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Villains Never Lie
A truth that's told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.

Would I lie?

When a villain declares that the hero is the Tomato in the Mirror, or that his mentor is using him, or that his girlfriend doesn't love him, or that his long-lost father is actually the villain himself, the hero often believes it, instead of just assuming that the villain is trying to screw with him. Even if the hero does assume that, the doubts in the back of his mind start to gnaw.

Also, the villain is usually telling the truth, or something that is "technically" true, for certain values of "true", anyway — there are only a few cases where the villain just makes something up for giggles. This is why Break Them by Talking works.

This can often leave you wondering why the hero is suddenly carrying the Idiot Ball and believing the villain rather than his trusted companion. Or even believing anything the villain would say without having 50 sworn trustworthy witnesses to back it up.

As an alternative, sometimes the statement is actually true, but only by failing to take into account the personalities and feelings of others. As an example, perhaps the hero is told, in an effort to convert him to the villain's side, that they are in fact the Tomato in the Mirror (which given the nature of the story is actually true), and that their girlfriend will never love them (which is not true, since the girlfriend in question has already found out about his status as a Tomato in the Mirror, and perhaps for any other person this would be true, but the girlfriend loves this about him ). Expect this character to be strung along for quite a few episodes before they find out this latter part.

When a hero believes the villain will keep his word and the villain does not, expect an exchange along the lines of "You Said You Would Let Them Go!" "I Lied". Frequently, they'll Trash Talk the hero over being such a Horrible Judge of Character as to actually believe their lies in the first place. Is a subtrope of Fiction Never Lies.

Examples

    open/close all folders 

    Media in General 
  • The Fair Folk occasionally show up as (sort of) villains in a work, and are trusted to be telling the truth since they Cannot Tell a Lie. They can however tell creative truths and twist meanings of words to suit their purposes. See The Dresden Files, below. Djinn (genies) are like this except they twist the words of wishes so you always regret them.
  • Legal and police dramas, with their emphasis on the veracity of witnesses, defendants, etc., frequently play with this trope. Law & Order mocked it in the episode "Access Nation," in which a convicted felon, while in prison, uses an Internet information-gathering company to track someone down and then murders that person upon his release. The owner of the company, trying to defend himself from accusations of wrongdoing, points out that all customers are required to fill out a form asking if they had a criminal record. McCoy says, "And it never occurred to you that someone with a criminal record might actually lie about it?"
  • Often inverted by Knights and Knaves-type logical puzzles. There, the "villainous" characters (guilty criminals, knaves, madmen, vampires, werewolves...) usually always lie.

