"How amusing... You say that what I'm saying now is a lie — yet what I said in the past is not?"Sometimes, exposition is put into the mouth of an unreliable figure. The result is an Unreliable Expositor. Frequently invokes From a Certain Point of View, or in-character research failure. This includes exposition that is later proven to be flat out wrong, exposition from somebody later proven to be a lying liar who lies or is much less knowledgeable than they claim to be, or badly researched science in the mouth of somebody who either is willfully simplifying or is a liar, fanatic, or otherwise fundamentally unreliable. Compare Unreliable Narrator, where the unreliable party is the storyteller instead of merely providing exposition. Related to Mission Control is Off Its Meds, which concerns unreliable advice rather than unreliable exposition. May overlap with Motivational Lie.
— Sosuke Aizen, Bleach
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Anime and Manga
- Darker Than Black provides a healthy dose of Expo Speak early on, from a scientist who studies things that are under the Masquerade, no less. The next thing we see? Our expo-speaker did not even know who she herself is and presumably was not allowed to have any really sensitive information at all. So, have a happy dish of common oversimplifications and tampered memories. You're on your own. Hell, 90% of everything anyone says in the first two episodes is misleading at best, and Blatant Lies at worst. We're looking at you, Hei.
- As seen in the page quote, half the things Sosuke Aizen of Bleach says are lies. The other half are half-truths and A God Am I BS. Everything he doesn't say is a lie. His power even has the ability to alter all of your perceptions, or, lie. This is a problem, considering that almost everything we learn about the plot comes from that guy.
- Dragon Ball:
- In the anime for the original Dragon Ball, a backstory for the origins of the Dragon Balls was devised by the anime staff way before the canon backstory was featured in the manga. Even then, the anime-only backstory was never referred to again at any point after it had been told.
- Also played with in the Dragon Ball Z anime regarding the Saiyan race and their homeworld. When Goku first meets King Kai, he reveals the history of the Saiyans, saying that a "Guardian" of their homeworld, much like Kami on Earth, got fed up with the Saiyans' evil and destroyed Planet Vegeta with a meteor shower, of which only Vegeta, Nappa, and Raditz survived. Of course, as we all know, it was actually Frieza who was the one responsible for Planet Vegeta's destruction, and it's later revealed that that planet wasn't even their homeworld (the Saiyans massacred that planet's native species, apparently including its Guardian).
- Then, Dragon Ball Super reveals that the God of Destruction, Beerus, gave Frieza permission to destroy Planet Vegeta (technically making King Kai's anime-only story half-right). Later, it's revealed that the true homeworld of the Saiyans, Sadala, was indeed destroyed by internal conflict (possibly involving its Guardian), once again making King Kai's story correct even if missing a lot of important details.
- Applied in layers, where Itachi provides exposition about himself and Tobi, who in turn offers conflicting exposition about both of them. Later events reveal the latter tells the truth about other people but generally lies about himself and any event he was personally involved with. Whatever he says is aimed at driving others to help him achieve his end goals. His teacher, Madara, does the same thing and is exceedingly malicious about it.
- The late plot of the series is driven by the stories left to the Uchiha clan by their ancestors on a stone tablet. As a narrator the tablet is proved unreliable when Black Zetsu admits to having modified it and other histories to ensure Kaguya's resurrection.
- In FLCL some of what Amarao says is true while other parts are suspect. They may be deliberate lies or just out-of-date information.
- In the Ace Attorney manga, Robin Wolfe invites Phoenix to his house, saying that he's a suspect in killing his employee Eddie Johnson because he had a talk with him about his disrespectful attitude before he committed suicide, and was the last person to speak with him before his death. It then comes to light that he had taken Eddie to the Den of Spiders and restrained him in a chair for three hours, but while Robin claims that he was unaware of Eddie's arachnophobia, his wife Theridia testifies to his knowing about it. Robin's other lies include the claim that Eddie tried to get into a relationship with his daughter Lira but failed (Lira loved Eddie and hates her father for driving him to his death), and that his brother Bobby is "a servant" (not only do the Wolfes not have servants, but Robin keeps Bobby out of sight of guests, thinking him an embarrassment to the family name).
- Haruhi Suzumiya
- Yuki, Mikuru, and Koizumi all have different explanations for what's going on, and it's never confirmed which one is right. They could be lying or just wrong, but Yuki states outright that each of their theories is incompatible with the other two.
