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Orgy of Evidence

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Are we really supposed to accept that all of this came from a 120 lb woman?

Danny Witwer: I worked homicide before I went federal. This is what we call an orgy of evidence. You know how many orgies I had as a homicide cop?
Officer Fletcher: How many?
Danny Witwer: None. This was all arranged.

A common tactic for fictional criminals (especially murderers) is to plant false clues at the scene of the crime, framing someone else or otherwise sending law enforcement on wild goose chases. Sometimes, however, they take things too far and the type, quality, or sheer amount of clues has the opposite effect. No detective will believe that any criminal could be so careless as to leave that much incriminating evidence behind, or that the evidence is turning up far more quickly and easily than is usual for this kind of case. This causes the investigator to look more closely, usually unravelling the whole scheme in the process.

Alternately, an investigation turning up an implausible quantity or quality of evidence can be an early indication of a Detective Mole or The Bad Guys Are Cops situation, where the investigators continually "find" exactly the evidence they need because they're making all the "evidence" themselves. Another common twist is to have the investigator realize something's up when new evidence shows up after a thorough search... including the place where the evidence suddenly appeared.

In Real Life, of course, police are much more likely to take an abundance of straightforward evidence at face value. Any defense made in court that "I wouldn't be that stupid" is completely hopeless; stupid crooks make ridiculous mistakes all the time, and being automatically suspicious of obvious clues would be counterproductive to actual detective work.

A Signature Item Clue may come up. If it does end up leading back to the real culprit, see Revealing Cover Up.

Compare and contrast Suspiciously Clean Criminal Record, which looks suspicious because it's overwhelmingly exonerating, and Absence of Evidence, where the lack of evidence is in itself suspicious.

See also Never the Obvious Suspect. If you're looking for that kind of orgy, then Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Assassination Classroom, Nagisa sees reports of a yellow man stealing women's underwear across town and he and his classmates confront Koro-sensei. While attempting to prove his innocence, Koro-sensei inadvertently reveals bras lying around his office and a list of all his female students' cup sizes. After he leaves in humiliation, Karma points out that the evidence against their teacher is far too damning to be simple sloppiness and that Koro-sensei would never do anything that would risk losing his students' respect. As it turns out, Shiro planted the evidence to lure Koro-sensei into a trap trying to catch the real culprit, who is actually a decoy in a motorcycle helmet. At the scene of the crime, Koro-sensei is ambushed by Itona for one final chance to assassinate him.

    Comic Books 
  • Daredevil: In Born Again, this phenomenon is what finally convinces Daredevil that the recent misfortunes he has suffered are being caused by The Kingpin rather than simply a string of bad luck. Most of his difficulties were subtly engineered problems concerning his taxes, his career, and his friends — his entire apartment building blowing up is a little more suspicious.
    Daredevil: It was a nice piece of work, Kingpin. You shouldn't have signed it.
  • Fables: This is part of what makes Bigby Wolf suspect that Rose Red's murder was staged, the gratuitous amount of blood belonging to the allegedly dead Red. He admits later he assumed she was dead because of all that blood there...until he realizes there was too much blood for a woman Rose's size.
  • IR$: The Big Bad decide to sacrifice his Dragon, hanging him so it looks like a suicide, with evidence of traffic... Not as bad as the main conspiracy, but maybe enough to commit suicide instead of the shame of the trial. The hero declares that in IRS, you learn never to trust any document presented before you asked for it.
  • The Maze Agency: In the story "The Mile High Corpse", evidence is found on the body of the victim that seems to implicate all of the possible suspects.
  • Teen Titans: The Titans are told by reporter Bethany Snow of some Congresspeople backing the villainous Brother Blood. They raid a base to discover a room of campaign materials for those Congresspeople. The Titans share this with the media and those Congresspeople are voted out of office. When hearing of this from Terra, Deathstroke muses on how it seems off that Blood would have such important evidence lying around in a base so lightly guarded. When the Titans later appear on Snow's TV show, they're ambushed by her and the newly elected Congresspeople to be made out as the bad guys persecuting the noble Blood. Too late, the Titans realize this was all a setup and it's the new Congresspeople working for Blood, not the trio framed by all the "evidence."
  • X-Men Noir: Tommy Halloway/the Angel investigates the murder of Jean Grey, which was clearly done with Wolverine Claws. When he finds the missing X-Man, Anne-Marie Rankin, he's suspicious because she pointed him in the direction of Captain Logan almost immediately after they met. Halloway manages to figure out it couldn't be Logan very quickly, leading to the obvious conclusion that Rankin's trying to frame him — and since Logan's nekode aren't too hard to come by if you know where to look, she likely killed Jean herself.

