We Have Been Researching Phlebotinum for Years

Mulder: They're here, aren't they?
Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, "they" have been here for a long, long time.

The Hero encounters some weird shit. Really weird shit. However, just as he is about to say bye-bye to his sanity, some impeccably dressed gentlemen take him into a sciencey lab where The Professor explains that what the hero saw was a perfectly scientific phenomenon they've studied for years, and really, just another kind of Applied Phlebotinum that The World Is Not Ready for yet...

This trope is a form of Exposition that would have become an Info Dump, if it wasn't so long overdue, since it comes after the protagonist (and the audience) is thrust right into the middle of a situation he cannot even begin to understand. It doesn't have to be Phlebotinum per se: any kind of Masquerade will do, as long as the hero stumbles into a life-threatening situation before people who know what's going on show up.


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    Anime and Manga 

  • Independence Day, when they visit Area 51, it turns out The Government knew about the aliens all along. They just didn't get around to telling the elected part, i.e. the President, until some time after the shit hit the fan.
  • In the first Underworld movie, when Selene tells Michael about the werewolves and the vampires.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
    Dr. Scott: This sonic transducer...it is, I suppose, some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?
    Brad: You mean...?!
    Dr. Scott: Yes, Brad, it's something we ourselves have been working on for quite some time. But it seems our friend here has found a means of perfecting it. A device which is capable of breaking down solid matter and projecting it through space...and who knows, perhaps even time itself!
  • Happens in the first Men in Black movie, when K gives J a rundown on the little known facts during the latter's first entry to the MIB HQ.
  • Used in Godzilla2014, where it's revealed the government knows about Godzilla and his ilk, and are in the midst of preparing contingency measures for them.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, the hero learns that his accidentally acquired power to reset time was a condition known to two people already who were busy doing research on it for some time already. More would have known, but attempts to inform military high command had gone... badly.
  • In the first Transformers movie, it turns out that the government has been studying Transformers for decades in a secret base under the Hoover Dam, and that most modern technology is actually the product of their reverse-engineering efforts.

    Live Action TV 
  • The spaceship containing the Power Source of the chronosphere from 7Days.
    • Of course, a later episode reveals that the Americans aren't the only ones who have been doing that. Russians also had a time travel program that was shut down due to the lack of a potent power source. However, after another alien vessel was found in Siberia, it was restarted (by a Renegade Russian general seeking to usurp the presidency).
  • Happens all over the Myth Arc of The X-Files, such as when Mulder goes to great lengths to recover the tiniest sliver of evidence that the aliens have visited Earth—only to be told by his Mysterious Informant that aliens have been on Earth for decades and some government circles have been in cahoots with them the entire time.

  • A Wrinkle in Time: Meg and Charles find out that their father went missing because the government had him experimenting with tesseracts, which left him stranded on another planet.

    Video Games 
  • Max Payne: "We were all involved in the early stages of the Project during the Gulf War..." This refers to Project Valhalla, the origin of the mysterious drug Valkyr that has caused Max so much trouble, to put it mildly.
  • In the later sections of Half-Life, it is revealed that the dimensional rift at the beginning of the game was not a completely random coincidence. The piece of crystal that made the particle accelerator go crazy and open portals to another dimension was of same the type that another department at the research facility used in their development of teleportation technology for a very long time. Not only is the Lambda Core a huge device several stories tall and powered by its own nuclear power plant, the Addon Opposing Force shows quite clearly that expeditions to other dimensions have been going on for years and they have their own zoo for captured alien wildlife.

  • Weregeek begins with Mark drooling at a look on dice and being chased by the Hunter of Monsters. He is saved by Joel and the others, who explain to him that he is a weregeek, just like themselves, which is why he was being hunted. It is much later explained that Joel, in fact, is the leader of La Résistance hunting the Hunters and he knows much more about them than he tells anyone.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation approaches this trope from the side of the mysterious research organization, and plays with it quite a bit. The foundation has warehouses and biological containment sites full of things that simply should not be, which they constantly struggle to explain, or at least understand even after over 150 years of operation. In the world of the foundation, Magic A Is Magic A is horrifyingly deconstructed, and Sufficiently Analyzed Magic may only make you realize that the object previously deemed harmless is actually destroying the fabric of spacetime. There are times when the reader finds themselves understanding why its entirely reasonable for someone to be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade. The consequences of a Broken Masquerade are potentially The End of the World as We Know It.