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Silent Scapegoat

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"He was despised, shunned by men, a man of suffering, familiar with disease. As one who hid his face from us, he was despised, we held him of no account. Yet it was our sickness that he was bearing, our suffering that he endured. We accounted him plagued, smitten and afflicted by God; but he was wounded because of our sins, crushed because of our iniquities. He bore the chastisement that made us whole, and by his bruises we were healed. We all went astray like sheep, each going his own way; and the LORD visited upon him the guilt of all of us."

A good character willingly takes all blame for certain disastrous events, making everyone believe in his Face–Heel Turn, then usually dies for his "sins", purposefully not clearing his name. It is usually much later (if at all) when the others realize that the Silent Scapegoat actually performed an elaborate Heroic Sacrifice or Zero-Approval Gambit and may end up becoming a Tear Jerker once they see this.

Combined with Senseless Sacrifice and turning the other cheek, this can be played as a flaw. A kindhearted yet submissive Alice may take an unhealthy amount of responsibility for everything and Bob fuels this belief by blaming Alice for everything that goes wrong. Alice's character arc is breaking this silence and telling Bob that it's never been her fault and nothing will change if they continue to ignore the problem.

Anyone who successfully pulls this off on a considerably large scale may be considered an Übermensch. Often this is the result of Alternate Character Interpretation of real Villains. If the character did perform hideous crimes in addition to those for which he only took the fall, this doubles as Redemption Equals Death.

Subtrope of The Scapegoat and What You Are in the Dark. Compare I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy.

This is frequently a Reveal and/or a Death Trope, spoilers ahead!


