I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You
(to Pvt. Pike
) Your name vill also go on ze list! What is it? Captain Mainwaring:
Don't tell him, Pike!
This is when someone — usually a villain — grabs hold of the Idiot Ball
, and denies information in such a fashion that states exactly what is allegedly being denied
. For example, Alice has defeated Bob, The Dragon
, whose boss has kidnapped Carol. Alice demands to know where Carol is, but Bob just smirks at her and says, "Ha! I'll never tell you that she's in the warehouse in Somewhere City!"
A sort of Accidental Public Confession
, with a little Suspiciously Specific Denial
thrown in for good measure. If the person is doing this deliberately
, it's Could Say It But
. Or it could be that the villain has a gun in his face and he's a coward. If the person saying this is not a complete
moron, he may follow it with "Did I Just Say That Out Loud?
The term for this trope in rhetoric is apophasis. Also related to You Just Told Me
. Truth Serums
in fiction have been known to cause this. Compare Cannot Keep a Secret
and Loose Lips
of Saying Too Much
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- One Piece
- A heroic example when Vivi says it would be best if the Straw Hat Pirates don't know that the one trying to ruin Alabasta Kingdom is Crocodile.
- A running gag with Sentomaru, who claims to have the world's tightest mouth, yet will immediately tell anyone whatever they want to know, even if they're not actually addressing him. He immediately adds that he's doing it just because he wants to, not because they asked.
- Before him came Fukurou from CP9, who spills vital information at the first opportunity for absolutely no reason and does it so much that he was fitted with a zipper over his mouth... which he unzips before spilling vital information.
- Rurouni Kenshin:
Shishio's guard: Who are you?!
Misao: Makimachi Misao gives her name to no villain!
Guard: ... You just did.
- In an episode early in the second season of Keroro Gunsou, Keroro leaves a robotic copy of himself to head the invasion so he can go to the amusment park and see the Java Risers live show. After discovering the robot, Giroro presses Tamama to tell him where Keroro went. Tamama replies by saying that he'll never tell them that Keroro's at the amusment park. Later in the episode, Tamama finds a candy house and assumes it's a gift from Keroro for keeping his secret. This adds on to an already-established gag of Tamama not being able to keep secrets.
- Mega Man NT Warrior manga:
I'm sworn to never reveal that I'm here to defend th' world from impendin' doom!! I may be lost, starvin', without a single zenny t' my name, but wild horses couldn't whip that outta me!! Lan and Maylu: (Sweat Drop and Face Fault)
- Bunny Drop: Rin, the girl in Daikichi's care, abruptly starts dancing and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Daikichi Kawachi: Rin, what are you doing?
Rin Kaga: It's a secret, so I can't tell anyone at home about Parents' Day!
- The very first appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk in the comic book Superman is a textbook example of this trope, when the imp declares, "Ha! You thought you could trick me into telling you that the magic word is 'Kltpzyxm'!"(poof). Also played with in the animated series:
Mxyzptlk: You make me say, spell, or otherwise reveal my name backwards and I'll split until our dimensions come into alignment again in about, oh, three months, give or take.
Superman: I can't even say your name forwards. How am I supposed to say it backwards?
Mxyzptlk: No, dope! You don't have to say it backwards! You've got to get me to say it!
Superman: Say what?
Mxyzptlk: KLTPZYXM! Gosh, you're thick! Now, for the last time... (realizes) ahh nuts! (disappears)
(ninety days later)
Mxyzptlk: (reappearing in the bathroom mirror) Hi guy! Your three months are up, and this time, you're not gonna cheat me out of my fun!
Superman: Oh, it's you again, Mr. Kltpzyxm.
Mxyzptlk: Not "Kltpzyxm"! Mxyztplk! Now the first thing I'm gonna do... ahh nuts! (poof!)
- ...and so on and so on...
- Done by the title Gentleman Thief in Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck-story The Black Knight Glorps Again, not out of stupidity, but sheer ballsiness. In his civilian persona of playboy millionaire Arpin Lusene he gives the following statement to the press:
Lusene: Zat would be ze greatest crime in histoire, non? But... Ah 'ave no idea what ze Black Knight plans to do... tomorrow morning at 10AM! Here! Pass zese out!
(passes a written program of the caper's details)
- Thompson and Thomson from the Tintin series do this a lot. An example from The Castafiore Emerald:
Thomson or Thompson: No, our lips are sealed. We can't tell you whom we suspect, but it isn't anyone in the house. Mum's the word, you know.
Thompson or Thomson: Yes, dumb's the word, that's our motto. So we're not allowed to tell you about the gypsies, though we suspected them from the start...
- In one story of Monica's Gang, Smudge (Cascão) had his right arm in a cast and Jimmy Five (Cebolinha) wrote on it that Monica was short, fat and buck-toothed. Upon reading it, she became furious but realized it wasn't Smudge who wrote it. When she asked who was, he told her she'd never make him tell it was Jimmy.
- In Astérix and the Cauldron, Asterix decides that to refill the cauldron, he and Obelix will have to rob a Roman-controlled bank. While he goes for supplies, he sends Obelix to scout the bank for the heist. The guard out front instantly catches on to Obelix, and boasts about the bank's security measures- Including at what time the guards change shifts and how to open the vault- to dissuade him. Obelix returns to Asterix and reports, "I didn't learn anything. He saw through me before I could get any ideas."
- In Flames and Twilight Flare Blitz accidentally tells the mane six that he has a pet name for Twilight. After much pestering from the other five, he says, "There is no way in the wide, wide world of Equestria that I am telling you that I call her my little Element of Harmony..." (changed to "Sparkle Fairy" in a later revision.) Reactions vary.
Films — Live-Action
- Harry Potter's Hagrid in the book version too, just without the catchphrase. For example, the heroes that are looking for info on the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, and Hagrid tells them that they should give up and the only people who need to worry about the Stone are Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel... when they didn't know about Flamel yet. In Hagrid's defense he had downed a few pints earlier...
- In a variant, the Death of Discworld once tricked a swan into singing its "swan song", a necessary prerequisite before it could die, using this trope:
Swan: Thought you'd got me there, didn't you. Thought you'd tricked me, eh? Thought I might unthinkingly give you a couple of bars of the Pedlar's song from Lohenshaak, eh?
Death: I don't know that one.
Swan: That's the one that goes "Schneide meinen eigenen Hals—"
Death: Thank you.
Swan's ghost: Bugger!
- In Stephen King's Pet Sematary, when Louis buys Rachel a sapphire necklace for Christmas:
Rachel: Louis, we can't afford... you can't afford...
Louis: I socked some money away off and on since last Christmas... and it wasn't as much as you might think.
Rachel: How much was it?
Louis: I'll never tell you that, Rachel. An army of Chinese torturers couldn't get it out of me. Two thousand dollars.
- Charles Hamilton, writing under the pseudonym Frank Richards, made his William George (Billy) Bunter character practically live this trope. If questioned about something wrong which he had done, Bunter would almost always reveal his indisputable guilt while trying to deny it.
- In the Fáfnismál, when Sigurth has hit the dragon Fafnir and both know Fafnir will die, the dragon asks Sigurth who he is. Sigurth knows that telling a dying person your name is stupid, since they have a special nasty curse power.
- According to Dave Barry Slept Here, Deep Throat's identity "remains a closely guarded secret to this very day because it was Pat Nixon in drag."
- A Mad TV sketch has the following exchange:
"I'm not going to tell you my name. Because when you tell someone your name, you give them power over you. Like if you said, 'Ron,' I'd say 'What?' And no-one's going to have that kind of power over Ron Shaffer!"
- Blackadder I: The queen insists she can keep the secret of Prince Edmund oversleeping and missing the battle altogether:
- Blackadder Goes Forth: Baldrick and George, denying that Captain Blackadder shot the pigeon. General Melchett's pigeon.
- And in Blackadder's Christmas Carol Prince Albert does this repeatedly, when not telling Queen Victoria about his surprise presents.
- Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps: Louise attempts to avoid giving any indication that Gaz is Corinthian's father. She eventually encounters Gaz and says she's not going to tell him he himself is the father.
- In the functional finale of Beetleborgs Metallix, the heroes have just managed to swipe the Astral Axe, which controls one of the two Humongous Mecha of the season, Boron. The one who snatched it holds the axe high, intending to summon Boron by shouting his name...nothing happens. The villains laugh at him, one of them snorting derisively about how he forgot to say "Arise," after which of course the hero repeats the incantation, giving them the key to defeating the bad guys' plot.
- Dad's Army, regarding Pike's name:
"Don't tell him, Pike!"
- A particularly clunky example occurs in a second-season episode of Lie to Me: a guy suspected of killing a woman named Connie claims to not know her husband, Eric. When asked if he'd ever been to Connie's house, the suspect immediately replies, "No, I've never been to Eric's wife's house." As an inadvertent slip, it seems oddly deliberate.
- Doctor Who
- The Daleks and Cybermen have a variation in the episode "Doomsday".
Cyberman: You will identify!
Dalek: Daleks do not obey orders!
Cyberman: You... have identified as Daleks.
- A variation in the second Series 5 DVD "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" short.
Amy: This big old machine must have some kind of visual records [of the Doctor's previous companions].
Doctor: (quietly) Oh, God. (louder) I mean, no — and anyway they're voice-locked.
Amy: (laughs) Oh, voice-locked. So I'd just have to say "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants"?
Doctor: No, nonono, I mean voice-locked. I would have to say, "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants."
Amy: Awww. Thank you.
Doctor: No, no! No! No!
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Doctor Bashir's father comes into the public medical facility and proceeds to say to what he thinks is his son, "Don't worry, I'll never tell anyone <detailed explanation of big secret>" Slightly more of an Accidental Public Confession, but wins extra idiot points for pretty much explicitly I'll Never Say What I'm Saying Right Now.
Amsha: What he's trying to say is, we would never do anything to jeopardise your career.
Richard: And just so there's no misunderstanding, I give you my word that at no time in our interview with Doctor Zimmerman will we ever mention or even hint at the fact that you were genetically enhanced as a child.
Amsha: Jules, you can trust us. Your father and I have kept the secret of your DNA resequencing for almost twenty-five years and we're not going to let it out now.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper is absolutely unable to keep secrets.
(inside a restaurant
) Look, why is it so hard for you to keep one little secret? Sheldon:
I'm constitutionally incapable. That's why I was refused clearance for a very prestigious government research fellowship at a secret military super-collider, located beneath a fake agricultural station 12.5 miles south-east of Traverse City, Michigan. Penny:
Which you did not hear about from me.
- Top Gear parodies this. Very often they'll take their cars (supercars or otherwise) to a manufacturer's "top-secret road-testing facility" while the camera pans over the facility's address. That is, if Jeremy doesn't outright say the address himself, pausing to let the audience take notes.
- From Eureka:
Sheriff Carter: So... what? You're taking credit, but you had help? I'm guessing from somebody who'd want to hurt the new sheriff?
Dr. Fielding: No! ... Marguerite would never harm anyone!
- From Glee, when Brittany is asking Will embarrassing questions.
Will: Brittany, who told you to ask these?!
Brittany: Miss Sylvester says I'm not at liberty to say.
- The 1950s show House Party (redone by Bill Cosby as Kids Say the Darndest Things) was hosted by Art Linkletter, who'd interview children in hopes they'd say something amusing; one of his favorite tricks was to ask "What did your mother tell you not to say today?"
- The Fast Show featured the character of Janine, a Dumb Blonde teenage single mother, who refuses to disclose the identity of her baby's father because "it's not fair to grass on your headmaster."
- An episode of Burn Notice, Michael is tracking down a sniper, but his personnel file only has his initials, "T. G.". So they go to his boss trying to hire someone who fits his exact description, in the hopes of determining who the guy is. His boss responds that he knows exactly what they're up to: "Did you think I wouldn't figure out you're looking for Tyler Grey?"
- The episode of Family Matters "Life of the Party" has this exchange:
Laura: Waldo, what's with Steve, he's acting weird, even for him!
Waldo: Willie told me not to tell.
Laura: Tell what?
Waldo: That he spiked Urkel's punch.
Now I'm not gonna say how you destroyed my kitchen! Or how you all act like children! Or what a dumb idea this was to begin with! I'm not gonna say that! Carl:
I'm not gonna say she started it. Rachel:
And I'm not gonna say I had lousy
Good, I'm glad we're in an agreement. [Carl and Rachel start arguing] Harriet: SHUT UP!! [Carl and Rachel sticks their tongues at each other]
- Played for Laughs towards the beginning of The Nanny episode "Maggie the Model" between Fran Fine and Niles as they discuss supermodel Chloe Simpson, Maxwell Sheffield's old flame.
Fran: Niles, I'm sensing some hostility here. (nudges him) Now, dish!
Niles: Divulge the details of their torrid love affair, which ended with Mr. Sheffield's heart, still beating, being torn from his chest? No, I couldn't!
Fran: Oh yeah, you know, it's best left unsaid. Now, don't tell me more!
Niles: Mmm, not-not if you tortured me would I reveal the way he kept going back to her for more like a moth to a flame. An incredibly stupid moth.
- Happens on iCarly where Sam tells Carly she kissed Freddie, and then says "sshhh, don't tell Carly..." However, this is because she was on laughing gas at the time and wasn't aware of what she was saying.
- A variant of this is an obvious and yet surprisingly common for newbie Game Masters. GURPS gives this piece of sage advice: "It defeats the purpose (of a search roll) to say 'You don't find the gun under his jacket.'" Granted, most people are smart enough to at least downplay it to "You don't find what he's hiding" or giving other accidental cues that something is there to be found, but still.
- Related to this, Dungeons & Dragons game masters are often given advice on how to avert this; be as evasive as possible. "You don't find anything." "So there's no traps, then?" "I never said that..."
- In Street Fighter Alpha 3, this is how Birdie reveals Shadoloo's headquarters to Chun Li.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Invoked when Harley Quinn says, regarding the Joker's location: "You'll never find him! He's in a secret lab in the gardens and... aw, crap!" Of course, Bats already knew, so this just served as another item on the Humiliation Conga she was currently going through.
