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Chair Reveal
The Monarch: He didn't go for it. I even did that cool spin thing.
Doctor Girlfriend: It's a bit of a cliché.
The Venture Bros., "The Lepidopterists"

Someone is sitting in a spinning chair, facing away from a character who's trying to talk to them. The chair swivels around, revealing a different person than who they expected, or even a dead body. Or, two people are talking in front of a presumably empty chair. Cue a dramatic swivel to reveal that the chair wasn't so empty after all. Can happen when Trespassing To Talk.

Quite often, the chair will be cool, and the posture will be villainous.

A variation of the "Chair Reveal" is the "Chair Entrance", when the visual device of a slowly-revolving chair is employed simply to make an actor's first appearance more dramatic. This is not a straightforward Chair Reveal because it's used solely to introduce the actor, not to produce a surprise or a plot twist.

"Chair Reveal" examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • Mai-HiME also uses one with Mashiro, but it turns out what's in the chair is a doll, the real Mashiro already escaped.
  • Yes! Precure 5 did it with a member of the Quirky Miniboss Squad instead of the school headmaster. Justified (not that this trope is as much in need of justification as some others) in that the girls had never actually met the headmaster before, so they didn't realize she wasn't the real thing until they realized who she was.
  • In Petshop Of Horrors, Leon thinks he's reporting his suspicions regarding D to the mayor... but finds D sitting in the mayor's chair.
  • Lelouch Lamperouge indulges in a Bond-villain-esque Chair Reveal in Code Geass. It's every bit as fabulous as you might expect.
  • One baddie in Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex pulls this when Section 9 breaks into his office to arrest him, and turning his chair around reveals a blow-up doll.
  • Weiß Kreuz uses the dead body version when Ken goes to assassinate Koga Kenji only to find him already dead.
  • In Canaan Hakko who can hurt and kill just by speaking talks all way to chair, thinking she is talking to Liang Qi, only to see a completely different person tied to it...
  • In Kirby of the Stars, Customer Service of Holy Nightmare Corporation does this when he and Dedede first meet face to face showing that he's just as small as any other character on the show. No legs, just feet where his upper torso ends.

    Comic Books 
  • The Helmet of Fate was revealed this way in DC Comics' 52, except that no turning was involved - the detectives approach the person sitting in the chair and he suddenly collapses, revealing himself to be dead.
  • Danger Girl and the Army of Darkness #4: Agent Zero shoots what he thinks is his target through the back of a chair. He then walks round to the front of the chair and instead finds a dummy rigged to a bomb with three seconds left on the timer.

    Film 
  • Diamonds Are Forever
    • After James Bond enters Willard Whyte's penthouse apartment, Blofeld reveals himself by spinning his chair around.
    • The villain and the chair are, of course, parodied in Austin Powers.
  • In The Lives of Others, Christa-Maria Sieland is being interrogated by Ministry for State Security Hauptmann Gerd Wiesler. Both are sitting in chairs with a desk between them but his has its back to her. The audience knows who the interrogator is, but she doesn't. When he does swivel his chair around, she gasps, as she encountered him before and told him he was a good man, unaware he was spying on her.
  • The dead body thing was in Psycho. It's a very creepy scene, despite the fact that a light tap on the shoulder shouldn't be enough to swivel the chair completely around.
    • Parodied in High Anxiety, when they spin around his chair to reveal the poor doctor slumped over horribly with his eyes and mouth hanging open? But he wakes up when they scream.
  • The remake of The Parent Trap had the mother and one twin arrive home to find the other twin sitting at the grandfather's desk. In this version, though, her face was covered by a newspaper.
  • My Favorite Brunette, a Bob Hope film, has one of these. Since Bing Crosby turns up somewhere in just about every Bob Hope film, the audience is carefully set up to expect him to be the Cool Tough Guy Detective across the hall. The chair swivels, and...it's not. It is, in fact, the Cool Tough Guy actor whose name Hope has just mentioned - Alan Ladd.
  • The House on Haunted Hill (1999) remake had the dead body version.
  • Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004). Totenkopf is revealed to be dead in this manner.
    • His German Meaningful Name (Skull) may have revealed the spoiler in advance, though.
      • Considering that a more literal translation would be 'Dead Head', he was probably just listening to Jerry Garcia. In the forties.
  • Rachel's ex(?) at the end of The Ring.
  • Walter Donovan does this to Indiana when he shows up again in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, except it was an ordinary non-swiveling chair, and Donovan revealed himself by standing up and turning around.
  • The end of The Adventures of Pluto Nash reveals that the villain has in fact been a clone of the hero in this fashion.
  • In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, Kirk is transported to a Klingon ship after being nearly killed, and is introduced to the person who just saved his life. The chair swivels round to reveal Spock.
    • In fact this movie has two invocations of this trope: earlier on Sybok communicated by viewscreen with the "captain of the Enterprise." The captain's chair on screen swivels to reveal ... Chekov. It's a ruse to hide the fact that the real captain, Kirk, is down on the planet executing a sneak attack, but it comes across as a joke at Chekov's expsense (the movie seems to be saying "Ha ha, it's Chekov in the captain's chair, as if.")
  • Lampshaded in Black Dynamite as the Big Bad, Richard Nixon, reveals himself this way... in less of a dramatic fashion than intended, as it takes a few pushes of his chair in order to finish it.
  • This is done with the Brainwashed and Crazy heroine Nastasia at the end of Warrior of the Lost World.
  • Queen Elizabeth II (not an actress) in the James Bond segment of the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony.
  • Played with in The Avengers. During the mid-credits sequence that reveals Thanos as the Big Bad, rather than turning around in a spinning chair, he gets up and looks over his shoulder.
  • The Big Bad in Exit Wounds is revealed this way.
  • Ryan O'Neal gets a pointless chair reveal in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. It's one of the many things Roger Ebert makes fun of in his review, along with a callback to the reveal of Frank Sinatra in Mike Todd's film version of Around the World in Eighty Days.