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    Anime and Manga 
  • In Assassination Classroom, Koro-sensei didn't blow up the moon as he claimed at the beginning of the series — it was a mouse's violent reaction to antimatter-generating cells as it aged.
  • Berserk: Major spoiler and possibly non-canon example: the Idea of Evil is the embodiment of humanity's belief that God Is Evil (or at least has a plan for humanity that involves plenty of suffering) as a more palatable alternative to accepting that the world is a painful, hostile place and that humans can torment themselves just fine. Subverted slightly in that the Idea goes on to create plenty of supernatural suffering well beyond the scope of human ability, just as humans wished.
  • Code Geass R2 ends with Emperor Lelouch cultivating a 0% Approval Rating, so that all of the hatred previously caused by international conflict will instead be focused on him, and arranges for himself to be publicly assassinated, taking all the hatred with him in death. Only a very few people knew about this plan, and history will always regard him as a tyrant, perhaps even worse than we consider Hitler today.
  • In Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, the strongest demon slayer to ever live was an extremely humble man, unfortunately so, as he never even tried to fight the injustice that was inflicted on him after fighting against the series' main villain, Muzan Kibutsuji, four hundred years in the past; Yoriichi silently took all the barrage of accusations made by his own Hashira colleagues of the time for Muzan escaping his clutches, despite being the sole person to ever come close to defeat him, letting Tamayo, a demon, go for Yoriichi saw her as an unwilling companion to Muzan who was now freed of her torment, all made worse when Yoriichi's own twin brother betrayed the Corps around the same time to become a demon himself. All of that made Yoriichi a scapegoat, they were demanding for his death, and was silently taking it all since Yoriichi did blame himself too, but he was given some leniency by being expelled from the Demon Slayer Corps instead.
  • Destiny of the Shrine Maiden: Chikane Himemiya joins the Orochi, in order to get a shot at killing all of its henchmen and finally allow Himeko to save the world by killing her. She also does more, namely, raping Himeko to show that she's worthy to join Orochi for that plan and to make the otherwise timid Himeko get enraged enough to kill her.
  • Durarara!!: Izaya takes the blame for the stabbing incident in middle school in order to get revenge on Nakura, who stabbed Shinra in the conflict with Izaya.
  • Fairy Tail: Arcadios intentionally paints himself as the mastermind of the morally-ambiguous Eclipse Plan, which involves siphoning magic from wizards to power a Time Travel device with the intent of going back in time to kill the Black Wizard Zeref before he becomes immortal (which would cause incredible consequences to the present) to the members of Fiore's governing body in order to protect the integrity of Princess Hisui Fiore, the true mastermind. When it looks like he's about to get killed for it, however, Hisui arranges things so that Fairy Tail will be able to save him.
  • Fruits Basket: Rin Sohma opted to take the blame for instigating her romantic relationship with Haru (when in reality, it was Haru) and face Akito's punishment, despite her already frail health.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka: Class 2-4's former teacher, after he was wrongfully accused of taking humiliating pictures of a naked Miyabi when Miyabi framed him, jealous of his fiancee. He resigned rather than explain his innocence.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Milliardo Peacecraft and Treize Khushrenada plan to create world peace by starting the biggest war the planet has ever seen so everyone can understand how needless and destructive war really is. Both are fully prepared to go down in the history books as history's greatest monsters in order to do so, but while Treize does die in battle Milliardo survives and returns in The Movie (under a new identity) to help prevent a new war. However, this is only made explicitly clear in the manga, where Milliardo admits the whole thing to Heero during the final battle. The anime strongly implies it but possibly not strongly enough since for years fans assumed the final arc only happened because it resembled Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack.
  • In Monster, Grimmer subverts this, albeit just barely. He sends a letter of confession to murders the young cop, Jan Suk is under heavy suspicion for. While Grimmer did kill two of the men Suk is accused of killing, it was unambiguous self-defense. Grimmer subverts it in two ways, firstly, he confesses knowing that Wolfgang Grimmer is not his actual name and he can throw the blame onto that and create an identity. He also subverts it by actually telling Tenma that this is what he plans on doing.
  • My Monster Secret: Due to various circumstances, Class Representative Aizawa (who's actually a tiny alien) gets separated from her Mobile-Suit Human and gets found by her classmates, who mistake her for a doll of herself. Asahi's attempts to protect Aizawa causes people to think he's some kind of pervert, and when they get away from the mob, he tells Aizawa to beat him up and say she punished him and destroyed the "doll". Since there doesn't seem to be any other way out, Aizawa goes along with it but feels incredibly guilty; to make it up to him, she tells Youko (Asahi's love interest) the truth about the situation so she won't think less of him.
  • My Youth Romantic Comedy Is Wrong, as I Expected:
  • Naruto:
    • It turns out that Itachi Uchiha slaughtered his clan to prevent a civil war between the Uchiha clan and the rest of Konoha village that would inevitably lead to an even bloodier war once Konoha's enemies got involved. His only condition when agreeing to do so was that nobody else be told of the clan's plan to take over and that his little brother be spared. These conditions were to give his beloved little brother a chance to live in peace in the village while hating Itachi in order to make him stronger and avenge their clan. In the end, Itachi sacrificed his life to protect Sasuke, both figuratively and (twice) literally.
