonderland, Ganta is framed for the murder of slaughtering his entire class and is sentenced to death in a kangaroo court his lawyer is actually head of the prison he goes to. Although Ganta can kill people the way his classmates were murdered, his powers weren't activated until just after the slaughter.
  • In Fruits Basket, Machi was kicked out of her parents' house after they surprised her trying to smother her baby brother while she actually was putting a blanket on him. The rumor is so persistent even her half-brother Kakeru believes it, but can't blame her for it because he thinks this event is a consequence of the Dark and Troubled Past he shares with her. To simplify, they were forced by their respective mothers to be better than the other to prove they were worthy of their common father's heritage, and even after Kakeru snapped and told his mother he was sick of this competition (something she took surprisingly well), Machi still had to prove herself worthy because she's a girl, her brother's announcement made her hard work All for Nothing, and so they think she was jealous of him.
  • The series K begins with an Ordinary High-School Student finding out that there's a video that shows him murdering someone, and the other members of the victim's gang are out for revenge - but he doesn't remember doing it, and he's sure he's innocent. He and his companions work to solve the mystery over the first season. The truth is it was his body, but he was body-swapped.
  • In Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Argo Gulski has Canada's Gundam Fighter Andrew Graham trying to kill him because he thinks Argo killed his wife Norma back during his Space Pirate days. In reality, Argo (who had never taken a life even in his darkest days) was trying to save Norma from getting sucked through a hull breach but couldn't get to her in time, and from where Andrew was standing at the time he couldn't see what was really happening.
  • In My-HiME, when Sister Yukariko is first revealed as a HiME, she is standing over an injured Aoi with a bow-like Element. A flashback at the start of the next episode reveals that an Orphan attacked Aoi, and Yukariko tried to fight it off, but most people mistake her for Aoi's attacker, and Haruka has her interrogated.
  • In the Naruto pilot, Naruto is framed for the murder of a man he befriended the previous night.
  • ‘’Peacemaker Kurogane’’ Suzu and Tetsu’s relationship becomes antagonistic and wrought with tragedy because Suzu mistakenly believes Tetsu killed his beloved master Yoshida.
  • Downplayed in Pokémon Chronicles. In the Japanese version of "A Date With Delcatty", Misty thinks that she's gotten a death threat when in actuality the boy wants to give her a Love Confession.
  • A variant occurs in an episode of the anime miniseries Rumic Theater, "Abberant Family F", where a girl is convinced the rest of her family plans to kill her and then commit group suicide during a family vacation.
  • Gowther's backstory in The Seven Deadly Sins incorporates this, as he was accused of raping and murdering Nadja Liones, the then-Princess of her kingdom. The truth of the matter is that Nadja was suffering from an ailment of the heart, and would likely die soon, so she chose to spend the night with Gowther, with whom she'd developed romantic feelings for. This would lead to Their First Time, but tragically after making love, Nadja's heart gave out. A panicked Gowther tried to transplant his Magic Heart into her to save her life, tearing open her chest to replace her weak heart. When some royal guards walked in and saw the naked doll standing over Nadja's unclothed and bloodied body, the failed attempt at a meatball surgery led the guards to assume the worst, despite Gowther's devastated pleas for Nadja to wake up. No one found out the truth behind Nadja's death, but Bartra, who was a young prince at the time, was the only one to believe that Gowther would never harm Nadja like that, having been aware of their growing relationship.

    Asian Animation 
  • In Season 2 episode 50 of Happy Heroes, an incident with a flying shark he had hired leaves Big M. with amnesia. When he wakes up, he sees his assistant Little M. with a knife and scissors and thinks he wants to kill him when he's actually just making some food for him.

    Comic Books 
  • Edge of Spider-Verse (2022): The Queen Mysteria assumes Princess Spinstress is an assassin sent to get her, failing to notice that this teenaged assassin looks an awful lot like her only daughter in a fancy ballgown, even when she blurts out "mom!"
  • Happens to David Warrant from Quantum and Woody, whom Quantum believes engineered the accident that transformed himself and Woody and granted them super powers. In reality, David was trying to shut down the reactor and prevent the accident.
  • The first Doc Ock arc of Ultimate Spider-Man. The amnesiac Otto, who traded Oscorp's corporate secrets to Justin Hammer, assumes the accident that fused his tentacles to his body was Hammer's way of trying to cover his tracks. Hammer is a Corrupt Corporate Executive "knee-deep in violations of the superhuman test ban treaty", but had nothing to do with the explosion.
  • Downplayed in Through the Moon in that the ghosts of the other four assassins were not major characters, but when Rayla encountered them in the spirit world, they were still wearing the wrist bindings for Ezran. When they saw that Rayla no longer had hers, they mistakenly believed that Rayla had succeeded in killing Ezran. This belief caused their wrist bindings to fall off too. Rayla reacts to being falsely "accused" of murder about as well as you would expect.