    Literature 
  • Voldemort did this in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, shortly before killing Frank Bryce.
  • At the end of the novel and film Captain Blood, one of the villains is brought before the Royal Governor to be punished for his crimes, and is shocked when the Governor turns to face him and is Blood himself, who the last time the fugitive saw him was as an escaping slave.
  • In the final book of Tad Williams' Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy, Simon discovers (the unfortunately very alive) King Elias via this trope, while he's prowling around in Pryrates' tower.
  • In the Star Wars EU book Solo Command, the pilots are sitting in their lounge on the flagship discussing the failings of their higher-ups and the moves they would make if they were in charge. A heretofore-ignored chair spins away from a computer terminal to reveal General Han Solo, leader of the entire task force. Being Han, though, after an initial Oh Crap moment, he congratulates their insight and takes their suggestions to heart.
    • In The Last Command, Mara and Luke go to Wayland, and cut through the Emperor's throne room there. Turns out Joruus C'baoth is sitting in it.
  • In The Eyes of The Dragon Prince Peter, serving-boy Dennis and his friend Naomi corner Flagg in the late King Roland's study (the scene of his fatal poisoning). Flagg is surprised when the chair by the fire scootches around to reveal a surprise eyewitness to his crime; the younger Prince Thomas who proceeds to shoot Flagg through the eye with his father's great bow.
  • Death does it in the Discworld novel "Mort".
  • In The Dresden Files book Changes, Harry returns to his apartment to find two allies have been cocooned by his sometimes crazy, always dangerous Fairy Godmother there. She reveals herself in this way, which is particularly impressive because, as Harry notes, the chair she's sitting on isn't a swivel chair.

