Wait a minute, Patrick...I'm the maniac!
"The guy's a ghost, but doesn't know it yet. That's the big twist."
Our protagonist is going through a perfectly normal day. Only... something's wrong. The people around him are acting just a bit off
. They keep mentioning a string of words
, or are trying to herd him to a certain place.
It looks like the town's been taken over by a Puppeteer Parasite
, and our hero's the only one left. He attempts to either escape and warn the outside world, or find where the invaders are coming from and shut it down.
But once he gets there, he discovers
the horrifying truth: HE'S the fake!
Cue screams of "What Have I Become?!" A robot
, a clone
, a ghost
or nearly one
, or some other duplicate
that forgot he wasn't the real thing, or was programmed
to believe that he was
, complete with Fake Memories
of a Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story
. For extra oomph, expect the tomato to break the mirror
A special case is where the character comes to realize that they are in fact fictional
, either of the work itself or of a Show Within a Show
. It often appears in a Real World Episode
. For those examples, see Noticing The Fourth Wall
In an ongoing series, it'll be a duplicate of one of the main characters. In a self-contained work, it'll just be someone who thinks they're human. Either way, it's an effective inversion of Puppeteer Parasite
. Assuming the duplicate works through
the immediate suicidal tendencies
(and/or murderous intent of others) they may find themselves having to ask a Trial Balloon Question
to see if "their" friends and family would still accept them.
Variation of the Tomato Surprise
, hence the name. (Note the key difference is that here, the character doesn't know they're a tomato.) Compare I Am Who?
, which is (usually) a much more pleasant surprise. The opposite of this is And Then John Was a Zombie
. See also Expendable Clone
and Dead All Along
. If the surprise is the character discovering that they were the villain all along, that's The Killer In Me
. If a lot of people experience this trope at once, you may have Everyone Is A Tomato
It may or may not involve a real mirror.
This is a Twist Ending trope. Expect your tomatoes to be spoiled!
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Anime and Manga
- In Hal, Hal is a robot who has been programmed with the personality of the real Hal, to help his former lover deal with the devastating loss the real Hal's death was to her. A blow to the head Hal receives later snaps the truth of the matter to him, that he is in fact a man who was driven insane and believed himself to be a robot after the death of his lover and the girl he has been helping get over her loss? A robot programmed with the personality of the dead girl to help him deal with his loss.
- In the Anime/Manga/Novel Another, the only way for the dead classmate to be found is for them to be killed, as even they don't know their true identity. They do, however, have an ace up their sleeve, as Mei Misaki can use her doll's eye to see "the color of death." It is in this way that they find the dead classmate was in fact not one at all, but the protagonist's aunt and classroom teaching assistant. Their being the same person is not an example of this trope, however: it's only a surprise to the viewer. The fact that she was dead? No one saw that coming, not even her.
- The Big O, to the point of main character Roger Smith actually crying out "I'm one of the tomatoes!" Yeah, it sounded dumb, but it was a shocking twist. But it gets weirder still near the end, when he discovers this may not be the case, and he may have existed before Paradigm...
- Big Bad Alex Rosewater also goes through this when he realizes that he was just another one of Gordon Rosewater's "tomatoes".
- The Bride Of The Water God: Yeomha doesn't realize she is a doll with Nakbin's memories.
- Combattler V: The Dragon Garuda discovers, to his dismay, that he is actually the latest of a series of identical androids.
- In D.Gray-Man, it's eventually revealed that Allen is actually the host for the Fourteenth Noah, which is how he can control the Ark. Unfortunately for him, he woke it up, and now the Fourteenth is trying to take over his body.
- The beginning of Darker Than Black is rather brutal about this, with an added Obfuscating Stupidity Tomato Surprise. It spends the first episode and a half setting up a sickeningly obvious Meet Cute- then we abruptly find out that the apparent female Love Interest is in fact a Doll programmed with the memories of the real person, now dead, and the kindhearted, Adorkable Chinese exchange student who keeps "accidentally" rescuing her is that scary, superpowered mask-wearing Badass Longcoat we saw at the beginning.
- The second season has one regarding secondary protagonist Suou Pavlichenko. Her mother says she's a clone of the original Suou, who died eight years before. Turns out, as her father explains, she's an Opposite-Sex Clone of her brother Shion that he created with his contractor powers. Shion used himself as a reference since the original Suou was his twin and gave her Fake Memories to fill in the gaps. Least to say, Suou was not pleased when she found out.
- Mazinger Z: Secondary character Erika was an amnesiac girl who barely remembered her name. She felt an odd, devastating inner emptiness, but in spite of it she thought she was a normal girl. And then The Dragon Baron Ashura appeared and revealed that in reality she was a human-looking robot built to murder Kouji Kabuto. She freaked out considerably -and understandably-, and she refused believing it.
- Lorelei thought she was an average, little girl with a slightly eccentric and weird father. And then she found out that she was in reality a Robot Girl, and the key component to start a Humongous Mecha.
- Maria Grace from UFO Robo Grendizer believed she was an average girl... until her gradnfather revealed that she was an alien.
- And her brother Duke Fleed played this trope in the Gosaku Ota manga continuity. Dr. Umon had wiped out his memories so they did not torture him and he was able living like a normal human being. However, when a stream of reports of ufo sightings started to arriving to the Space Research Laboratory he started to feel odder and uneasier, although he did not udnerstand why. It was when the Vegans started to strike nearby cities he finally remembered he was an alien.
- In Serial Experiments Lain when the eponymous character realizes in what is one perhaps the most dramatic and mind-bending reveal in a seriesful of dramatic and mind bending conspiracies that she is in fact a program engineered to be the god of the new world created when the internet/Wired overtakes reality.
- Goku in the Dragon Ball series:
- In Dragon Ball Z, he finds out from his long-lost brother Raditz at the beginning that he is an alien (Saiyan) sent to kill all humans on Earth. He forgot his purpose and mellowed out after he fell off a cliff and hit his head as a child. It takes the death of Vegeta at the hands of Frieza to finally come to terms with his origins, resulting in his "I am the Super Saiyan Son Goku speech."
- There's also a sort of in-universe example of this. Goku's friends have all known since soon after they met him that he once transformed into a giant ape monster and killed his own adopted father, but they keep it a secret from him. Goku eventually has his Tomato in the Mirror moment much later, but it's already been spoiled for the audience.
- Ergo Proxy:
- Vincent Law is the Ergo Proxy of the title, and it initially acts as a separate part of him without him knowing it. He previously erased his memories so that he could live a normal life as a human.
- Re-L is a clone of the Monad Proxy. She discovers this when she returns to Romdeau and finds a replacement clone has been created.
- Deadman Wonderland, Shiro is the Red Man.
- Star Driver: Marino, Mizuno's older sister, is a clone created by Mizuno's first phase ability so Mizuno wouldn't be lonely.
- In Fullmetal Alchemist, Number 66, formerly Barry the Chopper, causes Alphonse to doubt that he ever was human. This, coupled with his lack of memories regarding certain events about his childhood - well, you do the math. Turns out not to be the case; the reason for Al's memory gaps is simply that he was a little kid, and logically wouldn't remember a lot of things from when he was so young.
- Also, The sigil that binds the soul to the armor-body was a little faded. Ed made a point about fixing it up later on.
- Plus, all bodies and souls not belonging to each other will eventually begin to reject each other. Though what "reject" means exactly is never explained, it could be reasonably assumed that memory gaps would be a possible effect.
- And a Bilingual Bonus: his name "Al" is pronounced "Aru" in Japanese, which is identical to the verb 'aru', which means "to exist" as an inanimate object — 'iru' is for living things that exist...
- In Gantz, this is what happens with Kishimoto. Apparently, she actually failed suicide, and the her that was sent to Gantz was actually a clone. When she gets sent back to the normal world, she sees that the other her is living normally at home, and she has no place to go.
- Gate Keepers One of their teachers is an Invader, and he didn't know it. Dealing with him really doesn't sit too well with Megumi, who was a reluctant member of the team to begin with, and it may be among the reasons for her Face-Heel Turn later on.
- Double Subverted in Gravion: Leele discovers that she's apparently one of the Zeravire that's been attacking the Earth. In the episode afterwards, it's Hand Waveed that her memories were mixed up from contact with one of the Zeravire. But as it turns out, she is a Zeravire. Sort of. She is in fact the niece of the alien scientist who created them, and shares the surname Zeravire.
- Gundam 00: Anew Returner is an Innovator whose memories of her true identity were wiped out so she could become Ribbons's Manchurian Agent.
- In GUNNM Daisuke Ido is driven into a Heroic BSOD when he discovers that he has no brain. It was removed and replaced with a microchip at the age of 19, as with all citizens of Tiphares, in order to make him less likely to violate the law.
- Desty Nova learnt the same thing about himself at some point before his introduction. It is not known if the truth drove him insane, or if his insanity helped him deal with the truth. Seeing as he was the only person who doesn't seem to care about their shared condition, it was likely the latter.
- Much later on, in the sequel manga Last Order, Alita gets her own TITM — twice. The first is when she learns that her past self, before her amnesia, was directly responsible for a catastrophe that resulted in the death of millions and the transformation of the entire Solar System into a Crapsack World. The second is when her brain, her last remaining piece of humanity, is revealed to have been removed at the start of the series and placed in a box she's been unknowingly carrying about for the past three volumes. She's told this just as it's exchanged for her friend's, resulting in a literal breakdown of her nanomachine body.
- Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has a borderline example: It turns out that Keiichi's foray Through the Eyes of Madness in the first arc was him being crazy and not a case of Town with a Dark Secret — but Keiichi only learns this in an alternate timeline when he gets a glimpse of his own actions from outside of his own mind at the time.
- Taikoubou from the Houshin Engi manga later finds out that he's actually the other half of Ou Eki, and when they combine, they form one of the "First People", Fukk.i
- Kiddy Grade: One set of Éclair and Lumières has a slightly subverted version of this, as they realize something is not quite right first, before realizing they were clones and breaking free of Alv's Mind Control.
- This also happens in the Reverse manga when Éclair and Lumière that the readers are reading about turned out to be fakes that Alv and Dvergr made as a test (tying in to the aforementioned event in the anime).
- In King of Thorn, one of the protagonists turns out to be a tomato in the mirror. Kasumi is actually a Replacement Goldfish Medusa construct created by Shizuku after the real Kasumi died.
- In the first season of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Fate Testarossa finds out that she is in fact a Replacement Goldfish clone of Precia's dead daughter Alicia, prompting a Heroic BSOD.
- One episode of Paranoia Agent follows three people who meet in an online chat room and decide to make a suicide pact together. Throughout the episode, they attempt time and time again to kill themselves, and fail every time. In the end of the episode, one of them realizes that their first suicide attempt was, in fact, successful—for the rest of the episode they've been ghosts, and none of their attempts have worked because you CAN'T kill yourself if you're already dead. It also explains why Lil' Slugger/Shounen Bat freaked out at their presence—he only targets the living.
- RahXephon is riddled with examples (along with Luke, I Am Your Father revelations). Not only is Ayato himself a half-human, half-Mulian, but no fewer than two other characters discover the shocking truth about their own origins along the way; one of them was previously mind-wiped to make her forget them.
- Rave Master: Elie is Resha Valentine.
- Shakugan no Shana gets this out of the way with Yuji in the first episode — as Shana bluntly explains to him, the real Sakai Yuji was erased from reality and eaten by a Rinne. All that he is is a temporary placeholder, meant to ease the strain on existence caused by the erasing of the original, and once his power of existence runs out, he'll cease to exist as well and reality will arrange itself so that Sakai Yuji will never have existed in the first place.
- Sola has a Wham Episode where Yorito realizes that he's a clone made of paper, as a replacement for the original who died centuries before, by his paper-manipulating sister.
- Sorcerer Stabber Orphen: Esperanza Reika thought her little sister Lycoris was dead and had been revived by her Creepy Child boss, Escalenna. It turns out Esperanza was the one who has truly died.
- Tenchi in Tokyo: Sakuya isn't the Ordinary High-School Student she thought she was. She is Yugi's sort-of clone, or more exactly, her "shadow". A mere extension of Yugi's own self.
- Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle falls under this when a clone of Syaoran breaks out of the Big Bad's lair and gets Yuuko to teleport him to the world where the heroes currently are. Then the bomb gets dropped: turns out He's the original Syaoran, while the guy the we (the audience) have been following is the clone.]] ...And that's when things start to turn Ugly.
- Played with in xxxHOLiC when Yuuko reveals that Watanuki is a clone of Syaoran... of sorts. Specifically, his birth was generated to replace the real Syaoran's place in the Universe when Syaoran was removed from his timeline.
- This is the entire premise of Zegapain. Kyo believes that he is playing a video game in which he pilots a giant robot fighting against aliens trying to wipe out the computers that hold the brain patterns of the remnants of humanity, only to discover the "game" is the real world, and he is merely data in one of those computers.
- Kitsune To Atori: One of three stories that have absolutely no relation to each other whatsoever. The plot of the first chapter was pretty confusing but involves a tale of two sisters. The younger sister, Atori, hates lies and sees the foxes (who have magical abilities and can transform into other forms) as deceitful and evil, which is also partly fueled by the fact that her older sister suffered a fox attack and now bears a scar on her eye, which she covers at all times. Thinking that her sister is being too lenient on the foxes, she becomes confused when she reassures her that "It's fine if you're not honest, as long as you stay by my side." Later Atori finds her older sister removing their sword that cuts through spells and attacks her, assuming her to be a fox disguised as her sister. Through a series of revelations it's revealed that she and her sister had been lying all along. Atori is actually a fox and her "sister" used a spell to make her forget her painful past and live peacefully.
- The third chapter of the manhwa, and the last one-third part anime movie of Shin Angyo Onshi invokes this. A young fisherman finds Munsu and tells him that a miracle-working physician in his island village is experimenting with the dead. Munsu and Sando investigate the matter, and find out that this is true. The twist comes when Munsu tells the young fisherman to kill his beloved sister, which he tearfully does... the illusion comes crashing down, and it turns out that the physician zombified the population of the whole village, who died when a plague swept over the area, and covered it with mandrake-induced illusion. Said young fisherman finally realizes that he is not the sole survivor, but a zombie like everyone else and promptly kills himself.
- It is speculated that this trope applies to Munsu's Sando (Chun Hyang) as well. Many stronger Sando are animals/magical beasts that can take human form, as is most clearly demonstrated by Hwang's Sando, who first can be seen as a giant wolf/bird hybrid beast but later presents herself as a little girl. The cute Chun Hyang was known as Mong Ryong's constant companion, and Mong Ryong himself is known as a veterinarian. It is not a far stretch to speculate that Chun Hyang is the same.
- A stand-alone ero-manga titled Borderline uses this: a man falls in love with a mannequin, which then comes to life and makes love with him. It later turns out that they were both mannequins to begin with.
- In the first episode of Mnemosyne, Kouki Maeno discovers that he's actually a clone of the original Kouki Maeno. Unusually, he actually takes it pretty well: after one Attempted Suicide, he settles down and grows into a well-adjusted man.
- Cardcaptor Sakura hosts the second type: at the end of the first arc, the series takes an abrupt twist when the cast (and audience) learns that Yukito wasn't human. Needless to say, the character in question goes through several of the same angst and questioning of their own existence as is described above when they later find out themselves.
- Pandora Hearts:
- It is revealed that the main character, Oz, is actually the Black Rabbit. And Jack Vessalius' former Chain. And it turns out his body is actually Jack's. These reveals turned the series on its head.
- There's also Elliot turning out to be the core illegal contractor of Humpty Dumpty and while not the Headhunter, ended up being the one to kill half of his family under HD's control.
- Gilbert turning out to be a Baskerville also counts.
- In After School Nightmare, the main character is invited to take a secret class at their boarding school necessary to graduate in which students face their biggest fears and personal issues, fight each other, and seek the keys to unlock a giant set of doors. One assumes this is merely the school's complicated therapy for a group of very, very troubled kids, but in the end it's revealed that they're all unborn children, and "graduating" is actually being born. While the main character appears to be struggling with their gender identity, they're actually making the choice of which of two opposite-sex twins will live. It's unclear what this implies for the other students; Kureha was supposedly raped as a child, and Sou was involved in an incestuous relationship with his sister, but all that happened before birth. The questions this raises can result in some Fridge Horror.
- Mochi, Suezo, Golem, Tiger and Hare in Monster Rancher turn out to be the Phoenix whose soul was split into five pieces.
- Muteki Kanban Musume: Parodied after Kankuro reveals to Shop Keeper Akihiko that he is not a Star Ranger, merely a guy who Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality:
- A version occurs in Death Note when Light loses his memory of being Kira, spends several episodes working with the investigation to uncover Kira while vowing to bring him to justice, and finally recovers his lost Death Note, at which point he realizes that he is indeed a mass-murderer with a god complex, and his memory loss was part of his own Batman Gambit.
- Subverted in that he's totally fine with it
- A Certain Magical Index:
- Hyouka Kazakiri thought she was a normal girl until flying debris breaks her head open (the injury heals up) to reveal that she is really an artificial angel, an aggregation of Academy City's AIM (psychic energy) fields. She doesn't take it well, until Touma assures her that he and Index don't care that she's not human; she's still their friend.
- Arisa Meigo thought she was a normal girl. Toward the end of the Miracle of Endymion movie, everybody learns that she is really a part of Shutaura Sequenzia that separated from her. Even Shutaura didn't know about this at first.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! ZEXAL, Shark slowly realizes that he is a Barian, even smashing his mirror when he experiences his past-life memories and recognizes the pendant around his neck.
- Screaming Lessons (imagine The Outer Limits as a shoujo manga + horror – almost any happy endings): In "The Boyfriend Story" a girl uses a cell phone app to create the perfect boyfriend, who overloads when she adds too many features. The cell phone apps can make girls and friends too, as well as bosses, idols, cops, spouses, children...
- One Black Jack chapter involved a young boy in a hospital who notices that the doctor, nurses and even his mother have changed personalities, and decides that aliens must have taken over their bodies...and he's next! Blackjack eventually explains that the boy has a terminal illness, and the hospital personnel and mother were just walking on eggshells trying not to let him know. Fortunately, Blackjack is there to cure the illness.
- Senna of the first Bleach movie is horrified when she learns herself to be nothing more than the merged memories of the Blanks. The trope is zigzagged as she refuses to accept that she never actually existed and her dying request is that Ichigo take her to her grave, which is proof of her existence. Even though the grave does not exist, Ichigo chooses to tell her it does so she can die happy having never accepted the truth about herself.
- Also the entire premise of anime episode 315
- In Kill la Kill:
- Senketsu learns that he's an alien, which he doesn't really mind. However, what triggers the Heroic BSOD is when he learns that his species, Life Fibers, see humans as food, and he realizes that he has been feeding on Ryuko all along, since he needs to drink her blood to activate his powers.
- Later, Ryuko learns that she's a human/Life Fiber hybrid. And her mother's a complete monster. She goes mad from the revelation for a while.
- Monster has a Story Within a Story called "The God of Peace" that uses this trope.
- Neon Genesis Evangelion: You know those alien monsters humanity has been fighting throughout the series? Humanity is one of them.
- In Cross Ange, the protagonist and her squadmates have a My God, What Have I Done? moment when it's revealed that the DRAGONs that they have fought and killed just so they can make money and survive turn out to be humans. Which hits Vivian the hardest when it turns out she's one of them. Ange understandably breaks down at the revelation.
- In the "Underworld" arc of Sword Art Online, Kirito wonders whether he's actually Kirito or just an AI.
- The Firesign Theatre, in their comedy album I Think We're All Bozos On This Bus, uses this device ingeniously. One must listen carefully (or have seen a spoiler) to realize that the character "Clem" who finishes the story is not the one who started it, but rather a holographic clone created by the original Clem and then dismissed into cyberspace.
- In the Big Finish Doctor Who audio drama "The Natural History of Fear", characters with the voices of the main cast live in a totalitarian city with its own version of Doctor Who. The listener is led to believe throughout the audio that the Doctor, Charley, and C'rizz have had their memories wiped and are trapped by the city using the roles they are placed in, the Editor, the Nurse and Conscience #1, respectively. However, at the end of the audio, when the Editor sees the memory of the Doctor and companions visiting Light City and the Doctor having to give up the group's memories to the city, he finds out the memories were only copied. The group only was in Light City for a day and the characters seen were created using their memories, revealed to the listener when the Editor mentions he has eight legs.
- In "Brave New Town", the inhabitants of the Uncanny Village all turn out to be plastic Autons with real emotions and a Weirdness Censor. This was later also used in series 5 of the revived TV show proper.
- In "The Holy Terror", the little boy has the same face as the scribe.
- The plot of the Spider-Man Clone Saga was going to originally resolve itself in this way, with the "clone" Ben Parker finding out that he was the original and the "original" Peter Parker, whom comic book fans had been reading about since the original clone story in the '70s, would be revealed to actually have been the clone all along. And then Marvel Comics chickened out... (After the infamously long Clone Saga went back and forth at least a half-dozen times about which Spidey was the clone.)
- This is the plot of the last Spirou and Fantasio comic by Tome and Jenry, Machine qui rêve.
- The JLA's initial way of dealing with the White Martian threat was to hypnotize them into thinking that they are mere humans. This leads to an issue where Batman declares that several members of the JLA need to track down a great threat to the world: Bruce Wayne. Turns out that one of the brainwashed Martians was working for Wayne as an assistant. After being involved in a plane wreck it loses its memories again and decides (from papers it had) that it is Wayne and takes his form (making it a double example of this trope: a Martian who is forced to think it is human who then winds up thinking it is a different human).
- The Reveal of Elijah Snow as the mysterious Fourth Man in Planetary.
- An even tighter fit for this trope is the revelation that Elijah Snow and all other Century Babies aren't human, they're a kind of meta-world antibody created to help humanity and as a result, have no soul. Elijah takes it surprisingly well.
- In Rising Stars, Poet asks Clarence Mack what he knows about the murders of the other Specials. Clarence discusses his own theories and uses his ability to enter the minds of others to show Poet his findings, when he realizes that he saw exactly who the killer was, and was murdered only moments later for it. And that, while he was unaware of it until just now, he's only having this conversation because another Special who is a medium summoned his ghost.
- The Kevin Smith comic Green Arrow: Quiver features the titular hero, Oliver Queen, returned from the grave. This seems at first to be a typical comic book resurrection, but why does Oliver seem convinced that he never died at all, that everyone else is acting very odd, and that cellphones and modern computers are the sort of things only supervillains possess? Turns out that this is Ollie's body brought back to life, minus his soul. The Spectre wanted to resurrect him, but his soul was happy in heaven. So they compromised; Oliver's body was given new life, but with ten years of his history removed to avoid all the Wangst he would have otherwise gone through (as his life was in shambles when he died). In the end his body and soul are reunited, returning Ollie back to life for real this time.
- A number of Skrulls believing themselves to be Marvel heroes have a bit of an identity crisis meeting their human counterparts during the Secret Invasion Crisis Crossover. Particularly Khn'nr, the Skrull impersonating Captain Mar-Vell, who never actually recovered his proper memories. Upon finding out he was a Skrull, he instead fought against his own people.
- In an early issue of The Sensational She-Hulk, our titular green goddess wakes up to see her headless body being used to provide a new mode of transportation for Chondu the Mystic's head. It turned out to be a cloned body, though. They couldn't find a saw that was able to cut She-Hulk's hair, let alone through her neck.
- There's a short Marvel comic called "The Creature". A man finds an alien's diary and runs around trying to find someone who'll believe him. The random guys on the street don't believe him. The policeman doesn't believe him. The soldier guarding a military base tells him to take it to the observatory. The man rushes to a scientist there, hands him the journal. The journal is written in an "unearthly scrawl" which only the person who wrote it could read.
- The Comic Within A Comic Tales of the Black Freighter in Watchmen.
- In the second issue of Alan Moore's run on Swamp Thing, the titular character learns that he isn't Alec Holland. He's just a sentient plant that absorbed Alec Holland's memories, and his years of searching for a way to regain his humanity were pointless because was never human in the first place. This sends him into a major Heroic BSOD. Turns out Alec isn't Alec after all.
