The pivot in many plotlines is the Reveal. A character is revealed as another character's mother
, a god
, or secret suitor or arch nemesis in disguise. More broadly, the audience is given new information which had been withheld to create suspense. The Reveal changes the nature of the plot, often pushing it from suspense towards action. A good reveal will also create a new set of questions and further suspense. On some occasions, The Reveal Prompts Romance
A key moment in most Gambit Pileup
plots, when the heroes or the audience discover how the villains have been manipulating everyone. Can also be used to make a cliffhanger
more dramatic. Myth Arc
and Mind Screw
springing these; Jigsaw Puzzle Plots
pretty much require them. Eventually necessary for a Mysterious Employer
The Reveal is in fact a rather easily explained trope
. A lot of mystery stories wouldn't work without either the criminal or the detective explaining how the crime was committed, and a lot of other plots would leave people with more questions than answers if they never bothered to explain the plot to other characters
... and by extension, the viewers
. It's easy to explain it off-screen, but doing so would confuse the viewer and make them think they missed something.
A Super Trope
to Emerging from the Shadows
, Identity Concealment Disposal
, Really Royalty Reveal
, Liar Revealed
and The Summation
If you're set up for this but it's then subverted by not revealing it, it's The Unreveal
. When made too obvious ahead of time, it's The Untwist
or a Captain Obvious Reveal
(depending on how it happens). If it comes out of nowhere and serves no purpose other than to be a twist, it's a Shocking Swerve
and/or a case of The Dog Was the Mastermind
. If the thing revealed is named in the title, then its The Namesake
. If a Driving Question
is involved, this is where it's finally put to rest. If it happens in the first episode of a series, it's probably a First Episode Spoiler
. Can overlap with Remembered Too Late
referred to it as anagnorisis
(generally translated as "discovery" or "recognition") in his Poetics
, making this one Older Than Feudalism
Warning: Expect every example to be a spoiler for something. Since the title alone can be a spoiler, proceed at your own risk.
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Anime & Manga
- Pretty Sammy, Magical Project S: The whole show being a parody of the magical girl genre, you wouldn't expect much in the way of plot twists. Cue Episode 19- Sammy's Shrinking Violet best friend, Misao is really the sadistic Dark Magical Girl, Pixy Misa. More so, Pixy Misa is her default form; the shy and demure Misa was only a result of repressing her negative traits.
- 20th Century Boys: Friend iiiiiiiiissssssss * drum roll* Fukubei! Then comes along second Friend who is implied to be Katsumata.
- Episodes 14 and 21 of Code Geass R2 are Infodumps on the nature of Geass and everything involved.
- Suzumiya Haruhi combines this with The Rashomon, with Yuki, Mikuru, and Itsuki each explaining Haruhi's true nature and their own.
- Naruto has been rather reveal-happy in recent years: we've gotten the true identity of both Akatsuki's leader and its Man Behind the Man, Kisame and Itachi's true motivations (including the real reason the Uchiha Massacre happened), the identities of Naruto's parents (everyone (and by everyone: the audience) knew about the father-it's the mother and her baggage that shocks everyone), the fact that Naruto is not the first host of the Nine-Tailed Fox, Madara really IS dead and Tobi's impersonating him, Tobi's current Sharingan sharing the same dimension as Kakashi's Kamui due to it being the right eye of Uchiha Obito, etc..
- Now if we could only find out who Tobi is...
- Tobi has been revealed to be Uchiha Obito. Let the shouts of "I Knew It!" begin.
- Ergo Proxy: Vincent is the near invincible monster that was constantly tailing him and slaughtering everything in its way, the titular Ergo Proxy.
- In the beginning Vincent was a Proxy, the near invincible monster tailing him was his clone-father's girlfriend.
- also, Proxy One
- Usagi/Sailor Moon is Princess Serenity. Although it could be made obvious over time—we begin to see glimpses of the princess and she has the same voice actor—the original Japanese manga and anime didn't truly reveal this until well into the first season. The NA dub, on the other hand, revealed this in the very first episode (or figured no one would put two and two together with the identical princess in a bubble and Serena).
- Hagino's obsession with Mari in Blue Drop gets explained by revealing that Hagino saved Mari from drowning during the catastrophe caused by her space ship.
- Hellsing: Dok was actually using the remains of Mina Harker as a template for all of Millenium's vampire soldiers. Turns out that since Alucard wasn't destroyed when he lost to Abraham Van Helsing, Mina wasn't completely purified of Alucard's curse. Thus all of Millenium's soldiers are poor copies of Alucard's power.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle lives for this.
- First we find out that Syaoran is a clone created by the Big Bad, and meet the real one.
- Then we find out Fai/Fay has a depressing backstory, he's faking his personality, is working for the villain, and he killed his brother.
- Then we find out that his memories were false, he didn't kill his brother, and he switches sides.
- Then we find out that the whole goal up till that point, collecting the princess' feathers, was the Big Bad's Evil Plan to have her develop "physical memories".
- Then we find out that the princess is a clone.
- Then we find out that the original Syaoran is actually the son of an alternate version of the protagonist and love interest of Cardcaptor Sakura, and is using his father's name as a psuedonym.
- Then we learn that the protagonist of Xxx HO Li C is a time-travel duplicate of "Syaoran".
- And that the creation of said duplicate f*** d up the entire space-time continuum.
- Then that "the country of Clow" is really Acid Tokyo in the far future.
- Then that Yuko was Dead All Along, and her revival was the whole purpose of the Big Bad's Gambit Roulette.
- Then that she was preserved from going to the other side by an inadvertent reality warp from Clow, giving a Reveal as to why he was so desperate to get rid of his powers and set off the plot of Cardcaptor Sakura.
- And then we find out that Syaoran is the clone of his biological son, who is the "real Syaoran" mentioned above!
- Then, finally, we learn that the feathers were actually soul fragments of the clones!
- Both the Syaoran and Sakura's real names are Tsubasa!
- Baccano! — The Rail Tracer is Claire Stanfield/Vino, AKA the young conductor supposedly killed in the second episode.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion is loaded with these. The Eva's are alive and cloned from Angels. Rei is a clone of Shinji's mother and there's a whole aquarium full of clones. The Eva's have human souls (specifically, Shinji, Asuka and Ritsuko's mothers). Ritsuko is not a natural blonde. Kaworu is an angel. And so on and so forth.
- Eva 00's soul is probably Rei 1, not Ritsuko's mother.
- Eva 00 does not have a soul. Rei 1 shares the same soul with Rei 2 and 3 which just happens to be Lilith.
- One Piece has a number of them, many relating to the legendary Gold Roger. However, one of the most incredible was during the Jaya arc. Luffy gets into an eating contest with a random Boisterous Bruiser type guy at a bar, who later gives Luffy a pep speech in which he toasts to their shared ideals. Turns out that guy is Blackbeard, the evil pirate that Luffy's brother has been searching for.
- Chapter 550 made another reveal. A reveal that's doesn't make the plot take a new direction, but explained everything that has happened since chapter 1.
- The reveal of who really attacked Iceburg in the Water Seven arc.
- The reveal of what the ancient weapon mentioned in the Jaya Arc truly is in Chapter 649.
- In Ojamajo Doremi, the Witch Queen is The Faceless until the penultimate episode of the series (and only one or two hints are given to her true identity in the final season). She was watching the girls the entire time as Yuki-sensei, the school nurse.
- Monster has a number of them, the biggest one probably being the reveal that the woman in Prague is really Johan.
- Aizen is not only not dead but he's the Big Bad and Tousen and Gin are his accomplices.
- The Quincies still exist, as revealed by an arrancar using Quincy powers (also a moment of foreshadowing for the reveal that The Emperor created all Quincies in the first place).
- The fandom guessed years before the reveal that Masaki Kurosaki was a Quincy. The twist to the reveal is actually that she had suffered hollowfication, another victim of Aizen's experiments, just like the Vizards were and that Ichigo's inner hollow was inherited from her.
- The woman that Yachiru was named after was the First Kenpachi and creator of the 11th division. Retsu Unohana, who once lived under the self-granted nickname Yachiru Unohana, where "Yachiru" means a master of all known sword styles.
- Ichigo and Uryuu's mothers were targeted on the same day by the same enemy and both died as a result of that enemy's actions.
- Uryuu Ishida joins the Vandenreich and is given the rank of prince.
- Old Man Zangetsu looks exactly like a younger Yhwach, and has only pretended to be Ichigo's zanpakuto.
