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The Scapegoat

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I bet Jacob wrote this caption - that's why it isn't funny.

"If we leave this to the police they will choose a culprit, right or wrong, and they will hang him. It'll probably be Mr. Marquez, for no other reason than his name is Marquez. Or Doctor Arbuthnot for the colour of his skin. You are the only one who can bring justice!"

A scapegoat is one who, willingly or otherwise, takes the blame and/or punishment for something for which he or she wasn't responsible — though depending on where the Sliding Scale Long Name is, the relative innocence of said scapegoat will also vary. Any poor sap who runs afoul of a Powder Keg Crowd can become this, especially if they have Torches and Pitchforks; 0% Approval Rating governments seem to execute nothing but innocent scapegoat victims just for the spectacle of it or to keep up the appearance that the government is tough on crime; the Glory Hound will find a subordinate to take the blame for any failure. The idea comes from a practice of the ancient Hebrews, who would send a goat carrying the sins of the people out into the wilderness as part of the Yom Kippur ceremonies.

A especially popular target for this are dead people (bonus points if they are amongst the victims of the disaster/crime they are being blamed for), because they, for good reasons, cannot defend themselves nor can they be tempted to attempt to point their finger at the actual culprit(s).


Sometimes, in a Distant Finale, the scapegoat is finally cleared, if not in public, then at least in the eyes of those who cared for him or her and at least hoped, if not always believed, that this scapegoat was innocent.

Compare Silent Scapegoat, where the Scapegoat volunteered for the job, and Wounded Gazelle Gambit, where "Gazelle" wounds (or pretends to wound) oneself to frame someone else. See also Scapegoat Creator, in which someone is blamed for stuff despite that his/her involvement on the finished product might have been drastically reduced, and Mis-blamed, in which the scapegoat gets all the blame for the mistake. If the product itself is blamed for a public screw-up regardless of whether or not it's inherently flawed, that's a Disastrous Demonstration.

Contrast the Windmill, who among other things can be used as the scapegoat for something that hasn't even happened! Closely related to Fall Guy and Karmic Misfire if the scapegoat does not willingly take the blame and/or punishment. May overlap with Not Me This Time if the scapegoat has a legitimately deserved bad reputation that makes them an easy target for blame, and Burn the Witch! if they are accused of causing the misfortune through some sort of supernatural power.



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  • When something goes wrong on the peanut butter assembly line, you find a scapegoat. It's what you do. If you want to save 15% or more on car insurance, you switch to GEICO. It's what you do.
  • In this commercial, Little Caesars hires a guy to be the "corporate scapegoat"; his job seems to be to take the blame when the company does something customers don't like.

    Anime and Manga 
  • Whether you like him or not, every fan of Neon Genesis Evangelion can agree that Shinji Ikari is notoriously this. Anything bad that happens, people usually blame him for it. Touji's sister gets hurt? His fault. Asuka's pissed off? His fault. The most infamous example comes from Rebuild of Evangelion in which Shinji accidentally caused the Third Impact while trying to save Rei, destroying most of the world while he did. No-one who pushed him into fighting take responsibility, and would rather settle for treating him as nastily as possible.
  • Suzaku from Code Geass is blamed for the murder of Clovis early on, namely by the Pureblood faction within the army to try and make a case of how Japanese can't be trusted in the military.
    • A somewhat smaller example at the end of R1 onward was when Lelouch met with his Too Good for This Sinful Earth half-sister Euphemia and agreed to back her phased democratization of Japan. An accidental chain of Diabolus ex Machina brought on by Analogy Backfire Up to Eleven and random Power Incontinence causes Euphemia's bodyguard, Lelouch's best friend since childhood, to believe he purposely Mind Raped her, foisted public blame for a horrifying False Flag war crime she committed under his influence on her, and then murdered her to take credit for putting an end to it. Lelouch never denied any of these accusations, despite numerous chances to do so.
    • Later on, Schneizel uses the above accusation, among others (i. e. not warning them about FLEIJA, something he didn't believe because of Suzaku's apparent betrayal), to turn the Black Knights against their leader.
    • Not to mention the end of the series, where Nunnally reveals that she worked with Schneizel because she wanted to use Damocles as the common enemy that would finally unite the whole world peacefully. Lelouch considered doing this, but decided that a mere object wouldn't hold peoples' hatred; a human being, on the other hand....
  • In Dragon Ball Super, Goku, who's spoiling for a good fight, reminds Zen-Oh of his idea to hold a martial arts tournament between all 12 universes. When the rules are announced, it's revealed that the losing universes will be completely erased from existence, which causes people from the other universes to blame Goku for this. However, others point out that he isn't to blame since Zen-Oh wanted to cut down on the number of universes anyway; if anything they should be thanking Goku, since the tournament gives them a fighting chance at survival whereas otherwise Zen-Oh would have just erased them and been done with it.
  • In a filler episode of the D.Gray-Man anime, Kanda and his seeker come across a town that would isolate someone as a witch and force them to live alone in poor conditions, whenever something unexplainable and bad happened, they would blame it on the witch. This wound up biting them all in the ass when the previous witch (just a child, at that) died alone of illness and her sister, driven by hatred and grief, wound up becoming an Akuma and slaughtered the entire village, the seeker outright states he has trouble feeling sorry over the destruction of a town with such a terrible tradition.
  • Akira from Eden of the East eventually ends up taking the fall (sometimes even willingly) for every single thing done by the series' villains, becoming a wanted terrorist in the process.
  • Generals Cremin and Edison in Fullmetal Alchemist are, by the end of the series, the last two survivors of Amestris's treasonous Central Command and are happily blamed by the heroes for the entire Homunculi conspiracy even though they were actually near the bottom of the evil totem pole. This is because the actual masterminds of the conspiracy included some very well-regarded public figures and it was considered a better choice to frame the guilty party than risk mass panic.
  • Happens to Yuuto in Haruka Nogizaka's Secret. After dropping her bookbag due to a student running into her accidentally, Haruka's bag spills its contents, including a catalog for an anime/manga convention. Yuuto immediately blurts out that he was wondering what happened to his catalog, which the student body immediately accepts, as Haruka is a Closet Otaku. However, she ends up going into a severe Heroic BSoD because she fears that Yuuto would be ostracized the way she was in middle school a few years back.

  • In Kotoura-san, Haruka Kotoura (a Telepath with Power Incontinence) is a perpetualone during Downer Beginning; her classmates constantly lie about their own thoughts and feelings to be personally secure among others, so blaming the Honest Advisor who also happens to be a Living Lie Detector was especially cruel and selfish on the other children's part. The kicker is that this behavior is apparently OK with the adults as well! It's no wonder how the setting became a Crapsaccharine World.
  • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, the movie reveals that Alejandro Corner, a Season 1 villain, was blamed for the Government Conspiracy and A-LAWS that were put down in the second season. The truth is that Alejandro probably did intend something like that, but was killed by Ribbons before he had a chance to enact any of it. It's implied that revealing exactly who and what was behind the conspiracy would prove to be problematic, now that Innovators are beginning to appear among the general population and there are multiple clones of Ribbons out there who had no role in his crimes.
  • Tekkadan as a whole becomes this in the final episodes Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans. Rustal Elion uses a smear campaign to paint Tekkadan as war criminals, causing their sponsors to retire all their financial support, leaving Tekkadan bankrupt. Tekkadan itself is destroyed in the finale and the remaining members have to change their identities and start new lives. The epilogue states that with the formation of the new democratic Gjallarhorn and the free, independent Mars, everyone now remembers Tekkadan as villains. Only a few know the truth but they can never reveal it; otherwise they'd jeopardize the Gjallarhorn-Martian Union alliance and put the surviving members in danger.
  • In My Monster Secret Asahi occasionally has to throw himself under the bus in order to preserve his friends' secrets. In one case, Aizawa (a six-inch-tall alien who pilots a Mobile-Suit Human that looks exactly like her at human scale) gets caught by Mikan outside of her suit, and remains perfectly still to convince Mikan that she's a doll. In an effort to get her away from Mikan before her real nature gets revealed, Asahi ends up claiming that's a figurine of Aizawa. That he made. Given the apparent level of detail and the fact that he had previously had a crush on her, he naturally gets a lot of odd looks. Though Aizawa herself is extremely grateful and apologetic that he had to label himself a pervert in order to help her.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi example: Princess Arika was blamed and supposedly executed by the Magical Senate for destroying her country, killing her father the king, and starting the war. She was guilty of only the first two charges, and she did it to save the rest of the magical world from destruction. Kurt Godel's narration makes it perfectly clear that she was blamed because the world needed a target for its hatred and resentment after the tragedies and hardships of the war.
  • In Oreimo, Kyosuke does this twice for his sister Kirino:
    • The first time their father discovers her eroge/anime fascination, Kyosuke defends her hobby, and then after the father points out that he's not okay with eroge, Kyosuke claims that the stuff was his, and that Kyosuke had her hold it for him, causing the father to punch him in the face.
    • The second time is when Kirino's modeling friend Ayase finds her in a town where she was doing some modeling, which coincidentally happened to be in the same area where the anime convention was taking place. Kyosuke once again defends her actions, and while Ayase seems okay with her hobby later, she wonders why Kirino had siscon eroge. He immediately and passionately says that the stuff caused him to be closer to his sister, and says that he loves her, to which Ayase immediately rushes off with Kirino, lest he perverts her mind into doing some forbidden things.
  • For a meta example, there's Porygon from the Pokémon anime, who played a major role in the infamous episode in which many Japanese children suffered from seizures. As a result, it (and, by extension, its evolved forms) has not appeared in a major (or even minor) role ever since, and may or may not have been effectively banned from doing so. The only problem? Porygon had absolutely nothing to do with the seizures... it was actually Pikachu who caused them. Naturally, they can't axe the Series Mascot, so it was Porygon who ended up taking the blame.
    • Sun and Moon has an in-series example — when Lillie got caught up in the Nihilego incident, Faba blamed it on Silvally to cover his tracks. Due to her traumatic memories being a bit mixed up, Lillie also initially blamed it for her fear of Pokemon until it rescues her from Faba similarly to how it defended her against Nihilego, after which she apologizes to it.
  • Ranma ½: Due to a combination of Insane Troll Logic, Never My Fault and Selective Enforcement, Ranma is very much this. One of the most common examples is the fact that none of the Tendō household residents are willing to eat Akane's cooking and will run for the hills. Ranma's usual M.O. is to either eat beforehand or find something else to do, both of which will end up infuriating Akane. Later everyone else will chew out Ranma for making Akane angry. The fact that Genma keeps thrusting his past mistakes on to Ranma is an example of this as well.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin (and Real Life) after the revolutionary government made to the people promises they could not keep, they blamed the Sekihōtai, telling the people that they were a fake army who had been spreading lies and executed the members of the first unit.
  • In A Silent Voice, everyone in Nishimiya's class bullies her relentlessly. However, when the principal finally takes action and asks who was responsible for bullying her, the class immediately and unapologetically places all the blame on one of the main characters, Ishida.
  • In Sword Art Online, Kirito decides to take this role in the beginning of the story, becoming the "Beater", in order to protect the beta testers from being unfairly accused of indirectly causing the deaths of other players.
  • Viral takes a lot of this, mostly self-inflicted, in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Later on, Rossiu uses Simon as one.
  • Oboro, the Butt-Monkey of Utawarerumono whenever one is called for, usually ends up taking the punishment for something Hakuoro/Karura/etc. did and gets beaten up by Eruruw/Touka/Benawi.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! features a card actually called Scapegoat that summons 4 Sheep Tokens. Since they can't be used for summoning, they exist primarily to be sacrificed in battle to protect the player's life points. You know, like a scapegoat.