- The trope is played with throughout the first half of Doom 2099. Doom claims he jumped to the future due to a failed experiment, which also damaged some of his memory. People note strange discrepancies at first (he's too young, his face isn't scarred [at first], etc). Then Doom learns he was the son of a political enemy to Latveria, who was kidnapped by the REAL Doctor Doom and Brainwashed into thinking he was the real Doom. Then it gets massively subverted. Doom really was the real deal; his youth and failed memories were because of a regeneration tank. There was no Gambit; it was just Doom's former lover getting bored and screwing with him.
- Machine Teen is initially unaware that he's a robot. When he's injured at school he refuses to accept that he's not bleeding, and when he's forced to aknowledge it, he immediately shuts down while the knowledge is deleted.
- In an early Post-Crisis story, Superman shows up badly damaged somehow having been turned into a robot Superman. It turns out, of course, that this really is just a robot Superman who was so well programmed that he genuinely thinks he is Superman.
- Similarly, in a silver-age "World's Finest" story, Superman and Batman, after being put through a gauntlet of trials especially designed to mess with their heads, reveal their secret identities, and then ask to be destroyed. Turns out that these were actually robots meant to perfectly emulate the two heroes, and realize that they're just imperfect copies because they didn't have either hero's mental fortitude.
- In the Titanic fanfic Rose's Sense, Rose finds herself isolated from the people around her. She doesn't understand why until she discovers that she died in the sinking.
- The My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfic Crisis Equestria features a set of antagonists that are evil clones of the mane six. They were unaware of this. When it gets revealed to them, it generates a mass Villainous BSOD on all fronts, the end result being that they decide to kill their originals to prove themselves the superior versions.
- In Clash of the Elements: Driad is not a Good Guardian, but actually the former Outer Guardian of the Nature Castle
- This is subverted with Luigi and Dimentio in Part 2 though.
- Anthropology: After revealing the truth about humanity and all its flaws, Celestia reveals one more thing to Lyra... She's adopted.
- The Pony POV Series:
- In a way, this happens to Fluttercruel. She believed she was Fluttershy during the events of "The Return of Harmony", only to discover she's a spiritual clone of Fluttershy created by Discord after Twilight used the Memory Spell on her.
- In the Dark World, Twilight discovers the true identity of the Nameless Passenger is none other than her own potential future self, Nightmare Eclipse/Paradox, a Knight Templar seeking to punish Discord for eternity by creating the Dark World as Discord's Ironic Hell via "Groundhog Day" Loop.
- In the Shining Armor Arc, Shining Armor eventually discovers that he literally didn't exist before his story started, and his timeline's been filling itself in both ways ever since. This is why he's Immune to Fate, why Makarov's Charm Person abilities don't work on him, and why the Wolf is after him.
- Navarone ponders the nature of his existence in Diaries of a Madman, after going back in time and meeting his past self. While he comes to the conclusion that he's real, the uncertainty over whether he's a clone, or what exactly he is weighs heavily on his mind.
- Pokeumans: Any transformed Pokeuman is replaced by a clone who lives out their human life believing they are the real one. If any of the Recursive Fanfiction series have them discover their true nature, they're in for a hard time. Luckily, the community is pretty well recognising that Clones Are People Too
- Though My Little Pony: Friendship is Witchcraft itself never sees her realize it, many fanfics based on it deal with Sweetie Belle learning she is a robot, as well as learning to deal with the revelation.
- In the Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle fanfiction Afterburn by shachaai it all looks like Fai was first abducted and then tortured, which resulted in his memory loss. Turns our he is actually a copy of the real Fai of that world who's heart has been poisoned by Ashura to kill the thunderbirds. To do that he planned to kill him and give them his heart to eat, which is a practice with strong magic users in that world. Cue a lot of tears and Its All My Fault 01 and Kurogane having to pound some sense into his head.
- For most of Origin Story, Alex Harris believes that she is actually Xander Harris who has been somehow trapped in Power Girl's body. Turns out, she's actually a magically created copy of Power Girl who just happens to have Xander's memories.
- In the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fic Solipsism, Twilight discovers early on that she is a draconequus-like creature named Asteria. Not only that, but said being had a completely distinct personality from Twilight before she woke up and believed her life as Twilight was real.
- Parodied in DOOM: Repercussions of Evil, where it turns out that John was the demons. And then a zombie.
Films – Animated
- Toy Story: Buzz Lightyear. Consider the implications of realizing that you're not a Space Ranger, not a human being, the universe you remember doesn't exist: "YOU! ARE! A! TOOOOOOY!"
- In Cars 2, Mater is told that everyone sees him as a fool, and then looks at his reflection. Get it? Tow Mater in the mirror!
Mater: Is that how you see me?
Finn McMissile: That's how everyone sees you, and that's the genius of it. Nobody realizes they're being fooled because they're too busy laughing at the fool.
- Meet the Robinsons: A young boy named Cornelius "Lewis" Robinson befriends a boy named Wilbur, who apparantly came from the future. It is later revealed that Lewis is actually Wilbur's father.
- At the end of Sintel, the title character sees her reflection in the blood of the dragon she just slew and realizes how long she's spent on her quest for revenge. She's no longer a teenager, but an older woman with graying hair. And her friend the baby dragon had also grown up...
Films – Live Action
- The Twist Ending of The Sixth Sense is a relatively subtle example of the trope; the main character has no idea that anything is odd about him, as people's reactions to his words and actions seem entirely plausible, until he realizes that they only appeared to have been interacting with him in the way he expected them to. The fact that everyone's reactions seem plausible is even lampshaded ahead of time, when Cole tells him that ghosts only see what they want to see, and hear only what they want to hear.
- The 6th Day, where the "cloned" Arnie turns out to be the original.
- The 2003 Indian Bollywood film Darna Mana Hai, starring Shilpa Shetty, takes this trope almost literally, with apples.
- Played straightforwardly in 2008's The Broken, where Lena Headey's character kills her doppelgänger and then spends the movie running away from the evil mirror clones who have taken over all the regular people. And then the twist ending happens.
- Though the movie Mulholland Dr. doesn't make it explicit, it's probably the most believable explanation for David Lynch's Mind Screw. Naomi Watts's blonde and Laura Elena Harring's brunette have different names in the last segment of the movie — names given previously to other characters.
- The Twist Ending of the Korean film A Tale of Two Sisters featured this trope in the form of an Unreliable Narrator, with the combination of Real After All adding to the ending's confusing nature.
- The Faux Horror Film Session 9 did this in the form of The Killer In Me.
- Nicely done in The Others. Grace Stewart finds herself in the midst of a haunting, only it turns out she and her family are the ghosts; the "spooks" they've been seeing are actually the living family who've come to see about buying the house. Particularly unsettling is the publicity clip where the creepy old woman talks to Grace in her daughter Anne's voice — when one realizes Anne's soul is actually possessing the woman, a medium hired by the living family.
- In Angel Heart, Mickey Rourke's character, a private detective, turns out to be the very man he's been hired to track down.
- In Salvage, Claire Parker seems to be living a Groundhog Day-esque nightmare where she keeps getting stalked and killed by serial killer Duke Desmond, only to wake up back at work as if nothing had happened. After a non-fatal attack, she learns from the police that Desmond can't be stalking her, since he's been dead for some time. She decides maybe it's his ghost that's tormenting her, and seeks advice on how to deal with that. The first place she visits just happens to be Desmond's former church, where the janitor reassures her that Desmond can't hurt her, as he's in hell. Not reassured, she goes to his old home, and then the library, where she finds a newspaper article showing that she and her boyfriend were his last victims. Eventually, Desmond appears in her house to kill her yet again, and now she's finally told the whole truth — she isn't Claire. She's Duke Desmond, whose punishment is to keep reliving his murder of Claire, from her perspective.
- Fight Club is a masterful example, as Edward Norton's unnamed narrator befriends and starts Fight Club with Brad Pitt's Tyler Durden, anarchist and soap salesman. As Durden begins to raise an army of committed nihilistic followers, the narrator becomes less and less comfortable with the direction of the movement. After Tyler Durden disappears at the kickoff of a coordinated act of domestic terrorism, the narrator hunts desperately for him, only to be told that he is himself Tyler Durden. The revelation changes the tone of previous conversations in the film, notably the inception of Fight Club — what was a brawl between the narrator and Durden that attracted other participants becomes the narrator/Durden beating himself up, rousing the curiosity of others. And Durden's intense sexual relationship with Marla Singer coupled with the narrator's open contempt for her; what were the actions and reactions of two separate characters take on a different light when you know the characters are the same person, and Marla's confusion and hurt at the narrator's scorn makes more sense. In the end, the narrator shoots himself through the cheek, "killing" Durden by demonstrating he was willing to kill himself.
- Subverted, and possibly double-subverted in The Thing (1982). For a while, it really looks like Mac is The Thing. And then he's revealed not to be. But in the final scene, it's starting to look like he could be. If so, he hasn't been for long, though.
- The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. Once you understand that Francis is a nut, and Cesare and Caligari aren't even their real names, everything makes a lot more sense. Including the art style.
- In the original ending everything was to be taken at face value. The producers suggested a change because they suspected the Weimar censors wouldn't allow a movie that implied an authority figure could be evil.
- Dead & Buried. The sheriff of a small town discovers that several strangers passing through town and many of the townspeople, including his own wife, have been murdered and turned into zombies by the town's mortician. At the end he confronts the mortician and learns that he himself suffered the same fate sometime earlier. What is more, it's implied that he's investigated the killings dozens of times before, his memories being wiped each time he learns the truth, because the mortician enjoys playing mental chess games with the sheriff.
- Jacob's Ladder. In a deleted scene, Jacob finds out that Jezzie was actually himself, when he unmasks the shroud she's enveloped in.
- The NeverEnding Story. When confronting his "true self" in a mirror, Atreyu sees Bastian, the boy reading the book, as his reflection.
- Impostor. Gary Sinise's character is, in fact, the robo-bomb he's been trying to prove he isn't for the entire movie. His wife is one, too.
- Literally in the Bittersweet Ending of Mirrors. Ben leaves the Mayflower building after having defeated the demon, but none of the emergency workers seem to notice him despite his injuries. It turns out that he is trapped in the mirror world.
- In the original Korean version Into The Mirror, Young-min gets trapped inside the mirror world but doesn't realize it because nothing is different...except for the fact that everything is backwards/mirrored.
- The Jim Henson made-for-TV Mind Screw film The Cube. Strawberry jam.
- In The Nines, it turns out the protagonist is a God in Human Form, one supporting character is a human trying to keep him Locked Out of the Loop, and the other is a fellow God in Human Form who wants him to re-Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence.
- Depending on the version of Blade Runner you watch, either Deckard or just Rachel is a/are replicant(s), and going to snuff it fairly soon, or live happily ever after. However, since both Rachael and Deckard (if he is a Replicant after all) are next-generation experimental Replicants, it doesn't neccessarily mean they'd have the same four-year lifespan as the Nexus-6 series.
- The ending of Hellraiser: Inferno reveals that the being known as the Engineer that Detective Joseph Thorne was after is in fact the embodiment of his own dark urges; when Joseph confronts the Engineer the thing even peels away its blank face to reveal Joseph's underneath.
- In Terminator Salvation, Marcus Wright finds out halfway through that he is a modified cadaver used to outfit a prototype infiltration Terminator. The converse situation occurs in an episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles where the Terminator Cameron believes she is a human girl.
- In Takashi Shimizu's Reincarnation, the story begins with a college professor filming himself as he brutally kills a hotel full of innocent people, including his own children, because of his obsession with reincarnation. Thirty-five years later, some creep decides to make a movie about it, and sets out to cast the killer and his victims. So what? So plenty. He succeeds, managing to cast the reincarnation of everyone involved in the massacre. The main character realizes she ties into all this, but doesn't find out how until the end of the movie, when she sees her true self in her reflection.
