The lovechild of LawOfConservationOfDetail and RealisticDictionIsUnrealistic, Hesitation Equals Dishonesty is ubiquitous to the point of being unnoticeable. Whether engaging in BlatantLies or making sure to LetThemDieHappy, any time a character visibly hesitates when relaying information (rather than, say, making an emotional appeal) to another character, it's even money or better that they're being dishonest, and are trying to barely avoid SayingTooMuch.

Performance-based works will often use this trope even when the audience knows that the character is lying to avoid a SeamlessSpontaneousLie. If the character tells a lie without any indication of effort, they'll suddenly look like master manipulators, which might be out of character. The trope can also be used on the assumption that ViewersAreMorons. If the character's delivery doesn't scream "lie," the audience might get confused and think that either the character believes what he just said or that his statement is actually true.

The trope extends to videogames, even to the dialogue of the player characters: Even if StatisticallySpeaking the PC is an excellent liar, there's a good chance the writers will mark his BlatantLies with the all too subtle "Why, yes.... [[SureLetsGoWithThat I AM the assassin you've ordered]]".

Sadly, belief in this in RealLife makes things even more difficult for those of us who aren't perfect communicators. FridgeLogic ''should'' indicate that the guy with the perfectly-rehearsed story is probably lying his ass off (or is extremely well-spoken, but there's a noticeable difference between the two), rather than the guy who occasionally pauses to collect his thoughts. Also, anything from being very anxious/suffering a panic attack (which can be induced in some situations where the truth is demanded - for example, the mere ''presence'' of police officers is a massive trigger for some forms of anxiety and panic) to being sleepy, drunk/high, or simply unsure and ''wanting'' to tell the truth but not sure of what the "truth" is can lead to hesitation and even confusion. Subtrope of YouCanAlwaysTellALiar. Compare SeamlessSpontaneousLie.

[[AC:{{Anime}} and {{Manga}}]]
* This is used in the unaired episode of ''Kodomo No Jikan''. When Reiji asks Rin what she and her friends were doing (making a birthday gift for Aoki), she hesitates a few times when trying to claim they were doing schoolwork. He actually notices it, but either believes her when she says she isn't lying or decides to let it go.
* During the Mahora Festival StoryArc of ''MahouSenseiNegima'', Haruna flatly asked Yue if she got jealous when the former kissed Negi. When Yue tried to deny that accusation, Haruna noted that she took a fraction of a second too long to answer and that the old Yue would have smacked her for being an idiot immediately. Busted.
* In ''Audioplay/StrikersSoundStageX'' of the ''Franchise/LyricalNanoha'' franchise, Teana asks [[spoiler:Runessa]] if she [[spoiler:has heard of Toredia Graze]], and after a surprised pause, she says no. Teana does some more investigation into this as a result of noticing [[spoiler:Runessa's]] reaction, and eventually [[spoiler:learns of her past connection with Toredia and eventually arrests her for her role in the Mariage killings]], pointing out that the way she responded was what tipped her off.
* Mostly inverted in ''LightNovel/{{Bakemonogatari}}''. A good rule of thumb in this series is the more straightforward someone seems to be, the bigger the lie they're concealing. Nadeko is hesitant and lacks self-confidence, and her "big secret" is that she likes Araragi ([[ObliviousToLove secret only to Araragi, really]]); on the other hand, Suruga is quite forthright with her sexuality but no so much [[spoiler:with her violent hatred towards Araragi for "stealing" Senjogahara from her.]] As it turns out, her provocative teasing of Araragi is probably [[spoiler:a ploy to get Araragi to forget about Senjogahara, even if that means potentially having to seduce him.]]

* Relentlessly used in SilverAge comics, but ''only'' when the reader knows it's a lie. A lie that is part of the twist ending (and thus not known as a lie to the reader) will be delivered blithely, while if we know the character is lying, every sentence will begin with "Um...".
* In the first issue of ''TheTick'', a man on the street asks Tick if he's the guy who just broke out of the insane asylum (he is). Tick stutters for about half a page before coming up with the answer "No."

* In ''Fanfic/HarryPotterAndTheMethodsOfRationality'', Harry spots that Draco was considering lying with this, and Draco believes that Harry is telling the truth because he doesn't stammer.
-->''Draco paused for a moment, weighing, and then opened his mouth -\\
"I see he did," said Harry, and Draco cursed himself, he should've known better, only it ''had'' been hard to decide.''\\
''Draco had listened carefully, but he hadn't detected any hesitation or tremor.''
* Kyon does this in ''Fanfic/KyonBigDamnHero'' when Tsuruya asked why he had to return to the clubroom despite he telling her before he was dismissed for the day. It turns out he had to find Mikuru to TimeTravel back to the next day.
-->'''Kyon:''' Well, I have to head back in anyway, since ... I forgot my shoes. Yeah. I'll see you tomorrow, alright, Tsuruya-sempai?
* This is noticeable in a IHaveToGoIronMyDog scene from ''Fanfic/CalvinAndHobbesTheSeries'':
--> '''Rupert:''' You know, on second thought we, um, left the, er, iron on. We've gotta go!
* The Porre ambassador in the ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' FanSequel ''VideoGame/CrimsonEchoes'' inserts significant hesitations into EVERY SINGLE ONE of his lines. Him not being on the up and up therefore comes as a tremendous surprise to the player.

* In the ending scene of ''Film/BackToTheFuture'', Marty asks Doc if he and Jennifer become "assholes" in the future and the Doc says they both turn out fine. The sequel establishes the RetCon that Doc was lying to protect Marty from the AwfulTruth. In ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartII'', the refilmed version of that scene (refilmed to [[FlashbackWithTheOtherDarrin accommodate the Jennifer swap]]) has Doc hesitate before answering Marty's question.
* This is actually reversed in ''Film/StrangerThanFiction''. After a disastrous first meeting, Harold encounters Anna Pascal on the bus, and stumbles his way through an apology, outright stating that he 'ogled' her and it was wrong. She accepts his apology... "But only because [he] stammered."
* ''Franchise/StarWars'': "That's... why I'm here!"
* Averted in ''Film/InsideMan''. When Jodie Foster confronts Christopher Plummer, asking him if it was true that he used to work for the Nazis in WWII, he hesitates for about four seconds...then smiles and says "Yes." Either he was a truly honest man, who was old and had nothing to lose, or he realized that hesitating that long before lying about it would make it obvious that he was lying.
* ''Film/StarTrekIITheWrathOfKhan'': Chekov, under mind control, tells the Genesis scientists that the ''Reliant'' is going to appropriate their invention for immediate testing. His performance is so full of awkward pauses (Khan is feeding him lines offscreen) that even David, who believes the Federation to be a bunch of war-mongers, should have immediately considered it BS. Carol is at least rational enough to call for confirmation, which was Khan's plan all along.
* ''Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry'': Invoked by General Chang, during Captain Kirk and Doctor [=McCoy's=] trial for the assassination of Chancellor Gorkon. Inspired by the RealLife incident where US Ambassador to the United Nations Adlai Stevenson II made a similar demand of the Soviet Ambassador.
-->'''General Chang:''' Indeed. The record shows that Captain Kirk once held the rank of Admiral. And that ''Admiral'' Kirk was broken for [[MilitaryMaverick taking matters into his own hands]] in defiance of regulations of the law. Do you deny being demoted for these charges? [[LargeHam DON'T WAIT FOR THE TRANSLATION]]. Answer me now.
* Played with in ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'', when Anna's hair started to turn white after Elsa accidentally cursed her with her ice magic:
-->'''Anna''': Does it look bad?
-->'''Kristoff''': Uh, no.
-->'''Olaf''': You hesitated.

* In ''{{Murder on the Orient Express}}'', when Poirot mentions to Hector [=MacQueen=] the letter naming Daisy Armstrong, the secretary interrupts his own reply. Poirot deduces that [=MacQueen=] is involved with the cover-up.
** {{Subverted}} in ''The Hollow'' which involves [[spoiler:a group of people trying to cast suspicion on themselves in order to cover for the real murderer. This leads them to try all sorts of tricks to convince Poirot that they're lying when they're telling the truth, and telling the truth when they're lying]].
* Both played straight and averted in Literature/{{Discworld}}. While pauses do often hint at lies, several characters, especially Sam Vimes, note that instant responses are even less honest.
* A fairly realistic example in ''Literature/TheDresdenFiles'' book ''Literature/GhostStory''; Butters and Daniel are impersonating Wardens to try and intimidate a low-level warlock, and it seems to work until he asks them why they don't have the Wardens' trademark swords, at which point Butters hesitates and their cover is blown. It's pointed out later that had Daniel and Butters immediately responded ''or'' completely ignored the question as below their concern, the bluff might have worked. Butters was not an experienced liar, he had not had much time to work out the cover story, he was under a lot of stress at the time, and the warlock in question had some sort of very weak innate telepathy and was exactly the sort of impulsive person who would not stop to consider whether there might be an innocent reason for the hesitation. There actually ''was'' an innocent explanation for a Warden not carrying a sword ([[spoiler: the person who forged them was trapped in another body that lacked her former magical talent]],) but the warlock was too low down in the magical food chain for this information to have reached him yet, and was able to see through the lie when someone who was better informed would not have thought it odd that the imposters had no swords.
** Harry hesitates in Fool Moon when it's revealed [[spoiler: that one of his apprentices was connected to the werewolf they were chasing]] causing Murphy to think he was withholding information.
* In ''[[Literature/AuntDimity Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince]]'', Lori and Bree return to Skeaping Manor to ask the curator for the home address of Amanda Pickering. Their conversation starts off pleasantly enough, but the curator Miles Craven falls silent when Lori makes the request, then puts her off with protestations about confidentiality. It turns out that Miles knows [[spoiler: Amanda has left to join her husband in Australia]], and is a [[BadLiar lousy liar]] who [[CannotKeepASecret can't keep a secret]].

* Jon Lovitz's "The Liar" character from ''Series/SaturdayNightLive''. "[[BlatantLies Yeah... that's the ticket!]]"
* From ''Series/GetSmart'': Max's "Would you believe?" segments often included this.
* ''Series/{{Smallville}}''[==]'s Clark Kent is the king of this, pausing for years before delivering a [[BlatantLies horrible explanation]] for something that has even the slightest correlation to his being an alien. If you're going to pause that long, Clark, at least come up with a plausible explanation, will ya?
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', when Matt tells Daphne he believes she's reformed, the poor guy is told HesitationEqualsDishonesty, with the extra twist that the amount of time he hesitated was only significant to someone with SuperSpeed.
* Averted on ''Series/LieToMe'': characters point out that prepared lies generally cause people to answer ''more quickly'' because they have already prepared their story for questioning. The way to catch these people is to ask them to repeat their story ''backwards'': your average liar won't bother to practice enough to get this right, but someone telling the truth will obviously be able to draw on their memory to answer. It's also mentioned, however, that hesitating is [[RealityIsUnrealistic a way to make people think you're lying]].
* In one episode of ''Series/{{Monk}}'', Monk's assistant asks him if he saw some embarrassing pictures of her. He hesitates for about a minute (no exaggeration intended), refusing to meet her eyes, before he responds "no". Then, as he walks away, he wretchedly adds, "Yes."
* Pick a crime drama, any crime drama... Sometimes seems you can't go two episodes without this trope being the '''only''' reason a cop or prosecutor declares someone to be lying, no matter how logical or reasonable what the suspect says is.
* ''Series/{{Lost}}'''s Benjamin Linus falls into the trope rather absurdly. 98% of what he says is at best a half-truth, and after several seasons it's still hard to tell which was which. But whenever he says something the audience already knows is a lie (like, say, that [[spoiler:the smoke monster killed Jacob]]), he hesitates.
* Played with on the PanelGame ''Series/WouldILieToYou'', where hesitating can be the sign of a bad liar ... or a GenreSavvy panelist trying to appear to be lying.
* ''Series/KnightRider'' pulled this now and again (since at least one character can only communicate with a words, and a series of little red lights, his hesitations were usually blindingly obvious.
** Then there's a scene in one of the traditional [[TrashTheSet smash-KITT-up-so-we-can-redesign-him-for-the-new-season]] episodes:
-->'''KITT:''' Where are we? Everything is so dark... is it night?
-->'''Bonnie:''' ...Yeah.
* Explained on ''Series/{{Friends}}'' "The One With the Jam" where Chandler is explaining his problems with Janice which includes him pausing before what could be considered a white lie.
-->'''Chandler:''' Okay, well. Janice said 'Hi, do I look fat today?' And I, I looked at her...
-->'''Ross:''' Whoa, whoa, whoa. You looked at her. You never look. You just answer, it's just a reflex. Do I look fat? Nooo! Is she prettier than I am? Noo! Does size matter?
-->'''Rachel:''' Nooo!
-->'''Ross:''' And it works both ways.
* Invoked on ''{{Frontline}}'', when Brooke edits a pause into the interview of a priest accused of rape to make it look like he's thinking about his answer.
* In a season two episode of ''Series/HowIMetYourMother'', Ted is trying to catch Robin out in a lie by asking a string of questions about the wedding she claims that she had. When she hesitates answering a question about the catering, he immediately takes that as his in to accuse her of lying, but she quickly covers by saying that she wasn't sure how to answer the question as there were multiple possible answers. She's got rapid-fire responses for all his other follow-up questions about the ceremony until he gets to "Husband's name?" to which she just stammers in response. It turns out that she ''is'' lying and was never married.
* ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' - after Balthazar rewrites history by un-sinking the Titanic, and is then forced to reset things by a very angry Fate, Castiel and the Winchesters have this exchange. The boys think Balthazar did it because he's an impulsive hedonist who hated the Titanic movie, but Castiel knows it was [[spoiler: to create fresh souls for his war in heaven.]]
--> '''Dean:''' Did Balthazar really [[CosmicRetcon unravel the sweater]] over a chick flick?
--> '''Castiel:'''....Yes. ''(not meeting Dean's eyes)'' Absolutely. That's what he did.
* {{Inverted}} in ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' when Gaius catches Morgana trying to retrieve the mandrake root enchantment that she's hidden under Uther's bed. On asking her if she's looking for something, Morgana doesn't hesitate for a second when she answers "my earring." However, Gaius knows full-well that she's lying, as Merlin has already told him what she's been up to.
* According to [[ David Simon]] this is how the viewers should have been able to tell a certain story D'Angelo tells in the first season of TheWire is not quite true.
* On ''TheMiddle'', Frankie had set up a play date for Brick that went well. Several days passed without the other mother contacting her again, so Sue called her to ask what was up. The other mother said, "My son's been... sick." Sue accepts this, but thinking about it later she wonders why the woman had hesitated, and it turns out she was lying.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'': {{Averted}} with [[MagnificentBastard Garak]]. When he hesitates, it means the SeamlessSpontaneousLie isn't coming.
* ''Series/JudgeJudy'' tends to assume that any answer with a pause in front of it is a lie. [[BerserkButton And don't you dare fill-in that silence with "Um"!]]

[[AC:{{Newspaper Comics}}]]
* ''MarkTrail'' plays this ludicrously straight. Begin your sentence with "um" and you're the villain.

* ''Radio/TheNavyLark'': One episode had Pertwee not only hesitate, but ask Cmdr. Murray to give him a minute to think, before reeling off an [[BlatantLies improbable explanation]]. {{Lampshaded}} by Phillips as being not too bad, given the time he had to come up with it.

* ''VideoGame/{{Fallout}}'', and doubtless many other older {{RPG}}s without much spoken dialog, use this trope to convey to the player that a particular dialog tree choice is... [[HesitationEqualsDishonesty the gospel truth, of course]]. In modern gaming, tags such as "" are included instead to indicate to the player that his character is lying.
* Girl Stinky of ''SamAndMax'' does this constantly. [[spoiler:[[RedHerring Typically when she's actually being honest]].]]
* VideoGame/{{Iji}} when lying about [[spoiler:the surviving Tasen in a PacifistRun]].
* {{In The 1st Degree}} definitely plays this straight. When you question the defendent Tobin and pin him about the phone message of him threatening Zack, he says "I was trying to...''persuade'' Zack to withdraw the claim." He's lying, you know it and the prosecutor you're playing as knows it.
* Eggman's [[AnnouncerChatter public announcements]] in VideoGame/SonicColors are often full of these, at least whenever he's not being [[BrutalHonesty brutally honest]].
* In ''[[VisualNovel/PhoenixWrightAceAttorney Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations]]'', when Edgeworth is cross-examining Larry Butz:
-->'''Larry:''' I didn't see a s-snowmobile!\\
'''Edgeworth:''' '''''HOLD IT!'''''...Larry! You really didn't see it?\\
'''Larry:''' H-H-Hey! [[PunctuatedPounding No need to hit your desk!]] I can hear you! ...I didn't see it! I didn't see a s-s-snowmobile!\\
'''Edgeworth:''' ...Larry. Say "snowmobile" for me, please?\\
'''Larry:''' S-S-S-Snowmobile.\\
'''Edgeworth:''' If you truly have nothing to hide... then why are you stammering like you just flew over a cuckoo's nest!?

