"What I'm about to tell you, you might not want to know. Even so, you absolutely must hear it. [...] Given who you are and how you've lived, what I have to say may tear at your hearts..."
A truth so awful it must be kept from the players/characters. That, or a mocking cry by the jaded Anti-Hero
to illustrate his belief that the main hero is too naive to be trusted with the truth.
Compare You Are Not Ready
and Forbidden Fruit
. Contrast You Didn't Ask
. If they're being obnoxious about it, it's Figure It Out Yourself
. See also These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know
for when you really shouldn't know. Can also be a case of You Do NOT Want To Know
. Compare Heel Realization
, which is an awful truth, but not one anyone else kept from you. Often invokes Schmuck Bait
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Anime & Manga
- Himeno Awayuki of Prétear was told that she "doesn't need to know" the backstory, but forced the Leafe Knights to reveal it anyway — specifically, that their enemy is the previous Pretear, who turned evil because of her unrequited love for Hayate, and that Himeno herself may end up turning evil as well. Cue Heroic BSOD. In the anime version, the consequences were even worse.
- The heroine of Kamikaze Kaitou Jeanne is a Magical Girl on a mission from God. About halfway through the series (or towards the end, in the anime), she finds out that she's been working for Satan all along, her Mentor Mascot is a fallen angel who was in on the whole thing, and the two have been conspiring to break her — in Satan's case, he's been doing it since she was an infant.
- In the manga version of Chrono Crusade, part of what inspires Aion's Evil Plan is the Awful Truth he found out about his origins (that is, that the demons are really aliens, and the current Hive Queen was a human woman pregnant with twins (Chrono and Aion) before she was turned into a demon). He also goes to great lengths to hide the truth from Chrono, saying he "doesn't need to know"—but Chrono finds out in the end and takes it rather well, actually.
- In Detective Conan, Ai keeps insisting to Conan that if Ran were to know the truth about the Black Organization and Shinichi being Conan, then she will not smile. She will be burdened by the truth.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Dr. Marco refuses to tell Ed how the philosophers stones are made from using live humans.
- In Naruto, the reason why the villagers hate Naruto is that he's the can of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox which killed many of them and destroyed a good part of the Leaf Village.
- Sasuke was far happier thinking his brother just went around killing family members because he was bored than when he found out that he had really been acting under orders from Konoha. He was a lot saner then, too.
- Magic Knight Rayearth starts out as a fairly standard story about three teens who get Trapped in Another World and tasked with rescuing a princess. Just as they're getting close to their goal, they find out that their real mission is to kill the princess.
- In Bokurano, the main characters were originally told what was going on was a game to ensure they would fight in and against giant mecha. The prospect of defeating the enemy was a lot easier when they didn't know doing so would kill them regardless of success. And when they thought the enemies were aliens instead of alternate dimensional humans, and that they killed 10 billion people with each win. They were, however, told what failure meant, though the general public was mostly out of the loop.
- Anyone who wants to become a Magical Girl in Puella Magi Madoka Magica must know one thing: upon making the contract to become a magical girl, your soul gets sucked into the Soul Gem that you use to transform into your magical girl form, and if it's not within 100 meters of you, your body becomes an Empty Shell. This essentially turns you into a Lich.
- Two things, as of Episode 8. The warning that Kyubey gave the girls about needing to keep their Soul Gems clean by charging them with Grief Seeds? If they don't regularly purify the corrupted gem and it darkens completely, it becomes a Grief Seed and then explodes, transforming them into a Witch. Just in case that wasn't horrifying enough, this is apparently inevitable. Ultimately the gem will darken completely no matter what the girls do, and every magical girl is doomed to become one of the Eldritch Abominations that she and others like her fight. And the only way to avoid this horrible fate? Die before it can happen.
- And just to make things even worse? Apart from witches created from former familiars that grew their own Grief Seeds after their parent witch was killed, every single witch that the magical girls have fought was once a magical girl herself. Every magical girl became a magical girl through making a contract with Kyubey. This means that Kyubey creates witches, meaning that all the bad things that witches do to people and all the horrible things that magical girls have to go through to stop them are ultimately Kyubey's fault. There's a REASON that a lot of people despise the little fucker.
- To top it all off, the reason Kyubey is doing all of this? The entire universe is dying.