    Comic Books 
  • Etrigan's little brother is an actual goat demon named Scapegoat, more or less forced to punish himself for all Hell's sins. He comes off as a total woobie.
  • Superheroes in general get the Beware the Superman view by the public in many stories, this is common in DC and Marvel comics. Especially Marvel.
  • There's an Italian Disney Ducks Comic Universe comic in which Uncle Scrooge goes to a mountain country to buy a literal scapegoat so everyone who complains to him can do so to the goat. However, eventually the goat gets so fed up with being blamed for everything that he goes ballistic and wrecks Scrooge's money bin.

    Comic Strips 
  • Garfield. Somebody threw away all of Jon's shirts except one that reads "I (heart) cats". Believing Garfield is responsible, Jon throws him outside; Odie then appears in the doorway wearing one of Jon's shirts and a malicious smile.
  • One strip of Peanuts has Lucy try to find a scapegoat to something that is nobody's fault to begin with.
  • The Far Side namedropped the trope in one strip.
    The world was going down the tubes. They needed a scapegoat. They found Wayne.

    Fan Works 
  • Ultra Fast Pony:
    • When it becomes clear that Winter Wrap Up has been completely ruined, the ponies all put the issue to a vote and agree to blame Rainbow Dash for everything. (Dash did screw up big-time, but she was hardly the only one.) This apparently wound up being an official position: one season later, Dash took a vacation, and someone else had to fill in as scapegoat while she was away.
    • Apple Bloom blames all of her mistakes on her Imaginary Friend, Twist. Even after she realizes that Twist doesn't exist. Her real friends try to convince her "You can't keep blaming Twist for everything!" but they occasionally get in on the act themselves, anyway.
  • Blackbird (Arrow): Both of Laurel's parents try to blame all the family's troubles post-Gambit on Laurel's relationship with Oliver, and thus by extension Laurel herself. They refuse to acknowledge that, in the end, what happened to Sara was her own fault. All Oliver did was the make the offer; Sara is the one who accepted, and everything that followed after, including what happened to Laurel, was either the result of her choices or of Dinah's.
  • In My Mother, Padme is shaken to learn that she has basically become the scapegoat for Palpatine’s rise to power, as she was a convenient ‘target’ when she was apparently dead and no longer around to defend herself, although Mon Mothma assures Padme that she had no part in that particular decision.
  • Of Patience and Pettiness: Once the truth about Lila comes out, most of Marinette's classmates attempt to all the blame for their actions upon her — and Adrien as well, after learning that he knew all along and didn't bother warning anyone. For his part, Adrien refuses to acknowledge he did anything wrong, viewing himself as a tragic victim of circumstance.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • At the end of The Dark Knight, Batman becomes the scapegoat for Harvey Two-Face's murders, so that Dent's work against organized crime could hold up. The Dark Knight Rises shows some of the repercussions of this deception.
  • In Spartacus, his second-in-command tried to sacrifice himself in his leader's place, but I Am Spartacus ensued and their captors decided to just crucify all of the slaves.
  • In the Star Wars prequels, the Jedi go from the Republic's protectors to fugitives after Palpatine's Evil Plan pays off. They did try to arrest him, but it was because he was a Sith Lord attempting the overthrow the Republic. Given that almost no-one knows this and few in the Republic would have any idea what a "Sith Lord" even is, it's rather easy for Palpatine to scapegoat the Jedi.
  • In Transcendence, the FBI and the military reluctantly work with RIFT to stop Will, planning to use them as a scapegoat when everything goes south. RIFT seemingly remains oblivious to this possibility. Whether or not that actually happened, however, is completely ignored.
  • In Transformers, the Autobots get scapegoat for the Decepticons presences on Earth, the Earth governments try to appease the Decepticons twice by getting the Autobots to leave Earth. But they don't realized that the Decepticons don't care about making deals with them, and would outright conquer and enslave Earth either way.
  • In The Running Man, helicopter pilot and police officer Ben Richards was made the scapegoat by the government when he refused to open fire on a crowd of food rioters in Bakersfield. Because of that, state-run media declared Richards "The Butcher of Bakersfield".
  • RoboCop 2 sees OCP planning to shift the blame for the RoboCop 2 fiasco onto Juliette Faxx in order to save face at the suggestion of executive Donald Johnson. However, unlike many other examples, Faxx really is to blame for what happened and Johnson was the Only Sane Man at the time, but OCP's CEO turned a blind eye to what was going on.
  • A rather dark and probable version: In In This Our Life, Stanley knows that as a rich, white woman she has a lot of power and when she commits manslaughter with her car, she blames it on her family's African American housekeeper's son, Parry Clay, who does small car jobs for them. When the police pick him up, they don't even question him: they just take him to jail.
  • By the time of The Bourne Legacy, Pamela Landy has been set up as the one responsible for Jason Bourne still being at large. This was actually her role from as early as the second film, as the conspirators were planning to pin their dealings on her in the event they were found out; she just clinched the decision in the third film by faxing details of Blackbriar to her highers-up.

