So you lied to me? Stiles:
That depends on how you define lying. Sheriff Stilinski:
Well, I define it as not telling the truth, how do you define it? Stiles:
Pff... reclining your body in a horizontal position.
This trope occurs when a statement is clearly false
— at least according to the most obvious meaning of the words — but from a certain point of view it could be considered true.note
The justification for calling it 'truth' generally hinges on a very, very shaky technicality which most people would not consider valid (e.g. "Darth Vader killed Luke Skywalker's father" is clearly not true in any literal way, but Darth Vader did
kill Anakin Skywalker in a That Man Is Dead
sense). One way to make this trope work is to play with the Exact Words
, but particularly bad cases may require a Personal Dictionary
or outright Insane Troll Logic
This is most commonly used by oracles who are trying to create a Prophecy Twist
but haven't sufficiently mastered the art of double meanings.
Instead of taking advantage of a non-obvious but genuine ambiguity of phrasing
, or relying on elaborate symbolism
, the oracle takes an unambiguous statement and tries to pretend that there was another valid meaning. It is also what separates a Literal Genie
from a Jackass Genie
, as the latter stretches the interpretation of the wish beyond the bounds of credibility just to get the wisher into trouble. Also often used by The Fair Folk
and others who Can Not Tell A Lie
. It can be a (questionable
) way of Taking A Third Option
when faced with To Be Lawful or Good
in the form of whether to tell the truth if it causes harm.
Less commonly, it is used in the wake of a Retcon
, in an effort to smooth over the inconsistencies introduced by said retcon. In the original example
shown at the top of the page, the line from the third movie practically Hand Waves
the fact that the line from the first movie was originally intended to be describing two different people, despite any of
Lucas' belated claims to the contrary
Compare Yes, Except No
, Double Speak
, False Reassurance
, Loophole Abuse
, Keeping Secrets Sucks
, Both Sides Have a Point
(or contrasting, depending on the circumstances), Stealth Pun
, Visual Pun
Contrast Prophecy Twist
, in which the alternative interpretation is not anticipated by the characters (and hopefully the audience), but makes sense when revealed. Also contrast Motivational Lie
, where a lie or partial truth is seen as justified because it spurred the hero on to success.
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- There was a series of adverts for Carfax that showed cars in dire shape, and the sound of a description being typed that minimalized the problem, getting erased, then a description being typed that made the car sound like it was great! It was an advert for car histories. The ads included...
- An ad for the Ford LTD said simply: "Ford LTD. 700% quieter." When the Federal Trade Commission asked Ford to justify this claim, they said that they meant that the Ford LTD was 700% quieter on the inside than the outside.
- An old Delta Airlines commercial had a US army troop piling by a phonebooth, each taking a turn to hear if the airline flies from the camp to their hometowns (in the US). At the end, the employee at Delta is asked how many calls were taken that afternoon, just one.
Anime & Manga
- Most things said by Xelloss in Slayers is technically true in manner in which he phrased it, though not always in the manner in which the listener chooses to hear it. For example, he introduces himself as "Xelloss, the mysterious priest!" After that statement, the "mysterious" part is in no way questioned. As to "priest", in the mazoku hierarchy Xelloss' rank is actually "priest". Mazoku Lords are typically served by a priest and a general. Xelloss claims the former title although he is the sole representative of his Lord. He is using Exact Words to tell people that he is one of the top ten mazoku in the entire world in terms of power.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, what Kyubey tells to Kyoko when asked if Sayaka could be turned back into a human after having turned into a witch is technically not meant to say that it is possible... But the way he phrases it doesn't make it look impossible either. This gives Kyoko enough hope to try, and ultimately results in Kyoko having to sacrifice herself to put Witch!Sayaka out of her misery when it doesn't work. Later on, Kyubey acknowledges that he phrased his statement that way because he wanted Kyoko to die, so that Homura was left with no companions to fend off the ultimate witch, Walpurgis, when it appears, unless Madoka accepts a Puella Magi contract. In general, Kyubey is made of this; he never actually lies, he just withholds any relevant information unless specifically asked about it.
- Saint Seiya: The reason why Shaka, the Golden Saint of Virgo, followed Big Bad Saga.
- Everything Ryuk says in Death Note is true. The problem is that he never gives you the entire context. Like his telling Light not to think a human who's used a Death Note is able to go to Heaven or Hell actually means there's no afterlife for anyone. Though Light already figured that to be the case on his own.
- Subverted in two alternate endings. In one Light ends up a Shinigami. In the other, he's sent to a place WORSE then Hell. The Shinigami realm, where he has to relive every death he caused, THEN cease to exist. He takes it in stride. It gives him enough time to kill the Shinigami King.
- Schneizel of Code Geass uses this to such great effect, it's scary.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! manga, Honda/Tristan enlists the help of Yugi and Jonouchi/Joey to confess his feelings to a classmate. Yugi helps to write a love letter and Jonouchi slips it into her desk. A Sadist Teacher discovers the love letter and gleefully humiliates the girl by reading the love letter out loud. When she tells the sender she will let them off easy if he shows himself, both Yugi and Jonouchi stand up, admitting to writing the letter and putting it in the desk respectively. Honda also stands up and says that his feelings were written in that letter. The teacher points out that only one of them could have done it and Jonouchi replies that none of them are lying.
- In Fairy Tail when Mystogan is accosted by Council agents, Yajima explains that Mystogan resembles Jellal because he is the Edolas version of Jellal. While this is true, at the time "Mystogan" is actually Jellal in disguise.
- Medaka Box: The Big Bad Ajimu tells Zenkichi that he's actually more heroic than Medaka, because in the past, she killed her father. Medaka later clarifies that she was the reward for something called the Jet Black Wedding Feast, which her father figure won, causing him to get killed.
- In Saiyuki, Sanzo tells Gojyo (apparently just to be difficult) that the murderer Cho Gonou is dead. What he means by this is That Man Is Dead; Cho Gonou has had a Meaningful Rename into his new identity of Cho Hakkai.
- At the beginning of Magic Knight Rayearth, Clef tells the girls that they are there to save Cephiro and fulfill Princess Emeraude's wish. This is very true. It just leaves out the significant fact that she wishes for them to kill her so that her emotional turmoil won't destroy the land.
- When Wolverine and his X-Force team visit the Age of Apocalypse, the AOA version of Jean Grey tells him her husband, Weapon X (the AOA Wolverine) has been dead for over 10 years. As it turns out the monster the X-Men have been fighting is in fact a corrupted, twisted version of Weapon X.
- Young Loki from Journey into Mystery, as part of his reform, tries to get through his schemes without lying. He mostly succeeds, through the use of this trope. ("I said I'd let you destroy Asgard. I didn't say which Asgard.")
- In Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Rift, Toph runs into her father for the first time since she ran away from home two years ago, and while she addresses him as "Father," he tells his workers—who were under the impression he had no family—that she is not his daughter. When Toph confronts him for "lying" later, he notes that his daughter was a quiet, obedient girl, and not the ungrateful brat he feels she has become. His claim to have no family also fits when we find out he and Toph's mother separated due to the stress of her disappearance. Thankfully, their issues are resolved by the end of the story.
- One recurring gag in Frank and Earnest is how Ernie explains that the ridiculous descriptions in his classified ads are correct: for example, he calls a boat with an engine that always overheats "the hottest thing on the lake".
- Kyon Big Damn Hero:
- Kyon tells a Yakuza that his PDA is custom note , and says that he got Akasaka's picture because if you do it right, people just look right through you. note
- Achakura invokes this in order to get Nonoko to bring Kyon his gear after he left it behind at home.
And it's going to turn me into a magical girl
For values of "turning you into a magical girl" equal to "you having a costume that protects you and operates on principles most people won't understand, and wielding equipment that few on Earth have ever seen, let alone held," yes, this will turn you into a magical girl!
- The protagonist of Dragon Age: The Crown Of Thorns somehow merges this with Honesty Is the Best Policy and Brutal Honesty seasonings, at times, even as he pulls of one plan after another. Other times, he just refuses to answer questions, like whether or not he killed Trian. He didn't, and neither did anyone else because that's what the second son wanted, and so it was.
- Death Note fanfictions:
- Harry Potter fanfictions:
- In Hand-Delivered Letter the captain of the Hufflepuff Quidditch team tries to talk Harry into joining the team during the first year Sorting feast and when asked how his flying skills are a reluctant Harry replies "Well, I can stay on without falling."