* Parodied/subverted in ''TheSimpsons'': Bart's announcement of, "Well, I'm doing a presentation on...fireworks!" is met with his mother saying, "Bart, I wish you wouldn't lie like that" before confiscating said fireworks. Cut to Springfield Elementary, where Skinner is announcing a fireworks show, courtesy of Bart.
** Also subverted when Marge asks Homer where he's going, and he replies 'I'm just going outside... to stalk... Lenny and Carl', which is exactly what he was planning to do.
** Played straight ([[ExaggeratedTrope And very noticably so]]) when Homer asks Marge whether she thinks he's smart or not. It veers into OverlyLongGag territory:
--->'''Marge:''' ''(after a very long pause)'' Yes.\\
'''Homer:''' Thanks, honey. ''(beat)'' Waaaait a minute. How come you hesitated?\\
''(long pause)''\\
'''Marge:''' [[BlatantLies No reason]].\\
'''Homer:''' Oh, okay. ''(beat)'' Waaaait a minute. Are you humoring me?\\
''(long pause)''\\
'''Marge:''' Yes.\\
'''Homer:''' Oh, okay. ''(beat)'' Waaaait a minute. That's bad!
** In "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", Homer does this when Marge asks him is he read her manuscript. Each pause is accompanied by [[PinocchioNose Homer's pupil darting back and forth]].
* Parodied as well in ''WesternAnimation/TheLooneyTunesShow'', when Daffy accuses Porky of this due to his [[PorkyPigPronunciation stutter]] when trying to get out of paying a littering fine. No one buys it.

* RichardDawkins was asked in an interview if he could "give an example of a genetic mutation or evolutionary process which can be seen to increase the information in the genome" -- a question that, he later said, "would only be phrased that way by somebody who doubts that evolution happened." He famously paused for eleven seconds before answering, and the tape was used by creationists to claim that evolutionists don't have all the answers. Dawkins explains he had actually just realized that the documentary being filmed wasn't what he thought it would be, and was trying to decide whether to [[GetOut throw them out]] or not. His full, non-"soundbite" answer can be read [[ here]].
* [[ This Cosmo article]] is doing its best to make the belief more prevalent. Note that it counts both significant hesitation and simply SWALLOWING while having a conversation.
** Ruthlessly mocked by Cracked [[ here]]
* Military recruiters. Hesitate for any reason, and they automatically assume you're a liar.
* Ever hesitated to answer a question your mother asked you? She'll automatically assume that the worst answer must be true regardless of the answer you do end up giving.
* Police interrogations, similar to the military recruiters example above. Most reasonable people would give you a few moments to ponder the question "where were you last night between 20:00 and 23:00?" as it's information you wouldn't usually keep accurate tabs on unless you ''knew'' it would be important later. Unfortunately, the end goal of an interrogation is to coerce a confession - [[DiggingYourselfDeeper and any detail that pushes things in that direction is to the interrogator's advantage.]]
* Invoked by Adlai Stevenson II during [[UsefulNotes/ColdWar The Cuban Missile Crisis]], when he demanded that Valerian Zorin, the Soviet Ambassador to the United Nations, say whether or not they were installing nuclear missile sites in Cuba. In this case, invoking the trope for someone being asked a question ''in a foreign language'', making for a darkly humorous play of this trope despite the serious topic.
-->'''Stevenson:''' Don't wait for the translation, answer 'yes' or 'no'!"
** The Soviets were in fact placing nuclear missiles in Cuba, but Zorin refused to answer the question. Unfortunately for him, Stevenson had brought surveillance photographs of the missile sites.