->'''Reggie:''' What did you do?\\
'''Joy:''' I made blueberry pancakes.\\
'''Reggie:''' You make those when you feel guilty.
-->-- ''Series/DeadLikeMe''

Alice knows Bob very well. She can always tell what he's feeling. She'll probably say something like:

* "You always clean when you're angry."
* "You're only nice to me when something is wrong."
* "Whenever you have a bad day at work, your foot shakes."

The idea is that Alice can tell something about Bob's emotional state because he is performing a significant but unrelated action. Expect Bob to deny it.

Writers will often use TheTell to inform the audience what is going on with a character who wouldn't normally share his feelings.

See also YouCanAlwaysTellALiar and PinocchioNose for cases where Alice can tell that Bob is lying. See TheMagicPokerEquation for TabletopGame/{{poker}} tells. Supertrope to HeartbreakAndIceCream ("when you're heartbroken you eat ice cream a lot"), ComfortFood and PostStressOvereating.

Compare CharacterTic, gestures/body movements that is done as a characteristic quirk, while this one is a bigger gesture and serves as a hint to their personality. Contrast OutOfCharacterAlert for when they do things they ''don't'' usually do (or the opposite of what they usually do) as a sign that something is wrong with the character.


[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* In ''Manga/MaisonIkkoku'', you can tell Kyoko's angry because she becomes VERY enthusiastic while cleaning (more so than usual). That, and her tendency to break broomhandles by ''squeezing'' them.
* In ''Manga/BitterVirgin'', Yuzu notices Daisuke is upset by Kazuki's [[{{Yandere}} unwelcome affection]] because he keeps holding his forehead.
* Invoked in ''Manga/LiarGame'' where Fukunaga tells their opponent that Nao blinks twice when she lies. [[spoiler:This was apparently a scheme the two came up together with, to trick their opponent into betting all their money in the last round of the roulette. Nao doesn't actually have a tell]].
* In ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventureDiamondIsUnbreakable'', one of the enemy Stand users can imprison people inside sheets of paper if he get them to show their fear through a Tell; for example, Josuke's Tell is biting his lower lip. [[spoiler:He almost succeeds, but when things turn around and Josuke catches Miyamoto's Tell, [[HoistByHisOwnPetard he's affected by his own Stand]] and gets turned into a book.]]
* In ''Manga/ReLife'' An says that when something upsets Yoake, he can't help but tap his index finger.


[[folder: Card Games ]]

* Good TabletopGame/{{Poker}} players can recognize their opponents' tells, while at the same time hiding their own.


[[folder: Fanfiction ]]

* ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/4140426/chapters/9338907 So Much for No Strings Attached]]'':
-->Lucius meanwhile had retrieved O'Keaffles Irish Whiskey. Severus knew that Lucius only drank it when he was stressed about something.
* ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/9602506/11/The-New-Kid The New Kid]]'':
-->'''Sirius:''' Come along Gwenog, let's go get changed for our date.\\
'''Gwenog''': Hold on, you never use my full name unless you've done something you haven't told us about.
* ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10876203/5/Charrie Charrie]]'':
-->'''Fred:''' You did something, didn't you?\\
'''Ginny:''' No I didn't. What gave you that idea?\\
'''George:''' Yes you did. You mess with your hair when you're hiding something.
* In the ''WesternAnimation/FairlyOddparents'' story, ''FanFic/NeverHadAFriendLikeMe'', [[OriginalCharacter Ama]][[ShrinkingViolet nda]] notices that [[JerkassGenie Norm]] tends to push his sunglasses up, blocking his eyes from sight, when he wants to hide something.
* Played with in ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10561760/1/What-Happens-in-Vegas What Happens in Vegas]]'' when Tonks deliberately turns her hair yellow while lying to Mundungus Fletcher.
-->''"Bright colors make people think you're trustworthy and honest,''" Mad-Eye had told her more than once when she was still a cadet. "''So long as you also do that when you'' '''are''' ''telling the truth, they'll think it's one of your tells.''"
* ''[[http://archiveofourown.org/works/5529512/chapters/16621192 Harry Potter and the Golden Ring]]'':
-->'''Barda:''' Tell me, what is it you train so diligently for this morning? The hard music indicates a particular mindset.\\
'''Harry:''' What?\\
'''Karen:''' You only listen to stuff like Nazareth when you’re upset. This is ''Hair of the Dog''.
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12205182/21/Angel-s-Place Angel's Place]]'' Harry comments that after Dumbledore announced the Triwizard Tournament everyone at Hogwarts "ontune araignée au plafond."
-->'''Harry:''' It's annoying.\\
'''Rosalie:''' I can tell. You're complaining in French- that only happens if you're very irritated indeed.
* In ''[[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3163139/2/Raspberry-Jam Raspberry Jam]]'' Draco judges Harry's mood by the type and amount of jam he spreads on his toast at breakfast.


[[folder: Film ]]

* In ''Film/MirrorMask'', when Helena's father is trying to calm her about her mother's impending brain surgery, and unconsciously chews his lip, she blurts, "Anyway, you're worried. You only do that when you're worried!"
* ''WesternAnimation/KungFuPanda''. "You eat when you are upset."
* In ''Film/CasinoRoyale2006'', Bond figures out that Le Chiffre is bluffing when he goes to rub his eye - though Bond loses that particular hand, he explains afterwards to Vesper and Mathis that Le Chiffre bet big and only got lucky on the river card, meaning he had a weak hand when he bet big. [[spoiler:Le Chiffre later repeats it but this time, having been tipped off about his tell and that Bond is looking for it, uses it to clean out all of Bond's chips. Bond only gets a buy-back into the game when Felix Leiter steps in.]]
* In ''Film/HouseOfGames'', a sequence involved one main explaining to another what a "tell" ''is''--down to demonstrating it, with a "hidden penny" game.


