Engineered Public Confession
It's a Just Between You and Me
moment: the villain, secure in his superior planning or intellect, is monologuing in exquisite detail how his Evil Plan
is going to profit him by screwing over all the people who trust or depend on him — completely and blissfully unaware that the hero or an associate has arranged a Hidden Wire
, PA microphone or other relay of the villain's words, which are heard with perfect clarity by a figure of authority and/or the villain's dupes. They, of course, realize just how they've been deceived and turn on him (or line up to get their crack at him
). Alternatively, the hero may be concealing a tape recorder, and will replay the villain's words in front of authorities just when it seems as if he'll get away with it all
. Turns out that the hero has recorded the whole thing, and the proof of the villain's evilness is Caught on Tape
. Often accompanied by a priceless Oh, Crap
from the exposed villain when he realizes what's happening, and he usually suffers from a Villainous Breakdown
afterward. Regardless, he usually gets fired from his job and/or sent to the slammer.
Variation of Right Behind Me
, but done intentionally, and usually with more people listening. Also similar to Bluffing the Murderer
, but it relies on overconfidence rather than panic on the part of the villain.
Usually the moment of demise for the Straw Hypocrite
and the Villain with Good Publicity
. Has also been the bane of the Chess Master
and the downfall of the Manipulative Bastard
on many occasions.
Compare Did I Just Say That Out Loud?
, Is This Thing Still On?
, Endangering News Broadcast
and Spanner in the Works
. Contrast Made Out to Be a Jerkass
when a hero stands up to a villain results in this.
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Anime & Manga
- Metal Armor Dragonar: Big Bad Dorchenov reveals he his the murderer of Marshall Guiltorre thanks to Min's strategy.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: At the very start of the series, when Edward and Alphonse are battling the fake priest Cornello, Edward is trapped but has a huge microphone hidden as Cornello explains how he is manipulating the populace and so on.
- And then it's rendered moot by the Homunculi.
- The Abridged series made this incredibly amusing.
Then tell me all the bad things you've done... Cornello: I once kicked a small child and stole candy from a puppy. Edward:
That's right... keep em coming... Cornello: I'm also making these worthless townfolk believe in a fake god so I can turn them into my fearless army and take over the country with the Philosopher's Stone! Edward:
Ha Ha! You've just been caught! This whole conversation was live on the radio. Cornello:
Not only that, but I once took part in a devil's three way with a nun. A nun! Edward:
Uh, you can stop... Cornello: I also wear a monocle! And a top hat! Edward:
I see you're gonna keep going... Cornello:
I was once even the CEO of Fox Entertainment, and it was I who canceled such great shows as Arrested Development
! * evil laugh* Ah ha... I'm evil...
- Patlabor: One of the people behind the terrorist attacks, Shigeki Arakawa, refuses to confess anything. Shigeki Arakawa is also Affably Evil. He went to Kiichi Goto when Yukihito Tsuge decided to alter the plan and start a limited war that would topple the Japanese government. Shigeki Arakawa’s original plan was a harsh political protest that used limited and controlled violence. Goto also agrees with Arakawa’s observations on the reality of peace, war, and political leaders exploit chaos instead of using a measured response.
- Done in the last episode of Gunsmith Cats when Haints finds Radinov in his office and launches into a rant about her failures, only to discover that she's really Kate with a wig and a microphone.
- In Code Geass R2, Lelouch pulls a massive Gambit Roulette just to get one of these, all in order to secure China as an ally in the fight against The Empire.
- This happens twice in Martian Successor Nadesico, transmitting some things Nergal would rather have remained hidden to the entire ship. The second time, in fact, Mr. Prospector seems to have some sort of "reveal bad guys' secret" button (designed to look like Ruri's face for some reason) on his shirt that he casually brushes as their captor gets rolling.
- Infinite Ryvius: Captain Airs Blue at one point considers betraying and abandoning the crew of the Ryvius, unaware that a treacherous subordinate has turned on the ship's intercom. Needless to say, he isn't Captain for much longer.
- A non-villainous (sorta-kinda) happened in Get Backers. Makubex finally explains that stealing the implosion lens wasn't just a plot to ransom the gods of Mugenjou and return things to how they before Ginji left; it was all prophesied in the Archive, and he was just doing his best to play his part and see if he could find a way to break the gods' control. He even revealed that his public persona as the "demon king" was largely a product of his virtual reality systems. Ren runs in after he finishes talking, reveals that she used his computer to broadcast it all over Lower Town, and that they're all waiting outside, cheering wildly and yelling things like "Long live Makubex!"
- One Piece had one during the Enies Lobby arc where Spandam, after accidentally activating the Buster Call, is gloating to Nico Robin about his future plans and how all the Marines under him are sheep. The kicker to this is that HE was the one who left the radio on for all to hear. Then he weakly tries to cover it up by trying to imitate Luffy when he finally notices this. No one is fooled, of course. This is an odd case, though, in that Spandam's speech serves no purpose to the plot, except perhaps to make the readers (or watchers) dislike him even more; when the transmission is finally cut, the only thing that matters to the ones who heard it is that the Buster Call is coming.