- In Police Academy 6 it soon became clear that someone in the group was leaking information to the mastermind behind the crime wave; as always, Captain Harris figured it was one of the heroes, and started an investigation to find out who. As it turned out, the mastermind was the mayor, whom Harris was communicating with, meaning that Harris was unknowingly the leak, because he thought by giving the mayor information, he was helping oppose the mastermind! (The mayor's charade does not exonerate Harris, however, because everyone on the team was told to specifically tell nobody, a rule which Harris was breaking because he figured - wrongly - there'd be no harm telling the mayor.
- As seen in this video, in the film Transmorphers the main character is eventually revealed to be an android. The reviewer had this to say-
- The film Shattered follows a man who survives a car accident with amnesia. Along the way he discovers that his wife was having an affair. She explains that she didn't say anything because she didn't want him to remember killing her lover. When he finds her lover's corpse, it looks just like he does after the doctors repaired his face to look like the photos of the man they believed he was.
- The movie Identity does this, but in that movie everyone is a tomato, at least in a I Am You And You Are Me sort of way...
- In Unknown (2006), several men wake up in a warehouse with toxic-vapor-induced amnesia. They discover that some of them are kidnappers, and at least one of them is a kidnappee, but they don't know who's which. The protagonist hopes he's not one of the villains, and the gradual return of his memories eventually reveals he's an undercover cop. This comes as a great relief ... until, at the end, he catches sight of the kidnapped man's wife, regains his memory of the affair he's been having with her, and realizes that he'd gone to the warehouse to kill her husband so they could get married and the kidnappers would be blamed.
- In the 2011 film Unknown (2011), Dr Martin Harris wakes up from a four day coma after a road accident to find that another man has completely taken over his life and identity, to the extent that the impostor has the same family photos and is believed by his wife to be the real Martin Harris. Harris decides explore what happened in the four days he was unconscious, eventually discovering that "Martin Harris" is not a real person but a cover story - Martin and his "wife" are undercover assassins, and the "impostor" is another agent sent to replace him after the accident, the trauma of which caused him to believe his own cover story.
- In Moon, the protagonist, after spending 3 years on the moon, finds out, that he is the 5th clone to work the station, and all his memories of the time before he was there are implants. Together with the 6th Clone, they also find out that 'their' daughter, who they thought was a newborn, is actually 15 years old, and that they and the other clones are programmed to die at the end of their 3-year contract. The station has hundreds of clones ready to be woken up in a hidden room.
- In The Da Vinci Code, Sophie discovers that she is the possible descendent of Jesus whom she and Langdon have been speculating about.
- Passengers: Claire, a therapist counseling a group of plane crash survivors, grows suspicious when her patients start disappearing, and she suspects that the airline is behind it when a mysterious man starts coming around and insisting that the crash was pilot error. Meanwhile, others insist they heard an explosion beforehand. Claire takes on the mission of finding out what really happened while trying to protect her patients from what she believes is a corrupt airline. It turns out that Claire was actually on the flight also and there were no survivors. The reason the patients are disappearing is because they accepted their deaths and are moving on. The mysterious man is the pilot, also dead, and he blames himself for the crash because he was distracted and tired, hence "pilot error."
- The original ending of the 2007 film version of I Am Legend fits into this trope, at least metaphorically. It had the main character realizing that the infected were actually intelligent and capable of love/compassion/etc., and had only been coming after him because he was kidnapping, experimenting on, harming and killing them in an effort to "cure" the disease; the 'leader' of the infected merely wants his mate back, and the various attacks had been acts of self-defence. Will Smith spent the movie believing that they were mindless monsters when, in fact, he was the monstrous one, albeit unknowingly. The title refers to this, as he's the boogey man in the infected's legends — hence, "I Am Legend". This was the ending in the book as well.
- At the end of The Deaths of Ian Stone Ian Stone turns out also be a Harvestor instead of the normal human he thought he was.
- Frailty has two such twists. First is the discovery that the man the FBI agent has been talking to for most of the film isn't Fenton, but Adam. At the very end of the movie, you find out that Adam and his father aren't crazy, they really have been charged by God to destroy Demons walking the Earth.
- The Machinist has Christian Bale's character Trevor, who hasn't slept for nearly a year, stalked and tormented by a man named Ivan. Ivan eventually kidnaps Nicholas, the son of the woman Trevor is (sort of) dating. Ivan appears to have murdered Nicholas, causing Trevor to kill Ivan. When disposing of his rug-wrapped body, it unrolls and is empty. Trevor then remembers that "Nicholas" was actually a nameless boy that he had killed in a hit-and-run himself a year ago.
- The Moebius strip of a film known as Triangle does this in numerous ways throughout the movie, which largely consists of a repeated sequence that reveals more of its story every time, each time arriving at a Memento-like "how we got here". This story includes Melissa George's character running from a masked killer who turns out to be herself, turning into that killer in an effort to evade her, trying to warn away doppelgangers of herself and her friends, and eventually killing her own Evil Twin doppelganger.
- The 2008 film Hide follows the journey of an Outlaw Couple as, following her freeing him from a prison transport truck by causing it to crash, they head back to the town where they stashed their stolen loot prior to their gun battle with the police that led to his arrest. Along the way, however, they become aware that a Serial Killer has kidnapped the man's sister and is holding her captive in the very same now-deserted town...yet when the sister manages to free herself and the couple finds her, she freaks out at the sight of them because the guy is the killer, leading to the sister's death and the girlfriend's torture and eventual murder. Then the last few minutes of the movie provide an even stranger twist. The girlfriend had actually died during the aforementioned gunfight, the guy died when the prison transport truck crashed, and now he's trapped in Purgatory, killing his loved ones over and over again.
- The Truman Show has this Lighter and Softer, and somewhat inverted: Truman's not a tomato, everyone else is. And always has been.
- The protagonist in Cypher is the hapless Unwitting Pawn in a Gambit Pileup where one Mega Corp. forces a Memory Gambit on him to fool their competitors Lie Detector, said compatitor sabotages the Memory Gambit, and a Reverse Mole from the first company convincing him to come back, all while the organization of Sebastian Rooks tries to play him and the MegaCorps for suckers. Only at the end does he remember that he is Sebastian Rooks, and pulled that same Memory Gambit on himself before the movie started to pass the Lie Detector.
- After Wynn is captured at the end of Cube Zero, Jax reveals that Wynn is NOT an employee overseeing the cube. He's just as much a lab rat as the Cube residents, as another layer of the Cube experiment to "observe the observers". So were his colleagues. He can't even choose execution over staying in the cube, as he already waived this right long ago... he simply doesn't remember because the real operators removed this information from his mind.
- Loki in Thor had always felt somewhat left out: the unfavored second son, a trickster in a world of warriors, et cetera. Thus, when he learns that he is also secretly a Frost Giant (and the son of their mortal enemy to boot), he flips the heck out.
- The classic The Creation Of The Humanoids plays this to the hilt. After the End, humanoid robots are all that allow the small population of human survivors to maintain their civilization. Fearing a Turned Against Their Masters scenario, the humans despise and fear the robots, and even have the Nazi-like "Brotherhood of Flesh" that seeks to expose robotic treachery. They think they're on to something when they discover a highly illegal 'Type 98' robot that thinks it's a specific human, and an additional memory module that causes any robot it's plugged into to think it's that human. The Reveal is that this is the result of a completely benevolent conspiracy between the robots and a human scientist to devise a way to transfer human minds into immortal, self-reproducing 'Type 100' robot bodies at the death of their organic bodies, and the protagonist (who leads the Brotherhood) and his new girlfriend have both been through the process already.
- Subverted in the 2008 film "The Lazarus Project" (originally "The Heaven Project") when Ben Garvey eventually accepts that he is a patient at the psychiatric hospital but then, after finding his supposedly hallucinated dog at the local animal shelter, finds that it was a plot to stop him leaving.
- Eden Log. After not even knowing his own name throughout most of the film, the man discovers that he is actually Tolbiac, the chief of security of Eden Log.
- Oblivion (2013) : He's not the real Jack Harper, but a clone. He works for the Tet, which is stealing the planet's water for fuel. And he's just one of many (we follow the 49th, which fights the 52nd later on, and Beech mentions that the Tet used an army of Harper clones as foot soldiers during the war).
- In Ruby Sparks, Calvin keeps it a secret that his girlfriend Ruby was a fictional character who came to life. When she finds out, it is not pretty.
- Donnie Darko. The lead character has visions of a man named Frank who wears a large grotesque rabbit suit and claims to be a time traveler. Following Frank causes Donnie to avoid being killed by a Jet Engine that falls from the sky. Frank instructs Donnie on the actions he must take in order to save the future. The plan involves a metal artifact that will serve as a Deus Ex Machina, a resolve to the central conflict of the plot. Donnie locates the artifact in the form of a gun. Donnie uses the artifact to shoot the man who accidentally hit Donnie's girlfriend with his car. The scenes that follow reveal that the man Donnie shot was in fact Frank, that the tragedy of his girlfriend's death was the result of his own actions, and that the artifact that will save everyone is not the gun that Donnie found but the Jet Engine that must fall on Donnie Darko, to avoid the tragedies of what would follow had it not. The Jet Engine itself being a time traveling artifact that would have fallen off the plane Donnie Darko's family would have been on, if Donnie had survived. Thus, revealing at the end that Donnie Darko is the villain of this story, and he must save the future from himself.
- In Frozen Days, the main protagonist’s true identity seems to vanish as she assumes that of a comatose man. It turns out in the end that she was the comatose one the whole time.
- In The Ward, Kristen is institutionalized under mysterious circumstances, and quickly becomes aware that something strange is going on in the psych ward: She's visited in the night by a ghostly woman, the fellow female patients she's befriended keep disappearing mysteriously whenever they show signs of improvement, and the staff refuses to speak of what happened to the other girls or admit that anything is wrong. Her friends are only slightly less cagey than the staff, but eventually reveal that they had killed a fellow patient named Alice, whose vengeful ghost is now murdering them. But while attempting to escape, Kristen learns that she is Alice, or more specifically her latest Split Personality - the other girls are also Alice's multiple personalities, they "killed" Alice via Split Personality Takeover, and they're disappearing one by one because of an experimental hypnosis treatment that's eliminating her personalities one at a time.
- Haunter: Lisa is initially shocked to discover that she and her family are actually ghosts, but she adjusts fairly quickly.
- In Ex Machina, after Caleb discovers Nathan's past failures and the extent of his manipulations, he has a freak-out and starts to cut on himself to find out if he's actually a robot with false memories. He isn't.
- Daniel Johnston's "Devil Town" seems to be about this trope—'I didn't know they were vampires / It turns out I was a vampire myself...' That is, unless it's actually about something else entirely over some people's heads.
- At the very end of the Genesis Concept Album/Rock Opera The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, the protagonist Rael discovers that he and his brother John whom he's spent the entire album chasing are actually the same person.
Hang on, John! We're out of this at last
Something's changed, it's not your face
- Who Will Love Me Now? by PJ Harvey is a narrative song where the character sings of monster in the forest who has done terrible things, the monster lamenting 'who will love me now?' At the end of the song the character reveals they are the monster.
- This is played with in The Emptiness, by Alesana. Specifically, The artist and thespian are one in the same.
- The video for Garbage's "Bleed Like Me". Shirley Manson plays a nurse in a mental hospital; she eventually realizes that she's actually one of the patients.
- Sally Fingerett's song "She Won't Be Walking" is a song about domestic abuse. The chorus is positive and hopeful:
She won't be walking, when she goes
Won't be talking; they'll be nothing they don't already know
Are no magic words left to say
She'll be leaving him, flying away
- Then you find out that the reason she'll be flying instead of walking is because she's a ghost. Her husband shoots her in the last verse.
- Black Sabbath's "Iron Man" combines this with Stable Time Loop as the title character becomes the Omnicidal Maniac he went back in time to prevent.
- Metallica has "Sad But True".
- The song "Haunted Town" by Lordi starts when the singer finds himself in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse. In the end he realizes that he's actually dead himself:
I searched the old graveyard
for an answer
In the mossy headstones
I found my name
Ooh, I walk among the dead
- Arkham Horror has an expansion that adds Tomato in the Mirror as a mechanic. Roaming Innsmouth runs the risk of drawing Innsmouth Look cards and learning your investigator is a Half-Human Hybrid, mimicking the Lovecraft examples under Literature.
