Dave: What, cock it up and then blame someone else?
It's never easy to admit that we are responsible for our actions and deserve to be blamed in fact, for some people it's one of, if not the most difficult thing(s) to do and it is often far more comfortable to play the Blame Game and convince ourselves that it is the fault of another, even though this is the coward's way out. We may blame others even when we know deep down in our hearts that it is our fault. Due to the Rule of Drama, fictional characters will blame themselves for things going south most of the time, but there are some cases where the character who really is to blame will blame everyone else instead. Common variations include:
- The person stuck with the blame fails to defend himself, perhaps out of sheer dumbfoundedness at the other person's gall.
- The blame-shifter offers an absurdly flimsy pretext for ducking responsibility.
- The character does this all the time... and consistently gets away with it.
- The person can't comprehend what they did is wrong because of how innocently they did it.
- The person genuinely believes that they acted in an acceptable manner in response to another's unacceptable provocation, and genuinely believes that others are wrong for feeling angry with them.
- The person thinks they're the last sane person in a world of unreasonable idiots; therefore, anyone who blames them is wrong.
- The person thinks they're morally correct or righteous, and thus it is impossible for them to be at fault because they did the right thing, even when it wasn't.
- The person never outright denies responsibility, but instead dodges the issue entirely, usually via a bunch of platitudes about becoming a better person without ever actually taking direct responsibility for their behavior.
Sub-Trope of Psychological Projection. This is a frequent component of Comedic Sociopathy and Revenge Myopia. The diametric opposite of It's All My Fault or At Least I Admit It. A character prone to this will likely try Glad I Thought of It, too. Compare Hypocritical Humor, which can involve a similar blindness to one's own flaws, and Implausible Deniability. See also It's All About Me and Narcissist, which are key reasons why a character would fall into any of the above. Also compare Backhanded Apology, an insult disguised as an "apology" where the perpetrator attempts to shift blame onto their victim e.g. I am sorry you were so stupid as to fall for my deception. If the character doesn't blame others, but isn't sorry for what s/he's done, see The Unapologetic (however, the two tropes can overlap, generally when the character says "I Did What I Had to Do"). This trope is the defining characteristic of The Unfair Sex. Can overlap with Everything Is Racist, when the person blames their failings which are clearly their own fault on societal prejudice and hatred towards people of their race/gender/sexual orientation/taste in music/whatever. If the person is upset that their victims dared to fight back, s/he is likely Feeling Oppressed by Their Existence. A rebuttal to this trope would involve Stopping the Blame Game.
The formal term for this is "self-serving bias", and it is a key personality trait of both The Sociopath and the Narcissist. Related cognitive biases include the defensive attribution hypothesis, as well as the fundamental and ultimate attribution errors.
It should be noted that in fairness, many times this can be partially justified (not entirely, but partially) by the other person they are deflecting the blame onto having at least contributed to their mistake or not done anything to prevent it. From a certain point of view, the other person may be just as guilty or even more.
NOTE: Please remember that examples of people blaming others for something that's clearly the fault of someone else (i.e. a third party) is not an example of this trope; that's Misplaced Retribution. This trope is only for when people attempt to shift the blame off of themselves.
Examples, that are never wrong!:
- Anime & Manga
- Comic Books
- Comic Strips
- Fan Works
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Western Animation
- Other Media
- The Bible:
- In the book of Genesis, after Adam and Eve eat from the tree, God finds them hiding under a bush, and he asks what happened. Instead of fessing up, Adam blames Eve for their sin, and Eve blames the serpent. And Adam doubles down, blaming her in a way that implies that God should ultimately take the responsibility: "The woman you put here with me — she gave me the fruit, and I ate it." Never mind Adam was older than her by a good bit. Good thing God couldn't see through that one...
- The Four Gospels depicts Pontius Pilate as the man who ordered the crucifixion of Jesus after the Pharisees paid a group of people to call for the other guy to be released. Instead of admitting that he was putting an innocent man to death, he washes his hands in front of the people and claims that it's Somebody Else's Problem. To this day, however, the Apostle's Creed states that Jesus "suffered under Pontius Pilate."
- This, alongside Kill All Humans, is the major trademark of the Red Talons in Werewolf: The Apocalypse. Every single wrong choice they've made over their existence - and there are a lot of them - is blamed on, in decreasing order of likelihood, humanity, other tribes, or the Wyrm. In one of the Time of Judgment scenarios, the Red Talons take to devouring human flesh, which causes them to contract a prion disease that then is passed on to their wolf Kinfolk, resulting in the death of 90% of the world's wolves and essentially condemning the Red Talons to extinction. Somehow, despite this being entirely and inescapably their fault, they still find a way to blame humanity for it and set out to destroy the world as "revenge".