    Fan Works 
  • On the Coreline short story Coreline: A Tale Of Two Maris, this is the particular issue that occurs with a murder investigation on Indianapolis, the (apparent) work of a version of Mari Illustrious Makinami (with the powers of Captain America, who has been trained by Captain America, and with extensive knowledge of Supernatural Martial Arts) that has gone rogue. The police suspect that it is Mari because all of the murders have been done with moves which are unique to her, while the members of The Champions (a Corporate-Sponsored Superhero team) that have taken up the assignment to investigate believe that it's not her because they assume that someone who has been trained as extensively in covert operations as Mari has would have access to other methods of assassination that would not lead back to her, and thus she's being set up. The Champions end up being right — the one doing the set-up being an evil version of Mari with the powers of the Taskmaster, who can easily copy anything the other Mari does, especially martial arts moves.
  • In Pound the Table, Noa finds her office vandalized with swastikas painted everywhere and several of her Jewish religious symbols have been creatively destroyed. While it clearly looks like a Neo-Nazi attack, Noa’s FBI friend Cate notes that the average skinhead would never bother learning enough about Judaism to recognize the significance of those symbols. This means the was a personal one made to look like a hate crime.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 22 Bullets: Discussed between Dolores and the chief of police that it makes no sense a professional like Mattei leave a gun that can be tracked to him on Malek's crime scene. The chief, being rather apathetic to everything, just say if criminals were smart they wouldn't be criminal and carry on the manhunt.
  • Chain Reaction: After Eddie (The Hero) witnesses the sabotage of a cold fusion reactor prototype (and assassination of the professor that created it) by goons of a secret industrialist cabal that wants the free energy source buried when he wasn't supposed to, Lyman quickly frames him, Lily and Chen (another of the scientists in charge of the project) with some hastily planted evidence pointing at the whole lot of them being spies for the Chinese. The FBI eventually realize that something is amiss and it's rather convenient that there's oodles of money, printed-out transcripts of chats, satellite scrambled communicators and other stuff just lying around their apartments.
  • In Charlie Chan in London the eponymous detective, who already has suspicions about the supposed guilt of the convicted murderer, is rebuffed by another character pointing out how much evidence exists establishing his guilt. Chan's knowing reply is that there is "too much evidence."
  • Esteban tries to point out this trope in Fresh when the police find a gun just used in a murder and a huge bag of heroin under his mattress. It doesn't help his case that both the drugs and the gun were really Esteban's, Fresh just made sure they could be found.
  • In Gone Girl, Boney becomes suspicious, not just because of the amount of evidence against Nick, but by the fact that every piece seems to be carefully laid out to lead to the next, starting with an envelope literally labelled "CLUE", and ending with a diary that was incinerated, but miraculously remained almost completely legible.
  • In Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear, Watson asks Sherlock Holmes if he has spotted any clues yet, and Holmes responds that there are almost too many clues. At the denouement, Holmes tells the conspirators that they might have got away with it if they hadn't insisted on embellishing the scheme with the business of the orange pips.
  • Jack Reacher: A sniper who kills several people leaves a huge amount of physical evidence, including tire tracks, foot prints, hairs, clothing fibers, and fingerprints on both his bullet casings and the quarter he used in the parking meter. Ultimately, the last piece of evidence convinces Reacher both that the evidence was planted (because there was no reason for the killer to pay for parking) and that the lead detective was in on it (because there was no reason for him to look for that quarter unless he already knew it was there).
    Reacher: It was such a great crime scene. No-one stopped to think it might be too great.
  • Minority Report, the Trope Namer, has more logical reasoning than most entries on the page. Danny Witwer is looking at dozens of photos spread out on a bed that suggest the victim killed multiple children. One of the pictures includes the supposed murderer's child. Witwer is immediately baffled as to why, according to the scene, the victim had all these pictures lying on his bed before the murderer arrived. Even if the murderer had found the pictures somewhere else in the apartment, he would have no reason to lay them out where they were dramatically placed. It's this knowledge that finally gets Witwer to investigate other possibilities. Witwer outlines the basics of this trope:
    [viewing the crime scene of Leo Crow's murder]
    Danny Witwer: I worked homicide before I went federal. This is what we call an orgy of evidence. You know how many orgies I had as a homicide cop?
    Officer Fletcher: How many?
    Danny Witwer: None.
    [crouches down and looks back up]
    Danny Witwer: This was all arranged.
  • Shooter: The conspiracy's slew of clues to set-up Swagger as the killer is this, and it does drive the investigating agencies to believe that Swagger did it. The reason why Memphis doesn't believe it's Swagger at first is because 1) Swagger is a top-notch sniper capable of impossible shots, and there is no way he wouldn't have hit the President (the assumed target) considering the conditions at the time, 2) the evidence arrived at the government offices barely minutes after the shooting (while the crime scene was still closed and the pursuit for Swagger was still starting), making him suspicious of the absurd efficiency and speed of its delivery and 3) not only did the cop that allegedly discovered Swagger provide a story that sounded a bit ridiculous to those with knowledge of sniper tacticsnote , but the cop was shot dead in an alleged mugging just hours after giving his statement, which sounds even more suspicious. In the book on which the movie is based, it's not enough to vindicate Swagger. Only when he points out that he replaced the firing pin on the alleged rifle before it was supposedly used in the assassination, making it mechanically incapable of firing, is Swagger able to prove his innocence.
  • The Pink Panther:
    • A Shot in the Dark: Parodied. Maria Gambrelli, the poor woman framed for the various murders that happen throughout the film, has all kinds of evidence against her, from motive for all of them up to actually being caught standing over every single dead body, holding the murder weapon and being unable to explain what happened. Jacques Clouseau, out of a combination of sheer stupidity and sexual attraction to Gambrelli, continuously refuses to accept that she is the murderer and continues to investigate, eventually making all of the other murderers too nervous and making them get in Clouseau's car to drive away from him — a car that has been wired to explode by a crazy Chief Inspector Dreyfus, which kills them all and leads to Maria's (off-screen) vindication.
    • The Pink Panther 2: The film revolves around Clouseau and a "Dream Team" of detectives investigating the theft of the Pink Panther and other valuable items by the Tornado, a thief who has never been caught and whose identity remains a mystery. The Tornado is eventually found dead by suicide, surrounded by all the stolen items except the Pink Panther which his suicide note claims he destroyed. Everyone except Clouseau thinks they have gotten their man. It is revealed that all the thefts were actually committed by Sonia who framed the Tornado and killed him.
  • In Vabank it's all part of the Frame-Up, and the police falls for it beautifully. The protagonists are all experienced criminals and know how the police investigators think. There is a lot of evidence but most of it is circumstantial and the one direct piece of evidence that links the villain to the crime (a fingerprint on a piece of metal used to disable the security system) is exactly the sort of mistake that a smart but arrogant white-collar criminal would make when trying to stage a robbery of his own bank. It does not help that The Alibi that he provides to the police seems to be just invented on the spot and is easily disproven.

