- In the 20th season of South Park, Eric Cartman insists that he isn't the Troll known as skankhunt42 that's been terrorizing the elementary school. As has been shown to the audience (but not the other characters), Cartman's telling the truth, but the other kids don't believe him. When Cartman won't "confess," the other kids destroy Cartman's computer, smartphone, and tablet. Especially jarring because Cartman had legitimately been trying to improve himself since the start of the season, and this incident put a stop to that. When Kyle not only learns that Cartman isn't skankhunt42, but it's been Kyle's own father the entire time, Kyle is genuinely horrified.
- The Simpsons:
- Happens in "Lisa the Vegetarian", when Lisa ruins Homer's barbeque by stealing the roast pig:
- In "Wedding For Disaster", Homer is kidnapped and Bart and Lisa, after finding a potential clue (a monogrammed keychain with the initials "S.B.".), assume Sideshow Bob is responsible. They track him down, but an alibi from Krusty proves Bob innocent. After Bob complains of their suspicion, claiming "S.B." could be a lot of people, (such as the Sultan of Brunei and the Służba Bezpieczeństwa) they realize S.B. actually stands for "Selma Bouvier". (The true kidnappers were her and Patty, who had hoped Marge would lose interest in Homer before they could renew their vows.)
- Similar case in "Bobby, It's Cold Outside". There's been a series of thefts of packages from porches, with the only clue being the initials "SB" from a Lenny shocked stiff by the revelation and by his ink bomb. Once again, Bart blames Sideshow Bob, while Homer blames the SB from last time Selma Bouvier, and the police have arrested Scott Bakula, Sandra Bullock and Steve Ballmer. However, the real SB this time is Smithers and Burns.
- Happens earlier in "Brother from Another Series" where Bob goes to work building a dam with his brother Cecil's company. Bart suspects Bob is up to no good as usual but this turns out to be the one time he isn't planning something evil, it's his brother in an embezzlement (and technically revenge) scheme. When Wiggum shows up to arrest Cecil, he arrests Bob as well, mostly just out of habit.Bob: But I saved the children!Cecil: Tell them they'll live to regret this.Bob: You'll all live to regret this! Oh, thanks a lot, now I look crazy.
- In "Two Dozen And One Greyhounds", Lisa, Marge, and Homer wonder who was causing various problems within the house lately (such as tearing up all her test papers, a broken vase, and spreading garbage all over the neighbor's yard before Homer got the chance to, respectively). Bart quips that he was this time innocent of these, and felt they were simply senseless destruction without any of his usual commentary. Turns out, it was the dog, who was continuing his path of destruction even in the room where they were located discussing what's happening.
- Santa's Little Helper himself was implied to have this same trope applied to him in the same episode. When they discover some stuff buried underneath the house (specifically, Lisa's bongo drums, Bart's strobelight, and Homer's "best of Ray Stevens featuring 'The Streak'" record) Homer guessed that it was the dog that buried all of their stuff. Marge's response to Homer implies that it was in fact she who buried at least one of the items that Santa's Little Helper uncovered.
- Bart has been expelled from Springfield Elementary School twice, both times for something that he didn't actually do.
- In "The Seven-Beer Snitch", Fat Tony's mafia, while they are in prison, deduce that one of their fellow inmates was a rat, to which Johnny Tightlips points to Frankie the Squealer as the rat. However, not only does Frankie deny being the rat, but he also reminds him that he's actually the pigeon. It was Homer Simpson who was the rat.
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" has Marge, a witch, listing off all the things she did to spite the townsfolk:Marge: That's right, I'm a witch! And I'm the one who withered your livestock, soured your sheep's milk, and your made your shirts itchy!
Lenny: Hey! You destroyed my turnip crop!
Marge: No, that was gophers.
- Also happens in "Moaning Lisa" when Marge tells Homer about a note she got from school. Before learning that it's about Lisa, he has this exchange with Bart.Homer: What did you do this time, ya little hoodlum?
Bart: I didn't do it. Nobody saw me do it. There's no way they can prove anything.
- In the Felix the Cat TV cartoon "The Master Cylinder's Spacegram", it seems like Master Cylinder is the villain at first, but it turns out it was actually his lackey General Clang driving the plot, having backstabbed Cylinder and chained him up in the basement along with Felix, Professor and Poindexter.
