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The Scapegoat
aka: 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 they weren't responsible — though depending on where the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism 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 way to do this is through pulling off a Deceased Fall-Guy Gambit, since a dead person (bonus points if they are amongst the victims of the disaster/crime they are being blamed for), 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 Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty (where someone is the Scapegoat until the true culprit is revealed), Silent Scapegoat (where the Scapegoat volunteered for the job), Zero-Approval Gambit (where this is part of a greater scheme), Wounded Gazelle Gambit (where "Gazelle" wounds (or pretends to wound) himself to frame someone else) and Convicted by Public Opinion (where the Scapegoat is already declared Guilty Until Someone Else Is Guilty by the public because they are disliked). If a character is given a higher position so they can take the fall, they've been Promoted to Scapegoat.

As an audience reaction, a creator is Misblamed when they take the blame for something that wasn't their fault. 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 Political, 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. An Overzealous Underling may be used for this, (or a boss may claim that someone is an Overzealous Underling) if the boss wants to appear to keep their hands clean and reputation intact.

See also, Scapegoat Ad, where a competitor's employees are blamed for their products' shortcomings.


    open/close all folders 
  • 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 
  • 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 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.
    • At the end of the series, 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 people's 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.
  • Fruits Basket:
    • As the Cat of the Zodiac, Kyo Sohma is constantly blamed for things beyond his control by other members of the Sohma clan, to the extent they held him completely responsible for his mother's suicide rather than consider that his father's emotional abuse played any part. Shigure even tells Tohru that this is the entire reason the Cat exists: so the other Sohmas afflicted by the Zodiac curse can feel better about themselves because, as bad as they may have it, the Cat has it even worse.
    • Kyo himself regularly finds ways to blame Yuki for his issues and his unfair treatment from the rest of the Sohma family, because the Rat tricked the Cat out of attending God's banquet in the legend and resulted in the Cat being the Sohmas' pariah. Kyo eventually acknowledges that none of his misfortune was Yuki's fault, but he was so miserable that he needed somebody to blame for his own crappy life.
  • Generals Cremin and Edison in Fullmetal Alchemist are, by the end of the series, the last two survivors of Amestris' 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.
  • Lycoris Recoil opens with a mission going bad due to a combination of bad intel and a hacker infiltrating DA's "unhackable" computer system. Kusunoki, the head of DA, covers up what happened behind the scenes and pushes all blame for the mission failing on Takina whose only fault was acting to save her teammate.
  • 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 surviving members have to change their identities and start new lives. Only a few know the truth but they can never reveal it; otherwise they'd jeopardize the new sociopolitical landscape allowing the survivors and society to have otherwise happy endings.
  • 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.
  • Whether you like him or not, fans 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.
  • 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.
  • Pokémon: The Series:
    • For a meta example, there's Porygon from Pokémon: The Original Series, 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.
    • Pokémon the Series: Sun & 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 ˝: 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.
  • Rebuild World: When Elena and Sara are assigned to look after the Boisterous Weakling Drankam Red Shirt Army during a mission, said hunters ignoring their advice and getting themselves killed as Leeroy Jenkins gets blamed on the two by the Arm Chair Military Mizuha in order to keep the commander responsible Katsuya's reputation clean, since he's their Propaganda Hero. Elena and Sara get their pay cut which backfires on the Private Military Company later when they must negotiate with the two.
  • 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.
  • Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles: Rio is used as a political scapegoat twice at the hands of the Beltrum Kingdom. First when Charles Arbor brutally beats him during interrogation, trying to get Rio to confess that he kidnapped Princess Flora. This is because it was under Charles' watch that Flora was kidnapped in the first place, and he wanted to redeem himself by claiming he was involved with catching the suspect. Then when Stewart accidentally knocks Flora off a cliff during an academy excursion, after Rio saves her and disappears, Duke Gustave Huguenot pins the blame on Rio rather than risk a civil conflict between the Beltrum houses, especially when the Hugenots and the Arbors are already looking to undermine the other. Princess Christina is revealed to be furious with the treatment Rio was put through and at herself for failing to help him, and knows that Beltrum has no right to as anything for him for what they've done.
  • 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.
  • Sword Art Online:
    • Kirito decides to take this role in the beginning of the story, becoming the "Beater" ("beta cheater"), in order to protect the beta testers from being unfairly accused of indirectly causing the deaths of other players.
    • Akihiko Kayaba himself technically gets some of this. Yes, he did trap thousands of people in a death game, but the problem is that he was blamed for all the deaths, including the murders committed by other players. It's a plot point in later arcs that a number of player-killers that had been caught and imprisoned in the game got off scot-free once the game was cleared. At least one even continued killing.
  • Viral takes a lot of this, mostly self-inflicted, in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. Later on, Rossiu uses Simon as one.
  • Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs:
    • Angelica gets used as a scapegoat by noble girls in the academy for their bullying of Marie, due to her public scolding of Marie and Julius making it plausible.
    • When an academy field trip is taken hostage by the Principality of Fanoss, their Evil Plan devised with the traitor Marquis Frampton is to keep Angelica as the only hostage and execute the rest, to try and make her father Vince Redgrave look like Les Collaborateurs, but this fails thanks to Leon's intervention.
  • 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.
  • Zombie Land Saga: In her backstory, Yugiri takes the blame for the deaths of Itou(who she did kill) and several rebels(who he killed). She is then executed by police for treason.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • At the start of Star Wars: Darth Vader, Vader finds himself in this position after the destruction of the Death Star. While Palpatine acknowledges that Tarkin and the other Imperial officers share the responsibility for that fiasco, he also points out that Vader's the only one left alive to face his wrath. (In fairness Vader is responsible because his Trick-and-Follow Ploy let the rebels get the Death Star plans.) Palpatine does give Vader the chance to prove himself again, mainly because his own authority has been weakened by the disaster too and so he still needs a strong enforcer.
    Palpatine: You, an isolated survivor of the greatest military disaster in all my empire's history? Oh, you are truly the chosen one, Vader. Chosen to be the one responsible.

