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Playing the Victim Card

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"If you always make yourself the victim, you can justify being awful."
Heidi Turner, South Park

A character has given a speech about how poor and oppressed they are, that they’re a victim of circumstance, and everybody seems to be out to get them.

The problem is that the character making all these statements is a villain.

This can be played several ways. A Jerkass Manipulative Bastard will describe a situation to make a third party think that they are an innocent victim, and the real good guys are mean and evil and out to get them for no good reason. They may legitimately believe the grievances - but the heroes can usually recognize a pity party over self-inflicted wounds. Either way, they’ll likely come across as a Dirty Coward for trying to dodge responsibility. However, sometimes the person playing the victim card is neither of those things. Instead they are an actually victimized Designated Villain.

Whether the other characters believe the crocodile tears also depends on who they are. The naive, ignorant of the current situation, will usually buy it. Characters who were there will know better. When a hoodwinked character realizes that they've been fooled, they will not be happy. Or, if it's the designated villain example, the villain will most likely be laughed at, mocked and/or be victimized again.

On the rare occasion a good guy tries to perform this action, they are usually branded as whiners because Might Makes Right.

This may take the form of a Freudian Excuse if the villain legitimately believes what they're saying—see Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse when such cases overlap with this trope. Compare What Is Evil? and Playing Sick. If the fans actually believe the villain, that’s Draco in Leather Pants.

It's also rather common for psychological abusers to combine this with the taboo of victim blaming, simultaneously discrediting their accusers and casting themselves as the real victim in the scenario. This is a common enough ploy that it has been given the Fun with Acronyms nickname DARVO: Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender. In other words, a slightly more erudite "No, You!"

Very often Truth in Television, sadly. That being said, No Real Life Examples, Please!


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Done by Villetta of Code Geass, when she claimed during the final episode that she just wanted somewhere to belong, even though her past was part of the Britannian royal unit and a proud racist. Potentially also when she, alongside Ohgi, testifies against Lelouch on account of Geass leading up to the Black Knights' betrayal, even though she had earlier been keeping surveillance over Lelouch on behalf of Britannia as part of an attempt to keep him from his rebellion alongside the Black Knights, specifically because she couldn't be affected by Geass anymore and may have known more than what she was letting on. Played all too straight with Schneizel that same episode when he claimed he could be under Lelouch's Geass and not know it.
  • In the first episode of Darker than Black, Chiaki discovers that two of her "friends" are Contractor special agents that are hunting her. When she starts running from them, one says that that's not very friendly of her. Given that Contractors are fairly emotionless, this amounts to "just because I'm an emotionless killer doesn't mean I don't have feelings", and thus isn't meant to be taken very seriously.
  • Light of Death Note seems to enjoy playing this. Whenever he interacts with L, who rightfully deduces that he's Kira, he acts like a poor kid who's being charged with something he's innocent of. Everyone on the task force falls for this trick and gets mad at L for finding new reasons why he believes that he's Kira. During the Mello/Near arc, the task force slowly begin to understand why L thought Light was Kira and they try to bring him in.
    • The first movie ups this trope to the max. Naomi Misora, under the influence of the Death Note, holds Light's girlfriend, Shihori, as a hostage and threatens to shoot her unless he admitted to being Kira. Shihori breaks free and, also being under the Death Note's power, takes a bullet that was meant for him. All of this was an elaborate plan to make him look innocent and get the police to feel bad for thinking that he was Kira.
  • Hantengu from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba always had a habit of doing this. Whenever he did something criminal, he would play the part of the victim and did anything he could in order to make others around him look bad as a way to gain sympathy. This is more apparent when he deems all humans as monsters who "bully the meek", even though he was the one who attacks the innocent and ate hundreds of them.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • Stardust Crusaders: Steely Dan attempts to pass himself as a hapless fool who was paid off by DIO for his actions. For all the atrocities he put the others through, Jotaro doesn't let him walk away unscathed.
    • Stone Ocean: Thunder McQueen's primary character trait (suicidal tendencies aside) is constantly thinking of himself as a victim, even when he's clearly doing something wrong, like stealing money from Hermes. Whitesnake comments that this victim complex makes him a truly evil individual even though he isn't actively malicious.
  • Used to agitate Medaka in Medaka Box by Kumagawa as after he and Zenkichi appeared to have died after their Student Council battle. However the events that cause their supposed death were due to Zenkichi's actions, so technically Kumagawa was the victim. Kumagawa made this statement after his powers brought him back though. Also, Zenkicki was brought back by someone else, though he wasn't dead.
  • Your average Gundam antagonist faction (usually spaceborne) absolutely loves to play this trope. Nine times out of ten they'll claim the local protagonist (Earth) faction is this tyrannical regime that has pushed them to the breaking pointnote , and that everything the antagonists do in reprisal (up to and including genocide through nukes, poison gas, colony-sized BFGs, remote-controlled flying blades and motorcycle battleships) is all justified. Also nine times out of ten, they'll have a legion of fanboys in RL that will not only agree with all of these claims, but decry the heroes for "daring" to stand against them. Special mention goes to the Principality of Zeon from the original series for not only claiming that they were fighting a war of conquest (as in it involved an Earthside invasion) in the name of "independence" from Earthnote , but for nobody in-series ever calling them on their BS (much less their invoking this trope) throughout Gundam's thirty-plus-years long run.
  • In the Wano arc of One Piece, Once Hiyori has Orochi at her mercy, he despiratelly tries to play the victim as a pawn towards Kaido. Hiyori doesn't buy it and is more furious at his despirate attempts for mercy.
  • Also pulled by Yuzuha in the Tenchi Muyo!: Daughter of Darkness movie. Particularly jarring because she does it after cruelly killing her own "daughter", Mayuka, and mocking her friends's grief at her death.
  • Vandread: During their Kangaroo Court, one of the female pirates says the government is 'playing the victim' when the judge says they are trying to topple the government.

    Comic Books 
  • One Batman comic features an obscure villain named Maxie Zeus insisting to the media that Batman is only harassing him because he is of Greek descent.
  • Superman (Brian Michael Bendis): Superman accuses Jor-El of portraying himself as the victim of the Circle's treason, when Jor-El helped them control the fates of countless planets and likely ordered their deaths and now, Jor-El has the gall of feeling betrayed when they turned their backs on Krypton.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: Renno is not an actual villain but he slips frequently into unacceptable behavior in his attempts to win Wonder Girl's affections and always plays the victim when she is unimpressed or angry at him for lying to or trying to otherwise trick her.