- Bob's Burgers: In "Turkey in a Can", Louise isn't the one putting Bob's turkey's in the toilet despite being the obvious choice. She spends the rest of the episode trying to figure out who did it, and even puts on a presentation just to highlight that she had no motive while everyone else did.
- In the Sushi Pack episode "The Thing That Wasn't There," an electrical creature that only Maguro can see is causing havoc all over the city. Since the attacks all have to do with electricity, the rest of the Pack assume that Unagi, the electric eel member of The Legion of Low Tide is up to no good. When they confront him, he denies having anything to do with it.Unagi: What'd I do? I didn't do anything!
Kani: Yeah, right.
Tako: We're on to you, Unagi. Your plan.
Unagi: Um, what plan was that?
Ikura: Your plan to distract everyone by turning up the volume on their car radios while you take over all the vacuum cleaners in Wharf City.
Unagi: Hm... Not bad. But that isn't my plan. I don't have a plan. I wish I had a plan!
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- In "Telephonies", which provides the page quote, the Gangreen Gang uses crank calls to fool the girls are into believing the series regular villains are doing something evil and confront them — only to find all three of them relaxing at home. Although the girls are not convinced, the villains quickly realize something is up and team up to deal with the pranksters themselves.
- In another episode "Los Dos Mojos", Bubbles suffers a head injury and develops a delusion that she is Mojo Jojo. She immediately steals his outfit (while he's showering) and starts terrorizing Townsville. The other girls instantly assume the latter is responsible, which leads to the priceless line:Mojo Jojo: You've got to be kidding. I'm wet, I'm naked, your sister is wearing my clothes, and this is all part of some evil plot TO RULE THE WORLD AS A SOGGY CHIMP IN MY BIRTHDAY SUIT?!
Blossom: Buttercup, I don't think Mojo is behind this one. That bonk to Bubbles' head must've led her to believe that she's Mojo Jojo!
Mojo Jojo: No, really? Do you think?
- In Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?, it often seems like the only time that the two protagonists Ivy and Zack actually do catch their nemesis Carmen is when she didn't do what they caught her for.
- The Venture Bros.:
- It plays with this one: When their Rusty and Brock get kidnapped (along with Baron Underbheit and Pete White), the titular characters immediately call the Monarch (the Venture family's nominal archenemy) to demand their release. He responds that it wasn't him this time, but also adds "I have something planned for next week."
- When Brock wakes up and finds himself chained in a dungeon with the other three, he immediately accuses Underbheit of being responsible, leading to this priceless response:Underbheit: As usual, your detective skills are impeccable, Samson. You succeeded in exposing my sinister plan to lock myself in a dungeon, chained to an albino!
- David Xanatos was behind so much of the troubles, that they assumed he was responsible for Goliath and Elisa's disappearance. Brooklyn opposed confronting him on it, as it would only tip him off. It did.Talon: Drop the act, Xanatos. Where's Elisa?
Xanatos: I'm afraid I haven't seen her.
Broadway: Yeah right. Just like you haven't seen Goliath and Bronx.
Xanatos: [grinning devilishly] Hm. Now, we're getting somewhere.
Xanatos: [still grinning] Goliath? Missing?
Owen: [also grinning]. An intriguing development, sir.
- This happens to him a few times. In another episode, where the Gargoyles are looking into who stole the Scrolls of Merlin, and Broadway is missing, they immediately head to Xanatos, only to have Owen tell them Xanatos had nothing to do with it. He then helpfully suggests they try MacBeth, who was behind the theft.
- An interesting example in one episode, Sevarius and Xanatos create an evil clone of Goliath as an instrument in one of Xanatos' plans. A few weeks later, Sevarius recieves a message from the clone posing as Xanatos, telling him to steal several million dollars from Xanatos Enterprises and then meet Xanatos at an abandoned offshore oil rig. Sevarius does this without question, assuming it to be part of a "Machiavellian scheme against your (Xanatos') enemies", when Xanatos shows up and begins berating Sevarius for emebezzlement, his first assumption is that they're being watched.
- David Xanatos was behind so much of the troubles, that they assumed he was responsible for Goliath and Elisa's disappearance. Brooklyn opposed confronting him on it, as it would only tip him off. It did.
- Inverted in one episode of A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, where it turns out it really was Red Herring this time; naturally, it was the one episode where Freddie promised not to accuse of him of anything.
