Princess Lana! Samus
is super-duper-a-cus! Lana:
Well... Samus is a veteran of many impossible missions! Samus is a super-powered cyborg! Samus is the greatest space hunter in the Galactic Federation! (Samus removes her helmet)
Samus is a... woman?!?! Kevin:
Whew! You sure are!
Samus Is a Girl is when an action girl
is well established as heroic, or otherwise badass
before the first hint that she's female. Whether the initial lack of discernible sex is caused by bulky armor, baggy robes, subtler deliberate deceptions
, shapeshifting, or even just the camera refusing to give a clear shot of any distinctly female parts of her, it's still Samus Is a Girl. Heck, a tank with a chick inside would count. Having a Tomboyish Name
or Gender-Blender Name
helps as well. In fact, you can expect this trope to happen pretty much every time you hear a gender-neutral name like "Alex" and it's not the name of an already established male character.
Oftentimes, Alice will only wear the form-concealing outfit during her introduction. Afterwards, it may end up getting lost or destroyed, and thereafter she wears something a little less ambiguous. Sometimes, she just stops on her own.
This is notably harder to pull off in some languages - those that don't use gender-neutral descriptors that much (on the other hand, it's very
easy to pull off with some foreign characters, since quite a few Japanese and African names can be assigned to either gender). It's one thing to say Samus is a bounty hunter, but when your language demands that if the gender is known, this should be bounty huntress, characters that do
know about Samus' gender and just don't care to elaborate to the listener couldn't just call her a bounty hunter without stretching suspension of disbelief. However, in English speaking countries, it is becoming more common to use the "masculine" or "gender-neutral" term when referring to women. For example, female actors are often referred to as actors rather than as actresses. It's one thing to trick the viewers by clever terminology, but when you completely break your language to do it, the effect becomes not so much "Hey, that's right, the gender was never actually mentioned!", but "Um... so the character who was referred to as male by others who knew she was female all the time was actually female. Huh?".
Perhaps nobody mentioned her gender because You Didn't Ask
. Or because she's just one among a whole Badass Army
, so nobody paid attention specifically to her. Or because she's a complete stranger that nobody had seen before.
See The Faceless
and the Hackette
, a Sub-Trope
. Contrast Unsettling Gender-Reveal
(where "Alice" turns out to be "Bob"), Sweet Polly Oliver
(Samus Is a Girl from a viewpoint that already knows she's female) and Viewer Gender Confusion
(where the audience, not the characters, don't know what gender Pat is). See also Geeky Turn-On
, which is sometimes related to this. Female Monster Surprise
is a similar trope, but with a monster. May involve Gender Misdirection
Please, don't bother with the spoiler tags here. The name of this trope is a pretty good reason why this should not be.
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- Named for Samus Aran from Metroid. In the first game, the player doesn't learn she's female until after guiding her through an army of alien baddies. Later games in the series still play with this. The Prime series, however, does not play with this, and gives her a rather feminine figure considering she's in armor. They also let you see her eyes through her visor. And Prime 3 even showed us her being a woman at the start of the game. Other M completely throws away this, however, because you see Samus without her suit in the opening sequence, in many cutscenes (sometimes this is just a shot of her face through her visor), and in the death sequence.
- The cheat code "Justin Bailey" entered in the first game, will start Samus near the end of the game, with no armor on.
- The death sequences in Super Metroid, Metroid: Fusion, and Metroid: Zero Mission also have her armor shattering and reveal her form underneath. Plus, Super Smash Bros. Melee gives her a sleek version of the Varia Suit.
- In the original game, even the manual refers to Samus as male. The developers only came to the decision to make her female about midway through the production process, when one of them casually remarked that it would be really funny to get to the end and discover she was a girl all along. Possibly one of the greatest throw it in moments in video game history.
- In Zero Mission, you get a visor shot right before the game begins, but if you're not paying attention, you'll miss it. Hilarious, given that Zero Mission is a redone and updated version of the original game.
- Naturally, this happens to our favorite SPARTAN in Haloid as well. Wait.... Surprise! That's not Master Chief, but Nicole-458, a female SPARTAN who appeared in the Dead or Alive games (even though there was no canon on how Nicole looked like). She ends up pulling this trope on Samus, making Haloid a double whammy.
- Played with a little bit in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, if the player fights her as Solid Snake on Shadow Moses Island. In his Codec transmission, Snake remarks to Otacon that he's fighting "a woman in a power suit." Otacon is baffled as to how Snake can possibly know she's a woman. Snake's comments in this transmission, and in the one he makes if he fights her in her Zero Suit, are the main reason Snake/Samus has become a popular ship among the fans.
- In Melee, one of the events is called "Girl Power" and has you fight Samus, Zelda and Peach. If you didn't know Samus was a girl, you would be surprised to see her there, since Samus never takes off her suit in normal gameplay.
- The manual does not refer to Samus as a woman and her first trophy avoids using pronouns.
- When Metroid first came out in the '80s, Nintendo of America ran a Metroid art contest in their magazine "the Nintendo Fun Club News" (a precursor to Nintendo Power). All the winners who had Samus unmasked in their art depicted her as a man.
- This is the art in question.◊ Notice the one that was tied for 4th. This was obviously based off an ending in the game, in which Samus' face was the only thing that was revealed.◊ Thanks to the 8-bit graphics, it was still impossible to tell whether or not Samus was a girl. One could easily interpret that the person in the suit was simply a guy with '80s Hair. Apparently, the artists settled for that notion. Seems that the judges of the art didn't do the research and did the same. Either that or Nintendo knew beforehand and decided to make the judges disqualify the entries that depicted Samus as a female in order to keep the twist a secret.
- In the Captain N: The Game Master comics in the Nintendo Comics System, Samus was a regular character, and in her first appearance, it surprised the regulars from the cartoon when she unmasked for the first time. The scene in question is quoted above.◊
Anime and Manga
- Saved for the end and exaggerated in "Frostbite", with the entire rest of the fic having used male pronouns for Breen Dalsh Ruul. When Dul'krah removes Ruul's helmet, it turns out she's not only female, but human.
- In the Judge Dredd short fan film Judge Minty, Minty kills a masked gang member in the Cursed Earth, only to find out to his dismay that it was a girl of about 20.
- Happens in the Pony POV Series during the Wedding Arc when a trio of guards that helped Misfit Actual named Weaver, Diver, and Bombardier are revealed to be Changelings. As it turns out, Bombardier is a female Changeling assuming a male form because of Changeling Blue and Orange Morality. Changelings simply have a different concept of sex and gender than ponies and she simply preferred having a male alternate form. She mentions this made finding a lover a bit difficult.
- The Equestrian Wind Mage: After the confrontation with Volvagia, Fluttershy reveals that said lava dragon is female, much to Vaati's shock.
Film - Animated
- In Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, the Phantasm.
- From Final Fantasy The Spirits Within, before the soldiers take off their helmets:
- Heavy Metal: The title character of the last story, Taarna, is summoned by the city's elders to fight the horde of evil invaders. The elders don't use any gender-specific words when speaking of the last of the Taarakians whom they're summoning, and when Taarna does arrive, she flies into the city on a pterodactyl-like steed wearing a hooded robe. Only when she lands in the city and dismounts her steed does Taarna reveal her gender by removing her hood (and shortly thereafter, everything else to keep up the film's quota).
- Technically, the stitchpunks of 9 are asexual constructs. This trope is still invoked with 7, whose female voice isn't heard until after "she" has demonstrated "her" combat prowess.
- The Dragon turns out to be this in the original Shrek.
- Kevin in Up. Russell initially thought Kevin was a male, but later revealed to be a female when she calls to her chicks. He still refers to Kevin as a he.
- It's worth noting that Kevin's bright colors and taking care of the eggs point to him being a male, cassowary-like bird.
- It's also similar in a way to female eclectus parrots, which are bright red and blue, in contrast to the green-colored males.
Film - Live-Action
- Demetra, from Spy Kids 3D: Game Over, wore a head-obscuring helmet during her stay with the gang that Juni joins. Romance Arc? Check.
- Maid Marian's initial appearance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, followed shortly after by Chickification.
- From Sky High, power-armoured supervillain Royal Pain turned out to be Gwen, the girl that Will had a crush on. The weapon she built before being defeated by Will's superhero parents turned her into a baby, and her henchman raised her.
- In Return of the Jedi:
- Boushh is Leia disguised as a bounty hunter with a voice-altering mask.
- Rumored to have been the case for Boba Fett for a while, which would have put quite a different spin on the scene at Jabba's palace, where Boba makes a pass at one of the dancer girls. It's hinted at in a young reader book, and in fact his appearance in that book was later retconned to have been his daughter impersonating him.
- This seemed to be the idea behind Nyssa's first scene in Blade II. It didn't quite work. In fact, it would probably count as a genuinely surprising subversion of this trope if an armored antagonist were to wordlessly, facelessly appear, go toe-to-toe with the male protagonist using acrobatic moves, and then be revealed to not be female.
- Knightriders, Sir Rocky.
- Thunderball. A motorcyclist kills a man driving a car (who's chasing James Bond) and rides away. After running the cycle into a ditch, the cyclist takes off the helmet and reveals that she's SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe.
- In Dragonslayer (1981) a character turns out to be a girl masquerading as a boy since girls are in danger of being sacrificed to the dragon.
- Hackers: Neither Dade nor the audience know that Dade's rival, Acid Burn, is actually his love interest, Kate Libby, until a hacker lets that information slip about halfway through the film. Dade's fellow hackers do know who Acid Burn is, but when Dade initially assumes Acid Burn is male—"Do you know who he is?"—they gladly let him go right on thinking that—"No, I don't know who he is".
- From Lord Nikon's point of view, this is the case with Zero Cool, Dade's hacker alias when he was a kid (and responsible for one of the worst cyber-attacks in history). Being black, Nikon naturally assumed so was Dade.
- Barbarella in the beginning of the original film, where a bulky spacesuit is removed, and Fanservice ensues.
- Trinity in The Matrix, from Neo's point of view; he'd heard of Trinity in Cyberspace but assumed it to be a guy. Trinity replies that "most guys do."
- Terminator Salvation: a jet pilot, who takes down a flying robot, and who ejects after an engine is shot by the machines which later causes an explosion, is only called "Williams". Marcus goes saving Williams, who is hanging from a telephone tower. Pilot takes helmet off, turns out to be a woman, Blair Williams.
- Racecar driver A.J. Ferguson in the feature film version of The Little Rascals turns out in the end to be...Reba McEntire, shocking all the young male members of The He-Man-Woman-Haters club.
- In The Son Of Robin Hood Little John has a problem with Robin's heir. Three guesses to what it is.
- The Sting has one The hitman "Salino" turns out to be Loretta Salino, the waitress in the diner.
- A shocking variant was used in Hellbound: Hellraiser II, in which the gruesome Cenobites are involuntarily transformed back to their original human guises by the Lament Configuration. One Cenobite whose facial features had been burned away, leaving nothing but scar tissue and chattering teeth, is revealed to be a young boy.
- This may have been an homage to the infamous use of the same variant in the opening scene of Halloween (1978).
- Subverted in What's Up, Tiger Lily??, a Japanese spy movie with new dialog by Woody Allen. An escaped prisoner in a head-covering scarf hops into the hero's car and drives off, then pulls off the headgear, revealing herself as a sexy girl. The hero reacts in surprise: "(whistle)... an Oriental!"
- In Pitch Black, the teenage boy "Jack" is revealed by Riddick, at a conveniently inappropriate moment, to be female. It turns out the blind creatures hunting them are tracing them by their scent of blood, and, although no members of the party appear to be wounded, "Jack" is menstruating.
- Pocket Ninjas when the White Dragon at the fight scene near the end was revealed to be Tanya.
- Subverted in Aliens. Male Marine to Action Girl Vasquez, as Vasquez does pullups in the locker room: "Hey Vasquez, you ever been mistaken for a man?" Vasquez: "No. Have you?"
- In the film The Last Legion, familiarity with those trope allows one to quickly surmise that the Eastern Roman Empire soldier is a chick. Why else would she wear a helm with an aventail like that?
- The opening scene of Iron Man has Tony exclaim in suprise when he realizes that one of his three military escorts is actually female (she's wearing BD Us, ballistic armor and a helmet, so it's hard to tell). She's revealed by her feminine voice the first time she speaks up.
Tony: Good God, you're a woman!
- Quorra's introduction in TRON: Legacy has elements of this, as she wears a motorcycle helmet the whole time and even uses a voice modulator. Averted in that it's pretty clear from her outfit that she's a woman, and that the helmet and modulator are intended to hide her identity rather than her gender.
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Indy and Marcus Brody are a bit surprised to see their contact is, in fact, Dr. Elsa Schneider.
- The Blank / Breathless Mahoney in Dick Tracy. The Reveal is actually quite a Tear Jerker.
- In Slasher Movies featuring female killers, the villain's gender is usually hidden by either a disguise, camera angles, Murderer P.O.V., or some combination of the three. Plus, they're probably played by random stuntpeople up until The Reveal.
- In Stick It, the hero in the introduction is apparently a cool dude who rides BMX and does crazy tricks. It's only after "he" starts running from the police that "he" sheds his big hoodie to reveal Haley, the female protagonist.
- In Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Polly reacts poorly when she meets Sky Captain's old mate, a carrier captain named Franky. In turns out that Franky's birth name is Francesca. And that Franky is Angelina Jolie wearing a kickass uniform and an Eyepatch of Power.
- In the Vincent Price film Theatre of Blood Lionheart's lead henchman the British accented guy with the hippie glases, afro, and beard turns out to be his daughter Edwina (Dianna Rigg).
- In I Am Legend Will Smith refers to his dog as "Sam", until just before he has to put it down, when he addresses it as "Samantha". Which could qualify as this.
- In Your Highness, the heroes meet a mighty warrior in the arena, and are surprised when she removes her cloak.
- In The Dark Knight Rises the audience (and Batman) is led to believe that the child who escaped from Hellhole Prison was Bane. It turns out that the child was actually Talia, the daughter of Ra's Al Ghul, with her gender deliberately made ambiguous by her short hair and the narration just referring to her as "the child".
- In Colombiana, the police assume that Cataleya's murders were preformed by a man, with the lead detective scoffing at suggestions that the killer is a woman because "they had to have been performed by someone with great size and strength". Cataleya uses Waif-Fu to kill.
- In Eden Log, the botanist turns out to be a woman when the man removes her helmet.
- Comes up early in Zero Dark Thirty as one of the spectator to the torture is revealed to be female, hidden by a hood.
- Downplayed in The Fifth Element - the scientist who revives Leeloo assumes that the "perfect" alien he's rebuilding in human shape will be male ("Can't wait to meet him!") He isn't visibly disappointed when he gets an Action Girl.
- In the 90's The Little Rascals movie, the boys are all excited about meeting a NASCAR driver by the name of A. J. Ferguson. They assume A. J. is a man, because in their minds, there's no way a girl could do something cool like be a racecar driver. (And also not too many women go by their initials.) When they finally meet A. J. Ferguson, "he" takes off his helmet, only to reveal that "he" is actually a very beautiful woman. The boys are speechless initially, but they are still excited.
- When Hondo and Street go recruiting for Hondo's new SWAT Team in S.W.A.T., Canon Foreigner "Chris" Sanchez is found at the hospital after having beaten the crap out of a Gang Banger. Hondo is very surprised to learn that Sanchez (played by Michelle Rodriguez) is a Spicy Latina a good foot-and-a-half shorter than him.
Hondo: Sorry, wrong room.
Sanchez: Who were you looking for?
Hondo: Chris Sanchez.
Sanchez: I'm Chris Sanchez.
Hondo: You're Chris Sanchez?
- In Fanboys, the main cast is horrified to learn that one of their closest and most valuable contacts for information, "Rogue Leader", is actually a 10-year old girl. Needless to say, her uncle is not too happy with them talking to her.
- A racial version occurs in The Crazies (1973). The sheriff and mayor are startled when the colonel in charge of the Gas Mask Mooks removes his Hazmat Suit to reveal he's black.
- Britomart in The Faerie Queene has three distinct "Bobs": The reader learns she is a woman after she defeats Guyon, but the first character to learn she is a woman is the Redcrosse Knight, after she saves him from a gang of six other knights. Her love interest is Artegall — Love at First Sight for her, Love at First Punch for him.
- Bradamante in Orlando Furioso, of whom Britomart is an expy, does this as well in the... unusual tale of her and Princess Fiordispina.
- In one of the cleverest examples of this trope, Joanne Harris' Gentlemen and Players has the narrator. This is revealed close to the end of the book.
- Jack in Robert A. Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky.
- Aravis in The Horse and his Boy — Shasta/Cor is her "Bob".
- This happens in one of the Flashman novels, where he and a rebel against the Russian empire are rescued from prison by a group which includes a woman whose face is veiled. He is at first offput when she kisses him, knowing the cultural tradition of male bonding among warriors, but then relaxes when he notices her female attributes.
- Sir George, the knight who saves Princess Andromeda from a dragon in one of Mercedes Lackey's Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms, is actually Georgina. And the dragon wasn't going to eat Andie anyway.
- Vieve Lefoux in The Finishing School Series by Gail Carringer. While those familiar with Carringer's previous work The Parasol Protectorate will recognize her as the Gadgeteer Genius Genevieve Lefoux, the protagonist is unaware of Vieve's true gender until informed.
- Andre de la Croix in the Time Wars series. Also a Sweet Polly Oliver, but the reader doesn't find out until after she's kicked serious butt at a tournament.
- In Esther Friesner's Majyk trilogy, at one point the hero is rescued by a masked swashbuckler who identifies himself only as "a blade for justice." This eventually turns out to be the hero's wife, disgruntled at being left at home while he's out on an adventure. Even after The Reveal, she keeps up the masquerade, finding swashbuckling to be a rewarding career.
- Éowyn from The Lord of the Rings. She does appear previously in the story, but when she disguises herself as a man she's introduced and referred to as a new male character, until she reveals herself. A Genre Savvy reader will likely have already identified her by that point, though.
- In the book, anyway. In the movie, she never introduces herself as the male character and nobody's fooled by the disguise; the director's commentary has Peter Jackson stating that they deviated from the book in that regard because they had to - it was simply impossible to make it convincing and they didn't want to insult the viewers' intelligence with a Paper-Thin Disguise.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, Catelyn watches Brienne of Tarth win a tournament and assumes she's a man because she's encased in plate armor. Because Brienne is hulking, ugly, flat-chested, and often wears warrior garb, she admits to being frequently taken for a man.
- Horribly deconstructed with the story of "Brave Danny Flint" who was raped and murdered by her Nights Watch comrades.
- Terry Pratchett's Sourcery, the mysterious thief turns out to be Conina, the daughter of Cohen the Barbarian
- Although in this case, it's less a matter of bulky clothes, the book simply avoids gender specific pronouns at the start.
- Also Monstrous Regiment. Everyone in the regiment is revealed to be a girl/woman.
- The readers know this unambiguously about the main viewpoint character, since the book opens with her deciding to enlist and disguising herself as male to do so. It's also not much of a surprise to those who know where the title comes from (A 16th century treatise entitled The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Women). The other members vary from "yeah, obvious" to "wait, I thought the big secret [name] was hiding was being a [vampire/werewolf/whatever]."
- The noble dragon in Guards! Guards! is one, too.
- In Feet of Clay, it's revealed that Cheery Littlebottom is a female dwarf to the reader fairly quickly. As a lampoon on Our Dwarves Are All the Same, Dwarven culture is
so male-centric that females typically behave and masquerade as men stated that all dwarves are considered dwarves without distinction of sex. This can cause confusion when two dwarves like each other and need to delicately find out if they have met a friend or a mate. Angua detects her secret and coaches her to slowly adopt feminine behavior, which causes a lot of confusion among her other co-workers. She ultimately comes out of the closet and renames herself Cherry. She also starts wearing dresses. Chainmail ones with an axe... she said she was female, she never said she wasn't a dwarf.
- Carrot himself is shocked when Angua mentions that one of the other Watch dwarfs is female as well, albeit still closeted.
- Subverted earlier in the series as well. When Angua is introduced in Men at Arms (But she's a w...), it is obvious right away that she is female, but it's not until later that the reader finds out that she is a werewolf, and some of the characters don't find out until the end.
- Tamora Pierce plays with this trope a bit. The readers know very well that Alanna/Kel is a girl (especially Alanna); it's the various characters who get the shock.
- Matt Ruff's Set This House in Order when we find out that despite the personalities of the first person narrator being predominantly male, the body is female.
- P. Berling's "Die Ketzerin" ("The Heretic") begins with a knight tournament, and the winner is a woman, namely the main heroine.
- Joat ("Jack-of-all-Trades") in The City Who Fought.
- The mysterious armored warrior in Grace Chetwin's YA series, Gom Gobblechuck.
- Erast Fandorin's Arch-Nemesis Dr. Lind is revealed to be a girl in the final showdown, who kept her tightly-knit gang together with The Power of Love.
- In the Conan the Barbarian story The Flame Knife Conan is forced to leave a battle because of additional forces coming in for their own reasons. While trying to work out how to extract the girl who was hiding in a building the far side of the battlefield, one of his soldiers tells him it's taken care of and takes off "his" helmet.
- Crackers, George and Harold's pet pterodactyl in some of the Captain Underpants books, likely falls into this. After being hypnotised (along with Sulu the bionic hamster) into being evil, Crackers in fact does good. It was previously established that the doohickey that does the hypnotising causes females to do the opposite of whatever they are commanded to do. Plus, all of the pronouns relating to Crackers are highlighted-a fact which George and Harold notice.
- Harry Potter: Norbert the Norwegian Ridgeback is revealed to be female by the series' end. In light of this, her name was changed to Norberta.
- The tie-in book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them says that male basilisks have a scarlet plume on their head, identifying the basilisk in the second book as female.
- Director Inoue Sato in Dan Brown's The Lost Symbol. No awesome armor, but a surgically raspy voice and a cell phone connection do the trick.
- Maugin in The Edge Chronicles.
- In From Russia with Love, Ian Fleming goes into detail describing the hideous appearance of Dirty Communist Rosa Klebb, before ending with the words "She pulled up her skirt and sat down".
- Kitai from Codex Alera gets this twice. From the same person. You'd think that what with Tavi being as smart as he is he'd pick up on things like that.
- In Robert J. Sawyer's Calculating God, the main character (and the reader), are surprised to learn that the alien he has been working with is female.
- In one of Akutagawa's short stories, "The Martyr", the young man who was adopted by the Catholic church had been assigned the name "Lorenzo". Later, "he" was excommunicated from the Catholic church because a girl accused "him" of fathering her child. After "he" had saved her child from a burning house and the mother revealed the truth about the child's paternity, Lorenzo was revealed to be a woman all along. This was based loosely off a true story: Saint Marina the Monk
- Lampshaded straightforwardly in John Nichol's novel Point of Impact, in which Jane, a female member of aircrew, is advised, after stepping down from an aircraft, to remove her helmet and shake out a mane of blonde hair - and she does. Nichol is an ex Tornado navigator famous for failing to set up an aircraft correctly on the final run into an Iraqi airbase in January 1991; understandable mistake, but not really the time to make it since the blunder earned him and his pilot a multi-week stay at the pleasure of the Iraqi regime and their baseball bats. Ironically, Nichol probably left the RAF around the time female fast-jet aircrew began to appear.
- In Patricia Briggs' When Demons Walk, Sham is often mistaken for a pubescent boy, a resemblance she augments with masculine dress and hair. Kerim has an entire conversation with "him", Talbot watches "his" interrogation, and when Kerim is attacked Sham throws the knife that kills the attacker. When they try to find him again, they can't figure out how he managed to disappear so completely, until an amused informant finally reveals that they should start asking about local women.
- At a Worldcon panel, an anecdote about an accidental, out-of-story example from The Hunger Games was discussed: The author, Suzanne Collins, works as a teacher, and at one point a boy in her class, who was most of the way through the first book, gushed about Katniss to her, saying "He's so cool!". Collins pointed out that Katniss was a girl, to which the boy responded, "Girls don't hunt!"
- This is the Twist Ending of The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tiler by Gene Kemp. Throughout the book, goodhearted troublemaker Tyke has been the narrator, so we don't get any gender-specific pronouns and only occasional references to "my real name, the one I hated". It's only at the end, when Tyke climbs the roof of the school in imitation of possible ancestor Tom Tiler, that we hear a teacher screaming "Theodora Tiler, you naughty, disobedient girl!"
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic: Fatal Alliance, Dao Stryver is a tall, tough Mandalorian wearing full body armor and helmet. The novel consistently refers to Stryver as "he." He has a deep, male voice, filtered through his armor. At the end, Stryver turns out to be a Gektl female, although one character knew it all along. Since most Mandalorians shown in films and games tend to be male humans, this was a big shock. This is even more jarring in the audiobook, where the narrator makes an effort to make Stryver to sound like a tough guy, using special effects to add to the feel of the character. Then comes the Gektl female with Sssssnaketalk.
- In the Ciaphas Cain novel Duty Calls, Cain is saved by a warrior in Powered Armour who turns out to be Amberley Vail. It's not her first appearance, but the unidentified warrior is separately established under that description before the reveal.
- In Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory, the protagonist himself only finds out at the end that he is physically female. He was attacked by a dog in childhood, and his father claimed that the dog had castrated him. His father fed him male hormones in the meals.
- In the first in the A-to-Z Mysteries series ("The Absent Author"), our detectives try to get reclusive mystery author Wallis Wallace to show up. Wallis doesn't show up, but the gang finds him kidnapped... then realizes Wallis is really tourist Mavis Green, and the kidnapped man is her brother, Walker.
- Jirel of Joiry is revealed this way in her first story "Black God's Kiss".
- In James Herbert's Nobody True, the ghost protagonist spends a lot of time stalking a hideously deformed serial killer with psychic powers named Alex, and even ends up possessing the killer's dead body to use it to save his family...only to find that Alex was short for Alexandra, and she was too deformed to notice her breasts. Alex even walked like a man.
- In Firebird, Brennen Caldwell initially assumes Firebird Angelo is a man, simply because she was a pilot in the attack phalanx of the Netaian invasion force. His assumption is corrected after she is captured.
- In Icerigger, it's not revealed that Sagyanak the Death is female until well after the Horde has been driven from Sofold.
- Boba Fett's estranged daughter Ailyn Vel impersonated her father for a period of time. So deadly and ruthless was she that everyone who met her during this period thought she really was her father—but her utter lack of ethics went beyond even Fett's harsh methods, and years later the truth was eventually discovered.
- In the Black Company novels, Soulcatcher, one of the Ten Who Were Taken is an interesting example. It's well known that three of the Taken are female, but owing to the Taken's habits of concealing their true features, no one's quite sure which and just call them all "he" indescriminately. Soulcatcher herself further confuses matters by the fact that her voice changes continually to reflect the souls she's stolen, so her voice is sometimes male, sometimes female. However, it is noted that Catcher's masculine clothing doesn't fully conceal her shape and "he" has fairly effeminte mannerisms- at the end of the first book, Catcher's ubiquitous helmet comes off and she's revealed to actually be a woman. Later in the series she makes no attempt to disguise her gender, even when hiding her face.
- A teaser reading from the in progress book 2 of The Stormlight Archive, has revealed that the Parshendi Shardbearer Dalinar fought at the end of book 1 is female.
- Dead Mountaineer's Hotel by Strugatsky Brothers has Brun "The child", the teenager of ambiguous gender (said ambitiousness is kept on by unisex clothes, large shades and avoidance of gender endings in words). Her full name is Brunhilde.
- In The Dresden Files: Cold Days, the fairy Dresden nicknames "Captain Hook" is revealed to be a girl named Lacuna after she is captured by the heroes and her armor comes off.
- Chops the gremlin of City of Devils is assumed to be male, due to her lush muttonchop sideburns. She is revealed to be female only after Nick Moss views the film of her creation.
- Brady in Mr Blank disguises herself as a man — a garden variety government spook, complete with sleazy blond mustache — in order to double dip among several conspiracies.
- Jack in the NaNoWriMo novel And Then There Were Monsters turns out to be short for Jacqueline. Of course, it takes place in the 12th century, where such a thing is pretty much literally unthinkable.
No wonder you go by Jack. I have never heard of anyone named Jacqueline who was not a giiirl oh crap
- In Those That Wake's sequel, the Librarian is revealed as a girl.
- Jane Yolen's Sword of the Rightful King, a King Arthur retelling, has an interesting twist when the apparent Canon Foreigner Gawen, Merlinnus's teenage assistant turns out to be a young noblewoman named Guinevere.
- An internal short-term version is seen, or rather read, in Blood of Tyrants when an amnesiac Laurence checks the correspondence in his cabin for clues as to the eight years he is missing. As he reads one letter from an Aerial Corps Admiral stationed on the Spanish front, he rapidly generates a mental image of the writer; a working officer in his mid-forties, confident in his judgement and secure in his position, indifferently educated by his own standardsnote , but clearly a good friend of his and close kin of his Midwingman *twitch* Emily Roland. Said mental image was shattered, for all that every particular but one unspoken assumption was correct, when he reached the signature:
"Yours, etc., Jane."
Live Action TV
- Witch Hunter pulls this card with Halloween, Tasha's pumpkin-headed marionette who is initially thought to be genderless due to being a marionette and all that, but when Tasha breaks Halloween's first seal, its true form is revealed to be this.◊ Tasha is, naturally, shocked.
- The music video for Prodigy's "Smack My Bitch Up". The reveal is at the end when the camera (from a first-person perspective) looks at a mirror. Before this she went to a bar, got drunk, beat up patrons and groped hot girls before returning home and passing out in front of a mirror.
- A similar "woman doing manly things only revealed to be a woman at the end" music video is Bush's "Machinehead".
- Turkey actually used this in their performance in the Eurovision Song Contest 2010, "We Could Be the Same" by maNga. Watch it here.
- They must not have been trying that hard, because one good look at the figure makes it really obvious what her gender is.
- The trance artist formerly known as Hybrid Factor was originally pictured as Steve Bailey, but later revealed to be Aimee, his sister. She now goes bt the artist name Aimee B.
- Many promotional videos of the British Invasion band The Honeycombs attempted to hide the fact that their drummer, Honey Lantree, was female until some point later in the film clip (most notable is their performance of "Have I The Right?" in the 1965 concert film Pop Gear. They then do the same damn thing the next time they appear in the film, performing "Eyes")
- The music video for the Within Temptation / Tarja song "Paradise" features a pair of survivors in a post-apocalyptic wasteland trying to restore life to the planet. In the end it's revealed they are both women.
- In Funky Winkerbean, The Eliminator was a Enfante Terrible arcade gamer of such skill, he could make a Defender machine tilt like a pinball game. His face was always covered by a visored helmet (a Shout-Out to Darth Vader, as The Empire Strikes Back was THE hot movie at the time of his debut). Midway through the first Time Skip, the grown-up Eliminator was reintroduced... as Donna, a hot blond woman. She eventually ended up dating and marrying Crazy Harry, who'd considered The Eliminator his nemesis back in high school.
- In Mother Goose and Grimm, Grimm was shocked to learn that his hero, the star of the TV show Karl the Wonder Poodle, was a female poodle named Karla.
- Bloom County had a whole arc devoted to this. It started when Budweiser mascot Spuds MacKenzie visited Opus and told him that most animals who appeared in the media who were "billed" as male were actually females - including Spuds. He - or rather she - then claimed this was also true for one of the animal characters in Bloom County, but then fell into a drunken slumber, which Opus predicted she wouldn't wake up from until "that last comment has caused total pandemonium around here". Indeed, the animal characters launched their own investigations (Portnoy quickly finding out that "cartoon characters aren't anatomically correct") even going so far as to use a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on Bill the Cat, until Opus finally discovered it was Rosebud the Bassalope. From that point on, she was referred to by her true gender.
- In Cirqus Voltaire, when you unmask Voltaire, not only is Voltaire revealed to be a woman, she is also the game's announcer.
- Shantelle Malawaski, best known for her work in various independents as Shantelle Taylor and in TNA as Taylor Wilde, wrestled two house show (non-televised events) and one dark match (non-televised matches held before televised events/TV tapings) for WWE in January 2007 in a male disguise as a masked Japanese wrestler named Sensai, defeating male wrestler Jamie Noble each time. However, because these were non-televised events, thus they were not part of any kind of continuity, and because Malawaski was released before ever appearing on WWE TV under any name, it qualifies as an aversion.
- Played with in Dino Attack RPG. Agent Pyro spent the majority of the RPG wearing a gas mask, balaclava, and baggy pants, leading to some joking about his true gender. When it came time for the mask to come off, it turned out to be a woman to the shock of everyone. It's actually a subversion. Later on a psychotic, disheveled, and all-around unpleasant man started shouting in the comms only to be repeatedly told to shut up- this was actually the real agent Pyro, and the girl who had been unmasked and assumed to be Pyro was actually his daughter impersonating him to protect him from The Mole.
- Played straight in the case of Pterisa. Since she wore samurai armor and a cloth veil over her face to hide her identity, no one knew that she was female until she spoke. This actually happened on two separate occasions: when she was first introduced in LEGO City, and when she met up with the rest of the cast in the Maelstrom Temple.
- Ravenloft had a series of supplements called the Gazetteers, which featured a scholar known as S who traveled around the major domains of the setting and chronicled their cultures. Everyone assumed S was a man until Gazetteer III, which featured a throwaway line about S's struggles to manage the layers of corsets, skirts, and petticoats that one domain expected its citizens to wear. Even then, some fans continued to insist that S was a man (apparently more willing to believe the character to be a drag queen than a woman), and it wasn't until an actual illustration of her appeared in Gazetteer IV that the argument was put to rest.
- Also in Raveloft, the Midnight Slasher (an insane Expy of sorts of Jack the Ripper) is assumed to be male, but is secretly a woman, driven insane after the murder of her parents at the hands of the domain lord of Invidia, Gabrielle Aderre. Most residents of Invidia assume the killer to be a man, never suspecting the disheveled beggar they see on the streets by day to be a cold-blooded killer by night; in fact, that's how she keeps the façade alive.
- In the Yu-Gi-Oh! card game, there's Gravekeeper's Assailant. There was never anything to suggest that the monster on the card was female until she appeared on Yu-Gi-Oh! GX as a Duel Spirit, at which point it was obvious (even while still wearing the mask and cloak). The anime even gave her the name Sara (Yasmine in the dub version). (Of course, whether "Gravekeeper's Assailant" is a title that is unique to her is hard to tell.)
Video Games (Excluding Samus)
- Interestingly, the eponymous character from the NES game Mach Rider is revealed to be female after playing through enough levels. It might not be the case, as it could simply be Fanservice to the player, but if it were really the case it would mean that she predates Samus herself as Nintendo's first heroine.
- Zelda's disguise as the male Sheik in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, who was designed with a male character model to keep the disguise more convincing. Programmers admitted she didn't get a more realistic design until Super Smash Bros. Brawl. For some time, there was a very popular fan theory which stated that Sheik IS male, and that Zelda not only changes appearance but also physical sex when she transforms. Word of God has since stated that this is not so; Zelda can't change her entire body like that, just a few surface details.
- And, as of Skyward Sword, guess who/what else is female? The Master Sword. Technically the Goddess Sword, but eventually our old friend.
- Syfa/Sypha from Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse. Just to make sure the audience knows Sypha is a woman, in Castlevania: Judgment she has very large breasts, and her breasts are even a joke in Maria Renard's story. In addition, her ending confirms that she was deliberately posing as a man in Castlevania III.
- In Kid Icarus: Uprising, it turns out Dark Lord Gaol is one.
- This is the twist in Akira's ending in Rival Schools: United By Fate. The introduction of the story mode introduces her as the younger brother of gang leader Daigo Kazama and refers to her as male. The masquerade is carried on throughout the story, and even in her "bad" ending - only when you achieve the "good" ending is Akira's true identity is revealed.
- Akira is also playable without her helmet, as a secret character which you unlock after beating the game with the good ending (notably, in the usual slide show during the credits, she is seen helmetless with her Gedo schoolmates, but if the player didn't get said good ending, they'll probably be left clueless, as in "who's that girl? where's Akira?"). Which is interestingly inverted in Project Justice: she starts off helmetless (due to It Was His Sled), and her helmeted costume (labeled "Powered Akira") is the unlockable one.
- King in the first Art of Fighting game nearly pulls this off despite not wearing an actual disguise. By finishing her off with a special move in the last round, the player can blow her shirt open and expose her bra. In the second game and The King of Fighters series, King's true gender is an already known fact.
- Captain Syrup from the first Wario Land is a villainous example; the game's instruction manual even refers to her with masculine terms to avoid ruining the surprise.
- Faris of Final Fantasy V. Although she seems to pass for male strictly because she says so, as she's pretty enough for Bartz and Galuf (dueling Bobs) to swoon over her sleeping form, still thinking she's a he. This, of course, leads to Gilgamesh's classic line in the GBA Remake: "And now we will fight like men. And ladies. And ladies who dress like men."
- This is the main twist in the ending of the iOS edition of Dead Space. Vandal reveals her true identity to be Karrie Norton as she lies wounded on the floor near the defeated final boss.
- Final Fantasy Tactics A2 plays with this in reverse. One of the recurring enemy characters is the Night Dancer, a Bangaa that looks, acts and is referred to as being a girl, but the fight against her has a Law in place forbidding harming the opposite sex, setting up a potential hazard for the player who does not understand the difference between gender and sex.
- Lampshaded by an NPC who is confused on what gender the Night Dancer is and another NPC refers to the character as an old man.
- Toby Masuyo in Baraduke predates Samus by about a year (Although the fact that the game calls her "Kissy" is a bit of a giveaway). Her next appearances in the Mr. Driller series and Namco X Capcom do not play with this trope, opting to have her helmet-less (she's Mr. Driller's mom after all).
- Happens twice in Tales of Vesperia. The first is with Yuri's pursuit of "Mr. Mordio" — which turns out to be a Rita Mordio; the second is with the mysterious (and kickass) Dragon Rider — which turns out to be Judith. In both cases, Yuri winds up the "Bob". And in both cases, they remain a full-fledged mage and warrior, respectively.
- The Cyborg Ninja in Metal Gear Solid 2 is not Gray Fox as in the first game, but instead Olga Gurlukovich.
- The last target in Assassin's Creed I is not there when you go to kill him. The person disguised as him is revealed to be a woman after Altaïr defeats her in a swordfight. It's only somewhat given away in that when you hit her, her pained grunts are notably higher pitched than normal.
- The Power Armor in the Fallout series has always been gender neutral, but hearing a female voice from the Power Armor speakers in Fallout 3 caused players Samus Is A Girl spit-takes.
- Before then, most power-suited Enclave soldiers in Fallout 2 were actually female. Even some that you spoke to.
- Fallout: New Vegas has two (formerly) female Nightkin super mutants, Lily and Tabitha, who have the same guttural voice as the other mutants. In addition, female characters wearing full helmeted NCR Ranger/Riot Gear Armor or Reinforced Combat Armor are nearly indistinguishable from males.
- Naoto Shirogane in Persona 4. With the twist that the party finds out when they show up to rescue her, rather than her rescuing them.
- Portal plays with this, in that the main character is female, but there's no indication of this until you happen to get a good look at yourself through a portal. While you can clearly see yourself in the very first portal you step through, it's hard to tell that it's you right away. In the sequel, Wheatley passively assumes that whoever beat GLaDOS was a guy, and is taken aback when he finds out that it was you.
- The first Destroy All Humans! revealed that Majestic-12 leader Sillouette is a female at the end, though you can learn this earlier on if you read the thoughts of a Magestic agent, which you might just ignore.
- Metal Gear Solid does this with Meryl, who "disguises" herself as a male soldier, though it's really only because all the uniforms look more or less exactly alike.
- Word of God states that this was to have been the big reveal at the end of the fifth game in the old ZX Spectrum Magic Knight series (Finders Keepers, Spellbound, Knight Tyme, Stormbringer and...). Possibly Older Than The Nes, possibly not (the first two games both came out in 1985, and the first game definitely refers to Magic Knight as 'he', so it may not have been planned at that point).
- In the first Tekken, Kunimitsu was simply a palette swap of Yoshimitsu, with the same voice as well. In the second game, the character was revealed to be female.
- Although it has to be said, she was always meant to be female, as you can see in concept art. 3D graphics weren't that good at the time of the first Tekken, however.
- And there is also Leo from Tekken 6, who is widely believed to be a woman dressed as a man, or a gay male. Namco have deliberately not confirmed either way, stating they wanted to create a character who could be "loved by either gender". Confirmed to be female by Word of God.
- In the game by Tim Schafer, Brutal Legend, Eddie, the main character, fights many demonic druid enemies in robes, and then faces one of them head on. In the middle of the fight, that "evil druid" flips off her hood to reveal that this is, in fact, a female human. Eddie then remarks, "Oh no, don't tell me I've been slaying hot girls this whole time."
- At the end of Dragon Quest Monsters, the masked monster master at the Starry Night tournament is revealed to be Milayou, the protagonist's younger sister.
- Hooktail, the boss of the first level in Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, is assumed to be male by all characters (and described with male pronouns in Goombella's Tattle), until the final chapter, when you meet Gloomtail in the Palace of Shadow. When your partner asks what Hooktail is doing here when you've already beaten him (as Gloomtail is essentially a palette swap of Hooktail), Gloomtail becomes furious upon learning what you did to his precious baby sister. Tattling on Gloomtail elicits a hilariously shocked reaction to this revelation from Goombella.
- Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves gives us the Black Baron, an ace fighter pilot whose face is entirely covered by his huge mustache. Only after you beat him do you learn that he's actually Gadgeteer Genius Penelope, who created the disguise to get around the dogfighting league's age restrictions.
- The mysterious scrambled voice in the marine campaign in Aliens Vs Predator 2, though she never actually does any fighting.
- Black Widow from Ring of Destruction: Slam Masters II, is a somewhat effeminate wrestler who is taller than most of the other wrestlers in the game and whose spider-themed costume covers his whole body. If you beat the game with him, Widow reveals herself to be a tall and muscled female wrestler.
- Around half-way through Ratchet & Clank: Going Commando, the thief you have been pursuing is unmasked to reveal that she is female, to Ratchet's surprise. This also marks the point at which she stops being an enemy, but more because they were betrayed by the real villain.
- Junon from DragonForce pulls this one on everyone in her world until her helmet gets knocked off during an encounter. She's the one in the badass black armor◊. She's also #139◊.
- The Great Mizuti from Baten Kaitos.
- The video game series Guilty Gear is notorious for pulling off a reverse of SIAG (Bridget needs no introduction), but what many people don't know is that Word of God has stated that Justice, the final boss of the first game, the Commander Gear, a large, powerful robot-type person with a noticeable crotch spike, is really a female and was a dear friend of Sol Badguy's.
- Shale from Dragon Age: Origins is a amnesiac golem who has a masculine personality and build. However, if you have Shale in your party during the "A Paragon of Her Kind" quest, it is revealed that Shale was once a dwarven woman named Shayle. Even Shale herself is stunned by this revelation.
- Her Voice is obviously female, she has an obsession with "pretty pretty gemstones", and if you keep them both in the party she flirts with Sten constantly.
- In the universe backstory of the Dragon Age universe, there is a tale of an orlesian woman named Aveline, who dared to compete in a knight's tournament, hiding her identity behind a helmet even when it was ill-suited to a particular game. She matched a rather arrogant knight favored by the emperor, fighting to a standstill in a duel when a chance blow sent her to the ground and knocked her helmet off. The haughty knight tried to have the match declared invalid because of her womanhood, which the crowd responded to with a hefty amount of jeering. The knight responded by killing her as she lay helpless. The at-the-time emperor's son, who also was bested by the very same woman in the tournament, was taken aback, and he abolished the laws prohibiting women to become knights in Orlais when he ascended to the throne and posthumously knighted her. Aveline Vallen in the second game has this knight as her namesake.
- In Mirrors Edge, Faith spends part of the game chasing after an assassin - who is also a runner like herself - who Faith assumes to be male. Much later, when Faith gets into combat with said assassin, it is revealed that it is none other than her treacherous best friend, Celeste.
- Jack (AKA "The Convict"; AKA Subject Zero) in Mass Effect 2. She's never actually physically disguised, but all you know before meeting her is that she has a Tomboyish Name and a nasty reputation. This reveal was spoiled in the advertising.
- Chris from Princess Waltz is taken to be a man by the main character. Even despite many hints and on mutiply occasions fusioning together to become a woman, the main character doesn't realize that Chris is actually a girl untill... well... Either way even the main character feels stupid for not getting the hint before.
- The sequel to Crystal Quest reveals your Flying Saucer — depicted in gameplay as a 16-pixel-wide circle — to be piloted by a six-legged Space Cow (who is, of course, a girl).
- Monica from Dark Cloud 2 first appears disguised as a young child when you first meet her, and after she defeats the Monster Clown who was trying to seize Max's MacGuffin, removes her hood and reveals herself to be a woman.
- Alexis of Valkyria Chronicles II. Her voice kinda gives her away, quite a few players were still confused by the fact the game's encyclopedia classifies her as male, and that she has a male character model in game.
- Julian from Growlanser. Her portrait is a giveaway when you first meet her as an Imperial Knight (you can see she has cleverage if you examine closely the portrait where she hold her sword) It was stated that Imperial Knights does not allow females to join, thus she hid her gender (though her 2 fellow companions Oscar and Lyell already found out and choose to ignore).
- Jayle from Valkyrie Profile. A noblewoman Jeanne d'Archétype who disguises herself as a man in order to join Gerabellum's order of knights. Only her commanding officer knows of her disguise but says nothing about it, as he's fallen for her.
- In Disgaea 2, everybody assumed Overlord Zenon is a male, but turns out Rozalin was the reincarnated Zenon, though the game's "reincarnation" mechanic allows non plot characters to reincarnate into any class, even opposite sex ones. And technically, we don't actually know what Zenon's original gender was.
- Note that Rozalin is very clearly female. This is more of a case of The Girl Is Samus.
- Subverted in Hydorah. Throughout the game, the player character is conspicuously helmeted, but is revealed in official artwork to be male
- Dragon Fable has Vilmor. She was assumed to been a male not only by the PC, but also by a majority of the players, despite obvious hints early on into her storyline. Was even referred to as male in a Newsletter.
- In Faria, the player character is only called by a player-given name and represented by an androgynous Super-Deformed sprite, and the gender is not revealed until the king explains that he can't give her the Standard Hero Reward for having saved the princess (the fake one, that is). However, it turns out he's really a handsome prince under a curse.
- Subverted with Alex Wesker in Resident Evil 5's DLC "Lost In Nightmares." Fans initially assumed that Alex Wesker was likely to be female due to a lack of third person gender identifiers in the memo revealing Alex's existence. However, the lack of gender pronouns was in fact the result of a shoddy localization attempt by the localization team. In the Japanese version, it is made very clear that Alex is male.
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, there's a masked swordsman/Anti-Hero who shows up early in the game, claiming to be the legendary Hero-King Marth. Previous incarnations of that character have been, while somewhat androgynous, definitely male... but it turns out "Marth" is a woman. Specifically, she is actually Lucina, Chrom's time-traveling daughter.
- The otherwise AFGNCAAP detectives in the PC Hidden Object Game series Mystery Case Files and Dark Parables are both revealed to be this. In MCF, the Master Detective's very feminine voice is heard on the telephone at the end of the second game of the Ravenhearst arc. The detective in Dark Parables has her gender confirmed only by unlockable Bonus Material in the collector's edition of the first game.
- Ōkami had this happen around Amaterasu, as some refered to Ammy as a male, other as a female, and this has led to fans to argue among themselves over it. A known fact is, however, Deities can have whatever gender they please, and the Amaterasu of Shinto was originally female... But this one is the reincarnate Shiranui, which was deemed male... What's the truth? It was never known until...
- The Sequel revealed Amaterasu's true gender! Ammy is female, Shiranui is male and they are related family-wise! Shiranui is Amaterasu's father and Chibiterasu's grandfather, where Chibiterasu is Amaterasu's son and they say Ammy is his MOTHER.
- Until the revealing above happened, the arguments in favor of Ammy being male were because of the leg lifting when using Golden Fury. Except dog owners would contradict that by knowing both male AND female lift their leg when marking territories. So it was often a flawed evidence.
- In Jays Journey, Shade. Not only did everyone think Shade (AKA Tanya) was male, Atolla believed Shade was Tanya's brother Tezla, and a series of flashbacks implied the same conclusion until the last one.
- In Rhythm Thief & the Emperor's Treasure, Charlie/Claude is the inspector's son and basically a thorn in Phantom R's side... but turns out, that person is the inspector's daughter named Charlotte.
- Though not explicitly stated in-game, the player character from the Protoss segment of Starcraft: Brood War was revealed to be Selendis, a female Protoss executor.
- During Mighty No. 9's Kickstarter campaign, when discussing Mighty No. 8, the developers revealed that they initially planned to have Two Girls to a Team regarding the Mighty Numbers themselves, so director Koji Imaeda requested No. 8 to be a girl. The resulting preliminary sketch the lead character designer Kimo Kimo created for No. 8 was of a man, since he felt it matched the character's theme (radar and optical camouflage) better. The project leader, Keiji Inafune, liked the design, so it appeared that Mighty No. 3 was subjected to The Smurfette Principle... until a later update long after the Kickstarer campaign revealed that Kimo Kimo made Mighty No. 2 a girl as well, since he found No. 2's theme (water and ice) a better fit for the gender. Of course, the finalized version of No. 2's character design was one of the first things presented in the Kickstarter campaign, and since it was essentially a baby in an old-fashioned diving suit, it was impossible to determine her gender from appearances alone.
- One puzzle in Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney involves this. The puzzle is a riddle about a king who has been attacked, and you must find the culprit from one of five people in the room using their testimony. The prince will say he heard a woman's voice, but he arrived before the princess and villager, the only two characters that are visibly female. This means that the culprit was the knight, who is actually a woman under the armor.
- Throughout Tales of Xillia and Tales of Xillia 2, the player is told about the Genesis Sage Kresnik, the first person to summon Maxwell and who holds so much responsibility for the world's current state. Late in Xillia 2 it's discovered that Kresnik's full name was Milla Kresnik, and Milla Maxwell was created in her image.
- Ghost from Raze 3 sounds like a boy at first, later in the end after saving the main protagonist from the Alien Leader, she's revealed to be a girl after taking the mask off.
- Inverted in Fate/stay night. Lady of War Saber is obviously a female knight, but it isn't until later on that we learn she is actually the legendary King Arthur, who used magic to disguise herself as a man because she felt that the British probably wouldn't obey a Queen.
- Fate Nuovo Guerra follows tradition and chocks one up with a certain Lancer from The Trojan War, though it wasn't so much a disguise as it was "sexist historians" who didn't like how a girl was getting all that booty and kicking all that ass.
- The Fate series tend to do this quite a bit with some of the historical/mythical figures, most likely due the overwhelming success of Saber. Ironically, Natsu initially cringed at the idea of turning Saber into a female.
- The spinoff novel Fate/Apocrypha also reveals Mordred to be female.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney: Justice For All: Phoenix doesn't learn Manfred von Karma's child's gender until facing her in court. Later on in the same game, Shelley de Killer incorrectly guesses that Adrian Andrews is a man, thus proving that he's never met her in person.
- Strangely, Phoenix refers to Engarde's manager correctly as a "she" during the initial interview, despite having no information on his manager beyond her existence. This was most likely due to the manager's name being very gender ambiguous, which plays a key role in the case and was something the writers intended.
- Dangan Ronpa has this twice: In Chapter 2, the mysterious Genocider Syo, who has been referred to as "he" is revealed to be Touko Fukawa, a female student. Made even more shocking in the English release, where "he" was named Genocider Jack before The Reveal, and Genocider Jill afterwards. Then in the final trial, it is revealed that the person behind Monokuma is Junko Enoshima.
Web Comics/Web Original
- Sarasim in the Teen Titans episode "Cyborg the Barbarian". Cyborg is her "Bob."
- In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, the turtles meet a lithe blue mutant called Quarry, leader of a pack of formerly human test subjects of Shredder's weird genetics experiments. When the turtles are able to find a (range-limited, at first) cure, it is revealed to their surprise that Quarry is a woman. (In a much later episode, she remembers that her name is Sydney.) Helped along even more, is the fact that they watched a video where they see a man strapped to a table and turned into something that looked like Quarry.
- The X-Men: Evolution version of X-23 isn't revealed to be a girl or a young teenager initially, though she did look awfully small for a ninja/secret agent/whatever she was supposed to be disguised as.
- Red Claw, a villain created exclusively for Batman: The Animated Series. A terrorist leader whose name was notorious internationally, almost no-one knew that she was a woman at first. Even Batman was a little surprised when they first met:
Batman: Red Claw is a woman?
Red Claw: Is that a problem?
Batman: Not at all. I'm an equal-opportunity crime-fighter.
- A variation of this occurs in the Batman Beyond episode "Payback", in which Batman (Terry) faces a dangerous Knight Templar vigilante named Payback who is willing to harm and kill people for perceived injustices. Because of Payback's deep voice and large, imposing physique, Terry initially suspects him of being either a doctor at a local community center or his bulky henchman. Payback later turns out to be the doctor's young son wearing an armored suit.
- Parodied by Quackor (The Foul), the Evil Counterpart of (Dial "M" For) Monkey in Dexter's Laboratory.
- In one episode of Doug, auditions are held for Bluffington's baseball team, and one kid who always wore a catcher's mask during the audition exhibits sheer excellence in hitting the ball, catching the ball, and throwing the ball. Coach Spitz recruits the star to the team and asks his name, and at that point the star player removes the mask and reveals herself as Patti Mayonnaise. After this revelation, Coach Spitz rejects her just because she's a girl.
- In The Flight of Dragons, the band of heroes is saved from a pack of thieves by a Robin Hood wannabe. When the knight in the group goes to thank the mysterious archer, "he" takes off "his" cap, and the audience is treated to a slow-motion shot of long, glistening red hair as it flows down below her waist. The knight is speechless.
- Sponge Bob Square Pants parodied this trope, when Sandy Cheeks took off her diving suit in one episode. Patrick exclaimed in shock "Sandy is a girl?!" even though everyone in Bikini Bottom was already aware (hell, Patrick himself already knew; it was the entire point of her debut episode).
- Played straight in the medieval episode.
- In an episode of Family Guy,
- Chris is conflicted over kissing a friend named Sam... Until he finds out she's a girl. Then inverted when he gets too nervous to speak to her now that he knows she is a girl, until she states to him to keep thinking that she is a guy. Which he accepts.
Sam: Do you want to go to the creek and make out?
Chris: Would I! (walks off with her while holding hands)
- In another episode, Peter ends up on house arrest when he gets angry at someone who he assumes is a man, and punches "him" out. Not only was "he" a woman (a very masculine-looking woman) but she was pregnant.
- Another episode features a talk show where it's revealed that a girl's boyfriend... is a woman. Actually, a horse. Actually, a broom.
- In the second season of Wakfu, the Masked Boufbowler ends up as this.
- The Simpsons parodied it in Homer Of Seville when Homer was being chased down by a horde of rampaging Opera fans (It Makes Sense in Context) and was saved by a helmeted motorcyclist dressed in black leathers. When the errant saviour takes off the helmet she says "That's right I'm a woman" in an overdone way before Homer remarks in stilted speech "A lady motorcycle driver. What is this, The Twilight Zone?".
- An old Looney Tunes cartoon features Daffy forming a rivalry with a small duckling. He realizes he can't bring himself to hurt someone that small, so he uses Phlebotinum-powered growth pills to force the duckling to grow to his size... only he can't bring himself to hurt her after that, either. There are other things he can bring himself to do with her, though...
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, Mandy does a classic by pretending to be a boy on Billy's baseball team, Billy believing girls can't play baseball even though Mindy has a team of her own (which she uses to beat them silly twice).
- Danny Phantom
- Danny sicced a Silver Purple-Backed gorilla named Sampson on Skulker. Danny soon finds out Sampson's real gender when he got an accidental eyeful, and was renamed "Delilah" when he submitted his findings to a magazine.
- One episode that involved a video game which Danny and Tucker are wrapped up in, but they can't defeat a gamer who constantly outwits them at every turn. Near the end of the episode they find out the gamer is Sam, which is humiliating—earlier in the episode, they mocked Sam thinking that because she's a girl, she wasn't good at gaming. So her smugness in the reveal is justified. It also didn't help that they flat out stated their strategies right in front of her which is why she could easily kick their butts every time.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Smellerbee who was dressed like a boy and, despite having a girl-like voice, made it hard to tell which gender she was. It wasn't until "The Serpent's Pass" episode when Jet's group meet Iroh and Zuko that her gender is revealed after Iroh mistakenly classifies her as a boy and she angrily corrects him.
- Also the episode "Warriors of Kyoshi". Sokka is surprised (to say the least) to find out that it wasn't men who ambushed them but a pack of teenaged girls.
- For the viewers, a good chunk of the Fire Nation army, if Zhao's speech in "The Blue Spirit" is anything to go by ("We are the sons and daughters of fire, the superior element!")
- On an episode of a Saturday morning cartoon based on Raggedy Ann and Andy, Ann and Andy get rescued by a helmeted, laser toting space warrior. Warrior turns out not only to be a girl but a princess.
- Flaky. Word of God States she is, in fact, a girl.
- One of the main villains of The Condor, Taipan, is revealed to be Tony's girlfriend Valeria who wanted to have "some fun" with him before she kills him. Helped by the voice distorter and masculine nature of her costume.
- The The Super Mario Bros. Super Show had a Zorro-themed episode, where the Zorro Expy turned out to be the waitress from the local cafe, who's exposed at the end of the episode when she forgets to take off the mask and fake mustache.
- Futurama: Leela did this, but with a Paper-Thin Disguise, so only other characters were surprised.
- A variation in Kim Possible, during "A Sitch in Time", Rufus 5000 warns Kim that one of her enemies would become The Supreme One and take over the world in the future. When Kim captures Dr. Drakken, Monkey Fist and Duff Killigan, she announces, "We captured the Supreme One!" Rufus 5000 answers, "But I don't see her!" Rufus 5000 then reveals the true Supreme One; Shego. Lampshaded of course:
Rufus 5000: Wasn't it obvious that Shego was the only villain intelligent enough to conquer the world?
Kim: I just thought that taking over the world was such a 'guy' thing.
- In the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero episode "In The Presence of Mine Enemies", Slipstream has a dogfight with a Cobra pilot, taunting each other over the radio. When they both crash, Slipstream is shocked to discover his opponent is a woman, which is strange because her voice over the radio was clearly that of a female.
- Yanit from The Mummy The Animated Series turns out to be Sweet Polly Oliver. Ardeth finds out and decides to let her stay.
- In Ben 10: Omniverse, Kevin is the first person to notice that Khyber's pet whom he adopts after Khyber abandoned it is a female.
- In the Archer episode "Coyote Lovely", Archer, Lana, and Cyril are sent to the Texas/Mexico border to apprehend notorious human trafficker Moreno. Everything is fine until Moreno is revealed to be an incredibly attractive woman, and Archer immediately decides that cozying up to her is more important than his mission.
- In Dynomutt Dog Wonder, the criminal Ironface is revealed to be the Serpent Lady.
- Discussed on South Park: Cartman is obsessed with finding out Mysterion's secret identity and begins grilling all the guys at school. Wendy passes by and casually wonders why he assumes Mysterion is a boy at all. Cartman immediately looks shocked and suspicious of Wendy. (Subverted, however, in that Mysterion ultimately turns out to be male.)
- Samurai Jack:
- In "Princess Mira and the Bounty Hunters", there is a masked bounty hunter who everyone assumes to be a man. They are all shocked when she takes the mask off, revealing her identity as Princess Mira.
- In "Jack and Farting Dragon", the dragon seems male at first, talking to Jack in a masculine voice. When Jack decides to help it by crawling inside its stomach to find out what's making it sick, he eventually learns otherwise: the reason is a baby dragon that is partially hatched, lodged in the obviously female dragon's womb.
- In Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu, a mysterious samurai in a mech suit shows up to rescue/show up/help the ninja on multiple occasions. Everyone assumes the samurai to be a man, and the scary-sounding voice changer didn't help. Turns out, not only is the samurai a girl, but she's Kai's sister Nya. Needless to say, everyone was utterly shocked.
- In The Secret Show, a villain called Dr. Hypno was eventually revealed as a woman, which shocked even former rival and retired secret agent Zach Meadows. And then they got married.
- Parodied as is everything else in Robot Chicken in a skit called Codfish where it turns on in Inspector Gadget that the Claw is actually a very overweight woman and has been doing all this because she is in love with Gadget. Then in Charlie's Angels that Charlie is actually a teenaged boy who gets off on hearing them recall their adventures in erotic detail (they seem to find it makes a lot of sense after this), and that God from Noah's Ark was just a guy with a loud speaker that wanted Noah to build him a boat. And lastly it is revealed that the host himself is actually a Codfish.
- Used in a Finnish ad for the army, where paratroopers are making a training landing in a forest and It's Raining Men plays. The song cuts when the troopers remove their helmets, revealing that they are all women.
- Another commercial for a high-grade beer shows the hands of the brewmaster at work, as the narrator praises the skill of those hands. At the end, the narrator says that they're focusing on the brewmaster's hands because she's not a particularly-attractive woman.
- Chevalier d'Eon kept people guessing until the very end.
- There was a stagecoach driver in the American West named Charley Parkhurst. One-eyed Charley was known for his toughness and could handle anything, up to and including armed bandits. After his death (at age 67), the person who laid him out discovered "Charlie" was a woman, and her birth name turned out to be Charlotte.
- A tribute of sorts is given in the second and fourth Blackadder series, where a girl named Kate pretends to be a young man named Bob Parkhurst.
- A similar discovery was made about jazz musician Billy Tipton (nee Dorothy Lucille Tipton), following Tipton's death. Even Tipton's adopted sons and at least one sexual partner didn't know Tipton's true sex.
- Lots of people tend to call unfamiliar dogs "boy" on first sight, assuming they're male until proven otherwise. This used to be inverted in some parts of Israel (particularly in Jerusalem), where every unfamiliar cat was referred to as female until proven otherwise. In the past couple of decades this has reversed, so that now the trope is played straight.
- My God! It's a Woman, the biography of Australian aviatrix Nancy Bird.
- The Science Fiction author James Tiptree Jr. was discovered, after much controversy and one prominent author penning an essay on how it was impossible and inconceivable that James could be a woman, to be a lady named Alice Bradley Sheldon. The fact that she wrote many stories where gender took a major role did not help.
- George Sand, birth name Lucile Dupin, also qualifies.
- J. K. Rowling. Apparently, some people were surprised to learn the real name. This was deliberately invoked by the publisher because their initial target audience was young boys who they felt might be put off by a female author.
- This is pretty common with female authors who write outside traditionally "feminine" genres. S. E. Hinton. K. A. Applegate. C. J. Cherryh. D. C. Fontana.
- In July 2013 it emerged that "Robert Galbraith", author of the crime novel The Cuckoo's Calling, was in fact Rowling. Sales on Amazon promptly jumped 150,000%.
- In the olden days, women who ran businesses would often take advantage of this or run the business through their husband, the legal owner.
- Inverted after Equal Rites, where many assumed Terry Pratchett to be a woman based on the book's feminist themes.
- This Red Bull ad, the biker is a woman. And deaf.
- Jack Prelutsky's children's poem "The New Kid on the Block" describes the titular new kid as a terrible bully who "likes to fight and picks on all the guys"; and ends with the line, "I don't care for her at all".
- A beautiful real-life example, except for the fact that it says "Samantha" on the side of the cockpit.
- Gender Flip: The video "It's Time", shot from the perspective of someone who falls in love with a man and builds a relationship with him. The video ends with the man proposing marriage, and the camera pulls back to reveal that the point-of-view character was another man this whole time. The video was heavily promoted by gay marriage advocates, causing many people to not even realize that the POV character's gender was supposed to be a Twist Ending.
- Real Life example: In the 2012 Orange Bowl, a West Virginia player celebrated by tackling the Orange Bowl mascot. This is his reaction upon learning that the mascot was played by a woman.
- The first trailer for The White Queen has this three times over.
- In Chinese, the words for he and she are pronounced exactly alike (but are written differently). In spoken Chinese, this can lead to SIAG moments if the subject has a Gender-Blender Name or the listener does not have enough context from the sentence to get gender.