    Comic Strips 
  • The Far Side namedropped the trope in one strip.
    The world was going down the tubes. They needed a scapegoat. They found Wayne.
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • An Impractical Guide to Godhood: Hera gets blamed for everything she did do and everything she didn't after the stolen Lightning Bolt is returned, and suffers the bulk of Zeus' wrath as a result.
  • 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.
    • Notably, this is defied by both sisters. While Laurel is angry at Oliver for cheating on her, she openly acknowledges her time in the League is not his fault, and Sara rightfully blames herself for what happened and is eaten alive by the guilt for three years, to the point she wishes to have died on the Gambit. After Laurel is freed by Oliver, who tries to blame himself, she flatly and pointedly tells him that it's not his fault and she's already placed the blame where it belongs.
  • The Karma of Lies:
    • After Gabriel is exposed as Hawkmoth, Lila sets up Adrien as one, painting herself as an Unwitting Pawn manipulated by father and son alike. This also further damages his credibility; to an outsider, it looks as though his Cassandra Truth about her true nature is actually Malicious Slander as he tries to make her into his scapegoat.
    • Lila also inflicted the same fate upon Sabrina. She stole Sabrina's list of contacts, then sold that information while posing as her; as a result, Sabrina gets blamed for the theft, with the angry victims using their connections to get her blacklisted from many of the high-end schools and institutions she was considering applying to.
    • Once they finally learn the truth about Lila, Alya and the bulk of Marinette's former friends blame her for everything they did 'under her influence', refusing to take any responsibility for how much they hurt Marinette. Adrien finds himself in the same position when they learn that he knew about Lila the whole time and never bothered warning any of them.
  • Murderer's Row: Andy winds up taking the blame for the massive prison riot at the end of Volume 2. Though he did play a major role in it, the actual masterminds were O'Malley, Wyoming, and Miller. Since the former is adept at staying off the radar and the latter two died during the riot, Andy is the only viable target left to take the blame. Since both the guards and inmates alike are beyond pissed at him due to the massive casualties the riot incurred, it's made clear that it's only a matter of time before he's killed as revenge, and indeed, Volume 3 reveals he "disappeared" during the Time Skip.
  • In My Mother, Padme is shaken to learn that she has 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.
  • 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.
  • We Must Be Killers: In this story, Peeta killing Brutus is just the official cover story to keep the District 2 victors (save Lyme and Ronan, who saw it happen) from knowing that Snow killed Brutus with nerve gas on a Stupid Evil whim to make it clear that he wouldn't let anyone dictate to him who the Quell victor should be. Both the District 2 victors and Eibhlin form District 3 view this cover-up as ridiculous, with Eibhlin commenting that it seems "physically improbable" unless Peeta had plenty of time to prepare and some kind of lever.
  • Weight Off Your Shoulder deconstructs how Marinette is frequently blamed for everything that goes wrong; she's so used to this that she developed a Guilt Complex. When Alya and the other girls trample over her boundaries until she yells at them for invading her privacy, Marinette immediately blames herself afterwards and decides to give up being Ladybug and her Guardianship of the Miracle Box, sincerely believing that she was at fault for daring to want some privacy in her life and keeping secrets.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Turning Red, Ming blames Mei's friends for Mei's actions culminating in Mei attacking Tyler and Mei doesn't try to convince her otherwise until the climax.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 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.
  • 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 My Country: De Jager feels that he's being made one by the former apartheid government, who had ordered him to commit the atrocities he did. Langston convinces him to turn on them and implicate higher officials as a result, since it will expose their complicity.
  • 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.
  • National Treasure: Benjamin Gates, the protagonist, is responsible for stealing the Declaration of Independence and abducting the employee who caught him in the act. But in the end, he finds the treasure he was searching for and ensures the government gets the bulk of it, so they're willing to paint him as a hero. However, such a high profile crime can't go unpunished, and the FBI outright tells him "Someone has to go to jail." Luckily, his rival Ian was more shady and less successful than Gates was, so he and his mercenary team wind up taking all the blame.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • Star Wars:
    • The Jedi go from the Republic's protectors to fugitives falsely accused of treason (and many other crimes) after Palpatine's decades-in-the-making Evil Plan pays off. They did try to arrest him, but it was because he was a Sith Lord plotting to 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 for everything bad that happened in the Clone Wars.
    • At the end of Solo, Qi'ra secures a position in the Crimson Dawn Syndicate and covers up her treachery by pinning both the death of her predecessor and the loss of the coaxium on Tobias Beckett. Beckett is not around to refute this, on account of having been shot to death by Han. The part about the coaxium is Metaphorically True; Qi'ra just leaves out the fact that Han stole it back after killing Beckett.
  • In Thirteen Lives, Governor Narongsak is about to leave his job running a province, apparently because the central government doesn't think much of him, when thirteen people, twelve of them kids, are trapped in a flooded cave in his area of authority. He is kept around by the government to supervise the rescue effort, and it is explicitly stated by one character that he is assumed to be serving as a potential scapegoat in case the whole incident collapses in tragedy, which seems very likely. Fortunately he rises to the occasion, playing the Reasonable Authority Figure and handling the press competently.
  • 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 blamed for the Decepticon presence on Earth. The Earth governments try to appease the Decepticons twice by getting the Autobots to leave Earth. But they don't realize that the Decepticons don't care about making deals with them, and would outright conquer and enslave or just flat-out destroy Earth either way.