- The Purge Yhwach orchestrated was supposed to destroy every "impure" Quincy...which included Uryuu. He is the only person ever to survive The Purge, making him the last mixed-blood Quincy alive. Yhwach makes him the throne's Unexpected Successor because he wants to know what Uryuu's secret power is, and because he also knows Uryuu's potential strength is capable of surpassing him.
- Pokémon does this with Pokemon's genders. For example, Pikachu, after ten years of debating, is proven to be male..Or, is it?
- In Pokémon Special, Yellow is revealed to be a girl at the end of the Yellow Chapter (though Red doesn't find out until the Gold/Silver Chapter).
- In Umi Monogatari it is revealed that Sedna is formed from the combined sorrow that the inhabitants of the island committed to the sea.
- In Shaman King (at least the anime) the main antagonist is revealed to be the main protagonists Evil Twin . Not that we knew that from the beginning, cause they look the same...
- In Tona Gura, Kazuki remembered that, even as a little boy, Yuuji was playful, and his 'perverted nature' is mainly him still acting like a little boy around his best friend. When he realizes that she * seriously* does not like it, and she stops romanticizing their childhood, things finally begin to move for them.
- Negima! has Setsuna's wing pull.
- Once the Magic World Arc starts, reveals are dropped left and right, especially once Kurt Godel shows up. The most important one is probably that Negi's mother is Queen Arika of Vesperina, making Negi a Warrior Prince.
- This is subverted when the girls discover that the Magic World is Mars and get excited, only to realize that it's just a useless bit of trivia. Then it becomes a double subversion when it turns out to be important after all.
- In Soul Eater the killer of BJ was Justin Law. While not affecting the entire plot, it's still a major deal for certain characters, with potentially serious implications (if that one, who else has been overlooked?) in the series.
- In chapter 72; Kid is said to be a fragment of Shinigami, who turns out to be one of a group of entities called the Great Old Ones. Making the Super OCD boy a Humanoid Abomination (currently) minus the evil and his 'illness' impliedly the result of the fact he/his father is an anthropomorphic personfication of the 'madness of the rule of law'.
- Then in Chapter 108, it's revealed that Asura is also a fragment of Shinigami, effectively making him Kid's older brother.
- In Martian Successor Nadesico, the Jovians are exiled humans victimized by Earth's government and who use the Super Robot series loved by the protagonists to justify destroying Earth. Also, the little girl the protagonist is shown with at the beginning is Inez Fressange, who is older than the protagonist due to a time paradox.
- In Game X Rush, Yuuki's Mom/Yuki-san is Memori's presumed-dead birth-mother, who murdered Memori's father and supposedly died in the fire that Memori accidentally started (hence explaining both Memori's adopted status), but Miyuki did NOT die, instead wandering off with semi-amnesia to save a young Yuuki who was then raised as Memori (explaining how he knows so much about the REAL Memori). Bizarrely enough, due to the compressed storytelling and the changes forced by the same, it's possible for this to be not much of a Reveal after all.
- Fullmetal Alchemist: when the identity of Pride was revealed to be Selim Bradley.
- Edward's automail arm isn't revealed until he foils an attack that would have destroyed a flesh-and-blood arm.
- The Fuhrer is a Homunculus.
- It's impossible to bring someone back to life. For anyone who sees the 2003 anime version first and then either reads the manga or watches Brotherhood, the shock is increased several-fold; in the 2003 anime, they're transformed into homunculi.
- Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. Protagonist Subaru, who has been a regular narrator ever since episode 1 (where as a little girl she is rescued by Nanoha and decides to become a hero too), finally battles the combat cyborgs but failos to rescue her sister and is seriously injured. Then we see her arm. Along with the blood, we see metal and cables. Subaru is a combat cyborg too.
- In Kirby of the Stars, we get a relatively minor one, compared to what's going on all around, but a reveal nonetheless. For 99% of the series, the Holy Nightmare Salesmen always appeared on the big screens in King Dedede's palace from the waist up. When Dedede and Escargo(o)n meet the Salesman face to face in Nightmare's fortress, we see the awful truth- All that's at the bottom are just kirby-like feet, no legs, nothing else.
- In Code Geass, the secret behind Geass, as well as numerous other examples of this trope that pop up from time to time.
- The Distant Finale of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann reveals that the narrator speaking at the beginning of every episode is actually Simon in his forties.
- In the second movie, during the fight between the TTGL and the Granzeboma, the Anti-Spiral drops the obvious (to the fans who've watched the anime) bombshell that if the Anti-Spiral is defeated, Nia will disappear. This shocks the Dai-Gurren Brigade and then the Anti-Spiral proceeds to tear the TTGL into many pieces, causes robot blood to spill all over the galaxy they were standing on. They got better.
- In the last episodes of Tenshi Ni Narumon it was revealed that the Big Bad Silky who hates angels, is a 1/3 angel herself and has her fallen halo hidden in the drawer.
- Similarly, it was revealed that Mikael who was supposed to be an angel-in-training, lost his qualifications to become one and also hid his fallen halo in the boxes.
- In the last episode, it was revealed that the whole plot of the show revolved around Mikael and not Noelle.
- Tons of information revealed in Eureka Seven. Eureka's identity as a human Coralian, what really happened to Renton's father and sister, the origin of the 3 kids, the history of the Scab Coral which reveal that all along the planet was Earth which got covered up by a living planet-size alien. Gonzy was another hidden human Coralian. What we need is to pray for BONES to reveal WHO those 2 teenagers are in the final DVD cover of the series, since their face is never shown.
- The true identity of the Red Man being Shiro all along in Deadman Wonderland is going to setup a Bittersweet Ending.
- Digimon has several. Hikari being the 8th Child and Tailmon being her partner, the fact that BelialVamdemon was behind everything in 02, Juri, after returning to the Real World, being an ADR, Duskmon being Kouichi, Kouji's long-lost twin brother, Kurata being a jackass and a Magnificent Bastard and that old guy being the head of DATS.
- Master of Martial Hearts's ending brings this trope to utter madness:
- According to the Platonic Hearts rulebook, unknown and unmentioned until the very end, all losing contestants have their vocal cords removed and Mind Raped into idiocy before they get sold into slavery. Even the sympathetic ones. And you're shown the whole supporting cast in that pitiful state.
- The almost unseen Cute Mute mom of Natsume? She's actually a Stepford Smiler, and a past contestant in the Platonic Heart martial arts tournament who managed to escape slavery and rebuild a semblance of normalcy before she hatched a complex Revenge by Proxy plan involving her offspring organizing the current edition of the Platonic Heart tournament to lure the daughter of the (still living) past winner and the (now dead) past promoter of the contest so Aya can relive every bit of her experience, including the defeat, maiming and slavery. She's also the daughter of the original organizer.
- Natsume herself, and Miko, Aya's Heterosexual Life Partner and resident friend in need are actually cousins, in league together with Aya's love interest to get Aya defeated and enslaved in the current tournament.
- Aya's caring mom and her dead loving father? According to Miko and Natsume a sadistic Dark Action Girl and a sadistic rapist who had his way with the Action Girls defeated by his wife..
- Although spoiled for U.S. audiences thanks to the fact that Dragon Ball Z almost entirely aired first barring a few episodes, in Japan Dragon Ball dropped a big one. In the manga, after Goku's big defeat of Piccolo, the following chapter features a mysterious character crashing to earth looking for someone named "Kakarott" And in the very last page of the chapter, Kakarott is revealed to be Goku. Then 2 chapters later it turns out that armored man is Goku's brother and Goku is revealed to be an alien. Piccolo and Kami get this same revelation not long after when they're revealed to be Nameks, which was foreshadowed as early as the 23rd Tenkaichi Budokai when the two spoke to each other in a strange language.
- Done with Trunks as well. After his first appearance he's revealed to not just be another Saiyan, but a Super Saiyan as well, and just a few chapters later it's discovered that he's Bulma and Vegeta's son from the future.
- Puella Magi Madoka Magica becomes very reveal-heavy (combining them with a Wham Line, usually) from about the 4th-8th episode onvard.
- Attack on Titan has many of these. Some of these examples are Eren being the Rogue Titan, the walls containing Titans, Annie being the Female Titan, Ymir being the Dancing Titan, Historia/"Krista" being related to a secret cult that knows about the walls, Reiner being the Armored Titan, and Bertolt being the Colossal Titan.
- Although old news now, the identity of the Green Goblin in the original Spider-Man comics was a well-kept secret for years before it was finally revealed to both Spidey and the readers.
- Stormin' Norman did double time on this trope when he was revealed to be the true mastermind of the Clone Saga all along.