[[folder: Literature ]]

* It is repeatedly mentioned in the ''Literature/MercyThompson'' books that Mercy bakes when she's upset. It is actually pretty consistent, and is remarked upon a few times.
* In ''Literature/ThePrincessDiaries'', Mia's nostrils flare whenever she lies, although she's an excellent liar otherwise, and no one had noticed the nostrils thing before Grandmere.


[[folder: Live Action TV ]]

* From ''Series/DeadLikeMe'':
-->'''Reggie:''' What did you do?
-->'''Joy:''' I made blueberry pancakes.
-->'''Reggie:''' You make those when you feel guilty.
* ''Series/{{Coupling}}'':
--> "You (referring to Susan) only say apparently when you're annoyed at something"
* In ''Literature/{{Aquila}}'' one of the protagonists' mothers realises he's upset when he begins sorting his rock collection.
* Ellie Nash from ''Series/{{Degrassi}}'' cooks when she's angry, according to Marco.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'': [[CommanderContrarian Commander Ivanova]] knows ''something'' is up when she sees Garibaldi "eating like a man starved", but she doesn't know him well enough to be sure there's a reason behind it. It turns out it is something Garibaldi does when faced with death (in this case, a ship full of colonists he came across who were killed by SpacePirates.)
* In ''Series/{{Frasier}}'', Niles' nose bleeds when he's broken his ethical code. Likewise, when Frasier has knowingly broken his ethical code, he starts having attacks of nausea.
* ''Series/{{House}}'':
** House can tell when Cuddy's bluffing even when he's not in the same building [[spoiler: because he's talking on a phone with Wilson]].
** In the season 2 finale, the guy who shot House knows when House isn't sleeping, because his nostrils flare when he sleeps. [[spoiler: Although, most of the episode was AllJustADream, so make of that what you will]].
* In ''Series/TheWestWing'' episode "Two Cathedrals", Mrs Landingham explains in a flashback that when Bartlett has made up his mind to do something, he sticks his hands in his pockets, looks away, and smiles. If you're paying attention at the end, he does the same thing when asked if he's going to run again.
* In ''Series/TheCityHunter'', Prosecutor Kim Young Ju knows his ex-wife, Sae Hee, is lying about the whereabouts of The City Hunter because she draws a circle on the table with her finger.
* In ''Series/NecessaryRoughness'', Dani squints a lot whenever she doesn't like something or someone.
* In ''Series/CornerGas'', Emma cleans whenever she is angry about something. In the same episode, Davis and Karen take advantage of this by bringing her to their dirty kitchens and riling her up.
* In Korean Drama, ''Series/SecretGarden'', Gil Ra Im taps one of her feet, when she's interested in has-been singer Oska. Oska sees this after a FreakyFridayFlip from his male relative, and gets seriously squicked out.
* In ''Series/BrooklynNineNine'', Terry has a tell in which he flexes his biceps whenever he has a good hand.
* Played with in Season 2 of ''Series/{{Luther}}''. During an interrogation, [[DaChief Schenk]] asks a suspect if he plays cards, then Schenk says that he's already spotted a tell that the man has, that the corner of his mouth twitches slightly when he's nervous. Schenk even offers to show the man the camera footage to prove it. After that, Schenk then lists a whole number of things that the police think the suspect did, then claims that the man's mouth is twitching again. The man breaks down and tells Schenk everything. Luther later asks if Schenk was telling the truth, and a very amused Schenk responds that [[LyingToThePerp he's been using that same lie on suspects since the 80s]], and it's worked every time.


[[folder: Tabletop RPG ]]

* ''TabletopGame/{{Stormbringer}}'' supplement ''Demon Magic'', adventure "Sorcerer's Isle". From the description of the pirate Janar Ra:
-->When she is angry, she goes into the jungle and hacks away at trees; when she is very angry, she sullenly sharpens her axes. The rest of the pirates do not disturb her when she sharpens her axes.


[[folder: Video Games ]]

* This is a game mechanic in ''VisualNovel/ApolloJusticeAceAttorney''- when a witness is nervous while testifying they'll perform some sort of habitual action that you have to zoom in on and then call them out on.
* Also a benefit of the advanced facial animation technology present in ''VideoGame/LANoire'', where during interrogations, a suspect may have a telling reaction as they wait your response to their testimony and you must gauge the correct response based on that. Some [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtMZ20DmJo more telling than others.]]
** Also subverted in that a tell is not a sign of lying, and a lack of tell is not a sign of telling the truth.


[[folder: Web Comics ]]

* In ''Webcomic/OzyAndMillie'', the tail of foxes shows their emotions. This is mentioned many times, including for [[http://russell2.math.bme.hu/~ambrus/sc/comic/millie/comic?n=19991118 Ozy]] and [[http://russell2.math.bme.hu/~ambrus/sc/comic/millie/comic?n=20050719 Ms. Mudd]]
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'', Baron Klaus Wulfenbach [[http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/comic.php?date=20150420 has one]] that Lucrezia knows (spoilers):
-->'''Lucrezia''' ''([[spoiler:In Agatha's body]])'': It ''is'' you! You're doing that thing you do whenever I ''catch'' you at something!\\
'''Klaus''' ''([[spoiler:In Gil's body]])'': ''What'' thing?\\
'''Lucrezia:''' Ha! As if I'd ''tell'' you!


[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* When "discorded", Applejack in ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' lies every time she speaks. Every time she does, however, her face crinkles up and her eyes flick back and forth.