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The Unmasqued World
aka: Un Masqued World
The paranormal exists; it's just very good at hiding. The Masquerade has existed for centuries now, and the Things That Go Bump in the Night are just fine with that, thank you. They're not going to trouble humanity, and hopefully, humanity won't trouble them.

Then... something happens. Something so big, something so visible, that plausible deniability just won't cut it anymore. Maybe some young vampire walked into the sunlight in full view of a camera crewnote . Maybe two wizards got in a duel on Main Street. Or maybe everyone's just decided to "come out of the coffin." Either way, there's no going back. Welcome to a brave new world.

The Unmasqued World is a world where the supernatural has, after years of hiding, revealed itself to the world, intentionally or otherwise. In many cases, this will lead to the integration of the supernatural into society — vampires on the police force, wizards in the hospital, werewolves in the park service. Expect much Fantastic Racism as not everyone's just going to accept that the traditional horror movie monsters have decided to move next door as roommates.

A common variant is a world like ours but where the supernatural exists and has always been known to the public. This will often involve Alternate History in which supernatural forces influenced historical events.

Compare First Contact, likely leads to Post-Modern Magik. Compare The Magic Comes Back for when magic stopped working some time in the past but started working again by the time the story takes place.

Spoiler warning: while this trope is a basic premise for most of the examples, it is the dramatic ending of others, in which case the series name alone is a spoiler.

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime and Manga 
  • A subplot in the Tournament Arc of the Mahou Sensei Negima! manga quickly builds up into an outright attempted coup of the school in order to break the masquerade in a Reed Richards Is Useless-esque plot. And in the "Bad Future", they succeed—but the immediate aftermath (world leaders demanding to know what's going on, mages being recalled, ...) is only vaguely referenced before Team Negi sets out to Set Right What Once Went Wrong. Or Make Wrong What Once Went Right.
    • None of the characters seem sure which they did, either, including both Negi's team and the opposition. What is sure is that it goes bad for everyone the reader cares about, with all the erminations and exiles to the Magic World.
      • Akamatsu, it would seem, is not a Utilitarian.
    • By the end of the series (five years later), magic has been revealed to the general population, with the consent of Magical society. Things seem fairly peaceful, but it is implied there was some amount of conflict when the revelation was made.
  • Most Digimon series end with a Mage in Manhattan scenario, which is a pretty good way to break the Masquerade.
  • In Darker than Black, the first season's ending leads to a case of The Unmasqued World, in this case with the existence of contractors being revealed to humanity at large.
  • This trope seems to be in effect at first during the final arc of the Mai-HiME anime due to the rampant destruction across the island caused by the Childs and because of near-apocalyptic natural disasters occuring across the world. Thankfully for the Hime and those associated with them, the resulting Climactic Battle Resurrection in the final episode not only covers it up, but it assures that it will never happen again because all of the chosen HiME of the current generation destroys the source of it all, the Hime Star.
    • Averted in its manga adaptation where Himes in this case are both commonplace (there are twelve selected every several hundred years in the anime, while in the manga they are born by the hundreds) and known to the public.
  • In Guyver, the shapeshifting Zoanoids finally reveal themselves to normal humanity after millennia of hiding among us... on the day they conquer Earth.
  • Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars starts with the existence of aliens getting unmasqued by a giant robot acorn appearing in the skies over Tokyo, but The Masquerade stays otherwise intact (how The Masquerade got started in the first place, the fact that Earth's best defense against alien attack is a middle school Tsundere...) until the Space Diplomacy arc.
  • One assumes this must have happened in Hellsing since no one ever bothers trying to keep up the Masquerade but it seems that no one on the planet cares that unstoppably powerful vampires are going around fighting Nazis . . . that are also vampires . . . while facing down the Vatican's superpowered priests . . . and causing a lot of collateral damage in the process.
    • The "Round Table" HAS someone (who is probably the head of another organisation) solely dedicated to control the media, police, and informations in general...
    • Though, given the devastation of London, one does wonder how they're going to come up with an explanation for that...
      • Given the devastation of London, one does wonder if there's anyone left to explain to.
    • The general population doesn't appear to know of vampires: the Wild Geese mercenaries hired by Integra take some convincing that such things as vampires exist. Only after Alucard makes an overly-dramatic entrance do they really believe. Generally, the Hellsing organization doesn't seem interact with members of the unknowing public unless things get really bad (such as the incident in the first episode), at which point it's best for everyone involved to know exactly what they're dealing with.
  • This is what happens at the end of the YuYu Hakusho manga, with the demons making themselves known to the humans so their worlds could start intermingling with each other. There are already Cute Monster Girl actresses showing up on TV. It's worth noting that the reveal is gentle enough that the reality has yet to be fully accepted by much of the populace. It helps that most of the ones crossing over are humanoid and quite reasonable; they know to play it cool and just want to see what all the excitement's about.
    • Note that Togashi rode roughshod over all of established continuity to hand the recently deposed Enma Daiou the Villain Ball, so he could do this without causing a prompt violent spike in the number of humans getting eaten on a daily basis, even after the King's Tournament; Enki doesn't have the resources for proper enforcement. Also that he seems to have done it mostly so Yuusuke and his demon friends could regularly commute.
    • The continuity change referenced above was to claim that most of the random demon attacks on record were set-ups by Enma to justify his dictatorial power. Given this was power he never did much of anything with besides emergency debridement of situations he definitely hadn't set up, and that we're talking about a hugely powerful and constantly violent race whose entire culture rests of Asskicking Equals Authority to the extent that Yusuke could overset a huge entente getting ready to turn into a Cold War by proposing a giant martial arts tournament with world leadership as the prize...this is one of the clearer streaks of bullshit ever. It's pretty damn mysterious.
      • Also note that the numerical majority of the population is demonstratedly too dumb to take potential consequences into account before acting. And sincerely believe that humans are excellent food. Cultural integration sounds spiffy.
  • In Pom Poko, some of Tanuki go public to try plead their case to save their habitat and it turns out that after that appeal, human public opinion comes to their side and the developers bend a bit for more park land.
  • The human and "demon" worlds are merged into one at the end of Bakuen Campus Guardress, revealing the secret to everyone in both worlds.
  • Black Blood Brothers plays this straight and then subverts it. During the Kowloon Shock everyone became aware that there were vampires, but then the government convinced them that they were all exterminated.
  • In Mahoromatic the Human Aliens were doing this deliberately by sending harmless drone UFOs to buzz airplanes and cities. Their goal was to avoid a complete panic when they finally revealed themselves.
  • The premise of Dance in the Vampire Bund revolves around vampire queen Mina Tepes building a vampire district on an island in Tokyo Bay and announcing the existence of vampires to the whole world during its grand opening.
  • For much of Transformers Armada, the characters felt it necessary to conceal the Transformers from humans (for some reason). However, in the sequel series, Transformers Energon, the Transformers' existence has been revealed to the people of Earth and the two races now live in harmony.
    • And in Transformers Cybertron they're back to being urban legends again. This was due to some miscommunication between the American and Japanese promoters—in the original Japanese it was supposed to be an entirely different continuity.
      • However, the fluff that ties Cybertron to the others in narrative is a Fan Club-exclusive tie-in comic, the explanation feels weak even by this brand's standards as well as forced (Aaron Archer didn't want to accept that it wouldn't fit), so American fans can consider it standalone too if they wish. And Cybertron turns things into The Unmasqued World at the end anyway.
  • Some fanfics for Axis Powers Hetalia imagine what would happen if the the world at large learned the truth about the Nations. Usually, it doesn't go very well for them.
  • Bakugan battling was common before the masquerade fell, but everything changed when people learned that Bakugan were sentient.

