"Gwendolyn, it is a terrible thing for a man to find out suddenly that all his life he has been speaking nothing but the truth. Can you forgive me?"It looks like a character is going to get caught out in a lie that they told, but then they're unexpectedly saved—they didn't know it, but what they said was correct all along, or has become correct quickly enough that they're safe. Maybe it's just a lucky coincidence, or maybe one of their friends quickly and quietly arranged things to save them, but either way, they've avoided having their lie exposed. Often, a character rescued in this way will just be relieved about it. Sometimes, though, the character will feel guilty about their lie, especially if there's some Oblivious Guilt Slinging—if so, they may show their strong moral character by rejecting their chance at escape and owning up to the lie. Compare:
— Jack, The Importance of Being Earnest
- Right for the Wrong Reasons, where a character follows an erroneous chain of logic to a correct conclusion.
- Accidentally Correct Writing, where a creator does not do the research, but gets it right anyway.
- Genuine Imposter, where a character is revealed to be someone they are impersonating.
- If Only You Knew, where a character says something true by coincidence without him/her knowing its accuracy (note how the intent there is not to deceive a second party).
- Joke and Receive, where instead of a deliberate lie, it's a joke.
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Anime and Manga
- In Fairy Tail, Carla claimed to be the Exceeds' princess to prevent Edolas!Erza from arresting her and Happy. Turns out that she really is Queen Chagot's daughter.
- Also, in the same arc Natsu claimed that he is the Demon King. Then it turned out that he is E.N.D., the most powerful demon from Zeref's books.
- In episode 26 of Nichijou, the girls decide to celebrate Nano's birthday on little more than a whim of Yuuko. They even go so far as to buy her a cake. Nano's simply left wondering how her friends knew it was her birthday.
- Early on in Death Note when L first appears and makes it clear that he's on Kira's case, tabloids bring about the theory that L is Kira. During the second half of the manga and the anime's second season, Light takes over L's position after the latter's death, so those tabloids were right...just a few years early.
- In Beelzebub, in order to make their fellow students interested in finding the demon prince En, Furuichi told the rest of the delinquents that En is from Akumano Academy (demon academy) instead of, you know, Hell. Then after Furuichi managed to make En mad, En took over Ishiyama High and make it into an actual Akumano Academy, filled with 394 demons.
- In Otaku no Musume-san, Kanau is embarrassed that her father Kouta is an Otaku so she lies to her new friends that her father is their favorite manga artist. Later, Kanau and her friends learns she was actually half-right when Kouta reveals he's actually that manga artist's assistant in drawing.
- In Dragon Ball, after witnessing Goku's first transformation into an Oozaru (a gigantic were-monkey), Oolong wonders if Goku's "some kind of space alien". Much later, at the start of Dragon Ball Z it's revealed that Goku actually is an alien.
- In one first-season episode of Pokémon, Ash and his entourage meet the Pokémon expert Bill, who claims that, while he knows of only 150 different species of Pokémon, he theorizes that there may be far more, and that there may, in fact, be "no limit" to the number. Since that time, the number of known species of Pokémon has grown to 807, and the franchise shows no signs of slowing down, so it's probably a very good thing Bill was so open-minded way back then.
- In Steins;Gate, Okabe Rintarou makes up ridiculous stories about being a mad scientist who goes by the alias "Hououin Kyouma" and is pursued by an evil organization. That turns out to be completely true, and not quite fun and games. Also, guess which alias did Okabe choose to go by when he actually became a mad scientist in the bad future.
- In When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, one of Ando's chuuni rants became true halfway through, and he and people around him indeed got superpowers.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, Luka has a dream about the battle where the Signer Dragons fought the Earthbound Gods. When her brother Lua asks whether Power Tool Dragon was there (meaning that he could be the fifth Signer), Luka replies yes to cheer him up even though she didn't see it. An entire season latter, after Crow has become the fifth Signer with an entirely different dragon from the one Luka saw, Lua is finally recognized by the Crimson Dragon and made a sixth Signer, which allows him to summon Life Stream Dragon, who turns out to be the true form of Power Tool Dragon.
- In Inuyasha, Miroku at one point plans to get lodgings for the night by pretending that a nearby house is "haunted", and performing an "exorcism" in exchange for food and bed. When he does his exorcism, an evil spirit actually does pop out... the house really was haunted.
- In one Silver Age Superman story, Jimmy Olsen is kidnapped and interrogated about Superman's identity. He buys himself some time by claiming that Superman is "my boss at the Daily Planet". Guess who's filling in for Perry White when the crooks show up with a chunk of kryptonite...?
- In Thunderbolts Baron Zemo goes by the codename Citizen V and proclaims to the media that he is the grandson of the original Citizen V who fought Nazis in World War II. Helmut's father killed the original Citizen V during World War II, so Helmut was sure the original Citizen V had no children or grandchildren. A few years later Zemo gets beheaded and thanks to a prank from his former team member Techno he wakes up in the body of the grandson of the original Citizen V.
- Les Tuniques Bleues: After an army-wide briefing, General Alexander orders our two heroes to stay, making sure they understand the battle plan, then has them go on a mission where they're sure to get captured by the Southerners. Once they do, Blutch quickly figures out they were sent so the Rebels would get the battle plan out of them, and proceeds to willingly give the whole plan n great detail to their commander. Unfortunately, the Rebels are suspicious, especially when Chesterfield refuses to talk, and undergoes several days of torture until he finally snaps and... gives a completely different version of the Union's battle plan. Which turns out to have been the real plan, resulting in a Union defeat.