  • In the first Mary Russell novel, The Beekeeper's Apprentice, the mastermind leaves behind a plethora of evidence in the cab as a deliberate taunt to Holmes.
  • Played with in Black Man. The main court-admissible evidence of someone's presence at the crime scene is "genetic trace", which is unique for every person. Merrin's rampage across the US countryside leaves one orgy after another. The trick is, if it's a genetically engineered supersoldier that just happened to have an identical twin in a freak development of the already-modified egg, they would leave identical traces...
  • Discussed in Anthony Boucher's The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars. When someone questions why Harrison Ridgely is so ready to call attention to anything that makes him look guilty, the police officer sighs "It's an old trick to make the case against yourself so black an investigator will automatically disregard it. Trouble is, it so seldom works."
  • In The Clue of the Screaming Woman by Erle Stanley Gardner, the killer attempts to frame a local recluse for a murder. However, believing Sheriff Eldon to be a doddering old fool, he badly overplays his hand.
  • The Continental Op story "The Tenth Clew"note  — the eponymous clue being that the other nine are bogus.
  • Discworld:
    • Deliberately invoked in Jingo where a vast amount of stereotypical evidence implicating Klatch in a murder is planted (Vimes notes that the only thing missing is the camel under the pillow) as the Klatchian ambassador realizes this will cause Sam Vimes to look everywhere except Klatch for the killers. It works flawlessly on Vimes because he's (justifiably) cynical about his own people; it fails to work on his Klatchian counterpart, as he's (justifiably) cynical about his own people... (It also fails to work on Sergeant Colon, who just takes it at face value.)
    • Lampshaded in Feet of Clay. Vimes states that he instinctively distrusts clues because "you could walk around with a pocketful of the things."
  • Enchanted Forest Chronicles: In book 2 (Searching for Dragons), King Mendanbar finds a section of the Enchanted Forest burned down with a bunch of dragon scales scattered around. When he (sensibly) goes to the witch Morwen for advice, she figures out that the scales have been planted to make it look like a group of dragons did it- the scales were magically made different colors because no two dragons are exactly the same color (But Morwen also knows that scales from different dragons have different shapes, and these ones are identical), there's more there than a dragon would shed, and if a dragon really wanted to hide their involvement they'd have picked the scales up instead of enchanting them. Sure enough, when Mendanbar gets the scales identified, they're from a dragon who got turned into a frog in the first book and left a bunch of his scales lying around. The actual culprits are wizards, who created the burned areas by absorbing all the magic in the vicinity.
  • In one Five Finder-Outers book by Enid Blyton, the kids do this deliberately to confuse the policeman. He seems to be fooled only for a while, though.
  • One of the 1980s Hardy Boys books ("Blood Relations") has Joe and Frank approached by Greg and Mike Rawley, who are convinced their mother, Linda, is going to be killed by their stepfather. Given he's Walter Rawley, an old friend of the family's, the brothers are unsure. They keep it up, finding some evidence after Linda is kidnapped. Frank goes missing as well with Joe a detective who's been hunting Walter for a while coming to rescue Linda. At which point it turns out Linda and her sons were using Frank and Joe to make it look like Walter was the bad guy so they had an excuse for killing him in "self-defense" and get his fortune. And the "detective" is Linda's real husband and Greg and Mike's dad. At which point, Frank manages to bust in with Fenton, their friends and the real cops. Frank explains he was struck mid-way through on how easy and obvious the case was shaping up as "we've never had to do so little work" to crack it. He thus "flipped it around" to consider Walter the innocent and realized how much more made sense.
  • Hercule Poirot:
    • Murder on the Orient Express: A bewildering array of clues, much of them contradictory, serve to alert Hercule Poirot that someone is making massive attempts to muddy the waters. The clues include a dropped handkerchief, a dropped pipe cleaner, a dented watch showing the time of the murder, a lost button, someone pretending to be the victim (and speaking a language he did not speak) after he was supposedly dead, an abandoned conductor's uniform, and a sighting of a mysterious woman in a scarlet kimono.
    • It happens again (though not to the same extent) in The Hollow, which involves several people diverting attention away from the real killer by planting false clues and generally acting as suspicious as possible.
    • Poirot's investigation in Mrs. McGinty's Dead leads him to suspect that they are looking for a woman with a criminal past. Later another body is found, and the number of clues that point to a woman having visited — lipstick stains on a cup, scent of perfume in the air — eventually makes him realise that a man must be behind it.
  • In the Honor Harrington short story "What Price Dreams?", great care is made to create an orgy suggesting that a man who had been psychologically conditioned to become a suicide bomber was in fact a deranged Stalker with a Crush obsessing on Princess Adrienne who decided to pull a murder-suicide. The head of Adrienne's security detail would note that it likely would have worked had the local treecat population not captured both the bomber and the person who did the psychological conditioning alive.
  • Jack Reacher
    • In One Shot, this is what the case against James Barr becomes. However, what makes Reacher suspicious is not the amount of evidence, but that the investigative team thought to look for a clue that they had no reason to believe existed.
    • In The Enemy, Reacher investigates the death of a soldier. At a first glance, it appears that the soldier was killed because he was gay; however, there's not just one indication of this, there's multiple, to the point that it's so over the top that Reacher can only conclude that the killer wanted the investigators to think that the victim was killed because he was gay, and went really, really overboard trying to make it happen.