- In Bad Love Harry puts on his invisibility cloak when he sees Hermione approaching the Hogwarts Express. When she enters his compartment and asks Luna if she's seen Harry, Luna replies that he vanished after she sat down and she hasn't seen him since.
- In From The Flame To The Spark Ginny, while making plans to apparate to Hogwarts and recover the diadem, tells Sirius that if Fred and George catch her she'll remind them how she keeps sneaking their brooms out at night and how much she's wanted to go to Hogwarts and let their imaginations do the rest. His response is "You are entirely too good at that lying-with-truths thing, you know."
- In Hunter after Snape finds out about Harry living with the Dursleys he as good as accuses Dumbledore of this.
Snape: Dumbledore said he was well cared for and treated like family. Although now that I think about it [Petunia Dursley] did treat Lily horribly, so what he said was true from a certain point of view.
After all, as effective as it was, giving a man a blow job and then knocking him out as he orgasmed wasn't exactly heroic, now was it? Apparently Dumbledore's 'blow by blow' description of his defeat of Grindlewald was more figurative than literal. Depends on how you look at it.
- Mercury from the A dance of Shadow and Light series of Inheritance Cycle fanfictions is definitely this trope to a T. Examples include turning an unbreakable oath of fealty and protection of Galbatorix into a (in his mind) oath to kill the king at the earliest possible convienience. By the second story, he is so infamous for doing this that Loivissa's father (Eragon) warns her that no matter what Mercury says, she is to take it with a grain of salt.
- Maledict pulls this on Tsali in the climax of Sonic X: Dark Chaos. He manipulated both Tsali and the Metarex to fight each other — but they were the ones who destroyed the galaxy and did all the killing, not him.
Films — Animation
- Disney's Aladdin used this in the direct-to-video conclusion of the series, Aladdin and the King of Thieves. An oracle tells Aladdin that his father, Cassim, is trapped within the world of the Forty Thieves. Well, he is. It's just that Cassim is not only there voluntarily, he's their leader, and what he's trapped by is his own greed.
- In Rango, the leader of the mariachi band says that Rango will die. The movie's plot progresses and he's still alive and well to see the end credits. When one of the band members questions the narrator on this, he says that Rango will still die — someday, because everyone does. Looking at it metaphorically, it's even more applicable. When he's shamed and had his lies exposed the Rango persona dies as a character; when he comes back to fight, the nameless lizard he was dies and is subsumed by Rango.
- In Tangled, Flynn Rider's opening narration includes the phrase "This is the story of how I died." He then hurriedly adds that the audience shouldn't worry because it's actually a very fun story and it isn't really even about him, thus leading you to understand that he was pulling your leg. Except he wasn't. He does die, in point of fact. He just doesn't stay dead. like the Rango example above it could be taken metaphorically. Flynn Rider dies. But Eugene lives on.
- In The Lion King, after the infamous stampede scene that kills King Mufasa, Scar tells Simba, "if it weren't for you, [Mufasa would] still be alive." This is not technically untrue, as Mufasa was killed trying to save his son from the stampede (though he would have survived if Scar himself had not thrown him off a cliff into the raging herd), but Scar's words make poor Simba think that he was somehow responsible for his father's death, which, Scar being the Manipulative Bastard that he his, is precisely what he desires.
Films — Live-Action
- Star Wars:
- The former Trope Namer is Return of the Jedi, wherein Obi-Wan tells Luke that the statement "Darth Vader betrayed and murdered your father" is, indeed, true "from a certain point of view." This is a Retcon, but it's a pretty good Retcon. It's true Vader killed scads of Jedi, it's true Obi-Wan feels betrayed and horrified and hates him for it, and it's believable that the old man would put off telling Luke his daddy is actually an evil Sith Lord as long as possible (for Luke's sake, if for no other reason). In the original draft written by Leigh Brackett, Anakin and Darth Vader were different persons, and indeed Vader killed Anakin after turning to the dark side. Also, Anakin was supposed to be a force ghost that would help Luke (that role was later filled by Obi-Wan). However, Brackett died, and Lucas and Brackett's substitute Lawrence Kasdan rewrote the script, adding the famous twist, so it's obvious that they had to fix "Darth Vader betrayed and killed your father" somehow. In a clear case of Fridge Brilliance upon rewatching A New Hope, before Alec Guinness delivers the original line he fractionally hesitates with a considering look. You can practically see him considering what would be the best thing to tell Luke. That hesitation is amazingly lucky for the Retcon.
- While this looks weaselly, it does fit later hints that the Jedi see the Sith as something like the walking dead, former people who've been turned into monsters by the Dark Side. Mace Windu says "which was destroyed, the master or the apprentice?" — not, say, slain. Obi-Wan and Qui Gon referred to Darth Maul as "it", while Yoda later warns Obi-Wan that Anakin is "gone" and has been "consumed" by Darth Vader - a line probably written for the purpose of bolstering the point-of-view of Obi Wan's original statement to Luke. Even more so, throughout the final fight between Obi-Wan and Anakin, you can see Obi-Wan constantly trying to reach his friend and former apprentice and bring him back to his senses. It's only by the end of the fight where he seems to come to the conclusion that his friend is no more.
- In Revenge of the Sith, after Anakin stands up in the Vader suit for the first time his first question to Sidious is "Where's Padme?", having last seen her unconscious after force-choking her. Sidious replies that in his anger Anakin had killed her. This has the desired effect of driving Anakin to despair so that he will embrace the Dark Side more closely. It is however technically true, insofar as Anakin's betrayal ultimately causes Padme to lose the will to live — something that Sidious was probably aware of.
- In Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, everything Princess Natalia Dragomiroff says to Hercule Poirot. They had to lie to throw him off the trail, but honor dictated they couldn't do it outright so they "merely" gave the nearest equivalent answer. For example; Mr. Whitehead became Mr. Snowpeak.
- In the 1st film, one of the victims says the Jigsaw Killer is "technically not a murderer" because he never kills anyone directly; he just puts them in situations where death is very likely. The point is really moot, as almost any jurisdiction would consider putting somebody in such a situation to be murder. Saw 2 does at least have the Jerkass detective hero calls Jigsaw out on this defense: "putting a gun to someone's head and forcing him to pull the trigger is still murder."
- Without the murder charge, his actions usually qualify as assault, kidnapping, and torture, often with lasting damage even for the survivors — possibly a Fate Worse Than Death in some cases. Several of Jigsaw's disciples actually do commit straight-up murder in their games. But by the 6th movie even the real Jigsaw seems to be having a hard time coming up with new "games" that actually leave his victims with a chance to survive. For example, half his games are of the "decide which one of these people will live or die" variety. Well, if one person is guaranteed to die, then you are committing murder because your trap is specifically designed to kill people without any hope of escape.
- A number of his traps are also designed to kill anyone who attempts to pursue/capture him, so these would be also be considered him murdering people.
- Used in several of the Star Trek films, mostly by Spock.
- The later instances are call-backs to the first, from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, where Spock informs Captain Kirk by communicator that "going by the book, like Lieutenant Saavik, hours would seem like days" before reporting that the Enterprise would need two days to have secondary power restored... "By the book, Admiral." After Kirk's away team gets stranded on Regula I by Khan:
Kirk: (opening communicator) Kirk to Spock, it's two hours, are you ready?
Spock: Right on schedule, Admiral.
(soon, on the Enterprise)
Saavik: I don't understand. We were immobilized. Captain Spock said it would be two days.
Kirk: Come, come, Lieutenant. You of all people go by the book: "If communications are being monitored during battle..."
Saavik: "...no uncoded messages on an open channel." (turns to Spock, astonished) You lied.
Spock: I exaggerated.
- Lampshaded repeatedly in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, for example:
Spock: Mr. Scott, I understand you are having difficulties with the warp drive? How much time do you require for repair?
Scotty: There's nothing wrong with the bloody th—
Spock: Mr. Scott, if we return to spacedock, then the assassins will surely find a way to dispose of their incriminating footwear, and we will never see the Captain, or Dr. McCoy, alive again.
Scotty: Could take weeks, sir.
Spock: Thank you, Mr. Scott.
Valeris: A lie?
Spock: An error.
- This one, though, eventually comes back to bite Spock in the hinder:
Kirk: I want the names of the conspirators.
Valeris: I do not... remember.
