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On a Cop Show, one of the regular characters is a suspect. Or on a Law Procedural, one of the lawyers is sued over something. Or in a Medical Drama, one of the doctors has been in a car crash and is rushed to their own hospital. Almost invariably, the character is investigated/defended/operated on by a close colleague, who insists against all protestations that they're able to be objective, which they're not. (After all, it's not like anyone else in that universe is even able to do the job.) On rare occasions the character will try to clear their own name, represent themselves in court, or even (because of necessity) operate on themselves.

Not a cheap plot in and of itself, it does however have to be used in moderation, otherwise things become preposterous. The worst offenders are ER (which had Mark's tumor, Carter and Lucy being stabbed, Jing-Mei and Pratt's car crash, Romano's arm being chopped off, Frank's heart attack, a swath of births and much more) and The Practice, which by the end had the characters involved in so many personal court battles that you had to wonder how the firm made any money.

See also Who Watches the Watchmen?, Internal Affairs.


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    Anime & Manga 

  • The main plot of Minority Report kicks off when PreCrime investigator John Anderton discovers he is the suspect of a future murder. He actually does kill the victim, but it's a setup.

  • The Krytos Trap, third novel of the X-Wing Series, has a B-plot detailing the trial of Tycho Celchu (a former Rogue Squadron pilot who helped train the current team) for treason and murder. His defender is, for one reason or another, fellow Rogue pilot Nawara Ven. Admittedly, Nawara had mentioned his past as a trial lawyer in a previous book, but still... It turns out not to matter. The head of Alliance Intelligence knew that, while Tycho might have been The Mole, he was innocent of that particular crime, and was drawing the trial out as long as possible to lull his Imperial counterpart into a false sense of security.

