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Wounded Gazelle Gambit

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"The first girl to cry always wins."
Sae, Peach Girl

Using self-inflicted injuries, real or fake, to deceive others and manipulate them into doing what you want. Often used to frame a third party, this strategy is particularly effective for, and often used by, women, due to societal prohibitions against hurting women. Named for the trick sometimes used by a mother gazelle (as well as certain birds and deer) of pretending to be injured in order to lure a predator away from her young. Once a safe distance is reached, the pretense can be dropped, and the mother can bound away, leaving the hapless predator in the dust. Also known as crocodile tears.

Pretending to be a victim can be a great way of disguising your own guilt, so this is a common trope on a mystery series. In Film Noir, this became a stock trick for the Femme Fatale or The Vamp. When the self-inflicted injury is terminal, it can become a case of Suicide, Not Murder.

This is by no means limited to personal injuries. The Evil Overlord can injure his own people and try to blame another country, providing a quick and easy justification for war. This is mentioned as #34 (not that kind) in The Thirty-Six Stratagems, making this one of The Oldest Tricks in the Book.

Can cover anything from a Lame Excuse to Malicious Slander. For a slandered party, it often precludes I Can Explain, and can lead to Poor Communication Kills. Can overlap with I Surrender, Suckers. If you're a member of a minority, Everything Is Racist is a convenient way to invoke this trope. When done against police, it's often a Police Brutality Gambit. When done on a large scale, it's often a False Flag Operation. False Rape Accusation is a very specific subtrope of this. The Hero with Bad Publicity is especially vulnerable to this.

Compare Why Did You Make Me Hit You?, Arrested for Heroism, and Playing the Victim Card. Often related to Guilt by Association Gag and Et Tu, Brute?. Contrast Wounded Gazelle Warcry where it's not a trick. Not to be mistaken with Deliberate Injury Gambit as well; that one is about someone getting themself hurt for real to achieve a goal.


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  • Subverted in this advertisement for Snickers, where a soccer player tries this tactic. Unfortunately, he didn't count on Mr. T and the tank.
  • This ploy is used in a Pepsi ad in a job interview, all but one of the next interviewees fleeing in terror and assuring him the job. He turns out to be in cahoots with the "victim" of the faked beating. One wonders, however, why none of the scared job applicants called the cops or how that guy managed to be certain he'd be picked first to pull his stunt or that all the other people would run away in fear, as a single other interviewee could unravel the entire plan. Or for that matter, why the interviewer didn't use the information on that guy's job application to call the cops.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Sae from Peach Girl is a master of this. Most of the conflict in the first arc is driven by Sae convincing people that Momo is bullying her. In fact, she seems to rely a little too much on this tactic; even in circumstances where it's obvious she's lying, this is still the first thing she'll always pull.
  • Used in at least two episodes of Detective Conan. One where the killer turns out to be the deceased, and another where the killer stabs himself to allay suspicion. Suspects will sometimes attempt this to deflect suspicion from themselves, but of course Conan sees through them all; one victim was injured because she was trying to pull one of these on her fiance to be.
    • In at least two other cases the killers planted evidence against themselves in such a way as to make it look like they were being framed. And the case of a robber who lured his former partners onto a ship on the pretext of splitting the loot from a robbery past the statue of limitations, kills them, then shoots himself, making it look like one of his dead partners did it before they killed themselves.
    • Averted in a case where Ran thought that the karate champion she fangirled was the murderer, but he was planting evidence against himself to divert attention from the true murderer, his Broken Bird girlfriend. He was arrested too, but for Taking the Heat.
    • Averted also with Asami Uchida's almost death in a fire. One of Conan's theories at the beginning was that she caused the fire to drive attention to herself... but it was her Hopeless Suitor, who tries to stage a Rescue Romance to gain her attention.
    • And another case has Ran and Sonoko's old schoolteacher murdering her colleagues for killing one of their students, and to make believe one of the "victims" was the killer, she knocked Sonoko out with chloroform and then lay a corpse with her (the teacher's) wig next to her, to make it look like both of them were attacked.
    • Plaed very, VERY straight in a filler case where a girl who was subjected to a cruel Prank Date decides to turn the tables on the guy who did it to her by attacking other girls and faking attacks towards herself, making it look like she and the other gals are being subjected to Stock Shoujo Bullying Tactics. She intends to conclude her revenge by killing herself and making it look like the guy killed her; however Conan uses Sonoko to reveal this plan to everyone.
  • In Basara an overthrown dictator, whom the cast never actually met in person pretends to have been a sex slave at his own court. Most of the good cast believe his tearjerker story but the heroine doesn't trust him. She lets him tag along anyway though he doesn't even pretend to be nice.
  • Ranma ˝:
    • Ukyō uses this in "Ukyō's Secret Sauce", but with a twist. She implicates her Love Interest Ranma as the one who has injured her (by cheating on her with Akane, since Ranma spent the night in Akane's room). Since Ranma is already feeling guilty about wrecking her special sauce (and letting her think it was her failure) he falls for it pretty badly. Afterwards Ukyō comments to herself: "Wow, tears really do work."
    • Ranma himself has done this a few times. Most prominently in "Team Ranma vs. The Legendary Phoenix", where he attempts to use it (as "the pigtailed girl") to trick Kunō into getting rid of a bird that is constantly attacking Ranma and which Ranma can't hurt, due to its paralytic gaze.
  • In the first Martial Arts tournament in Dragon Ball, Ranfan's entire strategy revolves around screaming when her opponent is about to hit her and striking while their guard is down. Well, that and stripping.
  • Bakura did this when he teamed up with Marik to trick Yugi's grandpa in Yu-Gi-Oh!.
    • Marik too. He called himself Namu, his brother Rishid called himself Marik, and Bakura's crazy half pretended to be the not crazy half of his split personality.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh! GX:
    • Played for laughs, where the effect of Blair/Rei's "Maiden in Love" card is to make puppy eyes at the male monsters of her opponent and turn them against each other since they can't bring themselves to attack her.
  • Bleach: During the Soul Society arc, Captain Aizen fakes his own murder as part of his plot. He leaves behind information suggesting he was killed for discovering a conspiracy, changing most but not all of the facts so that the good guys fight amongst themselves and remove a major obstacle for him.
  • Subverted: "Princess" Ayanakoji in Ouran High School Host Club tries this against Haruhi Fujioka, but none of the members of the titular Host Club actually believe her for a moment, so all it accomplishes is to get her doused with cold water and permanently banned from the Host Club.
  • In Mai-HiME the There Can Be Only One plot picks up speed after Sister Yukariko (being influenced by her lover, Ishigami-sensei) pretends to be attacked by the morally ambiguous Dark Magical Girl Nao, so when the others attack Nao and injure her, she becomes really mad and turns into an enemy.
  • Suiseiseki from Rozen Maiden uses this to try and convince the others that Hinaichigo is bullying her. It spirals into a conflict that wrecks the Sakurada household.
  • In Real Bout High School, wannabe ninja Asuka Kuronari pulls this during her fight with real ninja Kyoichi Kunugi. She pulls down her mask and cries her eyes out while telling him her life story, why she thought she could be a ninja if she tried hard enough, and asks him to look at something: a smoke bomb, which she immediately deploys, giving her cohort Xiaoxing the chance to attack him. While the tactic fails to defeat him, he is so impressed by her deviousness (contrary to what Naruto may claim, this is a good trait in a ninja) that he leaves the battle and declares that she may be a real ninja after all.
  • Subverted in Kare Kano. Clingy Jealous Girl Tsubasa tries to use this technique against female lead Yukino since she's dating her beloved Arima, but Arima himself knows better and actually catches her trying to kick Yukino on the head while she thinks he's not looking.
  • Inverted in Tokyo Godfathers when Hana shouts at a group of people to draw them closer together by making himself the villain. He even explains it with a reference to a Red Oni, Blue Oni story right afterward.
  • An especially nasty example happens in Ikki Tousen. Kaku and Enjutsu (the latter out of revenge) lure Teifu out by sending him a video where she's disguised as Teifu's crush Ryoumou and, with the help of other people, fakes a kidnapping and rape attempt. The consequences lead to the first time that Ryuubi's Superpowered Evil Side awakens.
  • A double-team version happens in Mamotte Shugogetten, where Izumi pretends to be sick to get Shao Lin's attention, while Ruu An uses the separation to try and win Tasuke's heart. Ultimately fails when Ruu An, surprised by Tasuke's honest concern for what the Chivalrous Pervert might do to Shao, allows him to go "save" her. Of course, when he gets to the nurse's office, we learn that Shao used her magical servants to keep Izumi in bed, never once realizing his intentions.
  • Rika from the manga Devil Beside You does this to protagonist Kayano in order to get attention from Takeru and have him break up with Kayano. Being the Jerkass Stu he is, it works magnificently.
  • In Ashita no Nadja, Nadja dolls up to attend a high-class party where she can get answers about her stolen Orphan's Plot Trinket and see who has been impersonating her. Soon, she meets up with one of the culprits... and it's her old friend Rosemary. What does said culprit do? Though she's willingly in the whole complot, Rosemary tearfully tells Nadja that she's a mere pawn, kidnapped and blackmailed by the Smug Snake to pose as Nadja. It works so well that Rosemary returns the brooch... but sends Nadja into an Heroic B.S.O.D. by revealing the truth behind her involvement, ripping Nadja's Gorgeous Period Dress into pieces and kicking her out of the mansion.
  • Nami invokes this early in One Piece, pretending to succumb to her injuries so Luffy will go into an Unstoppable Rage and take out Captain Kuro. As soon as he's no longer paying attention, she gets back up and loots Kuro's ship.
    • In an earlier episode, she fake-complains that her chest hurts, causing the pirate she's talking to to get distracted staring at her breasts, before she then swiftly disposes of him. In the 4Kids Entertainment dub, this was changed to her saying her shoulder hurt.
  • In Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, Kinu pulls one to try to turn everyone against Momoko.
  • Haruhi pulls one (or at least, threatens to) using Mikuru in the second chronological episode of Haruhi Suzumiya, fabricating evidence that the computer club president groped Mikuru in order to blackmail him out of a computer. When the club president points out that all the other members saw what really happened and can vouch for his innocence, Haruhi simply proclaims: "I'll just say all you geeks ganged up on (Mikuru) and *BLEEP*ed her!" It's the first indication we get of just how far Haruhi is willing to go to get her own way.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, Winry starts fake crying in the car in order to make sure she can stay and tag along with the Elric brothers and Darius on their trip into a northern mining town. Ed and Al play along.
  • In the 3rd OVA to Fushigi Yuugi, Mayo tells everyone that Miaka was selfish and irresponsible, and that she was a slut who kept going back and forth between Tamahome and Hotohori. (Which earns her a What the Hell, Hero? from both Taka and Boushin.)
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Miyuki tries to pull this when fighting Yusuke. While Kuwabara is opposed to hitting "her" Yusuke fights her normally. He even asks Kuwabara why he wouldn't fight back and "just let her ream him." In the dub, where she's a woman, she tries to garner sympathy by saying that being a woman means nobody takes her seriously. On the unedited DVDs, Yusuke found out Miyuki is a guy by feeling around and uh...not getting what he expected.
    • Bakken tries to do this by pretending that Yusuke's beating broke his ribs. Yusuke isn't fooled for a second and easily blocks his attempted sneak attack.
    • Urashima successfully pulls this on Kurama by claiming he's only participating in the Dark Tournament because his mother is being threatened. Just as Kurama is feeling sorry for him, Urashima gets a good hit in and mocks him for falling for his story.
  • During his meeting with the Black Knights in season 2 of Code Geass, Schneizel pulls this by implicating that he could have been affected by Lelouch's Geass and not know it, as part of his plan to turn the knights against Lelouch.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka:
    • Female characters will play on Onizuka's sympathies all the time, and Onizuka still falls for it every time.
    • Eventually, it's revealed that the incident that turned Class 3-4 (then Class 2-4) into a bunch of teacher-hating jerks is one of these. Miyabi, jealous that the teacher she had a crush on was getting engaged to someone else, took pictures of herself naked and handcuffed and made it look like the teacher did it. It backfires horribly, causing one student to be arrested for assaulting a teacher and said teacher to resign rather than explain his innocence.
  • Employed in a Detective School Q case. Midori Tachikawa, Kazuma's favorite teacher at his elementary school, did this via poisoning herself in seemingly strange circumstances to get a large sum of money from life insurance. That money wasn't even for herself, but for her seriously ill baby's medical treatment. Kazuma is heartbroken as he unmasks her, but after learning her motivations he also makes sure she gets a lighter sentence and the money she needs for her child.
  • In the second season of Princess Tutu, this is used by a corrupted Mytho, and a little by Rue, making Fakir look like an unstable, violent person who pushed his roommate out of a window. He even pushes the "wronged innocent" thing a bit further by making unconvincing claims of having fallen, as if covering for an abuser.
  • In one of the early chapters of Kyou Kara Ore wa!! the initial banchou of Nan High does this to Mitsuhashi, beating up a student and then shouting accuses at Mitsuhashi and Itou (who are stronger) to make the other students think they did it. It explodes in his face, as this prompt Mitsuhashi to steal the money of the Student Council, hide it in a comic book of the banchou and then calling attention on it as the banchou was accusing him of doing exactly that.
  • A Teddiursa from Pokémon successfully frames Totodile and Chikorita for the teft of a ham and some hot dogs, when in fact the Teddiursa stole them. Thus, Misty (who falls for its charms) is quick to blame them both. Unlike Misty, Ash Ketchum (who actually owns the Totodile and Chikorita in question) isn't quite fooled: he doesn't figure out that Teddiursa is the thief, but he is pretty sure Totodile is innocent and, after some hesitance due to sausages in Chikorita's mouth, also consoles Chikorita that he knows Chikorita would never steal. When they finally catch Teddiursa in the act of stealing bread, it tries to blame Bulbasaur for hurting it and stealing it. Doesn't work this time... except with Misty, again. When Nurse Joy tells Bulbasaur's story, Misty realizes the truth and apologizes to Totodile and Chikorita.
  • Many characters in Paranoia Agent manage to twist this trope in order to inflict it upon themselves. Many characters will injure themselves (or pretend to be injured) in order to gain sympathy from society in general around them by placing the blame on an urban legend known as Lil' Slugger, a kid with a golden baseball bat and roller blades who they claim randomly assaulted them. This is just to shirk any responsibilities they had with their job or daily lives. Unfortunately, things go from bad to worse when Lil' Slugger grows from being a scapegoat excuse into an actual Eldritch Abomination, and people start getting killed. Consider it the ultimate form of Laser-Guided Karma for using this gambit in the first place.
  • In episode 13 of Mayo Chiki!, Nakuru pays a visit to Jiro's house. When he sees her at the door, he immediately tries to close it, then threatens to call the police because he doesn't want "that weirdo" in his house. So she resorts to yelling out for help and that she was being kidnapped, which forces him to let her in, lest someone really does come and thinks he's trying to kidnap her...
  • Kyo Koi O Hajimemasu: Rika is fond of this trick, especially when it comes to Halstead. When Kyota refused to sleep with her and said he dislikes women like her, she set it up so it seemed he had harassed and raped her, giving her an excuse to break up with Hal and ruining their friendship.
  • In Future GPX Cyber Formula, Henri does this to make Shinjyo, Gudelhian and Heinel believe that Hayato hit him and was driving recklessly to get ahead of other racers. It fails at the end when Hayato beats him in the African race.
  • In Laughing Under the Clouds this is what Kinjo Shirasu did to gain access to and the trust of the Kumoh siblings.
  • Downplayed in the 13th Dragon Ball Z movie Wrath of the Dragon. After his arrival on Earth, Hoi tries to jump out of a building while knowing that Gohan and Videl (as the two Great Saiyamen) would come to his rescue and trick Z-Fighters into helping him release Tapion.
  • In Koe no Katachi, Kawai certainly takes full advantage of this trope in order to avoid taking responsibility for her part the bullying of Nishimiya.
  • During the later parts of Nephrite's arc in Sailor Moon, Zoisite pulls a more subtle version of this by harassing Nephrite until he gets angry enough to fight back, then running to Kunzite for comfort on the grounds that Nephrite was mean to him.
  • An unusually benevolent example happened in Ore-sama Teacher where Torikichi/Josephine threw itself into a pond to attract attention from Snow (Mafuyu) and Strawberry Love (Okegawa), in hopes to reconcile them. Didn't work because someone else got to it first, though.
  • Tokyo Ghoul:
    • In a story from the first Light Novel, Alpha Bitch Mayuhara pretends to have been punched in order to get Touka in trouble with their teacher.
    • In :Re, Nimura Furuta is found barely conscious and badly beaten in the aftermath of a massacre. He reports that everyone else was killed during the fierce battle, and breaks down in hysterical tears. In truth, he murdered the other survivors and is actually laughing over having gotten away with it. This is our first hint of his true nature.
  • Invoked and defied in Accel World. At the start of the story, Takumu has gotten it into his head that Haruyuki is pulling one of these to manipulate their mutual friend Chiyuri and keep her from moving past him and into a full relationship with Takumu. In truth Haruyuki can't stand being perceived as an object of pity for Chiyuri and has actively been pushing her away as a result.
  • In Attack on Titan, this is how Eren Yeager infiltrates enemy territory - he pretends to be a Shell-Shocked Veteran, complete with bandages covering half of his face and a missing arm and leg. Falco (who is one of Reiner's subordinates and future titan shifter candidate) falls completely into his trap by helping him mail letters since mail sent from the mental hospital Eren's hiding at is monitored and, eventually, leads him directly to his target, Reiner.
  • Played with in Snow White with the Red Hair when the member of the family behind the attacks on Kiki's suitors who is one of her suitors is also attacked. While he knew what his family was up to though he had been lied to about the ultimate goal of the attacks he had no idea the family head was going to have him wounded to divert suspicion. He also managed to not be wounded when someone else saw the attack coming and got in the way to protect him, he adapted quickly and still used the opportunity to help shift the blame for the attacks on Mitsuhide.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyubey does this when first meeting Madoka.

