Not Me This Time
"Oh, for crying out loud, no! I had no intention of committing any crimes! ...today."
—Mojo Jojo, The Powerpuff Girls, "Telephonies"
Of course, since this is a series with a recurring Big Bad, our heroes may feel perfectly justified in going after the usual suspects. This trope refers to such scenes, in which our regular villain is forced to inform the protagonists that this installment's plot is not his or her doing. This may or may not be believed at first, but after the villain's innocence is established, expect him to curtly dismiss the heroes.
Traditional Truce Zone requirements mandate that regardless of all the crimes they committed yesterday, if caught for the wrong thing today; the heroes have to let them go. Either that or the Big Bad is a Karma Houdini and/or got Off on a Technicality for yesterday's crimes.
This trope can be chalked up to The Law of Conservation of Detail: if you're going to have your villain appear, it might as well be relevant to the plot at hand.
Also see Villains Out Shopping, which might explain the villain's innocence. Compare Motive Misidentification, where the Big Bad is responsible, but for different reasons than the heroes initially suspect. Contrast Hijacked by Ganon, where it seems like a new villain is at fault but the Big Bad is revealed to be pulling the strings.
Anime & Manga
- Pokémon has its share of villains that aren't Team Rocket, whether single-episode Pokemon menaces, thieves, the region's local villainous team, or Bill and Cassidy. As Jessie and James end up appearing in nearly every episode, they get more than their share of this trope.
- When Tohma of Magical Record Lyrical Nanoha Force gets captured by the Huckebein, an infamous family of killers, he accuses them of being the culprits behind the destruction of his hometown. Not so, says Fortis. He double-checked, and they're not behind that particular massacre. After all, Tohma survived, and if they were the ones responsible, they would have made sure to kill everyone.
- Keroro Gunsou has a rather sad example in one chapter. Keroro is expecting praise for doing a good job cleaning the house, but is instead met with furious accusations by Natsumi and Fuyuki of screwing with computer networks across the city, and has a nervous breakdown when they refuse to believe his pleas that he's not responsible. The real culprits turn out to be the Garuru Platoon, as a prelude to taking over the invasion of Earth.
- Subverted in Naruto, when Tobi claims that he was not behind the Nine-Tailed Fox attacking Konoha despite confirming or expanding on much of what Sasuke was told about him, when a later flashback arc shows that he was.
- Yu-Gi-Oh: During the DOMA arc, Seto Kaiba was quite willing to believe Amelda's story about his adoptive father Gozaburo engaging in war profiting; after all, he knew from personal experience what a snake the man was. However, while Gozaburo was indeed a conniving and scheming corporate shark, he was not responsible for what Amelda witnessed. The man he saw doing so was his soon-to-be-employer Dartz in disguise.
- Marvel Knights: Spider-Man kick off with a story where aunt May gets kidnapped and he goes running to Norman Osborn, who's in prison, demanding he return her. Osborn says he had nothing to do with it, what with, you know, being in prison and all...
- This is actually remarkably Genre Savvy on Spidey's part, since being in prison or even dead has not stopped Osborn from wreaking all sorts of havoc in Peter's life before.
- This happens to Spider-Man a LOT, apparently. During the Fallen Son arc mourning Captain America's death. While at the grave of Uncle Ben, Spidey sees Rhino walking through the cemetery. He attacks, thinking he's up to something (despite Rhino pleading that he isn't here to fight), and their fight breaks a gravestone belonging to Rhino's mother... which was the only reason he was there in the first place. When he realizes this, Spider-Man attempts to apologize, but Rhino is, understandably, far too angry to listen.
- In the Spider-Man spin off Jackpot, the heroine, later accompanied by Spidey himself, beats up a minor villainess who was smuggling but really hadn't anything to do with what Jackpot wanted to know about. The snippy answer of the villainess was something around the lines of : "What? Do you think every villain in New York gets a daily update about every crime?!"
- Mickey Mouse:
- Similarly, there was a comic where a series of crimes is commited that seem to be the work of the Phantom Blot. Mickey goes to see him in jail, but the Blot tells him he's in jail and hasn't busted out, as the guards will testify, but he appreciates Mickey thinking of him.
