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Captain Obvious Reveal
A Captain Obvious Reveal occurs when the writer sets up a Reveal
for his story... only the audience figured it out already by the time they revealed it. Obviously, this will never apply to 100% of the audience, but when it applies to the majority of an audience, you have this trope on your hands.
This can happen for a couple of reasons. The more common one is that the author put in so much Foreshadowing
that the reveal becomes clear long before it was intended. Another reason is that there were no other options for the reveal; if we're told that a character has a missing father, and there's only one character we already know who's the right age and position to have a missing child, audiences are likely to figure it
out. And finally, it could be that this particular reader/viewer is very Genre Savvy
; no matter how well you plan your plot twists, there will always be someone who can figure it out.
Note once again that this will never apply to 100% of the audience. Likewise, just because one audience member was genre savvy doesn't mean we have this trope - that particular audience member is just very genre savvy and good at recognizing foreshadowing. Also worth noting that among the thousands who watch a movie/read a book, someone is bound to simply guess
the plot twist ahead of time, no matter how well it is set up - its practically a statistical certainty.
Compare The Untwist
; this trope is very similar, but not quite identical to that one. (The difference is that The Untwist can be intentional and always
comes from too much foreshadowing. Here, it's never intentional, and it doesn't necessarily have to be foreshadowing.) Contrast Tomato Surprise
and Deus ex Machina
. The in-story version of this is Everybody Knew Already
. Supertrope to Obvious Judas
, where the most Obviously Evil
character is revealed to be the villain.
Warning: As this is a plot twist trope, spoilers will be unmarked. Approach with caution.
Examples of this trope:
open/close all folders
Anime and Manga
- Played straight and subverted in Naruto, the mysterious masked man Tobi is actually Obito Uchiha. It seemed incredibly obvious right from the get-go, until Tobi pulled a 180 degree on personality, authority, and power level that completely contradict what Obito would have been capable (eg: the class dunce should not be capable of giving Yondaime Hokage a hard time). This actually led to a number of others characters being considered and causing quite a divide among the fandom. It isn't until 300 chapters later and a confirmation that he wasn't Madara Uchiha that it became somewhat possible, but the vast power level difference allow this to be subverted past his reveal until confirmed by Madara himself one chapter later!
- This reveal is strange in that it was played straight, subverted, and then double subverted, playing it straight again. While it's true that people considered numerous other characters to be Tobi's real identity for quite some time, the chapters leading into the reveal increasingly made it blatantly obvious that Tobi was really Obito; after Tobi reveals that he got his Sharingan from the same battle in which Obito died, Kakashi's reaction made it clear he was all but certain who Tobi was. This was probably deliberate, as for many it reinforced the emotional impact when it was finally confirmed.
- Then of course there's the fact that Naruto is the 4th Hokage's son...something most of the audience had already figured out, since they look similar and the guy's face is carved into the side of a freaking mountain. Just one look at his picture, and most of the audience had already figured who Naruto's father was. If you took out the whisker marks on Naruto's cheeks, they could be twins. It really makes you wonder how ignorant the people of Konoha were to not see such an obvious resemblance.
- Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. Before the main characters encounter Father, we're led to believe that Father is Hohenheim since they both look alike, but we only see the bottom half of Father's face, so one would expect the series to "surprisingly" reveal that Father is Hohenheim. Then it turns out that he's a different person and they just look the same because Father is a homunculus who took on Hohenheim's appearance when they were younger. Arakawa did this on purpose.
- There's a minor reveal in Martian Successor Nadesico that the Jovian Chulips are a kind of warp gate that allow Jovian robots to teleport in directly from Jupiter. Of course, since the audience has already seen the Chulips clearly opening some kind of portal, the biggest surprise is finding out that you weren't supposed to know that already.
- The siblings of Fairy Tail's Hoteye/Richard and Yukino (Wally and Angel/Sorano, respectively) weren't surprising to the majority of the fanbase who put two and two together.
- It's gloriously subverted with Silver of Tartaros' connection to Gray; readers speculated from the start that he is actually Gray's father before The Reveal that while his body belongs to Gray's father, it's actually possessed by Deliora, the demon that killed Gray's parents and forced Ur to use Iced Shell...only to later be double subverted when Silver reveals he really is Gray's dad brought Back from the Dead, and lied about being Deliora just to rile Gray up enough to put an end to his agonizing existence.
- In Yes! Pretty Cure 5 GO!GO!, Kurumi Mimino aka Milky Rose being Milk is so obvious, yet only one character figured this out for a while before the reveal. The other characters actually realized some similarities, but they still didn't figure it out for four episodes.
- In One Piece, Sabo being alive and a member of the Revolutionary Army. It is strongly implied with how he may have appeared to be shot, but his dead body was never shown, and later on Dragon finds someone injured who he wants to be taken to the med bay on the Revolutionaries' ship. In the latter part of the flashback, Sabo grows to hate the nobles and by extension the government, so it makes sense that he would become a Revolutionary. Furthermore, the flashback was mostly about Luffy and Ace growing up together - if Sabo had just been killed off to never play any role in the story again, his character's existence would almost have been Filler. In addition, one of the chapter cover arts was of an adult Sabo alongside Luffy and Ace, indicating that his role in the story wasn't finished yet.
- Sailor Moon: Tuxedo Mask's secret identity and the reveal of Usagi's past life were not very surprising, as their alter egos were shown countless times in the series...and, in Usagi's case, the opening of the first series and the ending of the second. Justified because the focus of the series isn't these mysteries but adventure and wish fulfillment.
- Dragon Ball: Goku is an alien. Nothing human could have a monkey tail, turn into a giant gorilla during a full moon, take multiple bullets non-fatally, and have superhuman strength since childhood.
- Trunks is Bulma's son. While it was somewhat easier to be surprised by this in the anime (in the manga, Bulma had purple hair instead of blue), his haircut resembles his grandfather's and he wore the Capsule Corp logo on his jacket.
- In Blood-C, it's very obvious that Fumito, Saya's neighbor who made her lunches, is the mastermind behind the events of the show and that he's drugging Saya with coffee and marshmallows which results to her memory loss. It's also blatantly obvious that he's the narrator in Saya's flashbacks and the tone of his voice showed that he knew all about her. And when episode 11 rolls in, it doesn't come out as a surprise.
- The End of Ends:
- Count Logan being Beast Boy would have been a huge plot twist... The only problem being that we focus on him for the first two chapters with enough information that when the slightest hint is given, it's instead a plot twist. For starters, Beast Boy's real name is Garfield Logan, and the story goes to great lengths to show the name. It also goes to great lengths to showcase his relation to Terra and his reason for why he became Count Logan in the first place, right down to using a clip from the show constantly, to the point where when they show it again and this time, with the names muted, it's downright obvious. Especially since one of the words that wasn't muted was Teen Titan.
- If you catch on that this is a Whole Plot Reference to Super Paper Mario, then it wouldn't surprise you that Dr. Beljar would backstab Beast Boy and remake the world in his image.
- In Curse Of The Demon Pony, JusSonic makes it incredibly obvious that the titular Demon Pony is in fact Twilight Sparkle's old friend, Ben Mare. Within the story it's treated like it's a huge twist, but anyone who's been reading it up until then should've known it was him given how unsubtle it was.
- In Romance and the Fate of Equestria, Twilight's OC boyfriend, Snicker-Snack, being revealed as a villain. Many readers found him creepy and suspicious from the moment he appeared, and felt that attempts to pass him off as Twilight's Love Interest fell flat.
- One occurs in Revenge of the Sith when we find out that Chancellor Palpatine was Darth Sidious. It was so blatant that many filmgoers didn't even realize that this was supposed to be a twist and considered it a given, much like Anakin becoming Darth Vader.
- Secrets & Lies: Monica's infertility is signposted fairly clearly by scenes in the film prior to the eventual reveal.
- In the film version of The Lord of the Rings. The writers knew that they could not have Éowyn disguise herself as a common rider without invoking this trope heavily, so the movie abandoned all pretense of hiding her identity from both Merry and the audience.
- The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug reveals that the mysterious Necromancer is none other than Sauron, the Big Bad from the original trilogy. Everybody, even those unfamiliar with Tolkien's work guessed it yet judging by Gandalf utter surprise and dramatic music, it was supposed to be shocking.
- In Hide and Seek, we're supposed to be shocked that Emily's Not-So-Imaginary Friend Charlie is actually an evil Split Personality of her father David. However, the constant and ominous flashbacks shown in David's head every time just before he finds out that Charlie has been causing trouble again make it abundantly clear that at the very least, he's hiding something really big.
- The Mortal Instruments is rather infamous for these, due to its very obvious use of Foreshadowing. The most hated examples were that Valentine was Clary's father and Clary and Jace weren't siblings.
- In Midnight Predator, a lot of fans figured out that Jaguar was Turquoise and Ravyn's employer before it was revealed.
- When J. K. Rowling wrote that an "RAB" had already procured the horcrux locket at the end of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, nearly every single fan figured out "RAB" stood for Regulus Black. Though note that this was on the strength of just a couple barely memorable mentions of him until the final book, making this more a case of the fans being just that obsessive.
- In Monstrous Regiment it's fairly easy to figure out that all of the soldiers are women long before it's explicitly stated. There's quite a lot of foreshadowing for each of them, like Sgt. Jackrum saying "on my oath, I am not a violent man" while being quite violent indeed; plays like Hypocritical Humor, but she is telling at least a partial truth. Not to mention that if you know your Elizabethan history the title itself is a hint, because the title of an Author Tract against Queen Bess referred to "the Monstrous Regiment of Women."
Live Action TV
- Several tropes got so repeated in Kamen Rider, that fans were able to guess the moment Kamen Rider Wizard premiered that The White Wizard was going to be the Evil Mentor, be connected with the Big Bad in some way, and that Koyomi would be the MacGuffin Girl. Needless to say, by the show's endgame, the show confirmed all three.
- Kamen Rider Gaim has the first episode feature the disappearance of a character, a monster who appeared around the area where he dropped the Transformation Trinket, and an ominous fruit that The Hero was tempted to eat. If you'd guess by now that the fruit had something to do with the disappeared person and that chances are he became said monster, then congratulations, you've guessed along with everyone else. However, the reveal isn't the fact that the monster was this character all along, but instead the inevitable moment when this truth is revealed to the characters.
- In Hikari Sentai Maskman, "Prince" Igam is played by a woman who makes no attempt to disguise the fact that she is one, apparently a She Is the King situation. About 3/4 of the way through the series, it's dramatically revealed that she is in fact a woman when her headgear comes off and her long hair is seen. The episode is called "Prince Igam, You're A Woman!" It's at this point that you realize it was in fact supposed to be a secret.
- In season 3 of Supernatural, a big mystery is built up over the demon who holds the contract for Dean's soul, despite there only being one important demon character still living.
- The Star Trek: Voyager episode "Scorpion, Part II" makes a big deal out of The Reveal that the Borg were the aggressors in the war with Species 8472, who were well on their way to exterminating the entire Collective before Janeway stuck her nose in. Considering it's the Borg we're talking about, the bigger mystery is why wasn't that the default assumption?
- In The Flash (2014), Reverse Flash turns out to be Harrison Wells, who has been Ambiguously Evil to the audience since the start of the series. Downplayed with the revealation that there is a second Reverse Flash.
- This is Played for Laughs in the Futurama episode "The Sting". When Fry is killed, anyone who's not completely genre blind knew they were going to bring him back to life. The writers knew this from the beginning, so they kept on having Fry come back to life, but it was one of Leela's delusions. In the end, it was played straight.
- A couple of fans predicted that Leela was a mutant, and many deduced that Nibbler pushed Fry into the cryogenic tube. However, in both cases the producers left obvious clues in early episode as Easter Eggs; in the pilot episode one may spot Nibbler's eye and shadow around the table Fry was sitting on, while Leela's one-eyed parents may be spotted among the sewer mutants in a background shot.
- Parodied in Kung Fu Panda 2 where Po's father Ping reveals a deep secret to Po: he's adopted. Given that Po is a panda and Ping is a goose, this doesn't come as a surprise to the audience, or even Po himself. It's even lampshaded by Tigress.
- In the first episode of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic the characters are surprised that Celestia is actually the sister of Nightmare Moon from the ancient legend. The thing is, since it was already established that Celestia raised the sun (plus that Meaningful Name), not only is this obvious to the audience, it makes the main characters look pretty dumb.
- In the Season 5 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Ahsoka got framed for bombing the Jedi Temple, and commenting several murders during her escape by someone who's suspected to be Jedi themselves. Most of the viewers correctly guessed that this traitor would turn out to be Barris Offee, Ahsoka's friend, who hasn't appeared for three seasons prior to this arc, where she suddenly got considerable screen-time, and most of her scenes were very clearly pointing at her guiltiness.
- In the season one finale of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012), it's finally revealed that Oroku Karai is really Hamato Miwa, Splinter/Hamato Yoshi's biological daughter who he thought died in the fire that killed his wife and Karai's mother Tang Shen. However, the large amounts of foreshadowing (for example, the use of the alias Harmony, as "Miwa" literally means "beautiful harmony"), along with the fact that several adaptions of the TMNT that use Karai explicitly state her to be the Shredder's adoptive daughter, made this blatantly obvious from the get-go.
As it turns out, this page was describing obvious plot twists the entire time! Admit it, you're surprised.