  • In 1984, Emmanuel Goldstein and his supposed resistance are blamed for any problems the people under Big Brother and the Party suffer. Whether or not there's any truth to these accusations is never made clear, but given the nature of the book it doesn't seem likely.
  • Similarly, in Animal Farm, Snowball and his agents are routinely blamed for anything that goes wrong.
  • In Anything But Typical, the other kids in art class throw clay around the room and blame it on Jason.
  • Isaac Asimov's "Let's Get Together": While speaking to the American leadership, Lynn realizes that the reason he had been summoned wasn't to discuss what could be done, but to make certain that when it went wrong, Lynn would be held responsible for it.
    And yet there was justice in it. It was in robotics that We had fallen short. And Lynn was not Lynn merely. He was Lynn of Robotics and the responsibility had to be his.
  • The Bible is the Trope Namer: During the Day of Atonement, one goat would be slaughtered and offered as a blood sacrifice while the other, the scapegoat, symbolically carried the sins of Israel out into the desert. This makes the use of Jews as scapegoats for, well, just about everything over the last fifteen hundred years or so kind of paradoxical. The Bible is also a subversion, however: the scapegoat (literally, the goat who escapes) is the one who doesn't get killed, but instead gets to go free. This is the pshot; the drash is something different.
  • In the second section of A Canticle for Leibowitz, the Poet Sirrah makes an elaborate 'jest' (read:rant) about a blue-headed goat, the titular Saint, and a crown, but not quite in the usual way.
  • In Darkness at Noon, Gletkin explains that, since the necessity of scapegoats has been accepted throughout human history, it is only natural that the failures of the Party be explained away by having men like Rubashov denounce themselves as saboteurs.
  • In Fahrenheit 451, the government comes up with a supposed live feed of Montag being killed after he successfully evades them; it's just some random dude they shot so they don't look bad.
  • Peter Hatcher is often blamed for the antics of his brother in the Fudge series.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "The God in the Bowl", Dionus intends to execute Conan if they don't catch the murderer, even though he doesn't think he's the killer.
  • In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it's revealed Hagrid has been this to Tom Riddle for 50 years.
    • Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban had the eponymous prisoner, Sirius Black, described as an accomplice to the murders of James and Lily Potter and a mass murderer who killed Peter Pettigrew and several bystander Muggles. Then we learn Peter Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius Black with everything.
      • This continued through the Goblet of Fire with Fudge blaming Voldemort's actions on Sirius rather than considering it was actual Death Eater activity.
    • In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after someone puts Harry's name in the eponymous dish to sign him up for a life-threatening tournament - an act that would have required very advanced spellwork to get past restrictions set by Dumbledore himself - Ron claims Harry is lying about not putting his name in the goblet and goes into sulk mode for weeks. This is also the attitude of basically the whole school. As if that wasn't enough, Hermione insists that Harry is somehow responsible for resolving the situation with Ron. Even the narrator seems to be pushing this Broken Aesop, describing Harry's behavior and actions (or lack thereof) as "stubborn".
  • The Infernal Devices: In all honesty, de Quincey from the first book (A Clockwork Angel) is not the poster boy for morality, but he is certainly not the Magister.
  • Journey to Chaos: If you are The Trickster's Choice then you are blamed for disaster in the area, because it's believed that the Trickster made them happen to you. Whether or not thisis the truth is irrelevant. When Eric finds out that he is one of these "chosen" in Looming Shadow, it is a bitter pill to swallow.
  • In Men at Arms, we're told that the Patrician's general view on law and order is that if there's a crime, there must be seen to be a punishment. It's nice if they involve the same person, but it's not necessary. On the other hand, Quirke's decision to arrest a random troll for the murder of a dwarf because "he must have done something" is an invitation to race war.
  • In Romance of the Three Kingdoms, while CaoCao was campaigning against Yuan Shao, one of Cao Cao's officers told him that they were running low on supplies. Cao Cao told him to falsify numbers so that the troops would push on; and then when word got out that food was getting scarce, Cao Cao then had the officer executed and rallied the troops to make a raid on enemy territory, implying that if they failed they would starve. This eventually led up to the rout of Yuan Shao's forces at Guan Du.
  • After learning about the corruption of his policeman father, Sonny Lofthus, the title character from Jo Nesbø's novel The Son, became a heroin junkie and started to take the blame for the crimes of bit-part criminals for cash that he used to buy the drug. After he turned eighteen, he took credit for two murders, and in the subsequent prison sentence, started to take credit for murders committed by others in exchange for pure heroin that was delivered to him by a corrupted prison priest. One day, he learns that his father wasn't corrupt, and he stops being a scapegoat and escapes from prison to get revenge for him.
  • The Tribe: In "Homeroom Headhunters", Spencer is set up to take the fall for the prank the Tribe plays on the whole school at the Christmas assembly. Principal Pritchard knew Spencer didn't do it, but because Spencer refused to reveal the identities of the real culprits, Principal Pritchard has no choice but to expel him.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Princess Agents, one of Yuwen Huai's servants gives Lin Xi a box and tells him to bring it to Yuwen Zhuo. Unknown to Lin Xi, the box contains poison. Yuwen Yue kills Lin Xi because he thinks he deliberately tried to assassinate his grandfather.
  • On The 100, Murphy almost becomes one of these twice. First when he's almost hanged for Wells's murder, before the real murderer confessed, and then again when Raven suggests trying to pin all of Finn's crimes on him. In both cases, the actual guilty party is someone the other characters all like and want to see protected, while Murphy is a Jerkass that no one really likes and of whom everyone's willing to believe the worst; he's quick to point out the main characters' hypocrisy here.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Some among the Northern houses blame their conditions on Robb's inexperience and wedding with Talisa. While not blameless, a lot had to do with his advisors backstabbing him (Roose and Theon), defying him (Karstark) or forcing his hand (Frey refusing passage unless ridiculous payment is made).
    • Tyrion, for Joffrey's murder. Tywin uses him so he can get a show of justice, not actually caring if Tyrion is innocent or not. Margaery and Loras go along with it to protect Olenna, the actual poisoner.
  • Happened in an episode of In Plain Sight, where a teenage girl witnessed a gang crime and her entire family had to go into hiding. She was essentially shunned by her own father for having gone to the forbidden part of town in the first place. Come The Reveal, and the parents learn that she only went there to collect her younger sister, who was in trouble, and that both girls witnessed the crime. The older sister ordered the younger to keep quiet because "that way Daddy will only hate one of us."
  • Happened to Snow White in Once Upon a Time. The Evil Queen held a grudge against Snow for unintentionally telling her abusive mother about her lover Daniel, who then killed Daniel in front of her. Instead of accepting that a little girl made a well-intentioned mistake and that it was her mother's doing, she maintained this grudge and persecuted Snow for years, and it eventually resulted in the Evil Queen casting a curse and ruining the lives of everyone in her world to "win for once" against Snow.
  • In Orange Is the New Black, Vee manipulates Crazy Eyes into becoming one of these after her attack on Red. It would have worked, too, if not for the efforts of others in the prison.
  • In Star Trek: The Next Generation, it's revealed that Worf's father Mogh was unjustly blamed for the slaughter that killed him and thousands of other Klingons because the real traitor belonged to a prominent family and the truth would have caused civil war. The High Council also believed that, with Worf serving in Starfleet and no other known sons of Mogh to defend the family honor, they could declare him a traitor and no one would challenge it. Too bad they didn't know about Worf's younger brother Kurn, who convinced Worf to face the Council and make them play this deception out openly.
  • Sheppard's team becomes this to the newly formed Coalition of Planets in Stargate Atlantis. Said coalition is entirely civilizations that are stuck in Medieval Stasis (since the Wraith destroy ones which advance past that), so naturally the actual effectiveness of this alliance is basically non-existent. But they need to do something, so they single out his team for all the crap they've been through (rightfully or not). They can't target the expedition as a whole (because they're too powerful) and can't do anything to the Ancients (who are dead), but Sheppard's team is something both small and guilty enough that they can reasonably do something to punish them.
  • Pawn Stars:
    • When the Old Man buys a pair of Western studio dummies for $500 (for the pair), Rick blows a gasket. He thinks that Chumlee was the one who purchased them, given his apparent record of dumb purchases, and is floored when the Old Man speaks up and reveals the truth. He bought them because he thought they were neat; he even named them Ed and George.
    • Chumlee purchased a Leslie revolving organ speaker from the 1960s, took it to get restored to operating condition, then brought it back to the shop. Later, Rick hears somebody fiddling around with a keyboard and the speaker in the back room, grumbles about Chumlee goofing off during working hours... and opens the door to find the Old Man at the keyboard.
    • During inventory time, Rick announces there will be a booby prize for whoever bought whatever item had been sitting in the store the longest. Chumlee is blamed for the two worst purchases, but he points out that Rick and the Old Man bought them and that his name is on the paperwork only because they had him write up the sale.
  • Surprisingly Lex Luthor becomes this in Smallville after his Face–Heel Turn due to a combination of The Dreaded and Writers Cannot Do Math. For example the recon done in "Power" had Lana instead of leaving Clark of her own free will be kidnapped by Lex. This means that Lex was building the Prometheus suit to fight Clark and save his battered body long before he was even aware of Clark's secret and was wounded in the Fortress.
  • Discussed and averted in the Father Brown episode "The Hammer of God", Norman Bohen's brother confesses to Father Brown, but feels no guilt because his actions and the possibility of an innocent person hanging for them are divinely guided events. Father Brown loses his temper (a rare occurrence) and yells, "God! Is not! Your scapegoat!
  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Season 3 sees Dex temporarily suspended from his job at the FBI pending an internal investigation into his use of lethal force when killing an Albanian hit squad that tried to assassinate Wilson Fisk. The suspension is actually because Fisk manipulated FBI agents on his payroll to suspend Dex, so that Dex's orderly life will be uprooted and he'll turn to Fisk to give him a sense of purpose. In the midst of swirling in the aftermath of his first mission for Fisk, Dex reaches out to Julie, a woman that he's been stalking. He talks about the FBI are making a scapegoat out of him for the Albanian ambush attack, and makes some hilarious goat-bleating sounds to emphasize this.
    • Once it's revealed in season 3 just how deeply Fisk is manipulating the FBI, it becomes strongly implied that Ray Nadeem, as the agent who was manipulated into making the informant deal that got Fisk out of prison, is being set up by the other corrupt agents to be their fall guy for when Fisk double-crosses them.
    • Even in season 1, Fisk was doing this, as after Karen's exposure of Union Allied, he and James Wesley are quick to orchestrate things so as to ensure that Karen's boss at Union Allied takes the fall for everything posthumously.
  • Fargo:
    • Season 2 has an interesting variant where Dodd Gerhardt and his assassin Hanzee Dent claim to Dodd's mother Floyd that Dodd's missing brother Rye was run down in one location and killed in another by one "Butcher of Luverne". Which is true, just not the way they frame it. In reality, Peggy Blumquist accidentally hit Rye with her car, and then her husband Ed (a butcher's assistant in Luverne) had to kill him in self-defense when he attacked them whilst trying to flee their garage. Dodd uses careful wording to make his mother believe this "Butcher of Luverne" is a contract killer of the Kansas City Mafia's, so she'll support war with Kansas City, who are trying to muscle into Gerhardt territory.
    • Late in season 3, Emmit Stussy decides to turn himself in to the police and confess to all his crimes, including the murder of his brother Ray and the stuff he's been blackmailed by VM Varga into engaging in. Too bad for Emmit, Varga has a contingency plan to keep Emmit under his thumbs. A few episodes earlier, he'd had Yuri steal a case file from the Eden Valley cops concerning the murder of Gloria's stepfather Ennis Stussy by a dimwitted ex-con Ray tried to use to steal a stamp from Emmit, and he also covered up Emmit's accidental murder of Ray. With this information, Varga has Meemo murder two random people with the last name 'Stussy', one by slitting his throat (to imitate Ray) and another by asphyxiation (to imitate Ennis), giving the illusion of the first two murders being the work of a very unusual serial killer. To complete the illusion, he even has a willing Fall Guy, Donald Woo, who deliberately lets himself get captured and "confesses" to all four crimes, nullifying Emmit's confession.
  • In the Starsky & Hutch episode "A Body Worth Guarding," the Fascist Party of America plans to murder a visiting Russian ballerina so they can pin it on the Jewish Organization for Action, who were protesting the treatment of the Russian Jews.
  • A French Village: After the Resistance manage to openly march through Villeneuve for the Remembrance Day celebrations, Philippe gets sentenced to death by the Germans for not preventing it (despite him being a fervent, loyal collaborator who tried as best he could).

  • "Blame it on the Kellys" by Waylon Jennings is about how every crime with an unknown perpetrator was blamed on the Kelly gang, from the potato crop failing to the "murder" (by unknown means) of a 109 year old man. Eventually the narrator contemplates stealing a horse himself, and blaming the Kellys.

