Steve: That doesn't make any sense.
Roger: I'M BRAFF ZACKLIN!
One character treats another to a lengthy third-person anecdote. Either the receiver, or the person telling the tale, will be one of the crucial characters. Usually it's revealed, but sometimes it's just implied.
Can be used to inspire a fellow character in a similar predicament, but it's most often a means of explaining crucial Backstory. You wouldn't think you would explain something the heroes need to know in a way that looks like wasting their time with some story about irrelevant third parties, but it seems to be a pretty effective distancing tool for these narrators.
Compare You Know Who Said That?, where the anonymous example of some value turns out to be a historical figure. Also compare I Have This Friend..., Actually, I Am Him, and Let Me Tell You a Story. For when the entire story turns out to have been one of these, see Narrator All Along. If the main character does this, it's Nostalgic Narrator.
This trope can be subverted when the narrator is asked how the story is relevant (with bonus points for the story being depressing) and he replies by saying it isn't. Can be double-subverted if he follows up with something about the story that was inspirational. From here, it can encounter the rare triple-subversion if it is revealed afterwards, such as after the other characters leave, he reveals that he was in that story, such as pulling out a memento or taking one off of the wall/shelf, and talking about his companions or saying something along the lines of "Good times..."
Because of the nature of this trope, expect unmarked spoilers ahead.
- An advert for Go Compare home insurance features an old man telling the story of Glynn, a man "raised by houses" who has the mystic ability to protect peoples' houses from disaster (or something). When asked how he knows all this, he starts to reply, "Because I am-" ...at which point Glynn appears behind him and he finishes "...a friend of his."
- Used as Dramatic Irony in Code Geass. Shortly after Lelouch uses his geass to make Shirley forget him, he and Shirley talk and he mentions a friend that he lost. Shirley quickly realises that Lelouch is talking about a girl he loved. What she doesn't realise is that she is the girl he's talking about.
- Dragon Ball Z when a space warrior named Raditz appears claiming to be Goku's brother, Master Roshi tells Goku of a story his grandfather once told him.
Roshi: A long time ago, your Grandpa Gohan was walking through the woods when he came upon a strange object that appeared to have fallen from the sky. When he went to examine it more closely, he found a baby boy with a tail, sealed inside a little round pod. Gohan decided to take the child home and raise him as his own. But the boy had an angry, violent nature, and before long the old man was at his wits' end. Then one day, there was a terrible accident. The child fell into a deep ravine and hit his head. The injury was nearly fatal. But somehow, miraculously, the boy survived. What's more, after that, he was no longer violent. From that day on, he became a happy, loving boy.
Goku: The boy was me, wasn't it?
- Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig includes an episode in which a woman who owns a shop tells the Major a story about a boy and a girl who were two of the first people to get cyborg bodies. It's implied that the little girl is in fact the Major, which is all but confirmed at the the end of the episode when the Major seems to know something about what happened that the woman didn't tell her. Also, later episodes suggest that the boy was the season's Anti-Villain Kuze.
- Full Metal Panic! Sigma has a one off chapter where, after getting into a fight over each other's perceived lack of competence, both Kurz and Sousuke go about telling Mao one of their most memorable war stories. Kurz recalls a skirmish in Lebanon two years ago, where he fought some Savage pilot way better than Sousuke, and was just about the only target he wasn't able to take down. Shortly after, Sousuke tells Mao about this sniper he went up against two years ago in Lebanon who was far superior to Kurz...
- My Hero Academia: Early in the Training Camp arc, Izuku attempts to empathize with a troubled boy named Kota by talking about his childhood struggles with being Quirkless (long prior to being passed his Quirk early in the series). He frames them as having happened to a friend of his.
- A relatively subtle example happens in One Piece, during Chopper's backstory. Dr. Hiruluk tells Chopper the story of a thief who was diagnosed with an incurable disease, and wandered the world until he found a cherry blossom tree, and was supposedly miraculously cured. In a later scene, after Dr. Hiruluk has thrown Chopper out of his home to avoid making him watch him die, Dr. Hiruluk speaks with Dr. Kureha, who asks him why he doesn't go on another voyage to find the legendary trees like he did in the past, indicating him as the person in the story.
- Done in Triage X during Hitsugi's rematch against Kaori and Kaoru. She tells them about a young girl who suffered from a debilitating disease, and whose scientist father began experimenting on her to try and cure it. After developing a drug that boosted the girl's strength and endurance to superhuman levels, the man lost his way and started experimenting on others as well, until finally the girl snapped and killed everyone involved in the experiments. Hitsugi then reveals that she was the little girl, and asks Kaori and Kaoru how they managed to survive, revealing that they were also used as test subjects by her father.
