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.)
See also 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.
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Anime & Manga
- Naruto had its 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- One Piece villain Hody Jones was asked why he hated humans so much that he would risk destroying his homeland and killing millions of his fellow Fish-Men. (It would make sense as Fish-Men have been enslaved by humans and there have been years of conflict between them.) But instead, Hody reveals that the humans have done 'nothing' bad to him AT ALL.
- 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.)
- 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.
- 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.
- Duero's hair is flipped in the last episode of Van Dread, revealing his supposedly handsome face. We still don't see it, though.
- In Ranma ½, Principal Kunō 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.
- In Gals!, Towa reveals Ran's secret to Kasumi. But whatever it was, it isn't actually interesting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- Prunus Girl: 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.
"That night, Maki had a nightmare."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted 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.
- In 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 one of the last chapters of Mahou Sensei Negima!, 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.
- In the Gakuen Alice 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. 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).
- In Paul Cornell's "Black Ring" story arc in Action Comics, Lex Luthor mentions he said the oath when he was an Orange Lantern in Blackest Night and it was "bizarre". He still doesn't say what it was.
- 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.
- 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.
Films — Animation
- In a hilarious moment of Kung Fu Panda, 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.
- 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.
- The Alfred Hitchcock flick Foreign Correspondent. The Nazis kidnap a Dutch delegate and force him to reveal what "Clause 38" is. The protagonist rescues the delegate but he has already revealed "Clause 38" to the Nazis but not to the viewer.
- 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.
- The "Charles Dance Version" of The Phantom of the Opera has the Phantom twice removing his mask with his back to the viewer. We see the shocked reactions to his deformity, but not the deformed face itself.
- 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?)
- 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, 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).
- 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.
- 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 (like a sudden dragon attack or a bout of sneezing). It also always invokes itself to protect him in the most indirect way possible. This is so that no enemy can figure out that a non-magical weapon is the only way to harm him. Of course, Xanth being Xanth, virtually everything is magical in some way, so that would mean Bink's talent is a bit on the paranoid side. While Bink is supposedly vulnerable to non-magical attack, we never see one of those really harm him, either. I always figured that the "magical harm" qualification was another manifestation of his power to protect him from all harm, since people who knew about that wouldn't bother attacking him with magic, and would instead use mundane attacks, and they were even easier to protect him from. Except that one of the methods his talent used to protect him was to get him exiled from Xanth, where his talent would not work but where it would also be impossible for him to be harmed by magic. Then again, he didn't actually get exiled...
- 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:
- 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 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.
Live Action TV
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Barney's job. We know where he works and that he has his own office; we just don't know the specific job title. Until season nine, when 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 most recently, 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- 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. "The Name of the Doctor" makes it evident that he probably saw John Hurt's incarnation of the Doctor.
- 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 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 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.
- In Sherlock, we never found out which pill was poisoned and whether Sherlock was right in A Study in Pink. The prevailing Fanon is that the situation was a variant of the Shell Game and thus he was wrong.
- Season 2 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. Season 3 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.
- 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 Gain Ax 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 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.
- 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.
- 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 once had one to how The Sopranos ended.
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.)
- Another strip had a very similar joke.
A Croc: Hullo, zeeba neighba...How is you?
: 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.
- 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.
- 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!"
- On Im Sorry I Havent 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 Phantom of the Opera, Christine gets to see the Phantom's real face early in the show, but the audience is prevented from seeing it until later.
- 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. 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 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.
- 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 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.
- Halo 2's opening is somewhat similar to the Halo Legends anime short The Package — we see the faces of all other SPARTANs before (and sometimes after) they don their helmets, but Master Chief puts his helmet on just off-screen. The end of the same short is, in turn, using the same trick as the Halo: Combat Evolved end.
- 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 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 1776, 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.
- 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 Dragon Fable 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.
- Diglet and Dugtrio are specifically programmed within the Pokémon games where they are animated to avoid or get around situations where they would have to appear 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 5th generation 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 as if said rubble's part of their body.
- Phoenix Wright: 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 in it, thus, not revealing the judge's name.
- 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 no Naku Koro ni. 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.
- 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.
- Halo Legends does this with the Forerunner's appearance on several levels. 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 Wordof God announced that Halo Origins was only a possibly-rampant Cortana's interpretation of the data she had collected, so the Forerunner weren't necessarily bipedal horned humanoids with five fingers.
- Halo 4 finally answers that question, showing us the Didact (both versions) and the Librarian.
- 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.
- 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.
- In the second-to-last part of the Gooey Bomb story on Brawl in the Family, 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 shows the back of Meta Knight, stabbing the Gooey Bomb as Adeline looks at Meta Knight's face with an astonished look. In the Turnabout Kirby story, Meta Knight references the indecent and shows the judge the "scars" from it, although again the camera shows the back of him, although the judge looks very disgusted. However, Meta Knight without his mask has been seen clearly in many Kirby games, looking exactly like Kirby's, but with a blue face and yellow eyes. although the look could be different in BitF's case.
- 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.
- In Act 6 Act 3, we almost get a look at Calliope's Juju. And then this happens:
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.
- 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.
- 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 Vithia 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 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...
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.
- In Sonic X, the last episode, 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.
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.
- In another episode, Max tries to console 99 after the Chief is shot.
Max: Don't worry Ernestine; he'll be all right.
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.
- Scrubs has the Janitor's real name, which is was going to be revealed 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.
- Also, in the beginning of the show the Janitor only interacted with J.D. This was so that, in case of sudden cancellation, there would be a handy Reveal — the fact that the Janitor was a figment of J.D.'s imagination. The show increased in popularity and the Janitor started interacting with other characters.
- 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, new chief of medicine Dr. Maddox demands to know the Janitor's name. When he refuses to tell her, she looks at his name tag only to find that it says 'The Janitor.'
- In the
series eighth season finale on ABC, J.D. is leaving Sacred Heart and wants closure with the Janitor. He asks the Janitor's name, and the Janitor tells him, and points out that J.D. never actually asked before. Closure found, JD leaves the scene, and someone walks into the scene and calls the Janitor by a different name...
- Word of God states that The Janitor's name is indeed Glenn Matthews.
- 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.)
- 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).
- Some Fans interpret that Timmy's parents are named after 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.
- 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.
- 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, 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 Cliff Hanger (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 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.
- 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")
- 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.
Voice: Oh God, Nick Scryer, HE'S DEAD!
- 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 unlock 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.
- 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, the Big Bad Dr. Drakken has had blue skin and never offered an explanation. Finally, in the tag for the Grand Finale, someone asks him about his blue skin. His reply? "Funny story. Not funny 'ha-ha,' but it was Tuesday..." and then the series ends.
- 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 on
Sport Announcer: "Viene, le pega! GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL"
- 'Western Animation/'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... before the Fox Logo cuts her off, signaling the end of the episode.
- And then during the credits, Homer comes out to tell the audience what the secret is, but is cut off as well.
- In another episode, Homer convinces God to tell him the meaning of life. God declares, "The meaning of life is—" (end episode).
- 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—"
- 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.
Patrick: Hey! Who's Carol's real father?
- 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!"
- 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 more recent 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.
- 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 real reason for The Great Crash is—