- Sket Dance plays this completely straight when a teacher caught framing a pupil for his own misdeeds confesses all with the immortal lines: 'No matter what you say, nobody will believe you!' Unfortunately for him, he was being broadcast over the school intercom system at that very moment, and the Sket-dan had fiddled with their classroom's speaker so that he wouldn't notice it.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds, during his fight with Yusei, Divine reveals that he was the one who murdered Misty's brother (Misty was under the impression that Aki had, and had become a Dark Signer to seek revenge - acquiring the use of Jibakushin (Earthbound God/Immortal) Ccarayhua).He discovers too late that Yusei's Duel Disk had a microphone in it, which he had activated beforehand, and becomes Ccarayhua's dinner. Though it certainly doesn't help that when Misty angrily speaks to him a few moments after Yusei reveals his trick, he responds with Evil Gloating.
- Peach Girl evil mastermind Sae is tricked by Kairi into expounding on her patented Wounded Gazelle Gambit routine, and how she has repeatedly made Momo look like a monster before the class. Unknown to her Touji is right around the corner, and hearing her bragging finally wakes him up, and he in turn makes damn sure the class knows who and what Sae really is. The worst part was, they kind of already did, but admitted falling for an act they themselves had been victimized by before—and sadly, would again before all was done.
- In Ouran High School Host Club, the school's newspaper editor tries to engineer the downfall of the Host Club, only to have his plans thwarted by a recording machine disguised as a first aid kit which Kyouya placed into the newspaper room.
- 20th Century Boys: An incredible inversion. For the entire series, Friend's Villain with Good Publicity status was his greatest advantage over the heroes. And just before the endgame, he throws it away willingly, casually telling the entire world the atrocities he's done on live television. At that point, he's so crazy and his plan so close to fruition that it doesn't really matter anymore.
- Largely how Near manages to expose Light as Kira in Death Note, sans the tech equipment but Light's god complex ego is more then enough.
- In an episode of Busou Renkin, homunculi were attacking the protagonists' high school, and the main heroes were fighting them off. One student was a collaborator with the villains, and so used the intercom to convince the other students that the heroes were also enemies so they would attack them. The hero's friends call-out the student over the intercom and get him to reveal his treachery.
- Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions has Grings Kodai's plan curving for a meteoric downward spiral after Zorua nicked his forearm. This had the side effect of breaking his illusion canceller, but he was too absorbed in both his own ego - as he gloats to Ash about his Dark Secret - and Zoroark's illusion to tell the difference as he drew power from a fake Time Ripple projected a few feet closer to Kodai than the real one, allowing Ash's friends to record his gloating on video. Then time rewinds in front of him, revealing the truth; he loses full functionality for his device shortly thereafter frying Zoroark, who fries it back, and stumbles into another illusion, whereupon he falls unconscious after falling off a podium in the Boccer arena, believing the railing for his "airship" was a few feet further ahead. This trope kicks in the next morning, where he wakes up to hear aforementioned gloating broadcast to everyone in Crown City via his own TV network. That roar from Zoroark? A rough translation is "enjoy your ride on the Party Van, asshole!"
- In Tiger & Bunny, Agnes and her crew combine this with Hoist by His Own Petard when they expose Maverick by broadcasting his monologue live on Hero TV, a program of his own media company which he was using up to that point to further his schemes.
- One memorable episode of Detective Conan had Conan cornering the killer-of-the-week in a parking lot and spouting off the details of the crime. The killer is at first taken aback at being found out, but calmly confesses to the murder when he realizes the police would never believe anything a little kid like Conan says. Conan admits this to be true — which is why he taped the whole conversation.
- Muteki Kanban Musume: Miki tries this at episode 7 A, Peel Off the Fake Smile, when she becomes a client of Megumi’s bakery and acts like The Thing That Would Not Leave to make Megumi drop his façade of The Fake Cutie in front of her clients denouncing her as the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Blackjack engineers a public confession in Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons in order to expose Ahuizotl as a traitor to the rest of Meatlocker. Ahuizotl, however, is Genre Savvy enough to realize what's going on, and activates the rooms's hidden booby traps.
What? You don't seriously think I'd believe you'd want to do business with me? You're the saint of the Wasteland. I'm sure you're just here to chat up some evidence to take back to those morons. Probably got that PipBuck
recording this whole conversation, don't you? Blackjack:
Darn. You figured me out. Well, except for one thing. My PipBuck? It's a broadcaster. [Cue Meatlocker's citizens opening the door.]
- Combined with Cassandra Truth in The Boy Who Cried Yuri: Shinji overhears something he shouldn't have. When he tells Misato about it, she naturally dismisses him in the "eww, don't fantasize about your coworkers" way. Cue Shinji hiding in the locker room with a tape recorder... and getting The Take when Misato gets turned on and joins the action instead.
- In Time Enough, Harry makes a man confess his crimes to him in a pub. The guy gloats that "No one will ever believe you. You've got a room full of drunks as witnesses." Alas, Harry was prepared for such an occasion... That is, an Auror and a reporter (Ron and Luna) were sitting nearby, both perfectly sober.
- Getting Back on Your Hooves: The Mane Six set up a Batman Gambit to get Checker Monarch to confess to trying to (illegally) ruin the lives of Trixie and her friends out of pettiness, spite, and jealousy during her public address to Ponyville. It's then subverted when Checker anticipates this and destroys their planted microphones when Trixie confronts her... and then it's double subverted when Checker's butler Helping Hoof plants another microphone on himself and exposes her.
- In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv) when Near is talking to Light with the taskforce listening in, Near thanks Kira for killing the guy who molested him:
- May the Best Friend Win, the first sequel to Rainbooms and Royalty, has this pop up during the climax: Twilight casts a spell that swaps one of her eyes with Rainbow Dash's, allowing her to see Twilight confront Trixie and Trixie admitting to acting like a total Jerkass to all of Dash's friends behind her back.