    Live Action TV 
  • A reveal of a "new Number Two" in The Prisoner.
  • The initial reveal of the female Romulan commander in Star Trek: The Original Series "The Enterprise Incident".
  • Angel got one of these in "Smile Time" when the chair contains.. still Angel. But now he's a puppet.
    • So did Buffy the Vampire Slayer in "Beauty and the Beasts".
    • And in "Superstar" when the gang goes for help from Sunnydale's greatest hero. The chair spins and it's.... Jonathan.
  • Farscape did this in Revenging Angel. D'argo thinks he's going to turn the chair around to find Crichton but instead finds a dummy stuffed with dynamite.
  • In The Big Bang Theory's "The Cooper Extraction" episode, the cast imagines how their lives would have been different had never met Sheldon. The Chair Reveal from Psycho is referenced when Howard envisions that if he had not gotten married, (he met Bernadette through Sheldon) his mother's body would have desiccated and he would have assumed her personality, much like Norman Bates in Psycho.
  • Monk used the dead body version recently, in what may have been a homage to Psycho.
  • Arrested Development parodies this trope. Certain members of the Bluth family have a penchant for dramatically swiveling to reveal their presence... in chairs that aren't supposed to swivel, including on at least one occasion a very bulky armchair.
  • In an episode of the 1980s NBC show Its Your Move, a kid is told that a famous rock producer wants to meet him. When the chair is turned around, it's one of the skeletons the kid used to fake a rock band.
  • In a memorable Muppet sketch on Sesame Street, Grover wanted to surprise Ernie, but it was actually Herry Monster, disguised as Ernie, in the chair.
  • In Heroes, Elle discovers Bob has been murdered by Sylar this way.
  • Barney Stinson gets one of these in the TV show How I Met Your Mother. He brings his own chair for it.
    • "Don't touch that, it's a rental!"
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation did this for the result of Greg's evaluation - the spinning chair revealed not Grissom, but a gelatinous dummy used earlier in the episode for electrics testing, with a "You Passed!" note pinned to it.
  • Chuck attempts to use this on Captain Awesome. He does not fare well.
  • In the final episode of Police Squad!, the "chair reveal" reveals...another chair. The actual villain is standing off to the side. Another episode introduced the villain by focussing on him stroking a cat in his lap; he eventually has to crouch down uncomfortably to get into the view of the camera and introduce himself.
  • Janitor does it in the middle of a crowded corridor, petting an "invisible" half-kitten, half-monkey in Scrubs, while revealing his plan to spoil the outcome of a basketball match to Dr. Cox.
  • On Boy Meets World, Mr. Feeny does this to reveal that he is Cory's new principal when Cory gets sent the principal's office on his first day of high school.
  • Parodied on an episode of Saturday Night Live with Alec Baldwin demonstrating how to be a handsome actor, along with Glasses Pull.
  • Happy Endings: Dave, Max, and Alex do this, but Dave screws it up.
    Dave: You know I'm not good at dramatic swivels!
  • Midsomer Murders has a subversion- a couple are arguing in a library containing several high-backed chairs. After they leave, the camera pans out to reveal Barnaby had been sitting in the chair.

    Video Games 
  • In Hotline Miami in between chapters eleven and twelve, Jacket finds his apartment broken into and his dead girlfriend on the floor. When the player walks upwards from the body, he sees the killer sitting on the couch.
  • Reginald Griffin's dead clone in the sixth generation videogame Agent Under Fire is revealed this way.
  • Done by The Soda Poppers in the second season finale of Telltale's Sam & Max: Freelance Police games. On the DVD are loads and loads of fake alternate endings with different characters revealed to be in the chair, including Future Sam, a bottle of Banang (which gets a round of applause and an "encore"), Homestar Runner, Sybil and Abe (on an old black-and-white film backed with terror), the C.O.P.S, a "Will Return" clock, Mr. Featherly and Hugh Bliss.
    • Also done in episode 304, where Monsieur Papierwaite has his chair faced away from Sam and Max and is begging them not to look at him. Max swivels the chair around, and reveals the Elder God Yog-Soggoth embedded in Papierwaite's chest. They stare in confusion for about two seconds, then shrug.
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit does this in the 2010 Game Epic Mickey, when the titular character meets the Rabbit for the first time.
    Gus: Well that was an exhibition. All it needed was a gift shop.
    Mickey: It's a little disturbing. I mean, I get that he resents me...
    Oswald: Ya think? *Chair Reveal*
  • Near the start of Hydrophobia Kate comes across a security guard sat in a chair. When going up and reaching out to him he falls back revealing that's he's dead.
  • When Jowd makes it to the submarine control room towards the end of Ghost Trick, the masked muscleman answers his question about Yomiel by spinning Sith's chair and displaying Yomiel's abandoned shell. This sets up the fact that Yomiel's spirit is elsewhere and about to be trapped in the sinking sub without his body.
  • The Nancy Drew game Danger on Deception Island has an interesting subversion: after seeing incriminating evidence suggesting her friend Katie is behind the crimes, Nancy finds her sitting in chair in the culprit's headquarters. Turning the chair reveals that Katie has been tied up by the actual criminal.

    Webcomics 
  • In The Phoenix Requiem, when Anya arrives home from Aubeny, he finds out that Dr. Blythe is dead this way.