    Oral Tradition 
  • One East African folktale involves a hyena bringing a leopard's dead son to him, saying he had been murdered. After the leopard swears vengeance against the perpetrator, he asks the hyena who was responsible. The hyena answers that it could only have been a herd of elephants, since she saw their tracks. But the leopard insists she's wrong, and that it was actually a herd of goats that did it.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Bryan Danielson was the scapegoat when one of WWE's sponsors found the NXT Riot that led to the formation of The Nexus "too violent". Danielson was singled out for being the veteran and for performing "imitable violence" when he choked Justin Roberts with a tie. He was kicked out of the Nexus for showing "remorse" and fired from WWE entirely. WWE would hire him back later.
  • Low Ki...ahem...Kaval was the scapegoat for NXT Season Two, both for Vince McMahon's choice not winning (the contest was supposed to be 50% fan votes, 50% "pro decision", which means at least one pro was a turncoat since the fan vote was overwhelmingly in Kaval's favor, never falling below 60%) and for the horribleness of the "Genesis" segment which was a result of Vince McMahon's fury at the fact Alex Riley did not win. Then Low Ki was the scapegoat when New Japan Pro-Wrestling's sponsors got upset at the fact Low Ki dressed up as Agent 47, who was apparently a trademark of a sponsor's competitor whom they felt New Japan just gave an awesome free commercial to. These resulted in his release from both companies. Unlike Danielson, Low Ki would get injured by Akebono at an All Japan Pro Wrestling show before New Japan could hire him back.
  • Former New Japan Pro-Wrestling booker Fumihiko Uei was the one who paid for the disaster title bout between Kazuyuki Fujita and Kensuke, despite Fujita himself having booked the match finish.
  • You could argue that many recipients of X-Pac Heat are ultimately scapegoats for WWE management's incompetence. When it comes down to it, the performers answer to management and many don't really have a say in the matter, at least not without getting into hot water with somebody up on the corporate ladder. Since the fans obviously can't boo directly at creative or management besides the McMahons, they boo the performers instead. Take, for example, the 2014 and 2015 Royal Rumble winners.
    • 2014: The two people who received the worst of the vitriol were Rey Mysterio and eventual winner Batista. With Rey, it was because he was the last entrant in the match, and thus it was then that the fans realized runaway crowd-favorite-to-win Daniel Bryan wasn't going to be in it. With Dave, it was a mishmash of factors — he won when Bryan was left out of it, one week after returning no less, and the fact that he would be winning was completely telegraphed. Many felt he hadn't earned the shot over the current roster after coming back so soon, and the match itself made it clear that he had a severe case of ring rust. Then there's the fact that he returned a face; fans tend to agree that while Batista's face work is above average at best, his heel work is where he really shines and what he clearly enjoys, and the above situation just made it too much of a cognitive dissonance to pan out (he himself admitted in interviews that he didn't want to return as a face but creative kept pushing for it, no doubt to capitalize on Guardians of the Galaxy). Combined with the fact that he was playing a face who was playing nice with The Authority, the most hated faction in the entire company, creating the sense that the Authority were outright manufacturing a controlled main event for WrestleMania, and when it comes down to it, Dave never stood a chance. When he turned heel, the resentment died down and turned into genuine heel heat and everyone was much, much happier, including Dave himself, though that didn't stop him from leaving over Creative Differences months later.
    • 2015: Roman Reigns. Poor, poor, Roman. This time, it was less about him not being Daniel Bryan and more about him being Roman Reigns. Vince is so desperate to find another John Cena as the man himself nears forty, and Roman's the one who got stuck with that role, despite being relatively green. It soon became very clear that the character did not fit him. He was eaten alive in the aftermath of the 2015 Royal Rumble, and reactions have been mild even after all the backlash died down during the aftermath of WrestleMania. However, Vince is so goddamn stubborn with making him the top face of the company that the fans have been force-fed him for months even though it's very obvious that they don't want to see anymore of him unless he turns heel like Batista did, which is what everyone (including, if the rumors are true, his own son-in-law) is telling Vince he needs to do — barring his corporate stooges, that is. He's now the current embodiment of everything fans hate about the WWE and the lightning rod for all the rage people have at Vince's booking decisions. Just like Dave before, he's constantly being set up for failure by Vince and his Yes Men, but since he doesn't have the clout Batista has, he's got no choice but to do as he's told. The only thing that actually got him over after ten months of being booked as Cena 2.0 was a genuinely character-motivated berserker rage beating of Triple H — and the McMahons figuring from there that people liked seeing Roman embarrass them (though they've become so hated that embarrassing them would get anyone over). As it turns out, Reigns makes a great Troll.
  • Baron Corbin was this when the ratings were plummeting due to creative's awful booking decisions in 2018. Instead of owning up to their own mistakes, the McMahon family all came out and basically blamed Corbin as the reason for said problems. This didn't go over well - any wrestling fan would know this was blatantly false, as Corbin was just doing his job and this was the McMahons' attempt to come out as the heroes of a problem they were responsible for - but the poor bastard was booked to be the guy to take the pay-off of the bad bookings while Vince and his family received no comeuppance.

  • The A Prairie Home Companion comedy sketch "The Fall Guy" is about a poor schmuck employed by a huge corporation solely for the purpose of taking the blame for everything that goes wrong. In order to keep the stress from killing him they've provided the fall guy with a whipping boy and the whipping boy with a (literal) scapegoat.
  • If the General Assistance Department in The Men from the Ministry has made a grave error, Mr. Lamb is always the one primarily responsible, since according to Lennox-Brown as the junior executive it's his job to take the blame.

    Tabletop Games 
  • While Paranoia does have real Commies performing real crimes, a lot of what they get blamed for is actually carried out by PURGE, or some other secret society, or just self-serving individuals.
    • Alpha Complex citizens in general and Troubleshooters in particular excel at finding scapegoats. When the mission evaluation strikes and Friend Computer wants to know what happened and who is to blame, you better have your incriminating evidence ready and your finger pointed at your fellow Troubleshooter. If you don't, you might end up blamed instead.
  • Pathfinder:
    • In the Adventure Path Curse of the Crimson Throne, Nice Girl Trinia Sabor is framed for the murder of King Eodred, in order to cover up the actions of the real killer, Queen Ileosa.
    • This is the purpose of the shabti, magical duplicates made by mortal rulers to evade punishment in the afterlife by forcing the shabti to suffer it in their place.

  • The Book of Mormon: Elder Price's great shame is that, at the age of five, he ate a doughnut and blamed it on his brother.