    Comic Books 
  • This is standard operating procedure for most comic book universes, including the DC Universe and Marvel Universe. Sometimes there are "Year One" type of stories that take place before everybody accepts that a man can fly or that there are mutants, but those are the exception.
  • The comic series Bite Club features a world where vampires are just a variant of humanity who are exceptionally long-lived, incredibly resilient, and gain strength from blood. After centuries of hiding from stigma, they reveal themselves to the world sometime in the early 20th century, and by the time the story opens, they end up assuming positions in organized crime, business, even the priesthood.
  • The Mirage-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic featured a rare intentional unmasquing when the alien Utroms reveal their existence to Earth and offer to share their technology; within months, Earth's technology level has been increased tenfold, and the planet has been opened to alien travel and commerce. (This leads to a slightly ironic situation where the turtles themselves are free to walk the streets...as long as they tack on a few prosthetics and claim to be alien visitors.)
  • In Rom Spaceknight, the eponymous hero initially has a tough time hunting down his shapeshifting enemies, The Dire Wraiths, who have infiltrated Earth so thoroughly that they have little trouble convincing everyone that Rom himself is the menace. However, when a new faction of the Wraiths takes over, they pull the big blunder of openly attacking SHIELD at their helicarrier base; and suddenly the Earth governments have all the evidence they need to know that Rom was telling the truth after all. They throw their full military and intelligence resources behind the Spaceknight.
  • Superman: Secret Identity ends with the society accepting the existence of superhumans like Clark, leading to scientific advancements.
  • This is now well and truly the case for the Buffyverse what with LA being transported to hell and back and vampires having reality TV shows.
  • In one of the early volumes of the Franco-Belgian Comics series Le Scrameustache, the eponymous uplifted humanoid cat and his buddies, the benign Galaxians, reveal themselves to humanity, which reacts uncommonly reasonably: while they are the focus of media and tourists for a while, after a few months nobody bats an eye and they're treated as nothing more than slightly unusual neighbours or travellers.

    Fan Works 
  • In To the Stars in the Post-Madoka future, the magical girls had to reveal themselves to help the save humanity from the Alien Invasion. Further complicating things afterwards is the acknowledgement by the magical girls (who are now a powerful world-wide organization instead of scattered bands of demon hunters) that they manipulated the human society.
  • While many Danny Phantom fics go with the belief that following the Grand Finale, the entire world knows Danny's secret, the Facing The Future Series averts this with besides Danny's parents and Valerie, only those present at the South Pole know. Word of God believes they keep other things secret besides what a teenager does in his spare time.