  • In Lady Mechanika, the first person that Mechanika ever killed was Deacon "Grin" Grindlethorn of the Ministry of Health, who ran a Bedlam House dedicated to "curing" children with monstrous birth defects. A perpetually masked man who combined traits of a Mad Scientist and a Sinister Minister in a place where girls would frequently go missing without warning. Before her escape from the Ministry, Mechanika found him in a room with shelves full of the preserved body parts of many of the girls who had supposedly been "cured", and killed him in a rage. It would be many years later before Lady Mechanika would learn that Deacon Grin actually was a compassionately God-fearing (if still unsettling) doctor who cared about the girls, and that the one who actually murdered them was young Katherine de Winter, a fellow patient and budding psychopath.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Hetalia: Axis Powers faniction Paranoia, South Italy ends up panicking and imagining that America has been plotting to kill him.
  • This is the core of Always the Quiet Ones, when Sunset thinks that Fluttershy murdered Rainbow Dash.
  • Frenzy revolves around Sonic having to find a Serial Killer that murdered Amy, all while avoiding the police because they think he killed her. It was actually his robotic lookalike Metal Sonic who killed Amy.
  • Yokai Watch Re!: Two hundred years ago, a tsunami struck the city of San Fantastico and Snaggerjag was declared guilty by the Yokai Council. However, everyone, even even Lord Enma, knew he was innocent. The problem is that his case was eventually forgotten and he was never given a re-trial.
  • Paragon (Kim Possible): Ron is arrested and then sent to a sanitarium after it looks like he murdered Monique.
  • Witching Hour: Iggins suddenly has a heart attack and dies seconds after Gaz punches him and tells him to drop dead. Since rumors are currently flying around that she is a witch, everyone believes she cast a spell on him to stop his heart. Zim actually zapped him with an invisible death ray to frame Gaz as his killer.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Toy Story, Andy's toys are convinced that Woody murdered Buzz by sending him falling out the window.
  • In Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Miles is mistaken for his Uncle Aaron's murderer after Jefferson found him kneeling over the body. Jefferson proceeds to call in a full police investigation to hunt this new Spider-Man down, unaware that he's starting a manhunt of his own son.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Gigolo Joe is forced to go on the run because he was set up for murder by the scorned lover of one of his clients.
  • Double subverted in The 'Burbs, in which nosy neighbors become convinced that the folks who just moved in are Ax-Crazy maniacs because they act creepy.
  • In Eight Days A Week, Peter's elderly neighbour is often seen pushing his chairbound wife around the neighbourhood. Then he suddenly stops, and at the same time, Peter notices that the neighbour is bringing shovels and other tools into his house and leaving with black garbage bags during the night. Naturally, Peter suspects that the neighbour has killed his wife and is getting rid of the body. As it turns out the wife has gotten too ill to leave the house, and her husband is secretly building an illegal pool in their living room, so that they will be able to relive their exotic honeymoon before she dies.
  • Elevated: Ben and Ellen initially think that Hank killed all the people on his floor, as his shirt is soaked with blood and he brandishes a knife in a threatening manner. He clarifies that he didn't, and that they were attacked by some sort of monster.
  • Fear City: Nicky mistakenly pegs a strip club patron as the knife-wielding killer because he happened to be carrying a personal razor blade inside his jacket, but only finds this out after they've already beaten the guy up. This comes back to bite them in the ass when Detective Wheeler arrests them for assault and battery.
  • Drives a major portion of the plot of the Tom Selleck film Her Alibi.
  • In Licorice Pizza Gary's attempt at selling waterbeds is interrupted when he's abruptly arrested for murder, as the real murderer happens to look like him and wear the same clothes. He's dragged off to the police station and released just as quickly when the witness tells them he's not the guy.
  • No Hard Feelings: Percy gets the wrong idea when Maddie first shows interest in him. Rather than go along with it like Maddie had hoped a Hormone-Addled Teenager would have at the sight of her, he's completely weirded out by the sudden attention. Maddie also uses a Creepy Stalker Van to pick him up and takes his phone when he tries to text his parents. She gets a face full of pepper spray for her troubles.
  • Played for Drama in Psycho II. Mary finds herself holding a knife against Norman Bates in self-defense when she assumes he's reverted back to his psychotic ways. However, when the police arrive on the scene they mistake her for a murderer and shoot her dead on the spot.
  • In Ruthless People, Sam said to his mistress, Carol, that he was going to kill his wife, but it doesn't end up happening. Yet since Carol was going to blackmail him, she ends up thinking he did it anyway.
  • Silver Lode: McCarty has shot Johnson and Sheriff Wooley, while only getting grazed himself. Ballard picks up Johnson's and McCarty's guns, at which point the townspeople arrive and naturally conclude that Ballard shot all three of them. As both Johnson and Sheriff Wooley were fatally wounded, they cannot set the record straight.
  • The premise of the 1993 Mike Myers film So I Married an Axe Murderer.
  • Tucker & Dale vs. Evil plays this comedically, with the titular protagonists finding themselves mistaken for slasher villains after a series of misunderstandings by a group of college kids.
