Created By: capsaicinfinity on March 21, 2013 Last Edited By: capsaicinfinity on May 3, 2016

Relative-Revealing Remark

Casual comment reveals that two characters are relatives

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Trope
A version of The Reveal, often played for comedy.

Two characters are shown interacting, often in a well-defined professional or social capacity. One day, to the audience's surprise, one makes a comment that reveals that they're related to each other. Onlooking characters may be surprised as well, but the two characters in question knew about their familial relationship all along; they just didn't feel the need to reference it until now.

Many types of family connection have a corresponding Stock Phrase to be used as the remark in question. For instance, "How's Mom?" is often said between siblings, while "You never write" is a favorite for the parent-to-child variation.

Not to be confused with Relationship Reveal, which deals with a romantic pairing being acknowledged as canon.

Warning: Spoilers abound!


Examples

Film
  • During the intro of How to Train Your Dragon, Hiccup narrates about his life in a viking village and introduces us to various characters, including the chief. It isn't until later that Hiccup calls the chief 'dad', which is supposed to be a shock to us given how different they are and the way they treated each other earlier.
  • In Disney's Mulan, the general leaves Shang in charge of the troop while he leads the charge against the Huns, mentioning among his qualification his "impressive military lineage". As the general leaves, Shang quietly says "Good luck, father."

Literature
  • When the wizards and priests start squabbling in the Discworld novel Reaper Man, the only two who can talk civilly are Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully and the High Priest of Blind Io. Towards the end of the conversation, the priest mentions that their mother was very annoyed Mustrum never made it home for Hogswatchnight. Later books name him as Hughnon Ridcully.
  • In Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters, Sam is an agent of an unnamed U.S. government agency run by a person he calls The Old Man. It's more than a third of the way through the book that Sam calls The Old Man "Dad", revealing to the reader that they're father and son.

Live-Action TV
  • In the first episode of Sherlock, the final scene reveals that the mysterious and sinister figure who accosted John is Mycroft Holmes.
  • In the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show Barney has a throwaway gag line referring to Andy as "Cousin Andy", suggesting that that's the only reason he has the job. It's never mentioned afterward.

Newspaper Comics

Western Animation
  • On The Simpsons, after a great many seasons of Lenny and Carl pushing the envelope on Ho Yay to the point it almost rips as a Running Gag, one episode has them nonchalantly and offhandedly mentioning that they're (half-) brothers. Negative Continuity keeps the fact from being mentioned again, but after that the Ho Yay jokes keep on going, with at least once Carl lampshading that these gags make people think that they're gay.
Community Feedback Replies: 43
  • March 22, 2013
    Arivne
    "Revealry" doesn't appear to be in the dictionary so I changed it to "Revelation".
  • March 22, 2013
    Koveras
    We have similar tropes in Luke I Am Your Father and Luke You Are My Father, as well as in the Resemblance Reveal. We also have an index for this kind of thing: Family Twists Index, but this particular trope doesn't appear there.
  • March 22, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    ^ This is very different than any of those reveal tropes. Those are for when the characters discover they're related to someone they didn't know they were related to. This appears to be about characters that do know about their relationship, but WE do not, until the revealing line.

    I can't think of any sibling examples at the moment, but I can think of a father and son moment. During the intro of How To Train Your Dragon, Hiccup narrates about his life in a viking village and introduces us to various characters including the chief. It isn't until later that Hiccup calls the chief 'dad', which is supposed to be a shock to us given how different they are and the way they treated each other earlier.

    I wonder if this trope could be broadened to include any familial relationship reveal that the characters know about but the audience don't.
  • March 22, 2013
    Aokage
  • March 22, 2013
    Koveras
  • March 23, 2013
    Arivne
    I agree that this should be expanded to include all types of close relatives, not just siblings. It wouldn't make much sense to have two tropes, once just for siblings and one for all other blood relationships.

    For example:

    Literature
    • Robert Heinlein's The Puppet Masters. Sam is an agent of an unnamed U.S. government agency run by a person he calls The Old Man. It's more than a third of the way through the book that Sam calls The Old Man "Dad", revealing to the reader that they're father and son.
  • March 23, 2013
    McKathlin
    I second Relatives All Along as the name. I think that "reveal" or "revelation" heavily implies that something is revealed to characters as well as to the audience, whereas the Index All Along tropes can go either way.
  • March 23, 2013
    JoeG
    • Modern Family: For two thirds of the Pilot Episode, the episode intercuts between three apparently unconnected families. It is only at the big dinner party at the end that we learn that everyone is related.
  • March 27, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    I like "Relatives All Along" as the title, though "Relation Revelation" has a nice ring to it. Initially I was going for a godawful pun on "Sibling Rivalry." Thank you for saving me from myself.
  • March 28, 2013
    Arivne
    The first paragraph in the description is an Example As A Thesis and should be changed before launch.