- Kim Possible:
- When she finds out that her Arch-Enemy Dr. Drakken has been broken out of prison by a woman with "green energy blasts", she naturally drops in on his sidekick Shego, only to find out later that it was actually an alien who did it.Shego: I'm. On. Vacation!
Ron: So, it wasn't you that busted out Drakken?
Shego: Who do you think I'm vacationing from?
- The same episode also had an inversion occur: In the scene Drakken was busted out of prison, the ceiling of his cell was blown up, and he initially thinks that its one of Shego's bailouts again. Another prisoner then reveals that the person in question is in fact trying to bust Drakken out.
- Also done in the first part of the two-parter series finale: Graduation Part 1. When several golf courses were undergoing eruptions, Kim Possible suspects Duff Killigan for the event. When confronted with the issue, Killigan explains that he wasn't involved, and takes it a step further to reveal that his own golf course was defaced in a similar manner.
- Ron and Yori attempt to track down their sensei in one episode when it is believed that Monkey Fist kidnapped him. Turns out, not only did Monkey Fist have absolutely nothing to do with the kidnapping, but the actual kidnapper, Gorilla Fist/ DNAmy actually kidnapped Sensei in order to deceive Ron and Yori into trying to track down Monkey Fist so she could locate him (since Monkey Fist was trying to flee from her).
- A more minor example: In one episode, items were stolen from a shop. When Kim and Ron question the Storeowner of who robbed the store, he explains that one of them was a strong but not terribly bright young man. Knowing that this was Senor Senior Jr., Kim and Ron deduce naturally that his father was also involved in the robbery. The storeowner corrects them and states the other accomplice was actually a woman producing green flames, a description that matched Shego.
- When she finds out that her Arch-Enemy Dr. Drakken has been broken out of prison by a woman with "green energy blasts", she naturally drops in on his sidekick Shego, only to find out later that it was actually an alien who did it.
- At the beginning of an episode of Buzz Lightyear of Star Command, a bunch of important politicians are kidnapped. Buzz then videocalls Zurg to confront him. Not only does Zurg claim he has nothing to do with it (calling it too obvious), he steps aside to show that he was in a meeting with every other recurring villain on the show, who all deny it as well. However, Zurg mentions he's "cooking up something very evil for the next fiscal quarter". He's proven correct when another kidnapping happens while he's still talking to Buzz.
- One episode of Rugrats has Suzie blame Angelica for stealing her brand-new tricycle and punishes her by tying her doll to a balloon and letting it go. Despite the evidence against her, Angelica was completely innocent - Suzie's trike was under her porch, Angelica's trike was her own and Angelica's red hands (which Suzie thought was from opening her garage's painted doors) were actually from her finger painting an apology letter. Thankfully for Suzie, a miracle (or a low-flying plane) gets Angelica's doll back to her and everyone's happy again. Except for poor Chuckie, since it was his balloon tied to the doll. The lesson he learned that day was "Never let Suzie borrow your balloon".
- In the Invader Zim episode "Planet Jackers", Zim initially thinks GIR is responsible for screwing up his telescope, but this turns out to not be the case.Zim: You mean something's broken, and it's not your fault?
GIR: I know. I'm scared too!
- Hurricanes played this trope in the episode "Target: Winston". When Stats reveals to Amanda Carey evidence suggesting that the explosion that almost killed Winston Honeychurch wasn't an accident, she quickly suspected that Stavros Garkos, the show's main Big Bad and Corrupt Corporate Executive, was behind this. She later learned he wasn't.
- Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog had the episode "Trail of the Missing Tails," wherein Tails had been abducted and Robotnik wasn't behind this.Robotnik: To be truthful, you horrible hedgehog, I have no idea where your feckless friend is.
Sonic: And why should I believe you?
Robotnik: Use your spiky head! If I'd had captured your companion, I'd be torturing him right now.
- In Spider-Man: The New Animated Series, Kraven the Hunter apparently murders Mary Jane. In a rage, Spider-Man very nearly kills Kraven, only to discover that Kraven is innocent. Mary Jane was never murdered, and Spider-Man had been tricked by two other villains into thinking Kraven had killed her. (Kraven had killed the parents of the villains, and they weren't powerful enough to take revenge themselves.) Kraven doesn't get away scot-free, however: Spider-Man still drops him off with the police.