  • In the opening scene of Urban Legend, a woman mistakes a gas station attendant for this (or a rapist, it's not entirely clear), when he was really trying to warn her about the murderer hiding in the back seat of her car.
  • What Lies Beneath: Claire suspects her neighbor of killing his wife. She's partly right; there is a murderer in the neighborhood, but it's not him.

  • Thanks to being a Friendly Neighborhood Vampire with a Not So Friendly Neighborhood Vampire Stalker, Jody from Bloodsucking Fiends has to deal with suspicion that she may be a serial killer — something that is not helped by the fact that she has a chest freezer with a dead man in it. The police eventually get a warrant to search her loft and implicate her boyfriend, Tommy, for both the serial murders and her own "murder". Naturally, Tommy can't explain the situation without sounding like a complete loon ("I didn't kill her! Okay, so I did put her in the freezer, which admittedly was pretty rude...")
  • The Redwall novel Salamandastron had one of the protagonists, a squirrel named Samkim, get in trouble earlier in the book for nearly hitting a fellow Redwaller with a wayward arrow. The next morning a different Redwaller is killed by a pair of stoats that the Redwallers had taken in as they were fooling around with bow and arrows that were intended to be used in an archery contest. Samkim comes down the stairs and finds the guy, tripping over a bow as he did so. Another Redwaller then comes down the stairs and sees it, though luckily he isn't punished as the infirmary keeper vouches that Samkim had been in the infirmary the entire night and never left it.
  • Lemony Snicket, author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, is attempting to clear his name of arson during the writing of the books.
  • A series of unlikely events and coincidences causes Henry Wilt to be accused of murder in Tom Sharpe's comic novel Wilt.
  • Black Widowers: In "Nothing Like Murder", the guest is a Russian writer with a less than perfect grasp of English who is convinced that he overheard two men plotting a murder on a college campus. It is up to Henry to determine what he really heard.
  • In most plays and novels derived from the Courier de Lyon case, Dubosq, the spitting image of Joseph Lesurques, shoots Joseph's father Jérôme during the mail coach robbery. It makes for an awkward family reunion when Jérôme later shows up at his granddaughter's wedding... and Jérôme is too intent on preserving the family's honour to outright accuse Joseph.
  • In Northanger Abbey, Gothic fangirl Catherine Morland observes her host, the widower General Tilney, and concludes that between not being melancholy (to her own dramatic standards) and nobody ever visiting Mrs. Tilney's old rooms, that the General must have murdered his wife. Henry, who finds Catherine snooping around, guesses at her thought process and gently but firmly sets her straight.
  • The Unicorn Chronicles: Beloved, who was dying of an illness, was found by a unicorn in woods. The unicorn, wanting to help her, tried to heal her, which required stabbing the tip of his horn into her chest- she would be wounded, but only for a moment and then his magic would heal both the wound and her illness. Unfortunately that's when her father arrived, and saw only his daughter on the ground, stabbed through the heart by a unicorn's horn, and came to the obvious conclusion that she was being murdered. He attacked the unicorn to defend her, and the two killed each other in their struggle.
  • A Fly Went By: A few of the animals wrongly think someone wants them dead:
    • The fly thinks the frog wants to eat him.
    • The frog thinks the cat wants to eat him.
    • The cow thinks the fox wants to eat her calf.
    • The man thinks that whatever made the thumping noise (which turns out to be a sheep with a can on its hoof) wants to kill him.
  • Swan's Braid & Other Tales of Terizan: In "Swan's Braid" Swan mistakenly thinks Terizan is an assassin sent after when the latter tries to steal her braid and draws her dagger for this purpose while she's pretending to sleep. They soon clear this up however.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Devil Judge: Soo-hyun hears a gunshot and barges into the room to find Yo-han and Ga-on standing over Minister Cha's corpse. She jumps to the obvious conclusion, unaware Minister Cha shot herself and the other two were simply the first to arrive on the scene.
  • In House of the Dragon, Daemon Targaryen thinks his older brother King Viserys has been murdered by the Hightowers, while he actually died of the leprosy-like illness afflicting him (which Daemon witnessed but somehow didn't account for).
  • In The Millionaire, each episode features somebody anonymously receiving a check for one million dollars from an Eccentric Millionaire. One of the recipients, Fred Malcolm, becomes mistakenly convinced that his wife is trying to commit Inheritance Murder to get hold of his million.
  • Mouse (2021): Ba-reum stops Bong-yi late at night while wearing blood-covered clothes. Bong-yi and her grandmother get the wrong idea and freak out. Played with when it turns out he really is a murderer.
  • Psychopath Diary:
    • Played with, since in this case a character mistakes himself for a murderer. Thanks to In-woo's diary and a case of amnesia Dong-sik becomes convinced he's a serial killer.