    Fan Works 
  • Boldores And Boomsticks: Salem manipulates Lusamine to believe that the Grimm are merely scary-looking creatures the people of Remnant attack out of fear until they lash out on instinct. Since she can order them not to stay on their best behavior, Lusamine believes this and lets them stay in the Aether Paradise.
  • Caster does a slight variant of this in Fate/Stay Night: Ultimate Master to convince Ben to associate with her: she relates her whole origin story to him, accentuating the victim aspect of her life (which is true), but carefully neglecting some details so he will feel sympathy for her.
  • The Infinity Train: Blossomverse series deeply examines this trope, along with both Freudian Excuse and Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse, showing that the Pokémon trainers who ended up on the Infinity Train play this card to an extent (which they are chewed out for), but their rotten situations turn out to be more intricate than the way they perceive them, and they themselves share responsibility in what they did (or didn't) do in those events.
  • In And Again, Naegi has to deal with this in the first trial he faces: Sayaka acts like he's turned on them and making false accusations, and he struggles to convince the others they're really the murderer without revealing how he knows this.
  • let's go out with a bang!: Kokichi keeps up his trolly ways by constantly provoking and insulting Miu until she snaps back at him, then acting as though her angry responses prove that she's Beyond Redemption. He does this over and over again, isolating Miu from the rest of the group and leaving her convinced that she's The Friend Nobody Likes, which only adds to the stress of the lockdown and her determination to prove herself. If not to them, then to those who will accept her.
  • In For His Own Sake, Naru uses this tactic when called before the Tokyo University school board to explain why she attacked an innocent man. Specifically, she claims she was acting on instinct because she's so used to defending herself from Keitaro, proceeding to describe him as a shameless pervert who's made her life a living nightmare. It doesn't work, and she gets expelled.
  • Burning Bridges, Building Confidence:
    • Lila accuses Marinette of threatening her in the bathroom... when she was the one who threatened Marinette.
    • Alya attempts to do this after she nearly claws out Cole's glass eye, blaming her and Marinette for all of the recent drama and insisting that she had every right to attack them.
      • Ms. Bustier agrees with Alya's assessment, completely ignoring Cole's injuries while giving Alya medical attention. When called on this, she declares that she was more concerned with the 'victim', ignoring how Alya was the instigator of the assault. This gets her suspended.
  • Chloe's Lament:
  • Coeur Blanc: After Adrien learns about Marinette's crush and gently rejects her in favor of Kagami, she takes it with as much grace as she can muster as she just wants him to be happy. The same cannot be said of Chloe, Lila, and Adrien himself — Chloe makes a huge scene about being his Unlucky Childhood Friend, Lila quietly seethes and pettily manipulates the high emotions in their class to turn everyone else against him, and Adrien feels sorry for himself, angsting about how bad he feels about the whole situation. Plagg eventually calls him out on this, pointing out that Marinette is the one who got rejected, yet Adrien is making the entire situation about himself.
    • SEXUAL HARASSMENT reveals that Lila made a False Rape Accusation against a boy who rejected her back in Italy, resulting in him being Driven to Suicide before the truth came out. She attempts the same tactic against Adrien after she's caught trying to force herself on him; this time, however, it blows up in her face.
    • In SINS OF THE PAST, Lila starts shedding Crocodile Tears and claiming that the akumatized Frederick has no reason to target her. When this doesn't work, she shoves Nathaniel into his path and books it; Inquisitor lets him go and politely apologizes before smashing through the wall to cut off her escape route.
    • SUN'S WRATH has her shove Luka into the path of a car, then attempt to strongarm her way into accompanying Adrien when he learns that his boyfriend's been hospitalized. When Adrien furiously rebuffs her, she turns to their classmates and turns up the waterworks, whining about how mean he's being before Marinette cuts her off.
  • The Cosmos:
    • Not only does Lila love doing this, one of her favorite tricks is accusing others of doing to her precisely what she's actually inflicted upon others. For instance, she claims that one of the Cosmos drugged and kidnapped her after she did precisely that to poor Alix.
    • Rose also employs this, exploiting how Lila and her followers see her as an Unwitting Pawn of the Cosmos rather than a Manipulative Bitch on par with how Lila views herself.
  • Feralnette AU:
    • One of the reasons why Marinette Stopped Caring and "went feral" is due to how Lila keeps getting away with this. Even after she admitted that she'd gotten Marinette kicked out of school on false charges, she managed to convince Principal Damocles and Ms. Bustier that she has a "lying disease" that makes her lie uncontrollably from time to time, garnering pity for her condition and going unpunished.
      Marinette: She even confessed to lying later, and was rewarded for it. And every time someone confronts her about it... she gets akumatized. Has to get rescued. Plays the pity card. The cycle repeats, she's a victim again.
    • Enough Rope has Alya playing this card on Lila's behalf. When Lila implies that Marinette somehow staged her resisting akumatization, Ladybug and Chat Noir both call her out on the blatant Malicious Slander, only for Alya to jump in and insist that they're overreacting. Unfortunately for Alya, her overzealous defense causes her to accidentally reveal that she knows about Lila's so-called "lying disease", prompting Ladybug to take Alya to task for her Skewed Priorities and willfully spreading misinformation.
    • Lila then specifically uses this against Alya to keep the reporter on her side after the Ladyblog is blacklisted, guilt-tripping Alya while simultaneously insisting that Ladybug's entirely to blame for their falling out. Alya latches onto that rather than face the notion that her idol had every reason to call her out.
    • Marinette exploits Lila's tendency to do this during Birds of a Feather: after Alya is pushed too far and attacks Lila for threatening to blackmail Felix with their own gender identity, Marinette volunteers to take the heat, knowing that Lila won't be able to resist attacking her favorite target.
  • the high road has Marinette turn this against Lila by playing the long game. She pretends to be taken in, going out of her way to accommodate all of her fake disabilities... while also forcing the rest of the class to help out as well. When they eventually realize how Lila's been manipulating them all, Marinette acts shocked and dismayed, spurring Adrien and the rest to angrily confront Lila.
  • I See What You Do Behind Closed Doors:
    • After being exposed, Lila is completely unconcerned, casually declaring to her whole class that she'll pull this trick against the whole lot of them:
      Lila: Well, I'm bored with you. I'm calling my Mom to pick me up and I'll tell her how awful I'm getting bullied. That'd make you all look quite nice, wouldn't it?
    • Chloe attempts to pull this trick as well, dramatically declaring to Ms. Bustier that the class can't possibly go on after such a shattering betrayal. Sabrina somewhat undermines her by suggesting that Chloe intended to work with Lila.
  • The Karma of Lies:
    • Lila pretends that Marinette has no reason to dislike her, influencing her classmates to shun their 'everyday Ladybug' in favor of her false promises of helping them achieve their dreams.
    • Adrien plays this card once he falls victim to Lila himself, insisting that he's completely innocent and in no way responsible for his own situation, despite knowing that Lila was a Con Artist and standing aside while she scammed his classmates and isolated Marinette. Similarly, he comes to see himself as a 'hapless victim of misplaced karma' rather than acknowledging that he's facing Laser-Guided Karma — both his own and Lila's, as a side-effect of protecting her for so long.
    • Along similar lines, Alya and the majority of Ms. Bustier's class insist that they were victimized by Lila and aren't responsible for anything they did under her influence, expecting Marinette to sweep in and fix everything for them after they mistreated and neglected her for so long.
  • Karma's a Bitch makes this into more than just Lila's favorite strategy — it's her only strategy. So when it stops working due to her true nature being revealed, she has nothing left to fall back upon.
  • Leave for Mendeleiev: Adrien often tries to guilt-trip others into doing what he wants this way, by emphasizing how hurt he is by their refusal. For instance, he does this to Ladybug when his bodyguard is akumatized, trying to force her to stay with him rather than going and dealing with said akuma rampaging through Paris. Similarly, when Mylene gets upset about having a kiss scene she didn't consent to sprung on her, he tries to convince her to go through with it despite her misgivings... and when this leads to a conversation where Marinette reveals she's not interested in kissing him either, whines that she hurt his feelings.