- New World of Darkness:
- This is a huge element of the fetches in Changeling: The Lost. They believe themselves to be ordinary humans, but they have the ability to see things others can't — that is, the people on the street who look like monsters. At some point, the fetch usually finds out that it's not a real person; it's a copy made by one of The Fair Folk to serve as a replacement for the human they took to Faerie to serve as their plaything. Those "monsters" they're seeing? They're the people who managed to escape from Faerie in the first place. And a lot of them aren't big fans of something fake living their life...
The Changeling book also suggests this motif as a brilliant Twist Ending Prelude: the players start going through life, noticing really weird things, scary critters just outside of the reach of their perception. Surprise! All the players are fetches, and the "evil creatures" are their real, changeling selves, come to finish them off.
- Werewolf: The Forsaken also has an element of this. What's that? You're just an ordinary person being stalked by werewolves, spirits and ghosts? No, you are a werewolf, and you always were one since birth - it's just been dormant. (The bite is so that they can track you down after you go through your violent First Change - it's not infectious, and the Change proceeds with or without the bite. A panic-stricken person post-Change might not realize this or be in the mood to listen to the explanation, so consumed with fear over being a "monster"...)
- In Clue the winning player may discover that they are the one who killed Mr. Boddy, forcing them to declare that they killed Mr. Boddy - and can still lose if they get how and where wrong.
- Mimicking HP Lovecraft's own writing, this sort of reveal may on occasion be sprung on player characters in Call of Cthulhu scenarios, including several published ones — at least one of which gives the GM staging tips on when and how to secretly replace the original human characters with initially unaware dopplegangers in such a fashion as to keep even the players running them at the time ignorant of the switch.
- One of the earliest examples in video games is Final Fantasy VII: Cloud, the protagonist, suffers from freaky headaches and weird disjointed flashbacks. It then transpires that he is a clone of the villain, Sephiroth, and has been acting under Sephiroth's Mind Control for the game so far. Even more confusingly, when he recovers from his Heroic BSOD, he realizes he was never a clone to begin with (what he really is, is quite complicated, but it involves the way the Super Soldiers are created, and how The Virus contains the genetic memories of those infected). Then a big reveal occurs where it is eventually revealed that much of his memories were not his own, but were in fact partly borrowed from that of his dead best friend Zack. When he finally regains his true memories, he finally develops into a fully fledged person.
- The term "Clone" is a misnomer. In the original Japanese script, they were known as Sephiroth Copies, not clones. They're not genetic copies, but rather people who were rounded up after the Neblihiem incident and injected with a shit-ton of Mako Energy and Jenova cells as part of an experiment.
- Same thing applies to the Sephiroth you keep following around, who turned out to be a more literal clone of the real Sephiroth who actually died after the events in Nibelheim.
- Metal Gear Solid: Solid Snake goes into Shadow Moses Island to rescue two hostages, and stop terrorist leader Liquid Snake from launching a nuclear strike. The hostages he's meant to rescue keep having heart attacks, and Meryl claims he looks just like Liquid. Snake then discovers that both he and Liquid are clones of Big Boss, and that he's been used as a vector for the FOXDIE assassination virus.
- Liquid has a second later of ketchupy goodness rendering himself a double tomato, though he never finds out personally. He knows he's a clone, but thinks that he's the inferior genetic specimen while Solid got all the good gene goo in the course of their creation.
- If anything, Raiden in Sons of Liberty is an even bigger tomato than Snake. A former Child Soldier who suppresses his traumatic memories, he goes through all kinds of virtual reality training reenactments of Snake's best missions, and his mission in the Big Shell was modelled right off of the Shadow Moses mission. His relationship to the game's Big Bad, Solidus Snake, closely resembles the one between Solid Snake and Big Boss, and the entire mission was meant to be an experiment to transform Raiden into the spitting image of Solid Snake himself as well as a social experiment in giving The Patriots control over all digital information. To say that Raiden was an Unwitting Pawn by this point would be a grand understatement.
- The Force Unleashed II is all about Galen Marek aka Starkiller trying to find out whether or not he's the original Starkiller or a clone. Turns out he never does get an answer.
- Killer7: Thought the Killer 7 were Harman's split personalities? Nope. They're Garcian's.
- The last level of Braid has Tim running a deadly gauntlet, with the Princess following above, disabling traps and opening doors. He reaches the end and rewinds time, revealing the truth: she was setting traps and closing doors, trying to keep him away.
- In the extra stories the player can follow when they go into levels and get to the end of the game reveals that the woman in the stories (or the princess) is a metaphor for the atomic bomb.
- In Klonoa 1, Klonoa himself turns out to be from an alternate reality at the end.
- In the true route in Ever17, the amnesiac Kid looks himself in a mirror and realizes that he is not the same Kid seen in Takeshi's perspective. In fact, he isn't even the Kid he sees in the mirror. He is the reader.
- In the flash game "Trapped" you believe you are Benjamin Greunbaum, the owner of the hotel you're in which is under siege by a group of robbers. This impression is based on finding a wallet with that name in it. Turns out, you're actually Dan Mcneally, the guy in charge of the robbers, hit with a sudden and unexplained case of amnesia. Greunbaum is in the ventilation shaft... well, his body anyway.
- The sequel "Escape" has Dialla told that she was once the leader of the Armored Gamses, the very gang she and her partner were trying to take down. Also she and Dan were a couple.
- In the original Japanese version of Street Fighter 2010 (not the American localization that claims the protagonist is Ken Masters), Kevin Straker is one of the very "Parasites" he was sent to destroy. It was all part of Dr. Jose's master plan to use him to conquer the universe...which promptly fails when Kevin kills him.
- Subverted in Mega Man Zero 3. Zero doesn't care that he's the clone. Zero doesn't care about how the Ax-Crazy Omnicidal Maniac Final Boss is the original Zero driven insane. All he sees is an enemy who needs to be taken down.
- Clone Zero is the real Zero, his "heart and soul" transferred to the clone body. Omega, original body or not, is one entirely different person.
Mega Man X: The heart is what counts. Not the body...
- This is echoed in Mega Man ZX Advent. Grey has spent enough time fighting for his life against Maverick Mechaniloids, Pseudoroids, five other Mega Men, and both Prometheus and Pandora that when he finally learned that he is actually Master Albert's backup body and Model A a recording of his data and powers, he stopped giving a damn about who he originally was. That one of the Mega Men in question was Aile certainly helped him stop caring about his predetermined identity.
- In Final Fantasy X, Tidus discovers that he and his civilization don't really exist. They did exist at one point, but they were obliterated in a war with Bevelle. Now they're just all part of a dream being generated by the survivors of that civilization, which are now a gestalt of magical naked people trapped in a mountainside. No. Really.
- Hell Night The player turns out to be the Dark Messiah, not only explaining why they were chased by the Cult, but also the kidnappings. And why the train was wrecked by the monster.
- In Super Dangan Ronpa 2, no one could have predicted that the cast was really former members of the terrorist organization Super High School Level Despair, least of all Hinata Hajime, the protagonist who is merely a reconstruction of pre-surgery Izuru Kamukura, Super High School Level Hope. Talentless? Not even close.
- In Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas starts seeing mysterious people that no one else seems to notice. He eventually discovers that the Twilight Town he's been living in is a fabrication, and that he himself is a "Nobody" of the main character, Sora.
- In Knights of the Old Republic, the protagonist is revealed to be the "late" Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Revan.
- And in the sequel, when the Jedi masters explain to you that you are a hole in the Force that feeds of the life energy of everyone you come into contact with/kill.
- A little over halfway through BioShock, the protagonist learns he's a genetically altered assassin, Andrew Ryan's secret love-child given rapid aging to maturity, and smuggled out of Rapture as a pawn in mobster Fontaine's complicated scheme to kill Ryan and take over the city.
- The Minerva's Den DLC from BioShock 2 ends with Alpha Series Sigma discovering that he is really Porter, who had been framed by Wahl and sent to Persephone, and the "Porter" who had been helping him was really the Thinker.
- BioShock Infinite utilizes this trope as well, considering that Comstock is really Booker DeWitt from an alternate timeline where he was baptized after the Battle of Wounded Knee and began his descent into darkness.
- The short interactive fiction 9:05 revolves around this concept. Hints to your real identity include the lack of a stereo or TV in the main room, and the broken lock on the front door. It turns out this isn't your house, that isn't your boss on the phone, and you stashed Hadley's body under the bed.
- City of Villains has a story arc where the player character uncovers clues that they are in fact robotic duplicates made by Nemesis. Subverted by the final mission, which explicitly states that the player character is the original, but the contact who sent them on the missions is the robotic duplicate (with the real one alive but captive).
- Legacy of Kain character Raziel's story is a long string of this. Over the course of the three games he appears in, he starts off as a re-resurrected vampire, only to find out that the vampires are a world-destroying evil that he must personally weed out. Then, it is revealed to him that he used to be a high-ranking Sarafan vampire hunter before he was a vampire. In part II, Time Travel hijinks lead to the discovery that the original vampires weren't so bad at all. Then he finds the last survivor of the original, ancient vampire race, the only one who can give him the answers he seeks, brutally and mercilessly slaughtered... by Raziel's own, past Sarafan self. Whom Raziel later KILLS along with his fellow Sarafan, indirectly preparing his own vampiric resurrection as well as his brethren's. As if this wasn't enough, just moments later, he comes to the startling realization that the symbiotic, semi-sentient, insane wraith blade that he's been carrying for two games is the future version of his own soul. Finally, he learns that he is the foretold messiah of the vampire race. No, wait — he's the messiah of the Hylden, whom he thought he's supposed to kill. No, wait, he's both at once. Turns out that the prophecies weren't all that clear on this.
- Even before that, there was Kain's dilemma: Originally lead to believe that by killing the mythic Circle of Nine he could be released from his vampyric unlife, he eventually learns that he is, in fact, one of its members, the reincarnated guardian of the Pillar of Balance, and his liberation from vampirism may only come in death.
- Gets better. In Defiance, Raziel rips out Kain's heart, saying "I have found the Heart of Darkness!". Janos' heart, which was pulled from the vampire by Sarafan Raziel, was inside Kain all along. Kain was unaware of this fact.
- In Luminous Arc 3 Levi discovered that he is the clone of the man antagonist, the God but is said by his companion that the thing that matter is [[spoiler:Levi's heart is human.
- Subverted in Deus Ex, in which protagonist JC Denton is informed that both he and his "brother" are actually artificial life forms. Rather than reacting with shock, angst, or an unconvincing identity crisis, JC calmly takes the revelation into stride, and remarks that he had considered the possibility in the past. His artificially constructed memories of the past, that is.
- One of the few discrepancies in Deus Ex is JC's history. In one version he was cloned and artificially aged, being about six months to a year old during the game. In the other, he was genetically engineered but was raised in Switzerland. Both of these versions are supported by information from characters who knew The Truth in the form of email archives, statements, and physical evidence within The Conspiracy. In the final area, JC first guns down the man who killed his father, then sees his cloning tank, and the one that is growing his younger sibling, Alex D. To address these issues the DX team created the Deus Ex Continuity Bible with the issue at hand explained here. Needless to say, the site contains massive spoilers.
- In Team Dark's ending in Sonic Heroes, Rouge discovers hundreds upon hundreds of copies of Shadow in tubes identical to the one he was in at the start of the game. It matters little, though — once he's over the shock, he decides that original or not, he's still the Shadow the Hedgehog. This is followed up on in one of the multiple endings of Shadow the Hedgehog, with Eggman admitting that Shadow is one of the copies. He gets over it instantly, kills Eggman and takes over the world.
- In the canon ending of Shadow the Hedgehog, Eggman tells Shadow he is the original, and he found him after he fell to earth and put him into a capsule to let him heal.
- The canon ending also has a completely separate Tomato in the Mirror twist: Shadow was created from Black Doom's blood, making him at least partially a Black Arm.
- The World Ends with You pulls this twice: first you find out everyone playing the Reapers' Game is dead and trying for a new chance at life, and then it turns out that Shiki traded her appearance to play the game, and always appeared as her friend Eri.
