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Stealing the Credit

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Grand Moff Tarkin: I will tell [the Emperor], that I will be taking control over the weapon I first spoke of years ago, effective immediately.
Director Orson Krennic: We stand here amidst MY ACHIEVEMENT! NOT YOURS!

Some people want glory and fame... but they can't be bothered with all of that "hard work" stuff. Or perhaps they don't really have any talent or skill to recommend them in the first place.

Their solution? Lay claim to someone else's achievement.

Stealing the credit usually manifests itself in one of two forms. The first is a character who is a schemer. They're smart enough to know that they don't have much talent of their own...and smart enough to identify, manipulate and cheat someone who does. They usually lay their plans very carefully, encouraging their target, supporting them, and lending them a shoulder to cry on. They may even provide the funding for a project — as a backup plan, so that they can claim that as the "owner" of the project, they were due the credit. When it's complete, the thief will immediately alert the media to their magnificent discovery, claiming all of the money and acclaim in the process and making sure that the creator's name never appears in the history books. They will have some kind of plan in place to shield them from discovery, and are therefore very difficult to punish. Worse, the person they manipulate is often vulnerable or overly trusting, so this character gets serious Kick the Dog points.


The second type is an opportunist. They happen to be in the right place at the right time. Perhaps the manager wanders by when the CEO is chatting to a lowly secretary, only for said lowly secretary to outline a brilliant new advertising campaign. The manager will swoop in, blithely remark on how he was chatting to the secretary about his new advertising concept just the other day, and shoo her out of the way so that he can bask in the glory. This type of opportunist is more common than their scheming counterpart — and much less clever. They are usually caught out in their lie and have no contingency plan.

Some examples of this trope see the thief laying claim to something that they were never a part of at all (such as claiming the credit for a painting when they've never even seen a paintbrush). Others will be involved with the project in some capacity...but they either had a much smaller part to play than they claim, or appear only at the end stages of a project, claiming it was their idea all along. Even if they had previously dismissed the idea as nonsense.


However, some characters will actively allow or even insist that someone else steals the credit from them. The "thief" in this case is usually more sympathetic, since they are often oblivious to the scheme or reluctant to take part. This usually occurs when the true creator feels that claiming the credit would be a hindrance: perhaps they're a doctor who's quite happy to develop life-saving treatments, but feels that fame would hamper his work, or a reclusive author who loves her work, but uses someone else to attend all the book signings and conventions. Rarer is the purely altruistic version, where the creator feels someone needs the recognition or fame more than they do.

The Pointy-Haired Boss will often be involved in the opportunistic version of this trope, while The Chessmaster and the Manipulative Bastard will be responsible for the scheming variant. Behind Every Great Man often sees the woman of the duo allowing him to take the credit for her achievements as part of her role, with some women encouraging said man to do this so that she can continue working in peace. Glad I Thought of It is a more low key variation of the trope, with the thief stealing an idea rather than something more substantial.

Sister Trope to Plagiarism, which is specifically about failing to give due credit for someone else's literary or artistic work. Ghostwriter is for when permission is given (well, sold) to take credit, instead of being underhanded about it.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Case Closed has Conan Edogawa using Kogoro Mori as his mouthpiece and giving him to solve a case when he's about to reveal the suspect/s in a case and their motivations after he uses a tranquilizer dart, although he does use Sonoko Suzuki, Eri Kisaki (by using tranq darts) or Professor Hiroshi Agasa at times (via bowtie voice modulator) when Kogoro is not around, or even an unlucky police officer who happens to be needed for Conan's plans. In other instances, Conan uses his Shinichi voice to speak to Ran via mobile phone. Justified that Shinichi Kudo was drugged with APTX 4869, which regressed him to his six-year old body and he needs to keep himself hidden from the Black Organization, lest they find him and kill him permanently if and when they find out that he didn't die.
    • Additionally, there are a ton of murders where the culprit's motive was that the deceased stole the culprit's work and pegged it as their own.
  • Similar to Case Closed, a lot of murders in The Kindaichi Case Files are motivated by one person having stolen another's work.
  • Moriarty the Patriot: Lestrade has taken credit for many of Sherlock's deductions and solved cases, so now Scotland Yard keeps giving him the trickiest cases even when Sherlock isn't around to rely on. William even teases Sherlock by complimenting Lestrade on it in front of Sherlock.
  • In My Hero Academia, Pro Hero Endeavor is credited with the defeat and arrest of Hero Killer Stain, although it was actually a small renegade part of Class 1-A who actually fought him. Justified, since although they saved the life of Iida and another Pro Hero, what they did was actually illegal due to no one having a proper license to do so. The police privately acknowledge this to them, but all parties agree it would be much better for them in the long run if they let Endeavor take the credit to avoid negative public outcry.
  • One Piece: At the end of the Alabasta Arc, the Marines Smoker and Tashigi are given the credit for defeating Crocodile and exposing his plot to devastate and take over the country. Smoker objects because they hardly did anything, it was the Straw Hat Pirates that saved the country and defeated Crocodile. However, the World Government doesn't want to admit pirates cleaned up a mess caused by one of their own agents gone rogue and refuses to allow Smoker to decline his falsely earned recognition, which infuriates him. At the end of the Dressrosa Arc, Admiral Fujitora independently announces the defeat of Doflamingo and liberation of Dressrosa by pirates before the news is able to get to the World Government specifically because he'd talked to Smoker and knew they'd try falsely claiming credit to save face again.
  • In Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee, someone anonymously sends Rei picture postcards, a gesture that deeply touches Rei. The sender is none other than Rei's maid and old friend Kimidori, who refuses to come forward because she feels guilty for selling Rei's gift to help her impoverished family. This creates an opportunity for Colbasso to step forward and falsely claim the credit in order to con Rei out of a reward until Lag uses his Shindan to reveal the truth.