  • In the Lincoln Rhyme short story "A Textbook Case", the killer left behind a near-mountain of contradictory evidence. Simply categorizing the various kinds of evidence, before any sort of analysis could occur, would give the killer plenty of time to cover their tracks.
  • Shadow Police: In Who Killed Sherlock Holmes?, Sefton realises that the cryptic clues planted in the Sherlock Holmes Museum were a deliberate blind so that the police would focus on them, and not on what was missing. Quill even refers to it as "an orgy of evidence".
  • In the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure of the Norwood Builder, there is already considerable evidence incriminating the suspect in the eyes of the police, but the clincher is a bloody thumbprint of the suspect on the wall. Holmes finds this suspicious, since he had carefully searched that hall the day before and there had been no bloody thumbprint there, making the clue proof in his eyes that it was a setup.
  • In the Star Wars Legends: X-Wing Series, Tycho Celchu is accused of being an Imperial sleeper agent, and at one point is put on trial for killing a fellow pilot. His lawyer is quick to point out to the military tribunal that there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that proves Tycho's guilt, but that someone has also been actively destroying anything that could exonerate Tycho. For example, there were numerous bank accounts indicating that Tycho had been paid millions of credits by the Empire, an amount completely disproportionate to his alleged importance as a spy, not to mention that he was also supposedly brainwashed and thus there shouldn't have been any reason for the Empire to pay him at all. In the end, Tycho is cleared when other clues come up, like the fact that the "dead" pilot himself walks into the room and declares that Tycho didn't kill him. It also turns out that General Cracken knew Tycho was innocent all along (a fact which outrages the prosecutor, who was genuinely convinced of his guilt), and didn't reveal this to the tribunal so that his Imperial counterpart Director Isard would keep devoting resources to maintaining the frame-up instead of moving on to a different plot.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On 9-1-1, Bobby is convinced his former sponsor Wendell was killed trying to expose a shady rehab center. He reaches to a patient named Tamara who calls him, overdosing. Bobby breaks into the center as a fire breaks out to save her only for the center owners to blame him for it. The detective in charge tells Bobby they have reports of him harassing them, threatening them and witnesses claiming Bobby set the fire and "a perfect trail of breadcrumbs leading to your door" that a jury can buy. Luckily for Bobby, the detective adds, "here's my problem: I don't trust perfect." She can tell this is way too easy and helps Bobby and Athena prove the center owners killed Wendell and tried to torch the place for the insurance.
  • The third season of Absentia has the FBI tracking a mole with evidence coming to a man who is found dead seemingly of suicide. But the supervisor openly notes that whatever else, the man was far too smart and experienced to allow so much evidence (literally caught on tape) just lying around which makes him suspect he was the patsy for the real mole.
  • On American Gods Shadow and Wednesday are arrested for a robbery they committed in a previous episode. The police detective has them dead to rights but is worried because the evidence is primarily satellite photos of the crime in progress. The technology used is state-of-the-art and is what governments use to track terrorist masterminds. She wants to know why someone with access to top-secret surveillance satellites would use it to track two small-time crooks. She is right to be worried since the source of the evidence was Mr. World, who had Wednesday arrested so he could offer him a deal that would prevent the coming war between the Old Gods and the New Gods. All the cops are massacred by Mr. Wood at World's behest so there are no witnesses to the meeting.
  • Andromeda has a variation on this, where Tyr is in a locked room alone with a planetary president he blames for killing tens of thousands of Tyr's people, when two shots are fired from Tyr's weapon, killing the man instantly. Tyr's defense is essentially that if he had actually planned to assassinate the president, he wouldn't have gotten caught. "And I have... some small experience in these matters." He then starts listing off virtually untraceable means of assassination with discussion of their pros and cons until Dylan stops him. Later on, Andromeda reconstructs the events and realizes that Tyr's gun fired at the floor. The only reason the victim was killed was because all guns here use miniature guided missiles instead of regular bullets. Still, someone as experienced as Tyr would've fired at the target.
  • An episode of The Avengers, "The Curious Case of the Countless Clues", has John Steed go up against a killer who plants clues over each of his hits, and then poses as a detective attempting to "solve" each of the murders he himself committed.
  • Burke's Law: In "Who Killed Marty Kelso?", the murderer plants a cufflink at the scene to implicate an innocent man. After the police fail to find it, she plants its mate. When Burke finds both of them, he figures that one cufflink is a clue and two is an obvious frameup.
  • Can go both ways on Columbo.
    • Often, the killer will go out of their way to leave behind evidence to throw off the scent or frame an innocent suspect. Other times, they'll do their best to erase evidence. But in either case, Columbo will find it odd that so much "evidence" is piling up so easily and that leads him to figure out the truth.
    • In "Publish or Perish", Riley Greenleaf arranges for his hitman Eddie Kane to plant an orgy of evidence against himself while he carefully stages an alibi, to try to convince the police that someone is trying to frame him. Unfortunately, he plants too much evidence and some of it doesn't fit (literally).
  • CSI: In "The List", the team investigates the murder of an ex-cop who was in prison for murdering his wife. Over the course of the investigation, it becomes apparent that the original case against him was based on an orgy of evidence.
  • CSI: NY: In "Prey," the CSI team investigate a murder with a large amount of strange evidence, all of it designed to simulate evidence encountered at early crime scenes, thus throwing the investigators off the perp's trail.
