"Never show anyone. They'll beg you, and they'll flatter you for the secret, but soon as you give it up... you'll be nothing to 'em."It appears that a reveal is being set up... but there's no reveal in the end. Can be either frustrating or hilarious, depending on how badly the viewer wants the reveal, and how far the viewer was strung along expecting it. If The Reveal is canceled because the revealer suddenly dies, it's His Name Is.... If the character about to make the reveal is interrupted by some external incident before he could talk, it's a Moment Killer. A Sound Effect Bleep can be used to create an Unreveal. Another weapon in the Unreveal arsenal is the end-of-episode cutoff. A special case of Unreveal is when we think that the info withheld in an Unreveal earlier in the episode is finally going to be revealed now... only we're frustrated again. A last type of Unreveal is the "you know the rest" gag: A character is giving historical information to another character, and ends by saying "you know the rest," even though the viewer does not. Usually done for comedic effect, since it's a good way to create outrageous backstory without having to make it fit continuity. If this becomes a Running Gag, it's the Noodle Incident. What should be noted is this trope does not apply if something is simply never revealed to the audience, or is teased about being revealed only to be truly revealed later on. If something isn't revealed, it's simply not revealed. An Unreveal is when it seems that crucial detail the characters and audience has been longing for is finally going to be shown, only for it to turn out to be a giant tease (for example, a character who always wears a mask finally takes off their mask, only for it to turn out they wear a mask under their first mask. If they simply never take off the mask, that is not an Unreveal.) May come in a combo with a Cliffhanger, for greater effect. The reveal is set up to finally take place, and the episode ends: come back tomorrow to see what happens now! And, when the episode starts the next day, there is no reveal after all. See also Unreveal Angle, Missing the Good Stuff and Riddle for the Ages. Regularly used to add fuel to a Driving Question. Not to be confused with The Untwist, unless you expected The Unreveal to be subverted. Contrast Emerging from the Shadows. Not to Be Confused with Everybody Knew Already, which is when a character thinks they're making a reveal, but the other characters already knew. Because of the nature of this trope, spoilers ahoy, both marked and unmarked.
— Alfred Borden, The Prestige
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Anime & Manga
- Every chapter of 20th Century Boys. There are about 15 different Unreveals in the manga (one for each volume). Sometimes the villain has a mask (three of them). He's "seen" in flashback as one of two identically masked children, or again as a child in a different mask. He's seen again in a virtual reality program, but since there are no photos of him as a child, his face is a blank sphere. Later he is unmasked and killed, but because he has always appeared as a masked man, an imitator (or is it the genuine article?) appears. Cue the rest of the manga. his actual identity is only implied in the very last page of the manga's epilogue, 21st Century Boys. He had only been mentioned twice before, and on both occasions the person speaking said they thought he was dead.
- Attack on Titan: The identity of the "true enemy". Later, Ymir almost reveals a possible answer before being stopped, and refuses to answer when asked a second time.
- Subverted in Axis Powers Hetalia: it looks like this has happened when Turkey appears without his mask, as his face is constantly blocked by the crowds. In the very last panel of the strip, however, we get a completely clear view of him.
- If you're looking for some answers regarding Saya's origin in Blood-C: The Last Dark, well, you'll be very disappointed because it was never shown. Or that you'll never find out what is her price for the sword which she got from Watanuki.
- Bokurano, with its premise of killing all of the "chosen" pilots as part of a gigantic, winner-takes-all tournament that would determine the last universe remaining, seemed to have been heading towards an ending finally explaining how and why all the events in the manga happened with its last chapter, titled Dung Beetle. Instead, said character offers one theory for why everything has happened, before proceeding with its No Ending.
- The ending to Cage of Eden was really rushed (because the manga was cancelled) and several mysteries remain unresolved. For example, the manga never explains if they're actually clones, used technology to bring them into the future, or them ending in that future was just a mere coincidence. Even Hades's identity remain unknow.
- A facepalmingly obnoxious scene in Code Geass has C.C. reveal her name to Lelouch TWICE, only to be drowned out by the sound of water dripping from the ceiling. The lip-flaps are actually well-animated enough to attempt to guess what vowels are in it. That's good, right? After going out of their way to conceal C.C.'s real name from the viewers, implying that it has some larger significance to be revealed later...it never is. Supposedly C.C.'s and Lelouch's seiyuu both actually spoke the name during the scene in question, so the writers really did come up with a name that they're withholding for no apparent reason.
- A Cowboy Bebop episode features a mad bomber who is continuously thwarted in his attempts to get the word out on why he is setting off teddy bear bombs to blow up public buildings. His motives were (mostly) revealed at the end. He was blowing up tall buildings in protest of humanity's excesses.
- Cromartie High School gives us Hokuto's Lackey, a character who is Exactly What It Says on the Tin — and every time he attempts to say his name, he's interrupted by increasingly absurd circumstances, from Freddie spilling juice, to a meteor hitting the school, to aliens landing on Earth and accidentally leaving with Freddie on board.
- Cross Game ends with all the relationships resolved but Wakaba's dream still unfulfilled — in particular, we never learn how it is that Aoba plays center field at Koushien, as promised in the opening of the anime.
- Demashita! Powerpuff Girls Z:
- Buttercup's civilian identity is a 13-year-old tomboy named Kaoru Matsubura, whose father is a masked wrestler who never removes his mask, even when at home with his family. In the 44th episode, Kaoru's father finally allows his daughter to see his face, but the audience doesn't get to see it because it happens off-screen behind a door and Kaoru refuses to tell her friends Momoko/Blossom and Miyako/Bubbles what her father's face looks like.
- A play on this trope happens they first bring Him into the anime, Him's true name is spoken, but is so horrible and twisted that the Universe itself censors it, which is outright stated. Not necessarily an Un-Reveal, since you really didn't think there was any "reveal" at all. Him was simply Him.
- Dennou Coil wraps up most of the series' mysteries to satisfaction, but a few things are left vague.
- The biggest one is the nature of Yuco Yasako and Yuco Amasawa's relationship. The series ends with Amasawa admitting with the complicated history they have, she can't say if she thinks of her as a friend, a partner, a sister, or something else. Given the lengths Yasako went to get her digital body back, it's possible it might even be romantic in nature, as her friend Ken has definite subtext and shares a similarly aloof personality hiding emotional vulnerability after losing a loved one in an accident.
- The nature of the Illegals ultimately goes unanswered as well. Ken theorizes they're strong emotions left by the collective unconscious, a few seem to be digital pets that have been left behind, or possibly the minds of users that have drifted too far with Imago, or a combination of all of these.
- For that matter, what is Densuke? He's not a normal digital pet, he's survived data wipes, Cryptography attacks, and guided both Amasawa and Kyoko back from the Other Side when this should have been impossible. And each time it looks like he's gone for good, he keeps coming back okay.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- We never find out what Scar's real name is! He seems to have come to see Scar as being the only identity he has, his previous self having died a long time ago.
- Edward always covers the text balloon whenever someone mentions his exact height.
- In the Alice Academy anime, when Mikan finally gets a letter from her grandfather, we don't get to find out what it says - we only see her tearful reaction.
- Halo Legends:
- In The Package, we see the faces of all other Spartans before (and sometimes after) they don their helmets, but Master Chief puts on (and later takes off) his helmet just off-screen.
- Origins does this on several levels with the Forerunners. We finally get to see what a Forerunner looks like after nearly 10 years of waiting... but all the ones we see are wearing Power Armor so we don't know what they look like underneath. Then Word of God announced that the short was only a possibly-rampant Cortana's interpretation of the data she had collected, so the Forerunners weren't necessarily bipedal horned humanoids with five fingers; fans would have to wait until the appearance of the Ur-Didact and the Librarian in Halo 4 to see what they actually looked like.
- Haruhi Suzumiya:
- After Kyon refuses Koizumi's suggestion that he confess his love to Haruhi as a way to escape the Endless Eight "Groundhog Day" Loop ("There is no one more suited for this than yourself, right?"), Koizumi offers up the possibility of doing so himself. The resulting expression on Kyon's face is pointedly kept out of sight in every iteration of the loop, but it's enough to make Koizumi laugh and quickly wave off his remark as a joke.
- Other unreveals include the name of the computer club president (replaced by a scene of a cat meowing) and Haruhi's expressions at the end of the first season both when Kyon kisses Haruhi and when Kyon tells her her ponytail looks good.
- A Fan Sub for some of the "Endless Eight" episodes uses <classified information> when Mikuru and Itsuki talk about the details of time travel and the endless recursion of time. As it turns out, they actually say something along the lines of "classified information" in Japanese. Kyon, being the Deadpan Snarker he is, wonders out loud if it is some kind of censor.
- An instance where this is played lightheartedly for humor: when Kyon is about to introduce himself by his real name to Koizumi, Haruhi interrupts him and says "That's Kyon!"
- Mahou Sensei Negima!:
- In one of the last chapters Negi whispers to Asuna the name of the girl he likes. The reader doesn't get to know who it is.
- Hell, the finale is full of these, from the whereabouts of Negi's mother to how the Big Bad of the series was defeated offpanel. Fans weren't pleased.
- Through the whole run of Maison Ikkoku, Soichiro had been depicted as The Faceless. Finally at the end, Godai gets a clear look at his picture. Too bad that for the reader his face is covered by a panel◊.
- The anime of Medabots uses this in Season 2 when mysterious Space-Medafighter X's golden mask is split to reveal... the equally-mysterious Phantom Renegade's white mask. (And then Phantom Renegade's tuxedeo-and-tophat costume suddenly appears over Space-Medafighter X's.)
- Monster never reveals to us the true names of twins Johan and Anna, even though it was revealed to Tenma by their mother, who was still alive by the end of the story.
- There's the infamous Episode 101, the "Unmask Kakashi" episode. At the end, he takes off his mask to reveal... another lighter-colored mask. However, the one-off manga special this episode was based off didn't even reveal that to the main characters (and audience). Apparently, the ramen store-owner and waitress did see Kakashi's real face, and the reaction (all starry-eyed with the Luminescent Blush) seems to suggest that Kakashi is at least a borderline Bishōnen.
- A later manga special had Naruto asking Kakashi's ninja dogs what his face looked like. They all give different descriptions, but after Pakkun criticizes them they agree on his account. Naruto then runs off to tell Sakura, right before Kakashi comes by the dogs while eating and the dogs all notice that wasn't what he looked like either.
- And then the true reason to why Kakashi wears his mask is revealed in the spin-off manga Rock Lee's Springtime of Youth: it's to hide his nosebleeds whenever he reads porn. Although he later says its a joke, so its back to square one.
- Even at the end of the series, when Kakashi becomes Hokage, the carving of his face on the Hokage Monument still depicts him with his mask on.
- The manga-omake "The Real True Face !!", released after the end of the series, is about another past attempt by Team 7 to unmask Kakashi. Once again, they completely fail. However, the audience finally gets to see Kakashi unmasked once he's by himself, and the ramen store people's reactions from the previous one-off seem to have been pretty warranted◊.
- More dramatically this has happened at least three times with another masked character, Tobi. It's because of this that some people referred to him as the Mask before his face and true identity were finally revealed:
- He tried to let Sasuke see his face, but after he'd only shown one corner was interrupted by the Amaterasu ability Itachi put in Sasuke's eye activating, setting Madara on fire. After that he stumbles back out of view and when he comes back the mask is on and he keeps it on.
- Aoba started reading Kisame's mind and recovers a memory of him without his mask, but he's in the shade with only his eye visible and Kisame manages to kick Aoba out right as he's coming into view, then frees and kills himself before they have a change to try again. Turns out this one was particularly important in retrospect, because Aoba had known the man who would become Tobi before he started wearing the mask, and thus would've been able to tell the good guys exactly who they were up against if not for Kisame's actions.
- When fighting Konan, part of his mask is destroyed revealing exactly the same part of his face we'd already seen. Another attack destroys even more of his mask, but almost everything besides his other eye is hidden in shadow.
- Tsunade uses a transformation technique to maintain her young image. The only times she returns to her true elderly form is when she is low on chakra. But both times that this happened we only saw part of her face. What we see of the rest of her body implies that while her jutsu makes her appear younger than she actually is, her true form looks older than she actually is (probably because her rapid-regeneration jutsu cuts into her lifespan).
- End of Evangelion plays with this trope. When Ritsuko's plan to blow up NERV is thwarted by the MAGI, Gendo delivers an intentionally muted line.
Gendo: Ritsuko Akagi, the truth is... (mimes something)
Ritsuko: You liar... (Gendo shoots her)
- In the Spanish dub, he said "I always loved you". But you know... EVERYBODY knows that he would destroy humanity and bring the end of the world as we know it to be with his wife, Yui. The fans weren't pleased. He also says it (or rather, "I did love you") in the manga adaptation by character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, so that might actually be the line.
- There's some evidence the line was "I need you".
- Happens in One Piece whenever information about One Piece or the Will of D is about to be revealed. When Usopp asks Silvers Rayleigh what's on Raftel, Luffy basically says NO SPOILERS. Later, Whitebeard flashes back to a conversation he had with Roger concerning the true nature of the Will of D, but the flashback is cut off and Whitebeard dies a few pages later.
- In Robin's Origin Story flashback, her mentor Professor Clover is shot right before he can give the name of the ancient kingdom from the Void Century. Despite surviving the gunshot wound, he never finishes his previous sentence (and then dies in the bombardment of the Buster Call, meaning nobody can go back and ask him later).
- During the second to last episode of Outlaw Star, Gene finally asks why someone who's so obviously not much of a team player like Suzuka works with them. She gives a true enough answer: Tracking down Kei Pirates and killing one of them in particular. They separate and said pirate asks her why she works with them. Does she love Gene or something? Suzuka claims that she will tell his dead body after the fight, but if she does, we never find out for sure.
- Prunus Girl:
"That night, Maki had a nightmare."
- Aikawa gets hounded by girls for a whole chapter about the secret behind his unwanted body hair and ends up whispering the answer in Maki's ear.
- It's left vague if Aikawa is crossdressing or if he's a girl pretending to be a crossdresser. The manga leans towards the former however it is never 100% confirmed.
- In Ranma ½, Principal Kuno; threatens to reveal everyone's English test scores for all to find out. Ranma initially doesn't care, but when the principal implies his score is so bad he couldn't reveal it, Ranma gives chase and the principal later changes his mind about revealing his score. Even Ranma's English teacher forgot what she actually gave him. When he finally caught him, it turns out that what the principal had was actually a cheesy prank of a poster with his face with the words "Kiss me!" and he accidentally left everyone's test scores in a hot-air balloon (which is initially how he was going to let everyone know). The scores reach the international news somehow; Akane's score turns out to be very good, and while Ranma's isn't revealed, it's implied he actually did not too bad.
- School Rumble. When Eri & Yakumo were fighting in the school play, Eri asks Yakumo about her relationship with Harima. Her answer is never revealed but it is enough to make Eri yield.
- In Super Gals, Towa reveals Ran's secret to Kasumi. But whatever it was, it isn't actually interesting.
- Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann:
- This is played with in the infamous Hot Springs Episode where Kamina and the rest of the guys are waiting with bated breath to see what the girls look like under their towels. Turns out they're wearing bathing suits underneath.
- Played straight with the alien Spiral races. We never see what any of them aside from the Anti-Spirals (post-transformation) look like, only their mechas.
- Early in The Legend of Koizumi the Prime Minister Koizumi, already dying from multiple gunshot wounds, flies a fighter jet into a nuclear missile in order to save Japan resulting in the obliteration of both the plane and the missile. The only explanation given is that it happened so it can't have actually been impossible. Yukari tries to ask for more information but is cut off by a pressing mahjong battle against Vladimir Putin.
- Duero's hair is flipped in the last episode of Van Dread, revealing his supposedly handsome face. We still don't see it, though.
- Due to X1999's hiatus since 2003, we may never know what Kamui's true wish is and according to Fuuma, it's not returning him back to his original self, which Kamui intended to be.
- Fairy Tail: Used in Chapter 297 when Jellal finally confronts the hooded figure with Zeref's aura. While their identity is apparently quite shocking, the audience has to make due with a To Be Continued notification.
- Oyasumi Punpun never reveals Punpun's face. He's represented on default as a cartoony bird but he's supposed to be a normal human. The closest we get is a character drawing a portrait of him, however they blanked out his eyes.
- Happens twice in Dangan Ronpa 3, when, in Side:Future Episode 5 Tengan tells Munakata who the attacker is, only the audio is muted so that we only see the latter's reaction. The scene is then shown unmuted in Episode 10 to be a purposely vague answer, with the end of the episode of having the characters learning the truth for real...only the episode cuts out before we get anything more than the characters reactions.
- In Black Butler hardly anything about Sebastian is ever revealed. When Grell views his cinematic record all he allows her to see is his daily life of the past couple years, when Ciel orders his other servants to take a photo of him using a camera that shows an image of whoever the subject of the photograph loves most he has the family Hellhound burn the pic while it's being developed, and when he assumes his true form all that's seen of him is scattered black feathers and black stiletto heels.
- While the other New Warriors are trapped in various points in time the Sphinx sends Speedball to a kinetic dimension that is revealed to be a representation of time and the source of Speedball's bubbles and powers. One of the bubbles calls out to him and reveals a major revelation about the moment Robbie Baldwin became Speedball. Once he was rescued from the kinetic dimension he forgot what he learned. Later the Speedball who was rescued from the kinetic dimension is revealed to be a clone with the mind of one of his descendants in the future and killed by the Sphinx. When the real Speedball gets rescued he doesn't seem to remember the big secret he learned in the kinetic dimension either.
- Judge Dredd: Dredd's face is obscured from the readers in a similar fashion in the original comics, using bandages, panel borders, darkness and the like. As an additional kicker, criminals that do see his face invariably die soon afterwards, keeping his looks a secret even within the story.
- In issue #11 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, The Faceless Big Bad is shown speaking to his minions. In the bottom panel on that page, his speech bubble ends in a Dramatic Ellipsis and he's shown lifting the bottom of his mask... but on the next page, he stops just above his chin, scratches the itchy spot on his neck, and lowers the mask again.
- In an early issue of Young Justice, the others dare Robin to take off his mask. He does... and because he expected this dare, he has another mask on. This is actually only an Unreveal for the other characters in the comic book. Robin has his own book, and so the audience already knows that he is Tim Drake. He has to keep his own identity secret from his friends due to Batman's rules.
- It's not exactly a Comic Book, but the comic on the Cover of the LP KISS UNMASKED shows a reporter who tries to take a photo of, well, KISS unmasked. They take off their masks and look just the same underneath. Two records after that one they took off the masks for real, but it didn't look that cool.
- The meaning of the "S" on Jughead's sweater is a mystery. Of course, the only time this fact is mentioned is if an Unreveal is going to happen. One example is when Jughead learns his family is moving away, he decides to tell Archie, but only gets as far as "The S stands for..." when his dad announces that they aren't moving.
- Agent 355's real name is a secret throughout Y: The Last Man, despite a fair amount of badgering from Yorrick. Close to the end, she whispers it to him, but we aren't told what it was. However, the clever reader can deduce her real name. Word of God says that 355's real name was carefully placed in the comic over the run of the series. It's almost certainly "Peace". Did you really think that the inscription on the tree used as her grave marker meant nothing, when the last thing she asked Yorick to do is call her by her real name? And that the peace symbol used to make the Y on one of the covers she appears on, that means nothing as well? Hah!
- Another prominent Unreveal of the series is, what the hell caused the Gendercide? Various possibilities are offered up - such as the removal of a fabled artifact from its native land, said to bring a great disaster if it leaves the soil - and when one "solid scientific" possibility is offered up (tampering with the earth's morphogenetic field), it's instantly debunked as fringe science. Word of God says that the true cause is mentioned somewhere in the series, but is never made explicit.