    Anime and Manga 
  • The Butcher Serial Killer Barry the Chopper in Fullmetal Alchemist is one of the rare "making it up for the giggles" examples: He uses an entirely improvised Hannibal Lecture on Al, and Al falls for it in all three versions of the story. Justified in the 2003 anime, where Alphonse is shown to be questioning his existence for several episodes beforehand, and Barry just happened to get lucky with the subject matter. In the manga, however, it is not foreshadowed, and it leads to an outright Out-of-Character Moment for Alphonse. He doesn't dwell on it for as long as his anime counterpart, however.
    • Actually, Barry isn't technically lying to Al. He isn't saying that Ed created Al from scratch, just bringing up the possibility, and is brushing aside all of Al's objections be insisting "How can you be sure?".
    • Played straight with Greed, who insists that his policy is to never tell a lie. Later, he utters his "first and last" lie in order to trick Prince Ling into letting him commit a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Kimblee. He wears many masks to conceal his psychopathy, but he never tells a direct untruth. For example, when he is talking to Winry, he tells her about finding her parents bodies, and says that he admired their efforts and would have liked to meet them when they were alive. Sure, he was trying to make sure that she would trust him, but every word he said to her was genuinely true. After all, he never said he wasn't ordered to execute them.
      • It goes along with his Orange And Blue Morality. He has his own set of rules, and respects others who stick to their morals, whatever they are. It's why he respects Major Armstrong for not killing in the Ishvalan Massacre even though it got him demoted, and stops Pride from taking over Ed at the end.
  • Gilbert Durandal in Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny, where he says he has a plan to bring ultimate peace and unity to the universe, ridding of war. His plan turns out to be the controlling of every human in the universe to be the same, so no one can disagree.
    • Not quite. His endgame is a civilization based on genetic determinism, where individuals are given roles in society not according to what they want or are interested in, but what they are inherently good at as dictated by their genes. He makes the argument that it would lead to every human being more satisfied with themselves in life. Murrue compares Durandal to a "bishop", while genes would be the "king".
  • Code Geass:
    • Ohgi, for the record, implicitly trusting the word of the enemy commander and Prime Minister who commissioned the weapon that nuked Tokyo and is aiming another at your flagship while he speaks to you and a woman who tried to kill you twice and makes no secret of her loyalty to the enemy is not the brightest move in the entire world. Of course, Schneizel wasn't entirely lying. The list of people Lelouch may or may not have controlled with his Geass is shockingly accurate, and the only evidence he has that he himself was not controlled is that he's not dead. Of course, while most of the stated facts are true, the implied actions are not.
    • Another example is Lelouch promise to Rolo. At this point, Lelouch states that he won't lie to him. Which is false reassurance for two reasons: first, Lelouch may love Rolo so much that he won't lie to him… except that the fact that he loves Rolo at all may be a lie. Second, Lelouch always lies to people he loves. Rolo, how could he forbid himself to lie to his fake brother when he lied so much to Nunnaly in R1? (yes, he states than he can't lie to Nunnally during the "new governor" phone call… but actually, in R1 he pretended that everything was fine at Euphemia's SAZ opening ceremony).
  • Hey Sasuke, guess what? Itachi's actually a good guy!
    • At least with that one he checks his facts when he could. Granted, this was about 75 chapters later and he'd gone under the assumption Tobi was telling the truth for all that time.
    • One of Madara's claims is later proven false- he was actually responsible for the Nine-Tailed Fox's attack.
    • One of the more outstanding examples was Tobi revealing his evil plan to :four Great Kages and their retainers. It involved merging all known bijuus into another one, Ten-Tails, and using it to project his genjutsu to the moon and trapping the entire humanity with it. Everyone believes him without realizing that if this is actually what he intends to do, he sabotaged himself by revealing it.
    • Orochimaru actually inverts this trope. When he goes to Tsunade for help and she asks him about his arms, he openly admits to killing the Sandaime Hokage, even though it would hurt his chances of her helping him.
      • He also openly admits he wants to destroy the Leaf Village, but appears to decide to spare it when Tsunade asks him to as a condition for healing his arms. However, when Tsunade's treachery becomes apparent to him, he admits he was lying.
    • "Madara's" identity is a fourth wall-piercing example. Many readers never questioned his identity simply because he stated he's Madara and other characters believed him.
  • Played with in Kara no Kyoukai. When Lio says that Shiki is the killer, it's outed IMMEDIATELY as a lie. However, when Lio says that Shiki's beloved is dead, which as far as the viewer knows is true, Shiki takes it on slim evidence. She did not see the body.
  • Subverted in Bleach. Aizen makes a series of incredibly unlikely claims "Dude, I've totally been manipulating you since you were born."(paraphrased) and Ichigo immediately calls him on his bullshit.
    • Only partially subverted. Ichigo points out that Aizen said the exact opposite way back when they first met. Aizen's response? "You just said I'm a liar. What makes you think I wasn't lying back then?"
    • It turns out that at the very least, Aizen wasn't lying about knowing about Ichigo from birth. He is in fact the reason Ichigo even exists, since one of his experiments led to his parents' meeting and Ichigo's empowerment.
  • Ubik always tells the truth. Unfortunately, the truth is always pretty damn depressing. That's why he does so well with his Hannibal Lecture.
  • This would be why Maka fell for Medusa's emotional blackmail in the Baba Yaga arc of Soul Eater when she hears that, apparently, the witch is a mother who would do anything to protect her child. She wouldn't have even needed to explicitly mention Spirit, but does so simply to drive the point home. It works like a charm, and isn't the first or last time Maka's caught out by something of the sort.
  • Kyubey, of Puella Magi Madoka Magica, rarely tells the whole truth, but never in the series actually says something that's untrue. It's very good at twisting what it says to get the desired result, though. For example, when asked if it was possible to turn a Witch human again, it replies "Nobody has ever done it before. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if you could do it." Well, this is all true, because such a task is impossible, and Kyubey doesn't have emotions, so it's physically incapable of being surprised.
  • The fourth season of Yu-Gi-Oh! GX features a villain named Trueman who has that name because he never speaks a lie (although he is willing to use deceit and dishonesty on occasion, such as when he used illusions to make himself look like O'Brien's father in their duel).
  • Subverted with Rudger Godwin, the leader of the Dark Signers in Yu-Gi-Oh! 5Ds. In his first encounter with Yusei, he claimed that it was greed and lust for power on the part of Yusei's father that caused Zero Reverse; it was a blatant lie which Yusei clearly would not believe. In their second encounter, he told Yusei a story that was closer to the truth, but still distorted by his own biased beliefs, which resulted in Yusei resorting to a "The Reason You Suck" Speech followed by a Shut Up, Hannibal! when he realized it was pointless.
    • On the other hand, Rex Godwin gave Jack very little reason to trust him, and gave Yusei even less. But for some odd reason, they never considered the possibility that what he was telling them was mostly lies until his true plan was revealed, at which point it was almost too late. (I guess it's easier to trust an authority figure - even a corrupt one - than it is a leader of a dark cult...)
  • There are at least a few fantastic examples in Neon Genesis Evangelion, when the Angels attempt to destroy the willpower of the pilots so that they may destroy the pilots themselves; the arguments chosen by the Angels in order to discourage, confound, and humiliate each pilot are genuinely thought-provoking and blankly honest statements about life and reality, causing pilots and audience members alike to consider genuinely what it means to stay alive.