  • Long Con: After Alya figures out that Lila is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, she furiously confronts her. To counteract this, Lila reminds her classmates of the Oblivio incident, where Alya intentionally and deliberately withheld the fact that Ladybug and Chat Noir were Kissing Under the Influence of their missing memories because she wanted to publish a story about them hooking up, implying that Alya is maliciously slandering her now because she's decided that would make a good scoop. Chloe also jumps in and reminds everyone of how Alya broke into her locker when she thought she might be Ladybug.
  • Marinette Dupain-Cheng's Spite Playlist has this as one of the chief obstacles Marinette, Adrien and Chloé face while trying to expose Lila. As Marinette points out, if they don't go about this carefully and are needlessly harsh, Lila will just paint them as being petty and vindictive liars.
  • In Never to Be, Chat Noir learns via eavesdropping that Ladybug has gotten engaged, and throws a massive hissy fit about being Locked Out of the Loop... despite how she has spent years rejecting his advances only for him to constantly ignore her due to his gross sense of entitlement.
  • The One to Make It Stay: Not only is this one of Lila's favorite tactics, Alya pulls this twice in rapid succession.
    • First, she accuses Ladybug of being unfair and hitting her with Disproportionate Retribution when she benches Rena Rouge for the summertime, warning her that she needs to review and reconsider her behavior or else risk being sidelined for good. Note that this is in direct response to Alya secretly filming one of Chat Noir's Love Confessions, carefully editing the footage to make it appear like Ladybug returned the sentiments, and posting it on her Ladyblog. Not only that, when Ladybug confronted her about it, she completely blew off all of her complaints about having their privacy violated and their relationship deliberately misrepresented for the sake of clickbait. She also grossly exaggerates the extent of her punishment — Ladybug benches her for the summer, but Alya tells Nino that Rena has been forcibly retired for good, omitting the part where she's been given a chance to prove herself.
    • Then, after repeatedly ignoring what Marinette was trying to tell her in favor of pushing her various agendas, Alya's shocked when her 'bestie' puts her foot down and declares that she needs her space. While Marinette presents this as just wanting some breathing room and taking a break, Alya proceeds to treat it as though she betrayed her and dramatically torched their friendship, wallowing around feeling sorry for herself and refusing to acknowledge that she might have somehow contributed to this shocking turn of events. In both cases, she treats Ladybug and Marinette as being far more unreasonable and inflexible than they actually are, ignoring the opportunity they're offering to salvage those relationships in order to pretend she's being unfairly prosecuted over actions she sees as 'no big deal'.
    • I Owe You Every Joy of Love underscores that this is Lila's influence at work. After learning about Marinette's request, she promptly spins a sob story about having former friends tell her that they needed some space as a 'nice' way of cutting ties with her. In essence, she plays this card while convincing Alya that she is the victim.
  • Recommencer: Lila's love of doing this triggers the creation of the akuma Ringleader, who calls her out on this and how she doesn't care about the consequences so long as she's not the one suffering. Ringleader then adds that if she wants to play the poor little victim so badly, then she'll become the villain Lila's been hoping for.
  • Weight Off Your Shoulder: After Chloe's betrayal of the Miraculous Heroes and willing alliance with Hawk/Shadow Moth is publicly exposed, she hopes to extend her Karma Houdini Warranty by convincing the jury that she was just an innocent pawn. Tellingly, she plans to work with Hawk/Shadow Moth's legal defense team in order to cement her alibi, and openly brags to a horrified Ms. Bustier about her intention of doing so, apparently not seeing how that might undermine her claims.
  • What Goes Around Comes Around: After learning that his son was Chat Noir, Gabriel furiously rants about his son "deceiving" him, while refusing to acknowledge all of the horrible things he did as Hawkmoth.
  • The Wolves in the Woods:
    • Adrien takes the attitude that Marinette was completely responsible for most of the class turning on her... and, perhaps more importantly, for how the whole house of cards collapsed when everything was exposed at trial, with him and everyone else suffering Laser-Guided Karma for their actions (or inaction, in his case). Nino eventually calls him out on this, incredulously asking if he's still pretending that he was the victim in all of this.
    • Alya insists that she and the rest of the class can't be held responsible for how they were 'tricked' by Lila, despite how she secretly knew she wasn't telling the truth, deliberately exploiting the situation to 'punish' Marinette for her recent successes. When her parents discover this, Alya cranks up the waterworks, sobbing about how she 'just wants her bestie back' and trying to convince them that she's just been tragically misguided.
  • Your Wish is my Command: After she peppers Felix with a highly invasive barrage of questions about his personal life, Felix snaps at Lila and storms out of the cafeteria. Lila then turns on the waterworks, only to find herself being Shamed by a Mob instead, much to her shock — everybody who witnessed the whole exchange is disgusted by her entitled behavior, as well as her clearly believing that she can manipulate them with her Crocodile Tears.
  • Cain has Bakugo claim that Izuku is a Stalker Without A Crush who seeks to ruin his life, when the reality is that Bakugo has pretty much made it his mission to ruin Izuku's life in any way he can. In particular, Bakugo repeatedly accuses Izuku of using Crocodile Tears to make others feel sorry for him, yet when Toshinori calls him out on being a self-centered, Manipulative Bastard, Bakugo spends much of the confrontation sobbing uncontrollably and wondering why Toshinori isn't moved by his tears.
  • The Sleeper Hit AU has Bakugou insist that everything Midoriya has done with his life has purely been to spite him. His desire to become a Pro Hero? As far as Bakugou's concerned, it has nothing to do with wanting to help people, and everything to do with 'upstaging' him and ruining HIS dream of being the first kid from their junior high to go Pro. No amount of evidence to the contrary can shake Bakugou's conviction that everything revolves around him.
  • We're Not Friends Kacchan:
    • Thanks to his Self-Serving Memory and self-centered nature, Katsuki tends to interpret everything that doesn't go his way as a personal attack. Especially with Izuku; any contact Izuku makes with him is automatically 'annoying', and Katsuki lashes out to make Izuku 'leave him alone'. Yet if Izuku tries avoiding him so as not to set off his Hair-Trigger Temper, Katsuki accuses him of 'thinking he's too good for him now' and attacks him anyway.
    • When Aizawa was younger, he had to deal with bullies who constantly accused him of using his Quirk to hurt and harass them. As a result, he convinces himself that Izuku is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who's pulling the same stunt with Katsuki. He only learns the truth with Katsuki's Suicide Dare is exposed, much to his horror.
    • Katsuki continues clinging to this mentality while dealing with his Laser-Guided Karma. When his grades start suffering, he accuses all of his classmates of 'distracting' him, and all of his teachers of being too hard upon him and sabotaging his education.
  • Cori Falls's renditions of Terrible Trio Jessie, James and Meowth practically live on this trope. Even after they "go good", they continually describe themselves as "victims of circumstance" to explain away their former lives of crimenote .
  • One fanfic compilation plays with this with a story where the holographic Ming the Merciless knockoff Dr. Chaotica has been reprogrammed from being a shallow powermonger to a complex "my father never loved me, everyone at school ostracized me" pile of wangst. Paris is infuriated. He wanted to have fun, not worry about motivations.
  • In Flowey is Not a Good Life Coach, Flowey reveals bits and pieces of his tragic backstory to Papyrus purely to manipulate the skeleton into continuing to listen to him.
  • Risk It All: After Ren breaks the arm of the guy who mugged him, the mugger declares that he's the one getting mugged while coming up with a sob story about how Ren is taking his niece's birthday money. Ren tries to point out the issues with this guy's story, namely that the mugger is holding a gun in plain sight, but his words fall on deaf ears. Ren is then forced to flee, later learning that footage of the incident is filled with comments about what a loser he is for mugging a guy.
  • In Throne of Atlantis Abridged, Orm uses his mistreatment by his mother as justification for invading the surface world. Aquaman promptly calls him out on it.
    Aquaman: You think just because you were bullied that gives the right to do the same? [...] 'You don't understand.' 'No one gets me.' 'I've suffered.' 'My parents are mean.' Am I ringing bells? [...] No, please. Go on about how your crappy life and mommy issues gives you the right to genocide!