- The angels in Lucifer have Barbie Doll Anatomy, yet the protagonist has clearly been involved with Action Girl Mazikeen. In the second-to-last issue, Spera works up the guts to actually ask Mazikeen how that worked. Mazikeen whispers in her ear, Spera looks surprised and rather impressed, and that's all we hear about that.
- G.I. Joe reboot:
- In the civil war story arc of Image Comics, Serpentor removes Cobra Commander's helmet only to reveal a balaclava underneath. He lampshades a bit by making fun of CC's paranoia issues. And then the helmet explodes, killing Serpentor and proving that Cobra Commander is Crazy-Prepared.
- During Marvel's run issue 55 even advertised this in the cover for Destro, Cobra Commander, and Snake-Eyes. They all do remove their masks in the issue, but a clear shot of the uncovered face is not given for any of them.
- A later story arc (Issues 93-96) has Snake-Eyes' face fully revealed, right before he gets plastic surgery to look normal again. Of course, he gets captured and tortured by Cobra, culminating in getting a face full of hot coals.
- In an inversion of this trope, in a later issue Destro casually tosses his mask away at the end, and we are shown his perfectly normal face. There was absolutely zero in-universe or real-world buildup to this reveal.
- In Marvel Comics' Dark Reign Files, Quasimodo is tasked with profiling and assessing various personalities who may be of use to Norman Osborn as the head of HAMMER. On the first page we see emails from Quasimodo to Osborn that detail his efforts to this end, blah blah; One of them concerns the identity of Facade, a minor Spider-Man villain whose identity was made into a huge mystery but never revealed. But the lower half of the paper is torn off and it ends with "Facade is-"
- Later during Amazing Spider-Man, Facade is defeated and decides to confess his true identity to Spider-Man, only for Spidey to cut him off, saying he doesn't have time, and swings away.
- V for Vendetta has V's identity. We're left guessing as to what sort of person he was and whether he was anyone we'd know — or even whether he was speaking literally or metaphorically when denying the Luke, I Am Your Father possibility (though Word of God has said V was indeed being literal in that case). We go through several fake Dream Sequence reveals, before Evey finally realizes that it's important that his identity never be revealed, and that she should instead take up his mantle. This is because V the man had long been lost so that V the persona could take his place. The identity of the man he was before he became V would never be as important as the idea. It becomes a deeply symbolic variation of Becoming the Mask.
- Not a perfect example but when Destruction is finally revealed by name in The Sandman his name is given in Ancient Greek.
- In the Batman comic series Gotham Knights a scene featured Batman analyzing the blood left behind by villain Prometheus, a JLA-level threat whose identity has never been revealed. The computer displayed "Match found" — and the matter was never brought up again. Interestingly, the Prometheus in question later turned out to be an impostor, and the name of the real Prometheus remains unknown to this day.
- The Marvel Universe comic Civil War: Frontline: in issue #10, two characters independently found out the secret of the war and were rushing to tell each other (neither of them knew that the same thing was what the other person was going to tell them). On the phone they said they should say it in person; when they meet in person and are about to say it they get interrupted by a battle. When they're finally safe, they point it out to each other in their notebooks, and when it looks like they're finally going to say it, the story ends.
- In an Italian Donald Duck story possibly retelling War and Peace with the ducks in the main roles, the threat of "cosacking" is repeatedly used and presumably being a fate worse than death, but we never learn what it is; at the end, the story's version of Daisy tries to force Donald to tell her, after they have married, but at the last minute he maintains it is such a horrible thing she is better off not knowing.
- In Blackest Night #5, we see Hal Jordan and the leaders of all the other Corps reciting their oaths simultaneously... except for Larfleeze who just goes "Eh?" Although readers only know this is an unreveal if they know that Geoff Johns has said the Orange Lantern oath hasn't been heard yet, and is his favourite. Otherwise you might conclude that Larfleeze simply doesn't have an oath (since he's not really in a Corps), or that it's the word "Mine!" (as stated in his Tales of the Corps factfile).
- Subverted in the first Batman / Grendel crossover; Batman doesn't know that Hunter Rose is Grendel but the reader does. During the final battle, Batman succeeds in unmasking Grendel, only to find that he had painted the Grendel mask pattern on his face with greasepaint.
- In one issue of X-Men, Rogue and Gambit go on a date. She is about to tell him her real name (in Real Life one of the minor undisclosed mysteries of the Marvel Universe for almost 30 years), but he hushes her and says that it's not important to him.
- The Haunt of Fear story Wolf Bait, which unusually has no supernatural elements at all, centers around four passengers (all of whom have an important reason for reaching the city) on a sleigh going speeding across the Russian tundra with a pack of starving wolves after them. They manage to delay them a few times with bullets and meat, but soon run out of both, and if the wolves reach the horses it's all over. They soon realize the only way to slow down the wolves long enough for them to escape is to sacrifice someone. Once they all come to agree on this, the decision takes but a second, and the other three throw themselves on the sacrifice and throw him/her to the wolves. It's all in shadow, and the reader has no idea who they picked.
- Old Jungle Saying: He who sees The Phantom's face unmasked will die a horrible death. In nearly 70 years of publishing, the only ones who've seen it and lived have been his family and associated hangers-on.
- Used in this◊ comic strip of Calvin and Hobbes. Calvin's show-and-tell, in which he neither showed nor told. Given that it's Calvin, he probably did not in fact have anything, and this was his way of getting out of it.
- Frequently done in Footrot Flats. Whenever anyone is about to say the Dog's first name, the dog actively prevents it from being said or revealed in any way.
- Pearls Before Swine:
- A gag on how The Sopranos ended.
Rat: I can't believe it... all this time has passed and I still can't get over the Sopranos ending... how the screen just went black...
Goat: Wow, you should have said something...I'm personal friends with the writer David Chase. Matter of fact, he's here now.
Rat: OH MY GOD! DAVID CHASE! I CAN'T BELIEVE IT! YOU'VE GOT TO TELL ME WHAT HAPPENS! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!
David Chase: Hahaha...No problem...Well, after the fellow in the "Members Only" jacket makes that turn to the restroom, he—
(the next panel is almost completely covered by a black smudge)
Stephen Pastis: (looking at the comic) Heckuva time for an ink spill.
Rat: (very pissed off) I'M... GONNA... KILL... YOU...
- Another strip has a very similar joke.
A Croc: Hullo, zeeba neighba... How is you?
Zebra: You know, I've been wanting to ask you this for a while. What is that stupid accent you guys have?
A Croc: Oh... You not know? We is speaking [word whited out]
Stephan Pastis: (looking at the comic) Stupid liquid paper.
- A gag on how The Sopranos ended.
- Beetle Bailey: Sarge and the Captain once conspire to see Beetle's eyes by scaring him so that his hat will jump off. When they do, it turns out he's wearing shades underneath.
- The wise man from Hägar the Horrible is seen sitting on his mountaintop meditating when he suddenly has a revelation. He announces "I've got it! The meaning of life is.." He's interrupted by a buzzer from the sky and a voice that says "I'm sorry, your answer must be phrased in the form of a question."
- It hasn't been revealed (yet) how Verity Carter from The Conversion Bureau: The Other Side of the Spectrum was ponified without becoming a Technically Living Zombie and Extreme Doormat. Other stories have been incredibly tight-lipped about whatever it was that ponified her, to the point of it almost becoming a Running Gag.
- In Children of Time, Dr. Kit Bennett appears to know the Tenth Doctor, Sherlock Holmes, and Dr. John Watson in their futures. At the end of her introductory episode, she shows the Doctor a locket that seems to tell him exactly who she is... But Holmes and Watson are left in the dark and so are the readers.
- In Pink Personal Hell And Altering Fate, there is so much foreshadowing that the revelation that Dominic is really Nickel Steel isn't exactly much of a shock. If anything, the "twist" isn't so much who Nickel Steel really was, but how Dominic went to become Nickel Steel.
- "Who We Are" is centered around Twilight and the other Mane Six learning that one of them (besides Twilight) has been a changeling the whole time. Halfway through, it becomes apparent that the real point is that, after everything they have gone through together, their personalities and friendships are completely genuine, and when Twilight is finally able to unmask the changeling, she refuses to look and so does everypony else. The changeling reveals herself to the others of her own volition later, and the others reaffirm their love and acceptance, but the narration does not display who she is.
- In The Captain of the Virtual Console, despite catching a Dugtrio, Red and Gancena never find out what its body looks like.
- The Hate Game never reveals why America is mad at England, and everyone England asks has no idea why either. Though America does explain why at the end, he does so while eating, causing England (and the audience) to be unable to understand what he's saying.
- We have this with a Kill la Kill fic, titled Asuka, in which it was never made clear if its either Ryuuko or Satsuki who's terminally ill and nicknamed "Asuka" or which of the sisters was narrating and, after "Asuka" dies of her illness, we still never find out who's who, let alone how old she was. The fact 'Asuka" is never called her real name, if she's reffered to by such, in the narration doesn't help this.
- Similarly to the Disgaea example below, we never find out just what were in the photos Rainbow Dash was being blackmailed with in Turnabout Storm.
- Profesor Layton Vs Jack The Raper does this with Jack The Raper at one point, where his Face Framed in Shadow is revealed, except the characters don't recognize it.
Films — Animation
- Kung Fu Panda:
- In a hilarious moment, just before the final fight with Tai Lung, Po is given a pep talk from his adoptive father — and just when it seems Mr. Ping is about to admit that the panda is not his biological son (presumably to suggest he doesn't have to limit himself to a future in noodle-making), he instead reveals the secret ingredient of his special recipe. To clarify: the panda's adoptive father is a goose. It's played for drama in the sequel, becoming one of the twin engines driving the story.
- From the same movie we have the Wu-Shi finger hold. When it's first demonstrated, we don't find out what happens when the user flexes their pinkie; all we know is that Po is terrified of the move. In the movie's climax Po uses the move on Tai-Lung (who, despite being a formerly unstoppable badass, is similarly frightened of the move and claims it is impossible for Po to pull off), and it looks like we're going to be getting answers...then the camera cuts away into the distance and all we see is a massive pulse of golden...something. When next we cut back, Tai Lung is nowhere to be seen. The move is later explained in the third movie. It sends someone to the spirit realm.
- The carriage at the end of Robin Hood. For some reason, they never show who or what was pulling it in the first place given the fact that everyone in this version is an animal...
- In Lady and the Tramp, there's a running gag in which Trusty the bloodhound is about to mention some sage-like advice his grandfather Old Reliable used to give him, only to be told that he's already told it to the main characters some time before. At the very end when he's about to tell it to Lady and the Tramp's puppies, he realizes that he's completely forgotten what Old Reliable said to him now, so we the audience never learn what the advice was.
- In Monsters vs. Aliens, evil alien Gallaxhar begins his backstory while being cloned, but the copy-machine cloning process frequently interrupts him during all the meaningful parts. He ends with, "But I've told you too much already!", drawing a confused look from Susan (and the audience).
Films — Live-Action
- Possibly the earliest "MacGuffin case" is the one containing the "Great Whatzit" in Kiss Me Deadly. All we see is that it gives off a blindingly bright glow (possibly nuclear in origin); the briefcase in Pulp Fiction is speculated by many to be a Shout-Out to this.
- The Battlestar Galactica made-for-TV movie The Plan is nothing but a whole bunch of these strung together, making it even worse than the show's final episode, a feat that had previously been thought impossible.
- Shaun of the Dead played with this trope to emphasize the disinterest the main characters have in the situation. Several hints are given to various origin of the Zombie Apocalypse — a space shuttle exploding over England and showering debris, and GM crops being "to blame" for something on a newspaper headline, to name but a few. Finally, Shaun is watching the news report at the end of the episode. The announcer cheerfully reads, "We now know the outbreak was caused by large amounts of—" and Shaun changes the channel. A brief snippet is also heard on the TV saying, "Theories that the infection was caused by rage-infected monkeys have now been dismissed as bollo--"
- In the Grindhouse movie Planet Terror, leading badass El Wray has a mysterious past that accounts for his remarkable skill with knives and firearms. During the plot, the mystery is revealed. Unfortunately the relevant scenes take place in the never-filmed "missing reel".
- In The Strangers, the title characters terrorize a couple while wearing masks. At the end of the movie, before they kill the couple, they remove their masks, but the camera cuts away before we get to see any of their faces.
- Cloverfield goes through the entire movie without revealing what the origins of the monster are, or even if three of the main characters ultimately survive.
- Quarantine is very much in the same style as Cloverfield. Near the end of the film, after we have been fed tantalizing hints about the origin of the virus, our protagonists stumble upon a hidden room, full of newspaper clippings, pseudo-scientific reports, and an old recorder. They fire it up, only for it to play so slowly as to be unintelligible. Now, it's probable that it actually says something (again, like the message at the end of Cloverfield) but it's pretty frustrating for the audience.
- Thanks to various dedicated individuals and the internet, there's at least one answer, for the viewers, anyway. Too bad it's still just as confusing.
- [REC] does reveal the origin of the virus, but the fate of Angela is still up in the air, with strong implications that she's either dead or infected. In the sequel, REC 2, you will get the answer: infected, but of another kind... she is now possessed by the devil entity
- In the film version of The Neverending Story, Bastian chooses his mother's name to give to the ailing Childlike Empress. What is it? Nobody knows; when he dramatically calls it out, it can't be heard over the storm. (In the book, he names her "Moon Child".)
- In the film, he actually does say "Moon Child", but due to his voice being so high pitched when he screams it, combined with the storm, unless you knew that's what he said, you'd never be able to tell.
- In the movie, there's absolutely no way to understand what "moon child" could mean. Earlier, Bastian muses about calling the empress by his mother's name, but we never find out what that name is, and it wouldn't make sense for her name to be Moon Child—so the scene seems like a red herring.
- The Cube film series.:
- In Cube, the people trapped inside the Cube constantly speculate where the cube is, who might have built it and why. The movie ends just as the last survivor has found the exit. In an additional Downer Ending twist, he's the Idiot Savant who'd be unable to explain to anyone else what he discovered.
- The Hypercube in Cube 2: Hypercube seems like it might be a bit more practical since it can apparently fit in one room in physical space, but only as a prison for an Eldritch Abomination, or something of similar order.
- In Cube Zero, the mystery of the Cube is explained somewhat, with it being revealed to be a secret government project. Still, what anyone would want with an entirely useless, extremely expensive machine like the Cube is impossible to know.
- This, of course, could itself be another unreveal, as the twist is that even the people who think they're just monitoring the cube are brainwashed into forgetting they're prisoners, too. Ultimately, only one character is even implied to know the truth, and he's clearly an Unreliable Narrator at best.
- My Cousin Rachel: We never do find out the answer to the central mystery, whether Rachel really did kill her husband and whether or not she was poisoning Phillip. Phillip's last line of dialogue has him saying "Were you innocent, or were you guilty? Rachel my torment."
- Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. The One-Boobed chick's relationship to the Chosen One will be revealed in the sequel.
- The contents of the briefcase from Pulp Fiction. All we know is that it glows and "It's beautiful." The original script had the briefcase simply contain diamonds, but Quentin Tarantino decided to change it at the last second to make it more ambiguous. He ultimately regretted putting the lightbulb in the case, since that was too leading. Ultimately the case is just a MacGuffin.
- Similarly, the contents of the case in Ronin. All we know is that governments want it badly. Even some of the people fighting over it don't know the contents.
- Same again, for the contents of the car trunk in Repo Man. A similar blindingly-bright glow is seen radiating from it whenever somebody opens the trunk and is disintegrated. An alleged photo of the contents is shown on a tabloid newspaper, but is far too blurred and ambiguous to be recognizable.
- The "Rabbit's Foot" from Mission: Impossible III. They even mention in-universe that it's a MacGuffin and it doesn't matter what it is exactly. That we know that it is powerful (it has a biohazard label on the container) is enough to know.
- Dragonheart begins this trope when the dragon tries to tell the hero his name, but gets interrupted before he can start.
- Cthulhu (2007). The movie ends with the protagonist implored to "Make sacrifice!" by the Big Bad (e.g. kill his lover and become leader of the cult); the movie ends before showing us his decision. Also we never see the Half-Human Hybrid offspring of the protagonist in the bathtub. Which is probably just as well.
- At the end of Lost in Translation, Bob whispers something into Charlotte's ear just before they part ways. The movie then ends without the audience knowing what was said. It can be assumed that it has something to do with whether or not they plan on getting back together, but that too is never revealed.
- At the very end of Inception we see Cobb go home to his children, finally see their faces, and supposedly finally have a happy ending. That is, until we see his top spinning and spinning and starting to wobble... credits.
- However, there actually is a way to know whether he is still in a dream. It is never explicitly said, but the top isn't Cobb's totem. His wedding ring is. Whenever he is in a dream, he has the ring on his finger, whenever he is out of the dream, the ring is gone. The top was Mal's totem. So yes, he was actually reunited with his children at the end.
- At least that's one of the more popular fan theories. The director refuses to give a definitive answer.
- There are other things the movie does not reveal at the end, such as whether or not Robert Fischer breaks up the company at the end. (In other words, did the "inception" work?)
- However, there actually is a way to know whether he is still in a dream. It is never explicitly said, but the top isn't Cobb's totem. His wedding ring is. Whenever he is in a dream, he has the ring on his finger, whenever he is out of the dream, the ring is gone. The top was Mal's totem. So yes, he was actually reunited with his children at the end.
- In The Social Network, Did Erica Albright accept Mark's friend request? at the end of the film? Also, to a lesser degree, who is the "movie star" whom the lawyers mention as having studied in Harvard at the time? It's Natalie Portman.
- If it helps anyone sleep better, the real Erica Albright claimed that never happened in real life.
- In Casino Royale (2006), M comes home to find James Bond sitting in her living room...
M: How did you find out where I live?Bond: Same way I found out your name. I always thought M was a randomly assigned initial, I had no idea it stood for...M: Utter one more syllable and I'll have you killed.
- Originally, in-universe, it was a randomly assigned letter, but when Ian Fleming was young he would often call his mother "M", so he may have chosen it for that reason. He also knew a man named Maxwell Knight, who was the head of MI5 and signed his letters with a single M.
- Being unmasked is the greatest humiliation a Masked Luchador can face. So the wise luchador hero takes precautions, like El Santo in El Santo vs. the Martian Invasion. When a nefarious Martian rudo removes El Santo's mask, he discovers that the Crazy-Prepared luchador wore a second mask underneath that one!
- In Who Framed Roger Rabbit, we never find out what Judge Doom looks like underneath the disguise.
- In A Christmas Carol (1938), Scrooge extinguishes the Ghost of Christmas Past before she can show him "the darker years of his life".
- The made-for-TV Spielberg thriller Duel never shows the crazed trucker's face.
- The protagonist's name in Layer Cake goes unmentioned for the whole film. At the end, just before he is shot dead on his front steps, he addresses the camera directly and teases us with the possibility of mentioning it: "My name? To know that, you'd have to be as clever as me."
- 12 Angry Men is a famous example, since the plot revolves around a murder trial that we see entirely from the perspective of the jury. From the pieces of disparate information that the jurors piece together, we come to the conclusion that it's possible that the defendant is innocent, but the movie abruptly ends when the jurors come to a consensus and go home. Since we never get the perspectives of the police, the accused, or anyone else connected to the case, we never get any clear answers about whether or not the defendant really murdered his father (or about who else might have been responsible if he is innocent).