    • Chil-sung also believes Dong-sik's a murderer.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: In the second season finale, Buffy shows up at the library after Angelus' goons attack the Scoobies, and finds that Drusilla has killed Kendra. The police show up at that exact moment, and since Buffy is standing over Kendra's dead body amongst the ransacked library and the unconscious bodies of her friends, is believed to be the one who killed her; Buffy subsequently escapes police custody, becoming a fugitive from the law, and after killing Angel, flees for Los Angeles. While Principal Snyder brags to her that the Sunnydale police are "deeply stupid" and will never realize that Buffy is innocent, in between Seasons 2 and 3, they do in fact discover the truth and clear Buffy of all charges.
  • Not murder, but an episode of Drake & Josh has Josh playing a robber in a TV reenactment, and subsequently and repeatedly being mistaken for the robber.
  • In the second season Wings episode "Murder She Roast", Brian sees a woman who resembles Fay on an America's Most Wanted-like show.
    Helen: Fay's the sweetest, kindest, gentlest person I've ever met.
    Brian: Oh, that's what every homicidal maniac's neighbor says about them. "He was the sweetest, kindest, gentlest man I have ever met. Was very quiet. Always said 'Hello.' Helped me build a dog pen." Just once I would like to hear them say: "He was a raving lunatic. I feared for my life. I WAS JUST WAITING FOR THE CHAIN-SAW TO COME RIPPING THROUGH THE WALL!!!"
    • Lampshaded magnificently by Fay at the end of the episode:
      Fay: If I was going to kill you, I'd never poison you. I'd just tamper with the fuel gauge on the plane and let you sink like a stone somewhere over Nantuckett Sound. I'm only kidding... but I do know how.
  • Ted and Melody on Hey Dude! came back to the ranch after being sent home sick and discovered what they thought was an elaborate plot to murder Mr. Ernst. They had missed his announcement that he had written the play, which the other employees were rehearsing.
  • Another Rear Window knock-off was one of the subplots of That '70s Show Halloween episode.
  • The first episode of I Love Lucy (1951) was titled "Lucy Thinks Ricky Is Trying to Murder Her".
  • On Newhart, Dick is suspected of murdering Joanna after he writes a murder-mystery novel with characters based on himself and people he knows.
  • Done in an episode of the short-lived Olsen twins vehicle Two of a Kind.
  • In It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, the gang suspects that Mac is a serial killer due to his suspicious behavior. In reality, he's just dating a transsexual.
  • Kenan & Kel mistook Kenan's boss Chris as a mob hitman.
  • It happened twice in Seinfeld. When Kramer moves to Los Angeles, there's a whole story arc based on the police there mistaking him for a serial killer. Also, there's one episode where a guy who owns Seinfeld money gets his toes broken by him (acidentally), ends up in the trunk of his car (accidentally), and assumes from a conversation he hears between Jerry and Elaine that they're planning on killing a woman.
    • In another episode, George thinks that the members of the Susan Ross Foundation think he killed Susan. He attempts to leave a tape recorder in the room to record the, unfortunately the plan backfires. In one scene after he leaves the room, it is revealed that George's theory was correct.
    • In a reversal of the trope, Kramer spends an episode trying to emulate Da Vinci's sleep patterns only to fall deeply asleep while having sex with his girlfriend of the week who mistakes herself as his killer. He wakes up rolled in a carpet in the Hudson river after she tries to get rid of his corpse.
  • P.J. and Gabe of Good Luck Charlie misinterpret their next door neighbor Mrs. Dabney's outburst at her soap operas, and her attempts to get rid of a bad smell and a large, heavy trunk as evidence that she murdered her husband. It was just her husbands old anatomy skeleton from his teaching job.
  • An episode of The Wayans Bros. had Grandma Ellington dating a new beau, Fred, thanks to Shawn and Marlon playing matchmaker to get her out of their hair. Everything is fine until the gang gets together to watch their favorite crime show, "Unsolved Violent Crimes", an America's Most Wanted-esque program hosted by Adam West. It featured a serial killer who preyed on old women with a poison-filled Mexican dish. The police sketch of the killer looked exactly like Fred. Everyone is convinced that Grandma is in danger. Later, Fred and Grandma have a dinner date and guess what he's cooking? A big dish of Hilarity Ensues.
  • When Nikki breaks her leg at Prof. Oglevee's apartment on The Parkers, she decides to convalesce there and becomes even more annoying. He gives her a pair of binoculars which she uses to spy on the neighbors. She sees a man strangling a woman and then sees him carrying a suspicious bundle out of his apartment. The killer sees her and decides to come after her. In the end, it was all a set-up by the Professor with an actor friend of his to teach Nikki a lesson about spying.
  • In one episode of My Family, a patient of Ben's is under sedation in the dental chair and confesses to murdering his wife. Susan, who has recently developed an obsession with Inspector Morse, appoints herself as detective and breaks into the man's house to find evidence. When she discovers his wife is still alive, Susan admits she knew it wasn't true but wanted it to be because of her love for TV crime dramas. The man turns out to have made it up because he is a huge fan of A Touch of Frost.