- In another comic, Mickey and O'Hara are investigating some robberies when they run into the Blot walking down the street, prompting the latter to arrest him on the spot (with no evidence whatsoever). The Blot doesn't resist and firmly denies everything, which Mickey notices is not like him and thinks he may even be innocent. It turns out he did do it...however he's not actually the Phantom Blot but rather a magically summoned duplicate created by Magica DeSpell.
- With the Blot it seems to be a recurring theme. Due to him wearing disguises anyway, it is easy for various copycats to use his identity and general style for a while. There are several variations on how is this resolved. At least some having the genuine Blot being the one to take down the imitators.
- In one issue of Birds of Prey, Black Canary's old mentor was murdered while she visited him in Hong Kong, even though he was terminally ill and would have died soon anyway. She quickly assumed that the supervillainess Cheshire committed the crime due to their history of animosity; the means of the crime, poison, also happened to be Cheshire's specialty. After Black Canary tracked Cheshire down, attacked and captured her, she found out that Cheshire did not do it; rather, it was the deed of a corrupt US senator who arranged the murder specifically so it would point to Cheshire. The two of them were enemies and he hoped Canary would deal with Cheshire for him. However, they eventually discover that it really was Cheshire after all. She made it look like she was being framed so that Canary would help her get back to the US as part of a Xanatos Roulette.
- A story in Gotham Central had someone killing teenagers dressed as Robin, but despite Batman's violent interrogations, none of the usual rogues turned out to have any involvement.
- The Astro City story "Adventures In Other Worlds" plays this to eleven. When Astra Furst of the First Family goes missing, they hunt down all of their usual super-villain enemies, convinced that one of them has captured her. Each villain's latest scheme gets disrupted, even though none of them are guilty of kidnapping Astra... who, instead, has run away from home to experience elementary school (and learn how to play hopscotch).
- In an issue of the Justice League Unlimited spin-off comic, The Question sets out to discover who was responsible for a bomb smuggled into the Watchtower. Lex Luthor is the lead suspect, but when confronted Luthor points out that if the bomb had gone off as planned, the Justice League would never have known what hit them—and when he destroys the Justice League, he'll do it in such a way that they'll know exactly what hit them.
- In the year-long Story Arc "Hush", after having seen his old childhood friend "Tommy" being supposedly gunned down by the Joker, Bruce is chasing after him in a murderous rage. A part of his mind is confused that the Joker is protesting his innocence (something he's not exactly known for), but it's drowned out by the red rage.
Joker: Stop me if you've heard this one before...I'm innocent.
- "Joker: Devil's Advocate" is another example of this: the Joker was actually innocent of the crime of placing Joker venom on lickable stamps. Turns out it was a disgruntled member of the Post Office who did it to frame the Joker, who killed his wife.
- In a recent Batman issue, Batman pursues a recently escaped Joker because he thinks Joker was responsible for attacking and poisoning Commissioner Gordon's wife. After defeating him, however, and Batman tells him to stay away from the Gordons, Joker revealed that this time, he was completely innocent of attacking the Gordons. It was actually James Gordon Jr. who did the deed.
- Non-villainous example in Asterix and the Magic Carpet. Cacofonix's singing is now so bad it causes rainstorms to occur, much to the annoyance of the rest of the village. On a trip to India to fix a drought, their flying carpet encounters a heavy storm, forcing Cacofonix to protest that this one has nothing to do with him.
- In Star Wars Legacy, the Yuuzhan Vong were accused of using the terraforming to devastate the already damaged planets ecosystems even further by causing deformities in the terraforming process, an accusation that stemmed from their role in the Yuuzhan Vong conflict long ago. The Yuuzhan Vong protested that they were in fact innocent and that they did not cause the deformities, at least not deliberately, to which the Jedi believed them. Turns out, they really were innocent: The One Sith sabotaged the terraforming project with the help of a Yuuzhan Vong plant of theirs who wanted revenge for their defeat.
- Just before the Our Worlds at War Mega-Crossover over at DC, Superman is tussling with General Zod in the upper atmosphere, when a huge SOMETHING flies past Superman, towards the Earth. Supe's response?
Superman "You missed!"