- In the first arc of Superior Foes of Spider-Man, Boomerang's narration tells us the story of how after Silvermane's death his head survived, and was found by the son of a junkyard owner, who made it a little robot body, and they became friends. He then says that's nonsense and that Silvermane's head is actually being held by the Owl, and his masterplan is to steal it. It's then revealed that this is just what he's telling the team, and actually he's after something else, and his narration says the whole story of Silvermane's head surviving is ridiculous… at the same time as the Shocker is at the junkyard and sees the head in its little robot body.
- In the "I'll Take Manhattan" storyline in Catwoman, Selina Kyle is standing for mayor of New York, and the Mob has offered a bounty to take her out of the running. The Trickster comes up with the brilliant idea of starting a rumour she's secretly Catwoman… and can't understand why the real Catwoman is so mad about this.
- Phony Psychic Robert Lees claims that this is what's going on with his prophecies in From Hell. He makes things up as he goes… and they all come true anyway.
- Knights of the Dinner Table: After the fifth Golden Ticket is found, Brian spreads a rumour that one of the Golden Tickets was a forgery so he can unload his stash of Hackerjacks. However, it turns out that one the reported Golden Tickets is actually a forgery.
- Scooby-Doo! Team-Up: Fred Flintstone, wanting to play bowling rather than watch some opera, makes up a story about the opera house being haunted. The place turns out to be "haunted" by a Corrupt Corporate Executive who needs the land to build a mall.
- Somewhat bending this trope a bit: Three brothers go out to save the ill princess. The first two are the usual louts. The apples from their garden would have been useless anyway, but meeting the mysterious old lady who wants to know what's in their basket, and giving her a snippish "Penises!" (your bowdlerization may vary) was an especially bad move. One guess what's in their basket when they arrive at the castle and how screwed they are afterwards. The third one is polite and says what he believes, apples which shall cure the princess. (Well, technically not a lie but wishful thinking.) The witch makes this real also, cue happily ever after.
- Advice and Trust: In chapter 4 Asuka thinks that Rei was acting like she was less a teenage girl than an alien that looked like one... that is actually true since Rei is the soul of an alien being stuck in the body of a human girl, but Asuka did not know that at the time.
- Misato also refers to their counter-conspiracy as "the side of the angels" during the Christmas party (in the "good" sense, not in the "Eldritch Abomination" sense). Said group is run by Rei and Kaworu.
- In For Love of Magic, Harry responds to Lockhart lying to the press to mooch off Harry's fame by writing an anonymous letter to both the Ministry of Magic and Daily Prophet about concerns he has that Lockhart might be extorting sexual favors from the older female students. Harry's rather surprised to later hear of Lockhart being sentenced to sixty odd years in prison for doing just that (among other things).
- Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 2 Kaji thinks that angering Asuka would be a bad idea because she might breach the hull of the plane. He was just kidding, but she actually might breach the hull thanks to her Amazonian heritage.
- Shatterheart when Syaoran is kidnapped by a street gang who is led by a pair of Serial Killers, the female leader Cassie mocks his hero complex by cowing "You got a princess waiting for you in a tower? Have lots of magical adventures with your friends? Explore foreign territories and overthrow cruel regimes?" Which is a pretty accurate guess of what he actually does.
- The Day Everything Changed: One night, Konata has a nightmare in which Kagami is brutally beaten by another girl. The next day, it happens.
- This Bites!: In Chapter 26, Tashigi tries to throw the Marines off the Strawhat Pirates' trail by sending them to Jaya... which is, in fact, their current location.
- During the G-8 arc, Cross tells Sanji that he's glad he's 1/3rd secret agent. Since Cross never saw anything past Chapter 800, the conclusion of the Dressrosa Arc, he has no idea how close to the truth he really is.
- Overlady: Apparently a noble family was once accused of demonology by the regime as an excuse to wipe them out. Afterwards, the guards found out they really were practicing demonology and one of them notes "they didn't seem the type."
- In The Somewhat Cracked Mind Of Uchiha Itachi, Mizuki distracts Kabuto from attacking Naruto and Sasuke by talking about the Uchiha Clan being ostracized by the village and Danzo's machinations. Since Mizuki and Iruka were just chunins at the time, they had no idea how close to the truth he was.
- In Home, to get the other Boov to move out of his way, Captain Smek says that he's carrying a baby. We later learn his shusher's rock is an incubator.
- Ice Age 2: The Meltdown: Fast Tony the con artist armadillo predicts a devastating flood to help his sales, which is confirmed to be actually happening.
Manny: You guys gotta listen to Fast Tony! He's right about the flood!
Fast Tony: (in genuine astonishment) I am? Er... I mean uh... (boldly) Yes, I am.
- A written example in Mulan: Mushu writes a fake message from the General to order Shang's new troops to move out. That message turns out to be desperately needed, as they find out when they arrive at the pillaged village with every citizen and imperial soldier—including the General himself—killed by the Huns.
- In The Incredibles, Bob Parr, formerly the superhero Mr. Incredible, is hired to take out a robot called the Omnidroid whose advanced A.I. meant that it had (in Bob's words) "got smart enough to wonder why it had to take orders." That Omnidroid was completely under the control of the villain Syndrome, and was part of his plan to create a situation for him to pretend to resolve. However, the Omnidroid in the plan got smart enough to wonder why it had to take orders — or, more specifically be controlled by Syndrome's remote. The Omnidroid targeted the remote and took Syndrome out, resulting in Mr. Incredible having to do the job that he was fake-hired to do for real.
- In The Story of Ichabod Crane in The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad, Brom Bones seemingly makes up the whole story about the Headless Horseman to terrorize the superstitious Ichabod Crane. As it turns out, the Headless Horseman really does exist, and goes after Ichabod Crane in the ending. Although the Horseman just might have been Brom in disguise.