- As infuriating as this approach might sound, it works very well as an illustration of what jurors have to go through in Real Life, since they're often forced to draw conclusions about cases based solely on the limited information given to them by lawyers and police, with no definite answers either way. Yes, it's just as uncertain as it sounds, but it's how the American justice system works.
- Not to mention that it's consistent with the presumption of innocence. The prosecution has to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, while the defense doesn't have to prove anything (and a prosecutor even implying that the defendant has to prove their innocence is enough to get a mistrial declared, despite what many courtroom dramas show). As long as the jury is unconvinced of the defendant's guilt, then the prosecution has failed to meet its burden of proof and the defendant goes free. There's a ton of stuff that Twelve Angry Men gets wrong about the judicial process for the sake of drama (jurors are not supposed to consider evidence not introduced in court or to conduct their own investigations/experiments), but it got this essential principle right.
- The Big Lebowski: Did Walter and The Dude ever make it to the Finals in that bowling tournament that they spent a big chunk of the movie competing in? The credits roll right before they start their Semifinal game, so we never get to find out.
- Did the five teenagers in The Breakfast Club stay friends, or did they drift back to their respective cliques when they had to go back to school? It's discussed late in the film, with Brian and Allison apparently eager to maintain the group's newfound friendship, while the others remain uncertain about whether it will work. Then the credits roll just as they're going home after Saturday detention, leaving the question open to interpretation.
- Played straight in the opening scene of Desperado in which El Mariachi's face continues to be obscured by shadows just when it looks as if it's going to be illuminated. It's then immediately subverted in the next scene when we see his face clearly and it turns out the previous scene was a story his buddy contrived to boost his legend.
- In Mamma Mia!, we never find out which of the three men is Sophie's father and by the end of the film, Sophie eventually decides that she doesn't care since all three men are happy being 1/3 of her father. Word of God does reveal that Bill is her father.
- In The Cable Guy, the verdict of the Sweet murder trial is almost revealed but cut when Chip Douglas lands on the satellite knocking out cable.
- Crank: High Voltage has the contents of Johnny Vang's cooler. When Chev looks in it, he's disgusted and tells Vang he has some serious problems.
- In Enemy the exact nature of Adam/Anthony's being doubles is never explained (many fan theories exist).
- In Monsters, it’s never revealed whether the protagonists survive the giant alien attack and subsequent airstrike.
- In Ace High, the heroes have just finished a gunfight with one of the protagonist Cacopoulos' enemies Drake. Cacopoulos taunts Drake, and then says "My grandfather used to say..." before fainting on the casino floor.
- In The Goodthe Badthe Weird, we never find out what Do-won (the Good) wants to do with the treasure if there is proof that it exists. He almost explains it to temporary partner Tae-goo (the Weird) when they're bunking down for the night, but Tae-goo decides he isn't interested and has already fallen asleep before Do-won gets around to explaining his motives.
- The Usual Suspects might be a very rare case of inversion: we get to learn the identity of the weapons truck robber at the time when both audience and characters had forgotten a long time ago that it did happen at all.
- In C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America, it's never revealed what a 'negative' test means in the context of the movie, therefore it's never learned whether Horace's claims that John Ambrose Fauntroy V has black ancestry were true or not.
- In Hardcore Henry, the antagonist Akan has Psychic Powers which he uses to throw Henry around like a ragdoll. How he got them, or whether other people might have them, is never elaborated on.
- At the end of Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, after Kelly and Frederick remove their helmets to show that they're about the same age as the cadets they have just rescued, everyone (including Kelly and Frederick) looks at the Master Chief to see if he'll do the same... and he simply turns away from them and grips his weapon.
- House of the Scorpion is set sometime in the future, but the exact year is never revealed. Matt reads a book that would have at least given a rough estimate, but he stops reading the book just before it says what year the book's author received a Nobel Peace Prize.
- The "wealthy and forgettable" god in American Gods whose odd traits (such as having everyone remember that he'd spoken, but nobody remembering what he'd said) never has his name or occupation revealed, despite the fact that such care was taken to describe him.
- Older Than Radio: The opening to Frank Stockton's "The Discourager of Hesitancy", the sequel to "The Lady or the Tiger", is set up with the apparent intention of finally revealing what happened in the No Ending of the previous work. Instead it presents a similar problem without answering what happened in the last one.
- Effi Briest:
- The author repeatedly evades revealing details of the story of the ghost of the Chinese man. In one scene, Rosawitha sits down with Frau Kruse and asks her to tell the story; as Frau Kruse begins to speak, the narration follows another character out into the courtyard, then Rosawitha comes into the courtyard and says, "I must say that story about the Chinaman is very queer."
- Later, one character asks another about it, and gets the answer, "An extraordinary story, but not for now. We've other things on our minds." That's it! The reader never learns more.
- This affects both the protagonist and antagonist of The Chronicles of Prydain. Taran, the protagonist, is an orphan with no family linage in a land where familial descent is everything. It starts weighing on him so much he eventually goes Gene Hunting, but comes up empty. It's finally revealed that even his mentor, Big Good Dallben, has no idea who his real parents are (it had been alluded to previously that Dallben was keeping the information secret, but that turns out to be nothing but unfounded speculation on Taran's part). Meanwhile, Arawn, the antagonist, is notable for being a shapeshifter. One of the key facts of his villain mythology is that only one person has ever seen his true face and lived to tell the tale, setting up a Chekhov's Gun regarding his true appearance. When he's finally defeated, he reverts to his true form, which falls face-down on the ground, but because he's a Load-Bearing Boss, his fortress begins to crumble just as Taran goes to turn him over and see his true face.
- In The Quest for Saint Camber, after an apparition appears to Kelson during his duel with Conall and does a Godly Sidestep, Kelson and Dhugal meet a cowled man on the beach near Castle Coroth. The man still won't give his name or admit appearing to Duncan years before, but he does draw a sigil in the sand that shows them a vision of Camber on his bier. Though there's no clue as to where or when the vision actually happened, Kelson finds a tiny shiral crystal bead (like those sewn into Camber's netted shroud) in the sand.
- In Neuromancer, the character Molly has mirrored sunglass lenses surgically embedded over her eyes. Late in the novel, one of the lenses is broken in a fight, and the characters responsible comment that they'll be able to see the colour of her eyes once she wakes up. They do, but by the time the main character (and thus the reader) get there, she's already been bandaged up.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events. Hundreds of plot points are unexplained, after the readers are informed of just how incomprehensible everything is if you don't know what they mean.
- "The Sugar Bowl" could easily be this trope's name. It is spontaneously revealed that it is very important for some reason during the 10th book, and despite being the MacGuffin for books 11 and 12, we never find out what the sugar bowl contains!
- Lemony Snicket sometimes takes the above plot points to an extreme of this trope, resulting in a chapter beginning that is poorly related (if ever excused by that) to the following chapter.
- When Sir is in a sauna, he puts down the cigar whose smoke usually covers his face, but he is covered up again by the steam. In the illustration at the end of the fourth book, we can kind-of see the back of his head, so he may be bald.
- One of the most prominent examples is, did Count Olaf really burn down the Baudelaire mansion? While he certainly has a motive and it wouldn't be out of character for him to do so, and he doesn't seem surprised when the Baudelaires directly accuse him of doing so, we never get a definite answer or any solid evidence one way or the other. Even Olaf's comments on the matter don't clear anything up. When accused, he just says, "Is that what you think?" It's implied that he may actually have been innocent on that front, but we'll never know for sure — and neither will Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, probably.
- At the end of Cold Comfort Farm, Ada Doom explains to Flora Poste the wrong that Amos did her father, and what her "rights" are, but the reader never finds out. Flora follows up with "and did the goat die?", but not even she finds out the answer to that. And we never discover what "something nasty in the woodshed" Aunt Ada saw.
- Subverted in The Westing Game. During the reading of the will, Sandy McSouthers makes a joke, cutting off the lawyer before the last word in one of the sections is read. Later it's "revealed" that there was no final word in that section. This is ultimately subverted in the end, as one of the characters figures out what the missing word was.
- Torak's father's name in The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Due to plot-related reasons, it appeared that it was going to be revealed in Ghost Hunter....but instead we just get something along the lines of Torak hearing his father's name, with the reader never finding out.
- In the Xanth novels, Bink's talent (immunity from magical harm) invokes this trope as part its power. Even if Bink himself tries to tell someone, his talent will intervene and cause an interruption. The talent only works if it remains secret; an enemy who knew about it can simply use a non-magical attack. Magic is so common and easy in Xanth that an unaware enemy would never think to try this.
- In Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos saga, we never get a full explanation of The Shrike's true origin and purpose. In fact, a lot of things are left less than fully explained in the end.
- In Donna Tartt's The Little Friend it's never revealed who killed Robin. Throughout most of the book, Harriet was certain who had done it only to realise at the very end that she had absolutely no reason to trust her theory (due to lack of evidence) and that she was utterly wrong anyway.
- In Reaper's Gale Rhulad's consort writes a single phrase on a confession paper before she is brutally murdered. Based on the reaction of the two men to subsequently read it, the phrase would have been truly damning to her murderers, which could mean a wide array of things considering their actions. Yet what was written is never revealed; the paper itself is destroyed and both men to read it die without ever revealing the contents.
- The Brothers Grimm story "The Golden Key" describes a boy who discovers a golden key and a small box in the snow. The boy imagines what wondrous things might be in the box, and searches it for a keyhole. He finally finds it, and inserts the key into the keyhole... but the reader will have to wait for him to unlock the box before finding out what's inside. The end.
- Considering most Grimm stories can be read in an entirely different way, guess what Key and Keyhole could symbolize.
- In "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe, the narrator never gives details on the insult for which he wants revenge.
- Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea:
What happened that night, how the skiff escaped from the Maelstrom's fearsome eddies, how Ned Land, Conseil, and I got out of that whirlpool, I'm unable to say. But when I regained consciousness, I was lying in a fisherman's hut on one of the Lofoten Islands. My two companions, safe and sound, were at my bedside clasping my hands. We embraced each other heartily.
- Aronnax never discovers Captain Nemo’s true name nor nationality.
- Aronnax writes the last chapter of his book in South Norway. Any form of Travel between upper Norway and the south is limited, and thus he still hasn’t discovered what was the nationality of the ship Captain Nemo sank.
- Aronnax faints after he hits his head against the Nautilus, and apparently he never asked Ned and Conseil how they escaped from the Maelstrom.
- Near the end of the second book in The Millennium Trilogy, Lisbeth Salander figures out a simpler proof for Fermat's Last Theorem. In the third book, thanks to being shot in the head, she no longer remembers what it was.
- Sisterhood Series by Fern Michaels: Collateral Damage reveals the Elias Cummings never wanted the job as FBI director, but he was blackmailed into taking the job. It is never revealed what he was being blackmailed over, but Judge Cornelia "Nellie" Easter knows what it was, and states she would have done the same thing in his place. Perhaps he committed an act of justifiable murder.
- What was the earth-shattering event that led to the post-apocalyptic scenario in Cormac McCarthy's The Road? We never find out, and since the book is more about keeping hope alive in the face of armageddon than about the actual experience of life after the apocalypse, it doesn't really matter. The journey of the main characters is what counts, not how they got there.
- In Galaxy of Fear: Clones, Tash stumbles upon a cloning facility that can snag a genetic sample and make a grown clone out of it within hours, when all cloning methods she knows about take years to do the same. There are a few ancient droids running the facility, and she asks one about it... and it tells her that it's classified. Later she speculates, but can't come to any good conclusions.
- The Star Wars tie-in book The Jedi Path has a three-page essay on the Chosen One prophecy, only the pages are, depending on the edition, torn out or completely marked through, with a note from Luke saying basically, "It was like this when I found it, probably Palpatine's doing."
- In James Blaylock's Homunculus, a strange mechanical gadget called a Marseilles Pinkle is left at the site of a kidnapping. A worldly character implies that it has some perverse erotic function, but the viewpoint-character is too naive even to guess what that might be, and the Pinkle's description certainly doesn't sound like a sex toy, leaving the reader in the dark as well.
- Stephen Carter's The Emperor of Ocean Park ends this way. After protagonist Talcott Garland almost died twice in the book trying to figure out the conspiracy that might have been responsible for his father's death, he obtains a floppy disc that contains the names of corrupt Supreme Court members (keep in mind that the book takes place during the late 1990s). Instead of looking inside the floppy disc, or even storing the device for later use, he simply tosses it into the fireplace to be destroyed. Depending on the reader's perspective, this is either a poignant metaphor for letting the past go to move on with your life, or a frustrating cop-out ending after teasing readers for 600+ pages, which ultimately goes nowhere.
- In Glen Cook's The Black Company series, the vast majority of characters are Only Known by Their Nickname, for various reasons (Wizards can have their powers stolen by the invocation of their true name, and members of the Black Company symbolically leave their old lives, including their names, behind when they join up). In the fourth book, Croaker, the narrator, is asked what his real name is. He notes that it takes him a moment to remember it. He does not note what it is.
- Doctrine of Labyrinths has a couple of these. Is Stephen able to rescue Hallam? Why was the Khloidanikos created? We'll never know.
- In Invisible Man, when the protagonist is lying in the hospital and is asked what his name is, he narrates that he realized then he no longer knew his own name. When he later gets a new name from the Brotherhood handed to him on a slip of paper, he avoids stating exactly what name was written on it.
- In Sarah Caudwell's Hilary Tamar novels Thus Was Adonis Murdered, The Shortest Way to Hades, The Sirens Sang of Murder and The Sibyl in her Grave, narrated by Professor Hilary Tamar, Hilary's sex is never indicated.
- The Hunger Games: It is never stated if Portia is on the rebel's side or not.
- The name of the amateur who soured Parker's score in The Seventh. The police discover his identity, and at several points the reader almost learns his name, but something always interrupts the action before it is revealed on the page. The novel ends without the reader (or Parker) ever learning who he actually was.
- Subverted in Danny, the Champion of the World: Danny's father makes a big deal of the big secret to poaching pheasants. The big secret is that pheasants are completely nuts about raisins. Danny is a bit disappointed that this seemingly trivial tidbit of information is the big secret... but the rest of the book showcases exactly how powerful that little tidbit is in the hands of a sufficiently motivated and creative poacher.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Who was Adam before he was turned into the "Tri-borg" human/demon/cyborg Adam? "Not a man among us remembers".
- Cheers: Vera gets pied in a food fight, so that she remains faceless.
- Saturday Night Live:
- The "It's Pat" sketches from the early '90s were built around repeatedly Unrevealing Pat's sex to both the other characters and the audience. In only one sketch do the characters learn Pat's sex, but the reveal is interrupted by a fake news bulletin. This extended all the way through The Movie of the sketch. Fans have pointed out that Sweeney tilts her head to the side in a feminine manner during one sketch, suggesting that Pat is female.
- When Hugh Laurie hosted one time, he sang a folk song about the world's problems in one sketch. In the chorus, he says there's a simple and obvious solution. But when he goes to say it, he instead mumbles while looking nervous.
- iCarly: In iThink They Kissed, Carly asks Sam and Freddie if they enjoyed the kiss. Before they answer, Spencer interrupts them, and the question is never answered.
- All through, Shepherd Book acts much like a preacher out of a western, but occasionally shows skills with hand to hand combat and firearms, and once flips a badge to some Alliance guards. In The Movie, Book is talking to Mal about how government assassins operate. Mal comments that for a preacher, he sure seems to know an awful lot about that world. Book replies "I wasn't born a Shepherd". Mal says to him: "You know someday you'll have to tell me about that." Book pauses... and replies firmly "No, I don't."
- It was revealed in a follow-up comic that Book was with the Independence, and joined the Alliance as a mole. He was dishonorably discharged after an attack he led was ambushed. Book helped plan the ambush, and while the Alliance was unable to prove that, they strongly suspected it.
- There's also the question of what Saffron's real name actually is. In a rather satisfying scene, Mal asks Saffron what her real name is, and when she hesitates, he gives her a Pistol-Whipping in the face, and mutters "You'd only've lied anyhow."
- Exactly what happened to Earth-that-Was?
- In the role-playing game it's revealed that there's no FTL travel (the 'Verse is just a very large solar system) and that people originally reached the 'Verse via generation ships. As a result, Earth-that-Was is simply too far away to go back to. Also, Earth-that-Was was abandoned because it was rapidly disintegrating (overpopulation, pollution, unrest) at the time. Opinions are divided over whether the migration completely emptied out Earth-that-Was or not.
- All through, Shepherd Book acts much like a preacher out of a western, but occasionally shows skills with hand to hand combat and firearms, and once flips a badge to some Alliance guards. In The Movie, Book is talking to Mal about how government assassins operate. Mal comments that for a preacher, he sure seems to know an awful lot about that world. Book replies "I wasn't born a Shepherd". Mal says to him: "You know someday you'll have to tell me about that." Book pauses... and replies firmly "No, I don't."
- Teen Wolf: "Hey look! They're showing us the Alpha transforming into a human? ...Oh wait. You can't tell who it is with that shadowy silhouette."
- The Drew Carey Show: Mimi's allergic reaction to her experimental brand of make-up requires her to go without the garish stuff completely for a week. After covering up for the whole episode, she comes up with a flashlight that will cast the colored light pattern on her face. Notable in that the following episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway?? featured Mimi's actress, Kathy Kinny, as a contestant, sans make-up.
- On The New Adventures of Old Christine, Richard finds out that Matthew and Barb once made out. For security, they demand to know one of his secrets. He responds by telling them about an incident from his high school wrestling days. The audience never hears what exactly his story is. We do, however, see Matthew and Barb's thoroughly Squicked reaction.
- At the end of Remington Steele, Steele asks his father what his real name is... only to find that his father has just died.
- The Sopranos — The Series Finale had all the makings of a high tension close... only to fade to black without anything being resolved. What really happened? No one knows, but Word of God later squashed many of the free floating theories and all of the violent ones.
- How I Met Your Mother loves this trope.
- On one episode, Ted teases his kids about what a goat did during his 30th birthday party. When he finally gets to it at the end, he realizes that it actually happened on his 31st birthday, and drops the subject. Sure enough, Ted revealed what happened on an episode broadcast a year later.
- The Pineapple Incident. At the end of the episode, Ted admits that he never found out where the pineapple came from.
- In fact, it's revealed in episode 10 in Season 9 (so, 8 seasons later), what happened and he remembered it as well. So he still should have know it by the time he told his kids about the accident.
- Barney's job. We know where he works and that he has his own office; we just don't know the specific job title. When asked, he simply replies "Please!" In season nine, it's revealed that his title is Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything.
- The biggest, repeated Unreveal of them all: the identity of the mother. About twice a season, the writers set it up to reveal her identity, and then pull out at the last second. We have managed to see her umbrella, her college class, her roommate, her apartment, her foot, and later, her musical instrument. In season nine, she made her appearance onscreen and how she and Ted meet. But at the end of the show, it turns out that she's Dead All Along and Ted is telling the story as a way to ask his kids their permission if he can go after Robin.
- At least twice, Future Ted has deliberately withheld the Reveal because he's telling this story to his kids and he's trying to censor it for them:
- While Ted's dating Victoria, the gang relates the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to them. Victoria starts her story, then we cut to an all black screen. Future Ted says "Kids, I know I tell you a lot of off-color stories, but there's no way in Hell I'm telling you this one."
- Barney once told Lily a joke. But when he tells her the punchline, Future Ted says it was the most vile thing he'd ever heard and offended Lily so much she stopped hanging out for a few weeks. note
- Lost. There are naturally a number of elements that have remained unexplained for a long time, but there have been a few instances where the reveals seemed to be coming and were withheld.
