Created By: SonicLoverJuly 27, 2010 Last Edited By: FoolJuly 27, 2010
Troped

The Dog Was The Mastermind

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope
Will launch in one hour if there are no objections

Now Up For Grabs; this trope is rather spoiler-heavy and I'm not a spoiler-hound.

You're getting close. The clues are fitting together, and everything is unraveling. You're this close to finding The Man Behind The Man. Your trail of clues finally ends, and the mastermind is...

...the little kid that was always playing jacks in the park?!

Yes, that's right. The Man Behind The Man turned out to be about the least conspicuous person possible. The Hidden Villain was underneath your nose the whole time. The Dog Was The Mastermind.

This trope is when through a rather jarring plot twist, the true Big Bad or The Man Behind The Man turns out to be a seemingly completely inconspicuous character, the last person anyone would ever suspect. You saw him time and again before and you never suspected a thing up until The Reveal. Sucker.

Simply identifying the dog isn't enough to satisfy the requirements of this trope; The Reveal has to be a surprise both to the heroes and to the audience -- the Hidden Villain was in plain sight all along, without any clues or hints as such.

Keep in mind that this is a Reveal Trope, so beware of spoilers!


Examples:

Anime and Manga

Comic Books
  • Parodied in The Far Side when (what else?) a cow stands up in court and says, "All right, I confess! I did it! That's right! The cow! Ha ha! And I feel great!"

Film

Literature
  • Professor Quirrel in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Video Games
  • Sam And Max: Beyond the Alley of the Dolls plays this to excellent effect; the true mastermind turns out to be the ventriloquist's dummy Max has been carrying around for half the episode.
  • Subverted in MARDEK Chapter 3, as the mastermind is a major villain that everyone suspects, but he's disguised as a "dog", Clavis, an enigmatic but inconspicious character. The persona was actually made up by the villain in order to talk some sense into Rohoph, who was sprinting towards becoming a Complete Monster Knight Templar hard and fast.
  • The dog ending in Silent Hill 2.
  • Persona 4 practically runs on this trope, in keeping with its theme of not letting first impressions or outward appearances decieve you. All three of the major players in the kidnappings and murders can be frequently found around Inaba doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
  • Tomator at the end of The Lost Vikings 2 turns out to be the Bratty Half Pint that sometimes appeared in the middle of the levels to be annoying.
Community Feedback Replies: 36
  • July 21, 2010
    TooBah
    The villain in Hoodwinked fits this to a T. Except instead of a frog it was a cute little bunny rabbit.
  • July 21, 2010
    dotchan
    Related to Beneath Suspicion

    What about "Surprise Suspect Reveal" for a trope name instead?
  • July 21, 2010
    SonicLover
    Not really related to Beneath Suspicion, because with this trope neither the audience nor the cast has any reason to suspect the frog, whereas with that trope the audience suspects and the cast doesn't.

    Where do you get "Surprise Suspect Reveal"?
  • July 21, 2010
    bunkerbuster338
    Could the revelation of the identity of Rorschach in "Watchmen" count?
  • July 21, 2010
    Vree
  • July 21, 2010
    Tzintzuntzan
    If I understand this right, this is where it's a character who barely even speaks but is always underfoot (like the proverbial butler)? As opposed to, say, a character who gets one scene. An example would be an episode of Tiny Toon Adventures, where Babs and Plucky are competing for a tough prize, but both lose to "The Kid in the Orange Hat," who we've seen in almost every shot of the episode but doesn't talk and hasn't appeared in an episode before. (He turns out to be Buster in disguise.)

    Although that wasn't really a mystery episode -- it was a normal episode with a Twist Ending.
  • July 21, 2010
    Fool
    I believe this is the same as Milkman Conspiracy.
  • July 21, 2010
    SweetMadness
    Well, this is certainly related to Milkman Conspiracy, but that generally refers to an inconspicuous organization or institution, not an individual, IIRC.

    • Persona 4 practically runs on this trope, in keeping with its theme of not letting first impressions or outward appearances decieve you. All three of the major players in the kidnappings and murders can be frequently found around Inaba doing absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.
  • July 21, 2010
    FrodoGoofballCoTV
    Would these count:
  • July 21, 2010
    randomsurfer
    Good guy version: In the Get Smart episode "The Mysterious Dr. T" it turned out the genius inventor Dr. T was a kid we saw hawking newspapers.
  • July 21, 2010
    PkMARIO
    Tomator at the end of The Lost Vikings 2 turns out to be the Bratty Half Pint that sometimes appeared in the middle of the levels to be annoying.