    Films — Animated 
  • At the beginning of The Emperor's New Groove, Kuzco addresses the audience as they watch an image of a crying llama. He tells them that he's that very animal, and proceeds to explain how things got this bad for him. As the movie progresses, though, we see what a self-centered Jerkass and Royal Brat he really is, and that he brought all of his problems on himself. When the film catches up to the same sequence, Narrator!Kuzco comes back and reminds the audience how he is the real victim, and that he did nothing wrong... only for the Kuzco who's actually gone through the story and realized his own terrible traits to tell him to shut up, rejecting the self-pitying narrative.
  • Ratigan does this in The Great Mouse Detective, lamenting on how, because of Basil, he hasn't had a moment's peace of mind in years, and how the "insufferable pipsqueak" has intervened with his plans!
  • Syndrome from The Incredibles does this to Mr. Incredible by claiming he was hurt after his rejection from him as a kid. He completely ignores that he had been nothing but an inconvenience towards Mr. Incredible that night and caused a lot of havoc in the process. Mr. Incredible was also too busy with Bomb Voyage for Buddy's "assistance". For bonus points, in Syndrome's Self-Serving Memory of the event, Bomb Voyage is completely absent.
  • Scar tries this in The Lion King after Simba has him on the ropes, blaming the hyenas for leading him astray. It bites him in the ass later. And the rest of his body.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald: Grindelwald consistently portrays all wizards and witches, but followers of his especially, as victims of Muggle persecution. However, most Muggles no longer even know they exist and so aren't persecuting anyone. He, meanwhile, murders some Muggles simply to take their house and implies they will be slaves under his rule. When the Aurors come, he also tells his followers not to resist and then portrays one who is killed after going for her wand as a victim (while ruthlessly killing the rest later).
  • This is Commodus' shtick in Gladiator. If he's not murdering or ordering people to be murdered, expect him to be whining about how awfully vilified his altruistic self is.
  • In The Godfather Part II, Michael Corleone is put on trial. He tells the court how offensive it is that a war hero like himself should have his name slandered by accusations of criminal activity. However, the audience knows he's at the head of New York's most powerful mob family.
  • Regina George pulls this off in Mean Girls when she puts a negative entry in the Burn Book (which she wrote with her friends) about herself and promptly gives it to the principal.
  • Spider-Man 3: After Jameson fires him for forging a Spider-Man photo and seeing Peter with his ex-'girlfriend' Gwen, the narcissist Eddie Brock enters a church "humbled and humiliated" and asks God to kill Peter for ruining his life. Eddie takes no responsibility for his actions, blaming Peter for outing him and taking 'his girl,' though Eddie and Gwen were never together in the first place.
  • Taken: Bryan Mills impersonates a corrupt French police officer to ascertain the identities of his daughter's kidnappers under the pretense of visiting the Albanian gang of sex slavers to discuss future bribes. One of the men has the gall to accuse Mills of trying to extort them because they're immigrants. Mills immediately shuts this down:
    Mills: "I'm extorting you because you are breaking the law. You come to this country, take advantage of the system, and think because we are tolerant that, we are weak and helpless. Your arrogance offends me. And for that, the rate just went up 10%. Do you want to keep negotiating, or do we have a deal?"
  • In The Wolf of Wall Street, Jordan Belfort's narration tries to paint himself as an innocent victim whom Patrick Denham and the FBI are targeting because they are jealous of his life of luxury and don't want him to be successful. However, it's obvious to the audience that he became successful because he's a thief who steals money from people through stock fraud, and Denham is pursuing him because he's breaking the law.

