Wounded Gazelle Gambit

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"The first girl to cry always wins."

Sae, Peach Girl

Alice and Callie have both been vying for Bob's affections for weeks, so when the three of them are alone, cleaning the classroom, tensions start to run high. The moment Bob's back is to the girls, Callie throws herself away from Alice, knocking over some desks on her way to the floor. "Why'd you push me!?" she spits at Alice as Bob turned to see what the commotion is. Bob rushes to help Callie up, and, when he notices she's favoring one foot, he helps her limp to the nurse's office, shooting a cold glare at Alice as they pass the doorway. It isn't until she's alone that Alice meekly says, "But I didn't do anything. . . ."

Callie just performed a Wounded Gazelle Gambit, a ploy in which the Schemer pretends to be a victim in order to garner sympathy for themselves and/or foster animosity towards the alleged aggressor. Wounded Gazelle Gambits can be as mild as implications of verbal abuse, or as extreme as framing someone else for one's suicide, at which point this trope becomes Suicide, Not Murder.

The Trope Namers is Peach Girl: At one point, the Alpha Bitch has an explanation of how this trope works which includes the line "What would you assume if you saw a wounded gazelle next to a lion?"

Almost every mystery series has at least a few episodes where the culprit turns out to be one of the victims. Also a common ploy of the Femme Fatale and The Vamp in Film Noir stories. It's one of The Oldest Tricks in The Book.

A form of Malicious Slander. Can also be a Lame Excuse. When it's done against policemen (and women) to avoid prosecution, it's a Police Brutality Gambit. See also Loser Gets the Girl. When done on a large scale, it's usually also a False-Flag Operation. Often precludes I Can Explain, which is what would usually happen in Real Life (demonstrating that Tropes Are Not Bad).

Can be a form of Poor Communication Kills on the part of the (actual) victim.

Compare Why Did You Make Me Hit You?, Arrested for Heroism, Playing the Victim Card. Related to Guilt by Association Gag, from the victim's point of view. Listed as #34 of The Thirty-Six Stratagems. If this is being done for murderous purposes, then it's I Surrender, Suckers. Compare and contrast Wounded Gazelle Warcry, where the "gazelle" is empowering rather than manipulative. See Everything Is Racist for a sociological variant.

Examples of the Wounded Gazelle Gambit in action include:


  • Subverted in this advertisement for Snickers, where a soccer/football player tries this tactic. Unfortunately, he didn't count on Mr. T and the tank.

Anime and Manga

  • Sae from Peach Girl is a master of this. Most of the conflict in the first arc is driven by Sae convincing people that Momo is bullying her.
    • In fact, she seems to rely a little too much on this tactic; even in circumstances where it's obvious she's lying, this is still the first thing she'll always pull.
  • Used in at least two episodes of Detective Conan. One where the killer turns out to be the deceased, and another where the killer stabs himself to allay suspicion. Suspects will sometimes attempt this to deflect suspicion from themselves, but of course Conan sees through them all; one victim was injured because she was trying to pull one of these on her fiance to be.
    • In at least two other cases the killers planted evidence against themselves in such a way as to make it look like they were being framed. And the case of a robber who lured his former partners onto a ship on the pretext of splitting the loot from a robbery past the statue of limitations, kills them, then shoots himself, making it look like one of his dead partners did it before they killed themselves.
    • Averted in a case where Ran thought that the karate champion she fangirled was the murderer, but he was planting evidence against himself to divert attention from the true murderer, his Broken Bird girlfriend. He was arrested too, but for Taking the Heat.
      • Averted also with Asami Uchida's almost death in a fire. One of Conan's theories at the beginning was that she caused the fire to drive attention to herself... but it was her Hopeless Suitor, who tries to stage a Rescue Romance to gain her attention.
    • And another case has Ran and Sonoko's old schoolteacher murdering her colleagues for killing one of their students, and to make believe one of the "victims" was the killer, she knocked Sonoko out with chloroform and then lied on the floor next to her, to make it look like both of them were attacked.
  • In Basara an overthrown dictator, whom the cast never actually met in person pretends to have been a sex slave at his own court. Most of the good cast believe his tearjerker story but the heroine doesn't trust him. She lets him tag along anyway though he doesn't even pretend to be nice.
  • Ranma ½: Ukyo used this in "Ukyo's Secret Sauce" but with a twist. She implicates her Love Interest Ranma as the one who has injured her (by cheating on her with Akane, since Ranma spent the night in Akane's room). Since Ranma was already feeling guilty about wrecking her special sauce (and letting her think it was her failure) he falls for it pretty badly. Afterwards Ukyo comments to herself: "Wow, tears really do work."
    • Ranma himself has done this a few times. Most prominently in Team Ranma vs. The Legendary Phoenix, where he attempts to use it (as "the pigtailed girl") to trick Kuno into getting rid of a bird that is constantly attacking Ranma and which Ranma can't hurt, due to its paralytic gaze.
  • In the first Martial Arts tournament in Dragon Ball, Ranfan's entire strategy revolves around screaming when her opponent is about to hit her and striking while their guard is down. Well, that and stripping.
    • Piccolo in his fight against Goku, faking having been defeated only to Shoop Da Whoop a careless Goku through his chest.
    • In Dragon Ball Z, Raditz pulls this on Goku when the latter grabs his tail, promising to leave earth forever. Goku falls for it, and gets his ribs broken for his trouble...
  • Bakura when he teamed up with Marik to trick Yugi's grandpa in Yu-Gi-Oh.
  • Played for laughs in Yu-Gi-Oh GX, where the effect of Blair/Rei's "Maiden In Love" card is to make puppy eyes at the male monsters of her opponent and turn them against each other since they can't bring themselves to attack her.
    • Marik too. He called himself Namu, his brother called himself Marik, and Bakura's crazy half pretended to be the not crazy half of his split personality.
  • Bleach: During the Soul Society arc, Captain Aizen fakes his own murder as part of his plot. He leaves behind information suggesting he was killed for discovering a conspiracy, changing most but not all of the facts so that the good guys fight amongst themselves and remove a major obstacle for him.
  • Subverted: "Princess" Ayanakoji in Ouran High School Host Club tries this against Haruhi Fujioka, but none of the members of the titular Host Club actually believe her for a moment, so all it accomplishes is to get her doused with cold water and permanently banned from the Host Club.
  • In My-HiME the There Can Be Only One plot picks up speed after Sister Yukariko (being influenced by her lover, Ishigami-sensei) pretends to be attacked by the morally ambiguous Dark Magical Girl Nao, so when the others attack Nao and injure her, she becomes really mad and turns into an enemy.
  • Suiseiseki from Rozen Maiden uses this to try and convince the others that Hinaichigo is bullying her. It spirals into a conflict that wrecks the Sakurada household.
  • In Real Bout High School, wannabe ninja Asuka Kuronari pulls this during her fight with real ninja Kyoichi Kunugi. She pulls down her mask and cries her eyes out while telling him her life story, why she thought she could be a ninja if she tried hard enough, and asks him to look at something: a smoke bomb, which she immediately deploys, giving her cohort Xiaoxing the chance to attack him. While the tactic fails to defeat him, he is so impressed by her deviousness (contrary to what Naruto may claim, this is a good trait in a ninja) that he leaves the battle and declares that she may be a real ninja after all.
  • Subverted in Kare Kano. Clingy Jealous Girl Tsubasa tries to use this technique against female lead Yukino since she's dating her beloved Arima, but Arima himself knows better and actually catches her trying to kick Yukino on the head while she thinks he's not looking.
  • Inverted in Tokyo Godfathers when Hana shouts at a group of people to draw them closer together by making himself the villain. He even explains it with a reference to a Red Oni, Blue Oni story right afterward.
  • An especially nasty example happens in Ikki Tousen. Kaku and Enjutsu (the latter out of revenge) lure Teifu out by sending him a video where she's disguised as Teifu's crush Ryoumou and, with the help of other people, fakes a kidnapping and rape attempt. The consequences lead to the first time that Ryuubi's Super-Powered Evil Side awakens.
  • A double-team version happens in Mamotte Shugogetten, where Izumi pretends to be sick to get Shao Lin's attention, while Ruu An uses the separation to try and win Tasuke's heart. Ultimately fails when Ruu An, surprised by Tasuke's honest concern for what the Chivalrous Pervert might do to Shao, allows him to go "save" her. Of course, when he gets to the nurse's office, we learn that Shao used her magical servants to keep Izumi in bed, never once realizing his intentions.
  • Rika from the manga Devil Beside You does this to protagonist Kayano in order to get attention from Takeru and have him break up with Kayano. Being the Jerkass Stu he is, it works magnificently.
  • In Ashita no Nadja, Nadja dolls up to attend a high-class party where she can get answers about her stolen Orphan's Plot Trinket and see who has been impersonating her. Soon, she meets up with one of the culprits... and it's her old friend Rosemary. What does said culprit do? Though she's willingly in the whole complot, Rosemary tearfully tells Nadja that she's a mere pawn, kidnapped and blackmailed by the Smug Snake to pose as Nadja. It works so well that Rosemary returns the brooch... but sends Nadja into an Heroic BSOD by revealing the truth behind her involvement, ripping Nadja's Gorgeous Period Dress into pieces and kicking her out of the mansion.
  • Nami invokes this early in One Piece, pretending to succumb to her injuries so Luffy will go into an Unstoppable Rage and take out Captain Kuro. As soon as he's no longer paying attention, she gets back up and loots Kuro's ship.
    • In an earlier episode, she fake-complains that her chest hurts, causing the pirate she's talking to to get distracted staring at her breasts, before she then swiftly disposes of him. In the 4Kids! Entertainment dub, this was changed to her saying her shoulder hurt.
  • In Sumomo Mo Momo Mo, Kinu pulls one to try to turn everyone against Momoko.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist chapter 71, Winry starts fake crying in the car in order to make sure she can stay and tag along with the Elric brothers and Darius on their trip into a northern mining town. Ed and Al play along.
  • In the 3rd OVA to Fushigi Yuugi, Mayo tells everyone that Miaka was selfish and irresponsible, and that she was a slut who kept going back and forth between Tamahome and Hotohori. (Which earns her a What the Hell, Hero? from both Taka and Boushin.)
  • In Yu Yu Hakusho, Miyuki tries to pull this when fighting Yusuke. While Kuwabara is opposed to hitting "her" Yusuke fights her normally. He even asks Kuwabara why he wouldn't fight back and "just let her ream him." In the dub, where she's a woman, she tries to garner sympathy by saying that being a woman means nobody takes her seriously.
    • Only in the edited dub. On the unedited DVDs, Yusuke found out Miyuki is a guy by feeling around and uh...not getting what he expected.
  • In Code Geass Lelouch uses his Geass to pull this off several times by making other people either attack his allies unprovoked or forcing people to commit suicide. One of the most notable examples was when he blew up a submarine full of Japanese Liberation Front members including their leader General Katase, and then blamed the Britannia’s for it. He did this so Colonel Tohdoh would join him since his previous boss was now dead, to say he was pissed after he found out would be an understatement.
  • Great Teacher Onizuka - Female characters will play on Onizuka's sympathies all the time, and Onizuka still falls for it every time.
    • Eventually, it's revealed that the incident that turned Class 3-4 (then Class 2-4) into a bunch of teacher-hating jerks is one of these. Miyabi, jealous that the teacher she had a crush on was getting engaged to someone else, took pictures of herself naked and handcuffed and made it look like the teacher did it. It backfires horribly, causing one student to be arrested for assaulting a teacher and said teacher to resign rather than explain his innocence.
  • Employed in a Tantei Gakuen Q case. Midori Tachikawa, Kazuma's favorite teacher at his elementary school, did this via poisoning herself in seemingly strange circumstances to get a large sum of money from life insurance. That money wasn't even for herself, but for her seriously ill baby's medical treatment. Kazuma unmasks her, but also makes sure she gets a lighter sentence and the money she needs for her child.
  • In the second season of Princess Tutu, this is used by a corrupted Mytho, and a little by Rue, making Fakir look like an unstable, violent person who pushed his roommate out of a window. He even pushes the "wronged innocent" thing a bit further by making unconvincing claims of having fallen, as if covering for an abuser.
  • In one of the early chapters of Kyou Kara Ore Wa the initial banchou of Nan High does this to Mitsuhashi, beating up a student and then shouting accuses at Mitsuhashi and Itou (who are stronger) to make the other students think they did it. It explodes in his face, as this prompt Mitsuhashi to steal the money of the Student Council, hide it in a comic book of the banchou and then calling attention on it as the banchou was accusing him of doing exactly that.
  • A Teddiursa from Pokemon successfully frames Totodile and Chikorita of stealing a ham and hot dogs when it steals them. Thus, Misty (who falls for its charms) is quick to blame them both. But when they catch Teddiursa stealing bread, it tries to blame Bulbasaur for hurting it and stealing it. Didn't work this time...except with Misty. But when Nurse Joy tells its story, Misty realizes the truth and apologizes to Totodile and Chikorita.
  • In a bonus chapter of Spy × Family Anya stops a terrorist by grabbing his coat and telling her mom "I'm being kidnapped!". The terrorist telling Anya she grabbed him does not save him from getting kicked into the ceiling.
  • In the Egghead Arc of One Piece, York seems to be one of the casualties when the CP0s and the Seraphim invade Egghead Island, turned to stone by S-Snake. In truth, however, York is a traitor allied with CP0 whose sabotage enabled them to invade in the first place; S-Snake was an accomplice, doing this to remove York as a suspect.

