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Everybody Knew Already

"ACKNOWLEDGE MY SHOCKING REVELATION, DAMMIT!"
Zeta Vincent, Narbonic

A character is ready to reveal their secret. Maybe they're homosexual, maybe they're a vampire, maybe they're a superhero, or maybe they're the one who stole the cookies from the cookie jar. All that matters is that they've kept this a secret for a while, and now they're ready to come clean. However, when they finally tell the truth, there's not a single surprised look, or if there are, the surprised looks come from the revelation this was supposed to be a secret. Everyone already knew.

Transparent Closet is a common subtrope, where a character's sexuality isn't as much of a secret as they think it is. See also Open Secret where it's painfully obvious from the get-go that no one is fooled by the secret. The metafictional version, where a writer reveals a twist that the audience already figured out, is the Captain Obvious Reveal.


Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Mai-HiME when Akira decides to wear a mask and use her ninja skills to help defend the school from the rampaging Orphan Monsters; Akira's roommate Takumi realizes instantly, but tries to humor the whole "secret identity" thing.
    Takumi: Oh, if only there was a ninja protector who could save us!
    Akira: <rolls eyes> I'm going for a walk.
    Takumi: <happily smiles>
  • The end of Magical Project S has Sasami's class telling her they knew she was Pretty Sammy, they just figured they weren't supposed to talk about it.
  • In To Love-Ru, the general reaction to finding out Lala is an alien goes along the lines of "Oh. So that's why she has the tail." All while Rito, the only one who cares about The Masquerade, freaks out and panics.
  • In the School Rumble manga, Yakumo's friends clumsily prepare her a surprise birthday party and she spends the rest of the day pretending she doesn't know. She comes home to find Tenma also preparing her a party.
  • Near the end of Martian Successor Nadesico Nagare dramatically reveals that he is the CEO of Nergal Industries. Someone replies, "Yeah, I figured it was something like that." In fact, everyone except Akito and Yurika'' knew about it.
  • Humorously done in part 3 of Jojos Bizarre Adventure with Polnareff trying to surprise the others with the revelation that Abdul survived a seemingly fatal attack and had been recovering the whole time he was gone only to find out that not only did they already know, every single one of them but him was in on it! Total Chew Toy moment.
  • From Mahou Sensei Negima!:
    • Setsuna tries to hide the fact that she has Bodyguard Crush on Konoka. No-one is fooled, so when Rakan reveals that she had her first kiss with Konoka, no-one even blinks their eyes. Even Negi.
    • When Takane tells Yuuna that her father is a mage, she just says she figured it was something like that since she recognized the person working at the gates was a friend of her father's. And from there she figured that Mahora is a magic school. Only really applicable to Yuuna, everyone else was pretty surprised.
  • In an episode of the Pokémon anime, there is an Old Superhero named Gligarman who is really the owner of a toy store. He gets shocked when everyone in town starts calling him by his real name during a climactic battle.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist, it seems that Ed has "I performed a human transmutation" written on his shirt. Most alchemists he meets figures it out within an episode. While his automail arm and leg aren't much of a clue, the fact that his brother is a suit of Animated Armor tends to be a dead give-away.
  • Subverted hilariously in the last chapter of Ouran High School Host Club: The girls eagerly declare that they already knew Haruhi's "secret" when she wears a dress and begins dancing romantically with Tamaki. It isn't until later that they actually find out that she's a girl, and it turns out that they thought her "secret" was that "he" and Tamaki were gay and that "he" liked wearing women's clothing.
  • Nano Shinonome from the Nichijou manga is a robot who goes to school and believes she's convinced everyone she's not a robot. This despite the fact that one complaint that she has on returning to school one day is everyone keeps turning the big wind-up key on her back.
  • Bleach: Ikkaku is willing to throw fights to avoid revealing his bankai, despite having willingly told Yumichika, Renji and Keigo. When chastising Ikkaku for his attitude, Iba reveals he's always known. Komamura accidentally overhears but promises to keep his mouth shut. Later on, Mayuri's comment to Ichigo that he and Akon once patched up Ikkaku's broken bankai reminds Mayuri he wasn't supposed to reveal the secret. He concludes he doesn't care.
  • All the girls in Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple are confused as to how all the men never realized that Kisara's right hand Shiratori is actually a girl. This revelation comes after a Love Triangle arc, showing that the object of Shiratori's affection was not who all the men thought it was.
  • In One Piece, Nami asked her sister Nojiko to keep her efforts to buy back their village from the pirate Arlong a secret even after Genzo had banished her from the village for joining Arlong pirates under the mistaken belief that she only wanted to get rich. It turned out that Genzo was unwilling to believe that Nami would join the pirates even with temptations like that, especially after Arlong had killed her mother. He and the other villagers eventually managed to get Nojiko to tell them but decided to keep it a secret from Nami so she could leave them if she wasn't able to complete her goal.