    Comic Books 
  • One origin story for The Riddler is this: he was a genius computer programmer who developed a new game, but his boss stole it from him, driving Edward to crime.
  • In Violine, Kombo steals the credit for "saving" the heroes all the time, despite usually doing nothing-to barely anything at all.
  • Wonder Woman:
    • Both Zeus and Hera like to act like they were involved in giving the Amazons their powers and protected island but it was done secretly and carefully hidden from them by Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, Hestia and Hermes because they knew their king and queen would interfere and destroy the peaceful sanctuary they were creating.
    • Zeus loves to act like he gave Diana her powers and it was his idea to give Polly a daughter without her having to give birth, when this was again something the aforementioned five did in secrecy with the Amazons. In Vol 2 Zeus' first interaction with Diana was when he tried to rape her, and he already had this arrogant idea that she should be thankful and subservient to him.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Sunday 5 November 2006 Dilbert has claiming credit as Step 6 for using incompetence to get promoted.

    Fairy Tales 

    Fan Works 
  • In the Puella Magi Madoka Magica doujin I'm working for a mahou shoujo recruitment company, but I think I may be at my limit, this is how Kyuzo screws Kyubey over- and after Kyubey had worked his ass off and pulled all-nighters in order to get ten mahou shoujo into the fold! It doesn't help that Kyubey's boss has been threatening to fire him if he continues to produce poor results and "drag down the company". And unfortunately for Kyubey, this isn't even the half of how Kyuzo's betrayed him. This, unsurprisingly, results in the completely psychopathic Kyubey we all know and hate and works just as awfully for everyone else involved.
  • In Queen of the Swarm, Armsmaster takes credit for Taylor's takedown of Lung, even though she told him she wanted to be credited. While Armsmaster genuinely thought it was the right call to make (he thought it would have put her in the ABB's crosshairs), it doesn't change the fact it was a very low blow.
  • In Recommencer (Miraculous Ladybug), Lila falsely tells Alya that she's the superheroine Imperatrix. This comes back to haunt her when Alya publicly accuses the real Imperatrix of being an imposter, then outs Lila as the 'real' one... or rather, reveals that she lied to her.
  • Tales of Karmic Lies Aftermath: Ms. Bustier tries to take credit for Chloe's Character Development, only for Chloe to call her out on it — her methods of making the victims 'set a good example' made her an even worse enabler than her own father. She only changed due to Marinette standing up to her and helping her see the error of her ways... and because she wanted to change.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Big Fat Liar's plot revolves around a Hollywood executive drawing the ire of a middle-school student by stealing his story as the basis for a big-budget movie.
  • Played for laughs in the action-comedy The Big Hit. Melvin is a Hitman with a Heart who is one of the best assassins in the trade, at one point taking out an entire building filled with mooks while his "best friend" Cisco and the rest of his teammates wait for him to finish. Then Cisco claims credit for doing the job by putting an extra bullet in the target's head post-mortem and guilt trips Melvin into giving him the bonus for the mission, which Melvin allows simply because he's such an extreme doormat.
  • In Contact this happens to Ellie, when her former boss, Drumlin (who previously had cut the funding for her search for alien intelligence), steals the public credit from her for the discovery of the alien signal.
  • Dragonslayer. After Galen and Ulrich manage to kill the dragon (with Ulrich giving his life in the process), the sleazy, Dirty Coward king shows up and pretends to have slain it.
  • Hero. A petty criminal named Bernie LaPlante rescues survivors of a plane crash. A homeless Vietnam veteran named John Bubber goes public and takes credit for the rescues.
  • Nurse Betty: Sheriff Ballard tells the hitmen how he watched Betty's soap opera and figged out that she's in Arizona, when, really, Intrepid Reporter Roy did that while Ballard was skeptical and dismissive of his efforts. Roy is very eager to set the record straight once Charlie un-gags him.
  • The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Timothy's adoptive parents designed a new pencil that is made from leaves, ensuring their town's pencil factory won't go out of business. However, his parents' boss claims credit to the townsfolk. Timothy is furious that the boss stole credit of his parents invention. The boss tries to counter that is Timothy is a weirdo who's just making things up. However, one of the townsfolk who befriended Timothy ask the boss how he made the pencil, the boss is unable answer since he doesn't know. Eventually, everyone including the boss's father who owns the factory turns on him.
  • According to the commentary for The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Riff Raff did most of the work on building Rocky while Dr Frank N. Furter partied and then took the credit.
  • Rogue One: Grand Moff Tarkin steals credit from Orson Krennic for the completion and successful test of the Death Star. It's the page quote. Fittingly, Krennic himself was doing this to Galen Erso, the lead designer who had been forcibly conscripted into helping with its design.
  • In Scarlet Street, a prostitute and her pimp are taking advantage of a mild-mannered bank clerk who is in love with the prostitute. The bank clerk's sole source of pleasure is his painting hobby. When the pimp tries to sell one of the paintings and starts getting a lot of interest from art experts, he and the prostitute claim she is the artist. They make a lot of money.
  • TRON has Ed Dillinger taking credit for Kevin Flynn's video games, until Flynn goes into the mainframe and gets proof, literally.
  • Working Girl. Tess McGill suggests to her boss that one of their clients should invest in radio in order to gain a foothold in the media business. She learns later that her boss is planning to benefit herself by taking credit for the idea.