    Comicbooks 
  • Subverted in the Sleepwalker comics published by Marvel in the 1990s with Big Bad Cobweb and Rick Sheridan. Cobweb blatantly lies about Sleepwalker's true nature to Rick, as part of his Evil Plan to invade Earth and frame Sleepwalker as leader of the invasion. To his credit, Rick doesn't believe him until Cobweb "proves" his claims by showing how Sleepwalker supposedly killed him, distorting the truth of what really happened.
  • Averted with Black Beetle, who tells several different stories about who he is, before declaring himself to be Jaime's future self. And although he sticks to that story with much more force than his previous ones, by this point Jaime doesn't believe him.
  • The title character of Lucifer considers lying beneath him, but he's not above letting people hear what they want to hear. Being an Anti-Hero in his own comic, he's not exactly evil, just kind of a bastard.
    • Indeed, it's mentioned that his chief vice is pride, and he is far too proud to ever lie, break an oath, or leave a debt unpaid.
    • Rachel comments during their last meeting (having been burned by an Exact Words deal with Lucifer before) that never outright lying in no way means Lucifer is honest.
  • Many Marvel heroes and Villains have no problem believing what Loki says, even though he once called himself the God of Lies. He's not above using his reputation as an inveterate liar to use the truth to hurt those who don't believe him, too, though.
  • The Joker never lies to get out of punishment — he'll lie to throw someone off balance, or as part of a Gambit Roulette, or just because he finds it's funny, but he never denies his crimes in court or when Batman confronts him with them.
  • In Marvel Star Wars, there's an arc after The Empire Strikes Back where Luke's targeting computer goes offline and he uses the Force to sight on and vape someone - only to find later that it was his wing guard and Love Interest Shira Brie. Shira was important enough to the Rebellion that he was immediately ostracized. While Luke was having a crisis of faith in the Force, Vader contacted him and told him that Shira was The Mole, operating at Vader's command. No one would believe Luke if he told his friends - the only one he could go to in all the galaxy, now, was Vader. Luke had found evidence that Shira had been making up her tragic past before, but he didn't believe Vader until he'd infiltrated a data storage facility and saw the evidence himself.
  • Inverted in the french comic book Les Légendaires, where the Evil Sorcerer Darkhell, after betraying his ally General Rasga, mockingly reveals to him that the whole reason for his people, the Pirahni, and their ennemies, the Elves, to hate each other, was because of the Pirahni wrongly blaming the Elves for banishing them on a deserted island, when they actually chose themselves to live there and the Elves used to be their allies. Ironically, Rasga is reluctant to believe it, when it turns out Darkhell is actually telling the truth.
  • Discussed by Madrox in X-Factor, who trusts villains more than his friends, because they're usually too arrogant to hide malicious intent.
  • Dr. Doom as a part of his noble villain character type, actually never lies though sometimes he avoids lying by using Exact Words.

    Fan Fiction 

    Film 
  • In Red Eye, Jackson Rippner never lies once, and makes a point of it to Lisa. This has led to some fans interpereting his off-handed joke about killing his parents as actually the truth.
  • In Memento, Ted tells the protagonist he killed his own wife with an insulin injection, and now he continues to search for a new murderer time and again in order to have some meaning to his life. We don't know if Ted is a villain, or whether he says the truth or not, but this is the second-to-last scene (or is it the second scene?), so we tend to believe him.
    • It doesn't help that Leonard remembers a detail of the death of Sammy Jenkins' wife that he probably couldn't know unless he was there: that the insulin overdose was the result of the wife testing Sammy's memory (rather than a purely memory-based accident).
    • Not to mention the whole self-manipulation twist-ending.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Frodo believes Gollum rather than Samwise when Gollum claims that Samwise ate the last of their food.
  • No. I am your father. Again, actually true. Justified by the Force — Luke initially doesn't believe Vader, leading Vader to say "You know it to be true," and Luke still remains skeptical enough to ask Yoda point-blank in the next movie to confirm it.
    • Count Dooku tells Obi-Wan that the Senate is controlled by a Sith Lord named Darth Sidious. Yoda and Mace Windu say they're reluctant to believe this. Then Windu is shocked to learn that Palpatine is the second Sith in Revenge of the Sith.
      • To their credit, Dooku did lie more than once in that same conversation.
      • This is explored further in the novelization, where the Jedi have realized Dooku was telling the truth, but underestimated the degree to which he was— they believed that Palpatine was being controlled by Sidious, who they suspected was one of his guards or advisers, rather than Palpatine himself being Sidious. They actually toy with the (completely correct) idea that "Hey, maybe Palpatine is the Sith Lord," but the idea is very quickly shot down because Palpatine "for all intents and purposes...rules the galaxy already."
      • It should be noted, Palpatine made a great deal of effort to make everyone believe he was not affiliated with the Sith. The plot where he ordered his own kidnapping by General Grievous (where not even Grievous knew that his victim was the same man who gave him the order) helped a great deal to remove himself as a suspect.
      • And Palpatine himself is the absolute master of this trope. He tells a selective interpretation of the truth to everyone to manipulate them into doing what he wants, while omitting other parts of the truth that would have revealed the events for what they truly are.
  • Wanted: Sloan tells the Fraternity that they've all been tapped to die. Even though it's been revealed he has been manipulating the Prophecy Machine for some time now, it's never even implied that he's lying about this. Sloan is certainly in a more trustworthy position, though.
    • The problem was that Fridge Logic could be used right there to confirm the truth of his words. The Fraternity had done terrible things, the exact sort of terrible things that would make the Loom send their name back in time. So they knew that it was very likely that he was not lying.
  • In the movie of The Golden Compass, Mrs. Coulter is the one to tell Lyra who her parents are.
  • The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie contained this memorable exchange:
    Raphael: Where's Splinter?
    Shredder: Ah, the rat. So it has a name... it had a name.
    Leonardo: You lie!
    Shredder: (chuckles) Do I?
    Leonardo then attacks Shredder in rage over the knowledge that he may have killed his 'father'.
    • The best part? Shredder isn't lying; he ordered the Foot to kill Splinter as he left for this confrontation, and he didn't know someone else had saved Splinter in his absence.
  • In The 6th Day, the villain tells Adam Gibson that he's really the clone, and Adam just laughs him off, until the villain gives his proof.
  • Seen in the 80's classic Back to School when Jerk Jock Chas tells Jason that his father bribed the coach to give him a spot on the diving team, Jason believes him right away and chews out his old man for it. His dad Thornton calls him out for that, but in all fairness, up to that point it did seem like something Thornton might do. He did, after all, cut the school a huge check to enroll in the first place and was using his hired staff to do his homework for him.
  • None of the machine characters in The Matrix ever lie, and it's somewhat implied that they can't. Even Smith's initial conversation with Neo is totally truthful, to the point that Smith admits to Neo that he is actually living two separate lives, with one "lived in computers".
    • Might not be lies, but the conclusions and extrapolations of many machine antagonists are, ah... questionable.
    • The Architect reacts with something approaching disgust when the possibility of him breaking his word is brought up: "What do you think I am? Human?"
  • Jigsaw, the titular villain of the Saw franchise, always told his victims clearly and specifically how they could escape death without using falsehood, distortion or even metaphor. If he told one of them to dig deep inside themselves to find the key that unlocked the deathtrap that would kill them, he actually meant that he surgically implanted the key inside their bodies and intended for them to painfully tear said key out.
  • In The Dark Knight, the Joker's secondary catchphrase seems to be "I'm a man of my word." He asks for half of the money they will be able to get with his help, and sets fire to his half (granted, the other half also catches fire, but still). Also, he says that anyone trying to exit Gotham via roads will be in for a big surprise—the surprise being that there is no surprise, and that the boats that were used as alternate means of escape are rigged to blow. Similarly, Two-Face says "it can't hurt your chances" to tell him who in Gordon's unit picked up Rachel Dawes; the coin flip would turn out the same either way. Maroni is lucky; his driver isn't.
    • It's worth noting that the Joker does lie a lot — and the existence of this trope resulted in a lot of people asking questions like "Why did Batman lie about who he was going to rescue?"note 
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, nobody questions Bane when he reads Gordon's speech about the true nature of Harvey Dent.
    • Actually, John Blake does ask Gordon if what Bane saying is true. The reaction he gets ends in Blake seeing Gordon as a Broken Pedestal. No one else questions Bane though.
  • Played with in The Big Lebowski, where the title character refuses to even entertain the idea that the people claiming to have kidnapped his wife may be lying, although our hero, The Dude, certainly speculates on the possibility. The Dude turns out to be right, and it turns out the only reason Lebowski was so credulous was so he could embezzle the ransom money.
  • In X-Men: Days of Future Past, 70s Erik claims he's never lied to Raven, while manipulating her towards his cause.