    Comic Books 
  • One old (prose) Superman story suggested that most of his close friends and co-workers knew he was Superman, but were secretly government agents assigned to allow him the illusion of a "normal" life.
  • One issue of Superman had an emergency that doesn't leave him time to get into costume at the Daily Planet, and everyone tells him to just go do it — they've just been humoring him about the "secret identity" thing. Wham issue? Nah, it was All Just a Dream.
  • Various Superman stories have also implied that his secret identity is widely known back in his hometown of Smallville, but the whole town keeps quiet about it out of loyalty and friendship.
  • Spider-Man's secret identity is like this sometimes, especially in Ultimate Marvel. In one issue, Daredevil (not in costume, of course) walked up to him, at school, to recruit him for a mission. In another issue, the Human Torch and Iceman showed up at school mostly because they were bored (Iceman: "Hey, aren't you-" Peter: "Don't you dare."). And finally, Kong — a jock who deduced it on his own — tells Peter to go help a friend, and when Peter looks ambivalent, he mocks him. "What do you want me to say? Should we have a code? Should I just throw up my hands and say 'Oh, if only Spider-man were here...'!?" This was lampshaded, parodied and subverted in one issue when he's knocked unconscious and wakes up in the X-Mansion without his mask (they wanted to make sure he was OK); upon learning this, Peter engages in a very lengthy rant about how he's trying to keep a Secret Identity here and is getting a bit sick of everyone somehow knowing that he's Peter Parker... only for Kitty Pryde to inform him that they didn't know his name. Oops.
  • Played for Laughs by Peter David in Wolverine. The X-Men were currently "dead", when Logan found out that Jessica Drew and some of his Madripoor friends recognized him in his "Patch" disguise. It turned out they'd humoured him, on the basis that he must have had his reasons. Considering that Patch is Wolverine with an eyepatch and the claws not extended, this should really not have been such a shock.
  • In one issue of Batman and the Outsiders, Alfred reveals Batman's identity to the team while he (Batman, not Alfred) is unconscious, to prevent them from wasting time by trying to contact Bruce Wayne, who they know as the team's rich patron. At any rate, Batman later reveals his identity, but the team acts shocked anyway.
  • In Gold Digger, Britanny Diggers did a brief stint as a superhero in her school days. While the villains remained oddly oblivious, the rest of the students had no trouble figuring out the superhero 'Cheets', was actually their classmate Brittany, the only member of the student body who also had fur and a tail and was the only werecheetah on Earth.
  • The Human Torch's features in Strange Tales involved him protecting his secret identity...despite the fact that he was a celebrity in his main title. Presumably, this was due to a lapse in Stan Lee's memory (which actually has some precedent); eventually, it was retconned that all the supporting cast were simply going along with the Torch's masquerade out of concern for his privacy...
  • Green Arrow's "secret identity" as Oliver Queen. Between his not-particularly-concealing mask and incredibly distinctive facial hair anyone who's met them both will know that it's him. In one case a policeman working with Green Arrow came to his house and, on being asked how he knew his identity, hadn't even known it was supposed to be a secret. His to-be sidekick Mia also recognized him instantly, not least because he was claiming to be a good friend of the Green Arrow. The best he could hope for is people thinking he's got a twin.
  • Two examples in ElfQuest:
    • The first occurs when Leetah accidentally yells out Cutter's secret soul name in front of Cutter's best friend, Skywise. It turns out Cutter and Skywise have such a strong mental link, they've known each other's soul names since they were kids.
    • The second one occurs when Big Bad Winnowill reveals Cutter's animal heritage to Leetah. Not only did both Leetah and Cutter already know, they're actually both proud of it.
  • Both averted and played straight in Birds of Prey, when Barbara Gordon revealed to her father, then-former Commissioner Jim Gordon that she has been operating as Oracle for several years after being shot in the spine and paralyzed by the Joker. Jim Gordon was surprised, but ultimately assured Barbara that he was proud of her. Barbara then pulled out her old Batgirl uniform and added, "I'm afraid there's something else I need to tell you, Daddy." Jim replied, "Oh. Well, that I knew about."
    • It's been implied numerous times that Gordon knows the identity of each and every one of the Batfamily. He simply chooses to not acknowledge it, even to himself in his thought bubbles.
  • Right from the first issue, it's almost become in a Running Gag in Demon Knights that everyone knows "Sir" Ystin is really a woman. Until a later issues reveals that Ystin is in fact some sort of genderqueer/intersex/non-binary gender identity, but it's not elaborated on.

    Fan Works 

    Film 
  • Captain Shakespeare's crossdressing in Stardust. Outsiders don't know, but his crew is fiercely protective of his "secret".
    Crewmember: We always knew you were a whoopsie. (Rest of crew pulls him back to shut him up.)
  • The only people who don't know that nightclub owner Johnny Kelly is really mob boss Johnny Dangerously are his mother and baby brother. This is explained to Johnny by the Pope.
  • In The Emperor's New Groove, Yzma has a "secret lab". It's not.
    Kuzco: Yzma's got that "secret lab". (He makes Air Quotes.) I'll just snap my fingers and order her to change me back!
  • Brain Candy: Wally, who is the only one who doubts he's gay, despite being Camp Gay.
    Psychiatrist: Well, Wally, because you are one of them. You are gay. You are gay. You are a homosexual. The opposite of straight, you're gay. I know it. Your family knows it. DOGS know it! Everyone seems to know it except you.
  • In Hot Fuzz, everyone besides Angel already knew that "Cousin Sissy" was an Embarrassing Nickname for Simon Skinner, who practiced ballet in his youth. He's doesn't even seem to be actually embarrassed by it.