- His successor, the Hobgoblin, is the king of this. His true identity was the single biggest plot point of the Spider-Man books in the eighties, and thanks to editorial interference, a really lame reveal, several more fake-out reveals, and judicious retconning, his real, this-is-it, honest-to-God-this-time identity wasn't revealed until fourteen years after he first took up the pumpkin bombs.
- Roderick Kingsley, the true Hobgoblin all along, in fact first appeared in 1980, many years before the retcon and three years before he ever donned the Hobgoblin's hood, which actually brought his ID back to what his creating writer had intended. It was still one of the most convoluted rides in Marvel history, possibly only exceeded by the Fantastic Four's Hyperstorm.
- The Hush storyline in the Batman comics does this a few times, eventually becoming somewhat incomprehensible as to who was doing what. It first appears that Jason Todd was responsible, then Tommy Elliot, and then apparently the Riddler was responsible all along.
- Hush is Tommy Elliott and has been Elliott in all appearances after this storyline. He simply enlisted Jason Todd and the Riddler to help him with an Unreveal and an unmasking respectively. The only real problem was having the real Jason Todd unmask as Hush then immediately switching him with Clayface when Batman wasn't looking so that Batman would think it was Clayface posing as Jason Todd all along (the original story has it as Clayface all along, it was a later writer who added the detail about the real Jason Todd having been there as well.)
- Similarly, The Long Halloween storyline suffers from this, with about three or four people claiming responsibility for the murders which could only have been committed by two at most. Perhaps not uncoincidentally, they were written by the same person. This actually makes sense in the story. The original culprit created an identity to throw suspicion off and the others took advantage of the situation using the identity and established details of the MO to kill people they wanted dead. One of the copycats wants everyone to think it was all him out of spite for his father whose organization is targeted by the killer. Alternately, that guy was the only killer and the other person claiming to have done it was just crazy. It's deliberately left ambiguous.
- This actually seems to be a good way to throw the "World's Greatest Detective" a curveball, by having a masked villain turn out to be multiple people. It was used again in the animated Mystery of the Batwoman where Batwoman turned out to be a wealthy socialite, a cop and an engineer working together. Batman seems to have less difficulty with the idea here than he did in the other two stories.
- One of the most effective and shocking reveals mainly thanks to Jim Steranko's vivid two page spread artwork, was in Marvel's Nick Fury, Agent of Shield. The hitherto always hidden leader/creator of HYDRA turns out to be Fury's missing WW 2 archenemy, Baron Wolfgang Strucker.
- Joss Whedon pulls off several during his run on Astonishing X-Men. First he brings back Colossus, in such a way as to leave no doubt that he's the real deal. Later, he has the revelation that Colossus was actually the one prophesied to destroy the Breakworld all along, since the molecules making up his organic steel body are capable of causing a destructive chain reaction with the planet's core. Then there's the revelation that the "prophesy" (which is actually just one possible future) was deliberately leaked by the peace-loving prophet Aghanne, who actually wants Colossus to destroy the Breakworld because she believes that living under Powerlord Kruun's barbaric rule is a Fate Worse Than Death.
- Perhaps the best executed twist in comics is the end of Thunderbolts #1, in which the titular team is revealed to actually be The Masters of Evil. What's really impressive is how far they went to keep secret the fact that there even was a secret. Peter David, as a favor to Kurt Busiek, even had the solicitations changed for the Hulk issue in which the Thunderbolts first appeared in order to keep the secret under the rug.
- Gotham City Sirens began with a life-or-death arc struggling against the Joker (The frikkin' Joker), with the evil clown wreaking horrible vengeance on the three stars, only for it to be revealed that it is not the Joker at all, but instead it is...Gaggy? Gaggy the ex-sidekick from the Silver Age? The dwarf clown who actually ran away from the circus? The ex-sidekick who has spent decades living in an old abandoned hideout, waiting with bated breath for the return of the Joker in extremely disturbing stalker fashion? Seriously? Yes, seriously, it is Gaggy the whole time, and it actually comes off as pretty creepy and unsettling, and he gives the women a good run for their money. He loses, but it is their series, did you really expect the first villain to bump them off?
- Dark Avengers 13 reveals that the Void is actually Galactus. Or thinks he is. Or is lying. Maybe.
- Due to a tragic miscommunication between the authors of the series and its artists, Batwoman's reveal in 52 actually became an accidental Unreveal. The original intent had been for Batwoman to make her first ever appearance during a Dynamic Entry while being a Big Damn Hero, following several small hints intended to make both the readers and the characters think that it was actually Batman. However, two issues prior to this reveal, she had actually been drawn in full detail on the final page of the issue, already establishing not just her existence, but that she was involved in the current story. Commentary released in the Fifty Two trade-paperbacks reveals that the first drawing was supposed to be a silhouette that would again make the readers think it was Batman, but that artists were unaware of this and instead drew her in full detail. The characters of the story are still unaware of her existence, but it is no longer a surprise to the readers.
- In the Marvel UK Transformers Generation 1 story "Target: 2006", Galvatron decides to gloat over Jazz by revealing his shocking secret: he's actually Megatron from the future! This may possibly have partially spoiled The Movie.
- Frank Miller usually writes straight forward stories but when he wants to, he can pack a reveal. Such was the case with Ronin The ancient Japanese characters don't exist, including the hero himself. It was all a part of the TV show an autistic, telekinetic youngman watched in the distant future. A supercomputer was using his powers and a little biotech to make him turn his fantasy into a reality, essentially turning himself into a hero. That way, she could easily manipulate him into doing her bidding. This would eventually lead to the destruction of mankind and the emergence of biotechnology as the dominant lifeform.
- The final issue of Steelgrip Starkey And The All-Purpose Power Tool reveals the tool (and the technalchemy that drives it) were developed by Steelgrip's partner Flynn, on a mission from a group of Cosmic Entities.
- The culmination of the who is the Red Hulk? saga. It is far too convuluted to explain here but involved opening a can of LMDs.
- The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen:
- The first volume has the revelation that "M", the League's mysterious benefactor, is actually Professor James Moriarty, who became the director of British Military Intelligence soon after surviving his confrontation with Sherlock Holmes at Reichenbach Falls. The League's mission to steal back the cavorite from The Doctor was just an attempt by Moriarty to weed out his rivals in the London underworld and get his hands on fuel for his armed airship.
- The final volume has the revelation that The Moonchild is actually a deranged Harry Potter, who was groomed by Oliver Haddo (inhabiting Thomas "Voldemort" Riddle's body) to become a raging psychopath.
- The Amazing Spider-Man issues 698 and 699, the first two parts to the final ASM storyline "Dying Wish", hits readers with these sorts of things:
- #698: In the final pages, we find out that, somehow, Doctor Octopus and Spider-Man have switched bodies, with Ock!Spidey intending on leaving Spidey!Ock for dead!
- #699: We find out that Doc Ock pulled this off thanks to the events of issue 600, Spider Island and Ends Of The Earth and pulled it off during the storyline prior to this when Spidey was forced to dull his Spider-Sense when the Kingpin had been able to amplify it to painful levels.
- The Superior Spider-Man #1 ends with a startling surprise: Peter Parker isn't dead, but, mostly trapped within his own psyche, he's unable to do anything but stop Octavius from crossing certain moral lines!
- Rat Catcher is the story of an FBI agent who is hunting the eponymous Rat Catcher, a legendary assassin who hunts down and kills mob informants, even ones who go into the Federal Witness Protection program, and who turns out to be a corrupt FBI agent himself. That isn't the twist. The twist, and the big reveal, mid-way or so through the comic, is that the FBI agent whom the story had heretofore led us to believe was the Rat Catcher is actually the one hunting the Rat Catcher, and the other agent, whom we had been led to believe was hunting the Rat Catcher, is himself the killer. He is hunting the other agent to avoid being exposed himself.
- In Adaptation by Malinda Lo, its revealed that aliens have been visiting earth, Reese's operation was performed by aliens and Amber, Doctor Brand and Agent Todd are all aliens.
- In The Hand of Oberon, 4th book of The Chronicles of Amber by Roger Zelazny, Ganelon is revealed to be the long-vanished Oberon.
- The penultimate chapter of Isaac Asimov's original Foundation Trilogy had three characters giving three different solutions to the mysterious location of the Second Foundation. In the last chapter, yet another character reveals the true location, and the narration tells us his Secret Identity in the very last sentence.
- What makes this Reveal even better was that in the first section of the first book of the series, the location of the Second Foundation was revealed by Hari Seldon... and NOBODY picked up on it the first time they read it.
- The first four Harry Potter books have surprising reveals of the villain's identity as their main turning point/climax:
- Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner where Amir discovers that Hasaan is his half-brother.