    • Kurama, AKA the 9-Tailed Fox, and all the other Tailed Beasts. They endured centuries of being used and treated as monsters and were considered natural disasters, weapons, and tools to wage war with while being aware of the fact that their very existence kept the Ten-Tailed Beast from reforming and wiping out humanity. Crosses over a bit with The Chooser of the One, as they were also seeking a worthy successor to the Sage of Six Paths, someone who didn't see them as monsters.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Arika was made out to be the instigator of the war, and she chose to accept this and let herself be executed in order to create an everlasting peace in Mudus Magicus. Nagi ultimately saved her, but made it look like the execution succeeded.
  • One Piece:
    • Nico Robin was willing to betray the Strawhats and surrender to the World Government in order to get them safe passage, but the Strawhats discovered her plan and rescued her.
    • Also it looks as if Kuma falls into this category as well.
  • One-Punch Man: Protagonist Saitama becomes this after an early arc where his insane strength started making civilians believe that the other superheroes were useless losers. He starts pretending to be a glory hound who lets the other heroes do all the work, then sweeps in and Kill Steals so he can claim the credit, giving the other heroes the lion's share of the credit for fights he actually won. While most of the world believes this and thinks Saitama is a fraud, a small handful of other heroes (including Saitama's protege Genos) know the truth and are fully aware, not just of how strong he is, but of what a noble person he is.
  • Paranoia Agent: Major Spoiler: Lil' Slugger/Shonen Bat is a Tulpa created from the desire of a single woman to escape responsibility for her mistakes. His modus operandi is to attack people who are desperate for an escape from their problems, rendering them critically injured (or dead) and rendering their previous problems moot. As more people crave the status of victimhood rather than be a loser, Shonen Bat gets stronger, feeding on the being a scapegoat. Not surprising for a thirteen-episode examination of society's refusal to accept responsibility or reality.
  • Pokémon Adventures: It is revealed that Norman covered for Ruby, who had inadvertently freed Rayquaza from captivity and thus ruined a project that the Pokemon Association was banking on to eventually save the world. And yes, the punishment involved eventually led to him dying, with Ruby not knowing the truth until the last moment. Don't worry, Norman got better.
  • Record of Lodoss War: Parn's father does this when an allied tribe demands King Fahn's infant daughter as a sacrifice. Unable to refuse, King Fahn gives them his daughter and Parn's father rescues the child and takes the blame as a renegade knight. When war finally erupts with that allied tribe, he simply heads to the battlefield and dies while people still see him as a worthless knight.
  • Red River (1995): This is what Yuri's Lady-In-Waiting Ursula turns themself into. When Yuri is framed by Queen Nakia for the death of King Arnuwanda, Ursula says that she murdered the King and allows herself to be hanged in Yuri's place since she's sure that Yuri will be able to bring peace to Hattusa and take Nakia down. Sometime later, the real killer (Nakia's Dragon, Urhi) confesses and then commits suicide, so Ursula is exonerated post-mortem; soon afterwards, Yuri becomes the Tawananna aka the Queen.
  • Revolutionary Girl Utena: Anthy tries to pull this by telling the world that she is an evil witch who has imprisoned her brother, the heroic Prince Dios. She knows that if he keeps saving people constantly, he will die. She also knows that everybody will hate her and stab her with their thousands of swords of hate. It doesn't kill her, but it leaves her in a state of constant pain and cast as the villain. Only she and Dios know the truth, and both of them know that, if she reveals it, the people will instead hate and stab Dios, so neither of them are going to reveal it (especially since the shattered and embittered Dios is now Akio). Until our protagonist, Utena, figures out the truth and frees Anthy. The attentive viewer will note that this has been her functional role since the very first episode. Saionji, Nanami and her posse, Kozue, and Juri all smack her around despite her having little-to-no involvement in their issues. Most prominent when Anthy manages to somehow take a thrown glass of water for someone else. At point-blank range.
  • RG Veda: it turns out that this was why Taishaku-ten did everything he did. Him killing Ashura-Oh and taking over Tenkei was actually part of a Thanatos Gambit by Ashura-Oh to prevent The End of the World as We Know It, due to his child Ashura really being an Apocalypse Maiden. To do this Taishaku-ten killed Ashura (who he loved) and set himself up as a brutal tyrant to keep the peace. Unfortunately, this backfires mightily.
  • Sword Art Online: Kirito does this early on, when many players are angry at the beta testers for hoarding their knowledge, and it looks like the persecution of beta testers in general (even those who are genuinely trying to help) is going to become a thing. Kirito, a beta tester himself, acts like a Jerkass glory hound and gets labelled a "Beater" (Beta Tester + Cheater), thereby creating a new category and getting people to focus their anger on players who take advantage of other players, rather than on beta testers in general.
  • Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Lordgenome transformed from a valiant Spiral Warrior into a hated, oppressive ruler of the planet, wiping out human villages with his Beastmen legions. It is only after his death that the heroes learn that he did all that to preserve the human race, believing that fear of him and his armies would keep humans in their holes and safe from a much worse threat. He made one critical mistake: those exact conditions eventually created enough determination to escape this fate that he was overpowered by the protagonists.
  • Trigun: Vash the Stampede often gets the blame for the horrendous disasters that seem to follow him around. It's not really his doing but he just takes the blame and keeps moving on.