    Literature 
  • In Great Expectations, Pip confides in Herbert about his love for Estella, to which Herbert replies, "Exactly. Well?" When Pip asks him how he knew, Herbert exclaims, "Told me! You have never told me when you have got your hair cut, but I have had senses to perceive it. You have always adored her, ever since I have known you. You brought your adoration and your portmanteau here, together. Told me! Why, you have always told me all day long." Unlike most other examples on this page, Pip feels relieved instead of annoyed that his secret was known all along.
  • Horatio Hornblower suffers from horrible seasickness every time he puts out to sea, something which he is mocked for earlier in his career. Once he gains command of his first ship, he takes pains to not let the crew know about his seasickness, for fear of appearing weak. It is years before he finally realizes that his men have always been aware of his seasickness, and have simply chosen not to comment on it out of respect for their captain.
  • In Superfudge by Judy Blume, Peter is asked by his parents to humor Fudge's belief in Santa, despite never having believed himself. After receiving his coveted red bicycle, Fudge confides to him that he's never believed, either, and pretends for his parents' sake.
  • In Starclimber, by Kenneth Oppel, Matt and Kate are in love but have to keep it secret because of class differences, and Kate is engaged to someone else to make her parents happy. They're both on the crew of a spaceship that's about to crash-land, and Kate throws her engagement ring to the floor and announces that she loves Matt. Then another character informs her that this was obvious to everyone already.
  • In Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series, Harry is afraid to reveal the demon in his head to his Knight in Shining Armor buddy Michael, whose job is pretty much to bring down said demons. When he finally does, the reaction is of course "I know." Harry has forgotten that at least in theory, Michael's job is to give people possessed by those demons a chance to repent and be freed.
    • Harry also forgot that Harry was possessed while protecting Michael's toddler son... on Michael's front lawn... while Michael was home...
  • It takes several books before Tavi in the Codex Alera finds out that his "aunt" Isana is actually his mother, and his father was Gaius Septimus: he's the heir to the throne. Ambassador Varg is a Wolf Man who could tell this by smell as soon as he met him. Besides, Tavi could pretend to be haughty and imperious very well. This was a bit of Fridge Brilliance as Tavi acted like a lord several books before either the reader or himself knew that he was. Ambassador Varg just figured he must have a reason and didn't say anything about it. Tavi's reaction is a bit nonplussed.
  • In Simon R. Green's Beyond the Blue Moon, it is revealed that Hawk and Fisher are Prince Rupert and Princess Julia from the Forest Kingdom books. They attempt to hide this fact from the other characters, but at the big denouement at the end, everybody is relieved that they can finally drop the pretense.
  • In Shadow Of The Hegemon, Peter finally reveals to his parents that he's Locke and that he's been manipulating events via his articles. His parents tell him that they've known all along, they didn't want to interfere at all, and that they're proud of him (Mrs. Wiggin revealed to Bean earlier that she's known all along, so this isn't a shock to the audience by the point).
    • It also shouldn't be surprise that parents who produce three brillian children are themselves pretty smart.
  • At the end of Megan Whalen Turner’s The Thief, when it is revealed that Eugenides is really the Thief of Eddis and cousin to the Queen of Eddis, not some random half-Sounisan peasant, he is sorely disappointed to find the magus had figured it out already…as had virtually everyone but Sophos, actually, and the readers.
  • In House of Chains, the fourth book in Malazan Book of the Fallen, the true identity of Sergeant "Strings" is blindingly obvious to both the reader and everyone around him. Halfway through the book people tell him to stop being ridiculous, and he—after a moment of indignation at having his cover blown—reluctantly agrees to go by the name Fiddler again.
  • By the end of Honor Harrington book The Short Victorious War, Honor learns to her discomfiture that everyone in her chain of command knows that she's going steady with Paul Tankersley — from the members of her crew on the Nike up to and including Admiral Parks, who chooses her ship to transport Tankersley back to Manticore because of it.
    • Similarly, the relationship between Honor and Hamish (White Haven) doesn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, though their solution to it does.