  • Black Fleet Crisis: Nil Spaar acts like Leia has been the aggressor in their conflict and he pulls it off for some time, given that the New Republic populace has been enjoying peace so they don't want to have another war. He capitalizes on Leia's political opponents using this, and the widespread suspicion toward her due to being Darth Vader's child.
  • In A Brother's Price, Keifer Porter was a master of this. We know that Trini thought he was stupid, and she might have told him so, but he managed to pull the "poor me, she provoked me" excuse after knocking her unconscious, chaining her to his bed, and torturing her. He had his eldest wives so wrapped around his little finger that he wasn't punished at all. Fortunately, he died in an explosion before Trini had even recovered from the injuries. His sister Kij got a lot of pity for losing Keifer, her sister Eldest and some mothers in that explosion ... even though her family had placed the bomb there in the first place, and the mothers' death was planned. Eldest and Keifer were accidents, but self-inflicted.
  • The Baron Vladimir Harkonnen considers doing this to the Emperor in Dune, thinking "Let him wrong me in that! I could place myself on the throne while still beating my breast over how I'd been wronged"
  • This seems to be a common Jane Austen character — the sociopathic Lady Susan is so sick and tired of people ruining her plots, enlightening others about her lies, and disliking her once they find out how she mentally abuses her daughter and seduces married men. Why can't they just let her manipulate her Unwitting Pawns in peace?
  • Saruman in The Lord of the Rings after the war accuses Gandalf of having come to gloat over his poverty and low state and having wanted to ruin him. And accuses Merry of stealing his Pipeweed.
  • Mrs. Norris of Mansfield Park constantly preaches about all the hard work she does taking care of everyone and all the sacrifices she makes and, like Willoughby, seems to fully believe she's a kind, generous, caring aunt...when she's actually a stingy, vain, pompous, meddling, insufferable know-it-all who spoils one set of nieces and nephews only to make The Unfavorite niece feel more horrible.
  • Zack sometimes uses this tactic to get out of unpleasant activities in The Mental State. Knowing that a prison gang member tried to drug him so that he would develop an addiction, he arranges a police sting operation, then claims that he has been traumatised by being arrested and betrayed by the member who tried to drug him (whom he claims was the ne responsible for tipping the police off). He then feigns paranoia about being exploited again to get out of having to join the rest of the gang in their illicit activities.
  • In The School for Good Mothers, Frida is partnered with Colin from the fathers' school for an evaluation on the unit on racism and sexism prevention. Frida outperforms him because she is better informed about African-American issues than Colin is about Asian-American issues (he doesn't even know she is Chinese as opposed to Vietnamese or Japanese). He later blames Frida for him failing the test and tells people that if she really cared about Black people in America, she should have let him win.
  • Willoughby of Sense and Sensibility for the second type, trying to justify his behavior with I'm a Man; I Can't Help It, but failing miserably. It might have worked if he had been relating the story to anyone who didn't personally know the people he hurt. The ridiculously rich John Dashwood and his wife also qualify, constantly espousing their apparent poverty to themselves and others to shirk the responsibility of being charitable to John's half-sisters.
  • Cersei Lannister's "confession" to the High Septon in A Song of Ice and Fire is her blaming everyone else for "forcing" her into sin. Not too surprising since she generally blames everyone but herself for all of her problems.
  • In P. G. Wodehouse's Ukridge stories, Ukridge basically lives by "borrowing" from acquaintances and by dodging his bills, but if anyone ever points out the problems his Get Rich Quick Schemes cause, he claims that they're unjustly persecuting him. People should be grateful for the chance to be involved, but instead they just drag him down with petty complaints and unreasonable expectations. He was trying to do them a bit of good, and this is the thanks he gets?
  • In Wings of Fire: Winter Turning, ex-queen of the SkyWings Scarlet rants at another dragon about how her life is ruined by the Dragonets Of Destiny. She also blatantly says that she's the victim in this situation and how someone should help her in her time of need.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Daredevil (2015): In season 3, after getting his racketeering convictions overturned, Wilson Fisk claims he was framed by Daredevilnote  on the government's behalf because he opposed them.
  • Drake & Josh: Whenever Drake and Josh do rightfully get back at Megan for everything she puts them through, she'll act like an innocent victim even though she started it.
  • ER. Upon being told that she was not being given the covered chief residency position because she'd taken too much time off for maternity leave, Dr. Jing Mei Chen began ranting and raving about the supposed sexism she was being subjected to, and basically used this to get the position after all.
  • Fargo: After pretty much single-handedly causing the horrific events of season two with her selfishness and greed, Peggy is being hauled away by the police for her role in everything... and immediately starts up a self-pitying rant about how she’s the real victim here, that she was just trying to fulfill her dreams but was crushed by a sexist society, and even has the audacity to say its all Rye Gerhardt’s fault for getting struck and killed by her car while she was speeding on a dark road at night. After humoring her for a moment, an unimpressed Lou shuts her up with a single sentence; “People are dead, Peggy”.
  • Firefly: Saffron does this to disarm Mal (quite literally) at the end of the episode "Trash". It's strongly implied that she's been carrying that card in her back pocket for a long time — and might even deserve it. Of course, her following actions sort of decrease our sympathy...
  • Played for laughs in an episode of Frasier, when Frasier is punched in the face by a man who is later murdered by Niles's ex-wife Maris. Subsequently, whenever Frasier finds himself in trouble for anything he's done, he immediately tries to wriggle out of the blame by melodramatically declaring that he is still suffering the effects of being "punched in the face... by a man now dead!". Incredibly, despite the other characters facing far more serious difficulties than this "problem" at the time, this somehow works every single time he tries it.
  • In Friends, Phoebe tries using this to get the others to feel bad for her (usually by bringing up her mother's suicide) so she can avoid getting in trouble when she makes a mistake. As the series goes on, they all grow wise to this and refuse to accept it as an excuse for her behavior.
    Phoebe: Ohh, I lost my mom to suicide.
    Rachel: Okay no way, you cannot use that to get the cute guy and the last blueberry muffin.
    Phoebe: Did I use that already today? I'm sorry.
  • Kitchen Nightmares: One of the things that's sinking Park's Edge is how the owner Richard claimed that complaints against his problem were made out of racism, instead of there being real problems with his food. Naturally, customers were insulted about being called racist, which just made the restaurant's reputation worse.
  • Oz: The supposed victim? Clayton Hughes. After talking to inmate Simon Adebisi, a sense of purpose births in Hughes- racial politics. After attempting to kill Governor Devlin, he is sent to the very prison he originally worked at. His defense? He's a political prisoner set up by an unjust system. What happens after that? Well...
  • One female serial killer attempted to pull this one in Law & Order: Special Victims Unit by saying that she was raped so many times that she can't remember, but Detective Benson doesn't fall for it. She just makes fun of it by saying "Right, and your mother died, and your dad beat ya".
  • Prince Sprocket pulls this on Auric in Power Rangers Zeo to get him to attack the Rangers. Auric realizes he's been had when the Rangers refuse to attack back and tell him they serve under Zordon. Cue Oh, Crap! from Sprocket.
  • Supernatural: Lucifer loves to whine and moan about how Humans Are Bastards, that he was The Unfavorite in God's eyes and unjustly became the fall guy for every ill in the world. His own brother Gabriel calls him out on this being nothing more than a shallow excuse to justify his own malicious actions against humanity, pointing out that Lucifer was actually their father's favorite, not him or Michael.
  • Ted Lasso has Nate start doing this during the early stages of his Face–Heel Turn. Nate initially believes that Ted won't give him credit for coming up with strategies for AFC Richmond's players. When Ted gives Nate the credit without prompting during a press conference, Nate instead accuses Ted of trying to scapegoat him in case AFC Richmond loses a game. In any case, Nate always plays the angle where he's the victim and nothing is ever his fault because someone is trying to hold him back.