Comic Books

  • This was how Ava manipulated Dwight into murdering her husband in the Sin City story "A Dame to Kill For."
    • Also used Squick-tacularly in the story "Daddy's Girl". A young woman, complaining of being abused by her father, convinces her boyfriend to kill him. Except that the gun she gives him is loaded with duds, and he's been set up to get beaten to death by the dad. And he's not the first guy she's done this to. Why? Because her father gets off on this, and she's daddy's girl.
  • The Wuzzles: In Walt Disney Comics no. 512 (hey, it's a power of two!), Croc gains sympathy from Butterbear by pulling up a board and pretending to have been injured. It works on her account, although Bumblelion overhears his plan and makes sure his stay is not a pleasant one. His plot? Well, his roof leaks and he was seeking shelter from a fruit salad storm. That's right, a fruit salad storm. Unconventional weather the land of Wuzz has, no?
  • Jennifer. In both the comic book and the Masters of Horror television adaptation, she takes this trope to a horrifying extreme. Suffice to say her hideous appearance is the least disturbing thing about her.
  • A 40's Batman features a short one: A low-level crook fires a bullet through his own hat (which he's holding in his hand), while yelling "Drop it, Wayne!" He proceeds to put the hat back on and tosses the gun to Bruce Wayne, who catches it. The police barge in and see Bruce Wayne with a smoking gun in his hand, and a hole in a bystander's hat.
  • This trope forms the backbone of the DC Comics miniseries Identity Crisis. When Elongated Man's wife Sue is murdered, it looks like an isolated incident; until Jean Loring, ex-wife of The Atom, is nearly killed as well. It seems someone is murdering the spouses of superheroes, and the hero community comes together to try to figure out which super villain might be behind it. Except, of course, that it's not a super villain; it's Jean, who staged her own attempted murder to both throw suspicion off herself, and to send the heroes on a wild goose chase by making Sue's murder look like part of a larger series of killings. And, in keeping with the scenario at the top of the page, it turns out she did it all to get a man's attention.
  • This is used in Curtis, when the titular character's younger brother constantly runs to their mother, crying and begging for protection from his mean old big brother. The mother always falls for it and leaves Curtis with a lot of chores to do while the little brother thumbs his nose and laughs.
  • Employed by proxy in "Jabba the Hutt and the Dynasty Trap," a Star Wars-inspired story by Dark Horse Comics. Having just acquired a valuable Nuffin freighter on one of his adventures, everyone's favorite gangster slug decides to travel to the planet Smarteel where his counterpart Sha Cabrool Nu'um has his palace, intending to sell the freighter to the wealthy warlord. While staying at the Nu'um estate, Jabba finds himself caught in the middle of a power struggle between the aging and demented dictator and his two Bratty Teenage Children, Norba and Rusk. After Cabrool has Jabba locked in his bedroom for refusing to perform a task for him, Rusk talks his way past the guards and offers Jabba the opportunity to kill his father in his sleep, which Jabba accepts. But once the Sha Cabrool is dead, Rusk proves to be every bit as tyrannical as his father had been, and when Jabba refuses to submit to his authority he has the Hutt imprisoned in a pit full of spiders. Norba then approaches Jabba and denounces her brother, explaining that the Nu'um family needs to be headed by a woman (Norba, of course) in order to function properly. Jabba agrees, so Norba brings him into Rusk's office under the pretense of informing her brother that Jabba has had a change of heart and is willing to do what Rusk had commanded. Rusk catches a sinister glaze in his sister's eye, but too late: Jabba grabs him violently by the throat and pulverizes him into a pulp with one mighty punch. Rusk's bodyguards almost immediately arrive on the scene and see their master's dead body (or what remains of it) - and the treacherous Norba reveals her true colors by claiming that she had nothing to do with Rusk's murder, and that Jabba did it on his own and against her wishes! She has the Hutt dragged off to a dungeon, with Jabba roaring in rage and reaching (feebly) for the little bitch's throat. Fortunately for Jabba, he ultimately manages to avenge himself by escaping from the dungeon, eating Norba in one gulp, and rejoining his own henchmen.
  • Jimmy Marks aka Hybrid tricked the X-Men into attacking ROM Spaceknight by blowing up his house and shapeshifting back into his human child form and blaming the death and destruction on Rom. Since Rom looked like a seven foot tall murder machine and Jimmy looked like a helpless child, the X-Men were easily duped. Fortunately, Hybrid got overconfident and revealed himself when he tried to kidnap Kitty Pryde during the battle.
  • Queen Bee - when the protagonist's rival garners sympathy for herself by using her telekinetic powers to hit herself in the head with a lunch tray and blame the protagonist.