- In A Simple Plan, Jacob is forced to kill a man to protect the secret of the money he, his brother Hank, and his friend Lou found. When Lou starts to come between Hank and Jacob over the money, Hank secretly records Lou pretending to confess to the murder in order to maintain a hold on Lou, threatening to take it to the sheriff if Lou steps out of line.
- Safety Patrol had the main characters expose that Scout Bozell was framed, and that it was the entire Safety Patrol and the lunchlady who were the true instigators of the fire by arranging for Weird Al Yankovic to sing the revelation with the tape being played throughout his concert. As soon as this was exposed, pretty much the entire Safety Patrol was fired, and Scout was reinstated with a new safety patrol team, and the Lunchlady was arrested partially for this reason.
- In Mission: Impossible II, Vlad infects John McCloy with the Chimera virus, and will only give him the antidote if he confesses to leaking it. However, it's all a trick, and Vlad was really Ethan in disguise with a tape recorder hidden under his coat
- Used to in the live action Yogi Bear movie when the corrupt Mayor Brown's attempt to dispose of an endangered turtle that's existence would stop his attempts to close Jellystone park. Turns out Boo Boo's bowtie camera (which previously in the film had been put on him for a nature documentary about him and Yogi) recorded Brown stating both this and how he doesn't care about Jellystone at all. The heroes then play it during his election promo, revealing what a slime ball he is to the entire city. To make matters worse, said turtle gets on stage at that very moment, confirming the confession. He and his Chief of Staff are arrested on the spot.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane reads out Gordon's speech where he reveals the conspiracy to protect Harvey Dent's good name. (Inverted, as here it's the villain enforcing the hero's confession than the other way round.)
- In Wall Street Gordon Gekko is furious at Bud Fox for sabotaging a business deal. He goes into a rant and then punches him in the face. All caught on an audio recording; even after he realizes Fox went behind his back he still isn't watching his step.
- In the 2007 film of Hairspray, after Amber loses the Miss Teenage Hairspray Competition, Velma then admits to Amber that she rigged the votes. Edna then informs Velma that her confession was broadcasted on camera, which causes Velma to lose her job.
- In Animorphs it was an engineered public demonstration. In Book #35, after spending days harassing a particular famous-but-psychologically unstable Controller, Marco (as a poodle) provokes the Controller into attempting to strangle him to death on national TV.
- In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident Briar Cugeon gloats about his plan to kill Opal Koboi as Foaly records the conversation on Artemis' computer. Notable in that the whole thing doesn't get played at once. Select snippets of it are sent to the various people involved, one at a time, in various ways.
- Sherlock Holmes:
- "The Dying Detective", in which a concealed Watson overhears the gloating of a villain who thinks he's given Holmes a fatal disease.
- "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone", with a minor twist: Holmes didn't need the thieves to confess to stealing the missing diamond, as he had collected all the evidence he needed to convict before the story started. What he needed was to trick the thieves into saying where they had hidden it.
- During Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy in the Star Wars Expanded Universe, Princess Leia gets to do this to Smug Snake Borsk Fey'lya - the ship they were in went to arrest Han, Luke, and Rogue Squadron, and when an Imperial Star Destroyer showed up and the Rogues started flying cover, Fey'lya's ship and escorts started to abandon them and flee, nominally to get back and warn the Republic. Leia goaded him into admitting that the only use soldiers could have to a politician was political power, and his political enemies were his enemies in truth - the people on his ship and flying as his escort were his most ardent supporters, fleeing and letting his 'enemies' die could only benefit him. His supporters promptly mutiny and turn back to save the others.
- In The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Percy tricks Luke into confessing his crime of poisoning Thalia's tree to the entirety of Camp Half-Blood through an Iris-message, also proving Chiron's innocence.
- In "Gone Too Far", a Transformers: TransTech text story, our heroes manage to use this to their advantage. It's unwise to admit you framed someone for murder when they're a communications 'bot who records everything they hear.
- And in the Transformers: Shattered Glass story "Blitzwing Bop", Soundwave tricks Blaster into confessing a crime in front of a Cybertronian officer.
- At the end of the Alina Adams mystery Death Drop, the heroine engineers a situation for the murderer to make a confession to a certain acquaintance of his with a reality TV show in a storeroom full of cameras; he didn't check to make sure none of them were on. Thanks to a waiver he'd signed earlier, it was not only an on-camera confession, but a court admissible one.
- Averted in Seven Days in May — even with insurmountable evidence laid out before him, the antagonist never makes any explicit admission of guilt.
- In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Dead and Gone, Burke manages to get the Big Bad to admit his planned duplicity while a gadget is transmitting his words to the mercenaries supposed to be guarding him.
- In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Dying Days the Doctor pulls off one of these on the alien warlord who has taken over Britain and declared himself King. After tricking him into breathing in helium the Doctor then displays the whole conversation as a giant hologram in the sky with the villain's (squeaky) rant broadcast all over the world.
: I think you've just made your abdication speech Your Majesty.
- At the end of Embedded, Lex Falk is able to talk Tedders into admitting everything about the alien artifact on the colony planet Eighty-Six, which is what the Bloc and SOMD armies are fighting over. Tedders admits this because Falk is in control of the body of Nestor Bloom, a SOMD soldier, and she feels that "Bloom" needs the whole story, even while the SOMD is trying to cover up the whole thing. She doesn't realize that Falk is there until he openly admits that everything that Bloom is seeing and hearing is being transmitted live to the various news agencies.
