TV Tropes Needs Your Help
View Kickstarter Project
Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here
and discuss here
Truth and Lies
Truth: Noun. That which most easily appeals to the fears, hopes, and prejudices of the hearer; in essence, a lie.
Lie: Noun. That which causes its utterer to be reviled; in essence, the truth.
: Noun. Example: A dog rolls on the carcass of a dead possum in order to deceive other animals regarding his identity as a dog (whereas) a man lolls in the scents of church in order to deceive himself regarding his identity as a thief, an adulterer, and a liar (the difference is that the dog does not first have to endure being bored by the possum).
Truth, lies, and deception. If only it were easier to tell them apart. Listed are multiple tropes that fall into one of the three categories. And The Shades of Fact
offers insight into their fictional equivalents.
Tropes of Truth
First, recognize honest intent, whether expressed as the plain truth or a technical falsehood.
See also A Trusting Index
and the Information Desk
Tropes of Deception
Second, learn the myriad shades of deception, purely for self-defense, of course.
See also Espionage Tropes
and the Infauxmation Desk
- Bluffing: deceiving someone at a critical moment.
- Cassandra Gambit: invoking a Cassandra Truth to hide something.
- Cover Identity Anomaly: Missing some basic piece of information about someone you're pretending to be, often forcing you to make up something on the spot.
- Deliberately Cute Child: using a cute fašade to get what one wants.
- Did Not Die That Way: a character finds out they have been lied to about a loved one's death.
- Embarrassing Cover Up: Where the cover story goes into territory that makes the questioner regret asking.
- False Reassurance, a lie that is the truth in its Exact Words. A guard at a railroad track back in the 1920s was testifying that he was swinging his lamp when the automobile crashed into the train at 3 in the morning. It was determined later that while he was swinging his lamp to warn oncoming traffic, the lamp was not lit at the time.
- Fiction As Coverup: Hiding the truth in plain sight by calling it fictional.
- Forged Message: Writing a message but making it look like someone else wrote it.
- Gas Leak Coverup: A simple, dull, believable excuse for something that is none of those.
- Half Truth: A statement that is technically true, but extremely misleading if you don't have all the information.
- I Surrender, Suckers: A character pretends to surrender but attacks once the opponent lowers his guard.
- Ignorance Is Bliss: A character or characters are told that what they are doing is something completely harmless or beneficial when it's actually dangerous or evil.
- Infraction Distraction: When someone confesses to or commits a small crime in order to cover for a bigger one.
- Move Along, Nothing to See Here: A stock phrase for authority figures wanting to prevent people from seeing something.
- Mysterious Backer: The characters are only being told as much as they need to know.
- Outright Lie: 'I am trustworthy', 'The Earth is mine to sell' — both are falsehoods knowingly spoken with intent to deceive. This is the trademark of the Con Man and the schemer, resorted to by anyone covering up a Big Secret. However subtle they may be, Pull the Thread and they collapse (which is why the liar often takes Refuge in Audacity, to keep someone from pulling the thread).
- Propaganda Machine: exists to make propaganda; publications geared to influence the public first & foremost, with journalistic integrity as an afterthought, if that.
- Reverse Psychology: getting someone to do something by telling them the opposite of your goals.
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: A quick, incredibly detailed and not easily disproved lie.
- Sarcastic Confession: A truth that will not be believed. Often used to support the masquerade, this both deflects attention from the truth now and makes one less willing to accept the truth later.
- Social Engineering
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Alice confronts Bob, who is obviously hiding something, and she concludes something wildly different than the secret Bob is actually sitting on, but Bob confesses to Alice's accusation only because he's covering up something darker or just embarrassing.
- Truth Twister: "Looks are only skin-deep," "The Earth is doomed," "No one who has drunk my tonic has ever died" — all carefully selected truths, intended to deceive, the hallmark of advertisers and politicians. Expect anyone unable to lie whether due to magic, Applied Phlebotinum, or just being a Manipulative Bastard type, to be good at this.
- Unusually Uninteresting Name: This innocent sounding group are not a secret organisation of any sort, you won't even question their involvement or even notice their existence. The name is likely to be technically correct though.
- You Didn't Ask: when a character simply doesn't tell/mention something that's particularly large, hard to avoid in conversation, or just really should have been mentioned.
- You Said You Would Let Them Go: A villain lies to someone to get them to go along with a plan that will ultimately hurt those that they care about, or otherwise makes a promise that he has no intention of keeping. Often involves use of loopholes.
Tropes of Lies
For outright fabrications that may never be discovered as such.
See also Dirty Social Tricks