    Comic Books 
  • In Astro City, the Silver Agent makes no effort to defend himself in his murder trial and makes no appeal or request for clemency. Two minutes after he's executed, he saves the city via time travel. Later, it's discovered that the man he was convicted of murdering had staged the event using mind control and a body double. The Silver Agent's motives for silence are unknown to the people, but eventually, we learned he kept silent because he didn't want anything to change the future he came from, and in the future, he came from it is on historical record that he was executed.
  • This is essentially what Batman does at the end of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Hulk does this to thwart Omnibus's scheme to ignite World War III in the "Ghosts of the Future" storyline, though it's somewhat of a subversion in that it's strongly implied that this act will start him on the road to becoming the genuinely and monstrously villainous Maestro.
  • A smaller-scale example is Hartigan allowing himself to go to jail for seven years for raping Nancy Calligan in Sin City in order to protect her and everyone he cares about from Roark's revenge. When he realizes that he needs to get out to protect her, he does it by publicly confessing to the rape and begging forgiveness.

    Fan Works 
  • In Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail, Paul ends up like one of these after the results of asking Electvire Thunder Punch an Apex kid wanting to attack them ends up with them drowning in Toluca Lake, taking on weeks of torture and breaking at the result if it will keep Electvire from being put down.

  • Batman does this at the conclusion of The Dark Knight in order to protect Dent's reputation and legacy from the crimes he committed as Two-Face (though no reason is given why they couldn't just blame the Joker). Negated when Bane reveals the truth in The Dark Knight Rises.
  • Towards the end of Mean Girls, Cadi takes full responsibility for the offensive 'burn book', a scrapbook of gossip that was created by the 'mean girls' before Cadi even enrolled their school, all to bring about peace.
  • At the end of the film version of Watchmen, Dr. Manhattan finds himself in this role. Though it was forced upon him, he's willing to go through with it, believing the mastermind's plan is worthwhile.