  • A variation occurs in the pilot of Daredevil (2015). Karen Page has a drink with a colleague and wakes up with his corpse in her apartment, clutching the knife that killed him. What Matt Murdock finds suspicious is not this Orgy of Evidence but why she was not charged immediately despite the overwhelming evidence of her guilt. Either someone wants to delay letting her lawyers see the evidence, or she's being pressured by whoever set her up.
  • In a series 3 episode of Death in Paradise, the Victim of the Week has been poisoned, and nobody has been able to find the poison or work out how it has been administered. The killer then plants the poison at the scene of the crime to try and frame somebody else, but this inadvertently gives the police the information they need to solve the case.
  • Diagnosis: Murder has Dr. Sloan realize that the suspect was being framed because there is "a mountain of evidence" left behind, which he finds suspicious. This leads him to the killer who is arrested by the police, even though Sloan has no real evidence to tie him to the crime and the mountain of evidence hasn't been proven fake.
    • Another episode of the show, "Talked to Death", discusses this trope. The killers are planning to pin their crime on the victim's assistant (who earlier tried to blackmail them over it under the very stupid impression that it would succeed for him) and go to plant evidence on his dead body. One killer wonders if they brought enough, and another mockingly asks if they should have brought a typed, unsigned confession letter as well. The ringmaster of the plan explains that if they leave too much evidence implicating the assistant, the cops would realize it's a setup.
  • In Elementary Sherlock believes that Detective Bell is being framed because the suspect is an experienced police officer who would know better than to make so many basic mistakes. He might get sloppy on one or two things but would not do something as stupid as hide the murder weapon in his own home in a place where the police were bound to search.
  • Elsbeth has the eccentric title character easily realizing someone is being set up because as a lawyer, she knows full well so much evidence doesn't show up so easily.
  • The CBS legal series Family Law had a few cases where the attorneys realize there's just too much evidence to make something look shady.
    • More than once, a client seemingly has an airtight alibi...but the team realize that there's just so much going for them from testimony to how they can account for every minute as no one can actually be able to account for everything on a given day.
    • A man is accused of trying to kill a dealer selling drugs to his daughter with the kid identifying a car matching his. Rex brings up how he was once shot at by a client and he, an intelligent, fast-on-his-feet lawyer, was so shaken that "if you'd asked ten minutes later who I was, I don't know if I could have answered." Yet, somehow, a stoned teenager, with a bullet in his leg had the presence of mind to note (on a dark night), the make, model, and license plate of the car driving off. Lynn quickly realizes that someone (such as the guy's daughter) must have been feeding him that info.
  • Father Brown: During The Summation in "The Brewer's Daughter", Father Brown points out that the sheer amount evidence uncovered was unlikely unless the murderer was attempting a frame-up. The killer was attempting to invoke this trope by framing herself, and relying on Father Brown to then uncover the more subtle evidence she had left implicating a second suspect.
  • Parodied in The Goodies episode "Daylight Robbery on the Orient Express", where the clues they find include a Union Jack waistcoat, a pair of glasses, and a beard...
  • Hannibal:
    • In the first season finale, Will Graham is able to deduce that he is being framed because while he might believe he was capable of murdering Abigail Hobbs, he couldn't possibly accept that he also murdered the victims of the copycat killer (a.k.a Hannibal Lecter).
    • Will Graham actually uses the trope name in the second season premiere when admitting to Jack Crawford that Hannibal Lecter's frame-up was successful because it avoided a glut of incriminating evidence in favor of just enough to convince Crawford.
    • Comes up later when Will predicts that evidence in the barn where Miriam Lass was found will exonerate Lecter. Lecter, however, anticipated this and left evidence that could implicate himself...but could also be interpreted as implicating Chilton.
  • Hill Street Blues: A variant comes up during a long story arc about a particularly nasty robbery and homicide. Soon after making a public appeal for eyewitnesses and offering a significant reward, it seems like they've caught a big break: A cab driver claims to have been in the vicinity and gives a nearly perfect description of the suspects, including details that had been deliberately left out of the press release to help filter out anyone trying to pull a fast one... But Captain Furillo starts to get a bit suspicious after a while, because the guy's testimony is too perfect, going into such detail that the man would have to be Sherlock Holmes to pick it all up from a fleeting glimpse of two men running down a poorly-lit alleyway in the small hours. When he confronts his supposed star witness with these facts the man cracks and admits he was lying, and got all his information from his girlfriend who works for the Police Department as a clerk.
  • Legend of the Seeker: The plot of the episode "Confession", after Kahlan finds a man she had confessed to killing resistance members somehow was not really guilty. Richard, along with another woman, also suffer this before it's over. It doesn't help that the real murderer has a magical artifact that allows him to transfer some of his memories (such as those of the murders) to another person.
  • In Life on Mars (2008), Sam Tyler is framed for the murder of the man who tried to kill Ray and Chris. Gene Hunt doesn't buy it; Tyler is an "odd duck", but not a murderer, and even if he did it, he's not an idiot and wouldn't hide the gun in his own closet.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Fit for Murder", Barnaby and Jones find a large amount of incriminating evidence when they search the house and vehicle of a pair of suspects. Barnaby points out the murders were methodical and carefully premeditated, and scarcely the work of someone who leave incriminating evidence (that they had no reason to keep) where any search would reveal it.