- At the end of season 1, Locke finally blew open the hatch, but what was inside was not revealed until the season 2 premiere. Though the fact that the hatch blew open mere seconds before the ending of the episode should've been a great hint that it would be a cliffhanger.
- Locke's paralysis. After his first flashback episode revealed he'd been in a wheelchair, viewers spent his next few flashback episodes expecting to learn how he got there. By the time this was revealed in "The Man From Tallahassee", it was completely unexpected. In one flashback Locke gets hit by a car, causing the viewer to immediately expect to see him in a wheelchair afterwards.
- Jack demanding to know who his wife Sarah is cheating on him with. If you were a hyper-paranoid Lost fan you probably imagined it was someone we had seen before or someone important to the overall plot. In the end it was just some guy played by an extra with no lines.
- Malcolm in the Middle:
- In the finale, Malcolm is (naturally) the valedictorian of his class. He's introduced as "Malcolm—" (microphone feedback).
- It was initially planned as "Wilkerson" (Francis wears a badge with this name in the very first episode) but then they decided to get rid of it to leave the family's ethnic origin less clear. "Nolastname" appears on Francis's nametag in the last episode.
- Where they live exactly is never revealed, either.
- Jamie's gender was originally kept secret, with "It's a beautiful baby..." (ambulance siren), he was eventually revealed to be a boy in the next season premiere when he peed on Hal.
- Hal was once given a choice whether to keep a hospitalized neighbor alive or disconnect his life support. Eventually, he takes a third option, but we're not told what it is. All we know is that it was obvious to Hal when he found out the man was a bird lover and all he needed could be found at Radio Shack...except the hat.
- That '70s Show makes a point of never revealing Fez's name or what country he comes from.
- Sylar, in disguise, is talking with Sandra Bennett about the then-unnamed HRG. Sylar says that he never saw "Mr. Bennett" as a dog person. Sandra responds by wondering why everyone always calls him Mr. Bennett, then says "I've always known him as..." before being interrupted by her dog Mr. Muggles licking Sylar's feet.
- The creator commentary for the first-season finale has the creators talking loudly over the reveal of HRG's name. Possibly intentional, but hilarious coincidence if it isn't. Eventually they reveal his first name to be Noah. Which sort of makes this a case of the Un-Unreveal.
- The Haitian, whose name isn't revealed for the first three seasons, but suddenly everyone's just like, "Hey, Réné.".
- In "The Seven", we never do find out why Jerry's girlfriend always seems to be wearing the same dress.
- In "The Pie", we never find out why the girl wouldn't taste the pie.
- The audience never finds out why Kramer was discharged from the Army.
- In one episode of The Conditions of Great Detectives the solution to the murder-trick is never revealed because Tenkaichi said it would be far more interesting if they never found out the truth (and because he didn't want to admit that his solution was wrong).
- Xena: Warrior Princess. The episode where there was a 20th century reporter running around. His camera runs out of tape just as Xena & Gabrielle were about to reveal the true nature of their relationship.
- Bob from Becker told a story about why he never turns on the light when he gets dressed. The rest is never revealed but the characters are shocked and disgusted by the story.
- In the final episode of Blackadder Goes Forth, just as the men are about to go over the top, Baldrick tells Blackadder that he has a cunning plan. After asking how cunning it is, Blackadder wistfully observes that it will have to wait, although it was surely better than his own plan of pretending to be mad. Then the whistle blows and they all go over the top.
- Chuck: Agent Sarah Walker's real name. We know that she went by an alias as early as high school. At least a couple times characters who know it tried to say it but she interrupted them. At one point Chuck asks for her middle name. She said it was "Lisa", but Chuck had already left, so only the viewer heard. There are some hints about her name, but they may be lies.
- The real name of the protagonist of Spartacus: Blood and Sand has been almost revealed several times, with responses ranging from "I don't care, you're Spartacus now" to "every girl in town knows who you are" (from his future wife).
- In an episode of NCIS, Abby is upset because she thinks Gibbs forgot her birthday. Toward the end of the episode, Gibbs not only assures her that he remembered, but was able to slip her gift in her desk drawer when she wasn't looking. She opens the box, and all the viewers see is a glow on her face as she whispers, "That's so Pulp Fiction!" There have been other Pulp Fiction references in the episode.
- Doctor Who:
- There is...something...in the episode "Midnight", that possess the passengers and turns all of the Doctor's strengths against him. Nothing is revealed about this entity, nothing is even implied about its past, not even its name. Even the name for it on the Doctor Who Wiki, "Midnight Entity", is a name given to it by fans. On top of all that, it's not even revealed whether this entity survived or not. At least we know what the Weeping Angels, Silents, and Vashta Nerada were; here, literally nothing at all is revealed about this creature. Not even the Doctor knows what it is.
- We're never actually told who was behind the plan to destroy the universe by blowing up the TARDIS. All the episode does is set this up as a plot point for the next series. The implication is there, but that just raises even more questions.
- This is finally clarified with a throwaway line in The Time of the Doctor, three and a half years later.
- In "The Lodger", we never do find out who it was that was trying to build a TARDIS. Later implied it was caused by the Silence
- The episode "The God Complex" has as a plot point a hotel that has a room with every tenant's worst fear. The Doctor opens the door to his room, we hear the TARDIS's Cloister Bell going off, and the Doctor mutters "Of course, who else?", but we never actually see what's in the room. The events of "Amy's Choice" would imply that he saw himself, however, although it has also been speculated the he saw the Valeyard (who has also been surmised to be the source of the "Dream Lord" seen in "Amy's Choice"). Given who the Valeyard is, there's arguably no difference between the two. In "The Time of the Doctor", we find out that it's actually the crack in time and space.
- In "Forest of the Dead", in order to get the Doctor's trust, River Song whispers his real name to his ear. The audience of course doesn't hear it.
- In "Trial of a Time Lord," episode 2, when exploring ruins with Peri, The Doctor almost reveals his actual name. He lists the name of an archaeological paper he could author on their findings, and caps it off, "by Doctor..." — at which point Peri interrupts him.
- "The Name of the Doctor" does not reveal the Doctor's real name either. With the Doctor being the only person capable of seeing/hearing the person who opens the door - River Song - her opening of the door is left inaudible though, even if it hadn't, the Doctor screaming, "please!!" at the top of his lungs would have likely drowned it out regardless.
- "Listen" never reveals whether the person under the bedsheet was one of the creatures the Doctor is hunting, nor whether the creature he's looking for actually exist.
- On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the finale arc had a few characters wondering what the Breen really look like under those armored suits they always wear. At one point, a Breen is shown taking off its helmet... only to reveal that it's actually Kira disguised as a Breen.
- Several times on Star Trek: The Next Generation Beverley Crusher really has to tell Jean-Luc something... but we never find out what. (We assume it was "I love you"...)
- Frasier: A season 4 episode has Frasier worrying about whether he should advise Niles to reconcile with Maris. He decides that if he wants to know what Maris thinks he's going to have to "go to the source". Cut to him in Cafe Nervosa, apparently waving hello to a thin, well-dressed blonde woman... who walks straight past him. He's actually there to meet Maris's housekeeper, Marta.
- In Episode 11 episode "No Sex Please, We're Skittish", Roz tells Niles she slept with Frasier. Niles, understandably, is shocked. Later, Frasier tells Niles to "brace himself", and tells him that he slept with Roz.
Niles: (feigning shock badly) NO WAY! You and ROZ?
- In Episode 11 episode "No Sex Please, We're Skittish", Roz tells Niles she slept with Frasier. Niles, understandably, is shocked. Later, Frasier tells Niles to "brace himself", and tells him that he slept with Roz.
- In one episode of Are You Being Served?, the staff chips in (a grand total of £6.25) to buy a birthday gift for Mrs. Slocombe. She takes the top off the box and exclaims, "It's just what I've always wanted!" It's passed around to the rest of the cast, who all comment on the gift ("I've had one for years myself", "I wish I'd had one in the desert", "I've never actually seen one before"). Mr. Humphries then turns to the audience and says, "We're not going to tell you what it is, it's a secret."
- The original Battlestar Galactica uses centons as units of time. A character asks "What is a centon?" Cut to another scene.
- A rare real-life version of this happened with the National Geographic Channel's highly-publicised television special in 2003. Supervised by leading Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawaas, the show was a first-time stunt in the history of TV - The television crew and Hawass' expedition used a robot to peer into a narrow shaft that opens into the queen's chamber of the Great Pyramid - Within the shaft Hawass found another stone block, possibly a door, and Hawass was made a laughingstock in front of live TV audiences from 140 countries. Poor guy.
- This was preceded by Geraldo Rivera's infamous TV special The Mystery of Al Capone's Vaults, in which Rivera and his crew conducted an excavation of a "secret vault" purported to contain Al Capone's treasure. When the vault was finally opened, it was found to be empty apart from debris and broken bottles. Rivera held one of the bottles up to the camera, excitedly proclaiming that it once contained "bathtub moonshine gin".
- Played for Laughs on the April Fools' Day 2011 episode of The Price Is Right. Throughout the whole show, host Drew Carey hypes up a "10,000th something", which at the end is nothing.
- Wilson, Tim Taylor's neighbor in Home Improvement, always has the lower half of his face obscured from the viewers, usually by the fence which separates his yard from Tim's. In the few episodes when a full body shot of Wilson is shown, he is only shown from behind. There was even one episode where Wilson attends a party at Tim's house, but in every close-up of his face, there is always some other item in front of him to prevent the viewers from seeing the lower half of his face. In one instance, the lower half of his face is revealed, only for the top part to be covered with a mask. Eventually lampshaded in the title sequence, which by the end of the series had a whole series of bizarre obstructions of Wilson's face animated in.
- On Jack-of-All-Trades, Captain Brogard once had the opportunity to rip off the mask of "the Daring Dragoon" and reveal his secret identity... except that Jack was wearing a second mask underneath the one Brogard ripped off!
- In Barney & Friends, we for some reason neither see Baby Bop, BJ, and/or Riff emerge from their, um... ...home dimension nor see Barney turn back into a doll.
- In the "Science" episode of You Can't Do That on Television, Alistaire discovers the secret ingredients to green slime. He reads the list on the air... but the closing credits play over it so we can't hear him. We do see Moose standing next to him acting progressively more and more disgusted as the list goes on. After the credits, Ross saunters onstage, tells them that the credits kept anyone from hearing the list, and then eats the list. (We did learn the first ingredient, though... it's water! SPLASH!)
- The entire series of Merlin (2008) is made of this trope. Nearly every episode sets up the reveal to King Arthur that Merlin has magic...Five seasons on and the reveal still hasn't come to pass, despite ample opportunities, hints dropped and full anvils being dropped on Arthur's head as to the nature of his servant Merlin. Until the very last episode.
- Red Dwarf Series 8 ended with a substantial cliffhanger, followed by a decade-long hiatus. The returned series was set nine years later, and the resolution of the cliffhanger was not addressed at all. Finally, at the end of Series X, the cliffhanger was mentioned with Rimmer claiming credit for its resolution, only to be interrupted before he explained how he did it.
- One season of Mira Quién Baila (a Spanish analogue of Dancing with the Stars) featured Blue Demon Jr., a famous masked luchador whose face has never been seen in public, as one of the contestants. The judges docked him some points because they couldn't see his facial expressions, which led to a long and tense debate about whether he should remove his mask. Toward the end of the season, he finally conceded and said he would show his true face. He dramatically removed the mask to reveal... another mask. It was quite an emotional episode.
- Partial version in the Magnum, P.I. episode "I, Witness". Magnum's friends were present at a robbery, in the course of which they apparently lost their clothes. They recount the robbery to him "Rashomon"-Style, but what he's especially curious about is the clothes. They eventually do explain that the robbers made everyone strip to deter them from giving chase...but that that's not the end of the story. What happened after that? The episode ends, so we (and Magnum) will never know.
- We never found out which pill was poisoned and whether Sherlock was right in "A Study in Pink".
- "The Reichenbach Fall" ends with Sherlock very convincingly committing suicide, then attending his own funeral, forcing fans to come up with crazy theories for how he did it. "The Empty Hearse" starts by finally revealing how he did it... you think. Turns out the whole thing is an Imagine Spot - of fans of Sherlock's work in-universe, who don't want to believe he's dead. Later in the episode, they do finally reveal how he did it... NOT. It's another Imagine Spot. You'd think we wouldn't fall for it the second time. Then even later, Sherlock explains how he did it, making it seem like we were finally getting the real story... but while it was the most plausible explanation, the character he tells it to realizes that he might not be telling the truth. Word of God says that what Sherlock told Anderson at the end was true, making this an arguable subversion. The correct answer is given, it's just delivered in such a way where it's not immediately clear that it was the correct answer.
- On "The one in London" on Friends, Joey never got to explain how he met Duchess Fergie.
- Season 8 - We never get to hear Joey's sex story that starts about him going backpacking through Western Europe.
- Horatio Hornblower: Much of the drama in the second series revolves around the question of how Captain Sawyer fell, and who pushed him if anyone did. There are a number of suspicions, accusations, and cryptic silhouettes, and it seems that it will be revealed at the end of "Retribution" when Hornblower is asked at court. His honour would grant a truthful account. All the audience ever knows for sure is that Sawyer remembered who did it, but his mental powers were weak even before he fell. Midshipman Wellard wasn't sure about his involvement, but came to conclusion that he didn't do it, and he seemed to believe that one of the lieutenants was guilty, but he wanted to protect them. That leaves Hornblower, who was accused by Buckland in court, and Kennedy, who confessed to it — but in all probability falsely — before Hornblower could answer the charge. In Hornblower fandom, this is a true Riddle for the Ages.
- Game of Thrones:
- During the third episode of season 6 it appears as if the show is about to reveal what Ned Stark saw at the Tower of Joy during one of Bran's visions. However, prior to the revelation being made The Three Eyed Raven stops Bran from seeing anymore and tells him (and the viewers) "enough for one day".. This was not a major plot point in the show prior to this episode, but was of major interest to fans of the original book series because of how it relates to the popular fan theory that Jon Snow is the son of Lyanna Stark and Rhaegar Targaryen.
- Shae is vague and mysterious about her past. When Cersei corners her and demands details about her life, Shae starts, "When I was thirteen..." but gets cut off.
- The X-Files: The whole show was set-up as two honest people who fight against The Conspiracy, and the show's runner Chris Carter kept promising mind-blowing finales, both in season finales/season openers (done fairly successfully) and the final truth was supposed to be incredibly huge, shattering and breath-taking (done less successfully). Later it was revealed that the authors had not planned anything specific and just kept adding more and more Myth Arc elements as the show kept going. The finale was a case of No Ending with conspiracies and dark secrets not exposed to the general public. The Earth and human race is still endangered by the upcoming alien invasion, and nobody has a chance to prepare themselves for the (implied) final show down.
- In Leverage, Sophie's real name fails to be revealed several times. In the finale, we finally find out that it isn't Lara.
- Air Crash Investigation: Rare.
- It is known that South African Airways Flight 295, the subject of "Fanning the Flames", was brought down by an on-board fire. But whether it was accidential or the result of Apartheid Era espionage remains unknown.
- Subverted with "Death and Denial", about Egypt-Air Flight 990. The episode presents the case that the plane was deliberately brought down by the First Officer, and that the Egyptian government's official explanation of mechanical failure was made due to the Arab culture's aversion to suicide than to the facts. Therefore, the cause of the crash is known, yet cannot be officially determined because of the differing politics and social mores between the U.S. and Egypt.
- And then again with "Pushed to the Limit", about SilkAir Flight 185. Like in "Death and Denial", this episode presents the case that the plane was deliberately brought down by a crew member (this time, the Captain), and that the Indonesian government's official explanation of mechanical failure was made because the entire Boeing 737 line, at the time of the incident, had been dealing with a mechanical issue with the rudder's control unit that had previously caused the crash of two other 737s (which themselves were profiled in the episode "Hidden Dangers"). Again, known cause of crash, no official determination.
- Married... with Children: We never see Peggy's mother, except in shadow form descending the stairs as Al and his friends look on in horror (after learning she is the voice of "Butter", the phone-sex operator Griff has fallen in love with).
- In the Series Finale of Warehouse 13, all the agents share their favourite memories of the Warehouse. Mrs Frederic shares three memories, but only Steve is present and the audience only sees the last one. Both other times, we cut back to them as Steve is reacting, saying "You were there for that?" for the first and "So that's Mr Frederic." for the second.
- The Prisoner is rife with them, even aside from those "answered" in its infamous Gainax Ending. Word of God said that anything meaningful enough to answer has been, and everything else, like who ran the prison or the specifics of Number Six's resignation, are utterly unimportant.
- In the Supernatural episode "Croatoan" (S02, Ep09), Dean twice almost tells Sam what their father whispered to him before John died: once when he thought Sam was infected, but was interrupted when Dr. Lee returned, and then again at the end of the episode creating a cliffhanger.
Dean: He told me something about you.Sam: What? Dean, what did he tell you?[END OF EPISODE]
- On Step by Step, J.T, Cody, Dana, and Karen decided to see who could go without sleep the longest. While J.T, Dana, and Karen started showing signs of fatigue, Cody started to develop sharper mental faculties. At the end of the episode, the family comes back from a baseball game to find that J.T, Dana, and Karen have all fallen asleep and suddenly, Cody realizes the meaning of life. He starts to announce it, then he too falls asleep.
- None of Charlie's Angels know what Charlie looks like, but they've come close to finding out.
- Their client in one episode was a former co-star of Charlie's in a theatre production. She agrees to show them a picture of him in costume. When she does, it turns out he's playing Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream and is wearing a donkey mask.
- The Angels went undercover in a magic show. At the end of the episode, Charlie compliments them on their performance as he was not only at the show, he gave Kris a pen to use in the act. The other two start to question her about Charlie's appearance. Unfortunately, poor Kris doesn't remember.
- The Angels work with an old associate of Charlie's who does know what he looks like. But when asked, she deliberately gives them a contradictory description.
- The Walking Dead Season 6 finale "Last Day on Earth" The new Big Bad Negan makes his appearance and chooses one of the protagonists to kill but the screen changes to first person as blood leaks down the screen, so we don't know who got killed." This ending was criticized strongly by fans and critics alike for being a cop-out and not having the same graphic brutality as the comic book panel.
- In the first episode of Power Rangers Super Megaforce, Gosei gives the team the Super Mega Morphers and the Ranger Keys. Jake, the Black Megaforce Ranger, notices his Super Mega key is green and asks what's up with that. Gosei's response is to say "There's a very good explanation for that..." and gets cut off by explosions. We never find out the reason.
- TV Total had a distinct voice talent narrating clips or interviewing people who was never seen, aside from his arm holding the microphone. The Grand Finale finally saw him make a cameo as the studio announcer, but with his face mostly obscured. Later, when Studio Amani aired in the same time slot, several of TVT's staff members made guest appearances, with this guy's face being blurred.
- Part of the point of the game "Spill Your Guts or Fill Your Guts" on The Late Late Show with James Corden is that one of the players has to eat the disgusting delicacy placed in front of them if they either can't answer the question or don't want to answer the question they're being asked. So, when James is asked who his least favorite passenger on Carpool Karaoke has been - something he has an answer for - he, naturally, eats cat brains instead. There's a story somewhere...
- An interesting In-Universe example for Sesame Street: For the first fifteen or so years of the show, Big Bird's best friend Mr. Snuffleupagus was seen by the bird, some Muppets, and, of course, the viewers. However, whenever Big Bird tried to introduce Snuffy to his adult friends, something always prevented them from meeting him.