    Video Games 
  • In Chrono Trigger, the Evil Chancellor tries to have the King Guardia XXXIII framed for selling the Rainbow Shell under false pretenses... the Chancellor was actually a descendent of the Yakra monster you defeated earlier, seeking revenge for its fallen ancestor.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this happens to you during the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy."
  • In Final Fantasy VII, Rufus Shinra tries to publicly execute Tifa and Barret, even though he knows they're not responsible for the accelerating disaster - because he feels that the people need a scapegoat, to help them rally behind Shinra to stop Sephiroth. (Fortunately, he used a rather... slow-acting gas, and some of his personnel had different views. Oh, and Gaia's Vengeance Ex Machina happened too.)
    • In the previous game Final Fantasy VI the Back Story of a little backwater town Thamasa is that it was founded by mages fleeing persecution after being made scapegoats for a massively destructive war in the backstory for this game as such they treat outsiders with distrust out of fear they find out about their ancestors and try to finish off the job that that nearly killed the towns founders.
  • In Final Fantasy Tactics, Ramza gets branded a heretic by the Corrupt Church; while he does kill a cardinal, it was in self-defense when the cardinal reveals that he's either a human who's been possessed by a demon or always has been a demon, just in human guise. Later, when Olan writes the Durai Reports covering the true story of Delita's rise to power and the Church's attempt to manipulate politics in the background, he also gets branded (and executed) as a heretic.
  • The Great Gaias: The Validians blame the elves for causing the Blight, a magic that causes the lands near them to be infertile wastelands. Unsurprisingly, the Validian Emperor, Grindelwald Maultor, is behind the Blight and is using it to manipulate his people.
  • Halo:
    • By the start of Halo 2, former Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee is tried for his failure, as the leader of the Covenant fleet that followed the Pillar of Autumn from Reach to Halo, to stop humans from landing on the eponymous ring-world and allowing the Master Chief to destroy it at the end of the first game. As he himself tries to protest and the Prophet of Truth even admits to; however, his hands were tied when The Flood escaped and ran rough-shod over both human and Covenant ground forces, leaving him unable to keep track of one Supersoldier until it was too late, and left unmentioned that he was stopped by the Prophets on his fleet from just destroying the human ship before it crash-landed on Halo because they didn't want to risk damaging the ring (said damage risk was also why they couldn't just glass Halo to contain the infection). Of course, somebody still has to take the blame, and it's only Truth's political-savvy and desire to avoid wasting one of their finest warriors that prevents Thel from being executed and "just" being shamed, stripped of his former titles, and becoming the new Arbiter meant to go on suicide missions.
    • By the start of Halo 4, Dr. Halsey has made into this by her superiors, who call her methods of creating Spartan-IIs as abhorrent, as it involved the kidnapping and genetic modification of children. However, this was done simply to make the Spartan-IVs look better and to cover up the fact that ONI's leaders were the ones who approved of everything Halsey did in the first place.
  • In Valkyria Chronicles, the Darcsen Calamity which turned the region of Barious into a blasted desert wasteland is blamed on the Darcsen race, with history claiming that they destroyed the region through their misuse of ragnite. As a result of this, the Darcsens were forced to face persecution, from personal prejudices to being forced into concentration camps by the Empire. In truth, the Calamity was actually caused by the Valkyrur, whom history claims saved the continent from the Darcsens when they actually destroyed Barious while committing genocide against the Darcsens before passing the blame onto them.
  • The US Marines are used as a scapegoat by Blackwatch in the game [PROTOTYPE]. A bit of Fridge Brilliance justifies the combat tactics in-game because of this: what's the best way to make sure the marines are highly visible during the destruction of New York? Use forms of warfare that result in high attrition, lots of collateral damage and see an overwhelming military force crashing through civilian areas. The Marines were also used as shock troops to absorb the brunt of the casualties, which accounts for the Blackwatch's relative rarity on the field in comparison with them.
    • They get better in the end though, when they are credited for stopping the infection (which you actually did most of the job).
    • Also there is an ability called Patsy where you can scapegoat an innocent person and make the military believe that person is you, resulting in their instant death why they plead they are normal. This is done for as a distraction or just because it's funny.
  • In Suikoden IV, Lazlo is banished from Razril and set adrift, left to die for a crime he didn't commit. Eventually, after her own fall from grace, his ex-superior Katarina admits that she suspected he wasn't responsible, but went along with the charade because she wanted to see someone pay for Glen's death.
  • Assuming Five Nights at Freddy's 4 shows what it appears to (which may or may not be the case), the Toy animatronics were this for all of Freddy's franchise woes. After being publicized as the new face of the restaurant, they were quickly consigned to the scrapheap when child deaths started piling up, despite not being responsible for any of them (not even the Bite of '87).
  • In Spec Ops: The Line, John Conrad turns out to be this in the end. Walker used an imaginary version of Conrad to cast all his self-loathing onto: The man himself was Dead All Along. He does not take it well when he realizes he's got no-one to blame for all the chaos he brought to Dubai but himself.
  • In case 2-4 of Ace Attorney, Phoenix is forced to accuse Adrian Andrews of murder, despite knowing that they're innocent, in an effort to draw out the trial.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team, the player character is blamed by Gengar for touching Ninetales' tails. Because the person who did it is the one whose reincarnation is cursed to bring about The End of the World as We Know It, this leads to everyone trying to hunt you down and kill you in order to stop the curse while you have to go on the run to clear your name.
  • A confusing case happens in Onmyōji. Seimei is frequently blamed for terrible crimes he doesn't remember committing, leading him to question his entirely forgotten past. Only, the real criminal is his Literal Split Personality which he accidentally created himself, so we could say that Seimei does play a part… kinda?
    • Earlier in the game, Kohaku is accused of eating Inugami's Sparrow until the real culprit Kyūmei-neko is exposed.
  • The Jedi Council in Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords utterly refuse to accept any fault. Blaming the Exile for the Mandalorian Wars and Malacor V. When reunited by a light side Exile they even try to pin the rise of the Sith on them.
  • In Scrapland, a human by the name of Bill arrives on the titular planet to do some selling, unaware that a)the robots of Scrapland LOATHE humans and consider them to be some sort of terrifying monsters, and b) someone has been murdering several of the city's high-ranking members while disguised as a human. So, as soon as Bill tries to pass through customs, he's immediately accused of committing the murders and arrested.
  • Tales of Berseria: Midway through the game, the Abbey begins calling Velvet the "Lord of Calamity," implicitly blaming her for the spread of daemonblight and everything else wrong with the world. While she's not exactly blameless, it's clear that they just slapped the label on her in order to give the citizens someone specific to hate and fear so that they would turn to the Abbey for help. Velvet, due to suffering from some serious Survivor's Guilt, decides Then Let Me Be Evil and encourages this reputation when it's convenient for her. The most obvious would probably be the time she saves a town from a daemon attack, then announces herself as the Lord of Calamity to cause all the townsfolk to run away—because she's planning to do something that might cause the nearby volcano to erupt, and she wants everyone to evacuate.
  • One way to deal with the law in Cultist Simulator is to throw one of your minions under the bus and have them take the heat on your behalf.
  • Hypnospace Outlaw: the Mindcrash incident, which leaves several Hypnospace users dead, was caused by Dylan Merchant, who pushed a version of a game he was developing, Outlaw, onto HypnOS computers without properly testing it for safety. The build he forced onto Hypnospace users was so glitchy and buggy, it caused the (shoddily constructed) Brain–Computer Interface that HypnOS uses to malfunction to the point of frying several users' brains. Shortly before the incident, another Hypnospace user, Tim "T1MAGGEDON" Stevens, released a computer virus called "Y2K Mindcrash", onto Hypnospace. Stevens's virus was actually relatively harmless, but the timeliness of its release and the incident provided the Merchant brothers with the perfect fall guy to take the blame for the incident. Stevens, a teenager at the time, would be charged as an adult for manslaughter and forced to serve six years in federal prison.
  • Dishonored: The Abbey of the Everyman blames all human sin and corruption on the Outsider, the Enigmatic Empowering Entity that is behind most of the magic in the world. While people often do use the Outsider's gifts to do terrible things, he doesn't make them do anything, and is always disappointed when they fall prey to their baser instincts. He flippantly refers to the Abbey as "that cult dedicated to hating me." Hazel Monforton wrote an essay (that got her promoted to writer for Dishonored: Death of the Outsider) about how the Abbey scapegoats the Outsider; in short, it's like if Christianity sided with the oppressors instead of with the oppressed. In Death of the Outsider, it is revealed that the Outsider was originally just a random street rat who was sacrificed to give a face to the Void. The cult that sacrificed him grew into the Abbey, and the highest ranking members of the church have known the whole time that the Outsider wasn't really the source of all evil as they claimed. Many are worried that if he dies they will lose their power as they won't be able to blame him for everything any more.
  • This Is The Police 2: Jack Boyd is framed as the kingpin of Freeburg, using his positions as Police Captain and Police Chief to build a criminal empire for thirty years. While it's clear that Jack is delusional in thinking he's completely innocent because of numerous accounts of abuse, blackmail, and even murder, it's clear to the player that he only did these things to keep his police station stable enough to get some real work done. A year after Jack has been framed and fled the city, they're still blaming him for some outrageously ridiculous crimes. The newscasts have apparently lost their minds, as none of them have posted anything serious for the past year other than "Jack Boyd is still a criminal" and "A crime happened: We have absolute obedient faith that Jack Boyd did it". Eventually, it becomes clear that Jack is doing a horrible job at keeping himself low profile, but the Feds refuse to actually try to find him because Freeburg needs him as a scapegoat to blame for their own compiling crimes.
  • In Fallout: New Vegas this is the reason that the player is tasked with saving the NCR president if they're supporting House or going Independent. By keeping him alive he can be set up as a scapegoat for the NCR citizens as the president who led his country into a costly war whereas if he's dead then he'll be seen as a martyr and their ire will be drawn to Vegas, which will likely hurt the city's economy in the long run.
  • This trope is invoked in the main theme of Guilty Gear 2020's main theme "Smell Of The Game", as well as in a pre-fight message.
    Mankind knew that they cannot change society. So instead of reflecting on themselves, they blamed the beasts.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, General Narcian of Bern is in hot water due to his repeated failures, so in order to save face tries to pin the blame on Zeiss, since his older sister Melady defected to the Lycian Army, making up a story that he was leaking intel to them through her. Fortunately, Galle catches wind and lets him know of this, and he ends up joining Melady when he confronts her later.
    • Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade has Nino, who was sent by her adoptive mother Sonia on a mission with Jaffar to assassinate Prince Zephiel. Sonia secretly instructs Jaffar to kill Nino after the deed is done, because the prince is beloved by Bern's folk. Jaffar himself is appalled by this, and it ultimately leads to both of them defecting to Eliwood's side.
    • In Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn, after word of the first Arc Villain Jarod's abuses of the Daein people reaches the Empress of Begnion, his corrupt superiors in the Begnion senate lay all the blame for his actions on his lap, despite being personally complicit in said abuses. Jarod, for his part, decides he'd rather drag The Hero Micaiah down with him than try his luck with the senate.
    • Maribelle of Fire Emblem Awakening. Gangrel captures her early on in the game and accuses her of trespassing in Plegian territory and assaulting Plegian soldiers, which is used as justification for starting the war with Ylisse. She reveals in a support conversation that she went there herself to dissuade them from advancing, but they held her hostage.
  • Utawarerumono: Mask of Deception: After Anju fakes her own kidnapping in an attempt to invoke a Rescue Romance with her bodyguard Oshtor (which doesn't work; he sees through it instantly), she and the rest of the heroes are horrified that their ally Nosuri, the "kidnapper", will probably be executed by the government. Fake or not, the public believes Anju had been kidnapped, and the courts cannot ignore that. They instead decide to frame a minor thief, Moznu, for the kidnapping and arrest him on those charges before turning him over to the courts. The protagonists do uncomfortably point out how immoral it is to set up a minor thief to be executed for one of their own mistakes, but they go through with it anyway. The sequel reveals that Moznu manages to break out and escape before being executed, and for various reasons the government no longer bothers pursuing him.
  • Yes, Your Grace: Evidence found after King Talys' death by poisoning points to three different people who were present at the time, none of whom actually did it. However, the Player Character will have to pick one to execute to preserve his political relationship with his strongest ally or else have his advisor give a False Confession. One of the three candidates for scapegoat has the deck slightly stacked against them, as on top of having both motive and incriminating evidence, they insisted that the victim have one last drink before leaving the party, and that drink contained the poison.
  • Jade Empire: Death's Hand initially seems to be the Big Bad cruelly manipulating Emperor Sun Hai, committing terrible atrocities behind his master's back, and bringing ruin to the Empire by betraying the Water Dragon. He's actually Emperor Sun Hai's enslaved thrall who is physically forced to carry out Hai's numerous appalling crimes, taking the blame for them so that the public does not realize their Emperor is really a madman who incapacitated the Water Dragon to steal her power and, in doing so, caused the plague of angry ghosts that is threatening the land.