- During the final story arc of Fairy Tail, August tells Jellal and Gildarts the story of Zeref and Mavis's son, who was never shown any kind of affection from his father, leaving him lost in a mental wasteland until the day he can finally be stopped by the love of his mother. For several chapters, he appears to be talking about Larcade, who is introduced as Zeref's son, shares his last name, and is obsessed with killing Zeref's brother, Natsu, for getting all of his father's attention. It isn't until after Larcade is ousted as a demon from the Book of Zeref that it's revealed August was talking about himself, and went unloved by his parents because he kept his true identity a secret from them, since they are both cursed to inadvertently kill the ones they love.
- In Midori Days, Ayase recounts a story of her friend who has a crush on someone, but due to her shyness was unable to confess properly, until an outburst caused her to accidentally confess, only to later redact the confession as a joke. She was, of course, talking about her own crush on Seiji, and she used the climax to finally confess for real.
- Happens in episode 9 of Psycho-Pass when Masaoka is trying to give Akane insight to inspector Ginoza's frustration with her risking the hue of her psycho pass by explaining that his father was one of the unlucky detectives who were labeled latent criminals from around the time when the Sibyl System was first being put in place (with Ginoza being a little kid at the time). The audience finds out later finds out that Masaoka is Ginoza's father.
- In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable, Koichi and Rohan end up in a mysterious alley where they meet a girl named Reimi Sugimoto, who tells them a story about a girl who was murdered 15 years prior alongside her dog who had his throat slit. She then reassures a frightened Koichi that it didn't actually happen. However, shortly after this, Rohan sees a dog with a slit, bleeding throat, leading Reimi to reveal that she was the girl murdered and that she and her dog are ghosts who want their murderer, Yoshikage Kira, brought to justice so they can finally move on.
- In one hentai collection Hachishaku Hachiwa Keraku Meguri - Igyou Kaikitan, the Framing Device is a young man and his cab driver telling each other ghost stories to pass the time as she drives him. The first story he tells her is about a boy who became entranced by the spirit Hasshaku-sama. The last part of the collection has the young man reveal that he was that boy, and that the entire reason he's making this trip is to return to the village where he encountered Hasshaku-sama. His grandfather had warned him that the seals keeping Hasshaku-sama confined had been broken, and he is rushing back to the village hoping to seek help again. The driver then reveals that she is Hasshaku-sama.
- In Dr. Stone, Tsukasa Shishioh explains his hatred for modern society by telling Senku about a boy who went out to collect seashells for his sick little sister, only to get beaten up by a greedy adult who claimed ownership of the beach. It's strongly implied that Tsukasa was talking about himselfnote , but isn't fully confirmed until over 70 chapters later, when Senku reveals that he figured the whole thing out on his own, and manages to negotiate peace with Tsukasa by promising to save his sister.
- Sasuke Uchiha in Boruto, when he travels alongside with Boruto back to 20 years in the past, and meets a 12 year old Naruto who's coping with Sasuke's recent defection from Konoha. He tells Naruto (who's unaware of his true identity) the story of "an old friend of his" who left his friends in search for power and how he never gave up on him until he managed to knock some sense into him. All which cheers Naruto up.
- In The Sandman miniseries Death: The High Cost of Living, a young woman, in order to drive home the point that "ennui" is no reason to commit suicide, tells the story of a "friend" who was repeatedly molested by her father and his buddies the mayor and chief of police, so there was no one in her small town she could turn to. She attempted suicide by slicing up her arms, but survived and was glad that she did. When asked what happened to her in the end, she says "I expect she came out to the big city" (the miniseries takes place in New York). Furthermore, she's wearing long gloves...hint, hint.
- In another issue of Sandman (the Hunt) an old man is telling his granddaughter a story from The Old Country about a young man of "the People" who goes on a quest to find a princess, only to instead fall in love with a woman of the People he meets on the way. Oh, and the People are werewolves. When the girl is unimpressed by the story, he says he's sorry she never knew her grandmother who had a lot in common with her, and never let him forget that she won that hunt.
- Incredible Hercules:
- Issue #126 is an Origin Story related in parts by a trio of reavers coming to raise Thebes. They meet a theban farmboy who they ask questions about Hercules, with each one telling a story they heard about how he came to be. Finally, one of them insults Herc by telling the story of how he killed his music student in a rage, and says that that's the only tale about Hercules he believes because artists and philosophers are the people weak enough to be killed by a mere theban. The farmboy's reply "Aye. Hercules did not mean for the strike to be so lethal. His father sent him to a cattle ranch as punishment for one year, so that he might become better acquainted with his strength. He used it to slay a lion that menaced his herd from the foothills of Mt. Cithaeron". The farmboy glances at his shoulder which is covered by a lion's pelt. Cue Oh, Crap! faces all around.