  • God-Emperor Leto Atreides II in the Dune novels turned himself into a half-human, half-sandworm hybrid and oppressed the known universe for over three millennia, for the sake of breeding a human who will be unpredictable even by a Kwisatz Haderach and thus have a chance of averting a predicted Bad Future.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Snape gets this for killing Dumbledore at the end of the sixth book. The seventh book reveals that Dumbledore, who was already dying, ordered Snape to do it so Malfoy wouldn't have to.
    • Also, from Voldemort's point of view, the fact that Draco disarmed him first — meaning that Snape's death actually didn't help him at all, but Snape just sort of went with it.
  • Similar to the Real Life example below, Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short story "The Martyr" concerns a child named Lorenzo who is adopted by Jesuits after showing up on their doorstep and then cast out after being accused of impregnating a local woman. Lorenzo is mortally wounded saving his alleged daughter, after which the woman confesses he's not really the father. This is cemented by the revelation that the dying Lorenzo is a woman.
  • Midnight Robber: When teenaged Tan-Tan turns up pregnant, everyone assumes that her friend Melonhead is responsible. Melonhead knows that he's not, and, while he doesn't know for sure who is responsible, he assumes the real answer must be much worse, so he silently takes the blame and the associated shame.
  • In the last book of the Sign Of Seven trilogy by Nora Roberts, one of the main characters' father is a reformed alcoholic/abusive father. (As in, now that he's not drunk, he's truly repentant that he used to beat his son.) Through the trilogy, his son rejects any and all of his father's attempts for reconciliation or forgiveness, until the end when he takes down a magically influenced family man with a shotgun. The family man would have shot up the small town's bowling alley where 90% of the kids and teens hang. The ex-abusive father, dying from his wounds, tells them to blame it on him because everyone would believe he did it and the family man was influenced by ghost demon evilness.
  • All Three Versions of Judas by Jorge Luis Borges theorize that Judas Iscariot was a Silent Scapegoat in different ways.
  • In Turn Coat, Warden Donald Morgan allows everyone to blame him as a lone psychotic murderer and traitor to the White Council because the real murderer was his teacher and (unrequited) beloved, Warden Commander Luccio, who has been mind-controlled by the real traitor. In other words, he took all blame to save the woman he loved and simultaneously to save the image of the Wardens and the White Council. And then he died.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the 30 Rock episode in which Liz became an executive, Jack explained to her that there was one guy everyone used as a scapegoat. After Liz inevitably made a mess of things, she blamed the scapegoat guy. He simply took it in stride.
  • Breaking Bad:
    • James "Jimmy In-N-Out" Kilkelly is a professional fall guy who willingly does time for other criminals. Saul Goodman's intro episode sees him hire Jimmy for his skills, wherein Jimmy agrees to be a fake Heisenberg for Badger to give up to the police.
    • Walter White does this to himself near the end of the series, when his drug empire has become known publicly. In a phone call to his wife Skyler that he knows is being bugged, he acts like a raging abusive monster of a husband who forced her into taking part in his crimes, so that the police won't know she was actually his mostly willing accomplice. Skylar is confused at first, but gradually catches on to Walt's act and plays along. Walt also makes it sound like he killed Hank in the call, just to allow Hank's wife Marie to get some semblance of closure.
  • In the CSI episode "Gentle, Gentle", evidence implicates the mother in the smothering death of her infant son. She confesses to the crime and goes to jail. Right when the case is about to be closed, Warrick discovers new evidence that reveals the truth: when the eldest son was distracted by a phone call, the three-year-old middle child accidentally smothered his baby brother with an oven glove. Their father explains to the team that his wife would rather go to jail than let their son be ruined by the knowledge that he killed his brother.
  • In the Horatio Hornblower episode "Retribution", Archie Kennedy's Heroic Sacrifice takes this form. He confesses to Mutiny to let other officers' life and career be saved, mainly his particular friend Horatio. The situation is deliberately ambiguous, when Captain Sawyer's fall might have been either an accident or one of three characters might have pushed him. It's more than likely that Archie's confession was false, but he was legally declared guilty and died without the merit of a good name.
  • House, of all people, does this in a Season One episode. A patient is suffering from a condition that causes symptoms of schizophrenia, and her 15-year-old son is forced to care for her. In a moment of lucidity during treatment, she calls Child Services to pick him up because she can't bear being a burden on him anymore. This happened after House had tricked him into revealing his true age. When she is back to normal at the end, her son believes House called Child Services and tells him he'll never forgive him. House responds, in typical fashion, that he just wanted the kid out of his hair. He then told him it was Dr. Cuddy who did it, just in case the kid dug further and found it was a woman who called, covering all the angles of this trope.
  • Sherlock: Played to a T at the end of "The Reichenbach Fall" when Sherlock 'kills himself' and allows the world to believe that he was a fake and a psychopath, er, high-functioning sociopath; yes, the death was faked, but it should take three years before anyone learns the truth.
  • Very nearly done with Daniel Jackson near the end of season five of Stargate SG-1. The Kelownans wanted to blame him for sabotaging their naquadaria bomb to avoid admitting a flaw in its design. He didn't seem to mind too much, but his friends did, and eventually, Jonas Quinn told what really happened. Not that his people appreciated it much, or that it really did anything for Daniel, but it was a nice gesture.
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • "Dax" revolves around one of Dax's previous hosts being accused of murder. Dax refuses to defend herself — it turns out that the previous host's alibi was that at the time of the murder, he was schtupping the victim's wife. Dax preferred to be found guilty rather than tarnish the wife's reputation. The cherry on top is that both the wife and Dax were the only ones who knew it was the victim, remembered as a martyr and hero that inspired his army to win the war after his death, who got himself killed while betraying his own people.
    • In "Duet", Kira is convinced that a Cardassian visitor is a war criminal. When pressed, he admits that he worked at a Cardassian-run labor camp on Bajor, but only as a file-clerk; however, Kira's digging reveals that he matches the description of Gul Darhe'el, the man who ran the camp. It appears that Darhe'el has tried to assume the file clerk's identity in order to avoid war-crime charges. But it turns out this guy really was a clerk, and that Gul Darhe'el had died in an accident. He considered himself a coward for not standing up against the atrocities committed at the camp. He then had a facial reconstruction in order to pass as Darhe'el. His plan was to get caught, protest his innocence for verisimilitude while Kira got progressively closer to what appeared to be the truth, and be executed, thereby allowing the Bajor people to believe that justice had been served while forcing his own people to face up to the atrocities they were responsible for during the occupation (and punishing himself for standing by and doing nothing at the camp).
    • In "The Collaborator", Vedek Bareil is accused by Vedek Winn (his main rival for the post of Kai) of betraying the location of a Bajoran resistance cell, one member of which was the son of the previous much-beloved Kai. The evidence gets pretty damning, and eventually he admits that he gave away the location to prevent the Cardassians from murdering everyone in the area to get to the resistance cell. Bareil withdraws from the election, and Winn becomes Kai. Kira does a little more digging and realizes he can't have given the information away because he was somewhere else at the time. When pressed, he admits that it was actually Kai Opaka who sold out the resistance, including her son, to protect the civilians in the area. Bareil covered for her to protect the Bajoran people's memory of Kai Opaka, who was instrumental in keeping Bajor's hopes alive during the Occupation.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
    • In "Sins of the Father", Worf accepts the dishonor of being labeled the son of a traitor in order to spare the Klingon Empire the political turmoil that would follow if the true traitor (Duras' father) were named. It happens anyway.
    • In "Clues", Data is ordered to never reveal the existence of a xenophobic alien race (or risk the crew's destruction), while the crew has their memories erased. The crew then becomes aware of a missing day, with evidence that Data is lying about it, and possibly responsible. Picard tells Data that his silence is damning and that by not coming forth, he risks being dismantled and studied to find what went wrong. Data is perfectly aware and willing to accept this to protect the crew. (They eventually redo the memory wipe process a second time and fix all the clues, and carry on.)