- In El Chavo del ocho, we never get to hear El Chavo's real name, nor who he lives with in apartment number eight (most people think he lives in the patio barrel). He does get asked a few times, but whenever he's about to say it, another character enters the scene and interrupts him.
- Played with an in episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon finds and reads the contents of an envelope that Howard got from his long-estranged father on his 18th birthday. Howard destroys the envelope and demands that Sheldon never tell anyone, himself included, its contents, but later is clearly wracked over not knowing what it said. Eventually, the rest of the characters work out a compromise whereby they'll each tell Howard a different version of what was inside the envelope, but not which of them is telling the truth. Which version was true is never stated, but it's definitely not what Sheldon claims it to be (a pirate treasure map), and probably not what Raj says it is (a birthday card with a fairly bland message, with Raj spending more time talking about the card itself than the message).
- In his 1956 novelty hit, Jim Lowe never does find out what's going on behind "The Green Door". Neither do we.
- Similarly, in Tom Waits's "What's He Building In There?" from Mule Variations we never find out what he's, well, building in there. It's sort of the point, because the song is about suburban paranoia. He asserts "we have a right to know", but in fact we don't.
- Faith No More's song "Epic" repeatedly refers to "it" without ever explaining what "it" is.
- What is it? It is it!
- In "Fillmore Jive" by Pavement, the song cuts off before Stephen Malkmus ever tells us what their throats are filled with. Either that or they're filled with an A bass note.
- A "Pigs in Space" skit on The Muppet Show features the Swinetrek approaching the edge of the Universe, beyond which lies The Meaning of Life. Unfortunately, it's interrupted by a Muppet News Flash to announce that they're close to discovering The Meaning of Life. When we return to the sketch it's over, and the crew missed it as well (It was lunchtime, and apparently swill stroganoff is more important than the Meaning of Life). The narrator then reveals that he saw it, but when pressed further he chants "I know something you don't know!"
- Another Muppet Show episode featured Fozzie performing the world-famous "Banana Sketch" by legendary writer Gags Beasley. Kermit's never heard of it (to the amusement of his co-stars), and when he prompts Fozzie and guest star Sandy Duncan to perform it, they start laughing and can't collect themselves to tell the joke, leaving the audience just as much in the dark.
- On I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue, there's a round called Closed Quotes. The chairman says the beginning of a quote, the panellists finish it in a humorous way, and the chairman reveals the real answer. At least once, Chairman Humph has neglected to give the answers because they're too boring, at one point just saying "Sod the answer, buy the book". On another occasion, after not bothering with the real answers for several questions, he said "The producer's just told me I should read out the real answers if they're funny. That's what I've been doing!"
- And of course there are the rules to Mornington Crescent. Though they can be found in these days of the internet, it is considered bad form just to let anybody know.
- Opie And Anthony sometimes have a tendency to discuss various top-10 or top-20 lists... but decline to state what number 1 on that list is (either tossing it to the side and going on to something else or cutting to commercial).
- In The Stranger's Dream in Bastion, all you learn is that Rucks once wrote an alphabet book.
- Follow the right path in Planescape: Torment, and the Nameless One can remember his first life, shrug the grip of his own torment off from his soul, and learn his name. For the player, just knowing that he has one will have to do, well that and the 2 million experience that comes with it.
Suddenly, through the torrent of regrets, you feel the first incarnation again. His hand, invisible and weightless, is upon your shoulder, steadying you. He doesn't speak, but with his touch, you suddenly remember your name... and it is such a simple thing, not at all what you thought it might be, and you feel yourself suddenly comforted.
- In a similar way, you never find out exactly what it was you did that lead you to seeking immortality. Depending on interpretation, if you see finding out what you did as being the important part, you might possibly be missing the point...
- There are a few hints that suggest it was to win time - the First Incarnation's crimes were so great, he wouldn't possibly have been able to atone in just one lifetime, and would have gotten stuck in the Blood War forever but it's still never revealed what they were. Of course, it's also pointed out that even if it hadn't backfired, it wouldn't have worked.
- Several times throughout Half-Life 2, various characters seem to fully assume that Gordon is clued up on everything that is going on in the world, and make constant references to wars, characters and events that you have no explanation of. You can eventually piece together some of the info from newspaper clippings on various notice boards or listening to Dr. Breen's interminable speeches, but the game is pretty obtuse. It's not until Episode One that you lean the fairly basic fact that twenty years have passed since the events of the original Half-Life, for example.
- Knights of the Old Republic II:
- The build-up to what happened to Revan, or for that matter what exactly he saw that was such a threat he had to abandon everything and everyone he loved, ends on a less-than-satisfying note either resulting from or aided by a rushed release and an unfinished end game. The fate of Revan (and the Exile) are finally revealed in the backstory to Star Wars: The Old Republic. They died fighting the Sith Empire in the Unknown Regions.
- The Old Republic eventually revealed that Revan was in fact alive and had been trapped in stasis by the Sith Emperor
- The game utilized this trope in the final confrontation with Kreia. The notes for her voice actor in the script even explicitly spelled out the lack of a Luke, I Am Your Father moment.
- The build-up to what happened to Revan, or for that matter what exactly he saw that was such a threat he had to abandon everything and everyone he loved, ends on a less-than-satisfying note either resulting from or aided by a rushed release and an unfinished end game. The fate of Revan (and the Exile) are finally revealed in the backstory to Star Wars: The Old Republic. They died fighting the Sith Empire in the Unknown Regions.
- In Yoshi's Island, the end credits sequence shows the stork returning baby Mario and Luigi to their parents, but all that's shown is their feet. However, in Yoshi's New Island, this is the plot point that starts the events of the game. It turns out the stork had delivered Baby Mario & Luigi to the wrong parents, who are Toads, of all things. This trope is used AGAIN at the end of the game.
- Shy Guys, recurring enemies in the Super Mario Bros. series, wear masks, and many games at one point mention what their identity would be. In Mario Tennis, if Shy Guy wins a match, he will step up to get the trophy, but trips and falls down, his mask falling off. He is facing the other way, but Luigi, being able to see his face perfectly, looks astonished. This again happens in Mario Strikers Charged, except no one appears to have seen it. In Luigi's Mansion, Shy Guy-like ghosts appear as enemies. Their masks can be removed, and seen perfectly, although it is merely black space with two glowing yellow eyes visible.
- Master Chief takes off his helmet at the end of Halo: Combat Evolved just in time for the cockpit of his ship to obscure his face as the camera pans upwards. However, in the PC version it's possible to take control of the camera. Leaving it in the ship results in MC revealing his head to be graphically represented with another helmet, like this.
- The opening cutscene of Halo 2 plays this a similar way — Master Chief, who has just finished suiting up, picks up his helmet and puts it on as the camera pans upwards from his chest — just not fast enough to catch a glimpse of his face.
- The Halo 3 Starry Night trailer features a first-person view of an unmasked Chief reaching for his helmet. Fans went over stills with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to catch the Chief's face reflected in the visor, but the helmet is tilted at just the wrong angle to see anything.
- At the end of Halo 4, the Chief gets his armor removed, and just as his helmet is taken off, as per tradition, the scene goes black. Halfway averted in the Legendary ending, where the area around his eyes is shown (though the eyes themselves are mostly shadowed out).
- During the Last Stand in the epilogue of Halo: Reach, Noble Six discards his/her damaged helmet, but his/her head remains out of view.
- The same thing as in the Halo ending happens in Mass Effect 2, when Tali takes off her helmet. People have made so many speculations about what Quarians look without their suits, that the designers decided that nothing they could come up with would really do it justice. Which, considering the reaction to the reveal in Mass Effect 3, was correct.
- Nintendo Power's Howard and Nester comic series usually gives you straight hints and tips on one of the latest games that month. For the Startropics comic, they spent the comic building up to how to submerge Sub-C. While Nester is screwing around trying to get the submarine to go underwater, Howard Phillips explores a cave and finds a note within a bottle. He comes back out saying he found the code to submerge Sub-C, only to find that Nester used a six-inch drill with a carbide tip to sink the ship. Note that the code itself was not actually revealed through all of this. The answer is 747, if you were wondering.
- In The Force Unleashed II, you keep on being tugged back and forth between whether this Starkiller is the real one or a clone. You never get a straight answer.
- In the first Kingdom Hearts, Mickey Mouse is never seen properly. His voice is heard a few times, but even in the final cutscene you can only see his silhouette before he locks himself behind the Door to Darkness. And we never find out how he got out!
- There's actually a behind the scenes reason for that. One of Disney's rules they set for Square was that Mickey Mouse could not be featured prominantly in the game, as they didn't want the game to piggyback off his popularity. They could show him, at most as a quick cameo for a few seconds. Square got around that by making him the "King" who Donald and Goofy are searching for, but never manage to catch up to until the very end of the game, where he is still in shadow except for one brief (ie: the cameo) moment where he turns and you can see his face. It works to, because even though the "King" is obviously Mickey (personal seal is the Mouse symbol, Minnie is his queen and Donald Goofy and Daisey are his court) his name is never mentioned and he never shows up until that one scene. If Disney was mad about Square playing around with their rule they never said as much, because KH was such a massive success they gave Square unrestricted access to Mickey from that point onwards, hence Mickey becoming a major player in later games.
- This is ultimately subverted in Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep - A Fragmentary Passage, which shows what Mickey was doing in the Realm of Darkness, and how he got behind that door.
- When King Trode finally gets turned from a troll back to a human at the end of Dragon Quest VIII. he looks pretty much exactly the same. Naturally Yangus finds this hilarious.
- In the Command & Conquer series... hope you weren't expecting Tiberian Twilight to actually answer any of the big questions from the series. All the game reveals is that Kane is an alien, and a very old one, which the previous game had blatantly alluded to anyhow.
- A discouragingly large amount of the plot of Vagrant Story goes unexplained, despite constantly dropped hints that the next bit of dialogue or the next cutscene will explain something important, and the game being made by Squaresoft, a company that loves its exposition so much its works will usually go into detail about anything and everything they can. The biggest unreveal, and the only one the game goes out of its way to point out to the player, is the significance of Ashley's dead family; maybe he genuinely had a wife and son who were killed by thugs during a family picnic... or maybe he murdered an innocent family in the course of his duties as a soldier, and through a combination of his own grief and advanced brainwashing techniques, managed to convince himself they were his family rather than face up to the truth.
- In Loom, even the other characters in the game are curious as to what a Weaver's face looks like, despite the rumors that to gaze upon one means death. However, when one character finally looks under Bobbin's hood for himself, the camera cuts away to another location. Screaming is heard in the background, and when the camera returns, Bobbin is re-hooded and the other character is simply gone. The expert mode of the game reveals the character's fate, but hides Bobbin's actual face behind glowing light. Interestingly, Bobbin's dialogue in the original game implies that the answer as to what lies beneath his hood may be "Nothing." The re-released version removed this line.
- Sanitarium prominently features a number of references to Aztec culture, repeatedly shows a flashback of a "Eureka!" moment involving the discovery of a cure to a disease, the researcher deriding himself for not seeing this simple solution that had been staring him right in the face the whole time, and a number of other flashbacks showing said researcher performing archaeological and field studies in Aztec ruins. While you do get to see the photograph that seems to spark the insight, which is just a picture of the researcher standing in the jungle, the nature of the insight is never communicated to the audience.
- Disgaea: Hour of Darkness episode 5 starts off with a photo being mailed to Laharl as part of a blackmail. Apparently, it shows Laharl in an embarrassing situation (take Flonne and Etna's words for it) and Laharl is mortified at the possibility of the photo being spread all over the Netherworld. We never know exactly what was in the picture.
- Zeno Clash: Subverted. Ghat refuses to speak of why he broke with Father-Mother, no matter how much he is prodded, with the intention seemingly being to allow the audience to draw their own conclusions, much as with the rest of the story. With a minute left of the game Golem decides to tell everyone against Ghat's wishes: that Father-Mother is neither their father nor their mother.
- Several Artix Entertainment games have an NPC named Galanoth, an Author Avatar for a member of the dev. team. Galanoth almost constantly wears a helmet that obscures much of his face, and the players never get to see just what he looks like without his helmet on. A running gag seen frequently throughout each of the games is to have his face obscured by something else, like a temporary replacement mask or something in the foreground, or for Gal to be offscreen entirely when his helmet is off, but at least one event in DragonFable had a more traditional Unreveal, with a setup.
- In Hector: Badge of Carnage's first episode the main character poses as the middleman in shady deal, where something called the "Thing" is exchanged for a suitcase of money. Hector doesn't know what the "Thing" is, and as he has to keep up his cover he can't ask the gang members he is conduction the deal with about the details, forcing him to improvise his way through the deal, eventually convincing the crooks that they can pick up the "Thing" at an appointed location later. In the second episode Hector's partner, Lambert, meets the actual middleman from the deal, but he is just as ambiguous about what the "Thing" is, so Lambert quickly gives up asking.
- Diglett and Dugtrio are specifically programmed within the Pokémon games to have animations that avoid or get around situations where they would have to appear fully above ground, thus revealing what they look like underneath the ground. Things like going either underground instead of jumping or simply refusing to jump within the Pokéathlon, running between bushes within the Poké Transfer capture minigame instead of jumping between them like the other Pokémon, be the only Pokémon to fade into the battlefield instead of dropping onto the ground within the Generation V games, etc. Even within the 3D games (including the sixth generation), this trope applies — if they somehow managed to either perform moves that involves them souring into the air or get hit by moves that lift them up into the air, only the visible part of their body goes into the air. That, and also the rubble by their neck (or whatever part of their body that's supposed to be), as if said rubble's part of their body. They can learn several claw based moves, hinting that they at least have front limbs, but these are never shown, even when they use the moves. The fans has made numerous depictions of what they might possibly look like, including a infamous drawing of Dugtrio being three muscular men hugging underground.
- Every time the Pyro's gender is teased. Apparently, not even Valve themselves know.
- In Undertale, after you fall down a waterfall, a mysterious voice that knows your name calls out to you in the darkness, and in very slow Scrolling Text says "My name is..." just before the screen whites out completely.
- Though it's heavily implied that Frisk is flashing back to Chara/The Fallen Child's, well, fall—since they land in the same bed of golden flowers—and that the speaker is Asriel. The voice shows up again in the mysterious phone call Frisk gets on the elevator, during the True Pacifist ending, but it's not until the very end that Frisk and the player can make the connection.
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind:
- Several plot points of the main quest fall into this. To note, something happened 4000 years ago which caused the Dwemer to disappear, Nerevar to die, and the Tribunal (and Dagoth Ur) to achieve godhood. Speaking with those who know much about the situation, including the last living Dwemer, mortals who've spent their lives researching, and even a few of the deities involved leads to Rashomon style contradictory accounts from all of the parties. While there is enough evidence to form some decent theories, the game ends without revealing the truth.
- Is the Player Character really the reincarnation of Nerevar and The Chosen One of prophecy? Or is he/she merely a convenient pawn of Azura? Or has the Player Character, by fulfilling the conditions in the prophecy, become the Nerevarine? Again, no definitive answer is ever given.
- Ace Attorney:
- In the first case of the second game, you recieve the Judge's business card, but examining it reveals that Phoenix can't read the fancy calligraphy it's written in, thus, not revealing the Judge's name.
- In Dual Destinies, the phantom is shot by a sniper right as he takes off his final mask and collapses into the shadows of the courtroom, leaving his true face obscured.
- When late for school one day in A Profile, Rizu accidentally puts on some underwear that doesn't belong to her. We're not told what it is, but we're told that it's not a thong. It's implied to be more embarrassing than that.
- There are a decent amount of things that go unrevealed in Shikkoku No Sharnoth. Among them, we never learn the original identity of Jane Doe.
- In Katawa Shoujo, Kenji asks protagonist Hisao to pick up a box at the post office for him. It is implied to be something important for Kenji, but at no point in the game its contents are revealed. On the official Katawa Shoujo forum, in response to questions about the box (and fans' repeated desire for/questions about a route for Misha), a member of the dev team (jokingly) responded "The box contains Misha's route."
- There are two in particular in Umineko: When They Cry. The first in Episode 4 when Ange sees "something" in Kawabata's house that dumbstrikes her and makes her have some revelation about magic. The other, much more important when the same Ange opens Eva's diary, containing the truth of Rokkenjima… showing us worldless, quickly flashing images that don't reveal anything significant. We just know that the contents of the book are shocking enough to drive Ange to suicide and stubbornly deny everything in it.
- Virtue's Last Reward:
- On Luna's path, the protagonist Sigma finds a key-like object in the GAULEM Bay. Later, when he and Phi find K, whose identity is obscured by a robotic suit and mask, dead in the Rec Room, Phi realizes that this is the key to unlock K's suit and remove his mask. She inserts and turns the key, only to discover that because there is an ax buried in the back, the suit is powered down and will not unlock. Ultimately subverted, because we do get to unmask K in another ending: his.
- In the Tenmyouji ending, Tenmyouji states that he knows who Zero is, and then he and Quark escape through the number 9 door, leaving everyone else behind forever, before he says who it is.
- In Sugar's Delight, just when Chocoa is about to reveal her real name, Ichigo falls asleep from exhaustion. And so, neither her nor us ever find out.
- On Homestar Runner, in the Strong Bad Email the chair, Strong Bad rips off his mask, gurgles in pain, says he'll never do it again, then offhandedly shows a picture of his parents. The catch? A new, high-backed chair means the audience can't see any of it. Even using a flash decompiler on the cartoon is of no help, as the photo is revealed to say "Nice try, dodongo!". Naturally, the two Unrevealed things are two of the biggest mysteries of Homestar Runner.
- In one e-mail, Strong Bad asks Coach Z if his skin is green or if he just runs around wearing footy pajamas all the time. Coach Z responds with "Oh, I've got footies all right. Airthlete's footies."
- In another e-mail, the secret to Strong Bad's typing with boxing gloves on is revealed... by "the Cheat", who can only use squeakish noises. The situation is similar to the one seen in the page picture. For all we know, The Cheat could've said "Just fudge it! You know, like you do everything else!"
- Everyone else in Free Country understanding The Cheat's squeaking perfectly is just one of the running gags of the site. Mostly used for implied cuss words a la Kenny McCormick. (The Brothers Chaps have stated somewhere that they intend to reveal just how Strong Bad types with boxing gloves on someday, it's just that they don't know yet.)
- In Best Caper Ever, Homestar is stranded on an ice floe in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The entire cartoon (other than a bunch of Homestar non-sequiturs and a brief run-in with Strong Sad) is Strong Bad and The Cheat hashing over the one thing they remember about this incident and lamenting that they don't know any more. We never find out how Homestar ended up on that ice floe. Or how Strong Bad and The Cheat got satellite footage of Homestar on that ice floe. Or if there ever was any caper, for that matter. Just par for the course.
- In the French short film Fat a farmer's dog, livestock, tractor, pitchfork and wife all spontaneously inflate for no given reason.
- In The Order of the Stick, the elven wizard Vaarsuvius's gender is left ambiguous, and multiple attempts by other characters to discern his/her gender end in Unreveals. For instance, when he/she is turned into a lizard, Belkar lifts his/her tail and comments: "You know, if I knew more about reptilian reproductive anatomy, I'm sure this would answer a lot of questions." When V's application to join the adventuring party is shown, there is an ink smudge in the blank for "Gender", which he/she refuses to correct, citing the possibility of getting ink on his/her robe, and remarking that the question is irrelevant anyway. When the other characters stop to use the men's and women's bathrooms, V doesn't have to go, and later it's mentioned that, while camping, V always turns invisible before peeing, to annoy Belkar.