    Live-Action Television 
  • Happened to the paramedics of Third Watch quite a bit. Bobby was shot (and killed), Carlos was frequently in hospital for various amusing minor injuries (and one not-so-amusing major disease), Alex was killed in an explosion, and in the Pilot Episode Jerry was shot and had to retire.
    • The police characters were not much better off. Both Bosco and Faith spent long periods of time in hospital.
  • A few of The X-Files episodes end with either Mulder or Scully getting attacked by the perp of the week. Also, by the end of the series, they had both been abducted by aliens. It is clear that both agents are deeply involved in the Myth Arc story on a personal level.
    • "Avatar" had Mulder and Scully's boss AD Skinner suspected of murder. The agents were not officially investigating the case, but they meddled a lot and tried to help him because it was clear to them that somebody was trying to frame him.
    • "Zero Sum": Skinner has made Deal with the Devil with the conspirators so that they would help Agent Scully. It bites him back in this episode when he's forced to systematically destroy evidence and then they blackmail him. Skinner is able to persuade Mulder that it was a set up.
    • "Demons": Mulder's gun has been used in a crime and he has no recollection of what has happened. Again, Scully was not leading the investigation, but she was allowed to be around and she found the exonerating evidence.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • "Profiler, Profiled" had this happen to Derek Morgan.
    • Reid, who gets kidnapped all the time.
    • The 3rd season ep "Penelope" was completely made out of this trope, as the team has to find the guy who shot Garcia on her doorstep. (Who, for convenience's sake, also turns out be a serial killer.)
    • This concept then took over the first nine episodes of Season 5, after Hotch was tortured in his apartment by George Foyet/The Reaper in 5x01. It was background for 8 episodes after that, culminating in the 100th episode with the BAU trying to stop Foyet from killing Hotch's ex-wife Haley and son Jack.
  • Has happened several times on House:
    • There is an episode in season 1 that describes House's infarction 5 years before the show started. It was a penultimate episode in which House was teaching, and it was not obvious he was talking about his own case (combined with two more).
    • In season two when Foreman as well as House's rat and Cameron, almost catches the disease of the week; season two finale when House is shot; season two when Cameron has an AIDS scare and season 4 when Amber is in a bus crash.
    • Season six starts off this way with House in a mental institution.
    • Thirteen, a member of House's team, is suffering from Huntington's Chorea.
    • Near the end of season 8 Wilson has cancer. Double irony points since he's an oncologist.
  • Bones:
    • A Serial Killer kidnaps first Bones and Hodgins, and later Booth.
    • Gormagon's apprentice turns out to be Zack.
    • Played with in the episode where the Gravedigger, the Serial Killer who had abducted Bones, Hodgins, and Booth, finally goes to trial. The team realizes that in order to secure a conviction, they have to drop the charges on their own abductions and focus on one of the cases that doesn't involve them directly.
    • The 7th-season episode "The Crack in the Code" introduces a new Serial Killer who is specifically targeting FBI agents (even writing messages in a combination of blood from five different agents), is as technologically savvy as Angela, and is at least as intelligent (if not more so) than Bones herself.
    • Taken even farther in the season finale when He successfully frames Bones for murder, causing her to go on the run.
    • Hodgins is a murder suspect three times during the series.
    • Booth is suspected of murder and spends three months in prison though we know from the start that it’s a Frame-Up.
    • Booth disappears, is feared dead but the body is actually his brother, and he ends up wounded. It started with an attempt to pull his brother out of trouble and ended with trying to stop a list of undercover agents being revealed.
    • Hodgins and Aubrey are wounded in a bomb blast with Hodgins being paralyzed possibly permanently and Aubrey being critically injured.
    • Booth, Brennan, Hodgins and Angela are trapped in the lab when it’s blown up.
    • Arastoo is infected by a genetically engineered virus
    • Cam gets poisoned in an early episode when she cuts into a head containing a capsule of poison powder.
  • Call the Midwife:
    • Sister Bernadette comes down with tuberculosis, devastating all of Nonnatus House — especially Dr Turner, who makes the initial diagnosis and drops her off at the sanatorium.
    • A second example occurs when Chummy's labour starts to go horribly wrong, and she almost bleeds out.
    • Another comes in the second Christmas special, when Dr Turner's son, Timmy, comes down with respiratory polio and is temporarily forced into an iron lung.
    • The second-to-last episode of season seven hits this hard with Barbara going into septic shock and eventually passing away with her husband and her best friend beside her. The following episode features her funeral.
  • CSI: In an early season, Nick is a suspect in the murder of a hooker who he had slept with the night before (it was a set-up). Then from season 5 on this became a regular event during Sweeps and Season Finale episodes. Nick gets kidnapped in the end of season 5, Brass gets shot at the end of season 6, 4th ep of season 7 sees Greg get badly beat up when he tries to stop a violent gang, (it kills one of the gang but saves their intended victim) and Sara is kidnapped by the Miniature Killer at the end of the season. Season 8, Warrick is suspected of going vigilante and killing a mob boss they couldn't convict, gets cleared, then shot by the real perp. Warrick dies and the perp is also one of their own, Undersheriff McKeen. Then, Ecklie gets shot, and there's a connection with McKeen pulling strings from prison.
  • Happens on CSI: NY with Stella's psycho boyfriends, perps seeking revenge on Mac (and one shooting him nearly to death), the ep where Hawkes is framed for murder, the deaths of Aiden and Angell, and Danny taking heat for one of his rookies shooting an unarmed man during his stint as sergeant.
