Green’s Dictionary of Slang

fall guy n.

[according to Bentley & Corbett, Prison Slang (1992), there was a real-life fall guy, Albert Bacon Fall (1861–1944), who in 1922 took upon himself the entire blame for the Teapot Dome Scandal; despite the involvement of many top government officials, Fall was the only one to serve time, a sentence of one year and one day; this, however, does not match available and earlier citations; note fall v.1 (1)]
(orig. US)

1. a victim who is chosen or forced to suffer punishments or difficulties that are, in fact, due to another person.

[US] J.A. Mitchell Life n.p.: The president is the country’s fall guy. He cannot call his soul his own. He has to swallow his personal views and remember he is a party man.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 226: I never thought I’d be the fall guy for such raw work.
[US]G. Bronson-Howard Enemy to Society 293: We ain’t goin’ to be th’ ‘fall guys’ fer Steve [...] If we’ve got to do time, so has he!
[US]Ade Hand-made Fables 163: Our respected Neighbour has got it into his Bean that a Raw Deal has been framed and that he is the Fall Guy.
[US]J. O’Connor Broadway Racketeers 182: The fall guy now-a-days looks sure for a stretch.
[UK]V. Davis Gentlemen of the Broad Arrows 38: So you’ve just roped in those two hundred lags as fall guys for us.
[US]R.M. Lindner Stone Walls and Men 106: He served them well by becoming the ‘fall-guy’ for the ring.
[US]R.L. Bellem ‘Coffin for a Coward’ in Hollywood Detective Dec. 🌐 [of a woman] You wanted to lure this blonde cutie up to that apartment and make her the fall guy.
[UK]A. Christie Murder Is Announced (1958) 71: A ‘fall guy,’ if I understand it rightly, means someone who will be blamed for a crime really committed by someone else.
[US]C. Himes Blind Man with a Pistol (1971) 74: His father was just a figurehead and a fall guy in case someone had to take a rap.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 122: We know they used you as a [...] fall guy.
[UK]M. Amis London Fields 126: And he was quite nice in a way, the fool, the poor foal. Guy: the fall guy.
[US]J. Wambaugh Golden Orange (1991) 366: ‘She said you were jist perfect. A perfect ...’ ‘Fall guy.’.
[UK]N. Barlay Hooky Gear 217: Theys settin me up as a fall guy.
[US](con. 1973) C. Stella Johnny Porno 180: I’m the fall guy. No movie, no money.
[Scot](con. 1980s) I. Welsh Skagboys 261: He wis basically the fall guy for the real gangsters [...] the sacrificial lamb that wid dae the serious jail time if it aw went erse ower tit.
[US]T. Pluck Bad Boy Boogie [ebook] Fall guys, too shit-scared to rat. Safe in a crew, as long as they stayed useful.

2. (also fall bitch, fall-gink) a person who is easily duped, a victim.

B. Fisher ‘A. Mutt’ [comic strip] I am tired of being the fall guy. All I got for my coin so far is indictments.
[US]Lincoln (NE) Daily News 2 Aug. 3-A: I figger dat he’s a fall-gink f’r de Jav’ t’ing, an’ so I slips him wot I call de Mocha mace.
[US]‘A-No. 1’ Snare of the Road 120: ‘Here comes my fall-guy,’ I mused.
[US]P. & T. Casey Gay-cat 54: What you t’ink — make fall-guy out o’ me?
[US]W.R. Burnett Dark Hazard (1934) 48: [He] went around yelling [...] ‘Extra! Extra! Lake Michigan on fire,’ and laughing at all the fall-guys who turned their heads.
[US]Monteleone Criminal Sl. (rev. edn).
[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 13: You’re made to order for him because you’re not after his job. You’re the fall guy.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 325: He’d promised Belly a comeback and used her as a fall bitch.
[US]L. Stringer Grand Central Winter (1999) 105: His lawyer [...] does his pro bono best to paint a picture of Ischi as the fall guy.