    Literature 
  • This is one of John Taylor's favorite expressions: "The Devil always lies, except when the truth will hurt you more."
  • Sometimes justified in The Dresden Files, when dealing with either the denizens of Faerie or certain other supernaturals who have made promises. Faeries can't lie and most supernaturals invest a lot in their promises and will not break them lightly. Of course, that only binds them to the word of their agreements; a faerie who promises it will "protect you from danger to your life" may break your back and both your legs and dump you in a hospital to keep you from being in actual danger of death.
    • Dresden is quick to learn that the Order of the Blackened Denarius will always lie, and thus is extremely wary about trusting anything they say. Harry's experiences have actually made him pretty good at never taking what villains tell him at face value.
    • The fact that the members of the Sidhe are known to be unable to outright lie becomes a key plot point in Cold Days. When Harry realizes that Maeve, the Winter Lady, freely gave information without the usual Faerie obfuscation, he gets suspicious, and then realizes that Maeve had been "infected" by Nemesis, a sentient and infectious form of madness, which turned her to the cause of the Outsiders and given her the ability to lie. Since so few people know about Nemesis, and since the Sidhe are known to always tell the truth, this meant Maeve could lie freely to may people and they would have no reason to disbelieve her.
      • Unless the villain happens to be a vulnerable woman. That tends to skew his rationality, a flaw he fully acknowledges. He's gotten better about that, to his somewhat-justified disgust.
  • X-Wing Series. The Director of Imperial Intelligence, Ysanne Isard, averts this. Corran Horn falls into her clutches believing that Tycho was her agent and had betrayed him. Isard never actually tells her victim that this is so, but several times she seems to confirm his belief. Really Tycho was innocent, but Corran doesn't learn this until he finds out during his escape. Telling him that he'd gotten an innocent man put on trial for his own murder, and Tycho was quite likely to be declared guilty and executed, would have given Corran massive guilt, but Isard wanted to use his anger.
  • Lord Foul the Despiser, in the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, never lies. He doesn't see it as necessary to achieve his goals, and he's been right so far.
  • In Twilight, Bella completely believes James when he tells her that he's holding her mom captive. To her defense, they had the conversation over the phone and he used the audio from a home movie he stole from her mom's house.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry assumes that the vision he has of Voldemort torturing Sirius (which is basically him seeing what Voldemort is seeing) is actually happening, despite the fact that he had been warned by Snape that Voldemort knew about their mental bond and might feed him fake images. Of course, that's the one. In Deathly Hallows, Pansy Parkinson is one of very few who actually believe Voldemort when he says that he won't hurt anyone if they hand over Harry. Fortunately, no one else listens to her and have her taken from the school grounds.
    • Harry does try to contact Sirius on the floor first, and is told by Kreacher (who was lying) that Sirius has gone to the Department of Mysteries.
    • Also, Harry had a vision of Mr. Weasly being tortured that did turn out to be true, which is what had led him to believe that the one with Sirius was true.
  • This is a key element of deals with the devil. In Goethe's Faust, Mephistopheles surprises the doctor by telling him that hell has laws and that, therefore, he can be trusted to hold up his end of the bargain. The quintessential feature of such a deal is that the devil figure either twists the terms of the agreement to subvert their intended effect or brings about some change that renders the benefit he confers undesirable—not that he breaks the agreement outright. Without this trope—played straight, mind you—this effect couldn't be achieved.
    • In Marlowe's Faust, Mephistopheles is even more honest. He tells Faust he'll give him certain powers and abilities in exchange for Faust's soul, and keeps the bargain to the letter, giving Faust everything he promised. Interestingly, he even tries to talk Faust out of it, pointing out that if he, Mephistopheles, a demon, exists, then wouldn't it stand to reason that God also exists, and that Faust, by implication, would be making a horrible mistake by taking Mephistopheles up on his offer? Faust replies that that doesn't follow at all, since just because one part of a story turns out to be true, it doesn't prove that the whole story is true. Mephistopheles concedes the point.
  • In their confrontation at the end of Stephen King's The Gunslinger, the man in black makes the following proclamation to the eponymous hero: "Only enemies speak the truth; friends and lovers lie endlessly, caught in the web of duty."
  • Rimmer Dall, the Big Bad from The Heritage of Shannara series is a masterful user of this, he gives Par a fairly standard Tomato in the Mirror, the guy who sent you on this quest is using you etc... speech, then hands over the Sword of Shannara which Par was there to retrieve, said Sword having the power to completely destroy any lies and show the full and complete truth about anything it's used on, telling Par to use the Sword on him to see if he's lying, he does, and it doesn't respond. Turns out the whole point of Dall's speech before handing over the sword was to put just a tiny bit of doubt in Par's mind about himself, and since the Sword requires the user to fully believe he can use it, in order to call on it's power make Par unable to use the Sword at all.