    Film 
  • Occurs in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, first when Hellboy is blown out a window and lands in the street in the middle of a group of reporters, and then when the Big Bad summons a forest elemental to kill him on a city block below one end of the Brooklyn Bridge.
    • In the comics, a similar thing happened offscreen. But there, the masquerade was broken when Hellboy was found and revealed to the public instead of kept hidden away. Immediately after which the existence of the supernatural was confirmed by the government and several religions.
  • Neo claimed this as his mission at the end of The Matrix and it eventually came to pass at the end of the third movie, with anyone who realizes the illusionary nature of the world offered a conscious choice to continue living in the Matrix or join Zion in the real world In The Matrix Online continuity, this was snapped back to the Machines no longer reinforcing the Masquerade (beyond basic damage control), and limiting their jurisdiction within the Matrix. Sheer inertia seems to keep a lot of the populace (maybe willfully) in the dark. This goes along with what Morpheus said in the first movie, where he said that adults pulled from the Matrix have trouble letting go.
  • This is implied to happen sometime after the ending of Big Trouble in Little China, as the film opens with a lawyer questioning Egg Shen about what caused the giant green fireball that appeared over San Francisco's Chinatown (and Egg Shen casually whipping out some lightning to convince the lawyer that yes, shit just got real).
  • The Island does it very literally: the technology that displays an illusionary world around the inhabitants (clones bred for organs) of the shelter is broken and the masquerade is broken.
  • Subverted at the end of The Howling, when the werewolf-bitten news reporter engineers her own transformation and silver-bullet demise live on national television. It's a subversion because everyone not already in on the werewolves' Masquerade dismissed it as a hoax.
  • At the end of They Live!, after the hero sacrifices himself to unmask the alien invaders.
  • In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, the Fallen decides to reveal their existence to the entire human race, breaking the government cover-up. By Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, the Autobots are subjects of news coverage, Sentinel Prime is able to contact the UN to order them to kick the Autobots off Earth, and Simmons debates with Bill O'Reilly on whether or not the US should support the Autobots (poll results show that the US would feel safer without them).
  • In Underworld Awakening, Selene wakes up In a World where the humans have discovered the existence of immortals and are systematically hunting them down, vampire and lycan alike.
    • Interestingly, this could be a case of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero, as Viktor was the one who came up with and enforced the rule of "no feeding on humans" (which he routinely violated himself) in order to maintain The Masquerade. After the fall of the vampire aristocracy thanks, in part, to Selene, there is no one to enforce these rules.
    • It probably had more to do with the fact that Markus killed the Cleanup Crew.
  • In Beetlejuice, the Maitlands are roundly criticized by their caseworker for letting the living get solid evidence of ghosts, while the Deetzes look to find a way to monetize their haunted house.
    • Said evidence was the Handbook for the Recently Deceased, which explains basically how the afterlife works. At the end of the film, this book has been mass-produced for mortal consumption, but there's no indication that anyone believes it, especially since it's so dry that it "reads like stereo instructions".
  • In Ted, when the title character comes to life, the Bennett family alerts the media about an actual Living Toy and he instantly becomes a celebrity for a while. But after a while as Patrick Stewart "nobody gives a shit"
  • Thor's (and subsequently the Destroyer) appearance on Earth in New Mexico sparked the need for SHIELD to pursue higher forms of weapon technology to combat extraterrestrial threats. To that end, they hijacked leftover Tesseract-powered HYDRA weapons from World War II and were in the process of reverse-engineering them. While the rest of the world knew about bits of the weird stuff already, they had a rude awakening to the scale of it when New York hosted an alien invasion.
    Killian: Anyway, the point is, ever since that big dude with the hammer fell out of the sky, subtlety's kinda had its day.
  • By the end of Man of Steel, Earth is alerted to the existence of extraterrestrials and superheroes.