  • Comedian John Heffron has a joke about this; whatever he was doing to annoy his brother would lead his brother to yell out "I can't breathe!", leading to Heffron being grounded.

    Comic Books 
  • Sin City:
    • This was how Ava manipulated Dwight into murdering her husband in the story "A Dame to Kill For."
    • Also used Squick-tacularly in the story "Daddy's Girl". A young woman, complaining of being abused by her father, convinces her boyfriend to kill him. Except that the gun she gives him is loaded with duds, and he's been set up to get beaten to death by the dad. And he's not the first guy she's done this to. Why? Because her father gets off on this, and she's daddy's girl.
  • The Wuzzles: In Walt Disney Comics no. 512, Croc gains sympathy from Butterbear by pulling up a board and pretending to have been injured. It works on her account, although Bumblelion overhears his plan and makes sure his stay is not a pleasant one. His plot? Well, his roof leaks and he was seeking shelter from a fruit salad storm. That's right, a fruit salad storm. Unconventional weather the land of Wuzz has, no?
  • Jenifer. In both the comic book and the Masters of Horror television adaptation, she takes this trope to a horrifying extreme. Suffice to say her hideous appearance is the least disturbing thing about her.
  • A 40's Batman features a short one: A low-level crook fires a bullet through his own hat (which he's holding in his hand), while yelling "Drop it, Wayne!" He proceeds to put the hat back on and tosses the gun to Bruce Wayne, who catches it. The police barge in and see Bruce Wayne with a smoking gun in his hand, and a hole in a bystander's hat.
  • This trope forms the backbone of the DC Comics miniseries Identity Crisis. When Elongated Man's wife Sue is murdered, it looks like an isolated incident; until Jean Loring, ex-wife of The Atom, is nearly killed as well. It seems someone is murdering the spouses of superheroes, and the hero community comes together to try to figure out which super villain might be behind it. Except, of course, that it's not a super villain; it's Jean, who staged her own attempted murder to both throw suspicion off herself, and to send the heroes on a wild goose chase by making Sue's murder look like part of a larger series of killings. And, in keeping with the scenario at the top of the page, it turns out she did it all to get a man's attention.
  • Employed by proxy in "Jabba the Hutt and the Dynasty Trap", a Star Wars-inspired story by Dark Horse Comics. Having just acquired a valuable Nuffin freighter on one of his adventures, everyone's favorite gangster slug decides to travel to the planet Smarteel where his counterpart Sha Cabrool Nu'um has his palace, intending to sell the freighter to the wealthy warlord. While staying at the Nu'um estate, Jabba finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between the aging and demented dictator and his two Bratty Teenage Children, Norba and Rusk. After Cabrool has Jabba locked in his bedroom for refusing to perform a task for him, Rusk talks his way past the guards and offers Jabba the opportunity to kill his father in his sleep, which Jabba accepts. But once the Sha Cabrool is dead, Rusk proves to be every bit as tyrannical as his father had been, and when Jabba refuses to submit to his authority he has the Hutt imprisoned in a pit full of spiders. Norba then approaches Jabba and denounces her brother, explaining that the Nu'um family needs to be headed by a woman (Norba, of course) in order to function properly. Jabba agrees, so Norba brings him into Rusk's office under the pretense of informing her brother that Jabba has had a change of heart and is willing to do what Rusk had commanded. Rusk catches a sinister glaze in his sister's eye, but too late: Jabba grabs him violently by the throat and pulverizes him into a pulp with one mighty punch. Rusk's bodyguards almost immediately arrive on the scene and see their master's dead body (or what remains of it) - and the treacherous Norba reveals her true colors by claiming that she had nothing to do with Rusk's murder, and that Jabba did it on his own and against her wishes! She has the Hutt dragged off to a dungeon, with Jabba roaring in rage and reaching (feebly) for the little bitch's throat. Fortunately for Jabba, he ultimately manages to avenge himself by escaping from the dungeon, eating Norba in one gulp, and rejoining his own henchmen.
  • Jimmy Marks aka Hybrid tricked the X-Men into attacking ROM: Space Knight by blowing up his house and shapeshifting back into his human child form and blaming the death and destruction on Rom. Since Rom looked like a seven foot tall murder machine and Jimmy looked like a helpless child, the X-Men were easily duped. Fortunately, Hybrid got overconfident and revealed himself when he tried to kidnap Kitty Pryde during the battle.
  • Queen Bee: when the protagonist's rival garners sympathy for herself by using her telekinetic powers to hit herself in the head with a lunch tray and blame the protagonist.
  • After massacring a presidential candidate, his family, and an entire room of armed security, staffers, aides, and journalists during her "field test" for the Facility, X-23's exit strategy was to masquerade as the badly wounded, sole-surviving victim of an attack she herself carried out. She successfully duped Captain America.
    • For that matter, her entry was a variation of this: She masqueraded as a physically disabled child wearing leg braces and needing crutches to walk, made a scene in the lobby when a security guard tried to deny her request to meet Candidate Johnson, and played on her "disability" in order to gain access to him and carry out the attack.
  • Early in the Runaways' history, they took in a teenage boy named Topher, who claimed that his evil parents were forcing him to help them commit crimes. Topher was actually a vampire, and once they brought him back to their headquarters, he tried to feed on them, only to die after Karolina's blood turned out to be loaded with sunlight. Subverted in that Alex Wilder quickly realized that Topher was lying, but said nothing to anyone else, because he wanted to use the bastard's deception to make his team more distrustful of outsiders.
  • New Avengers: A demon possessing Luke Cage pretends to flee, in order to get Jessica Jones in closer. After a few seconds everyone figures out it's not her husband. Cue the enraged Flying Brick.
  • In Mastermen #1, with help from Overman, the Human Bomb threw off Leatherwing and the rest of the New Reichsmen by pretending to be gravely injured by Leatherwing's interrogation, giving him the chance to wait to break free and then destroy the Eagle's Nest.
  • Used in the second arc of Copperhead by Zolo's gang. One flags down his police car to request aid for an injured man, but as soon as Boo approaches several guns are pulled on him.
  • Minor Spider-Man villain the Black Fox pulled this on a regular basis. Whenever Spidey was about to catch him, the Fox would give some sort of sob story about how he wouldn't survive jail time in his age or how he would swear to never steal again on the grave of his mother (who wasn't even dead!) and so on. And Spidey kept falling for it repeatedly. After about five or six encounters of this happening though, he finally got wise and sent the Fox to prison.

    Comic Strips 
  • Barry, The Scrappy little brother in Curtis, shows how it's done here.
  • Humorously subverted in a Dilbert strip: Dilbert accidentally bumps the car in front of him and gets out to apologize. When he looks in the front window of the other car, he sees a man with a grotesquely twisted-up body who screams "LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME!" The alleged victim takes Dilbert to court, intending to sue him for all he's worth. "Now I'll never be able to work again!" he whines to the defense attorney. But the plaintiff's scheme fails when the defense attorney asks him what his job had been, and he's forced to admit: "Circus contortionist."
  • One Bo Nanas strip featured a woman asking the main character to hold her purse. Once he does so, she starts yelling, claiming that she's been purse-snatched. It didn't work; the policeman nearby saw the whole thing, and apparently she's done this before.
  • Inverted and then triple-subverted in one Garfield strip. Garfield sees Jon lavishing attention on the cute kitten Nermal and becomes envious. He walks up to Nermal and—with Jon's eyes upon him—deliberately kicks the little guy over in the hope that Jon will become angry with him. He is disgusted when Jon simply takes pity on Nermal and completely ignores what Garfield did. Figuring that "two can play the sympathy game," Garfield takes up a plate of fine china and smashes it against his head, then "falls down unconscious" in an attempt to make Jon feel sorry for him. Instead, Jon scolds Garfield for breaking one of his most valuable plates—and, even worse for Garfield, it turns out that the plate-breaking really did hurt him, giving him a colossal headache!
  • In a Peanuts strip from 1952, Charlie Brown is minding his own business and playing with a toy truck, when Lucy runs past him, yelling at him not to attack her. Patty overhears and threatens to beat Charlie Brown up, so Charlie Brown tells Lucy to stay away from him. Lucy gets upset, and when Charlie Brown tries apologize to her, Lucy yells at Charlie Brown not to attack her again.

    Fan Works 
  • In I Won't Say when L catches Mello and Matt sneaking around his room Matt turns on the waterworks and tries to blame it all on Light.
  • The Immortal Game: After Terra is stripped of her power and imprisoned by the Mane Cast, she eventually pretends to have an emotional breakdown in order to lure Fluttershy close enough to her cage that she can try and strangle her through the bars.
  • In Shinji and Warhammer 40k, when Gendo and SEELE finally realize that neither of them was behind Shinji's messianic rise in popularity and influence, they conclude that a third party is manipulating events. Gendo interrogates Shinji privately, hoping to learn who's behind it. Gendo is careful to avoid leaving any obvious bruises during the interrogation, and when physical pain proves ineffective, he starts threatening Shinji's friends. Shinji responds by savagely punching himself in the face over and over. Due to an old incident where Shinji provoked Gendo into striking him in public, combined with the public persona Shinji had cultivated, Gendo realizes there's nothing he can do to convince people of the truth.
  • In A Cure for Love, while Light is in the middle of killing one of his former coworkers he makes said coworker shoot him in the arm so that he will look innocent to the investigators.
  • In the Sherlock Holmes fic The Ghost Map, Holmes shoots himself in the shoulder to frame a Serial Killer/Deadly Doctor and get him convicted in court.
  • In Monster a jealously scorned Misa calls the police on Kira's operation in the hopes of eliminating her competition and forcing Light to be "hers" again. When calling the police, Misa gives a great performance, tears and all, and downplays her own involvement claiming she was "so scared" of Kira.
  • In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything B locks himself and Light up in L's kitchen and begins beating himself up in an attempt to frame Light. Luckily L knows B and Light well enough to figure out what's going on.
  • Checker Monarch from Getting Back on Your Hooves has Manipulation as her Special Talent, and thus has this as part of her arsenal, and threatens to do so if anyone reveals her crimes. Ironically, Trixie uses this trope herself to lure Checker into an Engineered Public Confession.
  • Shadowfax tries this to escape interrogation in You Obey.
  • Vivian pulls this trick on Lyrius during the Final Battle of Yu Gi Oh: The Thousand Year Door Redux. When he's understandably upset at having fallen for such an old trick, she says she "had a good teacher". (Implying that she learned it from him.)
  • In Shadowchasers: Ascension, Shock Jock Sarah Blaze uses a variation of this similar to Palpatine's in Star Wars: Clone Wars, arranging for her own kidnapping and pretending to be a Damsel in Distress so she won't be considered a suspect later when things get more serious. Unfortunately for her, Karen picks up on a few interactions between her and the kidnapper that seem contradictory. When she interviews the kidnapper on her show, she acts like the two have never met; however, when she's actually kidnapped, she addresses him as if she's known him a long time. This eventually gets her found out, and ruins a big part of the villains' plans.
  • In Hybrid Theory, through make-up and tears and being naked in bed, Nabiki convinces Ryouga that he snapped and abused her, because she wants him to be her perfect willing slave.
  • In Another Chance (as well as many Fairy Tail fanfics like it), Lisanna, by using makeup, manages to fool most of the guild into thinking Lucy injured her, causing them to turn on and beat Lucy up. Only Wendy, Juvia, the Exceeds and Gajeel, of all people refuse to take part in it, but only Makarov sees through Lisanna's deception by smelling her makeup (which the other Dragon Slayers should have been able to do), and after having Juvia use her magic to wash it off, expels Lisanna from the guild.
  • In Persona EG, Sunset Shimmer uses this as one of her plans to humiliate Flash and anger Twilight. She breaks into the Applewood dorm one night in February and rapes Flash, then one month later claims that she is pregnant with Flash's child because he forced himself on her. Although she was attempting to get pregnant for real when she raped him it didn't work and she just made up that she was pregnant to humiliate Flash. Though many people in the school believe the rumor at first, the attempt ultimately fails when Flash, Cadance and Celestia call her out on her lie and set up a test to prove it is false. Sunset backs down and admits her lie, but gets out of any official punishment by messaging over Canterbook that she panicked and misread her result. Despite the rumor being proved false, many people are still upset at Flash for having had sex with Sunset, but Sunset herself is just as humiliated as Flash.
  • This Backyardigans fanfic be a bully do this to get the kids (specifically Pablo and Tyrone) in trouble. It works.

