As someone with a fondness for police shows, I’m familiar with the tropes of the genre. And I admit that I love a frame job.
In reality, people getting framed for crimes is pretty unlikely. More often, the miscarriage of justice isn’t the result of some well-orchestrated, fiendish plot; it’s because law enforcement fixates on a theory and molds the evidence to fit it.
But on television…
Typically, people on TV are framed for murder, but theft is also a frequent frame. And some of these frames can be incredibly elaborate to the point of absolutely questionable. The stretch you’d need to consider it believable would kill your hamstrings. And frankly, I don’t care. I love it. Give me your outlandish, ridiculous frame-ups. I’m in.
To be clear, I’m talking about the deliberate setting up of someone to take a fall, not someone being wrongly accused of a crime someone else did and that person letting them take the wrap. I’m looking for detailed planning targeting a specific person for a specific crime for a specific reason.
Hawaii Five-O has many great frames, but I just covered a two part episode called “Ninety Second War” for Book ’em, Danno that has a magnificent one. This frame, orchestrated by Wo Fat, is designed to merely get Steve McGarrett out of the way for a little while so his government can proceed with the testing of a nuclear weapon delivery device, basically some kind of missile. Gotta consider it high praise when an entire government sees you alone as an obstacle to their whole weapons testing business.
Anyway, Wo Fat could have just kidnapped McGarrett, tucked him away for a few days, left Five-O scrambling to look for him, and while they were distracted, his government could get on with it. But Wo Fat is a beautifully theatrical man. Instead, he spends YEARS setting up a plan that involves a surgically created doppleganger, perfect handwriting imitations, regular bank deposits in a Swiss bank account totaling up to a couple million dollars that make it look like Steve is taking bribes, and then capping it all off by manufacturing a car accident that leaves Steve alive but injured in a car with a dead mobster. All to get him out of the way for a weapons test.
It’s just…perfect. It’s so elaborate and so meticulous and so long-game and it’s only to keep Steve out of their hair for a few days, maybe a week. If he’s indisposed with clearing his name longer, great. But the whole point is that it was done for this specific time. Just amazing.
And that wasn’t even framing him for murder!
Steve McGarrett did get framed for murder at least once that I remember right off the top of my head. He was set up for murdering his girlfriend and Five-O had to work to clear him despite all of the evidence pointing to Steve.
Now that I think about it, Horatio Caine was also framed for murder on CSI: Miami. He was also set up for murdering a woman he’d been dating. Clearly, their similarities are many.
It’s not only our heroes that are getting framed. The good guys are often going to great lengths to prove that innocent people are being framed. These plots are good, but never so good that they can’t be unraveled. And they rarely rival any that are concocted against the good guys.
But that’s okay.
I never get tired of a good frame.