The Reveal / Live-Action Films

  • Citizen Kane: The "Rosebud" was Kane's sled.
  • The all-time most famous is "Luke, I Am Your Father" from The Empire Strikes Back, as well as the revelation that Leia is his sister in the next movie. Vader's status as Luke's father was actually a reveal to near everyone, even those involved in the production, considering only a very select few knew about it up until near the film's release. Even David Prowse, the actor within the suit, did not know the truth. The line he spoke while filming, believing it would be the final line, was "Obi-Wan killed your father." That would have been pretty screwy, too and in fact, is in a way also Metaphorically True. A sign of the pre-Internet times the movie was released in: "Luke, I Am Your Father" was actually revealed first in the novelization of the movie... which was released two months prior to the movie itself.
    • Another major yet minor reveal in The Empire Strikes Back is the fact that Vader is merely The Dragon to The Emperor, as up until that point, Vader had been built up as the Big Bad of the Star Wars trilogy. It's a different story in-universe though, as The Emperor is widely known across the galaxy, and Vader is merely one of his enforcers.
  • The big reveal that Captain Barbossa has returned to life at the end of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. More so, in that even the actors didn't know it would be Barbossa. They assumed Anamaria would be coming down the stairs, and their expressions of surprise are real ones.
  • Every single Scream contains a scene where the masked Ghostface killer reveals his/her true identity and motives. It usually changes the way you see the entire movie.
  • The hidden setup of So I Married an Axe Murderer. Harriet isn't Mrs. X, her sister Rose is. Harriet has trouble maintaining serious relationships because Rose is a Clingy Jealous Girl who murders all of Harriet's lovers so she can have her to herself.
  • When the central protagonist in Memento finally does...Remember Sammy Jankis.
  • The Matrix:
    • One of the creepiest reveals ever is when Morpheus explains the true nature of the Matrix itself. Namely, the fact that it is just a simulation meant to give everybody ignorant bliss and distract them from the nature of the real world: dark and decaying, with their bodies harvested by the machines for energy...
    • There's more in the sequels, pulling the bleak world even bleaker with a dose of You Can't Fight Fate. Neo isn't the only "One", not because it's not predetermined, but exactly the opposite: there's already five before him, and their, and now his, job is to reboot the Matrix whenever it's about to crash, picking certain people to survive and repopulate, or choose to do nothing and allow the machine to crash, killing the entire human race. This is done to give humanity a false sense of hope, because their world will always reset every now and then, including the supposedly safe zone Zion, which has similarly been rebuilt five times. Of course Neo Takes a Third Option and does succeed.
  • In Unbreakable, the reveal that "Mr. Glass" deliberately arranged disasters to try and find a superhero who could survive them, and that he's actually the supervillain to David Dunn's superhero (not his mentor figure, as the viewer is led to believe).
  • Close to the end of Big Game, the big reveal is that Hazar is not a terrorist, but a CIA operative and it's Herbert and the vice president who have masterminded the whole attack. Notably, the characters never find out.
  • In the film The Illusionist, it's where it turns out that Sophie was alive all along, that Eisenheim successfully fooled the Police Inspector, causing the Prince to kill himself, and that he got away with all of this scot-free. And Eisenheim's the protagonist.
  • In Tootsie, the big reveal for the fictional soap is when the main character - who had been masquerading as a woman to land a part on a soap opera - takes off his wig and many of his feminine touches and reveals himself to be a man during a live taping.
  • In The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gandalf the Grey is believed to be dead, having died in the previous film, and his death being recapped at the beginning of this film. Director Peter Jackson utilized various film techniques (distorted voice, blinding light covering his face) to hide that the mysterious White Wizard was actually Gandalf brought back, alive and well, as Gandalf the White. Although Jackson presents this in the film as a surprise, even tricking the audience to believe it may be the evil wizard Saruman, the reveal is completely ruined by all of the trailers and TV spots for the film, which included this pivotal moment to advertise the film.
  • Similar to the previous entry, the advertising killed this trope for Terminator 2: Judgment Day. If one watches it back-to-back with the original you notice that, cleverly, it is left completely ambiguous why the T-800 has returned until the point where he rescues John Connor in the hallway.