  • In Jay-Z's song "99 Problems," he relates an incident when he was pulled over, portraying himself as a victim of racial profiling. In the incident in question, however, he was in fact carrying cocaine in a hidden compartment of his car, and only escaped arrest because the drug-sniffing K-9 unit was delayed.

  • Old Harry's Game: Thomas Crimp, the most evil man in existence, repeatedly tries to deny responsibility for his monstrous actions in life in every way imaginable. Satan has precisely none of it, and flashbacks back it up. Thomas simply is just a bastard.

  • In Christopher Durang's Baby with the Bathwater, a Black Comedy extreme, main character Daisy (who's a boy) spends over a decade in college because he can't finish an essay on Huckleberry Finn—his family completely botching his upbringing has pretty much left him a wreck, and he can't stop obsessing over what they did. While the therapist he goes to see is largely sympathetic, there comes a moment when he finally asks a powerful question: why doesn't Daisy just finish the stupid essay and stop blaming his family for everything? Daisy's initially upset, but eventually takes the advice to heart: he writes the paper, includes many lines calling out his parents for their terrible behavior, reads it aloud to them, and cuts them out of his life forever. The play ends with Daisy and his new wife raising a baby of their own and doing a much better job, suggesting Durang's Aesop about coming to terms with your past and letting go of it rather than carrying it around forever.
  • In The Merchant of Venice, Shylock defends his apparently barbaric "pound of flesh" contract with Antonio by enumerating the injustices he has experienced as a Jew in Venetian society. Note that most modern critics think Shylock had a point.
    • Shylock's famous speech is referenced several times in the film To Be or Not to Be; given that several of the heroic characters are Jewish, the film takes the sympathetic modern interpretation. But at one point, The Quisling argues in a similar manner that "Nazis are people too", and he is definitely not presented as sympathetic.
  • The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui: Arturo Ui is introduced moping about how everyone's forgotten about the things he's done. More specifically, the fact that he murdered twenty people.