- In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey is occasionally surprised at what he's "allowed" to say while cursed to tell the truth. For instance, he asks for a toilet break…
Judge Stevens: (irritated) Can't it wait?
Fletcher: (crestfallen) Yes, it can. …but I've heard [emphasis added] that if you hold it you can damage the prostate gland, making it verrrry difficult to get an erection or even become aroused!
Judge Stevens: Is that true?
Fletcher: …It has to be!
Stevens: …In that case, I'd better take a short break myself.
"I'm a bad father!"
- He's also surprised when he is able to say that he really wanted to see his son that day. "How 'bout that, I do."
- In its most heart-breaking form:
- In The Cannonball Run, Mad Dog and Batman tell a motorcycle cop that their brakes have failed. When they attempt to stop, they discover their brakes really have failed.
- The Rocket Boy has the hero lie about what was guarding the nest, since he wanted to sound like he did something more impressive than destroy a recording. He described a large orange spiky reptile, which then appeared after finishing his boast.
- In Geek Charming, Johnny says Dylan got something in her contact lens to hide the fact that they were having a moment when caught by Amy and Asher. Although Dylan denies wearing contact lenses, we see her the next morning wearing glasses after dropping one of her contact lenses in the sink.
- In Jack Frost (1998), Jack gives his son a harmonica shortly before he leaves for a gig and dies in a car accident, claiming it's magic. It turns out to be true, much to the surprise of both of them.
Jack: You were the one who played on the magic harmonica!Charlie: What?! Magic harmonica?! I thought you made that up!Jack: So did I!
- In Mystery Men Mr. Furious claims he gets Super Strength when angry. He later reveals he's been basically bluffing, but in the final battle with Casanova Frankenstein, he goes into genuine Unstoppable Rage and mops the floor. Apparently he just didn't have the Hair-Trigger Temper he thought he did.
- Douglas Fairbanks's character in The Black Pirate isn't really a pirate; he joined the pirates in order to get revenge on them after they killed his father. In order to impress the pirates, Fairbanks seizes a ship singlehandedly (while managing not to kill anybody). The plan is complicated when the ship he seized turns out to have as a passenger a hot lady (Billie Dove) who winds up about to be made a Sex Slave by the pirates. Fairbanks, improvising madly, proclaims her a princess and convinces the other pirates to hold her for ransom. He's making this up, as shown when he uses Scare Quotes to refer to the "princess" when sending a note calling for help. The ending reveals that she actually is a princess.
- In Jingle All the Way, the postal worker bluffs the police by claiming a package he's holding is a mail bomb. To his own surprise, it is.
- Sort of in Johnny English. Johnny makes up a false description of a man who stole the crown jewels. Surprisingly, a man identical to Johnny's description appears in the epilogue.
- In The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, the people of the Moon have detachable heads. While traveling with the Baron, the Queen of the Moon's head starts moaning and giggling because her body is keeping the amorous King company. The Baron explains to a little girl that "The King is tickling her feet" instead of the obvious-to-adults explanation. The film then shows two bodies moving on a bed, the covers slip, and... the King is tickling his wife's feet.
- The Ladykillers: Professor Marcus claims it would do no good to bring the stolen money back, because the police wouldn't want it. He turns out to be right and Mrs. Wilberforce gets to keep the money, but for completely different reasons than the ones he gave.
- In the Hornblower novella St Elizabeth of Hungary, the protagonist has to convince a party of Napoleon loyalists to abandon their mission to restore their deposed Emperor, and he sees no option but to give his word of honour that Napoleon has died. When he gets back to port, he is met by the news that Napoleon actually had died, getting him off the hook. Characteristically, though, he still beats himself up over telling what HE knows was a lie.
- At the beginning of Les Misérables, Valjean is caught after stealing the bishop's silver, and makes up the story that the bishop gave it to him as a present. The skeptical policemen take him to the bishop, and the bishop surprises both them and Valjean by confirming the story and adding more valuable gifts on top. Cue Heel–Face Turn.
- Towards the end of Neverwhere Richard pretends to have a key the antagonists want. He lies so badly that they assume (correctly) that he's trying to protect Door and ignore him. Unbeknownst to him, she'd slipped the key into his back pocket.
- There's a pretty brutal version of it in The Wall by Jean Paul Sartre. A political prisoner is given the choice between execution or turning traitor and giving the location of a collaborator. At the last moment, he delays the execution by making up a location so that the army will look foolish, knowing full well that the collaborator is hiding far away from there. The army searches… and it turns out the collaborator had to switch hiding spots to that location. He is killed, and the man goes free.
- Alan Dean Foster's Star Wars Expanded Universe novel Splinter of the Mind's Eye. Luke Skywalker is given a small container but is not told its opening combination. When he's captured, he pretends the container is his. His captors test him by asking him the combination: he is forced to bluff and say "It's open". They try it, and it works: it was open.
- In the Enemy Lines duology, Smug Snake Viqi Shesh is in the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong, and on the verge of execution. In order to prove her worth to them (and spare her life long enough to escape), she pretends to have found a conspiracy against the Warmaster: the "shapers" (their equivalent of scientists and doctors) are deliberately causing one of his artificial limbs to be rejected. As it turns out, the conspiracy not only exists, but is found and rooted out relatively quickly—more quickly, it also turns out, than Shesh would have liked.
- In H. Beam Piper's novel Space Viking, Lucas Trask distracts his divided followers from their quarrels by inventing a conspiracy by his enemy Andray Dunnan to subvert and take over the planet Marduk. It turns out that that's exactly what Dunnan is up to.