- In #139 Wolverine fights Hera's Huntsman, who tells him a story about a hunter named Cephalus, who killed his own wife accidentally with his own javelin that never missed and then was Driven to Suicide, relating the events of the story to Wolverine's own life. Wolverine retorts that his story isn't going to end with his death, but the huntsman's. The huntsman then replies that though his face is distorted in Tartarus as punishment for suicide, he himself is Cephalus, and impales Wolverine In the Back with a javelin of light.
- This◊ infamous Very Special Spider-Man Issue, in which we learn that Peter Parker was molested as a child.
- 2000 AD: This is the punchline of the short strip Candy and the Catchman, where an old man warns a bunch of children to watch out for a bug-like monster that drains the lifeforce of small children, and how a boy named Billy Candy stood up to the creature but failed. When the children don't believe his crazy story, he reveals that it happened only yesterday, because he's Billy Candy.
- Crimson ends with Joe being revealed to have recounted the whole series to a friend in a bar.
- Julie's stories about "Megan" in the later part of The Maxx may or may not be this. On the one hand, Megan does look like Julie & they both spent some time living with their grandparents. On the other, Megan is a lesbian while Julie slept with scads of men.
- A Boy, a Girl and a Dog: The Leithian Script: In this The Silmarillion fanfic, Finarfin is trying to encourage his daughter-in-law Amarië to forgive his son saying that she reminds him of a certain prideful Elf. Amarië protests that she is not like Fëanor, and Finarfin clarifies that he was talking about himself, not about his brother.
- A Crown of Stars: Daniel tells Shinji and Asuka how he met and hooked up with Rayana as if it was something happened to another person.
- HERZ: When Rei tells Akiko how her father -Shinji- saved her mother -Asuka- twelve years ago thanks to the help of a friend of his Akiko quickly guesses Rei is his father's friend her aunt is talking about.
- The Second Try: In "Raise", Shinji is telling his little daughter a tale about a prince, his princess and his sister that fought huge monsters wearing living armors. However Aki easily guesses that the prince and the princess of the tale are he and Asuka (meaning her parents) and he is telling a tale about their lives.
- In the Bleach fanfic The World In Black And White Ichigo's, who is a Vasto Lorde class Hollow here, talk to the Grand Fisher is a subtle version of this.
Ichigo: You know, about six years ago, there was a kid and his mother. You ate her, I guess, but you left the boy.
- In Return to Prince Manor Baba Yaga tells the story of three sisters who were Light, Dark and Neutral. The first was Titania, Queen of the Summer Court; the second was Maeve, Queen of the Winter Court; and the third was Baba Yaga herself.
- Subverted in Master of Death and What it Means. Harry Potter tries to do this but Clint tells him to keep telling his story like it happened to someone else, that it'd be easier.
- In the Magi fanfic The Brothers Day and Night, the titular story is told by Kassim, about two brothers, one born of light and one born of darkness, who loved each other at first but whose differences drove them apart and led them to become enemies. He presents it as his own idea, but Mariam - who he's telling the story to - can easily tell it's really about him and Alibaba.
- In Kyon: Big Damn Hero, Rika Fuurude tells his nephew Kyon about her own brushes with the paranormal hoping that it convinces Kyon to share his own paranormal experiences so she can help him.
- The Fable Of Joyful Wing: It is only at the end of his story about Joyful Wing and her husband's tragic fates that Bone Cage admits that the husband is him, and that his skull was eventually passed down from the sage who originally plotted his death to Long Dog's father and from him to Long Dog.
- In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku's origin story as the Midoriyas' Kryptonian Wonder Child is told in this way, as it's a third-person narrative up to the point that he begins narrating himself.
Izuku: You probably figured it out already, but that baby they're with? That's me. My name is Izuku Midoriya, and I'm an alien.
- In Moon Fire Snape tells the story of his abusive childhood as if it had happened to a fellow student.
- In the prequel series to Between My Brother and Me: Mors Omnibus, Mors Tua, Serenity tells Brendan and Max about a long, long story of a little flower girl whose actions would somehow cultivate into a Puppetry guild known as "The Court of Strings". When Brendan and Max ask if she's the same one, Serenity replies that she isn't. The end of the story reveals that the little flower girl was actually Shirobara.
- Balto begins with a grandmother telling her granddaughter the story of Balto and how he saved all of Nome to help a little girl who cared about him. At the end of the story, Rosie, the girl Balto saved, tells him she'd be lost without him. At the end of the film, the grandmother turns to the statue of Balto and quotes Rosie, the granddaughter calling to her as 'Grandma Rosie', revealing she was Rosie from the story.