  • CSI: Miami had it as well. Speed was killed in season 3, Ryan's been in trouble several times, and naturally, with Horatio a few times.
  • Monk:
    • Subverted. The Captain's girlfriend really did do it.
    • There was the one time where it looked like Monk had killed one of the people involved in his wife's murder, which he of course hadn't, forcing him to go on the run.
  • On NCIS, members of the cast are frequently under suspicion and sometimes even arrested:
    • In one episode, Tony DiNozzo is under suspicion as a serial killer; his evidence was planted by a criminal he helped convict.
    • This happens to him on a regular basis. In the next season, he's accused of killing his ex-girlfriend's father, and the season after THAT, a murder victim is found in a hotel room booked under his name (There's a reason for this). Each time it's treated as less of a big deal. It's even lampshaded by DiNozzo at one point.
    • In the episode directly following the episode where Tony is framed, "Probie," McGee appears to have unknowingly killed an undercover cop. To this day, we still don't know if he did or not. We do know that it was all an accident though.
    • In another, Gibbs' friendly rival Fornell of the FBI is arrested for taking bribes from the mob, and even seems to commit suicide.
    • Ziva David is in trouble at least twice: In "Jeopardy," a suspect dies mysteriously in her custody while she is alone with him (he had a stroke), and in "Shalom" she is suspected as a double agent.
    • For several episodes in season six (led up to in season five), NCIS is searching for a mole among its own team, who turns out to be Michelle Lee.
  • The Mentalist:
    • Teresa Lisbon was a suspect in one episode.
    • There's a fairly well-known theory among some fans that Big Bad Red John is actually protagonist Patrick Jane.
  • In Pushing Daisies, Ned was suspected of killing a business rival, so had to languish in jail for part of the episode. Fortunately, his friends proved themselves to be skilled investigators even without him.
  • Scrubs had a season one episode where JD got to witness everything at Sacred Heart from the other side after he developed appendicitis. There was also the season six episode when Laverne was in a coma and the episodes where Carla and Jordan gave birth, all of which occur at Sacred Heart.
  • In Foyle's War, Sergeant Milner is a suspect in his wife's murder. It is deduced that he is being framed by a fellow policeman with a grudge.
  • Has happened a few times on Grey's Anatomy; George, Callie, and Derek have all been operated on by other cast members... so have Izzie, Cristina, Meredith, Alex, Arizona, Mark, and Burke. So have some of their family members. To the point that when Meredith (the main character) needs to be operated on the second time (of four, so far), Bailey tells her that too many doctors have been on the operating table and she'd better not die on her. When Meredith gets hurt in season 12 and is sent to compulsory therapy, she gets to deliver a list to the therapist, who is clearly disturbed with how she has Seen It All.
  • Frequently on ER. From the very first episode, series regular Carol (though that was not the intent at the time) was treated for a suicide attempt. It would be hard to think of a single character who wasn't a patient as well as a doctor/nurse.
  • In Canadian drama Flashpoint, this happens sometimes. In one episode, a rogue sniper purposely lured Ed Lane out to come and get him, after he mercilessly killed an innocent police officer and injured one of his teammates.
    • Many of the main cast have had one or more episodes in which they were taken hostage. In addition to Ed, Greg, Jules, Spike, and Sam have all been hostages at least once. Invariably, the captured team member assists in resolving the situation from the inside, either by covertly relaying intelligence or talking the suspect down directly.
    • A number of episodes have featured police officers as either suspects or victims in the crisis the SRU has been called in for.
  • In the second season of Dexter, most of the main cast is under suspicion at some point of being the Bay Harbor Butcher. We have known from the beginning that it's Dexter, and it is considered a victory when the wrong person is concluded to be the Butcher.
  • Happens all the time in CASUAL+Y.
  • Law & Order: UK:
    • "Vice": The victim was a retired cop
    • " Alesha": Junior Crown Prosecutor Alesha was raped by a doctor who had previously touched her inappropriately during an exam.
    • "Samaritan" played this twice—the victim was a cop, as was the person ultimately/indirectly responsible for his death (he didn't shoot him, but did nothing as the man bled to death)
    • "Deal"/"Survivor's Guilt": DS Matt Devlin was killed by a young man seeking revenge for the police mishandling his brother's murder.
    • "Tremors": DS Sam Casey is suspected of killing the perpetrator (he was going to receive a ridiculously light sentence). The actual killer was a prison guard.
    • Obviously, as these were remakes, applies to the original Law & Order as well. The first example here is based on "Helpless," where instead of a prosecutor, Dr. Olivet is the victim.
    • Also happened a few times on Law & Order: Criminal Intent; possibly the most notable instance was when Eames was kidnapped, and Goren was almost taken down by police officers investigating the scene. The captain even intervened to protect him by shouting, "He's one of us!"
  • M*A*S*H has several episodes in which members of the 4077th staff are treated by their colleagues for various injuries or ailments. Justified in that it was a mobile army hospital three miles from the front lines, and was therefore frequently bombarded by shelling or attacked by snipers, and because if someone got hurt, there was really nowhere else to take them.
    • Perhaps the most powerful instance of this trope in M*A*S*H is "Fallen Idol", where Hawkeye's attempt to arrange some R&R for Radar results in Radar being caught in a mortar attack. The next time we see Radar, he's wheeled into the 4077th's OR and placed right in front of Hawkeye. Hawkeye is so distraught with guilt that he goes on a bender and has to leave a subsequent OR session to vomit, blows up at Radar after Radar chides him for the previous issue, and receives a What the Hell, Hero? from everyone around him.