  • "The Long Black Veil", a country ballad performed by, among others, Lefty Frizell, Johnny Cash and Mick Jagger with the Chieftains:
    The judge said, 'Son, what's your alibi?
    If you were somewhere else, then you won't have to die.'
    I spoke not a word, though it meant my life,
    I was in the arms of my best friend's wife.
  • Nirvana: "Everything's my fault/I'll take all the blame..."

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible:
    • Jesus in the New Testament — the page quote is a prophecy about him, after all. In Christianity, at least; other Abrahamic religions have different interpretations.
    • The original example in Leviticus was an actual goat. On Yom Kippur, the High Priest would impute all the sins of the people on to the goat and send it to die in the wilderness.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Eric Bischoff was repeatedly blamed for WCW losing the Monday Night Wars and going out of business on Monday RAW between 2003-2005 and he never said a word in his own defense. Both fans and wrestlers working for WCW put more blame on Vince Russo than Bischoff though and Konnan, who was a critic of Bischoff's, also cited backstage politics, which he said Eric Bischoff was not responsible for back in 2001.

  • In the final act of Lady Windermere's Fan, Mrs. Erlynne allows Lord Windermere and his other friends to think she was sleeping around with Lord Darlington, in order to keep mum about what his wife nearly did.
  • At the end of Wicked, Elphaba makes Glinda promise not to clear her name and to take charge in Oz, allowing her to disappear.

