->''"All that glitters is not gold;[[note]]Some modern readers find the phrase misleading - the real meaning is "Not everything that glistens is gold". The syntax is an accepted, albeit archaic, poetic form: the original Creator/WilliamShakespeare line is "all that glisters is not gold". Glisters is an archaic word for "glisten". The idea is not original to Shakespeare, since he writes "All that glisters is not gold/Often have you heard that told"; it was already a proverb some centuries earlier.[[/note]]\\
Often have you heard that told:\\
Many a man his life hath sold\\
But my outside to behold:\\
Gilded tombs do worms enfold."''
-->-- ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice''

Not everything that looks valuable on the surface is actually valuable. A glimmering facade on a house (whether metaphorical or literal) conceals a rotting foundation. Makeup conceals age and illness. A bright smile hides a life of suffering and sorrow.

In short, appearances can be deceiving.

The most well-known example is fool's gold (iron pyrite). A bright shiny rock that looks like polished gold, but is in fact worthless. Indeed, [[AllNaturalGemPolish true gold is a dull color, and may not look valuable at all to the ignorant]].

Whenever a character is deceived by surface appearances into overestimating the value of something this trope is in play.

In works that wish to teach the Aesop that material wealth is not the true wealth we should seek for, it might be actual gold and jewels that "glitter" and deceive characters into choosing them over less obvious wealth such as love or honor.

See also NumberOneDime. Compare PennyAmongDiamonds, WhenYouComingHomeDad, and flavor 2 of UsefulNotes/TheAmericanDream.

Contrast WorthlessYellowRocks, SimpleYetOpulent.



[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* A little short story in the ''Manga/OuranHighSchoolHostClub'' manga dealt with the host club trying to find the perfect soup that their principal had sampled when he was younger. Turns out it was a very common soup and that the one giving the soup to the principal would later be his wife.
* In ''Manga/DetectiveConan'', Conan and the Detective Boys get a treasure map from Dr. Agasa and go look for its treasure [[spoiler: and get in serious trouble when a buch of adult thieves set out to find it first.]] The treasure was... [[spoiler: a picture and a a 20-something-years-old handwritten note by someone named Yusaku Kudo. The Detective Boys are disappointed, but Conan is ultimately fine - because Yusaku Kudo is his father, meaning that Yusaku made exactly the same treasure hunt when he was a child.]]
* In ''Manga/FruitsBasket'', this trope is [[spoiler:Ren Sohma]]'s biggest punishment. [[spoiler:The box belonging to her dead husband Akira... the same that she manipulated Rin over (leading her to get '''really''' badly punished by Akito, and then she tried to kill Akito over? '''It's empty'''.]]
* In ''Animation/GuardianFairyMichel'', this frequently serves as the Aesop to many episodes. The Black Hammer Gang hunts "treasures," as they assume all treasures are wealth-based. However, the "treasures" either end up being something they can't really spend, like seeds that can grow in any soil, or non-material things such as the love of family or the beauty of a city.

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* The ''ComicBook/AtariForce'' comic book special story where Pakrat discovers crystals that he thinks are valuable that are [[SolidGoldPoop made from Babe's shedding skin scales]]. At the end of the story, Pakrat finds out that after a while they turn to dust.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* Subverted in ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'': when Calvin fails to get the [=VideoNow=] he wanted, Hobbes tells him there's more to life than just handheld TV's. Calvin agrees - [[ComicallyMissingThePoint there are]] ''[[ComicallyMissingThePoint bathtub]]'' [[ComicallyMissingThePoint TV's now!]]
* The four get a hard lesson in this in ''Fanfic/TheKeysStandAlone: The Soft World'' when they raid a dungeon and come out with lots of treasureóbut most of it is fake or cursed. All in all, they make a measly 9,000 Swords for hours of tedious trudging around.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* ''Anime/TheCastleOfCagliostro'' has a lost treasure, which counts as a partial example. The Roman ruins' enormous value is purely cultural, but the international attention they'll receive from academics and tourists will be useful for Clarisse and her country's economy. Lupin, however, wistfully notes that it's too big for his pocket.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/IndianaJonesAndTheLastCrusade'': The Holy Grail that grants its user immortality is kept inside a room with cups of all shapes and sizes. The old Knight Templar who guards it explains that the [[OnlyTheWorthyMayPass final test to prove oneself worthy]] is to pick out the right one. Donovan assumes that the Holy Grail must be a magnificent treasure fit for a king, as Jesus was the Son of God. The gold gem-encrusted cup he chooses to drink from turns out to be the wrong one, and he decays into a pile of ashes within seconds. Indiana then chooses the real one, which turns out to be an ordinary-looking cup that the son of a carpenter would use.
-->'''Templar:''' He chose... poorly.
** They're downplayed examples, but pretty much all the movies in the series involve Indy on the hunt for some fabulous exotic treasure only for him to end up coming to some more important realisation about himself or those around him.