Fan Works

  • In Shinji and Warhammer40K, when Gendo and SEELE finally realize that neither of them was behind Shinji's messianic rise in popularity and influence, they conclude that a third party is manipulating events. Gendo "interrogates" Shinji privately, hoping to learn who's behind it. Gendo is careful to avoid leaving any obvious bruises during the interrogation, and when physical pain proves ineffective, he starts threatening Shinji's friends. Shinji responds by savagely punching himself in the face over and over. Due to an old incident where Shinji provoked Gendo into striking him in public, combined with the public persona Shinji had cultivated, Gendo realizes there's nothing he can do to convince people of the truth.
  • In I Won't Say when L catches Mello and Matt sneaking around his room Matt turns on the waterworks and tries to blame it all on Light.


  • Fight Club: One easy step to getting your boss off your case, go in his office and punch yourself in the face!
  • Linda Fiorentino's character in The Last Seduction.
  • Die Hard: Hans Gruber pretends to be an escaped partygoer when he first meets John McClane.
  • Bob Roberts is full of these, seeing as its a movie about politics. Perhaps the worst one, though, is when Bob Roberts stages an assassination attempt on himself and frames an innocent journalist who is later killed by vigilantes.
  • Edward Norton's character in Primal Fear, as revealed in the final twist.
  • The Class of 1984: A student is caught doing something wrong in the boys' bathroom. Instead of taking his punishment, he beats himself up by doing things, like banging his head into the paper towel dispenser. When security arrives, they think the teacher is trying to beat up the student.
  • The end of the villain's plot in Scream.
    • Most notably in Scream 4, where the villain actually pulls it off and it works.
  • Palpatine pulls this off in Revenge of the Sith to make Anakin side with him against Mace Windu. He's just a tired old man viciously attacked by the ruthless Jedi despite being willing to surrender. He's barely alive...surely Anakin wouldn't allow a murder to occur?
    • Wasn't Anakin more concerned with the idea that Palpatine could teach him how to save Padme, what with the "I need him!" line and all?
      • It's actually more complicated. Not only has Anakin been spending a great deal of time alone with Palpatine, but he has good reason to resent the Jedi after they grant him only token representation on the Council and force him into becoming their spy. He had already spoken to Mace Windu in an indignant manner, and under the circumstances it's understandable for him to view Windu as an arrogant Cowboy Cop who is subverting the laws of the Republic. (But of course he doesn't actually want to kill Windu, and his horror at Windu's death is palpable.)
    • Palpatine is a rare example of this trope in that he's both a gazelle and a lion. One moment he's begging for mercy; the next, he's gleefully electrocuting Windu while screaming "POWER! UNLIMITED POWER!"
  • Disney's Lady and the Tramp. The two Siamese cats do a lot of damage to the Darlings' house, and arrange for Lady to get caught in some drapes so that it looks like she did it. Afterward, they lie down on the floor and roll around piteously meowing, with (self-inflicted) scratches on them, to make it look like Lady attacked them as part of her rampage. (Of course, Lady did try to attack them, but it was out of righteous fury at the cats' mischief, not bullying.)
  • Also from Disney Animated Canon, Cinderella included a scene where Cindy lectures the hound dog Bruno on getting along with Lucifer. While her back is turned, Lucifer lies down in front of Bruno and scratches his snout, yowling when he growls.
    • The trope is played with a bit, however. Cinderella does not try to play favorites with any of the animals, insisting that they treat each other equally. After she sends the abashed Bruno outside, she angrily sets down Lucifer's saucer of milk while snapping a remark that implies that she knows Lucifer to be a bully himself, and that he probably deserved what he "got."
  • The antagonist for Mean Girls writes evil things about herself into her book of gossip, then distributes it to frame the protagonist and her former minions.
  • Scorpio in Dirty Harry pays someone to beat the ever-loving snot out of him, just so he can accuse the hero of tuning him up. Harry doesn't buy it for a minute, telling his superiors that anyone can tell he didn't do that to him. How? "'Cause he looks too damn good, that's how."
  • In The King and the Clown, two other wives of the former king are portrayed as using this tactic against the current king's mother in a dramatic "reenactment" of the events surrounding her poisoning. The king takes it very seriously. The two women in question happen to be attending the performance. The results aren't pretty.
  • Judge Dredd. After Rico slaughters the other high ranking Judges on Chief Justice Griffin's orders, Dredd arrives. Griffin shoots himself in the arm to make it appear he was wounded in the assault and tells the arriving guards that Dredd committed the attack.
  • Rhoda in The Bad Seed manages this while unconscious, as it is assumed her near-lethal poisoning was due to her mother being crazy rather than her being a complete psychopath.
  • In Catwoman, our heroine confronts the villainess in her home, who reveals her husband's dead body which just so happens to be covered in deep scratches, right before she triggers an alarm and cues crocodile tears, screaming "IT WAS CATWOMAN!"
  • The entire Xanatos Gambit (... Roulette?) of Wild Things began when Denise Richards' character accuses Matt Dillon's character of rape. Though he was in on it too.
  • The confrontation between Commander Richter and the Camerlengo in Angels & Demons, where the Camerlengo brands himself with the Illuminati symbol, then tells the would-be Big Damn Heroes that the attacker is the other guy.
  • Humperdinck's plot to kill The Princess Bride is an attempt to pull off this trope as part of a False-Flag Operation.
  • A strange example from Memento: Leonard goes after Dodd because he beat up Natalie. At least, that's what she says—in reality, it was Leonard who beat up Natalie (who deliberately provoked him by saying some very nasty things about his late wife), only he's forgotten. Of course, by the time he meets up with Dodd he's forgotten why he's there...
  • In Beethoven, veterinarian Herman Varnick, does this because he wants to use Beethoven for an ammunition test. Varnick comes to the Newton's home and stages an "attack" by Beethoven on him, by ripping up his sleeve and putting red dye on his arm and Beethoven to look like blood, and says that Beethoven bit his arm. Varnick says Beethoven must be euthanized or he will press charges, so George takes Beethoven to Varnick to be euthanized. Later the Newtons discover the lie when Varnick's bandages are ripped off, revealing the absence of bite marks.
  • In Orphan, Esther breaks her own arm and accuses her mother of doing it.
  • In An American Crime, Gertrude tells everyone that Sylvia "came into [her] house and just kept lying" and is a troublemaker who she just doesn't know what to do with. This is to hide the fact that she currently has Sylvia tied up and beaten in the basement.
  • In the Canadian film Trojan Horse the presidential candidate hero/villain hires an assassin to shoot him non-fatally during a speech, implying his opponents are using serious dirty tactics as well as giving himself the opportunity to fake a near-death religious experience.
  • In the film version of the musical Hairspray, Velma Von Tussle is trying to seduce Wilbur Turnblad, and he's oblivious. When his wife Edna comes in, she pulls him on top of her and makes it look like he was the one who initiated it.
  • In the Intruder, the dying killer accuses the two survivors for the killings and the police arrest them.
  • In Inception, Mal planned to kill herself (though only to "wake up"; she thinks she's dreaming) and convince her husband to go with her, and she used a Wounded Gazelle Gambit as part of the means of convincing him of that. She told her lawyer that she was fearing for her life, and then trashed the room Cobb was in, just so that if she died and he didn't agree to go with her, everyone would think he killed her. She threatened her own husband with false incrimination on murder, and actually followed through on that threat when he didn't agree to go with her. Because of this, she manages to come across as the most Manipulative Bastard character in the movie, which says a lot in a movie where even the good guys are manipulative.
  • Cruel Intentions: In order to goad Ronald into attacking her brother and (indirectly) causing his death, Kathryn claims (over the phone) that Sebastian hit her. (This trope gets twisted around in the movie's original script: Sebastian does hit Kathryn, for taunting him.)
  • Liar Liar: Amoral Attorney Fletcher Reed learns that he is suffering from a curse that leaves him unable to lie. Determined to get himself excused from a case that he will almost certainly lose if he tells the truth, he slips into the men's restroom at the courthouse and repeatedly punches himself and throws himself into the stalls and walls, hoping to injure himself so badly that the judge will not allow him to continue. He is eventually found bruised and bloodied and brought into the courtroom; when the judge asks him what happened, he explains in a half-truth that "a desperate man" beat him up. But Fletcher's scheme backfires when the judge asks if he still feels well enough to continue, and Fletcher is forced to admit that he does.
  • Used to devastating effect by The Blank and 88 Keys to frame the title character for murder in Dick Tracy (1990). Having just gassed Tracy after luring him into a greenhouse to search for his kidnapped girlfriend, they take the detective to a hotel where District Attorney Fletcher is staying. The Blank shoots Fletcher dead and then puts the smoking pistol in Tracy's lap. 88 Keys then takes out a piece of note paper and loudly reads from it, shouting for help because Tracy is "trying to kill him." A police officer downstairs hears the commotion and arrives on the scene just as Tracy is waking up. The Blank and 88 Keys have escaped out the window by this time, and the now-disgraced hero is unable to account for the D.A.'s dead body and the fact that the murder weapon is on his person.
  • "Buffalo Bill" in The Silence of the Lambs uses this for very nasty purposes, with a fake cast and an awkward burden, which moves a well-meaning Catherine to offer her aid. This gets her kidnapped and dumped in a pit. (This aspect of the "Buffalo Bill" character was in fact based on Ted Bundy (see Real Life section).)