- Koizumi is Kyon's primary source of exposition, but he's the worst of the three. In addition to throwing out theories and then pretending it was all just a joke, his info is the most suspect, since much of it was just placed in his brain by Haruhi's subconscious. Mikuru is from the future, so she at least knows the world will survive to her time, and Yuki is an alien interface created by a nearly omniscient data entity, but neither of them talks much (Mikuru is brainwashed to be unable to say anything important, and Yuki just doesn't talk much).
- Pandora Hearts gives us Jack Vessalius along with the biggest Wham Episode of the series (Retrace LXV) when it's revealed that the aforementioned character is this trope. Everything he once attributed to Oswald/Glen Baskerville turns out to actually apply to himself.
- Attack on Titan has Reiner Braun. Many of his statements and actions are questionable at best, as a result of Half Truths and The Reveal that he suffers from delusional episodes. As such, it really isn't clear when he's telling the truth and when he's spouting nonsense.
- Almost anyone who spouts exposition falls under this, as nobody really knows what's going on in the world. At least not inside the walls of Paradis Island. Eren Kruger implies that he may be one when Grisha Yeager asks him what the truth behind the Titans actually is.
- In Umi Monogatari, the Elder Turtle is completely wrong about a lot of things.
- In Puella Magi Madoka Magica the Movie: Rebellion, Homura tries to judge whether Madoka's Heroic Sacrifice was voluntary by telling an alternate version of Madoka about it, and asking her opinion. However, Homura either forgets or intentionally omits several parts of the story, including the part where Madoka's Heroic Sacrifice saved a lot of people from a Fate Worse than Death. This renders Alternate!Madoka's opinion logically invalid because she doesn't know all the pertinent facts. Unfortunately, Homura doesn't realize that. Cue her well-intentioned but ultimately disastrous attempt to 'free' Madoka from godhood.
- In Gotham Central #14, The Joker alludes to his hostage being hidden somewhere with a Time Bomb. The GCPD note this, but know they shouldn't discount leads to the contrary since Joker is the "least reliable person on the planet".
- Poet Anderson: The Dream Walker has Alan as Mr. Exposition to his brother, Jonas, who later proves Alan wrong when he says that dreamers can't voluntarily wake themselves up.
- Star Wars:
- Obi Wan Kenobi's original statement to Luke about the fate of his father is extremely misleading, and was the former Trope Namer for Metaphorically True. Obi-Wan is a (retroactive) master of those.
- An Alternative Character Interpretation of Han Solo's claim the Millennium Falcon "made the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs." An ACI as far back as the original script. Backed up in that Obi-Wan visibly winces at this line.
- Kylo Ren's claim about Rey's parents being deadbeats who sold her for drinking money is very skeptical with that source of information coming from a darksider. Ren most likely said this to Rey to try to convince her to turn to the dark side
- In Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Walter Donovan:
"Didn't I tell you not to trust anyone, Dr. Jones?"
- In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Willy Wonka with regards to how the Oompa-Loompas seem to know so much about the members of the tour group and the trouble they get into.
- In Miracle Mile, Harry receives a phone call from a stranger frantically exclaiming that World War III is beginning. When Harry tries to confirm what he just heard, the caller plays the whole thing off as a prank.
- In Room in Rome, both main characters are often lying to each other.
- The Usual Suspects: Detective Kujan suspects that Verbal Kint knows more than he told the grand jury. Boy, is he right.
Verbal: "Back when I was in that barbershop quartet in Skokie, IL, the baritone was this guy named Kip Diskin. Big fat guy. I mean like, Orca fat..."
- X-Men Film Series:
- X-Men: Days of Future Past: According to Erik, he curved the bullet in an attempt to save JFK, since the President was actually a mutant, but he failed when he was apprehended by Secret Service agents. We don't know for sure either way.
- The Wolverine: There's definitely a whiff of this with regards to how Logan over-romanticizes his relationship with Jean Grey when she appears in his dreams/visions. In the first two X-Men movies, their interactions didn't really go beyond some flirting and a Forceful Kissnote (we're excluding his make-out session with the Phoenix).
- In the Metal Gear Solid 3 Fan Web Comic The Cobra Days, the Fear lies about pretty much everything, including his Back Story. Considering he starts out as the main expositor for the Sorrow, he really messes with the Sorrow's perception of the unit.
- In another Metal Gear fanfiction, Mark Astrus in ''The Joy Of Battle lies to the Cobra Unit from the beginning in order to turn a mission from the American Philosophers into his own mission. He's not the only one. Actually, any exposition or explanation given by ANY character has a 90% chance of being a lie.
- Digital Harmony has Fluttershy being told by Dragomon that he was a program created by Twilight for her computer ENEIGHAC that gained self-awareness and created the Digital World as a simulation.