    Films — Animation 
  • Done by Steele in Balto. Steele says that Balto attacked him and tried to steal the medicine for the sick kids, only to fall off of a cliff. Balto actually demanded the medicine because he knew the way back. Steele didn't want to give it up because he wanted the glory of bringing the medicine back himself, so Balto took it by force.
  • Dee Dee pulled this trick to get the drop on Terry in Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. (When he showed up when they and the other Jokerz were in the middle of a robbery, they held each other and pretended to be terrified; when he turned his back to concentrate on the tougher-looking male members of the gang, they pounced.)
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • In Lady and the Tramp, the two Siamese cats do a lot of damage to the Darlings' house, and arrange for Lady to get caught in some drapes so that it looks like she did it. Afterward, they lie down on the floor and roll around piteously meowing, with (self-inflicted) scratches on them, to make it look like Lady attacked them as part of her rampage. (Of course, Lady did try to attack them, but it was out of righteous fury at the cats' mischief, not bullying.)
    • Cinderella included a scene where Cindy lectures the hound dog Bruno on getting along with Lucifer. While her back is turned, Lucifer lies down in front of Bruno and scratches his snout, yowling when he growls. The trope is played with a bit, however. Cindy does not try to play favorites with any of the animals, insisting that they treat each other equally. After she sends the abashed Bruno outside, she angrily sets down Lucifer's saucer of milk while snapping a remark that she knows Lucifer to be a bully himself, and that he probably deserved what he "got."
    • In Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, Iago tries to trick Aladdin into letting him back into the palace by acting severally injured and claiming that he just escaped from Jafar. Naturally, Aladdin isn't fooled and attacks Iago.
  • In Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart, Joe tells Miss Acacia about how he lost his right eye because of Jack's cuckoo clock heart, but makes it sound like Jack did it on purpose.
  • In the Wallace & Gromit film, A Matter of Loaf and Death, the murderer deceives Wallace into thinking Gromit has attacked them, even going so far as to bite their own arm to provide an injury. This one only worked through Wallace's Cloud Cuckoolander tendencies, as it would be hard for Gromit to bite anyone, as he has no mouth.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In An American Crime, Gertrude tells everyone that Sylvia "came into [her] house and just kept lying" and is a troublemaker who she just doesn't know what to do with. This is to hide the fact that she currently has Sylvia tied up and beaten in the basement.
  • The confrontation between Commander Richter and the Camerlengo in Angels & Demons, where the Camerlengo brands himself with the Illuminati symbol, then tells the would-be Big Damn Heroes that the attacker is the other guy.
  • This is a major facet of Black Widow's unique interrogation methods in The Avengers (2012), as seen in her first scene when she's being held captive by some Russian baddies. Her strategy focuses on putting her target in a position of superiority over her, where they're highly likely to spill the beans on their plans through all the hubrisnote . She later puts this to good use when questioning Loki by feigning agony over the villain discussing about what he plans to do to Hawkeye, her fellow SHIELD agent. However, she does later admit that Loki managed to get under her skin after all.
  • Rhoda in The Bad Seed manages this while unconscious, as it is assumed her near-lethal poisoning was due to her mother being crazy rather than her being a complete psychopath.
  • In Beethoven, veterinarian Herman Varnick, does this because he wants to use Beethoven for an ammunition test. Varnick comes to the Newton's home and stages an "attack" by Beethoven on him, by ripping up his sleeve and putting red dye on his arm and Beethoven to look like blood, and says that Beethoven bit his arm. Varnick says Beethoven must be euthanized or he will press charges, so George takes Beethoven to Varnick to be euthanized. Later the Newtons discover the lie when Varnick's bandages are ripped off, revealing the absence of bite marks.
  • Bob Roberts is full of these, seeing as its a movie about politics. Perhaps the worst one, though, is when Bob Roberts stages an assassination attempt on himself and frames an innocent journalist who is later killed by vigilantes.
  • In Catwoman, our heroine confronts the villainess in her home, who reveals her husband's dead body which just so happens to be covered in deep scratches, right before she triggers an alarm and cues crocodile tears, screaming "IT WAS CATWOMAN!"
  • Class of 1984. A student is caught doing something wrong in the boys' bathroom. Instead of taking his punishment, he beats himself up by doing things, like banging his head into the paper towel dispenser. When security arrives, they think the teacher is trying to beat up the student.
  • Cruel Intentions: In order to goad Ronald into attacking her brother and (indirectly) causing his death, Kathryn claims (over the phone) that Sebastian hit her. (This trope gets twisted around in the movie's original script: Sebastian does hit Kathryn, for taunting him.)
  • Selina Kyle can turn this on and off like a switch in The Dark Knight Rises. When she's attacking Bane's men in the bar (even as a SWAT team is pounding a battering ram against the door), she calmly manages to shoot two of the henchmen down, and immediately starts screaming hysterically the moment the SWAT team breaches the front door and enters. Then she sobers up as soon as the officers chase the remaining henchmen into the back alley.
  • Used to devastating effect by The Blank and 88 Keys to frame the title character for murder in Dick Tracy (1990). Having just gassed Tracy after luring him into a greenhouse to search for his kidnapped girlfriend, they take the detective to a hotel where District Attorney Fletcher is staying. The Blank shoots Fletcher dead and then puts the smoking pistol in Tracy's lap. 88 Keys then takes out a piece of note paper and loudly reads from it, shouting for help because Tracy is "trying to kill him." A police officer downstairs hears the commotion and arrives on the scene just as Tracy is waking up. The Blank and 88 Keys have escaped out the window by this time, and the now-disgraced hero is unable to account for the D.A.'s dead body and the fact that the murder weapon is on his person.
  • Die Hard: Hans Gruber pretends to be an escaped partygoer when he first meets John McClane.
  • Scorpio in Dirty Harry pays someone to beat the ever-loving snot out of him, just so he can accuse the hero of tuning him up. Harry doesn't buy it for a minute, telling his superiors that anyone can tell he didn't do that to him. How? "'Cause he looks too damn good, that's how."
  • In Fear, the female protagonist's psychotic boyfriend beats himself and claims that her father did it.
  • When the unnamed protagonist in Fight Club is about to be fired, he tries blackmailing his boss by threatening to leak sensitive information. When that doesn't work, the protagonist starts throwing himself around the boss's office, breaking furniture and smearing his own blood everywhere while the boss looks on in a state of utter disbelief. When other people come in to find out what's going on, the protagonist begs for mercy. Crude but effective; the boss gives him a very generous severance package to avoid any more trouble. He started beating himself up after the supervisor called security, and was too shocked by his actions to hang up. It was a brilliant double play because not only did the arriving security misread the scene, but whoever was listening on the phone would have heard what sounded like the supervisor beating up a helpless subordinate. For bonus effectiveness points, he was kneeling right at the supervisor's feet when the security arrived.
  • In the film version of the musical Hairspray, Velma Von Tussle is trying to seduce Wilbur Turnblad, and he's oblivious. When his wife Edna comes in, she pulls him on top of her and makes it look like he was the one who initiated it.
  • Holocaust 2000: When Robert finally confronts Angel about his desire for global genocide, the latter keeps gloating about his evil plans until Robert eventually flies into a rage and tries to strangle him, which just makes him seem like a crazy person to the rest of his staff.
  • The heroine of House of Whipcord pulls this off. After getting flogged, one of the matrons visits her in her cell. The girl appears to be so weak she can't even put her own uniform back on. This appeals to the old lady's conscience who leaves the cell to fetch her some water. She leaves the door unlocked and the heroine escapes.
  • Ice Station Zebra. The Mole plans to invoke this trope, telling an American officer to beat him with a crowbar so he can be shot in 'self defense'. The officer is incredulous that he would go along with this plan, but the mole points out that he's the type to die fighting. Instead of reaching for the crowbar, the officer attacks him directly, eventually gaining the upper hand until he's shot dead by the hero under the assumption that he is The Mole.
  • In Inception, Mal planned to kill herself (though only to "wake up"; she thinks she's dreaming) and convince her husband to go with her, and she used this as part of the means of convincing him of that. She told her lawyer that she was fearing for her life, and then trashed the room Cobb was in, just so that if she died and he didn't agree to go with her, everyone would think he killed her. She threatened her own husband with false incrimination on murder, and actually followed through on that threat when he didn't agree to go with her. Because of this, she manages to come across as the most manipulative character in the movie, which says a lot in a movie where even the good guys are manipulative.
  • In the Intruder, the dying killer accuses the two survivors of the killings and the police arrest them.
  • Jason X: Kay-Em pulls this off. After having a dramatic introduction after being "upgraded", Jason seemly takes her out instantly by throwing his machete into her. She immediately crumples into a heap, but it turns out she was goading Jason into approaching her to retrieve his machete.
    Kay-Em: [slasher smile] GOTCHA!
  • Judge Dredd. After Rico slaughters the other high ranking Judges on Chief Justice Griffin's orders, Dredd arrives. Griffin shoots himself in the arm to make it appear he was wounded in the assault and tells the arriving guards that Dredd committed the attack.
  • In The King and the Clown, two other wives of the former king are portrayed as using this tactic against the current king's mother in a dramatic "reenactment" of the events surrounding her poisoning. The king takes it very seriously. The two women in question happen to be attending the performance. The results aren't pretty.
  • In Last Action Hero, Jack Slater's daughter Whitney is dragged into a bedroom to be roughed up by one of Benedict's henchman. She turns the tables on him, but continues screaming as if she's the one being attacked, until she finally comes out packing a gun to save Danny. Later, in the real world, Benedict smacks Danny into a wall, making him start crying that Benedict broke his arm from the impact. Benedict turns his attention back to Slater; Danny, dropping the crying, angrily resumes rushing Benedict.
  • Liar Liar: Amoral Attorney Fletcher Reed learns that he is suffering from his son's wish that leaves him unable to lie for 24 hours. Determined to get himself excused from a case that he will almost certainly lose if he tells the truth, he slips into the men's restroom at the courthouse and repeatedly punches himself and throws himself into the stalls and walls, hoping to injure himself so badly that the judge will not allow him to continue. He is eventually found bruised and bloodied and brought into the courtroom; when the judge asks him what happened, he explains in a half-truth that "a desperate man" beat him up. But Fletcher's scheme backfires when the judge asks if he still feels well enough to continue, and Fletcher is forced to admit that he does.
  • The Lord of the Rings: In The Two Towers, Gandalf and Co arrive to the court of King Théoden and are demanded to disarm before they are admitted in. Gandalf urges his companions to go with it, but when the guard, Háma, asks him for his Magic Staff, makes a pathetic face and pleads that he's an old man and this is just his walking stick (and even leans on Legolas for support). The abashed guard obliges and lets them in (though it's strongly implied he knew exactly what Gandalf was up to: When Gandalf is attempting to exorcise Saruman's control of Théoden, Gamling attempts to draw his sword to come to the King's aid but Háma stops him).
    • Furthermore, Háma was under direct orders from Grima Wormtongue to confiscate the staff. His acceptance of Gandalf's flimsy excuse further proves that he was hoping for Gandalf to succeed.
  • Used in Mad Max: Fury Road by Furiosa's all-female tribe to bait possible raiders: one of them perches naked in an old electrical tower and the others lie in ambush. Max sees through the ruse almost instantly.
  • The titular dog from Marmaduke gets attacked by Bosco after the latter loses in the dog surfing competition, but then he gets fed up and stands up to him. However, this makes Bosco pretend to cower in fear, thus he and his owner Phil get scolded for being out of control.
  • The antagonist of Mean Girls writes evil things about herself into her book of gossip, then distributes it to frame the protagonist and her former minions.
  • A strange example from Memento: Leonard goes after Dodd because he beat up Natalie. At least, that's what she says — in reality, it was Leonard who beat up Natalie (who deliberately provoked him by saying some very nasty things about his late wife), only he's forgotten. Of course, by the time he meets up with Dodd he's forgotten why he's there...
  • Once he gets out of his room, the Pyro Maniac Saul in The Old Dark House (1932) pretends to be a victim of family plotting, and insists to Roger that he isn't mad. But once he takes hold on a knife, he starts have problems to keep up with that story.
  • In The Omen the Villain Protagonist is Damien, the Anti Christ. The first two movies have Downer Endings where The Bad Guy Wins, but in the third, Damien is finally defeated and killed. A big reason is, in the first two, he's a child, and uses this trick for all it's worth. In the third, however, he's an adult, and he can't fool other adults any longer.
  • In Orphan, Esther breaks her own arm and accuses her mother of doing it.
  • Edward Norton's character in Primal Fear, as revealed in the final twist.
  • The Princess Bride:
    • Humperdinck's plan to kill Buttercup is an attempt to pull off this trope as part of a False Flag Operation.
    • Inverted later when Wesley talks Humperdinck down by challenging him to a duel To the Pain. As it turns out, Wesley was too weak from move due to only recently having been "mostly dead"; he was pretending to be the lion while actually being the wounded gazelle.
  • In The Room, Johnny's cheating girlfriend claims to her mother that Johnny got drunk and hit her. She either misses the point entirely or sees through the claim as she knows that Johnny doesn't drink.
  • The final part of the villain's plot in Scream (1996). The villain in Scream 4 pulls it again, only that time, it actually works. Almost.
  • "Buffalo Bill" in The Silence of the Lambs uses this for very nasty purposes, with a fake cast and an awkward burden, which moves a well-meaning Catherine to offer her aid. This gets her kidnapped and dumped in a pit. (This aspect of the "Buffalo Bill" character was in fact based on Serial Killer Ted Bundy.)
  • Ravenna of Snow White and the Huntsman pulls this off to great effect. As the king's knights are fighting an army, they find her chained up in a cage. The king takes her back to the castle and ends up marrying her. On the wedding night she murders him and it turns out she's leading the invading army, and conquers the castle in a matter of hours.
  • In Species, Sil escapes from the heroes at one point by running up to a woman in a parking lot naked and pretending to be a rape victim. The woman then drives her to safety. Sil then kidnaps her, steals from her, and eventually kills her in a ploy to fake her own death.
  • Star Wars:
    • Emperor Palpatine pulls this off in Revenge of the Sith to make Anakin Skywalker side with him against Mace Windu. He's just a tired old man viciously attacked by the ruthless Jedi despite being willing to surrender. He's barely alive . . . surely Anakin wouldn't allow a murder to occur? And not only has Anakin been spending a great deal of time alone with Palpatine and beginning to be swayed by his words, but he has good reason to resent the Jedi after they grant him only token representation on the Council and force him into becoming their spy, and sees Windu as an arrogant Rabid Cop who is subverting the laws of the Republic. (But of course he doesn't actually want to kill Windu, and his horror at Windu's death is palpable.) Palpatine is a rare example of this trope in that he's both a gazelle and a lion. One moment he's begging for mercy; the next, he's gleefully electrocuting Windu while screaming "POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!" This is the same man who orchestrated the invasion of his homeworld to get the sympathy vote to become Chancellor in the first place.
  • Stroker Ace: Stroker is at a bar sulking about having been forced out of a race by Aubrey. What's worse, Aubrey is there to gloat. Stroker realizes that Aubrey is dancing with a woman he knows (but he can't remember her name) and decides to mess with Aubrey. While Aubrey has his back turned, Stroker gets her attention and then fakes a leg injury while leaving the bar. Aubrey is left in the dark, only knowing that his partner left without a word.
  • In Sunset, Alfie Alperin roughs up his sister Victoria enough to leave convincing injuries so she can press charges of assault and rape against Tom Mix.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: When in an elevator with Loki, Thor excitedly says that they should do "Get Help," to Loki's annoyance. When the doors open, Thor is carrying a seemingly injured Loki and cries to the guards to get help for his "dying" brother. When the guards come closer to investigate, Thor throws Loki at them, knocking them all unconscious.
    Thor: Ah, classic...
    Loki: (gets up from the floor and adjusts his collar) Still hate it. It's humiliating.
    Thor: Well, not for me, it's not.
  • In the Canadian film Trojan Horse the presidential candidate hero/villain hires an assassin to shoot him non-fatally during a speech, implying his opponents are using serious dirty tactics as well as giving himself the opportunity to fake a near-death religious experience.
  • The Usual Suspects: Verbal goads Keaton into punching him so he can guilt Keaton into joining a heist. In many ways what he is doing throughout the entire interview is the same stunt, Kujan never believes that Verbal could actually be anyone of significance because of his crippled appearance.
    Verbal: I'll probably shit blood tonight.
  • The entire plan of Wild Things began when Denise Richards' character accuses Matt Dillon's character of rape. Though he was in on it too. In a variant as revealed in The Stinger Kevin Bacon's character also pulled it off. Using the false self-defense excuse to cover his murder of Denise Richard's character.
  • The Woman in Red: Joey pulls one, acting like he's going crazy and saying that he needs to kill his wife as a way for he, Buddy, and Mikey to get Teddy to Charlotte's photo shoot.
  • Working Girl: The deceitful Katherine barges into a meeting being led by her secretary Tess, trying to take credit for her idea. When she realizes that attendees might believe Tess instead of her, she exaggerates a genuine injury (she has a broken leg and is on crutches) by faking a dizzy spell, instantly garnering the attention and concern of nearly everyone present.
  • In the film Marshall (Based on a True Story), a wealthy woman accuses her chauffeur of raping her and then throwing her off of a bridge. The man's lawyers pick up on major inconsistencies and improbabilities in her story and realize that she had consensual sex with the man, and in a panic over the thought of her infidelity being discovered, tried to kill herself, and when that failed, concocted the rape/attempted murder story for the same reason, knowing full well that the racial difference, class disparity, and stereotypes about black men that were very common at the time (1940s)—and still are—would lead to her being believed rather than him.note .