  • In Nineteen Eighty-Four, 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.
  • A lot of people among the Dayao in Always Coming Home once their ruler's policy of trying to take on the entire continent at once was shown not to go as smoothly as expected. After all, there was no way their divine Glorious Leader was at fault.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Discworld:
    • 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 Jingo, a gang of jewel thieves who took Angua hostage, and somehow found themselves trapped in a warehouse with an angry wolf end up confessing to every unsolved crime on the Watch books in order to be let out. Carrot is a bit uneasy about this, but Reg Shoe tells him it's not coercion, because they chose to take Angua hostage.note 
      Reg: Seems to be it,sir. We've got them down for everything except the Hide Park Flasher...
      Thief: We did that!
      Reg: ...and that was a woman.
      Thief: We did it!
  • 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 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix with Fudge leading a smear campaign against Dumbledore and Harry to deny Voldemort's return. When a mass breakout results in several Death Eaters escaping from Azkaban (as Dumbledore repeatedly warned Fudge would happen), he instead decides to put the blame on Sirius in order to save face.
    • 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 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 this is 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.
  • The Ripple System: Kline encourages the world to hate Ned because he's annoyed that Ned bought up his entire head start package. Tyrann in particular takes advantage of this, painting Ned as a rich asshole turning EBO into his own personal fiefdom to distract from the fact that he's got thousands of followers who are willing to do anything for him, a much bigger advantage than Ned's little boost.
  • At the end of Rising Sun, the murderer has apparently been identified and commits suicide, but it's suggested that the guilty party might actually be (literally) taking the fall for his superiors.
  • 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
  • Benjamin, the protagonist of The Malaussčne Saga, works as a professional scapegoat for a large department store. Specifically, his role is to be harshly berated by his manager and act all contrite in front of complaining customers so that they will be moved to compassion and retract their complaint. He quits his job at the end of the first book, but then starts in a similar role this time for a publishing company.