  • Chinatown. She's her sister. And her daughter.
  • The Rocketeer: Neville Sinclair is in fact a Nazi agent working to steal the McGuffin jetpack.
  • The Usual Suspects: Keyzer Soze is Verbal Kint.
  • Reservoir Dogs: The rat is Mr Orange.
  • One of the funniest ones ever comes from Down with Love, when Renee Zellweger's character explains her Gambit Pileup in a breathless three-minute single-take monologue which, when it's all finished, leaves Ewan McGregor with a truly priceless expression of bemused confusion on his face.
  • In the French film He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (which stars Audrey Tautou), the first half is a whimsical unrequited love story, getting a bit creepy, and then as the Love Interest is being taken away to prison, the film rewinds and you see it from his point of view—he's met this strange woman once or twice in passing and doesn't know who all the love notes are coming from. It turns out she's mentally ill with "erotomania," and is ultimately institutionalised.
  • Not every Reveal has to be serious. In the 1982 comedy Jimmy the Kid, some low-grade crooks use a crime novel about a kidnapping to plan a genuine abduction for ransom. The chosen target, a kid genius, leads them on until he can slip away with the ransom money. At the end, he reveals why he's so successful at manipulating his abductors: because he wrote the book they based their crime on.
  • Again, lack of complete sincerity, in the movie Just One Of the Guys, Terry reveals her true gender to Rick who responds with the line, "Where d'you get off having tits?"
  • In A Beautiful Mind, the Reveal is that John Nash has schizophrenia and has been imagining all the spy work he was been doing for the government - along with several of the other characters.
  • Mission: Impossible:
    • There are not one but two major reveals in the first Mission: Impossible movie - that Phelps is alive after being presumed KIA on a mission, and later that he and Claire are working together against Ethan.
    • Mission: Impossible III starts with a very tense scene in which Ethan Hunt's wife is tied to a chair, whilst Big Bad Philip Seymour Hoffman threatens to kill her. At the end of the movie it's revealed that it was a woman who worked for the bad guy. She is wearing a mask of Ethan Hunt's wife's face.
    • Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol - Intelligence analyst William Brandt isn't just a mere analyst; he's also a highly-trained field agent who was once tasked with guarding Ethan's wife, whom he supposedly failed to protect, which is why he is very reluctant to take up field missions again. At the end of the film, it's revealed that she's alive and well; Ethan has been hiding her from his enemies for quite a while.
    • Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation - The Syndicate is actually a proposed MI-6 black operation that was rejected by the British PM, but that the head of MI-6 authorized anyway. Also, the director of the CIA is not a total Inspector Javert.
  • One of the most famous is from Planet of the Apes, in which the eponymous planet turns out to be an Earth devastated by nuclear war. And George Taylor, The Hero of the film, only finds this out upon seeing the ruins of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Parodied in A Shot in the Dark, where it's revealed that all but one supporting character introduced in the film is either a murderer or a blackmailer. In addition, the killer of those four bystanders was Dreyfus, who was attempting to kill Clouseau, having been driven to insanity by Clouseau's incompetence. He tries to car-bomb Clouseau in the climax, but the Ballons and their staff inadvertently take it instead... Of course, due to a certain franchise policy, it wouldn't have killed Clouseau either anyway.
  • Laura has a twist middle. She's actually alive.
  • Saw 3D ends with Lawrence Gordon, the sole surviving protagonist of the first film, being revealed to be the one confirmed good egg out of Jigsaw's apprentices, as the only two apprentices that appeared before then, Amanda and Hoffman, were both cold-blooded killers who greatly exaggerated (and sometimes even flouted) Jigsaw's legacy. Both Amanda and Hoffman were executed in their last films: Amanda is killed by one of Jigsaw's victims after she threatened the life of the nurse that was treating Jigsaw, and Hoffman was left to die without even the faintest hope in the same room Gordon had previously been imprisoned in by Jigsaw, with Gordon himself acting on Jigsaw's orders (Jigsaw put a contract out on anyone who harms his loved ones--especially Jill Tuck, his wife). "Game over."
  • "Take a chill pill" in Mystery Team.