- In Curtis, Greg and Diane Wilkins are in their bedroom for the night, only to hear a crash originating from Curtis and Barry's room. They naturally assume that they got into a fight again. However, the final panel has them screaming for help with multiple crashing sounds, revealing that this time, the crash was not from one of their fights.
- The next strip reveals the cause for the crash were hailstones the size of eggs or golfballs.
- In The Sandman, Dream gets dumped by his most recent girlfriend. Afterwards, he goes to see his brother / sister Desire, who has a history of setting up and destroying any kind of relationship on a multi-universal scale. Desire bluntly tells him that "it" would love to take credit for Dream getting dumped, but "it" had nothing to do with the situation; this time it was all Dream's fault. Though to be fair, Dream was hardly without reason to suspect Desire; "it" had already ruined one of his relationships just for the sake of doing it (and at the cost of their friendship).
- In one of the children's book tie-ins of The Flash, the Weather Wizard is released to a halfway house on the same day a tornado rips through the city; naturally, everyone assumes he did it, but the Flash uses his science skills to deduce that the tornado began before he could have regained access to his weather control wand. In the end, it's suggested that--as per the comics--he no longer quite needs the wand.
- In Identity Crisis, none of the supervillains had anything to do with Sue Dibny's death.
- In A Night to Remember, a story from the Symphony of the Sword cycle of Undocumented Features, the 2409 Koopman Memorial High School prom is interrupted by an attack by Big Fire. Mojo Jojo, who was the prom's DJ (It Makes Sense in Context, really), ducks out and shows up a few minutes later in a Humongous Mecha. Then...
"NOT SO FAST, MOJO JOJO!"
- La Folie Des Grandeurs, "Non Sire! Pour une fois c'était pas moi!" Translation: "No, sire! For once it wasn't me!"
- Spoken word for word by John Spartan in Demolition Man, when his first attempt to capture Simon Phoenix results in a building in flames and a heap of charred hostages.
- In the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie, "On Stranger Tides", Jack Sparrow is believed to be trying to locate a ship to find the Fountain of Youth, as well as recruiting a crew. Turns out, for once, he was not the one who is actually doing it. It was Angelica, a former flame of Sparrow, who was doing it, while disguised as him.
- In Apollo 13, Fred Haise has been using the cabin repress valve, which causes a sharp banging sound, to mess with the other astronauts. When the oxygen tank explodes and the entire ship starts shaking, he rushes in saying, "That's no repress valve!"
- In The Spy Who Loved Me British Intelligence are at first concerned about who is behind the tracking and theft of their nuclear subs because they are worried that a foreign power is trying to undermine their nuclear defense strategy; Bond's original mission is to buy the plans for the tracking system from someone who had them stolen. Later the Big Bad, who is behind the actual thefts, reveals that his plan is to fire nukes at New York and Moscow to trigger World War Three; Bond thinks that he's trying to hold the world hostage, but he really wants to devastate the world and build an underwater utopia for the survivors to start civilization anew.
- A non-villainous version was featured in Spice World, where the women had to use the restroom but are forced to go in the woodlands because of the broken toilet on board their bus. Yet, it leads to this exchange, implying Mel B's antics.
Mel B: Something just pushed past me, and I'm not joking!
- In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident, Holly and Root assume it's Artemis behind the B'wa Kell golbin smugglings, but after they pretty much kidnap him to find out, it turns out not to be the case.
- In the second Night of the Living Dummy book, the heroine, her sister, and her parents enter the sister's room to find that all her bedroom walls have been graffiti'd. The mother yells at the youngest brother, a notorious prankster, but he stops her by saying that this time he's innocent, and that this is messed-up even for him. Of course it turns out that Slappy did it, but who'd believe that?
- Harry Potter:
- Harry and Ron use Polyjuice potion Chamber of Secrets to imitate Crabbe and Goyle, Draco Malfoy's two mooks, in the hopes of getting Draco to admit that he's the heir of Slytherin, and thus the cause of all the shenanigans happening at Hogwarts that year. Instead, they hear Draco ranting about how thrilled he is that it's happening and how he'd love to congratulate whoever is actually behind it.