- In one Star Trek: New Frontier novel, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun defeats an evil alien leader this way. In response to her attempt to extort him with the lives of Federation refugee hostages, he launched torpedoes at her world's capital city. Then he begs her to stand down and asks if she cares one bit about her people. She sneers "no". At the last second Calhoun aborts the attack. Calhoun promptly broadcasted a recording of the last few minutes across the planet — particularly the part with the villainess willing to gamble with the lives of her people. Almost immediately an angry mob tears her and her accomplices apart.
- In The Golden Oecumene, Phaethon does this to himself during his trial, angrily replying to a rival on the private channel, and realizing a moment too late he's actually switched over to the public channel.
- Most episodes of The Pretender ended with the Monster of the Week bad guy forced to confess under the same circumstances that he hurt or killed another person.
- In the Dawson's Creek episode "Election", Pacey turns the school's PA on while Abby tells him, in a moment of private smugness, that the school is filled with idiots. She then loses the election.
- The fourth-season The Dead Zone episode "Heroes & Demons" ends with an Engineered Public Confession in which the crooked cop's superiors are hiding just within earshot.
- In the the penultimate episode of Season 3 of Revenge, Emily enacts her long-awaited eponymous revenge against Conrad Grayson via this. She kidnaps his daughter Charlotte and blackmails him into a public confession (for funding terrorism and framing Emily's father)- however, knowing that such a confession would be thrown out for being made under duress, Emily instead reveals the truth to Charlotte about her father's crimes, plants a hidden camera on her jacket and releases her (all while concealing her identity). Charlotte then returns home and immediately confronts Conrad about framing her biological father. Conrad flips out, declares Charlotte an ungrateful bastard and threatens her to remain silent, confessing to everything in the process. As a final gesture, Nolan turns on the TV at Grayson manor just in time for Conrad to see that his confession has been broadcast on live TV for everyone to see- clearing David Clarke's name and sending Conrad to prison.
- Done with Jesse's con man cousin in Full House.
- Though not a villain, Liz Lemon on the 30 Rock episode "The Aftermath" twice accidentally confesses her true opinion of other characters while being broadcasted, first on a microphone over the entire studio and then again over a closed-circuit television monitor. See Is This Thing Still On?.
- In Season 1 Keith Palmer gets in Carl's face and the latter threatens him. Later on it's revealed that Keith put the exchange on tape.
- In Season 5, President Charles Logan, responsible for the day's various murders and terrorist attacks, is taken hostage by Jack Bauer, who attempts to scare a confession out of him by threatening him with a gun. When that fails, Bauer is arrested, and President Logan returns to give a press conference. When his wife Martha goes hysterical with anger, the president takes her aside and threatens her, confessing to his involvement in the day's events while doing so. A few minutes later, much to Logan's surprise, it is revealed that Jack had placed a secret recording device on him while threatening him earlier, and his entire confession was recorded on it. Martha and Jack had planned this the entire time.
- Emmerdale: Subversion: Has an episode where Adam holds Steph hostage after she gets him to admit to killing Terrence. Steph manages to convince Adam that she loves him and they should run away together. When Adam unties her, she makes a break for it and runs to the police to show them the secret recording she made of Adam's confession. But all that's on the tape is Adam's doctor's notes.
- Coronation Street: Subversion: Roy and Haley are trying to adopt an unhappy child but his abusive father won't let them take him without lots of cash exchanging hands. They try to trick him into confessing, but don't quite manage it. They hide the recorder under a newspaper and sit him next to it, then try to get him to remind them what the plot of the arc is. After a few hours he's fairly pissed off and wants them to get to the point of why they asked him to come over. Roy tries to pay him a meager sum in exchange for his signature on the papers. The guy freaks out, barking at them that he wants lots more money or they'll never see the kid, and how he'll get violent if they ever waste his time like this again. It's at this point that the recorder runs out of tape and makes a whirring noise. He finds it, smashes it, threatens them some more, and demands yet more money.
- Happens a lot on Leverage:
- Considering the Five-Man Band are Robin Hoods for hire. A prime example is the episode with the Iraq War vet: A congressman and the head of a Blackwater-style security company are basically using the Iraq war as a giant money laundering operation. The crew sends earlier proof of their collaboration the news outlets, and when reporters catch the two together they try to play it off as a secret plan to expose corruption. Cue the really incriminating conversation they had minutes earlier being sent to the reporters.
- One episode combines this tactic hilariously with Gaslighting: the team engineer the villain of the episode to break down and admit to her boss (and, unknowingly, also through her store's speaker system) that she's been covering up a toxic waste spill (which never actually existed) - after which she goes on to detail the various other evil things she's also done.
- A team member tries to prod the villain into a confession while they're in a nightclub's A/V room. The villain punches him and bends over to whisper "Do you think I'd confess to a murder in a room full of microphones?" into the team member's ear...which has an earbud in it. Ooops.
- The second season of Phoenix Nights ends with the main character's Evil Counterpart Den Perry being subjected to an Engineered Public Confession, having attempted to sabotage the titular club on numerous occasions including burning it down.
- A variation of this occurs on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Sisko is ordered not to tell the Cardassians of the Klingon plan to invade them. To get around this, he has himself measured for a suit by the resident Cardassian spy/tailor whilst discussing the invasion plan with his senior staff.
- In Primeval, when Christine has taken over the ARC, she's exposed when her rude remarks about the Minister are taped, and sent to him by Beckett, saving everyone's bacon, although earlier, Beckett had seemed to be Christine's loyal minion. It's hilarious!
