"Lying is a skill like any other, and if you want to maintain a level of excellence, you have to practice constantly."
This character is not your ordinary everyday lying jerk. This is the liar so good you never, ever want to play poker
with them because you'd go home without your underwear and short next week's paycheck.
Obviously, this is a handy talent for a villain to have if the hero group has a Living Lie Detector
, although it can also come in quite handy for a hero who needs to fool the villain for a change. For obvious reasons, it is particularly useful if the Living Lie Detector
believes that their ability is working, when it fact it is not. Conversely, a more audacious Consummate Liar might make blatantly false or contradictory statements to the Living Lie Detector
just to show off. Will also use Self-Serving Memory
if it will suit their needs.
Two common variations on Consummate Liar are:
- Just Too Alien: An entire race of people (usually aliens) just happen to be immune to whatever the Living Lie Detector's ability is. Often not quite as disastrous as the lone exceptional Consummate Liar, because once you figure out that the Ferengi are immune to your telepathy, you quit trying to use it on them to gather information. Note that being immune to one type of truth-telling might not make a race immune to ALL types (just because you can resist telepathy doesn't mean you can necessarily resist some kind of Applied Phlebotinum Truth Serum).
- Truth Twister: A group of beings with the unusual reputation of being "unable to tell a lie." This is usually interpreted by the group as "unable to tell a LITERAL lie" — violating the spirit of the rule is just fine if you can get away with it. This usually renders them immune to most Living Lie Detector abilities, but it doesn't help them for long, as they quickly develop a reputation for being able to lie without lying, resulting in no one believing ANYTHING they say. Examples include the Aes Sedai, and the ability of Earthsea dragons to lie in the True Speech (which is supposed to be impossible, but they manage.) Vulcans are often thought to fall into this category, but in fact they can lie; they just strongly prefer not to. When confronted with evidence of having told an untruth, the typical Vulcan response is, "I exaggerated." Liar!
This trope does not apply to tricks such as the Memory Gambit
or Note to Self
when they are used as a defense against lie detection. In those tropes, the would-be liar must convince themselves that they are telling the truth. The Consummate Liar knows perfectly well that they are lying. May or may not actually admit, later, that I Lied
Any character who gives a Bastardly Speech
has no business being anything else.
Compare The Power of Acting
. Contrast Bad Liar
. A key trait of the Magnificent Bastard
. Their diametric opposite is The Cassandra
, someone who always tells the truth but is never believed.
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Anime & Manga
- Kaiji pulls off the "lucky liar" feat at a crucial moment or two during his game of E-Card with Tonegawa.
- From World Embryo, Amamiya Riku. He didn't start like this though, but thanks to some certain events and such, he becomes an expert at this, so he can live normally.
- Death Note: With Light Yagami's track record, the only way to keep this entry to a reasonable length would be to list only the characters he failed to fool completely. You can count them on one hand: L, Rem, Aizawa, Mello, and Near.
- One Piece's Usopp when he wants to. He tricked his enemy into thinking he was wielding a five ton hammer by knocking another enemy out with it, when really it was just the weight of your everyday frying pan and the person he knocked out was horribly stupid. He later pulls the same trick successfully using a "ten ton" hammer. Combined with sudden bursts of strength and sneakiness beforehand, Usopp succeeds in scaring his opponent unconscious.
- Darker Than Black
- Although it isn't emphasized, Hei is a really good liar. Watching the first two episodes in particular when you already know what he's like is a little awe-inspiring; Huang chalks it up to characteristic Contractor Lack of Empathy. ("You people don't give a shit about what you're doing.") And later, as part of a security check, he was questioned while rigged up to a lie detector; one of the questions was, "Do you know any Contractors?" "No." He passed.
- All Contractors seems good at this. It is taken Up to Eleven in the finale by Hei once more, when it is implied that he has had normal human emotions the whole time, and the "contractor" persona was the lie.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!'s Kurt Godel. Pretty much everything he says is either an outright lie, or a rather twisted version of the truth. The only reason that the protagonists bother to listen to him is because he really does have important information, and because one of them is a mind reader who can confirm his statements.
- Akiyama from Liar Game does this so well that he can bring down entire corporations. Sure, he got tossed in jail, but still...
- Code Geass
- Lelouch Lamperouge/Vi Britannia. While a lot of his lies and secrets do eventually get found out, he still manages to be incredibly convincing. By the end of the series, he's lying to the entire world. There is only ONE person who he never lies to (C.C.) in the entire anime.
- Schneizel is a consummate Truth Twister, which becomes brutally evident when he turns the Black Knights against Lelouch.
- The Count in Gankutsuou.
- Xelloss of Slayers is a master Truth Twister. The closest he ever comes to telling a direct lie is to deliberately mispronounce the name Bibble.
- There is a manga by Iruma Hiruma called Lying Mii-kun And Broken Maa-chan: Precious Lies which tells the gruesome, heart-wrenching tale of a young boy and girl who get kidnapped 8 years prior to the main storyline. The title refers to these children, who end up clinging to one another emotionally in order to survive their horrible ordeal. "Maa-chan" (Mayu Misono) ends up as a mostly Empty Shell because of the incident, whereas the narrator who's only known as "Mii-kun" becomes such a compulsive liar that his Catch Phrase is "That's a lie." He even ends up pointing out that he's lying right after the fact. To the person he just lied to. Apparently there are a couple of people who can sometimes see through his deception, but for the most part, everyone is left unsure if what Mii-kun said is anything close to the truth (even his "wife" Maa-chan can't tell, though she claims she can).
- Madara Uchiha of Naruto manages to mix truths and lies to such a degree that nobody is entirely sure what is true and what is not about his many revelations. Case in point: Madara Uchiha is revived as a zombie, proving that the "Madara" we know has been lying about his identity for two hundred chapters and is really someone else.