    Literature 
  • In the Anita Blake series, the existence of the supernatural has been known throughout all of history. Vampires and lycanthropes are commonplace (and the object of some fascination), and Anita herself is a licensed necromancer. There is still the social upheaval described by the trope but it is caused by the recent granting of legal personhood to vampires.
  • In Justina Robson's Quantum Gravity series, an accident with a particle accelerator has reduced most of the continental United States to a series of islands and revealed parallel realities housing dragons, elves, demons, faries, and other such creatures. This is news to Humanity, but these other worlds claim that Earth (which they call Ootopia), and themselves, have been there all along. This difference in POV is never reconciled, but most people don't care and simply think Elvish rock stars are cool.
  • The Sookie Stackhouse Mysteries (and its HBO adaptation, True Blood) take place in a world where vampires have revealed themselves to the world following the invention of synthetic blood that takes care of all their nutritional needs. Other supernaturals slowly follow in their footsteps
  • Harry Potter: By Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the Masquerade might not be broken, but it is starting to crack. Giants are roaming up and down the countryside, Death Eaters are terrorizing Muggles more openly, and Muggles can even sense the spike in Dementor levels. The Ministry of Magic has its hand more than full running around modifying memories.
    • Then again, it's implied that this level of "exposure" has happened more than once in the past and it's always gotten covered up again.
      • Considering they'd have massive witch hunts on their hands if everybody found out, they are rightly worried.
  • The ultimate goal for the protagonists in the Deryni works. People know Deryni exist, but they're so feared (and consequently persecuted) that they must conceal themselves. Not that everyone agrees upon methods and timing. Gradually, (OK very, very gradually) through a combination of heroic examples and royal fiat, the masks come off.
  • The Kitty Norville series stars a werewolf who hosts a late-night radio show. When she's attacked by a werewolf hunter on the air, she ends up revealing that she's a werewolf — but instead of running from it, she decides to parlay it into power, and ends up becoming a celebrity and figurehead for supernaturals across the country. Shortly after that, a government agency publicizes the existence of werewolves and vampires, up to and including DNA tests. By the time Kitty's forced into shapeshifting on live television, the matter's well enough known that the worst she suffers is an FCC fine for flashing the audience.
    • The Masquerade in this series was never very strong to begin with; government scientists were researching Homo sapiens lupus and Homo sapiens sanguinis for years in shady, underfunded projects before most people acknowledged that werewolves and vampires actually existed. A common topic of speculation by Kitty is on which legends about animal-people are based on truth, and whether any historical figures were weres of some kind. About five years or so have passed in-universe since the start of the first book, and by now most people accept that werewolves, vampires and many other supernatural creatures are real, but a few people here and there still think it's a hoax and prejudice is still pretty common.
  • The Hollows series by Kim Harrison is set years after a virus from a genetically altered tomato wiped out most of the human race — 'supernatural' people, like witches, vampires and weres, were immune or less affected, so ended up revealing themselves when they realized their combined numbers nearly outnumbered humans in an event called The Turn.
  • The Mercy Thompson series features a world where The Fair Folk came out of the closest years ago, albeit intentionally and in a far more controlled method than the typical Broken Masquerade. It didn't end well, with religious conservatives and bigots railing against the fae and eventually creating voluntary reservations for them. (Which is actually exactly what the fae leaders wanted them to do in the first place.) After the events of the first book, the universe's werewolves decide to reveal some of their population as well, with a bit more success. Stefan the vampire anticipates the day when his people will come out of the coffin. He's working on ways for vampires to cure blood-borne diseases in order to gain some public good will and hopefully smooth over the whole "feeding on humans" bump. So far no one else has come out publicly, but with first fairies and now werewolves unmasqued, people are starting to question what else is out there.
  • Not paranormal, but definitely world-breaking: Isaac Asimov's short story (later expanded into a novel with Robert Silverberg cowriting) Nightfall takes place on a world with six suns whose inhabitants, unused to lack of light, can be driven to madness with long term exposure to darkness. But a rare astronomical alignment every two thousand years is approaching which will bring true night (the eponymous "Nightfall") and the appearance of Stars. The world just happens to be inside a globular cluster (well, some kind of dense star cluster, anyway), so these are horizon-to-horizon, really bloody bright Stars. Cue universal madness, rampant arson, and the end of civilization. Oh, and there is evidence that it happened at least seven (or nine) times before. A background note in the story is that of a safe haven, kept lit during Nightfall with the recent innovation of oil torches.
  • In Kim Newman's Anno Dracula series, vampires have been hiding in the shadows for centuries. Then Dracula becomes Queen Victoria's consort and everything changes.
  • Mike Carey's Felix Castor novels depict a Britain where the existence of ghosts is becoming recognised as a fact with lobbying groups and parliamental debates weighing in on the issue.
  • In Elizabeth Bear's Blood & Iron, a dragon reveals itself to humanity and the existence of the fey can not be denied.
  • F. Paul Wilson's Adversary Cycle of novels ends with a global revelation of the reality of the supernatural. Having the sun nearly go dark forever, releasing godawful monsters to stalk the increasingly-long nights, while bottomless pits open up and start eating the landscape, would sure convince me.
  • Sunshine by Robin McKinley is based on this, centering around a human protagonist who lives a fairly mundane life in the world post "Voodoo Wars" where protective talismans are the norm, certain geological areas can make you go insane if you enter them, magic users work for the government and everybody knows if the vampires get you, you're dead. Said protagonist encounters said vampires...
  • In Peter Watts's novel Blindsight, vampires used to exist, but a genetic defect that causes them seizures when they see things with too many right angles (like buildings... and crosses) led to them being wiped out centuries ago. Modern genetic engineers have recreated them and made them useful to society, or at least to society's corporate and military overlords, who have found all sorts of applications for highly intelligent and ruthless creatures kept under control by antiseizure drugs. Obviously nothing could possibly go wrong with reconstructing a super-intelligent predator that already nearly wiped out the human race once...
  • Towards the end of Animorphs, the Yeerks become increasingly careless about covering up their invasion, starting around book 45 with the ousting and execution of Visser One, who developed the plan of slow infiltration in the first place. By the last book, they're openly occupying the ruins of an unnamed city in California, enforced by Kill Sat. Also, at the end of the series it's stated that peaceful aliens now live openly among humans.
  • Poul Anderson's Operation Otherworld series is set on an Earth where Einstein's Theory of Relativity and at least one other scientific theory from the same time period were put together and used to negate the effects of Cold Iron on supernatural beings and magic. This results in brooms and flying carpets instead of cars, photo flashes specifically designed to mimic the light of a full moon so were-creatures can transform outside of a full moon, and unicorns as cavalry mounts, among other things.
  • A potential result of Harry Dresden's world-changing actions in Changes: the Red Court of Vampires has been completely obliterated, meaning that politicians, businessmen, and other important figures around the world have spontaneously disappeared. Granted, Harry himself was never too big on upholding the Masquerade, but there will undoubtedly be huge ramifications for the whole supernatural world. The full impact of these events haven't been felt, and the possibility of a complete destruction of the whole masquerade has been hinted at in previous books.
  • In Devon Monk's Allie Beckstrom novels, magic has been known to the general public for about thirty years before the story starts.
  • While it doesn't happen in Sergey Lukyanenko's Watch series, Geser reveals that it was the strongest possibility for a world where Communism prevailed (it was originally conceived as a perfect social system). Of course, the humans would then quickly hunt down and kill all Others. Which is why he convinced a witch to sabotage the experiment.
    • In another book a member of "The Last Watch", Edgar, describes his version of Utopia he's trying to build: a feudally-organized Magitech world where Others are rulers and public servants. Apparently this was an older plan of the Watches and the Inquisition, scrapped in favor of keeping on with The Masquerade.
  • This happens in the eighth (and final) book in the Artemis Fowl series, The Last Guardian. Opal Koboi had her past self killed, creating a time paradox that destroyed every bit of technology created or influenced by her in the last five years. This means about 75% of all machines, both on the surface and underground had catastophic failures. While one would think this would help the masquerade, since cameras and other such equipment are now completely destroyed, this breaks the masquerade wide open since a large part of The People's tech was hiding themselves from "the Mud Men" (their name for humans).
  • In the world of Kevin J. Anderson's Death Warmed Over and Unnatural Acts, a supernatural event known as the Big Uneasy took place several years ago, causing all manner of spooky creatures to reappear or begin rising from the grave. It's implied that such beings had previously existed, but were extremely rare and either dormant or in hiding.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, this trope is why Fairyland must be kept a secret, and why the girls try to stop Jack Frost from doing anything big on Earth.