  • The Agatha Christie novel Destination Unknown has the greatest scientific minds captured and brought to a purpose-built super-laboratory, with the man behind it all intending to allow them to do their research without political guidance or restrictions (which is why there are communists and fascists among them), but intending to lease their services to governments that can pay the price. However, it turns out that one of the scientists has been unable to produce anything since a groundbreaking paper published shortly after his wife was murdered. It turns out she was the genius, he murdered her to take the credit.
  • Averted in the All American Pups book Camp Barkalot. When one of the campers asks Bella if she's "the hero", Bella clears up the misconception and passes the credit on to Fritz.
  • In The Bestseller by Olivia Goldsmith, Judith and Daniel Gross co-write a book although Judith does the majority of the work. Worried the publisher won't accept a husband-wife team, they have Daniel pose as the sole author "Jude Daniel" with the idea that after the book is a hit, he'll reveal the truth. But the rush of fame and riches goes to Daniel's head as he soon acts like he and he alone wrote the book. He even crafts a special version with "hand-written notes" to indicate only he wrote it and is ready to dump Judith. But in a beautiful case of karma, the book ends up being a massive flop and Daniel is the "sole author" of a disaster which ruins his life.
  • Ciaphas Cain would like to share the credit with his aide Jurgen, but unfortunately he has all the charisma and charm of the pair (as Amberley notes, someone like Jurgen is hardly likely to spruce up a heroic legend like Cain's). Fortunately, being essentially a competent but just-as smelly and Sarcasm-Blind Baldrick, Jurgen himself doesn't care for personal fame and glory, being quite content with the prestige of being the aide to Commissar Ciaphas Cain (Hero of the Imperium) which he can use to requisition/scrounge up what he and they need.
  • Played for Laughs in Good Omens, where both Aziraphale and Crowley begin receiving commendations for their 'good work' and subsequently discover it was entirely something humans invented or did to themselves. After a while both just start rolling with it and start reporting their 'successes', because it allows them to stay on Earth as their sides' respective top agent.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Gilderoy Lockhart isn't any good at any spell other than Memory Charms. He never did any of the deeds written about in his books. He just Obliviated other peoples' memories and stole all the credit.
    • Expanded material on Pottermore reveals that this is how Dolores Umbridge managed to rise through the ranks of the Ministry of Magic, despite not seeming a very competent or powerful witch otherwise. Being a Professional Butt-Kisser also helped.
  • In H.I.V.E. Series book seven, Otto takes the credit for stealing the exam answers and the location of the Hunt, when it was actually all eight students on squad four who did it. Because of this, he is expelled. This works in his favor, however, because he is able to leave the island to look for the Glasshouse, and he takes HIVEmind with him, which while not being necessarily beneficial to the plot, it allows the AI to go outside and spend time as a human.
  • John Putnam Thatcher: Withers spends a lot of the second book complaining about how the police confiscated the majestic stuffed head of a deer he supposedly shot. The book ends with Ken mentioning this in passing to Mrs. Withers, who angrily reveals that she was the one who shot the stag (after a four-hour hunt) and storms off to confront her husband about that lie.
  • Memory, Sorrow and Thorn: In the backstory, Prester John became the king of Erkynland by slaying the red dragon Shurakai after it killed the previous king, Ealhstan Fiskerne. In reality, Fiskerne and Shurakai killed each other in their battle. Prester happened to be the only person to witness it, so he took advantage and stole credit for killing Shurakai so he could become king. Years of maintaining this lie have driven Prester mad with paranoia.
  • An interesting variation occurs in The Mental State. Commissioner Viceman is blackmailed by Zack into implementing some extreme changes to the prison he is in charge of. Viceman is forced to maintain that the changes were all his own idea. However, once he realises that the changes, despite them going completely against his own political views, have resulted in a drop in re-offending rates, and several other officials have started implementing similar changes in other prisons, he becomes slightly more comfortable with taking the credit.
  • The Princess Bride: Inigo Montoya's father Domingo, a swordsmith, sometimes worked on contract for a more well-known smith when a challenging project required more skill than the latter had. The other smith always got the credit, but he did always pay his bills on time and in full, so the arrangement suited the Reclusive Artist Domingo. Count Rugen, however, managed to track Domingo down directly.
  • Spy School: Alexander Hale does this, on occasion, having built most of his career on the accomplishments of better spies. Also, in the fourth book it turns out that Murray Hill, who sold the Big Bad an Evil Plan, stole it from the plot of the movie Goldfinger something he makes an unconvincing attempt at denying once Ben calls him out for it.
  • At the very beginning of The Stormlight Archive, Kaladin successfully kills a Shardbearer. However, Amaram has him branded a slave to allow him (Amaram) to steal the credit... and more importantly, the Shards.
  • In Tea with the Black Dragon, part of the backstory is that Carlo Peccolo had a tendency to shove his work off onto his most gifted grad student and then claim the credit for her successes. The fact that she's the true author of a piece of security software that Peccolo claimed credit for is the key to the enormous amount of trouble she's in in the present day.
  • Played absolutely straight in Wildlife (of the Coming Attractions trilogy), as the MTV VJ asks the band about the concept of the clip for "Steppin' On Me." Oscar Roginoff immediately pipes up about how a train station seemed like a natural place for it. Gary Specter (who had the original idea for that clip) is left seething.