    Live-Action TV 
  • On The 100, Murphy almost becomes one of these twice. First when he's almost hanged for Wells' 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.
  • Chernobyl shows Anatoly Dyatlov, the man in charge of the control room of the titular disaster, as one. He was certainly at fault for a large part of the disaster, ignoring his subordinates' protests over safety and pushing the reactor to the brink in a way that no one thought possible. Because Dyatlov is a Jerkass who endangered the continent to get a shot at promotion, it's easy for the State to blame the whole thing on him. However, Legasov points out at the Kangaroo Court that Dyatlov was not to blame for the emergency shutdown mechanism actually increasing the reactivity for a short (but in this case, catastrophic) period. Legasov says that he doesn't think Dyatlov would have taken the risk if he'd had all the facts, and only the State is to blame for cutting corners and then hiding the danger.
  • Criminal Minds: In the episode "A Shade of Gray," the team is called in when two young boys have been killed and a third is abducted. They're able to profile the likely pedophile in the area, and when they conduct a warrant on his house, they find evidence on the first two boys (and several others) but nothing for the third boy. Even once the body is found, nothing at the dump site indicates that their suspect is responsible for this particular murder. The local cop they're working with begs them to drop it, going so far as to point out that he's a bad man who deserves to be in jail. When the BAU continues pursuing the case, the cop confesses and insists they arrest him. The boy was killed by his older brother, who's nine years old and already a budding psychopath. The parents called the cop and explained the situation, and rather than have the brother labeled a killer, he decided to copy the recent murders by staging an abduction.
  • 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.
  • 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!"
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • In the second series of Horatio Hornblower, Captain Hammond (serving as a judge at a court-martial) willfully interprets everything Horatio did aboard the Renown in the worst possible light in order to pin all the irregularities of Sawyer's command, Sawyer's removal from command, and the faults in the subsequent expedition on one person who can then be hanged to save the late Sawyer's reputation. In light of the third series, it seems that Hammond, who saw himself how courageous and innovative Hornblower was as a midshipman, was trying to deprive England of a good officer.
  • 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."
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks has often been scapegoated by Mr. Conklin for one thing or another. For example, in "Trying to Pick a Fight", Mr. Conklin blames Miss Brooks for the fact he picked a fight with his Mrs. Conklin. Mr. Conklin also blames Miss Brooks for the fact Mrs. Conklin had apparently went home to her mother.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Psychopath Diary: In-woo sets Dong-sik up to take the blame for his murders.
  • Search: According to Lee Hyeok's version of events, Min-guk murdered his friends and defected to North Korea. Actually Lee Hyeok murdered Min-guk to avoid being involved in a scandal, and along with the other survivors came up with a story to explain his disappearance and keep suspicion off themselves.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Partially due to their roles as the dumbest people on the show, Cory and Trevor in Trailer Park Boys are frequently set up as fall guys whenever Ricky and Julian need them to be. Cory and Trevor greatly admire both Ricky and Julian, and the latter duo are all too happy to take advantage of them. They do get some measure of revenge at the end of season 4, though the season 5 premiere reveals they screwed themselves over.

  • "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 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.

  • Bleak Expectations: Pip Bin is often blamed by the latest Geoffrey Whitehead character for causing the death of all the previous Geoffrey Whitehead characters, when he usually isn't. It's either circumstances, someone else, or their own stupidity what does them in. It'd probably help if Pip Bin stopped taking the credit for it as well, but he is an idiot.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • 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, 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.