  • Due South Ray gets in trouble for shooting someone because the only person who saw it claims the other guy was unarmed. Ray also had powder on his hands from the shooting range, which made it worse. He seeks shelter in the Canadian Consulate, which - as it's Canadian soil - gives Fraser time to clear him before he can be 'extradited'.
  • Forever Knight Nick got accused of murder once, but it was really Lacroix framing him to try to force him to move on.
  • Happened frequently in Dragnet, as Jack Webb's way of showing how the police deal with police-involved shootings, Dirty Cops, etc. In one, an undercover officer (Kent McCord before he started playing Officer Reed) is accused of robbing a liquor store, and it seems fairly clearly that he's guilty, until he turns out to have a doppelganger who was the real robber. Another involved a detective caught up in bribery and bookmaking, and Friday went undercover pretending he was dirty, to nab the guy.
  • Adam-12 got in on it as well. In one episode, Reed faced an intensive grilling after shooting a sniper in self defense. And then there's the hard-hitting "Elegy for a Pig" episode.
  • Happens on JAG a few times:
    • Harm is suspected of murdering a Russian Mafioso in "People v. Rabb".
    • Mac is suspected to have participated in the killing of her ex-husband in "People v. Mac".
    • Harm is suspected to have published an anonymous Anti-Clinton piece in "Contemptuous Words".
    • Gunny is suspected to be a gay basher and Tiner is assumed to be homosexual in "People v. Gunny".
    • Bud Roberts was charged for dereliction of duty in "Exculpatory Evidence".
    • Admiral Chegwidden is Caught on Tape hitting a high school student in "Code of Conduct".
    • Jennifer Coates is a murder suspect in "There Goes the Neighborhood".
  • Murdoch Mysteries can handle this plot gracefully.
    • In "The Great Wall", a constable from station five is murdered, but the case is assigned to Detective Murdoch from station four. The whole constabulary still consider themselves to be a family and things get pretty ugly when the evidence leads to somebody from the police force.
    • "Murdoch in Wonderland": A man is found murdered at Lewis Carroll costume party. All clues point to the Hatter, which was Murdoch... He himself demands a detective from a different station house as nobody of his colleagues could be objective. But the constables of station four stay involved, as well as Murdoch's superior Inspector Brackenreid.
    • In "Let Loose the Dogs", Murdoch's father was a murder suspect. Murdoch doesn't want the case, but his boss refuses to comply. Interestingly, Murdoch was prejudiced against his father because they have very serious family issues.
  • An episode of Psych has Lassiter being framed for murder by another officer. Another episode has Shawn getting kidnapped by the villain of the week.
  • The non-fiction book Blood, Sweat and Tea, adapted from the now sadly defunct blog "Random Acts of Reality", includes a Truth in Television example. The protagonist, an EMT with the London Ambulance Service, throws his knee out while loading a gurney into the back of his vehicle before his shift and has to be treated by his colleagues.
  • Castle:
    • Castle is framed for murder, and it falls on his friends to clear his name.
    • Subverted For Laughs in another episode, where the team gets the report of an officer down and goes into crisis mode. Turns out the "officer" was just a stripper cop who happened to be in "uniform" when he was killed.
  • Emergency!, in spades.
    • Johnny is hit by a car, infected with a virus, quarantined with Roy for radiation exposure, and bitten by a snake at different times.
    • Cap, Roy and Marco are all electrocuted in different eps.
    • Roy also has to get what's left of his tonsils out in one episode, and is injured in a building fire along with Marco another time.
    • Chet is injured in an explosion in one episode and breaks his shoulder in another.
    • Dr. Early needs heart bypass
    • Dr. Brackett is a car accident victim
    • Dixie is seriously hurt at least twice.
    • And that's leaving out the more minor job-induced injuries that didn't require hospitalization. Such as Gage being punched in the nose by a violent car crash victim.
    • Once, a lab in an outbuilding at Rampart catches fire, calling in Station 51 and other nearby engines to assist. Squad 51 has to assist the emergency room staff with triage outside.
  • Hill Street Blues had a story arc leading up to the Season 1 finale in which Detective Larue was under Internal Affairs investigation for accepting a bribe from an undercover Narcotics cop... who identified himself, produced his badge and basically offered JD a bundle of twenties to let him go to get out of the extra paperwork. Captain Furillo suspects there's something more going on and has Detectives Washington and Belker scope out this drug squad guy. He turns out to be on the take and using his kickbacks to support a Secret Other Family.
  • Homicide: Life on the Street:

    Video Games 
  • Tends to happen at least once per game in the Ace Attorney series.
    • Most notably during the fourth case of the first when Miles Edgeworth is accused of murder. And again in Investigations, but only for about half an hour.
    • Heck, start off with the first nonpractice case in the series. After confronting Mia's real murderer Phoenix Wright finds himself accused of the deed after Maya (his assistant-to-be) gets the rap.
    • Done in flashback a few times. In Trials and Tribulations, Phoenix decides to go to law school specifically because of seeing Mia defend him in court, and in another Gumshoe's first meeting with Edgeworth is when the new detective is accused of Byrne's murder.
    • There's Maggey Byrde, an officer/ex-officer/security guard who winds up accused of murder three times. And convicted once, albeit under false pretenses.
  • Happens many times in Trauma Center (Atlus) and its spinoff Trauma Team. Trauma Center: Second Opinion in particular even has an operation on Derek Stiles, the protagonist for most of the game, with secondary protagonist Nozomi Weaver carrying out the operation.