- The books Twilight reads in The Son of the Emperor tend to be biased or simply incorrect about a number of topics. Mostly those concerning Equestria.
- With Strings Attached has the Fans, who out-and-out lie to the four on many occasions when they're imparting information — and Jeft lies quite frequently to Shag and Varx as well. While Jeft's expository lies are apologetically detailed by the other two after he leaves, their own lies never get exposed (though Shag does feel shame about them at the very end of the book, after the four have been returned home). The biggest lie is why the four are on C'hou in the first place; they were actually part of an undergraduate science experiment to gauge their reactions to being sent to another planet, but they're told they were sent there to break the curse on Ketafa.
- Also, the story of C'hou's history concerning the Vasyn and the gods gets told several times by different people, until Shag and Varx find out the real story and reveal it to George and Ringo. Even Jeft didn't know the truth.
- Imperfect Metamorphosis utilises this frequently as part of the Gambit Pileup. Nothing Yukari, Eirin or Yuuka says can be trusted without outside confirmation, and plenty of other characters occasionally get in on the act.
- In the Girls und Panzer and Saki crossover, Necessary To Win (found here), in the Interludes, it is implied that anything a character says to others in the present day about what happened in the past is not necessarily true. This particularly applies to a large hole in Saki's story about the time her family broke apart, as well as people having differing opinions on why Black Forest lost the last tournament.
- An entire prologue in one of the Belgariad books is written by Torak, who plays up his role in creating the world, and tries to paint Aldur and the Orb as evil and his theft of the Orb as a noble sacrifice to try to save his brother.
- Ciaphas Cain has both an Unreliable Narrator and an Unreliable Expositor. The Framing Device of the series is that they're Cain's personal records, compiled and edited by Inquisitor Vail, and because Cain is very egocentric any details that don't directly involve him aren't present, leaving Vail to "fill in the blanks" concerning events and interpretations. Except that not only is Vail far from impartial regarding Cain, but much of the material she uses is even less reliable than Cain, such as the hilariously paranoid writings of a historian who blames everything on Rogue Traders.
- In Terry Pratchett's Discworld this is a key trait of many of the characters, usually because they do not wish people to know how little they know about a subject (either for reasons of pride or the hope that the person they are talking to will purposely draw the wrong conclusions), or that they feel the truth is just too boring; the latter a particular favourite of Nanny Ogg, who lists one of her hobbies as recreational lying.
- The second-lowest part of Purgatory in The Divine Comedy is reserved for the envious. The most talkative of the envious is Sapia, who prayed for her enemies to be attacked and rejoiced when they lost everything and were chased from their homes. As penance, her eyes are blinded as she hears the cautionary tales of Cain and Aglauros, both of whom were jealous of their siblings for their closeness to the divine.
- An in-universe example in Good Omens, where Agnes Nutter, who predicts the future, turns out to be wrong. She acted as an expositor for generations of witches. It's implied that this was intentional; "There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path," and all that. The ending reveals that although her book ends with the supposed end of the world, there's a whole second volume of what happens after. (Complicated by that predicting the future for her was "like seeing through a straw", so she didn't get the full picture on things.)
- Lampshaded in-universe with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. While the titular Guide is marketed as the ultimate handbook to the Universe, in truth, it's mostly made up of parts that have been bought off by business companies, entries that haven't been upgraded for decades, and things that sounded good at the time. When you have folks like Ford Prefect as your roving researchers, it's to be expected.
- Every member of the Discordians in The Illuminatus! Trilogy. Then, once you get used to not believing a damn thing they say, the narration starts proving unreliable. It Culminates in a scene where Joe Malik shoots Hagbard Celine dead. And then they are having a friendly conversation a little while later, implying but never actually stating that the shooting only happened in Joe's imagination.
- The Last Wish: In "The Lesser Evil" Geralt doesn't really believe either Renfri or the wizard is telling the whole story. The one claims she was driven to evil by the abuse she suffered at various hands, the other says Renfri is a mutant who was born Ax-Crazy.
- The entire plot of R.A. Wilson's The Masks of the Illuminati is based on the unreliability of second and third hand exposition.
- In The Princess And The Queen novella by George R. R. Martin (as part of the A Song Of Ice And Fire canon), Maester Gildayn says that a mysterious man only known as The Shepherd led the common folk of King's Landing to revolt against Queen Rhaenyra Targaryen; he expressly states that they were armed with rudimentary weapons (whatever they could find) and later says that the sheer number of people overwhelmed the guards at the Dragonpit where the queen's dragons were kept; the men that slew the dragons knew how to kill them, they were well armored and were appropriately armed to slay them.