- Adventure Time, "What Have You Done?": Princess Bubblegum has Finn and Jake capture the Ice King, even though he objects, claiming to have done "no recent crime." Played With because he did do something, but accidentally.
- In Arthur, after Francine's bike is allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspect that Binky may have stolen it. During a meeting, Binky storms over to Muffy and asked if she is the one accusing him of stealing the bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
- One episode of the 1996 Dennis the Menace (UK) cartoon had an eccentric millionaire challenge Beanotown to go without TV for a week, with the promise of a £1 million reward if they succeeded. Dennis spends most of the episode trying to find a way to power his family's TV back up only to be thwarted at every turn. On the last day of the challenge, the TV in Dennis' house is turned on, and the townspeople immediately assume Dennis is responsible even though he, at that moment, is just standing around doing nothing. It's only when they've chased him all the way back to his house that they realise that if he's outside, then who's inside watching the TV? It turns out to be the millionaire himself, who just couldn't miss his favourite soap opera. Since Beanotown made it that far, he gives them the million pounds anyway.
- Hero example: in the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Frightful", the Frightful Four are damaging the FF's reputation. Since Johnny's already known to be careless with his powers, it's very hard for him to convince anyone he wasn't responsible for burning down a building... especially as he has to keep specifying "I did not burn down that building".
- In an episode of American Dad!, Steve gets pregnant after saving Roger's life with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When Stan finds out, he turns to Hayley and starts yelling at her. She says she didn't do anything, and Stan responds that he always figured this sort of thing would happen to her so that's what he's prepared for.
- In "A Piniata Named Desire", Roger loses a part in a play to another person. When news hits that both the actress and her understudy were both killed and Roger is their replacement, Stan accuses Roger of killing them to get the part. Roger says that he didn't kill them, to which even he was surprised.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- In "Second Chance", Two-Face is kidnapped from the hospital before an operation to heal his scars (and hopefully restore Harvey Dent completely) can be done. At first, there are two suspects, Rupert Thorne (whose enmity with Two-Face goes back a long time) and the Penguin (who Two-Face had recently come to blows with) but both criminals give pretty convincing arguments for having nothing to do with it. As it turned out, Two-Face himself, or rather his evil personality, engineered his own kidnapping; as Batman tells him, "You're your own worst enemy, Harvey..."
- In "Lock-Up", Batman and Robin intercept Scarecrow after he escaped from Arkham Asylum. However, he reveals while they have him in custody that he wasn't even planning to do any crimes. Actually, he broke out just to get away from Arkham Asylum due to the new security chief (who was extremely abusive to the prisoners).
- In "Make 'Em Laugh", Batman and Robin discover the Mad Hatter's mind-control chips on people who inexplicably became ludicrous supervillains. Including the Mad Hatter himself—the Joker swiped them to exact revenge for being snubbed at a comedy competition.
- Zig-zag: In the feature Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, everyone, notably a D.A. with ties to the Joker, suspects that Batman is responsible for the deaths of some criminal personalities. It's the Joker himself that uncovers the culprit as Phantasm.
- In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Batman interrogates Joker about a new vigilante using one of the latter's old aliases. After some back-and-forth, Joker asks if Batman honestly believes he would cause trouble without making sure everyone knew it was him. Batman has no retort.
- Superman: The Animated Series:
- In the episode "Knight Time", Supes and Robin discover that Bruce has fallen victim to Mind Control, so they track down Gotham's primary suspect—the Mad Hatter. However, it's not him. Further, when examining the evidence for himself, the Hatter confesses that the technology used on Bruce is way too advanced to be of his own making and suggests an alien source—and true enough, it belonged to Brainiac.
- "Target", Lois suspects that Lex Luthor is trying to kill her after a series of near-death experience, especially in the light of her writing an expose on LexCorp, and that one of the devices found in her car was made at Lex's company. However, Lex denies any wrongdoing and even promised to investigate how the device got there in the first place. Sure enough, he was telling the truth. The person who tried to kill her was an ex-employee of Luthor who acted as a informant on the article, and he took the device from the company shortly before Lex fired him.