* ''Literature/DonQuixote'', written about eight years after ''The Merchant of Venice'', refers to this trope as "a saying" (Ch. 33), providing another indication that it's really even older. The saying, in various phrasings, dates back to at least the 12th century; the earliest reference to it in English is by Chaucer.
* Inverted in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', in a poem about Aragorn, where the normal phrasing is reversed. The original saying means "Just because it glitters doesn't mean it's gold," and this example means "Just because it doesn't glitter doesn't mean it's not gold".
-->''All that is gold does not glitter,\\
Not all those who wander are lost.\\
The old that is strong does not wither,\\
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.\\
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,\\
A light from the shadows shall spring.\\
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,\\
The crownless again shall be king.''
* The motto itself is inverted in ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' -- the [[PretentiousLatinMotto motto]] of the Alchemists Guild is "[[CanisLatinicus OMNIS QVI CORVSCAT EST OR]]" (All That Glitters Is Gold). Of course, the chief discovery of the guildmembers in fact being "how to turn gold into less gold."
* Innocent Smith in ''Literature/{{Manalive}}'' argues that, since the only reason gold is valuable is that it glitters, anything that glitters really is gold, or good as gold.
* Inverted in the Literature/SherlockHolmes short story ''The Adventure of the Musgrave Ritual''. The lost treasure Brunton seeks is just a few broken bits of metal and colored stones [[spoiler:actually the lost crown of Charles I, priceless for its historical value alone.]]
* Played with in the Literature/AlbertCampion detective novel ''The Tiger in the Smoke'', which revolves around a ruthless criminal hunting for a mysterious treasure supposedly hidden by the family of the commanding officer of his wartime unit and bequeathed to his wife. Only the criminal and his allies actually believe that the 'treasure' is something of significant monetary value, however; pretty much everyone else suspects it's probably not worth as much as the criminal believes it is but nevertheless try to stop him acquiring it because, well, it's not his, he's murdered several people to try and get it and it's the principle of the thing. [[spoiler: It turns out to be a beautiful but near-worthless ivory replica of a Madonna-and-child valuable to the wife only for the sentimental connection to her dead husband.]]
* Played with in Literature/TheExecutioner novel ''Ambush on Blood River''. Mack Bolan is asked by a deposed African leader to recover a safebox stolen in a robbery during the Congo Crisis. Bolan is not interested until it's explained that as well as a stash of diamonds, the safebox also contained a list of people working for American intelligence (naturally the DirtyCommunists are also racing to seize this prize). Bolan recovers the safebox, only to find the list has crumbled to dust long ago; the former ruler was after the diamonds all along.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* A season two episode of ''Series/{{Eureka}}'' uses this trope as its title and features a bacteria-eating virus which starts turning things to gold (and then to rust).
* An episode of ''Series/SeaQuestDSV'' has the resident conartist loading the boat up with glowing blue crystals. [[spoiler: That turn out to be bioluminescent squid poop.]]
* Sarah initially feels this way about taking over Beth's life in ''Series/OrphanBlack'' - Beth has a stable job, a nice apartment, a hot boyfriend, and $75,000 in an account her boyfriend doesn't know about to steal. [[spoiler: Then it turns out Beth is a cop on suspension for shooting a civilian, and is in deep with Clone Club. The $75,000 belongs to another clone.]]
* One ''Series/OneLifeToLive'', after discovering his wife's duplicity (she'd pretended to be pregnant to get him to marry her), Todd compared to a piece of artwork in their living room, picking it up, describing its beauty, then smashing it to the floor, saying, "But when you get right down to it, it's nothing but cheap crap."
* ''Series/LittleHouseOnThePrairie'' had an episode where Laura and a friend think that they've found gold but when they bring their haul into town, they find out it's only pyrite (fool's gold).
* ''Series/{{MASH}}'':
** Charles finds a small vase among a peddler's wares and thinks it's a priceless antique. As he doesn't have the money to buy it (this was the episode where a goat ate the payroll), he borrows the money from Rizzo, at the "simple" interest rate of 100% per day. Not only does the vase not turn out to be valuable, but Charles winds up broke having to pay back Rizzo for several days of "interest".
** An early episode had Radar prospecting for gold in the mountains near camp, as Korea is one of the largest gold-producing nations. He doesn't find any but Hawkeye and Trapper use the story about there being gold nearby to convince Frank to give up a transfer (after Frank and Margaret both asked to be transferred because of Hawkeye and Trapper's practical jokes, Henry put the two captains on double duty until they get replacements).