- In an episode of Just Shoot Me!, Maya tries to expose Elliot's brother's fraud. She fails miserably. He's eventually done in by one part this trope, one part Exasperated Perp, by the completely oblivious Pointy-Haired Boss.
- In the Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Episode "Enemies," when Faith believes Buffy is tied up and Angel is his evil alter ego Angelus, she tells them about the Mayor's plans — only, Buffy isn't tied and Angel is still his soulful self.
- In "Intervention" Spike tells his Buffy Sex Bot that he'd die before giving up Dawn to Glory, unaware that it's actually Buffy pretending to be the bot. Realising that Spike's Heel-Face Turn is genuine earns him a kiss and Buffy's trust from then on.
- Babylon 5:
- In the season 4 finale, Michael Garibaldi (and the other main characters) are recreated as illusions 500 years in the future to blacken their characters. Garibaldi's illusion then proceeds to hack into the system, broadcasting the discussion between him and the scientist who created the illusions into the aether, while convincing the scientist to explain their side's plans on the virtue of being an illusion. It was awesome.
- Much earlier, in the season 1 episode "Eyes", Sinclair executes the psychic version of this trope by taunting EarthForce agent Ari ben-Zayn until his hatred and resentment of Sinclair (that was the motivation behind his investigation and attempted coup) was revealed to the telepath he brought with him, who then helped Sinclair, Ivanova and Garibaldi to take him down.
- Inverted in Clarissa Explains It All, while doing a science report on weekend of TV, her annoying brother, Ferguson, attempts to make her go insane. Clarissa and her pals find out about it, and she pays him back—by faking insane, but after removing batteries from Ferguson's tape recording.
- A non-villain version was seen in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide when Crubbs revealed the school's policy of replacing (only) broken property, leading to a cacophony of teachers smashing old, obsolete equipment.
- The pilot of Remington Steele has the heroes move a body from one room to another in a hotel. When the villain exclaims, "We left him in her room!" a door is opened to reveal a roomful of cops next door.
- Burn Notice: in "Bad Blood", a guy embezzling from a rap mogul shows up to kill someone who knows too much, but not before bragging about how clever his scheme was. Then it turns out the gun, which Michael gave him, was full of blanks, and the rap mogul is in the next room.
- Veronica Mars does this in the episode "Like a Virgin." Veronica gets the culprit to confess near her locker, then opens the locker to reveal a video camera; she then has the tape played during a television program broadcast to the entire school.
- In The Bold And The Beautiful, Rick rubs in his brother Ridge's face how his marriage to his daughter (Steffy) was a revenge plot against Ridge. And all the while, Ridge is recording the conversation and later plays it to Steffy who then breaks up with Rick.
- Happens frequently on Law & Order. David Cross famously got in hot water for badmouthing his own guest role on L&O and the somewhat lazy writing — leading to severely constrained opportunities for acting — of having the villain just break down and confess everything to the cops after a few prods.
- Mission: Impossible: The IMF's other most commonly used operandi. If it isn't getting the villain killing themselves one way or another, it's getting the villain to confess to a higher power. This trope is usually used against villains with good publicity.
- Mocked hilariously on Saturday Night Live during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Linda Tripp (Played by John Goodman!) is wearing an Incredibly Obvious Bug and trying desperately to get Monica to confess to sex with Bill Clinton, but she keeps changing the subject.
Tripp: "Speak into the flower, dear."
- Vanessa does this to Blair on Gossip Girl in Enough About Eve. In season 6 Chuck attempts to do this to his father, unfortunately Bart sees right through it.
- In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Torchwood record a meeting of the British cabinet in which they decide to give the 456 ten percent of the children and agree on the way to select the ten percent. They then blackmail the government using this: either the government let Torchwood deal with the 456, or the information will be released to the public. The government do as they're told, but later yet, it is implied that further damning information will indeed be made public.
- In the Doctor Who episode "Day of the Moon", the Doctor and friends pull a variety of this on the Silence. "You tend to my wounds. You are foolish. You should kill us all on sight!" rants a wounded Silent. The last sentence is later replayed as one of these during the live footage of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon, all around the world, reinterpreted as a hypnotic command. The humans do as they're told. Even better, since the confession was spliced into one of humanity's biggest historical milestones, the Doctor ensured that humans will continue to see the message for a looooong time.
- A variation takes place in The Twilight Zone episode "The Obsolete Man". When Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith) was sentenced to death by the totalitarian State for "obsolescence" (i.e. collecting books and professing his belief in God in a world where both books and religion are outlawed), he requested that his death be administered by a time bomb and that his death be televised. When the judge who sentenced him visited him before his execution to gloat, Wordsworth secretly locked him inside with him, so the judge would be executed with him. Seconds before the bomb went off, the judge cracked:
Judge: In God's name, let me out!
Wordsworth: Yes. In God's name, I will let you out. (The judge survived, but was now brought up on charges of obsolescence for begging for his life "in God's Name")
- Parodied in The Thin Blue Line, where the chief admits to Raymond Fowler that he faked some evidence. Raymond the triumphantly pulls out a rather large tape recorder from his pocket. But when he tries to play the confession, the tape just runs the workout-training that used to be on the tape. Another policeman then shows that you have to press both record and play at the same time to start recording, "I don't know why either". As an added bonus, the recorder is turned on during that demonstration, resulting in it recording some fierce Innocent Innuendo between Raymond and his ex-girlfriend. And the tape belonged to Raymond's wife, and she uses it for her workout at the end of the episode....