    A possible rewrite:

    Two people have known each other for a while but there has been no indication of any direct relationship between them. One day, out of the blue, one makes a comment that reveals that they're related to each other.
  • March 28, 2013
    Duncan
    Most every Hyperlink Story, by its nature.
  • March 28, 2013
    marcoasalazarm
    The Simpsons example: after a great many seasons of Lenny and Carl pushing the envelope on Ho Yay to the point it almost rips as a Running Gag, one episode has them nonchalantly and offhandedly mentioning that they're (half-)brothers.

    Negative Continuity keeps the fact from being mentioned again, but after that the Ho Yay jokes keep on going, with at least once Carl lampshading about how those gags make people think that they're gay.
  • March 28, 2013
    DaibhidC
    Literature
    • When the wizards and priests start squabbling in the Discworld novel Reaper Man, the only two who can talk civilly are Archchancellor Mustrum Ridcully and the High Priest of Blind Io. Towards the end of the conversation, the priest mentions that their mother was very annoyed Mustrum never made it home for Hogswatchnight. Later books name him as Hughnon Ridcully.

    Live Action TV
    • In the first episode of Sherlock, the final scene reveals that the mysterious and sinister figure who accosted John is Mycroft Holmes.
  • March 28, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    The Reaper Man example was the one that led me to make this page. I was going to add it but had to look up the formatting (newbie here) and got sucked into the void.
  • March 31, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    My intent was for this trope to refer specifically to instances like the Reaper Man example above, in which it is an off-handed comment made by one character to another that reveals the relationship, as opposed to a response to an inquiry, or an deliberate in-universe Reveal. Should those types of examples be included here as well?
  • April 1, 2013
    SharleeD
    • In Alan Dean Foster's Glory Lane, it takes more than half the novel before it's mentioned that Seeth and Kerwin are brothers.
  • April 1, 2013
    clankomatic
    Girl Genius online comic: Zeetha is Klaus and Chump's daughter... we are pretty sure.
  • April 1, 2013
    clankomatic
    Web comic: Order of the Stick. The good Evan's evil nemesis is Nave <drum roll> his brother.
  • April 1, 2013
    WackyMeetsPractical
    I think in order for this trope to work, we need to establish a standard for writing examples. This isn't about two characters who just happen to be siblings, so examples that state "X turns out to be Y's <something>" is not helpful. Examples should be able to state clearly the apparent relationship between two characters, and then describe a line or situation in which the actual relationship is established.
  • April 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    • In Taxi's "Fantasy Borough Part 2", Alex, while trying to come up with a fantasy (after mentioning something always goes wrong), imagines a woman getting into his cab, then has her say she's married. He then reimagines her lying about being married, which causes him to crash, then imagines her in his apartment, where she starts telling him about the trips her long lost Uncle Alex would take her on, which Alex finishes, realizing she's his niece and he's her uncle. They then sit upright on opposite ends of the couch, and each awkwardly ask how the other's immediate family is.

    From: Fantay Borough Part 2. The reveal starts here.
  • April 1, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Thanks, Wacky Meets Practical, that's sort of what I was driving at. The manner of the reveal is what's at the heart of this trope.
  • April 1, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    Would a fantasy sequence count?
  • April 2, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    The Taxi example above doesn't seem to fit this trope, because one of the characters himself comes to the realization that he's talking to a relative. Could there be an example from a fantasy sequence? I suppose, if the setup and reveal takes place entirely within the fantasy.
  • April 2, 2013
    JonnyB
    In Return Of The Jedi, Luke learns from Obi-Wan that Leah is his sister. Or rather, he comes to the realization himself with some leading from Obi-Wan. (Which makes some scenes in Star Wars A New Hope rather awkward...)
  • April 5, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Since Luke himself did not know all along that Leah was his sister, the reveal was not done in this manner. Is the proposed trope name misleading? Perhaps "Relative Revealing Remark" instead?
  • April 5, 2013
    maxwellsilver
    It's spelled Leia, not Leah.

    • Maverick has the main character, Maverick, uses "Like my Pappy always said" phrases, which he's changed so much because of how boring his father's advice was.. At the end, his biggest poker rival, Cooper, tells him "I never told you that!", and they decide on one he actually said.
  • April 5, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    Oops. I swear I know how to spell Leia (it was 3 AM my time...)