- The Sequel Episode "Solar Power" has the aforementioned ex-employee become the supervillain Luminous, who blocks off the sun's yellow rays to cripple Superman. Lois is quick to suspect that he's doing this on Lex Luthor's orders, but Lex is equally quick to defend himself:Lois: Come on, Lex! Those are your satellites up there, and Lightners worked for you before! How do you expect me to believe you have nothing to do with it?
Luthor: What you believe makes little difference to me. The fact is, I did provide Lightner resources while behind bars, but only for legitimate LexCorp research. I had no idea hed escape, and I certainly didnt tell him to hijack my satellites for his own revenge.
Lois: Heck, why not? Youd love to see Superman dead.
Luthor: Oh, please, Lois, forget that Im losing millions in communications revenues, do you really think Id jeopardize the welfare of the planet just to settle my personal grudge with Superman?
- In the Batman Beyond episode "The Winning Edge", when Wayne discovers the steroidal compound going around Terry's school is actually Venom, the drug Bane invented to give himself super-strength, he sends Terry to investigate Bane. However, Terry finds Bane is now an invalid, his body ruined due to a lifetime of using the addictive stuff, clearly unable to run such an operation. The true mastermind is Bane's caretaker, who Bane taught how make it for him when he was no longer able, and is now selling it on the street to make money.
- On Recess, Randall also had this trope invoked on him twice: The first time, most of the secrets that TJ and the others held were exposed to the teachers and staff, to which they ended up busted. They initially think Randall was behind their being ratted out, but Randall (who was in the garbage can to listen in) insisted that he did not. A chase to the bathroom later, and they end up discovering that Randall really wasn't behind their being ratted out that time: It was the so-called "cool kid" Stone who joined up with their posse who was in fact an undercover department of education individual who disguised himself as a student so Superintendent Skinner could find out the going abouts by the school who did it. The second time was when Randall hired the Ashleys' younger brothers, the Tylers, to act as proxies for him for his snitching job due to his getting cold at his sleuthing skills. One day, a lot more kids were put in The Box, including King Bob, whom he blamed Randall for it. However, Randall mentioned that reporting higher authority figures was a low even he wouldn't go as low as, and immediately told off the Ashleys' brothers for it, and attempted to put a stop to it, although they were one step ahead of him and reported him for it as well. Both instances also resulted in an Enemy Mine between Randall and the other kids.
- Subverted on T.U.F.F. Puppy. The Chameleon frames Snaptrap for blowing up a building, and openly accuses him of such. Snaptrap, who has blown up many buildings and doesn't have a particularly good memory, assumes that this is one of the many crimes he is guilty of, and reacts by trying to kill both the Chameleon and Dudley. When Snaptrap finally remembers that he was out shopping at the time of the crime and innocent, he claims that he should not be arrested, since he was framed. Dudley retorts that Snaptrap still spent the episode attacking other characters, there's no such thing as Wrongful Accusation Insurance, and he can be sent to jail for these assaults.
- The Life and Times of Juniper Lee: Ray Ray is so much of a troublemaker that it's hard for June to believe when he's innocent unless she is (or knows about) his alibi (then Dennis becomes main suspect by default). In fact, the two times Ray Ray invoked the trope had Dennis involved: breaking into June's room (Dennis and the two magical creatures that kidnapped him) and stealing a book from June (Dennis alone and Ray Ray protested he's not into books).
- In Family Guy, after Chris is sent to a fat camp to lose weight, the other fat children are being killed off in the middle of the night one by one via strangulation. Everyone assumes Patrick, Lois' brother, did it because he was the town's "Fat Guy Strangler" several seasons back. Patrick says he had changed and had nothing to do with the murders at the camp. He even offers to help find the real killer, who turns out to be the former hot dog eating champion. He murdered every boy that had blonde hair because he remembered Chris having blonde hair and wanted to kill him in revenge for losing to him in the contest. The killer also had released Patrick from his insane asylum because he knew Patrick was the Fat Guy Strangler and everyone would naturally blame him once they hear he is loose. When the Griffins go to apologize to Patrick for the misunderstanding, he disappears.
- An extreme example shows up in the third act of the Mr. Bogus episode "Bad Luck Bogus". After a blackout occurs in the neighborhood, Bogus suspects his sworn enemies, Ratty and Mole, to be the perpetrators of said blackout. However, when he confronts them, Ratty claims that he and Mole didn't have anything to do with the blackout. Of course, earlier, we saw that it was actually the evil Bogus clone that was responsible for the blackout, but Bogus just jumped to conclusions and assumed right off the bat that Ratty and Mole did it.