  • A Brother's Price:
    • In the backstory, Keifer Porter gets away with torturing and raping one of his younger wives by convincing her eldest sister that she "provoked him". Due to Love Makes You Stupid, he actually succeeds with this.
    • A milder example would be Odelia, who is really hurt, but pretends to be unconscious in the hopes that handsome Jerin will enter the room where she lies without chaperone so that she can steal a kiss. She's not even able to sit up, so her plan likely involved asking Jerin for a kiss.
  • In Dragon Bones, Bastilla does this, by injuring her feet by running barefoot through the wilderness which makes that person more convincing as the poor, innocent victim. Ward is easily fooled, as protecting others is an integral part of his personality. Later, he uses the gambit himself, asking an ally to hit him over the head with a chamber pot, to make the villains think he had nothing to do with the escape of their other prisoners and is really on their side.
  • In book two of the H.I.V.E. Series, Laura uses this to lure Block and Tackle into a pit in the Maze.
  • In the ancient Egyptian folktale Tale of Two Brothers, from the New Kingdom, the wife of Anpu tried to seduce her brother-in-law Bata. When he refused, she used makeup to cover herself in fake bruises, and accused Bata of trying to seduce her and beating her for refusing his advances. Anpu completely fell for it and tried to kill Bata, who had to run away and get into all kinds of bizarre adventures to prove his innocence.
  • In The Accursed Kings (Les Rois Maudits), the last Pope has just died, so the Cardinals have to elect one of them as the next one. Unfortunately, the two favorites for the post have exactly the same numbers of voters on each side, so the election process goes on for several years with no result. The French Royal Family is growing impatient, since their King just died and they can't legally get a new one if a Pope doesn't oversee the coronation - and the country will fall into chaos if there's no new King. They therefore decide to kidnap the Cardinals and lock them up together in a room as prisoners to force their decision process: they'll only release them if they walk out of here with a new Pope. The two candidates and their voters come up with a solution: they're going to vote for a Cardinal whose health is declining and who won't pass the next month anyway. Once that new Pope dies, they'll be free to restart the same incessant voting process.
    • ...The final result is even more awesome and qualifies as Xanatos Speed Chess and Magnificent Bastard. The new Pope was actually working with the French Court all along and completely pretended having a deadly illness, because they anticipated how the Cardinals would take advantage of that. As soon as the voting has been confirmed, the ex-Cardinal and now Pope, who originally didn't get a single vote, rises from his deathbed with a triumphant smile. In a Mass "Oh, Crap!" moment, the Cardinals realize they've just jeopardized every single political planning they made for the next thirty years. The king is immediately crowned, and France gets an extremely grateful Pope by their side. So it's a subversion or a double example, depending on your interpretation.
  • Agatha Christie uses this trope on several occasions. In fact, if someone survives an attempt on their life in one of her books, there is a 90% chance they did it themselves.
    • A Murder Is Announced is rife with deception, the most important one being that Miss Blacklock, who had ostensibly been the victim of attempted murder, was in fact the mastermind behind the attack.
    • In Peril at End House, Nick makes it look like there have been multiple attempts on her life to fool Poirot into believing that her later murder of her cousin Maggie was just an accidental murder committed by someone else who mistook Maggie for her. She even eats chocolates she poisoned herself to further this deception.
    • In Death on the Nile, the murderer gave himself an alibi - he was shot in the leg, and one of the victims therefore couldn't have been shot by him because he couldn't move fast enough to do it. Trick is, the shot everyone saw was fake. Only after doing the kill he "couldn't" have done did he go back and shoot his own leg.
  • Harry Potter:
    • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it was revealed that Peter Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius Black for it.
    • In the same book, Draco Malfoy used his injury from a hippogriff to get special treatment, eventually leading up to his dad using political leverage to order the hippogriff's execution.
  • One of Tom Holt's near-interchangeable protagonists at one point remembers how, when left to play with a young cousin, the little rodent would at the first hint of boredom burst into tears and run out crying "Mummy, he hit me!" Since most of Tom Holt's protagonists are Butt Monkeys and/or Chew Toys, this is pretty much standard.
  • The entire point of Ann Coulter's book Guilty is to allege that the American Far Left has been pulling this on its right-wing opponents for several decades, with the Right being too dumbfounded by some of the allegations to intelligibly fight back. But this book is doing that for the right-wing people. It makes the right-wing look like the victims of "false victims." But this is a "chicken and egg" situation, so don't bother deciding who is the lion and who is the gazelle.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000: Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Inquisitor Stele accuses the astropath Horin of trying to kill him and uses psyker magic to strengthen his case. The Space Marines he deludes promptly shoot the astropath apart.
  • In Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force, thirteen-year-old Obi-Wan Kenobi's rival Bruck Chun does this in an attempt to discredit Obi-Wan and prevent him from becoming a Jedi. It almost works, too.
  • Another Star Wars Expanded Universe example, and this time by one of the good guys: "The Sand Tender" is the tale of Momaw Nadon (better known to fans of the movies as "Hammerhead"), an exiled Ithorian priest who is secretly helping the Rebel Alliance on Tatooine. When word gets out that Nadon might know where the blueprints for the Death Star are hidden (which he does, since he is friends with Obi-Wan Kenobi), the cold-hearted Imperial Lieutenant Alima comes to Nadon's house and warns him that if he does not tell him where R2-D2 is, Alima will sew open Nadon's eyes and force him to watch as the lieutenant incinerates all of the plants in his house (which, being Ithorian plants, are semisentient and can feel pain). Nadon is conflicted: he is repelled by the thought of betraying the Rebels, but he doesn't want to see his plant friends slaughtered either. He decides to kill Alima in desperation, even though as a priest he is supposed to be completely pacifistic. He buys a gun and goes to shoot Alima with it, but the lieutenant tricks him and shoots him first - and then, when the Hammerhead is lying wounded on the ground, kicks him so remorselessly that Nadon is left badly bruised. This gives Nadon another idea: he goes to Alima's superior officer and lies that the lieutenant had tortured him to get information on R2-D2 but then had not done anything with that information, offering his bruises from when Alima kicked him as "proof." Nadon assumes that Alima will now be either demoted or imprisoned, but the superior is so outraged by Alima's supposed incompetence that he has the lieutenant callously executed. Nadon is horrified that he has caused someone to be killed - even if it was unintentional - and decides to do penance by taking DNA from Lieutenant Alima's corpse, planning to use his genetic engineering skills to clone twin sons whom he will raise to be the good sort of person their father never was.
  • The most famous Wounded Gazelle Gambit of Romance of the Three Kingdoms happens in the lead up to the battle of Chi Bi, where Zhou Yu and Huang Gai pretended to have a falling out, after which Zhou Yu has Huang Gai flogged in public to help bolster Huang Gai's Fake Defector claims. (In fact, should TV tropes ever get translated into Chinese, this incident would be the Trope Namer.)
  • The Joy Luck Club:
    • One of the women tells her back story, in which she goes to live with her mother and her mother's second husband. It turns out that the husband has several wives and the second one frequently employs this trope by sickening herself by eating large amounts of opium and pretending to be dying so she could have her way. It gets to the point that she doesn't even need to eat opium to trick her husband. Ultimately, the narrator's mother goes one step further and actually does commit suicide by opium to ensure that her daughter is best treated and the second wife loses power. Possibly subverted in that the husband was extremely superstitious and feared angering a woman who would potentially come back to haunt him, rather than feeling sorry for her.
    • Also used in the back story of another woman, who was forced into an arranged marriage with a boy she only ever loved like a brother. She escapes the marriage and the wrath of her mother in law (who was pissed at the lack of grandchildren) by screaming in fear and claiming that the ghost of a family ancestor had tormented her in the night. She then spins an elaborate tale that boils down to that she and her husband weren't fated to marry, he should have married one of the servant girls (the servant in question was pregnant and the woman knew this) with further claims that her husband spiritually impregnated his "true wife" and that she's scared for her life. It works.
  • In the Star Trek: Millennium novels, the human archaeologist/adventurer Vash appears to have been hit by a toxic dart in an assassination attempt and is rushed to the infirmary, unconscious. The poison is an Andorian neurotoxin, implicating the Andorians Satr and Leen, who are rivals to Vash (and particularly shady characters). It is not in fact fatal to Humans, though, and Vash fully recovers. She later mentions the toxin by name in a throw-away comment, alerting Doctor Bashir that she planned the whole thing - because he never mentioned the name, and there are dozens of neurotoxins it could have been. It turns out Vash injected herself with the dart.
  • Faile threatens romantic rival Berelain with this in The Wheel of Time, threatening to challenge Berelain to a Duel to the Death. Both women know that their respective odds of success in such a duel are around 50/50, but Faile points out that if she (Faile) wins, Berelain is dead and Perrin (the central point of the love triangle) is pissed but will get over it, but if Berelain wins, then she (Berelain) becomes the one who killed Perrin's beloved wife and will never have a chance with him again. The threat works.
  • In Sideways Stories from Wayside School, a boy has been pulling on his classmate's pigtails. When warned by the teacher to stop or she will send him home early, the boy resolves to stop so as not to get into trouble... and suddenly, the girl screams out again, even though he didn't touch her.
  • Subverted in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mayella claims she was raped when, in fact, it was the opposite, in order to get rid of her guilt about kissing a black man.
  • Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: The book Sweet Revenge reveals that Rosemary Hershey used this to ruin Isabelle Flanders. Too bad for her that Isabelle had help in getting back on her feet and she is now gunning for her....
  • Matilda in The Monk pretends that she is poisoned and dying in order to break Ambrosio's defenses down so he will sleep with her. While it is possible to interpret her as being honest, she gets over her "fatal illness" quickly and easily.
  • In Paladin of Souls, Ista threatened the head of her guards with this to make him give in to her demands after they were both rescued from a raiding party.
  • In The Caves of Klydor, Cord sets out to rescue Bren from the clutches of a team of Elite Mooks by feigning an injury. It backfires on him...but it turns out that Bren was pulling one of his own.
  • Sabina Kane: Sabina is a vampire, and not a vegetarian, either. A few times she's mentioned having found prey by going to bad parts of town and waiting for someone to mug her. She even fed on an attempted rapist once.
  • A male example in Companions Of The Night, it's how Ethan gets Kerry to help him at the laundry store. He is hurt, but considering he's a vampire, it's not serious injuries for him.
  • In The Quantum Thief—trilogy this is one of Gentleman Thief Jean le Flambeur's favourite strategies. He puts himself in a position where his enemies see him as weak and vulnerable, and weakly trying to bluff them into thinking that he still has some ace in the hole. It inevitably turns out that he does have a secret plan, and almost never the one which he seemed to be bluffing about, and which usually requires the opponent to be suspicious, confident and vengeful to work in the first place.
  • Joe Pickett: In Endangered, Dallas Cates is beaten up by his father and brother - dislocating his shoulder and breaking his ribs - in order to persuade Joe that he could not have committed the crime of which he is accused.
  • The Great Divorce: Sarah Smith's husband Frank's sin was using other peoples' pity to manipulate them and make them miserable. This trait is represented by the Tragedian, who eventually overtakes and (quite literally) consumes Frank's original personality.
  • So you've just been left behind in a non-FTL-capable shuttle with a Hanoverian customs cutter closing in. What do you do? Well, if you're Midshipman Alexis Carew, you pretend to be a terrified sixteen-year-old girl with a drunken crew and board the Hanoverians to steal their ship when they come to rescue you. Notably she's asked afterwards if she had signaled surrender during the ruse (which would violate the Fictional Geneva Conventions), but responds that she never actually struck her colors and that her only response to surrender demands was, "It would appear that I have little choice in the matter."
  • In The Irregular at Magic High School, Miyuki deliberately acts weaker than she really is to encourage Tatsuya to stay with her as much as possible.