  • In Will Save the Galaxy for Food, the author Jacques McKeown has written a highly successful series of books about his supposed adventures during the Golden Age. However his stories are actually based on the exploits of other pilots, who are understandably furious about this. The fact that the pilots who actually saved planets are now being accused of stealing their own life's accounts from McKeown is just insult to injury.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the final season of The Affair, Noah writes the screenplay for the movie based on his bestselling book, getting along okay with star Sasha. Noah is annoyed when Sasha is given co-writing credit but told it's because of his being the star. It gets worse when in interviews, Sasha talks about "his" script as if he was the driving force. The topper is when Noah is accused by women of past harassment. Helen (who's been sleeping with Sasha) realizes Sasha is the one behind this to get Noah removed from the movie and Sasha given sole screenplay credit. She's appalled when Sasha defends himself on "trying to do what's best for my movie" and how it's a big opportunity for him to be taken seriously for the screenplay that he didn't write a single line for.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Mr. Conklin likes to steal the credit from Miss Brooks on occasion. For example, there was his attempt to claim authorship of a speech written by Miss Brooks in "Public Property on Parade".
  • On California Dreams, Jake is happy to meet his idol, rocker Zane Cooper. He even shows off some of his songs with Zane agreeing Jake has real promise. Jake is thus stunned when Zane uses the songs for his own album and taking full credit for them. In a confrontation, Zane shows he's just a has-been trying to keep his fame. A disgusted Jake lets him do it, telling the gang he can always write new songs while Zane clearly can't.
  • Happens a few times on Eureka:
    • Genius scientist Jason Anderson comes to town but various odd events soon have Carter, Jo and Henry realize the man is a fraud. He joins big projects, waits for the other scientists to have a huge breakthrough, then uses a device to wipe their short-term memories so he can claim their achievements as his own. "His" current project was actually the work of his wife who, it turns out, was once Henry's lover until Jason use the device to make them forget about it. Carter manages to trick Anderson into revealing in a demonstration he has no idea how his device actually works and expose him to Stark.
    • In "Family Reunion," Fargo discovers his grandfather Pierre, supposedly gone missing in 1957, has been frozen all this time. Thawed out, Pierre is rocked to find how many of the town's innovations are from his own work but credited to his partner Sandrov. Stark doesn't believe it but at a party, Sandrov has trouble "remembering" how some of these formulas and devices work while Pierre is able to recite them perfectly. Sandrov confesses that when Pierre went missing, he saw a chance to become famous by claiming his work as his own.
  • At various points in Young Sheldon and The Big Bang Theory, the accepted protocols and ethics of how and in what circumstances academics can take credit for work, and how much relative credit may be conferred in a submitted paper, become plot points. The young Sheldon, who makes a small but relavant contribution to his mentor's latest physics paper, is absolutely affronted to be told this does not merit a significant citation in the paper such as co-author status. This causes a rift when he complains to the university about his work being stolen. When he grows up and goes to Caltech, the adult Sheldon becomes insanely jealous of his intellectual rights, and absolutely refuses to allow any fellow researchers any named rights in his papers, even when their contribution is significant enough to justify this. This is the key that cures Ramona Nowitski of her stalker-like obsession for him - despite her supporting his work he refuses to name her in the resulting paper in any degree at all.
  • In Never Have I Ever, Kamala's lab supervisor tries to publish her findings without crediting her. Furthermore, the director of the lab study has no interest in 'office politics.' She gets back at her supervisor by adding her name to the document and emailing it, then insulting him to his face.
  • A character trait of Arnold Rimmer in Red Dwarf. If it goes right, it was his idea, and he should get the reward. If it fails, it was Lister's, and Lister should face the punishment.
  • In Elementary, Sherlock has this problem when DI Gareth Lestrade of the London Metropolitan Police takes all the credit for the former's work when he was working as a private detective prior to his drug rehabilitation. When Lestrade shows up in New York, he reveals he's "on leave" as without Sherlock, his career has taken a nose dive.
  • In one episode of Sliders, they slide back into their world, where Professor Arturo suddenly starts going around claiming to have invented Sliding, even though it was Quinn's discovery. Eventually, they find that they aren't in their world, it's another alt Earth and the Arturo making the claims is the one from this world, who was left behind when Quinn began Sliding, and has been trying to rediscover it ever since.
  • Blackadder does this with a picture painted by Lieutenant George in an episode of Blackadder Goes Forth — right in George's presence. George tries to object, but Blackadder, who outranks him, won't give him permission to speak. Even when Captain Darling points out that the picture is signed "George", Blackadder insists it's a dedication to King George.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Detective Pembrook of the NYPD Major Crimes Division is nicknamed "The Vulture" for his habit of letting other detectives handle the lion's share of the investigation on a case, then swooping in at the last minute to make the arrest and take all the credit.
  • Suits:
    • Mike Ross was assigned to represent a book publishing company in some routine legal matters. He discovered that one of the executives was claiming credit for work on a book that was actually done by her former assistant. Mike, under the pretext of protecting the company from a potential lawsuit, helps the assistant get the formal credit she deserves. However, he then discovers that No Good Deed Goes Unpunished and the assistant turns greedy and demands all the credit on the book, even for the work that was actually done by the executive. Mike has to scramble to fix the situation and firmly establish who deserves credit for the work and how much is their contribution actually worth.