    Live Action TV 
  • Aliens became common knowledge on Doctor Who. When the Broken Masquerade happened isn't clear, though it seems that the world was unmasqued some time during the course of the 2005 revival and its spinoffs Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. The Doctor says it happens during the Sycorax invasion, but the earlier Slitheen invasion seems just as likely. note 
  • The exposition for True Blood is just this trope: Vampires exist! and this girl's telepathic. and there's a werewolf/shapechanger man-thing.
    • Also: Werewolves are real, there's this demi-god chick who turns into Minotauros etc. All Myths Are True, except exorcism doesn't actually work. (At least it didn't in Miss Jeannette's case.)
      • Except: While Tara was never actually possessed by a demon, necromancy clearly works, and the vampires are losing their shit over it.
  • Charmed's Prue Halliwell died because of this trope..
  • Heroes's season four/series finale features Claire Bennet revealing her power in front of a live television audience.
    • Sadly, the show was cancelled right afterwards, and we never got to see The Unmasked World.
  • Dollhouse explores the unmasking of a technology that is originally thought to be an urban legend.
  • The Road Not Taken: In Stargate SG-1, a disposable alternate universe in which Anubis' attack on Earth caused The Reveal of aliens and the Stargate Program. The United States and the world became a rough place under plebiscite-powered President Landry. This alternate universe is The Unmasqued World.
    • The episode 2010 takes place in Next Sunday A.D., depicting an Earth that has made peaceful contact with an alien race after years of covering up the existence of hostile aliens. The aliens have shared their technology with us, and turned Earth into a peaceful paradise. It turns out at the end of the first act of the episode that the aliens have sterilized over 90% of the population so they could turn us into docile, backwards yeoman farmers to feed their empire.
  • Done very, very subtly in Power Rangers ever since the finale of Power Rangers in Space. They never actually focus on the changes because of the lack of focus on continuity, but in Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue there was a government program that was quite open and public about being set up to combat a specific group of demons, Power Rangers Jungle Fury implies the ability to buy morphers on the black market ("I know a guy who knows a guy who has an uncle"), and Power Rangers Operation Overdrive casually refers to universities having courses on Galactic Myth And Legend. By the time of Power Rangers S.P.D. in 2025, Earth is a major intergalactic transit hub.
  • Ultimately used in Kamen Rider Kuuga. While at first the police are willing to cover up Grongi incidents, when the gravity and fatality of the situation is considered they decide to tell the truth.
  • The last scene of the Season Finale of Season 1 of Alphas is Dr Rosen announcing the existence of Alphas to the world.
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. deals with the fallout of the unmasking that occurred in The Avengers.
  • One Season 3 episode of Misfits has someone go public with his powers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Seeing as it was the Trope Namer, it's not unexpected that this would happen. Two of the proposed endgames for Vampire: The Masquerade involve the Masquerade breaking in two right before the world goes to Hell.
  • The Shadowrun RPG is set in an Unmasqued World: when the background level of magic finally rose high enough, elves, dwarves, trolls, dragons, and other assorted mythological beings spontaneously reverted to their true forms. A relatively benevolent ancient dragon immediately ran for President, and almost won, but got assassinated before he could take office.
    • It might be justified to say that Shadow Run had two unmaskings, after all nobody thought bug spirits were real till they ate Chicago.
    • And the immortal elves are still in the closet, leaving room for yet another unmasqueing in the future.
    • Or a fourth, which will really kick off panic, when news about the Horrors' approach gets out...
  • Rifts, in a manner similar to Shadowrun. Although it is set After the End, the moment the titular rifts opened and awakened the world to magic, psionics, cosmic horrors, etc is pretty well described.
  • In the Witchcraft expansion Armageddon, the supernatural gets unmasked after centuries of Masquerade... right in time for The End of the World as We Know It.
  • Cthulhu Tech straddles the line on this one; magic was made public quite a while back in the form of "arcanotech," and the government hands out licenses to sorcerers. On the other hand, since it's that kind of setting, the government's keeping mum about the really bad stuff...