  • In Les Rois Maudits, the last Pope has just died, so the Cardinals have to elect one of them as the next one. Unfortunately, the two favorites for the post have exactly the same numbers of voters on each side, so the election process goes on for several years with no result. The French Royal Family is growing impatient, since their King just died and they can't legally get a new one if a Pope doesn’t oversee the coronation - and the country will fall into chaos if there's no new King. They therefore decide to kidnap the Cardinals and lock them up together in a room as prisoners to force their decision process: they'll only release them if they walk out of here with a new Pope. The two candidates and their voters come up with a solution: they're going to vote for a Cardinal whose health is declining and who won't pass the next month anyway. Once that new Pope dies, they'll be free to restart the same incessant voting process.
    • ...The final result is even more awesome and qualifies as Xanatos Speed Chess and Magnificent Bastard. The new Pope was actually working with the French Court all along and completely pretended having a deadly illness, because they anticipated how the Cardinals would take advantage of that. As soon as the voting has been confirmed, the ex-Cardinal and now Pope, who originally didn't get a single vote, rises from his deathbed with a triumphant smile. In a Mass "Oh Crap" moment, the Cardinals realize they've just jeopardized every single political planning they made for the next thirty years. The king is immediately crowned, and France gets an extremely grateful Pope by their side. So it's a Subversion or a double Wounded Gazelle Gambit, depending on your interpretation.
  • In King Lear, Edmund wounds himself and frames Edgar.
  • Agatha Christie uses this trope on several occasions. In fact, if someone survives an attempt on their life in one of her books, there is a 90% chance they did it themselves.
    • A Murder Is Announced is rife with deception, the most important one being that Miss Blacklock, who had ostensibly been the victim of attempted murder, was in fact the mastermind behind the attack.
    • In Death on the Nile, the murderer gave himself an alibi - he was shot in the leg, and one of the victims therefore couldn't have been shot by him because he couldn't move fast enough to do it. Trick is, the shot everyone saw was fake. Only after doing the kill he "couldn't" have done did he go back and shoot his own leg.
  • Harry Potter
    • In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it was revealed that Peter Pettigrew faked his death and framed Sirius Black for it.
    • In the same book, Draco Malfoy used his injury from a hippogriff to get special treatment, eventually leading up to his dad using political leverage to order the hippogriff's execution.
  • One of Tom Holt's near-interchangeable protagonists (Paul Carpenter, IIRC) at one point remembers how, when left to play with a young cousin, the little rodent would at the first hint of boredom burst into tears and run out crying "Mummy, he hit me!" Since most of Tom Holt's protagonists are Butt Monkeys and/or Chew Toys, this is pretty much standard.
  • Guilty The entire point of Ann Coulter's book is to allege that the American Far Left has been pulling this on its right-wing opponents for several decades, with the Right being too dumbfounded by some of the allegations to intelligibly fight back. But this book is doing that for the right-wing people. It makes the right-wing look like the victims of "false victims." But this is a "chicken and egg" situation, so don't bother deciding who is the lion and who is the gazelle.
  • In the Warhammer 40,000: Blood Angels novel Deus Encarmine, Inquisitor Stele accuses the astropath Horin of trying to kill him and uses psyker magic to strengthen his case. The Space Marines he deludes promptly shoot the astropath apart.
  • In Jedi Apprentice: The Rising Force, thirteen-year-old Obi-Wan Kenobi's rival Bruck Chun does this in an attempt to discredit Obi-Wan and prevent him from becoming a Jedi. It almost works, too.
  • Another Star Wars Expanded Universe example, and this time by one of the good guys: "The Sand Tender" is the tale of Momaw Nadon (better known to fans of the movies as "Hammerhead"), an exiled Ithorian priest who is secretly helping the Rebel Alliance on Tatooine. When word gets out that Nadon might know where the blueprints for the Death Star are hidden (which he does, since he is friends with Obi-Wan Kenobi), the cold-hearted Imperial Lieutenant Alima comes to Nadon's house and warns him that if he does not tell him where R2-D2 is, Alima will sew open Nadon's eyes and force him to watch as the lieutenant incinerates all of the plants in his house (which, being Ithorian plants, are semisentient and can feel pain). Nadon is conflicted: he is repelled by the thought of betraying the Rebels, but he doesn't want to see his plant friends slaughtered either. He decides to kill Alima in desperation, even though as a priest he is supposed to be completely pacifistic. He buys a gun and goes to shoot Alima with it, but the lieutenant tricks him and shoots him first - and then, when the Hammerhead is lying wounded on the ground, kicks him so remorselessly that Nadon is left badly bruised. This gives Nadon another idea: he goes to Alima's superior officer and lies that the lieutenant had tortured him to get information on R2-D2 but then had not done anything with that information, offering his bruises from when Alima kicked him as "proof." The superior is so outraged by Alima's incompetence that he has the lieutenant callously executed. Nadon is horrified that he has caused someone to be killed - even if it was unintentional - and decides to do penance by taking DNA from Lieutenant Alima's corpse, planning to use his genetic engineering skills to clone twin sons whom he will raise to be the good sort of person their father never was.
  • The most famous Wounded Gazelle Gambit of Romance of the Three Kingdoms happens in the lead up to the battle of Chi Bi, where Zhou Yu and Huang Gai pretended to have a falling out, after which Zhou Yu has Huang Gai flogged in public to help bolster Huang Gai's Fake Defector claims. (In fact, should TV tropes ever get translated into Chinese, this incident would be the Trope Namer.)
  • In The Joy Luck Club, one of the women tells her back story, in which she goes to live with her mother and her mother's second husband. It turns out that the husband has several wives and the second one frequently employs this trope by sickening herself by eating large amounts of opium and pretending to be dying so she could have her way. It gets to the point that she doesn't even need to eat opium to trick her husband. Ultimately, the narrator's mother goes one step further and actually does commit suicide by opium to ensure that her daughter is best treated and the second wife loses power. Possibly subverted in that the husband was extremely superstitious and feared angering a woman who would potentially come back to haunt him, rather than feeling sorry for her.
    • Also used in the back story of another woman, who was forced into an arranged marriage with a boy she only ever loved like a brother. She escapes the marriage and the wrath of her mother in law (who was pissed at the lack of grandchildren) by screaming in fear and claiming that the ghost of a family ancestor had tormented her in the night. She then spins an elaborate tale that boils down to that she and her husband weren't fated to marry, he should have married one of the servant girls (the woman knew the servant was pregnant and claims that her husband spiritually impregnated his "true wife"), and that she's scared for her life. It works.
  • In the Star Trek: Millennium novels, the human archaeologist/adventurer Vash appears to have been hit by a toxic dart in an assassination attempt and is rushed to the infirmary, unconscious. The poison is an Andorian neurotoxin, implicating the Andorians Satr and Leen, who are rivals to Vash (and particularly shady characters). It is not in fact fatal to Humans, though, and Vash fully recovers. She later mentions the toxin by name in a throw-away comment, alerting Doctor Bashir that she planned the whole thing - because he never mentioned the name, and there are dozens of neurotoxins it could have been. It turns out Vash injected herself with the dart.
  • Actually used by the protagonists in Komarr. When Ekaterin and her elderly Aunt Vorthys are captured by terrorists, Ekaterin uses her aunt's heart condition to guilt their captors into letting them out of confinement and into a more escape-able situation.
  • Faile threatens romantic rival Berelain with this in The Wheel of Time, threatening to challenge Berelain to a Duel to the Death. Both women know that their respective odds of success in such a duel are around 50/50, but Faile points out that if she (Faile) wins, Berelain is dead and Perrin (the central point of the love triangle) is pissed but will get over it, but if Berelain wins, then she (Berelain) becomes the one who killed Perrin's beloved wife and will never have a chance with him again. The threat works.
  • In Sideways Stories From Wayside School, a boy has been pulling on his classmate's pigtails. When warned by the teacher to stop or she will send him home early, the boy resolves to stop so as not to get into trouble. . .and suddenly, the girl screams out again, even though he didn't touch her.
  • Subverted in To Kill a Mockingbird. Mayella claims she was raped when, in fact, it was the opposite, in order to get rid of her guilt about kissing a black man.
  • Sisterhood series by Fern Michaels: The book Sweet Revenge reveals that Rosemary Hershey used this to ruin Isabelle Flanders. Too bad for her that Isabelle had help in getting back on her feet and she is now gunning for her....
  • Matilda in The Monk pretends that she is poisoned and dying in order to break Ambrosio's defenses down so he will sleep with her. While it is possible to interpret her as being honest, she gets over her "fatal illness" quickly and easily.