    Live Action TV 
  • A recent episode of Criminal Minds had J.J. trying to keep the fact she was having a relationship with a detective she'd met the year before a secret to keep her personal life personal, causing problems when the team encountered him again and she didn't want to acknowledge it. When she finally gave in and kissed him in public, the response from her co-workers who saw it was amusement that she was finally admitting it.
  • From Torchwood:
    • In the premiere, Gwen is cleverly (she thinks) infiltrating the Hub as a pizza delivery person, only to have the group unable to keep up the charade that she's fooling them and break out laughing.
    • Torchwood as an organization theoretically a secret. However, they use vans labeled "Torchwood", and most everyone nearby has at least a general idea as to where they're located.
      Ianto: Ask about Torchwood, and most people point towards the bay.
  • From Scrubs
    Dr. Cox: Heaven help me, I love newbie theater. Honest, I do. It's... the way you both play your parts with such wonderful commitment that almost had me believing that you aren't having whiny, neurotic, extremely pale sex with each other.
    J.D.: What are you talking about?
    Dr. Cox: Please stop. The whole floor knows. We do. Watch this. [turns around] Laverne, did you know?
    Laverne: Was it supposed to be a secret?
    Dr. Cox: And Carla?
    Carla: Please. I knew before they did.
    Dr. Cox: So, there it is. And if you go ahead and listen very carefully, you'll hear the familiar sound of no one caring.
  • Eric on That '70s Show hid his money in a Candyland box, only to discover just about everyone already know about it (and had been dipping into it).
  • An episode of Blackadder had Percy preparing to lend Edmund the savings he has hidden, only to be told that not only do Blackadder and Baldrick know about it, Blackadder has already taken it.
    Percy: You've seen it then?
    Blackadder: Seen it, pinched it, spent it. And the same goes for the two farthings Baldrick thinks he's got hidden inside that mouldy potato.
    Baldrick: Oh bloody hell!
  • Top Gear frequently introduces a Top Secret Test Facility of one kind or another, and then helpfully provides detailed directions to it.
  • On the True Life episode "I'm Coming Out",they profiled three (closeted) gay teens. Towards the end of the piece, one young man worked up the courage to come out to his best friend. He sits her down, lets her know how much their friendship means to him, and that he has something to tell he that he's never told anyone else. He tells her that he's gay. Without blinking, she looks at him and replies, in a slightly confused tone "Yes. What was the secret you wanted to tell me?" In fact, the girl's first words on the Confession Cam were "From the moment I met [him], I knew he was gay."
  • From Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • Towards the end of S3, during class awards towards the end of prom on her senior year, Buffy is awarded the "Class Protector" award. Jonathan makes a speech admitting that everyone knows that Buffy had been acting as their protector. She's the reason their year had the lowest mortality rate ever at Sunnydale High.
    • In the S4 episode "I Was Made To Love You", Warren makes a dramatic, unbelievable revelation: his girlfriend is actually a robot! Which would have had more impact if everyone else hadn't (easily) figured that out several scenes earlier.
  • On Northern Exposure, this is the townsfolk's reaction when Joel and Maggie announce that they are now having sex: "I assumed you'd been doing it for months."
  • From The Nanny:
    • Niles admitted that he was once secretly in love with the housekeeper, Catherine. Maxwell's response was, "The whole house knew! We were taking bets on when you two would get together!"
    • In another episode, Fran and C.C. are stuck in a wine cellar and to pass the time, try to have a conversation. When asked if she has a crush on anyone, C.C., who everybody knows is obsessed with Maxwell, "confesses" that she has a crush on him, adding that "My therapist says I'm obsessed with him!", to which Fran responds "How much did you pay to figure that out?".
  • On The Shield, Shane tries to break Ronnie's loyalty to Vic by revealing how he and Vic killed Det. Crowley in the pilot episode. Ronnie is neither moved nor surprised.
  • From How I Met Your Mother
    • Barney revealed his season-long crush on Robin to Ted, who (like everyone else in the series) had figured this one out episodes ago.
    • Ted's insistence on hiding the fact that he was "edgy" radio show host Dr. X in college. Not only does everyone know it (including Barney and Robin, who didn't go to Wesleyan), but they all tell him time and again that they know it. Finally, in season 8's "The Stamp Tramp", Ted admits that he was Dr. X, with Lily leading everyone else into a coordinated Spit Take to show their "surprise".
  • On The Invisible Man, Darien prevents a priest in a chemical-induced psychosis from bludgeoning a man while he is invisible. Later he goes to the confession box after the priest has been administered the anti-pyscho serum. To his surprise, the priest knew about him and the project that made him invisible.
    Father Tom: You stopped me from killing a man.
    Darien: What're you talking about? I got there right after you dropped that poker. Surely that must've been God that saved you.
    Father Tom: I don't think God sneaks up on a man and puts him in a half-nelson. It was you. Invisible you.
  • On The Mentalist, when Wayne Rigsby and Grace Van Pelt revealed that they were in a relationship, Cho comments that "Half the building knew. The only person who didn't know is the one glaring at you." As Lisbon glares at them.
  • May only half qualify but in an episode of Psych while drunk Lassiter admits that none of the higher ups at the police department actually believes he's a psychic and are only playing along due to his impressive track record. Though, it is also clear that a good number of officers do buy into the psychic act.
  • Being Human, first episode: New vampire Lauren corners George and does her big scary build-up reveal about the stuff of nightmares being real and herself being a vampire about to kill him. Then she is perplexed when he doesn't react scared. Too bad George is a werewolf and has been sharing a house with another vampire for some time.
  • Lawand Order Criminal Intent: When Megan Wheeler finally tells Ross she's pregnant, he's less than shocked. She only replies that if they'd been female, they would have figured it out weeks ago.
  • On M*A*S*H, Frank Burns and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan had a secret relationship for the first few seasons. Although as Hawkeye once observed, "The only person in Korea who doesn't know about them is MacArthur's pipe stuffer."
  • ER's fourth season started with ex-lovers Dr. Doug Ross and Nurse Carol Hathaway (George Clooney and Juliana Marguiles) reconciling and having a "secret romance" (due to past experiences, she was a bit shy to commit at first). During the season's Christmas Episode, Carol announced at the hospital's Christmas party that she and Doug were together again. After an awkward silence, a nurse's aid(who had apparently won the office pool) held out her hand and said, "Pay up!"
  • Castle:
    • Lanie and Esposito are trying to keep their relationship a secret from their co-workers, and several times just barely manage to cover up verbal slips or dodge questions about their weekend plans. At the end of the episode, Castle, Beckett, and Ryan talk about how cute it is that they think nobody knows.
    • Castle, Beckett and Esposito are torn up about telling Ryan that his fiancee slept with a pick up artist a month after they started dating. When they're finally about to, Ryan nonchalantly announces he already knew and didn't care because they weren't exclusive at the time.
    • Castle and Beckett are finally on the receiving end, multiple times.
      • Martha reveals she knew they finally had sex even though they thought they'd fooled her by Beckett hiding in a closet and then sneaking out of the apartment.
      • After just about everyone else knows they still keep it secret from Captain Gates, assuming she'd use their relationship as an excuse to break them up. When Castle saves Beckett from a bomb, Gates tells her that this would be a good time for Beckett to kiss him as a thank you. She's offended that they didn't think she was a good enough detective to realize what was going on.
  • On Glee, Kurt believes that his father doesn't know he's gay. In the episode "Preggers", he comes out to his father, who says that he had know since Kurt was three and he asked for a "sensible pair of heels" for his birthday.
  • In one episode of Simon And Simon, the B-plot revolved around the partners trying to dispose of her recently deceased father's possessions without letting his widow learn about his truly impressive magazine collection. At the end of the episode, she quite calmly and casually asks over dinner, "Have you decided what to do with your father's dirty magazines?"
  • On The X-Files, there are a lot of secrets. The paternity of Scully's baby is not one of them. Even though it's played up as Who's Your Daddy? and Scully doesn't volunteer any information about her pregnancy at all, everybody knows who William's father is. Skinner and the Gunmen admit as much at various points that they know it's Mulder.
  • On The Amazing Race 19, Ethan & Jenna wanted to keep it a secret that they had both won Survivor in order to keep the other teams from targeting them. However, at the same time they were telling this to the camera, the other teams were talking about it while waiting for their flight.
  • On Once Upon a Time, Mary Margret (a.k.a. Snow White) admits to her roommate Emma that she's been having an affair with David (Prince Charming). Emma says she knows, and Mary Margret demands to know how she found out:
    Emma: I'm the sheriff. You're a love-sick school teacher. It wasn't hard.
  • The relationship between Renly and Loras in Game of Thrones is the worst-kept secret; everyone seemed to know.
    Jaime: It's all true about Renly. His proclivities were the worst-kept secret at court.
  • This is part of the premise of the very first season of The Wire. Officially, Avon Barksdale is just an unassuming Baltimorean from the West Side projects with no criminal record whatsoever, and almost no one in the Baltimore Police Department has any reason to have ever heard his name. Except, anyone who lives anywhere near the projects knows that he's actually the biggest drug dealer in the city, and that he's had countless people murdered. The Police Department's embarrassment from having to admit that they're some of the few people who don't know this is part of what spurs the criminal investigation in the first season.
  • On Lois and Clark, Clark missed several opportunities to reveal his secret identity to Lois. At the beginning of the season two finale, he finally masters the courage to tell her, only to cop out with a Last-Second Word Swap. And at the beginning of the next episode, immediately after the cliffhanger... it turns out that she figured it out already in the interim.
    Clark: Will you marry me?
    Lois: Who's asking — Clark or Superman?
  • From Yes, Minister:
    Sir Humphrey: Ladysmith House is top secret.
    Hacker: How can a seven storey building in Walthamstow be top secret?

    Music 
  • Childish Gambino's "That Power" is about making all details of his life into this trope, so they can't be used against him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Triple H's marriage to Stephanie McMahon is an outright Open Secret. Long story short, Hunter and Steph were married in-storyline and "divorced" in 2002, before getting married for real in 2003. All the smarks knew about it, and with Hunter all but outright murdering the Fourth Wall continuously over the years (especially during his second run in DX in 2006), the general audience came to know about it as well. It finally reached a point where they finally admitted it and used it to build up a WrestleMania match between Triple H and Randy Orton in 2009. Hunter even explicitly stated that their marriage is "the worst-kept secret in the business."
  • Before he officially came out, everyone knew that Pat Patterson was gay. However, asides from some thinly-veiled references, everybody stays away from the topic. It's just one of those things that everybody knows but nobody talks about.

    Tabletop Games 
  • To quote an in-character passage from Glantri: Kingdom of Magic, about one of this Mystara-setting nation's several wizard-princes: "He hides the fact that he's a werewolf? How droll! We've all known that for years."

    Theater 
  • In another example of the Transparent Closet, in Avenue Q, there is a straitlaced Republican stock broker who is *gasp* in the closet. Of course, the response to his coming out is underwhelming.

     Video Games 
  • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Woozie's blindness. He's convinced that he acts normally enough to be indistinguishable from someone sighted, but he feels his way around everywhere and fires an MP5 like... well, someone who can't see. Everyone humours him.
    Woozie: I have a confession to make. I... I'm blind.
    CJ: No shit.
  • It was a somewhat shocking twist at the end of Art of Fighting that the mysterious Mr. Karate was actually Takuma Sakazaki, Ryo and Yuri's father and teacher of the Kyokugen style. Unfortunately, Takuma must be senile, because he pulls the grand reveal a few more times, including King of Fighters 96 and 97, well after everyone else already knows.
  • Lee can actually invoke this in Episode 3 of The Walking Dead, where he can tell anyone in the group that he was a convicted murderer. If Lee tells Kenny but not Lily, then she is shocked to find out he knows this later in the Episode.
  • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle thinks she's managed to hide her status as an Imperial Princess from the rest of the party. She hasn't. Except from Karol.
  • Similarly, though much more tragically, in Tales of the Abyss, Luke thinks he's hidden his impending disintegration - yeah, literally, from everyone except Jade, who, of course, figured it out right away. Tear finds out not much later from Mieu, who had overheard Jade and Luke, and in the ending, Guy and Anise reveal that they, too, knew all along.
  • From Dwarf Fortress:
    • HFS, the Hidden Fun Stuff, is always hidden in spoilers as per a community tradition. Nowadays, though, nearly every player discovers them through the forums or the DF wiki. The 'secrecy' is not helped by the fact that the wiki article on them is protected only by a scrolldown wall, and they are discussed on the forums openly in every way save the name, which, as it was told above, is always hidden in spoilers.
    • Adamantine, too. Also called 'cotton candy', the name coming from an extended metaphor of freakin' Hell itself being a 'clown car' (probably due to endless numbers of HFS in there), and adamantine essentially being a cork that seals the entrance into there, thus being next to it. Heck, the words 'cotton candy' are often coloured cyan on the forums, further playing up the Open Secret status of it. Furthermore, it's not even much of a secret in-game, since it can be found in the status screen's 'stone' tab.
  • In Avernum 3, the player characters are spies from Avernum (Beneath the Earth) exploring the surface in secret. Anyone with a brain knows or suspects you're Avernite spies immediately, due to your pale skin and conspicuous behavior. No one really cares enough to report you, since the Empire has much more important things to worry about.
  • In Magicka, you discover to your shock and horror halfway through the game that your mentor Vlad, who repeatedly assures you he's not a vampire, wears evening-wear all the time, has a romanian accent, slick hair, opera cape and is seen sucking blood fro-, I mean, 'having a conversation' with some poor villager that happens to get tossed off a cliff the moment he notices you've been observing him... Is actually a werewolf! No, wait. Not a werewolf. The other 'v' monster. 'Vampire', that's it. He's secretly a vampire. Shocking, we know. We apologize for the lack of spoiler tags.
  • In City of Heroes, the existence of Oroborous and Time Travel in general is supposed to be a secret. (The badge that you get when you gain access to their headquarters outside of time is even called "Entrusted With The Secret".) In practice, however, its utility as a teleport nexus for getting around the city quickly means that heroes frequently open glowy/whooshy time portals in plain sight, right in the middle of Atlas Plaza, and most characters arrange to gain access as soon as possible rather than waiting to learn the "secret" by doing one of the mission arcs that are intended to award it.
  • In World of Warcraft since the Cataclysm expansion, the zone of Azshara has a secret goblin R&D facility, cleverly named the Secret Lab. Several goblin non-player characters talk about how it'll make a good tourist attraction, and there's a visitor's guide book about the lab to be read at the nearby rocketway terminal.
  • Little Busters!: If Riki manages to beat him, the mysterious Mask The Saito will finally reveal himself to be...Kyousuke! Riki's reaction is basically 'yeah, I know', given that that'd been pretty obvious since at least the moment he opened his mouth. Kyousuke is quite disappointed by the lackluster reaction, so Riki makes an attempt to humour him and pretend he really didn't know, but Kyousuke just advises him not to bother.
  • A variation occurs in Mass Effect 3 with Barla Von, the volus agent of the Shadow Broker on the Citadel. He makes a big deal of impressing Commander Shepard with some of the Shadow Broker's secret plans, since, of course, he is one of the few in regular contact with the super-secretive galactic information broker ... otherwise known as Liara T'Soni, who became the latest person to assume that identity with Shepard's help; who is running the operation out of Shepard's ship; who is currently sitting in a cafe less than 100 yards away from Barla Von's office; and — if you chose the relevant branch — whom Shepard is sleeping with. Shepard is too polite to tell him.
  • Team Fortress 2: One of the Spy's taunts upon dominating an enemy Spy: "We all knew you were a spy!"
    • Not to mention the map Double Cross. From the map description:
      "Secret bases concealed behind the unassuming facades of a factory and a farm built next door to each other fool absolutely no one in the area, who sometimes gather around to 'watch all them mercenaries fight over that Spy base'."

    Webcomics 
  • Gilgamesh Wulfenbach of Girl Genius has saved Punch and Judy and still thinks his father doesn't know about it. Granted, they both have huge spy rings, so he probably won't be terribly surprised when he finds out...
  • Friendly Hostility: Collin realizes he's gay and tells this to Fox. Fox's reaction is less than surprised, to say the least, as shown in this strip and the above exchange. It's more understandable if you know that Collin has been insisting that he's asexual, and probably views being attracted to only one man as less shameful than being attracted to men in general. Still, considering that Fox has been Collin's boyfriend and only romantic partner for years, come on now...
  • When Nanase of El Goonish Shive came out of the closet, only Tedd didn't know. Most everyone found out independently one way or another, with several (including her crush) learning minutes after Nanase herself realized it. Everyone conspired to keep quiet and let Nanase come out when she was ready, something Justin wished he could've done.
  • Ice by Faith Hicks: Cirr's parentage.
  • After five years of being in a Transparent Closet, Marluxia of Ansem Retort comes out. As Namine put it, it was anticlimatic. Zex even asked why this was more important than Seinfeld reruns.
  • In Girls with Slingshots, Jamie thinks she's obtained "proof" that Thea and Angel weren't actually "playing board games" in the back. Hazel tries to tell her that everybody knew about them. Subverted when Jamie's "evidence" is revealed to show Angel with someone who isn't Thea.
  • In Dragon Tails, when Lemuel reveals his crush on Firewing, Goldy responds with this gem:
    Goldy: You know, for a dragon that's normally unwilling to speak up when his tail's on fire, you've sure been broadcasting that you like this girl. Everyone in the forest thinks your crush on Firewing is very cute.
  • In PvP, Max comes out to the office. The response: "And...?" note  Francis was the only one who hadn't figured it out already.
  • In Spinnerette, Mecha Maid - under the influence of a Hate Plague - accuses Spinny of being ashamed of her, inadvertently outing them both in front of the Canadian super heroes. Green Gable's stunned response to this revelation is the current page image.
  • In Homestuck, Terezi and Gamzee begin a kismesis in secret and constantly sneak around the asteroid to see each other. Within a year, however, everyone else has already found out, although Dave and Karkat don't know that the other knows and try to keep it a secret from each other.
    • Karkat lives in a caste system which determines everyone's place in society by their blood colour. Karkat's is bright red, a mutant colour which would get him killed if it were public knowledge; he's spent his whole life fearing discovery. All of the other players know his blood colour by now, and nobody cares...they have much more pressing concerns and they're all pretty much friends by that point. Unfortunately, Karkat himself doesn't know this.
  • It's implied after a 15 year timeskip in Drowtales that most of the city of Chel'el'sussoloth heavily suspects that The Empress Diva'ratrika has been dead for close to 30 years but just haven't been able to prove it until Kiel'ndia very publicly assassinates the Body Double they were using as a stand in which finally gives an allied clan an excuse to pull out of the conflict. Likewise it's implied that most of the Sarghress already know that Ariel's biological mother is actually Mel'arnach and not Quain'tana despite the official story to the contrary.

    Web Original 
  • In Red vs. Blue, due to a complicated chain of events, Simmons is pretending to be a Blue. Church knows it's really Simmons the entire time but doesn't say anything, instead using it to needle him mercilessly.
    • In Recreation, when the other fill Tucker in on what happened in Reconstruction, his response to the revelation that Church is the Alpha AI is that he'd figured that out a long time ago, and was surprised no one else had noticed.
  • In Marble Hornets, not even Jay is particularly surprised to find that Tim is actually Masky. It's those sideburns, man.
  • Missy Kix from Moshi Monsters is supposed to be a secret agent, but she released a song about it.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (Kpts4tv) A random receptionist at the police station knows that Light is Kira because he watched Death Note.