- On an episode of Garfield and Friends, Jon, Garfield, and Odie are camping at a park. The ranger mentions that campers have been complaining about their lunches mysteriously disappearing over the last few weeks. Jon immediately glares at Garfield who says "Don't look at me. I just got here."
- Similarly in another episode the gang goes on a picnic, the food is taken away by a colony of ants while Jon and Odie decide to go for a jog before eating. Naturally, they blame Garfield when they see the food is gone. Luckily, Garfield is proven innocent when the ants come back and throw Jon in the lake.
- Its sequel series The Garfield Show has a similar instance where Odie steals Jon and Liz's cake for a picnic, in order to feed a baby wolf cub. When an unknowing Jon confronts Garfield, even he has to double check with himself that he didn't take it.
- Spongebob Squarepants:
- In the episode "The Patty Caper", a new shipment of the Krabby Patty secret ingredient arrived, but ends up missing, leaving Spongebob and Patrick to track it down. Naturally, their first suspect is Plankton, who, it just so happens, was making a Krabby Patty. However, as it turns out, he had nothing to do with it for once, and the Krabby Patty he made was his own version as part of a series of attempts to find out the secret ingredient himself. It was Mr. Krabs who took the ingredient himself to avoid paying $1.98 for it, and he is forced to sell free Krabby Patties as punishment.
- The episode "Best Frenemies" has Mr. Krabs losing business because of the new "Kelpshake" that had been popping up. Naturally, Mr. Krabs confronts Plankton about it, only to find he's just as surprised as Mr. Krabs is about the Kelpshake making him lose business. They then join together in a Enemy Mine situation (with Plankton's motivation being that he wants to be the only one to defeat Mr. Krabs). As it transpired, somehow the Kelpshake locations were able to multiply and divide like cells, and furthermore, not only did the Kelpshakes taste awful, Karen's analysis revealed that it was made with radioactive material and intentionally addictive- sure enough, all the Kelpshake stands are quickly shuttered, and everybody who drank one starts growing green fur all over their bodies.
- In The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, Plankton is in the midst of stealing the Krabby Patty formula when it suddenly disappears in his hands. When Mr. Krabs arrives and sees the formula gone, he naturally assumes Plankton did it and has him arrested. Everyone else does the same. SpongeBob, the only other witness to the disappearance, is the only person who vouches for Plankton's innocence, and breaks him out so they can work together to get it back.
- Seriously happened in an episode of Bravestarr. When the title character was missing, Thirty-Thirty assumed that Tex-Hex had kidnapped him (the fact that a local stool-pigeon told him that when he roughed the guy up, just to get away from him, helped), broke into the Hexagon, and nearly tore the place apart before he found out that Bravestarr had actually left to deal with another problem. (Ironically, the problem was that Sandstorm, one of Tex-Hex's goons, had decided to take his other henchmen to rob a caravan without asking Tex first. Not only did that start the whole problem, it left the Hexagon nearly undefended against the angry cyborg.) When the truth came out, Bravestarr actually made Thirty-Thirty apologize to Tex and offered to help clean up the place. (However, Tex was even angrier at Sandstorm for starting the whole thing by disobeying him, and said he would make him do it.)
- In the Season 4 premiere of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Twilight Sparkle summons Discord, assuming he's behind the chaos caused by the Everfree Forest encroaching on Ponyville. He insists he had nothing to do with it, but can't resist tweaking the ponies' noses in the process.Discord: Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love what you've done with the place, but I couldn't possibly take responsibility.
- Subverted in that Discord was responsible for the entire affair: his timing was just off. He (literally) planted the seeds of the plot back before he was sealed in stone for the first time, intending for them to grow immediately and set him free not long after. Instead, the leftover energy of the Harmony Tree kept the seeds dormant until the present, by which time Discord had switched sides and never considered that the seeds would actually sprout at that point. He dodges the questions using Exact Words and points them in the general direction of the threat, but justifies not telling them its exact nature because he felt that Twilight and her friends needed the character development.