Live-Action TV

  • On CSI: Miami, a suspect dislocates his own shoulder in order to accuse Horatio of police brutality. Eventually the evidence proves that the injuries were indeed self-inflicted.
  • A suspect tries the same thing by head-desk on CSI. Someone just points out that they can prove it was self-inflicted. Suspect sulks and asks for an aspirin.
  • Law & Order: Special Victims Unit gives a horrific spin to it. A rich woman is going through a horrible divorce from her sports star husband; at some point she has sex with her handsome divorce lawyer and then falsely accuses her husband of raping and beating her, getting everyone's sympathies and effectively ruining her ex-husband's reputation. (The only one who is suspicious is Stabler, who's going through a divorce himself.) The ex-husband snaps so violently at the fake accusation that he sets his abusive ex-wife on fire. And then, It Gets Worse. Even on her deathbed, confronted by Olivia with the truth, she still accuses her ex-husband of a crime he didn't commit, effectively ruining the lives of herself, the husband, and most tragically, their daughter. All so she could win a divorce settlement. (Olivia only learns the truth when she speaks to the lawyer by fluke, and then is horrified at how far the now dead woman went.)
    • Another episode involved a young woman enticing the least creepy guy on the sex offenders' online registry (he was 19, his girlfriend was 17, and her parents did not approve) into a hotel room for sex during a convention and had her friends beat her up, faking evidence of a brutal rape complete with perp, so her family could sue the hotel for allowing some random rapist into the premises. She plea bargained herself out of a jail sentence, but was hauled off for felony murder after the guy she framed was raped and killed in prison before he could be exonerated.
    • On two separate occasions this has been done to Det. Stabler. One has it where the wife of an abusive husband beats up said husband to blame it on Stabler; It is quickly cleared up by her son, who was fed up with how his mother kept covering up for his actions. The second has a teenage rapist shouting out in holding for Stabler to "stop touching his junk" only to calmly wave it off as a joke; it is later revealed he did so to set up Stabler on a sexual charge.
  • An episode of the original Law & Order series investigates a case where a woman purposely puts herself into a coma in order to frame a man who she believes got away with murdering her sister. To make matters worse, by the end of the episode, it's implied that she killed her sister or at the very least was involved in the crime, meaning this woman was going all out to frame a man she knew was innocent.
  • A case on Monk, "Mr. Monk Goes to the Carnival," has a small-time hood beat himself up with a battery-stuffed sock, then meet with a detective under the guise of turning state's evidence on a drug deal in order to accuse him of brutality, thus discrediting his testimony against an old friend awaiting trial. What he wasn't told was, the mastermind behind this little plot had an extra surprise in store; another accomplice stabbed him, so it'd look like the detective was a murderer.
    • Subverted in "Mr. Monk and the Bad Girlfriend," where Captain Stottlemeyer's girlfriend Linda tries to discredit Monk and Natalie, who believe that Linda shot and killed her business partner, by telling him that Monk threatened her that he would have her arrested if she didn't sleep with him. Stottlemeyer, who has known Monk longer than Linda, immediately realizes that something is up.
      • If anything this could be a Villain Ball moment as well, since before that, Linda stated that Stottlemeyer was completely on her side and wouldn't even hear Monk out on the theory. Once Stottlemeyer heard this story, Stottlemeyer starts to realize that Monk might be correct about Linda being a killer.
  • Used in a Little Britain sketch where Andy is jealous of Lou paying more attention to his new girlfriend than to Andy. They are in a pub and when Lou goes to the bar, Andy climbs out of his wheelchair and sprawls on the floor. As the girl stares in shock (because she didn't know he can walk) Lou returns and Andy shouts "She pushed me!"
  • In Noah's Arc, Guy tries one on Trey, cutting himself with a knife and attempting to blame it on Alex. Initially, it works.
  • There's an episode of This Is Wonderland where Eliot has to defend a man accused of rape. It turns out that "victim" is pulling one of these, as she keeps changing her story, which is credibility-stretching enough by the start.
  • In Dexter, Lila has rough sex with Angel Batista and then takes a date rape drug to accuse him of rape. Earlier in the season, she torched her apartment to get sympathy from Dexter.
  • A similar plot on the Soap Opera Loving. Determined to make the man responsible for her husband's death pay, a woman seduced him, then trashed her living room (where the sex had taken place) and banged her face against the wall to make it look as thought she'd been hit. Then, she called 911 and claimed she'd been raped.
    • In the same season, Dexter himself uses this tactic by headbutting Doakes and walking out of a conversation held in private, successfully provoking Doakes into attacking him in front of everyone else, which leads to Doakes' suspension from the police department and definitely makes Dexter out to be an innocent victim of Doakes' animosity:

Dexter: I own you. Bam!