    • Inverted when Mike has to give all the credit for winning a major case to Harvey. Harvey does not want the credit but Mike is practicing law without a law degree and the publicity surrounding the case could expose his secret. Mike was planning to give Harvey most of the credit all along but he is now hit with the realization that due to his deception he will never be able to publicly claim credit for any of his accomplishments.
  • Monk: The motive for murder in "Mr. Monk Goes to a Rock Concert." Kris Kedder helped Stork, one of his band's roadies, get a song he wrote about his daughter onto their latest album. Stork agreed to let Kedder claim half-credit for the piece so the roadie could jumpstart a solo songwriting career. But Kedder chooses to double cross Stork and claim sole credit for the whole song. When Stork confronts Kedder about this right before a major concert, Kedder kills him and stages his death to look like an accidental overdose.
  • Sheriff Lamb on Veronica Mars is always known to take the credit wherever possible. When Mars becomes Sheriff, he makes sure to give credit to a detective who helps him - only to have said detective run against him in the upcoming elections.
  • In the episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation "Where No One Has Gone Before", a Traveler alien lets a Starfleet officer take the credit for his breakthroughs so he can travel in anonymity.
  • Throughout Imposters, Jules has refused to admit the dark secret her con artist wife Maddie used to blackmail her silence after robbing her. In season 2, it finally comes out that in college, Jules had been lovers with her roommate who was a bipolar mess and killed herself. Jules was a mess afterward, falling behind in her studies. Realizing her major thesis project was due, Jules presented her late roommate/lover's work as her own. She was found out with her rich family managed to hush it up but Jules knows any career as an artist will be ruined if the truth gets out.
    • Before that, Ezra is disgusted when Maddie's secret file on his family reveals that not only did his father steal the patent for the company's biggest invention from his own brother but had the guy committed to hush it up.
  • In Pie in the Sky, Assistant Chief Constable Fisher's career has been built on taking credit for the successes of more competent officers, mainly the protagonist, Detective Inspector Crabbe.
  • Bones:
    • Booth is excited because a big bust he spearheaded will give him a corner office and a vacation in Aruba (or some such). But he trades credit to a local PD in order to get his little brother out of a DUI situation, so they get the credit and he gets nothing.
    • Hodgins gets his invention stolen by a woman during his younger years and it gets him suspected of killing her later on. He points out though that he was worth billions then and the money he lost was small change. He wasn’t the killer, just a Red Herring.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: Rob and an old buddy had written a song while they were in the army (the buddy wrote the music, Rob wrote the lyrics), and now the song is about to be a big hit so the buddy shows up asking Rob for full rights to the song. Rob agrees, not knowing about the upcoming record release. When it comes out he goes to the old buddy's office, only to find another guy there in the same situation over the same song (the man had written the music, the buddy had written the lyrics). The only thing the old buddy had written was his name at the top of the sheet music.
  • Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
    • The second episode portrays the feud between Isaac Newton, Edmund Halley, and Robert Hooke as originating in this. Hooke accused Newton of plagiarism and drove him into seclusion, whereupon Newton invented calculus to figure out the solar system's gravity. When Newton published this work in the Principia Mathematica, Hooke tried the same trick, but Halley stepped in to refute the allegations.
    • "Sisters of the Sun" commends Henry Norris Russell for not doing this when he realized that Cecilia Payne was right in her analysis of stellar composition, after having rejected her thesis for flying in the face of established thought.
  • In Heroes the Alpha Bitch in Claire's school takes the credit in saving peoples lives in a fire incident, in which Claire was the one who really saved them. This however caused her to be targeted by Sylar, who mistook her for Claire.
  • St. Elsewhere: In "A Coupla White Dummies Sitting Around Talking", Ehrlich is approached by a man named Knox who claims that he invented the Craig 9000 artificial heart and that the Ecumena Corporation stole the idea from him after he sent them his prototype. He pretends to have a gun and kidnaps Ehrlich as it is the only way that he can get anyone to listen to him. Knox tells Ehrlich, who is sympathetic, that he does not want all of the credit but he thinks that he at least deserves a footnote for all of his hard work.
  • On Good Omens, as far as Heaven and Hell are concerned, demon Crowley is responsible for scores of horrific events in human history including the Spanish Inquisition and the World Wars. The truth is that, for a demon, Crowley isn't a bad sort and actually likes humanity and Earth. Most of his "evil acts" are actually little more than creating the M25 motorway, and shutting down wireless in an area. As he states, he has had nothing to do with scores of the horrible things humans do to each other (and often is truly shocked at the evil they can do) but takes credit to make himself look better for his bosses.
  • On Side Hustle, the kids are happy when celebrity chef Dude Calzone comes to town and loves Munchy's family chili recipe. Munchy agrees to a deal to have it be featured in Dude's book. It's only after he agrees that Munchy discovers the deal not only says Dude owns the recipe but Munchy is prevented from ever claiming credit for it. The teens angrily confront Dude, who's forced to admit that every one of "his" recipes is stolen from other chefs. In fairness, Dude doesn't want to do it but his greedy sister tricked him into a contract himself and if he breaks it, not only will he pay a million dollars but she'll just get someone else to be the face of the company to keep the scam up. The teens resort to some hijinks to get the woman to break the contracts to release Dude and let him credit all the chefs for their work.
  • In The Witcher (2019) Fringilla pretends to have ordered the murder of the baby of the elven leader as part of a plan motivate them attack their enemies, when in truth she had no such schemes. She takes credit for what she thinks was a lucky coincidence before her superior, only for him to reveal that he really did exactly what she claimed to have done.