  • Kamen Rider Agito gives this a twist by having policeman Makoto Hikawa think Agito is a murderer while being friends with Shoichi Tsugami, Agito's civilian identity. This gets resolved when Hikawa learns Agito's identity and realizes that a nice guy like Shoichi could never be a cold-blooded killer. This plot was recycled in Kamen Rider 555 and Kamen Rider Kivanote ; while Kiva handled it in near-identical fashion, Faiz labored the point for a bit too long, especially by having the resident Jerkass make Faiz look bad by periodically stealing the Faiz belt and wreaking havoc with it.
  • The subplot of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "Mitchell". Gypsy accidentally intercepts a call from Deep 13 where Dr. Forrester and TV's Frank decide to kill Mike Nelson, who's just taking his job way too happily. However, Gypsy accidentally interprets it as them trying to kill Joel, thus trying to get him out of the Satellite of Love.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In the episode "Living Hell", the protagonist tries to warn the cops about a killer whose visions he has been receiving. As the detective in charge of the investigation points out, how is it that this particular person who called them up out of the blue knows so much detailed information about the crime scenes? It's no surprise that he quickly becomes suspect number one. The cops do believe him eventually, though.
  • The Munsters Sequel Series The Munsters Today had an episode called "Drac the Ripper", where Herman Munster sees a news report featuring a police sketch of what Jack the Ripper may have looked like. He notices that the drawing looks just like Grandpa and becomes convinced that his own father-in-law is Jack the Ripper.
  • At one point in Arrested Development, a series of misunderstandings leads to a woman being convinced Michael is about to murder her. His siblings' use of the car has left it with a (fossilized) skull and a shovel in the back seat, and blood-red nail polish splattered all over the dash. Then he insists on pulling Lucille's abused housekeeper into the car to give her a ride, first swinging by the wetlands to pick up his sister. The only problem? It's not actually the housekeeper, but a random woman off the street...
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: A sad inversion in season 4. Robbie Reyes is the supernatural murderer Ghost Rider, and has been hiding it from his brother Gabe. When the time comes to tell him for his safety, Gabe thinks he's a secret agent working for S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • On a Halloween-themed episode of That '70s Show, Fez is spying on Bob from Eric's bedroom while in a wheelchair. He starts to think, based on a garbage bag, an dirtied apron and a butcher knife, that Bob killed Midge. However, it turns out that Midge is out of town and Bob is just carving pumpkins and taking out the trash.
  • In ALF, Alf spies Mr. Ochmonek burying what turned out to be a side of beef in his back yard, while Mrs. Ochmonek was out of town. The beef also accounted for the bloodiness of his bathtub.
  • Cadfael episode "The Virgin in the Ice" has Butt-Monkey Brother Oswin suspected of raping and murdering Sister Hilaria—in large part because he himself says that he has committed a mortal sin, and that he was her death. But the "mortal sin" was being attracted to her while they were huddling for warmth in a blizzard, and he was her death because he couldn't protect her from her actual killer.
  • Broad City:
    • In "Jews on a Plane," Abbi gets her period on a plane with no access to tampons and can't get any of the other passengers to lend her one. She tells Ilana, "Everyone is gonna be sorry they turned their backs on their sisters. Time is of the essence. Any second, there's gonna be an explosion and then there's gonna be blood, like, everywhere." Two flight attendants overhear their conversation and set about trying to foil the impending "terrorist attack."
    • In "Friendiversary," Abbi and Ilana see a man having sex with a woman on his balcony before throwing her off, leading them to call the police, follow him around, and break into his apartment. She's his sex doll, and she fell by accident.
  • In the very first episode of Kamen Rider, Rumiko overhears Hongo arguing with her father, Dr. Midorikawa, then ends up running in when Hongo is trying to save him from Spider Man's attack, mistaking him for murdering him. The next episode, a combination of Hongo battling the Bat Man to save her life and Tachibana's own words make her realize he had been telling the truth and apologizes.
  • The plot of the New Girl episode "Pepperwood". Nick becomes convinced Jess's student Edgar is going to kill her, and breaks into his home. They are promptly proven wrong.
  • The Frasier episode "Deathtrap" opens with A Minor Kidroduction in which the young Frasier and Niles steal a skull from the school lab for a backyard production of Hamlet, but drop it. In the present, they visit the house they lived in and look under the floorboards for a Time Capsule they remember leaving. When they instead find a cracked skull, they immediately leap to the conclusion their landlord murdered his wife.
  • An episode of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide concerning the topic of Health Class, Cookie believes that his friend Moze killed her boyfriend Faymen by pushing him out the window, and was conspiring with Gordy the Janitor and Mr. Monroe the Health Teacher to hide the body. In actuality, "Faymen" was really the school's old CPR mannequin that Moze attempted to clean and spruce up with new clothes (Faymen's), only to further break it by accident, and Mr. Monroe suggested they bury it so that it would be considered "lost property" and the school would replace it.