- In a Call Back, Harley does this once again in the second game by not telling Batman about the Freeze Tech in the boiler room, and again in the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC by not telling Robin about the secret room she and many of her mooks are hiding in.
- Final Fantasy VII plays with this trope a bit, if this is the right trope; Elena doesn't exactly tell you what she's denying, but she does continue to tell you the enemy's plans verbatim after being told explicitly that she talks too much...for telling you the enemy's plans verbatim.
- Sonic the Hedgehog
- Deliberately invoked in Sonic Battle, where Eggman states, very loudly, "They'll never find me in Gimme Shelter!" However, Eggman was actually trying to trick Knuckles and Emerl to "follow" him to Gimme Shelter.
- Also happens in Sonic Rush Adventure; apparently, Captain Whisker is that dumb.
- Also happens in Sonic Adventure 2 when Eggman finally has Sonic and Tails where he wants them, and just needs the real Chaos Emerald to complete his scheme. Sonic sees through it. Tails... not so much.
Did you really think you could trick me with that fake Emerald? Tails:
So... how did you know it wasn't the real one? Sonic:
Because You Just Told Me
, Fox Boy!
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Professor Frankley says "I don't think we can trust this box. We'd better not tell it we're looking for the Crystal Stars."
- In Super Paper Mario, Luigi announces that he'll never give his name to scoundrels like Count Bleck. Which he then immediately follows with "Now taste the wrath of Luigi!"
- In Endless Frontier, Cute Witch Kyon does this. A lot. Usually followed by "Oops. Now I have to kill you."
Sorry! Kyon's on a secret mission right now. I can't tell you my name. Aschen:
... So, Kyon, what were you doing in a place like this? Kyon
: Wha—!? D-Did you read my mind!? Are you a psychic robot!? Aschen:
- The Legend of Zelda
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there are two girls on Windfall Island who embody this trope. They "won't" tell you anything, not even for two Rupees!
- And in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a Goron tells you that, since you're an outsider, he shouldn't tell you that the Elder's home is right over there, in this spot on your map! (Of course, the home is a big and obvious cave anyway.)
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant
- When Yuri and company reach Roger Bacon's house, Lenny appears to tell taunt them by saying Roger's been kidnapped. Yuri tricks Lenny into blabbing by claiming Lenny doesn't know where he's been taken, annoying him to the point where he vehemently tells them Roger's in Florence, Italy just to prove he does know. He then slumps to the ground, mouth agape, and sobs at what an idiot he's been.
- Yuri tries the exact same trick on Veronica later on when trying to figure out where their leader, Nicolai, went. She pretends to fall for it before responding with "That's right. I don't know. What kind of idiot would fall for that stupid trick?!", making Lenny feel like a complete jackass in the process.
- Commonly done by the villains in the Pokémon games. One of the most blatant: a Team Flare grunt worrying that, after you beat him, you might figure out that the password into their secret base is "open sesame"! There was no indication prior to fighting this guy that you even did need a password at all.
- During the tutorial in City of Villains, Operative Jenkins tells the Longbow agents that have him pinned, "I'm a trained Arachnos soldier, you won't get me to spill the name of <player name> that easy!"
- In Mother 3, Alec confronts Lucas regarding Claus's whereabouts (this is before Lucas becomes a Heroic Mime). He says:
- The punchline when you interrogate (or "interrogate") the quillboar prisoner in World of Warcraft.
- In Star Control II, this exchange between the PC Captain and the Thraddash:
PC Captain: Why didn't you fight against the Alliance, and where ARE the Ur-Quan?
Thraddash: Where did they go, you ask? This is a secret, of course! We can't tell you! If we told you that they were fighting a secret war against a mysterious invader you might find some way to use that information against our masters. So forget it! No secrets!
- When Volgin tortures Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, he insists that Snake is after "the legacy." Snake actually doesn't know what he is talking about, so Volgin brags of what it is and where he's hidden it. Cue The Mole, currently in the room with them, going to steal it for themselves.
- Nintendo games seem to do this a lot. In The Legendary Starfy, when Snips, Ronk, and Papes break into Pufftop Castle looking to kidnap Bunston, Starly very cleverly tells them, "I'll never tell you that he (Bunston) is safe with my brother in Sogwood Forest!"
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has Durk the Deranged, a clever but mentally ill resident of Stormreach. Pretending to know his "secret", he explains that there's no way you could know that the two Kobold chieftain brothers in the slime infested sewers are having a feud and that therefore it would be the perfect time to take out both sides. And he'll never tell you that either.
- Red vs. Blue: Recreation has Sarge pulling several in a row early in the series, when trying to warn Donut, "captured" by Caboose, not to tell him about their new vehicle or hologram chamber. Of course, since this is Caboose we're dealing with, nothing comes of it.