  • Tom Lehrer humorously advises on how to do this in his song "Lobachevsky," from Songs by Tom Lehrer.
    And then I write
    By morning, night
    And afternoon
    And pretty soon
    My name in Dnepropetrovsk is cursed
    When he finds out I published first!

  • The Adventure Zone: Balance has the Miller family, who use an emerald mirror so see into the Plane of Thought — our world — and get "new" ideas for technological inventions.


  • In BIONICLE, prior to leading the Visorak hordes, Sidorak gained fame by claiming victories from those below him. If a commander questioned this, Sidorak responded by sending said commander on a dangerous mission that he could not return from. Even becoming the commander of the Visorak hordes was due to stealing the credit, in this case claiming he was the one who came up with the plan to mutate the Toa Hagah into the Rahaga and entrusted Roodaka with carrying it out (it was all her). He got the position of commander, while she became his viceroy. Considering Roodaka is a Manipulative Bitch who comes from a matriarchal society and puts even most of her species to shame in terms of her ruthlessness and cunning...Sidorak sighed his death warrant thousands of years before Roodaka finally cashed in.

    Video Games 
  • Marion really resents Central City for doing this in Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky. After years of denying her funding and manpower, they step in to claim the ruins that are Marion's pet project when she actually starts making progress in her Branch office. To add insult to injury, she's expected to tug her forelock and "co-operate fully" with the interlopers.
    • Later in the game, it gets worse: In order to reach the ruins Marion's eccentric but brilliant R&D department build a dreadnought that can outperform any of Central City's ships. Central City's response? Commandeer the ship for their own use, so that they can explore the ruins first. Then it turns out the Central City is the bureaucratic form of The Ditherer, so they don't show up, throwing the R and D department's schedule into chaos, but allowing the main team to head to the ruins.
  • Mentioned in Persona 4. The characters discuss the fact that the police will claim the credit for catching the murderer, because the team can't admit to the supernatural nature of their investigation. Yosuke and Chie are particularly stung by this.
  • Played tragically in Devil Summoner, since the protagonist's soul is in the body of Kyouji Kuzunoha, forcing him to do detective work in Hirasaki City while using his name.
  • In the Wonder Momo webcomics/anime, Amazona steals some of Wonder Momo's credits after the latter gains her powers in fighting off a resurgent Warudemon invasion. For a time, the public thinks that Amazona is Wonder Momo, much to Momoko's anger.
  • The Elder Scrolls
    • Morrowind:
      • The Mages Guild quest line has you receiving quests from Ajira, the Balmora Guild Hall resident alchemist. She has a bet with another member over who will reach the rank of Journeyman first. The quests you receive from Ajira have you mostly aiding in her research (when you aren't sabotaging her rival's), such as collecting the ingredients she needs. If you read her reports after the fact, she takes full credit for the hard work involved in recovering the ingredients.
      • Malacath, the Daedric Prince of the Spurned and Ostracized and patron deity of the Orcs, offers a Daedric quest which involves killing a Dunmer hero whose ancestor stole credit for the accomplishments of an Orc hero. Malacath is very much a Papa Wolf toward the Orcs.
      • Malacath apparently really hates this trope. In Skyrim, you're tasked with helping an Orc chief slay a giant to lift a curse on his village. Once done, the chief turns on you and attempts to invoke the trope by claiming sole credit for killing the giant. Once he's dead, Malacath speaks out to insult him and give his job to one of the other Orcs.
    • Between the Oblivion Crisis and the events of Skyrim, the Thalmor, a militarized extremist religious sect seized power (riding a populist movement) within the Altmeri (High Elven) government, seceded from the Empire, annexed neighboring Valenwood (home of the Bosmer (Wood Elves), reformed the Aldmeri Dominion of old, and waged war on the Vestigial Cyrodiilic Empire. How did the Thalmor come to power in the first place? They took credit for ending the Oblivion Crisis within their homeland, which as anyone who played Oblivion knows, is a Blatant Lie. Later, they would also claim credit for resolving a crisis with Nirn's two moons which brought them Elsweyr (home of the Khajiit) as a client state. (The moons being sacred to the Khajiiti people.)
  • Yoana in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is the Ultimate Blacksmith for armor in the game, but works as an assistant for an inept dwarf when you first meet her because people would doubt her skills since she was a woman. As a result, she would secretly create all the higher-end armor while her "boss" would belittle her in front of customers until you complete her sidequest and get her promoted.
  • Persona 5: One of the most common abuses of power featured in the game.
    • Arc Villain Madarame passed off his underlings' work as his own for years to gain fame as an artist, even stealing his Magnum Opus from Yusuke's mother and letting her die.
    • In Ryuji's side story, the teacher who is supposed to take over the track team has every intention of hiring a coach to do the actual work, but claim the credit himself.
    • Tae Takemi's boss hijacked her research so that he could lay claim to a breakthrough discovery. Then blamed her when his recklessness ruined the project.
  • Battlezone: In the final mission of the Soviet Campaign when US base is almost finished suddenly a higher-ranking general appears in a hovertank to make a finishing blow and claim all the victory for himself. The player can simply shoot him without any bad consequences.
  • Pierre, the proprietor of the general store in Stardew Valley, has a habit of claiming that he cooked, harvested, or fished some high-quality goods that the player recently sold him. You find this out from villagers around town occasionally commenting about a specific item you just sold, and then admiring what a talented farmer/fisher/forager Pierre is. (Or, if it's a normal-quality item, disparaging him.)
  • Subverted in Hades. Talking to Eurydice can reveal that she wrote most of the songs Orpheus was famous for singing. If you then ask Orpheus about it, however, he states that he made sure to give his wife proper credit when he performed her works. It's just that his audiences never bothered to listen to that part.
  • One of the Virtue Test questions in the NES version of Ultima IV is a scenario where, unwitnessed by anyone, you slew a dragon, only for another man to claim he did it. The Justice option is to counter his claim, while the Humility option is to let him have the glory.
  • In Super Robot Wars: Original Generation, Daitetsu was informed by Laker that the Hagane's forces will not be credited publicly for taking on DC forces in Aidoneus Island. They suspect that this is done with approval of Karl Scheltesman as he wishes to continue negotiations rather than use lethal force against the aliens even if they have hostile intent.
  • Crash Bandicoot: This is what fueled Nitrus Brio's resentment for his boss Neo Cortex. Its was Brio who perfected Cortex's defective Envolvo-Ray but his lack of self esteem allowed Cortex to take full credit for the invention. Cortex's betrayal eventually led Brio to ditch his boss after the events of the first game. From there on, Brio decided to overcompensate and began taking credit for just about everything, including claiming he was the one who created the Evolvo-Ray as well as recycling, and slinkies.
  • In NEO: The World Ends with You, Motoi falsely claims credit for being the Wicked Twister's anonymous informant, because the real informant, Shoka, can't come forward due to being one of the Shinjuku Reapers. Considering that Motoi is also guilty of plagiarism, it's unsurprising that Motoi would stoop this low.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue:
    Caboose: Look what I found!
    Donut: What? I found it!
    Caboose: Look at what I took credit for finding!
  • RWBY: In "Divide", Cinder Fall claims to her master Salem that she stole the Relic of Knowledge single-handed, when it was actually Neo who did that.