- In The Roman Mysteries, a number of characters state scientific, medical or geographic facts that are inaccurate but correspond to what characters in 1st century AD Rome actually believed.
- The Star Wars Expanded Universe takes this view of The Force, making it abundantly clear that anything we hear regarding its source, how it functions, and how it is divided is merely a particular person's opinion — a handy dodge, given that no two sources can agree on even basic things like the effects of The Dark Side, how one succumbs to it (or is freed by it, if you ask certain Sith), or even if there is a Dark Side at all.
- Practically every book by Tom Holt has at least one of these, often several, outrageously contradicting each other. Falling Sideways is probably the worst about this: fortunately it's all sorted out when one character points at the sky causing giant fiery words to appear: Yes, this is the real world, it's all true. Regards, God.
- Tomorrow War subverts a Sci-Fi cliché of the infallible Mr. Exposition — it's narrated by a Space Fighter pilot who thinks the range of some missiles is limited because their warheads freeze (What? He's a good pilot). Fanon explanation is that while we can be reasonably sure that an engineer making a rather "hard" setting knows better than that, this unties the authors' hands in more slippery cases: now they always can write off a few details as mistakes of one Space Cadet who slept through half of his lectures.
- The Cosmere:
- Done by various people in Warbreaker to the point where it's difficult, even in the end, to tell who's been telling the truth about the origins of the God Kings, the nature of the religious turmoil between Idris and Hallendren, or much concerning biochromatic breath.
- The main sources of information regarding the setting’s ancient history and cosmology are the writings of Worldhopping explorers and Odium. The former are mortals trying to make sense of what they’re seeing and get plenty of details wrong. The latter is the Big Bad of the entire setting and has an extremely Self-Serving Memory. Over twenty stories in, it’s still very unclear who’s correct or truthful about what.
- Most important characters in The Wheel of Time fit this trait to a greater or lesser extent, as cultural and personal biases greatly alter their perception both of the world's events and the probability of various hypotheses regarding the past and the prophecies of the future. Verin, The Forsaken, Rand, and Moiraine are the strongest examples.
- For the first parts of Quicksand House, the best source of information we have about the bizarre setting is Nanny... so it's a shame that roughly half of what she says is simply incorrect, sometimes because she has herself been misinformed and sometimes because she thinks the children under her care are not ready for the truth yet.
- Because Lost was all about how meaning and truth are shaped by unconscious psychological baggage, severe daddy issues, and the need to play on those issues to get others to do what you want, anytime anyone provides exposition on the show it's a guarantee you're going to be hearing a very biased account at least, and an all-out crockpot of lies at the worst. Ben, one of the people who knows the most about the Island, is probably the most consummate lying liar on the cast.
- Doctor Who:
The Doctor: 1200 and something, I think. Unless I'm lying; I can't remember if I'm lying about my age, that's how old I am.
- Nothing the Doctor says can be trusted, either because he's being deliberately deceptive or because he genuinely doesn't know as much as he thinks he does. The Seventh Doctor's defining trait is keeping everyone but himself ignorant so that they would be more easily manipulated, and one of the Arc Words around the Eleventh is "the Doctor lies". Of particular note is his age; Romana called him out on claiming to be younger than he was, and the Tenth Doctor claims to be fifty years younger than the Seventh Doctor once claimed to be. Word of God is that he has no idea how old he really is, and claims an approximate century because it's a nice round number.
- River Song, the time-traveling criminal from the Doctor's future, is an even more prolific liar than the Doctor and almost as prone to providing false information, primarily to avoid the Temporal Paradox that "spoilers" would cause. This is important because she and the Doctor run into each other many times, but in a roughly reversed order.
- In Mythbusters, Adam has called this on himself. It seems the assorted wild stories he's made up about Jamie, the ones he assumed everyone knew were fake, were being taken seriously. (Adam's first-season claim that Jamie was former-Special Forces note caused some serious issues with actual Special Forces personnel.) Though still making up stories, he later started announcing immediately afterwards that what he just said is a complete lie.
- Supernatural: Just about any demon, since most things they say are calculated to mess with their interlocutor's head. Sometimes, as with Alastair's statement that Dean broke the first seal or an unnamed crossroads demon telling Dean that John ws in Hell, it'll turn out that the really horrible things they're saying are true, but just as often, we'll never find out, as with Azazel's claim that Sam Came Back Wrong in "All Hell Breaks Loose: Part Two" or Meg's telling Jo in "Born Under A Bad Sign" that John Winchester performed a Mercy Kill on her father.