- Later on a dragon attempts to get revenge on him/her by killing his/her "mate" who appears to be just as ambiguously gendered. This is made more complicated by his/her children being adopted (and who refer to V and "mate" as "Parent" and "Other Parent").
- Xykon's pet "Monster in Darkness" is being saved up for a reveal when it's "dramatically appropriate". He's been planning this reveal since strip #103, almost ten years ago real time.
- In the prequel book Start of Darkness, Redcloak and Right-Eye's real names are nearly stated more than once.
- Daigo is saving his last name for an emergency. When an emergency arose, he started to announce his last name… and was promptly interrupted. (Someone has started to say it twice now, getting one more letter each time.)
- One story arc has Haley start speaking in a cypher as a result of trauma partly caused by her (at the time) unrequited love for Elan. A cleric tells her that her affliction will clear up when she is ready to reveal the secret, so in this strip, she tries to tell Elan various secrets (but none of them is the secret that will cure her). Decrypted, her secrets are: "Elan, I'm in love with you. Completely in love. ? My dad is being held ransom by an evil dictator. ? I'm not really in the Thieves' Guild anymore. ? I cheat at solitaire. ? I have a tattoo you've never seen. ? I kissed a girl once. OK, OK, more than once! ? Elan, it turns out i may not be exactly what you would call..."
- There's an in-universe version here. The readers already know it's Tarquin, but the characters don't.
- El Goonish Shive has done this twice: once with the history behind Sarah and Tedd's rivalry, and once with Ellen's odd sleeping habits. Both eventually got resolved.
- It has been done agian, this time with Tedd's magical impairment.
- The Wotch loves this one. The meaning of the last three letters of D.O.L.L.Y. (the first two are "Daughters of") is Unrevealed three times, as is the explanation of Dee's tail.
- Also, this conversation.
- Annie from Gunnerkrigg Court asks Coyote "What is Gunnerkrigg Court?" His response… yeah…
- And then there's the mystery of exactly what nature of being Jones is. Annie reveals that Ysengrin gave her the basic idea… off-panel. The Rant then teases the reader by saying, completely unhelpfully, "And that clears up The Mystery of Jones". Then when Annie asks Jones directly, we get a bunch of flashbacks of Jones going back through time to the literal creation of Earth. And Jones apparently explaining them all to Annie… off-panel again. Eventually Jones explains that she doesn't actually know what she is, but theorizes that she was brought into existence retroactively by human intelligence, or...something. MYSTERY SOLVED!
- Tom Siddell loves this trope. Chapter 38: Divine opens In Medias Res with an Annified Zimmie running through a dreamscape, and goes on to be about Annie being in some sort of coma hooked up to a heart monitor, and Zimmie entering her mind to wake her up and encountering a lot of symbolic stuff. The bonus strip, "Important", is Tea offering an explanation… of how a heart monitor works.
- Chapter 42: Catalyst also opens In Medias Res with Annie and Smitty running away from something ("That didn't exactly go to plan!"), meeting up with Mr Eglamore and Parley, and them all running. We then cut to Annie telling the story to Kat. When Kat asks what they were running from, Annie says she'd rather talk about Kat's Secret Admirer. Eventually, we get a flashback to shortly before it happened ... and then we see the scene from pretty much the same perspective, still with no sign of what they're running from.
- Genuine big reveals, on the other hand—like the cause of Surma's death—usually come out of nowhere.
- Subverted in an arc of Count Your Sheep. Despite revolving around Aunt Karla, who has been The Ghost like most of the supporting cast members, she has been conveniently off-panel the entire time… until this strip, where we finally do see what she looks like, now that we're expecting it to be The Un Reveal.
- This Nedroid fan art◊. For those interested, Nedroid himself later answered this question on his "about" page.
- In Blip, Bang nearly revealed K's full name to her boyfriend, Bishop. Unfortunately for Bishop (and the audience), Bang is massively drunk, and starts vomiting in mid-sentence.
- The reveal of Meta Knight's mask in Brawl in the Family has been treated this way multiple times:
- In the second-to-last part of the Gooey Bomb arc, Dedede suggests taking Meta Knight's mask off while he's asleep, to which he wakes up and threatens them. They ignore this, and the camera cuts to the back of Meta Knight, stabbing the Gooey Bomb as Adeleine takes the mask off. Aftermath, for the curious
- In the Turnabout Kirby arc, Meta Knight references the incident and shows the judge the "scars" from it, although again the camera shows the back of him.
- Subverted (partially) at the end of the Cocoon Academy arc, where Meta Knight's eyes are seen in full, with everything below them obscured by a bedsheet.
- Finally averted with the Final Destination arc, where he throws his mask at Kirby and King Dedede to get their attention. His maskless appearance is the same as in his official appearances - The same as Kirby, with dark blue skin and yellow eyes. Although...
- The Answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything in this The Way of the Metagamer comic.
- Ripping your own comic to shreds to conceal "42"? Talk about overkill!
- In the Paper Mario fan comic A Castle Divided, Yoshi Kid (a.k.a. the Great Gonzales Jr.) is about to tell Goombario what his real name is when he gets cut off. This was obviously done because the Yoshi partner is named by the player, thus has no official real name.
- Misfile fans got a tease of what boy-Ash used to look like.
- In Bob and George I give you . . . Mega Man X.
- In Goblins: Life Through Their Eyes, when Kore finally takes his completely face-concealing helmet off to tend to an injury, the comic's viewpoint cuts away from him until he puts it on again.
- In Homestuck, fans demanded to know what Gamzee's title was. When he later talks about it with Dave, he's actually forgotten half of it. This was later given a proper reveal as the Bard of Rage.
Suddenly it becomes painfully clear that we aren't going to get a look at this thing. At least not for a while. How typical.Why don't we stop wasting everyone's time, shut the lid on this lousy MacGuffin, and get on with it.
- In Act 6 Act 3, we almost get a look at Calliope's Juju. And then this happens:
- Slightly later, Vriska's discovery of another juju, which could be used to defeat Lord English is handled with a Call Back to the above scene. This trope is then defied when Vriska manages to yank the narrative back to her perspective and dumps the thing on the ground so everyone can see what it is. Unfortunately, it remains unclear how it works.
- In Digger, the true name of Sweetgrass Voice, on account of its being a demon.
- Also, Ed's real name. But in the end, he chose Ed.
- In A Girl and Her Fed, we still don't know the identity of the ghost who set the Pocket President program in motion. We've seen him, but the art style made his identity ambiguous . When Ben is told (off-panel) who the ghost was, he expresses dismay that "a nobody... a drone" would move against him and the other more famous ghosts like that. All we really know is that psycho ex-agent Claire (Who's working with the antagonist ghosts) calls "her" ghost (Who looks like the same ghost) "Henry."
- The Serpent's identity in Zap!. It was so obvious that a guest comic spoiled it months before it was officially revealed. One may argue that this was just a setup, and the real reveal was Zap's identity instead.
- The cast of Cuanta Vida does some investigation into the nature of the nonsensical war they're fighting, but ultimately come up completely empty. Word of God is that the comic takes place twenty years after Team Fortress 2, so the automated nature of the war's recruitment and supplies really has just been left on after the end, and there isn't anything to find.
- In Frankie and Stein, Karl's going upstairs, thinking there's an intruder in the house, and we all know what he's gonna find up there is a Frankenstein's Monster, and he's probably going to freak out... but then this happens instead.
- Commander Kitty himself is only known by his nickname, and at one point tries to reveal his real one on Twitter, only to run out of space before he can say it.
- White Dark Life: Matt is eventually asked about his parents in a crossover RP. However, he only remembers that they were normal people. Cosmo surprisingly ends up being the most annoyed.
- In this Darths & Droids strip, Annie is cut off before (presumably) saying the GM's name.
- We are introduced to a "secret becoming unrevealed" in this Megamanspritecomic strip, but the rest of the comic never reveals what the secret even is.
- Double-subverted at the very end of The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, when Doc finally removes his mask... offscreen. But then, the last few pages Time Skip to a hospital, where a doctor who resembles him (same eye and eyebrow color) appears with gunk on his face. He cleans himself off, and his face is shown... and then he meets another doctor. The second guy just finished putting a nameplate on his door that says "Patrick Goodrich" so it's undoubtedly Doc and, of course, we don't get to see what he looks like after all.
- Episode #68 of Marble Hornets contains this, due to the style of film it is.
- One of the many Tumblr blogs for My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, Junebug Answers, had everyone asking what Junebug's cutie mark is, since it didn't appear in the show, being obscured by her saddlebags. She decides to reveal it, only to have Spike jump in front of the camera and block our view of her flank.
- That Guy with the Glasses music reviewer Todd in the Shadows has The Gimmick of never revealing his face by doing his reviews in silhouette and wearing a mask for appearances elsewhere. When The Nostalgia Chick's Makeover Fairy tries to improve his image, she lifts up his mask, screams in terror, and replaces it. All shot from behind Todd, of course.
- Done again in To Boldly Flee, where both Lupa and The Nostalgia Chick see what is behind the mask, but the audience doesn't. Lupa is mildly surprised, the Chick is so frightened it shatters her brainwashing. According to Word of God, his face is a mirror of your soul, so the more horrible your soul, the more horrifying whatever lurks behind the mask is.
- A more humorous example occurs in the previous anniversary special, Suburban Knights. Jew Wario wonders what Todd's face looks like and tries to pull up his mask, only for Todd to pull out a gun and cause Jew Wario to instantly back away.
- Anytime The Annoying Orange sets up to reveal whether Marshmallow's a boy or a girl.
- Intern Vithya of Night Vale Community Radio discovered the true identity of The Man In The Tan Jacket and is about to reveal it to the town, but she ascends to Heaven before she can.
- The Lay Of Pau L Twister has an in-universe example. At the climax, Paul knows why Ken'tu Kel's plan failed despite the oracle's prophecy, but he refuses to tell him so as to not give him the satisfaction of knowing. The reader finds out the secret in the epilogue, though.
- The fourth episode of Don't Hug Me I'm Scared features Colin, who asks the characters unclear information like where they live, what they like to eat, and what their names are. Duck Guy answers "my house" to the first and Red Guy almost reveals his name, but he's interrupted.
- Gamingandstuff: In episode 13 of the PokemonMysteryDungeonExplorers of Sky he is using a webcam...but only features his neck and below
- The Other Side: In Episode 3, Virginia receives a list of survivors of the State Project (of which she was a participant), along with the real names of the ones that are alive. Virginia herself is included... but she is listed as dead, a sort of sick joke in context, and her real name is thus concealed.
- The Autobiography of Jane Eyre: The Unreveal was a Running Joke for several episodes of this Setting Update adaptation of Jane Eyre, and most viewers actually suspected the teasing would continue for a rather long time. Viewers who read the book were looking forward to Jane's meeting Mr Rochester. First teasing appeared in episode 8 when Jane went for a walk because they met outside in the book, but Jane was only shooting her walk. She really met him on her next walk in episode 10 but he was shown only for a brief moment from a big distance, and then his legs and funky socks were seen: Jane let her camera running while she was examining his sprained ankle. In episode 11, Jane accidentally let her camera on while he was talking to her about her photographs, and the angle was really tricky: it revealed his torso, arms with a tattoo and hands, and then half his face. In episode 12, Adele tried to record their formal family dinner, but unfortunately, she aimed the camera at her father's back. In episode 13, Mr Rochester walked on Jane who was shooting an entry for her vlog, and it looked like the audience would be torsoed again and would see just his body up to his neck, but actually, Jane made him sit down, and his face was finally revealed. And the fandom rejoiced...
- In "Don't Hug Me, I'm Scared 4", a talking computer asks the puppets where they live and what their names are. Duck Guy answers "I live in my house" and Red Guy only gets out "Well my name is Dr-" before the computer cuts him off.
- The Final Episode of WWE Slam City has The Finisher about to reveal his true identity, but he is attacked by a wild raccoon before he can.
- Archer finds out who his real father was during a Near-Death Experience in "Once Bitten", but the audience only sees his clothing. After waking up, Archer forgets before he can tell anybody.
- Whatever Luke Troy did to Archer when he was passed out is never revealed, although the looks on the faces of Archer, Lana, and Cyril in the closing scene speak volumes.
- Surprisingly Played for Drama in "Crossing Over" when Nikolai Jakov attempts to get a DNA test to determine whether he is in fact Archer's father. This is ruined by Barry blowing up the ISIS safe house with Jakov inside, not even leaving behind anything to get a DNA sample from.
- Hey Arnold!, "Fighting Families": Arnold has just been drawn out by random to participate in a gameshow "Fighting Families", but the person doing the draw adds: "There seems to be a smudge over the last name..." A similar sequence happens in "Eugene, Eugene!": Arnold has been cast in a school play, and the casting person adds "I can't read my own handwriting..." An interview with the show creator made years after the show ended heavily implies his name is Shortman (he said his grandpa called him it regularly and it apparently wasn't just a nickname).
- Done so much on The Simpsons about its location that it could become a drinking game; each time they Unreveal the precise location of Springfield, take a shot. Some examples include:
- "Lisa Gets An A":
Superintendent Chalmers: Good lord, what a dump. It's not surprising this school was once classified the most dilapidated in all of Missouri.
Chalmers: .... that's why it was shut down and moved here, brick by brick.
- "Much Apu About Nothing":
Lisa: (with a large map behind her) Now, point out Springfield on this map.
(Bart suddenly enters the frame, obscuring the entire map)
Bart: Hey, what're you guys doing?
- In one mockumentary episode, a narrator calls the Simpsons a "Northern Kentucky family". In reruns, he may call them a "Southern Missouri family" depending on the area, adding to the confusion. This was non-canon as it was in the context of the family being Animated Actors.
- In The Simpsons Movie, Ned Flanders explains that Springfield is bordered on each side by Kentucky, Maine, Nevada and Ohio — a geographic impossibility. Also, one of the Credits Gag states "Filmed on location in Springfield,____________".
- Marge: That's 742 Evergreen Terrace, Springfield, Oh-hiya-Maude!
- Just to add fuel to the fire, in one episode Lisa assures a character that while Springfield's location is a bit of a mystery, "if you follow the clues, you can figure it out." This is, of course, just the writers messing with the viewer, as the "clues" were never meant as such and all contradict each other in countless ways.
- And just to make things absurdly annoying, we DO see Homer's driver's license in one Freeze-Frame Bonus. A "North Tacoma" driver's license.
- "Lisa Gets An A":
- One episode of Dilbert featured the nameless boss signing a package delivery form. The package delivery guy looks at the signature and remarks incredulously "THAT's your name?"
- Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy does this a lot:
- In "Stop and Ed", Edd's hat comes off for the first time, but only Eddy and Ed (and not the audience) see what's under it. Their reactions are "Geez Louise" and "Cool", respectively, and Edd swears them to silence as he hastily dons his hat again.
- In Ed's nightmare in "Rock-A-Bye Ed", Ed's mother is shown as a 50's housewife... with Jonny's face and voice because it was a dream.
- In the episode "Ed, Pass It On", Eddy's brother turns up, but we only see his body, and it turns out it's just Jimmy and Sarah on stilts dressed up like him. Eddy's brother eventually shows up for real in The Movie.
- In the episode "Mission Ed-Possible", Eddy's dad and Ed's mother show up, but only their arms appear to drag them home for a talking-to about their bad report cards.
- The audience at the Spelling Bee in "Too Smart For His Own Ed" consists of just silhouettes.
- When the kids play football against a rival school in "Tight End Ed", the opposing team members and the crowd are seen only as silhouettes.
- The episode "The Eds are Coming" also shows Rolf's family as just silhouettes.
- Edd's hat issue comes up again in the movie, when Ed pops up and ends up knocking Edd's hat off. As Edd retrieves it from Ed, disinfects it, and puts it back on, anything above his eyebrows is cleverly blocked off from the camera by other objects in the scene.
- Sheldon in Garfield and Friends never completely hatched and is just a walking egg. In one episode, he finally hatches — to reveal another eggshell beneath.
- Halfway through the serial Superman vs. Atom Man, Atom Man — whose true identity has been a secret throughout the story so far — begins to take off his mask, only for the scene to suddenly fade somewhere else. (His secret identity was actually pretty obvious, but it was still the perfect time in the story for the big reveal; why they played it like this is a bit mystifying.)
- Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget, another Faceless Villain, has an Unreveal at the end of the title sequence when Gadget places handcuffs on his gauntleted hand, only to turn the chair and find nothing but a bomb waiting. His true face was revealed on the action figure... and is horribly disappointing.◊
- Phil Ken Sebben loses his eyepatch in a card game in an episode of Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law. In the scenes that follow, the show plays Scenery Censor with the right side of his face as weirdness ensues and other characters react with varying degrees of revulsion. (There is a very brief moment where his entire face is visible in a wide shot. Doesn't seem too bad.)
- Then there's the matter of how he got the eyepatch. His biography in the "Sebben & Sebben Employee Orientation Video" episode shows pictures of baby Phil holding pointed sticks next to his face, leaning in close to industrial equipment as sparks fly into his eye, having a bomb go off in his face and not losing his eye, pulling a truck by a rope looped around his eyeball... Then the video switches to a dramatic re-enactment of his "life-changing accident" in which a broken folder clip sent plastic shrapnel into his face, which leaves the actor playing him lying on the floor with blood leaking from his face. "Afterward, Phil grew a mustache to cover the scar."
- X the Eliminator makes us think that he will reveal his face when he decides to get plastic surgery. In the next Scene, he still has his mask on, and there's little, if any difference.
- The short lived Big Guy and Rusty program from FOX in the late 90's featured a monkey which rode around on the boss' shoulders who could talk, think, and reason better than he could. None of the characters in the show seemed to think it was unusual, except for one monster of the week villain who questioned her on the origins of her abilities. As she began to explain ("Well, it all started when I was a wee, little monkey...") the titular robots burst in, and she ends the discussion ("Ah, some other time.").
- Teen Titans:
- An episode has the Titans and just about every bad guy they've ever fought racing for a briefcase with something special that was stolen from Robin in it. Robin acquires the briefcase at the end and reveals to the other titans what's in the briefcase, but the audience is never shown what is in there. Never.
- Slade's face is also subject to this trope. In the Season 1 finale, Robin knocks off half of Slade's mask. Slade, obscured in shadows, covers his face with one hand as he escapes. In the Season 4 finale, his whole mask gets knocked off, only to reveal a skeleton. This is because he sold his soul to the Big Bad after his death in the Season 2 finale, and he presumably goes back to normal after Trigon's death. In the last episode of Season 5, Beast Boy knocks off his mask again, but it was just another Sladebot.
- Another example of this is Robin's eyes. In Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo, Robin removes his sunglasses (which he is wearing as a disguise), but is interrupted and the only thing the audience sees is his cartoon circle eyes.
- A similar thing happens in Teen Titans Go!. In issue 47, he takes off his mask to cry about his family. He's either being comforted by Starfire or the panel is too low, so we don't see his eyes. We see his eyes when he was little, and before he was a superhero, though.
- Finally averted in Teen Titans Go!. Though not quite in the way you might think.◊
- Even Robin's true identity qualifies for this trope. There have been at least three different characters who have used the Robin identity in the comics and the show intentionally never reveals which Robin is the one featured (though there are hints in a few episodes which point towards Dick Grayson, such as Starfire time traveling to the future and meeting an adult Robin who uses the Nightwing identity).
- Word of God is that Robin's real name happens to be the name of Larry the Titan's real name but spelled backwards. Larry's real name is Nosyarg Kcid: Dick Grayson backwards.
- Also, the identity of Red X. His entire introductory episode revolves around the team trying to figure out his identity ("Who is Red X?"), and in the end they never find out and he just escapes. He reappears in a later episode and we STILL don't find out who he is.