    Web Comics 
  • Cucumber Quest: The Dream Oracle takes the credit from The Nightmare Knight for putting up the purple barrier that saved Treblopolis from being blown up by the Noiseblaster. It's made very clear from her nervous tics that she's lying, and it's stated on the author's twitter, and hinted in the author commentary that the Nightmare Knight is actually the one who saved Trebleopolis. Oracle is taking this opportunity to bolster her reputation. Not that The Nightmare Knight would complain since he wants to maintain his reputation as the bad guy as well.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Throughout the Tiny Toon Adventures episode, "Sepulveda Boulevard", Montana Max steals scripts, crosses out the previous writers' names, and puts his name in their place. It starts with Plucky's script (although Plucky wasn't all that original to begin with, as he crossed out Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett's names before putting his name in), and then he tries taking credit for Elmyra's script, "101 Cuddly Puppies Meet Princess Pretty Girl". He gets found out by Hamton towards the end of the episode. At the end of the episode, Mr. Cooper DeVille takes all the credit for Elmyra's film, prompting Monty, Elmyra, and Plucky to beat him up.
  • Arthur:
    • In "How the Cookie Crumbles", Muffy is at a loss for what to enter for Elwood City's annual Strawberry Festival, until the others spontaneously make cookies with her, using butter batter, a strawberry, banana juice, peanuts, chocolate chips, peach slices, oatmeal, banana, more banana, banana again, and a raisin, and they just happen to taste delicious. Muffy enters the cookies into the baking contest, and wins, but the others are sore when she not only doesn't mention them in the paper, but starts marketing the cookies at the Sugar Bowl under her name, with her picture on the bag.
    Brain: "Her royal highness get all the credit, but her lowly subjects did all the work!"
    • The episode, "Francine's Pilfered Paper" involves Francine copying content off the internet for her Thanksgiving report and claiming it as her own. She doesn't know what she did was wrong until Catherine explains what plagiarism is to her, and spends most of the episode dealing with emotional guilt. The episode ends with her telling Mr. Ratburn what happened, re-doing the assignment, and getting a good grade for good and original work.
  • The Simpsons:
    • Homer invents a drink called a "Flaming Homer" and serves it to a patron at Moe's Tavern. The patron asks what the drink is called and before Homer can answer with the correct name, Moe butts in and claims it's called a "Flaming Moe" and that he invented it.
    • Inverted in another episode, where Bart & Lisa use Grandpa as a beard so they can write Itchy & Scratchy scripts.
  • A famous example would be the South Park episode "Fishsticks", where Jimmy and Cartman (well, mostly Jimmy) made up a famous joke, yet Cartman tried to hog all the credit. Trey Parker and Matt Stone came up with this plot from knowing people in the entertainment industry who also did that.
  • A cutaway gag in Family Guy shows Albert Einstein in his pre-fame job as a patent office clerk. Somebody comes to the counter, presents a pile of papers, and asks to patent "Smith's Theory of Relativity". Einstein knocks him out and snatches the papers. Then later does the same thing to God after he invents Shrinky Dinks.
    • Another episode has an unintentional/unwilling example when something good happens to Peter, who looks skyward and says, "Thank you, Jesus!" The camera then pans up to Heaven.
      Jesus: Actually, it wasn't me, it was—
      Vishnu: No, no, it's okay. [sighs] I'm used to it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "Rarity Takes Manehattan", the fashionista Suri Polomare seems to have based her entire career off this. It's unclear how many of her designs are her own, but her assistant Coco Pommel does all the actual dressmaking for her. Then when her old acquaintance Rarity invents a special new variety of fabric, Suri takes a bolt of the fabric, creates a line of dresses out of it, and claims that she invented it. This all comes back to bite her in the rear by the episode's end. Rarity responds to the theft by creating a new fashion line from scratch, which handily beat Suri's dresses in a fashion contest, and the entire incident convinces Coco Pommel to quit working for Suri.
  • In the Thomas & Friends episode, "Duck and the Slip Coaches", Duck tells the engines the story of how he used to pull Slip Coaches in the past. When Sir Topham Hatt needs an idea on how to drop off all the passengers to their destinations on time, James takes credit for Duck's idea, much to the latter's ire. Of course, Duck is much more experienced at pulling Slip Coaches than James is, thus leading to James' eventual Laser-Guided Karma when he tries to pull them himself.
  • This was The Riddler's Start of Darkness in Batman: The Animated Series, as a Corrupt Corporate Executive took exclusive credit (including royalties) for a videogame that Nygma had created as an employee at his company, and promptly fired Nygma to cover his tracks.