    Western Animation 
  • The dead body version was spoofed in an episode of The Emperor's New School.
  • The Inspector Gadget opening has a Chair Unreveal, where Gadget spins around Claw's chair and there's just a fake hand on a spring...which is attached to a nice, round bomb.
  • This was played with in an episode of The Simpsons where a criminal called Big Daddy did this to Wiggum and Skinner, despite the fact that he had just sat down in the chair three seconds before.
    • Also when Homer has to visit the IRS for his faulty tax report. The same chair swivels around twice and reveals two different men. Who both spoke to him.
    • And played straight in the episode "Black Widower," where Sideshow Bob blew up his hotel room in an attempt to kill his wife Selma. When he goes in and turns around the chair he thinks her corpse sits in, he finds Bart instead (alive, of course).
  • Batman: The Animated Series had a great instance of this. An unseen character paying the Baddie of the Week to get Batman's cape and cowl turns out to be... Batman.
    • Also used in The Movie, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, when Phantasm invades the home of Sal Valestra... and finds that Joker got there first.
    • Better still as a Suit Reveal. Batman snoops around Mr. Freeze's lair until he suddenly finds the suit. But Mr. Freeze isn't in it. Mr. Freeze is right behind him. As a disembodied head in a jar supported by big scary spider-legs.
    • The end of the Batman Beyond pilot has Terry not waiting for the reveal and kicking the chair the moment he gets on the ship. Unfortunately the villain was also pretty smart and was waiting for Terry to approach the chair.
  • Eric Cartman pulled one of these on Stan (while sitting in a Blofeld style egg-shaped chair) in the South Park episode "My Future Self 'n' Me".
  • In The Spectacular Spider-Man, Tombstone, previously The Voice and The Faceless, is first fully revealed this way, while speaking to Spider-Man in his office. Later, Green Goblin reveals himself to Tombstone in the same chair, to gloat that he's kidnapped Tombstone's dragon, Hammerhead.
    • At the end of Gangland, Gobby does this to Tombstone again, this time to gloat about setting up the episode's three-way villain fight, which left Tombstone's good reputation in tatters. Particularly dramatic since this was the Goblin's first appearance (in-costume, anyway) since season one.
  • Also done in Darkwing Duck, where Negaduck reveals himself like that to the main character.
  • In an episode of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Kit Fisto is tracking down Nute Gunray. He finds a room filled with droids standing around a chair from where Nute Gunray's voice can be heard. After defeating the droids, the Jedi find that it is just a hologram.
  • The Monarch invokes this trope in an episode of The Venture Bros. when dealing with Jonas Venture Jr.
  • Done twice in Max Steel — once at the end of first episode of the first season to show John Dread, the other in the eight episode to show L'Etranger.
  • Invoked in Megamind. Having kidnapped Roxanne Ritchi, Megamind has Minion position her in the death trap while he leaps into his villainous swivel chair and primps for this week's round of evil gloating - smoothing his eyebrows, coaxing a brainbot into his lap so he can stroke it when he turns around, and adopting the Slouch of Villainy. Of course, they apparently do this every week, so it's hardly a shocking reveal to Roxanne.
  • The Futurama episode "That Darn Katz!" plays this surprisingly straight; Nibbler and Amy find Professor Katz sitting in his office chair with his back to them, and when they turn the chair around he's apparently dead. Then it turns out he was never alive in the first place; he's actually a puppet.
    • In another episode, Mom reveals herself to Bender, Leela, and Fry with a speaker-equipped swiveling chair specifically designed for this purpose.
  • Bob's Burgers - in "The Kids Rob a Train", once they're sent to the caboose, a chair turns around to reveal Regular Sized Rudy (kind of an effort for him to do that in a bean-bag chair).
  • Done in the Grojband episode "The Snuffles with Snarffles" by Trina and Wheelie the Cat.
    Corey: Creepiest. Reveal. Ever.
  • Done by Gideon Gleeful in the Gravity Falls episode "The Hand that Rocks the Mabel", when he confronts Dipper at the factory.


"Chair Entrance" examples:

  • This is how Hatter is introduced in Alice.
  • Captain Sheridan's first appearance in Babylon 5 has him seated in his command chair on the Agamemnon, at first facing away from, and then swivelling toward, the camera.
  • In the low-budget science-fiction film The Bamboo Saucer, which starred B-list movie actor Dan Duryea (in his last role) at the top of a cast list of obscure actors, Duryea makes his entrance when another character enters an office and sees the chair behind the desk turned away from him. The chair revolves slowly to reveal Duryea.
  • It's not the first time the audience sees him, but when Luke is brought before the Emperor in Return of the Jedi, the Emperor is facing out of the observation window before turning his chair to face him.
  • On Sesame Street, in the "Alphabet Chat" sketches, Mr. Chatterley slowly turns his chair to face the audience during the theme music.
  • Subverted with the second season of Space1999: the opening titles feature Martin Landau swiveling in his chair, jumping to his feet, and firing his weapon at an off-screen threat. One of the most dramatic scenes in the whole series!


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Captain Obvious RevealPlot TwistDaydream Surprise
Chained to a BedFurniture TropesChairman of the Brawl

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