Casanunda: I'm a world-famous liar.
Nanny Ogg: Is that true?
Whether the story they tell is a complete whopper or a bending of the truth, your average liar usually has one goal in mind: Tell the lie undetected. Their attempts to deceive you are rooted in the fact that they don't want you to know they're lying. A Self-Proclaimed Liar, however, is the complete opposite. Just as their name implies
, they will openly proclaim that they are lying to your face as they tell you whatever tale they're deciding to weave that day.
Paradoxically, by taking Refuge in Audacity
in this way, the outright lie
sometimes manages to become more
effective than trying to hide it. It may be because a person simply doesn't believe that someone trying to lie to them would tell
them they're lying. Or perhaps the open lie is actually a way of hiding a second lie. Regardless, a typical reaction to this scenario can be for the victim to go through the circular logic of "If he was lying, then that statement was a lie, so he was telling the truth...
" and so on.
Regardless, despite making everyone around them aware of the fact they are not to be trusted, they somehow still manage to get away with the deception. Compare Sarcastic Confession
, in which a character bluffs by telling the exact, if unbelievable, truth. See also Logic Bomb
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Anime and Manga
- The Jackal from The Clone Saga in the Spider-Man comics. He shamelessly piles lies on top of lies in the clone saga at various times leading Spider-Man, the Scarlet Spider and Spidercide each to believe they are the real Peter Parker. In the end even he didn't know the truth.
- Loki. He's the self proclaimed god of Mischief and Lies. Loki admits he's an untrustworthy jerk, everyone knows he's an untrustworthy jerk, and he is still able to play them like a fiddle.
- Discworld uses this a few times.
- Petyr Baelish from A Song of Ice and Fire
Petyr Baelish: Distrusting me was the wisest thing you’ve done since you climbed down off your horse.
- The Epimenides paradox. From The Bible, Titus 1:12:
One of Crete's own prophets has said it: 'Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons'.
He has surely told the truth.
- In Illuminatus!, one of Hagbard Celine's advices to Geroge Dorn was "Never trust anyone who has the initials H. C." He's a Trickster Mentor to George, as well as the crew of his submarine.
- Thomas Raith in The Dresden Files tells Harry in Grave Peril that he's a liar and can't be trusted. Nevertheless, he nearly always tells him the truth. His sister Lara, on the other hand...
- Adding to the series' use of Mind Screw via Unreliable Narrator, the Dragaera novel Orca is narrated by Vlad's friend Kiera as a conversation with Vlad's wife, Cawti. Kiera starts out by telling Cawti explicitly that she can't tell the whole truth, and will be altering some things for her own purposes. Then at another point in the story, Kiera describes Vlad, the narrator of most of the other books as pretty much a pathological liar but also essentially implies the same about herself.
- Vergere of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, with one of the earliest lessons she imparts being "Everything I tell you is a lie." Including, apparently, not being a Sith.
- Cadrach of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn is a self-admitted liar, cheat, and Dirty Coward. Unlike most examples, though, he's not trying to pull a con on anyone; he really is sunk so deep into self-loathing that he cares nothing of what people think of him. Beneath the Shell-Shocked Senior exterior is a man who knows he betrayed the world to its ultimate doom, and would do so again, out of sheer terror. Miriamele tries to befriend him anyway, which ultimately leads to his redemption.
- Fireflyer, the fairy stand-in for Tinkerbell in the book Peter Pan in Scarlet, is a notorious liar to whom being called a liar is the greatest compliment of all. He openly and proudly claims that he never tells the truth — though this is revealed to be a lie.
- In Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians, Al mentions repeatedly throughout the narrative how dishonest he is, occasionally saying obviously false things to the reader to prove his point. Justified by the fact that he claims later that he has mostly stopped being such a liar and just lies to prove his point.
Live Action TV
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: Elim Garak is probably this show's most triumphant example, to such a degree that on one occasion Odo realises Garak is telling the truth precisely because his response to a question is a simple "I don't know" rather than a convoluted and eloquant tale of extravagence. His reputation for obfuscation is legend not just in the fandom but in-universe as well.
Of all the stories you told me, which ones were true and which ones weren't? Garak:
My dear doctor, they're all
Even the lies? Garak: Especially
- When Bashir tells him of the fable of The Boy Who Cried Wolf, what Garak takes away from it is: Never Tell the Same Lie Twice.
- Ben Linus from LOST. His most effective manipulations have all taken place well after everyone knows he's a dirty, stinking liar.
- Urataros from Kamen Rider Den-O boasts about his ability to lie, primarily to charm cute girls. He even says his main goal in sticking with the good guys is teaching Ryotaro to be a better liar.
- Jen from The IT Crowd will sometimes admit to it, usually after she lied her way into a job that she is hopelessly unqualified to hold.
- From Doctor Who, we have "Rule One: The Doctor lies." Initially said by River Song in the series 5 finale, we later see that she heard it from the Doctor himself.
- Blackadder II's title character refers to himself as a Consummate Liar in the episode "Money", managing to convince Percy that a giant hummingbird is eating his hat and cloak.
- Douglas Richardson in Cabin Pressure enjoys boasting about his skill at deception. For example, this exchange occurs in the episode "Fitton":
Carolyn: Douglas. Have you been drinking?
Douglas: I cannot tell a lie. What am I saying? I'm terrific at telling lies. I mean I'm not going to tell a lie. Yes.
This is, of course, a lie.
- The Scorpion Clan in Legend of the Five Rings all wear masks, so that the other clans know not to trust them. This works on many, many different levels. One level is that if someone falls for one of their schemes, other people are more likely to blame the victim than the Scorpion perpetrator, because duh, you trusted a shifty-looking guy in a mask!
- GLaDOS from Portal.
- Kreia of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II:The Sith Lords. She encourages The Exile to distrust people, even herself, you even gain influence with her (that oddly works as "trust" for everyone else) if you say you don't trust her.
- Played for laughs in Sam and Max: The Penal Zone:
Flint: You wouldn't know anything about these toys, would 'ya?
Sam: I can, little buddy. (To Flint) Nope, not a thing.
- Marisa Kirisame of Touhou seems to take pride in telling the most outrageous lies she can as often as possible, but nothing can top the one in Phantasmagoria of Flower View where, confronted by the local Judge of the Dead (who, mind you, has a mirror that allows her to see the whole life of any person that she wants) about all the lies she's told, plainly states that she has never told a single lie in her life.
- Varric of Dragon Age II is a self-proclaimed pathological liar. He's also the game's narrator.