  • The Ren & Stimpy episode "Stimpy's Cartoon Show" has Stimpy explain to Ren that this is the job of the producer.
    Stimpy: I got it, Ren! You can play producer!
    Ren: Producer? What's that?
    Stimpy: A producer is the guy who tells the artist what to do, and later, makes all the changes, and then, when the cartoon's done, he takes all the credit!
    (Ren does a Happy Dance)
  • A 1940s Popeye cartoon has Popeye and Bluto at Olive's service station when a Navy admiral brings his car in to be serviced. Of course, the boys' squabbling causes the car to be reduced to wreckage, so Popeye eats his spinach and puts the car back together in record time. Bluto steps in and nudges Popeye out of the way as he opens the car door so the admiral can enter it. But it backfires on Bluto: when the admiral starts the car, it virtually explodes on him. As Popeye enjoys some downtime with Olive, Bluto is sentenced to scraping rust off a line of ships.
  • Darkwing Duck: Implied in "Heavy Mental". Realizing that the Norma Ray did give Launchpad Psychic Powers as intended, Darkwing excitedly goes on about how this will make him a better crime fighter than ever, before telling Launchpad not to mention his powers to anyone else.
  • A similar gag appeared in "Droopy's Good Deed", as Spike and Droopy are competing to be the best Boy Scout. A wealthy man loses his top hat in a stiff breeze, so Droopy runs to get it - but Spike, following Droopy, catches it first and plops a lit bomb inside before handing it to Droopy to return. The wealthy man then starts giving Droopy money as reward for fetching his hat, and Spike quickly changes his mind, shoving Droopy away in his rush to collect the cash - only to forget about the bomb.
  • Kim Possible: In "Grudge Match", Vivian Porter is a brilliant robotics expert who had problems being taken seriously as a scientist because she looked like a supermodel. She built a Ridiculously Human Robot named Oliver, letting him take credit for the work while she pretended to be his girlfriend.
  • Deconstructed in She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. During the first season, Shadow Weaver steals credit for Catra's plan to disrupt the Princess Prom to kidnap Glimmer and secure the Sword of Protection, much to her anger. Though she isn't angry for too long, as when the Rebellion successfully infiltrates the Fright Zone to get both back, Catra is able to happily hang back while Hordak berates Shadow Weaver for "her" failure.
    Catra: [quietly laughing] Yeah, bad plan.
    Scorpia: [whispering] Wasn’t it your—? [Catra elbows Scorpia]
  • In Central Park, Season 1 "Rival Busker", after Anya runs off from the wedding, Bitsy and Helen has to find her so they can have their business talk with Dmitry. They failed to find her, but Paige and Molly convinces Anya to return to the wedding, so when Anya returns with Paige and Molly, Bitsy quickly runs up to Anya and grabs her hand and tells Dmitry she found her. Paige and Molly just walk into the wedding venue without saying word because Paige is investigating Bitsy and doesn't want to get her attention.
  • Close Enough: In "The Erotic Awakening of A. P. LaPearle", Alex has Pearle pose as the author of his erotic Viking literature after the publisher claims that women are more comfortable with female erotica writers. While he's fine with the arrangement at first, he begins to get jealous when the fame goes to Pearl's head.

    Real Life 
  • In promotional materials for Nancy produced during Ernie Bushmiller's lifetime (like this one) they make it seem like Bushmiller was the one who created the character Fritzi Ritz. In reality she was created by Larry Whittington in 1922; Bushmiller simply replaced him in 1925 when Whittington left. However, the character Nancy WAS created by Bushmiller.
  • An Austrian nobleman, Graf Franz von Walsegg, hosted parties debuting new musical pieces, which he often claimed he had composed himself, despite having simply paid others to write them. Most notably, he commissioned Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to write his final piece, the D-minor Requiem, to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of Walsegg's wife. It is believe that Walsegg similarly intended to claim he wrote that piece.

Behold! I made this entire page myself. Isn't it wonderful?


Video Example(s):


Mandark the Overlord

Action Hero Dexter explains how Mandark was once a frustrated research scientist who began stealing his ideas, leading to him becoming Dexter's boss, before somehow getting his hands on the Neurotomic Protocore (which Number 12 realizes how), and in an attempt to utilize it, accidentally set its positive flow to negative, with the negative neurotomic energy twisting Mandark more than ever and numbing the minds of everyone in the world (except Dexter) allowing Mandark to become the science-forbidden, knowledge hoarding overlord of the world.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / FromNobodyToNightmare

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