  • In Money Heist, The Professor allows the police to discover the gangs staging area because he filled it with irrelevant information and false leads. The police would spend days trying to chase down every lead only to discover that they had nothing of value. It is then subverted when the police forensic expert concludes that the evidence is useless and correctly identifies the one place in the house where real evidence might be found.
  • Monk has used this trope several times:
    • In "Mr. Monk and the Rapper", only Natalie, not the police or even Monk, realizes that someone is trying too hard to make Murderuss take the fall for the car bombing that killed Extra Large, which include: the use of a white gold pocket watch as the timer (a signature trademark of Murderuss's), lyrics from a suggestive song by Murderuss called "Car Bomb", a blasting cap stolen from a construction site near Murderuss's house, and footprints of a shoe brand that he wears at the scene of the limo driver's murder, after he's killed by the real attacker to keep from talking to the police. Natalie deduces this as she reasons that if Murderuss were responsible, he wouldn't be dropping so many obvious clues behind that pointed to himself (he would have probably used a generic pocket watch instead of his trademark type; stolen the blasting cap from somewhere away from his house; not worn his trademark shoe brand when he killed the driver; nor written the song "Car Bomb").
    • In "Mr. Monk Meets Dale the Whale", this trope is invoked almost on purpose. Dale "the Whale" Biederbeck has his physician Dr. Christiaan Vezza kill judge Catherine Lavinio and stage the scene to make it look like Dale himself did it... because bedridden Dale, who is so morbidly obese he hasn't left his bed in nine years, is the only suspect who could not have possibly done it. Dr. Vezza does it by wearing large boots to leave big footprints behind. He kills the judge with a baseball bat with the engraved initials "DB". He also deliberately sets off a smoke alarm and dons his own empathy suit (a giant fat suit) so that a passing neighborhood girl sees a "very, VERY fat man" disabling the alarm. Lastly, he fakes a 911 call, impersonating the judge's voice to deliver the ace in the hole.
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to a Fashion Show," Monk is convinced that Pablo Ortiz is innocent in spite of the fact there's an orgy of forensic evidence against him. This turns out to be because the orgy of forensic evidence is actually against Julian Hodge, the real killer, but a forensics tech was bribed into relabeling the blood samples so they appeared to be Ortiz's.
    • The tie-in novel Mr. Monk and the Two Assistants has a Mystery Writer Detective accusing Sharona and Natalie of working together on a murder. Monk cites the slews of evidence as the first clue to the duo's innocence. After all, if anyone is going to be smart about not leaving behind clues, it'll be two people who worked for a detective obsessed with details.
  • Murder, She Wrote:
    • In "Night Fears", the killer floods the police with a bunch of false clues pointing towards a psychopath, hoping that this will drown out the one legitimate clue pointing towards him.
    • In "Good-bye Charlie", a couple wants to identify the body of a John Doe as their Uncle Charlie so as to get the uncle's inheritence. To seal the deal, they plant some of his easily identifiable personal effects around the spot where the body was found — an expired driver license, an engraved watch, monogrammed pen, etc. When the items are found (by a Scout troop hired by the couple) and brought to the sherrif, he empties his own pockets and examines the items.
      Sherrif: I was just wondering how many items I had in my pockets that had my initials on them. The answer is "none".
  • NUMB3RS had an episode where the Don's team worked with the ATF to investigate a series of copycat bombings, zeroing on a disgruntled scientist who was suspected of the originals (he wasn't but did write the manifesto that inspired the culprit). It was actually a Frame-Up as revenge and it almost worked. The one thing the bomber didn't count on was Charlie, who viewed the case from a purely analytical point of view and found the data "too good". There were no outliers or false data ("a perfect storm of data points that fit together perfectly") which isn't at all possible, convincing the team to look again and they discover the truth.
  • Once Upon a Time: In "The Cricket Game", there's so much reason to believe that Regina killed Archie that Emma, the person in Storybrooke most familiar with the modern world's law enforcement and crime, finds it difficult to believe that Regina's actually guilty. She's not. Regina's mother Cora framed her so that everyone turning against her would push Regina back to the dark side.
  • More than one Perry Mason case hinged upon Perry finding the clinching piece of evidence against his client (or pointing to a Red Herring) after a thorough search had been conducted by Lt. Tragg.
  • Rizzoli & Isles: In "Burden of Proof", Jane initially is convinced of the prosecutor's guilt. However, the sheer amount of evidence that turns up against him eventually convinces her that he is the victim of a very thorough frame-up. note 
  • In The Rookie, corrupt cop Armstrong frames Nolan for his own crimes by putting stolen money and other evidence in Nolan's house. However, Nolan throws off the Frame-Up by arranging for a peaceful surrender. More importantly, Armstrong overestimates his frame as none of Nolan's officers can believe not only that he'd do this but be so sloppy to leave the cash in his home. The corrupt cop then crosses a line by claiming Nolan bragged about his crimes as "you know he loves to talk." The other cops agree that's true, but there's a difference between babbling about nonsense and openly confessing to crimes to another cop. All the frame job does is expose who the real corrupt cop is.
  • Subverted on Scream Queens as Dean Munsch plants slews of evidence to make it look like her ex-husband's mistress killed him. To her shock, the detectives are too lazy and incompetent to notice any of it and Munsch is nearly arrested herself.
  • Shooter: Swagger tries to use this as evidence he didn't commit the assassination, as he'd never have left that much evidence lying around.