- On Desperate Housewives, Tom's evil love child Kayla gets Lynette arrested by burning herself and calling Children's Protective Services, saying that Lynette did it. Kayla confesses to Tom about it, but says that she's going to keep lying to everyone else. Tom then reveals that his cell phone has been on the whole time, and the family's psychiatrist has heard the whole thing.
- Mama does this on Mamas Family to Naomi's boss who was sexually harassing her. While he's bragging to Mama in his office about how he "bagged every good-looking checker in the Tri-State Area," Mama turns on the store's PA system, letting his confession be heard by all the employees and customers. (And when he lunges at her/the microphone, beats him up with her purse while screaming into the mic.)
- On Chuck, Magnificent Bastard Daniel Shaw is a good way toward taking over the CIA and has already made all the heroes look insane or murderous. Chuck sneaks into his private office during a meeting of agencies from all over the world, and makes Shaw think his big plan was tricking Shaw into alerting the leaders of the evil organization The Ring, getting them to leave the conference and thus reveal themselves. Shaw points out that they're still considered outlaws who no one will listen to, and Chuck goads him into gloating about being a Ring agent, plus murdering Chuck's father. Then Chuck reveals that their whole conversation has been broadcast to everyone at the conference.
- On NCIS, Ziva gets a suspect to confess that she is Iranian intelligence by letting her think she is beating Ziva up. Ziva was wearing a mic and got the confession on tape.
- In the Season 9 finale of Smallville, Clark manages to turn Zod's followers on him by tricking him into confessing that he killed his lover Faora and their unborn child, an act he had previously blamed on Clark and the humans. Apparently, Zod forgot that his followers all had super hearing.
- Subverted in the episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather", where Monk attempted to extract a confession out of the killer (a man who stole five double headed pennies from the U.S. Mint) for the FBI to hear (he was wearing a tie that contained a bug), but the confession did not come through due to the bug being damaged (Monk had the tie drycleaned due to a stain he accidentally got on the tie during an attempted sting on the Mafiosos for attempting to attack a gang earlier).
- A Double Subversion occurs during the episode "Mr. Monk Is On the Run Part 2". Natalie attempts to record Dale the Whale's confession on tape, but he knew long before she attempted to do so that she was going to try that, and did not confirm that he was attempting to frame Monk. However, he did tell her to record his message to Monk about switching places with him... and invoked the trope on himself anyways by having her record while his computer was on a weather map on Riverton, causing Monk to deduce exactly what Dale was planning.
- In an episode of Andromeda, Dylan Hunt is accused of murder. He finds out he was framed by people he has never met before. He then tracks down the last one, who laments losing his friends but brags about framing Hunt. Hunt, of course, is keeping his Comm Links channel open for Rommie to record and broadcast to the authorities.
- Magnum, P.I.:
- Episode "The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club", Thomas Magnum does this to an unscrupulous TV reporter with her video camera.
- "The Kona Winds" has a particularly dramatic variation—a Femme Fatale tries to manipulate Magnum into murdering her husband, but he catches on and convinces the husband to pretend to play dead. Magnum then draws the woman into confessing her entire plan, right over her husband's "dead body".
- Starsky and Hutch force two FBI agents to confess that they've been trying to unofficially intimidate S&H into backing off of a case. When the door swings open to reveal their boss has been listening in, he is not best pleased.
- Episode "Demons" plays this entirely straight: Castle and Beckett confront the Murderer of the Week by themselves in a spooky old mansion, the murderer gets the upper hand, tells them everything because he's going to kill them anyway, and then they tell him they set up a recording device in the room and cops were waiting right outside the whole time.
- This is (at least) the second time Castle has employed this trope. The previous was only two episodes prior. Ryan wired up the youngest kid in a crime family and had him try to get a confession out of his brother for killing his tutor. He gets it, with his brother pointing a gun at him. Cops bust in, and the kid gets shot. He's not quite dead. The shooting was a ruse to get the kid into protective custody.
- Used by Patrick Jane in The Mentalist against another 'psychic' to get him to leave a woman alone.
- JAG: In "Killer Instinct" (season 6), the defendant is a petty officer on an Aircraft Carrier suspected of murdering a subordinate (by throwing overboard at night), because they were incompetent at their jobs. One crucial piece of evidence is not admissible in court because the ship's CO did not have probable cause for issuing a search warrant, and this necessitates a different strategy from the prosecution. Harm does the standard Perry Mason Method, knowing beforehand that the defendant will not fall into the trap and make him overconfident. And when Bud later has his turn to question him, he begins by asking the defendant several questions that Harm had asked earlier, then proceeds to make several other basic errors before dropping his notes in mid-question, and finally drives the pedantic defendant into a rage, before revealing that he was Obfuscating Stupidity and it was all part of a plan.
Petty Officer Duell
: Some people don’t belong in the United States Navy. Lieutenant Roberts
: No, but the Navy won’t kill them. Petty Officer Duell
: No, but somebody has to. Lieutenant Roberts
: Somebody has to, sir.
- In The City Hunter, this is the hero's default method of dealing with the villains, destroying their credibility. In one case he allows himself to be filmed being beaten bloody by a presidential candidate's supposedly-disabled son in order to prove said disability was false.
- Elementary: This is how Moriarty is brought down in the final episode of season one. The scheme that foils her is a Batman Gambit engineered by Joan Watson, who correctly deduced that Moriarty was in love with Sherlock and would come to his side and discuss her crimes if he faked an overdose.