    The Big Bad of the Mucha Lucha Movie is a random girl that appeared at the beginning.
  • July 21, 2010
    PaulA
  • July 22, 2010
    SonicLover
    I know I usually perform Rolling Updates on these things, but I'm a bit nervous of spoilers.
  • July 22, 2010
    TrustBen
    In the Doom Patrol comic, the would-be cosmos destroyers in the Cult of the Unwritten book were led by the Archons of Nurnheim--i.e. a couple of Punch And Judy puppets. Why yes, as a matter of fact this was written by Grant Morrison.
  • July 22, 2010
    bunkerbuster338
    @soniclover: I feellike this trope is inherent to having spoilers, much the same as a death trope. It simply can;'t be helped.
  • July 22, 2010
    Fool
    Do you want to make it Up For Grabs, then?
  • July 22, 2010
    SonicLover
    Maybe.
  • July 23, 2010
    SonicLover
    Ah, screw it. I don't have to stick with this responsibility if I don't want to. Consider it Up For Grabs. I'll keep an eye on it, though.
  • July 23, 2010
    rjung
    I'll take this up if nobody wants to. I think it needs a little refining and a better title (maybe Overlooked Mastermind?), though.

    As for examples, the bowler hat in Meet The Robinsons would qualify.
  • July 24, 2010
    Fool
    I'm not sure if this counts, since the "frog" was actually a major villain disguised as a "frog" (maybe you should add something about that being possible?), but in MARDEK Chapter 3, Clavis, who is an enigmatic but inconspicious character, turns out to be that chapter's main villain in disguise, who made up the persona in order to talk some sense into Rohoph, who was sprinting towards becoming a Complete Monster Knight Templar hard and fast.
  • July 24, 2010
    STUART
    Should be "The Dog Was The Mastermind", so it can reference the Simpsons episode where Homer describes a movie where this would be the final twist at the end, made obvious because "the dog has shifty eyes".
  • July 24, 2010
    Starry-Eyed
    In the Agatha Christie novel A Crooked House, the murderer turns out to be the ten year old girl who was going around playing detective
  • July 24, 2010
    Ryusui
    I'd suggest It Was The Turkey All Along...except as hilarious as the line from Invader Zim might have been, the actual context wasn't this trope.

    Still, It Was The Something All Along is probably a good pattern for the trope name.
  • July 24, 2010
    Arivne
    So this would be a Hidden Villain who was in plain sight all along, just not recognized as such?
  • July 24, 2010
    SonicLover
    Right. And typically there was no clue whatsoever that said character was the villain.
  • July 24, 2010
    Fool
    I think if we add all the examples people have been proposing, we can probably launch this. Agree/disagree, anyone?

    Also, I think the title fits better than "It Was the X All Along", in my opinion.

    Oh, and is my example a proper one, or is that covered under another trope like Hidden Villain?
  • July 25, 2010
    Bisected8
    The actual quote in Ghost In The Shell says "dumb death mutes" not "death mutes". It's a quote from The Catcher In The Rye (one of several references the Laughing Man makes).

    TLM actually does this several times. Apart from his ability to hack into people's cybernetic eyes and edit himself from their vision, he appears as a random forum goer the Major speaks to about the Laughing Man case and he spent the years in between his first "attack" and the events of the series pretending to be an actual deaf-dumb mute. Finally in the end he chooses to live the rest of his life working in a libary.
  • July 25, 2010
    SonicLover
    So when is this launching?
  • July 25, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    Hitchiker's guide : the lab mice were the ones testing us.
  • July 25, 2010
    Fool
    This fits the Three Rules Of Three, I think, so I think it's ready to launch whenever. You can put a "will launch in 24 hours" thing at the top if you want.
  • July 26, 2010
    SonicLover
    So wait, what name is this launching under? Are we keeping my original name or using another?
  • July 26, 2010
    rjung
    I think we need to resolve the name and to nail down the description so it isn't a duplicate of Hidden Villain. I'm fond of either Overlooked Mastermind or The Dog Was The Mastermind; "It Was The X All Along" is too vague, IMO.
  • July 26, 2010
    SonicLover
    I vote Dog.
  • July 26, 2010
    Unknown Troper
    In the Power Puff Girls episode "Cat Man Do", the girls defeat a villain and adopt his Right Hand Cat - only the cat was the real criminal, using hypnosis to make his "master" do his bidding.
  • July 26, 2010
    neoYTPism
    Would (Simpsons spoliers ahead) Maggie Simpson shooting Mr. Burns qualify?
  • July 26, 2010
    ChevalierMalfait
    Parodied in The Far Side when (what else?) a cow stands up in court and says, "All right, I confess! I did it! That's right! The cow! Ha ha! And I feel great!"

Three days must pass before this YKTTW is Launchworthy or Discardable