- Later played straight with Discord in a Season 9 episode "The Summer Sun Setback", where Discord says that the chaos happening during the setup of the Summer Sun Celebration was NOT caused by him (indeed, it was actually the villains Cozy Glow, Chrysalis, and Tirek that caused it so they can distract them long enough to sneak inside and get the book they need). Funnily enough, when the finale reveals Discord was actually their boss in disguise, it does turn out to be him.
- He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983):
- In "Evilseed", the eponymous villain was responsible for the trouble but He-Man initially thought it was Skeletor.
- Subverted in "Teela's Triumph". Skeletor developed a ray that sends people to another dimension and tested it on a falcon. Unbeknownst to him, the falcon was the Sorceress so, when He-Man accused Skeletor of being responsible for her disappearance, He-Man was right but Skeletor didn't know.
- In a non-villainous example, in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), a news report mentions a "half-man, half-reptile, and all-angry" creature attacking a man in the sewers. All eyes turn to Raphael, who insists it wasn't him. (It was Leatherhead.)
- In an episode of Rocket Power, Otto pulls a fire alarm (to prove to Twister that even if it was pulled, it wouldn't go off unless there was a fire). They bail, and Lars is caught taking the blame of the false fire alarm, despite him insisting that he didn't do it. It's only until the end of the episode that Otto and Twister confess.
- They had fun with it at the start of the second Winx Club movie: when at the start of the year party of the magic schools of Alfea (a boarding school for fairies) and Cloud Tower (boarding school for witches) people who have tasted the buffet start turning into frogs, Faragonda (headmistress of Alfea) is quick to blame Cloud Tower's students and alumni, as the previous year they unleashed a tropical storm and filled the cake with bugs the year before that, then the Winx see the Trix, who, having been expelled, are not Cloud Tower alumni, and accuse them... Except they were just trying to sneak in without being noticed, and it had actually been a group of Cloud Tower's alumni (who are in fact seen looking at the buffet without eating) playing a prank on anyone stupid or unexperienced enough not to guess there was something wrong by how they were looking at the buffet (that is, the fairies who have just enrolled and the reporter covering the event). Not that the Trix care enough to set the record straight...
- Danger Mouse: DM automatically suspects that Baron Greenback is behind the revolt of London's appliances ("Mechanised Mayhem"). But he and Penfold discover Greenback and Stiletto cowering in their hideout because Greenback's own transport, the Frog's Head Flyer, is revolting against him!
- In one episode of Jem, the Misfits supposedly pirate a broadcast, but Eric quickly pleads innocence (and he's telling the truth; in this case, another Corrupt Corporate Executive tricked the band into thinking they were just doing a normal broadcast for him. It's actually not hard for Jerrica to believe him:
- All Hail King Julien episode "Revenge of the Prom" has arch-nemesis Karl showing up to Julien's school reunion... but just because he was in that class, too. He actually has nothing to do with the evil scheme, and in fact invokes Only One Allowed To Kill You to save the day.
- Several times on Phineas and Ferb, Candace starts to yell at her brothers for some strange, impossible event, only to have them explain that they weren't responsible for this one. For instance:Candace: So, you guys didn't move the Earth out of orbit?
Phineas: Not this time, no.
- Several episodes of Kaeloo have Mr. Cat be blamed for something he had nothing to do with. The worst example is from "Let's Play Cops and Robbers", where nobody finds out he's innocent until after he gets severely beaten up.
- The eponymous character of Milo Murphy's Law has caused so many disasters and accidents by his proximity that when the fish hatchery is on fire, Melissa's father, who is the chief of the fire brigade, has to ask (twice, no less) if Milo was near the hatchery at some point. Milo's normally cheerful demeanor breaks long enough to tell him no.
- In Shadow Raiders, the battle moons are stolen. Everyone turn their eyes toward Femur since he stole them last time. However, it wasn't him, it was rogue soldiers from the Fire planet.
- Teen Titans:
- In "The Sum of His Parts" Cyborg goes missing while fighting the Amazing Mumbo. While Cy actually lost power and was captured by the tech-wizard Fixit, the other Titans believe Mumbo did something. When they capture Mumbo, he has no idea why they're accusing him of kidnapping. He goes on to point out that even if he had done something to Cyborg, it would've been undone when Robin broke his wand.
- In "Masks" Robin poses as a new villain Red X in a ploy to infiltrate Slade's forces. In he third season episode "X", a new Red X appears, with all the powers of the old one. The rest of the Titans at first assume that the Robin next to them is a hologram or robot duplicate (As Robin did that last time) and Robin has to hastily assure them whatever's happening isn't his fault before they check him for batteries.