- Similarly, in the film version of Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban, Ron initially guesses when there is a long line towards the Fat Lady that Neville Longbottom must have forgotten the password again, only to learn from Neville's exclamation that he was behind Ron the whole time, and thus couldn't have been the one keeping them out of the common room. It's revealed shortly afterwards that the reason they aren't allowed access is because the Fat Lady was scared away from her painting.
- In Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire, Snape blames Harry's trio for stealing the Polyjuice Potion ingredients missing from his stores. Although they were guilty of that 2 books ago, they are not responsible for it this time -- Barty Crouch is. Since Snape didn't mention when the ingredients were stolen, Harry thought he was talking about the original theft, so he was simply lying that he wasn't behind it.
- Fainne says this exact line in Child of the Prophecy, by Juliet Mariller. It's really her grandmother who happens to have similar powers and much more motive...
- Hero version: "The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault."
- Simon Heap in Darke has a hard time convincing Septimus and Sir Hereward that he isn't to blame for the Darke Domaine.
Live Action TV
- John is thrown into what looks very much like Earth, and immediately suspects Scorpius of messing with his head. However, when he finds Scorpius in the simulacrum, he protests that he's not the one doing it this time.
- Happens a whole bunch in season 4 when Scorpius joins our heroes on Moya and then again in "The Peacekeeper Wars." To be fair, John has good reason not to trust Scorpius after everything he's put him through.
- In the Star Trek: TNG episode "Firstborn", Lursa and B'Etor of the House of Duras are suspected of an assasination attempt against Worf. It turns out a future version of Alexander, Worf's son, had traveled back in time to stage this attempt so as to motivate the young Alexander to become a Klingon warrior.
- Not a recurring Big Bad, but in one episode of Columbo the killers try to make it look like a repeat offender did their murder. Columbo doesn't seem convinced but pays a visit to that offender to be sure.
Offender: Who are you?
- Japanese Police Procedural Kochira Hon-Ikegamisho had a number of reformed criminal characters who would often be questioned following crimes that resembled their earlier ones.
- In one episode of NCIS, Tony is framed for a crime. One of the first people he suspects is Ziva.
Ziva: I would never do that!
- Happens in quite a few episodes of Bewitched. Darrin usually assumes that his troubles are being caused by his wicked mother-in-law, Endora, who claims to be innocent (or doesn't appear in the episode at all). It turns out to be someone else was screwing with Darrin, or the problem was completely mundane with no magic involved. To be fair, Endora(or someone working for her) is the problem most of the time.
- In Monk, Dale "The Whale" Biederbeck III is suspected of arranging for a death row inmate to be killed before execution because he hadn't paid off a debt. However, both Monk and Dale the Whale know Dale was innocent that time around, and in fact, even he wouldn't stoop as low as to kill someone/arrange for someone to be killed for not paying their debts, especially if the sum in question was in the low thousand dollar range. It was actually the prison librarian, and the death row inmate wasn't even the real target, but an ailing billionaire (as the man in question was dying from kidney failure and was also in the middle of a libel suit against her son who wrote a book on him). The only reason she had to kill the death row inmate is because he held the ultra-rare blood type needed to save the billionaire in question, and used poisons to destroy the organs.
- In The Mentalist, a serial abductor/killer, known as the balloon killer, was suspected of kidnapping a child. However, after shooting him, he implies (and Jane confirms via phone and a note) that this time, he's innocent.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode The Dead Talk Back:
Detective: "What [were you arrested] for?"
- On one episode of Dracula: The Series, the title vampire encounters the heroes in a crypt when the casket opens. A minor character climbs out and reveals that he was turned into a vampire. Dracula replies "Don't look at me. He's not my type."
- The NCIS: Los Angeles episode "Exit Strategy" had the NCIS team thinking that the Sudanese dictator Khaled was responsible for the attempted assassination of Jada, his sister who had defected to America in his previous appearance, as he had the strong motive of keeping her silent in regards to his abuse of human rights in the region. However, when they contact him, he denies the attempt on his sister's life, citing that even he would not harm family, although the NCIS doesn't buy it. Turns out, the actual party responsible for the attempted assassination (or at least the one most directly responsible) was the CEO of an international French company that was also involved in Khaled's dictatorship, as Jada's exposure of Khaled's human rights abuses would also result in an investigation on their company and result in a tribunal against them, with France as a country also potentially getting into deep trouble.