  • The Hunger Games: Katniss may see President Snow for the horrible power-hungry monster he is, but she does take him at his word when he says that he will never lie to her. This is part of what leads Katniss to assassinate Alma Coin.
  • In Mistborn: The Original Trilogy, it's stated in-universe that the Lord Ruler Will Not Tell a Lie. After all, he's the nigh-omnipotent God Emperor of the world- why on Earth would he ever need to lie to accomplish his goals? Of course, his reign is based on deception- he's not actually an avatar of God, nor is he The Chosen One who arose to protect the world a thousand years ago- but he never actually refers to himself using the name of the former Chosen One, and his belief in his divinity and that he'd successfully co-opted the Chosen One prophecy were, to all appearances, completely genuine.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Ben Linus from LOST is pretty much always lying, but the other characters pretty much always believe him, even if they say they know what he's up to. On several occasions he's admitted that past statements were "not entirely truthful".
    • Michael Emerson's excellent performance makes this much easier to suspend disbelief about.
    • Except Keamy, who called Ben's bluff about not actually caring about Alex. That one kinda backfired.
    • The Man in Black also used this tactic to try and get Richard to kill Jacob.
  • One episode of The X-Files has Mulder rather unbelievably instantly trusting someone he's never met before about some new information on the alien conspiracy. Scully even calls him on it: "What happened to 'trust no one?'" Mulder replies "I changed it to 'trust everyone.' Didn't I tell you?" This attempt at a Lampshade Hanging falls rather limp since it does nothing but make it even more explicit that Mulder is utterly out of character in the scene, and we don't even get any reason for it like mind control, as some other episodes do.
  • In the Italian fiction The Black Arrow, Designated Heroine and Faux Action Girl Giovanna constantly fell for this trope. Every single time. Needless to say, she became The Scrappy very quickly.
  • Demons in Supernatural often lie, but whenever they say something you really don't want to believe, they're telling the truth. Cue the following repeated conversation: "Was X true?" "Demons lie." (A sure sign that X actually is true.)
    • Lucifer states that "Contrary to popular belief, I don't lie. I don't need to."
  • In Who Wants to Be a Superhero?, one challenge centered around a note left by Dr. Dark, which implied that one of the heroes was actually a spy. The heroes all then began wondering who it was and discussing which amongst them was the most suspicious. Only Hygenia was smart enough to consider that Dr. Dark was just lying. This was pretty much the case, although he also wasn't outright lying - the note said that one of the heroes could be a good spy, not that one of them actually was.
  • Not exactly a villain example: When Frasier is supposed to be on a date with a model, he winds up minding her daughter while she does a shoot. He eventually strikes up a conversation with the daughter, who tells him about how shallow and neglectful her mother is. When the woman returns and tries to resume the date, Frasier confronts the woman over her supposed behavior, which prompts her to ask if Frasier ever considered that the angry twelve year-old might have been lying.
    Oh, and by the way - I only have one kidney. Guess who has the other.
  • Although it's only mentioned in an episode commentary, Holtz in Angel didn't lie, manipulative as he was. He considered himself to be on the side of right, after all.
    • Angelus, too. Wesley even warns the team that Angelus will try to hurt and manipulate them using the truth (and twist it a bit), but he won't outright lie. He does this and is successful in turning them against each other.
  • Averted in the new Nikita series. Percy, the Big Bad, attempts to manipulate his way out of danger (for about the tenth time) by telling Nikita that Michael knew that her fiance was about to be killed by them, and telling Michael that something happened between Nikita and Owen that she's not telling him about - neither of which is actually true, as far as the viewer knows at least. They hesitate for about a second, doubting each other, and then flip right back into kill-the-psycho mode. His accusations have so far not been brought up by them again.
  • An interesting case is Morgause from Merlin, who convinces Prince Arthur to visit her home so that she can conjure up the spirit of his dead mother. On meeting the late Queen Igraine, Arthur learns the truth about the circumstances of his birth: that his father Uther made a deal with a sorceress to help them conceive, which resulted in Igraine's death thanks to the nature of the spell. This enrages Arthur so much that he races home to Camelot and almost kills his father, only for Merlin to talk him out of it by suggesting to him that Morgause had made the whole thing up and that the spirit of Igraine wasn't real. The twist is that although Morgause could have conjured up a fake Igraine (the show is never clear), the audience knows (thanks to conversations betwen Uther/Gaius) that everything Igraine told Arthur about his birth was in fact completely true. Even more interestingly, Merlin knows the information was true but has to lie to Arthur to protect him.
  • Once Upon a Time: For some reason (that Regina's description of the incident might be believable in this world aside), Rumplestiltskin believes the Evil Queen when she tells him that his Love Interest was Driven to Suicide.
    • As an interesting note, Rumplestiltskin himself has only been seen onscreen outright lying once, when he tells Belle that he doesn't care about her when he's getting her to leave. And as he says to Regina, he's only broken one deal in his life. He's a master of Exact Words and he twists things to suit his needs, but he doesn't flat-out lie.