    Video Games 
  • A non-fatal example in Ensemble Stars!: Eichi's plan to reform the school was essentially to scapegoat five highly talented but eccentric and seemingly selfish individuals, so as to present himself the savior and collect the power necessary to bring order. While Shu and Natsume were rightfully extremely angry about this, and Rei and Kanata still nurse grudges even if they came to believe that on some level they deserved it, Wataru took on the role willingly, allowing himself to be seen as a villain by the general public to bring Eichi's dream into reality. He even brought Hokuto on-stage with him while it happened in an attempt to teach him something; in reality, Hokuto was really just kind of traumatised and is still angry at Wataru for subjecting them both to that.
  • A rare villainous example in Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. When word of the Occupation Army's abuses in Daein reaches Empress Sanaki, the corrupt senators choose to disavow and scapegoat General Jarod, who was acting under their orders. Rather than expose the senate's treachery, he decides to take The Hero Micaiah down with him in a Last Villain Stand.
  • In inFAMOUS 2's Good Ending, Cole plans on being this after he sacrifices himself to kill the Beast. However, people know of his sacrifice and make him the Patron Saint of New Maris.
  • This is what Superman feels Batman should have done in Injustice: Gods Among Us. He envisions a world where the Joker's attack failed, Batman had killed the Joker and turned himself in, thus prevented Superman from killing the Joker. The fact that Superman can't imagine himself doing time for Joker's murder and taking responsibility for his actions, even in his fantasy, reveals the ultimate difference between him and Batman.
  • Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater: The Boss, especially with what happens in the fourth game in the series. And that game reveals that this is essentially the motive of both Big Boss and Revolver Ocelot for their own evil deeds in the other games. It works.
  • In Monster Rancher 4, Phayne took the blame for his friend Wit stealing and reading a book of forbidden techniques. This leads to the main plot of the game, as he gets expelled from the academy and winds up finding somebody else willing to let him start a ranch... and sows the seeds for the horribly jealous Wit using those forbidden techniques to try and prove himself better than Phayne.
  • Suikoden V:
    • Sialeeds. Upon realizing that her side is winning the battle a little too efficiently, Sialeeds fakes a defection to the bad guys and manipulates the very course of the war to ensure that the nobles on both sides of the struggle die. That way, when things are over the nation (and her niece and nephew) can have a fresh start free from their corruption. Sialeeds herself will die and be remembered only as a traitor, thus ensuring that her actions aren't associated with the new government.
    • Georg Prime also fits this trope. He kills the previous Queen and fully accepts the blame for this act, sparing the queendom from the knowledge that the Sun Rune was driving her mad, and that (in a fit of rage) she came close to destroying the country with the Rune's power. Making matters worse, her husband actually ASKED him to do this, just in case she ever lost control and became dangerous. She did. Furthermore, Georg was there as a backup in case Ferid (the queen's husband) was unable to do the deed himself he got vaporized by the Sun Rune, which finally sent the queen over the edge and necessitated Georg's action. It should also be known that the queen herself was (probably) aware of this plan; both she and her husband knew that it was only a matter of time before the Sun Rune overwhelmed her mind, and she would become a danger to all once it did.
  • Vermintide II reveals that Bardin's father and uncle were in a mine collapse — the father saved other miners at the cost of his life; the uncle took the Slayer's Vow to seek atonement in death. Few know that the father's foolishness caused the collapse — the uncle wouldn't ruin his legacy by making the truth known.
    Sienna: And your uncle took the blame?
    Bardin: Took the burden for his brother, who died a hero getting other miners to safety.