    Video Games 
  • Double subversion in Knights of the Old Republic: in the Sunry case, his medal was quite obviously planted at the scene, put into the hands of the victim. However, that was the Sith's counterattack to the Republic's coverup of what really happened.

    Visual Novels 
  • Most Ace Attorney cases stack the deck against you and your client this way. The fourth case of the second game gives a clever twist on it, however: the victim is found with your defendant's knife in his chest and a torn, bloodied button from his costume lodged in the defendant's trousers. Even the non-too-bright local detective suspects a frame job. As it turns out, someone did try to frame him, but your defendant really is guilty, albeit by hiring an assassin rather than committing the murder directly.
  • Danganronpa's framejobs almost always turn out like this. After all, these are high schoolers, not experienced criminals.
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc: The third case in the first game looks so damning that one character starts calling it a setup before the trial has begun. A whole story is spun where the frame target runs around in a cardboard robot costume attacking people with progressively more lethal weapons, eventually killing Kiyotaka and Hifumi. Evidence includes a photograph of the culprit dragging Hifumi away, the murder weapons left at the scene, costume blueprints in the frame target's room, and the frame target in the robot suit. The whole frame job falls apart when everyone realizes that the supposed rampage involved The Ditz creating and putting on a ridiculous costume, somehow evading all the students running around the school after him, moving Hifumi's corpse up several flights of stairs without being seen despite the body having been only left alone for a minute- and then somehow getting stuck in a locker. Definitely fishy even before the characters start finding all sorts of flaws in the evidence (such as the blueprints not matching the frame target's handwriting and the costume having been so clunky the culprit couldn't have really moved around while wearing it), and once holes start getting poked in it, suspicion falls on the one person who claimed to see the culprit (really the framed target)- Celestia Ludenburg.
    • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: The second case in the second game, meanwhile, ends up making the patsy an impossibility as far as suspects go because of all the inconsistencies in their characterization with the evidence left behind. The blood soaked corpse was moved to block a door (forcing the scapegoat to leave behind footprints through sand), and yet Hiyoko didn't have any blood on their clothing or body. Also, the culprit tried to leave behind the scapegoat's Trademark Favorite Food at the scene of the crime, but they got the details wrong and chose a variant that the scapegoat doesn't eat.