    Visual Novels 
  • Angra Mainyu a.k.a. Avenger from Fate/stay night. An ordinary man, his fellow villagers one day declared him to be the reason all of their sinful urges existed and tortured him for the rest of his life in an attempt to purge themselves of evil. Because his death brought them a form of salvation he technically qualified as a Heroic Spirit, but as a Servant during the Third War he was as weak as a human. After he was killed the Grail interpreted his existence as a "wish" by those villagers for there to exist a God of Evil, which it then attempted to grant.
    • Archer's final fate was to be blamed and executed for starting a war he had tried to stop. Worse yet, the person who started the war and blamed him was a person Archer had saved.
  • Happens with both of the Disc One Final Bosses in When They Cry:
  • As a murder & mystery game series, Danganronpa has this as a recurring element.
    • In the first chapter of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Sayaka Maizono used Makoto Naegi to set him up for a murder to frame him, only to be murdered by her intended victim. It's left ambiguous whether they were remorseful about their actions, though the narrative leans towards the angle that they were.
      • During the third murder case Celestia Ludenberg manipulates Hifumi Yamada into murdering Kiyotaka Ishimaru and then kills him herself and tries to pin the murder of both students on Yasuhiro Hagakure. It all backfires.
    • During the second chapter of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, Peko Pekoyama murders Mahiru Koizumi in an attempt to stop Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu from killing her himself and save him from a potential execution and then creates fake evidence and rearranges the crime scene in order to make it look like Hiyoko Saionji, who she previously had drugged into unconsciousness as part of the plan, had killed the victim.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony seems to love doing this with Himiko Yumeno, to the point that she's accused of being the murderer up to four times (albeit the third time is done as a joke, and the fourth time is more of a coincidence than anything).
      • The first time occurs in chapter 2. After Kirumi Tojo murders Ryoma Hoshi, the dead body is thrown into a piranha tank used for Himiko's magic show, causing the piranhas to eat Ryoma's remains and the body to be appear in front of everyone during her magic trick, allowing Kirumi to pin the murder on her. The fact that she keeps insisting that she used real magic for her performance instead of admitting that she used a trick in order to escape does not help much.
      • The second time is during the next chapter. Korekiyo Shinguuji, the killer in this case, tries to pin Tenko Chabashira's murder on her because she suggested using a specific room for the séance in which Tenko died, alongside being present when her death occurred in the darkness. It is also noted that she could also be Angie Yonaga's killer because as a member of Angie's Student Council, Himiko could've been able to persuade her into opening her Research Lab's door for her and kill her there.

    Web Animation 


    Western Animation 
  • In Arthur, after Francine's bike was allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspected that Binky may have stolen the bike. During a meeting, Binky stormed over to Muffy and asked if she was the one who is accusing him of stealing her bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
  • Scrooge McDuck is hit with this hard in the DuckTales (2017) episode "The Last Flight of the Sunchaser". When Huey, Dewey and Louie learned that their mother Della stole a rocketship that Scrooge had intended to give to her and her family as a gift for her expecting triplets and proceeded to get lost in space, the trio blamed Scrooge for building the rocket instead of the fact that her impulsive attitude got her in trouble in the first place. Not helping matters is that Scrooge's Pride prevented him from properly explaining just how much effort he poured into failed attempts to find Della.
  • The Fairly OddParents: Whenever something goes wrong in Timmy's family, his father's first reaction is to blame his neighbor Dinkleberg or Timmy himself (especially if Timmy barely did something). Taken Up to Eleven in later seasons were he blames everything, from not having milk for his cereal to the newspaper being wrong, on Dinkleberg.
  • In Family Guy episode Family Guy S10 E2: "Seahorse Seashell Party", Meg, after finally losing it and verbally ripping the entire family a new one, realizes that everything her family has put her through. All the teasing and abuse they heap on her is because they need a lightning rod to absorb their dysfunction. When they don't have her as a scapegoat her parents and brother turn on each other trying to find a new lightning rod to take the blame for their flaws.
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Frightful", the Frightful Four are damaging the FF's reputation. Since Johnny's already known to be careless with his powers, it's very hard for him to convince anyone he wasn't responsible for burning down a building... especially as he has to keep specifying "I did not burn down that building".
  • Fillmore! used this for the reason Vallejo's partner Frank Bishop was kicked out of the Safety Patrol and became a recluse - while chasing a Bingo rigger Frank dumped gazpacho onto the perp to slip him up... only it turned out that the perp was allergic to gazpacho. Fulsom chose to shift the blame entirely onto him rather than face a lawsuit from his parents.
  • Franklin: Goose becomes this in "Franklin and the Broken Globe." Bear and Franklin have done a shoddy attempt at trying to fix Owl's broken globe during recess before anyone notices, and when Goose goes to sharpen her pencil she accidentally hits the damaged globe with her wing, revealing it's broken. But Goose thinks she broke it and accepts the blame, and at first Bear and Franklin are relieved, but Goose goes onto think she is The Klutz and not want to do anything with her friends anymore, and Bear and Franklin soon start to feel guilty and eventually confess to Mr. Owl that they were the ones that broke the glove in the first place.
  • On an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon, Garfield and Odie are camping at a park. The ranger mentions that campers have been complaining about their lunches mysteriously disappearing over the last few weeks. Jon immediately glares at Garfield who says "Don't look at me. I just got here."
  • King: Invoked in "Never Be Nice To A Pubrick". The titular creature has to be blamed for everyone's misfortunes, otherwise it turns into a giant, destructive monster.
  • King of the Hill: Exploited. In "Bobby On Track", Hank makes Bobby complete the 5K run at the school track as punishment for not completing the Fun Run charity race. The track and field coach turns up and wants Bobby on his team, puzzling Hank. It turns out that the coach is using Bobby's lack of ability to motivate the rest of the team. The coach has Bobby substitute for a player that misbehaved to embarrass them so they try harder so they won't be humiliated by being replaced by Bobby. At first it works, to Hank's disappointment, with Bobby seeing himself as a motivator. But when the team gets to the final it works a little too well when a player hyper-extended because he saw the coach talking to Bobby and was afraid he was going to get replaced. The coach has no one to replace him to run the relay, until Hank suggests using Bobby. The coach is unhappy because this was a situation where losing would hurt the team this time. The coach tries to motivate Bobby by telling him to imagine himself as a different person, Bobby 2.0; Hank tells Bobby to forget that nonsense, just to try. Bobby understands, and joins the race. At first he loses the lead, but the other runners trip, allowing Bobby to catch up and run past them. When the other runners catch up to Bobby, he still runs as fast as he can and wins the race.
  • Peanuts: Charlie Brown is a Butt-Monkey on his best day, and a Chew Toy on average, but he becomes this in It's Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown. During the last play of the football game, Lucy - typically - pulls the football away before Charlie can kick it, causing their gang to lose the important game. She deliberately screws up the play, but somehow this is Charlie Brown's fault. This is the only reason that many Peanuts fans hate about that special.
  • On Recess, Randall also had this happen to him twice:
    • The first time, most of the secrets that TJ and the others held were exposed to the teachers and staff, to which they ended up busted. They initially think Randall was behind their being ratted out, but Randall (who was in the garbage can to listen in) insisted that he did not. A chase to the bathroom later, and they end up discovering that Randall really wasn't behind their being ratted out that time: It was the so-called "cool kid" Stone who joined up with their posse who was in fact an undercover department of education individual who disguised himself as a student so Superintendent Skinner could find out the going abouts by the school who did it.
    • The second time was when Randall hired the Ashleys' younger brothers, the Tylers, to act as proxies for him for his snitching job due to his getting cold at his sleuthing skills. One day, a lot more kids were put in The Box, including King Bob, who blamed Randall. However, Randall mentioned that reporting higher authority figures was a low even he wouldn't go as low as, and immediately told off the Ashleys' brothers for it, and attempted to put a stop to it, although they were one step ahead of him and reported him for it as well. Both instances also resulted in an Enemy Mine between Randall and the other kids.
  • One episode of Rugrats has Susie blame Angelica for stealing her brand-new tricycle and punishes her by tying her doll to a balloon and letting it go. Despite the evidence against her, Angelica was completely innocent - Susie's trike was under her porch, Angelica's trike was her own and Angelica's red hands (which Susie thought was from opening her garage's painted doors) were actually from her finger painting an apology letter. Thankfully for Susie, a miracle (or a low-flying plane) gets Angelica's doll back to her and everyone's happy again. Except for poor Chuckie, since it was his balloon tied to the doll. The lesson he learned that day was "Never let Susie borrow your balloon".
  • In She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, Entrapta's attempt to warn Hordak that his activation of the portal could destroy reality is prevented when Catra's ever-growing obsession with defeating Adora causes her to knock Entrapta out. When the other Princesses arrive to rescue Adora, Catra proclaims to Hordak that Entrapta was the one who brought them to the Fright Zone.
  • The Simpsons
    • In "Lisa the Vegetarian," when Lisa ruins Homer's barbeque by stealing the roast pig:
      Marge: Bart, nooooo!
      Bart: [standing beside her] What?
      Marge: Sorry, force of habit. Lisa, nooooo!
    • "Two Dozen and One Greyhounds"
      • Lisa, Marge, and Homer wonder who was causing various problems within the house lately (such as tearing up all her test papers, a broken vase, and spreading garbage all over the neighbor's yard before Homer got the chance to, respectively). Bart quips that he was this time innocent of these, and felt they were simply senseless destruction without any of his usual commentary. Turns out, it was the dog, who was continuing his path of destruction even in the room where they were located discussing what's happening.
      • Santa's Little Helper himself was implied to have this same trope applied to him. When they discover some stuff buried underneath the house (specifically, Lisa's bongo drums, Bart's strobe light, and Homer's "best of Ray Stevens featuring 'The Streak'" record) Homer guessed that it was the dog that buried all of their stuff. Marge's response to Homer implies that it was in fact she who buried at least one of the items that Santa's Little Helper uncovered.
    • Bart has been expelled from Springfield Elementary School twice, both times for something that he didn't actually do.
    • In "The Seven-Beer Snitch," Fat Tony's Mafia, while they are in prison, deduce that one of their fellow inmates was The Informant, to which Johnny Tightlips points to Frankie the Squealer as the rat. However, not only does Frankie deny being the rat, but he also reminds him that he's actually The Stool Pigeon. It was Homer Simpson who was the rat.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • Squidward has fallen victim to this on multiple occasions ("Krab Borg", "Can You Spare A Dime?", "The Lost Mattress" and "Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful", just to name the most popular examples).
    • SpongeBob becomes one in "Life of Crime" when Patrick accuses him of "stealing" his candy bar, when he never really opened his and Patrick ate his in just two bites and was unaware he already finished it up despite SpongeBob trying to tell him so. To add to it, SpongeBob was the one who gave him the bar in the first place.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Implied. In the end of the series, Star deems magic as evil and the cause of all the problems in the series. She states that using magic to solve problems only causes more problems, and the ones using it are all idiots who don't deserve the power they have, her own family included. It's better to not have it than let it be abused by the corrupt and stupid anymore. However, even though it's true that abuse of magic is one of the cause of problems, it's not the main cause. Rather, it was the racism between the Mewmans and Monsters and battle over the lands. It's implied that Star is just ignoring the complexity of the situation because she wants a quick solution to stop Mina, so she decides to destroy magic. Moon is also implied to put the blame on magic as well. Moon caused the problem in the finale by foolishly siding with Mina because of her unfair grudge again Eclipsa and her thinking she has control over the situation; that backfired, and Star is understandable angry at her mother. Moon is unsure but agrees to help Star destroy magic, and at the end of the episode tells Star she freed them from the reign of magic, putting the blame for her actions on magic rather than herself.
  • Teacher's Pet, Leonard, he always gets blamed for things that are obviously Spot/Scott's fault. Leonard once got senselessly blamed and beat up for something Scott did to help him on Valentines Day. When people find out that the cards were fake, the girls beat him up to teach him a lesson. This is one of the many reasons fans hate that episode because they didn't like the main character get senselessly humiliated, blamed, and beat up.
  • On Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Muttley became Dick Dastardly's scapegoat whenever a plan went wrong ("This is all your fault, Muttley!")