- Joshua. He killed you. No he didn't, Sho did. No wait, yes, he killed you so that you could be his proxy for the game. And he's God. This is after the sudden revelation that Joshua has been alive the whole time.
- In Max Payne 2 The Fall Of Max Payne, the show within a game Address Unknown ends like this: The protagonist, John Mirra, who spent the entire show looking for the murderers of his family, realizes that he himself was the killer after he sees the killer's face staring back at him in a bathroom mirror. This, incidentally, may mean the whole purpose of the show was to set up a truly terrible pun: the main character is named John Mirra, and he solves the mystery in the bathroom (as in, the john) by looking into the mirror....
- In Xenogears when Fei finds out that his father is really the new body of Grahf, and also Wiseman is his father as well.
- Not only that, but he also discovers that he is the omnicidalmaniac ID, while his current amnesiac personality was artificially made after he committed a genocide. Then he discovers or should we say remember that he became crazy because his mother was Miang and made a lot of gruesome and painful experiments on him Then, we learn that Grahf and Fei are actually the same person, in two different bodies, and that 500 years ago, he was the lover of the game's world equivalant of the pope who made a Heroic Sacrifice for him, causing Lacan (Fei's name at the time) to become the immortal Grahf while his original personality kept reincarnating. If this was not enough, Fei later learns that he is the ancestor of every inhabitant of the world, which he was not supposed to be, that free will exists thanks to him, and that he created his soul mate 10.000 years ago as a child because he felt a need of protection while he was linked to The Wave Existence, which gave him the power to wish his feelings into reality, and that all of it makes him basically the The Antichrist, except that here, the Antichrist is the ''good'' guy . Fei is not a case of Tomato in the Mirror, he is The tomato, the mirror, the frame of the mirror, the room in which the tomato and the mirror are, and the architect of all of this actually wants to be killed by him
- In Wild ARMs 1, Rudy has his arm severed and when his friends try to heal him they discover that he is not human, but an artificial life form created as a weapon, and his body is biologically similar to the demons they are fighting.
- Something similar happens to Jet of Wild ARMs 3 when he finds out he is not actually Dr. Enduro's son, but actually an Artificial Human created to interface with the Yggdrasil System.
- In Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow Dracula is Killed Off for Real before the start of the game. Its main villain claims to be Dracula's reincarnation. He's not, the mysterious power possessed by the main character, Soma Cruz is Dracula's power, and Soma is Dracula reincarnated. Cue Enemy Within.
- As if Konami can't stop recycling the plot enough, a similar theme appears in Neo Contra when protagonist Bill Rizer meet with the "real" Bill Rizer, A.K.A. Master Contra. The Big Bad reveals that both of you were part of a program called "Project C" in an effort to stop global warfare, and thus was cloned from the concious of a legendary soldier. Considering how the game pokes fun at the Contra series and its sillier bits, it is probably an intentional jab at That Other Series From Konami.
- S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl: You wake up at the start of the game with no memories and a single note in your PDA saying "Kill Strelok. Turns out you were captured and brainwashed by C-Consciousness and given the objective to kill Strelok, C-Consciousness having thought you had actually escaped when your original foray into the power plant failed. You were Strelok all along This turns out to be an odd example of the antagonists being brought down (at least, if you pick that ending) by their own competence.
- Ys Book I and II: Feena first appears in Book I as a ordinary-looking girl locked up in the Shrine dungeon, and seems to have lost her memory. In Book II, right before the final boss, she is revealed to be one of the twin goddesses of Ys. During the ending cutscene, she tells Adol to "remember the girl in me".
- Snatcher pulls this off rather beautifully. So, Gillian Seed is a Deckard Expy working for an organization hunting down Snatchers, robots that look like humans. Also, you and your wife have amnesia and can't remember anything about your past. Well, it's quite obvious that You and your wife are amnesiac Snatchers Except... Actually, neither of you are. You invented the Snatchers 50 years ago and were cryogenically stored. Hideo Kojima is so good a writer even the Genre Savvy are left in surprise. There are about 5 other Tomato Surprises that are subverted in the very same game too.
- In Folklore, your two protagonists are an amnesiac Mysterious Waif named Ellen and an Intrepid Reporter named Keats. Ellen naturally gets freaked out at first by the supernatural discoveries she makes, while Keats takes it all remarkably in stride, mostly because he dismisses a lot of it as unreal and simply plays along to get to the truth. Their being drawn to the same location and chain of events appears to be related only by the person who called them. In reality, Keats is a Halflife, ghost-like beings that the player has interacted with the entire game, which are created by the strong wish of a human - in this case, Ellen's childhood friend Herve, whose dying wish was to protect her. Keats looks human because his appearance is taken from a drawing Ellen made of what she thought Herve would look like when he grew up; he's a reporter only because Herve wanted to be one, and the magazine he writes for (which Herve was a fan of) went out of business in the late '80s. The "office" the player sees Keats in at the beginning of the game is in fact another realm in the Netherworld. And he's part of the story because the whole chain of events 17 years ago is what created him.
- Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World features Emil, a cowardly teen who is given the ability to channel incredible power from the dormant spirit Ratatosk in order to protect Marta, who seeks to awaken the spirit himself from the core she carries and restore his power. Over the course of the game, Emil's recollection of certain major events is spotty, and many people in his hometown of Palmacosta, from which he left six months prior, know his name but don't recognize his face, much to his annoyance. Eventually it comes to light that Emil has not been channeling Ratatosk's power; he himself is Ratatosk, and the moments when he gains power to fight are him using his true abilities. Contrary to everyone's belief, Ratatosk had been awake for months, but was incredibly weak. In order to hide his true identity as he recovered, he created a fake persona using the appearance of a boy he'd killed named Aster. The fake was designed to quickly fill in the gaps of its memory; during the mass murder in Palmacosta six months prior, a women named Lana, blinded by her injuries, mistook Ratatosk for her son, Emil, and so the false persona came to believe it was Emil. No one in Palmacosta recognizes him because while there was once an Emil Castagnier there, this one looks completely different. The real Emil is implied to be dead, murdered at the same time as his parents. Furthermore, the core Marta has is a fake, designed to make her a target for those who seek to kill Ratatosk before he regains his full power.
- In Persona 2: Eternal Punishment, The Sumaru City in which Maya and company live in is one big mirror, the denizens of the city (except Tatsuya) are pretty much tomatoes. In the "real world" (what Joker calls "the Other Side"), Maya was killed with the Spear of Longinus in Innocent Sin by Maya Okamura, and in having that happen, the world is destroyed, with the exception of Sumaru City. Stricken with grief over her death, Tatsuya and his friends demanded Philemon to do something about it. Philemon agrees to bring her back, but in the alternate world where EP takes place, but with a price—everyone must forget Maya and the friendship they shared. Everyone gives up their memory, but during the process Tatsuya out and out refused to forget Maya and through sheer force of will he ends up in EP's Sumaru with all his memories intact, causing a paradox. The Maya in this world runs across him and feels a strange déjà vu vibe from him, as well as pain in her side, where she had been stabbed in Innocent Sin.
- In Persona 4, Teddie realizes he was a Shadow all along. Unlike most examples, the main characters (save for said character) were not terribly surprised by this, and took it in-stride.
- The extent to which this trope applies in Digital Devil Saga is certainly arguable, but it probably applies when Serph realizes that he was created as a virtual AI doll version of someone who was experimenting on one of his comrades when she was two years old. Oh, and his spirit's still around and affecting him.
- Ihe Cybran Campaign of Supreme Commander. Dr. Brackman, creator of the Symbionts, calls all Symbionts "his children" and refers to the player as "my boy". The debriefing at the end of the campaign reveals that He's being literal about the son thing - you are his clone.
- Tales of the Abyss gives us Luke fon Fabre, a spoiled rich kid who's been shut-in at his mansion for seven years until the start of the story due to a kidnapping incident which shocked him into losing his memory. He soon goes on to find out that he's supposed to be the the world's savior, and continues to give everyone grief about how special he is. Cue the traditional Tales series megatwist, where he discovers that he's suddenly become a mass murderer, his beloved sword instructor set him up, all his friends are tired of his crap and to top it all off, he's the clone of the REAL Luke fon Fabre, who's been spending the last seven years trying to stop Van by working on the inside.
- Star Ocean Till The End Of Time: The entire universe that Fayt and everyone else inhabits is an MMORPG created for the amusement of 4D beings, called the Eternal Sphere. And the creator of the game has decreed that all "bad" data must be deleted as he felt that the Eternal Sphere's inhabitants have grown to be too sentient, with technology that almost matches that of the "real" 4D dimension.
- Tomato-In-The-Mirror reveals have become a staple of Silent Hill games since Silent Hill 2, in which James realizes that he killed his wife.
- Especially prevalent, and beautifully done, in Shattered Memories. The basic premise of the game centers on the main character Harry Mason searching for his lost daughter Cheryl after a car accident. The bulk of the game is a mix of exploration and action (in the form of running your ass off from the demented creatures chasing you,) with bouts of psychotherapy interposed between segments.The obvious conclusion (considering Harry can't seem to die) is that in the narrative of the game follows Harry recounting his traumatic experiences to his therapist. However, in the course of the adventure through the town, you eventually find yourself at the office of a psychologist, and you go inside to discover the therapy sessions were happening concurrently with the gameplay. The patient turns out to actually be Harry's daughter, who is now somewhere in her 20s, and the Harry Mason the player has been playing is simply a delusion in Cheryl's mind. As the game eloquently puts it, you're 'not even a ghost'. And depending on your interpretation, it's ambiguous as to whether everything in the game was in Cheryl's mind or if her delusions were simply being physically manifested in the real town.
- Fatal Frame 2 has an example of this. The player is led to believe that Mayu is being driven by the town's local Ax-Crazy ghost to kill twin sister, playable character Mio in order to complete an gruesome ritual that (among other things) requires an elder twin to kill his/her younger sibling. The game goes out of its way to show Mayu as a possessed, malevolent force. In the penultimate chapter of the game,it is revealed that the town has an odd legend about twin birth order — instead of older/younger they have inferior/superior, respectively, and the superior twin always allows the inferior to be born first. Now Mio, and the player by proxy, is the murderer, something shown to be canon in the third game.
- In Super Robot Wars: Endless Frontier it's revealed that Haken Browning is W00 a genetically engineered human made by a project which tried to create the perfect soldier. It causes some worries, but it's fairly short-term. He's in a group consisting of a smart-mouthed android with a split personality, a second android with cat-ears and like-wise split personality, a 2000+ year old pettanko oni princess, another princess who's as top-heavy as her sword and a chinese fox-spirit who cracks more sexually slanted jokes than you can shake a sword-cane at. And the other guy was in a group even crazier than this one.
- Baten Kaitos Origins plays this in a really interesting and powerful manner: you're the tomato. Yes, you, the player...well, in a sense. That strange world that Sagi keeps getting sent to, where a bunch of people keep calling him Marno? That's you. You're actually playing the role of Marno's spirit, not a nameless Guardian Spirit...oh, and by the way, Marno is one-fifth of the Eldritch Abomination Malpercio. Yup, you're part of the dark god that helped ravage the world a millennium ago and is the final boss of the first, chronologically-second, Baten Kaitos. Don't you feel special?
- In Prototype, Alex Mercer had extremely mixed feelings when he discovered that he was the Blacklight Virus, while Alex Mercer was the person who released it on New York and was its first meal. Especially since the real Mercer was worse than the virus itself.
Alex Mercer: I'm not human. The revelation...it freed me. It killed me. I'm not human. *uneasy chuckle* Alex is just the role I play. Part of me was relieved...and part of me died. Just another disguise, right? So ingrained...so real...even I believe it.
- Second Sight. It turns out that the main character isn't a lab escapee having flashbacks to a time just before it all went wrong, he's in that time and having precognitive visions on the verge of a Bad Future. One of the very few surprise twists where the character turns out to be himself.
- In Disgaea 2, it is eventually revealed that Adell is actually a demon himself, even though he'll keep saying he's human.
- Actually, Adell himself isn't told this in the main story, but it's pretty obvious to the player.