- Bolt has Mittens telling Bolt how they cannot trust humans while inevitably revealing her past to him. While Mittens never outright says it was her, it was obvious that she was talking about herself.
Mittens: [People] act like they love you, they act like they'll be there forever, and then one day they pack up all their stuff, move away, and take their 'love' with them, leaving their declawed cat behind to fend for herself! ...They leave her, wondering what she did wrong...
- Cinderella III: A Twist in Time begins with a voiceover asking the viewers if they remember a story about a girl who escaped a life of cinders by believing in a dream, and also letting talking mice and a fairy godmother help her find true love. After a beat, the narrator continues, "Well, that girl is me." Cinderella then smiles at the camera while the title appears.
- Disney Fairies movie Secret of the Wings has Queen Clarion and Lord Milori separately tell Tinker Bell and Periwinkle respectively a story to try to convince them that they can no longer see each other. A fairy from the warmer seasons and a fairy from the Winter Woods met each other and fell in love, and so they began to secretly meet each other... until the winter fairy's wings broke from the heat of visiting the warmer seasons too much. After that, the law forbidding fairies to cross the border was put into place. It is revealed in the climax that Queen Clarion and Lord Milori were those fairies.
- Metegol has a Framing Device where a father, Amadeo (Jake in the US dub), is telling his son a story about a guy, also named Amadeo (Jake). To his credit, the son sees right through this.
Matty: Come on, Dad, is this story about you?
Jake: No. 'Jake' is a fairly common name.
- Vampire Hunter D has a scene where the sheriff of a local town and his deputies try to run D (a Dhampyr) out of a store at gunpoint. The owner of the elderly shopkeeper stalls them with a story of a group of children who were kidnapped by a vampire and while a bounty hunter did rescue them all the townspeople turned on him when they realized that he was a dhampyr. As D departs the shopkeeper thanks him for the rescue all those decades earlier, revealing that the story was about both of them.
- The narrator of The Town Santa Forgot is an old man who tells his grandchildren about spoiled brat Jeremy Creek who, long story short, Took a Level in Kindness and became Santa's assistant until he got too big to fit in the sleigh. At the very end, some snow falls off the mailbox outside, revealing that the house belongs to one J. Creek.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs provides an example, and also lampshades it within two seconds.
Snow White: Once there was a princess...
Doc: Was the princess you?
- The Legend of Frosty the Snowman is narrated by an old man and the story's main character is a young boy named Tommy Tinkerton, who has a crush on a girl named Sarah. At the end of the film, the old man states that he knew Tommy Tinkerton better than most people. An old woman's voice is then heard addressing the old man as "Thomas", and the old man replies with "Coming, Sarah".
- In The Care Bears Movie, the Narrator turns out to be Nicholas, the boy who made a Deal with the Devil to become a mage, after he's all grown up and is running an orphanage now.
- Happens again in The Care Bears' Nutcracker Suite, in identical fashion (except the girl joins the Care Bears in their adventure instead of fighting them).
- In Disney's Aladdin, the salesman from the beginning who tells the entire story to the audience is in fact the Genie (which is part of why Robin Williams voices him). The plan to have this revealed in the movie itself was dropped and had to be confirmed via Word of God years after it came out.
- At the end of The Book of Life, the tour guide that told the the story to the students is revealed to be La Muerte in human form.
- In Antonia's Line, the narrator of the story is revealed at the end to be Antonia's great-granddaughter Sarah.
- Parodied in Bridesmaids, where Megan tells an "inspirational" anecdote that is so transparently about herself that the little girl in the story is also named Megan. Annie even keeps trying to interrupt so they can skip to the obvious ending.
- Subverted in Caddyshack, with Ty Webb (Chevy Chase) telling the story about the guy "night putting" with the dean's daughter.
Ty: You know who that guy was, Danny?
Ty: Ha ha... No, that guy was Mitch Comstein, my roommate. He was a good guy.
- Villain example in Cinderella (2015): Lady Tremaine tells Ella the story about a young girl who married for love, and was happy, until her husband died. Out of concern for her daughters wellbeing, the girl, now a grown woman, decided to marry again to provide them with financial support. But then that husband died, too. Her last attempt was to get her daughters to marry the prince of their kingdom, but the prince was instead wooed by a simple servant girl "and I lived unhappily ever after".
- When Daavar recruits Vijay in Deewaar, Vijay starts talking about one time Daavar got his shoes shined before revealing that he was the shoeshine boy.
- Early on in Le Destin Fabuleux de Désirée Clary, at a dinner party at Joseph and Julie's house, Bernadotte tells Julie an anecdote about a sergeant who came to her father's house with a housing billet and was shown the door and asks her if she would recognise that sergeant; of course, it was him.