    Video Games 
  • Danganronpa:
    • Mikan in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair legitimately thinks that she is a victim, and that nobody will "forgive her existence". This attitude causes the characters to hesitate in a trial when they start finding out that evidence seems to point to her as the culprit, as she has been kind to them and nursed some of them back to health previously. This is a complicated example, as Mikan has been the victim of a lifetime of unjustified abuse at the hands of her peers, including in the game itself - nobody tries to stop Hiyoko from her vicious bullying of Mikan, not even Mahiru or Hajime; this trope comes into play when she uses this past to justify murdering two people.
    • Kirumi in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a more straightforward example, as when it is revealed they are the culprit, she tries to justify it with The Needs of the Many and accuses Shuichi of having some kind of grudge against her that is making him "warp the narrative" so he can pin the blame on her. She even goes so far as to suggest that she needs to survive more than the other students because she was Prime Minister and the outside world needs her. While some of the more gullible students like Gonta and Tenko are moved by her words, Kaito and Kokichi call her out on how selfish this actually is - the only time in the game they agree on something, mind you.
  • Lord Brevon from Freedom Planet is fond of doing this, claiming that all he's trying to do is fix his ship, get off Avalice and save his homeworld, and all the heroes are doing is delaying his departure and forcing him to take more drastic measures. Never mind the fact that his plan involves murdering the king of Shuigang, brainwashing his son into being his obedient servant and starting a massive war between the three kingdoms of Avalice while he steals a MacGuffin that provides power to the entire planet. Also the whole "Evil intergalactic warlord" thing. And the fact that Torque rips his victim card to shreds by telling him that his own warmongering is the reason his homeworld is in trouble in the first place.
  • Xemnas in Kingdom Hearts II laments how he and the rest of Organization XIII had no other choice than to take the actions they did, but Sora, of all people, says otherwise, and Xemnas drops the act and admits the truth. In fact Xemnas knows that Nobodies can grow new hearts over time but lied to the other members of Organization XIII as a means to manipulate them. It doesn't help his case that most of the other Organization members were turned into nobodies against their will — by Xemnas (or rather, Xehanort) himself.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Jack from Mass Effect 2 can come off as doing this, during the loyalty fight with Miranda. Jack walks into Miranda's stateroom, gets in her face, looking to pick a fight, throws things around and then starts complaining about things that Miranda's organization did to her as a child. Bonus points if she does this long after she has already blown her childhood detention centre to atoms, and says that she's found closure.
    • Balak the Batarian Big Bad of the Bring Down the Sky expansion for Mass Effect has such an attitude about his entire race. When humans laid claim to previously unclaimed, undeveloped planets, the batarians protested that since those planets were close to space they controlled, they ought to be allowed to do as they wish to them. When the Citadel Council disagreed, the batarians severed all diplomatic ties, became a rogue state and started a low intensity conflict with humans via slaver gangs as proxies. Fed up, the human navy retaliated and massacred the batarian slaver gangs to a man. Yet Balak complains about how “humans were stronger, so they took our resources and murdered us.”
    • At the climax of Samara's loyalty mission, Morinth will claim that her only crime was being born an Ardat-Yakshi, and her mother Samara is only pursuing her out of prejudice (Samara rebuts that she had the choice of being isolated in a monastery, which both her sisters took). Apparently serial murder isn't a crime to Morinth...

    Web Animation 
  • FreedomToons:
    • Dr. Mac treats an actual jihadist as a horrible victim because of tweets critical of islam, while denouncing an actual survivor of a terrorist massacre as a horrible islamophobic bigot for suggesting a link between religious scripture and acts of violence perpetrated against non-Muslims.
    • In "Ken and Karen Oppress the Mob", the entire mob bursts into tears when two home-owners try to protect their property against looters. As soon as the husband caves and gives up his rifle, they get beaten up.
  • Revenge Films:
    • My husband left me alone to go see this girl while I was in labor: The husband takes advantage of any situation to paint himself as the most unfortunate man around, even when his father (who he had never had a good relationship with) died. This backfires when he leaves his wife (who was in labour) to see a hospitalized childhood friend, causing her to leave him and his colleagues to tell him off for leaving her for another woman.
    • My wife had a miscarriage... Her parents were mad, but the truth always hurts...: Jack's now-paraplegic cheating wife tried to paint herself as the victim in the family meeting by saying she has been punished enough, on top of begging him for forgiveness and to not divorce her. Much to her dismay, Jack quickly counters her victimization by threatening to explain to everyone how she ended up in a wheelchair in the first place. The wife couldn't do anything but cry in defeat while her lover paled in fear.
    • My sister came home from her boyfriend’s house on the verge of death…: When Michelle refuses to eat the bread she offered due to her wheat allergy, her boyfriend’s mother starts shedding Crocodile Tears, driving her family into an absolute frenzy and forcefeed Michelle the bread. All the while, the mother hiding her face in pretend sadness but (as Michelle notices) is actually smirking at the commotion and when Michelle starts to go into anaphylactic shock. Later, the mother calls Michelle’s house once again using Crocodile Tears and asking the family to forgive her son, but Michelle’s mother sees through her instantly, calling her out on the false act and hanging up afterwards.
  • In RWBY, Weiss plays the card on Blake when she calls her out over her bigotry towards Faunus, attributing the hatred she has to both the White Fang, terrorists who have killed several people in her father's company and her father himself.

    Web Original 
  • A recurring trick for Gaea from Noob. The most frequent form is putting on trademark Puppy-Dog Eyes while telling a sob story that is a Metaphorically True version of reality on a good day. Even people that have spent enough time around her to know better get this treatment, with a response along the lines of "Where did you get the idea that I was such a horrible person?".