- Disgaea 2 has another example Rozalin is actually the overlord Zenon, recinarting herself for fear of her own power
- Phantom Dust has the amnesic main character searching for clues of his and everyone else's lost memories in the post-apocalyptic, ghoul-filled world. It is revealed to him by his friend, Edgar, that the protagonist, along with everyone else in the world save Edgar, are fabrications created by Edgar from the dust to help him overcome his loneliness when he returned from space to find Earth a complete, lifeless wasteland. When the protagonist beats the final boss it is further revealed that the Edgar you've known throughout the game is himself a fabrication, having been created by the original Edgar to watch over things after his death.
- Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh has this as its big endgame twist: Over the course of the game, the player character Curtis is haunted by insane visions, compounded with his own guilt over presumably causing his mother to hate him and eventually commit suicide, as various people he doesn't like around his office at Wyntech are being killed off. As Curtis investigates deeper into Wyntech's past, he discovers that the company used to dabble in experimenting with transdimensional portals, his father was involved in their projects, and Curtis himself was used as a guinea pig. The final reveal is that Curtis, who you've just spent the entire game playing as, is in fact an alien duplicate: The real Curtis never left the alien dimension, and has mutated and developed psychic powers to torment the clone Curtis with past dimensional barriers.
- In Lufia & The Fortress of Doom there is a twist towards the end where it is revealed that Lufia is really Erim, the sinistral of death.
- The big Tomato Surprise in Soul Nomad & the World Eaters revolves around the titular creatures - extradimensional entities cast between worlds by the various gods. The notable one out of them - and the one that applies to this trope the most - is Revya, a Drazilian shell injected with the soul of Median's dead son after 200 years of nurturing by Haephnes as her and Virtuous' part in the Gambit Pileup. Human!Layna gives you the breakdown once you cross over to Drazil proper.
- Itsuki in Suika realizes that she is actually dead instead of her sister at the end of the first chapter.
- Ghost Trick pulls a pretty major one in the end. Sissel spends the entire evening hunting down clues to who he was before his demise. At first, he assumes himself to be the blond man in the red suit seen on the game's cover. He spends the majority of the game using this persona until he discovers that the man in red is alive (kind of) and reverts back to a wisp. He all but gives up hope on finding his identity until the person whose face he was borrowing eventually reveals that Sissel was his cat. Major clues for this revelation include Sissel's limited understanding of human technology and complete inability to read.
- the white chamber ends with the revelation that Sarah has murdered her entire crew. At this point, her ending fate is already sealed by in-game choices.
- In a literal in-the-mirror moment at the end of The 7th Guest, Ego, the player character, is revealed to be Tad, the titular seventh guest.
- A similar literal example shows up just a few minutes into Obsidian. The reflective surface of the titular Obsidian structure reveals that the player is in fact, Lilah Kerlins, one of the creators of the Ceres Project. This can be even more jarring if you read all the info in her PDA first, and then heard Max screaming for help. After all, how else would the PDA have been able to pass you in on its retinal scan?
- In Arc The Lad: Twilight of the Spirits, Kharg discovers that he is a human/demos hybrid.
- Baldur's Gate has the protagonist on the run, trying to figure out why everyone wants them dead. The discovery of a letter left by their adopted father reveals that they're a Bhaalspawn, a child of the Lord of Murder, and destined to rain destruction on the world.
- This is reinforced (and in one case foreshadowed) when some of the Player Character's dreams has them looking in a reflective surface and seeing themselves with the same Black Eyes of Evil Bhaal had.
- In the sequel, the protagonist's childhood friend Imoen is eventually revealed to be a Bhaalspawn as well. The shock of this and the torture she'd been under briefly breaks her mind and she temporarily becomes an Empty Shell.
- Resident Evil 5: In a flashback set a few years before the events of the game, Albert Wesker discovers that he is just another one of Umbrella's old experiments — Project W.
Albert Wesker: Are you saying I was...manufactured?
- One of the endings to Chrono Trigger that is only obtainable in a New Game+ leads to Marle discovering that she is now a descendant of Frog. She is not amused.
- In Mass Effect 3 it's revealed in some old logs that took place before the second game, that Shepard was completely brain-dead when they were recovered by Cerberus, with one of the Lazarus Project scientists commenting that because of this, bringing Shepard back would be impossible. The fact that Shepard somehow was resurrected anyway, has them momentarily wonder aloud if s/he is the real one.
Shepard: Maybe I'm just some sort of high-tech VI who thinks s/he's Commander Shepard?
- It's implied, that Shepard is the real one, but its never directly confirmed. Unless Liara accompanies you on that mission, in which case she responds to Shepard by saying that she knew Shepard was real the moment she met them in Mass Effect 2, and given the tactile telepathy that her species appears to have there's no reason to doubt her.
- The "Citadel" DLC all but confirms that Shepard is real since Cerberus probably wouldn't have preferred a mere high-tech VI to their clone.
- There's a easter egg alluding to this in the the first Mass Effect game: the layout of the Council's room, where they'd deny the existence of the Reapers, strongly resembles the outline of a typical Reaper ship.
- The old PC Adventure Game Waxworks has the player trying to undo a family curse that has caused every set of twin boys to have one good and one evil son. After traveling through time Quantum Leap style to four other similar sets of twins, you finally go back to the witch that cursed your ancestors to begin with and kill her. Then you finally rescue your brother, only to learn that you were the Evil Twin the entire time.
- King's Quest VI has a magic mirror in it that reveals someone's true identity. There are two places it can be used (though not in the same playthrough). One is in passing the Lord of the Dead's challenge to make him cry, wherein he realizes in an instant his long miserable existence. The other has Alexander revealing to his nearby allies that the supposed Princess Cassima is actually a genie in disguise.
- REAH: Face The Unknown ends with a disturbing explanation from the phantom alchemist who accompanied you throughout the whole game. Instead of being a journalist who was brought to Reah by soldiers to investigate a portal, you are some kind of explorer being tested on Reah by the alchemist - who is actually the planet's AI that built everything you saw. And this wasn't the only time you've gone through; Everyone's seen you before, but you have no memory of this. And to make things worse, he wants you to try it all again for as many times as he sees fit. There's no other ending or alternate path to completing the game.
- In Virtue's Last Reward, the protagonist Sigma and 8 other strangers are abducted by someone named Zero and are forced to play the Nonary Game. Sigma, a 22-year-old college student, later finds out that he's actually 70 years old, an esper, has lost his eye, had his arms replaced by cybernetic ones, and is Zero. Needless to say, this is quite the shock to him.
- In Imperium Galactica, the Player Character is revealed to be an android created by The Empire as a last desperate attempt to restore its former glory and prevent the Dargslan Kingdom from conquering it.
- In A Dark Room, you're a regular Featureless Protagonist. As the game progresses, you start to wonder why you can wield six or more weapons simultaneously, and why the entire military attacks you on sight... until it's revealed that "wanderer" means alien, and you and your ragtag bunch of villagers are what's left of an invasion fleet.
- Evil Islands: It's eventually revealed that Zak's identity is that of the mysterious Joon you've been looking for during the Suslanger arc.
- Fire Emblem Awakening has lovingly prepared a double-whammy special tomato puree surprise for you. You, as the Avatar, are Validar's child. Yes, the spawn of the madman who heads a Religion of Evil dedicated to the resident God of Evil, the Fell Dragon Grima; the same man who attempted to have your friends assassinated in cold blood in the middle of the night and the one who eventually forces you through magical thrall to attempt to murder your best friend (And quite possibly your husband, if your Avatar is female). That's the least of your worries. You are also the Magnum Opus of said Religion of Evil; have you ever wondered why your Avatar and your children are so stupidly strong? It's because you are the most perfect result of a Super Breeding Program designed to create a suitable vessel for said God of Evil, only your birth was so perfect that rather than create a person that hopefully would be good enough to hold the God, the god chose you to be his reincarnation. You are the God of Evil. And Time Travel is involved in this game. And guess what? Nothing quite feels like a kick in the nuts like hearing the impending realization of your dark destiny coming from the mouth of yourself from a Bad Future where you willingly murdered your best friend/possible husband, ascended to godhood and proceeded to lay waste to the world, bringing unmeasureable death and destruction to all that lives and being basically single-handedly responsible for every single tragedy that's befallen the time-travelling children of your True Companions. YIKES. Fortunately for everyone not from the Grimleal, you can and WILL Screw Destiny to prevent the present from turning into that ruined future.
- The three main characters in Phantasmat are all dead from drowning when a dam burst and flooded the town, although none of them initially realises it. The protagonist gradually reveals their pasts to them:
- The girl: Convinced she was to marry her (philandering) lover in a secret wedding, she drowned while waiting for him in the church tower.
- The hotel owner: A violent criminal who strangled the hotel's previous owner in order to 'retire' as the new owner. He drowned while attempting to hide stolen money by burying it.
- The old woman: As the mayor's wife, she was envious of her husband's wealth and standing. She killed him by poisoning, then regretted it and drowned while mourning at his grave in the cemetery.
- Continuing this, Phantasmat: Cruicible Peak has all people you meet that died in an avalanche that destroyed the town:
- Greta: Got a call to skedaddle but gathered so many belongings and her car swerved on the icy road, slamming against a shop front and trapping her inside.
- Peter: Died waiting for a letter from his divorced wife and kids and died at the post office.
- Schultz: Was skiing down he mountains and died at the bottom of the hill when the avalanche hit.
- Otto: A man who's had an...obsession with fire who would trigger a humongous explosion that not only created the avalanche but killing him with it.
- In the Super NES Slayers game, Lina turns out to have been a duplicate for the entire game, while the real deal has been held hostage offscreen for most of it.
- I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream: Nimdok is given the task to find "The Lost Tribe". He finds a mirror, that shows anyone with absolute objectivity, and learns a horrific truth. He sold his Jewish parents out to the Nazis to perform his gruesome experiments, and realizes he himself is the Lost Tribe.
- The premise of Ether One is that the player takes on the role of a "Restorer" who, working for the eponymous "Ether One" company, uses advanced technology to somehow project into the memories of a patient named Jean Fletcher, who is suffering from dementia, in the hopes of helping to piece together fragments of her memories while fighting back the progression of her disorder. Jean Fletcher died some time ago. The "Ether One" company does not exist, nor does the technology supposedly used by them. You are actually Jean's surviving husband, Thomas. The game is taking place in your mind, and the entire premise is Thomas's way of coping with the conventional treatment that he is receiving for his dementia while he tries to put his own memories back together.
- Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures
- The big twist of Fleep is that the building collapse which trapped Jimmy in the phone booth was caused by a terrorist bombing. And Jimmy was leading the terrorists.
- This trope in a nutshell, courtesy of Nedroid's Reginald and Beartato.
- Tainted has Geneveive, a paladin find themselves in this situation.
- Parodied in The Way of the Metagamer 2: In Name Only.
The Wise Wizard Guy:
You, Detective... you are a tomato. The Detective:
Yeah, I know. The Wise Wizard Guy:
... no "oh God, What Have I Become?
"? The Detective:
- In Gunnerkrigg Court, Annie isn't quite human, and this was hidden from her by every single authority figure she has ever known... except for Coyote.
- Fans! had a short where Tim wakes up to find that he's the only person left on Earth. Two aliens offer him a series of female human clones modeled after people from his memories, so he can repopulate the world. The story ends with Tim finding out that 1) this is not earth 2) he's a clone too and 3) this was all the aliens' experiment to breed humans.
- In Commander Kitty, Nin Wah's android double wakes up to find 1. she's been reduced to a disembodied head, 2. she's not the original, and 3. her memories are faulty. All things considered, she doesn't seem to take the news that badly.
- In The Order of the Stick, When the Order discovers Girard's gate, they find that all of the powerful sorcerers who are supposed to be guarding the gate are dead. While looking for clues as to what occurred to kill the mages, Vaarsuvius discovers that s/he killed them while performing the Familicide spell on the Black dragon that threatened to kill his/her mate and children. Cue Heroic BSOD moment.
- A Creepypasta story titled "Mice" featured a narrator who had trained "mice" into becoming intelligent and making their own communities. He regularly kills some of the weaker ones to discourage any rebellion against him. In the end, it's revealed that the narrator is actually a robot and the mice are really people.