- Forgotten Realms:
- The "best" case, of course, is Volothamp Geddarm and his "guides" that canonically combine dangerously clever investigations and silly hearsay. Mintiper's Chapbook is a Realmslore textbook on Unreliable Exposition: it consists of short excerpts from verses or tales by Mintiper Moonsilver, long comments by knowledgeable Keeper of the Vault about events in which Mintiper's "or his source's" alias participated and... even longer Chronicler’s Footnotes that explain how some or other Keeper's notion above is flawed due to his bias toward Silverymoon history and realities and unwarranted skepticism regarding the breadth of Mintiper's adventures.
- The history of High Moor. The resident pissed-off druid in Elminster's Ecologies II, Bara, assumes it to be the result of typical human deforestation. It's the result of a Killing Storm. She just assumed based on what she saw and knows, and probably never saw a single elf capable or willing to do so, nor would know, since elves aren't eager to tell anyone else about less glamorous moments of their past. The fact she's a self-professed misanthrope who figures Humans Are Bastards probably didn't help her.
- Also, a two-part article named simply "Trusting in Lore".
- Most background material about how things work in Paranoia is inaccurate, while the real truths are mentioned in the Ultraviolet-security chapters. Of course, anyone revealing this information without being of appropriate security clearance (and good luck reaching Ultraviolet as a Troubleshooter) is guilty of treason.
- Basically everything in Warhammer 40,000. Most codices are written from the perspective of the featured army, and all other sources are likewise written from an in-universe perspective (generally Imperial). Imperial scholars tend to be pompous, self-assured, and despise all forms of aliens, heretics, mutants, traitors, etc., etc., so you can imagine how reliable they are.
- Mrs. Lovett from Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The news about Sweeney's wife's rape and his daughter's adoption by Judge Turpin were most definitely true, but the same cannot be said about Lucy's ultimate fate — Mrs. Lovett only mentioned that she poisoned herself after what went down at the ball, but the way she tells him this implies strongly that she died as a result of it. In truth, Lucy was left half-mad as a result of the trauma and the poisoning and wound up in Bedlam House, and would ultimately wind up as the crazy Beggar Woman. Mrs. Lovett didn't want Sweeney to know this because she wanted Sweeney for herself. Sweeney only learns the truth after he takes vengeance upon Judge Turpin immediately after killing the Beggar Woman, and needless to say, he is not happy.
- Knights of the Old Republic:
- On the unknown planet near the end of the game, one can find two tribes of Rakata who have retained the history of their race to some extent. But while one of these tribes kept their history stored in databases, the other is essentially a primitive tribe with only vague and legendary stories about their history, handed down orally over the course of 25,000+ years. Needless to say, the history they keep is somewhat less than reliable.
- If the right choices are made you can hear the Sand People history, another oral history going back about as far. Although it turns out to be closer to the truth than the previous example, it also heavily implies that Tattooine is the original human homeworld and states that the ancestors of the Sand People were the ones who overthrew the entire galaxy-spanning Infinite Empire in a slave revolt.
- The sequel has Kreia, who lies. She lies a lot. Considering she is also your main source of exposition, this poses something of a problem.
- Mass Effect:
- While The Codex has a wealth of information that provides good background information on The 'Verse, certain details sometimes contradict what the player has seen or done. The best example of this may be in Mass Effect 2 where the entry for "Reapers" claims they are nothing more than a superstitious myth. The players know better.
- Javik, your DLC Prothean squadmate in 3, pontificates a lot about what happened in his "cycle", which given that it ended 50,000 years ago makes him the only source. It's possible he's entirely serious about nearly everything he says, but he's supremely jaded and bitter and not above deliberately screwing with people, so who knows.
- As in Mass Effect, the codex of Dragon Age has entries on a myriad of topics written by people in-universe. How true the entries are... varies. In the first game, you can get different entries on the same subject based on which Origin story your character is. For many things, it isn't certain whether what you read or what you hear is the truth.
- DLC quests from Inquisition reveal that the Chantry, Dwarven, and Elven accounts of ancient history are massively inaccurate and incomplete.
- In Planescape: Torment you awake in mortuary without any memories of your past, with your only clues coming from a long set of instructions tattooed on your back, read to you by a friendly floating skull who becomes your first companion and main guide through the first sections of the game. Later in the game you can discover a secret room in which the very same text is written on a wall, but ending with the additional line "Don't trust the skull!"
- In line with The Elder Scrolls series' invoking of Unreliable Canon, pretty much all sources of in-universe lore should be treated this way. To note:
- Due to the sheer depth of the series' lore and backstory, the detailed nature of the game world, and the number of different overlapping cultures and mythologies, it is very difficult to take anything that any in-universe character says or writes as truly "reliable".