- In Ben Counter's Warhammer 40,000 Horus Heresy novel Galaxy in Flames, when Tarvitz realizes that Horus intends to virusbomb the Space Marines on the planet.
- In James Swallow's The Flight of the Eisenstein, when Garro insists on hailing a Thunderbird he has been ordered to shoot down, and learns that it's Tarvitz, trying to warn the Space Marines on the planet of Horus's treacherous attack. Sendek, who prided himself on being The Stoic, has a Not So Stoic moment of pure surprise.
"Saul Tarvitz," whispered Sendek. "First Captain of the Emperor's Children. Impossible! He's a man of honour! If he's turned traitor, then the galaxy has gone insane!"
Decius found he couldn't look away from Garro's shocked expression. "Perhaps it has." It was a long moment before Decius realized that the words has been his.
- In An Abundance of Katherines, Colin has dated 19 different girls named Katherine, all of whom have dumped him, and communicates these relationships to the reader through flashbacks. Katherine Carter, aka Katherine XIX, was with him for almost a year and broke his heart. When he was 8, a little girl named Katherine asked him to be her boyfriend; he said yes, fell in love, and got dumped 2½ minutes later. Then Colin is asked out by the most popular girl in school, who is named Marie, not Katherine, and is finally going to break his streak... but then he sees Katherine I, Katherine the Great, and ends up ditching the date. "And so it was Colin and Katherine Carter snuck out of the house to have a cup of coffee at Cafe Sel Marie."
- Then the book does it again — Colin is determined to figure out why Katherines keep dumping him, and he works out a theorem of relationship graphs, and it works for eighteen of the Katherines. But the graph says that he dumped Katherine III. So finally he calls her back and tries to figure out what happened... guess who did the dumping after all.
- In Edgar Rice Burroughs's The Chessman of Mars, when Turan reveals that A-Kor is a prisoner, U-Thor demands to know the meaning of it, and reveals that after O-Tar gave him the slave woman who was A-Kor's mother, he had freed and married her, and so he regards A-Kor as his son.
- The short story "Cop Killer" tells of an eager new police recruit, Max, who moves in with his veteran-cop partner and becomes a part of the family, only to be shot in the line of duty by a cheap crook. The grieving partner hunts down and kills the shooter, whose last words reveal that Max was a police dog.
- Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame: Esmeralda is Gudule's long-lost daughter.
- Neil Gaiman's American Gods: "It's a two-man con." Mr Wednesday (Odin) and Loki, gods of death and chaos, have been manipulating the Old Gods and the New Gods into a war so that they can feed on the resulting carnage. Wednesday is quite really a Magnificent Bastard.
- The Dresden Files book Changes has a big reveal for the series up to that point, but also for that book, in the first sentence.
- In the third book of Codex Alera, it's revealed Tavi is Gaius Octavian, son of Isana and Septimus, and heir to the throne. Needless to say, this is a tricky spoiler to hide when discussing the rest of the series.
- At the end of Thief, when Gen and company are brought into Eddis' throne room, and the Queen recognizes him, sighs in exasperation at his appearance, and holds out her hand for the missing artifact he's had hidden in his hair for half the book
- In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Shadows In Zamboula", near the end, Zabibi reveals that her lover is the ruler of the city, and she is his mistress. At the very end, Conan muses on how he realized that up front and has stolen the ring she wanted him to retrieve.
- Subverted in Les Misérables. Jean Valjean is an ex-convict who had almost returned to a life of crime after being released but had been redeemed by a kind bishop. Mr Madeleine is a good, philanthropic mayor who always helps the poor and feeds puppies. The two are introduced to us as completely separate people, though it is clear to the reader that they are the same person. After a while the author mentions that his readers will certainly have worked out by now that they are one and the same. There is a rather dramatic reveal of this identity to a courtroom though:
- A Song of Ice and Fire, Gambit Pileup that it is, has a bunch of these, ranging from Arstan Whitebeard actually being Ser Barristan Selmy, to Jon Arryn's murderer being his wife, Lysa, at the behest of Littlefinger, and probably culminating with Doran Martell's twenty-year-long revenge gambit to return the Targaryens to power. There's also the as-yet-unrevealed promise Ned made to Lyanna, which has been set up as a particularly whammy reveal since the first book.
- Spock's World: the identity of the Big Bad.
- The second and third novels of the Star Trek series Terok Nor take advantage of the medium to set up a reveal they couldn't pull off onscreen. Specifically, two apparently different characters turn out to be the same man. The security chief on Terok Nor station, Thrax, is revealed mid-way through the third book to be the same character as Sa'kat, the loyal second to outlaw priestess Astraea.
- In another Star Trek novel, Sarek, the Freelans turn out to be Vulcans.
- In Daddy-Long-Legs, the revelation that Daddy Long Legs is Jervis Pendleton, though it is somewhat spoiled by the fact the letter that reveals this is addressed to "My very dearest Master-Jervie-Daddy-Long-Legs-Pendleton-Smith".
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:
- Despite being incomplete, The Pale King has plenty:
- The owner of the Doberman Hand Puppet is Dr. Lehrl.
- The identity of drifter girl and the fate of her mother.
- The identity of Mr. X. It makes the Uncomfortable Elevator Moment chapter read completely different the second time through.
- The fate of Lane Dean's girlfriend and their unborn child.
- The true purpose of Claude's investigation.
- Chris Fogle's role at the IRS.
- Dr. Lehrl's intentions for Post 047.
- In Magyk, the first book of Septimus Heap, it's revealed that Boy 412 is Septimus Heap.
- Ranger's Apprentice: Halt has a twin brother. And he's a prince.
- In Poul Anderson's Time Patrol story "Delenda Est", the jump forward in time reveals tampering with history has created an Alternate History.
- Generally used in the Agent Pendergast novels for whoever the true identity of the Big Bad is in each book. Varies in Dance of Death: Since Diogenes is known as the antagonist of the book from the beginning, it instead reveals that Hugo Menzies is really Diogenes in disguise the entire time.
- Trapped on Draconica: The final chapter changes everything:
- Gothon's wife is is Dead All Along and he accidentally killed her in a squabble and deluded himself into thinking otherwise.
- Lucia has been possessed by Kazebar for the entire story and manipulated Gothon to get his hands on Ben who was thrown into another world by Dronor to keep the power to travel between worlds from being abused.
- Ben and Erowin are twins and their father is the Man Behind the Man, Kazebar.
- The Power of Six reveals that there were not nine, but ten, Loric Garde children sent to Earth, each being meant to take over the roles of the original ten Elders of Lorien (including Pittacus Lore, the purported author of the books.) This also makes a throwaway comment about the "ten Elders" in the first book a Chekhov's Gun.
- The Dark Tower ends with the revelation that the eponymous Tower is a kind of "cosmic museum" filled with relics from the protagonist's life, and that its top floor houses a vortex that erases said protagonist's memory and takes him back to the beginning of his quest in the first book. He has actually spent the entire series trapped in a "Groundhog Day" Loop, destined to reach the Tower and start over again... just as he has already done numerous times before.
- Cassandra Clare loves Reveals. Almost every book she writes has more than one:
- City of Bones:
- Clary is a Shadowhunter.
- Jocelyn was married to Valentine.
- Alec is gay.
- The Mortal Cup was hidden in a playing card in Dorothy's apartment.
- Alec is in love with Jace.
- Hodge was a traitor to the Clave.
- Luke is a werewolf.
- Valentine is Clary's father.
- Valentine is Jace's father, making Clary and Jace siblings.
- City of Ashes:
- Alec and Magnus are in a relationship.
- The Inquisitor had hid a tracking device in Jace's shard of the mirror.
- City of Glass:
- Sebastian Verlac was someone else in disguise.
- Sam was actually Hodge.
- The Mortal Glass was actually Lake Lyn.
- Clary and Jace are part angel.
- A bunch of reveals come all at once: Jace isn't Clary's brother, Sebastian/Jonathan is, Jace is part of the Herondale family, Valentine is Sebastian/Jonathan's father, not Jace's, and Jonathan was disguising as Sebastian.
- Simon can walk in daylight because he drank angel blood.
- One of the high-ranking clave members was a traitor to Valentine.
- Clockwork Angel:
- City of Fallen Angels:
- Kyle is actually Jordan, and he's a werewolf.
- Camille was working for Lilith the entire time.
- Clockwork Prince:
- Will has a curse on him that kills everyone who loves him.
- Jessamine was meeting Nathaniel at night and is a spy for the Magister.
