"Of course, the last person to see him never commits the crime. That would make it too easy. One of these days I shall write a book in which two men are walking down a cul-de-sac, and there is a shot and one man is found murdered and the other runs away with a gun in his hand, and after twenty chapters stinking with red herrings, it turns out that the man with the gun did it after all."An outcome considered to be too obvious turns out to be what happened. Suppose there has been a murder. There are only other two people in the house at the time. One acts mean and surly to the detective, doesn't treat the other house dweller well, and reveals he had both a motive and opportunity to kill the victim. The other housemate, by contrast, is very polite and helpful, and is visibly upset by the death. A Genre Savvy viewer would quickly conclude that the nice housemate is the murderer and the surly one is innocent. Why? Because the evidence against Mr. Surly is too obvious, and the reader suspects a Red Herring. In many cases, the above description is exactly how it happens (see most episodes of CSI). However, sometimes the author pulls a fast one - it turns out Mr. Surly is guilty after all! All that evidence against him, which the reader dismissed on the grounds of being too obvious, is actually correct and valid. Thus is illustrated the essence of The Untwist. The author drops a large number of hints at the start of the story which a Genre Savvy reader assumes to be obvious red herrings, and thus is surprised when, later on, it turns out that the simplest, most obvious explanation was the correct one. Somehow, the author has managed to subvert the reader's expectations by not subverting their expectations. This technique obviously carries with it the risk that if it is not very well done, or the audience isn't Genre Savvy enough to think there's a Red Herring in play, they will not anticipate that there will be a twist. The Untwist can also fail if the audience is too Genre Savvy, and will expect you to pull an untwist in advance, although this is considerably more rare. This technique is occasionally played with. In one fairly famous mystery book, the obvious person is guilty - but the obvious evidence and way he committed the crime is false: It was all part of an Evil Plan based around "double jeopardy" laws which prevent people from being tried for the same crime twice. Basically, he planned to trick the police into using the false evidence at trial, which he would then easily dismiss. Contrast the Shocking Swerve, which pulls a twist out of nowhere. Compare Meta Twist, where an author who relied on a specific twist surprises the audience by averting it. Not to be confused with The Unreveal, unless you expected The Unreveal to be subverted. Truth in Television: in Real Life most homicide victims are killed by someone they knew, and, following Occam's Razor, the most obvious suspect is usually the culprit. Compare Hidden in Plain Sight. Sister Trope to Captain Obvious Reveal, where the twist is also completely obvious to the audience but the creator seems to think it won't be. May overlap with Obvious Judas, where the most Obviously Evil character turns out to be the villain. No examples, please. Any plot development can become The Untwist to a sufficiently paranoid reader.
— Lord Peter Wimsey, The Five Red Herrings