- Another example is in Piper's novel The Cosmic Computer, in which the protagonist travels to Earth to investigate local stories about an abandoned supercomputer left behind after a recent war. He concludes that the computer never existed, but backs off from attempts to convince people of that; instead, he organizes a search in order to stimulate the economy and improve morale. And then the supercomputer turns up…
- Graveyard of Dreams, essentially the short version, only got up to the "organizes a search" part.
- Another example is in Piper's novel The Cosmic Computer, in which the protagonist travels to Earth to investigate local stories about an abandoned supercomputer left behind after a recent war. He concludes that the computer never existed, but backs off from attempts to convince people of that; instead, he organizes a search in order to stimulate the economy and improve morale. And then the supercomputer turns up…
- Inverted in Robert E. Howard's "Gates of Empire." Giles Hobson makes up a story about the Crusader army's intentions to impress a pretty girl with how in-the-know he is. It turns out she's a spy for the Saracens. No harm done, since he lied to her, right? Except that, although he didn't know it, what he told her is exactly what the Crusader leader planned to do.
- In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie Nolan claims her name is Mary Frances in order to win a doll at a charity Christmas party. She feels guilty about lying, but reasons that she can take the name Mary when she makes her Confirmation. When she announces this intention, her mother tells her she can't because her real name is Mary Frances Nolan.
- Made interesting because one of the messages of the book is that people sometimes tell what's true but write what they wish was true. If (as a lot of people do) you start thinking of Francie as the author's avatar…
- In The Truth Teller's Tale, Truth Tellers Cannot Tell a Lie. Roelynn's father isn't nobility but he is extremely ambitious, and hopes to marry Roelynn to the prince. Roelynn is extremely flirtatious, and falls in love with a variety of men, which is explained as being a free spirit until her father ties her down. So, when the titular Truth Teller, Eleda, says that her friend Roelynn will marry the prince, it breaks both Roelynn and Eleda's hearts: Roelynn because what Eleda has said must be true and because she has already secretly married her newest love, and Eleda because she has forced a lie past her lips (It Makes Sense in Context). Her new husband turns out to be the prince, so Eleda has told no lie at all.
- Subverted in The Devil in Vienna, where Inge recalls entertaining her cousin with a story about how she, the cousin, was really a princess but had been adopted as a baby. It turned out that the cousin really was adopted, and the adults all thought Inge deliberately tried to upset her.
- In Dracula, when Mina Harker asks Dr. Seward to let her listen to his phonograph diary, he's worried that she won't be able to stand hearing what happened to her best friend Lucy and tries to deter her by saying he doesn't know how to go to any specific part of the recordings. No sooner are the words out of his mouth than he realizes, "Oh, Crap!! I really don't have any idea how to find any specific part of the diary! How are we supposed to use it to find clues about the vampire we're hunting?!" He now has no choice but to grant Mina's request to listen to the whole thing and transcribe it on her typewriter.
- In Hills End by Ivan Southall, one the children claims that there is Aboriginal art on the walls of the cave in an attempt to sound important to his teacher. Later, when they are lost in the caves, they stumble into a chamber containing Aboriginal cave art and the bones of megafauna.
- Terry Pratchett uses this trope a lot.
- From Wyrd Sisters, "A man would have to be a natural born fool to want to be king." The professional Foole who becomes king is "natural" (i.e. illegitimately) born, and he wants to be the king.
- In Night Watch, Sam Vimes is sent back in time about 30 years, and when asked his name, gives the first he can think of; John Keel, his old sergeant. He isn't Keel, of course, but due to the real Keel being murdered by a fellow time traveler, he ends up taking his place. He even coincidentally gets an injury that requires an eye-patch and makes him look like Keel. The History Monks are excited by this, as it lends credence to the theory of self-correcting history.
- In The Traitor Game, Michael tells Shipley that him and Francis stopped being friends because Francis was gay and made advances towards him. At the time, Michael only said this because he knew this would make Francis Shipley's target, but at least the first part turns out to be true and it's implied that, while the second part wasn't entirely true, Francis did have feelings for Michael.
- In Dragonflight, Lessa tells the tyrant Fax and the dragonrider F'lar that although Gemma has died, her child has been born alive and male, in order to provoke the fight that results in Fax's death. After the fight is over it is revealed that a live baby boy was cut from Gemma's womb in the intervening time.
- This is basically the plot of the Honor Harrington novel Shadow of Freedom. An agent of the Mesan Alignment informs resistance movements on a few planets currently being oppressed by the Solarian Office of Frontier Security that he's managed to get them support from the Star Empire of Manticore. The plan is that when they launch their uprisings, and the Manticorans fail to show up, the uprisings will be crushed along with Manticore's credibility. Unfortunately for him, the resistance movements manage to get word to the Manticorans. The Manticorans do show up, and not only do the uprisings succeed, but by the end of the novel, OFS has lost an entire sector. What was particularly stupid was that the Mesan agent in question actually told the resistance just how to contact the nearest Manticoran fleet, figuring that their admiral wouldn't move without orders from above. Apparently, he forgot that the RMN has a tradition of officers taking the initiative to launch operations without clearance from above, with the idea that if their superiors disagree, they can disavow what happened. This was rather stupid of him, as one of his previous operations failed in part because a Manticoran captain (Aivars Terekhov) did just that, and came out with a promotion and a knighthood.
- This is the problem that led to Dirk Gently's expulsion from college: the capstone of his scam to deceive his more gullible classmates into believing that he had psychic powers but was in denial about their existence founders when he produces a complete copy of a future exam "under hypnosis" (by looking over previous exams and guessing what might come up) only for it to turn out to be exactly letter-for-letter correct.