  • In the Murdoch Mysteries episode "The Ballad of Gentleman Joe", someone is dropping intricately-carved hobo coins into the pockets of hobos and then killing them after they're discovered. Crabtree and Watts go undercover, taking one of the coins to use as a conversation starter. Inevitably, the hobos come to the conclusion that if these newcomers have the coins and haven't been killed, they must be the killers.

  • In WHO dunnit (1995), Tex thinks his wife Victoria tried to kill him by sabotaging the brakes on his car. In reality, it was her butler who did it, after he overheard Tex threatening her.

  • The Six Shooter: In "Ben Scofield", a series of unfortunate coincidences, combined with the sheriff's guilt about his treatment of his son, lead Sheriff Ed Scofield to belive that the robber and murderer he and Britt are tracking is his son Ben. This leads to him and Britt almost getting killed when he calls out a warning to the wounded outlaw as Britt is sneaking up on him.

    Video Games 
  • Sam & Max: Season 2 re-opens Stinky's Diner, which was closed throughout the entirety of Season 1, and introduces its new owner: a thoroughly sketchy woman who claims to be Stinky's granddaughter, taking care of the diner while her grandfather is traveling (something Sam & Max point out would be incredibly unlikely for the cantankerous old man to even consider). Throughout the season, the implications pile up that this mystery woman murdered Stinky, but in What's New, Beelzebub?, it turns out that Stinky died in a mountain climbing accident (he gets better), and that Girl Stinky is not only very much not a murderer (despite near-quoting Lady MacBeth), but a bit of a Cloud Cuckoolander to boot. She's also a Cake of the Damned, created by Stinky in a culinary experiment gone wrong.
  • In Dead or Alive 2, opera singer Helena is fully convinced that the Ninja Ayane is responsible for the murder of her mother. While Ayane neither confirms nor denies her involvement, Christie, her real assassin, shows up in DOA 3, and has her sights set on Helena.
  • In the Victorian London level in Waxworks (1992), the protagonist is mistaken for Jack the Ripper after being seen next to a dead harlot. The fact that the body he's using is that of Jack's twin brother doesn't help him much.
  • Justified in 5 Days A Stranger, in that the character mistaken for the murder did in fact commit the murder. Granted that it was actually due to a case of Demonic Possession. This may or may not be justified in 7 Days A Skeptic. Taken as a standalone game, 7DAS appears to play this straight but 6 Days A Sacrifice implies that what we saw then might not have been what actually happened.
  • Happens to your character in Light's Out, the sequel to Dark Fall: The Journal.
  • In Tales of Monkey Island Chapter 4: The Trial and Execution of Guybrush Threepwood, as Guybrush starts his "Feast for the Senses" quest, he sees De Singe exit his "laboratorium" in distress, indicating that something is going on in the lab. On entering, he finds the lab in a total mess, and Morgan lying on the floor, stabbed by her own Blade of Dragotta. Before she dies, she whispers her last words as a warning, unheard by the player and misheard by Guybrush, leading him to believe that De Singe killed her. When he later confronts De Singe before tossing La Esponja Grande into the Wind Control Device while testing it, Guybrush can blame him for the atrocious act of murder, to which De Singe can imply that he didn't kill her by spouting out clues that can be helpful to the player but not to Guybrush ("Of course I ran out of my lab! There was blood all over the floor instead of being packed neatly in vials where it belongs!" and "Ooh, the Mighty Pirate™ thinks I murdered his friend! However will I live with the shame?"). It is not until both De Singe and Guybrush are killed (the former by the latter, the latter by LeChuck) or until Guybrush meets up with Morgan in the Crossroads that he realizes that the LeChuck who killed him is the same Big Bad who killed her during Guybrush's "criminal charge" trial as well. Oops.
  • In Chapter 7 of Paper Mario 64, Mario drops in on Mayor Penguin to find his body on the ground. His wife comes in, freaks out, and comes to wild conclusions that pit Mario as the murderer, and he suddenly finds himself being grilled by the local police officer to the protests of whichever partner is currently active. Ironically, Watt (the youngest of the group) is the only one to consider pointing out the lack of incriminating evidence. It turns out that Mayor Penguin was only knocked out by a present he planned on giving to Herringway the whole time.
  • In The Shivah, Rabbi Stone is the prime suspect in Jack Lauder's murder because Jack had made Stone a beneficiary in his will and Stone's synagogue is in need of money. If the player makes certain mistakes in the game Stone will actually be arrested.
  • In Crisis Core, Zack discovers his mentor Angeal, who had just apparently deserted from Shinra, standing over the body of his own (Angeal's) mother. Angeal's mother Gillian actually committed suicide after she could no longer bear the guilt for the role she played in the experiment that created/mutated Angeal and Genesis.