    Western Animation 
  • BoJack Horseman: One problem with BoJack is that he tends to avoid responsibility by dwelling on how the situation affects him, but he still acknowledges that he is a toxic person, leading to an odd variation where he claims to be a victim of himself, as well as society. One standout example is in "Head in the Clouds" when he claims to Diane that he is the biggest victim of his own toxic actions, because he's haunted by the guilt every day while most of his victims probably don't even remember it (which is shown in other episodes to be untrue). Offended, Diane asks if this applies to Sarah Lynn, who BoJack indirectly killed by bringing on a drug bender. BoJack is stunned and just tries to dodge the question, as he knows he can't make himself the victim in that scenario.
  • Justice League:
    • Lex Luthor fits the first type in one episode where he convinces the Amazo android that he is a victim of a vigilante Justice League- and elicits the android's help, at least temporarily, in bringing the League down. Later, in Justice League Unlimited, he refines his arguments (claiming that though he has made mistakes, they were in pursuance of checking the dangerous power of an out-of-control Justice League) to great success for his presidential campaign.
    • In "Patriot Act," another Unlimited episode, General Eiling, a Blood Knight and Well-Intentioned Extremist who hates the League, overdoses on a Super-Soldier serum that turns him into a Hulk-like monster with Super-Strength. He heads to a parade honoring the League and, finding only Badass Normal heroes (Vigilante, Green Arrow and his sidekick Speedy, and the android S.T.R.I.P.E.) or those empowered with magical items (Stargirl and Shining Knight), proceeds to wipe the floor with them. Things look bad until some ordinary citizens stand up to Eiling and form a human shield around Shining Knight, calling out the general for his hypocritical actions (as one frustrated old woman puts it: "How many of us do you have to kill to keep us safe?"). Eiling tries to protest that he's the real good guy and victim in the scenario: "I'm not the menace! Metahumans are—superpowered beings." A child then snaps the obvious truth: "You're the only one around here with superpowers." Eiling realizes that he's gone too far and leaves without a fight, swearing that someday they'll realize he was justified in his actions (though given the people's angry expressions, that doesn't seem likely).
  • The Legend of Korra: The Protestor enjoys goading benders, and when they are about to beat him up always shouts about how the benders are oppressing him and other non-benders. He does this at least once when Korra was about to beat him up so he'd tell her and Mako where Bolin might be after he was kidnapped by Chi-Blockers; but he's probably done it more than once. Of special note is that he is a noted Attention Whore by the creative staff and this is just his latest attempt. So we have no idea how many times he has played the victim card.
  • Oscar's Orchestra: Thadius invokes this in the episode "A Fight at the Opera" when he is ranting to Oscar after having captured him.
    Thadius: I was forced to play you when I was a child. Piano lessons every night!
    Oscar: But Thadius-
    Thadius: There was I, stuck indoors, while all my friends were outside playing!
  • The Owl House: Thanks to his Moral Myopia and Never My Fault tendencies, Emperor Belos always sees himself as the victim. He frames himself as having been betrayed by Caleb and later the Grimwalkers, when in reality he murdered them for refusing to adopt his beliefs, not wanting to go along with his plans of genocide, or even questioning him. He also rants about witches being "barbarians" after Lilith punched him for smugly admitting he set her up to die and offering to let her essentially serve as an expendable soldier. It never occurs to him that he could have possibly at fault at any point, and right up to the end he continues acting like a victim whenever he faces consequences for his actions.
  • In one episode of The Powerpuff Girls (1998), Mojo Jojo gets an Animal Wrongs Group to defend him against the Powerpuff Girls by crying that he's being oppressed whenever the girls try to stop him committing crimes.
  • Rick and Morty: Rick Sanchez accuses Jerry Smith of always using his status as a pathetic loser to elicit pity from other people so that they won't leave him. Considering the fact that Rick has abandoned various alternate universes and countless alternate versions of his own daughter to save his own skin, he hardly has the moral high ground.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Marge Simpson does this to a ridiculous degree and even more as the series has gone on. While in the early seasons there were episodes such as "Homer’s Night Out" where, while not exactly in the wrong, Marge really wasn’t the victim the episode tries to present her as. However after Flanderization set in, during which Marge Took a Level in Jerkass, she acts unappreciated and overworked for doing things that would have gotten Homer villainized. For example, prioritizing other children’s happiness over her own.
      • Marge's penchant for Incredibly Lame Fun is also a big part of this in the early seasons. The family would agree to do something Marge likes and the joke would be either that they find something else to do in the process or that they have a surprisingly good time while Marge finds the experience too stimulating. Later episodes would have her choosing family and romantic activities that only she would like, then getting mad and acting hurt when the others didn’t enjoy themselves.
  • South Park:
    • Eric Cartman does this all the freaking time. Like when he actually convinced himself that he, rather than Jimmy, invented the "Fishsticks Joke", and proceeded to get mad at Jimmy for trying to claim credit.
      • Another example — After making fun of Wendy's breast cancer class report, Cartman went crying to Wendy's parents to keep her from beating the snot out of him. After that he kept it up and got the snot beaten out of him anyway.
      • This actually becomes a recurring plot point in Season 21. He sees himself as the victim of Heidi's abuse in their relationship, even though it's him who is distant, emotionally abusive, and at one point, even tried to get Heidi killed by a witch. By the end of the season, Heidi finally sees this, and calls him out on it.
      Heidi: You were hurt! You were the victim!
      Cartman: Yes. I'm glad you understand that.
    • Aside from Cartman, the NAMBLA leader does this in "Cartman Joins NAMBLA". When he is being arrested in the end, he tries to gain sympathy by claiming that they're just being persecuted because they're different and that they didn't choose to be attracted to young boys. Kyle shuts him down with one sentence:
      Kyle: Dude. You have sex with children.
  • Total Drama: In Pahkitew Island, Amy ruthlessly bullies her twin Sammy, to the point of being disappointed when she doesn't die after they drop to the island. Despite this, Amy believes Sammy is the one ruining her life, blaming everything on the fact that Sammy took seventeen minutes to come out after Amy was born, keeping Amy and her mom waiting. Amy manages to turn her entire team against Sammy by putting on Crocodile Tears after Sammy calls her out, making Sammy look like the bully.
  • Megatron in Transformers: Animated probably really does think that the Decepticons have been treated unfairly, having been driven from their home like common insects by the Autobots and gives a speech along these lines to turn the Constructicons. To be fair to him, the idea that Decepticons are the victim isn't entirely unfounded, what with Anti-Decepticon paranoia, no Decepticons allowed on Cybertron, and the fact that most of the Autobots are afraid of organic life.
  • Tuca & Bertie: Kara, Tuca's girlfriend in Season 2, claims her ex-girlfriend always "played the victim", but it becomes clear that this is actually truer of Kara herself. She complains about Tuca being gross and inconveniencing her while she allegedly works so hard as a nurse, all while insisting Tuca spend all her time with Kara and change her entire demeanor to suit Kara's preferences. The Season 2 finale even shows that Kara abandoned Tuca during a massive flood to hang out with her nurse friends and then didn't even have the dignity to apologize, showing that she can't even use work as an excuse.
  • Velma: Velma Dinkley herself has a massive problem with this:
    • She frequently sees herself as a victim of society's racism and sexism for why she's treated as the Butt-Monkey by everyone while ignoring the fact she's a toxic person who uses any excuse to lash out at people and a self-righteous jerk who often can make other people's lives worse or treat them like her pawns.
    • Her falling out with Daphne turns out to be this because it's later revealed that Daphne didn't actually ditch her to be popular but Velma herself ending her friendship because she believed she would eventually do it. In other words, all sympathy from Velma losing her previous friendship evaporates once you realize she destroyed it out of jealousy and is now projecting blame onto Daphne.
    • She hypocritically projects this onto all rich white men like Fred who she thinks have everything handed to them while not being self-aware of it and play the victim when nothing goes right for them because of their egos.
  • The Venture Bros.: Jonas Venture Senior is shown doing this during a flashback where he acted as his son's "therapist", accusing Rusty of being ungrateful for not liking the very dangerous, highly traumatizing "adventures" he forced him to go on. Likewise, Rusty is quite quick to blame his messed up childhood for his current neurosis whenever the going gets tough. He might have a point (his childhood was positively nightmarish), but he really just needs to get over it.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): The Victim Card



Frasier would like to remind you that he was PUNCHED in the FACE... by a man now DEAD.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / PlayingTheVictimCard

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