  • Fish Story has several, owing to its Anachronic Order: The missing minute of the song is the lead singer breaking down and asking if this will ever be heard by anyone. The Word Salad Lyrics are the result of a poor translation job on an english-language novel. The record store employee is the son of Gekirin's manager. The college student failed to save the girl, but bought her the opportunity to save them both. The champion of justice was their son, who takes back the ship from the terrorist cult. The student on board the ship is a mathematical genius who calculates the trajectory of the missiles to blow up the comet.
  • Lesser example in The Grey. Ottway states early in the film to the memory of a woman, "you left me." A picture of them in her room shows her in a wedding dress. Ottway occasionally flashes back to her, always in a white bed. Ottway also seems to know what the body experiences during death. This all lines up toward the end of the film, when the camera pans in the flashback, showing the IV drip that Ottway's late wife is connected to.
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit has a disturbing one as the callous Judge Doom whose glasses often lighted up to cover his stare is revealed to be the Toon who killed Eddie's brother, complete with an insanely high pitched voice and cartoonish eyes that could be best described as coming straight from a mentally disturbed animator or Hell itself. Eddie was likely not the only one who was terrified of this scene.
  • In The Big Lebowski, there was never any kidnapping or ransom money at all. Bunny left to visit friends without telling anyone, and Lebowski gave Walter and The Dude a suitcase full of worthless junk, fully intending for them to screw up the "negotiations" so that he could use the fake kidnapping to cover up an embezzlement scheme (he wanted to get his hands on the money in his family's charity, since he never actually made any money of his own, and only inherited his mansion from his wealthy wife). The various other characters in the film either had nothing to do with the fake kidnapping threat, or were just trying to profit from the resultant confusion for their own ends.
  • In Moon, neither of the two men claiming to be Sam Bell is the real deal—they're just two clones out of countless hundreds of them that are kept stockpiled at the mining station with implanted memories so that they can be used as slave labor. Each clone is designed with a three-year lifespan (hence, Sam's three-year contract with the mining company) and each one is killed at the end of his tenure so that the next clone can be awoken. Also, that creepy HAL-esque robot with the smiley face and Kevin Spacey's voice? It's totally not evil.
  • All of the movies in The Dark Knight Saga have one, in some form or another:
    • Batman Begins: Henri Ducard was the leader of the League of Shadows all along; "Ra's al-Ghul" is just a title passed down by leaders of the League. He's also The Man Behind the Man to Dr. Crane and the Falcone family, and he's planning to use Crane's fear gas to drive Gotham into anarchy.
    • The Dark Knight: Officers Wuertz and Ramirez are crooked cops in the Joker's employ. They were the ones responsible for Harvey and Rachel's capture.
    • The Dark Knight Rises: "Miranda Tate" is actually Ra's al-Ghul's daughter Talia, the new leader of the League of Shadows. She was the one who escaped from the Middle Eastern prison as a child, not Bane.
  • In La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In), half way through it's revealed that Vera is actually Vicente, the man who ended up being unfortunate enough to mistake Robert's daughter's insanity for weed buzz and stupid enough to try and have sex with her. As a part of his Roaring Rampage of Revenge he has been turned surgically into a woman.
  • G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:
    • "The time has come for the Cobra to rise. You will call me... ''Commander."'
    • "It's good to be back everyone!" Then he sits back down at the President's desk and whistles Zartan's "Jolly Good Fellow"..
    • The Doctor has a lot of these.
  • Oblivion (2013) : The war with the Scavs never happened. Rather, the Tet kidnapped the real Jack and Victoria, cloned them a billion times and used them to Kill All Humans and Take Over the World to use as a fuel source for itself.
  • Fast & Furious 6 has one in its stinger as Han's death scene from Tokyo Drift, which takes place after this one, is shown again, but what's different is that you find out his death wasn't an accident, it was the beginning of a revenge plan against Dom's crew by Owen Shaw's older brother, Deckard, who's played by Jason Statham
    Deckard Shaw (Calling Dom): You don't know me, but you're about to.
  • Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country:
    • After getting toyed with His Name Is... when Kirk gets beamed away from Rura Penthe only to catch the surviving conspirator on board the Enterprise, the identities of the masterminds of the conspiracy is revealed through a mind meld.