- For Keima in The World God Only Knows, it's not just what he says but also what he does during a capture. He seems to invoke Loving a Shadow to get the job done as quickly as possible yet what he does seems natural and in character enough apart from a few tweaks. The end result is that even the audience isn't quite sure how much he really cares about the capture targets or how much of what he was doing was acting.
- Itsuwaribito gives us Utsuho, whose fighting style combines bombs, poison, knives and lots and lots of lies. He usually wins by tricking his opponents into a situation where they have no choice but to believe him. And once they do, they play into his hands. If this doesn't work, he complicates things by lying about lying. All of the eponymous Itsuwaribito aspire to be this, but many claim the title but have few skills to back it up.
- Sai from Peach Girl. Oh lord. No matter how many times she's exposed she still manages to get some people to still take her side...
- Deconstructed at Muteki Kanban Musume, a Genre Deconstruction of the Fighting Series Played for Laughs: Megumi is so affected by this trope, she cannot tell the Awful Truth to a child that believes Megumi is the real Hell Bunny, even when she had the intention to do so.
- A general rule of thumb when dealing with Durarara!!'s resident Knowledge Broker, Izaya Orihara, is that any information he gives you for free is liable to be a big fat lie. He even lies about his background to his own personal secretary simply because he can.
- Kagerou Days: Kano, whose eye power is a form of shape-shifting, making lying much easier. It stems from the fact that he used to hide and lie about the bruises and cuts on his body, to protect his mother's reputation. He lied superfluously for the ensuing decade, and seems to have no intention of stopping any time soon.
- John Constantine is a con artist and Occult Detective who, even though being a sorcerer, uses his cunning to scam the most powerful being in the universe. The guy outwitted both Satan and God, and even trumped Batman as well.
- In one story arc of Justice League Dark when all of the members lost their supernatural powers, Constantine lost his ability to lie. Proving that his true powers is his ability to scam people.
- The alter-ego of Daredevil is lawyer Matt Murdock. Matt can usually tell when someone is lying by listening to their heartbeat. He agrees to defend an accused man because the man's heartbeat does not change when he claims to be innocent of the crime. Matt successfully defends the man. The man thanks Matt for helping him get away with a crime for which he was actually guilty. Turns out he had a pacemaker so his heartbeat didn't change when Matt questioned him prior to taking him on. This twist was done in the movie but with a witness rather than the defendant. For some reason Matt openly reveals his super-hearing when he ambushes the guy to requestion him and figure out why his heartrate isn't changing. In Daredevil Noir Matt's senses never detect dishonesty from Eliza, and even when he's spying on her, she reads as being uniquely devoid of internal conflict, which turns out to be because as that continuity's version of Bullseye, she's a sociopath.
- Two versions of this shows up in the Outsiders comic. When trying to figure out which of the members is a traitor, Arsenal hooks them up to lie detectors. Nightwing points out that he's more than capable of beating a lie detector (to which Arsenal replies, "Not this one.") and alien member Starfire is completely immune. Arsenal uses his massive connections to procure an alien torture device that he modifies to work as a lie detector. Two other members of the team aren't even questioned because one is a robot and the other doesn't have a bloodstream. The robot turned out to be a Manchurian Agent whose "Indigo" personality was a mask; her true self was actually Brainiac version 5.0 from the future.
- Spider-Man once dealt with an elderly Gentleman Thief called the Black Fox who, several times, convinced the hero to let him go, promising to go straight if he spared him (usually by saying he was too old to survive incarceration). He never kept this promise, and Spidey fell for it several times. The Fox was a pretty convincing liar in other ways too, able to convince the landlord owners of fancy penthouses that he was a relative of the tenants, letting him stay there when the actual tenants were out of town. Eventually, it took a sort of vision involving his Uncle Ben (hard to explain) for him to realize he was seeing the Fox as a phony "father figure" and was subconsciously afraid of his disproval. After a dangerous situation where the Fox had stolen a gemstone belonging to Doctor Doom's mother (with the furious Doom coming to get it back) Spidey finally stopped believing his lies and did turn him in.
- A crossover between Daredevil and Batman noted that Batman's heartbeat never changes based on his thoughts or intentions, leaving Daredevil unable to tell if he's bluffing or what he's thinking. On the other hand, it also makes it really easy for Daredevil to identify Batman's secret identity, as his heartbeat is described as "wardrum" and slightly slower than it should be.
- Loki in The Mighty Thor is the god of this trope, as he is literally the God of Lies. He also manages to play with it - people know they can't trust him, so he simply factors in the not being trusted into what he says. He's literally so good that he can manipulate a person when they know who he is, that he's evil, and that he's probably manipulating them and shouldn't be trusted.
- New 52 has Zaniel Templar. Superboy acknowledges it, but knows he has to play along.
- The Pony POV Series has Liarjack from Dark World, who has gotten so good at lying after being the Element of Deceit for 1000 years most of the characters can't tell if she's telling the truth or lying, often by telling the truth like she's lying. She actually keeps this after her Heel-Face Turn, though she primarily uses her Master of Illusion ability.
- In The Darkness Series Harry Potter becomes one with practice. His lies are not always consistent but so far he has always been able to think up new lies to explain why he lied in the first place.
- Mindy in Pokeumans uses this to infiltrate Pokeuman bases, find all their crucial files and then pin the blame on somebody else.
- Protoman in Mega Man Recut; he even admits this.
- In Mega Man: Defender of the Human Race, Bass is scarily good at lying to serve his own ends and can play Wily like a fiddle.
- Odd example in Shrek 3: Pinocchio has to become an incredibly skilled Truth Twister to avoid being given away by his own lie-revealing "ability".
- In Frozen, Prince Hans, to the point where there's a bit of a Broken Base about whether his real motives come off as clever or contrived.
Films - Live-Action
- Jordan Baker in The Great Gatsby. Interestingly, her boyfriend, the Nick Carraway, Will Not Tell a Lie. Of course, he's the First-Person Peripheral Narrator telling the story, so we can't be sure that he isn't an Unreliable Narrator.