- Pretty Little Liars features this in season 2. Hanna and Mona go riding with Kate(Hanna's quasi step sister)and two of Kate's friends. Neither Hanna or Mona are very good so they decide to go rest in the lodge/main office. Hanna,who is not very happy about her father's up coming nuptials, takes this oppertunity to complain to Mona about how she hates Kate and Kate's mother Isobel. Unfortunately Hanna doesn't realize until it's too late that "someone"(Mona acting as "A") had turned on the intercom so Kate,Kate's friends,and everyone else outside hear every word she said.
- Kamen Rider Fourze presents an inverted version of the trope, in which a Monster of the Week is the one who exposes a good guy to the public. For more context, the Monster in question is the Chamaeleon Zodiarts, and as its name implies, is able to use camouflage. It uses this ability to film the school's Alpha Bitch, Miu, ripping the gifts that the students at the school made for her and showing just how much she doesn't care for them in the slightest. The Zodiarts then proceeds to show this film to everyone during a contest to see who would be the queen of their school. It's because of this that causes Miu to take a Heel-Face Turn.
- Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Dead Air", Phryne confronts a murderer in a radio studio. She switches on the microphone so that the killer's confession is broadcast live.
- Supernatural: In Season 9's finale, "Do You Believe in Miracles", Castiel tricks Metatron into gloating about his evil master plan to turn the angels and humanity into his blind worshipers in sound range of the angel-radio mic.
- Revolution: This is how the heroes finally take down the Patriots at the end of Season 2: after kidnapping President Davis, they're ambushed by Patriot soldiers. When Davis gets free, he flies into a rant about how he represents the true America, and how he's going to get Texas and California to wipe each other out for him. However, when he gives the order to have the heroes shot, it turns out that the "Patriots" are Texas Rangers, and the de facto leader of Texas is in the other room — this whole scenario was a setup to provide Texas with undeniable proof that the Patriots were playing them, and results in Davis' arrest and Texas declaring war on the outnumbered Patriots.
- In the finale of Old Harry's Game Season 6, Satan engineers Rosemary's confession to Edith's murder ... live on Radio 4's Today programme.
- The Infocom Interactive Fiction Adventure Game A Mind Forever Voyaging ends this way.
- Also appears in the LucasArts Adventure Game Full Throttle, in a variation: you're not getting the Big Bad to admit to killing Malcolm Corley, but rather showing pictures of him doing just that. For additional hilarity, these pictures are shown while the Big Bad is trying to tell people just how much he loved Malcolm.
- The end of Wing Commander IV is an interactive fiction segment where you must trick the Big Bad into forgetting about the crowd in front of him and doing this.
- Policenauts. Full stop.
- Pecker managed to do this to Mizo at the end of Jak X: Combat Racing, using one of the floating cameras that came with his job as race commentator.
- Ace Attorney - In the final case of Apollo Justice you put all of the clues together and they point to Kristoph Gavin. That person gloats because they don't believe the evidence to be strong enough to convict them, and they believes that's the only way you'll be able to save the defendant... then they're reminded that the trial is the first one in which a jury gets to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant, and the defence believes that they've given the jury enough reasonable doubt. This cues the start of a Villainous Breakdown as the guilty party rants, raves, and insults the members of the jury...who are all watching, live.
- Fallout: should you want to help Killian Darkwater in Junktown to gather evidences on Gizmo, you could offer your services to Gizmo as an assassin to kill Killian. While wearing a hidden tape recorder on you of course! And coming back with the evidence.
- This Engineered Public Confession was brought to you by Raynor's Raiders.
"...these shocking revelations..." "...veritable firestorm of anti-Mengsk sentiment..." Donny Vermillion
: The Emperor held a press conference earlier today.
"Emperor, how do you respond to these allegations of genocide?! Of using aliens to-" Arcturus
: I assure you these slanderous attacks against the throne are baseless and irresponsible! Kate Lockwell
: Emperor, do you still stand by the sentiment that selfless devotion to the people is the basis of your rule? Arcturus
: But of course. I was called upon to serve the greater interests of humanity! Personal power was never my goal. Kate Lockwell
: Then how would you characterize this statement? *click* Recording
: "I will not be stopped. Not by you or the Confederates or the protoss or anyone! I will rule this sector or see it burnt to ashes around me!"
* multiple camera flashes almost blind Arcturus Mengsk* Arcturus
: I-I won't stand for this... do you jackals think you can come in here and question me?! THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER!
*pushes interview booth, walks away*
- Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's in-game novel: In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth. Nastasha Romanenko and Richard Ames kept Snake's Codec on at all times for them to observe the mission, as well as recording various Codec conversations, including Master Miller/Liquid Snake's conversations with Snake. However, Liquid later reveals to them that he actually knew all along that they were recording everything he and the others stated, yet allowed it to happen anyways.
- Dishonored has this as an option to deal with Lord Regent Hiram Burrows non-lethally. Corvo can find and steal a recording of the Lord Regent, wherein he confesses that he intentionally brought the plague to Dunwall in an attempt to Kill the Poor. The guards promptly find the confessor and arrest him.
- In Telltale's Back to the Future, Marty does this to Edna Strickland to expose her as the speakeasy arsonist.
- "Fairest Of Them All", the third episode of Star Trek Continues and a direct sequel to "Mirror Mirror" and set entirely in the Mirror Universe, ends with this gambit. Kirk, enraged at Spock's mutiny against him, rants that his crew are nothing but pawns to be used and sacrificed for his own enrichment. Spock simply steps away from the wall, revealing that the communications panel was turned on and that the entire crew heard his rant.