- After the brutal final confrontation in The Devil's Backbone, the narrator turns out to be the ghost of doctor Casares, who now haunts the orphanage with Santi.
- Edward Scissorhands starts with a grandmother telling her granddaughter a bedtime story, about a man with scissors for hands who made it snow for a girl he loved. It is revealed in the end that the grandmother is actually Kim, the girl who Edward loved and who loved him.
"Sometimes...you can still see me dancing in it."
- The Four Musketeers (1974). Athos, when he tells d'Artagnan the story of the Comte de la Fere. d'Artagnan figures out that Athos was the Comte, and near the end of the film Athos admits it.
- The end of Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior reveals that the Narrator All Along is none other than the Feral Kid.
- At the end of Maleficent, the narrator is revealed to be an elderly Aurora.
- In Matilda, the Reasonable Authority Figure Miss Honey describes how the Big Bad Miss Trunchbull was once her wicked step-aunt, without mentioning herself or Trunchbull by name. During the story, Child Prodigy Matilda immediately recognises Trunchbull as the mean aunt but only afterward realises that Miss Honey is the little girl. Interestingly, the original reveal in the novel was Trunchbull being the aunt, rather than Miss Honey being "the little girl". This was undoubtedly changed for the screen because it was easier to hide "the little girl's" identity than to keep the audience from recognizing Trunchbull in the flashbacks.
- Medicine Man has a rather nightmarish version and subversion of the trope. Dr. Campbell tells Dr. Crane why he doesn't want to tell anyone about the cancer cure he thinks he has discovered while living among the natives of South America — because another doctor, he explains contemptuously, had discovered a painkiller in similar circumstances, which resulted in another tribe being wiped out by swine flu when the drug company came down to mass-produce it. Later on it's revealed that Campbell himself was that doctor, and he keeps a journal filled with pictures he drew of every single person in the tribe he destroyed. Subverted a bit in that it seems almost a Freudian slip when he reveals this to Crane; it's not clear whether he actually wanted her to know.
- In One Crazy Summer after Ack-Ack is kicked out of his dad's house, Egg starts telling him a story about "a little fat kid that nobody loved" that becomes more and more specifically about Egg as it goes along. Eventually Ack-Ack stops him and asks "Were you the little fat boy?" Egg replies no, but he used to beat that kid up.
- In One Missed Call: Final, Emiris boyfriend Jin-wo explains to her that at the Sign Language Summit where they had first met, he learned of the death call and how it worked from a deaf violinist whose girlfriend was killed by it. The violinist knew that he couldve saved her by taking the call and dying in her place, but he didnt, and forever regretted it, to the point of purposefully punishing himself until he went deaf. Then near the end of the movie, Jin-wo tells Emiri that knowing her made him stronger, and that he wont regret again. Its this that makes her put two-and-two together to realize that the deaf violinist was him. And that he wasnt going to make the same mistake again as he swipes Emiris phone (which had the death call forwarded to her during the climax), and takes the call in her place.
- Played with disturbingly in Psychopathia Sexualis. A woman tells some girls a very morbid story of how a mute girl found her voice (via screaming) whilst being raped and then killed her rapists who she and her father had put on a shadow-puppet show for. The girls listening seem very disturbed and the woman narrating it seems sad and nostalgic. In the end she offers a disconcertingly weak "It's only a story" to the girls.
- In Snowpiercer, Curtis tells the story of the chaotic early days of the tail section, when people starved and turned to cannibalism. He goes some way into detailing his own part ("I know that babies taste best") but shifts into third person when relating how things turned around. After a man kills a mother to get to her baby, an old man steps up to offer his arm to be eaten instead, spurring others to make the same sacrifice. Gilliam, Curtis' mentor, was the old man; Edgar, Curtis' protege, was the baby.
I was the man with the knife.
- In the opening of the first Spy Kids film, Ingrid (the mother) tells Carmen and Juni a bedtime story about two enemy spies who were assigned to kill each other and fell in love instead. It is Ingrid and Gregorio's actual Back Story.
- Star Wars: In Revenge of the Sith, Palpatine tells Anakin about the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise, a "Sith legend" about the titular Sith lord who was killed by his apprentice in his sleep. Although the movie does not expand on this, supplementary materials reveal that the tale was hardly as ancient as the words "Sith legend" implied—Palpatine himself was that very apprentice. Furthermore, it is implied that Darth Plagueis's ability to manipulate midi-chlorians resulted in Anakin's birth.
- In Where the Truth Lies, Karen tells the story of a little girl with polio who was able to get treatment thanks to money raised during a telethon in the 1950s. It turns out it's her.
- In Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, George tells Nick the story about a boy he knew during his youth who accidentally killed both of his parents (his mother with a shotgun, and his father in a driving accident). When asked whatever came of the boy, George told him that as far as he knew, he was still in the asylum. This was not the case, the boy was George.
