The Mirror Shows Your True Self YKTTW Discussion

The Mirror Shows Your True Self
(permanent link) added: 2010-09-21 13:51:45 sponsor: Jonti (last reply: 2010-09-24 08:00:05)

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"It shows not what you are but what you were."

This is a trope for all the times that the viewer or characters see something different in a mirror. The two most common uses are Vampires and Mind Control. In the Vampire case the mirror is acting the same way for the viewer as for the characters. We're being shown that vampires don't case reflections. In Mind Control cases, we're being show what the characters are seeing that we aren't. The mirror show the Mind Controled person, while the camera show the person controlling the mind. The characters in the show will see the mirror image, i.e. the controlled person all the time.

Another common variation is for the mirror to show an aspect of a person's personality. The nasty, spiteful, cruel, but beautiful girl becomes a hag in the magic mirror.

See Also: Glamour Failure

Engywook: Next is the Magic Mirror Gate. Atreyu has to face his true self.
Falcor: So what? That won't be too hard for him.
Engywook: Oh, that's what everyone thinks! But kind people find out that they are cruel. Brave men discover that they are really cowards! Confronted by their true selves, most men run away screaming!


  • In All of Me, Steve Martin's character sees Lily Tomlin's character, with whom he is Sharing A Body anytime he looks into a reflective surface.
  • Inception: Within a dream, Eames can copy other people's appearances, but always has his own reflection.
  • The NeverEnding Story. Played with, Bastian and Atreyu aren't the same person, but the do see each other in the magic mirror and Atreyu is in many ways Bastian's Avatar inside Fantasia.
    • Plus the whole magic mirror gate part, see the page quote.

  • 30Rock had an HD camera in one episode which shows the real you. Liz Lemmon shows up as an old hag, Kenneth the page shows up as a muppet, and Jack Donaghy looked 20 years younger.
  • Quantum Leap No one sees Sam, they see who-ever he's leaped into.
  • Stargate Universe: Most common in the latest branch of the franchise, it's been used elsewhere. Ancient tech allows too people to switch minds. The controler is who we see. The controled person is visible to the other characters, and in mirrors, tv feeds, photographs etc.
  • Ultraviolet: The British Too Good to Last TV Show. Vampires have no reflection, and also no tv image or anything like that.
  • X Files: The episode "Dreamland" is a "Freaky Friday" Flip in which Mulder switches places with M.I.B. Morris Fletcher. As in the Quantum Leap example, the audience continues to see Mulder as Mulder, but his reflection reveals that everyone else sees him as Fletcher, and vice versa.

Western Animation
  • Aladdin, Al has to find a magic mirror in a room full of regular mirrors. He finds it when he notices that his reflection is wearing his "street rat" clothes instead of the princely robes he has on.
  • The Little Mermaid: Scuttle discovers that Vanessa, the woman Prince Eric is going to marry, is really Ursula when he sees her look into a mirror and the refection is Ursula's.

  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone: Played with. The mirror of Erised shows the viewer's fondest desire and definately NOT anything subjectively true
  • Used by Nathaniel Hawthorne in at least two short stories, "Dr. Heidigger's Experiment" and "Feathertop."
  • This is Played With in Brothers in Arms: Miles is on a subway transport, and sees his reflection in the glass. He's currently wearing his mercenary uniform, but the Miles in the mirror has on his ImpSec uniform, reflecting his inner turmoil about his split personalities diverging. Turns out it wasn't Miles, it was his clone, and they were going to attempt a switch, they just had the wrong uniform. Miles passes it off as being a hallucination while on heavy medication.

Video Games
  • Dragon Quest/Warrior 3, to get Orochi to reveal it's true form, there's a magic mirror of some sort you need to use on it's disguised form.

Tabletop RPG
  • Dungeons & Dragons. Dragon Magazine #50 had the magical artifact Barlithian's Mirror. Anyone who looked into it saw their true self, regardless of any illusions, creature powers (such as a vampire's invisibility to mirrors) or shapechanged form. In addition, a lycanthrope would see its alter ego (e.g. a werewolf in wolf form would see a human and one in human form would see a wolf).
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