Spock: A lie?
Valeris: ...A choice.
- Played with in Star Trek (2009), when Spock Prime meets his young counterpart, after telling the young Kirk not to mention him because of Never the Selves Shall Meet.
Spock: You lied.
Spock Prime: I implied.
- Given a further nod in Star Trek Into Darkness, when Spock and Kirk are being dressed down by Admiral Pike. When Spock cites his Loophole Abuse, Pike angrily dismisses it as a technicality. Spock counters that, as a Vulcan, he is quite familiar with technicalities.
- Comes back again in the finale. When Khan asks Spock to deliver the torpedoes, which containing the cryogenic ally frozen bodies of his crew, Spock agrees and sends the torpedoes over. However, prior to sending them, the crew members are removed and the explosives inside are activated. Spock said he would send over the torpedoes, he didn't say he would send them over with the crew members still inside — or that they wouldn't be about to explode.
- In The Matrix, Morpheus nearly loses his faith in the Oracle because she is unable to help him see past what he believes will end the Man/Machine war by the concluding movie, The Matrix Revolutions. It is only for The One to know what must be done in the matter of prophecy through a bit of Prophecy Twist and some Fridge Brilliance by the audience, later.
- Near the end of What's Love Got to Do with It, Tina Turner is shown as reduced to a lounge act, implying this is what she's reduced to make ends meet and showing how far she fell before her big come back with the eponymous album. The film neglects to mention a Real Life detail: When this happened to the real Turner, it was her idea, to make sure people knew she hadn't retired or vanished since her infamously nasty split with Ike Turner.
- The protagonist of Liar Liar is cursed to always tell the truth (while being the defending lawyer in a case he can't win without lying). He tries to get around this and postpone the trial by beating himself up in the bathroom, and then being as vague as possible (without lying) when asked who did it.
- Kinsey: He was filming animals to make a visual record of mammalian behavior. He never said which mammal species he was focusing on (Homo sapiens, as it turned out).
- Garry King from The World's End almost entirely speaks in this and Insane Troll Logic. He often makes plans in the loosest and most roundabout way, so that he never ''technically' breaks them, and it's a Running Gag that he's "never wrong". Not "always right", "never wrong". It's futile to argue with the man sober, let alone drunk.
- In The North and the South, when Orry and George are in a tavern having a beer, the bartender suggests they sit back-to-back so if someone asks the if they'd seen one another drinking, they could say they had not.
- In the non-canon Detective Conan movie Shinichi Kudo Returns! Showdown with the Black Organization, Ran sees Ai Haibara hugging Shinichi (both temporarily at their normal ages) and becomes suspicious and jealous. To calm her down, Ai gives a fake name and claims that she'd hired Shinichi to help her with some dangerous men who were trying to get revenge on her for something, and that she was hugging him out of fear. Technically that's true - she was being pursued by Gin and Vodka, both of them wanted revenge on her for escaping them, Shinichi was helping save her from them, and she really had been hugging him out of fear.
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, Logan goes to Charles' school to find him, but he is greeted by Hank, who says that there are no professors in the place. Logan believes correctly that he is lying, as Charles eventually appears there. However, he is so broken and enraged that he doesn't resemble his usual self anymore. Hank reaffirms that there are no professors in the school.
- Common in Christian novels such as Left Behind, where the Moral Guardians and The Fundamentalist are the target audience, and lying, even to the minions of Satan and/or to save lives, is forbidden by God, and woe to any book with a protagonist who lies. But God only has a problem with complete lies. Deliberately deceiving someone is fine, as long the protagonist can explain to himself why the statement is technically true. Suffice it to say that there's plenty of debate over when/if it's always wrong to lie, especially considering that the verse often quoted as "Thou shalt not lie" actually says "Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor", which is a lot more ambiguous. Still a common interpretation, of course.
- In Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time the Aes Sedai tried to get people to trust them by swearing an unbreakable oath to "Speak no word that is not true". If you think about it, this oath is meaningless. Individual words have no inherent truth value; it's phrases that can be untrue. Fridge Logic aside, in the books it does prevent them from directly lying. But the Aes Sedai think they have Omniscient Morality License (even though they are actually fairly complacent and ignorant), so they see all their oaths as unfortunate restrictions rather than moral standards to adhere to, so this trope and other deceptions abound. People realize this and anyone likely to deal with the Aes Sedai is warned to pay close attention because "The truth they speak may not be the truth you think you hear." And they STILL manage to complain about people not trusting them! It also doesn't help that they've believed and thus proclaimed a number of important things which are provable to be false (such as the existence of traitors within their order), so random people over the centuries have heard Aes Sedai "lie" to their faces.
- In a novel by Albert E Cowdrey, a megalomaniacal criminal wants revenge on the human race for his imprisonment. Before he's allowed out of prison, he's asked a few questions, and there's a machine that can tell whether he's telling the truth or not. When asked if he regrets his behavior, he says yes (meaning he regrets that his mistakes got him caught). When asked if he wants to harm anyone, or something like that, he says "I do not wish to harm any human individual."
- In the Mahabharata, Drona is convinced to lay down his weapons after hearing that his son, Ashwatama, is dead. Before doing so, he asks Yudhishtara, who notably cannot tell a lie, if this is true. Yudhishtara replies, "Yes, Ashwatama the elephant is dead" — with the key words muttered under his breath. You see, the son was still alive, but the Pandavas had killed an elephant with the same name. Before the start of the battle, the Pandavas proposed a number of rules, on which both armies agreed, that would ensure that everyone would fight honorable. About every single rule is broken within the first days of battle by the heroes of both sides.
- In The Legend of Luke from the Redwall series, Vilu Daskar (evil pirate captain) promises to let some of the prisoners free if they tell him where treasure is, neglecting to mention that the last time he made this promise, he set them free by tying weights to them and throwing them overboard. Fortunately, the heroes don't fall for it, and the whole treasure story was just a plan to trick Vilu Daskar anyway.
- The Inheritance Cycle has the elves, who, as Brom says, are masters of saying one thing but meaning another. They are able to do this because speaking in the ancient language prohibits one from lying, though they can still say something that they believe to be true. Eragon uses this technique at one point in an attempt to conceal his actual feelings regarding Arya.
- In the Flashman novel Royal Flash Flashman swears that he will let a mook who has tried to kill him go, if he tells him what he wants to know. The mook tells and Flashman lets him go ... over a cliff and into a chasm. He said he would let him go!
- In The Silence of the Lambs Clarice Starling tells Dr. Hannibal Lecter that her father was a marshal. Later on, when she is recounting to him how the man died, Lecter catches enough clues to easily deduce that the man had actually been a night watchman. Starling's defense is that the official job description had read "night marshal".
- The Principia Discordia either plays this straight or subverts it depending on your own point of view, in this exchange in an interview with Discordianism's founder, Malaclypse the Younger (Mal-2):
Interviewer: Is Eris true?
Mal-2: Everything is true.
Interviewer: Even false things?
Mal-2: Even false things are true.
Interviewer: How can that be?
Mal-2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.
- In David Weber's War Gods series, Lady Leeana asks her mother for permission to go riding. Mother wants to make sure that Leeana is planning on taking her guards along, and Leeana assures her mother that she knows that she won't be able to go riding unless her bodyguard goes riding too. She's planning to run away from home, and she knows that unless she gets rid of her bodyguard by sending him out riding on a long errand, he'll try to stop her.
- In the Lensman stories, it is a vital plot point that humanity (and the other allied races of civilisation) be Locked Out of the Loop, because of the consequences of realizing the truth. Even so, Mentor of Arisia goes to extraordinary lengths to keep Kim Kinnison from learning the truth without openly lying to him, right up to and including altering Kinnison's perception of what species Fossten is. Causing endless problems in fandom, as Smith admits to in his essay The Epic of Space.
- In Frank Herbert's Dune, Baron Harkonnen suborned the Suk doctor Yueh by taking his wife, Wanna, hostage and torturing her. If Yueh betrayed Duke Leto, the Baron promised him that "I'd free her from the agony and permit you to join her." Subverted in that, as the Baron reveals that he's already killed Wanna and has Yueh killed as well, the doctor tells him "You think I did not know what I bought for my Wanna." Yueh had already taken the opportunity to implant a poison gas pellet in Leto's tooth and instructed Leto to use it to assassinate the Baron. The Baron survives, but his Mentat isn't so lucky.
- The John Dickson Carr novel The Nine Wrong Answers has authorial footnotes that use this trope to an almost gleeful extent, to the point that the final one points out that at no time did previous footnotes technically lie about niceties like whether a man who was poisoned actually died, and whether a man really was who he was claiming he was. (Although some critics maintain that Carr slipped in a few places and really did make the "incorrect" claims.)
- Twilight author Stephanie Meyer (in)famously claimed that vampires are unable to reproduce. When Bella later got knocked up, she went back and used Weasel Words to try and claim she actually meant that only female vampires can't have kids all along (evidently by claiming an obscure definition of "have").
- Christopher from The Lives Of Christopher Chant is very fond of these, and his friend the Goddess isn't above half truths either.
- Dumbledore from the Harry Potter series. In Order of the Phoenix this is justified, since he fears Voldemort may be able to listen in on Harry's thoughts.
- Schmendrick the Magician in The Last Unicorn. As the narrator puts it, he's not lying, just arranging events in a more logical way.
- The Druids are well known for only telling the heroes they recruit exactly as much as they think the heroes need to know and no more. Allanon, the Druid who started this tradition, justified it with the fact that his father gave a full briefing about the Sword of Shannara to Jerle Shannara, who then failed to properly wield it to defeat the Warlock Lord. The incomplete briefing he gave to Shea 500 years later allowed Shea to win.
- Also done in the second book of the series, Elfstones of Shannara, in a very sympathetic way. The dying King Eventine Elessidil asks his son about Amberle, his beloved granddaughter, who he has learned has just returned from her quest with Wil Ohmsford to prevent The End of the World as We Know It. His son hesitates, then tells his father, "She's safe. Resting." While this isn't exactly a lie, she's actually been turned into a tree. The old king, relieved, is able to die peacefully.
- In The Knights of Samular by Elaine Cunningham Renwick Caradoon used such tricks to twist the Abyss out of his contract with an incubus lord and — after this bright idea gone bad anyway and he needed help — fool already suspicious Blackstaff (which may be more impressive).
"A prideful wizard, a summoning gone awry," Renwick said, genuine sorrow and regret painting his tones. "But before her death, my niece gave me the means to banish the demon."
Khelben gave him a searching look, and Renwick felt the subtle tug of truth-test magic. It slid off him easily; few spells recognized a lie fashioned by placing two truths next to each other. Let Khelben think Nimra was the prideful wizard who had summoned the demon.
- Middle School Blues
- This young adult novel contains a lampshaded example of this trope. The set-up is this: Cindy's friend Jeff has run away from home, Cindy thinks she knows where he is, but she doesn't want to tell anyone because she doesn't want to raise his parents' hopes if she's wrong. She decides that she has to check it out for herself. Cindy goes to investigate, after telling her parents that another friend, Becca, asked Cindy to spend the day at her house. When she's caught, her parents accuse her of lying about going to Becca's house. Cindy insists that she didn't lie, she had been asked to spend the day at Becca's, and she never said that she was going there. Her parents are distinctly not amused by this, and explain that being deliberately misleading is no different from lying.
- Cindy herself is on the receiving end of this when she goes back to school the next day to find the Alpha Bitch telling everyone that Cindy ran away to be with Jeff...
- In Karen Traviss' Republic Commando series, Walon Vau exploits this trope to lie convincingly to a Jedi, telling him that Kal Skirata was not working for "the enemy"... but referring to a different enemy than the one the Jedi was asking about.
- In Vivian Vande Velde's The Conjurer Princess, the morally questionable wizard whose talent is seeing the future tells one of the adventurers that if they go on a quest, he had better be prepared to die. Said character walks out of the party but later returns for a Big Damn Heroes moment — and is captured, put on his knees in front of an executioner... and ducks away at the last second. Prepared to die, indeed. Extra half-truth bonus points because it was the other adventurer who died on the quest.
- In Holly Black's Modern Faerie Tales, pixie Kaye invokes this to fulfill a quest to find a faerie who could lie, which is impossible. She succeeds by claiming SHE can lie. She can lie... on the ground.
- In the Dragaera series, Anti-Hero Vlad Taltos is a mob boss required to testify "under the orb" (that is, under magical lie detection) when a neighboring boss disappears. Among other applications of this trope, Vlad tells the prosecutors "as far as I'm concerned, he committed suicide." By treating Vlad and his subordinates like he wanted to die.
- In Warrior Cats, Fireheart and Graystripe are caught coming back onto ThunderClan territory after sneaking away to check on RiverClan (who are suffering because the river is flooded). When asked to explain themselves, they claim that they wanted to see how far the floods went, which was true, but not the whole truth.
- The Lord of the Rings:
- This comes up several times, mostly to do with how the Men of Rohan and Gondor have muddled ideas about Lothlórien and Fangorn from the fact that their legend describe them as "perilous" and "dangerous". As Gandalf explains, both those things are true, but that doesn't make them malevolent.
- Gandalf himself does this a lot. For instance, "A wizard is never late, nor is he early, he arrives precisely when he means to." While this is true from the wizard's perspective, the people he's meeting may disagree.
- The Silmarillion contains a summary of the events of The Lord of the Rings at the end, and states that Frodo destroyed the One Ring. This is only true in a very indirect way.
- In Kylie Chan's Dark Heavens series, Mr. Chen is a wealthy Hong Kong businessman. When asked the source of his wealth, he prefers to reply that he does some martial arts training and various circumstances for the government, as well as some fieldwork before his daughter is born. If he's asked whether he means the Hong Kong or continental Chinese government, he says "above either," generally taken to mean he's with the UN. Inevitably, people assume he's a spy, and to THAT question he says he can't discuss it. In fact, he's a god in the Celestial Bureaucracy and being, amongst other things, god of martial arts, he spends a lot of time teaching it to other gods.
- In The Dresden Files, no faeries can lie. Dresden notes, and tells one to its face, that the fact that they can't lie in no way has hampered their ability to deceive.
- A character in Sherwood Smith's A Posse of Princesses defends himself with this after revealing a major deception, but the protagonist will have none of it:
Rhis: He can explain all he wants about how everything he said was strictly true, but it only works if you know the real truth.
- When Briar Moss from Will of the Empress is asked how he managed to locate his foster sister, his answer is "I forgot. I have a terrible memory for secrets I don't wish to tell."
- In every Percy Jackson and the Olympians novel, there is a prophecy for the quests the heroes undergo. All of them have double meanings, leading the heroes to believe one thing, but then for the plot to turn out completely differently, but in hindsight, still true to the prophecy, just in a entirely different way.
- A deliberate in-universe version in Isaac Asimov's Foundation books. In the first book, Hari Seldon proposes the creation of two Foundations: one at a remote backwater planet called Terminus, and the other at the other end of the galaxy. A few books later, many characters are trying to find the Second Foundation using "the other end of the galaxy" as a clue. Some are doing it spacially (i.e. a planet on the opposite edge of the galaxy), others temporally (i.e. Terminus was the last planet to be settled by that point; by that logic, the Second Foundation must be on the first planet — Earth That Was). The real answer turns out to be Trantor, the former capital of The Empire as the socially opposite planet. Some of these were deliberately misled by the Second Foundation in order to maintain their secrecy.
- In one of Isaac Asimov's Black Widowers stories, "Truth To Tell," a man who is suspected of stealing money and bonds from his company denies his culpability several times using the same phrase: "I did not take the cash or the bonds." He swears he is telling the truth. The club's incomparable waiter Henry solves the case by asking "Did you, by any chance, take the cash and the bonds?" The man doesn't answer, but he doesn't have to.
- In Taylor Anderson's Destroyermen: Distant Thunders, several Lemurian marines take their traitorous former king ashore. When they return, the marine in charge of the group swears to Jim Ellis that they left the king all their spears and provisions, claiming that he should survive for some time. He also swears that the king will not die by their hands. What he omits is that the spears were used to pin the king's arms and legs to a tree, and his belly was sliced to allow his entrails to be pulled out and hung on the branches to attract predators. The food was also left for this purpose. To be fair, the king deserved this.
- Deliberately played with in the Star Wars novel Shatterpoint; Mace keeps coming up with crazy plans, and is generally direct and honest with everyone. The standardized response to his plans is "Are you crazy?" However, it turns out that the mysterious tape his former apprentice and daughter-figure sent him pretending to be going mad and/or at risk of joining the Dark Side was deliberately intended to lure him to the planet. Ironically, she does actually fall.
- In Please Don't Tell My Parents I'm a Supervillain, Penny's mother is a Living Lie Detector with analysis abilities that make Sherlock Holmes look like a chump. Penny hides stuff from her either by letting her make her own assumptions, telling her things that are completely true but missing some key details ("I was out with my friends," not "I was out with my friends robbing a bank"), and pretending to hide embarrassing things so she won't ask more questions (during the climax, her plan if she gets caught sneaking out is to "admit" she was on a date).
- In Safehold Merlin uses these quite a lot to maintain The Masquerade without actually lying (since he will need to tell everyone the truth eventually). For example he frequently says that he lived in the Mountains of Light for many years, neglecting to mention that he was a robot powered down in a hidden cave under the mountains for the period. Another one is when introducing the concept of Arabic numerals he says that they were taught to him by "a wise woman" (presumably Nimue's elementary school teacher).
- In Pact, Padraic, an ancient Faerie, specializes in this due to not being able to lie, telling vague truths out of context when he cannot rely upon Exact Words.
Padraic: An accomplished liar remembers his lies. I cannot, of course, lie, but I do tell half truths, and a half truth could be said to be half a lie.
- In The Riftwar Cycle novel Prince of the Blood, Nakor pulls this after being threatened with a death sentence for posessing a red-and-gold speckled falcon. Said falcon is the symbol of the royal family of the land of Kesh, nearly extinct and held with the same regard as a Sacred Cow. Nakor explains himself by claiming that he was the falcon's transport/bodyguard and he was merely aiding the bird's quest to visit the Empress on her birthday and repopulate the royal mewes, which at that point had been reduced to three female falcons.
- Star Trek :
- The Ferengi have this trope as a point in their "Rules of Acquisition".
126. A lie isn't a lie, it's just the truth seen from a different point of view.
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The First Duty" Wesley and his squad are facing an inquiry about the death of one of their members. Seeing that Wesley is obviously feeling conflicted, the leader tells him that he doesn't have to lie, he can simply not volunteer the actual important information. Yes, the accident did occur after the loop. It's just that between the loop and the crash there was the dangerous banned technique they tried. Picard is not satisfied with Wesley's claim that he told the truth and gives him an ultimatum: Tell the whole truth, or Picard will do it.
- In a Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode, Garak was dying because an Obsidian Order anti-torture device in his brain was breaking down, and as Bashir struggled to remove or replace it, Garak gave several wildly varying accounts of the event that had gotten him kicked out of the Order and left on Deep Space Nine. At the end of the episode, Bashir demanded to know which version was true.
Garak: My dear doctor, they were all true.
Bashir: Even the lies?
Garak: Especially the lies.
- As it turns out in the relaunch novel A Stitch in Time, they actually were almost all true. Kinda.
- The original trope name could just has easily been called Vulcan Truth instead of Jedi Truth. Vulcans are always honest, except when they're deceiving, misleading, or flat out lying.
- In the original series episode "The Enterprise Incident", Spock explains to the Romulan Commander that the Vulcan reputation for being truthful is overblown. They'll lie just like anyone else if they have a [logical] reason to.
- In one early episode of Star Trek: Voyager, Tuvok tells Chakotay that he is always honest, to which Chakotay points out that he wasn't being honest when he pretended to be a Maquis in order to infiltrate Chakotay's ship. Tuvok then counters that he was being honest to his principles and within the defined parameters of his mission. Chakotay recognizes this as a load of crap.
- In another episode, he flat out lies to intimidate a prisoner. Janeway bluffs that she is gonna send the prisoner off to some people she's scammed (the prisoner, not Janeway). She asks Tuvok to tell her about the conditions of that world's prisons, and Tuvok wildly invents a tale of deplorable conditions where most prisoners don't survive long enough to be put on trial. The prisoner knows just enough about Vulcans to believe the story that they never lie, so she caves in.
- The trick is that in both these cases, Tuvok had a perfectly logical reason to lie. We might reasonably assume that most Vulcans would not lie, for example, to spare a friend's feelings, or get out of a tedious duty, and other species would remember those instances of honesty as unusual, even extreme.
- Babylon 5:
- The Minbari claim that they never lie, and a mere accusation of doing so warrants "a lethal response". While the humans initially take this at face value, Mollari, having been told otherwise by Lennier, explains that the Minbari are allowed to tell white lies to save someone from embarrassment or dishonor. Even other Minbari are irritated at the Grey Council following this trope. Kalain says at one point that the Grey Council "never tells you the whole truth."
- A good example of Minbari half-truths comes with Delenn early in Season 3. She is shown footage of a Shadow vessel and is asked if she had ever seen a ship like it before. Delenn says no. When she is later questioned about this by Sheridan she replies that whilst she was well aware of what the ship was, that was the first time she had actually seen one.
- Similarly, she and Kosh claimed to Sheridan that the Shadows had killed his wife and her fellow crew, and even showed him a video to that effect. Later, when she shows up, Delenn claims that she wasn't lying because she assumed that's what they would have done. When Sheridan presses her on why she didn't tell him she didn't actually know for sure, she admits that Sheridan would have tried to stage a rescue and she couldn't allow that to happen. And then it is revealed that while her body is alive, John's wife was forced into being a Wetware CPU for a Shadow vessel. Because of this, the woman she was, the woman John loved, is gone forever. Note that Delenn did not, in fact, know that last bit.
- In one of the most well-known twists, John Locke, at the conclusion of his first flashback episode, is revealed to have been a cripple in a wheelchair prior to crashing on the island and miraculously regaining his ability to walk:
You misrepresented yourself. Locke:
I never lied. Tour Guide:
By omission, Mr. Locke. You neglected to tell us about your condition
- Another example is the cover story told by the survivors who escape the island. They claim that Boone died of internal injuries from the plane crash, Charlie drowned, and Libby did not survive long either, all of which are technically true, but leave out massively important context details: Boone died because he was inside a smaller plane when it fell from some trees while he was trying to use its radio, Charlie drowned saving Desmond by sealing the door, preventing the Looking Glass station being flooded, and Libby did not survive for long... as a result of injuries from an accidental gunshot wound from Michael (who had just killed Ana Lucia in cold blood).
- Benjamin Linus is distrusted by every character on the show for his pathological penchant for this trope. "John Locke is dead" is somewhat different than "John Locke is dead because I killed him." Similarly, when Jack asks him, "Did you know Locke killed himself?", Ben can honestly answer, "No." Though sometimes Ben just straight out lies.
- Sayid was a Communications Officer in the Iraqi military. He encouraged people to communicate.
- Russell T Davies has been accused of this during his time in charge of Doctor Who, particularly with respect to foreshadowing the season finales:
- Series 2 continually said that Rose was going to die, and Rose (narrating) introduces the final two-parter as "the story of how I died". She doesn't die. She is taken to a parallel world and is presumed dead by the authorities.
- In the Series 4 finale, we are repeatedly told "One will still die." Nobody dies. Donna suffers a metaphorical death, erasing all of her Character Development and her relevance to the show.
- A straight in-story example in the old series. The Black Guardian tells Turlough that the Doctor is evil and must be stopped. When called out on it he claims he was not actually lying because "the Doctor's good is my evil".
- On Penn & Teller: Bullshit!, the duo use this trope to get environmental activists to sign a petition to ban water. They sent someone to a gathering of them to get names for a petition to abolish the use of "dihydrogen monoxide" - which means water. They went around saying all kinds of technically true things about water (things like "its a chemical solvent", which is true, and "over six thousand people are killed by this stuff in the US every year", which is also true) while making it sound like a toxin. They got lots of names. The point of the exercise was to demonstrate how many people would sign a petition without bothering to check any of the facts first.
- A lot of the lies and half-truths that Scott and Stiles of Teen Wolf have been using to hide the werewolves would fall into this category. Stiles even gets caught in an Explain, Explain... Oh, Crap! moment by his father when the alibis start blending together.
Sheriff Stilinski: So you lied to me?
Stiles: That depends on how you define lying.
Sheriff Stilinski: Well, I define it as not telling the truth, how do you define it?
Stiles: Pff... reclining your body in a horizontal position.
- Adam and Jimmie of The Man Show got dozens of women to sign a petition to end Women's Suffrage (the right to vote) by phrasing it to sound like they meant "suffering". Things like, "Women have been suffraging in this country for decades, and nobody's done anything to stop it!"
- Aquila has a scene where an archaeologist explains, referencing the ancient African proverb about truth being an elephant surrounded by three blind men, that he simply gave the boys a point of view not involving copious amounts of money.
- On Misfits, a show about a bunch of "problem teens" on community service (who develop superpowers), the inevitable conversation soon arises — "what did you do to end up here?" While most of them admit to plausible-sounding crimes (drunk-driving, arson, drug possession etc.) Nathan constantly insists — to the point where it becomes a Running Gag — that all he did was steal some "pick'n'mix". As we later find out, the incident actually did start with him stealing some sweets. He neglected to mention, however, that (in a Crowning Moment of Funny) he subsequently ran riot in the bowling alley, trying to hurl himself down the back of one of the bowling lanes and causing a fair bit of criminal damage. When he was finally restrained he refused to pay for the damages (or co-operate in the slightest), persistently mocked the security guard and eventually attacked the guy with a stapler. However, it's entirely possible that Nathan really doesn't think he did anything wrong beyond eating the pick'n'mix.
- In Blake's 7, the crew gets captured by an enemy that can keep them from lying, so they resort to evasions to prevent them from finding out that Orac is a computer.
Tarrant: If he's not on the ship, I don't know where he is.
Caliph: How tall is he?
Tarrant: (gestures to waist level, Orac's "height" when on a table)
Caliph: A dwarf?
Tarrant: We never think of him as one.
Caliph: What is the color of his hair?
Tarrant: He hasn't got any. A bald dwarf shouldn't be too hard to find.
- Deconstructed in The Wedding Bride, a fake movie from How I Met Your Mother about Stella's failed relationship with Ted from her ex-boyfriend's perspective, making him the good guy getting The Woobie Stella out of a loveless marriage, when in reality, it was nothing like that. We see the real reaction of said guy who was left at the altar, Ted.
- The Season 9 DVD set for the show claims the finale as one of the most talked about in TV history. While true, it does leave out that the discussion was caused by the significant Broken Base that said finale brought about.
- In Farscape, Crichton hits on this trope as a way of fooling the Scarran heat probe, which forces people to tell the truth. For example, while disguised as a Peacekeeper defector, he tries to get access to his captive Sebacean girlfriend by propositioning a Sebacean nurse, and he gets caught by a Scarran:
Why the deception? Crichton:
Cos — horny! Looking for a Sebacean woman. Nurse:
You attacked me and attempted to release one of the patients. Crichton:
No offense, but she's sexier than you are. Scarran:
What would you have done had you gotten her? Crichton:
Taken her back to my ship. Frelled
her. Made babies.
- The Daily Show: Jon Stewart lampshaded this in his criticism of RNC Chairman Michael Steele.
) How much did you have when you took the reins? Michael Steele:
) About $20 or so million. Fox Reporter:
) And now you're down to three? So I realize you spent a lot of money for the campaign... Michael Steele:
) Yeah, we spent a lot of money, but I mean, Greta, you can't look at it in terms of what you begin and what you end. Jon Stewart:
) "...you can't look at it in terms of where you begin and where—" That is some Jedi bullshit
right there, Michael Steele. "Yes, Greta; if you want to look at the budget in a linear, arithmetic way where we started with a high number and ended with a very low number
, but what you're forgetting is children's dreams and rainbows
, you can't put a price on that — is that a quarter behind your ear
? Wait, a dove, SMOKE BOMB
, Steele out."
- Very well done in Nikita, where Alex is hooked up to a brainwave-reading lie detector that can't be fooled. She gets around it by stringing together several statements that are each individually true, but together paint a very different picture than what actually happened, and gets herself free from suspicion.
- Discussed on The Amazing Race 19 by Marcus when talking about keeping that he had been a professional football player a secret. Technically, as a tight end, it was his job to protect the quarterback, so it was not lying to say he was in "protection," and as he was retired at that point, if asked if he was a football player, it was technically correct if he said no.
- In Game of Thrones, Viserys Targaryen spends most of the first season complaining about how Khal Drogo promised him a golden crown. When he finally gets his crown, it's a pot of molten gold poured over his head. He kind of deserves it for threatening to kill his own sister and trying to sell her to Drogo for that crown, even if he does set her entire plotline in motion by doing so.
- Once Upon a Time:
- When Granny tells her granddaughter Red that her red cloak keeps the Big Bad Wolf away/protects Red from the Wolf, she was speaking the truth. After all, the cloak is enchanted to prevent Red from turning into the Big Bad Wolf.
- Mr. Gold told Regina that "something tragic" would happen to Kathryn. When Kathryn shows up alive and Regina asks Mr. Gold why she isn't dead, he reminds her of what he said and points out that her abduction was tragic.
- In the British documentary, X-Rated Ambition: The Traci Lords Story, the narration mentions Lords' 1984 Penthouse issue was the magazine's biggest seller ever. It neglects to mention why: It was the infamous Vanessa Williams issue.note
- Firefly: In the pilot, Simon asks Mal what Jayne's job is. Mal answers, "Public relations." Jayne's usual method of relating to the public involves a very large gun named Vera.
- JAG: In "Dungaree Justice", the article 32 hearing of Mac’s dubious actions in "People v. Mac" takes place and it is discussed to what extent she had lied in the earlier episode.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: Major Sarah Mackenzie, having taken a lawful oath in a trial by court-martial that she would testify truly, did wilfully, corruptly and contrary to such oath, testify falsely regarding the killing of her husband, Christopher Ragle.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Sir, Major Mackenzie did testify that she shot and killed her husband. There was no lie there.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: But she omitted certain details, including the fact that Lieutenant Colonel Farrow was present at the time.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: She took the blame, sir, to protect an innocent man.
Lt. Commander Alan Mattoni: A lie of omission, no matter how noble the intention, is still a lie.
Lt. Commander Harmon Rabb: Yes. But for it to be perjury, it must be material to the case. Murder charges against Major Mackenzie and Lieutenant Colonel Farrow were subsequently dismissed. Therefore, I submit: the detail of Colonel Farrow's presence was not material, and the omission of said detail should not be considered perjury.
- Most undefeated streaks in pro wrestling are eventually handled this way. This is due to several bits of logic. For one, long undefeated streaks don't just happen in a vacuum: they're either created with the intent to build a wrestler up as a juggernaut of some sort or they're eventually noticed by the bookers and used in such a way. The idea is that fans, for one reason or another, should be wondering when and by whom he/she will finally get beaten, as well as come to accept him/her as a championship threat whether the plan is to ever put a title on the wrestler or not. However, in kayfabe, any wrestler that goes undefeated for a long period of time would have to be put in championship title picture situations; there's no logical justification for an authority figure not to do this. In fact, by logical extreme, if someone does nothing but wrestle and win on a regular basis for a long period of time, there's no way they shouldn't hold at least one championship in hand.
So wrestling companies have created an alternate logic, where if you lose a match that involves retrieving an object, or you lose a tag team match or a match with three or more participants and you're not the one to eat the pin or get forced to submit, or even if you get yourself disqualified in a match (especially if you're a heel), you're still technically undefeated. This allows a wrestler to avoid swallowing up everyone else's momentum, to lose title matches, or even to win and lose championships outright, without losing the allure of the question as to who will finally take them down.
- Meta example: it's not uncommon for new books to retcon or reinterpret statements made earlier in the series; for instance, "Fair Folk don't have Charms" became "Fair Folk don't have Charms as such, but they do have special powers that we're just going to call Charms." Freelancer Michael Goodwin explicitly said that "There are levels of Obi-Wan truth operating here." In fairness, nearly everything about the Fair Folk is a lie on some level, up to and including their physical appearance.
- In another rather similar case — "Infernals don't have Charms." What was really meant was, "Their patrons, the Yozi, have Charms, which the Infernals use by extension to exert their malefic will upon Creation." Not true anymore, either. Now Infernals can make their own personal Charms... by turning themselves into Neo-Yozi. So they still don't have Solar-style Charms, so to speak.
- This is one of the ways that Games Workshop explain differences in the millenia-old backstories that occur in Warhammer 40,000 materials over multiple editions. It usually boils down to "The old stories were mistranslated, corrupted by years of oral tradition, or outright lies planted by seditious agents of Chaos." Which sounds suspiciously like the way "out of character" explanations of Imperial dogma and propaganda sound, and most of the fluff is written from the viewpoint of Imperial scholars.
- In Dungeons & Dragons, devils, being lawful evil, see it as a point of pride to corrupt souls and spread wickedness without, technically, lying.
- In a line in Infernum, a succubus says, "I don't lie. I don't have to, you do it to yourselves."
- Othello: Instead of telling a flat-out lie, Iago often simply plays up everyone else's insecurities, creatively spotlights and phrases certain information, and lets them draw their own conclusions.
- There's a double example in Richard III. Richard is secretly behind the imprisonment of his brother George. Firstly because he has played up a wizardly prophecy that King Edward's sons would be disinherited by "G" (apparently George, Duke of Clarence; but really Richard, duke of Gloucester). And secondly in his promise of comfort to George: "I will deliver you, or else lie for you." The obvious meaning is that he will lie in prison in George's place; but the true meaning is that he will lie in wait for George's life.
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street:
Mrs. Lovett: No, I never lied. Said she took a poison — she did. Never said she died.
- H.M.S. Pinafore: In "Carefully On Tip-Toe Stealing", the strange noise was the cat. More specifically, the cat-o'-nine-tails the Captain can't stop himself from waving, in spite of knowing he has to stay hidden.
- The Mikado: The officials of the town assure the Mikado that a man has been executed, which is somewhat more than the truth. (Fortunately, for all concerned.) As one later explains:
Ko-Ko: It's like this: When your Majesty says, "Let a thing be done," it's as good as done — practically, it is done — because your Majesty's will is law. Your Majesty says, "Kill a gentleman," and a gentleman is told off to be killed. Consequently, that gentleman is as good as dead — practically, he is dead — and if he is dead, why not say so?
- Unintentional example: the slogans for the infamous Action Park can be seen as this.
"There's nothing in the world like Action Park!" (Nothing so poorly designed and regulated, that is.)
"The action never stops... at Action Park!" (If you consider "serious, perhaps lethal injury" to be "action", then yeah.)
- In Touhou canon, Cute Witch Marisa Kirisame notoriously steals books from the Scarlet Devil Mansion's library. She claims it's not stealing because all the inhabitants of the Scarlet Devil Mansion are youkai, who will live many times longer than her, and they can simply take the books back when she dies. She calls it "borrowing without permission". Luckily, the Youkai don't mind; or at least; don't mind beyond mind-boggling Bullet Hell duels; but that's standard operating procedure. It's also worth pointing out that while Marisa claims the youkai can have their books back when her human life ends, in some games' backstories it's mentioned that she's working on an Elixer of Life, to prolong her life without losing her humanity. Trust Marisa to pair a Metaphorically True with Loophole Abuse.
- In the Rogue Like game Ragnarok, an Amulet of Eternal Life turns you to stone. That makes a certain kind of mythic sense, but it's not "life" as we'd recognize it.
- Ancient Domains of Mystery, another Rogue Like, has the gauntlets of peace — and their artifact counterpart, the Gauntlets of Eternal Peace —, which make it almost impossible to hit anything while you're wearing them. The "peace" either means you can't kill anything, or you will die quickly and be at peace since (duh) Everything Is Trying To Kill You and you won't be able to fight back. Even better, the gauntlets are autocursing. At least they give you a moderate defense and armor boost while you search desperately for that scroll of uncursing.
- If you haven't played Knights of the Old Republic it wouldn't be much of a spoiler to say that you shouldn't fully trust anything that any Jedi has to say to you. Indeed, their self-serving tendencies of filtering truth through "certain points of view" is significantly responsible for their eventual downfall.
- In the first game, on the other hand, the only real example of this trope is Jolee's claim that "the Jedi left me" (and he doesn't consider himself a Jedi any more at this point). The other Jedi certainly do tell some outright lies, but don't continue to defend them as 'true' once they're exposed as lies.
- While the Jedi Truth is an important plot point in the first game, the second game takes it to the point of deconstruction with Kreia and the rest of the Council; almost everything a player may think they know about the background of this game has to pass the litmus test of "but did I hear that from Kreia?". Similarly, Atton is used as the writer's mouthpiece on that particular topic:
Atton: I'll tell you — all those Jedi at Malachor? They deserved [to die]. Every last one of them.
Exile: They did not deserve it. Why would you even say that?
Atton: Because Jedi lie. And they manipulate. And every act of charity or kindness they do, you can drag it out squirming into the light and see it for what it is. The galaxy doesn't need Jedi arrogance or Jedi hypocrisy anymore.
Exile: What do you mean?
Atton: At least the Sith are honest about what they're killing for. The Jedi are pacifists... except in times of war. They're teachers... except when it comes to telling their students the truth. And when they save you, it's only so you can suffer more.
- HK-47 gets in on it too, if you ask him about how many Jedi he's killed during the Jedi Civil War:
HK-47: I have found many Jedi to be arrogant practitioners of pacifism when it is convenient for them. Also, their tendency to never directly answer a question is rather annoying.
- Further twisted with Kreia, in that she only claims to always speak the truth. You can call her out on the fact that she could be lying about not lying, and she is proud that you noticed without really discussing the point further. Most fan interpretations are built on which parts of Kreia's speeches are true, half-true, and outright false.
- The World Ends with You:
- A rare positive version courtesy of Another Centurys Episode: When it was announced that the Playstation 3 installment would be limited to three mecha per series, fans were upset - until the game's director posted on his blog, revealing that Mid-Season Upgrades and Mecha Expansion Packs would fall under the heading of their base machine and therefore only count as one, meaning they can fit in more playables while still maintaining the whole "three per series" idea.
- Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia has Death's Ring, which massively increases your stats and whose description is "One hit kills instantly." It is indeed true. Take one hit and you will instantly die.
- In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, one of Vivec's stories of his involvement in the death of Nerevar indicates that the official Temple stance of it not being his fault is a literal Half Truth: Vehk the God was not to blame, but Vehk the Mortal is. Since Vivec ("V'vehk") is both of those...
- In Skies of Arcadia, Belleza befriends the protagonists, who take her with them to Temple of Pyrynn to find the Red Moon Crystal. She gains their trust by telling them a sad story about herself: that her father was a sailor who was killed in the Valua-Nasr war, and she was left orphaned and with a hatred of war. This much is true. What she did not mention at that point is that her father was a Valuan sailor, not Nasrean, and she is in fact an admiral of the Valuan Armada. Her hatred of war was also not a lie; she believes that Valuan hegemony will bring stability and end war.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, Guybrush is told that Blood Island is the place where he will die. After drinking alcohol mixed with medicine, he goes into a coma-like state for a few hours. It doesn't actually kill him, but it is enough for the island to document him as legally dead (at least twice). The official explanation is that he does die, but because it's a family-friendly LucasArts adventure game, he recovers.
- Angels in Might and Magic: Heroes VI are incapable of lying, but they are capable of deception by not telling you all of the truth. Kiril learns this the hard way when he agrees to accompany the angel Sarah on her pilgrimage through hell as her protecter, and ends up imprisoned in hell as a result; Sarah decided that the best way for Kiril to protect her is by her selling his soul, without his consent, to the demon sovereign Kha-Beleth in exchange for safe passage through his realm.
Sarah: I never lied to you, but certain truths had to be ignored to set Elrath's will in motion. Forgive me.
- Hilariously subverted in Might and Magic X, which takes place in the aftermath of Heroes VI: the intro highlights this aspect (as well as certain related tropes) of angels, and then at the end of the expansion (which acts as an additional chapter to the game) you meet a scheming angel responsible for a fair chunk of your troubles... who turns out to be quite bad at this, flubbing her attempts and making it obvious to everyone around her what's really going on. Her schemes only worked because she was working with a human who, being human, could straight-up lie.
- The bulk of Niko's phony resume for Goldberg, Ligner, and Shyster in Grand Theft Auto IV — although there are several outright lies to puff up his credentials, most of it is composed of statements that are technically true, but either worded so vaguely that they're meaningless or deliberately framed in a misleading matter.
- Fallout: New Vegas:
The King: Near as I can tell, [this building] was some sort of religious institution. Oh, I know it says "school" out front, but everything in here seems to be related to the worship of some guy from back in the day. People used to come here to learn about him, to dress like him, to move like him. To BE him. If that's not worship, I don't know what is.