- In Heroes Wanted, Santi recounts a story about a police officer accidentally shooting a boy held hostage, implying that his aversion to shooting is because he was that officer. Instead, he was that boy, and the officer was his father. He joined the police to prove he could be better than his father.
- In the 2010 South African film White Lion, we meet an old man telling the story of Letsatsi (the titular white lion) to a group of children around a campfire. At the end, we learn that the storyteller is Gisani, the Tsonga youth who followed Letsatsi on his journey.
- The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep: The main plot is a story that an old Scotsman tells to a couple of American tourists — at the end, the storyteller is revealed to be the story's protagonist, Angus MacMorrow.
- In The Bands of Mourning, Allik mentions that social decorum is extremely important to airship crews, to the point that his friend got thrown overboard for terrible dancing (they tied a rope to his leg first). Later, when he rescues his crew from certain death, his captain mentions that it's almost enough for her to forgive his terrible dancing.
- Cheaper by the Dozen: During one occasion when the Gilbreths had a guest over for dinner, said guest told a sad story, which turned out to be about himself. (The children suspected it but didn't say so.) Lillian, in tears over her failure to see to a guest's happiness, hugged him, hence becoming his favorite of the children from then on.
- Chocolate Fever: Henry is cured of his titular "illness" after he meets a man named Alfred Cane, who tells him a story of a boy he once knew who also went through the same thing—who is eventually revealed to be Alfred Cane himself.
- In "Dream Street Rose" by Damon Runyon, Rose tells the First-Person Peripheral Narrator a lengthy story about "a friend", which is all but stated outright to be her own life story.
- In the medieval bodice-ripper Enchanted, the heroine explains to her husband that she's fearful of consummating their marriage because a "friend" of hers was raped. He doesn't suspect that she's talking about herself, and is stunned when she confesses to him after they finally do make love.
- Tom Holt's Falling Sideways features an ancient cosmic being who tries to narrate an important bit of history in this style, before getting fed up with it and just blabbing it straight.
- In Shards of Honor, both Cordelia Naismith and Aral Vorkosigan use this device very early on in their acquaintance, when a discussion of cultural differences leads to Cordelia telling the story of "a woman I knew once" who had a romantic relationship that ended badly, to demonstrate that her culture isn't perfect. Aral reciprocates with the story of "a man I knew once" whose marriage was comparably disastrous. About halfway through his story, he slips and nearly says "me" before correcting it to "my friend".
By this time, the little slip was no surprise to Cordelia, and she wondered if her story had been as transparent to him. It certainly seemed so.
- The entire Framing Device for Mark Helprin's Swan Lake turns out to be setting up one of these: the little girl who is treated to the story turns out to be the young Queen.
- In Larklight, after Jack tells them the story of how his parents died, Art asked "Was that you?", to which his sister replies that obviously it was him, or else what was the point of telling them the story?
- Richard III in the 21st Century tells the story of how he met and married his first wife, Anne, to his future stepdaughters in this manner.
- In The Three Musketeers Athos describes his marriage as that of "a friend of mine". Then the hundred fifty-odd bottles of wine he drank over the last two weeks catch up with him and he slips into the first-person at the end.
- Recovering after a late night party, 19th century Swedish poet Gunnar Wennerberg wrote about an unnamed cousin, an "arrogant, belligerent, drunken joker" who behaved shamelessly at the party:
As I write, he sits sour-faced staring at the paper. Im sure he doesnt like me writing about what he did. But if he opens his mouth, I will ask him why he flung my best hat out into the yard.
- In What Katy Did, Katy's cousin tells some mawkish/inspirational story about an unnamed girl, and lets slip toward the end that she [the cousin] was the girl.
- In Wizard of the Pigeons by Megan Lindholm, the female lead has a tendency toward conveying information like this. At one point, she tells the protagonist a story about a group of boys, and at the end it turns out he was one of the characters in the story (although not the one he was expecting). Later, she tells him a story about a little girl, and he sarcastically predicts the "And That Little Girl Was Me" ending (and is so busy being a smartass that he neglects to actually think about why he's been told the story, and fails to learn anything from it). There's also a point where she tells him an anecdote in first person, but ends by saying that it didn't actually happen to her; she just told it that way because that's how the story is traditionally told.
- Near the end of the dystopian novel Devil On My Back by Monica Hughes, a character tells the protagonist a story that, although he is careful to disclaim it as a fairy story with no particular meaning or real-life relevance, doesn't take much imagination to interpret as a description and explanation of his own actions during the novel.