- In the Smallville episode "Pariah", people start getting viciously assaulted from behind in locked rooms and other enclosed spaces. Everyone accuses Alicia Baker, as she can teleport and is a previously established psycho. Alicia protests that she has been cured of her insanity and was with her husband, Clark Kent, the whole time. Eventually, Alicia gets assaulted and killed by the real culprit, Tim Westcott, a man with Super Strength and the ability to transform into living sand, which was how he entered those locked rooms. When Clark found out, he wasn't happy...
- In WWE Smackdown:
- A storyline in 2010 involved Kane looking for the one who put The Undertaker in a coma. When he accused CM Punk of doing the deed, Punk replied that while he wanted to do it, it wasn't him this time. Kane proceeds to identify Ray Mysterio as the attacker. Subverted; it was Kane himself who was responsible for it all.
- An early storyline in 2011 had Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long getting taken out. Since Wade Barrett had just formed The Corre on that episode, had done something similar to the previous Raw GM during his time as The Nexus leader, and Teddy had just tempted fate by telling them that he would not allow himself to be cowed by their beatdown antics like the current Raw GM was, they were naturally the first suspects. However, they denied having anything to do with it. It eventually turns out that they were telling the truth. It was Vickie Guerrerro and Dolph Ziggler that did it.
- Super Paper Mario:
- Peach is kidnapped at the beginning. Immediately, Mario and Luigi go to Bowser's castle to rescue her. However, it turns out that Bowser was in the middle of a rallying speech in preparation for invading Peach's castle and did not actually do anything yet.
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Rawk Hawk reveals that he was behind the guards locking Mario and his party up in an abandoned locker room, as well as a poisoned cake before fighting the party (in order to dissuade them from challenging him). However, when the party claims that he must have been the one emailing the threatening messages regarding the crystal star, he doesn't know what they are talking about, and reacts in such a way that he is genuinely unfamiliar with the concept of Crystal Stars, meaning he was not behind the threatening emails. It was actually the emcee/promoter, Grubba, who was emailing the threatening messages, as he was using the Gold Star to retain his youth.
- In the opening FMV of the Nintendo64 version of Mario Tennis, when Bowser arrives at the court, the other participants are understandably worried when he arrives, as they think he's planning to attack the tennis arena. However, instead, Bowser just challenges Mario to the tournament in a friendly fashion when he actually approaches Mario.
- Inverted in Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. When the main characters run into Death, they are already aware that the castle is being run by a vampire who isn't Dracula. Thus, while they accuse him of working with the new villain, Death is the one surprised to discover that his master isn't around.
- In the video game series, Kirby often goes after King Dedede for whatever evil plot is going on, whether or not he had anything to do with it.
- Indeed, in most games, Dedede either doesn't have anything to do with it, is trying to fix it, or is being controlled by another entity, bringing up the question of why Kirby is so insistent that everything is his fault.
- Dedede is the champion of this trope. Let's look at the list of times he's the actual villain:
- Kirby's Dream Land (1992). Playing the role of Evil Overlord to the point where Kirby just naturally assumes he's behind every crisis forever. But he's not to blame again until...
- Spring Breeze (1996), a remake of Kirby's Dream Land. Okay, well he obviously has to be causing trouble again. And he does, eventually, in...
- Revenge of the King (2008), another remake of Kirby's Dream Land. And his defeat is unambiguously played as a tragedy.
- And that's it. In twenty years, he was the Big Bad effectively once, and mistaken for the Big Bad eight more times.
- The worst example of this was in Kirby Squeak Squad. Kirby's cake was stolen at the beginning of the game by the eponymous gang of thieving mice, and Kirby immediately comes to conclusion that Dedede is responsible with no evidence.
- Super Smash Bros. Brawl is another case of this. The villains are all running around turning heroes into trophies. Dedede captures several, and keeps them in his castle, placing badges on them. He runs out of badges, and reluctantly takes his own off to attach it to the final hero trophy. After the real villain, Tabuu, uses his ability to turn every single character into a trophy, the purpose of the badges is revealed: they restore a trophy to life after a time delay.
- Dr. Wily claims this in Mega Man 9, citing a video as proof that Dr. Light is the one wanting world domination. He's lying.