    Western Animation 
  • On Daria, Quinn spent four-and-a-half seasons pretending that Daria was her cousin/foreign exchange student/etc., especially to her friends in the Fashion Club. When she finally reveals that Daria is her sister, Sandi tries to make a big deal about it, only for Stacy and Tiffany to note that they already knew that. Which makes sense, since Daria revealed it to the whole school in the first episode.
    Quinn: Why shouldn't I act sisterly towards her? After all, she's my sister.
    Sandi: Oh my God, did you hear that? Quinn just admitted that weird girl is her sister!
    Stacy: Um, of course she is, Sandi. We knew that.
    Tiffany: We were just being polite about it.
  • Played with in an episode of Justice League. In order to hide from the invading Thanagarians, it's proposed they simply go out in their civilian identities. Flash is reluctant to do it, because even though he trusts his teammates, it's still his secret identity. Batman, annoyed, proceeds to name off everyone's secret identities (at least the ones who have them).
  • The Simpsons:
    • When Patty Bouvier came out of the closet, Homer treated it as though she'd just said she waxed her car that morning. Marge, on the other hand...
    Homer: Yeah, and I like beer!
    • From "A Milhouse Divided":
    Homer: As you know, there’s been a lot of talk about divorce lately, and I think your mom might not be happy with me.
    Lisa: You’ve done a lot of crazy stuff over the years, and she stood by you. Why would she leave you now?
    Homer: Cause there’s lots of stuff she doesn’t know about!
    Lisa: You mean like your poker shack out in the swamp?
    Homer: Mmm-Hmm.
    Lisa: She knows.
  • In Kim Possible's continuity, Area 51 is rumored to be a secret alien research base. The main characters eventually arrive at Area 51 to discover that it actually is a secret alien research base, but with a twist — authorities let the secret out, knowing that the public would believe it to be wild rumors, thus keeping the "secret" safe.
    • Most of the villain lairs, which are obviously intended to be secret and untraceable by the villains themselves but are easily found by a ten year old boy, Global Justice and/or pretty much anyone the plot wants to know. Particularly notable with Dementor and Drakken, who really push the "secret lair" schtick. In one memorable case, Drakken's lair was found no problem by his mother. Like everything, Lampshaded - this time by Motor Ed.
    Ed: " "Dude, seriously, what type of secret hideout is this? Everyone knows you live here, man!"
    Drakken: "One magazine subscription and suddenly everyone's got your address..."
  • An episode of Drawn Together deals with the housemates doing a role-playing exercise to help Xandir tell his parents he is gay. They (pretending to be his parents) initially simply exclaim "Duh!" when he tells them. The rest of the episode is an extended fantasy in which the characters all take on roles and act out an elaborate story of what might happen when he really tells them, involving running away, prostitution and eventual murder. At the end of the episode he finally comes out to his parents... who simply exclaim "Duh!"
  • In King of the Hill, when Peggy finds out about Nancy's years-long affair with John Redcorn, she confesses this discovery to Hank. Hank's more distressed that this is news to Peggy than over the revelation itself. Peggy, in turn, is horrified that everybody seemed to know except her. (The only people who didn't know were Peggy, Dale, and "Dale's" son, Joseph).
  • In The Fairly OddParents, Timmy travels back to the time of Dimmsdale's founding to meet its founder, Dale Dimm. Alden Bitterroot, the witch hunter, is unmasked as a witch himself when Timmy points out that his feet don't touch the ground. The Mayor says that "many of [them] were quite perplexed about that."
  • In American Dad!, Steve discovers that Stan, his dad, is bald, and they promise to share with the world their secrets and live with them, which Stan doesn't. From the half on, is a race between Steve wanting to reveal Stan's secret and Stan wanting to avoid this, while all the family, beside Steve, already knew this all along.
  • Moral Orel revealed some time in the second season that Orel's father Clay is actually the mayor of Moralton... and everyone but Orel and the audience knew it already.
  • In the Doug episode "Doug Says Goodbye", everyone was able to recognize Skeeter despite his Paper-Thin Disguise.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, "Green Isn't Your Color": Spike confesses his crush on Rarity to Pinkie Pie and Twilight Sparkle. While Pinkie is surprised, Twilight isn't, and claims that nearly everyone in Ponyville can tell. The joke is pushed further by having him wear a shirt decorated with Rarity's face and heart throughout the episode.
    • Taken further in "Secret of my Excess" when it's revealed even Rarity knew.
  • The Futurama episode "Crimes of the Hot" features a condensed variant after Bender receives an invite to an all-robot party from President Nixon.
    Zoidberg: Strange. Why would Nixon, an awkward, uncomfortable man, suddenly throw a party, one of the most social events imaginable? *clicks claw* It's a trap is why! They're going to deactivate all the robots! *beat* I don't hear any gasping.
    Leela: We all figured that out.
    Zoidberg: *disappointed* Awww.
  • Arthur had a slight variant on this. In "I Wanna Hold Your Hand," Binky spends most of the episode trying to keep a secret from the Tough Customers that he sometimes still holds his Mom's hand. When he does get caught out, it's not that they already knew, but the reaction is completely disappointment... that Binky's secret wasn't something more interesting. The Tough Customers don't think any less of him for holding his mom's hand, but chide him that next time he has some big secret, it had better be something really juicy.
  • Averted, but Hey Arnold! creator Craig Bartlett has mentioned that he wanted to do a scene where Helga hides from everyone else and recites her love poems to Arnold in secret, only to have everyone suddenly yell that they already know that she's in love with him.
  • Meta-example on South Park: We are introduced to the mysterious Kid Hero Mysterion, and the audience never finds out who, exactly, he (or she?) is. Then Mysterion reappears as part of the Coon and Friends Trilogy. The whole first episode passes, still without revealing Mysterion's identity...only for Stan to casually address him by name ten minutes into the second episode. It's Kenny.
  • In an episode of Batman: The Animated Series, Barbara Gordon tried to confess to her father that she was Batgirl, but he cut her off, not explicitly saying but very strongly implying that he knew what she was going to say. An earlier part of that episode showed that he also knew Batman's real identity and had been looking the other way, but that part was probably not meant to be canon.
  • In the Looney Tunes short Plane Daffy, Nazi spy Hata Mari uses an x-ray to reveal a military secret Daffy swallowed to Hitler. The message turns out to be "Hitler is a stinker", to which the Goering and Goebbels say that everybody knows that. When Hitler gives them a Death Glare over it, they shoot themselves.
    Daffy: I lose more darn Nutzis that way.
  • In "The Tale of the Dash in the Dark" on Peter Rabbit, Benjamin spends most of the story trying to hide the fact that he's afraid of the dark from Peter and Lily, only for him to finally say that he has something to tell them and them to say "You're afraid of the dark?"