- Harry Potter
- Severus Snape is so good with the magical skill of Occlumency (hiding his thoughts) that he is able to play Double Agent against Big Bad Voldemort, despite Voldemort's fondness for Mind Probes. When he eventually kills Dumbledore, even the Order is unable to tell which side he is on. He has effectively fooled both sides of the war, making his true allegiance impossible to discern because anything he's said could have been a lie and they don't trust themselves to know it.
- Voldemort himself, though mostly the Faux Affably Evil teenage version of him from before he became Obviously Evil. While it probably doesn't take too much to manipulate an eleven-year-old girl, it must count for something that he feigned interest in her (for a year, while actually being bored out his mind) so well that she was thoroughly convinced that he was her best friend. Also, after Harry's Heroic Sacrifice in Deathly Hallows, Voldemort oh-so-casually lies that "He was killed as he ran away, trying to save himself while you lay down your lives for him." And this trope probably also figured into his manipulation of Quirrell.
- Magnificent Bastard Artemis Fowl pulls a particularly clever version of this at the end of Eternity Code (Book 3). The faeries use mind control to "convince" Fowl to spill the beans on where his various Notes To Self are before they memory wipe him. Fowl, however, uses mirrored contacts to avoid this and plays along, sending them after dummy notes while keeping the real Note to Self hidden (in the literal hands of a kleptomaniac dwarf).
- Rashmika Els from Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds manages to be both a Consummate Liar and a Living Lie Detector, by being instinctively aware of how subconscious facial tics correlate with truth-telling.
- The Gap Cycle series by Stephen R. Donaldson uses this trope. One character's cybernetically enhanced vision lets him see physiological changes associated with lying. That character has an underling who is completely unreadable. He has no physiological reaction to lying because he makes no _psychological_ distinction between speaking a true statement or speaking a false statement; to him, it's all just words, and the concept of honesty basically doesn't exist.
- In Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man, a murderer is able to confound the telepathic police by memorizing a super-catchy jingle ("Tenser Said the Tensor: Tension, Apprehension, and Dissension Have Begun") and letting it play endlessly through his mind when there's a cop in the room. The telepaths can't get through this induced Psychic Static to read the truth.
- Michelangelo Kusanagi-Jones from Carnival by Elizabeth Bear has this ability; it causes tension with his lover, who is a Living Lie Detector.
- The Hunger Games is filled with this trope: Haymitch, Coin, Johanna Mason, and even nice-guy Peeta are all VERY good liars.
- The Dresden Files
- All of The Fair Folk are unable to tell a direct lie, but are nonetheless famous for their duplicity because they will only honor the Exact Words and more than willing to entertain From a Certain Point of View with their answers. Pretty much every sane character in the series advises against making deals with them, especially Harry Dresden himself, who, in his youth, managed to get saddled with a Fairy Godmother. (And no, this is not a good thing.)
- In Grave Peril, Thomas Raith, an incubus vampire, admits to Harry that he shouldn't be believed, because "I'm a good liar. One of the best." What he suggests Harry believe instead is the situation, as presented by Thomas, natch. Turns out that despite Harry's doubts, Thomas is telling the truth.
- In Randall Garrett's story The Best Policy, the human protagonist is interrogated under a lie detector by aliens gathering intelligence for an invasion. He realizes that he can exploit their ignorance with true but misleading statements (e.g. he says that human minds are capable of channeling certain physical energies to travel from place to place — a literal description of walking that gives the impression that humans have the power of psychic teleportation). By the end of the questioning, he has them believing that humans are incredibly powerful beings and that he's only humoring them them to be polite.
- His Dark Materials
- Lyra Silvertongue gained the name "Silvertongue" by being such a good liar that she easily tricks Iofur Raknison, king of the bears, despite the fact that it is impossible to lie to a bear. However, even she cannot lie to the Harpies, who call her out immediately.
- Mrs. Coulter (Lyra's mother) is also extremely good at lying. So good that she managed to lie to Metatron, who is very nearly a Living Lie Detector. In fact, she lies to Metatron by using her history of lying, to convince him that she will betray Asriel.
- All the fae in the Mercy Thompson series are the truth-twister variant. While completely and totally unable to lie, they're more than capable of fooling experienced policemen or even those experts at knowing who tells the truth, nevermind the reader. There is, after all, a distinction between the statements "I've heard he hates you" and "he hates you", or "this artifact is a mere echo of its previous power" as compared to "this artifact is not dangerous".
- Star Wars Expanded Universe
- Those who can use the Force are better able to discern the truth—but they have trouble with species they've never encountered before. Further, Bothans seem to be natural Consummate Liars, still able to hide the truth from Leia Organa Solo, a Force-sensitive politician who's worked with Bothans for over fifteen years by the end of the war with the Empire.
- Apparently there's an old joke about how you can tell when someone from a deceptive species is lying. It's "whenever they open their mouth", and the species mentioned in that joke are Bothans, Hutts, and Humans.
- Then there's Vergere, who remarks, "Everything I tell you is the truth, and everything I tell you is a lie."
- The Kencyr in P.C. Hodgell's Kencyrath books consider lying to be extremely dishonorable and thus are known for their honesty; this rigid code of honor forces the protagonist to be very creative in her speech and in interpreting the orders of her superiors.
- In the Codex Alera books, watercrafting can be used to detect truth, but some people have sufficient skill to get away with telling blatant lies anyway. At least two characters (Tavi and Fidelias) have been noted as belonging to this category. It seems to come through simple practice and control - Tavi, for example, grew up in the care of a skilled watercrafter (one so good at being a Living Lie Detector that she could see through the normally impervious First Lord, Gaius Sextus), and so has been practising against one of the best since he was quite young, while Fidelias became this due to his duties as a Cursor, although he's incredibly skilled at doing so, more than most.