- Will doesn't have a curse on him that kills everyone who loves him.
- Neil Gaiman's short story "A Study in Emerald" (a crossover that incorporates the Cthulhu Mythos into a Sherlock Holmes mystery) has a major one at the end, where the narrator and his detective friend are actually Sebastian Moran and James Moriarty, and that the murderers that they're chasing are John Watson and Sherlock Holmes. As is gradually revealed, the story takes place in a particularly nasty Crapsack World after the Great Old Ones have subjugated much of humanity and set their hybrid offspring up as the monarchs of Europe—leaving Moriarty to become a crusader for law and order while Holmes devotes himself to bringing down Europe's demonic rulers.
- Within Ruin turns everything on its head halfway through when it's revealed:
- Virgil is really Kalthused, and centuries old.
- Descarta is a homonculus, created to host the soul of Ankaa, explaining her lack of memories.
- The Bethel was all invented and spread by Virgil so that large populations would erect statues of the maiden.
- The statues of the maiden are actually soul harvesters, absorbing the souls of all who have died within it's proximity.
- The plague and on-going wars were created by Virgil to kill as many people as possible so as to collect the most souls.
- Basically Virgil is the king of lies.
- Brandon Sanderson is almost guaranteed to drop a Reveal late in the book that turns the plot on its head, dramatically reinterprets some aspect of the magic system, or both (usually some secret of magic that knocks the plot sideways). "Almost" because while the first Mistborn novel does not have a huge twist that knocks it completely ass over teakettle, the subsequent books Well of Ascension and Hero of Ages more than make up for it:
- In Well of Ascension the big twists apply largely to plot threads picked up only in that book, and can make the reader feel like Sanderson has been playing with them from the first page. These include the nature of the Well itself, Zane's psychosis, and the identity of The Mole.
- Then in Hero of Ages, the reader eventually learns they've been played with from page one of the very first book. Almost everything from the nature of the mists, about Vin's mysterious power to pierce copperclouds, that Ruin has been manipulating Vin from before the first book, the big secrets of the Lord Ruler, his identity, and his creations, the origin of the prophecy about the Hero of Ages (and how it was twisted over the millennia by Ruin), the true identity of the Hero of Ages... Damn near everything that's happened has been in service to one act of deception and manipulation or another, finally pulled apart for the reader and the characters.
- In short, Sanderson will blindside you with something.
- The Sword of Shannara has an important reveal in the denouement that completely changes the way the reader will see the whole story. At the beginning of the story, Allanon tells Shea Ohmsford, the last living direct descendant of the great Elven hero-king Jerle Shannara, that he, Shea, must go on a quest to regain the legendary Sword of Shannara, which only he can wield against the Warlock Lord, the evil wizard whom King Jerle defeated with the Sword centuries earlier. After Shea has killed the Warlock Lord with the Sword, thereby saving the world, Allanon reveals to Shea that Jerle failed, which, in retrospect, was completely obvious, for, as Allanon points out, had Jerle succeeded, he would have killed the Warlock Lord, as Shea did. In fact, however, Jerle did not really understand the magic of the Sword, or accept how it worked, and so he was only able to weaken the Warlock Lord, not kill him. It's a great moment, again, because it both makes perfect sense in retrospect, even though most readers will not see it coming, and explains just why Allanon was so secretive all along.
- Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder has a Nested Story Reveal, where the protagonist, Sophie Amundsen, is actually a fictional character in a book that a Norwegian military officer named Albert Knag wrote for his daughter Hilde as a birthday present. Alberto Knox, Sophie's philosophy teacher, is actually Knag's Author Avatar, and his lectures on philosophy were actually meant for Hilde. This is why various characters in the book keep randomly saying "Happy Birthday Hilde!", and why Hilde doesn't seem to exist (even though Sophie was told to deliver a message to her).
- Airframe involves the investigation of a strange incident during a flight by one of their passenger planes. The pilot was one of the best in the industry, and the question that keeps coming up is how could he have screwed up a simple, routine issue that he had handled properly before? The answer: He didn't. He wasn't even in the pilot's seat when it happened. He'd let his son, who was also a pilot, but wasn't qualified for that aircraft type, take over, and he caused the problem through lack of experience.
- Phillip Roth's The Human Stain has the revelation that the protagonist Coleman Silk, who loses his job in the first chapter after he's accused of being a racist, is African-American himself. He rejected his African-American heritage after his father disowned him as a teenager, and decided to live his life passing himself off as a White man—which he could do, because of his partial White ancestry.
Live Action TV
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
- Angel is a vampire.
- Buffy's temporary death created another Slayer.
- Sleeping with Buffy turns Angel evil.
- Jenny is a gypsy from a family Angel slaughtered, and was sent to Sunnydale to watch him.
- Oz is a werewolf.
- Angel's Face-Heel Turn in "Enemies" was a fake.
- Riley and Professor Walsh are part of The Initiative.
- Glory's not a demon. She's a god.
- In Season 8, after the previous subversion, Twlight is revealed to be Angel.
- Possessed Cordelia is behind the rise of the Beast.
- As well as the return of Lindsey.
- In the season three premiere Darla is pregnant.
- Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
- The Changelings are the head of the Dominion.
- Also when Gul Dukat is revealed to be working with the Dominion.
- And a few episodes later, when it is revealed that Bashir is in a Dominion prison and has been replaced by a Changeling for most of the season.
- Famous early example in LOST is the nature of Locke's "miracle," revealed at the end of episode 4. There are plenty more from the series.
- The two biggest reveals come at the third and fifth season finales: what we've thought is a pretty standard despondent-alcoholic-Jack flashback is actually a flashforward, with Jack and Kate off the island and Jack wanting to go back, and the man we've thought is Locke this whole time is actually the series' Big Bad, who has taken the form of John Locke, who was not miraculously brought back to life by the island but has been dead since season three (technically), respectively.
- The series finale has the Sideways timeline reveal that their "alternate lives" are actually their afterlife and the entire cast will eventually be Together in Death.
- Heroes is not only fond of this trope but loves to do it multiple times on the same subject. A specific case would be the bomb that will/might/did destroy New York City, which is "revealed" to be caused by one person, then re-revealed to be actually caused by someone else, then...
- Nothing about Nathan being Claire's father?
- The episode "Five Years Gone" contains perhaps the best reveal of the series: President Nathan Petrelli is actually Sylar, using the illusion power he obtained from Candice Wilmer. We discover this as Sylar is cutting open Claire's skull.
- The fact that this actually comes partly true, Sylar replaces Nathan, is more than slightly disturbing.
- In The Secret Circle episode "Balcoin", Isaac tells us that not only is Cassie the child of John Blackwell, but someone else in the Circle is as well. This is just one of many during the series, though...
- "Crystal" reveals the child to be Diana.
- The X-Files:
- In the episode "Sleepless", it's revealed that Mulder's new partner Krycek is working for the Cigarette Smoking Man.
- CSM is Mulder's biological father. Probably. Ambiguously for several seasons, but somewhat confirmed in the final season.
- In the Season 2 (and series) finale of Carnivàle, we learn that Sofie is destined to become a sinister figure called "The Omega", and that she possesses supernatural powers very similar to those of her father...Brother Justin Crowe.
- Earlier than that, there's the revelation that "Management", the mysterious unseen figure that owns the carnival, is actually Lucius Belyakov, the Russian soldier who tried to kill Henry Scudder during World War I. As we later learn, he's also the father of Brother Justin (who was born "Alexei Belyakov"), and the previous generation's Avatar of Light.
- Alias does this a LOT. Including the very first episode in which Sydney learns that she's actually working for The Alliance, an evil organization that she thought they were fighting, and not the real CIA. Some of the major ones:
- Season One: Laura Bristow was not a lit professor, but actually a KGB spy by the name of Irina Derevo, and is actually alive and is The Man.
- Season Two: Sloane assisted in taking down the Alliance for his own means (arranging for the information that Sydney & co. at Oops Central to be available).
- Season Three: Sydney actually erased her own memories of the two years she spent "working" for the Covenant.
- Season Four: Jack Bristow actually killed a double of Irina Derevko. The real Irina was being held by her sister Elena in captivity. Elena turned out to be Sofia, the woman running the orphanage that Nadia grew up in.
- Season Four/Five: Six words: "My name is not Michael Vaughn." Sloane's flip-flopping between being good and evil does not count because, honestly, who didn't see it coming?