    Real Life 
  • Area 51 in Nevada has always hung its own lampshade. It's on Google Earth, for crying out loud. Official government policy before the mid-90s was to refuse to acknowledge in any way that the massive restricted area (with barb-wire fences and armed soldiers patrolling it) actually contained one damned thing. It was only revealed when the base was sued for causing a horrifying and almost completely unknown disease in several workers by burning toxic waste on site and refusing to give their doctors information about the unidentified substance even though it might have saved their lives. A story that almost disappeared behind claims of alien saucers.
  • It is fairly well known at this point that Groom Lake is (or at least was) a testing ground for new aircraft. Stuff like the B-2, the SR-71, the F-117...
  • It's fairly well-known that Cheyenne Mountain is the command center of NORAD. This does not tell anybody just what goes on down there, and it deflects attention from more important and more secret sites elsewhere. Misdirection, donchaknow. And just to show that they're trolling us, a door in Cheyenne Mountain with multiple locks on it, labeled "Stargate Command." It leads to a broom closet. This was especially funny to anybody who worked in fast food in the nearby town. For years practically every night Domino's Pizza, KFC, and a number of other fast food joints would send a driver up the mountain trail with a massive order that they would hand off at a guarded gate to guards that officially wasn't there to feed people that technically didn't exist. It does make people wonder if the people in NORAD just keep the charade going as a joke.
  • There is a real life government facility at Raven Rock, although it presumably doesn't yet have an insane AI mainframe. As of yet, there has been no official denial.
  • The government installation at Mount Weather was SO Not-Secret that it's been handed over to FEMA.
  • Comb-overs. It's amazing how many men honestly believe that they actually fool anyone.
  • The BT Tower's existence was officially classified and omitted from the government mapping agency's maps until 1993. This is a six-hundred foot office building in central London; it was built in 1964, appeared in Doctor Who in 1966, and contains (among other things) viewing galleries, a souvenir shop, and a restaurant. One can only surmise that making it classified in the first place Seemed Like A Good Idea At The Time,note  and nobody bothered doing anything about it because declassifying something before its pre-arranged release date (anything between thirty years and a century) requires a small redwood forest's worth of paperwork.
  • Isaac Asimov once called the longbow England's "unsecret weapon": their rivals knew how to make them and how to train people to use them, but the training took a long time, and they didn't want to let commoners become that valuable when they could just teach them to use crossbows instead.
  • Israel has long been very ambiguous about whether or not it has nuclear weapons, and may or may not have had them since roughly the 1960s. No statement has, or will ever be made conclusively, but they are quite vocal and open, making sure everybody is well aware that they, you know, hypothetically speaking might have something nuke-ish, if you look at it from the right angle and squint a bit, maybe. At one point the prime minister even referred to the country's nukes outright in a speech, and quickly retracted the statement.
  • The story of Xenu, a crucial part of the Church of Happyology's religious doctrine. note  Officially, only long-time Church members can have it "revealed" to them after paying for a certain number of auditing sessions, and the Church's public relations department refrains from mentioning or acknowledging it in any statements to the general public about their doctrine and practices. But it's already been leaked to the public and spread by word of mouth so much that it's now the only thing that many people know about the religion.
  • Likewise, Mormon temple garments, termed "magic underwear" by non-Mormon wags. They're meant to be hidden at all times and not discussed with non-Mormons (if they're visible at all, its supposed to be a sign that the wearer's clothing isn't modest enough), but the advent of the internet has blown the secret right out of the water.
    • Subverted in the sense that, like some other aspects of the LDS faith, it's not really "secret", but members are reminded that they are "sacred". The difference being that "secret" implies that it's only meant for a small number of people to zealously guard from ever being known, which is not the case. Rather, members would like nothing more than for everyone to meet the requirements and learn more about them.
  • At one point the Italian government's way of keeping the locations of their military bases secret was to just black out the areas of the map they could be found on. While this did indeed keep the precise location of the bases secret, it certainly provided a good starting point for finding them.
  • In 2014, we all learned the shocking truth about the NSA: they spy on people. Electronically! Lots of people had a suspicion or already knew that they were being spied by the NSA and other entities (from various nations in the world). The part people didn't knew was the extent of the various programs of surveillance and data storage, which was (and is) relatively massive.


Easter EggThe Secret IndexEye-Obscuring Hat
Even the Dog Is AshamedNarrative DevicesEverybody's Dead, Dave
Et Tu, Brute?Example as a ThesisEvil Former Friend
SpinneretteImageSource/Web ComicsHow Do I Shot Web?
Engineered HeroicsTruth and LiesEyes Never Lie

alternative title(s): The Not Secret; Everyone Knew Already
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