    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.
  • In a Blackadder skit on a Royal Variety Performance shortly after the banking crisis, Blackadder was a banker who brought Baldrick to the hearing as evidence that the real culprits were the customers for being so stupid as to believe them.
    Blackadder: And rather than blame all the customers, which might prove unpopular, I propose that we just blame Baldrick.

    Video Games 
  • Jodie Holmes of Beyond: Two Souls is supernaturally tethered to a spectral entity known as Aiden, who has his own mind and desires which often wildly clash with Jodie's. Everyone around will still lay the blame solely at Jodie's feet, even people who have been meticulously studying their relationship for years.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • In The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, this happens to you during the quest "The Forsworn Conspiracy."
  • 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.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • In Final Fantasy VI, the Back Story of the 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Super-Soldier 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). 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.
  • 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' 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Malachor V. When reunited by a light side Exile, they even try to pin the rise of the Sith on them.
  • Lost Judgment; several years prior to the game's beginning, a boy named Mitsuru Kusumoto attempted suicide due to severe bullying at school. When an investigation was launched, Mitsuru's classmates fingered Shinya Kawai as the sole culprit, and while Kawai was Mitsuru's primary tormentor his accomplices threw him under the bus to save their own skin and got off without so much as a slap on the wrist. This ended up having a very profound impact on their teacher, Yu Kitakata, who saw how the scapegoating left the guilty essentially unpunished and inspired him to take a more direct approach to combating bullying.
  • Mass Effect:
    • General Williams, the commander of the Shanxi garrison and the only human to surrender to aliens, is roasted over the coals for it, which passes down to his kids and grandkids, who are similarly blacklisted by the Alliance.
    • After the events of the first game, the Council blames Saren and the geth for the attack on the Citadel, erasing Sovereign from the records. And while Saren and the geth are responsible, it's not the whole story. Made worse in 3, when it turns out the Council had been hiding records proving Sovereign was a Reaper rather than doing anything.
    • Dialogue in 2 shows that Director Anoleis from the first game is blamed for the disaster at Peak 15, which despite his corrupt dealing was something he was only peripherally involved in.
    • Happens to Shepard themselves between 2 and 3, after blowing up a Mass Relay to slow the Reapers down, wiping out an entire solar system in the process (which wasn't actually Shepard's plan to begin with). Only the Reapers showing up to kill everyone saves them from being thrown to the lions, but they're still referred to in Citadel newscasts as 'disgraced'.
  • The New Order Last Days Of Europe: When the victorious Nazis conquered France in 1940, part of the terms of the Treaty of Vichy was forcing France to shoulder all of the blame for both World Wars, justifying Germany's imposition of severe and strangling economic and military penalties, even harsher than the terms Germany endured in the Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I. By the game start date of 1962, France is a borderline failed state with an economy in meltdown and a token ceremonial force that has no chance whatsoever of defeating the Burgundian invasion after the start of the German Civil War. And if you are a Frenchman who now lives in the territory that has become Ordenstaat Burgundy, well, being made the scapegoat for two devastating global conflicts really is the least of your worries.
  • A confusing case happens in Onmyoji. 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.
  • 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.
  • Prayer of the Faithless: Serra Cadmus was set to be executed so Emperor Daigo could maintain peace in his empire, due to her Power Incontinence producing a horrifying prophecy.
  • The U.S. 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 while they plead they are normal. This is done for as a distraction or just because it's funny.
  • Resident Evil Dead Aim: Morpheus D. Duval was made responsible by Umbrella for the 1998 mansion incident and fired him on the grounds of "gross negligence". Consumed by an unquenchable thirst for revenge, he stole several virus samples from the European branch of Umbrella, kickstarting the events of the game.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • As a murder & mystery game series, Danganronpa has this as a recurring element.
    • In the first chapter of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Sayaka Maizono sets up Makoto Naegi as a potential patsy to be blamed for murder, 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.
  • Angra Mainyu aka 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:

    Web Animation 


     Web Original 
  • This Not Always Right story has "Murray", an Invented Individual "played" by various employees. Whenever a customer complains about something that's nobody's fault and doesn't seem clear what they want the complaints desk to do about it, it turns out it's actually Murray's fault, and he will be summarily fired for it. This gets the impossible complaints dealt with without hours of yelling for managers, and gives the employees more time to deal with customers they can actually help.
  • Tubbo ends up being this in SMPEarth when Quig finds the trap that TimeDeo built and confronts him about it.

