Created By: Bakazuki on October 20, 2012 Last Edited By: Bakazuki on November 21, 2012

Built Upon Lies

Where lies serve as the foundations for something that's actually tangible.

Name Space:
Main
Page Type:
Trope

Current Issues:

  • Is This Tropable?? Or Too Rare to Trope? Also, I asked the Lost and Found beforehand and got nothing, but just in case, Do We Have This One??
  • The wording in the description probably needs to be revised in order to avoid confusion of the Meta tropes Based on a Great Big Lie and Dan Browned. The focus on this one is in-universe, and is supposed to be about how one lie be the single foundation for what occurs in the liars life afterward and/or the results of such a lie.
  • Open to suggestions for alternate titles and indices this may belong in.

Possible Alt. Titles: ?
Indices: Truth and Lies

Most of the dishonest statements we make in life are inconsequential in the long run. After all, it's not like lying about stealing from the cookie jar is going to cause an emotional rift between you and your parents later on in life. However, a single lie can still be a powerful thing, even the simplest and whitest of lies. There are lies that will land a person into trouble. Lies that will infuriate people. Lies that will hurt people. And then there are these.

Something big -- be it someone's entire life, a theology, a corporation, or something else entirely -- can founded upon lies -- even a single lie -- that a person makes. Some people who tell these lies may not even be expecting it, as the lie initiates a domino effect, affecting their own lives and perhaps the lives of the people around them. Others, however, may know exactly what they're doing when they tell these lies, especially when the effects of telling the lies benefit them.

The end result may be something that's irreversible such as the course of the liar's life, or worse, something that comes crashing back down on the liar and those who are affected by it.

Not to be confused with Snowball Lie, where the lie itself grows and travels from person to person, and Based on a Great Big Lie, where a fictional work is sold to people as a true story.

No Real Life Examples, Please!.


Examples:

Anime and Manga
  • Sangatsu no Lion: Rei's life after his family's death is built upon a single lie he uttered to avoid being placed in an orphanage. By telling this lie, he becomes part of a family that's devoted to the game of shogi and changes the course of his life. By becoming the best player in the family despite his lack of real love for the game, the lives of his new foster siblings are affected as well as they begin to receive less attention from their father. This culminates into Rei eventually becomes a professional player of the very game that he only played to get close to his real father. The story remains ambiguous whether or not this lie became the truth over time.
    Kouda: ...Do you like shogi?
    Young Rei: ...Yes.
    Rei (narration): ...For the first time in my life, I lied in order to survive...and there was no turning back. Since then the god of shogi and I have been wrapped together by that ugly lie.

Film
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, crime has nearly been eradicated with the power of the Dent Act, which came into existance as a testament to Harvey Dent's crime-fighting efforts and his supposed sacrifice. This, however, is just a lie, as the public doesn't know that Harvey actually murdered the people in The Dark Knight as Two-Face, the murders being blamed on Batman instead to uphold Harvey's image as Gotham City's white knight. The lie later becomes a point of conflict between John Blake and James Gordon.
  • In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Senator Ransom Stoddard's political career is kickstarted by a feat he never achieved, the demise of the dreadful ruffian Liberty Valance. It becomes a positive Never Live It Down example to everyone, except to him and to the real hero, Tom Doniphon. A newspaper editor discusses how the lines between fiction and reality are easily dissolved
    When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
  • The Invention of Lying takes place in a universe where lying does not exist until the protagonist develops the ability and creates the first lie. Later in the film, he tells his dying mother, who is fearful of the nothingness she believes will come of death, about an afterlife and Heaven to allow her to die in peace. This lie eventually spreads throughout the world, which eventually leads him into lying about other things to bolster the his previous lie, such as "ten rules" and the "Man in the Sky." Since no one understands the concept of lying, they believe everything without question, and religion is born out of his lies.

Literature
  • This is the basis for The Postman. In a post-nuclear Pacific Northwest, what started out as a simple con -- telling people that enough of the government survived that postal service is being restored -- is enough to stimulate scattered communities of survivors to begin rebuilding a central government.
  • In The Warrior Apprentice, Miles is trying to arrange to run a cargo of supplies into a war zone and states that "were professionals" with the intent to imply he is a professional shipper (which he isn't, this being his first run ever). The listener interprets him to mean he is a professional mercenary instead, which Miles decides not to correct since it shouldn't matter either way so long as he gets the mission. By the end of the story Miles finds himself repeating the lie after he accidentally takes over one ship, and slowly captures or receives more ships until he ultimately is the admiral of his own mercenary fleet. Though he didn't exactly want the fleet so much as it just sort of happened.
  • In The Toynbee Convector by Ray Bradbury, a man named Stiles claims to have traveled a hundred years into the future and seen an Earth that is a virtual utopia, providing documentary evidence from the future to back up his claims. With a vision to work towards, humanity starts striving to reach the future Stiles has described, and by the time 100 years have passed, it is a reality. On the day he is supposed to arrive from the past, Stiles grants an interview to a reporter. He admits that the time machine never worked and that his proof was all fake. He just wanted to give humanity a goal worth striving for. Stiles dies and the reporter decides to keep his secret.