- Every single time Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM) decides that he's going somewhere that isn't the front line, he always makes up some excuse about checking on the troops. He invariably runs into some previously-unknown game-changing event (genestealers, Chaos cultists, Necrons, etc.) that the soldiers wouldn't have been able to handle had he and Jurgen not been there.
- In The Twits, Mr. Twit makes up a disease called "the Shrinks" in order to play a prank on his wife. But at the end of the story, it turns out there really is such an ailment, which ends up making them both disappear.
- In The Stars Are Cold Toys, after discovering a race of Human Aliens (something thought to be impossible), a coalition of Weak races (including representatives from humanity, although acting without government approval) sends a Manchurian Agent, altered to look like a dead alien pilot and his memories suppressed. After arriving to the race's homeworld, the pilot's friends are shocked when he doesn't recognize them. After some testing, which is also meant to reveal any infiltration attempts by a hostile race, his (false) identity is confirmed, although they determine that he has completely lost all his memories. A few days later, he and "his" friends discuss sending in agents to infiltrate humanity, which one of them claims to be extremely easy due to the race's similar appearance. He then excitedly points out that an easy way to disguise any oddities is with amnesia. Everyone then falls silent, realizing what they have just suggested, but they then dismiss it.
- Used absolutely ridiculously on All My Children: Krystal wants David to keep the secret that Babe's daughter is actually Bianca's baby, so to stall for time, Krystal announces that David is Babe's father, even though to their mutual knowledge, they only met recently. David orders a DNA test to confirm, and it turns out he is Babe's father, due to a nameless frat party liaison 20 years back.
- An episode of I Love Lucy has Lucy and Ethel running a raffle to raise money for "Ladies' Overseas Aid," a charity they make up on the spot on the basis of, "We're ladies, we want to go overseas, and boy do we need aid." Eventually they're informed that doing such a thing is illegal, but just as they collect all the money, a representative from the real Ladies' Overseas Aid organization shows up to collect their generous donation, which they gladly hand over as a policeman was there getting ready to arrest them for fraud.
- Another episode had Ricky and Fred trying to get Lucy and Ethel to stop gossiping by making a deal where the first pair to spread gossip would have to serve the other pair for a day. Ricky baits Lucy into spreading a rumor about a neighbor's wife and the milkman having an affair by pretending to talk in his sleep. After catching them gossiping by listening through the air vent, they later see the neighbor chasing the milkman after catching him in the act.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer has a variant when Willow's Power Incontinence makes it so that whatever she says becomes literally true. Hilarity Ensues before anybody figures out what's going on.
- An interesting variant, where the character never learns he was telling the truth, in the Smallville episode "Harvest". The Town with a Dark Secret attributes their health and vitality to Human Sacrifice, but the sheriff tells Clark it's down to the Blue K in the water. It is.
- Played with in an episode of Burn Notice: Michael is hired to get rid of a Loan Shark who is making a woman's life miserable. He goes to a lot of trouble making it look as though the loan shark is an undercover cop, and then poses as another criminal and informs the guy's boss. The only problem is Michael and company hid the fake evidence a little too well, and the boss doesn't find it. Then at the last moment, before the boss is about to give up and probably kill Michael for wasting his time, he finds… different evidence. Turns out the loan shark really was an undercover cop. Cue Oh, Crap! moment.
- In Season 7, episode 9 of The Amazing Race, Rob Mariano decided to have some fun with Meredith & Gretchen and asked them if they had gotten on the earlier flight to Turkey in spite of there not being one… except that it turned out that there was in fact one, which Meredith & Gretchen and Uchenna & Joyce got on, leaving Rob & Amber and Ron & Kelly in the dust. Rob, not knowing this, kept on laughing at and trash-talking these two teams until he learned in Turkey that he and Amber were actually two hours behind them. Laser-Guided Karma at its finest.
- In Downton Abbey, Thomas Barrow has a falling out with one of the nannies, who doesn't let him see the children (whom he is fond of). So he tells Lady Crawley that the nanny is mistreating them. He thinks it's a lie, but then Lady Crawley does actually see the nanny racially abusing little Sybbie and sacks her on the spot.
- Magnificent Century: In the first season, Hürrem claims to be pregnant to avoid being sent away from the harem. She's lying, and everyone else is pretty sure of it too, so a doctor inspects her to find out. Turns out she actually was in the early stages of pregnancy and just didn't know yet.
- Community Season 2 Episode 9 Conspiracy Theories and Interior Design, Jeff invents a fake night class taught by Professor Professorson...then meets Professor Professorson. (Prof. Professor Professorson; "Professor" is his given name.) Then things get weird. Although eventually subverted, as the whole thing is just an act devised by the Dean to teach Jeff a lesson about lying.
- In the rebooted Battlestar Galactica miniseries, Baltar quasi-randomly picks someone on the bridge as being a Cylon in order to divert suspicion over his own role in the attack on the Colonies to someone who's been a jerkass to everyone and they really don't like. The man turns out to be a Number 5 model of humanoid Cylon.
- In Malcolm in the Middle, when questioned about his poor grades in History, Reese claims that the teacher has it out for him and is intentionally failing him. When Malcolm discovers that the teacher actually is trying to send Reese to remedial classes out of spite, Reese admits that he didn't know that and was just lying to save face.
- In The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret , in a spiral of bad lies and bad decisions, Todd lies to everyone that he is not American but actually English, born and raised in Leeds (which he comes up with because of the famous Live at Leeds album by The Who). It's later revealed that he actually WAS born in Leeds, but even HE didn't know it.