    Religion 
  • In The Bible:
    • The serpent (who may or may not be Satan) tells Eve that eating of the forbidden fruit won't lead to her death like God said it would, and she believes him, making this the Ur Example. It's also a Half Truth: It's true that the fruit gives humans the ability to decide for themselves what is good and evil (rather than relying on God), like the serpent says. Opinion is divided over whether God's warning was a Half Truth or not: eating it did not kill them immediately and God had to remove them from the garden so they could not eat from the one fruit that could apparently restore/maintain their immortality; however, God never said when or how they would die.
    • The apocryphal Book of Jubilees has it as "if you eat the fruit you will die on the same day" and Adam and Eve both died 900-odd years later: "in the eyes of God a thousand years are as a day".
    • There is also a case of a heroic use of this alongside From a Certain Point of View: King David has Hushai spy on Absalom by becoming his adviser. He even says "As I have served in thy father's presence, so will I be in thy presence."

    Videogames 
  • This is Terumi's schtick in BlazBlue. What better way to Mind Rape somebody than reveal truths such as "their rightful place in the world was stolen away by someone who only exists because of causality-interference effects screwing with the time loops", or that "they're really just a failed version of an Eldritch Abomination" which in turn is a failed version of a Person of Mass Destruction"? He does conveniently forget to neglect certain details, however, but he never technically fibs and pretty much confesses without any provocation that he gave Ragna his Dark and Troubled Past For the Evulz.
    • There is one incident Terumi was forced to lie, however - if he was honest in any capacity, his plans could have been compromised. In Decisionnote , he makes a move on Makoto, only to get subsequently parried by Jin, and when he states that his actions were for disciplinary purposes, (which, From a Certain Point of View still could be considered a truth from Hazama's perspective,) Jin refuses to buy it. In addition to Makoto's protectorate issues, she had just returned from assignment in Ikaruga, where she learned things that stand to be very damaging to his schemes if left uncontrolled. In Slight Hope, which takes place beforehand, she had proven herself a nuisance to his plots - add all of that up, and it's clear he wanted her dead three days ago.
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, a dying Admiral Karath whispers the game's major plot twist to Carth in hopes of shaking him up a little. Carth, naturally, immediately turns to Bastila and yells, "You knew! You and the whole damned Jedi Council!" Bastila actually confirms it as soon as he says this, though, so he was actually right to be mistrustful - and the circumstances leading to said revelation already heavily foreshadowed this to the player. And depending on how you answer an inquiry a little further on, you can confirm the same truth as well.
    • In Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords, meanwhile, Kreia tells the PC all sorts of things. Some of them are true. Some of them are not. Have fun figuring out which is which.
      • Everything she says is true. Even the lies. Especially the lies.
      • Most everything she says is true except the part about the Jedi Council cutting you off from the Force, and even that is arguably true if you take into account the Council not trying to help rehabilitate you and help you get back in touch with The Force. Given that it's an ability she actually possesses and the truth is unknown to her, she may just be mistaken.
  • Shin Megami Tensei if.... In the World of Pride, you will find a couple of classmates Taken for Granite. The villain comments that smashing the statues might free them. The game forces you or your partner to pick the Idiot Ball and do so. The guy laughs in your face when the result becomes apparent.
  • Final Fantasy VII's legendary Mind Screw was initiated by one of these. Cloud actually does insist that Sephiroth is lying when he says Cloud isn't who he thinks he is, but since his own version of events isn't right either, and thus there is evidence even in his own memory that seems to support the even more false but still truth-tinted alternative, the doubts eventually overcome him.
  • In the Street Fighter series, one of Bison's character traits is that he does not lie, ever - unless you count Cammy's ending in "Super Street Fighter II", which was a mistranslation on the part of Capcom.
  • The Affably Evil Ur-Quan Kzer-Za in Star Control 2 never lie about their intentions and always do what they say they will. They believe that lying is for the weak, "And the Ur-Quan are not weak."
  • In Jade Empire, Grand Inquisitor Jia helpfully informs you that the apparent Evil Chancellor is actually completely loyal, and the evils of the Lotus Assassins are condoned by the Emperor himself. God forbid the leader of the evil Secret Police force would let you get the wrong idea, after all.
  • The Black Knight in Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance told Ike the truth about his armor and how to penetrate it, and Ike believed him. Somewhat of an inversion, in that the Black Knight was actually telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in that instance.
    • He does this because he likes to have interesting fights. Invincible armor takes the thrill away...
  • Averted in Batman: Arkham Asylum. The Oracle tells Batman that the Joker has claimed to have set up bombs in Gotham and will detonate them if anyone comes to Arkham. Batman immediately declares, "he's lying." Turns out he has planted something around Gotham, but instead of explosives it's marzipan and kittens.
    • Marzipan and kittens. My God.
  • Akasim from Super Robot Wars Z cannot lie because of his Sphere of the "Truth Seeking Goat."
  • In Silent Hill, a lot of the vital information concerning what the hell is going on is given to the player character by people who are less than inclined to be honest with you:
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a strange-looking girl tells him that she and her sisters are all being held captive on the Ghost Ship and of course they don't know where Tetra is, but could he please rescue them all? Of course most players are probably suspicious of this all from the start, but gameplay insists.
  • Legacy of Kain. Kain is a class V Anti-Hero / Villain Protagonist who never lies. Unfortunately, the people he doesn't lie to almost always assume he's lying, to disastrous results.
  • Army Of Two. As The 40th Day draws to a close, Salem and Rios have Jonah cornered; Jonah promptly tells them he's sitting on a nuke that will wipe out half the city if it goes off, but, keeping with the social-experiment theme of his actions, he'll disarm it if Salem or Rios kills the other instead of him. As is likely easy to guess despite the spoiler tag, there's no nuke.
  • Myrkul in Neverwinter Nights 2: Mask of the Betrayer when talking to Kaelyn. The main character can even lampshade it. The trope is subverted in your own case, however: What Myrkul tells you in the same conversation later turns out to be a complete lie.
  • Some in the Mass Effect fandom have taken this approach where Morinth is concerned. After Shepard kills Samara in cold blood, Morinth claims that her mother was "tyrannical" and "a monster" and deserved to die, along with the statement that she'll never pose Shepard any threat, and for some reason, a few people have taken this and a few other of her lies at face value. This includes the lie that Shepard would be safe if he/she and Morinth decided to meld, which has been proven to be wrong.
    • In the ending of Mass Effect 3, the Catalyst, an entity that created and controls the Reapers, gives Shepard its reasons for doing it. Also it calmly presents the options for Shepard, one which includes its destruction alongside with the Reapers but paints it as the undesirable one, even saying that Shepard will also die since he is partly synthetic, yet in the best "Destroy" ending Shepard survives. Statements by BioWare have gone both ways on whether or not the Catalyst's explanation of the Crucible can be taken at face value.
  • In Dark Souls Lautrec of Carim is a very shifty, amoral fellow with goals that don't quite match with yours, but he remains completely on the level with the player.
  • The bad guys in Duel Savior Destiny tend to be a lot more honest about what's actually going on than the good guys who know the full story. Knowing the truth is rather destabilizing and can lead to some serious issues, so the good guys withhold crucial information such as the fact that they should never allow the Messiah to come into being.
  • In Dishonored, Daud says the trope almost word for word. He's telling the truth.
  • Skies of Arcadia: Early on, the heroes meet a young woman named Bellena who leads them to the Red Moon Crystal. She explains that her motivation is that her father was a sailor who was killed in the Valua-Nasr war, and she doesn't want to have anyone else die in pointless conflicts. When the heroes re-emerge from the dungeon with crystal in hand, "Bellena" reveals her true identity as Belleza, along with several armed Valuan soldiers, before taking the Crystal from them. Fina confronts Belleza on her backstory and asks if it was all a lie, but Belleza actually defends her story and claims that she never lied to them: her father really did fight and die in the Valua-Nasr war, but what she didn't tell them was that her father was on the Valuan side. She also claims that she never lied about hating war; she doesn't want anyone else to go through what she went through, and if she has to lead The Empire into conquering the world to end wars for good, she'll do it.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Fate/stay night, Kirei Kotomine will never lie to you. Even when you have an Enemy Mine situation he tells you flatly that you can't trust him because as soon as they're done he's going to go back to trying to kill you again. He won't tell you anything past what you ask except to mess with the protagonist though, unless he needs you to do something.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni features the red text. Anything said with it is always true, and if you try to lie with it, you will choke. The red text can only be used by the witches, or anyone granted the power to speak the red truth. Naturally, the ones to use it are the witches trying to force Battler to surrender and accept them.