    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 Crash 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). In later seasons 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 globe in the first place.
  • Futurama: In "Fear of a Bot Planet", the Robot Elders of Chapek 9 use humans as a scapegoat to keep the planet distracted from all their other problems, such as the crippling lugnut shortage, and a corrupt government of incompetent robot elders.
  • 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."
  • Kid vs. Kat: Coop ALWAYS takes the blame for everything that Mr. Kat does, simply because they think the latter is just a regular housecat rather than an alien invader. The police, the townspeople and his own father just think he has lost his mind, you'd be shocked he hasn't been sent to a mental hospital yet. In the second season, this running gag was toned down, with the episode "'Nuff Said" stabilishing that he was sick of being the scapegoat of Bootsville and almost gives up on stopping Kat's plans entirely.
  • 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 that special, in spite of what happens in the last few moments.
  • Pet Alien: Whenever the aliens misbehave, Tommy will, without fail, get blamed for it while the aliens get off scot-free. This is because most of DeSpray Bay are too stupid to recognize the aliens as anything more than Tommy's pets and so blame Tommy for failing to control them instead.
  • 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".
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power
    • Played for Laughs in "Roll With It" — after Scorpia and her squad lose a major Horde stronghold to the princesses, they collectively agree to blame Kyle for their failure.
    • 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.
    • According to "Homer and Apu", it's standard procedure for the Kwik-E-Mart corporation to blame any problems on a scapegoat or sacrificial lamb.
    • The softball episode has the Springfield Police making Steve Sax, one of the ringer players that Mr. Burns brings in to play, simultaneously the scapegoat for every crime committed in New York (where Sax played at the time) and the town of Springfield as well.
      Lou: I heard some guy got killed in New York City and they never solved the case. But you wouldn't know anything about that, would you, Steve? [Lou and Eddie chuckle nastily]
      Sax: But there are hundreds of unsolved murders in New York City!
      Lou: You don't know when to keep your mouth shut, do you, saxy boy?
      [cut to Sax sitting in a cell in jail]
      Chief Wiggum: Nice job, boys. Looks like we can close the book on just about every crime in our fair city.
  • Sofia the First:
    • In the Tale Of The Noble Knight, Sir Oliver did this to the Dragons Of Brazendell by attacking so they can breathe fire and look dangerous so he can drive them and become “First Knight”.
  • Spongebob Squarepants:
    • Squidward has fallen victim to this on multiple occasions ("Krab Borg", "Can You Spare A Dime?", 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 Wars Rebels. In "The Siege of Lothal", Admiral Konstantine tries to snare the Ghost in a Tractor Beam only to catch Lord Vader's TIE fighter instead. Admiral Konstantine assures the tractor beam operator that it's not his fault, and he wipes sweat off his forehead in relief, only for the Admiral to add, "But Lord Vader won't know that."
  • Star Wars: The Bad Batch: In the Season 1 finale, Rampart's fleet bombards all Kaminoan cities on orders from Tarkin. Midway through Season 2, the truth comes to light in front of the Senate, and Palpatine promptly throws Rampart under the bus for his actions and has him arrested. Moments after doing so, Palpatine also uses the atrocity Rampart committed as an opportunity to discredit the clone troopers and convince the Senate to support the bill that would replace the clone troopers with recruited soldiers, which is what he was ultimately after all along.
  • The Super Hero Squad Show: When Wanda winds up back in Puritan times, the townsfolk love her until she reveals her superhero name is Scarlet Witch. The mayor is very apologetic and explains that blaming witches for things beyond their control makes the colonists feel better. And that's why they have to kill her. Can't be helped.
  • Teacher's Pet: Leonard 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.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): What fuels Shredder's obsession with revenge on Splinter; he always finds a way to blame Splinter for either anything that goes wrong with his life or the various atrocities he commits.
  • On Yogi's Treasure Hunt, Muttley became Dick Dastardly's scapegoat whenever a plan went wrong ("This is all your fault, Muttley!")

Alternative Title(s): Scapegoat


Binky did it!

Poor Binky, blamed for blowing up Fairy World.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / TheScapegoat

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