  • Five Nights at Freddy's 2: During two of the Atari-style mini games, you'll notice a purple guy (this one is light purple) that is heavily implied to be the murderer from the backstory and thus responsible for everything. However, during another mini game, you have a chance of running into another, possibly different purple guy (this one is a slightly darker shade of purple) that stops your progress. It's somewhat hard to tell due to the graphical limitations, but the rarer purple guy has a badge, glowing white eyesnote , and what appears to be a phone in his hand. The mini games, along with the animatronics being suspicious of adults, strongly implies many things, most prominently that the robots can't tell two adults apartnote . This means that the animatronics think that any security guard (even the most innocent ones) is a suspect... and causes them to suffer He Who Fights Monsters in the process, as they're trying to kill the murderer.
    • Oh, and that's not the end of it. The third one revealed that the murderer was still alive well after the first game. And since the newspapers in the first game reveal a person was convicted, this most likely means either Jeremy or the Dayguard were blamed for the murders. On the upside, the Purple Man's survival strikes out Phone Guy as a suspect.
    • Then Sister Location blows them all out of the water with the revelation that that wasn't the Purple Guy, but his son, who the father sent to "put her back together."
  • In Granblue Fantasy, Danua is believed to be a serial killer going around a town due to her blood-stained knife and because of her speech impediment, she can't defend herself against these accusations. Only the protagonist's intervention prevents her from getting arrested.
  • The plot of Robot City involves a man of who ends up in a city of robots right as one of the few other human residents is murdered. Since robots are programmed to be incapable of harming humans, you’re obviously one of the prime suspects and must find a way to prove your innocence.
  • In the missions leading up to Final Fantasy XIV's Endwalker expansion, Estinien and Gaius discover Zenos having gutted his father, Emperor Varis, and finishes the job because he's not letting even his own father get in his way in his glorious fight with the Warrior of Light. The two battle Zenos in retaliation, only for other Garlean soldiers to come charging in and quickly accuse Gaius of being Varis' murderer. Zenos doesn't bother correcting what was going on.

    Visual Novels 
  • Used repeatedly in Higurashi: When They Cry due to Poor Communication Kills and delusional characters:
    • In two different arcs Shion accuses her yakuza family (including her twin sister) of murdering her crush Satoshi. This causes her to kill multiple people. In reality Satoshi is alive, albeit in a coma for reasons unrelated to the Sonozaki clan. Shion's family had no issues with Satoshi.
    • Satoko believes that Keiichi murdered Rika in the climax of Tatarigoroshi-hen, after Keiichi, while Satoko is absent, finds Rika's body, drops the hatchet he's carrying into her blood in shock, and then picks the hatchet back up... at which point Satoko returns.
    • Keiichi thinks that Rena and Mion are out to kill him in Onikakushi-hen. They make threatening remarks, reference another students similar behaviour before "transferring", creepily show up at his house at night, and even try to inject him with a drug implied to be the same one used to murder Tomitake. What happens afterwards... Of course, this was all in Keiichi's head, exacerbated by an extreme case of Hate Plague. The things said by Rena and Mion were all either misunderstood or made up entirely by Keiichi's decaying sanity.
    • Natsumi mistakes her parents for killing her grandmother, mistakes her mother for killing her father and mistakes her mom for attempting to kill her. In reality Natsumi isn't remembering the memories correctly due to having a high level of Hinamizawa Syndrome and she actually killed her entire family.

    Web Animation 
  • Episode 198 of hololive - Holo no Graffiti is based around Shion coming across the apparently-dead bodies of several fellow members of hololive, with the Grim Reaper's apprentice Calliope standing over them with her scythe out. Shion immediately concludes Calli killed them and flees in a panic. Calli chases after her to try to clarify that they're not dead, only passed out from drinking too much the night before.
  • In the Homestar Runner Halloween cartoon "I Killed Pom Pom", a deflated inflatable pumpkin leads Homestar to believe he somehow murdered Pom Pom. Strong Bad decides to egg Homestar on, and things spiral out of control until Homestar accidentally kills Pom Pom for real.

    Web Videos 
  • Upon seeing Faust impaled through the head with his own scalpel during the Empress episode in Vaguely Recalling JoJo, Fanny thinks that Joseph murdered him, which gets Joseph in deep trouble with the police. Turns out Empress did it.
  • The Call of Warr: Mabel and Ashes are both accused of attempting to murder Durkin. Prince goes one step farther and accuses them of mass-murdering an entire town...though he admits he has no proof of that.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Bart of Darkness", Bart believed Ned Flanders had killed his wife and becomes increasingly paranoid about it, a la Jimmy Stewart in Rear Window. It turns out Ned accidentally killed Maude's favorite plant while she was away at a Bible retreat (which explains the high-pitched scream of horror and Ned yelling "I'm a mur-diddly-urderer!").
    • Another episode had Otto's ex-wife-to-be living with the Simpsons, with Marge claiming that she's planning to murder her, leading to her being labeled insane. Turns out she was trying to kill Marge (for no reason, but it's that kind of show), but couldn't find a good shovel to bury the body with, so the whole plan fell apart.