    Real Life 
  • Nero blamed the Christians for the fire that burned down a huge chunk of Rome; it didn't that the Christians supposedly had some downright bizarre religious rituals about eating the flesh of the dead (taken from the "This is my body" section of the Last Supper).
  • The Jews also got blamed for a great number of things throughout history, up to and including the death of Christnote , the Blood Libel, the Black Death and others, leading to many pogroms against them.
    • This came to its head, as everyone knows, in World War 2, where Hitler whipped Germany into an antisemetic frenzy by claiming the Jews were responsible for Germany's woes, which led to the Holocaust.
    • Speaking of the Black Death, during the 1340's epidemic, each country in Europe had its own Acceptable Targets regarding the plague. The French blamed the English (an accusation that, while untrue, would have been plausible in the time of The Hundred Years War), the Spanish blamed the Moors, the Germans blamed the Jews, and the English blamed the lepers.
  • The Curse of the Colonel, for why the Hanshin Tigers haven't won a Japan Series since the last time they won some excited fans tossed a statue of Colonel Sanders (yes, the KFC icon) into the river.
  • An actual goat is blamed for the Chicago Cubs' woes - namely, that said goat was ejected from the Wrigley Field stands during Game 4 of the 1945 World Series, which infuriated his owner and proclaimed a curse on the team. The Cubs lost that series and would not play in another World Series until 2016 (which they won).
    • As far as baseball goes, there is probably no one who has gotten figuratively slaughtered more publicly or mercilessly than Cubs fan Steve Bartman. Just one action of reaching for a foul ball coming your way, something every fan in attendance would do a million times over, means you knock it away from Cubs left fielder Moisés Alou and perhaps prevent him from bringing your beloved Cubs one out closer to ending the curse. Never mind that it was Bernie Mac who sang "Root, root, root, for the champs" instead of "the Cubbies" during the 7th inning stretch, or that it was still one out in the top of the 8th and the Cubs were still up 3-0, or that Cubs starting pitcher Mark Prior was starting to miss the strike zone after working the entire game, or that, with the Cubs still leading 3-1 later that inning, Cubs shortstop Alex Gonzalez, one of the surest gloves in the game, misplayed a ground ball that would have been an easy inning-ending double play, or that the Cubs were still up 3 games to 2 in the series and could still have won the pennant in Game 7 even if they had lost Game 6. No, as far as all Chicago was concerned, it was your fault Alou was angry and acted out and completely changed the mood of all 42,000+ in attendance and 150,000 more in the streets outside; it was your fault the Florida Marlins' bats suddenly smacked eight runs across that inning; it was your fault the Cubs lost Game 6 AND Game 7 of the series, the latter of which you didn't even attend because everyone around you was throwing "Asshole! Asshole!" chants, food, cups of beer, and death threats in your direction in Game 6. And overnight you became the most (in)famous man in America, your face front and center over every news station from here to Honolulu, your home being protected by a line of cops to stop the ravenous media from bothering you and irate fans from chucking rocks at your windows, your city inflamed with expressions of rage and hatred of your mere existence. And now you can never again go to the hitherto Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field to watch your favorite team or show your face in public lest some fan decides to slug your teeth in, at least not until the Cubs finally break this curse. And all because you reached for a foul ball. In July 2017, Cubs owner Tom Ricketts sent Bartman an official World Series Championship ring as an apology for the hardships he had to endure.
  • Before Bartman, there was Bill Buckner. Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Red Sox were up 3 games to 2 in the series and held a 5-3 lead with two outs in the bottom of the 10th inning with bases empty. One more out, and the Red Sox win their first World Series since 1918. Everyone recalls the ending as Buckner letting a slow ground ball up the first base line between his legs which let the winning run for the Mets score, and the Mets also winning Game 7. Fewer will remember that Buckner's error was just the last in a series of plays that allowed that situation to come up in the first place: a Gary Carter single, a Kevin Mitchell single on an 0-2 countnote , a Ray Knight single that scored Carter (now 5-4 Red Sox) and got Mitchell to third base, Red Sox closer Calvin Schiraldi (who was working his third inning - it's rare for closers to pitch more than one in a game) being pulled for Bob Stanley, Stanley being worked to a 2-2 count on Mookie Wilson before Stanley threw a wild pitch near Wilson's feet which rolled to the backstop and let Mitchell score the tying run. This was all before Wilson tapped the grounder to Buckner (in other words, the Red Sox's lead was already blown by the time Buckner committed the error). Nonetheless, sports radio and Red Sox fans remembered Buckner as the guy responsible for the Red Sox losing in '86, and after retiring in 1990 he didn't appear at Fenway until 2008 (after the Red Sox had won the World Series in '04 and '07). Buckner's career was quite impressive - 2,715 hits (more than Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio), .289 batting average, 1,208 runs batted in - but anytime his name is mentioned among baseball fans, this one error will be the first thing that comes to mind.
  • This happens very often in baseball. Tony Fernández was shaping up to be a potential MVP for the 1997 World Series for the Cleveland Indians. Then, in the 11th inning of Game 7, Bobby Bonilla of the Florida Marlins shielded him on a soft grounder by Craig Counsell, and Fernández ended up doing his best Bill Buckner impression. The Marlins won it all three batters later.
    Bob Costas: Tony Fernández, who has worn hero's laurels throughout the postseason, including earlier in this seventh game of the World Series—now, cruel as it may seem, perhaps being fitted for goat horns.
    • Fortunately for him, most of the heat for the loss ended up falling on Jose Mesa, who blew the save in the bottom of the 9th.
  • Similar to Bartman, Michael Beason, a Charlotte Hornets fan who sat courtside and loved to Trash Talk Charlotte's adversaries, became infamous during the 2016 playoffs against the Miami Heat, wearing a distinctive shirt that earned the nickname "Purple Shirt Guy\Man". He heckled Dwyane Wade on Game 6 up until he scored two crucial three-pointers and stared back at Beason. Charlotte then had to fly to Miami and lost game 7. People blamed Beason on game 6, and still blamed Beason on game 7, even if that was on the road.
  • The President of the United States might as well be changed to "The Scapegoat of the United States". No matter what happens, it will somehow be blamed on the President. Riot related to a football team losing? President's fault. Vocal Minority Muslim terrorist tries to blow something up? The President did it. Avalanche in the Rocky Mountains? President did it.
    • A common pastime of partisans, particularly for the past few generations, is to blame the current President for problems left by previous Presidents, and inversely credit previous Presidents for good things the current President did.
  • Whoever the person in charge of a country is. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom's title should be changed to "Prime Scapegoat of the United Kingdom", just like the U.S. President. However it's worth noting the Prime Minster is also the leader of their party and domestically have more power than the president.note  They select whoever they want for the cabinet and have considerable individual sway over legislation and policy. But with more power comes more blame if it all goes south. That said every PM gets to use "the previous government" as a scapegoat, at least for the short term.
  • Dictators with a very bad image are often used as scapegoats, and few people will bother to defend them from blatantly false accusations as it will simply be assumed that they did so many bad things that one more on the list is plausible.
  • Apple Inc. and Microsoft have Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, respectively. They supposedly do all of the research, all of the marketing, all of the designs, and receive all of the criticism.
  • You yourself probably know a scapegoat. You know, that person who everyone always seems to actively seek out and take it all out on? One can easily wonder if there's a personality disorder that practically requires someone to have a scapegoat in their life - Dave Pelzer and then his brother Richie, for example, were scapegoats to their mother's wrath.
    • Clinical psychologists actually have a term for this when dealing with dysfunctional families: the "identified patient". Sometimes in a family where at least one parent is alcoholic, abusive, or mentally ill, one child gets designated as the scapegoat and the rest of the family is encouraged to blame that child for all their problems. That child is often the first one to get into therapy, and the first to face up to all of the family's problems, because the rest of the family is in denial about the real issues that are causing so much suffering. Without the scapegoat, a dysfunctional family is forced to deal with their own problems, which they are often unwilling to do.
  • The entertainment industry, particularly video games, typically take some amount of undeserved blame any time a mass shooting occurs. Thanks a lot, Jack Thompson.
  • Not Always Right has quite a few examples; people will look for ways to pin anything on anyone so long as it's not their own fault.
  • After the Germans attacked the Soviet Union, Stalin executed many of the commanding generals on the western border. It is still argued how much of the fault was actually theirs, but a notable case is where they executed the chief veterinarian and the head of the warehouses, but an army commander was spared and later promoted - because the communications with him were lost at the time.
  • Queen Elizabeth I blamed her advisers for 'tricking' her into signing the order of execution for her cousin, Mary Queen of Scots. Whether this was actually the case, no one will ever know. It's rather unlikely, though.
    • Of course, the Tudors were great at assigning scapegoats. Nothing was ever the fault of Elizabeth's father Henry VIII either, especially not his inability to sire healthy male offspring. Lucky for him no one had any knowledge of cellular biology at the time and thus it was impossible to be aware that the father always determines the offspring's gender.
  • Emancipated blacks were this for the dominant whites up to the Civil Rights Movement (and even then, such incidents like these can be depressingly common in low income areas now).