  • In Rebelde Way the entire character of Javier Alanis was built to be a Xanatos Speed Chess match where his only move was this gambit.
  • Burn Notice talks about a variant of this, calling it "Double Blackmail," where the blackmailer will make it look like they are being blackmailed as well, so that the mark is more trusting. It is referred to as being "Older than the Pyramids".
    • In Season 3, Michael comments that injuries can help with cover stories, and hurts himself a few times. Playing on her knowledge of Michael's childhood, Evelyn pretends to be a battered wife in Season 1 so that Michael will help her track down the man she has been hired to kill.
  • Highlander mixed this with a classic Batman Gambit: Suspected in a series of beheadings committed by another Immortal, MacLeod comes to this Immortal... unarmed, followed by police, and pretending not to know what the other Immortal is talking about. When the other immortal takes his sword out, the police move in. The Enemy Of The Week gets away, but MacLeod is cleared anyway.
  • Bev Harris seems to pull one in a later episode of Roseanne: while she and David are discussing wedding plans and he shoots her ideas down she seems genuinely crushed, but when Darlene comes in to comfort her she claims "we were talking so nicely and all of a sudden he just attacked me!" Keep in mind this is David we're talking about here.
  • On an episode of The Inside Rebecca cornered an Enfant Terrible in her tree house and was questioning/intimidating her about the murder she had committed. When the little girl's mother called for her, she fell backwards out of the tree house, breaking her arm, and she claimed the FBI agent pushed her. No one in the agency blamed her but Melody did seem impressed that Rebecca had pulled her gun on a 10-year-old.
  • In Quantum Leap Sam discovers that the wife of his "brother" is another leaper. Carried away by the moment of finding a fellow leaper, when the brother/husband comes home unexpectedly they need to pretend that nothing was happening. Instead she horrifically scratches her face to claim Sam attacked her.
  • On Guiding Light: Driven mad by husband Josh leaving her for his ex wife Reva and further distraught over miscarrying their baby (she'd gotten pregnant in a last-ditch attempt to hang on to him) Annie kept the dead baby in her womb, lured Reva to the top of a staircase, and in full view of dozens of party guests, provoked Reva into an argument that culminated in it appearing as though Reva had pushed Annie down a flight of stairs, when in fact, Annie had thrown herself. When Annie supposedly miscarried after this, Reva was charged with manslaughter.
  • Tristan from All Creatures Great and Small isn't above playing up his injuries to gain sympathy from a young lady, or to score a free drink. He exaggerates the difficulties of his work so that the crusty farmers will coddle him and, yes, give him a beer or other alcoholic beverage afterwards. The first time we see this, he's leaning exhausted against the sympathetic farmer, looking completely drained. Then, when the farmer's not looking, he smiles and winks at James.[1]
  • If you believe Jon and Kate Plus Eight, Kate pulled one of these when her temper flared and Jon locked her out of the house to try to get her to cool down.
  • Katherine of Desperate Housewives took this a step farther and actually stabbed herself in order to frame Susan because she wanted Mike back.
  • In one episode of Lie to Me, there are two interesting twists on this trope. A soldier claimed she was raped by her commanding officer. She was lying, but he did rape another soldier under his command. Eventually, the team says she was telling the truth in order to put him behind bars.
    • At another point, Lightman goes to the house of a man who he suspects is hiding his granddaughter, who is needed for this case. She's nowhere in sight, so Lightman steals the old man's cane, throws it against a table, and yells "Ow! Ow! Stop hurting me!" The woman instinctively rushes into the room, thinking her grandfather is in danger, before realizing she's been caught.
  • In the 2009 remake of V, Anna invokes this trope by having her daughter and Tyler's love interest, Lisa, severely injured in order to claim that she was attacked by the Fifth Column, thereby getting Tyler to want to be near her as protection.
  • In Japanese drama Shokojo Sera (based on A Little Princess), Dean Bitterman Mimura Chieko told a wealthy man that she was victimized by heroine Seira, claiming that Seira lies and treated her horribly when she was kind to Seira in order to gain his sympathies. Subverted in that the man knew the truth of how Seira was treated at the school and didn't fall for it one bit.
  • On Malcolm in the Middle, Reese and Dewey were fighting over control of the TV. As Reese threatens to use his physical superiority to win the fight, Dewey starts screaming "Ow! Stop! It hurts! Mom, help me!" Reese, who hasn't laid a finger on him, goes wide-eyed with terror as he realizes what's going on. He doesn't have time to react though, as Lois storms into the room and drags him out by the back of his neck screaming at him. Dewey is left happily alone with the TV.
    • Reese resorted to the ploy himself (twice!) in an episode where eldest brother Francis is visiting the Wilkerson house (spending most of his time at military school) and announces to Malcolm and Reese that he has two tickets to a Professional Wrestling event entitled "Rage In The Cage." Malcolm and Reese then spend most of the episode trying to outdo each other in currying favor with Francis so that he will be the brother given the other ticket. When this doesn't work, Reese decides to punch himself in the face repeatedly (drawing a lot of blood) and tell their mother that Malcolm beat him up so that Malcolm will be punished and prevented from going to the show; that doesn't work, either. The two younger brothers eventually realize that they've been scheming against each other for nothing when Francis decides to take a girl he likes to the wrestling event instead. At the end of the episode, Malcolm and Reese get their revenge by pulling the gambit for the second time in the episode: they steal away inside the trunk of Francis's car with ropes around their bodies and tape on their mouths, making it appear as if Francis is kidnapping them when a cop pulls him over.
  • Battlestar Galactica. Baltar's lawyer Romo Lampkin is nearly killed by a bomb blast in "The Son Also Rises". In the following episode we see him limping around with the aid of a cane during Baltar's trial. After the trial is over, Romo leaves the cane with Lee and walks off normally.
  • In a Korean drama called Plucky Woman, Se-bin pretended to be pregnant to keep up a ruse but found that the lie was too difficult to maintain. So she arranges a meeting with her ex-sister-in-law, Soon-young, on some stairs then purposely falls down, faking a miscarriage and blaming Soon-young to boot. Ooh boy Se-bin's husband blows when he thinks Soon-young just killed his unborn child...
  • This happened on Early Edition when Chuck's bride-to-be Jade is actually an international criminal. When she and Gary are alone, he confronts her and they get into a tussle. When Chuck walks in, Jade instantly tells Chuck that Gary hit on her and she was trying to fend him off.
  • Similar to the Malcolm in the Middle case above, there was an episode of Everybody Hates Chris where Tonya discovered she could push Drew around by screaming, "MOM! Drew hit me!" and letting him be carried away for punishment. Of course, this backfires when her Mom catches her.
  • Any episode of Diagnosis: Murder that has a teenage girl for the murderer will have this occur at some point.
  • Often used by Megan on Drake and Josh.
  • Bad to the Bone (often mistaken for a Lifetime Movie of the Week, since it has all the earmarks): Kristy Swanson plays Frankie Wells, a seriously messed-up high-school graduate falls back on this trope again and again, along with employing a bit of the Screw the Rules, I'm Beautiful ploy. First she kills her mother so that she and her younger brother Danny can get their hands on their inheritance early; she then cries upon seeing her mother's corpse so that everyone will think she has just found out about the killing. Following the murder (which officially goes unsolved), Frankie and Danny move in with Frankie's latest boyfriend, who owns an upscale nightclub downtown. Frankie wants that nightclub, and she wants it now, so she decides to kill the boyfriend - but wouldn't it be convenient to have a fall guy? She sets into motion a scheme to turn Danny into someone just as ruthless as she is. While Danny is out of the room, Frankie starts up a trivial argument with the boyfriend and baits him into getting physical by giving him a shove. The guy shoves back - just as Danny is entering the room. Now, it's important to understand that Danny remembers seeing his sister get abused when they were little, but he had never intervened for fear of being abused himself. So when he sees the altercation, a combination of longstanding guilt and the old-fashioned Big Brother Instinct (he's actually a little brother, but no matter) gives him the nerve to attack the boyfriend. Frankie then quickly breaks up the fight - but she has now poisoned her brother against the rich man, and it will only take a little more prodding to persuade Danny to shoot him, which he does. Later, after Frankie and Danny are arrested for the murder of the rich boyfriend and Frankie jumps bail and assumes a false identity, she cries again when she tells one of her male companions that she saw her brother fall to his death when they were kids - and when the man tries to comfort her, she immediately stops crying and admits that she made the story up just to mess with him. In the very last scene, Frankie is finally caught by the police and pretends to be The Ditz in the hope that the arresting officer will take pity on her and let her go. It doesn't work.
  • Done with Annie's cousin Emily on Beverly Hills, 90210. Emily tells Annie's friends that she said a bunch of mean things about them (which wasn't true). When Annie calls her on this, Emily pretends to cry in front Annie's friends (who of course, side with Emily). Emily also trashes her own dressing room at the internship Annie works at and makes it look like Annie did it. The result? Emily is believed to be the victim and Annie is fired.
  • In a Grey's Anatomy episode, after Avery brings up Christina's recent burnout:

Christina: *bent over, face in hands* I want Owen.
Meredith: Go find him!

  • Avery runs off, Christina promptly drops the act*

Meredith: What the hell--
Christina: He's gonna be running around for the next hour while I sew grafts on a triple bypass. Owen's at the dentist-- he'll be hard to find.

  • On Boy Meets World, when Eric becomes suspicious that Jack's girlfriend Millie has evil intentions, she pretends he forcibly tried to kiss her in order to turn Jack against him.
  • In Being Human (UK), Kirby uses this to turn Annie against Hal (who is the only one who suspects his murderous nature). Kirby baits Hal, and then teleports into baby Eve's bedroom. Hal panics and breaks into the room. Annie arrives at this point, to find Hal in full-on vampire mode, with Kirby protectively cradling Eve and screaming for help.
  • In the Power Rangers Zeo episode "The Lore of Auric", Prince Sprocket tells Auric that the Zeo Rangers are evil and have hurt him, with judicious use of Crocodile Tears to help things along, in order to dupe Auric into attacking them. Auric realizes he's been had when the Rangers protest that they serve under Zordon.

Newspaper Comics

  • Barry, The Scrappy little brother in Curtis, shows how it's done here.
  • Inverted and then triple-subverted in one Garfield strip. Garfield sees Jon lavishing attention on the cute kitten Nermal and becomes envious. He walks up to Nermal and - with Jon's eyes upon him - deliberately kicks the little guy over in the hope that Jon will become angry with him. He is disgusted when Jon simply takes pity on Nermal and completely ignores what Garfield did. Figuring that "two can play the sympathy game," Garfield takes up a plate of fine china and smashes it against his head, then "falls down unconscious" in an attempt to make Jon feel sorry for him. Instead, Jon scolds Garfield for breaking one of his most valuable plates - and, even worse for Garfield, it turns out that the plate-breaking really did hurt him, giving him a colossal headache!
  • Humorously subverted in a Dilbert strip: Dilbert accidentally bumps the car in front of him and gets out to apologize. When he looks in the front window of the other car, he sees a man with a grotesquely twisted-up body who screams "LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO ME!" The alleged victim takes Dilbert to court, intending to sue him for all he's worth. "Now I'll never be able to work again!" he whines to the defense attorney. But the plaintiff's scheme fails when the defense attorney asks him what his job had been, and he's forced to admit: "Circus contortionist." (Although, come to think of it, if the man willingly perjured himself when claiming that he'd be unable to work, what was stopping him from lying when asked his job description?)

Oral Tradition, Folklore, Myths and Legends

  • Older Than Dirt: In the ancient Egyptian Tale of Two Brothers, from the New Kingdom, Anubis's wife tried to seduce her brother-in-law Bata. When he refused, she used makeup to cover herself in fake bruises, and accused Bata of trying to seduce her and beating her for refusing his advances. Anubis completely fell for it and tried to kill Bata, who had to run away and get into all kinds of bizarre adventures to prove his innocence.
  • Very similarly, in the Book of Genesis, Potiphar's wife attempts to seduce Joseph; when he refuses, she more or less cries rape.

Professional Wrestling

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

Recorded and Stand Up Comedy

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

Tabletop Games


  • The Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. That is, until she reveals her true colors.
  • In The Crucible, Abigail Williams stabs herself in the leg to frame Elizabeth Proctor. She also, later, pretends to be possessed by Mary Warren.

Video Games

  • The Pokémon Mawile's gimmick revolves around this. Its "Fake Tears" move lulls its foes into a sense of complacency with its adorable face, leaving the foe wide open for a bite from its big steel jaws.
    • Any Pokémon with Fake Tears can do something similar.
  • No More Heroes - Bad Girl, the Rank 2 assassin will sometimes drop to her knees and cry. Fall for it and you're dead. However, due to her severe emotional disturbance, sometimes she really is crying - if one hand's on the bat, she's faking it, but if they're both on her face she's wide open.
  • The Witch from Left 4 Dead: her crying can be heard long before you even come across her. However, the characters already know to stay away from her (and will warn the others when they hear one) and it's even one of the tips you can get on the loading screen.
  • Iris is incredibly fond of this trick in the game, when she uses it to manipulate her dad into war and imprisoning Karl because He Knows Too Much, and, being a Mega Man clone, she does the whole "Please don't kill me" thing.
  • Just as the aforementioned Rosenkreuzstilette example, Dr. Wily of Mega Man has done this a total of 11 times to make sure the main character doesn't maim him, send him to jail, or flat out kill him. Not that Mega Man can anyway, no matter how hard he's tried.
    • It runs in the "family". Bass does it in Mega Man 7 to gain entry to Dr. Light's lab and steal the Super Adapter.
  • In the third Ace Attorney game, Dahlia Hawthorne milks this trope for all it's worth. Thankfully, Mia Fey is not easily fooled.
    • In the third case of Ace Attorney Investigations: Miles Edgeworth, Lance Amano, having supposedly escaped from his kidnappers, collapses in front of Edgeworth and the others investigating. Not only did Lance fake his own kidnapping so he could pocket the ransom, but he is also the murderer, and manipulated his girlfriend into thinking she had shot the victim (while feigning disbelief that she could do something like that) when he was already dead.
    • Played with in Apollo Justice: Alita Tiala tries to get out of being accused by showing a wound she got from the case's victim, claiming that because of the attack she was unconscious when he died. He did attack her, but it's her that killed him.
  • Done in Umineko no Naku Koro ni Episode 6, Dawn of the Golden Witch by Erika, who pretends to have a Villainous Breakdown so that Battler will take pity on her and grant her the use of her dreaded Duct Tape for Everything. According to Episode 8, Twilight of the Golden Witch, Battler fell for the trick on purpose because it helped set up the logic error that revived Beatrice.
  • Used in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, with the four creepy sisters you have to rescue on the ghost ship. They act frightened and innocent and do their damnedest to get killed, including alerting Phantoms by screaming and directing you to make bad decisions.
    • In A Link to the Past, one of the dungeon bosses tricks Link by disguising himself as the innocent maiden who Link came to rescue.
  • Dragon Age: Origins: Queen Anora pretends to be in danger of her life in order to gain the protagonist's sympathy and force the Warden to eliminate one of her enemies. (She was locked up and in danger of losing power, but not actually in danger of dying. She just thought that sounded more likely to get a hero's help.) Depending on how events play out, she may later claim to others that you were kidnapping/threatening her, so that she can get their sympathy. Twice.
  • A bit downplayed here in King's Quest VI Heir Today Gone Tomorrow: Alexander acts all Emo in the Pawn Shop and pretends that all hope is lost without Cassima while pretending to cry, and fakes suicide by drinking the "Drink Me" potion. This gambit is an effort to trick Shamir and the guard dogs into lowering their guard for entry into the castle.
  • Magical Diary: Horse Hall sees Damien fake being in danger of dying, claiming that his demon blood is burning him out. But he's willing to die, he claims - he would never ask you or anyone else to pay the price for curing him. What would it cost? Just your soul, voluntarily given. If you believe him and offer your soul anyways, it does not go well for you: he admits that he's been playing you all year and didn't really love you - he just wanted someone stupid enough to give him their soul and figured that a wildseed freshthing would be perfect. Depending on how you play your choices, this can end with near-death because he really does love you (he just didn't know it) and can't bring himself to go through with it and significant damage that can take the rest of the year to repair (if you manage to fix it at all, in the time you have left) or possibly death (although this is not yet confirmed).