- In the Inheritance Cycle, the Ancient Language carries the caveat that one cannot tell a lie while speaking it (because anything you say becomes true; this is how magic is performed, though it draws on your life force so the more outrageous, the more likely it will kill you trying to come true). The Elves speak it fluently, and so have the reputation of never telling a lie. Brom warns Eragon in the first book that this means that most of them have mastered the art of being Truth Twisters. Eragon tries his hand at this in the second book; when someone who broke his heart asks him (in the Language) how he is now, he tells her that he is "better than [he] was", referring to his healed back.
- In Tamora Pierce's Daughter of the Lioness books, Aly can fool a magical truth potion by retreating into what she calls her "liar's palace," the part of her mind where she's constructed a whole character and backstory for her assumed identity.
- The title character of Stephen Fry's The Liar (novel). (Who's an Author Avatar of the teenage Fry. He got better.)
- Dill from To Kill a Mockingbird lies effortlessly, but usually also thoughtlessly, resulting in ridiculous tall tales that he seems to nearly believe. When he does put his mind to it, he can weasel out of trouble this way.
- The Catcher in the Rye: Holden Caulfield, who may not actually be as good as he thinks he is. Which is ironic considering his hatred of "phonies".
- Star Trek New Frontier: Mackenzie Calhoun can use his considerable military training (especially his ability to remain calm) to fool Morgan in the computer, who can read his bio-signs as a way to tell if he's lying.
- In Frank Herbert's Dune, Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers are unable to utter direct falsehoods, due to the effects of the "Water of Life" spice-drug that gives them their power. However, they are masters of manipulation; and by use of partial truths, combined with shifts of context and emphasis, are able to mislead more effectively than a straight lie could.
- The Demons Lexicon: Alan Ryves is a lying liar who lies, but that's exactly what we love about him. He's fooled every single member of the main cast, including his brother, his possible love interest, the Big Bad, various demons, and the reader. Constantly. It's always for good reasons, though. His brother suggests that his near-superhuman ability to make anyone believe anything is because he had to learn to lie to people rather than be one.
- In Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat for President, Jim is trying to topple a corrupt president of a tourist planet. He walks into a police station full of Dirty Cops and offers to make a deal (a ploy, obviously). Da Chief takes him to the interrogation room, where he sits him down. Jim starts talking a bunch of BS and offers to take a Lie Detector test to prove it. He is calmly informed that he chair he's sitting on is a lie detector. Jim immediately changes his tactic and starts telling partial truths. Before, he was simply lying through his teeth without feeling nervous. After all, he is a professional thief and con man.
- In The End of the Affair Maurice tries to convince another character that Sarah is a "consummate liar".
- Rimmer Dall, Big Bad of Terry Brooks' The Heritage of Shannara is such an effective liar that it takes the Sword of Shannara to help the characters penetrate the web of falsehoods he has fed them. And even that almost doesn't work because, prior to letting Par get his hands on the Sword, Dall managed to convince Par that he couldn't use it.
- Caine of The Acts of Caine is immune to the truthsense of Khryl's holy knights for reasons he doesn't quite understand. Though it might have something to do with the fact that he would rather kill a man than lie to him. Maybe that kind of "honor" just confuses the poor god trying to read him.
- One could certainly argue that Jeeves of Jeeves and Wooster Jeeves is this; with a little Verbal Judo, he can convince anyone of anything.
- A Song of Ice and Fire consists of several Doorstoppers' worth of Gambit Pileups, so unsurprisingly there are several. The absolute masters, however, have got to be Varys and Littlefinger, who have between them set pretty much every single one of the numerous plot threads into action through their machinations, and regularly outmanoeuvre and gain the support of people who are fully fledged Manipulative Bastards and Chessmasters in their own right.
- The narrator implies that the Grinch is this in How the Grinch Stole Christmas! when he was potentially busted by Cindy-lou Who for trying to steal the tree.
- There's a short story where a young boy signs a contract with the Devil in order to become the greatest liar in the world. The boy then manages to invalidate the contract on the grounds that he is illiterate. The Devil leaves, defeated, and the boy casually demonstrates his ability to write.
- It is noted that it is very hard to tell when Nanny Ogg is lying, because she feels that conversational lying is fine when the truth is inconvenient or boring.
- Casanunda (The Casanova dwarf) who lists Outrageous Liar as one of his talents. When some wizards ask him if it's true, he says "No."
- From the Honor Harrington novels comes Eloise Pritchart, who had no choice but to become this. She is such an accomplished liar that she actually managed to convince the Committee of Public Safety that she had truly renounced the Aprilist movement and was loyal only to them. In fact, she was truly loyal to the Constitution that had lain in ashes for two centuries, and used her position as a People's Commissioner to become absolutely instrumental in the Theisman coup that ended up restoring that Constitution. Oh, and she was in love with the admiral she was supposed to be reporting on. Either she lied very, very well, or she and the man she loved faced certain execution.
- In Everworld, Senna gains her Manipulative Bitch status through Mind Control, More Than Mind Control and a good deal of just being ruthlessly smart. At one point April (her sister) notes that Senna can never be trusted, because even when she's telling the truth she twists it so much that it's just another lie.
- The eponymous Reynard from The Reynard Cycle is a natural, which serves him well as a Master of Disguise. He often resorts to lying via omission when he can't tell a bold-faced lie.
- Nate Gray from The Infernal Devices. The guy is really good at improvising tall tales, you have to give him that.
Live Action TV
- In Smallville, the Magnificent Bastard Sr. and Jr. Lionel and Lex Luthor are like this, of course. Ironically, when Chloe received the power to force anyone to tell the true, the Bad Liar Clark is the only one who is immune to it.
- George Costanza from Seinfeld is the embodiment of this trope, even being able to fool a lie detector.
George: Remember, Jerry, it's not a lie if you believe it.
- Arrested development: Most of the Members of the Bluth Family fall into this category, though to what extant may vary. GOB, Lucille, George Sr. and Maeby are are the most prominent, While Michel, Lindsay, and even Buster (though only rarely) show shades of this.