  • The Rocko's Modern Life episode "Ed is Dead: A Thriller" had Rocko witnessing the apparent murder of his neighbor Ed Bighead by his wife Bev and starts swearing that he's next. In the end, it turns out that Bev was actually using a trowel to sculpt a bust of Ed and that Ed went missing because he left to have surgery done to remove a wart on his butt.
  • Brendon mistakenly believes his neighbor is a murderer in Home Movies in another Rear Window knock-off.
  • In one episode of The Flintstones, Fred suspects his Hitchcock-like new neighbor has bumped off his overbearing wife. Oddly enough, after the "harmless coincidence" explanation at the end, it was hinted not-so-subtly that the man actually had killed his wife.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • Plucky Duck thinks Elmer Fudd is growing clones of himself, in a Rear Window/Invasion of the Body Snatchers fusion. In another episode, Plucky confuses Hampton with a criminally inclined Identical Stranger he sees on an America's Most Wanted clone.
    • In yet another episode, Elmyra's brother (who has been watching Rear Window) believes his neighbor is a murderer when he thinks he spots parallels between the movie and said neighbor.
  • In "Spookyfish", a South Park Halloween Episode, Stan is mistaken for a murderer by his mother, when in fact the murderer is his pet goldfish. Instead of being afraid of him, she attempts to protect him by burying the bodies and locking a police officer in the basement (without any pants, for some reason). Stan's father takes everything surprisingly well.
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Punch-Clock Villain Otto Octavius is rightly terrified that someone will discover his involvement in developing Supervillains to pit against Spider-Man. When he survives a murder attempt by the Green Goblin, a drastically changed Octavius assumes that Spider-Man engineered it, and vows vengeance as Doctor Octopus.
  • Metalocalypse: The Dethklok song "Bloodtrocuted" tells the story of an electrician who is Mistaken for Murderer by the bounty hunters chasing him, because he happens to look like the man that they're after. Of course, it's Dethklok, so he ends up killing the bounty hunters in an electrified puddle of his own blood in order to save himself, then bleeds to death from the cuts he gave himself in order to pull the stunt off.
  • Terry has to clear his name in the Batman Beyond episode "Eyewitness", when Commissioner Barbara Gordeon sees him kill Mad Stan. He was framed by Spellbinder, the villain who specializes in technologically-induced hallucinations. Mad Stan wasn't even dead.
  • In an episode of The Fairly OddParents!, Timmy and Cosmo believe that Big Daddy's men are going to murder Wanda. Turns out they were taking her out to dinner.
  • In an episode of Goof Troop ("For Pete's Sake"), Pete reads a letter from Goofy and thinks that Goofy is out to kill him. It turns out that Goofy was getting him a new hedge clipper in place of the one that Pete had accidentally broken; and that Pete had torn open the envelope, and the letter, improperly.
  • The Cleveland Show where he thought Holt had killed his mother. He was actually trying to bury his blowup sex doll.
  • In the My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Future Shock," Tuck peeks into the future via a Chronoscope and sees what appears to be Jenny laughing maniacally with blood on her hands in front of Brad's head, severed from the rest of his body. It turns out that when Tuck tried to fight Jenny out of his paranoia, he ended up squirting ketchup on her hands, and in the commotion, Brad ended up landing in a hole with the rest of his body intact. The other body turned out to be Brad's dummy which he brought along to a couples-only drive-in theater as a "date." Jenny was only laughing at the ridiculousness of the situation.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic: In "Lesson Zero", Twilight Sparkle accidentally sees Fluttershy giving a bear a therapeutic massage, only from her perspective it looks like she was beating the crap out of him and snapping his neck. It doesn't help that another episode implied that bears in this world are more or less sentient species.
  • The Looney Tunes Show: In "The Muh-Muh-Muh-Murder", Daffy becomes convinced that Porky is the Suburban Strangler and that he has been selected as the Strangler's next victim.
  • "Minnie Takes Care of Pluto", which is notable for being one of the only two Mickey MouseWorks shorts to never be used in an episode of House of Mouse, involved Pluto being convinced by his shoulder devil that Minnie plans to kill him. After a dream sequence where he wrecks Minnie's house and goes to Hell, he wakes up and is assured by his angel that Minnie would never murder him.
  • Kamp Koral: In "Scaredy Squirrel", SpongeBob and Sandy invite Sandy to a sleepover at the incredibly creepy Trawler cabin. When SpongeBob and Patrick disappear behind Sandy's back, she comes across various horrific sights that make her think they've been kidnapped or killed by the residents. Sea spider Preda Tory has two mummified cocoons shaped like SpongeBob and Patrick (which are actually just her dirty laundry) and Kidferatu's room has two coffins (which are actually tanning beds). Sandy sees Roxy wielding an axe and apparently slicing SpongeBob's face off, but it's just cheese for the dish she was cooking to welcome Sandy for spending time with them. SpongeBob and Patrick are alive and well, and even had a part in planning the dinner.


EVE getting "tortured"

From WALL-E's POV, it appears that a maintenance bot is torturing and dismembering EVE.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / MistakenForMurderer

Media sources: