"I only tell the truth when it makes it sound like I'm lying."Remember, kids, it isn't lying if you tell the truth in a sarcastic tone of voice! The protagonists are all trying to hold up the Masquerade, but the Nosy Neighbor is sniffing around, trying to figure out the secret. They won't settle for the standard excuses, and you can't convincingly make up something new on the spot. What's a Secret Keeper to do? Simple: Tell the truth, but in a tone of voice that suggests you don't mean a word of it. ("Yeah. Of course my roommate is a vampire. I'm so sorry I forgot to invite you to his coffin-warming party.") This usually will get them off your case, plus if they actually do meet your vampire roommate one day, they'll be less likely to take him seriously. Occasionally results in the trope user being hurt that no-one believes that he/she could have done what they sarcastically confessed to. Can also be used to lampshade the absurdity of the plot or setting. See also Clark Kenting, Appeal to Audacity. Contrast with Cassandra Truth. A Cassandra Gambit is a large-scale non-sarcastic version of this. Compare You Wouldn't Believe Me If I Told You. Suspiciously Specific Denial can drift into this trope. The third type of Framing the Guilty Party may overlap. A particularly crafty character might use it as a form of Public Secret Message. It also may be a ploy for someone who's considered Too Funny to Be Evil. Compare and contrast "Just Joking" Justification. Note that a Sarcastic Confession is one which the confessing party intends will not be taken seriously. Otherwise, it's an Ignored Confession. This trope was explicitly mentioned in Robert A. Heinlein's 1971 book Time Enough for Love where Lazarus Long tells Ira there are only two artistic ways to lie:
— April Ludgate, Parks and Recreation
- Tell the truth, but not all of it; and
- Tell the truth, and maybe all of it, but do so in a way that makes the other person sure you are lying.
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- In Code Geass, Lelouch tells Euphemia about his Geass ability being able to force anyone he uses it on to do absolutely anything he tells them to. As an example, he jokingly tells her that if he orders her to kill all Japanese people, she would have to do it. Prior to this incident, he was able to use his Geass ability at will, but during this conversation he loses the ability to control it, and it stays on permanently. Which means the sarcastic order he gave her became an absolute one, and she went out to immediately order the slaughter of innocent Japanese people who she had been trying to help.
- Haruhi Suzumiya does not believe Kyon because he has already established himself as a Deadpan Snarker.
- Mahou Sensei Negima!, chapter 82:
Chao: You want to know my real identity?
Setsuna: That's right!
Chao: Hehehe... sometimes I'm a Chinese inventor full of mystery. Sometimes I'm a treasure box inside the class, a Mad Scientist. Sometimes I'm the number one genius inside the academy, and sometimes I'm the boss of the popular Chinese stand "Chao Bao Zi". My real identity is... AN ALIEN FROM MARS!!
Setsuna: WHAT KIND OF JOKE IS THIS!!
- In Black Butler, some torturers tell Sebastian (who is a demon disguised as a butler) that he'd better confess or they'll hurt him. He admits that he was responsible for the Black Death, but since that was 500 years ago, they don't believe him.
- Kida does this for Mikado in Durarara!! when some of Mikado's classmates overhear them talking about Mika staying at Mikado's apartment.
- In a filler episode of One Piece, Zoro is captured by the Marines and questioned by an officer about how they infiltrated their base. He sarcastically tells them the truth—they dropped in from the sky with the help of a giant octopus balloon. The officer thinks he's mocking him.
- Early in FLCL, Noata asks Haruko what she is. One of her sarcastic responses is "I'm an alien".
- Bleach: While Zangetsu watches silently from the sidelines, Ichigo fights his inner hollow. The inner hollow tells him that he is the real Zangetsu. He's mocking Ichigo at the time, having taken Zangetsu off Ichigo and placed an asauchi in Ichigo's hands instead. It takes Ichigo most of the fight to pay attention and realize he needs to prove himself to the silent Zangetsu to deserve another chance. Once Zangetsu accepts his resolve, Ichigo doesn't simply taken back the form of his sword, he converts the inner hollow to his color scheme in the process. The real confession that Ichigo never once cottoned on to is that the inner hollow really is the real Zangetsu. Old Man Zangetsu was his Quincy power and the inner hollow was the true form of his Shinigami power.
- In Dance in the Vampire Bund, after noticing odd behavior from Princess Mina Tepes in the month since a fearsome attack on her domain, Akira Regendorf asks if she is hiding anything from him and is told "I'm not really Mina, I'm an impostor... I traded places with the real Mina, and sent her off into the darkness. She is gone now and will never come back." Even as Akira chides the Undead Child before him for her tasteless joke, the actual Mina Tepes is hiding in a New York alleyway having escaped Duke Rozemann.
- Batman, as Bruce Wayne, was once called for Jury Duty and stated that he would not be a suitable juror because he was Batman, and helped apprehend the criminal. No-one believes him, because everyone knows Bruce Wayne is a fop and an utter dope (he later told Robin that, since he was under oath, he had no choice but to admit that he was Batman).
- In an issue of Justice League of America, white Martians start controlling the minds of people in an attempt to ruin the lives of the Justice League. They force Dick Grayson to cut the Bat-Rope while Batman is dangling from it, send an angry mob after Jimmy Olsen, etc. One of their tricks is to briefly take control of Lois Lane while she and Clark are at the Daily Planet, and have her rip open Clark's suit and expose him as Superman. Immediately afterward she comes to her senses and tries to fix it via this trope. With Clark's super-speedy help she is able to make it look like a prank by ripping open an intern's suit as well, revealing that he suddenly has a Batman shirt underneath. However, when she attempts to continue the gag by ripping open her own shirt and exposing herself as Wonder Woman Clark isn't fast enough and she ends up just... exposing herself.
- In Supergirl/Batgirl story Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, Barbara Gordon is signing books, and a customer asks how she gets so many details:
Customer: Ms. Gordon — your books are so real! How do you get so many details?
Barbara: I'm secretly Batgirl.
Customer: No, really!
Peter: It happened when I was fighting the Vulture in mid-air for dear life.
- In an early issue, Spidey is injured in battle with the Vulture and spends the rest of the issue with his arm in a sling, telling people he hurt it in P.E. Betty refuses to believe this is the case and asks him for the truth:
Betty: Oh well. Ask a silly question, get a silly answer.
- In another issue, Mary Jane's Aunt Anna confronts her with the evidence that Peter is constantly sneaking off at all hours and meeting with strange people, so obviously he's having an affair. MJ sarcastically explains that the real reason he does that stuff is because he's Spider-Man.
- In a strip from the Newspaper comic Jameson demands to know how Peter always gets such good photos of Spider-Man. Peter comes out and says it's because he is Spider-Man and Jameson kicks him out of the office complaining that he can "never get a straight answer out of Parker".
- In yet another issue, this is an essential part of the villain's plan. The assassin the Foreigner promises Spidey that he'll turn himself in if the hero simply hears him out and helps him. Later, he keeps his word, telling the police that he's a murderer. However, as he expected, the cops believe he's a just a crackpot, and he's quickly released. (This is a brilliant move on the Foreigner's part, seeing as he's such a good assassin, only a select few people even know who he is, and there are almost no police files on him. The authorities simply don't know about him.)
- A Running Gag in the revived Spider-Man 2099 is that whenever Miguel displays future knowledge or lacks knowledge of the present, he simply tells people that he's a time traveller, they assume he's joking, and all is well.
- Cormor from The Dungeon Series is an automaton and therefore cannot lie. At the beginning of his life, it gets him into all sort of trouble. After a few centuries, he's gotten good enough in Sarcastic Confession to build a whole life as an undercover automaton.
- Marvel 1602:
- The Grand Inquisitor's messenger Petros is asked by King James of Scotland how he manages to carry a message from there to Spain and back in only a few days. His response? "I ran very fast, sir." Naturally, King James remarks on how funny he is.
- Subverted when an inquisitor investigating the witchbreed insiders takes his statement at face value to use it as a confession.
- From a Big Top story arc, where Dusty has been secretly replaced by a robot duplicate:
Dustybot: Pete. Tell me a secret, please.
Pete: What? What's with you? You've been acting really weird. Why do you want to hear secrets?
Dustybot: It is my primary objective. I have been programmed for intelligence collection.
Pete: Oh, ha ha. Seriously, what's up?
Dustybot: I'm just needy. Hold me, human.
- Summed up neatly in Darkhawk with the line, "The best way to keep a good secret is to tell everybody—then nobody believes you."
- Subverted in Spider-Woman, a police officer asks Jessica what her Skrull-detecting watch is. She tells him it's a watch, but he doesn't believe her. So she tells him it's an alien detector. To her surprise, he nods and asks her how it works. After all, there's a dead alien in the morgue, and Spider-Woman put it there, so that makes sense.
- This was how the Metans operated in Ditko's version of Shade, the Changing Man: their outpost on Earth was disguised as a conspiracy theory insisting Metans were among us.
- The Flash: The Trickster does this in the prelude to Blue Devil.
Security Guard: Hiya, Mr. Jesse! What brings you here? I heard you was working over at Associated Pictures!Trickster: That's right, Fred... I'm just here to steal the Blue Devil costume!Security Guard: Ha ha! Always with the jokes!
- Barry Allen does this in a classic Silver Age Flash comic. (This one, if you're curious.) When Iris wonders aloud about the timing of Barry's absences, he just casually tells her she's right: "One and one still makes one! I'm the Flash!" Naturally, this flippant claim convinces Iris he's not.
- The Punisher 2099:
- A police department shrink strongly suspects that Jake Gallows is the Punisher (spoiler: he is) and barges into his home for a surprise visit/inspection/psych evaluation. When she starts questioning him Jake confesses that he's the Punisher, and he has a bunch of criminals locked up in his basement, and he's just been down there beating one of them half to death for kicks. He even offers to show her the Punisher costume he keeps in the bedroom. Of course she brushes all this off as misplaced anger over the death of his family. Little did she know that every word of it was true.
- Subverted later when he feels attracted to her and feels bad for lying to her, so he actually confeses to being The Punisher. She doesn't believe him at first, and thinks he's being sarcastic like the first time. He then proceeds to prove it.
- Hitman: Tommy Monaghan and his friend Nat the Hat are moving boxes of ammunition into his apartment when a neighbor asks what's in them. He tells her that they're full of guns and ammo, because he's a hitman, and he also has telepathy and x-ray vision. All true, but so absurd she doesn't believe him, and they end up dating. Some time later, a hit goes bad and he turns up on her doorstep shot up and covered in blood... She does not take this well.
- Done strangely twice by Donald Duck in Double Duck:
- The first time, tired of lying to her, he admits to Daisy he's a spy. Daisy, who previously fell for Donald's immense bullshit, believes it's a joke;
- The second time Daisy had found out that Donald is a spy, and is asking him if he has other secrets. He tells her he's also Paperinik, Duckburg's own superhero/vigilante. She believes him (not that it matters, given she gets her memory wiped of the whole adventure soon after). The other agents don't.
- Advice and Trust:
- Before going out Misato asks Shinji and Asuka if they will be alright by themselves. Asuka replies: "Please, Misato. I can handle baka-Shinji. Somehow, I will control myself against his suave, Don Juan-like charms and not let him ravish me. [...] He and I will eat dinner, wash, and I'll send him right to bed." Meaning her bed.
- Rei says in front of Hikari and Touji that Shinji and Asuka are screwing up each other like rabbits in such a way everybody believe she is joking (she is not):
Asuka rolled her eyes at him. "You're our friends and need our support right now, and this is serious NERV business. Shinji and I are more than mature enough to stop fussing and focus when it's important."
Behind them, Rei quietly said, "Mature? As soon as no one's looking they're constantly making out, really. They're like bonobos on Spring Break. Nothing but 'whumpa, whumpa, whumpa' all the time." There was no change in her usual perfectly deadpan tone.
Shinji and Asuka froze. 'Oh Holy shit! Rei, what happened to keeping that secret?!' Shinji thought frantically. Touji and Hikari gaped in shock for a moment before exploding into laughter.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, when Kyon's mother asks him if he's stopped being a delinquent, he replies that he's skipped straight to joining the yakuza.
- Kyon uses Sarcastic Confessions many more times in the same fic, including the following gem to Sasaki, the resident Agent Scully:
Let's see... I have to have a conversation with past instances of several people, rescue an heiress from twelve boryokudan thugs, arrange for an alien artifact to be delivered, and... hum, tomorrow is Tuesday, so I really should study for that math test, too.
- Kyon uses Sarcastic Confessions many more times in the same fic, including the following gem to Sasaki, the resident Agent Scully:
- Last Child of Krypton: Shinji goes out and gets Asuka some of her favorite chocolates to cheer her up. Misato spots this and asks where he got them.
Shinji:"I am in reality Superman. I flew to Germany, bought Asuka a box of chocolates, and flew back just in time to sneak in here before anyone saw me."
- Thousand Shinji: Shinji is a master at lying by telling the truth. In a scene Misato walks into Shinji and Asuka sprawled out over the floor after making out. So Shinji tells:
“This is exactly what it looks. Asuka and I were making out so hot and heavily that we tipped over and broke the chair.”
- Later Asuka asks him how he got them out of that mess earlier, and Shinji explains the theory:
Asuka:“Anyway, how did you do that earlier?”
Shinji:“In situations where denial or dishonesty is expected, the truth can often be dismissed as fabrication. Control of a situation is not just based off what you do, but what others expect you to do,”
Asuka:“You… lied by telling the truth?”
Shinji:“Think of it like pretending to make a feint in combat. If your opponent expects you to feint, if you follow through then the expected strike was the lie while the feint was a real attack,”
Asuka:“Okay, that makes a bit more sense when put into those terms,”
- Later Asuka asks him how he got them out of that mess earlier, and Shinji explains the theory:
- In the Rurouni Kenshin fanfic To See You Again, when Yuriko's parents demand to know what's been going on for the past forty chapters or so, she says, "[Kenshin] came through a time-warp, and I'm the reincarnation of his wife." She also said, "I mean, he's not like a hundred and fifty!" Of course, this is exactly what happened. Yuriko's father actually figured out it was the truth by the epilogue. He was cool with it.
- In the Harry Potter Peggy Sue fanfiction Oh God Not Again!, Harry constantly tells the truth about how he knows certain things, stating specifically that no one would believe the truth anyway.
- A notable example:
Dumbledore: I am quite curious: how do you know so much about the attacks?
Harry: I've come back from the future.
Harry: Oh, yes. Of course, when I'm from, Ginny Weasley had the Diary and was attacking only Muggleborns, Sirius Black was completely innocent of the crimes he was sent to Azkaban for—without a trial—and escaped next year, Draco Malfoy is the Master of the Elder Wand, and Snape helps euthanize you.
Dumbledore: Indeed. How did you come back, if you don't mind me asking?
Harry: Drapery accident. It was very traumatic.
Dumbledore: I wish you would be honest with me, Harry.
- A notable example:
- In A Hero, a Doctor Who and Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover fanfic, Dalek Sec introduces himself like so: "I AM AN IM-PERIAL-IS-TIC SPACE NAZI."
- At one point in the Danny Phantom fic Ghost Zone Experience, Maddie angrily tells Danny (when he's in his ghost form) not to swipe their ghost hunting equipment (again). After a moment, he cheekily replies with "Yes, mother."
- A quick snippet between Yugito and A:
"Yes, Raikage-sama. While I was in Konoha, I met people who can travel between dimensions, several people who came back through time to prevent Armageddon, more than half of the jinchuriki in the world, learned of a secret organization that wants to take over the elemental nations, and met the creator of all the known universes in existence. It was a very enlightening experience."
- In George Weasley and the Computational Error, George isn't allowed to admit that he's a time traveler for a year, but whenever he's questioned about his identity (at least when he's possessing his younger self) he does admit that he's George Weasley. At one point, he lays claim to all the other names he's acquired throughout canon as being identifiers for him, including "Harry Potter" and "Tentacula".
- Comes up in Honesty is the Best Policy during an interrogation.
Leon: Next question—have you ever practiced sorcery?Merlin: Oh, yeah—all the time. Like an idiot, every day I practice magic right under Uther's nose, right here in the very heart of Camelot. In fact, I use it around you knights a fair bit, too—not that you lot have ever noticed. In between mucking out the stables, scrubbing floors, being used as a target, and cleaning Arthur's socks—I'm enchanting weapons and scrub brushes, lighting fires with my incredible powers and then learning new spells at night, holed up with my secret spell book. You see—I'm actually an all-powerful sorcerer. I just still feel this strange need to scrub Arthur's floors and let him throw things at me.Leon: Honestly, Merlin, you shouldn't joke about such things.
- In Those Who Stand for Nothing Fall for Anything, after Kiyomi learned that her father had an affair while her mother was pregnant, she worries that Light might do the same to her. Light assures her "you're my affair". He'd been seeing L for years before he even met her. L does this too when he tells his steady boyfriend Stephen that he "fucks Prime Ministers".
- In Back to the Roots, after being badgered about his past constantly, Ichigo finally says, "Aizen is going to rule the world, because he betrayed Soul Society and killed the Spirit King. I'm here to kill him before that happens because I'm a time traveler from the future. A future where you [Yoruichi] are a cat, and Kisuke Urahara owns a Candy-Shop." Shusui and Yoruichi find this story hilarious. Even Aizen, who's eavesdropping, thinks Ichigo is crazy.
- In the final chapter of Death Note II The Hidden Note, KJ tells Angela that he's writing his cause of death in a journal he brought with him. When she asks why, he tells her that he's Kira, her dad Nate River isn't insane, the journal he's writing in is actually a Death Note disguised as a journal, his mother and father are Shinigami now, and they're there to see him as he finishes being the new Kira. To which she smiles and says that if he didn't want to tell the truth, he could have just said so.
- In Harry Potter and the Marauders of the Mind, Harry is looking for a book, Sacrum Obitus, which supposedly tells how to become the Master of Death so that once he is, he can create new bodies for the spirits of his parents, Sirius, and Remus. During his search, he mentions the book to Andromeda Tonks.
Andromeda: ...so are you going to tell me why you need Sacrum Obitus?
Harry: So I can become the Master of Death. Obviously.
Andromeda: Of course. How silly of me.
- In Once More with Feeling, Lelouch gets called by Suzaku during the Saitama battle, asking where he is.
Lelouch: I'm in the middle of a life-or-death battle with the Emperor's forces.
Suzaku: Uh-huh, and I'm actually Zero.
- In Strangely Literal during a conversation about true intentions, Xander asks Cameron what her true intentions are.
Xander: (After studying her expression) "Not even a hint of a smile. You are good."
- Whenever asked what he is in The (Questionable) Burdens of Leadership of a Troll Emperor, Naruto will flippantly tell people he's a god. Likewise if he's asked how he became a god, he'll tell the questioner that he killed a zombie, let his wife eat a primordial god, then she fed him the fruit of life to make him a god as well.
- In Attack of the Clones, Count Dooku "warns" Obi-Wan that the Sith control the Galactic Republic, knowing that he won't be believed. He conveniently avoids saying that the Trade Federation is still working for Darth Sidious and that Dooku himself is a Sith Lord named Tyranus, however. The Expanded Universe implies, though, that even at this point he might want to kill Sidious, without consciously realizing that such urges are perfectly natural for a Sith (of course, he also lied a handful of times in the same conversation. He's quite the Manipulative Bastard).
- In Bedknobs and Broomsticks, Professor Browne rants that the weakness of the criminal mind is "you tell them the complete truth and they'll believe nothing!" He says this right in front of the bad guys whom he proceeds to pull this on. They fall for it.
- In Calendar Girls, Chris enters a store-bought cake into a baking contest, which it wins. When the judges call her up to share the secrets of her success, she says that she followed her mother's advice, the last part of which is to buy one at the store. Everyone thinks she's kidding.
- Happens in Dial M for Murder in the most blatant way possible.
- In No Country for Old Men, Llewelyn Moss discovers the scene of a drug deal gone awry—along with a satchel containing two million dollars. Upon taking it home, his wife asks what's inside the satchel, where he promptly answers "It's fulla money."
- The Girl Next Door: "Do those girls go to your school?" "No, actually, they're porn stars."
- In Hard Candy, Hayley jokingly says early on that "Four out of five doctors agree that I am actually insane." Later, she repeats it, not at all jokingly.
- In Bruges:
Ray: I shoot people for money.
- Ray, a hitman whose first job (assassinating a priest) went horribly awry when he accidentally killed a little boy, is asked during a date what he does for a living.
Chloe: What kinds of people?
Ray: Priests, children, you know. The usual.
Chloe: Is there a lot of money to be made in that business?
Ray: There is for priests, there isn't for children.
- The film applies this trope to other characters too. But since the movie doesn't take place from their perspective, the audience finds themselves on the receiving end of sarcastic confessions and are not sure whether the character is telling the truth or just being sarcastic.
- In Little Big Man, Jack Crabb tells General Custer in the final battle scene exactly what's going to happen if he charges forward. Crabb gives Custer the information because he knows that he won't be believed, and he isn't.
- In Practical Magic, Sally Owens accidentally kills Jimmy Angelov with an overdose of belladonna, and then after she and her sister resurrect him as a homicidal revenant, she is forced to kill him again. Later in the film, when lawman Gary Hallet asks her if she killed Angelov, she answers—perfectly truthfully and with a flippant tone—"Oh, yeah. A couple of times."
- In Red Eye, there was a minor case of this. Jackson Rippner is very unhappy about his meaningful name...
Lisa: That wasn't very nice of your parents.
Jackson: No! That's what I told them! Right before I killed them.
- The dialogue first third of that film is almost entirely composed of Sarcastic Confessions, until he makes it clear he's not joking.
- Cardinal Richelieu does this in The Three Musketeers (1993). King Louis tells the Cardinal that he's heard rumors that he is planning to betray him. Richelieu responds:
Richelieu: Ah, yes. That is usually the first. Let me see if I remember it correctly. While the English attack from without, the wicked Cardinal undermines from within, forging a secret alliance with Buckingham and placing himself on the throne. But really, Your Majesty, why stop there? I have heard much more festive variations. I make oaths with pagan gods, seduce the queen in her own chamber, teach pigs to dance and horses to fly, and keep the moon carefully hidden within the folds of my robe. Have I forgotten anything?
- A scene or two before he'd tried to seduce the queen in her bath chamber, too!
- In Nighthawks, the Big Bad is flirting with a girl when she asks him what he does for a living.
"I'm an international terrorist wanted for bombings all over the world, and a lady-killer."
- In Closer, Larry ask Alice (while she works as his stripper) what her real name is, and spends a good amount of money on it. She tells him it's Jane Jones. That being a rather unusual name, he doesn't believe her of course. At the end of the movie, we see her passport...
- In The Accidental Golfer, Bruno at one point is asked by his wife who just called him. He says truthfully that it was his lover. "Haha." his wife sarcastically answers.
- In Road to Perdition, a waitress asks Michael Sullivan and his son what they are doing in the middle of nowhere. Michael Sullivan Jr answers that they are bank robbers in an innocent voice. She treats this as a joke and doesn't look into the string of bank robberies following the gangster and his son across America.
- In Liar Liar, Jim Carrey is cursed to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth (at least as he perceives it) for a whole day, and unable to lie by omission or even remain silent. Naturally, he is asked what he really thinks of his bosses right in front of them. He gets out of the situation by taking it so far over the top that everyone thinks he's roasting them. He also attempts to trick the judge into adjourning for the day by beating himself up and then giving the judge a description of who did it (i.e. a desperate man). It almost works, until the judge asks him if he's able to continue. He's forced to say yes.
- True Lies shows that even under a Truth Serum, the bad guys don't believe Arnie when he says he's gonna kill 'em.
- In Creature with Atom Brain the forensic scientist, Chet Walker, is so annoyed by the press badgering him to give them details about the murder that he goes right out and tells them that the murder was committed by an undead monster with radioactive blood. They all get mad at him.
- Subverted in Ladyhawke. Mouse tells the Captain of the Guard that he saw Navarre going south, assuming that since they know he lies constantly they'll go the other direction. They go south anyway, since the Captain figured that Mouse would do just that.
Phillipe: "I told the truth, Lord! How can I learn any moral lessons when you keep confusing me this way?"
- In The Breakfast Club, principal Richard Vernon tries to publicly shame John Bender for having pulled a false fire alarm, leading to his detention:
Vernon: What would you do if your home, your family... your dope was on fire?Bender: Impossible, sir, it's in Johnson's underwear.
- Of course, earlier in the film he had indeed tucked his bag of weed into Brian Johnson's pants.
- In For a Few Dollars More, the Man With No Name joins a gang of robbers with the intent of getting close to their leader and kill him for the bounty on his head. His answer to the question why he wants to join: "Well, with such a big reward being offered on all of you gentlemen, I thought I'll might just tag along on your next robbery, might just turn you in to the law".
- Pirates of the Caribbean
Mullroy: What's your purpose in Port Royal, Mr. Smith?Murtogg: Yeah, and no lies.Jack Sparrow: Well, then, I confess, it is my intention to commandeer one of these ships, pick up a crew in Tortuga, raid, pillage, plunder and otherwise pilfer my weasely black guts out.Murtogg: I said no lies.Mullroy: I think he's telling the truth.Murtogg: If he were telling the truth, he wouldn't have told us.Jack Sparrow: Unless, of course, he knew you wouldn't believe the truth even if he told it to you.
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow does this with the two bickering redcoats, then points out that he knew they wouldn't believe him.
Jack Sparrow: You lied to me... by telling the truth?Angelica: Yes.Jack Sparrow: That is very good, may I use that?
- In Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Angelica tells Jack that she's convinced Blackbeard she's his daughter. He's understandably confused when it turns out she convinced him by virtue of it being true.
- Show Me Love: Elin mixes this with Not Listening to Me, Are You? and adds in a pile of "Really needs to say this aloud to another person."
[She and her mother is watching TV. Her mother is engrossed in the show.]Elin: [Out of the blue] Mom, I am a lesbian. I am a homosexual.[Her mother looks up from the tv, have clearly only heard one half of what she said]]Elin: ...just kidding.[Mom looks bewildered and then mentally shrugs and returns to her show.]
- Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter: When Lincoln's love interest Mary Todd asked Abe in a picnic why he was tired, he told her that he had been killing vampires at night, knowing full well that Mary would think he was joking.
- In Red Lights, Sally and Tom are watching Matheson getting torn apart during a televised debate, and Tom tells Sally he hopes Matheson doesn't end up using the "dog and bone" analogy. When she does, Sally asks Tom how he knows, and Tom replies sarcastically, "because I'm psychic". The Twist Ending is that he actually is.
- It's a Running Gag in Grosse Pointe Blank that no one ever believes Martin when, after being asked what he does for a living, he tells them he's a professional killer.
Debi: [after learning the truth] You were joking! People joke all the time about the horrible things they do, they don't do them! It's absurd!
- Ghost Ship: The major reveal in the film is innocuously foreshadowed pretty early on, but this only becomes clear in hindsight.
Epps: Have you told anyone else about this?Ferriman: Not a living soul.
- In Cabin by the Lake, horror writer and serial killer Stanley plainly tells his Hollywood agent over the phone that he's kidnapped a girl and is keeping her hostage to do some research for his script. She ignorantly tells him to drown the girl.
- The Fugitive:
- Dr. Richard Kimble has shaved off his beard and disguised himself as a doctor at a local hospital when a state trooper asks him if he's seen someone with Kimble's description, he says "Every time I look in the mirror, pal—except the beard, of course." Sounds risky, but it might have been more suspicious if he didn't acknowledge it.
- Later in the same film, when the real killer is asked if he knew any reason why Dr. Kimble would come after him, he says "Well, hell yeah—I have a prosthetic arm. I must have murdered his wife, right?"
- In X-Men: Days of Future Past, shortly after arriving in the past, Wolverine is confronted by some thugs who want to kill him for sleeping with their boss's daughter. Wolverine tries to convince them that it was his past self who did it and that they shouldn't be punishing him, all the while cracking some time travel jokes.
- In 7 Zwerge, when questioned by the castle guard, Brummboss announces that he's there to bring freedom back to the land, defeat the false Queen, and free Snow White. The guard assumes he's applying for Court Jester and lets him in.
- Done for a short time in The Princess Bride—Westley (still unable to move due to recently being Only Mostly Dead) taunts Humperdinck while lying in a bed with "It's possible, Pig, I might be bluffing. It's conceivable, you miserable, vomitous mass, that I'm only lying here because I lack the strength to stand,"—then, he stands up.
- From Day Night Day Night, when someone is assisting a girl who dropped her heavy backpack on the sidewalk, and is reluctant to receive help:
"What you got in there, body parts?""A bomb""Stop joking."
- In Presumed Innocent, Rusty says to the lawyer prosecuting him for the murder of his mistress "you're right—you're always right". The lawyer actually tells the judge about this "confession", to no avail.
- Done non-verbally as a Moment of Awesome in the Mel Brooks' remake of To Be or Not to Be. The theater trope sneaks several dozen Jewish refugees past a theater full of Nazis by dressing them up as clowns and making their getaway part of the show. When an elderly couple begins to panic, one of the clowns puts on a Nazi hat and pretends to be a Gestapo officer, then slaps Stars of David on them and marches them out to uproarious laughter.
- In Other Halves, when asked why she doesn't have a boyfriend, Jasmine responds, "Because I kill and eat all my sexual conquests." The viewer knows this is remarkably close to the truth.
- A man is pulled over for speeding by a cop. The cop asks him why he was going 60 in a 30-mile zone, the man replies "Well, officer, I'm in a hurry: I don't have my licence on me, since I stole this car, and I was trying to outrun you so I wouldn't have to shoot you since I'm carrying illegally harvested organs, and those don't keep very long. And I need to make up for lost time from where there's a bunch of potholes, I mean, yeah, I packed the container full of cocaine packets to cushion, but I still can't go that fast. And there's a corpse in the trunk too, I grabbed a hooker for the road but she got all hysterical on me." The panicking cop obviously calls for backup repeating what the man said, which arrives and starts searching the car. Of course, they don't find any guns, organs, cocaine or corpses and interrogate the driver, who presents his licence and registration. "Wait, you have a licence? The arresting officer said you didn't have one, that you stole this car, had a gun and were carrying cocaine and organs and corpses in the trunk!" "Yeah, I'll bet he told you I was speeding, too."
- At a small border post, a man crosses the border on bicycle every day with a package. The border guard becomes suspicious and starts searching the man every time, but never finds any contraband. He even asks the man if he's a smuggler, the man replies that he is but the guard cannot find any evidence. On the day of his retirement, the guard asks the man what it was he was smuggling, the man replies, "Bicycles".
- In Dragon Bones, when the valet wonders where Ward's new clothes come from, Ward replies "Oh, probably the house ghost. Why don't you ask him?". It turns out the clothes are really from Oreg, who is not quite a ghost, but close enough. This is especially effective because Ward has been Obfuscating Stupidity for a long time, so even people who think he's sincere don't believe him to be right.
- Occurs in Crime and Punishment when Raskolnikov is surprised by a policeman in a café. Raskolnikov makes a point to lead the policeman on as much as possible that Raskolnikov would make a great criminal, going so far as telling the policeman nearly exactly how he had managed to escape from blame so far. Once the policeman seemed to be catching on, Raskolnikov admits that he did murder the pawnbroker. Then he laughs in the policeman's face shortly after, causing the confession to sound like a mean spirited joke and the policeman is forced to dismiss his suspicions. For extra measure, Raskolnikov then sarcastically rubs more evidence that he did actually do it in the policeman's face as he hastily leaves the café. This is more than implied to have happened out of Raskolnikov's burgeoning guilt, however, so Raskolnikov was most likely hoping the policeman would stay suspicious and apprehend him at a later time.
- Happens a few times in Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.
- In Hogfather, the parents who employ Susan as their governess see her leaving the basement with a fire poker, and ask why. Susan answers that their daughter Twyla thought she heard a monster in the basement. They assume that she had gone down to pretend to beat it up for the children's sake, adding that the poker was a nice touch. Susan wasn't pretending.
- In The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents, Malicia (the mayor's daughter) is an avid "storyteller" with a flair for the dramatic, insisting that every ordinary aspect of life in general has some sort of fairytale-themed supernatural basis. Of course, by this point nobody in town ever believes anything she says, so when the adults of the town finally stop carrying the Idiot Ball and go looking for the bad guys (for the wrong reason, of course) and question her and Keith, it leads to this little gem:
Malicia rolled her eyes. "All right, yes," she said. "They got here and a talking cat helped us to feed them poison, and now they're locked in the cellar." The men looked at her. "Yeah, right," said the leader, turning away. "Well, if you do see them, tell them were looking for them, okay?" Malicia shut the door. "It's terrible, not being believed," she said.
- In Going Postal, Moist Von Lipwig often states the truth of what he is as a criminal, and what he does, but in such a way that everyone takes it as him being heroic... and the only one who believes him (and who didn't know beforehand) not only forgives him for what he did that hurt her personally, but also enjoys watching him when he's in the midst of his latest scheme. Oh, and is his fiancée.
- In Making Money, when this same phenomenon suddenly becomes tremendously inconvenient, he laments that he must have some dual superpower, to allow little old ladies to see right through him, but like what they see.
- At the end of Patricia Briggs' Mooncalled, when asked about a large bruise, Jesse explains that her father had killed the one who gave it to her and it's laughed off, the questioner unaware that her father is the alpha of the local werewolf pack and really did kill the guy. Later, Mercy is asked about her broken arm.
I remembered Jesse's method of telling the whole truth, and said, "I got knocked into a bunch of wooden crates by a werewolf while I was trying to rescue a young girl from the clutches of an evil witch and a drug lord."
"Ha-ha," he said in the exact same tone as I'd given his joke. "Must have been something stupid if you won't tell the truth."
Stefan: Sounds interesting. I'll meet you at your garage.Mercy: *narrating* See. Some people believe me.
- Also played for comedy at the very end, where Mercy gives the exact same excuse in the exact same tone to Stefan.
- Subverted in G. K. Chesterton's short story "The Worst Crime in the World", in which Father Brown accompanies a lawyer to visit the father of Captain Musgrave. The priest's niece is considering marriage with the captain, while the lawyer's firm is considering lending him money, so they're interested in his character (and whether his father is on good enough terms with him to leave him money). The father says that while he will leave his son the estate, he will never speak to him again, because his son committed "the worst crime in the world". In fact, the captain had murdered his father just before they arrived, and was passing himself off as his father during the conversation.
- San does this in Zen and the Art of Faking It.
Old Lady: You again! What are you doing this time?
San: (poking around in a sandbox) I'm looking for a place to hide my coat, gloves, and sneakers because everyone at my school thinks I'm a Zen master. Is that okay?
Old Lady: Sure. Just try not to hide them behind my invisible flying saucer, alright?
- In Agatha Christie's The Murder at the Vicarage (the first Miss Marple novel), two characters give implausible confessions shortly after the murder, apparently in mutual attempts to shield each other. In fact, they are telling the truth but are not believed.
- Another Agatha Christie example: In Why Didn't They Ask Evans?, the heroine, with the help of a doctor, decides to fake a car wreck in order to gain entrance to what she believes is the murderer's house. The results in the following exchange:
Passerby: I say, has there been an accident?Doctor: No, the lady ran her car into the wall on purpose.
- At the end of the Sherlock Holmes story "The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton", Lestrade comes and gives Holmes a description of one of the men seen fleeing Milverton's residence the night he was murdered. Holmes laughs at the vagueness of the description and declines to take the case. "Why, that might even be a description of Watson..." They witnessed his murder by a noblewoman of high standing, having broken in for information in the first place.
- In Artemis Fowl, the fairies can't enter a human dwelling unless they've been invited. In a scene in the third book, Artemis sarcastically asks Corrupt Corporate Executive Jon Spiro if he thinks Artemis is going to get the C Cube back with the help of his fairy friends. Spiro laughs and tells Artemis that he can bring all the fairy friends he wants, giving Holly and the rest access to the building. Juliet later gets Holly permission to enter another building by adopting a "little girl" attitude and asking "Can I bring my invisible friend?"
- Double subverted in The Sword of Truth. A nondescript man shows up at the Wizard's Keep and declares, "I am an assassin, sent by Emperor Jagang, to kill Richard Rahl. Could you direct me to him please?" As would probably happen in real life, the guards aren't sure whether to believe him or not, but they do assume that this guy is trouble somehow and treat him as a threat. The double subversion occurs when it turns out that his aim was to be taken inside the Keep as a prisoner, at which point he reveals that he is a wizard and starts kicking people's asses in an endeavour to do exactly what he said he would do. They beat him, but with difficulty.
- In Simon Hawke's Time Wars book The Zenda Vendetta, one of the main characters is impersonating the protagonist of The Prisoner of Zenda, who is supposed to be impersonating the kidnapped king of Ruritania. The king's fiancée comments that he's been acting strange and jokingly asks what he's done with the real king. The impostor replies, with perfect honesty, that the king has been locked up in Zenda Castle as part of a plot by his half-brother, and she tells him not to joke about something like that.
- In Robert A. Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land. When Jill smuggles the Man from Mars out of the hospital in a large trunk, a passing cop asks her what the trunk contains. She replies, truthfully, "A body"... he considers it a joke and lets her pass.
- Similarly, in Time Enough for Love, Lazarus Long remarks that one of two ways to tell a lie artistically is to tell the truth in such a manner that no one actually believes you.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Arrow's Fall (part of the Valdemar series), the heroine Talia is imprisoned by the bad guys. When they learn the Valdemarans have found out their plans, they interrogate Talia as to how she informed them, and, aware that she will not be able to hold out under Cold-Blooded Torture indefinitely, she intentionally starts off by telling them a truth she knows they will not believe: "My horse warned them."
- The narrative further mentions that this is specifically a part of her training as a Herald; she and her fellow trainees are previously warned that, subjected to enough torture, they will eventually break down and give up whatever information they're being tortured for, so the best precaution is to throw out so many lies, half-truths, and Sarcastic Confessions that no one will believe the truth when they hear it.
- 'Best' in the sense that the information (that may be obsolete in a few months) is kept safe. Perhaps not so good from the point of view of the torture victim, if they have hidden the truth so well they will not have any left to tell the torturer and therefore the torture will not stop.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Magnificent Bastard Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish tells Ned Stark that he shouldn't trust him. Stark takes it as a general advice to be more cynical in King's Landing. In fact, Baelish proves to be quite untrustworthy.
- In Ellery Queen's Inspector Queen's Own Case: November Song, when the adopted baby is smothered, his mother breaks down in hysterics, blaming herself; her husband ends up sending her to a very discreet private hospital to try to recover. In fact, she had learned that the baby was her husband's illegitimate son, and had snapped and killed the boy.
- The Shaman Laughs, by James D. Doss. The perpetrator confesses directly to the police under the guise of helping them with their investigation.
- Subverted in Into the Thinking Kingdom, where Simna when captured mentions something about his captors. When they ask how he knows he sarcastically says "A little bird told me" which is just a saying. His captors freak out, as it turns out they actually have birds that are basically thought reading parrots, and they start to think that Simna is actually an extremely perceptive and dangerous person.
- In Night World, Quinn talks to some girls at a death-themed club he frequents that he might be from another world, or that maybe he isn't human. When Rashel says that she came to the club to find darkness while flirting with him, he laughs, "And you found it!" Lampshaded:
That's right, Rashel thought. Make fun of them by telling them a truth they won't believe.
- In The Alchemist, when guards ask the eponymous Alchemist what the egg and bottle of liquid in his possession are, he replies that they're actually the fabled Philosopher's Stone and Elixir of Life, and they share a good laugh. He later explains to the young protagonist that he could tell them the truth because only wise men can recognize truth in front of them.
- Stanisław Lem's Peace on the Earth contains "history" of weapon design in the beginning of the third millennium. It was published separately with preface claiming that the text is secret document in future, and the author found no better way to hide the document than to publish it as Sci-Fi.
- Barbara Hambly's Dog Wizard: When a wizard from another world is exiled to San Francisco and joins a dojo to keep up his sword fighting skills, he explains that his technique may be a bit unique as he is a wizard in exile from another world.
- In Deep Wizardry, Nita reacts to a question from her little sister about where she and Kit have been all day with, "Turning into whales." Subverted in that said little sister connects the dots with some other weirdness that's been going on, and her suspicions are not allayed in the slightest.
- Bit of an inversion in Dangerous Liaisons: Valmont was having an affair with a woman whose bedroom was placed between her husband's and her lover's rooms. When she tried to go back to her room the door was locked. Valmont convinced her to scream loudly, then he broke down the door, letting her run into bed while pretending to the husband and lover that she had been screaming for some minutes before they heard her pretending that she woke up and thought there was an intruder. She was able to truthfully claim that she had never been so terrified.
- Alden Nowlan's poem "Fair Warning", where the author is detailing his imprisonment of his brother, explains why the poem exists:
I could confess to
murder and as long as
I did it in a verse
there's not a court
that would convict me
- At the start of The Day Watch Alisa gets a lift to work, and tells the driver she's a witch who wants to turn people to darkness. He thinks she's joking and plays along. She later uses the same trick on a group of little girls she ends up looking after.
- In Al-Farabi's commentary on Plato's Laws, Al-Farabi claims that Plato is using this trope.
- In Aliens Ate My Homework by Bruce Coville, Rod has a near-pathological barrier against telling lies. So when the eponymous aliens eat his homework, and he holds the torn sheets up to class, he just tells the class the truth. Grakker, the aliens' captain, is furious with him for revealing their existence, but diplomat Madame Pong compliments him on "the creative use of truth."
- Played with in Isaac Asimov's short story "Pate de Foie Gras", (a spoof scientific article ostensibly written by a Department of Agriculture employee) about a goose which through some unknown atomic transmutation process really does lay golden eggs. Since the golden eggs don't produce more geese, there's only the one, so they can't afford to dissect it for study. Stumped, they turn to the public for an answer, openly publishing the story in a science fiction magazine in the knowledge that it won't be believed but will still get a pile of thought-out responses from its audience.
- Done in the Star Wars EU novel Rogue Planet, when Anakin tells a guard that he's talking to the planet himself, who is getting ready to blast the invaders out of the sky.
- In The Time Traveler's Wife, Clare pulls this when Alicia tells her she could swear she once saw a naked 40-year-old Henry in her house.
Alicia: Maybe it was, you know, astral projection or something.Clare: Time travel.Alicia: Oh, yeah, right. God, how bizarre.
- Harry Potter:
- In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore tells Snape, "unless you are suggesting that Harry and Hermione are able to be in two places at once, I'm afraid I don't see any point in troubling them further." This one is less about Snape not believing it, and more about him needing an excuse to pretend that he believes that Harry and Hermione couldn't have done it; after all, he would already know that Hermione had access to a time-turner, which would allow her (and Harry) to be in two places at once.
- In Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, after Harry is entered into the Triwizard Tournament as a fourth contestant, Barty Crouch Jr., under the guise of Mad-Eye Moody explains exactly hownote and whynote someone could've pulled it off.
- Barbara Michaels' The Dancing Floor has a scene in which a member of a coven points out to the heroine that, since the authorities don't believe in witchcraft, a witch who killed someone by magic could brag about it and be perfectly safe as long as there was no way that witch could've done the killing without magic...
- In The Dresden Files, Harry Dresden appears on a talk show discussing magic (mostly whether or not it's real) alongside, among others, a Brazilian professor named Paolo Ortega, who maintains that "wizards" like Harry are just charlatans that use optical tricks and technology to sell their illusions, and quips to the audience that, with the proper preparation, he could appear to the audience to be a real live vampire. The audience laughs at the amusing joke. Guess what Ortega actually is?
- Resident Magnificent Bastard Dirk Provin from Jennifer Fallon's The Second Sons trilogy does this more than once. Every time brilliantly and no one believes him. Most significantly, his friend straight up ask him what he was doing on one very suspicious afternoon: he tells her that he just sent a message for their mortal enemies to meet them at their destination so he can defect to them and rise to a position of power within a shadowy evil religious organisation that is dominating their country. She laughs it off and gets mad at him once she realises he was telling the truth. Of course it was what he left out that made her want to actively kill him out of sheer frustration: that he single handedly put in place a scheme to bring down the entire governmental and religious regime and completely uproot a corrupt and deadly power system that an entire war and the death of thousands of people couldn't stop. Suffice to say the resistance movement is mightily pissed off that the only person he told this particular plan to was a mad mathematician with an opium addiction.
- In The Lies of Locke Lamora, Lamora, in the middle of his current Bavarian Fire Drill, first convinces one of the mark's employees to let him pass, then (once he has the mark's attention), yells at said employee for it, claiming, "I could've been a thief!" His goal: thievery.
- In a column included in the Harper Collins paperback edition of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Lemony Snicket says that the best way to keep a secret is to tell it to everyone, but pretend you are lying.
- Played with in Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. Anarchist terrorists disguise their intentions by loudly proclaiming themselves as anarchists, thus encouraging onlookers to dismiss them as merely harmless boors. Backfires on one character, who accidently invokes the trope whilst trying to convince the protagonist he is the real deal. Subverted later when it turns out the anarchists were actually police spies all along.
- In the world of Robin Hobb's Realm of the Elderlings, "the Wit", a magic allowing for communication with animals, is considered by many to be a vile sort of magic, justly punishable by death. In one scene in Fool's Errand, Fitz uses it to help him track a missing prince, his companion doesn't believe his lies as to how he managed it, and before thinking, he admits (sarcastically) that he could have used the Wit. Laurel didn't believe that, either.
- From The Shadow Of The Lion:
Policeman: [I'm looking for] a boy. Rumor has it he lives somewhere in this area of the city. Dark curly hair.Father Lopez: There are thousands of boys in Venice with dark curly hair. Doubtless I have this one hidden under a blanket in my cubicle.Policeman: [I'd] just wondered if you'd seen him, Father Lopez.Father Lopez: I did. When I see him again, I will tell him you're looking for him.
- In The Lost Queen, the sequel to The Faerie Path, Tania and Edric have just arrived back in the mortal world and their clothing is attracting some strange looks on the street. Edric cheerfully calls out to a passerby, "Hello there! We've just come from the Immortal Realm of Faerie. She's a princess." The woman just compliments them on their costumes.
- Brandon Sanderson's Warbreaker features a mercenary who is constantly telling one of the heroes that mercenaries (and sarcastically including himself in that statement) shouldn't be trusted, as they will inevitably betray you. It's a running joke for most of the novel. Too bad said mercenary's plans regarding said hero actually do involve betrayal.
- In Douglas Hulick's first novel, Among Thieves, Kell ends up with a priceless and extremely powerful book of magic, and after much deliberation decides to do something completely unthinkable and sell it to the Emperor. He's then caught by Shadow (who he had promised under duress to deliver the book to). Shadow figures Kell was planning to sell it to someone, and asks who. Kell answers truthfully, and as expected, his answer is treated as a hilarious joke.
- Dominique uses this twice in The Fountainhead to keep her relationship with Roark a secret when her admirer-then-husband Peter Keating asks her who else she's slept with. The first time, she tells him it was a worker in the granite quarry, and he laughs it off. The second time, she simply says, "Howard Roark," and he sulkily answers, "Fine—you don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
- Karou from Daughter of Smoke and Bone tells the truth, the full truth, and nothing but the truth. The truth being that she was raised by chimeraes that can grant her wishes using teeth, no one believes her and assumes she's joking, just as she planned.
- Having used magic to make her hair grow naturally blue, and naturally people question it. She finds that the best response is to say "It grows out of my head like this" and pretend she's being coy.
- In Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, Ivan Vorpatril is sent to bodyguard a young woman, but she and her sister mistake him for a hired killer. The next morning, Ivan's commanding officer notices his discomfort.
Ivan's CO: Heavy drinking last night, Vorpatril?
Ivan: No, sir, not a drop. I was kidnapped by two beautiful women and held prisoner in their flat all night. They didn't let me get a wink of sleep.
Ivan's CO: Save your sex fantasies for your friends, Ivan.
- In the Ascendance Trilogy, Sage/Jaron is the king pun intended of this trope. Although he will out and out lie if needed, he prefers to present the truth in a slanted, sarcastic, or unbelievable way.
- In The Lost Fleet, Rione convinces Geary that she and Desjani are not fighting over him by... accusing him of being arrogant enough to assume that they're fighting over him. It works, and Geary remains ignorant until Rione decides to tell him.]
- InCryptid, twice by Verity.
- In Discount Armageddon, after Dominic reacts with horror to Verity talking about The Masquerade in a coffee shop in midtown Manhattan, Verity promptly gets up on a table and describes the substance of their conversation to onlookers. Not surprisingly, said onlookers make fun of the revelation.
- Revisited in Chaos Choreography, where Verity explains that if you start talking about creatures that everybody knows to be fantasy, those around you assume you are talking about a recent episode of a TV show and tune out. She explains this to a chupacabra ballroom dancer.
- Referenced in the Temps story "Totally Trashed": When Leonora is arguing with her boyfriend about the amount of cat litter in his flat, she sarcastically asks if he thinks it clings to her throughout the day, only detaching when she visits him, or that she takes it round in bags and scatters it when he's not looking to feel more at home. She briefly considers suggesting in a similar tone that maybe she's got a paranormal ability to generate the stuff out of thin air (which she does), but decides that would be pushing her luck.
- In an episode of Workaholics, Blake does these after being caught wearing Ders' underwear. He quickly drops the sarcasm.
Ders: Who wears underwear under swim trunks anyway? Now I know you peed in 'em.Blake Yeah, I peed in 'em, right! Actually, I did pee in 'em.
- Used by Cordelia right to Angel's face. She admits to causing the entire first half of the season sarcastically.
- Inverted by Angelus, who uses a sarcastic denial of guilt to torment his friends. He's discovered drinking a dead person's blood, and declares that it isn't what looks like. It isn't—he just found the corpse after it was killed by the same mole as in the above example, and was feeling peckish.
- Wesley's father asks why he doesn't have a girlfriend; Wesley responds truthfully that he hacked up his last girlfriend with an ax. Dad tells him off for being sarcastic, though Wesley wasn't actually trying to hide the truth, even sarcastically.
- Sometimes used in Bones, confusing Dr. Brennan.
- On Mad Men, Harry is detailing to Stan all the filthy things he would do to Megan Draper. "Hi, Megan," says Stan, looking over Harry's shoulder. Harry says, "Ha ha, very funny," and continues his dirty talk, unaware that Stan wasn't lying about Megan being right behind him. (Stan may not have been trying to sound like he was lying, but after Harry fails to take the hint, Stan then starts encouraging him to dig that hole even deeper.)
- In Alias Smith and Jones, Heyes and Curry find themselves accidentally impersonating two of the agents who are supposed to catch them. Another agent realizes they're not who they say they are and asks their real names. Heyes promptly says, "Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry", and the agent assumes they just don't want to tell him who they really are.
- Battlestar Galactica:
- Tyrol is afraid at one point that he might be a Cylon sleeper agent; the priest, Cavil, assures him that he is not. When Tyrol asks him how he knows, Cavil sarcastically replies, "Because I'm a Cylon, and I've never seen you at any of our meetings." Of course, no one takes it seriously at the time... but then he's revealed to be a Cylon in the very next episode. Savvy viewers start suspecting it from that line alone, since Chip Six made the same joke earlier.
- Taken further with the alternate viewpoint movie "The Plan," where it's revealed there have been actual Cylon meetings on Galactica.
- Played With when Boomer (who hadn't yet discovered she was a Cylon) sarcastically says that she is one.
- Burn Notice:
- Happens occasionally when one of the cast is undercover. For example, in an episode where Michael was hired as a security consultant by an art dealer to find someone spying on him, he finds out that the culprit was a woman whose father the dealer had killed. He spends the rest of the episode messing with the art dealer's security, including wiping out a hard drive containing security footage with an electromagnet. When explaining how the drive could've been erased, he puts quite a bit of emphasis on the possibility of someone using an electromagnet.
- And that's not even mentioning all the lines like "Your spy could be standing right in front of you and you wouldn't even know it!" As Television Without Pity put it when Michael eventually revealed his real identity and the bad guy was shocked: "Dude, he tried to tell you. Like, nine times."
- In "Hard Out", Michael is trapped on an island with a bunch of nasty mercenaries, so he pretends to be a superior in their chain of command. When he's asked why they should believe his story, he pulls this on them: "Oh, you think we're lying, smart guy? You think we're intruders who just landed on this island with heavily-armed troops; we walked right up to you, just to tell you you have a broken comlink?" Yes, in fact. (He merely left out the part where the comlink is broken because he just destroyed it.) Later that same episode, he pulls the same line as in the previous example: "For all we know, a team of highly-trained operatives could be after those files, right now!" (Indeed there is, and they're talking to one of them.)
- A variant (Sarcastic Denial) occurs in the Blackadder The Third episode "Nob and Nobility". Having killed The Scarlet Pimpernel, Blackadder tells Prince George that the real Pimpernel would never admit his identity, so the Prince's enormous postal order belongs to someone who has been to France and rescued an aristocrat but, when asked "Are you the Scarlet Pimpernel?", replies "Absolutely not, sir." George quickly realizes that Blackadder has (supposedly) been to France and rescued an aristocrat, and asks if he is the Scarlet Pimpernel. Blackadder replies, completely truthfully, "Absolutely not."
- In the Christmas special, the Elizabethan Blackadder performs a double bluff wherein he confesses truthfully to Lord Melchett (Stephen Fry) that the queen is thinking of beheading anyone who tries to give her a present, knowing that he'll think it to be a lie and decide to give her one. (This leads to the hilarious line, "Baldrick, you wouldn't see a subtle plan if it painted itself purple and danced naked on top of a harpsichord singing "Subtle plans are here again!") The plan backfires when the queen changes her mind and ends up demanding a present from Blackadder, who of course doesn't have one, but he gets it to backfire *again* in his favor when he tricks Melchett and the queen into signing a death warrant for Melchett and persuades her to let him inherit all of the things she promised Fry's character in exchange for his gift.
- Subverted in one episode. House was taken away by the CIA, and when he called Dr. Wilson, Wilson (at least initially) didn't believe him. Dr. Cuddy (their boss) asks Wilson where House is, and she doesn't believe Wilson, either. At the end of the episode, Cuddy asks House where he's been, and tells him he better not say it was the CIA or she'll give House and Wilson extra clinic hours. House then had to come up with an alternative explanation Cuddy will actually believe. Unfortunately, Cuddy wouldn't believe that House would be willing to be hired for a day by a rich guy with a sick child, stating that it's actually more plausible that House was with the CIA (and they get the extra clinic hours).
- Used straight in the episode "Top Secret", where Foreman almost catches Chase and Cameron having sex at the workplace while they should be watching over a patient. When he later inquires what they were doing, Chase comes with a quick and shady excuse that just seems to make the exposing of their naughty deed inevitable. At this point Cameron tells the truth, which Foreman just grimaces over and drops the subject.
Foreman: (laughs) House would do Wilson before you'd do Chase.
- Used again in the season finale of season 4, when Wilson asks House what he didn't say aloud about Amber while he was under hypnosis. House responds honestly, "I wanted to see her naked," but Wilson doesn't believe him originally.
- Also in the recent season. While not actually spoken, the detective guy gives Cuddy a picture of House as a college cheerleader to earn her trust. She admits she knew the picture was falsified. Turns out it wasn't.
- Yet again, season 5 episode 7, when his employees ask House why Cuddy went to talk to him, he just blurts it out. No one believes him except Wilson, later on.
House: I kinda hit that last night, and now she's all up on my jock.Wilson: Wow! Wha... what?House: Huh. Everyone else thought I was kidding.
- Some House/Wilson shippers like to think House does this in the episode "The Mistake".
Stacy: What are you hiding?
House: I'm gay. (Stacy looks unimpressed) Oh, that's not what you meant! It does explain a lot, though. No girlfriend... always with Wilson... obsession with sneakers...
- Another example from "The Jerk":
House: Oh, and I need your permission to give a 17-year-old kid psychedelic mushrooms to treat a cluster headache.Cuddy: Sure, no problem.House: Thanks![Cue Cuddy's Oh Crap! expression as House walks away and she realizes he was serious.]
- A first-season episode had House's general sarcasm mistaken for this because it sounded too much like the kind of thing he would do.
House: I'm subjecting a twelve-year-old to a battery of dangerous and invasive tests to avoid being bored. (beat) Okay, maybe I would do that, but I'm not.
- Psych: When a criminal makes Shawn prove his Psychic Powers by telling how many fingers he's holding up behind his back, Shawn can see the fingers using an overly-elaborate series of reflections including a TV, mirror, and glass of water. When he tells the criminal that that's what's going on, he, naturally, doesn't believe him.
- The Secret World of Alex Mack:
- The ingredients in some exotic curry Alex ate have reacted with the GC-161 to give her Super Strength. Unfortunately, it wore off exactly when she and her Secret Keepers were testing the ability, and Ray needs to bring her the rest of the curry so she can lift the Earth cat off her foot. When he finds her father about to eat the last of it, Ray grabs it, explains the above at Motor Mouth speed, and runs off.
- In another episode, Alex bribes her friend Louis into impersonating her for a doctor's visit. He manages to fool everyone, but almost spoils it at the end; when the doctor reveals that he plays up the Mad Doctor persona for his amusement, Louis angrily retorts that he was just pretending to be Alex Mack and the doctor fell for it.
- Seven Days has the main character casually give an accurate account of the secret government Time Travel program on live television, including the plots of several episodes, and the fact that they pulled him out of an asylum to fly the time machine. The reporter is fired for letting him on the air.
- John Amsterdam of New Amsterdam does this a LOT. He tells anyone who asks that he's an immortal 400-year-old. Paraphrased:
John: I can read lips.
Partner: I suppose you were also deaf.
John: Was for a while. Back in Normandy. A shell exploded too close for comfort.
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles:
- In the first-season finale, Morris asks Cameron whether the car she's standing next to is hers. She responds by telling him it belongs to the man she just killed and was loading into the trunk when he found her. The particularly hilarious part is how it's impossible to tell if she was actually using a sarcastic confession, since the car did presumably belong to a criminal she'd killed because his boss was threatening John and his family... but she might have just killed him and hidden his body elsewhere, instead of the trunk.
- In the episode "Alpine Fields", one almost hopes that Lauren telling her father that she was looking at lesbian porn was a Sarcastic Confession gone wrong, and the resulting outrage was just a cover-up (she was kind of butch).
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force the record-store boss Toby demands to know why his employees keep leaving work abruptly. Yellow Ranger Chip tells him they are Power Rangers and he simply laughs it off; when he walks away, his two teammates look at him with a What-Were-You-Thinking?! look, and he sums it up nicely: "The truth is hardest to believe."
- In The Pretender, Jarod is completely honest about how he came by his impressive skills. Since he is a genius who can learn things extremely quickly, these answers are along the lines of "I learned it from a book" or "I forged my transfer papers". Almost everyone assumes he's joking.
- From Pushing Daisies, though it was an actual confession mistaken for sarcasm.:
Olive: Are you and the pie-maker in some kind of cahoots together?
Chuck: I died. He brought me back to life. Cahoots enough for you?
Olive: If you don't want to tell me, just say so.
- In Gossip Girl, after Blair loses her virginity to Chuck, her on-again-off-again boyfriend Nate has the following conversation with Chuck, who is also Nate's best friend:
Nate: Could you find who she's seeing?
Nate: Yes. Come on, man, who better?
Chuck: Who better, indeed.
- In a 3rd Rock from the Sun episode where Sally, Tommy, and Harry broke into Mary's house and decided to stay even after Officer Don showed up:
Suzie Martin: Hi, you must be Mary Albright.
Sally: Uh... yeah. Otherwise I'd be this strange person that broke in and was hanging around even though the police told me to leave.
Fellow patient: How do you like him?
- Dexter often uses such to put people at ease. Regarding a therapist he's investigating:
Dexter: He's all right. But I'm a sociopath, so there's not much he can do for me.
- And in a flashback to his first date with Rita, she says his sister has been telling her all about him, and he jokes, "You mean she admitted the fact that I'm an ax murderer?"note
- In Primeval, after a mammoth has ravaged the M25 Motorway, this exchange occurs between Jenny and an Intrepid Reporter:
Reporter: I've seen the pictures. That thing is too big to be an elephant.
Jenny: Do you know what? You're right. It's actually a mammoth.
Reporter: I could do without the wind up.
- Clark Kent has used the same tactic as in the animated series on Smallville, such as when he and Pete discover Rose Grier's dead body stuffed in a cupboard:
Pete: How'd you know she was in there?
Clark: Because I can see right through the door, Pete.
Pete: Very funny, Sherlock.
- When the title character of Nurse Jackie urges doctor Coop to oppose the introduction of a pharmacy robot that'll put the pharmacist, Eddie, out of a job, he jokingly accuses her of having a "little crush on Eddie", to which she replies:
Jackie: Yeah. That's it, Coop, I have a huge crush on Eddie. In fact, we fuck every day at noon. You're a moron.
(cut to the clock in Eddie's pharmacy, where he and Jackie are fucking... at noon)
- In Veronica Mars, Veronica uses this every so often on her dad. She has a tendency to give him this kind of answer even when she isn't actually doing anything shady (e.g., answering "How was your date?" with "Lousy conversation, but the sex was fantastic!" when the most that happened was a peck on the cheek), which makes it work better.
- One example:
Keith: What are you doing tonight?
Veronica: I'll be meeting two hookers at my boyfriend's place.
- And in a later episode, when she answers the phone.
Veronica: If you're wondering what I'm doing at this time of night, I'm hanging outside a convenience store, eating corn nuts and watching strippers.
- One example:
- In the Taxi episode "Crime and Punishment", Louie has been embezzling money from the company, and when this money is discovered to be missing, he attempts to frame Jeff in hopes that the whole thing will blow over without incident. Alex, who all along suspected that Louie was covering his own crime, threatens to turn him in if he didn't himself. Louie confesses in private with their manager, who immediately breaks down laughing in disbelief, and even drops charges against Jeff because of how ridiculous he find the idea of Louie committing this theft. When Alex arrives to ensure that Louie confessed, they both partake in hilarity over his "alleged" dishonesty, with Louie even pretending to steal a piece of office equipment on the way out.
- And afterwards, the boss invites Louie to play golf with him. Louie sarcastically admits that he cheats on the score.
- Dollhouse: Paul Ballard, who's been in the role of Agent Mulder all season with regards to the Dollhouse, invokes it deliberately when he tells the perfect truth to FBI agents summoned by a fake report of a terrorist threat: there is no threat, but they're standing in front of the Dollhouse and he can show them everything. As he expected, they leave in disgust (of course, he had nothing to lose if they believed him either).
- Arrested Development: While visiting a film studio with Tobias, Maeby ducks into an empty office to use the phone. She's found by an employee:
Jeff: Sorry, is this your office?
Maeby: No, I'm just sitting behind someone else's desk, pretending these are my kids.
- Played straight in Stingray (1964) when Agent X-2-Zero, upon being questioned by a security, tells him that he has kidnapped Troy Tempest and locked him in his car boot.
- On one episode of Fawlty Towers wherein Basil is putting on a painted smile and a false air of jollity in front of one of the old ladies who have permanent residence at the hotel because he's trying to pretend like nothing's wrong when a guest had (unknown to most everyone) died in his sleep, she says, "You're very cheerful this morning, Mr. Fawlty!" to which he replies with just enough faux merriment so she'll think he's kidding, "Yes, well one of the guests has just died!!"
- Sabrina the Teenage Witch seems to be very fond of this one. In one particular episode, her aunts' accountant shows up, turning out to work inside a file cabinet. When mortal friend Valerie walks in and hears noises within the cabinet, Sabrina simply says "Oh, yeah, there's a guy in there." Valerie laughs and moves on.
- Invoked. Sam and Dean need to be admitted into a mental ward for a case, so they earnestly explain to the doctor that they're monster hunters who accidentally started the Apocalypse. Naturally, nobody believes them except the monster they're looking for, who tells them how stupid it was of them to do so.
- In a flashback in another episode, teenage Dean has been sent to a boys' home after being caught shoplifting. When asked how he got his black eye, he sarcastically replies, "Werewolf."
- Breaking Bad:
- In the third-season premiere, brother-in-law and DEA agent Hank is helping Walter move out of his home after a falling-out with his wife. One black duffel bag is heavy, and Walter isn't supposed to do any heavy lifting. Hank insists, and feels the heft. "What have you got in there, cinder blocks?" Without a drop of irony, Walter replies, "Half-million in cash." Hank only chuckles and says, "That's the spirit," not realizing that Walter actually does have half a million dollars in cash that he obtained by selling crystal meth.
- In a later episode, Hank is going through Gale's lab notes and begins wondering who this "W.W." person is whom he praises. After joking that it might stand for "Walter White", a nervous Walt puts his hands up and sarcastically says, "All right, you got me." Much later on, Hank finds a book in Walter's house with a handwritten dedication to "W.W." by "G.B."...
- Lydia takes precautions to keep Walter from killing her, prompting Walter to impatiently say that, yes, he will actually kill her in broad daylight, in a public place, with witnesses everywhere which he was in fact totally planning to do by poisoning her tea.
- Doctor Who, "Underworld". The Doctor goes back to the planet to get rid of the fake race banks, which are actually bombs. He travels all the way back to where he can get captured again (rather than just leaving them on the surface) so it's obvious that he planned to have them taken from him, and, when forced to give them up, he explains that they are really bombs. "You can do better than that," replies a villain and confiscates them. The bombs blow up the planet, of course.
- The Office:
Jim: (later, in interview) Yep, that's exactly what we did.
- A series of suspicious mouse-clicks and taps leads Dwight to believe that Jim and Pam are talking about him behind his back in Morse code. Jim says, sarcastically, that yes, new parents Jim and Pam used their very limited time and money to learn an obsolete form of communication specifically to mess with Dwight.
- In another episode, Jim hides Andy's phone in the ceiling. Later when Andy is fervently looking for it, Jim sarcastically tells him where it is, but Andy's too aggravated to realize the confession-half.
- Merlin (2008):
- In the episode "The Beginning of the End", King Uther orders the execution of a young druid boy, Mordred. Merlin and Morgana notice he's been injured, and hide him in Morgana's room. When Prince Arthur comes into the room to look for the kid (he's doing a city-wide search), he and Morgana share this little gem of an exchange:
Arthur: As much as I'd like to stay and talk, the sooner we get started, the sooner we'll be finished.
Morgana: Well, I'll save you the trouble.
Arthur: Trust me, if I could find him, I would.
Morgana: The druid boy's hiding behind the screen.
[cue Merlin freaking out behind the screen, and Arthur's not-so-surreptitious glance toward it]
Morgana: I'm sure your father would love to know how you wasted your time rifling through my things. Go on.
Arthur: So you can have the satisfaction of making me look a fool?
Morgana: In my experience, you don't need any help looking like a fool.
- In "The Darkest Hour", Merlin tells Arthur, "You have no idea how many times I've saved your life." Arthur's response is that when he's king, Merlin can be his court jester.
- Can't forget Brainwashed and Crazy Merlin in "A Servant of Two Masters":
Sir Leon: [about a fancy crossbow] Will that do the job?Merlin: Oh, yes. That will do the job nicely.Sir Leon: Er, what is the job, exactly?Merlin: To kill Arthur.Sir Leon: He's driving you mad, is he?Merlin: Not for much longer.
- In the episode "The Beginning of the End", King Uther orders the execution of a young druid boy, Mordred. Merlin and Morgana notice he's been injured, and hide him in Morgana's room. When Prince Arthur comes into the room to look for the kid (he's doing a city-wide search), he and Morgana share this little gem of an exchange:
- Happens on Wings when Brian is trying to figure out if Joe slept with Alex (whom both the brothers have been pursuing).
Brian: Joey, you're my brother. Just tell me. Whatever you say, I'll believe it.
Joe: All right. I didn't sleep with her.
Joe: Okay. I slept with her.
- In the Due South episode "Hawk and a Handsaw", Fraser manages to get himself committed to a psych ward (intentionally—he's going undercover) simply by showing up in full dress uniform and telling the precise truth about his past.
Psychologist: So, you're a Mountie, are you?
Fraser: Constable. Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Yes.
Psychologist: Here in Chicago.
Fraser: Well, you see, I used to live in the Yukon, but I uncovered a plot that involved drowning caribou and then some men who were dressed in white came after me with homicidal intentions. It's a rather long story and it takes exactly two hours to tell, but the upshot of it is I was sent here. I think I embarrassed some people in the government.
Psychologist: Do you have anyone who can vouch for you here?
Fraser: Well, yes, there's my wolf. Although I'm not sure he would vouch for me. If you know anything about lupine behavior, you know how moody they are, and, on top of that, he's deaf.
Fraser: I'd rather not say.
- Hogan's Heroes:
- Played with in the original pilot The crew's certain a new inmate is a spy and are trying to figure out what to do about him. Hogan decides to actually SHOW HIM their underground hideout. They blindfold him, walk him around the camp to the trap door and use a fake You Just Told Me to convince him they're under the water tower. Hilarity Ensues when the agent runs to his superiors, rambling about a counterfeit money press, a tailor forging Nazi uniforms, and a small factory that makes gun-shaped cigarette lighters—his "lighter" was swapped for an actual gun, and his attempts to trigger the trapdoor lead to him being doused in gallons of water. The other Germans think he's nuts.
- Happens again in a later episode, when Klink wonders why an allied agent suddenly disappeared from camp and asks if Hogan has anything to do with it. He responds with a sarcastic, "Next you're gonna say we smuggled him into camp and flew him out in a balloon!" That's exactly what they did.
- Jenna sees through one of these on Blake's 7:
Jenna: You wouldn't be trying to get rid of me, would you?Avon: I have to get rid of Blake first. You're next on my list.Jenna: That would have been very disarming, if I didn't know that you meant it.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Used sometimes by Buffy on her mother before Joyce learned the truth about what was going on:
Joyce: Honestly, don't you ever think about anything besides boys and clothes?Buffy: Saving the world from vampires?Joyce: I swear, sometimes I don't know what goes on in your head.
- Minor example in the final episode of the main story arc of Babylon 5. 500 years in the future, Earth has been bombed back to the Dark Ages by a high-tech war. An old monk is asked by a younger one why the Rangersnote don't return to help humanity. The elder suggests that perhaps humanity is not ready for them, but even now they have agents among them, slowly returning technology and helping where they can. The younger laughs and leaves... then the elder turns to the camera and begins his report back to the Rangers.
- In the pilot episode of Heroes, Claire, after rescuing someone from a burning building by simply walking into the building and shrugging off the heat of the flames, is asked by her mother what she did that day. Her answer, "I walked through fire without being burned," is dismissed as angsty teen-age poetry.
- NCIS borrowed from the above-mentioned scene from True Lies (DiNozzo even cited the movie) when Tony, McGee, and Ziva were being held captive by Somali terrorists who had doped up Tony on truth serum. Tony blithely announced that the lead terrorist was about to die. When the terrorist scoffed that Tony was lying, Tony told him, "I can't lie. And I didn't say I was the one who was going to kill you. Remember when I told you my boss was a sniper?" Cue the Crowning Moment of Awesome (and one very dead terrorist).
- The Wire: The district commanders are under pressure to reduce crime in their districts. What does Major Colvin say? "I thought I might legalize drugs."
- Hustle: Ash temporarily Cannot Tell a Lie, so when the mark asks if there's any reason he shouldn't transfer the money, Ash admits to being a con man and tells him that if he transfers the money he'll never see it again. Then he starts laughing and passes it off as a joke, Emma joins in, and the mark laughs with them and transfers the money.
- Life On Mars has a couple of examples:
- In 1x03, Gene Hunt offers a room full of mill workers a fiver to name the murderer. One of them points out a friend, who agrees, identifying the first man as his accomplice. The laughter dries up when Sam Tyler orders them both arrested and charged.
- In 2x06, Simon Lamb confesses to the murder of a student. Since his family's been kidnapped by someone demanding the release of the person convicted of the student's death and he's clearly distraught, the police dismiss his confession out of hand. Turns out...
- Inverted in Skins when Emily came out of the closet. When her father asked what she had been doing that afternoon, she answered with perfect honesty that she had had sex with her girlfriend, but her dad assumed that she was being sarcastic and apologized for snooping.
- In Revenge, Emily's friend Ashley warns her that Emily is suspected in a prank that resulted in all of the Hamptonite women having their secrets revealed in public. Emily points out that she was a victim too, then confesses, "That's exactly what I wanted. All my most embarrassing confessions [about my boyfriend] broadcast for all the world to see."
- White Collar:
Peter: You once told me you never lied to me and you never will. So, I need to know something. The first time Kramer and I went after you for the Degas, how'd you switch the paintings?Neal: I snuck up to the penthouse, pulled the swap, then BASE-jumped off the building and landed on Wall Street.Peter: Fine. Don't tell me.
- Neal also invokes this in the first season finale, wherein he tells everyone at a party that he's an art thief who's about to rob them. Though the party guests laugh it off, the security guards don't, and they haul him off. Turns out it was all part of the plan.
- In Season Two of the US Big Brother, "Evil Doctor Will" Kirby started out the game by literally telling everyone that he was untrustworthy, and that his strategy would be to lie, cheat, and steal from everyone else in the house, and backstab any so-called allies he might have as soon as there was profit to be had in betraying them. Everyone thought he was hilarious. Of course, this is exactly how he played the game and walked away with the prize.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: In the series 3 episode "Second Skin", the crew has to infiltrate Cardassian space, sneak onto Cardassia Prime and rescue the kidnapped Major Kira from the jaws of the Obsidian Order. Since they need his help, they take Garak with them but he's supposed to be confined to crew quarters until they reach Cardassia. Odo drags Garak onto the bridge for lurking suspiciously around some phaser banks to be given a reprimand by Sisko. Garak sarcastically tells them that he was merely going for a walk because the quarters are making him feel claustrophobic. No-one believes him but the whole incident, including the length of the exchange caused by his sarcastic "lie" does the job of getting him onto the bridge and then keeping him there long enough for trouble with Cardassian checkpoints to occur in his presence so he can step in and solve the crisis before it gets out of hand. Then, in series 5, it's finally revealed that Garak was telling the truth about suffering from claustrophobia: he has a very acute form of the condition that utterly debilitates him when it flares up.
- How I Met Your Mother:
Marshall: You two got in a fight. Really.Ted: Uh, no, Barney punched me and himself in the face to make it look like we got in a fight. Come on, Marshall.
- Barney and Ted pretend to get in a fight. In an attempt to make it look convincing, Barney discovers that he has an impressive right hook.
- Robin makes a remark in a "sarcastic" tone of voice about how she used to be in a relationship with Barney and still has feelings for him. Lily says that she has noticed that Robin has made many sarcastic confessions in the past, and she gives herself away by using this same distinctive tone of voice every time. Then we see a Montage of several such incidents, things like Robin wishing the Spice Girls would get back together.
- Malcolm in the Middle: When Lois sees Hal in the living room at the early hours of the morning:
Lois: You woke up early, Hal?Hal: No, I stayed up all night watching Mexican soap operas.[Lois' expression suggests that he should've just gone with "Yes, I woke up early."]
- Grimm: Nick is arrested by the FBI in connection with a murder and told that the DNA found at the crime scene isn't his, but is a close enough match to be a relative. When asked who he's covering for, he replies, "My mother." Since, according to public record, Nick's mother is dead, the agents write it off as sarcasm.
- In the first episode of Wolfblood, Maddy goes to school in wellington boots and is asked why. She comments that her shoes were eaten by a werewolf. The real reason: her wolfblood mother had used the shoe as a chew toy while transformed under the full moon. In a later episode Rhydian's brother tries to isolate Rhydian by announcing that that Rhydian's a wolfblood to a group of his classmates. Everyone just laughs.
- In a sketch on Saturday Night Live Will Forte plays a registered sex offender who just moved into a neighborhood and is going door to door alerting people (thus complying with Megan's Law) on Halloween; his plan is for people to think it's a Halloween "costume".
- In the Profit pilot Jim Profit blackmails his boss's secretary to leak a corporate scandal so he can pin it on one of his rivals. When someone at the board meeting calls for lie detector tests to find the culprit, Profit dissuades them by spinning a story about how easy it would be for anyone to have done it, giving himself as an example with the exact scenario he actually used.
- Hannibal loves sneaking jokes about his, er, eccentricities into casual conversation. By season two, he's reached a new low in subtlety:
Chilton: He tells everyone that you are a monster.Hannibal: (smiling pleasantly) Well, in that case, you're dining with a psychopathic murderer, Frederick. (they toast)
- In the Muppets Tonight episode "The Cameo Show", when Charles Darwin and two police officers come across the Muppets carrying the dead body of Arsenio Hall (It Makes Sense in Context), and Darwin asks "what's in the bag, a dead body?", they sarcastically admit that they killed the guest star. And then when he asks what's really in the bag, after they make sure he doesn't have a warrant, Rizzo says that it's Arsenio Hall, and they all laugh again.
- On The Listener Toby and the cops are interrogating a magician who is trained as a mentalist. The magician does an impressive Sherlock Scan and does a near perfect cold reading of everyone in the room. In turn Toby uses his telepathy to do the same thing to the magician by simply listening to the magician's thoughts. The magician is very impressed since he thought himself immune to the usual cold reading techniques. At the end of the episode he wants to know how Toby was able to read him so well and Toby admits to being a mind reader. The magician apologizes since he should have know that a fellow magician like Toby would never reveal his secret and it was unprofessional to even ask.
- 'Allo 'Allo! After hiding two British airmen from a Gestapo search, Fanny declares that she'll never reveal their presence, only to immediately say "There are two British airmen under the bed!" the moment Herr Flick enters. Flick walks off in a huff, thinking he's being made a fool of.
- Person of Interest: Finch attempts to get out of jury duty by explaining that he doesn't trust the government because an evil supercomputer is trying to take over the world. In another episode, in order to get himself admitted to a psychiatric ward, he earnestly tells the doctor about all the people who are trying to kill him.
- In Supergirl (2015), when Kara is asked by a waitress how she stays so thin, despite eating so many sticky buns, her reply: "I'm an alien." Ironically, this same waitress admires Supergirl as a role model for her daughter.
- In episode 7 of Dickensian, when Miss Havisham's cousin Matthew Pocket says he now trusts Compeyson's intentions, Compeyson replies "Then you are a fool, Pocket. Of course I intend to seduce Miss Havisham and steal her entire fortune. Every last penny of it." After a moment of uncertainty, they both start laughing, and Pocket says "You had me there, Compeyson!"
- In an episode of The Hour, Freddie confronts Kish and asks him if he killed Peter Darrall. Kish replies "Yes," then quickly adds "Every time we played at cards."
- The Equalizer. The psychiatric version happens in "The Last Campaign". McCall has to get inside a mental hospital where his client is being held incommunicado, so he tells the doctor that he used to work for an international organization of spies, and he wears black so he can fade into the dark during night operations. Later he needs to talk to another patient, so he truthfully explains to the doctor that she's also an ex-spy who's one of his agents.
- Horribly subverted in the story of Samson and Delilah. After lying about what his Achilles' Heel is three times, he tells the truth the fourth time, apparently expecting her not to believe him. He really should've seen it coming, though, since she did try all the other things he claimed would weaken him; there's really no reason to think she wouldn't give it a shot this time, too.
- In Exalted the Sidereals have a charm (magic power), Avoiding The Truth Technique, just for doing this.
- At the climax of the film/play Arsenic and Old Lace, Mortimer uses sarcasm combined with Refuge in Audacity to convince the police captain that his old aunts are crazy when they casually confess to having thirteen bodies buried in their cellar. It helps that they've just signed papers committing themselves to a mental institution.
- In Pygmalion, Henry Higgins is successfully (if secretly) passing off Eliza as a Duchess at a grand Ball; when he himself is asked his opinion of her, he says she's just a poor flower girl.
- In the musical version of The Scarlet Pimpernel, Sir Percy announces that he's the Scarlet Pimpernel in the middle of the royal ball, much to the amusement of all present.
- In The Goat, Martin uses a sarcastic confession to test the waters before he flat out confesses to his wife that he's been sleeping with the title character. She laughs it off.
- After the title character of Tartuffe is caught making a move on his host's wife, the guy who caught him immediately runs off to tell on him to said host, Orgon. Tartuffe responds by saying that yes, he is a terrible, cruel, evil, sinful person who is unworthy of trust. Orgon assumes he's being humble and acting as befits a holy man, and decides that the accusations are all lies.
- The Tales Series likes this one. At least once every game, one of the characters will reveal their tragic and touching emo backstory with fanfare... and then, having elicited sympathy from the rest of the party, they'll proceed to claim they were "just kidding".
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion features a quest where you have to kill everyone at a party, Agatha Christie style. When you introduce yourself, one of the conversation options is "I'm an assassin, sent to kill you.", which just earns you a laugh—"Well, I'm glad someone has a sense of humour about this event,"—and immediately maxes out her disposition toward you.
- In Fahrenheit/Indigo Prophecy, at one point either Carla Valenti or Tyler Miles goes talk to Lucas Kane about the murder case. Then they show him a composite sketch of the killer (said sketch's accuracy depending on the player's actions earlier). The only way to avoid raising suspicion is an option marked "Joke" where he says, "That could be a lot of people I know. Heck, it could even be me!"
- Iori Yagami from The King of Fighters sarcastically claims that despite his violent tendencies, Orochi blood, and generally being a Jerk Ass, he hates violence. The fandom is torn as to whether or not his comment was sarcastic.
- This is implied to be genuine. He holds a deep hatred towards his father for making him what he is today; his initial hostility towards Kyo stems from their clan rivalry, and Iori figured that killing Kyo (his father's intention apparently) would end his suffering.
- Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords: The player can use this to get through customs at the starport on Onderon.
Exile: The shuttle belongs to the leader of the Mandalorians. I'm a powerful Jedi.
Customs official: You could have just said "no". Answers like that mean more paperwork for me.
- If you choose this route, a group of bounty hunters (who would have ambushed you regardless of how you answered the official's questions) says your unusual comments helped them track you down.
- Used in X-change Alternative. When the protagonist's parents are on the phone and questioning him about why his voice sounds so odd, the player can choose to either lie or just admit his situation. The latter results in him snapping and explaining how a bizarre drug turned him into a girl, laughing insanely all the while and making no attempt to hide his lighter voice. Not only do they assume it's some elaborate joke, it's also the only way to deflect their suspicion.
- Alpha Protocol has a scene where the main character meets Scarlet for the first time. They engage in small talk, and when she asks what you do for a living, one option is to admit you're a spy, which Mike does in his usual tone of voice. Naturally, she doesn't believe you.
- Arcade Gannon from Fallout: New Vegas will joke with you that he used to be a militant fascist if you ask about his past. He used to be a member of the Enclave, an organization of, well, militant fascists.
- Ends up being a slight subversion. Arcade never was an actual member of the Enclave. The Enclave collapsed when he was still a child.
- You can also inform Yes Man that you are the Courier who he was just bragging about having helped set up his/her capture and "death" by shot to the head. He starts laughing and assumes you're joking since you "still have a head". Once you claim you're serious he stops laughing.
- From the last case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney : "Surely, you aren't going to suggest I was responsible for poisoning her father, too?"
- And from Case 4 of Ace Attorney Investigations when Calisto Yew says she is not Cece Yew's sister.
- Happens in Persona 4 during the King's Game incident, when Naoto attempts to coerce the team into revealing their involvement in the serial murder case. A drunk Yukiko and Rise proceed to explain that whenever the culprit throws someone into the TV, they go in and "Beat the crap outta Shadows with [their] Personas". Naturally, Naoto doesn't buy such an obvious lie for a second. She changes her tune when she gets thrown in.
- Side note: how the hell they managed to get drunk off non-alcoholic drinks is something we will never know.
- If the player pisses him off enough, and choses the right conversation options, Solas from Dragon Age: Inquisition will let you in on his post-game plans early.
Inquisitor: The man who spends half his life in the Fade has no ideas on how to help the elves?Solas: Not unless we collapse the Veil and bring the Fade here so I can casually reshape reality, no.
- At one point in Chrono Trigger, when the Gate Key is stolen by reptites, Azala asks the party what the purpose of said device is. You can either refuse to talk, or you can tell her exactly what it is. If you do the latter, she won't believe you, noting that no one would actually talk so easily if the device did what you said it did, and the story proceeds as though you refused to talk (since, from Azala's perspective, that's basically what you did).
- Schlock Mercenary
- Basic premise of the Comet, the tabloid newspaper for which our protagonists work in Scandal Sheet As Detweiler, the editor-in-chief, puts it, "We operate on two principles. First, that the most artistic way to lie is to tell the truth so unconvincingly that people are sure you are lying, and second, the best place to hide a needle isn't a haystack—it's a big pile of other needles." As it turns out, the Comet actually employs a sasquatch named Phil and regularly gets information from a vampire named Samantha. They consider it their role in life to protect the rare and endangered supernatural beings of the Earth from being discovered and exploited by others. As such, most of the stories in the paper are made-up crap, but some of them are true—no journalist with any self-respect at all will pursue them, though, since it's well-known that once it's been in the Comet, it can't possibly be correct.
- Sam & Fuzzy here.
- This strip of College Roomies from Hell!!!!!!
- Invoked in Erfworld, Summer Update 22:
ChrlsNChrg: There's an interesting principle at work, here.
