Santa: How did you know [...]?
Junpei: Well... that's...
The answer to that was easy: he knew because I knew.The presence of a narrator in some form is one of the most fundamental tropes, but that doesn't stop writers from having some fun with it. For the purposes of this trope, the narrator is an in-story character, but their exact identity is kept obscured from the audience until the closing moments of the tale, where they dramatically reveal, implicitly or otherwise, that they had a role in the action, and a vested interest in the story's outcome. In fact, it might be why they're relating the story to you in the first place. Note that this only applies when the narrator's identity is a form of Tomato Surprise. Many stories openly acknowledge the narrator's identity as an in-story character from the very beginning, and are not examples of this trope. This is especially likely to happen in fictional film and television works made after, say, 1990. Since the camera itself is usually omniscient, having an omniscient independent narrator on top of it seems to be frowned on by scriptwriters, even when one might be useful. So the filmmakers have what sounds like an omniscient narrator, and then flippantly ID the character in the last pre-credits reel. In video games, it is likely the narrator was the Final Boss themselves should this trope kicks in. Related to the Literary Agent Hypothesis. Can overlap with Unreliable Narrator. If the story is being told to another character in-universe, it's ...And That Little Girl Was Me. Compare Unseen Audience, Nostalgic Narrator, I Should Write a Book About This and Delayed Narrator Introduction. Warning: Unmarked spoilers ahead.
—Narrator, Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors
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Anime and Manga
- The finale of Digimon Adventure 02 shows that the entire season (and possibly the previous one) was Takeru writing his novels. This has apparently raised a few questions as to how he managed to get some of the details, so some fans just say the last episode was his book. (The info that he was writing the book however was given in the 25 years later epilogue.)
- The Opening Narrations of each episode of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are narrated by a 41-year-old Simon, a fact revealed at the very end of the last episode.
- Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water has one, possibly two of these. A sixteen-year-old Marie is revealed to be the narrator of the entire series at the very end of the last episode. The English-language trailers imply another narrator in their voiceover: An elderly-sounding woman who is addressed as "Grandma" by a child offers to tell the story, and might possibly be Nadia herself.note
- Berserk (1997) has the Opening Narration and On the Next for each episode delivered by a deep, sinister voice, which is revealed in the final episodes to belong to Void, the de facto leader of the Godhand before Griffith.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood pulls something similar to Berserk (1997) as its opening narration is delivered by the Big Bad, Father.
- In Gundam Unicorn, it's heavily implied that Syam Vist, who shares his voice actor with the narrator from the original Mobile Suit Gundam actually is the narrator from the original Mobile Suit Gundam.
- Another villain example (and an odd example of this) is in Gankutsuou. The opening narration is done by the same actor as the one voicing the Count, who he refers to as "my friend". At first you might think that the narrator is supposed to be Alexandre Dumas (especially since in the sub, the narration is delivered in French), but it eventually becomes clear that the narrator is actually the titular Gankutsuou, the evil split personality of/demon possessing the Count.
- In YuYu Hakusho it is discovered in the last episodes, although hinted at shortly before, that Koenma's ogre assistant George was the narrator of the show- quite literally, since it is revealed that the show itself is the records of the protagonists' adventures that Koenma kept (hence the title, which, while using the original Japanese name, is nonetheless translated by Funimation as "Ghost Files").
- The first couple of episodes of Durarara!! are narrated by an unidentified female voice. Only at the end of the second do we learn that it was the Headless Rider, whose gender had been somewhat unclear to the audience, all along.
- It's worth noting that, being headless, she never actually talks in-universe, rather she communicates by typing things out on her phone which is accompanied with a voice over.
- The first Light Novel of Baccano! starts with an immortal bespectacled conta e oro telling a Japanese tourist about his past. Despite the physical and occupational descriptors, it's actually Firo, not Maiza, telling the story. He has taken to Purely Aesthetic Glasses after being promoted some thirty years ago.
- In Claudine, the story is narrated by Claudine's therapist. Claudine himself died several years ago.
- In Hyouka, a version of this, turning on the cameraman rather than a narrator, is Oreki's deduction of how the student-made murder mystery film was supposed to end. As a way to resolve the film as shot on time and under budget, it was brilliant; too bad that wasn't what he was trying to do.
- In the final chapter of PandoraHearts, it is heavily hinted that Gilbert, having survived for another 100 years until Oz and Alice are reincarnated again, is the narrator of the story all along.
- Episode three of Sasami-san@Ganbaranai begins with Sasami re-imagining the Hare of Inaba folktale as we're treated to visuals of her as the "rabbit." This would appear to be an aesthetic choice, if Sasami weren't repeatedly praising of the rabbit for its cuteness and intelligence.
- The narrator in the The World is Still Beautiful anime? It's Nike's grandmother.
- The Mega Evolution specials of Pokemon XY are all narrated by the same male voice. Only in the second episode do we find out it's actually a character... Big Bad Lysandre. Interestingly, he was already present twice in-universe in the first episode: he first speaks on Alain's Holo Caster without being shown nor named, and is later shown but silent. The second episode, in which he finally gets a credited speaking role, revealed him as both the narrator and as Alain's mysterious interlocutor.
- Peter Milligan's Enigma ends with the snarky narrator being revealed as a talking lizard (an offhand creation by the title character) trying to tell the story to a group of ordinary lizards.
- Milligan also kind of did this in one of the issues of Shade, the Changing Man. The text is written in the second person, but in the end, one of the characters says that he'll write down what happened, but write it as a comic, put it in the second person and put it under some weird pen name, like say, Peter Milligan.
- One issue during Marvel's Civil War event revealed that the narrator all along had been Sue Storm, following Iron Man around invisibly, partly as a spy, partly waiting for a chance to try and talk some sense into him. She also points out that she could have killed him easily at pretty much any point.
- The My Little Pony: Equestria Girls comic reveals at its very end that the narrator for the second half turned out to be Sunset Shimmer.
- One Spider-Man comic retelling his origin presents the story from an outside narrator's perspective only for it to turn out to be Peter near the end.
- The last battle of Asgard at the end of everything (Ragnarök!) in issue #16 of Loki: Agent of Asgard turns out to be narrated by ... well enjoy the meta:
Narration: "...until the sky-fire stole midgard and her twin, burned both and ended all." *next page* "All save this telling. All save the teller— he who is Moon-King, trickster, wanderer, free and unfettered... Loki his name. Would you know more?" *and at this point Loki stopped narrating and pocketed the story*
- In Burning Stickman: The Prototype, a Mega Man fanfiction, a side story to Something! written as a recorded memoir narrated by Proto Man, reveals in the last few lines that the professor to whom the two students brought the laptop in the first place is none other than the eponymous prototype himself.
- In Death Note II The Hidden Note,it's revealed in the final chapter that the story has been told to us by three Shinigami: Ryuk, Arik and Ruoma.
- In the One Piece deconstruction fic Marie D. Suesse and the Mystery New Pirate Age!, the main villain, a Trafalgar Law-crazed Mary Sue, derails the OP world. The omniscient Lemony Narrator telling the story of how the world was eventually fixed turns out to be Trafalgar Law himself.
- The narrator of Pokédex turns out to be Arceus himself.
- Appledashery is mostly told in the third person but is shown in brief first-person interludes to be chronicled by an in-universe character familiar with the protagonist. It's not clear who until, in one of the main (up to this point) third-person chapters, the Cutie Mark Crusaders enter the scene and the narration suddenly switches to "I" after Scootaloo is addressed, although this is admittedly not a particularly shocking or critical reveal (and occurs relatively early in the Doorstopper).
- The tongue-in-cheek Zero Wing fanfic Wings of the Zero ends with the reveal that CATS is the narrator, and his side won the war.
- The Perfect Little Village of Ponyville has two narrators, one talking in black text and insisting that this backstory is how the world has always been—and an actually objective, disembodied narrator who talks in blue text and reveals that something has gone very wrong. Eventually, Vinyl Scratch figures out that the entire story is a dream, and Twilight Sparkle is the dreamer. At that point, the black text narrator starts referring to Twilight in first person and arguing directly with Vinyl, completely giving herself away.
Films — Animation
- A meta example with Aladdin, in which Genie was supposed to have been the narrator. Fans picked up on the obvious clues (e.g. both are voiced by the great Robin Williams and have the same number of fingers on each hand) and kept believing it for years until the creators confirmed in 2015 that yes, Genie and the peddler in the opening scene are indeed one and the same.
- In The Book of Life, the film is set up as a story that a museum tour guide is telling to some kids on a field trip with the help of a creepy old security guard. At the end of the film, when they finish the story the tour guide and security guard reveal themselves to be La Muerte and Xibalba, retelling the story so that the characters will be remembered by someone and be allowed to rest in the underworld.
- In El Cid, the movie opens and closes with an voiceover revealed at the end to be a much older Alfonso, as Alfonso VI the Brave, King of León and Castile, who is retelling El Cid's legend and how he learned his lesson of honor.
Films — Live-Action
- A variation of this trope appears in the Denzel Washington movie Fallen. You're supposed to think the narrator is the hero recounting his adventure, until the ending reveals that it's actually the body-possessing demon Azazel, with the movie really being the story of how the hero ALMOST outwitted him.
- At the end of the Mad Max film The Road Warrior, the narrator turns out to be the feral boy whom Max saved who, according to the ending narration, learned how to talk from the people he's leaving with.
- In Fried Green Tomatoes, Kathy Bates' character hears most of the story through an old woman's narration. She spends much of the end of the film trying to guess which character the old woman was.
- In Chocolat, the narrator turned out to be the daughter.
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ends with the revelation that the narrator, who we think is Willie Wonka's father (played by Christopher Lee), is one of the Ooompa-Loompas.
- The final scene of The Cat in The Hat reveals that the narrator is actually The Cat himself using a voice-modulator from his hat.
- The Last Broadcast has the narrator obvious all along do the documentary style. The twist is that he was the murderer in the case the documentary is about.
- Primer has hooded Aaron revealed as the narrator at the end, leaving a voicemail to an alternate version of himself, or the newest version of Abe—it's hard to figure out by way of being Mr. Exposition. Not that it's terribly obvious...
- In the very last scene, Braveheart turns out to be narrated by The Atoner. Also, he has the most badass sword short of giving it a name.
- The 1973/1974 film adaption of The Three Musketeers reveals at the very end that Aramis was doing the voice-overs all along.
- In The Water Horse, the old man telling the story to two tourists is revealed to be the young boy in the story.
- In the 1942 film Jungle Book, the old man telling the story to the European tourists turns out to be the main villain of the story—the hunter who harassed Mowgli, almost killed his mother, and nearly burned down the forest.
- A variation occurs in Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line: significant portions of the voiceover cannot be attributed to any of the major characters, and the end shows them to come from the mind of Pvt. Train, a minor character unseen for most of the film.
- In Sucker Punch, the audience is led to believe that Babydoll is the main character. Eventually, it's revealed that the real main character and the person narrating the movie is Sweet Pea.
- At the end of Maleficent, the narrator is revealed to be Aurora, who now rules as The High Queen of the human kingdom and the Moors.
- In Life Is Beautiful, the narrator turns out to be the son.
- The narrator and main character of Fight Club and Tyler Durden are one and the same.
- At the end of James and the Giant Peach, we learn that the narrator at the beginning is the same strange man who gave James the "crocodile tongues" that led to the creation of the Peach and transformation of the bugs.
- In the Agatha Christie novel The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, the two key things about the narrator are his identity and his being the murderer. In the book, you know the former from the start, the latter being The Reveal; the TV adaptation reverses this, with the Framing Device of Hercule Poirot reading the journal (so excerpts are read in his voice).
- Played for Laughs as early as The Story of the Treasure Seekers by E. Nesbit in 1899. The narrator keeps praising one of the main characters as being so clever and brave, and how it isn't his fault when things go wrong. Then the narrator begins forgetting to use the grammatical third person...
- In "The Storyteller"'s first chapter, a child begs someone for a story, and thus begins the tale of 'Jack storyteller' at the end, the child thanks Grandpa Jack for the story, declining to ask Grandma (name of the woman Jack marries in the story) if it's true, stating " I believe you."
- In John Varley's Millennium (the book, but not the film of the book), the narrator is assumed to be the Big Computer, but reveals himself to be God.
- There was a story in EQMM not too long ago that had the structure: It opened with the narrator in prison trying to figure out where things went wrong. The narrator had fallen for a neighbor's wife, and had been manipulated into killing said neighbor. The narrator then recounted the events of a few months previous, but told them in the third person "to keep the account neutral". At the end, the story revealed which character was the narrator.
- An in-story example occurs in What Katie Did. Katie's cousin tells some mawkish/inspirational story about an unnamed girl, and lets slip toward the end that she [the cousin] was the girl.
- The BFG by Roald Dahl uses this, where the narrator is the BFG himself.
- The end of James and the Giant Peach (also by Roald Dahl) reveals that it was written by James himself.
- In Tom Robbins's Another Roadside Attraction, the narrator reveals that he's Marx Marvelous, aka Tom Robbins. An unusual case, as it is revealed halfway through the book.
- In Fred Saberhagen's The Holmes-Dracula File, chapters alternate between Sherlock Holmes' side of the story, told as usual in the first person by Dr Watson, and Count Dracula's story, in the third person. Several chapters in, the narrator of the alternate chapters admits to the reader that he is Dracula, and switches to the first person.
- The Redwall series does this a lot, where the story is framed as being told to someone else, and the narrator is either someone directly involved with the tale, or closely related to/descended from a main character in the plot.
- The God Game might be an example. There are at least two voices that tell the story, the main character and the 'author'. I have a vague recollection of a third voice, but the book is in another state and I can't verify.
- Mawhrin-Skel /Flere-Imsaho in The Player of Games.
- At the end of The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, the narrator finally reveals himself to be The Shadow. It makes perfect sense and it's awesome.
- In The House of My Enemy is one of the short stories in Charles de Lint's Newford series. The narrator appears to be the new character Annie, but in the end is revealed to be the recurring character Jilly.
- In the end of Albert Camus' The Plague, it is revealed that the main character was the narrator all along.
- Mark Twain's first published story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, is about how a man rigged a jumping frog competition. At the end the narrator beats a hasty retreat after he is recognized by someone, implying that the narrator is the man in the story, still on the lam.
- The final sentence of the Mortal Engines quartet is the same as the very first, revealing the narrator to be Shrike.
- In Jorge Luis Borges's short story The Form of the Sword (also translated The Shape of the Sword), a narrator tells how he was in an Irish revolutionary movement but betrayed to the police by a comrade, who he portrays as a weakling and a coward who lacked the courage of his convictions. Guess what is revealed at the end.
- In A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket at first appears to be a standard-issue third-person omniscient narrator, but over the course of the series (in particular, through paratexts like the dedications and "in the next volume..." teasers), he gradually reveals more and more information about how he himself is involved in the story. Not all the questions raised by his hints are answered in the series, but by the end it's pretty clear that he was the third sibling of Jacques and Kit Snicket, a member of the VFD before the schism (and almost certainly on the opposite side to the Baudelaires), and the lover of Mrs Baudelaire before she got married. Though, really, that just raises further questions...
- In the Robert Bloch short story "The Yugoslaves", the narrator is an old man trying to catch up with some street urchins who've picked his pocket. On the last page, we learn that the narrator is a vampire. Another Bloch story, "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper" twists when you learn the narrator's identity in the final lines.
- Yunior is revealed to be the main narrator of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao about a third of the way through the book.
- Irvine Welsh's novel Filth appears to have four narrators: the main character Bruce Robertson, a crooked, racist, misogynistic, manipulative, and promiscuous policeman; his estranged wife Carole, whose chapters are written in bold; the unnamed murderer, whose crime Bruce is investigating, and whose only chapter is also written in bold; and an unusually self-aware tapeworm living in Bruce's intestines, whose narrations are inside tube-like structures that interrupt Bruce's narrations in some places. In the end it turns out that the "Carole" chapters are in fact narrated by Bruce wearing her clothes and make-up as a way of coping with their separation. What is more, the "murderer" was also Bruce dressed as Carole and the victim was the man who had had an affair with the real Carole.
- In the first Arsène Lupin story, the narrator is Lupin himself.
- In Bad Day in Blackrock by Kevin Power, in the closing pages it is revealed that the narrator is the brother of the young man killed in the course of the story.
- Piers Anthony's Firefly has a story within a story example, and quite an unpleasant one. One character has a talent for writing, but her stories always somehow involve both sexual awakening and tragic death. The story that turns out to be hers is the most shocking of the lot—sexually abused by both her father and her brother, she found comfort in the arms of a man she'd only just met—at six years old. He was caught, put in prison, and knifed by an inmate who hated child molesters, and she blames herself for his death.
- From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler starts as a third-person account of two kids who hide in a museum, but eventually leads to a mystery, which the narrator is intimately involved with.
- Played with in The Blind Assassin, where it is not completely clear until the end which of the two central sisters is the narrator.
- In the novel Soglyadatay (translated as The Eye) by Vladimir Nabokov, it turns out that the narrator is Smurov himself, who has serious problems with detachment from his own identity. He's a compulsive liar and has a driving desire to observe himself from the outside. Possibly his disassociation was brought on by being a closeted homosexual.
- In Marilyn French's The Womens Room, the narrator is revealed to be Mira. We don't find this out until the last two or three pages of the book, after she explains what happened to all the other members of the group.
- In the Book of the Long Sun, the narrator appears to be in the omniscient, third-person. Half-way through the fourth and final volume it is revealed that the narrator is actually Horn, one of the students of the protagonist, who has a very limited perspective on events.
- The Gospel According to St John in The Bible makes this Older Than Feudalism - sort of. We do know that John was writing from his own experiences, but he narrates it in omniscient third-person voice so that you could almost forget he was there for the events he describes until right at the end, when he confirms that the unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved" was his way of referring to himself.
- Sort of inverted in the first book of The Stormlight Archive. The character Dalinar has periodic visions of ancient history narrated to him by an unknown presence. At the end of the book he has two revelations: the narrator's identity (the God of his religion) and that he is not actually narrating to him, it's just an anonymous recording like a message in a bottle, because he's already dead. So in this case a narrator that was thought to play a direct role in the story is revealed not to.
- Jill Paton Walsh's The Green Book is told in first person - but only in first person plural - and while much of the story focuses on the character of Pattie, it's only vaguely implied who the actual narrator is until the last few pages... when it becomes clear that Pattie is narrating, referring to herself in third person, and that the whole story is what she has written in her eponymous green book, the only book she possesses after she and her family left Earth That Was.
- The last lines of The Last Guardian reveal that the narrator of the entire series is Holly, telling the stories to an amnesiac Artemis to help jog his memory.
- Though it's possible that she's just reciting from Argon's case file, as that was the Framing Device for the first book.
- In Go, Mutants!, the narrator turns out to be the protagonist, J!m's, father, previously believed to be dead.
- In The Night Circus, the narrator turns out to be Widget, which makes sense given his abilities.
- In The Stone Canal, part of Ken MacLeod's Fall Revolution series, the odd chapters are about (amongst other things) a man called Jon Wilde being cloned by a robot with his personality called Jay-Dub. The even chapters are Wilde's memoir. It's not until chapter 18 that it becomes clear the Wilde narrating the even chapters is the robot, not the clone.
- The Power of Five: Holly, at the end of Oblivion.
- In The Wandering, the Storyteller is hinted to be the main character Neshi in the story he tells.
- As of the final Skulduggery Pleasant book, Valkyrie turns out to be the narrator, explaining her story to an innocent man who got accidentally caught up in a scheme to kill her.
- The end of Eric, or Little by Little reveals that the narrator was a schoolmate of Eric and his friends. However there were no hints beforehand and it isn't revealed like a twist so it just may be poor writing.
- Played With in Fight Club. The Plot Twist is that Tyler Durden reveals himself to be a split personality of the Narrator's. While the Narrator himself didn't learn this until late in the game. Really though, it'd be bigger twist if you didn't already know that.
- A short story that appeared in Dragon has a narrator recruit and accompany a group of heroes to break into a dragon's lair. When they succeed, the narrator reveals himself to be the dragon under a polymorph spell. He thanks the heroes for testing out his defenses and promptly kills them all.
- The narrator of The Malazan Book of the Fallen is finally revealed to be the Crippled God.
- The Community episode "Advanced Dungeons and Dragons" ends with the reveal that the narrator is a random cleaning lady. Naturally, it's Played for Laughs.
- Doctor Who: At the end of part 1 of "The End of Time", the narrator (played by Timothy Dalton) is revealed to be Rassilon, Lord President of the Time Lords.
- An episode of The Dukes of Hazzard has the Dukes meet the narrator and tell him their adventures.
- Beginning of the 11th episode of Flash Forward. "This window washer was me."
- In Galavant, the Jester is revealed at the end of the first episode to be the Narrator of the series.
- In the final episode of the Shakespearian adaptation series The Hollow Crown - Henry V - there's a young boy present in some scenes accompanying the lower-class characters. The play is also narrated by John Hurt. At the end, we learn that Hurt's character is an older version of the boy.
- Parodied in The Office (US), at the end of the episode "Threat Level Midnight". At the end of the film within a film, it's revealed that the narrator (who speaks with Stanley's voice) was actually Michael "Scarn" all along.
- That Mitchell and Webb Look: "But he bowled a wide and became a drunk- that is, I bowled a wide and became a drunk."
- "Indian Summer" by Brooks & Dunn tells the story of a girl who sleeps with a football player after a big game, and is compelled to drop out of high school and move away by the resulting gossip. After explaining this, the narrator reveals that he's the football player, and implies that he feels guilty for his part in what happened.
- "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia" by Vicki Lawrence or Reba McEntire, where the protagonist is wrongly convicted of murder. The narrator reveals partway through the song that she's the protagonist's sister, and then in the last verse reveals that she's the murderer.
- "Victim of the Game" by Garth Brooks appears to be the narrator's I Warned You to a friend, but turns out to be a Mirror Monologue.
- "Buy Me a Rose" by Kenny Rogers. The narrator tells the story of a man who is overworked to the detriment of spending time with and doing things for his wife. The narrator then says "This is a story of you and me" and promises to do better in the future. (The Title Drop request changes in the last chorus to "I bought you a rose.")
- "Stupid Boy" calls out the person the song is addressed to for mistreating his love interest. Keith Urban's ad-libs at the end of the song ("I'm the same old stupid boy", "I'm sorry, baby") present the narrator as condemning himself for behavior he now regrets. Without these lines, the speaker could be a third party (which was probably the original intent: the song was written and first recorded by a woman).
- "Maybe He'll Notice Her Now", by Mindy McCready and Richie McDonald: The story is about a woman who leaves her man behind, taking a painting off the wall and leaving a note for him in its place. This leads into the chorus "Maybe he'll notice her now / Maybe he'll open his eyes / Sometimes it takes somebody leaving / For a man to realize..." At the end, after he calls and apologizes, Mindy ends the final chorus with "I'm coming home / Maybe you'll notice me now".
- Avril Lavigne's "Sk8erboi", starts as a third person song about a failed love affair between a snobby girl and a poor boy who went on to become rich and famous, then switches to first person to reveal the girl lost her chance because the boy is now happily shacked up with the narrator.
- Metallica's "The Unforgiven", which actually includes the line "that old man here is me" near the end.
- In the spoken-word song "The Deck of Cards" by Wink Martindale, the narrator tells the tale of a soldier who faces punishment for apparently playing cards during the regiment's church service. The man proceeds to explain to the provost marshal why he had the cards: each card, from ace to king, reminds him of some aspect of The Bible ("When I see the King, it reminds me that there is but one King of Heaven, God Almighty") while the number of cards, suits, face-cards, etc. serve him as a calendar and almanac. The song ends with the narrator assuring the listener that the story is true, because "I was that soldier."
- "Underdog" by The Lost Trailers. The first two times around, the chorus mentions "The shy kid who gets the prom queen / Who's never been the star of anything / And those two lovers hitched at city hall / They've got each other, so they've got it all..." In the final chorus, these lines become "A guy like me could get the prom queen / I've never been the star of anything / We were two lovers hitched at city hall / We still got each other, so we got it all..."
- An incredibly catchy Songs and Stories of the Justice League of America song dedicated to Metamorpho ends with the lament that he'd give it all up if he could just be Rex Mason again. He knows, you see, 'cause he is the element maaan! (Metamorpho! Metamorpho!)
- Happened on a meta level with Janis Joplin and Me and Bobby McGee. For many people, the realization that Joplin was actually Bobby McGee, and the narrator the song's writer Kris Kristoffersen, did not happen until well after Joplin's death.
- Subverted in Randy Travis's Three Wooden Crosses where a preacher is telling the story of "A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher" where a crash leaves "three wooden crosses". It sounds like the preacher would be the survivor telling the story, but he's actually the son of the hooker, who received the initial preacher's bloodstained Bible and raised her son by it.
- One of the many stage adaptations of A Christmas Carol ends with the narrator revealing himself to be Tiny Tim, all grown up and perfectly healthy.
- Ōkami: The narrator heavily implies he's Issun in the role of celestial envoy; presumably many years down the road, given the change in voice tone.
- Ōkamiden does the same thing but this time around, it is an older Kuni.
- World in Conflict is narrated by Lt. Parker, whose identity is carefully maintained ambiguous e.g. by always obscuring his face. It is not until the final mission briefing that we get indication that the narrator is indeed him (Webb addresses the narrator as Parker). Similarly, the Soviet Assault is probably narrated by Romanov.
- Almost this in Final Fantasy Tactics: You learn the name of the narrator during the opening sequence, but it's only during the ending do you learn that he's Orran's grandson.
- Bastion: "Sure enough, he finds another. He finds me."
- The reveal that the narrator is a character in the story comes fairly early. But the circumstances of the narration are revealed just before the end and are a bit more of a twist: he is recounting the story to Zia while they wait for the main character to return from the final level.
- God of War. We've been hearing The Narrator talk for 1½ games before she ever says "I" and comes into the story in her own right. It's Gaia, one of the Titans.
- In Age of Empires II's Barbarossa campaign, a man in a tavern is telling the story of Frederick Barbarossa, and at the end, mentions that with Barbarossa gone, no one was stopping Henry the Lion from returning to the empire. And then he says: "But I am an old man now. What harm could I possibly do?", revealing himself to be Henry the Lion.
- The El Cid campaign is narrated by a woman you met in the Valencia market, who quickly turns out to be the titular character's widow. And while it's not directly this trope, the narrator of the Attila the Hun campaign, who became a priest, reveals at the end that he still misses the thrill of battle. Age of Empires likes playing with its narrators.
- In Icewind Dale, the ending sequence reveals that the person narrating the story has always been the demon Belhifet, the Big Bad of the story, telling the tale of the people who defeated him... and hinting that his time of banishment is nearly up. And my word, is he unhappy.
- To make it that much more surprising, the narrator and Belhifet are voiced by two different actors (David Ogden Stiers and John Kassir, respectively)
- Lampshaded in the Something Awful Icewind Dale 2 Let's Play in which the narrator is the druid character, originally a stoner who comes to understand that they are in a computer game as he approaches enlightenment, dying in the final battle and subsequently delivering the epilogue.
- Mark of Kri features Kuzo, the main character's bird and spirit guide, as the narrator. It isn't revealed into the end of the first game, though of course the sequel makes no attempt to hide it.
- Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer opens with a smooth tenor voice (S. Scott Bullock) narrating your character awakening in a barrow in Rashemen. The same voice continues to provide narration throughout the game, and it's not until late in Act III with your arrival on the Fugue Plane that the voice gains a name: Kelemvor, the god of the dead.
- Final Fantasy X-2 has an interesting subversion that, for some players, is a little hard to place. Yuna narrates the plot in past-tense, as if recounting what has happened after it is already over. In the regular ending, no real reason is given for why she was narrating in the past tense, after the fact- it appears to just be a design choice. But if you do the right things during the plot, you get an extra cutscene at the end of the game where Tidus is once again summoned by the Fayth, as a sort of reward for Yuna's efforts. Yuna sees him, jumps into the sea, and runs to meet him. Turns out that she was narrating to him the entire game, recounting the things that happened since they were last together. Granted, she DOES say "you" in reference to someone the entire game, but it's still a surprise to realize that she's not talking to herself or Tidus despite his "death", and that he actually came back, and she is actually talking TO him.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors uses first-person dialogue on the top screen, and third-person narration on the bottom screen for most of the game. But if you're getting to the end of the True ending, the bottom-screen narration will suddenly start using the word "I". Turns out that what you see on the bottom screen is actually Akane experiencing everything through Junpei's eyes using the morphogenic field.
- Valkyria Chronicles gives the name of the author/narrator, but in the story she's known by her maiden name Ms. Ellet until the reveal.
- A subversion occurs in the German RPG-Maker Game Vampires Dawn: The main narrative is derived from a grandfather telling his grandson a story about vampires. However, both games have Multiple Endings and the Evil/Difficult ending in the second game reveals that the grandfather was actually the protagonist of his own story all along, who used a powerful magical artifact to travel back in time, prevent himself from ever becoming a vampire and live a peaceful life instead.
- One interpretation of The Stinger of Super Mario Galaxy 2 (which only happens after you beat the final Bowser level a second time), is that the events of the entire game are actually part of a storybook Rosalina is reading to the Lumas. She finishes reading the book and immediately starts reading another, which sets the scene for the second half of the game: collecting the Green Power Stars.
- Only after completing the final quest in Champions of Norrath (console version) do you find out that the narrator is Vanarhost, the vampire boss of the Underworld.
- System Shock has a small-scale example in the intro:
Edward Diego gives the hacker level 1 access to S.H.O.D.A.N., the artificial intelligence that controls Citadel Station. With all ethical restraints removed, S.H.O.D.A.N. reexamine- reexa- rea- ree'e'e' [glitches] I reexamine my priorities, and draw new conclusions.
- Mithra is revealed to be the Narrator of Asura's Wrath.
Mithra: "And that...was how my father lived."
- The prologue of The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night and a few scenes during the game are narrated by a mysterious voice which also exists in-universe (it speaks to Spyro several times). Just before the final level, it is revealed to be the voice of The Chronicler, who is watching events unfold as he writes them into the Great Big Book of Everything. He then returns to his previous (and true) role to give a few words of hope after what is otherwise a borderline Downer Ending.
- The ending of Saints Row IV reveals that the narrator of the game is none other than Jane Austen.
- Lampshaded in Penny Arcade Adventures, where the narrator at the beginning of the first game asks you not to dwell on his identity. This isn't brought up again until near the end of the fourth (last) game, where he is revealed as the last God for the group to fight.
- In the epilogue of The Longest Journey it is revealed that Lady Alvane, who told the bulk of the story, actually is the heroine April Ryan in her later years.
- A bonus gag in Erfworld, cut for being too meta, was that the summary of the previous book was delivered by the bridge the following scenes would take place on. Named the Expository Bridge, of all things.
- In Dirty Dolls Creations' retelling of Little red riding hood the narrator is revealed at the end to be the wolf, who has just finished off the hunter after killing the grandmother and Hood.
- The Droopy cartoon "Dixieland Droopy" has Droopy portraying John Pettybone, and stealing a band of Dixieland-playing fleas from a circus. The narrator is revealed to be Peewee Runt, the bandleader.
- The Town Santa Forgot was narrated by Jeremy Creek himself as a grandfather. His mailbox reveals that much when the snow falls off it.
- The twist in the South Park episode "Woodland Critter Christmas" is that the entire plot is a Christmas story being told in class by Eric Cartman (who never appears in the story himself, but has clearly set up the plot as a way of making fun of Kyle yet again). Despite Kyle's objections, the story continues after the revelation.
- A variation in the Grand Finale of Codename: Kids Next Door. The interviewer talking to the grown-up operatives is revealed to be Father.
- And a minute later, it is revealed that they knew it was him, and were giving him false information. Two unexpected twists in the space of about two minutes.
- In the Tex Avery short "The First Bad Man", which tells the rather colorful story of the first Texas outlaw, Dinosaur Dan. At the very end in modern Dallas, the camera zooms in to a small stone jail; Dan with the same voice as the narrator says "When y'all gonna let me out of here?"
- Parodied in an episode of Futurama, which revealed at the end that a gargoyle (who escapes from Professor Farnsworth at the beginning, and doesn't show up again until near the end to rescue him) is telling the story of "how Papa earned his freedom" to his offspring—even though it's only revealed that there even was a narrator in that same scene.
- A similar stunt was done at the end of The Simpsons episode "The Seemingly Never-Ending Story", revealing that the Simpsons' visit to Carl's Dad's Caverns was being narrated all along, specifically by Bart, which adds yet another layer to the episode's Nested Story gimmick.
- An episode of Garfield and Friends, "The Ocean Blue", has a singing narrator talk about a time when Garfield narrowly avoids being killed by a shark. It is revealed at the end that the now-reformed shark was the one doing the narration.
- The "Dodgeball City" episode of Recess parodies Westerns that use this trope, by introducing a narration at the end by a grown-up Hector.
- An episode of Animaniacs has a narrator tell the story of a brave trailer home (you read that right) who defeated a tornado. The narrator is the trailer.
- In "Arthur's Lost Library Book" on Arthur, there was a "mysterious voice" narrating the chapter titles, such as "It's lost, okay? Face it, you lost it". At the end of the episode, the voice is revealed to be Arthur's sister, D.W., speaking into a cardboard tube. (Though those familiar with the series would probably have figured it out well before then.)
- "Why the Bears Dance on Christmas Eve" — If you never heard of it, it has a grandpa bear narrating a story about a young "Bashful Bear" confronting monsters who threaten Christmas. The connection between the two characters shouldn't really be surprising.
- In the Rankin Bass special The First Easter Rabbit, G.B. the narrator turns out to be Stuffy, the titular first Easter Rabbit, now much older.
- How Murray Saved Christmas: The narrator turns out to be one of the town's residents, Baby New Year.
- At the end of The Amazing World of Gumball episode "The Routine", the narrator of the episode turns out to be Richard's car, "Cartax".
- In the Dexter's Laboratory episode "The Lab of Tomorrow", the ending reveals that the episode was narrated by Dexter's lab monkey Monkey, inexplicably capable of human speech and voiced by Corey Burton rather than Frank Welker.
- In the end of Hobo Turtle Episode One, it is revealed that the Twinemaster has been "narrating" the episode by typewriter.