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To see him obviously framedWhere justice is a game.
Couldn't help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
—Bob Dylan, "Hurricane"
Framing someone means providing fake evidence or false testimony in order to falsely prove someone guilty of a crime. "Frame" here means making someone innocent look guilty by "putting the person in a picture frame of suspicion".
Framing the Guilty Party is a subtrope where the party framed is actually guilty. It can be a Subversion or even a Double Subversion of the classic Frameup depending on the convolutions of apparent and actual guilt. In a similar vein, in Noir-themed crime dramas the frame can be rehung many times: a white-knuckle version of pass-the-parcel. If the framed party is an animal, This Bear Was Framed. If the framed party is dead, then it's a Deceased Fall Guy Gambit.
See also: Taking the Heat, where an innocent person attempts to put themselves in the frame to save someone else. False-Flag Operation, where it is an entire organization or nation that is being framed by another. Compare and contrast Abomination Accusation Attack, where the accusation just mentions a type of crime, not any specific instance. Certain forms of a Motivational Lie can be related in spirit.
Anime & Manga
- Underdog: The Serial Killer Hiyuchi's first action in the tournament is to steal the protagonist Naoto's wallet so that he can plant it on the body of a high school girl Hiyuchi just murdered. He then breaks into Naoto's house to place her student ID on his desk.
- In Card Captor Sakura, the Mirror Card disguises itself as Sakura to frame her for playing mean pranks on everyone, in an attempt to get away from her. When she does this to Sakura's big brother Touya, however, it fails: he realizes that she's not Sakura (as he can sense her spiritual energy) and, believing her to be a Cute Ghost Girl, offers to help her fill her Ghostly Goals. The Mirror repents and allows Sakura to capture her.
- In Hell Teacher Nube, an evil youkai makes Nube's students believe that the local Gossipy Hen Miki Hosokawa had told everyone the secrets that they confided on her. After an understandable crying fit, Miki starts making research to prove her innocence...
- Several cases in Detective Conan involve either people being framed for crimes and trying to prove their innocences, or culprits framing other people to throw off any investigators. Naturally, Conan sees through all of this...
- The biggest case in Anatolia Story takes place when Prince Kail's brother King Arnuwanda is murdered by Urhi Shalma, and then Yuri is blamed. The situation is defused... when Yuri's Lady in Waiting Ursula confesses to this crime that she never committed and lets herself be executed
- Batman, or rather Bruce Wayne, had to deal with this in Bruce Wayne Murderer and Bruce Wayne Fugitive after his ex-girlfriend Vesper Fairchild was found dead in Wayne Manor. Lex Luthor had hired the assassin David Cain to frame Bruce Wayne for a murder after Bruce ruined his scheme to acquire Gotham's real estate in the aftermath of No Man's Land. The frameup went even further than that though: since Cain had deduced that Bruce and Batman were one and the same, he also planted fake evidence suggesting that Vesper had discovered Bruce's secret and was about to expose him. This actually made some of Bruce's allies (except Dick and Alfred who remain convinced that Bruce is innocent) briefly suspect that Bruce had snapped and killed Vesper to hide his secret. The story arc went on for as long as it did because Bruce didn't even try to clear his name; rather, he used this as an opportunity to ditch his identity as Bruce Wayne and become Batman full time.
- Sin City has two protagonists framed: Marv and John Hartigan. In a rare Gang War example, Dwight framed one crime family for attacking another in order to protect the Old Town girls.
- In X-Men Noir, Anne-Marie Rankin framed Captain Logan for the murder of Jean Grey by killing her with Wolverine Claws. However, between this and the Orgy of Evidence she provided, Thomas Halloway had her figured for the killer almost immediately.
- Manor de Sade starts out with the protagonist bragging to herself about how she managed to advance in her career by backstabbing his boss with a trumped-up accusation of sexual harassment. He had simply been friendly, but she had pretended to feel harassed. This resulted in him getting fired and her getting his job, just as she had planned. Only the audience (and her mirror) gets to know the truth. Or maybe not.
- Many fairy tale heroes and heroines are framed for crimes they never commited. ie the younger prince from The Water of Life is falsely accused by his older brothers of trying to kill their father by giving him sea water rather than the titular healing one, and the heroine of The Six Swans (and several similar tales) has her newborn babies stolen by her evil mother-in-law, who then accuses her of having killed and eaten her kids.
- In The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, the villainous babysitter Peyton consider it convenient to get rid of her target's gardener, the Gentle Giant Solomon. So she steals the panties of their employer's five-year-old daughter and plants them in his room. With this "evidence" in place, she starts accusing him of pedophilia.
- In Watchmen, Rorschach is framed for the murder of Moloch.
- The Hurricane, 1999 American biographical film starring Denzel Washington as Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
- Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: As the title indicates, Roger is framed for the murder of Marvin Acme.
- Subverted in Framed, because the title would make you expect it to happen but it doesn't. (At least according to the review at Something Awful.)
- In the 1993 film The Fugitive a renowned medical doctor is framed for the murder of his wife, escapes during transit to death row, and spends the rest of the film trying to clear his name. (The original TV series is not an example of this trope, as it doesn't involve a deliberate frame-up.)
- In At All Costs, the Republic of Haven is framed for several assassinations, this is so successful that it prevents the peace talks from happening, which leads to the biggest battle in the entire series of books, with the Manticore system itself under attack.
- Dashiell Hammett's detective the Continental Op treats all investigations as a Frame-Up: he gathers evidence, discovers likely victims and then attempts to get one into the frame. If they are guilty, well that's nice but incidental to getting paid.
- In Speaking with the Dead by Elaine Cunningham (Realms of Mystery) Elaith Craulnober (of all people) was accused of a murder but swore that
this timehe didn't do it. And Danilo Thann (of all people) had to defend him...
Danilo: Consider my dilemma. Even under the best of circumstances, "innocent" is not the first word that comes to mind when your name is mentioned.
- In the Transformers Trans Tech story "Gone Too Far", Jackpot & Hubcap are framed by the actual killer for the murder of a popular revolutionary, putting them in danger from the victim's gangster friends. To make matters even more fun for the duo, the police know they're innocent but play along with pretending they're guilty anyway, because they hope the duo will come across the real killer while trying to escape/clear their name.
- In The Machine Gunners, Chas McGill tries to place his school rival and fellow war souvenir collector, Boddser Brown, at the top of the police's list of suspects for having stolen a downed bomber's rear-turret gun by specifically mentioning Brown and the things Chas knows Brown got from the same downed bomber in an essay.
Live Action TV
- Babylon 5: Garibaldi is framed for sabotaging one of the station's hangar bays, and has to find who is responsible before he gets cornered by the Security staff... or the numerous enemies he's made amongst the criminal world of the station. The bad guys turn out to be members of a xenophobic "Pro Earth" organization, including the second in command of the security detail sent to capture him.
- Every episode ever of Perry Mason and Matlock (since they're defense attorneys and all "good" defense attorneys have innocent clients...right?).
- Renegade is about a cop framed for murdering his lover, and is constantly trying to confront the bad cops who framed him.
- In two episodes of Law and Order SVU, Stabler gets falsely accused of being sexually abusive.
- In the episode Doubt, the accusation is made by a emotionally disturbed woman who is either traumatized by a real case of abuse or simply an attention-whore who realized just how much attention a false accusation can give her. In either case, she recants her accusation against Stabler and the audience never gets to know if the guy she accused of rape got convicted or not - the episode ends as the jury is about to read the verdict...
- In the episode Delinquent, a young sex-offender makes up a nonsense accusation against Stabler, and then try to get his own charges dropped in return for dropping his charges against stabler.
- A major plot point in Dong Yi - the innocent secret society Geom Gye are framed for murders they didn't commit, and are exterminated.
- CSI Warrick Brown in For Gedda. He cleared his name only to get shot just afterward by the real killer.
- CSI: NY: Sheldon Hawkes in "Raising Shane". Serial killer Shane Casey paid a guy to dress like Hawkes and rob a bar, then the money was planted in Hawkes' own hoodie.
- Probably also applies to Mac, when Clay Dobson jumped of a building and framed Mac for pushing him
- Forever Knight in one of the early season 2 eps, Nick is framed for murder by La Croix, whom Nick still thought was dead. Things got worse when the DNA Natalie substituted for Nick's vampire blood turned out to belong to the real killer.
- Merlin Queen of Hearts: Morgana frames Gwen for using magic on Arthur
- The Bob Dylan song "Hurricane" about the imprisonment of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.
Here comes the story of the Hurricane,
The man the authorities came to blame
For somethin' that he never done.
- Paranoia specifically encourages this. Depending on play style, this can fall anywhere from "Traitor!" *ZAP ZAP ZAP* to planting and doctoring evidence in advance.
- Ace Attorney has a case or two where someone is framed.
- Case or two? You'd have more trouble trying to find cases where someone wasn't framed.
- Ghost Trick: Lynne is framed for the murder of Yomiel by Yomiel. He controls her to shoot his immortal shell, makes sure it's caught on tape, then leaves his body to be found by the police. Since few people see the corpse before Cabanela steals it, no one else notices that it's a person who supposedly died ten years earlier.
- Happens to the player twice in Golden Eye Wii -- first for the death of Valentin Zhukovsky, then later for Russian Defense Minister Mishkin.
- Knights of the Old Republic: Subverted. Sunry is accused of murdering a Sith woman and he says that the case is a complete Frame-Up. Evidence reveals that he did do it, and when you confront him with this, he will explain himself. It's up to you if you want to get him free or send him to his death.
- Torg from Sluggy Freelance accidentally does this to a garbage robot.
- Shadows of Enchantment practically starts with Serris being framed for conspiracy to assassinate The Captain of the Aldrian Royal Guard. The real goal was to get Tyrus to come rescue her so that Aldria could find him to make a deal with him.
- In Sinfest, Slick tries to claim this when in Hell.
- The classic Simpsons episode "Krusty Gets Busted".
- On the Wallace and Gromit short A Close Shave Preston frames Gromit for sheep rustling. It even involves a literal frame-up, tricking Gromit into sticking his head through a picture of a butcher and taking an incriminating photo with one of the sheep.
- John Stewart is framed for destroying an entire planet in season one of Justice League - and framed so thoroughly that even he thinks he's guilty. While the few other Green Lanterns who show up for his trial treat him with scorn (except Kilowogg), the Leaguers aren't in a hurry to give up on him.
Superman: It was all an illusion - a frameup, as they say on my planet.