    Live-Action TV 
  • CSI: In "Frame By Frame", a thief murders her partner during a break-in. When the homeowner returns, trapping her in the house, she binds and gags herself and locks herself in the vault, so she can claim the homeowner abducted her.
  • On CSI: Miami, a suspect dislocates his own shoulder in order to accuse Horatio of police brutality. Eventually the evidence proves that the injuries were indeed self-inflicted.
    • During a stop at a bar, Delko sees a man harassing his girlfriend and steps in, leading to a brief fight. The man then sues Delko for the injury and harassment. The man ends up killed and Delko meets the girlfriend, assuming the suit is over. Instead, she tells him that it's not only continuing but she's suing for more money, smirking she can insinuate this played into the man's death. At which point, Delko realizes the two were scamming him the entire time and she's just picking up where her "boyfriend" left off.
  • A suspect tries the same thing by head-desk on CSI: NY. Someone just points out that they can prove it was self-inflicted. Suspect sulks and asks for an aspirin.
    • One episode focuses on a double murder and the wife of the male victim shows up with glasses to cover a black eye. The killer was her brother who was seeking revenge on the man beating his sister and the other victim was just a bystander picking the wrong time to enter the cable car. However, when Lindsey takes a look at the woman's "injury," she hands over a towel, coldly telling the woman that the bruise should have faded rather than look exactly the same for a couple of days. The woman slowly rubs off the makeup, revealing she had set the entire thing up to trick her brother into killing her husband for the life insurance.
  • Game of Thrones: In "No One", Arya pretends to be considerably more severely wounded than she actually is to catch her opponent off guard.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit has several cases, often giving horrific spins to the trope.
    • A rich woman is going through a horrible divorce from her sports star husband, then at some point she has sex with her handsome divorce lawyer and uses this to falsely accuse her husband of raping and beating her, getting everyone's sympathies and effectively ruining her ex-husband's reputation. (The only one who is suspicious is Stabler, who's going through a divorce himself.) The ex-husband snaps so violently at the fake accusation that he sets his abusive ex-wife on fire. And then, it gets worse. Even on her deathbed, confronted by Olivia with the truth, she still accuses her ex-husband of a crime he didn't commit, effectively ruining the lives of herself, the ex-husband, and most tragically, their daughter... All so she could "win" a divorce settlement. (Olivia only learns the truth when she speaks to the lawyer by fluke, and then is horrified at how far the woman went.)
    • Another episode involved a young woman enticing the least creepy guy on the sex offenders' online registry (he was 19, his girlfriend was 17, and her parents did not approve) into a hotel room for sex during a convention and had her friends beat her up, faking evidence of a brutal rape complete with perp, so her family could sue the hotel for allowing some random rapist into the premises. She plea bargained herself out of a jail sentence, but was hauled off for felony murder after the guy she framed was raped and killed in prison before he could be exonerated.
    • On two separate occasions this has been done to Det. Stabler. One has it where the wife of an abusive husband beats up said husband to blame it on Stabler; it is quickly cleared up by her son, who was fed up with how his mother kept covering up for his actions. The second has a teenage rapist shouting out in holding for Stabler to "stop touching his junk" only to calmly wave it off as a joke; it is later revealed he did so to set up Stabler on a sexual charge.
    • In another episode Olivia is again tricked by someone pulling this. A woman claims to be "stalked" and "burned" by her ex-husband, and after a confrontation with the cops he gets killed... but it turns out she burned herself and did it because she was resentful of him leaving her. Olivia fought for her the whole way, and was rewarded with the woman looking right in her eyes and saying "I sure showed him!" as she lay dying after revealing her scheme. In short, Olivia's own prejudices helped a woman kill her husband by proxy.
  • An episode of Law & Order investigates a case where a woman may have purposely put herself into a coma in order to frame a man who she believes got away with murdering her sister. To make matters worse, by the end of the episode, it's implied that she killed her sister or at the very least was involved in the crime, meaning this woman may have been going all out to frame a man she knew was innocent. The episode ends with the woman still in the coma, with it completely up in the air as to who was responsible for what.
  • On Hawaii Five-0 a teenager is kidnapped and her father murdered. Videos indicate the killer/kidnapper is her boyfriend and that she's been showing him the abuse her father has been giving her. But looking over the tapes with a doctor, the team figure out that the girl has been faking the abuse and tricking the boy into killing her father so she could collect his million dollar life insurance policy. When they're surrounded by cops, the girl gives him a kiss and smirks before running out, screaming that the guy is going to kill her. Not realizing he's been set up, the poor sap runs after her with his gun out and is shot dead by police. The girl tries to pretend to be the victim but the team know better and arrest her. They then drop the bomb: Her father had allowed that policy to lapse so her scheme wouldn't have gotten her anything.
  • Monk:
    • In "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival," a small-time hood beat himself up with a battery-stuffed sock, then meets with a detective under the guise of turning state's evidence on a drug deal in order to accuse him of brutality, thus discrediting his testimony against an old friend awaiting trial. What he wasn't told was, the mastermind behind this little plot had an extra surprise in store; another accomplice stabbed him, so it'd look like the detective was a murderer.
    • Subverted in "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend," where Captain Stottlemeyer's girlfriend Linda tries to discredit Monk and Natalie, who believe that Linda shot and killed her business partner, by telling him that Monk threatened her that he would have her arrested if she didn't sleep with him. Stottlemeyer, who has known Monk longer than Linda, immediately realizes that something is up. If anything this could be a Villain Ball moment as well, since before that, Linda stated that Stottlemeyer was completely on her side and wouldn't even hear Monk out on the theory. Once Stottlemeyer heard this story, Stottlemeyer starts to realize that Monk might be correct about Linda being a killer.
  • In the Airwolf episode, "The Truth About Holly" it turns out that Dominic's niece was pulling this scheme, trying to set up the so-abusive boyfriend gets the blame.
  • Used in a Little Britain sketch where Andy is jealous of Lou paying more attention to his new girlfriend than to Andy. They are in a pub and when Lou goes to the bar, Andy climbs out of his wheelchair and sprawls on the floor. As the girl stares in shock (because she didn't know he can walk) Lou returns and Andy shouts "She pushed me!"
  • Played to extremely dramatic levels in the Full House Very Special Episode "Just Say No Way" when DJ openly mocks a couple of boys for their earlier comments about how supposedly "cool" alcohol is, only for them to witness Jesse enter the room right behind her at that exact moment and trick him into thinking that she's trying to manipulate them into drinking beer, not vice versa. Viewer discretion has been given.
  • In Noah's Arc, Guy tries one on Trey, cutting himself with a knife and attempting to blame it on Alex. Initially, it works.
  • There's an episode of This Is Wonderland where Eliot has to defend a man accused of rape. It turns out that "victim" is pulling one of these, as she keeps changing her story, which is credibility-stretching enough by the start.
  • Dexter:
    • Lila has rough sex with Angel Batista and then takes a date rape drug to accuse him of rape. Earlier in the season, she torched her apartment to get sympathy from Dexter.
    • In the same season, Dexter himself uses this tactic by headbutting Doakes and walking out of a conversation held in private; successfully provoking Doakes into attacking him in front of everyone else, which leads to Doakes's suspension from the police department and definitely makes Dexter out to be an innocent victim of Doakes's animosity:
      Dexter: I own you. [BAM]
  • A similar "fake rape" plot on the Soap Opera Loving. Determined to make the man responsible for her husband's death pay, a woman seduced him, then trashed her living room (where the sex had taken place) and banged her face against the wall to make it look as thought she'd been hit. Then, she called 911 and claimed she'd been raped.
  • Melrose Place:
    • Taylor is arguing with her husband Kyle's friend Nick, who has never liked her and has just discovered that she's having an affair. When he threatens to tell her husband, Taylor, knowing her husband will soon be home, rips her blouse open and begins screaming and flailing her arms at him. Kyle runs in to see Nick apparently attacking his wife.
    • Also, when Kimberly was seeking revenge on Michael, she broke into his home while he went out for his run, trashed the place, ripped her clothes, then placed a hysterical call to 911 begging for help. When Michael returned home and found her collapsed on the floor, he leaned over to check on her, only to have the cops burst in at that moment and instantly assume that he had harmed her.
  • On Misfits, Curtis's season 4 girlfriend Lola turns out to be pulling this on every man she meets for undisclosed reasons. She was an actress, and the Storm made her into a femme fatale character she was auditioning for. Eventually her arc leads to Curtis's having to kill her, another man and himself.
  • In Rebelde Way the entire character of Javier Alanis was built to be a Xanatos Speed Chess match where his only move was this gambit.
  • Burn Notice:
    • The show talks about a variant of this, calling it "Double Blackmail," where the blackmailer will make it look like they are being blackmailed as well, so that the mark is more trusting. It is referred to as being "Older than the Pyramids".
    • In Season 3, Michael comments that injuries can help with cover stories, and hurts himself a few times. Playing on her knowledge of Michael's childhood,Evelyn pretends to be a battered wife in Season 1 so that Michael will help her track down the man she has been hired to kill.
  • Highlander has several examples:
    • One case mixes this with a classic Batman Gambit. Suspected in a series of beheadings committed by another Immortal, MacLeod comes to this Immortal... unarmed, followed by police, and pretending not to know what the other Immortal is talking about. When the other immortal takes his sword out, the police move in. The Enemy Of The Week gets away, but MacLeod is cleared anyway.
    • Amanda isn't a stranger to pulling this.
    • Kenny uses this as his modus operandi. Being an Immortal in a 10 year old's body makes participating in the Game pretty rough. So he plays on his apparent weakness to sucker in other Immortals either for protection or to kill them while he has them off guard. Or both. He's so good at it he was even able to fool Amanda of all people.
    • Another Immortal, played by Joan Jett, used this as her Hat as well. Specifically, pretending to be a new Immortal with no knowledge of the Game to fool experienced Immortals into taking her under their protection and teaching her their fighting styles so she can later use the knowledge against them to take their heads.
  • Bev Harris seems to pull one in a later episode of Roseanne: while she and David are discussing wedding plans and he shoots her ideas down she seems genuinely crushed, but when Darlene comes in to comfort her she claims "we were talking so nicely and all of a sudden he just attacked me!" Keep in mind this is David we're talking about here.
  • On an episode of The Inside Rebecca cornered an Enfant Terrible in her tree house and was questioning/intimidating her about the murder she had committed. When the little girl's mother called for her, she fell backwards out of the tree house, breaking her arm, and she claimed the FBI agent pushed her. No one in the agency blamed her but Melody did seem impressed that Rebecca had pulled her gun on a 10-year-old.
  • In Quantum Leap, Sam discovers that the wife of his "brother" is another leaper. Carried away by the moment of finding a fellow leaper, when the brother/husband comes home unexpectedly they need to pretend that nothing was happening. Instead she horrifically scratches her face to claim Sam attacked her.
  • On Guiding Light: Driven mad by husband Josh leaving her for his ex wife Reva and further distraught over miscarrying their baby (she'd gotten pregnant in a last-ditch attempt to hang on to him) Annie kept the dead baby in her womb, lured Reva to the top of a staircase, and in full view of dozens of party guests, provoked Reva into an argument that culminated in it appearing as though Reva had pushed Annie down a flight of stairs, when in fact, Annie had thrown herself. When Annie supposedly miscarried after this, Reva was charged with manslaughter.
  • Tristan from All Creatures Great and Small isn't above playing up his injuries to gain sympathy from a young lady, or to score a free drink. He exaggerates the difficulties of his work so that the crusty farmers will coddle him and, yes, give him a beer or other alcoholic beverage afterwards. The first time we see this, he's leaning exhausted against the sympathetic farmer, looking completely drained. Then, when the farmer's not looking, he smiles and winks at James. note 
  • Jon & Kate Plus Eight: If you believe Jon, Kate pulled one of these when her temper flared and Jon locked her out of the house to try to get her to cool down.
  • Jessie: In "Lizard Scales and Wrestling Tales", Zuri exploits this to help Ravi win the election for President of the Reptile Club. She shoves dirt in Ravi's face and rips his sleeve, then frames Ravi's competitor for tying him up and nearly feeding him to her snake. It works, although Ravi can't go through it and confesses the truth.
  • Desperate Housewives:
    • Katherine took this a step farther and actually stabbed herself in order to frame Susan because she wanted Mike back.
    • Kayla intentionally burns herself with a hair straightener, after provoking Lynette into publicly slapping her, in a bid to frame Lynette for child abuse and drive her out of Tom's life.
  • In one episode of Lie to Me, there are two interesting twists on this trope. A soldier claimed she was raped by her commanding officer. She was lying, but he did rape another soldier under his command. Eventually, the team says she was telling the truth in order to put him behind bars.
    • At another point, Lightman goes to the house of a man who he suspects is hiding his granddaughter, who is needed for this case. She's nowhere in sight, so Lightman steals the old man's cane, throws it against a table, and yells "Ow! Ow! Stop hurting me!" The woman instinctively rushes into the room, thinking her grandfather is in danger, before realizing she's been caught.
    • In "The Royal We" Megan accuses a guy of molesting her. Turns out she was doing it because she took delight in the guy going through hell. When Dr. Lightman confronts Megan, she threatens to accuse him of sexual assault if he gets in her way.
  • In V (2009), Anna invokes this trope by having her daughter and Tyler's love interest, Lisa, severely injured in order to claim that she was attacked by the Fifth Column, thereby getting Tyler to want to be near her as protection.
  • In Japanese drama Shōkōjo Seira (based on A Little Princess), Dean Bitterman Mimura Chieko told a wealthy man that she was victimized by heroine Seira, claiming that Seira lies and treated her horribly when she was kind to Seira in order to gain his sympathies. Subverted in that the man knew the truth of how Seira was treated at the school and didn't fall for it one bit.
  • Malcolm in the Middle:
    • Reese and Dewey were fighting over control of the TV. As Reese threatens to use his physical superiority to win the fight, Dewey starts screaming "Ow! Stop! It hurts! Mom, help me!" Reese, who hasn't laid a finger on him, goes wide-eyed with terror as he realizes what's going on. He doesn't have time to react though, as Lois storms into the room and drags him out by the back of his neck screaming at him. Dewey is left happily alone with the TV.
    • Reese resorted to the ploy himself (twice!) in an episode where eldest brother Francis is visiting the Wilkerson house (spending most of his time at military school) and announces to Malcolm and Reese that he has two tickets to a Professional Wrestling event entitled "Rage In The Cage." Malcolm and Reese then spend most of the episode trying to outdo each other in currying favor with Francis so that he will be the brother given the other ticket. When this doesn't work, Reese decides to punch himself in the face repeatedly (drawing a lot of blood) and tell their mother that Malcolm beat him up so that Malcolm will be punished and prevented from going to the show; that doesn't work, either. The two younger brothers eventually realize that they've been scheming against each other for nothing when Francis decides to take a girl he likes to the wrestling event instead. At the end of the episode, Malcolm and Reese get their revenge by pulling the gambit for the second time in the episode: they steal away inside the trunk of Francis's car with ropes around their bodies and tape on their mouths, making it appear as if Francis is kidnapping them when a cop pulls him over.
    • Also done in the first episode, when a bully just grazes Stevie while he was trying to punch Malcolm. When he realizes what just happened, Stevie immediately knocks his wheel chair over, causing all the children watching to turn on the bully.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Baltar's lawyer Romo Lampkin is nearly killed by a bomb blast in "The Son Also Rises". In the following episode we see him limping around with the aid of a cane during Baltar's trial. After the trial is over, Romo leaves the cane with Lee and walks off normally.
  • In a Korean drama called Plucky Woman, Se-bin pretended to be pregnant to keep up a ruse but found that the lie was too difficult to maintain. So she arranges a meeting with her ex-sister-in-law, Soon-young, on some stairs then purposely falls down, faking a miscarriage and blaming Soon-young to boot. Ooh boy Se-bin's husband blows when he thinks Soon-young just killed his unborn child...
  • This happened on Early Edition when Chuck's bride-to-be Jade is actually an international criminal. When she and Gary are alone, he confronts her and they get into a tussle. When Chuck walks in, Jade instantly tells Chuck that Gary hit on her and she was trying to fend him off.
  • Similar to the Malcolm in the Middle case above, there was an episode of Everybody Hates Chris where Tonya discovered she could push Drew around by screaming, "MOM! Drew hit me!" and letting him be carried away for punishment. Of course, this backfires when her Mom catches her.
    Tonya: MOM! Drew hit me!
    Rochelle: (standing right behind her) No, he didn't.
  • Any episode of Diagnosis: Murder that has a teenage girl for the murderer will have this occur at some point.
  • Bad to the Bone (often mistaken for a Lifetime Movie of the Week, since it has all the earmarks): Kristy Swanson plays Frankie Wells, a seriously messed-up high-school graduate who falls back on this trope again and again, along with employing a bit of the Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful! ploy. First she kills her mother so that she and her younger brother Danny can get their hands on their inheritance early; she then cries upon seeing her mother's corpse so that everyone will think she has just found out about the killing. Following the murder (which officially goes unsolved), Frankie and Danny move in with Frankie's latest boyfriend, who owns an upscale nightclub downtown. Frankie wants that nightclub, and she wants it now, so she decides to kill the boyfriend - but wouldn't it be convenient to have a fall guy? She sets into motion a scheme to turn Danny into someone just as ruthless as she is. While Danny is out of the room, Frankie starts up a trivial argument with the boyfriend and baits him into getting physical by giving him a shove. The guy shoves back - just as Danny is entering the room. Now, it's important to understand that Danny remembers seeing his sister get abused when they were little note , but he had never intervened for fear of being abused himself. So when he sees the altercation, a combination of longstanding guilt and the old-fashioned Big Brother Instinct (he's actually a little brother, but no matter) gives him the nerve to attack the boyfriend. Frankie then quickly breaks up the fight - but she has now poisoned her brother against the rich man, and it will only take a little more prodding to persuade Danny to shoot him, which he does. Later, after Frankie and Danny are arrested for the murder of the rich boyfriend and Frankie jumps bail and assumes a false identity, she cries again when she tells one of her male companions that she saw her brother fall to his death when they were kids - and when the man tries to comfort her, she immediately stops crying and admits that she made the story up just to mess with him. In the very last scene, Frankie is finally caught by the police and pretends to be The Ditz in the hope that the arresting officer will take pity on her and let her go. It doesn't work.
  • Done with Annie's cousin Emily on 90210. Emily tells Annie's friends that she said a bunch of mean things about them (which wasn't true). When Annie calls her on this, Emily pretends to cry in front Annie's friends (who of course, side with Emily). Emily also trashes her own dressing room at the internship Annie works at and makes it look like Annie did it. The result? Emily is believed to be the victim and Annie is fired.
  • In a Grey's Anatomy episode, after Avery brings up Christina's recent burnout:
    Christina: [bent over, face in hands] I want Owen.
    Meredith: Go find him!
    [Avery runs off, Christina promptly drops the act]
    Meredith: What the hell—
    Christina: He's gonna be running around for the next hour while I sew grafts on a triple bypass. Owen's at the dentist— he'll be hard to find.
  • On Boy Meets World, when Eric becomes suspicious that Jack's girlfriend Millie has evil intentions, she pretends he forcibly tried to kiss her in order to turn Jack against him.
  • In Being Human, Kirby uses this to turn Annie against Hal (who is the only one who suspects his murderous nature). Kirby baits Hal, and then teleports into baby Eve's bedroom. Hal panics and breaks into the room. Annie arrives at this point, to find Hal in full-on vampire mode, with Kirby protectively cradling Eve and screaming for help.
  • In the Power Rangers Zeo episode "The Lore of Auric", Prince Sprocket tells Auric that the Zeo Rangers are evil and have hurt him, with judicious use of Crocodile Tears to help things along, in order to dupe Auric into attacking them. Auric realizes he's been had when the Rangers protest that they serve under Zordon.
  • Lampshaded by Jeff Winger when Annie tried this in Community.
  • Done all the time by Carminha, the main antagonist of the Brazilian soap opera Avenida Brasil.
  • Criminal Minds:
    • A particularly bitchy UnSub tries this in one episode. She is actually the leader of a sex trafficking operation, but posed as a victim. She tries to convince Rossi that the men were in charge of the operation and she was just your average run-of-the-mill victim. As soon as the charade falls through, she tries to kill him, and is immediately killed for her trouble.
    • There was also the case of a teenaged girl who murdered her mother then a year later murdered her sister and tried to blame the whole thing on her father, who was a drunk with multiple personalities. The girl set it up so that it appeared that she was an abuse victim who was almost killed and was traumatized by her sister's murder. She actually tries to convince the team that she was a victim when trying to shoot JJ.
    • George Foyet, a serial killer, calls 911 and then stabs himself nearly to death knowing full well how to injure himself in such a way that the medical care that's already on it's way will save him. Looking like a victim of the unsub, he stays off the suspect radar for a long time.
  • Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon:
    • Alpha Bitch Mio is injured when a youma attacks and is able to blame Usagi for it. The clever thing is that she actually tells the truth (sort of). Usagi helps her to safety but leaves her there (to transform into Sailor Moon), which Mio is able to paint as Usagi running off and leaving her. Of course Usagi can't tell the truth because of the masquerade.
    • Mio pulls this off again in the next episode when Minako gets suspicious of her. After a question about where she previously went to school, Mio dramatically bursts into tears and people come running making it seem as though Minako was attacking her.
  • Rosie Webster attempted to pull this off in Coronation Street against John Stape. The man once kept her prisoner in an attic for a few weeks but at this point he was trying to make amends while she was trying to force money out of him. When he wouldn't give her the money, she ran out of the cafe screaming that he tried to attack her. However she's easily caught out when she says the cafe door had been locked when it can't be locked from the inside.
  • Rachael Leahcar, a finalist during the first season of the Australian version of The Voice, has openly admitted to making the most out of the fact that she is blind to tug on people's heartstrings and get the Australian audience to vote for her because of her disability as much as her ability to sing. To date, no one has ever called her out for using her disability in such a cynical fashion.
  • Cold Case: A Serial Killer the team has arrested reveals that he lured his latest victim in with this. First by claiming to have car trouble, then by saying that he's in a hurry to get home and bring his pregnant wife the food she's craving, and that his phone won't work. Then he pretends to recognize her from work and subtly manages to make her feel guilty for not doing the same, citing the disparity in their positions (she's a lawyer while he claims to be a paralegal) and their looks (she's pretty, he's average). Thoroughly roped in, she not only loans him her phone so that he can call a car service, she gets into the car-at his request, but of her own volition-to try and start it. She's taken prisoner within seconds.
  • At the beginning of season 3 of Homeland, Carrie Mathison has a major falling out with Saul Berenson after he publicly reveals that she is bipolar and had an affair with Brody, who is believed to be responsible for the bombing at Langley. She tries to go to the press to tell her side of the story, so Saul has her committed to a psych ward and has her bank accounts frozen. A lobbyist law firm then tries to recruit her, revealing in the process that their client is Javadi, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps officer really responsible for the bombing. Carrie accepts their offer, insisting, however, on a face-to-face meeting with Javadi. The fourth episode ends with the revelation that this whole thing was a plot between Carrie and Saul to lure Javadi into a trap.
  • 30 Rock: In a Shout-Out to The Silence of the Lambs and Real Life examples mentioned, Liz Lemon warns her naive cousin not to help anyone move a couch into a van, "because that's definitely a serial killer."
  • In the first episode of NBC's Crisis, Mr. Gibson allows the kidnappers to cut off one of his fingers in front of his daughter so that she won't suspect that he's in on the kidnapping.
  • In the Supernatural episode "All Hell Breaks Loose, Part One" (S02, Ep21), Ava, a plucky young secretary from Peoria, uses this to great effect.
  • On Salem Mary pulls an impressive one on Cotton, prompting him to mortally wound his father.
  • Midsomer Murders: In "Faithful unto Death", a woman uses make-up to fake bruises and persuade her lesbian lover that her husband has been abusing her, and uses this to incite the lover into killing the husband.
  • In Season 1 of Graceland, an FBI Agent's attempts to infiltrate and bring down a Russian mob in Los Angeles have hit a wall and the investigation is about to be ended because of the danger involved. She's furious about the fact because another agent she knew was almost killed investigating the Russians and she wants to bring them down hard. Then she shows up with a ton of bruises on her face and claims that the Russian boss got suspicious about her questions and beat the crap out of her. This pushes her boss' Big Brother Instinct hard, and he agrees to arrest the Russians based on the limited information they have. However, he catches on after the arrest when he sees that the Russian boss doesn't have the bruising or swelling on his hands that he should from giving her such a beating.
  • Goosebumps: In "The Haunted House Game" episode, a little girl lures older kids to the abandoned house by claiming that she lost her cat there so that they'll find and play the deadly board game. At the end of the episode she performs the same trick with another set of victims.
  • Guilt: To protect herself in jail, Grace uses a shank to stab herself so it will look like the women bullying her did it and she'll be sent to the hospital.
  • Murder, She Wrote: In "Moving Violation", a suspect is punched in the face by his father while he is in jail, and then accuses Sheriff Metzger of police brutality.
  • The Family: Hank beats himself up to frame John for it and gain revenge on him.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk's New Old Flame Helen Noel is discovered by a Mook while attempting to rescue him from a brainwashing device. The mook throws her to the ground, where she adopts the classic swooning-damsel pose (hand to forehead and all). When he gets closer, she kicks out with both legs and sends him into live wires, electrocuting him.
  • Cannon: In "Pilot", a woman fakes being attacked and raped by Cannon to drive her jealous husband - who is a police lieutenant - into a murderous rage so he will kill Cannon.
  • NCIS: New Orleans' Sebastian is abducted when a woman rushes up to him, claiming to need help for her injured husband. He leans over the guy to check on him and is promptly stun-gunned into unconsciousness.
  • Designated Survivor has Hannah among a group of Congressional members taken captive by rebels in Cuba. While trying to escape, she hears one captive, Cross, is secretly in league with the rebels as part of a deal for land rights. To cover, the rebel leader seems to break Cross' hand. When Hannah tells partner Aaron Shore, he's dubious at first. But when the rebels give the captives some fruit, Shore tosses an apple to Cross who easily catches it with his "broken" hand.
  • An episode of Deception (2018) has a woman revealing she's a spy, shooting one of her co-workers. Questioned in the hospital, he admits he and the woman were lovers but she was using him to get access to a vault. The woman turns out to be a very trained agent who nearly kills Cameron with a long-distance shot (Cameron is only saved by being in front of a special plastic screen). The woman is captured but when the man suddenly checks out of the hospital, Cameron realizes they were working together and the shooting was a distraction. As he points out, there's no way a trained sniper capable of hitting a target at 400 yards could fail to kill someone standing two feet in front of her.