- Season four shows George-Micheal enter this category, with the Narrator essentially saying that Lying is something that runs in the family.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
- Garak has a natural gift for obfuscation, views it as a skill that requires constant practice and once claimed "the truth is often an excuse for a lack of imagination". He may or may not be an exiled spy and, while he was definitely exiled by his boss, the reason may or may not have been for killing a Gul's daughter, or letting Bajoran prisoners escape, or tax evasion, or something else. When Bashir tells him the story of The Boy who Cried Wolf, Garak interprets the moral as being "never tell the same lie twice". The only person capable of seeing through Garak is Odo; he works out that when Garak answers a question simply and without embellishment, he's telling the truth. After that, his instinct for knowing when Garak is lying or telling the truth becomes quite sharp.
Garak: I'll go along on your fools errand. But I want one thing to be perfectly clear: I have no intention of sacrificing my life to save yours. If it looks like we're in danger of being captured, if there's any sign of trouble at all, you're on your own.
Sisko: Mr. Garak, I believe this is the first completely honest thing you ever said to me.
- Enabran Tain, Garak's old mentor and boss and father is always impressed by Garak's skill at lying.
Enabran Tain: I can see that Garak hasn't changed a bit. Never tell the truth when a lie will do. That man has a rare gift for obfuscation.
- Adam Monroe has only the power of regeneration, yet is such a skilled liar he is able to fool the telepathic Peter Petrelli into blindly falling in step with his plans to unleash a deadly virus on the world - and all the while Peter believes Adam's goal is the opposite. As the man who gathered the twelve founders of the Company, Adam can also claim to have hoodwinked such luminaries as Kaito Nakamura and Daniel Linderman.
- Sylar, when he feels like it, can lie for years on end without the slightest flaw. And now he has the power to shapeshift...
- Angela Petrelli, who managed to keep such major secrets such as superpowers, ancient conspiracies, unknown family members, and multiple homicides from her sons for years even after one of them acquired powers like mind reading. She also totally crushes Danko when he questions her trying to get dirt on her other son / his boss.
- On Doctor Who, some incarnations of the Doctor (the Seventh and Eleventh, and the First in the earlier episodes) fit this trope explicitly.
- On LOST, magnificent and manipulative Ben likes to lie. A lot. Given that he sometimes seems to throw the truth in, sorting out the true from the false gets pretty frustrating. The other characters really shouldn't trust anything he says, unfortunately they're often in a situation where they pretty much have no other choice but to listen to him. Turns out he even lies in JOKES: When he's reading in an airplane he knows will crash, Jack asks him how he can read in this situation. Ben replies with the joke that he assumes Jack literally asks how he can read, and says "My mother taught me". That isn't even true since his mother died giving birth to him. Later, he sarcastically gives out his star sign (Pisces) in response to a question, something that fans deduced to also be false.
- In the Monk episode "Mr. Monk and the TV Star," Brad Terry fools a polygraph early in the episode, forcing Monk to concede that he may have been wrong in accusing him. Later, however, Monk witnesses Brad lying to a girl while on an exercise bike, and sees that his heart rate doesn't change.
- On an episode of Chuck, the main characters got exposed to an Applied Phlebotinum poison that acted like a truth babbling drug. Attempting to take advantage of this, Chuck tried to get Sarah to say they might be able to have a relationship. Sarah denied it, and thanks to the Truth Serum, Chuck believed her and (temporarily) gave up hope. At the end of the episode Sarah reveals to Casey that she has been trained to resist truth serum, strongly hinting that she was lying about having real feelings for Chuck.
- In RoboCop: The Series, Robocop comes equipped with an almost foolproof lie detector—so accurate it analyzes, among other things, facial tics that occur in less than a second. Almost in that, in one episode, they try to get a statement out of a career politician who is so good at his job that an identical lie detector is fooled, even when the politician says he's Abraham Lincoln. The best part is that the lie detector isn't so much fooled as it is hopelessly confused. No matter what the mayor says, the lie detector claims that the odds of it being the truth are 50/50.
- From the second series on, the title character of Blackadder takes pride in his ability to lie. While this is mostly demonstrated by his claims to be incredibly wealthy to enhance his standing at court, on one occasion he tells Percy that "An enormous hummingbird is about to eat your hat and cloak!" Not only does Percy believe it, when he returns, he simply decides that it must have got away. He's so good that even a drunken monk lurching into the room, puking in the fire and shouting "Great booze-up, Edmund!" in front of his deeply religious aunt can be explained rationally.
- Crichton manages to temporarily fool Scorpius' lie-detecting abilities with the help of Scorpius' neural clone. He's also able to lie (or half-lie, at least) when facing the Scarran heat probe on several occasions. Emperor Staleek comments that he is immune to the probing in The Peacekeeper Wars.
- Chiana often thinks this of herself, but is seldom successful.
Chiana: How could you tell if they were lying? You can't even tell when I'm lying.
Sikozu:Yes I can, Chiana. We all can.
Chiana: Oh yeah? How do you know?
Sikozu: You open your mouth, and words come out.
- Scorpius himself is probably the best liar in the series. In addition to being the resident magnificent bastard.
- Veronica Mars: Veronica's standby method for investigating a mystery is to lie through her teeth for about three-quarters of an episode. The only people who see through it are the ones who know about her beforehand. Ironically, her skill at deception sometimes leads her to screw up, overconfident of her ability to wing it. She once put on a very convincing "concerned friend" act (complete with "And the Emmy goes to..." music), but pushed it too far by claiming to be the sister of the victim... who was Hawaiian. note
- Kamen Rider Den-O: Urataros: A thousand falsehoods, ten thousand lies...
- Kirk Devane was one of these in the first season of Newhart.
- Lie to Me
- Barney Stinson of How I Met Your Mother is a self-described "master of manipulation" who takes the art of lying to seduce women to whole new levels. At one point he actually got a woman into bed by dressing up as an old man, telling her he was from the future, and warning her that, if she didn't sleep with present-day Barney, the world would come to an end. And it worked. This isn't even getting into all the Batman Gambits he's pulled on his friends, in episodes like "Game Night," "Little Boys," and "The Scuba Diver."