- Madoka eventually provides an out of sorts for this by using her wish to destroy The Corruption and ensure that no Magical Girl has to become a Witch, past, present, or future. Unfortunately they just disappear instead - being a magical girl still sucks. Madoka herself Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence (becoming a concept) because her wish turned her into a witch...which she then erased because of her wish. The paradox caused her to be Ret Gone from reality - only two people know she ever existed, and Word of God says that the one of them (Madoka's younger brother, Tatsuya) will lose those memories as he gets older.
- The second episode (and the latter part of the first) of Shakugan no Shana, Shana explains that people get eaten from existence, between the space of seconds, and it is such a regular occurrence that replacement humans are needed to keep the universe from destabilizing.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Continued use of Spiral Power will eventually lead to an event called the Spiral Nemesis, which will give birth to a super-galaxy that will rip the universe apart.
- InuYasha: Just as Sesshoumaru's finally getting used to the idea that Tessaiga was meant for Inuyasha and Tenseiga was meant for him, he learns the truth: Tenseiga is merely a cast-off piece of Tessaiga, separated from Tessaiga so that Sesshoumaru could master the Meidou Zangetsuha technique and then transfer it back to Tessaiga, meaning that the attack form he earned due to his compassion for Kagura's death isn't his to keep - it's destined for Inuyasha's use. Sesshoumaru takes the news badly, concluding it's proof he was the outcast son and that his father was training Inuyasha to kill him. Even Inuyasha and his friends think this was far too cruel. Sesshoumaru does eventually calm down enough to realise his father's true intention was for him to guide Inuyasha not be killed by him, and therefore decides to sacrifice his claim to both swords forever as part of a Hidden Purpose Test to see if Inuyasha is strong enough to handle the technique.
- In The Secret Agreement, Kyuusai reveals to Yuuichi that he is from a powerful clan that steals other people's life force, and that neither he nor his boyfriend actually love each other, it's just an implanted delusion between predator and prey that makes it easier for Yuuichi to steal Iori's life. Yuuichi is horrified.
- In Madlax, the fact that a very young Margaret had to kill her Brainwashed and Crazy father Richard when he tried to kill her after a plane crash is a truth so awful... that she created two alternate personalities (Madlax herself and Laetitia) to escape it. And she doesn't admit it to herself until the penultimate episode of the anime.
- Tripeace: In the chapter with this title we learn that not only did peace-loving Idiot Hero Nana flee from Ares (or possibly Hades) — a group that deliberately incites conflicts because "conflicts will always exist" vs the anti-war TriPeace organization's goal of ending all conflicts forever — he's their founder.
- In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Naoko Akagi snapped when a Rei clone taunted her by saying Gendo never loved her and frequently called her an old hag. And by snapped, I mean she strangled the little girl to death right then and there. Her daughter Ritsuko eventually had a similar breakdown, including the murder, when she realized Gendo felt the same way about her too.
- That's not even CLOSE to the worst Awful Truth in this series. SEELE wants to end the world. The Evas hold the souls of the pilots' mothers (who almost always died unpleasant deaths). Rei's only purpose is to be a disposable sacrifice for SEELE's Assimilation Plot. The hits just keep coming.
- In Saki Achiga-hen, Kirame overhears a conversation between her school's mahjong club president and her best friend that she wasn't chosen to be on the team for her skill, but because she never falls below 0 points, enabling her to stay in the game no matter how strong the vanguard player is, while her teammates recover the points in the following rounds. She doesn't get upset, but is instead happy that someone has a use for her talent.
- In the main series, Saki's primary goal is to reconnect with her sister; due to an only vaguely glimpsed at event that was most likely related to their parents separating, Teru is refusing to speak with Saki. Saki is quite disturbed to hear, third-hand, that Teru is denying that she has a sister. While Saki expected Teru to say something like that, she wonders if they can ever possibly reconcile.
- In Girls und Panzer, during the prequel manga, Little Army, Miho learns that her sister Maho, whom she looked up to, won the tournament by firing on the enemy flag tank when it was going to rescue one of her team's tanks. This causes a temporary rift between Miho and Maho when Maho begins acting coldly around Miho around the time of their mother's return, when she's confronted about this, but while their relationship is mended, it causes Miho to realize just what the Nishizumi style expects of those who pursue it, and thus causes her to seek out her own way of tankery.
- In Berserk, the Awful Truth of the Berserk setting isn't that God Is Evil. Nor is it You Can't Fight Fate. The Awful Truth is that humanity wouldn't have it any other way. They need an evil "god" to dictate their lives because the alternative is worse: that their suffering is meaningless and they have no one to blame for it but themselves. They needed it so badly that they subconsciously willed it into existence.
- Several for the Hero System in Yuki Yuna Is A Hero: Every time a Hero uses her Mankai, she gains a physical disability as a sacrifice to the Shinju. Heroes are also caught in an Endless War against the Vertexes — that have destroyed everything on Earth except Shikoku — once recruited.
- In the TV series, Connor had already regained the memories of his real life, but in Angel: After the Fall, his personal side effect of being in Hell is remembering everything. EVERYTHING, in crystal clarity. As in, vividly remembering having sex with a woman at the same time you remember her changing your diapers. Plus betrayal of a loving father.
- In Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, Abby goes into a Heroic BSOD after realizing that her husband has been possessed by her uncle Anton Arcane. This is exactly as squicky as it sounds.
- The conclusion of Watchmen: Ozymandias schemed a gigantic plot to have a fake 'alien' kill millions in New York in order to unite humanity against a perceived common enemy and stop nuclear escalation. And after all that, it may only have worked temporarily.
- Enigma features a villain called The Truth who has the power to look someone in the eye and strip away every single comforting lie they tell themselves. Most of them either commit suicide immediately after, or else go on a killing spree.
- In Kick-Ass, Big Daddy is not an ex-cop whose wife got killed. In fact, he was an accountant whose wife hated him so much that he decided to run off with his baby daughter and start a new life as a superhero.
- In the Death Note AU Monster L learns, to his horror that before he lost his memories he was Kira's accomplice and lover. Though it's slowly revealed that it's slightly more complicated than that...
- Destiny Is A Hazy Thing: Kushina learns (from Naruto) that Minato put in a brainwashing function in Naruto's seal that would've turned him into the optimistic (Idiot Hero) messiah we see in canon had the seal not been messed with. Doubly tragic because Kushina thought Naruto was lied to and sided with Minato.
- Adventure Time fanfic has it with Alex: she's the reason Marceline and Princess Bubblegum hate each other as she started their falling out.
- The Awful Truth Elly Patterson kept from her family because she feared ostracism in The New Retcons is she has an illegitimate daughter she gave up for adoption. Elizabeth and April took it rather well. Michael and John did not.
- Michael had an additional Awful Truth he didn't take well. John isn't his biological father.
- And then Anthony has one. His father killed his mother. He managed to rationalize it though by realizing that it was probably Accidental Murder, since his MO would be to wait until she cheated and stiff her on alimony and child support.
- Naruto:Asunder; Minato and Kushina are still alive and expect Naruto to be happy about it. They find out he wants nothing to do with them and that their excuses to justify turning him into a jinchuuriki aren't gonna cut it.
- In Legacy of the Rasengan, Sakura learns what Naruto really thinks about her after she steals something personal from him and he confronts her about it.
Naruto: "THAT'S THE PROBLEM! YOU DIDN'T THINK! Too busy caught up in your FANTASIES chasing after a teme who doesn't barely give you the time of day, to stop to consider how OTHER PEOPLE will feel when you decide to find some way of IMPRESSING that teme! I'm glad you never went on a date with me! Now I realize that you never were the type of girl I'd have wanted to have a relationship with!"
- The Danny Phantom / Tales of Symphonia crossover fic Netherworld Nightmare has the Big Bad constantly messing with Danny's head by dropping hints about the Awful Truth Caleb has been hiding for aeons. Caleb is the technical reincarnation of Mithos Yggdrasill, the Big Bad of Tales of Symphonia.
- Crosses with Family-Unfriendly Aesop in Team 8 where Kurenai tells Naruto that no matter what he does and even if he becomes Hokage, there will still be people in the village who will hate him because of the Kyuubi.
- A few examples crop up in The Lion King Adventures:
- Hago is Nala's father, as revealed in The Return of Hago.
- Mufasa and Sarabi have been dead for months after their souls were consumed by alien parasites the Vimelea.
- Everyone is a character in a story created by the Writer.
- In The Legend of Total Drama Island, one contestant suffers brain damage after she "dies" and has to be resuscitated, and the other contestants reach an unspoken agreement to keep the victim ignorant of her condition because her symptoms are mild enough to allow this.
- The awful truth Papa Smurf was trying to keep from Empath until his 150th birthday in Empath: The Luckiest Smurf? Empath is Papa Smurf's only biological son, and Papa Smurf had purposely sent Empath away to Psychelia because he feared how his son would be treated by his fellow Smurfs because of his telepathic and telekinetic powers.
- In Shatterheart Syaoran tells Kurogane that his wish enabled Fei Wong Reed's plans, one of which caused the destruction of Suwa and the death of Kurogane's parents in a failed attempt to recruit him. Kurogane gets so angry that he abandons Syaoran so he wouldn't be tempted to harm the boy.
- Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness Act VI: For several chapters, Mizore and the others try to keep Dark from finding out that Arial, his longtime guardian angel, is a stubborn, temperamental Yandere who is infatuated with him, very nearly killed Mizore in a jealous rage, and stole Mizore's wedding ring right off her finger. They ultimately have no choice but to tell Dark after a Designated Girl Fight between Mizore and Arial ends with Mizore beating Arial within an inch of her life right in front of Dark, and when he finds out, Dark has a major Heroic BSOD. The chapter in which they tell him is fittingly titled "Painful Truth."
- A large part of the premise of The Matrix.
- And thanks to the technology available, they can actually unlearn the awful truth.
- Most famously invoked by Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men:
Col. Jessep: You want answers?
Kaffee: I want the truth!
Col. Jessep: You can't handle the truth!
- And parodied by Sideshow Bob in The Simpsons ("No truth handler you! Pah — I deride your truth-handling abilities!")
- Also on Third Rock: "You want the truth? You want the truth? Well, I can't handle the truth!"
- NSA agent Patellis' excuse for their secrecy in The Forgotten.
Ash Correll: Tell us the truth.
Agent Patellis: The truth? The goddamn truth won't fit in your brain.
- Men In Black II, Agent J asks Agent K why he didn't tell him that his new girlfriend was the key to stopping an interstellar war and had to leave. K's response: "Would you have let her go?"
- In the Korean movie Old Boy, Dae-su is kidnapped, imprisoned for 15 years, and then released with no explanation. After finding and confronting the man responsible, Dae-su finds out the Awful Truth isn't "Why he was imprisoned" but "Why he was released." He goes mad from the revelation and cuts his own tongue off with scissors.
- Soylent Green: Soylent Green is people!
- Although perhaps an even more awful truth is revealed when the protaganist is shouting the above in public, because nobody takes the slightest notice of him.
- Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back: Luke finally learns the truth about what happened to his father — namely that he is Darth Vader, having fallen from grace as a Jedi Knight and embraced the Dark Side of the Force. This one especially stings because Luke originally became The Hero to emulate his father.
- ParaNorman: After an hour of being essentially an action-comedy, it is revealed that the Witch is actually a young girl named Agatha Prenderghast, who was wrongfully executed by the townsfolk 300 years ago, after which the movie takes on a significantly more somber and melancholic tone.
- A major motif in this series is the fact that there are some things that you just can't unlearn. The kids can't, although they desperately want to, forget about the Yeerks and go on living their lives, because they now know they'd be dooming the entire planet to enslavement; to quote a Megamorphs back cover, "You can't close your eyes to the truth you know is out there".
- Subverted in one instance, when Jake strikes a deal with Crayak to return them to the moment where they chose not to walk through the construction site (where they met Elfangor and learned of the invasion). The kids walked home the safe way and consequently they had no knowledge of the Yeerks or the invasion. But, true to the theme of the series, the kids eventually have to confront the reality they didn't even know was there (made even cooler because now they don't have any powers).
- Harry Potter: In Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, when Harry asks Dumbledore why Voldemort wanted to kill him in the first place, Dumbledore's response is more or less that Harry is not yet ready to hear the Awful Truth, but at least makes clear that he has the intentions to tell him some day. Intentions being the key word here, as Dumbledore puts this off until the fifth book and only tells Harry then because Dumbledore's keeping the truth from Harry backfired rather badly, leading to Sirius's death. Dumbledore, to his credit, does at least acknowledge that this was pretty dumb. This isn't the only instance, but probably the most significant as much of the plot revolves around adults trying to protect Harry from the awful truth.
- This also plays a rather large role in the third book. First with Cornelius Fudge's insistence that no one tell Harry that Sirius Black is out to get them because it might scare him. Proving that not all adults are complete idiots, Mr. Weasley planned on telling Harry anyway, telling Harry to be careful and warns him not to go looking for Black. But he also falls into this trope by refusing to answer when Harry asks why would he be stupid enough to looking for someone who wants to kill him. Harry finds out anyway, but proves Mr. Weasley's fears correct because the Awful Truth in fact makes him want to kill Black. However, in this case, the Awful Truth isn't even the Truth at all because Peter Pettigrew, not Sirius Black is responsible for his parents deaths and Sirius escaped Azkaban to kill Peter Pettigrew, not Harry.
- The Awful Truth is in fact so awful that Dumbledore only reveals it in fragments; first, at the end of Order Of The Phoenix, he tells 15-year old Harry he'll have to kill Voldemort personally. Then, in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, he tells Harry that Voldemort is immortal unless five random objects, each anywhere in the world, are destroyed. Finally, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry learns that he, himself, is actually the sixth object (yep, there is one bonus) that need to be destroyed. In other words, he has to let Voldemort kill him, or Voldemort will remain invincible. He gets better, but as he didn't know that, it was still pretty Awful.
- This was all necessary for Dumbledore's plan to work. In the first place, he wasn't even sure that Harry would survive, though he had guessed Harry might due to events in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and as he himself has said, his guesses are usually right. But even if he had hard evidence that Harry would be able to survive, he couldn't have told him, because if Harry didn't think he was going to die, how could he sacrifice himself for everyone in the castle? So in this case, it was more revealing the Awful Truth while hiding the Wonderful Truth that accompanied it.
- The Prayer Of Miriam Cohen by Rudyard Kipling unfolds this trope. Not in very flattering way, though.
- In Catherine Asaro's The Misted Cliffs Back Story, Dancer left her husband with her son to return to her abusive father, who battered both her and her son, Cobalt. When he was grown, Cobalt rescued his father and found him to be a loving and affectionate man, but his mother refuses to explain. At the end of the book, Dancer explains to her son's wife, Mel, that there is reason to think that her son is not her husband's but his half-brother's child, and under the law, they would have executed her and her lover and her son. And they can not tell Cobalt because it would break him.
- In the sequel The Dawn Star, his dying grandfather tells Cobalt a secret. Throughout the book, Mel is terrified that the grandfather guessed and told him. At the end, Cobalt reveals that he had said that Dancer was not, in fact, his daughter.
- In The Gunslinger, the first novel of The Dark Tower, when the Walter makes the town drunk return from the dead, Walter says "If you tell him the number 19, he will tell you what lies beyond death." When one woman does this, despite Roland's urging, she Goes Mad From The Revelation and begs Roland to kill her.
- Sort of inverted in Silverfall: mentor desperately wishes her [in]subordinate could understand.
Qilue: If you doubt me, curl yourself around the Ladystone to sleep tonight, pray to Eilistraee for judgment upon me, and learn your answer. [...] Yes, do that. [...] Learn the truth.
Thalaera: Will I be maimed?
Qilue: Hurt, perhaps; maimed, no.
Qilue: Truths have sharp edges. Learning the truth often hurts.
- Overlapped with You Do NOT Want To Know in the X-Wing Series. When Donos found out, his first impulse, which he acted on, was to try to kill Lara. And anyone else in the way.
- Galaxy of Fear has the revelation about Hoole, who for the first several books has some secret which his niece and nephew only get to see the edges of. When Tash and Zak find out what he was hiding, they rage at and abandon him, though they come back later.
- In the Incarnations of Immortality novel "For the Love of Evil," the demon Lilith (yes, That Lilith) does a magnificent job corrupting Parry through lust and uses these to destroy his ego, such as "You will do what we need, solely because of your animal lust. And you will rue this one decision the rest of your days."
- In Oedipus Rex the title character is warned by the soothsayer Tiresias that he really doesn't want to know the truth, but tragic pride gives Oedipus the persistence to find out.
- In The Dresden Files, this is played in several different ways. First, anytime Harry has to let people in on the masquerade, he tells them straight up that they're probably never going to sleep well again. Also, when Harry confronts his mentor, Ebenezer, and Ebenezer tells Harry that he's the Blackstaff.
- Used with Murphy, as that's what led to his realization that some times people need to be told the truth. For the first three books, she's wary of him because he's so ambiguous all the time and nearly gets herself killed on a number of occasions— and she's always almost-arresting Harry. He finally explains everything to her in Summer Knight, which leads to a much closer friendship and a couple levels of badass on Murphy's part.
- German philosopher Oswald Spengler's non-fiction book The Decline of the West is full of them and culminates in "optimism is cowardice."
- In the Warhammer 40,000 book Grey Knights, renegade inquisitor Valinov seems to refer to Chaos as the Awful Truth:
'There is not enough room in your head to understand what I could tell you. I have seen the forces that really hold this universe together, and it isn't your Emperor. All you Imperial vermin devote your lives to crushing the spirits of mankind until not one man or woman could survive knowing the truth.'
- The Grey Knights themselves are an example. Any average Imperial citizen who learns of their existence is killed out of hand. Even Space Marines who learn about the Knights without authorization are mind-scrubbed to remove the truth.
- In the Vorkosigan Saga novel The Warrior's Apprentice, Elena searches for her long lost mother. She finally learns her mother's identity when said mother takes bloody revenge on Elena's father for repeatedly raping her when she was a prisoner of war. Likewise, the main plot of The Vor Game is triggered by Gregor learning that his late father was a rapist and murderer.
- In the Ender’s Game book Shadow of the Hegemon, Bean learns from a posthumous letter the Awful Truth about his own birth: That his increased intellect has a side effect in that he will never ever stop growing, and will ultimately die young of the Square/Cube Law because either his heart will not be able to maintain a body his size or his huge body will crush his spine.
- Speaking of Ender’s Game, the fact that Ender was not playing a game but committing genocide is a prime example.
- In the Spellsinger spinoff, Son of Spellsinger, the Grand Veritable is a magical, sentient lie detector that can not stop declaring the truth. Fun ensues as it wrecks relationships across the Bellwoods.
- In Ursula K. Le Guin's short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas", a child is brutally tortured to maintain the prosperity of the eponymous city. At some point in their lives every citizen of Omelas sees the child and learns of the connection between the child's suffering and the city's well being. The title refers to the people who can't live with the Awful Truth anymore and leave Omelas forever.
- Even aside from the substantial amount of philosophical musings on this trope (where it is nearly referenced by name), Sergey Lukyanenko's Night Watch has more than its fair share of examples. Early on, for instance, the protagonist Anton runs into a seemingly random cursed woman on the metro who he tries to help out. Soon, the events at the beginning of the plot which seemed to be important are discarded to focus on her. In the end, however, it turns out that everything that happened was part of a plot to recruit the woman, who turns out to be a future Great Sorceress, that is a magician of immense power, into the Night Watch. Including the (twice!) attempted murder of a child, and the possible deaths of every member of the Night Watch in Moscow.
- In the dénouement of Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday, Derek's cousin Simon and his father finally tell him that his mother died of cancer, and that she wanted it kept from him (Derek was seven at the time) because the disease and its treatment had a drastic effect on her appearance. The Earl says: "She lost her hair, her fingernails, her teeth. Her skin turned gray, her body shriveled. You were her darling child, the only one she would ever have.. She didn't want you to remember her that way. She wouldn't let me tell you...." Derek grew up believing his father had alienated his mother ("My mother spent the last year of her life in London because my father was a heartless swine. I vowed then and there that I would never be like him."). He took the dismissal of his beloved nanny who showed signs of insanity and was having an affair with the Earl's valet as further evidence of his father's cruel nature, and he changed his name and avoided his father for twenty years.
Live Action TV
- The music video for the song "Just" by Radiohead. A man lies down in the middle of the street, refusing to get up or tell anyone why, because if they knew, they would do the same. He does and they do.
- Played with and subverted by FoxTrot. Peter has just broken Jason's incredibly difficult-to-build lunar module model, due to practicing baseball in Jason's room. Jason is rightly pissed, and tells Peter that in a day, he will visit an awful punishment on Peter, refusing to tell him what it is. For the next four strips, Peter runs and hides in the backyard, is forced to eat sticks and leaves, spends the day lying in dog crap, and is grounded, all while trying to avoid Jason. When the time is up, he goes to Jason and laughs about how Jason never got him, then goes bug-eyed when he realizes what happened.
- And another: Jason gets a Darth Vader mask stuck on his head. After all other attempts at removing it fail, Roger of all people saves the day by showing him where to press on it.
Jason: How'd you know where to press?
Roger: I used to wear one when the movies came out.
Jason: You mean, you were a fan before I was?
Roger: Search your feelings, you know it to be true.
- The fact that the New World of Darkness is, well, a World of Darkness is a secret desperately kept from ordinary humans in the eponymous setting. It's an odd example, though, because the books state that a large part of why all the separate Masquerades are in place is for self-preservation: if all of humanity knew the truth, humanity would fight and the supernaturals would lose. The Hunters cause enough problems as it is.
- BattleTech: As the Inner Sphere is getting mauled by the technologically superior Clans some believe that the descendants of General Kerensky's Star League Defense Forces (who fled into unknown space centuries ago to avoid getting caught in a civil war and being forced to fight those they swore to protect) will come back to assist them in their darkest hour. A certain mercenary leader... refutes this theory.
Jaime Wolf: "Don't you see? Kerensky's people have returned. They are the Clans.
- Warhammer 40,000. Hoo boy... let's just say that the Imperium has a good reason for its proverb "Ignorance is a virtue."
- Chaos is the prime example of the Awful Truth. The Inquisition is quite willing to sterilize and relocate anyone who might have learned about it to forced labor camps for the rest of their lives. If this isn't practical, the Inquisition will just kill everyone. This policy can be applied to entire worlds with billions of people on them, and is still considered the humane solution compared to what might happen otherwise.
- Subverted in the first Ace Attorney game near the end of case four: Edgeworth reveals to Phoenix the reason he's become so bitter over the years is that he accidentally killed his own father as a child. Phoenix, however, can't believe that, and soon proves the killer was someone else (in fact, it was Edgeworth's adoptive father, making what should have been an Awful Truth for Wright into one for Edgeworth instead.)
- In case 2 of the second game, the Awful Truth is that Morgan Fey, Mia and Maya's aunt, is scheming to get Maya framed for murder so that her own daughter, Pearl, can become Master of Kurain village (although Morgan herself is not the murderer). This is hard enough on Mia and Maya, who loved their aunt, but it's even worse for Pearl herself; Mia arranges to have Pearl channel her during the second day of Maya's trial so that she won't have to see Morgan being exposed as an accomplice.
- The second game is full of these. In the third case, Moe the clown takes Regina to see the trial so that she CAN see the awful truth - that people don't become a star in the sky when they die, and that Acro has held a deep-seated hatred of her for months.
- In the fourth and final case, the truth is very simple, but devastating - the man you've been forced to defend in court is guilty as sin, and you can't weasel out of defending him of a crime you know he committed.
- Little Busters!: In Komari's route, that she had an older brother whom loved her but who died when she was little. In Refrain, that the world the characters are in doesn't exist - it was created after a terrible bus crash left nearly all of them with fatal injuries and was designed specifically to make Riki and Rin strong enough to be able to handle the truth and live on their own afterwards.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Hey, Ange? You know how you're pretty sure that your Ax-Crazy aunt killed your beloved parents and brother? Well, it turns out that your aunt just sorta went along with it because she didn't want you to find out that your parents were the Ax-Crazy murderers who killed everyone, your brother went along with it, and your aunt only killed your parents in what was more or less self-defense. Oh, and they never cared about you. Hope that cheers you up a little!
- YOUR PARENTS HAD SEX.
- On the Straight Dope forum, several members shared stories of how, when they were children, they'd been told that their mysteriously disappeared pets had been "sent to live on a farm." Cue the inevitable post that went along these lines: "That's a coincidence, because when I was little, I had a dog that was sent to live on a farm.... oh ^#@$% I need to call my parents NOW."
- As many a vegetarian will relate to you, many children are told that meat simply comes from the store and don't think about it any further.
- Quite possibly apocryphal: the school of Pythagoras was so shocked to discover that the square root of 2 is an irrational number (i.e. cannot be expressed as fractions) that they kept the knowledge a closely guarded secret, and people who leaked it were punished by death.
- The Atheist Experience deconstructed this when a caller asked "What's wrong with a comfortable delusion" by arguing that the trauma isn't caused by finding out the truth, but by discovering you were lied to. How many of these examples would have turned out better if the people telling the lies had just told the truth in the first place?
- You and everyone you know will die someday. It's usually the first of many awful truths a person has to deal with.
- According to an April 2014 study, even recreational cannabis use among youths use may be harmful to the brain.