    And that Maverick example is perfect! It has all the elements: the characters have an established relationship outside of a family context, THEY know about their relationship but we don't, and the reveal is done in a casual manner.
  • April 26, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
  • April 27, 2013
    TonyG
    In Mulan, the general leaves Sheng in charge of the troop while he leads the charge against the Huns, mentioning among his qualification his "impressive military lineage". As the general leaves, Sheng quietly says "Good luck, father."
  • April 27, 2013
    capsaicinfinity
    ^Thanks! Added (and fixed it to Shang).
  • April 27, 2013
    randomsurfer
    In the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show Barney has a throwaway gag line referring to Andy as "Cousin Andy", suggesting that that's the only reason he has the job. Never mentioned after.
  • July 28, 2013
    Sibuna
    I actually have a YKTTW similar to this one, only instead of just not feeling the need to mention it, the characters who are related purposely keep it a secret. These tropes are probably like related in a way. It's kind of cool. Right here

  • July 28, 2013
    DAN004
    Garp: I've heard you've been doing reckless things... Luffy!
    Luffy: G-grandpa!
    Everyone else: What?! Grandpa?!
    • A much bigger one in the next chapter:
    Garp: By the way, Luffy, I heard you meet your dad.
    Luffy: Eh, dad? What do you mean? I have a dad..?
    Garp: Oh what, he didn't introduce himself? I heard he saw you off at Loguetown!
    Luffy: How's my dad like?
    Garp: Your father's name is... Monkey D. Dragon, the Revolutionary.
    Cue Oh Crap from everyone else
    • Made somewhat funnier moments later that Garp, with innocent expression, just told everyone to forget what he just said earlier.
  • July 28, 2013
    Hodor
    • In Warbreaker, the priest Llarimar loyally serves the lazy Returned Lightsong, despite not getting much respect from his deity, who doesn't really want to be worshiped. Throughout the novel, Lightsong tries to figure out what his life was like before being resurrected as a god, and has a dream of a young woman drowning. Ultimately, it is revealed that Lightsong and Llarimar were brothers (a Foolish Sibling Responsible Sibling pair), and Lightsong (Stennimar), lost his life rescuing Llarmir's daughter/his niece.
  • July 28, 2013
    TonyG
    In Fosters Home For Imaginary Friends, a battle breaks out between a superhero imaginary friend named Hero Man and his nemesis, named Nemesis. When Bloo attacks Nemesis, Hero Man gets angry and shouts, "Let go of my Neme-Sister!" Turns out the two were created by a brother and sister, respectively, who fought all the time.
  • May 1, 2016
    DAN004
    How would this relate to Luke I Am Your Father?
  • May 2, 2016
    TonyG
    Luke I Am Your Father is a reveal to the character and is usually a dramatic plot development. Here, the characters already know they're related and the reveal is done casually.
  • May 2, 2016
    Chabal2
    One Midsomer Murders Eureka Moment has Barnaby realize that two characters are in fact mother and daughter when they use the same unusual expression. He arrives just in time to prevent them killing the Asshole Victim who'd ruined their lives years prior, but the daughter is killed by accident.
  • May 2, 2016
    ErikModi
    Potential example:

    In an episode of Scrubs, JD and his current love interest are discussing how to deal with an unexpected pregnancy. She brings up adoption, and JD has an Imagine Spot with him as an older man hitting on a beautiful young woman, explaining that she never knew her father and only has this locket to tell her anything about him (inside, of course, is a picture of a younger JD). When she asks if he wants to see it, he says, yeah, sure, later. Snapping back to reality, JD says he's not a fan of adoption, to which his girlfriend replies "You're afraid if she's a girl you'd doink her."
  • May 2, 2016
    Nazetrime
    I was wondering what happened with this one. For some reason I had gotten the idea it had become the Connected All Along trope. I happen to have run into an example recently:
    • In Girl Genius, Agatha and her party get shown the way to the Incorruptible Library by a Parisian student named Jiminez Hoffman. Once in the Library, Agatha's party is both assissted and watched by a worker named Aldin, who seems to view Jiminez as a Sitcom Archnemesis. However, Jiminez and Aldin are later seen having a quite friendly conversation including Jiminez telling Aldin about his future Arranged Marriage and Aldin being willing to ask the future bride a question considered delicate by Jiminez. This is how Aldin opens the conversation with the future bride:
      Aldin: I just heard that your "Mole Prince" has turned out to be my maniac of a brother.
  • May 2, 2016
    DAN004
    Compare Relationship Reveal for the romantic version of this.

    @Tony G: so LIAYF is also an Internal Reveal as much as it is a regular reveal, while this is strictly a reveal for the audience?
  • May 3, 2016
    TonyG
    Not strictly, because it may also be a reveal to other characters. The point is, the two characters involved know they're related.
  • May 3, 2016
    DAN004
    ^ I see.
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