- It looks like this trope is being subverted in The City of Dreaming Books, when the protagonist (Optimus Yarnspinner) meets the Shadow King, who tells him a story about his friend, one of the few humans in Zamonia. About halfway through, Optimus stops him and asks if his "friend" is actually him. The Shadow King asks if he looks like a human, which he doesn't. However, as his story goes on, his friend was turned into a different creature, and he finally reveals that he is now that creature.
- In Jack Vance's Throy - the heroes Glawen Clattuc and Eustace Chilke go in search of a businessman who can lead them to the source of a planetary conspiracy and are accompanied by his secretary. When in the course of rescuing the businessman they are attacked and wounded by hostile aliens, the secretary unloads on the aliens with a blaster and saves them all. In a slight subversion of the trope, it's not the secretary but her boss who later recounts the tale of a former employer whose house collapsed long ago in a storm, leaving only a terrified and badly wounded little girl at the mercy of those same xenomorphs... Possibly also qualifies as a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- In Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's The Palace, Roget tells a group of workers that his master Ragoczy is trustworthy because he once rescued an escaped bondsman at great risk to himself. When one worker scoffs that Ragoczy made the story up, Roget reveals that he was the escaped bondsman.
- Played with in Fred Saberhagen's The Holmes-Dracula File, in which the Count narrates his first couple of chapters' events in the third person, before getting bored with the pretense and admitting that the "old man" he's been describing is himself. He even Lampshades the transparency of the ruse.
- In "Father Brown's Story" a priest tells of a man, disillusioned by the death of his beloved sister, who turned to atheism and hated everything religious. Then one night he had a dream of a mysterious woman who he followed to the edge of the sea. It was his sister, who pointed at the ocean and said "It is the holy blood". The man awoke with tears on his cheeks and changed his ways. As they are leaving the priest stops one man and tells him "I was that man."
- In Griffin's Daughter, Keizo Onjara, king of the elves, tells half-elf protagonist Jelena a story of a nameless elf man who was injured traveling through human territory, the human girl who found him and hid him away while he healed and how they fell in love but could not stay together. By the end of the story Keizo drops the third person pretense before slipping the White Griffin ring on Jelena's finger. The ring would glow when worn by a member of the royal bloodline, so its reaction proved beyond all doubt that Jelena was his daughter.
- Done inadvertently as the punchline in He Walked Around the Horses, a short story by H. Beam Piper in which a diplomat carrying documents from our world fall into an Alternate Universe where the French and American Revolutions never happened. The story is told through a series of letters and reports, the final one by a high-ranking British officer called Sir Arthur Wellesley, who is puzzled by the repeated references to this chap Wellington. "I've no idea who he could be."
- Played with in the short story "Hide-and-Seek" by Arthur C. Clarke. The narrator of the Framing Device is being told a tale of the Second Jovian War by the retired naval officer Kingman, who starts by saying he changed some names. The story involves a cunning spy codenamed K.15, pursued by a heavy cruiser near Mars, who uses the limited manoeuvrability of the cruiser to keep on the opposite side of Phobos. When the story is finished, the narrator suggests Kingman knows the story so well, he must have been K.15, and Kingman denies this and stalks off. The third member of the party explains that Kingman was commander of the cruiser.
- In The January Dancer, first book of the Spiral Arm series, the frame story involves a harpist track down a scarred man in a bar and asking him to recount to her the tale of an artifact called January's Dancer. He starts by claiming that he only spoke to some of those involved and all are now dead or missing, but as his story goes on it is eventually revealed that one of the characters is actually him before he acquired his scars: he is Donovan, aka the Fudir.
- Used at the end of A Scanner Darkly, in a rather gut-punching way. In the epilogue, Philip K. Dick talks about the people he'd lost to drug addiction over the years, and then lists some of them off. One of the last names is "Phil" - he'd discovered shortly before writing the book that he had suffered permanent pancreatic damage, which would eventually kill him.
- The Saga of the Faroe Islanders: Sigmund and Thorir spend six years in seclusion with farmer Ulf and his small family at their hidden homestead in the mountains of Dovre. When they depart, Ulf tells them a story of a young man called Thorkel Crispfrost who carried off a woman called Ragnhild when her father refused to give her in marriage to him. This caused a feud in which Ragnhild's father and nineteen others were killed; Thorkel was outlawed and made a secret homestead for himself and Ragnhild in the mountains. His story ends with the predictable revelation that he himself is Thorkel Crispfrost.
- In Matilda, Miss Honey tells Matilda the story of her mean, abusive aunt. Afterward, it is revealed that the mean aunt is the novel's Big Bad, Trunchbull.
- In The Girl from the Coast, Pramoedya Ananta Toer deploys this trope twice removed. After telling how a girl from a fishing village was married by a rich man, lived as a prisoner in a gilded cage, and then was cast aside by the rich man for another wife, and was left to make her way alone in life, the author's epilogue reveals that he had just told the story of his grandmother.