    • In the climax, Kirk saves the Federation president from a Klingon assassin, and Scotty kills the assassin before he can shoot anyone else. In the theatrical cut, the remaining conspirators are rounded up with no further comment on the assassin, while in the director's cut, the assassin is revealed to be Colonel West in disguise, making the whole point of Klingons having Alien Blood earlier in the film relevant, since the blood coming from West's body isn't Klingon blood.
  • Star Trek Into Darkness:
  • Star Trek Beyond: Krall is hero of The Federation Balthazar Edison, the human captain of the USS Franklin, who is Not Quite Dead.
  • Now You See Me:
    • This being a movie about magic tricks, there are several Reveals, mainly pertaining to said magic tricks but including the tricks of Wilder's "death" and Rhodes's fake identity.
    • The reveal that the Four Horsemen's heists are not about money. They ended up with zero money from the heists since they gave away all their money. The real intention behind these heists is to get revenge on the people who wronged Dylan's father.
  • Midway through Gravity, a character who had quite obviously very much died earlier in the movie, mysteriously comes back - something you don't expect from what had been until then fairly realistic fiction. Dr. Stone has a long and important conversation with the character, who refuses to say how he came back. Because he never did - she's imagining the whole conversation, you only learn after the conversation is over.
  • Two in succession in Impostor. Dr. Olham's innocence is proven when Hathaway reveals that his wife has been replaced with the real biorobot sent to assassinate the chancellor. Shortly afterwards they discover the real Olham's body, as it turns out that both the Olhams had been killed and replaced with copies.
  • There are two big ones in Monsoon Wedding:
    • Aditi has been having an affair with a married man. She finally tells her groom to be before the wedding and he thanks her for her honesty. This reveal is part of what triggers them to open up and fall in love.
    • Ria's uncle has been sexually abusing her and then moves on to her younger cousin. When she finally confronts him in front of his brother it triggers drama resulting ultimately in Lalit banning his brother from his house to protect his family.
  • Tell No One: the entire plot comes about because Margot murdered Phillipe in self-defense, and her father, knowing the Big Bad would come after her and her family, not only covered it up, but faked her death.
  • Tequila Sunrise: Escalante, a Mexican cop, and Carlos, the drug dealer everyone's chasing, are one and the same.
  • Calvary: Jack the butcher is the parishioner who shows up on the beach to kill Father James, as stated in the opening scene. An interesting version of this trope because for the character it's The Unreveal: James knew all along who it was and wasn't really interested in turning him in or stopping it.
  • In Robot Holocaust, Valeria turns out to be a robot. Jorn is eaten by The Dark One, who's apparently a triffid-like thing, giving the appearance of Jorn becoming an avocado-man.
  • Evidence: After an entire movie's worth of looking through and analyzing footage recovered from the scene of a mass murder to try and identify the killer, the investigators realize the footage they've been watching was edited and planted by the killer specifically to throw them off and waste their time while they got away. And also there were actually two killers taking turns in the same outfit, and also also those two killers were the "survivors" of the massacre, one of whom the cops had just let go.
  • In Ex Machina, Nathan recruited Caleb for his psych profile, not his computer skills. The actual Turing Test is to see whether Ava can manipulate him into helping her escape.
  • Fight Club: Tyler Durden turns out to have been the narrator's split personality all along.
  • The Last Witch Hunter has several:
    • Chloe is a Dream Walker, with a skills commonly considered to be of Dark Magic.
    • Kaulder will live only as long as Witch Queen's heart continues beating - meaning that she isn't truly dead.
    • Kaulder's immortality isn't Queen's curse, but her way of "storing" the immortality until she needs it for resurrection.
    • 37th Dolan is a witch spy within Axe and Cross.
  • Several films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have them, many of which (though not all) help build up the series' Myth Arc.
  • The Family: Willa faked the DNA test which showed Ben is Adam.
  • Collateral: Vincent's final target is Annie, the federal prosecutor Max had befriended earlier that night.
  • Wonder Woman (2017): Two for the prices of one.
    • Ares has been posing as Sir Patrick Morgan, not General Erich Ludendorf.
    • Also, Wonder Woman herself is the godkiller weapon created by Zeus to destroy Ares.

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