* [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU9qWR6Bosw A song]] by Dan Seals talks about a man who loved a beautiful rodeo woman, but she doesn't even want to have anything to do with him or their daughter. This song's name? ''Everything That Glitters (Is Not Gold)''.

* ''Radio/OurMissBrooks'': In the episode ''Indian Burial Ground'', Miss Brooks, Mr. Boynton and Walter Denton confuse broken toys buried in Mr. Conklin's vacant lot with valuable Indian artifacts.

* The name of this trope comes from ''Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice'' by William Shakespeare (though, in the original play, the line was "all that glisters is not gold"). When Bassanio figures out the riddle, he gains Portia's hand in marriage, having learned that he should appreciate her for her mind rather than her beauty. (Of course, she was very wealthy, [[SweetAndSourGrapes so in winning the hand he got the gold too]].)
* In ''Theatre/CatOnAHotTinRoof'' the pivotal confrontation between Big Daddy and his son Brick invokes this trope. Brick tells his father that he isn't impressed with his vast wealth and all he wanted was a father not a boss. Big Daddy retorts that what was there that he didn't buy him when he was growing up? Brick then screams that you can't buy love and proceeds to destroy a vast collection of art that Big Daddy had purchased in an auction to show that none of the material stuff really mattered to him, he only wanted his father's love. Big Daddy says that he does love him he just wanted what was best for him because he grew up poor and his own father left behind nothing of value that would be worth remembering other than an old suitcase with a Military uniform in it. Brick disagrees saying that his grandfather left behind love for Big Daddy, moved to tears Big Daddy agrees and promises to try better as a father for Brick.

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* Used by the heroes in ''Webcomic/SequentialArt''; most of the other party members have been drugged to sheer stupidity, so Art gets them to follow him by [[http://www.collectedcurios.com/sequentialart.php?s=860 offering a "prize"]]. Which is just a ruse.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/SpongeBobSquarePants'' uses a variation of the trope in one episode. [=SpongeBob=] replacing his old spatula with a high-tech one, then crawls back to his old one after his new one declares it's too good for him. [=SpongeBob=] even says "all that glitters is not gold". And the episode title is... (''drumroll'') "All That Glitters".
** Another episode starts with SpongeBob pick up what Mr. Krabs thinks is a penny, and the rest of the episode focuses on Krabs' obsession with getting the penny from SpongeBob. It turns out the "penny" is actually a wad of chewed gum SpongeBob had wanted for his collection. [[spoiler: Subverted when the "gum" turns out to be a crumpled-up $500 bill.]]
* ''WesternAnimation/TheSmurfs'' episode "All That Glitters Isn't Smurf", where Gargamel kidnaps Smurfs in order to make gold, and Papa Smurf lures the evil wizard to a mountain of fake gold coins made from Smurfette's hair in order to rescue his little Smurfs.
* The trope name is dropped in an episode of ''[[WesternAnimation/TheComicStrip Tiger Sharks]]''. There, it is played ''very'' literally -- what looks like a hoard of golden spheres is actually dangerous toxic waste causing RapidAging in anyone touching it. Both the heroes and one of the major villains have a problem because of it... the other villain learned his lesson many years ago.
* A ''WesternAnimation/LooneyTunes'' cartoon, "Speedy Ghost to Town" has Daffy on the pursuit of Speedy Gonzales and his friend, Miguel, after Speedy reveals to Miguel what Daffy believes to be gold, as well as a map to a mine with plenty more. After several failed attempts to get the map, he finally holds up Speedy and Miguel at their mine and demands their stash. They proceed to give him their cart, only for Daffy to realize the mine wasn't filled with gold, but something Speedy and Miguel would find more valuable: [[StockAnimalDiet cheese.]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Can [[TruthInTelevision also occur]] in the RealLife -- several early European [[BoldExplorer exploration]] expeditions (most notably [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Frobisher Martin Frobisher's]]) returned to their homelands with literally tons of iron pyrite, believing that they'd found gold. Even nowadays a common name for pyrite is "Fool's Gold".