If I tell them what happened, freely, then they won't believe it.
But if I charge them what the information is worth, then they'll buy it.
LordHamster: In both senses.
- Aggressively invoked in this Shortpacked! strip.
- Done accidentally in The Wotch, in this comic. Jason is trying to keep Ivan off the trail and outright lies to him. When Ivan calls his bluff, Jason tells the truth. Then Ivan decides that Jason was lying the second time, and goes along with what Jason said the first time, when he was outright lying.
Jason: Wow, I'm more clever than I thought.
- Pulled twice in Captain SNES: The Game Masta. Both comics have "The Best Lie" in the title (with the first following with "is the Truth".) The first time, Alex convinces Daos that he put up a powerful mental shield so that Daos could not see his greatest fear, when, actually, his greatest fear (Evil Otto from Berzerk) looked like something that Daos didn't consider remotely terrifying (a blinking smiley face.) The second, Bass, after having already bluffed Amon into believing that he could achieve great power in the desert, admits (in a nervous tone) that he lied previously and was trying to trick Amon.
Bass: In fact, I'm doing it right now!
- Last Res0rt has Jigsaw Forte pulling this one off:
Jason: Tell me where Daisy went already! You should know!
Jigsaw: Sure, because we all know I'm a mind reader. After this we're planning a magic act. Think you'd look good in sequins?
- The Awakened
Sue: Oh, yeah, and I'm kind of in love with you, but you never seem to notice.
- In Sinfest Slick evades the question about whether a song is about Monique by phrasing it as an accusation of It's All About Me.
- Used in Between Failures (Page 979), although not perfectly.
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, this is how Winsbury and Janet hide their Secret Relationship; as soon as one of their friends expresses the first hint of suspicion, they admit to being together, then tell a highly implausible and self-contradictory tale of how it happened. By the time they've finished, everyone has lost interest and assumed the whole thing is nonsense. Even Bud, their psychic crab chaperon, seems to have dismissed their relationship as too unlikely.
- In Questionable Content, Pintsize gives outlandish answers when asked where he has been. Readers who read the previous days' comics will know that the third answer is true, but upon hearing it Marten assumes that Pintsize is still screwing around and just gives up asking. The comic description says that all three answers were true.
- In Get Medieval, mob boss Broat cheerfully informs his legal business associates that he has to go hire mob hitmen.
Voes: Your wife hates when you do that.Broat: And they never suspect a thing.
- The SCP Foundation deliberately presents its reports as horror fiction so that readers will disbelieve them and not pursue the findings.
- In Mother of Learning, going backwards in time is widely known to be completely and utterly impossible—so when Taiven asks Zorian how Zach, a third-year student like Zorian, managed to slay a dragon, he goes ahead and tells her about the "Groundhog Day" Loop, knowing she won't believe him. Unfortunately—or perhaps fortunately—his sister and his roommate do.
- Jason uses this while explaining why he needs a shopping cart full of baseball bats, pickaxes, knives, bike chains, and an axe.
- An offscreen example was mentioned in The Frollo Show during the events of episode 16. When Wilford Brimley becomes The Starscream to the remaining members of Los no Frollos and reveals his own evil plans, Hitler admits that Wilford told him about it, but he dismissed his ramblings as mere "old man talk".
- From Superman: The Animated Series, "The Main Man":
Lois: I'm confused, Kent. See, I've lived in Metropolis most of my life and I can't figure out how some yokel from Smallville is suddenly getting every hot story in town.
Clark: Well, Lois, [lowers his glasses] the truth is, I'm actually Superman in disguise and I only pretend to be a journalist in order to hear about disasters as they happen, and then squeeze you out of the byline.
Lois: You're a sick man, Kent. [walks off]
Clark: [with a sly smile] You asked...
- Made even funnier by the fact that Clark lowers his glasses before telling her.
- The Simpsons:
- Homer once went to great lengths with this when he had to tell Marge that a chimp had kidnapped Bart. Comes complete with Lampshade Hanging as Homer goes on to explicitly describe the trope and sarcastically inform Marge that he's making full use of it. When Marge finds out and gets mad that it was hidden from her, Homer complains that he did tell her, in great detail. In that same scene, Lisa asks why he's confessing sarcastically, pointing out that Marge will still be angry when she finds out; Homer responds by giving us this little gem:
Homer: Maybe I'm talking like this because I can't stop. Oh help me, Lisa! I have serious mental problems!
- Parodied when Homer dresses up as an airline pilot to drink at the pilots-only bar of the Springfield airport:
Pilot: Hey... you're not just impersonating a pilot so you can drink here, are you?Homer: [dejected] Yeah. That's exactly why I'm here.Pilot: [laughs] You fly boys, you crack me up![Gilligan Cut to Homer being forcefully shoved in the cockpit pilot seat]Homer: But I keep telling you I'm not a pilot!Pilot: And I keep telling you, you fly boys crack me up!
- Homer once went to great lengths with this when he had to tell Marge that a chimp had kidnapped Bart. Comes complete with Lampshade Hanging as Homer goes on to explicitly describe the trope and sarcastically inform Marge that he's making full use of it. When Marge finds out and gets mad that it was hidden from her, Homer complains that he did tell her, in great detail. In that same scene, Lisa asks why he's confessing sarcastically, pointing out that Marge will still be angry when she finds out; Homer responds by giving us this little gem:
- Code Lyoko:
Yumi: I've gotta go.
William: Really? Where to?
Yumi: To save the world...
- Time Squad:
- Tuddrussel used this in "Ivan the Untrainable", when Larry asked him about strange events from last few days. "Are you accusing me of smuggling Ivan the Terrible on board the satellite? Cause that's just crazy! Oh, what, do you think I smuggled him under my shirt before we zapped back and then locked him in the storage and fed him on table scraps? I mean, come on!". He did it.
- Later in "Out With The In Crowd", Larry and Tuddrussel try to hide Otto from fellow officers J.T. Laser and Lance 9 Trillion, they nervously laugh him off saying—"Well he's certainly not an orphan we've borrowed from the Twentieth century."
- In Danny Phantom, Vlad does this a lot, particularly in The Movie, where he several times admits he's a diabolical supervillain, takes a pause, and then joins in the laughter at that utterly ridiculous idea.
- Hilariously inverted in the South Park episode "Ladder to Heaven", where God catches Saddam Hussein building a WMD plant in Heaven.
God: Saddam, I've been hearing rumors that you're secretly building weapons of mass destruction up here.Saddam: Weapons of mass destruction? No! This is a chocolate chip factory. See?God: It looks like a chemical weapons plant.Saddam: Look, God, if I was gonna secretly build a chemical weapons plant, I wouldn't make it look like a chemical weapons plant, would I? I'd make it look like a chocolate chip factory or something.God: ...alright, just checking. [leaves]Saddam: Stupid asshole.
- On an episode of Gargoyles, a robbery attempt goes sour when the cops show up. A woman known to the crooks as "Sally" angrily demands to know who called the police. When no one owns up to it, she shrugs and says "Well, I guess it was me!" It was. "Sally" was actually Detective Elisa Maza in disguise.
- Inverted (and combined with Crying Wolf) in the Regular Show episode "Grilled Cheese Deluxe". After an episode of competing to see who was the better liar, Benson demands to know what happened to mangle his sandwich so. Rigby excitedly gives a garbled, but truthful, explanation of the rather fantastic events between Benson discovering the theft of his first sandwich, and the current one being placed in his hands; Benson chews him out for lying. Mordecai, worn out and frustrated, drops a much shorter and more plausible lie, and Benson says, "There. Now wasn't it so much easier telling the truth?"
- In Pinky and the Brain, this was how the Brain got out of being asked too many uncomfortable questions by nosy humans
- Parodied in the movie of Phineas and Ferb when Doofenshmirtz-2 lies to our dimensions' Doofenshmirtz, only for him to pick up on it...
Doofenshmirtz-1: "...were you just being sarcastic?"Doofenshmirtz-2: (sarcastically) "No..."Doofenshmirtz-1: "I'm pretty sure that's what I sound like when I'm being sarcastic!"
- When Philippe Petit was going though the airport to get to New York for his famous tight-roping between the Twin Towers, a security officer naturally asked him what all the equipment was for. He told him. The officer laughed and let him through.
- While the above warning that this doesn't work as well in Real Life is true, teachers and parents seem to be more susceptible to it. Or were at some point. Perhaps it has something to do with that stage where Not Now, Kid is in effect and kids have realized it. Given Troper Demographics, we still don't advise it.
- In Richard Feynman's autobiography, Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!, Feynman tells of a fraternity prank where a door was stolen. He was the one who stole it, but even a year after it happened they still had no idea who had stolen it. He had confessed, but everyone just remembered that all the fraternity members had denied it. ("Yeah, I stole the door." "Cut it out, Feynman, this is serious!")
Evaluator: Do you ever hear voices?Feynman: Yeah. I can hear a few right now.
- Additionally, he relates the story of how he got into a drunken brawl in a night club, with a black eye to prove it. When he truthfully explained where he got it, nobody believed him.
- And he did a similar act along with Mathematician's Answer to get out of the military on his psych evaluation with lines like
- Allegedly, famed Prohibition agent Izzy Einstein was fond of using this trope to gain entrance to speakeasies, beseeching the guy on the door to let him in, as he was 'A very thirsty Prohibition Agent'.
- Uncommon but effective in Poker. Simply announcing the real contents of your hand is a good luring tactic because everyone will dismiss it outright as a bluff. Even more effective if you show them afterwards because the next time, your opponent will think twice.
- Once, a taxi driver asked a city newcomer checking out of a hotel if he had a dead body inside his heavy bag. The newcomer matter-of-factly answered yes, and the taxi driver laughed. The newcomer was Jeffrey Dahmer.
- General James Wilkinson, head of the US Army under Washington, Adams, Jefferson, and Madison, was long suspected of being in the pay of the Spanish crown—so much so that the General would jovially agree that he was a "Spanish pensioner" at social gatherings. Turns out, he was.
- One of the Cambridge Five would also regularly claim to be a KGB agent.
- Averted in airport as the above warning is particularly true when it comes to security officials, especially since September 11th. When you are asked at an airport if you have packed your bags yourself/if you have any hazardous materials in them, going: "Yeah. Of course I do. I've got 10 pounds of C4, some sub-machine guns and a small nuclear warhead." will not result in laughs. It will result in you having your hands cuffed behind your back, kneeling on the floor in a small room with several automatic weapons pointed at you.
- Also when completing the questionnaires upon entering any country. If you are asked for example with the question, "Do you intend the overthrow of the government through violence?" Answering "Almost exclusively" will result in a fairly lengthy interrogation session and a strip search.
- This is also the reason why many airports have signs warning against bombing, hijacking, or terrorism jokes. When it comes to airport security, it's best not be a smart ass, or it will smart in your ass.
- Finally, you can still be charged with things like perjury and causing a public disturbance. Security professionals take their jobs seriously, and don't screw around.
- It's less problematic to try to be witty in non-dangerous ways, but they've heard it all a million times already. If you're lucky, you might come across a customs official who even keeps a tally of the number of people who, when asked "Are you carrying over $10,000 in cash?", respond with the tired joke of "I wish". So don't bother.
- Jimmy Savilenote during his life frequently made "jokes" like saying what he did at one point in his life was "anybody I could get me hands on," and that he was "feared in every girls' school in this country." As Ian Hislop put it, "it's a brilliant disguise: you dress up as a pedophile."
- New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was asked in a press conference if he had anything to do with the lane closures on the perpetually congested George Washington bridge. He joked that you might not have noticed, but he was the one setting up the traffic cones. A month later, his office was implicated in closing lanes on the George Washington bridge to punish a mayor who didn't endorse him.
- Corrie Ten Boom's book The Hiding Place relates an incident in which her niece, who had been taught to always tell the truth no matter what, was questioned by Nazis searching for her brothers (who were hiding in a cellar under a trapdoor, covered by a rug, beneath the kitchen table). She told them that her brothers were "under the table" and then burst out laughing when they lifted the tablecloth to look.
- As a young man, Gaius Julius Caesar (future Emperor of Rome) was captured by pirates and held for ransom, which was a common tactic at the time. Apparently, Caesar was so charismatic that the pirates took a liking to him, and laughed when he joked that once he was released, he would definitely raise a naval task force, come back, and crucify them all. Once the ransom was paid, Caesar went back to Rome, raised a naval task force, came back, and crucified them all.