- Often, whenever a public figure or celebrity decides to confess to committing an action, it is only because someone else has discovered it and is about to release the details. A prime example is Tom MacMaster, who decided to reveal that his blog A Gay Girl in Damascus was a fraud only after his identity was uncovered by Electronic Intifada.
- Roger Clemens tried to do this by secretly taping a phone conversation between former trainer Brian Mcnamee so that he would admit that Clemens did not take HGH; all it proved was that Mcnamee was either telling the truth, or not a complete idiot.
- Former Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány held a private speech telling his own colleagues that they had lied to the people about the state of the country in order to win the elections, and how they "fucked up" and needed to get themselves together to make things work again. The speech was recorded, leaked, and hell pretty much broke loose, followed very quickly by his resignation after being defeated in a vote of no confidence.
- A recording of (former) Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was leaked. In it, he discussed his plan to sell the Senate seat vacated by newly-elected President Obama to the highest bidder. Later, he would apologize for swearing so violently in the tape. He would eventually be convicted of (among many other things) misuse of power and corruption.
- Note that of Illinois' ten governors between World War II and Blagojevich's term, five were tried for corruption and four were convicted. Of them, Blagojevich was the only one to be impeached and removed from office (the others had all resigned before things got that far).
- Linda Tripp, as stated above, taped Lewinsky's confession. Though she caught a lot of flack for it, it should be noted that a previous Clinton mistress had confided in Tripp and when Tripp had to go public with it, she was smeared in the press, and poked fun at with regard to her weight as in the later example because it was her word against the president's. Call it Crazy-Prepared, but it's not that crazy under the circumstances.
- Hugh Grant helped bring down the News of the World by secretly recording a meeting with one of their former paparazzos, who spilt the beans about the phone hacking affair. Doubles as a Take That and a Crowning Moment of Awesome for all the stick the British tabloids have given him.
- WikiLeaks and Anonymous seek to be the Internet version of this. In fact, the HB Gary Federal leak is a fitting example. Edward Snowden has also ventured into this territory.
- The "Teapot Tapes" in New Zealand. Ironically the politicians at the centre of it have accused the media of "News of the World"-style tactics. Initially it wasn't completely played straight - the tapes are in the hands of the police after the initial controversy, and the cameraman who made the original recording is fighting for his reputation and bank balance in the courts. In early 2012, however, it was subsequently inverted when the recording was leaked onto the Internet.
- Still in New Zealand, investigative journalist Nicky Hager's 2014 book, Dirty Politics, was sourced from secret correspondence of a controversial blogger given to him by a suspected hacker. To Hager's supporters, he's blown the whistle on corruption and dirty tricks; to his detractors, he's a recipient of stolen property. Subverted twice however, firstly when the hacker who supplied the documents to Hager leaked further dirt on Twitter, only to go into hiding after legal threats from the controversial blogger loomed; secondly, Dirty Politics came right before a general election and was intended to influence the outcome, which didn't happen. Hager, however, insists in a post-election essay that it's only the beginning, given the pending investigations that are to be carried out.
- Emma West.
- Also, Tennessee radio talk show host Thaddeus Matthews made racist as well as rude comments towards one of his guests, all caught on tape.
- The British Holocaust denier David Irving holds the unusual achievement of self-Engineering his confession. When the Jewish-American historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote in her book Denying the Holocaust that he was a Holocaust denier and had deliberately falsified historical evidence, he sued her for libel. Unfortunately, Lipstadt's lawyers asked Richard J. Evans, one of the finest historians in Britain (if not the whole world) and a team of experts to go through Irving's work with a fine-tooth comb and found that it was patently obvious that he had lied and cheated in order to show Nazism in a better light. At the end of a humiliating trial (ironic, because Irving had hoped to humiliate and financially ruin Lipstadt by suing her in the first place), he accidentally addressed the judge as "Mein Führer." Hilarity, and a well-deserved comeuppance, ensued.
- United States of America v. Carollo, Goldberg and Grimm.
- Former British Prime-Minister Gordon Brown, after having a discussion with a Labour supporter named Gillian Duffy got into his limo, smiling and waving and then drove off, telling his driver in private: "That was a disaster. You should never have put me with that woman. Whose idea was that? Ridiculous. She was just a bigoted sort of woman. What's that noise?" Turns out, his microphone was still on the lapel of his jacket.
- The infamous video of Mitt Romney saying 47 percent of US citizens don't pay taxes and he wouldn't bother trying to sway them to his side.
- Attempted Defied by the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. Attempting to catch on recording corrupt officers is made a felony. Courts have responded in various ways to challenges to the law, ultimately resulting in the law being declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.
- The "Mister Big" sting used by Canadian law enforcement (where it is legal, unlike in the US) creates this situation. If the police are confident they are know who the murderer is, but don't have enough evidence to be confident of a conviction, they set up an elaborate operation where an undercover officer will befriend the suspect and gradually convince the suspect that the undercover is a member of some organized crime group, eventually leading to the suspect witnessing supposed crimes and sometimes becoming a participant in them, all faked and staged by the authorities. If it works, they reach a point where the suspect wants in on the operation and is taken to meet the boss ("Mr. Big"). The suspect is told that the only way into the organization is to prove they won't lie to the Boss, and the way they can prove that is to reveal details about the murder, with the Boss insinuating that he already knows all about it and won't tolerate being lied to. Ideally, the suspect then confesses to the crime (while being secretly recorded) and reveals things only the real killer could know, and sometimes more evidence the police didn't know about.