  • From Sparks's "Waterproof":
    "I see you crying but I'm not buying your Meryl Streep mimicry
    It's misdirected, your voice inflected
    For maximum sympathy"
  • In Plan B's concept Album "The Defamation of Strickland Banks", after Strickland rejects a Loony Fan he had a drunken one-night stand with, she alleges that he raped her and he gets sent to jail.

     Mythology & Religion 
  • In Genesis chapter 39 from The Bible, Potiphar's wife flirted with Joseph, who went about doing his chores as usual, until one day, she managed to get ahold of Joseph by his linen garment, and when he hastily flees, she told the servants that Potiphar brought a Hebrew servant in to mock them and she cried out for help, and Potiphar has Joseph sent away to an Egyptian prison.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • This often happens in Professional Wrestling, of all places. A favorite tactic of the late Eddie Guerrero was, when the Easily Distracted Referee's back was turned, slam a chair on the ground, throw it to his opponent, and then lay down like he'd just taken a chair shot. Ref turns around, sees the "carnage", and DQ's the opponent. And this was while he was a Face, mind you. In fact, this is exactly what he did (to Mr. Kennedy) in his last match before he died (may he rest in peace). CM Punk inverted this same move against Alberto Del Rio years later. Del Rio slammed the chair into the mat, then threw it to Punk— who caught it, threw it back to Del Rio, and fell to the mat. The ref ended up berating Del Rio.
  • Though Eddie Guerrero employed this trope regularly, he wasn't the first (though he may have been the first good guy). In the early 1990s, Michael Hayes was wrestling Rick Steiner in World Championship Wrestling. The referee was distracted; Hayes's partner, Jimmy Garvin—lurking at ringside—threw Steiner a length of two-by-four. Hayes dropped to the mat, holding his head and writhing in pain. The ref turned to see Steiner standing over him with the board and promptly disqualified him. This was particularly effective because Rick Steiner's persona was that of a lovable doofus with very little going on upstairs; thus it was perfectly in character for him to not only catch the board, but stand there holding it with a confused look on his face.
  • Parodied at TNA's Hard CORE Justice Pay-Per-View, where Brother Runt performed this stunt with Al Snow while the Ref was out, and while the ref was recovering, Snow similarly banged the chair against the mat, and then fell down, holding his head. The ref was quite befuddled. This also ties in to the Rick Steiner example in that both Brother Runt and Al Snow were using their mentally disabled gimmicks - Runt tripping on LSD, Al Snow mentally ill and talking to a mannequin's head.
  • The Florida Brothers from Dragon Gate used to do their own variation, where instead of dropping to the mat, one of them would instead catch a chair attack from an opponent, then actually open the chair and drape it around their neck while feigning pain. It may have been used one time by Genba Hirayanagi when he was a young heel in Pro Wrestling NOAH as well.
  • Lince Dorado has started using this in CHIKARA. It being a lucha libre promotion, unmasking an opponent is grounds for disqualification. He waits for the referee to turn his back, takes his mask off, throws it at his opponent, and lays on the ground, covering his face. Instant DQ. This spot has also been performed on MTV's wrestling program Lucha Libre USA.
  • ROH's Sixth Anniversary Show had Nigel McGuinness pulling a slick one against Bryan Danielson. McGuinness, the ROH World Champion, nearly walked out without defending the title against Danielson…until Danielson agreed to avoid blows to the head. Nigel ended the match throwing headbutts, attacking Danielson's injured eye, and using the trapped elbows to add more insult.
  • Cleverly employed by Randy Orton in early 2009, when he was still a heel and the leader of the Legacy stable. Having just won the Royal Rumble the night before, Orton announced that he was going to bring a lawsuit against WWE for threatening to fire him despite his having been guaranteed a title shot at WrestleMania (when in fact the McMahons had threatened to fire him before he won the Rumble match)....and also threatened a second lawsuit, this time applying the WGG in a subtle way. He claimed that he had slapped, kicked, and punted the head of Vince McMahon because he was suffering from a made-up disease called Intermittent Explosive Disorder (which, apparently, is actually a real disorder) that causes its victim to resort to violence when provoked (in Orton's case, he had been slapped by Vince's daughter Stephanie, heard his father "Cowboy" Bob Orton insulted, and seen Chris Jericho fired in a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment and feared that he might be next). Randy accused WWE of knowing that he had IED but refusing to treat it, even though there was no way he could prove this. He announced that the two lawsuits combined would drive WWE to bankruptcy and cause WrestleMania to be cancelled. Orton's machinations backfired: not only did everyone in WWE outside of the Legacy turn bitterly against him, but he angered Stephanie's husband Triple H into launching multiple attacks on him and terrorizing his family.
    • Orton's father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton Jr. used the fake cast gimmick for years.
  • Vickie Guerrero followed in her late husband's footsteps on some occasions, starting in late 2006. After Chris Benoit accidentally knocked her off the ring apron during a match with her nephew Chavo, Vickie appeared backstage wearing a neck brace she didn't really need and sobbing hysterically, hoping to substantiate rumors at the time that Benoit was a "woman-beater" (which, sad to say, now counts as one hell of a "Funny Aneurysm" Moment). Vickie kept exploiting her "injuries" long after her neck healed, often appearing in a wheelchair and otherwise acting helpless in order to get her male companions (both members of her family and her romantic interests) to act as her servants.
  • Played with in a 2008 Raw sequence in which Chris Jericho stripped off his shirt before the crowd to reveal a collection of ugly red welts he had received when Shawn Michaels had thrashed him with a belt in their "Unsanctioned Match" at Unforgiven. He called Michaels a hypocrite for claiming to be a good Christian and yet acting violently ("What kind of a man would do something like this?"). In fact, Jericho fully deserved those welts, since he had looked forward to the match because he was sure he would win and wanted Michaels's kids to see him cripple their father on pay-per-view television.
  • The Rock defended the Intercontinental Title against Ken Shamrock at the 1998 Royal Rumble. He hit Shamrock with brass knuckles, and then hid them in Shamrock's tights. Shamrock eventually won the match, but the Rock claimed he had been hit with a foreign object. The referee searched Shamrock, found the knuckles and reversed the decision.
  • John Laurinaitis fakes the injuries he got from John Cena. When Cena looks for the Big Show for a little payback, Laurinaitis retorts that he doesn't know where he was...and goes off topic by cruelly saying that if Cena hurts him, he's fired.
    • Later, after he gets fired, Laurinaitis reveals (during his handicapped match against Cena) that his injuries were fake. This leads his Dragon David Otunga to quit the match in disgust.
  • Ivelisse Vélez returned to SHINE Wrestling from TNA with taped ribs, which would have been believable if one only watched SHINE but should have made any TNA viewers suspicious. Sure enough, the tape ended up off Velez's mid section and around the throat of Jazz.
  • On the first night of Super Card Of Honor X, Roderick Strong played one of these not so much to fool his opponent, Moose, but to fool his night 2 opponent Bobby Fish, using an "injury" inflicted by Moose as pretext to crawling over the announce table where Fish was doing commentary in order to draw the fight with Moose closer to Fish and give him a cheap shot.
  • Parodied in New Japan Pro-Wrestling. After Toru Yano and Sanada play hot potato with a turnbuckle pad (about the same size as a chair), Toru throws it to the referee and...while the ref looks away in confusion...drops to the ground as though he'd been hit by it. And the referee actually questions Sanada like he hit him with it!