- Even historical in-universe statements and texts need to be treated this way for a variety of, often justified, reasons (just like in real life). To note:
- The expositor in question is drawing from incomplete sources. There are some 5000+ years of history in Nirn that have passed before the main series even takes place. Before that, there was the Dawn Era, very much a Time of Myths before linear time even applied. Historical details have been lost, along with entire cultures and races, in that time. In many cases, something you find or do in-game turns up new and contradictory information than what is recorded in the "official" histories.
- The expositor in question is drawing from biased sources and widespread propaganda, telling only one side of a story and/or omitting certain details while anything to the contrary is heavily censored. Historical accounts Written by the Winners and containing Historical Hero Upgrades provide plentiful examples.
- The expositor is deliberately lying, telling half-truths, and/or is telling Metaphorical Truths. The Dunmeri Physical God Vivec positively embodies this, but there are plenty of other examples as well.
- One major exception are the Elder Scrolls themselves, which are completely irrefutable recordings (due to their connections to reality itself) of the past, present, and future. If attuned to a specific point in history (assuming it wasn't during a Time Crash), they can tell you exactly what happened. At least, if a trained reader (such as a Moth Priest) is the one doing the reading. (An amateur reader is more likely to leave with no real information, as well as a nasty case of blindness and madness...) And since even Moth Priests, with their lifetimes of training, are only able to read the Scrolls a finite number of times before becoming blind, those in power prefer they use the Scrolls to predict the future rather than looking into the past. (And in some cases, those in power may have good reason to want to keep the past buried...)
- Another complicating factor is the prevalence of Time Crash events (during which Reality Is Out to Lunch) in the setting, as well as numerous groups and individuals with Reality Warper abilities. means that it is entirely possible that a piece of exposition is only reliable at the moment.
- Psychonauts, being a game that takes place mostly inside people's minds, brings this up at times, though a little digging makes the real stories clear. Notable are Gloria's biographical "plays" (a bit warped by her own point of view of her childhood), Edgar's lost love (a deliberate romanticization), and Coach Oleander's memories of the military (completely fake).
- In Portal GLaDOS is basically lying most of the time. Or "enhancing the truth", as she puts it. She's the only source of information in the entire game, leading to much confusion about everything. Portal 2 meanwhile turns this trope into an art form with three different examples, all of them unreliable for different reasons (GLaDOS again, who retains her lying ways, a literal Idiot Ball, and a narcissistic maniac who's been dead for decades).
- This is par for the course in all Metal Gear games. The person who gives you your first bit of exposition is more than likely trying to manipulate you into doing something you'll regret by the end of the game. The Colonel Campbell AI in Metal Gear Solid 2 is an example of an unreliable expositor where, in the end, you still don't know what the truth was.
- Early on in Last Scenario, most of the exposition about the overall plot comes from Zawu, a mysterious woman who shows up out of nowhere one day to tell the main character he has a great destiny. As the story continues, her motives start getting called into doubt; ultimately it's revealed that everything she said was a lie. Even the things she thought were true, which were rather few and far between, were lies told to her by Ortas and Castor.
- The Legend of Zelda. As it is, really, a legend, the events of each game have faded into myth by the time of chronologically later games, so in any given game the exposition about what happened previously is as heavily corrupted and confused as any real-world legend, and every game will inevitably delve heavily into the in-universe legends about what happened last time in the chronic Vicious Cycle. This can lead to massive player confusion when they make a prequel about those previous events, and they turn out to be not very much like what legend remembers them as at all.
- The loading screens in Divine Divinity contains various helpful tips similar to those in Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights. Except a lot of them are wrong, sometimes dangerously so. (One claims that Othar will gladly let you kill his pigs, when he actually responds violently if you do so.) Fittingly, one tip is "Don't trust everything you hear!"
- In Tales of Symphonia, for the first section, you're supposed to go on a journey to regenerate the world's mana supply, and are sent an angelic messenger who first describes the mission for you, then meets you at each checkpoint and gives you directions to the next one. However, he leaves out some key details, like that restoring the mana of your world will doom its parallel counterpart, and that completing the journey will claim the life of The Chosen One, and he blatantly lies about a few other things (being Colette's true father comes to mind)...because his boss, the leader of the angels, is actually the Big Bad. Discovering all of this kicks off the true plot of the game, which is of course a quest to Save Both Worlds. Combining this with Unreliable Narrator, even the opening narration turns out to be a lie; which is probably why the voice actor of one of the characters responsible for perpetuating said lie is the one who delivers it, and also why that narration can later be found as an in-universe book.