- The Dick Van Dyke Show — The Crowning Moment of Funny in "That's My Boy??" is a classic. The episode is a Flashback to when baby Richie came home from the hospital. Over the course of the episode, Rob (Dick Van Dyke) convinces himself that Richie has been Switched at Birth with the baby from the Peters family. He invites Mr. & Mrs. Peters over to reclaim their baby, only to learn when he opens the door that that they are an African-American couple. Rob asks, "Why didn't you—?" and Mr. Peters (Greg Morris) replies, "And miss the look on your face?"
- Harper's Island has three.
- John Wakefield is alive and the killer.
- Henry is his son and accomplice, making him the killer out of the main group.
- Although Henry is just as psychotic as his dad, he has different plans than him; turns out that unlike Wakefield, who simply wanted to wipe out everybody, Henry wanted to kill everybody except for Abbey, and then keep her with him for the rest of their lives to live out his deranged childhood fantasy.
- Battlestar Galactica (the new series) Has an on-going mystery about the identity of the twelve Cylon models. The first of many reveals is in the Miniseries, where it is revealed that Sharon must be one of them in the final scene. There are also a few other puzzles:
- Season 2: Another Battlestar survived the Cylon Holocaust.
- Season 3: Tyrol, Tigh, Tory and Anders are four of the missing five Cylon models.
- Season 4.5: The Thirteenth Tribe that colonized Earth were all human Cylon models.
- Season 4.5: Ellen Tigh was a Cylon.
- Season 4.5: The 'original programmers' were Tyrol, Tigh, Tory, Anders, Ellen and Cavil.
- By Season 4, Supernatural seems to be doing an average of one an episode. From off the top of my head, we've had the Reveals that: Dean was rescued from Hell by an angel! Big Bad Lilith plans to raise Lucifer! Dean tortured souls in Hell! By torturing souls, Dean allowed the first seal to be broken, making Lilith's plan possible! Sam can now kill demons with his mind! There are some angels working to help release Lucifer! There are plenty more. To give you some idea, the last 3 reveals were in just one episode.
- The Trickster is the archangel Gabriel who, when it comes down to it, is just a bitter, jaded kid who didn't want to see him family fight.
- Lilith was not working to break the final seal, she WAS the final seal, and Ruby was manipulating Sam to get him to kill her. "The first demon shall be the final seal."
- The colt doesn't work on Lucifer.
- Season 6: Sam is soulless! The Campbells are working for Crowley! And up to eleven in the last 4 episodes of that season: Crowley isn't dead! Castiel is working with Crowley to open Purgatory! Cas raised Sam from the pit! Cas is the Big Bad!
- Doctor Who:
- The two-parter "The Empty Child"/"The Doctor Dances" climaxes with the revelation that Jamie is Nancy's illegitimate son, not her younger brother.
- In "Utopia", there's the revelation that Professor Yana is The Master (who survived the Time War and hid as a human with a Chameleon Arch), and the Face of Boe's message was a secret acronym hinting at this (You Are Not Alone). Then, when The Master is shot and regenerates, it's revealed that Prime Minister Harold Saxon (an unseen figure frequently alluded to in Season 3) has been The Master all along.
- "It's us!", if you hadn't guessed it an episode earlier.
- Who is the Pandorica's intended occupant, the "nameless, terrible thing, soaked in the blood of a billion galaxies", the "most feared being in all the cosmos"? It's the Doctor. His enemies constructed the Pandorica to trap him.
- River Song's true identity. She's really Melody Pond, Amy and Rory's daughter from the future. And she's the one destined to kill The Doctor, at the behest of the Silence.
- Technically, Jack's immortality, though it was revealed in episode 1 of Torchwood.
- Jack being the Face of Boe.
- The truth behind the multiple incarnations of Clara Oswin. The one from the 21st century is the "real" one; the others exist because Clara was forced to enter the Doctor's timeline to stop the Great Intelligence from changing it, creating duplicate versions of herself without her memories.
- The War Doctor actually ended the Time War by trapping Gallifrey in a pocket dimension to save it from the Daleks' onslaught. The Doctor's home planet is still out there!
- When Dr. Brennan finds out that her parents were actually notorious bank robbers.
- Used when the team discovers that Zack is Gormogon's apprentice.
- In the Season 3 ER episode "Night Shift," a patient who is badly mangled after jumping (or falling) onto the tracks in front of an elevated train is rolled into a trauma room. Dr. Benton tells a nurse to page Benton's favorite medical student Dennis Gant, and everyone is horrified when the patient's beeper goes off—it's Gant on the table!
- Daniel Perrin is a Doll and Cindy Perrin is his handler.
- Boyd is Rossum's founder.
- That quirky engineer guy played by Alan Tudyk is Alpha.
- Rudy Cooper, a guy working in the hospital who is dating Debra, is The Ice Truck Killer; the Serial Killer who the PD hunt and who plays friendly games with Dexter.
- The Ice Truck Killer is Dexter's biological brother.
- From the third season premiere: Rita is pregnant.
- From the 4th season finale: Rita was the Trinity killer's last victim.
- Late 6th season: Professor Gellar is shown to have been dead for some time and only alive in Travis' imagination.
- In the Season 8 episode of Stargate SG-1 "Prometheus Unbound," Daniel is the only person left aboard the Prometheus with one of Anubis's Super Soldiers. After Daniel is captured and tied to a chair, the Super Soldier hits on Daniel, who is understandably disturbed. Then the Super Soldier removes its helmet to reveal Vala Maldoran.
- Jack & Bobby pulled this off in the pilot episode, waiting until the very end to reveal which of the show's two brothers would grow up to become President.
- In season 4 of NCIS, Tony's relationship with Dr. Jeanne Benoit was allowed to progress for many weeks, and to get quite serious for both of them, before it was revealed that he'd engineered the relationship to investigate her arms-dealer father, and hadn't even told her his real name.
- Noah's Arc has plenty, but a major one that stands out is Junito's HIV status.
- Season 7 of How I Met Your Mother begins and ends with Ted at a friends wedding. A Red Herring appears, but Robin is revealed to be the bride.
- Season 8 concludes with, at long last, the Mother's first appearance.
- So far, Season 9 is just Reveal after Reveal about how Ted's relationship with the Mother will go.
- Many episodes in the second season of Breaking Bad begin with enigmatic Call Forwards showing heaps of debris being pulled out of Walt's pool by men in Hazmat suits, including many repeated close-ups of a battered pink teddy bear. Taken out of context, they make no sense. Then in the Season 2 finale, we learn that the debris is actually from a plane collision over Albuquerque that Walt inadvertently caused when he allowed Jane Margolis to die of a heroin overdose, thus leaving her father David (an air traffic controller in his day job) so distracted by grief that he let two planes collide in mid-air. Out of context the scenes were probably meant to trick the audience into thinking that Walt relocated his meth lab to his house, and then it exploded catastrophically, possibly killing him or his family.
- Given that the premise of Ashes to Ashes is that the main character - Alex - has no idea where she is, the show has many big reveals which change the course of Alex's investigation.
- Gene Hunt is present in Alex's memories, implying that she has experienced time travel and is not in a coma.
- Martin Summers is sharing this world with Alex, which implies that the world is infact real and not a hallucination.
- The world is finally revealed to be a Purgatory for dead coppers, and Gene Hunt has known all along. Chris, Ray and Shaz are also real but have forgotten about their previous lives.
- Each of the main characters (including Gene) gets their own revelation of their demise and are shaken by the experience, especially Shaz.
- True Blood
- René Lenier is actually Drew Marshall, a man who killed his fangbanger sister and then fled his hometown, and was the perpetrator of all the murders during season 1.
- Maryann is a Physical God hellbent on sacrifice. Tara accidentally summoned her in season 1.
- Bill was working for Sophie-Anne, having been specifically sent to procure Sookie. He then constructed a gambit in which two psycho's beat Sookie within an inch of her life so he could feed her his blood and build a connection with her.
- Russell Edgington murdered Eric's family.
- It was Marnie who was controlling Antonia, not the other way around.
- The very last scene of season four of The Good Wife: It's Carey at the door, not Will.
- 24 pulls these on a regular basis, generally to show which side a character is now on or reveal their true motives. There's too many to list, but the most famous ones are the reveals of Nina Meyers and Charles Logan as villains. Occasionally a character the protagonists were attempting to save is discovered to already be long dead (namely Teri Bauer in season 1 and Omar Hassan in season 8).
- So far, every episode of Sherlock has had one of some kind.
- "A Study in Pink": The killer is the taxicab driver, and he got the victims to commit suicide by forcing them to choose between two pills at gunpoint (one harmless, one poison).
- "The Blind Banker": The spray-painted symbols are ancient Chinese numeric symbols—each referring to a page in a London street atlas that leads to the smugglers' hideout.