Web Comics

Western Animation

  • The modus operandi of Bendy in Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends.
  • Done by Steele in Balto. Steele says that Balto attacked him and tried to steal the medicine for the sick kids, only to fall off of a cliff. Balto actually demanded the medicine because he knew the way back. Steele didn't want to give it up because he wanted the glory of bringing the medicine back himself, so Balto took it by force.
  • In the Wallace and Gromit film A Matter of Loaf and Death, the murderer deceives Wallace into thinking Gromit has attacked them, even going so far as to bite their own arm to provide an injury.
    • This one only worked through Wallace's Cloudcuckoolander tendencies, as it would be hard for Gromit to bite the woman, as he has no mouth.
  • A subplot in the Family Guy episode "Love Thy Trophy" concerns Meg, working as a waitress in a diner, lying about being a teenage single mother and her "son" being addicted to crack so she would get hefty tips from pitying customers.
  • One episode of Courage the Cowardly Dog has a wounded duckling that tortures Courage and eventually tries to get rid of Muriel so that it wouldn't have to share Eustace, of all people. Up until the getting-rid-of part, Muriel didn't think that the duckling was evil. Both Eustace and the duckling eventually end up on the moon. Somehow they come back, though.
  • Cartman does this every now and then on South Park, most notably in "La Petit Tourette" and "Sexual Harassment Panda".
    • Played with in "Breast Cancer Show Ever," when Cartman has Wendy reprimanded by her parents for threatening to beat him up. It's almost a subversion in that Wendy really does want to beat Cartman up, but Cartman makes it seem as if he did nothing to provoke her anger and that she's a bully. In reality, he's the bully (an extremely cowardly one, but a bully nonetheless).
  • A Robot Chicken short had a hyena laughing at a lion for having a thorn stuck in its paw. After the lion beats the hyena up, the hyena calls the cops and says the lion is beating his (the lion's) wife. After the lion is arrested, the hyena then hits on the lioness.
  • The Simpsons:
    • The episode "Homer of Seville" saw Homer become an opera singer after injuring his back (don't even ask) had him being stalked by various fangirls. Most of them are of the Abhorrent Admirer or Christmas Cake variety (hey, it is opera), but there is one gorgeous black-haired female biker who goes so far as to pay a visit to Homer at home and strip nude right in front of him. As Homer looks on in terrified shock, the woman threatens to cry rape if Homer tells Marge what he has seen. Cue Marge asking Homer if everything is all right in the living room, and Homer lying: "Uh, everyone's wearing clothes in here!"
    • "The Wandering Juvie" has Bart being sentenced to a correctional facility for delinquents and shackled to a female prisoner. The girl plots an escape from the jail, dragging Bart along with her. Later on, she taunts Bart by saying that if they are caught, she will cry to the police and tell them that Bart kidnapped her rather than the other way around - and even feigns crying in order to prove that she could pull it off. (Bart points out that the lie would be hard to believe, since the girl is bigger and stronger than him.) Toward the end of the episode, the girl starts crying for real when she admits to Bart that she has no family.
  • I present to you the Batman: The Animated Series two-part adventure "Shadow of the Bat," which aired in the fall of 1993 and famously introduced Batgirl to the animated canon. Commissioner James Gordon has a new crack deputy in the form of Gil Mason, a dashing hero who seems too good to be true. And he is: while appearing to help Gordon nab slippery mob bosses like Rupert Thorne, Mason is secretly plotting to usurp Gordon's position, and ultimately to be elected Mayor of Gotham City. He sets his plot in motion by forging documents that make it appear as if the commissioner has been accepting bribes from Thorne, then personally has Gordon arrested. At a rally ostensibly being held to raise bail for Gordon, Batgirl sees a car full of black-masked gangland assassins suddenly tear through the plaza and open fire with machine guns on the speakers' stage. Gil Mason is nearly shot, but the bullets hit the podium instead of him. Batgirl chases one of the assassins into an alley and manages to unmask him, but he escapes just after she gets a good look at his face. Later on, Robin reviews a videotape of the rally in the Batcave and becomes suspicious when he plays the tape in slow motion and notices Mason ducking behind the podium before the masked men reveal their guns to the crowd; his suspicions are ultimately confirmed when Barbara pays a visit to Gil's apartment and sees the very assassin she unmasked lounging in Gil's armchair! It turns out that Mason has been secretly cooperating with Two-Face, and the men in masks were Two-Face's own goons; Mason and Two-Face had arranged for the conniving deputy to be shot at so that no one would ever suspect that Mason had been in on the plot as well.
  • A very dark example from Drawn Together: in one episode Bambi shows up with his mother's bullet-ridden corpse, and Captain Hero, struck with guilt, decides that it is unfair to hunt game with assault weapons, destroying all of the weapons in the world. Later on, the deer and other animals get their revenge on humans, and Bambi later admits he killed his own mother just to go along with his Wounded Deer Gambit.
  • Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers: After Dale stubs his toe and is mistaken for having injured his leg, he plays it for all its worth after receiving special treatment from Gadget.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: In "A Canterlot Wedding, Part 1" Princess Cadence Actually Chrysalis, queen of the Changelings, impersonating her breaks down into tears when Twilight Sparkle accuses her of being evil (and presents some halfway-decent evidence). This causes Twilight's friends to become upset with her, her brother to change his mind about her being Best Mare, and Princes Celestia to be disappointed in her.

Real Life

  • Actual gazelles avert this trope; they instead strive to appear as healthy as possible in order to deter predators looking for an easy meal.
  • One of the researchers who worked with Koko, the signing gorilla, described in a book a prank he would play on his fellow scientists. He would run up to Koko, pretend to cry, and tell Koko in sign language that the other researcher had hit him. Koko would chase the offender threateningly until they showed contrition. Though, if he tried to target anyone that Koko was particularly fond of, she would assume foul play and chase the accuser instead!
  • Family Law cases often involve fake abuse accusations, e.g. wives accuse husbands of physical/sexual abuse to keep them from seeing the kids and/or extort more alimony, husbands and grandparents accuse wives of neglecting their kids to get full custody, siblings accuse each other of abusing/neglecting elderly parents to get more inheritance money/benefits, men accuse women of withholding sex during the marriage to cut down on spousal support (or to make themselves out as a victim), etc.
  • In soccer/football, if the referee concludes that this trope has been invoked, he/she is authorized to punish the one who pulled it. Referees will give out yellow cards for diving in the penalty area (or in a similar high-stakes situation).
  • Brazil vs. Chile, 1990 FIFA World Cup qualifying. A firework fell in the field. The Chilean goalkeeper fell to the pitch with an apparent injury to his forehead, and play was suspended. Later it was discovered the player created the injury himself, with a razor blade hidden in his glove. Chile was banned for eight years, and the keeper for life.
  • Notorious troublemaker Reggie Miller of the Indiana Pacers admitted in a documentary that he "milked it" when Knicks player John Starks headbutted him on the court in 1993.
  • Terry Bradshaw was famous for this on the gridiron. He claims that at one point his teammates presented him with a mock-up Emmy statuette.
  • Put to horrifying use by serial killer Ted Bundy. He would put his arm in a sling or walk around with crutches and approach pretty young women, asking for help in carrying books or parcels to his car. And with that, he lured those pretty young women to a brutal, horrible death.
  • In this 2013 news story, a man finds a woman robbing his house. In the ensuing fight, the female robber evades capture by slipping out of her clothing; when he catches her, half naked in the street, she screams 'rape!', and he panics and lets her go. (Don't worry, she was identified and arrested.)
  1. Act One of his performance is also worth noting: it's rare to find such quality screaming outside the opera.