- The title character on Profit manages to beat a lie detector by putting a thumbtack in his own foot and stepping on it at strategic moments.
- An episode of Barney Miller features a lie-detector specialist who thinks the machine is infallible, causing problems for one of the detectives, who flubbed the test due to being too nervous. The problem is solved by Detective Dietrich, who is such a Consummate Liar he's able to convince the specialist he's an alien from a distant galaxy and winds up scaring him away.
- As a sociopath well-practiced at fitting in, Dexter's a decent liar himself, but his victim in "An Inconvenient Lie"(2x03), a car salesman/murderer, lies so effortlessly that even Dexter is amazed and impressed.
- While Supes in Lois and Clark lies daily to cover up his identity, he's not very good at it (remember all the I Need to Go Iron My Dog excuses?). When hooked up to a polygraph to find out the identity of Superman, he uses his powers to make true answers appear to be lies (e.g. blowing on the needles or levitating and dropping his chair). It gets a little hairy when the interrogator asks baseline questions, and one of them is "Are you Superman?". Clark answers "Yes" as he's supposed to, causing the interrogator to examine his equipment for malfunctions when the needles don't move.
- In Better Off Ted, Ted demonstrates a black box that's supposed to buzz whenever anyone in the room lies. It works fine on most people, but Veronica is able to reel off a story about Hunting the Most Dangerous Game with Sean Connery without getting a reaction out of it. They eventually fix it so it works on her too, though.
- In Supernatural when Sam loses his soul, it allows him to lie to Veritas, the Goddess of Truth, to whom no human can lie. She is understandably upset.
- Shawn Spencer from Psych, as part of his Training from Hell, was taught how to fool a lie detector if he ever had to.
- Nucky Thompson, city treasurer / part-time-gangster from Boardwalk Empire. It comes with the job description, he is a master of the Bastardly Speech who can be defending the black community and demonizing it in the next phrase thanks to the montage.
- Once Upon a Time: Regina/The Evil Queen. She lies to and manipulates absolutely everyone she comes into contact with. She even manages to pull it off on Rumplestiltskin when she tells him that Belle killed herself and he believes her when he has absolutely no reason to.
- Morgana does quite a good job of playing the loving ward to Uther while plotting behind his back (psychotic smirks notwithstanding.) Agravaine deserves a mention, too, as he can lie to Arthur's face about betraying him, even swearing on his dead sister's life.
- Season Five Gwen has them both beat. She comes up with perfectly logical explanations for her disappearances, manages to misdirect and manipulate everyone around her on a dime, and can conjure up tears at a moment's notice. She also manages to avoid Morgana's trademark smirk and Agravaine's Obviously Evil demeanor.
- Ruxin from The League has stated several times that he is just flat out more comfortable lying than telling the truth.
- Charles Logan of 24
Logan: How'd I do?
Jack Bauer: You're a world-class liar. I would have expected nothing less.
- Tony winds up turning into this in the 7th season, managing to successfully fool nearly everyone with his repeated lies.
- Many characters on Breaking Bad, but special mention should go to Saul Goodman:
"If you're committed enough, you can make any story work. I once told a woman I was Kevin Costner, and it worked because I believed it."
- Sir Humphrey Appleby from Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister: While he is capable of telling bald-faced lies with a straight face, his favored tactic is not to make them believable but simply incomprehensible through his copious use of doublespeak and political jargon in his often lengthy responses to simple questions. He is, as a result, extremely adverse to answering with a simple yes or no, or if he does deign to give a straight answer, he often says, "Yes... and no," followed by his usual verbose rhetoric when asked for clarification. This usually leaves the questioner more confused than before, which is precisely his intent.
- Law & Order: SVU has a heroic example in Nick Amaro, who tends to emotionally manipulate suspects into confessing (rather than the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique frequently used by his predecessor Stabler) and is quite perfectly willing and able to lie his face off in order to do so. Prior to joining SVU, Amaro also worked undercover as a narcotics detective, meaning he's basically had years of practice.
- Dilbert: Dogbert is such an excellent liar he was once able to fool a polygraph... while claiming to be Abraham Lincoln.
Dogbert: Lie detectors never make mistakes, do they?
Dilbert: Uh... no, Mister President.
- Peanuts: No matter how many times Lucy tricked Charlie Brown into trying to kick the football (only to pull it away), he'd always fall for it again the next year.
- In Cabin Pressure, Douglas Richardson is a Consummate Liar. The fact that he frequently boasts about this ability doesn't seem to hurt his credibility very much.
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Bard class in 3.5th Edition has access to a complete and utter Game Breaker of a spell at level 7: Glibness. The sheer degree to which it improves the user's ability to lie borders on mind control, considering that it grants a +30 bonus on such checks in a system where "By the way, your Majesty, I'm actually your trueborn son and heir, hidden from you at birth by your treacherous adviser" would be, at most (even if you are a female from a completely different non-cross-fertile species), a -20 penalty, for a net bonus of +10. Oh, and it can fool magical lie detection.
- The Spycraft and Pathfinder games patch this bug in the system by shifting what the result of a successful bluff actually is— in 3.0/3.5, a successful bluff means the target believes whatever you're telling them. In Pathfinder and most other more recent d20-system games, it simply means that the target accepts your statement as sincere, which is a different matter entirely (instead of believing that you're invisible because you bluffed them, they'll just think you're sincerely nuts). Like many Pathfinder rules, this change was pretty much something everyone in 3.5/3.0 was doing with house rules anyhow.
- In the Planescape campaign, aasimar are descendants of half-celestials, children born from unions of celestial beings and mortals. Most are benign, but those that aren't tend to be excellent liars and con artists. Their Upper Planner ancestry leads most other people to trust them over other people, so they can get away with a lot. (In other words, many aasimar use the reputation of their family to manipulate them. The best way to describe this sort of aasimar is a Spoiled Brat, but one who takes far more initiative on his or her own than most.)