- "The Great Game": Molly's new boyfriend "Jim" is actually James "Jim" Moriarty, who was using her to keep an eye on Sherlock.
- "A Scandal in Belgravia": Irene's cellphone contains evidence of a secret Ministry of Defence ploy to save a group of plane passengers from a terrorist attack.
- "The Hounds of Baskerville": The "monster dog" that killed Henry's father was really Dr. Frankland, seen through the eyes of a hallucinating Henry. Frankland and Henry's father previously developed a hallucinogenic chemical agent while working together on a CIA project called "H.O.U.N.D."; the chemical caused Henry to see Frankland as a monstrous dog because he was wearing a sweatshirt with "H.O.U.N.D." written on it.
- "The Reichenbach Fall": Moriarty has been living a double life as a television actor named "Richard Brook". His ultimate plan is to discredit Sherlock by convincing the world that he staged the two's rivalry as part of a publicity stunt.
- In Cirqus Voltaire, completing "Unmask Voltaire" reveals that Ringmaster Voltaire is actually Madame Voltaire, who was also the Announcer throughout the game.
- The shocking revelation of the identity of the Outsiders' Third Man in WCW's 1996 Bash at the Beach: Hulk Hogan.
- The very long awaited reveal of the identity of The Undertaker's "higher power". It was revealed to be Vince McMahon himself all along.
- Or the true horrific reveal about Pro-Wrestling itself? It's scripted. Dun Dun Dun. GASP!
- In WWE, the man who drove a car and ran over Stone Cold Steve Austin at 1999 Survivor Series was revealed to be Rikishi, as well as the mastermind HHH.
- Can't wait to find out who the mystery RAW GM is in the WWE. Unfortunately, the Mystery GM was Put on a Bus and never mentioned again when Triple H took over as COO. Turns out it was Hornswoggle.
- Leading up to the 1990 Survivor Series, a giant egg was displayed at WWF shows and it was implied that the egg would hatch around the time of the card. During the show, Mean Gene Okerlund listened to the egg, said it was about to hatch and out came ... the Gobbledy-Gooker, credited as one of Vince McMahon's stupidest ideas. He and Mean Gene danced for a little bit while fans booed.
- That same night, Ted DiBiase's team had a mystery member. After the rest of his team was introduced, DiBiase brought out his fourth man, a new WWF wrestler managed by Brother Love named ... The Undertaker.
- Back in the 1980's, Paul Orndorff was slated to face Don Muraco and Mr. Fuji in a tag team match at Madison Square Garden with a mystery partner. For a few weeks, Orndorff would do promos with a large cardboard box jostling around, saying his partner was inside. The week before the match, Orndorff used a power saw to cut the box open and reveal the Junkyard Dog.
- At the end of the Black Scorpion storyline in WCW, Sting defeated him at Starrcade 1990 and removed his mask to reveal Ric Flair.
- In Sophocles' Oedipus the King, Oedipus searches for the man who assassinated King Laius, only to find that he himself killed the king. As the seer Tiresias tells him, "You are the murderer you seek." This is one of Aristotle's examples of anagnorisis in the Poetics.
- Agatha Christie's The Mousetrap, when the killer is revealed to be ...nope, nice try.
- A trope-worthy twist on the source novel turns up at the very end of the 2013 stage adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory: The tramp at the junkyard who encouraged Charlie to buy a Wonka bar that "turned out" to have the last Golden Ticket? Willy Wonka in disguise. He knew the boy had potential all along and saved the ticket for him!
- The Ace Attorney series, being all about very dramatic trials, has some major reveals. Perhaps the most epic is in the second game's final case, where your client, Matt Engarde, turns out to be not the killer, but the man who ordered the killing. The reveal is so awesome because he smoothes back his hair to reveal some nasty scars on his eye, changing his appearance and expression extensively, and then he pulls a glass of brandy out of Hammerspace. In a holding cell.
- The homepage says "a buttload more informal than Wikipedia", so let's go with some more. The ending to the third game: even after Big Bad Dahlia Hawthorne has been defeated for good, there still isn't an actual suspect for the murder. After some further testimony and debate, Phoenix accuses Prosecutor Godot. What makes this a surprise is that so far there's been absolutely nothing to even suggest that person was anywhere NEAR the murder as it happened. But it's not out of nowhere; because the player has to prove they've actually been paying attention by answering "Who do you think the witness saw?" just before the Reveal.
- Or right before that, the fact that Dahlia Hawthorne is even involved. Spirit channeling had been a sidenote until that case, so the executed Dahlia was thought to be out of the picture completely.
- The first game's final case has two of them, in sequence. Lana Skye has already admitted guilt as your defendant, leading to a lot of suspicion as to: Why would you do that? When investigating a very obviously-related incident referred to as SL-9, you must go through the testimony of her younger sister, Ema Skye, to find out what happened. Many players here expect this murder gives the proof and motive to put the real culprit behind bars. The result? You accidentally find proof positive to the real killer in that incident: Ema. This sets up for a bigger reveal later on.
- Throughout Ace Attorney Investigations the question we've been building up to is whether the Yatagarasu is Kay's father Byrne Faraday, as Kay claims, or Calisto Yew, as Yew claims. In the penultimate challenge of the game we find out that the answer is neither option. The Yatagarasu was actually three people—Faraday, Yew, and Faraday's partner Detective Badd, putting their respective skills together to commit the thefts. Compared to that the reveal of the Big Bad is almost minor.
- Fate/stay night. In the Fate route Saber is revealed to be King Arthur (or Arturia), the Holy Grail is actually an Artifact of Doom Jackass Genie and that random priest at the very start is the Big Bad. In Unlimited Blade Works route Archer is actually a Future Badass version of Shirou. In Heaven's Feel route Sakura is Rin's younger sister who was given to the evil Matou family and was subjected to horrendous domestic abuse and Training from Hell for eleven years in order to become a vessel of the Holy Grail.
- Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors has its first major reveal during the Safe Ending, where you find out that Ace is Gentarou Hongou, the CEO of Cradle Pharmaceuticals and the perpetrator of the first Nonary Game. Except he isn't Zero. Zero, as revealed by the True Ending, is June, and that you've actually been playing as her, not Junpei, the whole time. It Makes Sense in Context.
- Danganronpa: The corpse found in Chapter 5 is Mukuro Ikusaba's... except she's been dead for weeks now. She and Junko switched places for reasons unknown, and it was Mukuro who attacked Monobear in Chapter 1 and was killed for it. Her corpse was re-used to make it seem as though she has been recently murdered. And the person behind Monobear? The real Junko. Making this even funnier is the fact that the followers of the Something Awful Let's Play had been joking about Junko being the mastermind since the end of Chapter 3.
- Higurashi: When They Cry has Miyo Takano being the Big Bad, and the reason why we have so many arcs. There are other reveals though, but most are in the sound novels.
- The reason everyone goes crazy.
- Also for the viewer/reader (and Keiichi during Atonement chapter) the big reveal of unreliable narration during the question arcs. Go watch Onikakushi-hen knowing Keiichi is delusional and the girls really are just trying to help. So many little things suddenly make sense. Plus Rika's dimension-jumping and Hanyuu's existence.
- EP7 of Umineko: When They Cry has the series' most important reveal. Basically, Lion is an alternate universe counterpart of Beatrice, who is also Shannon and Kanon. The person who all three of these personalities belong to is in fact known as Yasu, and their gender is unknown, which unlike most examples of that trope is actually a plot point brought up in the series itself. The game facts don't seem to apply, until you consider the fact that 17 people isn't clarified by multiple identities, allowing for a murderer to exist among a population of 17 fully recognized people.
- Sekien No Inganock: Your name is 《Kikai》Porshion, one of forty-one unborn lives.
- There are several big ones related to the backstory in Avalon.
- At the beginning of the second year, Ceilidh finds out from Ryan that Joe, Alan and Phoebe were all friends until Helène arrived and took Alan away from Joe, then Phoebe started dating an abusive douche named Todd, who eventually dumped her and started spreading rumours that she was a lesbian, pushing her to the breaking point and causing her to beat him up. In the end, Joe never spoke to Phoebe again and while Alan came back to him after having had enough of Helène, their friendship was already damaged.
- Later in the same year, Joe eventually reveals that it was actually Alan who took Helène away from him, as Joe immediately fell in love with her but was too timid to ask her out, and Alan took advantage of that to make a conquest of her, reeling back when she wanted an actual relationship. He also reveals that it was him who caused Todd's injuries, pushing him down a set of stairs out of frustration and anger at hurting Phoebe, who he was also originally in love with. Afterwards, he simply never had the courage to go up to Phoebe and start their friendship up again.