    Video Games 
  • In Alone In The Dark 2008 game, giant demonic "living" fissures open up and swallow New York City. Try explaining that away. Or the various horrors that accompany it, such as swarms of demonic bats, or the fact that any water the touches the cracks becomes living darkness.
  • The first two Shin Megami Tensei happen in this kind of world, since demons are running free, a demon summoner canonically ruled Tokyo between Shin Megami Tensei I and Shin Megami Tensei II, and angels and demons act like heavily militarized political parties
    • The world of Persona 3 also becomes de facto unmasqued as the game nears its conclusion. Officially, the governments admit to nothing beyond the existence of Apathy Syndrome (and likely really don't know anything), but unofficially, a cult devoted to an Eldritch Abomination and praising its impending arrival and The End of the World as We Know It quickly comes to dominate society and the media. Thankfully, there's a Reset Button available for the right price...
    • Some of the endings for Devil Survivor definitely result in an unmasqued world (Yuzu's ending and Naoya/Kaido's ending) while others leave some room for interpretation (Atsuro's ending and Amane's ending).
      • Amane's ending doesn't mention any kind of Gas Leak Coverup, and the effects of the events in the Loop are clear for all to see, so it's safe to say that something is Unmasqued there even if the details don't become public outside the loop.
    • Shin Megami Tensei: Strange Journey eventually becomes this. The Schwarzwelt Joint Project tries to keep the existence of the Schwarzwelt (and the demons pouring out of it) a secret by claiming it's a particularly violent ferromagnetic blizzard, but eventually this Negative Space Wedgie expands too far, and far too many demons come out, for it to be hidden from the public eye. The fact the Project eventually resorted to firebombing the entire thing with nuclear warheads (which did pretty much nothing) also might have left them in pretty hot water and with many explanations to give.
  • This trope is a huge plot point for the series as a whole. Before Shin Megami Tensei I, the masquerade was strong enough that it wasn't broken until the world ended and demons poured into it. But thanks to Hazama launching an entire school into the demon world during the events of Shin Megami Tensei if... both undiscreetly and prior to the events of the first game, more people have awareness of the demons and an entire alternate timeline is created, leading to the events of the Persona games. We later discover that the awareness of demons led to the ICBMs being stopped because the events of the Devil Summoner: Raidou Kuzunoha games prevented them from being launched.
  • The powers of Alchemy and its derivative Psynergy, which were secrets kept by the Adepts in Golden Sun and The Lost Age, are much more common knowledge in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn after the rise of the Golden Sun and The Magic Comes Back. Adept soldiers are coveted by warring nations, and more than a few kings hope to recruit the player characters for their armies, willingly or otherwise. However, since non-Adepts can't see Psynergy in action, they still generally don't understand how it works, that it follows rules, or that Adepts usually come from certain bloodlines.