  • In sports, this is colloquially known as flopping. Both the NBA and the WNBA have forbidden it.
  • In soccer/football this is often called "diving" - though diving is often used as a more specific term for falling over and pretending to have been fouled without any contact from the opposition player whatsoever. If the referee concludes that this trope has been invoked, he/she is authorized to punish the one who pulled it. However, if they're fooled and award a penalty, it still stands - the player and/or team can still be punished later, though. Referees will give out yellow cards for diving in the penalty area (or in a similar high-stakes situation).
    • It should also be noted that the tolerance for this trope overlaps somewhat with the general tolerance for physicality (while football/soccer is nominally non-contact, a certain degree of physical contact is inevitable) - in Britain, and to a lesser extent in Germany and Russia, players are harshly condemned for diving, exaggerating injuries, and other ploys, and a much greater lenience towards physical contact (there's a reason that the Defensive Midfield position is sometimes referred to as the 'Midfield Destroyer'). In Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, and Central and South America, there's a greater tolerance for it (the exaggeration part, at least, as well as berating the referee) and a correspondingly lesser tolerance for physical contact.
  • Brazil vs. Chile, 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying. A firework fell in the field. The Chilean goalkeeper fell to the pitch with an apparent injury to his forehead, and play was suspended. Later it was discovered the player created the injury himself, with a razor blade hidden in his glove. Chile was banned for eight years, and the keeper for life.
  • Notorious troublemaker Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers admitted in a documentary that he "milked it" when Knicks player John Starks headbutted him on the court in 1993.
  • Terry Bradshaw was famous for this on the gridiron. He claims that at one point his teammates presented him with a mock-up Emmy statuette.
  • The 1974 Firecracker 400note  (the summer race at Daytona) featured a climax where defending Winston Cup champion David Pearson, shortly after crossing the start/finish line on the final lap, began pulling onto the apron as if he blew an engine. This led to Richard Petty momentarily taking the lead only for Pearson to catch up to Petty, ultimately slingshotting his way ahead of Petty on Turn Four for the win.

    Tabletop Games 
  • This is a staple trick of any Tabletop RPG, used by both the Game Master and Players alike regardless of the setting. The common setup is something like this: a character is in trouble, whether held captive or simply seeking out help righting a wrong he or she cannot right. He or she uses his or her apparent vulnerability to manipulate the other parties into doing what he or she wants. Depending on the genre, mystical or technological augmentations can help with the con. Then, when the character gets what they want, they may either dramatically betray the others then or just leave their stooges in the dark entirely. Alternatively, play the victim when the paladins/Jedi/police/player characters show up.
  • Exalted has an entire Martial Arts style based around this trope.
  • In Warzone, the tabletop game set in the Mutant Chronicles universe, the "Dark Huntsman" is a Dark Legion unit in the form of a former human soldier who was brainwashed by the Dark Symmetry and then sent back to the no man's land between the front lines to prey on his ex-comrades. His modus operandi is lying in a ditch somewhere crying for help, claiming to be wounded, then killing any soldiers that come investigating. Of course, since he retains all knowledge of codewords etc., he is also a perfect infiltrator.
  • Pathfinder's Broken Wing Gambit feat allows a party to pull this off. A character makes himself appear vulnerable and grants the opponent a significant bonus to hit and to damage him. If the opponent buys it and attacks, the rest of the party gets to unload a whole mess of hurt onto the enemy beforehand.

  • In The Crucible, Abigail Williams stabs herself in the leg to frame Elizabeth Proctor. She also, later, pretends to be possessed by Mary Warren.
  • Subverted in King Lear, Edmund, the son of the Earl of Gloucester, cuts his own arm to make it look like his older brother Edgar attacked him. Although his father does disinherit Edgar, he barely acknowledges that Edmund is hurt.
  • The Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. That is, until she reveals her true colors.

     Video Games 
  • Rottytops pulls this in Shantae and the Pirate's Curse. She pretends to have been bitten by a giant spider in order to get Shantae to carry her home, betting that Shantae's Chronic Hero Syndrome wouldn't allow her to leave someone behind. It works, and Rottytops admitted it was a lot of fun, in her own way.
  • Dr. Wily of Mega Man has done this a total of 11 times to make sure the main character doesn't maim him, send him to jail, or flat out kill him. Not that Mega Man can anyway, no matter how hard he's tried. It runs in the "family." Bass does it in Mega Man 7 to gain entry to Dr. Light's lab and steal the Super Adapter.
  • The first game in the Wing Commander series features an object lesson on this in the manual, which is treated as a copy of Claw Marks, a news magazine published on-board the carrier TCS Tiger's Claw. The reader learns that two fighter pilots aboard the ship, Captain R.A. Skinner and Lieutenant Larry Dibbles (a cartoonist for Claw Marks), were taking part in a strike on a Kilrathi destroyer. They encountered two Jalthi fighters—one adrift in space, the other with intermittent thruster power. Lieutenant Dibbles took the bait, disobeyed orders and abandoned his wingleader for easy kills. The result: two good pilots dead, no more cartoons for Claw Marks, and in their place a stern lecture by one of the resident top aces, Major James Taggart.
  • In The Legend of Zelda series:
    • In A Link to the Past, one of the dungeon bosses tricks Link by disguising himself as the innocent maiden who Link came to rescue.
    • In Phantom Hourglass, the four creepy sisters you have to rescue on the ghost ship do this to you. They act frightened and innocent and do their damnedest to get you killed, including alerting Phantoms by screaming and directing you to make bad decisions.
  • In the human campaign of Starsiege, once the Cybrids begin their war of extermination in earnest, there is a series of O-Web transmissions between Harabec Weathers and a little girl stranded on a Europan colony, Melanie, who claims to be the only survivor of a Cybrid attack. In the Cybrid campaign, it's revealed that the Cybrids got to her first, removed her brain, and installed a Cybrid infiltrator unit in its place as part of a "Siren Program" to lure human forces into traps.
  • No More Heroes: Bad Girl, the number 2 ranked assassin, sometimes collapses to the ground and starts crying. Sometimes, she's genuinely crying, meaning you can get some free hits in. More often than not, though, it's a facade, and if you fall for it, she will One-Hit Kill you. The trick is to see if she's holding her bat: if she is, steer clear, and if she's not, go nuts.
  • Pokémon:
    • Mawile's gimmick revolves around this. Its "Fake Tears" move lulls its foes into a sense of complacency with its adorable face, leaving the foe wide open for a bite from its big steel jaws. Any Pokémon with Fake Tears can do something similar.
    • The moves Growl, Tail Whip, and Charm are also centered on this.
  • The Witch from Left 4 Dead: her crying can be heard long before you even come across her. However, the characters already know to stay away from her (and will warn the others when they hear one) and it's even one of the tips you can get on the loading screen.
  • Rosenkreuzstilette: Iris Sepperin is incredibly fond of this trick in the game, when she uses it to manipulate her dad into war and imprisoning Karl because He Knows Too Much and in Grollschwert, made Grolla look like the bad guy in front of her superior Sichte, and, being a Mega Man clone, she does the whole "Please don't kill me" thing. By the sequel, Freudia doesn't buy it and froze her for eternity for all the trouble she caused.
  • In the third Ace Attorney game, Dahlia Hawthorne milks this trope for all it's worth. Thankfully, Mia Fey is not easily fooled.
    • In the third case of Ace Attorney Investigations, Lance Amano, having supposedly escaped from his kidnappers, collapses in front of Edgeworth and the others investigating. Not only did Lance fake his own kidnapping so he could pocket the ransom, but he is also the murderer, and manipulated his girlfriend into thinking she had shot the victim (while feigning disbelief that she could do something like that) when he was already dead.
    • Played with in Apollo Justice: Alita Tiala tries to get out of being accused by showing a wound she got from the case's victim, claiming that because of the attack she was unconscious when he died. He did attack her, but it's her that killed him.
    • Again in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies: after Phoenix accuses Detective Bobby Fulbright of being the phantom, he tries to claim that he's being blackmailed by the phantom into working for him, not the phantom himself. When he's pressed, however, he can't even decide which of his relatives is the hostage, and no one takes it seriously.
  • Sonya defeats Kano this way in the storyline of Mortal Kombat 3 during a rooftop battle, pretending she's hurt to lure him close in order to grab him with her scissor kick and throw him off it.
  • Dragon Age: Origins:
    • Queen Anora pretends to be in danger of her life in order to gain the protagonist's sympathy and force the Warden to eliminate one of her enemies. (She was locked up and in danger of losing power, but not actually in danger of dying. She just thought that sounded more likely to get a hero's help.) Depending on how events play out, she may later claim to others that you were kidnapping/threatening her, so that she can get their sympathy. Twice.
    • In dialogue, Morrigan can mention that on one of her earlier journeys out of the Korcari Wilds, a Chasind recognized her as a witch. She acted innocent and frightened, and the Fereldans looking on (who didn't understand Chasind) thought he was the mage and was trying to curse her.
  • A bit downplayed here in King's Quest VI: Heir Today, Gone Tomorrow: Alexander acts all Emo in the Pawn Shop and pretends that all hope is lost without Cassima while pretending to cry, and fakes suicide by drinking the "Drink Me" potion. This gambit is an effort to trick Shamir and the guard dogs into lowering their guard for entry into the castle.
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim has a quest where you are asked to find a redguard woman in Whiterun (never mind that there are several redguard women in the town and you don't get any closer description). When you find her, she tells you that she is chased by assassins because she said something bad about the Thalmor, and asks you to kill them. When you enter their lair, they will tell you that she lied and that they want to capture her because she sides with the Thalmor. At this point you can choose to help either of them. While you can't verify who is actually telling the truth, if you side with the assassins they actually take her alive and gives the "don't trust a pretty face" aesop, suggesting that it is actually this trope.
  • Havelock does this in Dishonored's Low Chaos ending. If you make yourself known to him in the final confrontation, he will surrender peacefully and tell you where the key to the room where he's holding Emily is, while also claiming he will let Corvo have him arrested if he so chooses. If you take him up on his offer, he'll reveal his "surrender" was a ruse and attacks you. Cue Final Battle.
  • Valkyria Chronicles has Selvaria pull off a very convincing one. After her defeat, she feigns exhaustion and surrenders; one of the soldiers doesn't buy it and pistol-whips her, with General Damon pointing out that she could still be dangerous; Welkin and Alicia are shocked and appalled at Damon's apparent mistreatment of a prisoner, but the matter is out of their hands. A few hours later, Selvaria obliterates the entire army in a Suicide Attack, which she had been ordered to do before the battle at Ghirlandaio even started.
  • Planescape: Torment features a version where a woman on the street is covered in blood and cries out for help against assailants. If your mental stats are high enough, her story and disguise unravel. If they are not, or you go along with her anyway, her allies try robbing you in an alley. Mugging the Monster ensues.
  • In FTL: Faster Than Light, distress beacons will sometimes be pirates who pretend to be in trouble just so they can lure you in and attack you. You should still try to go to every beacon you can, since if it's a genuine distress signal, you'll get a nice reward for helping (some Scrap, some fuel, maybe even a new weapon), and if it's a trap, killing the pirate who set the trap will still get you some Scrap.
  • This was a strategy in single-player Civilization III. If a civilization was an aggressor in war, it suffered a penalty in diplomacy (the idea being that an aggressor can't be trusted). However, the AI was generally too stupid to distinguish between a provoked and unprovoked declaration of war—the only issue that mattered to the AI was which civilization declared war, not why the civ did so. So a smart player could provoke an AI civilization they wanted to beat up into declaring war by making unauthorized incursions into the AI civ's territory—and, when the AI civ justifiably declared war, suffer no penalty in diplomacy. This was particularly amplified once gameplay reached the Industrial Age, when Mutual Defense Pacts became available—with a pact, you could ally yourself with the neighbor of whichever civ you wanted to fight, provoke the civ into declaring war on you, and then—because your enemy had declared war on you and not the other way around—your allied neighbor civ would automatically declare war on your target. All of a sudden, your target is fighting a two-front war (and we all know how those turn out), and as long as you leave enough scraps to keep your ally satisfied and haven't completely underestimated your opponent, victory is all but guaranteed.
  • In The King of Fighters: KYO, this is how Chris manages to capture Kyo's girlfriend Yuki while she's waiting for her boyfriend for what was supposed to be their last date before the tournament. He pretends to feel ill and asks Yuki for help, and when the girl's guard is low enough he seizes her and brings her to his teammates so they can use her as a Targeted Human Sacrifice to resurrect Orochi.
  • In Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag, Mary Read pulls one of these on some guards, so that they'll open the doors. She promptly kills them.
  • In The Last of Us, while driving on the highway Joel and Ellie come across a man hobbling in front of them asking them to stop. While Ellie's all for helping him out, Joel sees right through it and tries to run him down, causing the man to drop the act and pull out a gun. Joel later states that he's been on both sides of that trick.
  • Firefall: Most of the time, that wounded bandit who is begging for mercy will ask for medicine in exchange for crystite, only to reveal that the medical supplies are a homing beacon. Cue "Big Brother", the dreadnaught with a rocket launcher. Then the little guy will pretend he's sad about the death of his "big brother" and give you co-ordinates and a key to a loot crate — which may or may not work. Occasionally, it really is medical supplies and the wounded bandit will give you the map and key out of gratitude... or to make you look the other way while he runs.
    Wounded Bandit: Guess what? We're going to rob you!
    Big Brother: Guess what? We're cannibals!
  • Cantr II: Another tactic, guaranteed to get sympathy. Or encourage the more ..... violent members of the community to try and pull a Dexter. Or The Silence of the Lambs. Or Psycho. Hell, pick a serial killer trope, and we've got/had some iteration of it.
  • Occasionally in Streets of Rage, hitting certain Electras (a female whip-using enemy) will cause her to scream and drop to her knees, no longer attacking you. Turning your back on her at this point, or just leaving her alone for long enough, will make her get right back up to try and catch you by surprise.
  • In Red Dead Redemption, there are optional escort missions involving helping civilians in need, in the neighborhood of 'Can you give me a ride to [place]?'. Sometimes these civilians are actually bandits and they are indistinguishable from the real deal until either the guns come out or they make a run to steal your horse.