- The Cobra Commander from G.I. Joe had several Unreveals about his appearance without his mask. His blank faceplate electrocutes a mook who's about to unmask him in one episode. In another, Destro walks in on the commander eating a meal and implores him to put his mask on, which he does before we get a glimpse. He would finally be unmasked in the full-length movie, but by then, he's been mutated to the point that he no longer resembles himself anyway. A later comic-book revealed him to be horrifically scarred.
- Code Lyoko: What Jérémie would look like once virtualized on Lyoko is the source of much fan speculation. There are two close calls in Season 1: in episode "Frontier", but the virtualization is botched and he ends in the limbo between Lyoko and Earth; and in episode "Ghost Channel", but he virtualizes inside a virtual bubble mimicking the real world and hence looks like his normal self. He finally is fully virtualized in Season 2 episode "Mister Pück"... but this happens off-screen, and the only comment the viewers get about his avatar form is: "He looked ridiculous."
- Miss Sara Bellum from The Powerpuff Girls. Her face is usually just offscreen, but it's been hidden by numerous things including clipboards, bandages, shadows, flying debris, even pickles. Her face was revealed for one frame in the 10-year-anniversary episode.
- In one episode of Total Drama Island the campers agree to confess their sins, and in what may be one of the laziest Unreveals, they simply cut to right after the confessions are done.
- The joke isn't so much that we don't find why Duncan was sent to juvie but that unexpectedly Heather did something worse than Duncan, only to be topped by the revelation that worst Noodle Incident of all was done by Gwen (if that's even her real name).
- And in another episode, someone tries to shed some light on what really happened to Izzy after her elimination in Up the Creek. However, before the beans can be spilled, the accused cuts off the accuser and denies everything.
- Chef Hatchet's first name.
- South Park:
- In the episode "The Coon" revolves around the search to discover the true identity of vigilante crime fighter Mysterion. Mysterion is finally persuaded to remove his mask and reveal himself at the end. All of the characters are either surprised or say something along the lines of "I knew it!", but because of the show's art style (in which faces are only distinguishable by the character's hair and/or trademark clothing, neither of which are visible here), the viewer is still unable to recognize his identity.
- We are given a hint in that Cartman says "I knew it was you! I even said it before." Of course, that still hardly narrows it down. "The Coon 2: Hindsight" later narrowed it down further to Clyde or Kenny but didn't confirm which one it is.
- And in "Mysterion Rises," the trope is subverted when Kyle, in an oddly nonchalant tone, tells Mysterion, "Dude, Kenny, calm down." That was the first line where he's referred to as his secret identity.
- In The Movie, Kenny's face was repeatedly Unrevealed before finally switching over to a true Reveal.
- Also in South Park, two whole episodes are spent on searching for the identity of Cartman's father as a parody of cliffhanger episode endings. In the second episode, it is finally revealed that Cartman's mother is in fact a hermaphrodite and that she/he could not give birth. A new question arises of which woman in South Park is Cartman's mother, but Cartman himself gets sick of the mystery and walks off. In an inversion of this trope, his other parent's identity is eventually revealed, to the surprise of all the fans who thought it never would be, in the episode "201": the test given was a lie. Cartman's apparent mother really was his mother and his father was Mr. Tenorman (who was in the 1991 Denver Broncos, all of whom were stated as potential fathers in the original episode)..
- Codename: Kids Next Door
- "Operation: F.L.A.V.O.R.": Numbuh Five is describing the supposedly mythical fourth flavor of ice cream, but only gets as far as "It tastes just like..." before she's talking to the other KNDs on her phone for the rest of the story. This one would later be revealed in a subtle way in Operation: Z.E.R.O.. "I have a hankering for some blurpleberry ice-cream — it's the closest thing to the fourth flavor I've ever tasted!"
- "Operation: R.A.I.N.B.O.W.S.": Numbuh Three freaks like heck over Boss's whispered big plan for the Rainbow Monkeys he's just captured. Later, Boss and other adults are amongst themselves, but come time to mention his big plan, he still whispers it anyway.
- Numbuh Three and Numbuh Four's relationship is obvious to the viewers and the characters, and even themselves, but whenever they confess their feelings, they're blocked off. For example, Numbuh Three is playing Truth-or-Dare at a slumber party and two girls ask her if she likes-likes Numbuh Four, and before she can, they're cut off.
- However, this one was finally resolved in the far future depicted in Operation I.N.T.E.R.V.I.E.W.S: Numbuh Three and Numbuh Four not only confessed, but got married! (Though they pull a fast one at first to make you think Numbuh Three ended up with Numbuh Two instead, but it turns out Numbuh Two mistook Numbuh Three for Numbuh Five.)
- Mighty Max, "The Missing Linked": The villain tries on multiple occasions to go on a Motive Rant about how the world will know his name, but every single time he tries, someone interrupts him just before the name is said and calls him something else, which he briefly works into the rant, then realizes that's wrong, gets flustered, and aborts the whole rant. As in, "And then the world will know my name, and that name is—" (Off-screen guard, calling for him) "Prisoner #21376?" "—Prisoner #21376!! ... What? No! That's not right!! Oh, never mind."
- In the second season of The Venture Bros., a large chunk of episode was devoted to three theories on the origins of character The Phantom Limb, while also explaining how Master Billy Quizboy's hand was removed and replaced with a robotic substitute. Though both answers would not be revealed until the third season, at the end of the episode Dr. Venture absent-mindedly enquires how Quizboy got his robotic arm, to which he replies: "Interesting question!... I have no idea."
- To be precise, Monarch's story was the closest; he got most of the salient facts right, although he wasn't there so it played out differently than he imagined.
- When the shapely-figured cosmonaut Anna takes her spacesuit helmet off, she is never facing the camera. Judging by the reactions of the other characters, her face is apparently quite hideous. Brock Samson was still happy to sleep with her, though he asked her to keep her helmet on.
- Rocko from Rocko's Modern Life. His last name never gets revealed.
Announcer: And our last contestant is Rocko... no last name given.
- However, a layout of Rocko's character, reprinted in the book Not Just Cartoons: Nicktoons!, reveals that his last name is in fact Rama.
- The episode where Rocko's life in America is being videotaped for his parents. He wanted to show them Spunky's trick but the camera ran out of batteries just as it was shown.
- SpongeBob SquarePants:
- Spongebob spends an entire segment trying to get a peek inside his best friend Patrick's Secret Box. Among his speculations are things like a piece of string, or an embarrassing photo of him at the company party. He fails, but Patrick lets him take a look at the box anyway. It contains a piece of string. After a bemused SpongeBob leaves, Patrick narrates that the string is pulled to open a secret compartment inside the box, which contains an embarrassing photo of SpongeBob at the Christmas party. The audience never sees what the photo is. The embarrassing incident is shown or hinted at in a separate Nickelodeon ad, although exactly what the photo is of is still unknown.
- A frequent unreveal is the Krabby Patty Secret Formula.
- Everyone misses Calculon's major reveal on "All My Circuits" twice because of interference from Bender.
- Nibbler also tells Leela the meaning of existence, which apparently means that every religion is wrong, but does so while telepathically translating his speech into her brain. All the audience hears is squeaks.
- In "The Thief of Baghead" we never see Landon Cobb's face.
- Parodied in the black and white cartoon in "Reincarnation." Fry placing the bomb on the crystal asteroid creates a brand new color on the rainbow. Since it's in black and white, we don't see what the color is.
- In VeggieTales, Larry's bearded Aunt Ruth was mentioned a few times. When he finally shows a picture of her, in "The Song of the Cebu," half of the film was over-exposed and Ruth's face is almost completely obscured.
- In an episode of Ren & Stimpy Adult Party Cartoon, Stimpy is crying because of the horrible thing Ren did to him. Ren repeatedly tries to apologize to Stimpy, but he won't listen and tells him to get professional help. Near the end of the episode, he reveals the awful thing he did to Stimpy to Mr. Horse, who is portraying a psychologist. We never hear what it was because he loudly whispers something unintelligible in his ear.
- Just like the original series that it spawned from, Salem's human form in Sabrina: The Animated Series is almost never shown. In one of his flashbacks, all but his head can be seen. However, in ANOTHER separate series, Sabrina's Secret Life, Sabrina uses a potion to turn Salem into a human for her prom dance. Whether this is his true face or not is never revealed. Another character from Sabrina: The Animated Series is Pi, whose eyes are always obscured by his porkpie hat.
- An in-universe example; in an episode of Batman: The Animated Series called "The Cape and Cowl Conspiracy" a villain named Wormwood uses various deathtraps to force Batman to relinquish his cape and cowl. Finally, Batman does so...only to reveal that he was wearing a smaller cowl under his main cowl. Wormwood didn't care; his client hired him to retrieve Batman's cape and cowl, not to reveal his secret identity. The client turned out to be Batman himself, who "hired" Wormwood in order to goad him into a confession for a previous crime.
- Phineas and Ferb:
- In the episode "Vanessasary Roughness", Vanessa is surprised to learn Ferb's name, and he tells her it's short for... before locating the pizzazium infinite capsule she needed and giving it to her. Later, in "Phineas & Ferb Summer Belongs to You!" while they're guarding the plane in the Himalayas, Vanessa asks Candace what Ferb is short for. "I don't know."
- In another episode, Doofenshmirtz created an inator that forced people to tell the truth. At a baseball game, he used that inator on a hot dog vendor, hoping he'd reveal what hot dogs were made of. Instead, he revealed he had no hot dogs to sell and simply wanted to watch the game for free. Doofenshmirtz did not expect that.
- In Phineas & Ferb Star Wars, Candace is the boys' Long-Lost Relative. She asks what happened to her and Phineas' biological father, but his answer is cut off by the Death Star exploding (with them still on it).
- In the show Transformers Animated it's never shown or explained what Blackarachnia actually turned into before she became an organic spider (Wasp before becoming organic was a palette-swapped Bumblebee.)
- Also, all of the Decepticons' besides Megatron's (a Cybertronian VTOL jet, which briefly appeared for only a few seconds in the first episode) Cybertron modes, judging by their kibble. All of the Autobots' Cybertron modes, however, are completely revealed over the course of the show.
- We never find the relationship between Sari's Key, the Allspark, and Sari being half-Cybertronian. Mostly because the series ended before we got a chance.
- The Emperor's New Groove:
Kuzco: No! It can't be! How did you get back here before us?
Yzma: ...how did we, Kronk?
Kronk: Well, ya got me. By all accounts, it doesn't make sense.
- The Legend of Korra:
- The very first episode picks up where the last series left off, with Jinora asking Katara "What happened to Zuko's mom?" Katara slowly tells her granddaughter that that's a fascinating story, and it involves... and then Ikki interrupts, and viewers have to wait for a comic for the answers.
- We never really find out why Korra couldn't Airbend (or why she suddenly could when Amon robbed her of her other bending gifts), contact the Spirit World intentionally or use the Avatar State (even in full freak-out/self-defense mode). The last minutes of the final episode of Season 1 subtly implies an answer, but leaves the actual question unanswered. Word of God is that Amon couldn't sever her connection to Airbending because it wasn't fully established yet, and she could suddenly use it because she was selflessly defending Mako, as opposed to her usual motivation, which is at least partly driven by her own gratification. No word on the last one, though.
- In Season 4's "Operation Beifong," we learn the name of Lin Bei Fong's fathernote ... And nothing else. Not even whether or not Toph was married to him. It also failed to clarify the earlier question of if Lin and Suyin even knew who their fathers were.
- In one episode of Dave the Barbarian, Dave quickly makes an improvised megaphone, using only a squirrel, some twine, and a megaphone. The Stinger features Dave looking at the camera and saying "Some of you may be wondering why I tied a squirrel to a megaphone. Well...Goodnight".
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Pinkie Apple Pie", Pinkie and the Apples make a road trip to Goldie Delicious to find out Pinkie's genealogical connection to the Apple Family, but the page in her family history book is smudged.
- The Fairly OddParents!: Used frequently so as not to reveal Timmy's parents' names.
- In Family Guy, in "And Then There Were Fewer", as the serial murders occur in James Woods' mansion, Derek goes up to a balcony to get reception for his phone to call the police. It was around then he managed to see the murderer creeping up from behind...but instead of specifying the gender, he says, "man or woman".
- One of The Twelve Tasks of Asterix from the movie of the same name is to venture in the Cave of the Beast, supposedly some horrific creature. We never get to see or hear it at any time, and it's implied that Obelix ate it.
- In Episode 25 of Miraculous Ladybug, we finally get to see Hawk Moth in his un-transformed state...except his face (and most of his body) is in silhouette the entire time; we only hear his voice talking to his kwami, Nooroo and see his gloved hand. Admittedly it's pretty obvious by this point who he really is (a previous episode had hinted very strongly towards his identity, to the point that it would be more surprising if the actual answer was something different), but it really seemed like we were finally going to get confirmation.
- Annoyingly, Shaggy Dog Stories sometimes end this way:
- A man goes on vacation to France and someone drops a note on his table. He can't read it due to it being in French and asks the waiter to translate it. Upon reading it, the waiter angrily asks him to leave the restaurant. Every time the man asks someone to translate the note, the person he asks becomes angry with him. Years later, he makes friends with a man who speaks French and after building up enough trust, asks his friend to translate it without becoming mad at him. As he's handing the note to his friend, a gust of wind blows it out of his hand.
- A leprechaun checks into an inn and asks the innkeeper for a piece of banana. After that, his room is rocked by a powerful explosion. Every night, the leprechaun asks for a smaller piece of banana and the following explosion increases in violence. Finally, the innkeeper asks the leprechaun what he's doing in his room that's causing the explosions. The leprechaun agrees to tell him, but only if he promises not to tell anyone else. And to this day, he never has.
- A boy is born with a genetic abnormality that will eventually lead to an early death. Every year on his birthday, the boy asks his father for a small, yellow ball. Eventually, the boy's disease becomes too severe and he ends up on his deathbed. Knowing his father is curious about his birthday requests, he tells his father "The reason I always asked for a small, yellow ball was..." then dies.
- A man is lost and hungry and comes upon a monastery. The monks agree to let him stay there for the night as long as he doesn't go into the tower. That night, he's woken by a horrible sound coming from the tower and asks about it the following morning. The head monk says that what's in the tower is a secret among the monks. A year later, the man returns to the monastery and asks to join them. After a long, difficult series of tasks, he finally is accepted into the order. As part of his acceptance, he's shown what is in the tower. However, the person being told the story can't be told what it is because he's not a monk.
- A young boy decides to make his own lunch for school and makes a meal of little purple grapes. Whenever someone asks what he has, he tells them "little purple grapes" and gets some severe backlash for it. By the end of the story, he's been beaten up, expelled, disowned, and finally arrested. He relates his story to his cellmate who promises to tell him why the phrase "little purple grapes" has caused him so much misfortune if he sneaks out and steals him some cigarettes. The boy does so but gets hit by a car and killed before he returns.
Examples of "Sound Effect Bleep"
Anime & Manga
- Code Geass: Lelouch learns C.C.'s real name by accidentally seeing some of her memories, but an obtrusive sound effect (water dripping) keeps the audience from hearing it (and then he goes back to calling her C.C. later on). This also ends up becoming a more standard form of The Unreveal, since her real name is never revealed within the series despite ample opportunities.
- The End of Evangelion was originally going to play this type of Unreveal straight, as Gendo's final words to Ritsuko before killing her were supposed to be drowned out by an explosion. The sound effect ended up not being used, but Anno still wanted the line to not be heard, so Gendo moves his mouth but has no dialogue. Anno apparently did tell Yuriko Yamaguchi, Ritsuko's seiyuu, what Gendo said, but no one else knows.
- Sgt. Frog: The most noteworthy is the season 6 episode explaining Giroro's scar. It turns out the explanation given was a fake one devised for an infomercial.
- And a season 7 episode about Dororo's mask in the end we don't see his mouth but the characters do, from their reaction it can't be that strange looking.
- Actually, they're distracted by Keroro spilling some water or something and don't get to see it before Dororo puts his mask back on. It's probably nothing unusual though, since Dororo agrees to show them in the first place. (He does blush and... giggle... afterwards, but wearing a mask all the time probably makes taking it off feel like getting naked.)
- And a season 7 episode about Dororo's mask in the end we don't see his mouth but the characters do, from their reaction it can't be that strange looking.
- In episode 52 of Sonic X, Sonic kneels down before Amy, offering her a flower. In the original version, his mouth moves but no sound comes out, but whatever he says makes Amy happy enough to hug him. Unfortunately in the dubbed version, they actually gave him voiced words ("I'll always be around," or something like that) which didn't quite carry the same emotion.
- To be more specific, Amy is tearfully pleading, "Say to me...just tell me that you love me," which results in the aforementioned scene. Like the English dub, it's averted in the French version, where Sonic does actually say that he loves her.
- Frustratingly, this happens again in episode 69 when Amy is recalling the event. Cosmo and Cream interrupt her before she can finish, so the only thing we know for sure is that Sonic said, "Oh Amy..."
Films — Live Action
- In the first half of Kill Bill, The Bride's real name is in fact drowned out by a loud noise every time someone says it. Though observant viewers can see it printed on her plane ticket (twice).
- However, her name is actually said in the first lines of the film, but no-one realizes this until the second movie. Bill calls her Kiddo throughout, and her name is Beatrix Kiddo.
Live Action TV
- In one episode of Father Ted, Mrs Doyle's full name is spoken out loud several times in quick succession, but each time her first name is obscured by a loud noise.
"Do you know a Mrs. Doyle, first name (ringing noise) Doyle?"
"Do I know a Mrs. Doyle, first name (glass breaking) Doyle..."
- Agent 99's real name in Get Smart was never revealed. Even during her wedding, the name remained hidden from the viewing public — a conveniently-timed gunshot went off right as the preacher was reading that part of the vows.
Max: Don't worry Ernestine; he'll be all right.
- In another episode, Max tries to console 99 after the Chief is shot.
99: Do you know, that's the first time you've ever called me "Ernestine"?
99: I wish it were my name.
- The same happened with Dr. McCartney in Green Wing — at his wedding in the very last episode, everybody coughs right at the moment when his first name is spoken.
- Malcolm in the Middle did this as well. When Lois' new baby was just born, the question came up on what the baby's gender was, where it was revealed to be- *ambulance siren*. To add more to the mystery, the baby was ambiguously named Jamie. The series continued to tease the audience on what Jamie was until the kid eventually grew and it is finally confirmed he was yet another son.
- This was also done with the family's last name. Various tricks are used to keep the viewer from ever learning it throughout the show's run. In the final episode, a character finally speaks it into a microphone, but a feedback whine makes it impossible for the viewer to hear.
- The Janitor's real name, which was revealed as Glenn Matthews during the finale, until they found out the show was renewed for another season on a different network. Multiple episodes reference the fact, and the Janitor has said his name to at least one person (although knowing him, it was probably a lie). Apparently the show creator has thought up several names, but lets the actor playing the Janitor disapprove of any ones he doesn't like.
- Lampshaded in one episode when The Janitor tells J.D. that he doesn't even know his name. J.D. takes a quick look at the Janitor's name tag but he quickly covers it up with his hand. In another episode his nametag actually says "The Janitor".
- That '70s Show: We can't hear Fez introducing himself over the school bell, so he remains a No Name Given character.
- The 1950's novelty song by Phil Harris, "The Thing", has the protaganist struggling to rid himself of a !!!, which is drummed over every time it is mentioned.
- Her Name Is replaces any personal details of the woman in question with music - except for the fact she's married.
- The liner notes for KMFDM's Symbols album show the 5-symbol title in the lyrics for "Down and Out", but it's bleeped on the recording.