- In The Office (US), this is how Pam's pregnancy is outed to the office. Stanley had confided in Michael that he had had an affair, which Michael then lets slip in the break room, but then tries to cover it up with a series of, what he thought, were outrageous gossip-lies so that nobody would believe the story about Stanley. One such lie, "Pam is pregnant," turned out to be perfectly true.
- In Kamen Rider Drive, Gou (Kamen Rider Mach) at one point apparently turns against the heroes. At around the same time they discover that the current Arc Villain has the power to brainwash people by altering their memories. Chase eventually confirms that Gou had been affected by the brainwashing, but in order to spare the feelings of his sister Kiriko (since a cure for the brainwashing hadn't yet been found), tells her that Gou was actually working undercover to undermine the Roidmudes. It turns out that he really was; he happened to have a particular biological quirk that made him immune to the brainwashing.
- Quark. Zigzagged in "All the Emperor's Quasi Norms". Zorgon threatens to kill Quark unless he reveals where "it" is. Having no idea what he's talking about, Quark plays for time by saying It is on a particular asteroid. Turns out It really is there, causing Quark to believe this is a case of Because Destiny Says So when he's told by the locals of a legend about a Stranger who will use "It" to defeat their enemy. But it turns out that "It" is just a worthless rock and the whole thing is a coincidence.
- Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn: "In Not-So-Sweet Charity", the boys were trying to convince some girls that a hot guitarist/singer their age was dating someone, and upon seeing Dawn coming in a door, claimed it was her. The truth actually led to problems because the parents hated each other and forbade them from even being on each other's property.
- In one episode of Absolute Power (the original radio version), Archie hires Prentiss McCabe to embarrass the Prime Minister, who's been getting a bit too full of himself lately. Martin makes up a story about the PM making plans to abolish the monarchy and set himself up as President. Turns out such plans were discussed, albeit not as a serious proposal... and Archie wrote up the document, making him the obvious scapegoat when the government goes into damage limitation mode.
- The story of the "Miracle of the Roses", in which St. Elisabeth of Hungary is claimed to have been saved by God's own intervention. Carrying bread to the poor in defiance of her husband's wishes, she is saved from discovery when her pouch turns out (to her surprise) to hold roses instead of the bread (other versions say that she did not actually speak when asked what she had, however—presumably because a saint shouldn't be lying in the first place).
- The Importance of Being Earnest: Jack and Algernon pretend to be brothers, then it turns out they actually are brothers. Also, Jack tells Gwendolen his name is Ernest, and it really is. (He was abandoned as a baby.)
- The Music Man. Professor Harold Hill cons the citizens of River City into paying for uniforms and instruments with the promise that he'll train their children into a band. He does so using a "think" system which couldn't possibly work, but in the end the children learn to play anyway (albeit extremely out of tune) and he's saved from being punished.
- The Rainmaker and the musical version 110 in the Shade end with Starbuck's promise of rain in twenty-four hours coming true after he admitted it was all a con.
"For the first time in my life...rain!"
- In Bells Are Ringing, Ella, being menaced by two Corvello henchmen after she accidentally ruined their "Titanic Records" bookie operation by knowing more about classical music than their code books, desperately makes up that the police were recording their conversations all along and that Inspector Barnes should appear any moment now. He does so immediately. Ella is overjoyed, and the henchmen are arrested.
- Used in Tales of the Abyss. The party needs to head to Chesedonia to find out if Largo is really Natalia's father by asking her wet nurse. Jade tells Natalia that the rest of the party heard a travelling Scorer was reading false prophecies in Chesedonia. When the party arrives, they find Smug Snake Sync doing just that. Jade even lampshades it, saying "It seems our lie has become the truth."
- In Primal, Jen says of Queen Devena, "I guess she's not the gal she used to be." she isn't.
- Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando: Angela Cross says, "I swear that crazy old man is not the same person I used to work for." He isn't.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Demyx claims that Organization XIII members do have hearts in spite of the fact that Nobodies are said not to. Come 3D, it turns out that he was unknowingly honest.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Matthew gains entry to Kaocho Palace by telling the guards he and his friends are the Adepts the king was waiting for. Turns out the bad guys were Railroading them into the king's service.
- In Uncharted, Sully sends the enemy mooks on a wild goose chase, and, purely by coincidence, he happens to have sent them to exactly the right place.
- Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots: Subverted to a degree. Liquid Ocelot convinces the members of the Beauty and the Beast Unit that if they kill Solid Snake, their minds will be cleansed. Snake, of course, beats them, but according to Drebin, fighting him turned out to be just the therapy they needed to be free of their torment.
- In Sam & Max Save The World, episode "Reality 2.0", Sybil's VR goggles break and Max makes up a cool-sounding Technobabble explanation for what's wrong, despite the fact that he clearly knows nothing about the goggles. Turns out his explanation was right on the money.
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt: In dialog with his friend Zoltan, Geralt can quip that Witchers fish with bombs. Later in the game, you talk with a fellow Witcher, Lambert, who reveals that he does exactly that. There is no story significance to it, however.
- Fallen London When attempting to bluff a demoness from hell, you spin a ridiculous story about how the Correspondence, which is the only spell magic in the Fallen London universe (and currently unusable because it always literally backfires) is in fact the language of the gods, which is written on a giant beast that sleeps under the Bazaar - and in fact, IS the heart of the Bazaar. Congratulations, you just explained the nature of the game's Dark Secret in under a single paragraph! And now you have to go looking for it while the demoness you flat out lied to believes what is actually true.
- In the opening of Shadowrun Returns: Dragonfall, it's revealed your opening job came by the way of an anarchist called Green Winters who sent you on the run by telling your leader it was vital to the future safety of the Flux State. It turns out Green Winters really wanted you to find his brother who he suspected was imprisoned in the mansion he sent you to, and lied to get your team leader to take the job — but the conspiracy that disappeared his brother turns out to be working on a project that was going to destroy Berlin and the Flux State and Green Winters was unaware of that part. The party even notes the Dramatic Irony of the situation once you discover the truth.
- Girl Genius:
- Theo's story at the beginning about the Dragon from Mars is a pure flight of imagination, but the Other's lab actually IS in the Heterodynes' basement and, if the novel's prologue adaption is accurate, the Other's base of operations is extra-terrestrial as well! Also, in this story Klaus got wasped. And soon enough this also happens.
- A crowd once mockingly calls Zeetha the Baron's daughter, which according to Word of God is actually true — if the sketch of her father which looks exactly like Klaus is to be believed. Gil has also been called "the gol-dang Storm King" there, and some time later we learned of the Baron's plans to instate him as the Storm King.
- Near the climax of the Sturmhalten arc, Agatha sets off a giant holographic message. It is meant to tell everyone that Lucrezia was The Other, but selective editing by The Other or Tarvek made it appear to name Baron Wulfenbach instead. Which may have been shooting themselves in the foot, as by the end of the arc Baron Wulfenbach has been wasped and is under The Other's control.
- Happens in El Goonish Shive when Susan tells her mother that Justin is gay so that she won't mind him staying the night. Turns out he is.
Ellen: You lied to your mom for a guy?Susan: Yeah, I told her that Justin was gay.[beat]Ellen: Uhhh...Susan: Trust me, it was a lie at the time.
- It appears that Susan told two accidental truths in one night, as what she herself called a ridiculous claim has turned out to have been declared a medical condition. Officially speaking, hair does spontaneously change color. The actual cause is magic burnout, but the government calls it "spontaneous" in order to uphold The Masquerade.
- In The Rant to this EGS NP strip, Dan pretends to believe that the people who told him you can have six-character names in Chrono Trigger on the DS are "the filthiest of liars", and the fact you can have six-character names just shows they were mistaken.
- In The Fancy Adventures of Jack Cannon, Angel calls the titular Jack "the toughest guy in the universe" early on, before any action had occurred. She wasn't very far from the mark.
- A meta-example from the world of webcomics: Kris Straub made "Addictions and the Human Toll" as a parody of Least I Could Do, heavily implying that Rayne has a sex addiction and needs help. A week later, "Not Viagra" reveals that Rayne has been diagnosed with depression.
- Exterminatus Now has the tale of Edward Bay.
- Eastwood once had a guy declared a heretic and executed on false pretenses, because he was dating one of Harry's old girlfriends. As it turns out, the man was a dangerous heretic, but that was learned after the arrest.
- In Kevin & Kell, when Lindesfarne is mistaken for the princess of England, she manages to find and track down the real one, a homeless hedgehog named Churtsey Ealing. A twist at the end of the arc indicates that Churtsey is not the real princess, and Lindesfarne allowed her to be passed off as the real one to stay with her family, be free of media attention, and avoid having her status as royalty detract from the credibility of her research. Years later, an arc reveals that Lindesfarne is actually the princess of England in the human world, and Churtsey is her counterpart in the animal-dominated world.
- Played for Black Comedy in Sore Thumbs: main character Fairbanks killed two people because they "looked like terrorists". By sheer luck they were, and he got off scot free.
- Early in Shortpacked!, Amber suggests that Ethan's lack of interest in Robin might be due to him being gay. As she later admits, she only said it to needle Robin and had no idea it was the truth.
- Leo Bone (aka Napoleon) does this in Look to the West to try and seize a Royalist French fleet by telling the Royalists their exiled leader has formed an alliance with Britain; when they return to Corsica, it turns out that he has.
- When reviewing "I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers, Todd in the Shadows was uncertain what the word "haver" meant, and threw out "babbling out nonsense words?" as a wild guess. Then the dictionary definition was displayed.
"Huh. Okay, that's exactly what it means."
- RWBY Recaps: As part of the Running Gag, Mysterious Badass Lady Person (Raven Branwen) is introduced as possibly someone's sister. He's absolutely right.
- In the The Fairly OddParents! episode "Mr. Right", Timmy, sick and tired of always being wrong, wishes that he was always right, thus making it so that whenever he says something, it's automatically true, to the extent that when he told Mr. Crocker that there were only 49 states in America, North and South Dakota immediately merged into a single Dakota to prove him right. As usual, Timmy's wish backfires—he subsequently insists to Mr. Crocker that he doesn't have fairy godparents, which causes Cosmo and Wanda to disappear right then and there.
- In The Mysterious Cities of Gold, the heroes tell the Spanish to send a scouting party to foil an hypothetical ambush, in order to distract them from something (maybe stealing goods from them). Then the Aztecs capture the heroes, furious that their ambush has been foiled...
- In the pilot episode, the titular character tries to cover his misuse of ISIS funds by claiming he's searching for a mole in the agency. Later, it turns out that there IS a mole and Archer's "investigation" causes him to attempt to escape.
- In "Skytanic", ISIS is called to come along on the inaugural voyage of a luxury airship due to a bomb threat. It's later revealed Mallory made the threat just to get a free ride and make her neighbor jealous. However it turns out that the captain was going to blow up the ship for real.
- Likewise, in "Live And Let Dine", Mallory leaks information about a fake threat at a fancy restaurant hosting a meeting between U.S. and Albanian diplomats to get a reservation. Sure enough, the Albanian ambassador is poisoned. Though it's revealed that the thing was set up by Katya and Barry just to make ISIS look bad, not totally coincidental.
- The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In "These Boots were Made for Walking (On Your Face)", K'nuckles tells a pair of thugs searching for Flapjack to search for him in a pile of old diapers as that is one of Flapjack's favorite hiding places, while he sneaks off to talk to Bubbie. However, it turns out Flapjack really was hiding in the pile of diapers and the thugs capture him.
- In an episode of My Gym Partner's a Monkey, when Adam is tired of Jake making up lies about him to put in the school newspaper, he decides to give Jake a taste of his own medicine and write a lie about him. However, his story about Jake getting "cheek implants" turns out to be true. This is lampshaded by Lupe.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- In the episode "Funny Pants," Squidward gets fed up with SpongeBob's nonstop laughing and tells him that if he doesn't stop, he'll burn out his "laugh box" and never be able to laugh again. Later in the episode, he confesses his lie and cracks up laughing over his own prank. As it turns out, the laugh box is real, and Squidward burns out his and has to get a partial transplant from SpongeBob at the end of the episode.
- In "One Krab's Trash," Mr. Krabs sells a soda drink hat to SpongeBob, and then, after finding out that it's apparently worth a million dollars, attempts to scare it off SpongeBob by telling him the hat is cursed and unless he returns it to the grave of its previous owner, Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen, he himself will be cursed. Imagine his surprise when he finds out that not only is Smitty Werbenjagermanjensen real, but the hat really was his when he was alive.
- In one episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, in order to get rid of Mr. Herriman so they can have a party, Bloo used the old prank call where he asks "Is your refrigerator running?" and amazingly, it works; Herriman runs off to chase it. However, as it turns out Herriman didn't do this because he was gullible; his refrigerator has been known to run off (it, like a lot of furniture in the house, is an imaginary friend) and it did so this time too. He only finds out about the party after he's done scolding it.
- In an episode of Drawn Together, Princess Clara tries to interrupt a wedding ceremony because the couple is gay. Spanky drives her off by telling her that there's a Jew outside poisoning a well. When she goes out, it turns out that there actually is.
- In the same episode, Clara claims that a gay marriage can lead to an invasion of Nazis riding on dinosaurs. At the end of the episode, after Clara admits that one gay marriage isn't the end of the world, it shows that the world has indeed been taken over by Nazis riding dinosaurs.
- In another episode, Clara's discovered Munchausen By Proxy and is trying to stop Wooldor from telling Foxy about all the drain cleaner she's been feeding him. When she tells the amorous Foxy that Denzel Washington is in the hall, guess who shows up. When he starts explaining the situation, Clara declares that there's a second Denzel in the hall- with two penises. She was wrong about that one. No double-hung Denzel, just triple-hung Wesley Snipes.
- DC Nation had a Plastic Man short called "Superheroes Wear Pajamas", where Plastic Man was caught sleepwalking with a teddy bear named Mr. Tinklebottoms and is ridiculed by the town for it. To try and save face, Plastic Man claims that his teddy is really a demonic supervillain in disguise that he captured and he beats it up for good measure. At the end of the short, after Plastic Man patches up his teddy bear and apologizes, a lightning flash shows the bear with a sinister and monstrous-looking face.
- The Quack Pack episode "Hero Today, Don Tomorrow" had Donald Duck try to impress his nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie by claiming to personally know athletic celebrity Flint Steele. It later turns out that they did know each other when they were younger; Donald used to pull pranks on Flint when he was younger and unfit and these pranks were what motivated Flint to become physically fit.
- The Simpsons: In "The Computer Wore Menace Shoes", Homer, as Internet whistleblower "Mr. X", starts creating false stories like how the government is controlling peoples' minds with flu shots. Later, Homer is kidnapped and taken to a mysterious island because his flu shot lie turned out to be true, as they are given around Christmas to give people the urge to shop.
- Throughout the 20th season of South Park, Cartman pretends to be a progressive and insists women and girls are smart and funny, especially his new girlfriend Heidi. It turns out he was accidentally right about Heidi being a genius, but not about her being funny.
- A version shows up in The Legend of Korra. Corrupt Corporate Executive Varrick puts out a ridiculously obvious and over the top set of propaganda films against the Northern Water Tribe Chieftain Unalaq designed to turn public support against him and towards the rebels fighting against him. Varrick does this purely because Unalaq's edicts are bad for his own business, and his films transform The Fundamentalist, self-righteous, Holier Than Thou Unalaq into an Omnicidal Maniac Mad Scientist planning to use a Doomsday Device to destroy the world. This turns out to be far closer to Unalaq's real personality and goals than either fans of the show or people in that world would have guessed when Varrick first started making these films, not that Varrick knew about that or would have cared.
- Star Trek: The Animated Series: In "Mudd's Passion", Harry Mudd is found selling "love crystals". He's just running one of his scams, and is as surprised as anyone else (and dismayed that he'd been offering them so cheaply) when it turns out that they actually work.
- In one episode of Dave the Barbarian, to prevent Dave from finding out that she caused his flowers to grow into giant monsters, Fang tells him that there's a poetry contest in town. Later, when she's forced to get his help, it turns out there really was a poetry contest happening, with the Narrator lampshading.
- This is a big deal in philosophy, specifically epistemology. They're called Gettier problems, and it's an argument against the justified true belief definition of knowledge. Very, very simply it's a person having good reason to think a certain thing, then it actually being something else, then it turns out the original way. You're still right, but explaining the double-switch is a problem.