    Visual Novels 
  • Magical Diary sees Damien fake being in danger of dying, claiming that his demon blood is burning him out. But he's willing to die, he claims - he would never ask you or anyone else to pay the price for curing him. What would it cost? Just your soul, voluntarily given. If you believe him and offer your soul anyways, it does not go well for you: he admits that he's been playing you all year and didn't really love you - he just wanted someone stupid enough to give him their soul and figured that a wildseed freshthing would be perfect. Depending on how you play your choices, this can end with near-death because he really does love you (he just didn't know it) and can't bring himself to go through with it and significant damage that can take the rest of the year to repair (if you manage to fix it at all, in the time you have left) or possibly death (although this is not yet confirmed).
  • Done in Umineko: When They Cry Episode 6, Dawn of the Golden Witch by Erika, who pretends to have a Villainous Breakdown so that Battler will take pity on her and grant her the use of her dreaded duct tape. According to Episode 8, Twilight of the Golden Witch, Battler fell for the trick on purpose because it helped set up the logic error that revived Beatrice.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Felix lets himself gets shot in the leg by his partner, Locus, in order to trick the stranded Reds and Blues into trusting him. Later on when Felix's true motives are revealed, he takes great pleasure in taunting them about it.
    "Yeah, funny how an act of sacrifice like that buys you so much trust. And so much information."
  • In RWBY, Mercury, with assistance from Emerald's illusions, tricks Yang into shooting him in the leg after she has already won a match against him, in order to enrage the audience and attract the Grimm.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • Super Best Friends Play: In one version of the Rustlemania 2: Superbrawl Saturday III opening, Woolie and Matt are in a match. While Pat distracts the ref, Woolie tosses Matt a folding chair and takes a dive. Matt looks at in confusion as the ref turns back around and looks at him.
  • In Twig, Sylvester uses the pain bullets used by the rebels against warbeasts to invoke sympathy from his enemies by being a screaming, injured thirteen-year-old. This is enough to overcome the fact that the rebels have been ordered to shoot suspicious children on sight.
  • In the Search and Rescue Creepypasta series, the protagonist hears a crying child, and goes to investigate. He then notices something wrong: the "crying" is the same sound over and over again, like a song on repeat. He wisely nopes out of there.

    Western Animation 
  • In the Batman: The Animated Series two-part adventure "Shadow of the Bat," documents are found which seem to indicate that Commissioner Gordon has been taking bribes from gangster Rupert Thorne. At a rally in support of Gordon, masked gangsters attack and nearly kill one of his deputies. It turns out that that deputy, Gil Mason is behind it. He was given away by the fact that he had ducked behind the bulletproof podium before he could have seen the guns.
  • One Casper cartoon has Casper rescue a kitten from a pesky dog; after which said kitten begins to repeatedly torment the dog just to get Casper to keep scaring it away. This goes on until our friendly ghost saves the poor dog from the dogcatcher, and in the process discover the truth about the sneaky kitten, and have him make amends.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: After Dale stubs his toe and is mistaken for having injured his leg, he plays it for all its worth after receiving special treatment from Gadget.
  • In the "Patients" episode of Clarence, Clarence is in the waiting room of a clinic while his mother is getting a check-up. While finding imaginative ways to pass the time, Tinia asks him to read her a princess story, sing a song and braid her hair, and when Clarence is too tired, Tinia gives him a candy bar, only to apologize for her actions when she tells her mother that he stole a piece of candy from her, and the desk nurse takes the candy jar away, and after a strugle, the candy flies out of the broken jar.
  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog has a wounded duckling that tortures Courage and eventually tries to get rid of Muriel so that it wouldn't have to share Eustace, of all people. Up until the getting-rid-of part, Muriel didn't think that the duckling was evil. Both Eustace and the duckling eventually end up on the moon. Somehow they come back, though.
  • A very dark example from Drawn Together: in one episode Bambi shows up with his mother's bullet-ridden corpse, and Captain Hero, struck with guilt, decides that it is unfair to hunt game with assault weapons, destroying all of the weapons in the world. Later on, the deer and other animals get their revenge on humans, and Bambi later admits he killed his own mother just to go along with his Wounded Deer Gambit.
  • Ed, Edd n Eddy:
    • One episode has Sarah leave Jimmy in the care of the Eds. She gives him a whistle "If anything goes wrong". When Ed accidentally blows the whistle himself, Jimmy quickly shoves some dirt in his mouth and starts crying. He tells Sarah the Eds made him eat dirt and were mean to him, when actually Jimmy had been antagonizing the Eds this whole time.
    • Another episode sees Eddy faking injuries to gain attention, although he is continually one-upped by Jimmy's (unintentional and real) injuries. Just as Eddy is about to go for broke and have Ed drop a house on him, Double D stops the contest by building a "play-safe suit" for Jimmy which gains him more attention. Not to be outdone, Eddy tries to build a better suit. In the end, both suits fail and their occupants are injured, although Jimmy garners sympathy again, whereas Eddy is beaten up by Kevin and Rolf.
    • There's also an episode where Eddy tries to pull this to get the trio into Kevin's house to watch TV, claiming that Ed is horribly injured and needs to recover in his TV room. Ed, being Ed, is far more hammy than he is convincing.
      Ed: Ow, my liver! Ow, my lasagna!
  • Family Guy:
    • A subplot in the episode "Love Thy Trophy" concerns Meg, working as a waitress in a diner, lying about being a teenage single mother and her "son" (Stewie) being addicted to crack so she would get hefty tips from pitying customers. (Of course, being the kind of show it is, this results in Stewie being taken away by social services until Lois can clear the situation up.)
    • "Cool Hand Peter" sees Peter, Quagmire, Cleveland, and Joe arrested during a road trip and put to work on a chain gang. When their sentence is going to be unfairly extended, they decide to escape. With the guards constantly watching, Joe deliberately falls out of his wheelchair and loudly insists he's got to get back in himself. When Peter asks what he's doing, Joe says that everyone always looks away in situations like these because it makes them uncomfortable. So, Joe continues to bemoan his difficulty in order to ensure the guards aren't looking when the group makes a run for it. It works, but a little bit too well, as Joe begins to seriously lament how he can't walk.
  • In an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon's cousin's son pulls two of these on Garfield: First, he orders his robot to kidnap Garfield and run him all over the yard until it breaks. Then he does the same with his rocket ship. Fortunately, Garfield is able to get a little revenge.
  • One segment of Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats sees Heathcliff deal with "Terrible Tammy", a bullying female cat who muscles in on his territory. He uses this trick (since he never hits a lady) as payback; he feigns injury in front of her owner Marcy to make her reject the "naughty cat". While Tammy really had been beating him up, she hadn't done so at that particular moment.
  • Kaeloo: In the episode "Let's Play Courtroom Drama", Mr. Cat is accused of attacking Quack Quack with a chainsaw, and Kaeloo tries to prove him guilty. Mr. Cat says that it was probably Kaeloo's alternate form, Bad Kaeloo, who is aggressive and does things beyond Kaeloo's conscious control. Kaeloo starts crying and says that she's going to leave Smileyland forever to keep her friends safe, and Mr. Cat, feeling guilty, confesses that it was him all along. Cue an Evil Laugh from Kaeloo.
  • In the Origins Episode of The Legend of Korra (appropriately titled Beginnings), the spirit Vaatu tricks Wan into freeing him from Raava's clutches, saying that Raava is a bully that has been oppressing him for the last 10,000 years. Vaatu reveals himself to be a God of Evil soon after, plunging the world into chaos and threatening to cause The End of the World as We Know It if he isn't stopped.
  • Used by Queen La in Disney's The Legend of Tarzan. Separated from her body, her spirit can move between two creatures touching. Jane is walking in the forest and sees a wounded animal. As she tends to it, La's spirit possesses her.
  • In the Motorcity finale, Julie does this after Tooley almost catches her trying to free Mike from KaneCo. She slaps the latter and then claims to the former that she did so because he came on to her while she was trying to feed him. Tooley buys it.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • In "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1" Princess Cadance Actually Chrysalis, queen of the Changelings, impersonating her breaks down into tears when Twilight Sparkle accuses her of being evil (and presents some halfway-decent evidence) during the wedding rehearsal. This causes Twilight's friends to become upset with her, her brother to change his mind about her being Best Mare, and Princess Celestia to be disappointed in her. Ouch.
    • However, in Part 2, when Twilight crashes the wedding ceremony itself right before Celestia can finish marrying Chrysalis and Shining Armor, when Chrysalis voices her disgust at Twilight's intervention and gets a puzzled, surprised look from Celestia, she attempts this again to regain everypony's support. It fails when the real Cadance appears, having been rescued by Twilight, proving her earlier claims were right all along, and forcing Chrysalis to drop her ruse in fury at being exposed.
  • The Popeye cartoon "Seein' Red, White and Blue" has Bluto faking injury and poor health to get out of being conscripted into the Navy. He gives up the charade on the Navy's behalf after seeing Japanese saboteurs beating up Popeye.
  • The Powerpuff Girls:
    • This is the entire plot for the episode "Mommy Fearest." Sedusa disguises herself as an ordinary woman named Ima Goodlady and begins dating Professor Utonium. She treats the girls like complete crap the entire time the Professor is away, but the second he comes back into the area she immediately begins playing the innocent victim act and claims the girls were threatening her, and he keeps falling for it. Even after her identity is exposed, she still tries this trick one last time... but this time Utonium isn't fooled.
    • The special "Dance Pantsed" has the girls throwing a staged tantrum in order to get the Professor to buy them a new dance video game.
  • Rick and Morty: One episode of the third season fully explores how much Jerry has been using this through a "The Reason You Suck" Speech by Rick. He accuses Jerry of going through life being as pity-worthy as he possibly can, trying with the intention of failing and looking weak to others with full intention of making others take pity on him and do his work for him. Rick even accuses him of using this to get a job and get Beth to marry him.
  • A Robot Chicken short had a hyena laughing at a lion for having a thorn stuck in its paw. After the lion beats the hyena up, the hyena calls the cops and says the lion is beating his (the lion's) wife. After the lion is arrested, the hyena then hits on the lioness.
  • In Scary Larry, Carnage pretends to have a mental breakdown as a publicity stunt.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Homer of Seville" saw Homer become an opera singer after injuring his back (don't even ask) had him being stalked by various fangirls. Most of them are of the Abhorrent Admirer or Christmas Cake variety (hey, it is opera), but there is one gorgeous black-haired female biker who goes so far as to pay a visit to Homer at home and strip nude right in front of him. As Homer looks on in terrified shock, the woman threatens to cry rape if Homer tells Marge what he has seen. Cue Marge asking Homer if everything is all right in the living room, and Homer lying: "Uh, everyone's wearing clothes in here!"
    • "The Wandering Juvie" has Bart being sentenced to a correctional facility for delinquents and shackled to a female prisoner. The girl plots an escape from the jail, dragging Bart along with her. Later on, she taunts Bart by saying that if they are caught, she will cry to the police and tell them that Bart kidnapped her rather than the other way around - and even feigns crying in order to prove that she could pull it off. (Bart points out that the lie would be hard to believe, since the girl is bigger and stronger than him.) Toward the end of the episode, the girl starts crying for real when she admits to Bart that she has no family.
  • South Park:
    • Cartman does this every now and then on, most notably in "La Petit Tourette" and "Sexual Harassment Panda". In the former case, his plan was to get away with swearing and eventually go on national television and use Tourette's as an excuse to make anti-semitic statements.
    • Played with in "Breast Cancer Show Ever," when Cartman has Wendy reprimanded by her parents for threatening to beat him up. It's almost a subversion in that Wendy really does want to beat Cartman up, but Cartman makes it seem as if he did nothing to provoke her anger and that she's a bully. In reality, he's the bully (an extremely cowardly one, but a bully nonetheless). The principal eventually convinces Wendy to follow through and give Cartman his just desserts.
    • Used by the succubus in "The Succubus." The kids believe that the woman Chef is engaged to is really a succubus that will suck out his life after their marriage. However, she in fact confirms it when she later visits the kids in Cartman's room and reveals her true face, threatening to kill the kids if they attempt to stop her. When Kyle, Stan, and Kenny confront her in public the day before the wedding at the rehearsal dinner, she feigns innocence and starts crying, wondering why they're saying such hurtful things, which in turn leads Chef to kick the kids out of the building. But when he actually sees the succubus, he apologizes to the kids.
    • Cartman, Stan and Kyle also pull this at least Once per Episode in Season Six, using Kenny's death to garner sympathy from their friends and family.
  • In the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Plankton Vs. Krabs", Plankton slips while in the Krusty Krab and decides to pretend to be seriously injured and sue Krabs for everything he's got, including the Krabby Patty formula. He almost succeeds in the court case (on account of his own good acting and Krabs' genuine nastiness) until SpongeBob exposes his lies in front of the judge.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • "Homecoming": The rebel strike team gets on board the Imperial carrier by flying in a stolen TIE bomber, and having two of Phoenix Squadron's A-Wings stage an attack so they'll quickly be given clearance to land.
    • "Twin Suns": Maul does this by proxy, via luring Ezra to Tatooine and tricking him into getting lost in the desert wastes, knowing that Obi-Wan Kenobi, who Maul has been trying to find for months, won't be able to resist going to help Ezra when he starts to succumb to the desert. It works.
  • In Steven Universe episode "Garnet's Universe", Ringo does this to make Garnet defeat the Fox that protects a magical gem. It works.
  • Teen Titans Go! episode "Kicking a Ball & Pretending To Be Hurt has this predictably enough at one point: Cyborg fakes an injury after lightly bumping into Beast Boy in order to get the latter red carded by Robin during post-soccer downtime in Titans' Tower.
  • Samey from Total Drama Pahkitew Island has had enough of her older twin sister Amy always tormenting her and (partly advised by Jasmine) calls her out in front of everyone for her behavior. However, Amy uses this to whine about her being mean, and everyone except Jasmine turns on Samey.
  • Myra Brandish kidnaps The Venture Bros. by pretending to be unconscious at the side of the road when they are out learning to drive. Next comes the knockout gas and waking up bound in a filthy motel full of cats.