- The Yozis in Exalted include the Ebon Dragon. He's essentially the cosmic principle of betrayal and self-interest given form, and is incapable of taking actions that help others more than they help him. He's also managed to persuade the other Yozis to put him in charge of their attempt to escape their prison.
- GURPS has Mind Shield to make one immune to telepathic lie detection. People with enough levels of the Fast-Talk skill are so good that they get a bonus on reaction rolls in any situation that they can speak. Also, those with the Compulsive Lying Disadvantage can more easily deceive electronic lie detectors.
- In Nomine has the Balseraphs, demons who are so committed to their own lies that they can make almost anyone believe almost anything though sheer force of will. However, it weakens them significantly if their lies are visibly contradicted by hard evidence. Somewhat unusual in that although they can fool their opposite numbers, the Seraphim, they are at a significant disadvantage when trying to do so. Also, Malakim can recognize them if they're perceptive enough, but are otherwise just as vulnerable as anyone else to their lies.
- Nobilis has Deceivers, a subset of Excrucians whose MO is to employ deception above all else. Their powers vary and GMs are actively encouraged to invent more, but standard ones include impenetrable disguises, the ability to convince a crowd of mundane humans of anything at all, and the ability to tell someone a lie which, whether they believe it or not, renders them incapable of seeing any evidence to the contrary. One canonical Excrucian named Iolithae Septimian, through the wanton abuse of Persona 5 and pseudo-Estate of "The Lies of Iolithae Septimian", is quite literally able to fool reality itself by saying something, then performing a Lesser Sacrifice to remove the quality that makes it a lie. Canonically, she made the ocean salty by telling it that it was; in the Excrucian-centric webcomic Chibi-Ex, written by the creator of Nobilis, she uses it to retroactively cancel Firefly.
- Celestia Ludenberg or Taeko Yasuhiro from Danganronpa is this, as a SHSL Gambler with the nickname "Queen of Liars". This leads to her managing to manipulate Yamada into killing Ishida before killing him herself, and very almost escape being caught. It was only a small verbal slip picked up by Naegi that turned the case against her.
- Ace Attorney
- Kristoph Gavin in Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney was the only person who avoided being questioned by Phoenix's Magatama, the locks that appeared when he lied were black rather than the usual red, and couln't be broken with evidence like any other liar.
- A better example would be Matt Engarde from Justice For All. Phoenix asks him if he committed murder. He didn't, so the Magatama didn't go off. However, he is guilty of hiring an assassin to do the job. Not really a justified example seeing as how hiring an assassin is pretty much the same as committing murder.
- There's one instance where breaking a Psyche-Lock with the Magatama yields Phoenix information which turns out to be completely wrong. It's hard to say, though, whether this is an example of this trope or whether it's a mistake from the Magatama.
- In note to the two examples above, on both occasions the "lies" managed to to slip past the Magatama due to a flaw in the Magatama's system. The Magatama isn't a pure lie detector but rather tells it's user when a person "is holding a secret in their heart". To this effect a person can themselves believe a lie to be a true and the Magatama wouldn't react to it. This is what happened in the first example; he believed his statement of of "I never killed anyone" to be true because he's a evil sociopath who generally thought that hiring an assassin meant he never killed anyone. It's implied that had he himself believed hiring a murder meant he was a killer then the Magatama would have picked up the statement as a lie. In the second example, the person lying had become so attached to his lie that he, once again, believed it to be true, thus the Magatama didn't pick up that the info gained was all lies. It's not until court where Phoenix "reveal's" said person made up identity that he starts to snap out of believing that he reality was this identity.
- In Dual Destinies, the "Mood Matrix" used by Athena Cykes can detect a person's emotional stability when giving testimony and allow her to read into their real emotions to pick apart lies. During the final case, she uses this against rival prosecutor Simon Blackquill, whose testimony is the only time that the Mood Matrix picks up an increase in emotional disturbance over the course of the testimony (normally it drops the more you probe the witness's testimony for emotional inconsistency). Simon doesn't shake his facial expression during this period and his lies are perfectly believable, so the only way you know that his lies are just getting stronger as he testifies is by the Mood Matrix.
- Metal Gear's Revolver Ocelot, one of the most Magnificent Bastards imaginable. The only thing that he stated that is very likely to be the truth (aside from possibly his real name in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) is that he planned to allow war to run rampant across the world so people's true emotions, feelings, and nature can be brought out, and that's only because of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and even that is debatable, since not once did Big Boss ever mention anything about Ocelot actually intending for mayhem to spread.
- Magnificent Bastard Arcturus Mengsk is so skillful that he gets away with lying to a telepath. In the novelization, Kerrigan thought he was the only person who always told her the truth, and was horribly shocked to learn that he was capable of deceiving her. Of course, by then, it was too late...
- Infested Kerrigan is also not bad at lying... oh, and Duran, who also manages to fool Kerrigan. After her infestation.
- Kreia from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II. She's so good, that by your fifth time through the game, you may realize something she's telling you isn't right. Bonus points for being the main source of exposition throughout the story.
- One that may not be immediately obvious: Joshua from The World Ends with You can be scanned as he's playing from the RG, but you're always somehow blocked out of his memory of what really happened until The Reveal.
- Planescape: Torment
- Trias the Betrayer. Angels aren't supposed to be able to lie...but he can. And oh, boy, can he.
- The Practical Incarnation from the same game was a good enough liar to fool an oracle, repeatedly.
- Fain of Lusternia. It's hard for real life readers of the Back Story to determine when - if ever - he Jumped Off The Slippery Slope.
- In BioShock, Atlas' lies practically play the game for you. Indeed nearly everything about Frank Fontaine can be summed up as this. His started off as a conman from New York, lying his way up the gangster food chain. Eventually, he ended up killing a man invited by Andrew Ryan...who happened to be named Fontaine, taking over the man's business and stealing his identity. Just about the only time he really tells the truth is when he's telling Jack to say hi to Ryan for him.