    Web Animation 
  • In one Puffin Forest video Ben describes a campaign where his players were attempting to identify the person who committed a crime. He had sufficient clues to guide them to the culprit but they insisted on looking for more evidence to be sure. Ben kept giving more clues, all pointing to the culprit, but they still refused to accept the conclusion. Finally he gave them a journal written by the culprit laying out all the details and motive for the crime... at which point the players felt there was too much evidence for it to not be a frame job.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary: In the CSI parody arc, the lab tech promises his boss an orgy of evidence, and lays out how Schlock's body chemistry provides clear evidence of many, many crimes. Except not the crime that they know of and are trying to prosecute him for.
    Ozvegan Griz: What you've got here is more like a blind date.
    Ozvegan Gerg: But she's really hot, right?

    Web Videos 
  • This trope is name-dropped repeatedly on various CinemaSins reviews. In the context of the video, it's used to describe film-makers' ham-fisted attempts at driving the audience to assuming a specific mindset, e.g. using an over-abundance of typically boyish toys and/or furnishings to establish that a room belongs to a boy. As with other uses of the trope, the film-makers plant too much evidence, making the set-up less convincing.

    Western Animation 
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Rarity Investigates", there's a lot of evidence for the Frame-Up, with the real culprit, Wind Rider, even disguising their voice to sound like Rainbow Dash. But Rarity, who doesn't believe Rainbow is guilty from the start, notices that the clump of Rainbow's mane in the envelope the forged note was in was cleanly cut, since no-pony loses a chunk of hair that big.
  • In the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode "Roller Ghoster Ride", the clues pointing to one of the park owners end up pointing away from her due to being far too obvious, being a wrench that was used to loosen a ride which she even said was hers, and a clump of green hair which was exactly like hers. The true culprit turns out to be her sister.


Video Example(s):


This was all arranged!

Leo Crow's apartment has photos of children strewn about all over the bed haphazardly, where anyone can see them. Witwer points out how ridiculous it is that Crow would just have left incriminating evidence out in the open for no apparent reason at the same time John arrived, providing the perfect excuse for murder. It's so convenient that he immediately declares the whole thing staged, since he never saw anything like it when he worked as a homicide detective.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / OrgyOfEvidence

Media sources: