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
Warning: As this is a plot twist trope, spoilers will be unmarked. Approach with caution.
Examples of this trope:
Anime and Manga
- Played straight and subverted in Naruto, the mysterious masked man Tobi is actually Obito Uchiha. It seems 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 those 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!
- 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.
- Subverted in Fullmetal Alchemist. Before the main characters encounter Father, you're led to believe that Father is Hohenheim since they both look alike, but you only see the bottom half of Father's face, so you 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. 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.
- One occurs in Revenge of the Sith when we find out that Emperor Palpatine was Darth Sidious. Even if you weren't one of the many fans who knew beforehand, it was very, very obvious by the way he acted.
- Then again, it was so obvious that a lot of fans were expecting George Lucas to pull a fast one and establish that the prequel trilogy's politician was a different character from the Big Bad who had the same name and actor, and that the Sith lord with the same actor was a third character.
- 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.
- The Mortal Instruments series is rather infamous for this. In particular, fans were annoyed by Valentine being Clary's father and Jace not being Clary's brother.
- In Midnight Predator, a lot of fans figured out that Jaguar was Turquoise and Ravyn's employer before it was revealed.
- 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.
- RWBY: From the moment she was introduced in the "Black" trailer, and throughout the first season up until The Reveal, hints and clues were dropped all over the place that Blake was secretly a Faunus. Then she accidentally reveals it, and almost no viewer was surprised.
- Lampshaded when a tertiary character had figured it out after meeting Blake for about a minute and pointed out one of the more obvious hints to the rest of Team RWBY.
- 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 an obvious clue in an early episode as an Easter Egg.
- In Kung Fu Panda 2, Po's father Ping reveals a deep secret to Po: he's adopted. Being as Po is a panda and Ping is a goose, this doesn't come as a surprise to the audience, but totally shocks Po himself. It's even lampshaded by Tigress.
- In the Season 5 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars Ahsoka got framed for bombing the Jedi Temple, and comminting 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.