- Happens in the Multiplayer Space Station 13. People assume that if you're the chemist, you're responsible for the the roiling cloud of thermite-napalm-superfoamsmoke that is destroying the station.
- Sephiroth laughs at your party in Final Fantasy VII when you get attacked by a dragon in the temple of the ancients and think that he is responsible for it.
- In Star Fox Assault, after Pigma steals the memory core, the Star Fox team fights Star Wolf in the Sargasso Space Zone because they think that they were involved in Pigma's recent theft and want them to hand him over. However, after the fight, Wolf reveals that not only were they not involved in Pigma's theft, but they actually kicked Pigma out of Star Wolf long beforehand, and even went as far as to order a shoot on sight command in regards to Pigma should he ever attempt to arrive at the Sargasso Space Zone. They do nonetheless give intel on where he is most likely at, however.
- In Avernum 3, your party is trying to figure out who created the plagues of monster that are attacking The Empire. You can question the dragons, the Vahnatai, and the sorceress Erika, all of whom have grudges against the Empire and the means to create the monsters, but they all insist that while they hate the Empire with a passion, they have nothing to do with this. The vahnatai are lying.
- In Futurama: The Game, Bender says this when they find the ship badly damaged. It turns out that he (as well as Fry and Leela) did do it.
- In the last episode of the third season of Sam and Max Freelance Police, The Devil himself shows up to refute any claims that the Devil's Toybox is in any way related to him. In fact, the Toybox predates the Devil by an order of magnitude and the object was named this way by mistake. yes, the Devil thinks that what Junior is doing is a bit too evil.
- In Sly Cooper 2, Carmelita believes that Sly is responsible for the theft of the Klockwerk parts. While Sly had been planning to steal them, the Klaww Gang stole them first.
Sly:Crime? I haven't stolen anything... yet.
- In Dragon Quest II, you get to meet the Dragonlord's grandson, and he's even sitting on his grandpa's throne. However, the fact Charlock Castle looks like crap kinda disabuses you of the notion he had anything to do with the plot, and he's outright confirms it. In fact, not only does basically consider his and your families' pasts water under the bridge, he even considers Hargon a pretentious upstart and gives you some info on how to kick his ass.
- Ratchet and Clank: All 4 One starts with Dr. Nefarious siccing a huge monster onto Ratchet, Clank, and Captain Qwark. After the monster is beaten, a massive spaceship appears in the sky, and as the four are staring up in wonder, Nefarious remarks, "That's not one of mine." just before they get abducted.
- Girl Genius got Bangladesh Dupree. If someone is killed and Bang was around, she has to say it was not her this time. Or when a town is burned...
- In El Goonish Shive Sarah and Elliot used to blame Tedd when someone is shapeshifted or appears to be. Not without a reason.
- In Heroes-Inc., the first mission the titular agency partakes in is rescuing Princess Peach. They immediately consider Bowser as a prime subject, but quickly rule him out because of his "air-tight alibi". They later find out that Peach actually is in Bowser's castle, but it is a robot. The actual Big Bad planted the robot in the castle so that when the heroes rescued it, it would easily be in a position to assassinate Mario.
- Evil Diva. For once, Loki didn't pull the prank
- In Homestuck, Terezi automatically pins the murders of Feferi and Kanaya on Vriska, although even she admits this doesn't make much sense and is largely due to her own fixation on her. When she confronts Vriska, the latter is adamant that she is only guilty of Tavros's death.
- In Order of the Stick, Tarquin and Nale accuse each other of killing Tarquin's wife Penelope, and it becomes clear that neither of them was responsible. This becomes a Chekhov's Gun for the later reveal that it was caused, indirectly, by Vaarsuvius.
- There Will Be Brawl:
- Who's the butcher and/or Peach's kidnapper? Bowser? Ganondorf? Mario assumes Bowser, but Luigi is the main character and has no idea, so we have no idea.
- Played with in that it was Ganondorf, using the butchers, as well as Olimar and others. Ganondorf was then hijacked by the biggest evil in the series, Kirby.
- The That Guy With The Glasses team review of The Last Airbender has a group of reviewers forced to watch the movie; the group initially thinks The Nostalgia Critic is behind it, since last year he did exactly that with Dragonball Evolution. When they contact him, he's horrified at the idea of anyone sitting through it.
- The Downfall Parody meme on YouTube normally sees either Fegelein or Himmler (or often both) pulling antics on Hitler. Once the spin-off series based around Joseph Stalin and the cast of Das Boot got their own antic masters, Fegelein frequently had to explain to Hitler's staff that he wasn't involved in whatever embarassment had just befallen Hitler, often with little success.
- The Simpsons:
- Happens in episode "Lisa the Vegetarian," when it was Lisa who did something bad for a change:
- In "Wedding For Disaster", Homer is kidnapped and Bart and Lisa, after finding a potential clue, assume Sideshow Bob is responsible. They track him down, but he is proven innocent of this particular crime. Ironically, one of the true culprits, Selma Bouvier, was a near-victim of Sideshow Bob in the past, along with her Psycho Lesbian twin sister, Patty Bouvier.
- 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 cooking up an embezzlement (and technically revenge) scheme. When Wiggum shows up to arrest Cecil, he arrests Bob as well, mostly just out of habit.
- In the episode 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. Ironically, both times it was for something that he didn't actually do.
- 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!"
- The Powerpuff Girls:
- In the episode which provides the page quote, the girls are pranked 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, a hit to the head makes Bubbles believe she is Mojo Jojo, stealing his clothes to match. The other girls instantly assume the latter is responsible, which leads to the priceless line:
Mojo Jojo: "You have 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?!"
- Bubbles proceeded to beat up her sisters, get knocked on the head again by Mojo Jojo, wake up to see him standing over her sisters gloating, assume he did it and kick his ass for hurting her sisters.
- 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 Brothers:
- 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 (more or less the Big Bad) to demand their release. He responds that it wasn't him this time, but "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:
- 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?
- 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.
- 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:
- 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 even 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/ D.N. Amy 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 attempting 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 burly. 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.
- 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 deny it as well. However, Zurg also mentions his "great plans for the next fiscal year".
- 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?
- 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 an episode where 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.
- 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.
- On Adventure Time, 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 was allegedly stolen, Muffy and the others suspected that Binky may have stolen the bike. During a meeting, Binky stormed over to Muffy and asked if she was the one who is accusing him of stealing her bike. After she confirms it, Binky then reveals, while looking timidly to the others, that he's innocent.
- 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 specifiying "I did not burn down that building".
- In an episode of American Dad, Steve gets pregnant after giving a choking Roger CPR. 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 The New Adventures of Batman, 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).
- 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 possie 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 Ashley's younger brothers 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 Ashley's 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.
- The Family Guy episode "Killer Queen" starts with Peter and Chris going to a "fat farm" after Chris gets sick by winning an Eating Contest, which turns lethal after two campers are murdered. Peter suspects Patrick (from "The Fat Guy Strangler") is the culprit, seeing as Patrick is a Serial Killer who targets fat guys, and who has just that day been released from a psychiatric hospital. But Patrick has a pretty solid alibi, having still been in the facility when the first victim's body was found. The true culprit is Charles Yamamoto, the now-former champion hot dog eater, seeking revenge against Chris for defeating him.
- In the Mid Ship Detective Agency attraction for Disney Cruise Line, one of the cases the guests have to solve is who kidnapped the Dalmatian Puppies from 101 Dalmations on the ship. One of the suspects is Cruella De Vil, who despite her threats against the dogs in continuity, she has an alibi, as she wasn't even on the ship at the time they were kidnapped. The Queen was later revealed to be the culprit.
- During World War II, an event called the Katyn Massacre occured. The Soviets and the Allies claimed that it was Nazi Germany who committed the Massacre, while Nazi Germany stated that it was the Soviet Union who committed the atrocity. Records released after the Soviet Union collapsed eventually revealed that for once, Nazi Germany was in fact innocent of that war crime, and that it was in fact the Soviets who did it.
- blown up by Phoenix
- killed by Phoenix before Spartan dropped in, specifically to hide them from infrared scan until their unrecognizable remains could be found in the wreckage
- Cruella De Vil also was innocent of the earlier case, the plundered paintings (Dr. Facilier was the one who did the deed that time), although its not as notable.