    Visual Novels 
  • Higurashi: When They Cry:
    • Hanyuu, otherwise known as Oyashiro-sama, though it's not so much that she's just taking the blame as it is that Rika is the only one who can hear her speak. Played straight in her backstory, though, when she takes on the sins of her village and asks her daughter to kill her to prevent a war between demons and humans.
    • The latter is actually a deconstruction. Yes, her self-sacrifice brought demons and humans together, uniting them as one village... right up till the point where they started doing the exact same thing again — using peer pressure to bully outsiders to the village and isolating themselves from all change. Also, unity is nice and everything, but Hanyuu is still dead for no reason, and her daughter is traumatized from having to kill her own mother for the sins of other people — all of whom got away blameless. The story is set in the present day, several hundred years after all this happened, and the village's mythology depicts Hanyuu as an evil, vengeful demon, who can only be placated by the murder of two people in an annual ceremony. This 'tradition' continues into the present, and the festival day honouring her sacrifice is implicitly considered by everyone a 'free day' to commit murder, on which no one will be punished for it, and everyone will say that Oyashiro killed the victims. Because of all this, even the story itself depicts her as the Big Bad prior to the reveal. The irony of this is not lost on her.
    • The last arcs make a very blatant argument against martyring oneself for a greater cause, and Hanyuu spends them trying to prevent the death of innocent people. She succeeds, eventually. The main Aesop is that murdering people to solve a problem causes a Vicious Cycle, and that if one tries hard enough, a better solution can be found.
  • Mai is this in Kanon, refusing to defend herself when the student council and school administration blame her for vandalism that was actually the fault of the demons she was fighting. While she claims it's because they wouldn't believe her, they blame her even when the invisible demons attack right in front of them at the senior winter ball. Keeping silent means upholding the idea that the vandal is mundane, and Mai was run out of town as a child and lost every friend she had because of her powerful magic, so her self-loathing is at least just as much a component of her staying quiet.
  • Umineko: When They Cry:
    • Beatrice is revealed to be this, along with a Stealth Mentor, taking the blame for killing Battler's family to push him towards finding the truth.
    • The seventh arc heavily implies Eva Ushiromiya to be one letting Ange believe she was the culprit and hate her forever rather than tell her the truth about what really happened on the island, which she feared would be too much for her. Episode 8 actually confirms this, and adds a new perspective on the whole Eva-Beatrice thing.

  • Gunnerkrigg Court:
    • The Guides refused to explain why they did not take Surma to the other side, forcing Annie to do it. Presumably, they wanted to spare Annie the Awful Truth: Annie had been draining Surma's power and lifeforce for years — when this finally caused Surma's death, there was nothing left for the Guides to take.
    • Also, Antimony's father Anthony allowed Annie to believe that he was the one behind keeping her back a grade and traumatically upending her life, when in reality The Court forced him to return to the Court and planned to expel her for cheating off her friend Kat's homework and her actions in the Forest, which displeased them. He did this so she wouldn't become disillusioned about The Court.
  • In MYth: A Promise, Hades, with Metis' help and consent, staged her death at his hands in front of Zeus, so he would hate Hades forever. Hades willingly accepts it, because he believes hate would make Zeus stronger. What Zeus doesn't know is that Metis took Nike's place in order to save her from Cronus, just when he decided to kill her, by her own will.

    Western Animation 
  • Family Guy: In "Seahorse Seashell Party", after tearing her family a verbal new one, Meg Griffin comes to the conclusion that she must serve as this for the rest of the Griffin family, lest they ultimately turn on each other (which still happens pretty quickly).
  • In an episode of Justice League, the Question finds records of an alternate universe Superman who killed "his" Lex Luthor and then Jumped Off the Slippery Slope to become a Knight Templar. Seeing events in his own universe heading in the same direction, he seeks to kill "our" Lex Luthor first so Superman won't. He points out that his own execution won't hurt the League.
    The Question: I'm a well-known crackpot. The Justice League's reputation will survive my actions.

    Real Life 
  • There was a monk that stayed in a tavern (although this may have been for a monk business trip, let's not dwell on that). The innkeeper's daughter became pregnant and said the monk did it. The monk was banished from the monastery and lived as a beggar at its gates for a while and then was reaccepted in the monastery at the lowest rank and had to do the tasks nobody else wanted to do. When the monk died of old age and they were preparing him for the funeral, they discovered the monk was a woman. She had been entered in the monastery under a false identity by her father and had kept the secret even though she could have easily proven her innocence (not that it would help her much to come back in the monastery, but she still lived as a beggar and raised the child instead of flying away and becoming a nun). Their identity is Saint Marina of Alexandria, a Maronite monk. She gets mentioned in Cracked as the 4th Biggest Badass who lived as the opposite sex.
  • Truth in Television for people whose self-esteem is low enough or someone who is simply self-loathing or feels guilty, as they might feel that they deserve such treatment or that they aren't worth the trouble they would cause to stand up for themselves.