- Coming up to the reveal, Capcom had said that the 5th character for Ultra Street Fighter IV had never appeared in a Street Fighter game before. Decapre had actually appeared in a cutscene for Street Fighter Alpha 3, and looks and plays similarly to Cammy, but otherwise she's never been playable before, meaning that Capcom wasn't lying for the most part.
- In The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the game tells you that the environment in which the final boss is faced disables your Sword Beam. The attack still works. The grain of truth is that it's not the same one you've been using all game.
- Mass Effect 3: The developer claims that its conclusion "has provoked a bigger fan reaction than any other video games' conclusion in history." It's true. They fail to mention, however, that it was a hugely negative reaction.
- At the beginning of Jurassic Park The Game, when Nima Cruz and Miles Chadwick need to trek further into Isla Nublar to make contact with Denis Nedry and suddenly come across a huge electric fence, Nima, unaware of what InGen has been doing lately, expresses surprise at such a structure having been built on the island. Miles tells Nima that the place is "kind of like a zoo" with "all sorts of animals". Of course, if they had just looked a few meters to the right, they would have seen that the zoo pen they have just come across belongs to Dilophosaurus.
- In Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), Mephilis tells Silver that Sonic is the Iblis trigger, and therefore the cause of Silver's current Bad Future. After being warped back in time by Mephilis, Silver tries to kill Sonic to prevent his Bad Future from ever occuring. However, it is Sonic's death that is the event that causes Iblis' awakening in the first place.
- In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice for All, Phoenix is told "I never killed anyone". That's not a lie, but the person saying it did hire an assassin to commit the murder. This is almost a case of Suspiciously Specific Denial: Although the real killer was a sociopath who genuinely thought that hiring someone to commit a murder meant he didn't kill anyone. It's implied that, had said person believed that he genuinely was responsible for the victim's murder, that the locks would have appeared. It's the fact that he himself believed the statement of "I never killed anyone" to be true.
- In Umineko no Naku Koro ni, the Red Truth can be twisted in this manner. Like how in EP 2 Kanon was confirmed to have died in a locked room, despite his body not being there. The truth is that, Kanon as a real person never existed and was insted just a character and role that Yasu played. Kanon could therefore be "killed" without leaving a body just like an author killing of one of his characters. In other words, since Yasu was still alive no body was left behind in the room while his/her role Kanon was "killed" and therefore allowing the that red truth to be used.
- Might as well be named "Kirei Truth" after the I-tell-no-direct-lies priest from Fate/stay night. Spending 3 routes while only telling one direct lie (which is a joke, and he's instantly called out on it) while still manipulating the protagonist and turning out to be the Big Bad in two routes and The Dragon in a third? Yeah, he's very good at this.
- Yandere Chan has the main character (slowly dying from poison; all his friends have already succumb to its effects) try to make Mia give away her motivation with the condition that if he can prove she lied, she'll tell all. She reveals that she never lied. All of her lines had been half-truths which led him to make conclusions, so technically, she was entirely truthful.
- In an episode of GEOWeasel, Weas says that burying dead bodies in a landfill is helping out the environment, immediately adding "...in a way."
- A proverb about "the blind men and the elephant", where each man touches a different part of the elephant and declares that he knows its true form, comes from India (it's known from written sources dating back at least seven hundred years).
- During the Battle of Copenhagen, in order to ignore a recall signal from his senior officer, Lord Admiral Horatio Nelson held a spyglass to his near-blind eye, and reported, "I really do not see the signal." This is suspected to be where the saying "To turn a blind eye" comes from.
- Hugo Boss made uniforms for the SS. This is true. However, for most people this conjures up an image of a large fashion house aiding the most evil regime of all time. This is not true. In 1936, Hugo Boss was a fairly small family-run business whose main source of income was making uniforms for the German Postal Service, that just happened to land a highly lucrative government contract.
- It is true that Fanta was invented in Nazi Germany. However, it is not true that Fanta was invented by Nazi Germany, as in following some order or plan envisioned by the Nazi government, as it is often reported.
- "I did not have sexual relations with that woman." — Bill Clinton (See Technical Virgin)
- "The government does not torture people" — George W. Bush (See Enhanced Interrogation Techniques)
- A large number of proposition bets used by grifters can be solved by looking very carefully at the wording. For example, "I bet you that I can take a brand new deck of cards, make the ace jump out of the pack and fly across the room, then write your name on your forehead." If you hear this said aloud, most people assume that the ace will do all of the actions listed. Looking more carefully at the syntax of the sentence reveals that the actions can be done by the person making the bet rather than by the ace. (Incidentally, the usual way to win the bet is to flick the ace up from the bottom of the pack — where it usually is in most new, unshuffled decks — catch it, throw it across the room, and then take a pen to write the person's name on their forehead.)
- Politics as a whole can rest on this; for example, take this example of a British MP claiming that his party had not broken an election promise, as the law would not take effect until after the next election (but was voted on comfortably three years into Parliament).
- There's a free picture that comes on some iPod Touches that says "I didn't slap you, I high-fived your face." Technically true, since in a high-five only one hand needs to be involved.
- A billboard for Rebecca Black touted that her Friday video had over 100 million views on YouTube, trying to make it look like she was popular. While the part about the views is true, most of the people who watched it clicked the dislike button. In fact, this is a truism for any kind of measure based solely on views, including Nielsen ratings and box-office receipts. Just because people watch something doesn't mean they like it.
- A senior producer at EA-Maxis commented on the somewhat rocky launch of the 2013 SimCity, stating "What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn't want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join." While it may have been technically true that players that got in were indeed playing the game that they just bought (whod've thunk?), it glossed over the fact that the major source of complaints was the need to log onto a cloud server in order to play what was, ostensibly, a single-player game in the first place; let alone having set up servers with a population cap (either due to hardware limitations or software issues) that was estimated to be between as much as twenty to as little as five percent of even the number of users that preordered, let alone day-one purchases on top of that.
- An old, possibly apocryphal story about underage soldiers in the The American Civil War says that when they went to join up, many of them would write "18" on a piece of paper and stick it in their shoe. When the recruiter asked how old they were, they could join without having lied, as they were "over 18." The same story is told in most of Europe in regards to soldiers signing up in WWI and WWII.
- The Other Wiki has an article on this sort of deception, mostly on the history of those who, for religious reasons, employed it as the result of being technically unwilling to lie.
- In campaign speech in 1988, George H.W. Bush pledged that if Congress wanted to raise taxes, he would tell them: "Read my lips: no new taxes". He was elected and true to his word, there were no new taxes... but the population of the US got very irate over the fact that he raised all of the existing taxes.
- An old standby for people making a journey — "We're not lost; I know exactly where we are..." This is related to No, Except Yes and Insistent Terminology.
- Before being revealed as Watergate scandal source Deep Throat, W. Mark Felt stated "I never leaked information to Woodward and Bernstein or anyone else!" This is actually logically true; since he met only with Bob Woodward, he could not have met with Woodward AND anyone.
- When feature development for MechWarrior Living Legends, a Crysis Wars mod was forcibly shut down after the release of update 0.7.0, the newer, competing Mechwarrior Online developers almost immediately stated "They agreed to shut down by mutual agreement!"
- Pete Best, annoyed at the royalties his former bandmates and their imitators were getting, once released an album called "Best of The Beatles". When people complained (it was all original music) and talked about lawsuits, he pointed out the technical truth of the name: "[Pete] Best [formerly] of The Beatles".
- This is how the DHMO hoax works.
- In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held unanimously in Bronston v. United States that sworn testimony that is "literally truthful but technically misleading" cannot be prosecuted as perjury. The prescribed remedy, instead, is more adroit and specific followup questions by the examining lawyer.
- Cryptic crossword puzzles have clues that only make sense when read in a highly constrained manner, typically involving wordplay, anagrams, and the like. The Other Wiki has the details.
- When Mila Kunis was asked how old she was when auditioning for That '70s Show, she replied that she'd turn eighteen on her birthday. Which of course, was true, but it wasn't her next birthday. They felt the response was in character and cast her even though they were looking for someone older to play a high schooler.
- Back before railroads had crossing gates, they had actual flagmen who would stand at an intersection and swing a lantern to warn approaching traffic of the train. In a lawsuit over damage and injuries due to a collision at night. The flagman, who might have been intoxicated at the time, testified that he did swing his lamp to try and warn the approaching motorist. This may or may not have been true, but he failed to mention that his lamp was not lit.