    Webcomics 
  • Doc Scratch from Homestuck never lies. Interestingly, as he is an omniscient being, he is also never wrong. Everything he says, when taken purely at face value, is completely factual. He chooses not to lie because he considers it beneath him. And you have to admit that, if you could tell your opponent what your moves will be and still win the game, you'd do it too.
    • The only falsehoods he allows himself to utter are harmless "jokes", because a joke must by definition have a punchline, which will also reveal the deception, cancelling the lie out.
    Rose: So you're saying that an inaccurate statement doesn't count as a lie, as long as you say "just kidding" later?
    Scratch: Basically.
    • However, he claims that "lying by omission" is a false concept (read:he does it all the time because he doesn't consider it lying) and is the undisputed master of Exact Words; he manages to con the heroes into believing they are destroying the Green Sun, when in fact they are creating it - and by extension, Scratch's master, the time-travelling, universe-eating demon Lord English. All without telling a single lie.
  • In The Order of the Stick, during the "Soul Splice" story arc, Vaarsuvius makes a Deal with the Devil with a trio of archfiends, who offer V vast amounts of power in order to save his/her family from a vengeful dragon, in exchange for temporary custody of his/her soul, based on the amount of time he/she chooses to retain the power. The fiends in question are being completely fair and honest, even going so far as to point out that there is an alternative - although this would require V to admit that he/she had failed. Although the soul splice doesn't actually turn Varsuvius evil, black cloak and glowing eyes nonwithstanding, absolute power still corrupts...
    • Also played with in that same story arc. The fiends tell Vaarsuvius "You may be experiencing some slight feedback. You know, alignment-wise", and "Do not let them influence your actions! YOU are the one in control!" The last sentence of that is entirely true. The other three are half-true at best. All together, though, it implies the reverse. Thus, Vaarsuvius assumes s/he isn't in control of hirself, and, as one of them later points out, "A good way to get a decent person to do something horrible is to convince them that they're not responsible for their actions." Horrible indeed...
    • Also subverted in an unexpected way: While the alternative they presented could have worked as far as V knew, it was based on his/her incorrect assumption about the current location of the party's healer. Had V pursued that course, s/he would have accomplished nothing more than suicide. They presented it as part of full disclosure in order to legitimize the contract; V was making a free willed choice without any lies on their part, as far as V knew, this other option would have worked and not required any obligation to the Fiends. In any case, they knew V would never accept the alternative plan as presented, because it would require admitting defeat and failure to use someone else's plan to get other people to save V's family.