- On the title track of Pink Floyd's The Final Cut, Roger's reveal of what he'll tell us once in the priest hole is drowned by a shotgun blast, Roger having obviously not navigated the shotguns in the drive. (The lyric sheet, however, reveals that he'll tell us "what's behind the wall" - a shout-out to TFC's predecessor album.)
- In the video to Radiohead's Just, a man spontaneously stops mid-walk in a street and lies down on the pavement. An ever-growing crowd of passersby assembles and tries to figure out why is he doing it, via unheard but subtitled dialogue. When the man finally reveals the reason he's lying down, the subtitles no longer appear. The next time we see the scene, the entire crowd lies down on the pavement as well.
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron, "The Junkman Cometh": Jimmy, Carl, and Sheen travel into space via an open-cockpit rocket (as has been the case in many episodes, and even the original movie). When Sheen wonders how they can survive without spacesuits, Jimmy responds as if nothing could be more elementary, but his explanation is conveniently drowned out by Carl suddenly breaking into song in the background, and done later in the episode when Sheen asks how they get to the moon so fast rather than taking several days.
- The Fairly Oddparents:
- "Father Time": Timmy is talking to a kid whose nickname is Dad (naturally, his future father; Timmy's here because of Time Travel). When he's mentioning his real name, a truck is whizzing by blowing its horn. "Dad" is pointing to a girl he says has a beautiful name. We don't get to hear since yet another truck is whizzing by. But guess what everyone calls her: Mom (of course, Timmy's mom in the future).
- In another episode, Timmy has been traveling through his summer reading list (instead of reading the books) and Sherlock Holmes gets pulled into reality at one point and quickly forgotten. At the end of the episode, he's at the Turner home, impressing the parents with his deduction skills. "And I have deduced your real names are-" cut to black, end title card, then Timmy's dad announces "That's amazing!" or something to that effect.
- Some Fans interpret that Timmy's parents are named after show creator Butch Hartman's parents Elmer and Carol since Butch did name Timmy after his brother. It seems he's trying to give us that hint without actually outright saying it.
- The location of the "Secret Spot" on Rocket Power is mentioned several times. Yet when it's mentioned, its drowned out by an ice cream truck, an ambulance, and jets. When they are ready to go to the area, they explain they left out one crucial detail as a cow walks by with the bell ringing. They then go to the proper place which looks exactly like any other beach.
- One episode of The Secret Show had several noises preventing the audience from hearing whenever Changed Daily's original name was mentioned.
- In God, the Devil and Bob, Bob asks God various awkward questions about morality and the nature of the universe. God replies "Look, you're not supposed to find this out until after you die, but..." at which point a train goes by and drowns out God's voice. The audience only gets to see the hand gestures God makes during his explanation.
- "The Word of the Day," an episode of Rugrats sees Angelica auditioning for a spot on "Miss Carol's Happy House," a kiddie show; the key part of the audition is stating the "Fun Phrase" of the week live on air. While snooping around backstage, she inadvertently eavesdrops on Miss Carol (who turns out to be a nasty, cruel woman who hates the children she entertains) offering her opinion on what the Fun Phrase should be: "Miss Carol thinks her kids are all little—"...something obscene. As a three-year-old, Angelica naturally thinks that this Miss Carol will be thrilled that she knows the "real" Fun Phrase, and starts repeating it. Every time the curse word in the statement comes up, something noisy occurs, including a cart of props going by, a construction worker doing repairs with a jackhammer, or Charlotte, Angelica's mother, screaming at the idea of her little girl swearing like a sailor. We never do find out what Miss Carol thinks of her kids.
Examples of "end-of-episode cutoff"
- In a Geico commercial, a question comes up as to whether the Gecko is British or Australian. The scene cuts out as he answers the question.
- In The Firesign Theatre's parody of radio drama "The Further Adventures of Nick Danger", the hero is about to announce his plan to solve a time-travel crisis, but he only gets as far as "All right, everyone, take off your—" before he's cut off by Franklin Roosevelt, announcing the attack on Pearl Harbor — and the United States' immediate and unconditional surrender to Japan.
Films — Live Action
- In Fast Five, when Tego and Rico are at the roulette table after the heist, they each bet their entire ten million—one on red, the other on black. They are bickering about it as the table spins, and they look down as it comes to a stop, before cutting away.
- Even more so, the last frame of the scene is the ball bouncing around the Zero pocket of the wheel. To those unfamiliar with Roulette, the Zero pocket is green, meaning neither would win, and considering their tailored suits, the fact they were in a high-class hotel in Monaco they have probably spent the first million of their 11 million dollar cut of the heist, so losing that 10 million is going to break one of the brothers. Note: Notice the last few seconds of the scene, the wheel is moving and the ball is bouncing rather vigorously, it is unlikely the ball was going to land on the green Zero, but still, must have been a massive Oh, Crap! moment for the brothers.
- In The Italian Job (1969), the characters find themselves in a literal cliffhanger, in a bus that's precariously balanced on the edge of a cliff. Michael Caine announces, "Hang on, lads, I've got a great idea!" The end credits sadly prevent us from finding out what that is.
- The cliffhanger would have been resolved in a sequel: helicopters would be used to save the bus, and the grateful gang would soon discover that it is the Mafia that has saved them, and the sequel would have been about stealing the gold bullion back from them. Unfortunately, the sequel was never made.
- Michael Caine in an interview said something similar, except the "great idea" was to run the bus' engine until its gas tank - in the dangling end of the bus — ran empty, making that side lighter so the bus tips the other way.
- In Just Another Judgement Day, John Taylor and a companion barely manage to outmaneuver a homicidal tyranosaur, in order to reach a secret door inside its cage. After meeting the occupant, they're booted out into the cage, where the tyranosaur awaits. Confronting this peril, John (the narrator) simply comments "Luckily, I thought of something", after which the author cuts to the next chapter, leaving their method of escape unstated.
- In Jasper Fforde's One of Our Thursdays Is Missing, how Thursday escaped Fan Fic. She even tells another character — but not the reader.
Live Action TV
- The X-Files: In-universe addressed its most flagrant gap of logic in this way. A young agent who is a fan of Mulder and Scully's asked them how they got out of Antarctica (after being stranded there half-dressed without any vehicles or anyone knowing where they were) in The Movie; they started to explain, quibbled over a minor detail, then were cut off by the end credits before we found out anything. This was a multi-layer joke: the character asking the questions the show's fans had so often asked was herself a fan, a Shout-Out to a popular fanfic author who had died just a few months prior.
- This type of cutoff can be used as a Cliffhanger (Benson's 1986 finale, for instance) or No Ending as well.
- An episode of the Batman TV show which had a cliffhanger with Batman and Robin in a literally impossible trap to escape from. Cut to next week, they open with Batman and Robin speeding away in the Batmobile, with Robin declaring "I'll never figure out how we were able to escape that one!", and Batman declaring "Just be glad we did, Robin!"
- In the series 4 finale of Hustle, the group are stranded on a dinghy when Danny says "I've got a great idea" as an homage to The Italian Job.
- The Grand Finale of JAG features a variation of this; after nine years of Will They or Won't They?, Harm and Mac finally resolve their UST and get engaged. Slight problem; Mac has been reassigned to head the San Diego JAG office while Harm has been promoted to a position in London. As they announce their engagement at the JAG team's favorite bar, they decide to flip a coin; heads, Mac would resign her commission and join Harm in London, tails, Harm would resign and join Mac in San Diego. The show ends in mid-flip, the coin suspended in the air.
- At the end of the Las Vegas episode of Lie to Me, Cal is given one million dollars in chips as a thank you for solving the case. He promptly bets it all at a roulette table, but the episode ends before it is revealed whether he won. However, since Status Quo Is God, and everything is seemingly back to normal in the next episode, one can assume that he lost.
- One episode of Without a Trace involves the separate abductions of a white girl and a black girl. Near the end of the episode Jack Malone gets a phone call stating that one of the girls was found dead, but doesn't say which. The last scene has Jack walking up to a bench where the two mothers are waiting...and fades to black.
- In the Supernatural episode "Death's Door" Bobby Singer is in a coma after being shot in the head. At the end of the episode, a Reaper tells him he has to make a choice, to accept his death and move onto the afterlife, or remain in the mortal world as a vengeful spirit. The episode ends right before Bobby gives his answer. The next few episodes continued to tease this, but it was eventually revealed that he became a spirit.
- In the Law & Order episode "Vaya Con Dios," prosecutor Jack McCoy takes a murder case involving a Chilean colonel all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. As the court clerk approaches McCoy and D.A. Adam Schiff with what they say must be the court's ruling, the episode fades to black. We never find out what the court ruled.
- Done very efficiently in one of SVU episodes: all available bits of evidence on the case-of-the-week are gradually revealed in the court, and then the episode ends with the jury verdict: "The jury finds the defendant -" - fade to black, credits. Only then do we realize that we (the audience) are supposed to be the real jury in this case - and we feel helpless because we don't really know. Which is totally like what Real Life jurors go through.
- The final moments of Doctor Who story Revelation of the Daleks have the Sixth Doctor telling Peri that their next destination is "B...", with most of his word cut off by a freeze and sudden cut to end credits. (The Doctor was actually filmed saying "Blackpool", setting up what would have been the next season premiere - "The Nightmare Fair" - but at the time the show's creators were uncertain whether or not the next season would air. It didn't.)
- Tweenies, "Being Really Old": The last lines of dialog are the titular characters (kids not more than 5 years old) asking one of their caretakers at playgroup (he's really old), and they go: "How old are you?" "Well, if you must know..." Cut to credits.
- In an episode of the short-lived sketch show The Long Hot Satsuma, there's a Running Gag of a failed investigative journalist trying to find the true identity of one Adolf Hitler. At the end of the episode, he bursts into the BBC, and accuses one of the announcers. She says "Don't be stupid. Mind you, it's one of my colleagues..." "Which one?!" "This one." We hear the sound of a door creaking, and...the episode ends. (Which means every announcer who'll ever announce after that is accused of being Adolf Hitler...)
- Psi-Ops: The Mindgate Conspiracy had the cliffhanger Unreveal:
Nick Scryer: I remember everything now! (cuts to "To Be Continued")
Voice: Oh God, Nick Scryer, HE'S DEAD!
- The game didn't sell well enough, so we will never know what he remembered. It is heavily implied in the story that the big reveal was that Nick was killed and resurrected with no memories. In fact, during the hallucination scene, it is explicitly stated by a nameless voice as one of the distant memories deep in his brain.
- In The Godfather, when you meet The Trojan for his last contract hit, Aldo comments on how he still doesn't know The Trojan, prompting The Trojan to say that they will get better acquainted. It seems to set up the reveal of his name, but after you complete that hit, he disappears and is never seen again.
- Ecco the Dolphin : Tides of Time ends with Ecco disappearing into time. Word of God says he indeed had a specific idea in mind, and it involved the Atlanteans...but then there was no Ecco 3.
- In Jak and Daxter: The Precursor Legacy getting every Power Cell before or after you defeat the Big Bad Duumvirate lets you watch a cutscene where the gang unlocks a giant Precursor vault, but all we see are their awestruck reactions and the game cuts to the credits before we see what's behind it.
- The Kalm flashback in Final Fantasy VII ends this way. It's set up as , especially after what happened at Shinra tower, but the story ends on a cliffhanger right before Cloud attacks Sephiroth. This actually upsets Barret and Aerith with them demanding an actual ending, only for Cloud to say that he doesn't remember what happened afterward.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Operation: DIAPER, The KND after "rescuing" and returning babies from a hospital ask Numbah 5 where babies come from, because earlier she said her older brother had a few. She starts to say "Babies come from..." then 'END TRANSMISSION'. Given the targeted audience, they will never know where babies come from until The Talk from their parents.
- However, in an extended credits scene, it shows Numbers 2 through 4 freaking out over it, when suddenly Number 1 steps up and says "Hey! Babies don't come from New Jersey! They come from Philadelphia!" This subverts the trope.
- Throughout Kim Possible, no information was ever given about why Dr. Drakken's skin is blue, except for a few flashbacks showing that it wasn't always that way. In The Tag at the end of the Grand Finale, he's sitting in a Bad Guy Coffee Shop, where Professor Dementor asks him how his skin turned blue. He starts to explain, but is cut off by the entire show ending forever.
Drakken: Glad you asked! Funny story — not funny "ha ha" — but, it was a Tuesday...
- The episode "the Great Indoors" on Phineas and Ferb ends the episode like this by having the episode be cut off by an in-universe TV broadcast of a soccer game, right at the moment where the audience was going to find out the reason Jeremy likes Candace (something she's been trying to find out the entire episode).
Candace: "Tell me why you like me."Jeremy: "You bet, the reason I like you is-" gets cut off by a soccer game coming onSport Announcer: "Viene, le pega! GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL"
- The Secret Show: "The secret thing is—" (end episode). Among many others.
- At the end of the Season 18 finale of The Simpsons, Lisa is about to reveal a dark secret about Fox, but gets dubbed over by Maurice Lamarche before the Fox Logo cuts her off, signaling the end of the episode.
- And then before the credits, Homer comes out to tell the audience what the secret is, but is cut off by the Gracie Films logo.
- In another episode, Homer convinces God to tell him the meaning of life. God says: "Well...okay." as though he's about to tell him. Cut to credits.
- South Park, "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride": Stan phones into a cable-access talk show hosted by Jesus and asks him for his opinions on homosexuality. They're cut off by the next program, however.
- Spongebob Squarepants cuts to the end credits (or the pre-credits commercial break on Nick's broadcasts) at the end of the Krusty Krab training video when the narrator is about to reveal the Krabby Patty secret formula. "Okay, the secret formula i—"
Patrick: Hey! Who's Carol's real father?
- In a later episode ("Plankton's Army"), Plankton gets his hands on the recipe, only to find that plankton was the secret ingredient; however, after Plankton and his family had run off in fear, Mr. Krabs revealed that the recipe Plankton had found was just a decoy.
- The Movie has Plankton actually succeed in stealing the formula. But the very next scene with him is of him selling Krabby Patties at the Chum Bucket, meaning that the scene of him actually reading the formula is something we don't get to see.
- In "Mooncation", when Patrick is watching a soap, he is about to find out who Carol's real father is, but the program is interrupted when SpongeBob bounces off the satellite.
- Taz-Mania: "Road to Tazmania" ends with Hugh and Taz opening up the carton of orange juice to find out what is inside. As they do so, the episode Iris Outs. Lampshaded when Hugh iris ins long enough to say "Don't you just hate it when that happens?"
- Events in the real world conspired to produce a sort of unintentional Unreveal in the premiere episode of CSI: NY, as The Summation was unexpectedly cut off by the announcement of Yassir Arafat's death. Of course, this has been known to happen in fictional TV shows: an episode of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens with the gang watching a mystery series when their friend April O'Neil breaks in over The Summation to bring in a special report.
- Similarly, in an episode of the 1990 The Flash (at least in the Eastern time zone), two characters were in a Gun Struggle, the gun went off between them, both characters froze for a beat — and then Dan Rather cut in with a special report about then-President Bush being hospitalized for an ultimately inconsequential heart problem. The report lasted nearly half an hour and pre-empted almost the whole remaining episode.
- The so-called "Heidi Game" of American football, where the game was cut-off with 65 seconds to go and the score 32-29 , Jets-Raiders, in favor of NBC showing Heidi the movie. What happened in those final 65 seconds, you ask? The Raiders score 14 points and win the game.
Examples of "you know the rest"
Films — Live Action
- Most any story set in the near-future United States will have an "Xth Amendment" gag, about some vague but hilarious amendment to the U.S. Constitution that passed between now and the story's timeframe. Here's an example from the movie Demolition Man:
Lenina Huxley: Yes. The Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn't he an actor when you...?
John Spartan: Stop! He was President?
Lenina Huxley: Yes! Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment which states...
John Spartan: I don't wanna know. President...
- In Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Gary Cole's ESPN announcer character says "a double-fault final-play elimination hasn't occurred since the Helsinki episode of 1919. And I think we all remember how that turned out!"
- The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension sees Team Banzai holding off an attack on their headquarters by the Lectroids. As Sydney and Reno sneak through one of the labs, they pass a high-pressure vice with a watermelon in it. Sydney asks "Why's that watermelon there?" Reno replies "I'll tell you later." If he does tell him later, he does so offscreen.
- In Futurama, Bender is coveting a gigantic cigar, which the cigar shop owner says was made from a piece of the U.S. Constitution and hand-rolled by Queen Elizabeth II during her "wild years", until grave-robbing mushrooms...you know the rest.
- In a late-series episode, Bender achieves near-omnipotence, but won't answer when Fry asks how his relationship with Leela will go. At the end of the episode, after Bender is returned to normal, he reveals that he did indeed plot what would happen in Fry and Leela's relationship and wrote it down. The two read it together, and we get to see their emotional responses (basically every emotion a couple can experience), but obviously we don't hear a word of it.
- In an episode of G.I. Joe: Renegades, Snake Eyes is captured by Zartan and the Dreadnocks. While Snake's back is turned Zartan explains why he likes to take trophies and snatches the mask off. He and the Dreadnocks react with an unnerved expression, and then promptly replaces the mask.
- In The Simpsons, Mr. Burns rolls up his sleeves to single-handedly take down the Loch Ness Monster. Cut to the monster already captured, and Burns saying "I was a little worried when he swallowed me, but, well, you know the rest."
- Burns seems to be a fan of this trope. In another episode, Bart and Lisa try to escape Mr. Burns' clutches by sliding down a vent into the basement of his mansion. When they arrive, they find that Burns is already there, even though he'd been with them on the ground floor three seconds earlier. "That's impossible!" says Bart, "how did you get there before we did?" "Oh, I'll explain later," Burns replies. He doesn't.
- At the end of the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "No Second Prances", Cranky Doodle Dandy asks Princess Celestia how she keeps her mane flowing. She just lets out a sigh before the credits show up.
- Penn and Teller's Fool Us, a television series in which they guess how various magic tricks were performed, often invoked this. In theory, if a contestant didn't fool them the secret to their trick was revealed to all. In practice, several times Penn deliberately gave a vague comment that proved they knew the secret, without actually giving anything away. Any time Teller's diagrams were used to reveal the trick, they were shown to the magicians, and then disposed of in various novel ways before either the studio or TV audience saw them.
- A Real Life example occurred when Alistair Cooke had to record an episode of "Letter from America" dealing with the impending resignation of Richard Nixon from the Presidency. The show was scheduled for broadcast after Nixon made his announcement but had to be recorded beforehand, so the only thing Cooke could do was to give a summary of the mounting Watergate scandal and then, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, declare: "... and the rest — you know."
- Dave Barry once did a column about the presidential election in which this was supposed to be the joke. (He didn't want to stay up to find out the outcome and asked the editor to fill in the blanks with the appropriate name). Unfortunately, this was the 2000 presidential election, and you know the rest.
- In Pogo, the result of the election of 1952 is announced by a character who can't quite make out the name, but is fairly sure that it contains the letters E, E, N, O, S — the intersection of "Stevenson" and "Eisenhower".
- On the morning of the 1996 US presidential election, The New York Times crossword puzzle contained this clue: "Title for 39-Across tomorrow." The answer was MISTER PRESIDENT. The remarkable feature of the puzzle is that 39-Across could be answered either CLINTON or BOB DOLE (the two major candidates), and all the Down clues and answers that crossed it would work either way (e.g., "Black Halloween animal" could be either BAT or CAT depending on which answer you filled in at 39-Across). The complete crossword is available here.
The real reason for The Great Crash is—