    Webcomics 
  • In It's Walky!, Head Alien uses a Martian warship to attack SEMME's homecity, forcing them to reveal their secret to the world.
  • Corner Alley 13 has fantasy creatures suddenly appearing everywhere within a week as its basic premise.
  • Last Res0rt plays with this: the Celeste, supernatural angels/demons capable of talking anyone into doing anything, are out in the open. It's the vampires, djinn, zombies, and other miscellaneous monsters that are still forced into hiding thanks to the Celeste, even though people are aware they can and do exist.
  • The world of Sorcery 101 at first appears to be a straight example of this trope. Then you find out that most people think that it's a stunt and that there are groups still trying to keep the masquerade going. But more of the supernatural people are being more open and things are changing. At one point a guy comes out as gay to his best friend and his best friend accidentally revealing that he's a werewolf. They're portrayed to be about as shocking to each of the friends.
  • The first book of Fans! slowly breaks the Masquerade, as the main cast goes from thought insane to folk heroes. Later books take place more-or-less entirely in The Unmasqued World, even though the FIB try so hard to hold on to at least some secrets for another four, until the heroes take them over, too.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • This is Pandora's long-term goal, which she starts by appearing on the evening news in her Creepy Child form. She then proceeds to empower random people with magic, so as to cause as much chaos as possible in a way the Masquerade cannot cover up. While the former only brings weirdness hunters to town, the latter is proving effective, especially when the superheroes started showing up to save people. In fact, it was so effective that the head of the local MIB office essentially gave up, admitting on live television that it was all real. Her reasons for doing all this are simple: Her son, Raven, is an elf, a half-immortal who is not allowed to interfere in situations that do not directly involve magic. Therefore, she is creating a world where everything directly involves magic. That, and she's bored.
    • Tedd also wants to unmasque the world, but he's doing it in a far more responsible way. The reason the masquerade is in place is because most people have little to no magic resistance. Unveiling magic would be like handing out guns to random people when most people can't use either guns or bulletproof vests. Tedd, as a Magi Tech Mad Scientist, decides to create technology that will allow the average person to use magic to an extent that it is safe to remove the masquerade.
  • This occurred in the backstory of The Dragon Doctors, when a magical society dedicated to saving victims of magic decided the best way to do it was to reveal to the public the existence of magic. There were many powerful puppet masters in charge at the time who abhorred this idea, and there was a civil war between them in every country of the world.
  • In Apple Valley some 10 years before the start of the comic the normal "human" world was merged with a "fantasy" world full of elves, goblins and magical humans. In the time since, the two worlds have successfully integrated mainly due to the fact that they were originally one world, split into multiple parts by an ancient spell, and now Kentucky Fried Unicorn is a popular, if incredibly disturbing, fast food chain.
  • In the Funny Farm version of The X-Files Mulder and Scully managed to uncover the conspiracy. Now they issue parking tickets to UFOs. Funny Farm characters remark that the show got boring after the unmasking.
  • In Sam and Fuzzy, the Committee is forced to go public on the existence of vampires after Sam forcibly exposes them to the world. They still keep a whole lot of other things under wraps, however.

    Web Original 
  • In Tech Infantry, early in the backstory, a centuries-long Masquerade was broken by the Bug invasion of Brazil, and the existence of Mages, Vampires, and Werewolves was revealed to the masses in the ensuing War of Gehenna. For the rest of the story, magical and non-magical humans live alongside each other and jointly battle aliens, although only the magical ones are subject to compulsory military service.
  • In the Paradise setting, humans are randomly, permanently Changed into Funny Animals (and occasionally gender-changed) by causes unknown. However, the changes were Invisible to Normals, who would still see Changed individuals as their old human selves (and genders). However, the Weirdness Censor that prevented normal people from seeing the Change started to break down in 2009. Post-2009, Changed have become widely-known—and by and large commonly accepted thanks to the Law of Conservation of Normality.
  • The Whateley Universe is the post-unmasking world. Now that mutants are out in the open and their numbers are increasing, things are getting tense. The Mutant Commission Office is a Men-in-Black organization that deals with them. The Goodkinds are funding the Knights of Purity, power armor 'heroes' to take out rampaging mutants. Humanity First! is a worldwide group of mutant-haters who want to stop the mutant menace. The future is no longer clear.
  • Trayen Kelly's Phaeton fits this trope, the existance of various Differently Powered Individuals, yes they are actually called that, being revealed around 1995.
  • A major element of the later, newer story arcs in AH.com Eternals. The trope comes into play in an alternate version of the year 2011, when the Eternals reveal their existence to the rest of humanity, creating an increasingly Alternate History version of our modern present day world of the 2010s (and beyond).