- Even later, Phoebe tells Ryan that Joe actually asked her out, but she got scared and broke his heart, then got together with Todd because Joe going after Helène made her feel like he was lying to her before. She knew what he was like all along, he even physically abused her, but she couldn't bear to admit that she was wrong, and the whole experience just convinced her that nobody could care about her. This eventually lead to her lashing out at Ryan at the start of the actual comic, when he tried to help her.
- Bittersweet Candy Bowl revealed why Jessica and Rachel held so much animosity towards Tess. Lucy's confession to Mike is an in-universe example.
- Gunnerkrigg Court is just aching to make a couple billion of these.
- Antimony and Renard's first real argument quickly devolved into them throwing extremely painful revelations at each other. Specifically Surma never loved him, and Antimony was the cause of Surma's illness.
- Sarda was Onion Kid!!!
- Parodied in this strip from Dominic Deegan.
- At the climax of an earlier plotline of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, it's revealed that every detail of the plotline was all part of an elaborate publicity stunt orchestrated by FOX News, or an attempt by a disgruntled weatherman attempting to keep his own report from being upstaged.
- YU+ME: dream - when the reader finds out that everything in Part 1 has been a dream.
- Mortifer, being more or less a Wham Series in later chapters, has plenty of these. The most notable, however, is chapter 18. William Aussek, Sam's Ensemble Dark Horse new CO, is actually Joey Von Krause in disguise. And Joey is actually a demon, with flame powers. And his eyepatch hides a gaping wound with a small light deep inside instead of an eye. And then he kills Sam, who's a viewpoint character. There are several other examples, such as the reveal that Vlademyre Hynner, Joey's old boss who was introduced in the first chapter, then forgotten, is the new leader of the southern black market, or the reveal that Badass Preacher Zebidiah is actually a demon under Vlad's control, or the reveal that Joey's hallucinations are actually Rashnu trying to get him to redeem himself, or the reveal that Joey's plan thee whole time has been to use his William Aussek identity to eliminate Sintec and the black market for good — more or less the opposite of what the audience thought he was planning, etc. etc. And what's better, all of them manage to make perfect sense in retrospect — well, except for the whole Zebidiah = demon bit.
- The Phoenix Requiem: The spirits are the bad guys.
- Homestuck: The most important character in Homestuck is... Gamzee Makara. Though, Lil' Cal may be more likely at this point.
- In Impure Blood, Dara drops her knowledge on Caspian.
- Why is Yehuda Moon hated so much by Sister Sprocket? How did he get involved in the Kickstand in the first place? It's because he's a Soapbox Sadie, right? Actually, his work on a housing development inadvertently destroyed the forest, taking with it the Shakers' way of life with it. Selling their bikes is his way of paying penance.
- Ctrl+Alt+Del had a Running Gag involving Ethan trying to get into Scott's bedroom to see what was such a big secret that he spent most of his time there & refused to explain what he was doing, yet failing every time. And then, when he finally got inside by tricking Scott into leaving, he was stunned to find... a perfectly normal room, and got bitched at by Scott for the inasion of privacy, before Ethan accidentally knocked a lamp which opened a hidden panel in the wall hiding several computer monitors, with Scott's pet penguin, Ted, sat at them. Scott then explains they're going to release a virus that destroys all Microsoft software, because they experimented on Ted & Scott rescued him from the lab. Oh, and that made Ted super smart, and he developed a way to give himself telepathic control over Scott, with Ted being the dominant one of the two.
- Even better though - Microsoft probably wasn't responsible for the experiments. The only reason Ted thinks they are is because he saw the Windows logo on a nearby computer screen - and HOW many people use Windows OS?
- In Sinfest,
- morphE starts with two people in a cavern escaping from a madwoman with a knife and a second person. 115 pages later we get a dream sequence which shows the cavern and one of the two escapees. Dead. The camera pans up and reveals Tyler, holding a bloody knife.
- Broken Saints has quite a few, but the most memorable comes in at the end of the penultimate chapter. Palmer is found dead, and in a storm of Mind Rape we see the face of the real Big Bad. The hobo Raimi encountered by the alley, AKA, Lear Dunham.
- Ruby Quest has several moments that would qualify, but the biggest is probably "Today is october 31st".
- In Red vs. Blue's Reconstruction series, the fact that Church is the Alpha AI would definitely qualify.
- Another reveal in Revelation: Tex is destined to fail at every single thing she tries - no matter what she does - because that's what she's based on.
- Season 10 reveals that the AI Sigma used to belong to Carolina, and it was her decision to give him to Maine that set off the entire Recollection trilogy.
- The very end of Season 10 ups the ante by revealing that several major characters are in fact family, which dramatically changes the events of the previous 40 or so episodes.
- The biggest reveal in the Global Guardians PBEM Universe was the fact that Stone's mother was a supervillain, and that his father abandoned him at an orphanage in order to hide him from her.
- In the Whateley Universe, "Christmas Elves" has Fey and Generator in a trap, and they then find out that Don Sebastiano did not make Cavalier and Skybolt into his mind-slaves with his psychic powers but instead, Hekate did it with black magic.
- In Wormtooth Nation, it's revealed that wormtooth gas, an invisible, odorless gas that causes permanent Easy Amnesia and has caused numerous problems for the protagonists, actually causes people to live forever in small doses. The entire population of the City moved down to the subterranean world in order to gain immortality, but after an unknown but presumably very long period of time everyone had been "nixed" so often that no one remembers this fact, nor the way back to the surface.
- Andria was really Magnum of Encyclopedia Dramatica the whole time.
- In Doom House, Officer Cop, who was initially thought to be a kind civil servant who is regarding Reginald's safety and well being as a top priority, reveals himself to be a terrorist who was only pretending to be a cop to try to get Reginald to leave the house so he could take it back from him.
- Marble Hornets Entry #35 reveals that the Masked Man who has been stalking Jay is Tim, one of the actors from Alex's film Marble Hornets.
- In Worm, Chapter 19.7 reveals that for the first sixteen entire story arcs, the main motivation for Tattletale's actions was to save Taylor from committing suicide.
- A much bigger one occurs in the Interlude to Chapter 26, where it is revealed that Scion is an alien, the source of parahuman powers, and the cause of The End of the World as We Know It.
- A recent arc on Cerberus Daily News involved a strange quarian signing up on the boards, causing everyone to suspect that she is actually one of the many psychopaths that used to frequent the website before the Reaper Invasion. But it's actually a volus trying to lure that quarian out.
- In Strange Aeons, Nick and Arron have been friends for at least a decade.
- American Dad! loves spoofing this. One example, from "The Phantom of the Telethon":
Give it up, Roger! Roger:
I'm not Roger, I'm the Phantom! (Stan pulls off his mask and gasps.) Stan:
Roger! Roger: Well, yeah, I... what?
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The 2-part second season finale, specifically the point where Cadence, who at this point has seemed to grow from a sweet, kindly foalsitter to a grade-A Alpha Bitch, is an evil fake in disguise.
- The Gargoyles episode "Future Tense" ends with the revelation that the Bad Future seen in the episode was an illusion created by Puck to trick Goliath into giving him the Phoenix Gate. He knew that Oberon was about to call the Children back to Avalon, so he wanted to get his hands on something valuable that he could use to trade for his continued freedom on Earth. To get it, he tried to convince Goliath that the worst possible future had come to pass, hoping that he would be scared into using the Phoenix Gate to travel back in time to reverse it.
- And in the "Avalon" story arc, there's the revelation that the gargoyle hatchlings saved from Castle Wyvern are still alive, as are the humans that raised them.
- "The Gathering" story arc has a two-fold one, where we learn that Titania is Fox's biological mother, and Owen Burnett is actually Puck disguised as a human.
- Adventure Time has a page for it. The biggest one so far is generally agreed to be Lady's revelation that she's pregnant.
- In Kim Possible: So The Drama, Eric is a synthodrone sent by Drakken to distract Kim from thwarting his plan to Take Over the World.
- In the Futurama movie Bender's Big Score, the reveal is that Lars is Fry's time paradox duplicate.
- Three in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
- First one: Zuko and Azula's maternal great-grandfather is Avatar Roku.
- Second one: Azula for once, wasn't lying about something important. Ozai was going to kill Zuko to get the throne. However, their mother intervened and killed her father-in-law, somehow making the death look natural, and was banished because of it.
- Third one: the reason why Katara and Sokka's mother was killed was she claimed she was the last Waterbender of the South Pole, thus protecting her daughter.