- Baten Kaitos deals with a God of Evil who, according to the stories passed down for generations, rebelled against the virtuous rest of the gods, and the ensuing battle more or less destroyed the world; the evil god was then divided into five pieces which were sealed away. The prequel, Baten Kaitos Origins, reveals that this was Written by the Winners, and that the so called "gods of good" were actually a single Eldritch Abomination named Wiseman who was also evil, and that the "evil god" from the first game was actually a group of five separate heroic individuals that made a Deal with the Devil for the power to defeat Wiseman at the cost of sanity, gaining the ability to fuse into one temporarily in the process.
- World of Warcraft:
- Kairoz, a bronze dragon working with the Keepers of Time on the Timeless Isle, claims to be researching the effects of the island to allow his flight to regain their ability to view the past. Come War Crimes, however, and we learn that he has actually been turning that research towards a way to travel through time and timelines which he uses to free Garrosh Hellscream and bring about the rise of the Iron Horde.
- In the Chronicles tie-in novel, it is revealed that the Tribunal of Ages (where most of our information on the Titans and Old Gods come from) was actually a complete forgery made by the corrupt Titan-Keeper Loken to try and hide his crimes from the world.
- Phone Guy in Five Nights at Freddy's gets most of the exposition correct, but Word of God is that he's missing a couple key details. Justified in that he never had a clue what was going on. After he took up the job as the night guard, he was probably a bit preoccupied with figuring out how to survive.
- Much of Touhou's lore comes from Defictionalizations of in-universe books like Perfect Memento in Strict Sense. While generally reliable, their authors tend to clutch at straws when covering reclusive or mysterious characters, or events which were covered up by those involved. The aforementioned Perfect Memento also includes a disclaimer from its author that she has exaggerated the dangers of some of the monsters described within... at their own request.
- Her Story is all about watching clips of the testimonies of a woman suspected of murdering her husband. The testimonies are the only source of exposition in the game, but it becomes apparent the more clips you watch that there are inconsistencies in the testimonies, which are made extremely unreliable by the possibilities that the woman has a twin sister who is an expert at copying her or the woman has a split personality disorder or the woman is an extremely good liar.
- In Ghost Trick, the first character you meet, Ray, admits to having lied to you about a very important fact about ghosts: that they disappear at sunrise. They actually don't, and Ray himself has in fact stayed around for 10 years after his own murder.
- Final Fantasy VII has two main culprits - Sephiroth, who is not only willing to lie in order to manipulate the protagonists, but is also genuinely mistaken about an extremely important detail in his first big Motive Rant, and Cloud, whose entire backstory is a delusion.
- After the Mastermind is revealed in Dangan Ronpa, they swiftly prove themselves as this, battering the survivors of the Deadly Game with truckloads of information. Plenty of Awful Truths are mixed in there, enough to leave even the player rattled and wondering how much is true and how much is being edited/deliberately phrased in misleading ways/left out/just the result of their desire for despair.
- In Dangan Ronpa 2 it occurs after the second trial. After the culprit's conviction, they declared that they were ordered by another student to commit the murder and remembered being happily praised by them. In reality however, the culprit did it of their own free will, and the other student was horrified by the results.
- Also in the second game, the Big Bad Junko Enoshima informed everyone that Hajime's alternate persona Izuru Kamukura was a mass-murdering serial killer, and at the time there wasn't any evidence to contradict her. However, later material showed that Izuru was framed for practically all of "his" crimes and was never really evil, and that Junko knew this, being the one who framed him. She was just lying for the sake of her Breaking Speech.
- In contrast to the Masterminds of previous games, the Mastermind of New Dangan Ronpa V3, Tsumugi Shirogane, is a Consummate Liar who utilizes deception and outright lies to make her plans work. This why the game itself incentives the player to not take all the Awful Truths she reveals at the end at face value. Some of her revelations outright contradict events that happened in the Prologue and even the “evidence” she provides can’t be trusted because it could have been fabricated thanks to her Ultimate Talent.
- A bad case occurs in Higurashi: When They Cry where often even the unreliable expositors don't realize what they're saying is nonsense, or it's completely irrelevant or even just misleading. After all, the characters are trying to work out what's going on at the same time as the reader. Apart from not knowing whether their conclusions are correct, a lot of the time characters are going crazy or getting paranoid.
- In Umineko: When They Cry Beatrice is this and an Unreliable Narrator during the first four arcs, since not only is most of what she reveals questionable unless she's using the red truth, but any scenes that aren't narrated by Battler are narrated by her, and in EP5 it's confirmed that in the first four arcs the only scenes that can be trusted are ones from Battler's point of view.
- Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney:
- It's quite difficult to tell whether Turner Grey is right about Mimi Miney being at fault for the incident in which fourteen patients died because of malpractice, or whether he's intending to use her to deflect all blame from himself. This also applies to Mimi herself, who is actually alive and pretending to be her sister.
- Dahlia Hawthorne is one, even when she loses her facade and reveals her true colors. As a result of her bitterness, her comments about other people cast them in the worst possible light, in addition to several outright lies, such as that Maya killed her mother then committed suicide. This also applies to when she's impersonating Iris, as she makes several comments that are intended to cast Iris in a negative light while drawing sympathy to herself. As such, it's difficult to determine the veracity of much of what she says, including the reasons why her parents(whom she despises) did what they did.
- Several characters think the Scratch is a rift that sends Jack Noir to an Alternate Dimension, but it turns out to be a Cosmic Retcon Reset Button that forces Jack to escape elsewhere just to avoid being erased.
- Doc Scratch says he tells the truth, but he always uses Exact Words. Furthermore, he can lie if it's for a joke or a prank. Plus the Author Avatar calls some of his exposition "fanfiction".
- Aranea Serket revels in being an Exposition Fairy about her friends and their exploits, but her closest friend claims she frames the stories to glorify herself, which becomes apparent when she attempts to take on the Big Bad by herself.
- Girl Genius:
- One comic illustrates the hazard of relying on a psychotic A.I. for a description of your Love Interest's activities. Though the next page shows that she is totally aware of this trope.
Agatha: ... Even if you completely misinterpreted the situation — which I wouldn't put past you, by the way...
- Part of the reason the Sturmhalten arc is difficult to follow the first time around is because Tarvek, one of the major players, lies to almost everyone else during it, making it hard to know what he's doing, whose side he's on, what he will do, or where anything is going.
- One comic illustrates the hazard of relying on a psychotic A.I. for a description of your Love Interest's activities. Though the next page shows that she is totally aware of this trope.
- The Order of the Stick:
- The team learns from Lord Shojo that Xykon is planning on controlling the Snarl, a god-killing monster born of godly bickering that sealed into the planet. Much later on, once the Order actually looks into one of the Rifts leading to the Snarl, they see an entirely different world, meaning that some of the exposition was either incomplete or inaccurate.
- Used very deliberately with Tarquin. He explains his actions in the Empire of Blood as him being a grand strategist controlling things from the shadows. Rich Burlew pointed out that only Tarquin himself gave this version of events: in the final part of the arc his co-conspirators indicate that Tarquin has too high an opinion of himself.
- Erfworld: The Magic Kingdom is full of free casters who spend much of their time philosophizing on the nature of magic itself. Unfortunately, they have no actual scientists, so they tend to construct theories that are more focused on proving their own disciplines superior than truly understanding how magic works. The Thinkamancers, for example, view everything in terms of Grandiocosmic strings, to the point that they never even noticed that key parts of their own discipline involve quite a lot of Date-a-mancy.
- Batman Beyond has an interesting, possibly unintentional, case: One character claims that psychic powers are a result of being able to use the remaining 90% of Your Brain; but that character is an avowed Psychic Supremacist criminal foot soldier (in other words, exactly the wrong person to be giving scientific exposition).
- Likewise in Justice League Unlimited, when Amanda Waller claims Cadmus was made purely in response to the Alternate Universe where the Justice Lords conquered the Earth. At least two creations of Cadmus, Doomsday and the metahumans who would become the Royal Flush Gang, predate contact with the Justice Lords' universe which indicates either a continuity error or Waller lying about how old the organization was. It's later implied that it was actually in response to Superman being brainwashed by Darkseid two series earlier.
- In The Boondocks, Grandad's stories about his life experiences are often questionable and he tends to lie to try to get out of just about anything.
- Fans called Amon on this in The Legend of Korra due to the historical precedent of charismatic radicals fabricating their origin stories. Even before the show revealed his backstory, they knew he was lying about something. He was lying about everything.
- An episode of I Am Weasel had the story of how I.M. Weasel and I.R. Babboon got their start as a small-time country singer and comedian, respectively (which they never were portrayed as in any previous episode). It was voiced over by an unseen narrator with a smooth, fairly deep voice with a hint of a Southern accent. At the end of the story, the voice abruptly changes to that of Jolly Roger, and it's revealed he was the narrator and made the whole story up.
- Quilby from Wakfu gives a substantial chunk of exposition about the origin of the Eliatropes, and while some of it was true, there were several massive lies and omissions. Most notably the fact that he was the cause of the war that forced the Eliatropes off their planet in the first place.