- Sonic Boom: In "Blackout", Team Sonic thinks Eggman shut off the power grid. He points out that it's affecting him too; without power, he can't charge his robots.
- Bojack Horseman: In the flashback sequence from "The Telescope", the news reports on a scandal involving Horsin' Around and BoJack complains "Oh God, what did I do this time?". It turns out that Herb, the show's creator and BoJack's best friend, had been caught having sex with another man.
- The Hey Arnold! episode "Grandpa's Packard" had Arnold and his grandmother Gertie try to find out who stole his grandfather Phil's car. One of their suspects was Phil's old rival Rex Smythe-Higgins I, whose own Packard lost to Phil's in a recent contest. When they confront him on the matter, Rex states that he didn't steal his rival's car and gives the alibi that he was in London at the time the car went missing.
- In The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh episode "The Great Honey Pot Robbery", the whole Hundred Acre Wood has their stash of honey stolen by resident heffalumps and woozles, Stan and Heff. The next morning everyone, even those not particularly angry about it, assume Pooh took it and forgot to ask permission again. Even Pooh isn't quite sure he didn't do it.
- My Little Pony: Equestria Girls:
- In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Forgotten Friendship, Sunset's prime suspect for who erased everyone's memories of her turning good is Trixie. The previous day Trixie swore revenge on Sunset for a very petty reason, she openly enjoyed Sunset's friends turning against her at the beach, and she already has a history of antagonizing Sunset and her friends. But when she confronts Trixie on erasing everyone's memories with the Memory Stone, Trixie is just surprised to hear there's a stone that can erase memories and thinks of using it to erase memories of any bad tricks she has done. With no other suspects, Trixie decides to help Sunset find the real culprit and get everyone's memories back.
- In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls Sunset's Backstage Pass, Sunset suspects the Dazzlings are the ones who have trapped in her in a "Groundhog Day" Loop. But they are innocent of it.
- Wacky Races: "Cold Rush" has villain Dick Dastardly deactivating all his booby traps to prove he can win a race without cheating. When calamities occur along the race route, the other racers assume it's him. Dick vehemently pleads his innocence and is proven right when the racers are blocked by some ornery penguins.
- DuckTales (2017): In "The Shadow War!", after the Ducks (plus Launchpad, Beakley and Webby) have figured out who's responsible for the mystical events currently happening, Gyro Gearloose and his assistants climb out of the water and onto the houseboat, where Gyro promptly declares that he didn't cause the shadow uprising - apparently, his shadow control ray is still in the works. (No one blamed him nor would have, since they already knew Magica was responsible; he just has such a reputation he assumed he'd be blamed.)
- Nella the Princess Knight: In "Frozen Trinket", Trinket gets lost inside a mirror house and her friends, upon seeing a unicorn ride shaped like her, assume Badalf the Wicked Wizard froze her.
- In Futurama's "The Inhuman Torch," Bender is hailed as a hero for rescuing a bunch of trapped miners from the sun and subsequently basks in the attention he receives for rescuing people from a whole series of fires...all of which just happened to start in places where he happened to be. His teammates' natural assumption is so in-character that he doesn't even try to tell them the truth when he discovers it: a flame-like criminal inhabitant of the sun hitched a ride inside his chest cabinet and was creating the fires in his wake.
- In Doug, Beebee's stereo goes missing when she takes it to school, and Doug decides to try and investigate and find the culprit before the entire class ends up facing after school detention. He initially suspects that it's Roger, only for Skeeter to point out there's no way Roger could have done it since he was in detention all day for an unrelated prank when the stereo went missing.
- 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "Twelve Angry Pups," Mooch is accused of stealing things from around the farm. The true culprit is revealed to be Lt. Pug, who was "gathering supplies" for the "great cat invasion."
- The Mr. Men Show: In the short "Collections", during a broadcasting of Good Morning, Dillydale, Little Miss Naughty places whoopee cushions on Mr. Happy and Little Miss Sunshine's seat. When they sit back down, we hear some honking noises. Normally, this is a sound that would be associated with Mr. Rude farting, but he points out that it wasn't him this time.Mr. Rude: For once, that was not me.
Not Me This Time / Western Animation