    Western Animation 
  • Kim Possible: In "Hidden Talent", after a "recover the stolen MacGuffin" mission, Kim wonders why Professor Dementor insisted that the device was his own invention. Ron just assumes that Dementor is lying. Dementor was telling the truth — the mission was a set-up by Dr. Drakken to trick Kim into stealing Dementor's device and delivering it to him.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender . For some reason, Zuko believed Azula when she offered him the chance to join her to take over Ba-Sing-Se. This is despite his trustworthy uncle berating him for this, and she having explicitly betrayed him on the first episode of the season.
    • AND despite his childhood litany to himself - "Azula always lies."
      • In Zuko's defense, said trustworthy uncle was trapped in crystal and he was surrounded by Azula and Dai Li agents. If he refused, they'd probably just kill him.
      • It's a subversion though because Azula isn't lying this time. She was completely serious about letting Zuko return to the Fire Nation and share the credit for conquering Ba-Sing-Se. Azula was manipulating Zuko, but for once she wasn't lying to him.
      • The subversion part is explained in the first episode of the third season. If in fact the Avatar survives Ba-Sing-Se she needed a fall guy, and may have had a subsequent 'fall guy' plan that was a crapshoot and she might need him for later. His father WAS pleased to see him; though it seems, judging by the flashback, only for his knowledge of Earth Kingdom customs and ethics.
      • Zuko actually hesitates when the offer is made, and Azula leaves him to think it over. It's only when Zuko sees that she actually does need his help that he joins in (and for her to have turned on him after that would have probably discredited her to the more valuable Dai Li). That, and having the first genuine opportunity to fulfill your obsession for the past three years can be kind of hard to turn down...
    • Princess Ursa's partaking in a conspiracy to murder Fire Lord Azulon in order to install Ozai relies on the assumption that Azula and Ozai were telling the truth about Azulon ordering Ozai to murder his son. Keep in mind, Azula and Ozai are the only sources of what went on during that meeting, and both have been proven to be less than honest.
      • So little is known about the exactly what happened that night that it's hard to say whether Ursa counts, she could well have confronted Azulon about the issue directly after hearing of it. Zuko might count for believing Azula, but his belief is certainly influenced by his mother seeming to confirm it.
      • The Promise shows what happened on that fateful night in detail. Azula wasn't lying in the least. And Ozai was perfectly willing to murder Zuko (though in his sleep to make it "merciful") to avoid defying the orders of the Fire Lord. But it was Ursa who gave Ozai a poison in order to kill Azulon, in exchange for Zuko's life. While you could've made a case for the potential that Ozai had no intention of killing Zuko, Ursa's earlier actions in their marriage as shown in Part 3 pretty much eliminate that possibility.
  • Captain Planet and the Planeteers. An often parodied weakness of the show is that the supporting cast always seem to fall for the villains' deceptions, despite their conspicuous names and menacing appearances.
  • Subverted in Buzz Lightyear of Star Command. In a climactic fight with Evil Emperor Zurg (complete with glowing metal rods, just to drive the parody home to the viewers), Zurg tells Buzz that he is Buzz's father, causing Buzz to gasp out a "what" response. Zurg then continues the fight after he reveals that the previous reveal was a sham to catch Buzz off guard.
    • This was a recycled gag from Toy Story 2, only the end result is different. There's the same Luke, I Am Your Father, the same Big "NO!", but then the next scene shows them playing a nice father-son game of catch. Then again, they're supposed to be toys acting the part of their "namesake" characters. The cartoon series is a Defictionalization of the movies, so the toys might have taken the idea "from the cartoon" and ran with it.
  • In one episode of Justice League, Superman (or at least the Superman of an alternate universe) storms the White House to save the world from President Lex Luthor. Cornered and with nowhere to run, Luthor goes hysterical and points out that Superman could have stopped his evil plans—permanently—if he had had the guts to do it. He then declares that Superman's unwillingness to kill or maim effectively makes Superman his accomplice. And even though the audience knows better, Superman apparently is gullible enough to believe Lex and proceeds to fry him with his heat vision. Taking this "lesson" to heart he then goes off to give all of Earth's supervillains a similar treatment and turns the world into a superhero-run police state.
    • The death of that universe's Flash at Luthor's hands probably played a larger role in shifting Superman and the League's beliefs than Luthor's accusations. Superman mowed through the Secret Service already at that point in order to get at Luthor, he seemed to be planning on crossing the line when he showed up.
      • Basically, he knew Lex was insane at this point, so he might not have paid attention that nonsense about his heroism, but he might have a point about how the people's will means diddly-squat since, despite several villainous deeds, he made it to President of United States, and Flash is dead. You almost can't blame him for taking matters into his own hands.
  • Valtor in Winx Club claims to Bloom that he killed Oritel and Marion. Later he says to her that he absorbed them both into his body. Bloom initially believes him both times. He lied both times. The Three Ancient Witches locked them up in the Obsidian Dimension.


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