  • People accused of witchcraft were often accused of doing something which often occurs naturally like a bad/ruined crop, babies dying, widespread illness, ect.
  • Hideki Tojo, who was Prime Minister of Japan for all but the final few months of its participation in World War II, volunteered to be the scapegoat for all of the country's war crimes, so that Emperor Hirohito would keep his position and be cleared of anything he may have taken part in during the war. In this case, Tojo was clearly guilty of more than enough war crimes in his own right to be all but guaranteed the death penalty, and figured he might as well take Hirohito's bullets as well as his own, so that the country wouldn't be left rudderless in the aftermath of the war.
  • The well-known Mayan Doomsday was a bunch of apocalypse theories that had to do with the Mayan Calendar "ending" in December 21, 2012. However, many people believe that it's the Mayans who believed that the Apocalypse was happening, while it was actually the theorists who believed the Apocalypse was going to happen. In fact, Mayans believed that the calendar would reset like any other calendar. There's no particular reason to think 13th b'ak'tun (which ended on that date) was even the "last" that the ancient Mayans wrote down at all. The majority of Mayan books were destroyed by the Spanish conquistidors and the Catholic missionary priests who followed them, and some of those books could easily have contained the 14th b'ak'tun and beyond.
  • Atlanta security guard Richard Jewell was the man who found a backpack full of explosives during the Atlanta Olympics in 1996, thus saving what could have been potentially thousands of lives. At first he was hailed as a hero... but then an FBI agent leaked the fact that they (the FBI) were checking into Jewell just in case. (This is a standard law enforcement procedure.) The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper turned "We're checking into him just in case" into "He's our number one suspect", and the public crucifixion of Richard Jewell began. He was finally exonerated in 2005, nearly ten years later, when terrorist Eric Rudolph confessed that it was he who planted the explosives and not Jewell.
  • There is the anecdote, told by Francisco Herrera Luque in his book "Bovez el urogallo", about a rich woman in colonial Venezuela, that has the misfortune of having a bad case of loud intestinal gases, which embarrassed her on church and other social situations. The solution her family come with? Put a young slave girl as a constant companion of the lady, so when the master farted the poor girl was Mis-blamed and received a bump in the head or a fan hit, and received the nickname of "la pagapeos, lit. "the one who pays for the farts"". To this day, the term "pagapeos" is more or less equivalent of "scapegoat" in Venezuela.
  • Some conspiracy theorists believe the car accident that took Gunpei Yokoi's life was actually caused by an assassin hired by Nintendo. Heaven knows why, because even though this was shortly after he left Nintendo (disgraced after the high-profile failure that was the Virtual Boy) to work on the WonderSwan, Nintendo still holds respect for the man.
  • Many times a player might be Misblamed into the cause of a huge defeat, the so-called "Quarterback Syndrome". Though at least once the scapegoat earned it: in 2010, Brazil's Felipe Melo crowned a FIFA World Cup of irregular play and Unnecessary Roughness by scoring an own goal and being expelled due to taking down an adversary and stomping on his leg in his team's elimination game to the Netherlands. His career barely recovered ever since.
  • Captive packs of wolves have been known do this. Either a single wolf or (less commonly) two or a small group of them, called omegas, are singled out to take the brunt of just about everything. They will be attacked for anything from trying to stand up for themselves or if their packmates are just upset, and in some cases may be killed or driven out of the pack. In a twist, the omega wolves are often as important to the pack as the alpha pair. Their presence acts as a sort of lightening rod to absorb tension and keeps the pack from turning on each other, sort of like taking your aggression out on a punching bag. Because captive packs were the first ones studied, it was assumed for decades wild wolves are the exact same way, with terminology being developed for it (alpha, beta, omega), but later research has shown that in the wild, wolves usually do not behave this way. The reason for the difference is probably housing unrelated wolves together, as wolves in the wild usually will not tolerate unrelated wolves joining their pack, and possibly stress from improper care in captivity is a factor as well.
    • Here is (upsetting to some) video showing the behavior. The cause is obviously that there are far, far too many stressed wolves crammed together in a small enclosure in this bad zoo.
  • The Vestal Virgins of Ancient Rome were often blamed when things weren't going well. It was insinuated that someone among them had taken a lover or two (a big no-no as they were sworn to celibacy until their term of service was up or they died, whichever came first), or that they had allowed the fire in the Temple of Vesta to go out.
  • For lots of Narcissist Abusive Parents this is basically the role they assign to the child they consider the Black Sheep of the family, when really they're the White Sheep.
  • During World War II, an infamous event called the Katyn Massacre occurred. The Soviets and the Allies claimed that Nazi Germany committed the Massacre, while Germany said that the Soviet Union was responsible for the atrocity. The Soviet Union even tried to condemn Germany for the Katyn Massacre during the Nuremberg Trials in 1945 (it didn't work). Records released after the Soviet Union collapsed eventually revealed that, for once, Germany was innocent of that war crime, and it was in fact the Soviets who did it.
  • LaDondrell Montgomery had his life sentence for armed robbery cancelled when it emerged he was in prison when the stick-up happened.
  • Shortly before the trial of James "Whitey" Bulger was set to start a potential witness named Stephen Rakes was found dead in the woods near his home. Due to the timing it was initially theorized it had something to do with his testimony, but when asked about it Whitey pointedly said he had nothing to do with it, and it turns out he was telling the truth: Rakes was killed by a business associate for reasons completely unrelated to the trial.
  • After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the two officers in charge of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and defense of Hawaii, Admiral Husband Kimmel and General Walter Short, were scapegoated by their superiors. Kimmel in particular argued that he had not been provided with enough intelligence regarding Japanese intentions prior to the attack and that most of the poor decisions that lead to the debacle had been result of his direct predecessor, Admiral Harold Stark. Stark later faced a court of inquiry into his actions which resulted in his removal from command, but Kimmel's name is still one most associated with the attack. In 1999, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution saying that both were scapegoated and called for their posthumous return to full rank, but the Navy and subsequent Presidents have never taken it up.
  • Independent pro wrestler Brian Blaze was scapegoated in 2014 and incarcerated in the place of a criminal the police could not catch that he apparently resembled closely enough. There was a great outcry among the pro wrestling fans of Georgia, wrestlers and at least PCW's promoter, who together successfully proved his innocence...after Blaze had been in jail for five months, but the response outside of the pro wrestling community was barely heard, which may have been why the police and courts thought they could get away with it.(to his credit, the officer who arrested Brian said he was just following orders and offered to testify in court for Brian)
  • The Treaty of Versailles, the treaty that ended World War One, was written entirely by the allies and blamed Germany for the entire war. Despite the fact that Germany was only in the war in the first place because its ally Austria-Hungary (which had broken up into Austria and Hungary) was. And Austria-Hungary had very legitimate reasons to go to war with Serbia (the assassination of the heir to their throne by Serbian terrorists). The first nation to jump in that didn't have any just cause was Russia. Italy was exempt from any blame because it switched sides close to the end of the war. Germany was saddled with the bill for all of the damage in the war, which thanks to being stripped of its colonies (and it being the 1930's) it could never hope to repay. In hindsight, it's really no surprise that the Nazis were able to entice the country with promises of a better future.
    • Conversely, the Treaty of Versailles was used in interwar Germany as a scapegoat all of Germany's problems. While the treaty undoubtably did require large payments of reparations, they were not beyond Germany's ability to pay. Germany was not bankrupted and the treaty did not cause either the hyperinflation crisis or the Great Depression. The biggest impact of Versailles was the damage to German national pride.
  • Doctor Who’s biggest Dork Age is near universally agreed to be the sixth’s doctor tenure, which suffered from horrible, mean spirited writing, the Doctor terrible decisions being made across the board (such as The Doctor’s infamous coat and devoting an entire season to a dull, frustrating “Trial of a Time Lord” Framing Device that went nowhere) and production values that were bad even for Doctor Who. What isn’t to blame is the lead actor Colin Baker, who was a solid actor and well cast in the role - so naturally, he was the one who got blamed for the show’s failings at the time, and got fired by the BBC, with a regeneration sequence being filmed by having Sylvester McCoy face down on the floor with a wig on. (McCoy’s era would start off only marginally better, but eventually grow the beard and allow the classic era to go out on a high note - one wonders what would’ve happened if Baker was allowed to stay on.)
  • The Great Chicago fire started as a smaller blaze in Catherine O'Leary's barn, and then dry windy conditions combined with terribly unsafe building practices to burn the city to the ground. The popular press at the time then tried to pin the entire disaster on poor Kate. In popular culture the fire still gets blamed on "Mrs. O'Leary's cow".


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Scapegoat


Braceface [Sharon Crashes and Adam Blamed]

Edited clips from Braceface, Ep 12 - Driving Miss Sharon. Feeling inadequate due to Adam getting his license, Sharon takes her mom's car for a spin when her braces inadvertingly activate the engine. However on the way back the house, she gets into an accident and before she has the chance to fess up, Adam is blamed by their mother since, well, who else could drive her car?

How well does it match the trope?

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Main / TheScapegoat

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