- Another Creepypasta relates the story of a kid being adopted into a family and the subsequent murder of his family members by an unknown man, except for himself, who turns out to be a dog.
- Up until the Wham Episode in Red vs. Blue: Reconstruction, every problem that befell upon either the Red or Blue teams was caused by the Freelancers and their many AI. So naturally, it was a very shocking twist to find out that Private Leonard Church was actually the original Alpha AI that had been split into all the other AI that the cast had been fighting throughout the entire series. On top of that, the director of Project Freelancer is the real Leonard Church. Furthermore, as Revelations has since revealed, Tex is also an AI, based off someone the Director lost, but loved so much his memories of her spontaneously created a separate AI. Church preferred to believe that he was a ghost.
- In Super Stories, the genius roboticist Veldron eventually learns that he's a robot duplicate of the real Veldron, designed to be an Expendable Clone.
- Defied in this Britanick sketch guest starring Joss Whedon.
- The Darwins Soldiers story Card of Ten follows the tale of Dr. James Zanasiu and his team through the antimatter world of Gaman. At the end, it's revealed that this Dr. Zanasiu is actually an antimatter copy of the real one, who's still back on Earth.
- College Humor:
- In the Global Guardians PBEM Universe, Super-Strong, Nigh Invulnerable superheroine Vindicator's backstory involves her parent's accidental death when agents of VIPER attacked a factory at which both of them worked, giving her the perfect excuse to become a hero. Turned out that she was actually a cloned, genetically engineered artificial lifeform who was cooked up in a VIPER lab for the sole purpose of infiltrating and eventually betraying the Global Guardians.
- Batman: The Animated Series:
- "His Silicon Soul": A robot duplicate of Batman goes through this trope before his programming activates. The plan of the AI that created it is only foiled because the duplicate was programmed too well: it was programmed with all of the real Batman's personality traits, including his steadfast refusal to kill.
- "Growing Pains": Clayface forms a separate sentient being, in the form of a young girl, to scout for him. She forgets who she is and is found by Robin who falls in love with her. She tells Robin of a man who is chasing her, and when they encounter him he seems to be her father; he tells the girl (Annie) that "It's time to come home." In the heartbreaking final scene, Annie realizes what she is, and throws herself into Clayface to save Robin, being absorbed in the process. Robin proceeds to leap right toward the Moral Event Horizon by hurling batarangs into the tank of industrial-strength solvent above them, causing streams to pour out onto Clayface as he demands he bring Annie back. Since Annie gaining separate sentience was a fluke to begin with, Clayface can't. Batman catches Robin's arm just as he's about to hurl the batarang that will execute Clayface.
- "Judgment Day": Two-Face was targeted by a violent vigilante who called himself the Judge, and was determined to het him first. He and Batman were in agreement on this, as the Judge had already nearly killed both the Penguin and Killer Croc, and eventually, nearly succeeded in killing Two-Face by turning his own hideout into a Death Trap - going to so far as to seal off an escape route that Two-Face thought only he knew about - that Batman had to get them both out of. As it turned out the Judge was actually a third personality of Harvey Dent himself, created in response to his Two-Face persona in order to fight crime. As Batman said in the end. "That's why he knew about the escape route. He knew everything about Two-Face... Except that he was Two-Face.
- The Batman, has Batman and Robin trying to distribute the cure for a madman's Zombie Apocalypse drug. Turns out they were the ones under the effects of a drug that gives you wild hallucinations about everyone else being a zombie, and that same hallucinogen was what they were about to spread through the entire city.
- Still in the DCAU: Superman: The Animated Series: Bizarro is full of Fake Memories that have him convinced he's Superman. He even convincingly looked and acted like the real Superman, at least, initially...
- Used in an episode of Legion of Super Heroes. Superman relizes that he is actually the shape-shifting Ron-Karr, tricked into believing that he is Superman in order to be put to use as a spy.
- And the only reason Ron-Karr was planted there was because Chameleon Boy(another shapeshifter) was planted in the villain's team with the same method, needing a similar Tomato in the Mirror moment to get him back.
- A variation of this trope occurs in Justice League. Superman and Wonder Woman were forced to have illusions in which they saw each other as monsters. Fighting ensues. After a while of brutal fighting from both sides, Superman discovered, to his astonishment, Wonder Woman's - not the monster's - reflection in water. Superman tried to expose the ruse to Wonder Woman, but found his attempts futile. Following a small, but brutally one-sided fight, Wonder Woman finally got an answer to "Where is Superman?!" The monster pointed to a mirror revealing that she had been fighting her friend the entire time.
- Also from Justice League is the two-part episode Legends. After a few members of the League get transported to an alternate universe, they find themselves in a bizarre world that is seemingly a pastiche of the retro Golden Age and Silver Age comic books, with its own (cornball) version of the Justice League, the Justice Guild of America, who regularly battle against equally cornball villains. However, after some investigation by Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, it's revealed that the entire city was a Lotus-Eater Machine created by a Reality Warper, and the real Justice Guild died long ago trying (and failing) to prevent a nuclear war; in other words, the current Guild learns that they aren't even real. When Ray attacks and defeats the League members, the Justice Guild ultimately decides to fight Ray despite knowing that defeating him would result in a Dream Apocalypse that would take them with it. "We died once to save this Earth. And we can do it again."
- Ben 10: Alien Force has a duo (ex-trio) of alien hunters that think they were mutated by DNAliens, and hate all aliens. At the end of the episode, they are told that the reason they look like aliens is because They. Are. Part alien. NO. Really?
- Also Tyler in the episode "Inside Man", turning out to be a DNAlien who still is fighting it and trying to be human.
- At the cliffhanger end of the Season Two finale of Transformers Animated, Sari looks down at her injured elbow to see circuitry poking out, and her adoptive dad, robotics genius Isaac Sumdac, responds "We need to talk." In the next season, it's revealed that Sari was a Cybertronian Protoform Isaac somehow came across, and sampled his DNA to create her form.
- Except Isaac isn't her adoptive dad. He's the genuine article, even when you consider the revelation of Sari's "birth". After all, his DNA was required in order to bring her "online" and was what made her part-Human, effectively making her his biological daughter at the same time as being a robotic alien.
- Several examples in Futurama;
- One of the "Scary Door" gags: "Why should I believe you? You're Hitler!"
- In the episode "The Honking", Bender is run over by a "were-car" while staying at a mansion he inherited from his uncle. When people back in New New York are getting run over, Bender believes the were-car followed him, until it turns out Bender became a were-car himself.
- Subverted in "Into The Wild Green Yonder". Fry looks around to find the person whose thoughts he can't read (the dark one). After not finding anyone, he concludes that he is himself the dark one, as his thoughts can't be read by other telepaths. However, the dark one is actually a small alien leech that Leela keeps nearby.
- Played straight in Bender's Big Score though. Fry loses Leela to a man named Lars. He later travels to the past and splits in two, with the original Fry returning to the future and the time loop created copy staying and living 12 years in Fry's original time. When Bender travels back in time to kill this Fry, his attack burns Fry's hair off and damages his vocal cords, changing his voice. Time-loop Fry looks in the mirror and realizes that he is Lars and then travels to the future to court Leela.
- In Rebirth an interesting variation occurs the first episode of the revived series. The Planet Express ship crashes after the events of the last movie, killing everyone, except the Professor and an amnesiac Fry, who is able to revive everyone with a stem cell machine. Leela remains in coma, so Fry builds a robot version of her in despair. The robot Leela learns of her true nature, but aside from some Angst, isn't concerned...until of course the real Leela wakes up, and they battle each other, so Fry is forced to shoot either one, and ends up shooting himself. Turns out Fry himself, was a robot, the real him was killed in the crash, while Leela, whom he shielded, survived. Since there was little left of Fry, Leela created a robot Fry. A malfunction, however, killed Leela forcing the Professor to use the rebirth machine on her along with the other dead crew members, and destroyed Robot Fry's memory. The issue is resolved when Fry is ressurected, and Robot Fry and Leela decide to hook up with each other.
- On The Secret Saturdays, the Saturday family and their nemesis, V.V. Argost, go through the entire first two seasons, to retrieve clues that would help locate Kur, only to find the surprising truth. The Antarctic Cryptid that they fought wasn't Kur, but that cryptid-controlling Zak is (and has always been) Kur...
- Parodied in an [adult swim] bump with a silent movie version of The Big O. Dorothy speaks for a while followed by the subtitle "You're a tomato." Cue Roger acting surprised. The whole thing found here: http://www.bumpworthy.com/bumps/1856.
- Spongebob Squarepants: In "Hall Monitor," Spongebob and Patrick are out to catch a maniac, who broke through open windows and caused car crashes. Turns out Spongebob's the maniac. He found that out after rampaging blindly through the city while stuck in a mailbox.
- In LEGO Ninjago, Zane has gone his whole life not knowing if he actually has any parents. Guided by a mysterious falcon, he eventually stumbles upon a hidden laboratory. He first discovers the falcon is actually a robot, then sees mysterious blueprints. Moments later, he realizes these aren't just any blueprints... they're his.
- In Young Justice, Red Arrow was the most adament about finding the mole in the team. It would turn out that he was unknowingly the mole and while under mind control, he put the entire Justice League under mind control as well. In the next episode it goes From Bad to Worse. He isn't even the real Roy Harper, but a clone created to be the villains' pawn.
- Secret Jewish heritage converts neo-Nazi
- One incredibly sad example is that of David Reimer. He and his twin brother were being circumcised shortly after birth, but the careless doctor burnt off his entire penis. Therefore, he was sexually reassigned as a girl. He appeared to be feminine in the first few years of life, but then exhibited wholly masculine traits, leading to a mental breakdown in adolescence when as a social female he underwent aspects of male puberty despite having had estrogen treatment. At this point he finally learned the truth from his parents. He transitioned to male much as an FTM transgender person does, but felt haunted the rest of his life by the lies of his childhood, eventually culminating in his suicide (as well as that of his twin brother) at age 38. It didn't help that at this point he was already a textbook example in university sociology classes about the limits of social conditioning.
- There's a museum in Galveston, Texas that had an exhibit on the world's most dangerous creatures, with pictures and a few of the smaller ones. At the end of the exhibit, there's a picture of "The deadliest creature in the world". There's only a mirror.
- According to a "Ripley's Believe It Or Not" cartoon, a man was put in prison for attempted murder. It took years to find out who the man's would-be victim was, and it was eventually discovered it was himself!
- A white supremacist who wanted to create a town just for white supremacists and Neo-Nazis was shocked late in 2013 when a DNA test revealed he was 14% Sub-Saharan African. To be expected if you know about genetics and biology, but it was contrary to the ardent white supremacist's expectations.
- While studying brain scans to search for patterns that correlated with psychopathic behavior, a certain neuroscientist found that his own brain fit the profile.
- This last was replicated by Eli Roth in a documentary that the director filmed and hosted for the Science Channel about sociopaths and psychopaths. In addition to detailing many other tests that determine sociopathic and psychopathic tendencies, the director underwent a complete psychological profile, and thus found out that he possessed many of the traits that are commonly thought of as "sociopathic."
- Inverted example, where the revelation in question was a surprise to everyone except the person it was about: the Mistaken Identity case of Laura van Ryn, a college student who was in a major accident with several other classmates, including another blonde student who closely resembled her, Whitney Cerak—thanks to the injuries sustained, her being unable to speak for a number of months after the accident, and the placement of a purse at the crash site, Laura's family sat by her bedside and did all they could to take care of her while Whitney's buried and grieved for the daughter they'd lost...only for everyone to discover the girl in the hospital was actually Whitney. It was made worse by the fact that the hospital staff was so convinced of their identification that they in turn dismissed Laura's family's suspicions and encouraged them to believe their daughter's written notes about her parents' names and calling them "false parents" was a case of amnesia or brain damage...so that until the truth came out, Whitney was in the position of actually knowing the truth, but unable to convince anyone of it. It would be easy to imagine her eventually losing her mind, unable to determine what was real or coming to believe she actually was Laura, if the mix-up had been sustained any longer.