- Mass Effect: The Illusive Man lies as easily as he breathes, making it next to impossible to say whether or not he's actually telling the truth. It's so good that even people who know not to trust him have to admit that what he's saying is too plausible to entirely write off. He's able to lie to Aria, a woman who has held power on Omega, a space station full of Starscreams for centuries, partly by being able to tell exactly what one is planning and thinking or when they might try to move against her. The book Mass Effect: Retribution has a bit from Aria's POV where it says that she is able to read body language and tiny subconscious clues, but the Illusive Man is still unreadable because he is actually sending out a confusing mishmash of contradictory signals, so that even she can't read him. The best part? Even though she realises that he is capable of lying to her, and so devotes all her considerable cunning to working out if he is being truthful, he still manages to tell her several direct lies without her realising.
- Radiant Historia: Stocke is an incredible liar, perhaps something that should be expected from a spy, though it says something that he actually manages to fool his spymaster and said spymaster has a long list of reasons why simple acting skills shouldn't fool him. He's also a very good actor, at one point acting up the role of a flamboyant ponce to such a degree that a hostile border guard fail to match him to his own physical description - they were looking for a soldier, not a campy performer. The latter incident also gets a fair bit of Lampshade Hanging; Raynie and Marco are both totally shocked that the quiet, stoic badass is even capable of acting so obsequiously polite, and Raynie bursts out laughing the moment they're out of earshot of the guards.
- The king of this trope is Aim Liard from Super Robot Wars Z. Since the guy owns the Lying Black Sheep he is physically incapable of saying the truth. When he is killed by Asakim in Hakai-hen, he uses his sphere to essentially tell a lie to the universe so that he is not killed off. AND IT WORKS. His name is pronounced "I'm A Liar", and his Leit Motif is the song Untrue Crystal which sounds heroic. Because the song itself is just another lie.
- While GLaDOS of Portal isn't necessarily a good liar (like repeatedly insisting that Chell is fat or saying her Morality Core made shoes for orphans), it's usually impossible to know when she's lying because she lies about everything. This is most apparent at the end of Portal 2, where her reason for letting Chell escape and whether or not Caroline was deleted are given different contradictory answers, depending on whether you believe her words or the ending songs.
- Every single Shin Megami Tensei protagonist. All of them. You have to negotiate with demons to get them on your side, which generally consists of telling them what they want to hear and repeatedly bribing them. But "telling them what they want to hear" often means "lying like a dog," resulting in things like the Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey protagonist tricking demons into joining him by telling them that under his Power Armor he's actually a beautiful woman.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors: Zero, a.k.a. Akane Kurashiki (June). This person can feign concern for the man who not only tried to kill her, but who she is trying to kill (or at least ruin) herself. The facade is absolutely flawless, and doesn't break once during the story.
- Final Fantasy VII Big Bad Sephiroth lies like a rug throughout the entire story to manipulate Cloud. It works because Cloud's own memories are faulty due to various traumatic circumstances. After Tifa helps Cloud recover his true memories, Sephiroth is no longer able to manipulate Cloud as easily anymore, meaning it's actually possible to beat him.
- Kaito in Akatsuki No Goei can tell absurd lies without showing the slightest hint. At one point, he actually has to lie to some animals using phlebotinum that allows them to talk. Despite being living lie detectors, he still fools them. That said, some of the lies he tells are so ridiculous that it doesn't really matter how perfect his poker face is.
- Thief of 8-Bit Theater has claimed that Red Mage is "not actually a cross dresser and he has no daddy issues. I've just been messing with his head."
- Girl Genius
- Anevka Sturmvoraus says that her brother Tarvek could probably charm Baron Wulfenbach himself, and he indeed does a pretty good job at playing all sides up the middle, until he's forced to reveal a hand in an effort to keep Lucrezia from ordering a city full of revenants to attack incoming soldiers and gets shot for it. Later events reveal that Tarvek has been able to keep some major lies running for years.
- Anevka does a pretty good job herself, convincing almost everybody she meets for an entire arc that they're really on her side, whether they are or not. She is eventually defeated by Tarvek's hidden ace, though.
- The Order of the Stick
- Smug Snake Kubota claims to be capable of fooling magical lie detection, which is pretty much a prerequesite to scheming for the throne of a city that has no compunctions about using such magic.
- Keeping with good Dungeons & Dragons traditions, Haley, who is already good at bluffing, downs a potion that greatly increases her bluff which means she can make any bluff check no matter the penalty. In practice, she uses this to convince guards that they can't really see them, or that they are fired, or that the guard himself doesn't exist, or that she didn't mean it when she said her father ruined her life. She is however unable to convince her father that Elan is a good guy, because Bluff only works on things that aren't actually true. That would take a Diplomacy check. As such, any D&D player can be better at convincing people of lies than of truths.
- Subverted in Schlock Mercenary when General Xinchub, who is suspected to be this trope after telling a rather outrageous story to Ennesby and Schlock, reveals that he isn't an example when he establishes a baseline by telling an obvious lie and is caught red-handed by TAG (an AI skilled at lie detection). Double-subverted when it turns out telling the truth was a Batman Gambit to make Ennesby trigger a query trap when he tried to confirm the story using the Hypernet, and nobody was able to catch on to that.
- The Last Days of FOXHOUND deliberately Flanderizes Revolver Ocelot to be such a good liar that not only is he completely immune to telepathy, but he managed to string along Psycho Mantis for most of the comic's run.
- Cody Jenson in Survival of the Fittest v1 (at least pre-psychotic) was a devilish liar, stringing along Adam Dodd for quite some considerable time before the latter even started to get suspicious. (Jenson pretended he was another kid, leading to Adam talking to him about how much he wanted to kill... him). When he finds out later who Jenson really is, Adam is needless to say, not pleased.