    Western Animation 
  • Gargoyles ends its second season with the revelation to the world that the Gargoyles exist. In the Expanded Universe comic book, this results in the creation of a NYPD task force for investigation into Gargoyle matters, as well as a hate group that targets anything supernatural.
    • The storyline that introduces this was originally from the third season Re Tool The Goliath Chronicles. While the rest of this series is widely considered Canon Discontinuity, the first episode is seen as the last true episode.
  • Men In Black: The Animated Series ends with a two-parter where an unmatched alien threat results in the MIB revealing the existence of aliens to Earth, so that everyone can rally behind them. Subverted in that the series ends with the MIB being honored in a ceremony that "everyone is watching" — where they take the opportunity to neuralize the entire population of Earth and make them forget. You have to estimate, someone must have missed that...
    • It'd be a Cassandra Truth. It doesn't matter if 1 in every 10,000 people knows that aliens are real, the key issue is that the remaining 9,999 people will think the first is crazy. It's the reason The Masquerade works so well in the first place. Someone's bound to find out the truth eventually, but if they aren't believed by the general public, it doesn't matter.
    • The Men In Black already operate knowing that there are people not affiliated with them yet still know of their existence. They just bank on their advanced alien technology to make sure anyone with actual evidence won't have it for long.
    • Which kinda puts them past the Moral Event Horizon. The movies went out of their way to show that most aliens are peaceful, so all the MIB is really doing with their secrecy tactics is inhibiting the progress of humanity. (Oh, is THAT all?)
      • I thought the whole point was to keep the aliens safe from other aliens who would pick up on the stuff coming out of Earth. K talks about the Earth being used as a neutral, refugee zone—"Casablanca without the Nazis." You wouldn't want to publicize where the refugees and dissidents are hiding, would you?
      • The movie also implied that the first contact aliens didn't think humanity was ready, and the show had those warehouses full of technology that was scheduled to be released every ten years or so, to let human culture get used to it, and they make it pretty clear that other than refugees, the only aliens going to earth are outlaws or extremists.
      • The first movie directly addresses this: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." Which is to say, they cannot predict or control what might happen if everything was suddenly revealed to everyone, and the risks outweigh the potential gains.
  • In Ben 10, The Plumbers had kept the existence of aliens secret for decades, until Ben's heroics started making the news, and the government put together an anti-alien task force.
    • However, There Are No Global Consequences - it seems that neither scientists, religious / political leaders or crazy military groups are interested in getting the nice superpowered aliens for a talk or a test.
      • Finally averted! The newest series, Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, has Ben coming out and being hailed as a hero the world-over.
      • Although the Plumbers themselves are still secret to all but government higher-ups.
    • In Ben 10: Omniverse Earth is now an "open system" and the Plumbers are operating publicly on Earth since many aliens are living and working on Earth without hiding.
  • In Danny Phantom, the public eventually had to acknowledge the existence of ghosts, and various groups sprang up to deal with them.
  • X-Men: Evolution: The second season's cliffhanger is a massive brawl with a Sentinel that spills out of an underground base into a crowded city, and soon the fact that super-powered Mutants exist is broadcast live to the world. Even with the Reset Button pressed enough for the X-Men to return to high school in the next season, nothing's ever the same, and All of the Other Reindeer takes center stage (not unlike the source material).
  • While the actual unmasking happened during the movie, The Real Ghostbusters took place in a world where ghosts, demons and ancient gods have all been proven real and are common knowledge. Things haven't actually changed much: when faced with a supernatural problem at the start of an episode, civilians typically throw up their hands and say "call the ghostbusters, let them deal with it."
  • The third season of the original The Transformers makes the jump from 1984 to 2006, where the Autobots are common knowledge to humanity.
    • The existence of the Transformers, along with which side was which, was common knowledge to the entire world after the original 3-parter intro episodes. There was never a masquerade in the G1 cartoon. Though they still frequently ran across humans who apparently hadn't heard about the Transformers, even well into season 2.
    • Ditto for Transformers Energon and Transformers Cybertron.
    • Averted in Transformers Animated, where the Autobots are common knowledge to begin with, and are treated as the superheroes of 22nd Detroit.
    • Played with in Transformers Prime. With the exception of the lead humans, no other civilian is aware of the Cybertronians on Earth. However, the US government is aware, and regularly sends an agent to check on Prime and his crew.
      • The second season ends with the Decepticons publicly revealing themselves and declaring open war on mankind.
      • However the third season implies that despite the construction of Darkmount, the wiping out of a large military force, the evacuation of an entire city, and then Darkmount's destruction, either The Masquerade is somehow still in effect or the powers that be are pretending it still is...
    • Transformers: Robots In Disguise is an interesting case. While it's implied (though never stated) that the Transformers and their war are secret, and the general public does not know about the giant alien robots, it seems that every few episodes a random human involved with [insert plot-relevant group here] knows who Optimus Prime, Megatron, or at least one of said giant alien robots is and which ones are the good guys. The extent and existence of The Masquerade seems to depend on how necessary it is for humanity to know about the Transformers.
  • In the third season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), Triceratons stage a very public invasion of Earth. After it is repelled, things return more or less back to normal, with some subtle differences, such as anti-alien militias, a new black market for alien weaponry, and a world more ready to accept subsequent weirdness. While the turtles are still not free to show themselves on the streets, when they do, they're immediately classified as aliens.


Broken MasqueradeUrban Fantasy TropesRun Away Hide Away
That Nostalgia ShowSetting GimmicksWorld of Action Girls
The Tunguska EventSpeculative Fiction TropesThe Usual Adversaries
Extra-Strength MasqueradeDisguise TropesMask of Sanity
There Are No Good ExecutivesSettingsUtopia

alternative title(s): The Unmasked World; Unmasqued World
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