(Rolling Updates)
Community Feedback Replies: 16
  • October 20, 2012
    spacemarine50
  • October 20, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Aren't those both meta tropes?

    Those weren't my intent at all, so I'm guessing something in either my laconic or draft description is suggesting otherwise to you. Could you please point out which?

    EDIT: ...Okay, I think I got it. Is it because I'm phrasing it as "something is built/based upon a single lie one makes?" Should I revise the whole thing in order to make it clearer that what I'm aiming for is "a single lie either greatly affects the liar's own life/future or results in the creation of something grand?"
  • October 21, 2012
    Chernoskill
    • In The Dark Knight Rises, crime has nearly been eradicated with the power of the Dent Act, which came into existance as a testament to Harvey Dent's crime-fighting efforts and his supposed sacrifice. This, however, is just a lie, as the public doesn't know that Harvey actually murdered the people in The Dark Knight as Two-Face, the murders being blamed on Batman instead to uphold Harvey's image as Gotham City's white knight. The lie later becomes a point of conflict between John Blake and James Gordon.
  • October 21, 2012
    Bakazuki
    There we go. That is the kind of thing I'm looking for.
  • October 21, 2012
    Lumpenprole
    This is the basis for the novel The Postman: in a post-nuclear Pacific Northwest, what started out as a simple con- telling people that enough of the government survived that postal service is being restored- is enough to stimulate scattered communities of survivors to begin rebuilding a central government.

  • October 23, 2012
    rolranx
    in The Warrior Apprentice Miles is trying to arrange to run a cargo of supplies into a war zone and states that "were professionals" with the intent to imply he is a professional shipper (which he isn't, this being his first run ever). The listener interprets him to mean he is a professional mercenary instead which miles decides not to correct since it shouldn't matter either way so long as he gets the mission. By the end of the story : Miles finds himself repeating the lie after he accidentally takes over one ship, and slowly captures or receives more ships until he ultimately *is* the admiral of his own mercenary fleet. Though he didn't exactly *want* the fleet so much as it just sort of happened.
  • October 24, 2012
    TrollBrutal
    • In The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, Senator Ransom Stoddard's political career is kickstarted by a feat he never achieved, the demise of the dreadful ruffian Liberty Valance. It becomes a positive Never Live It Down example to everyone, except to him and to the real hero, Tom Doniphon. A newspaper editor discusses how the lines between fiction and reality are easily dissolved
      When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.
  • October 25, 2012
    Bakazuki
    ...Why am I unable to remove my own tags now? I was going to take off that redundant Need Examples tag.
  • October 27, 2012
    Chabal2
    Warhammer 40 K might have this: The Emperor founded his civilization on the basis of having no religion whatsoever in the hopes of warding off Chaos. The Imperium of Man now worships their God Emperor as, well, a god, and their church has its own army (it turns out faith is an excellent weapon against Chaos).
  • October 28, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Hm...could you clarify for me what the lie is in this example before I add it in?
  • November 1, 2012
    TBeholder
    (stage whisper): a socialist screaming "no Real Life examples" in 3... 2...
  • November 1, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Well, yeah, I was expecting that, somewhat. My main concern was real life cases like the Film example of The Invention Of Lying. *points to Current Issues* I'm just waiting for the first person to do so in case my worries are unfounded.
  • November 1, 2012
    CobraPrime
    Sounds like Fawlty Towers Plot
  • November 1, 2012
    Bakazuki
    True, I was worried about the similarities between Fawlty Towers Plot and this, especially when I removed the "single lie" distinction. The key difference I'm trying to establish here is that something tangible is created due to those lies. If I'm interpreting Fawlty Towers Plot correctly, it simply details scenarios where one lie is supported by an ongoing flow of other lies until someone points out a flaw that exposes all of them for what they are.
  • November 1, 2012
    foxley
    In "The Toynbee Convector" by Ray Bradbury, a man named Stiles claims to have travelled a hundred years into the future and seen an Earth that this a virtual utopia, providing documentary evidence from the future to back up his claims. With a vision to work towards, humanity starts striving to reach the future Stiles has described, and, by the time 100 years have passed, it is a reality. On the day he is supposed to arrive from the past, Stles grants an interview to a reporter. He admits that the time machine never worked and that his proof was all fake. He just wanted to give humanity a goal worth striving for. Stiles dies and the reporter decides to keep his secret.
  • November 21, 2012
    Bakazuki
    Alright, I think I've given this enough of a break.

    It's clear to me with the amount of times this YKTTW has been suggested to be an existing trope, despite my rebuttals that it is not, that either my description is unclear, this is too rare or specific to trope, or I'm not being flexible enough with the existing tropes.

    Since no one has yet to seriously argue with me on the latter two cases, I'm going to try improving the description for now until someone does. The fact that I have received a few examples that I have had no problem with whatsoever indicates that there are people that understand what I'm trying to get at, but part of the description muddles the distinction and causes others to confuse it with existing tropes.

    Can anyone who is either confused about this trope due to the description or completely clear on what this YKTTW entry tries to entail but can see why it might confuse people point out what are the confusing elements in the description so I know where to start?
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/discussion.php?id=w9d9wbt68yzyyk48112eqlse