- Parodied by Chris Rock in a commercial for one of his HBO comedy specials. The ad consists of him telling us about a little white girl growing up in a convent in the Alps, who would "sing her heart out whenever things looked bad." He then informs us that he was that little girl. "And now I'm an adult black male," he says, with no further explanation.
- 7 Yüz:
- The climax of "Büyük Günahlar" reveals that party guest Nihal is Aytaç's daughter, the little girl who first answered Elif's fateful phonecall. Following the events described by Mete, she witnessed the disintegration of her parents' marriage and her father's mental state, which ultimately led him to commit suicide.
- In "Karşılaşmalar", Gödze finds an old photograph of herself and ex-boyfriend Kerem in better times - only to notice her husband, Onur lurking in the background. She immediately begins to connect the dots, coming to the realization that her now-beloved husband had started stalking her from that moment.
- The final episode of the second series of Blackadder contains a series of increasingly bizarre examples as a gloating Master of Disguise reveals his past encounters with the main characters. Starting with...
Prince Ludwig: We have met many times, although you knew me by another name. Do you recall a mysterious black marketeer and smuggler called Otto with whom you used to dine and plot and play ze biscuit game at ze old pizzel in Dover?
Blackadder: My God!
Prince Ludwig: Yes! I... was ze waitress!
- Subverted in the pilot of Boardwalk Empire. Nucky Thompson gets a group of Moral Guardians on his side by telling a story about how his family suffered terrible poverty in his childhood due to his father's alcoholism, and he was once forced to catch rats for their dinner. Then outside, he reveals to his cohort that it was all made up.
Nucky: Never let the truth get in the way of a good story.
- The Bob Newhart Show: Subverted. Bob tells Emily a story about a bully he used to know in high school. Eventually a new kid stood up to the bully and they became friends, and the bully stopped being a bully because he was only angry because he was lonely and didn't know how to relate to people. Since Bob is a psychologist, Emily assumes he was the "friend" in the story. Bob replied that he isn't, which make Emily think he was the bully. Bob replies in the negative again; it really was just two guys he knew in high school.
- Daredevil (2015) does it twice in "Guilty as Sin":
- Stick tells a story about how a child began fighting the Hand, killing them until they were driven out and this act of defiance was the origin of his organization, the Chaste. Matt assumes Stick is talking about himself and sarcastically compliments him on keeping himself at the center. What the audience sees of the Chaste indicates Stick isn't its leader, suggesting this assumption may well be wrong.
- At Frank Castle's trial, Colonel Schoonover testifies as a character witness, and tells a story about a stupid officer who got Castle's squad into an ambush, that caused said idiot officer to lose his right arm. When Reyes claims no one can really know what happened if they weren't there, Schoonover clarifies that he was that idiot officer, completely undercutting Reyes' argument (and making her wonder how she managed to overlook his prosthetic arm in the first place).
Blake Tower: How did you miss that in his file?
Samantha Reyes: All the names were redacted.
Blake Tower: Not good.
Samantha Reyes: No shit.
- Doctor Who:
- "The Pandorica Opens": Amy assumes this is the case when the Doctor tells her about people "dropping out of the world", asking him if the "she" he lost was nice. The Doctor was actually talking about someone Amy herself lost, her retgoned fiancé Rory, so he immediately changes tack.
- "The Timeless Children" inverts it: The Master recounts a story about the mysterious Timeless Child and how they fit into the origins of the Time Lords, before informing the person he's speaking to, the Doctor, that they are, in fact, the subject of the story.
- In the Flashpoint episode "A Day In the Life", team rookie Raf tells a woman who took her daughter's abuser hostage a story about "a guy I know" who was abused by a teacher, and how the kid's father attacked the teacher with a baseball bat and went to prison for it, and how the kid had wished his father had found another way to show his love... "So he could stay a part of my life."
- In the Christmas episode of Glee, Coach Beiste has to dress up as Santa Claus, to convince Brittany (who still believes in Santa Claus) that even Santa's magic can't grant her wish: for Artie, who is paraplegic, to be able to walk. Beiste does this by sitting down Brittany on the couch and telling her a story about another little girl, just a little younger than herself, whose only Christmas wish every year was to be petite and slender instead of "a little husky". And how she never got it, but she did get the gift of patience. Subverted in that Brittany never gets it — Santa's a boy, duh!
- In The Golden Girls, Sophia often ends her "Picture it..." stories like this.
"That beautiful young peasant girl was me. And that artist...was Pablo Picasso."
- Quasi-subverted on Hill Street Blues when the eccentric vigilante "Captain Freedom" spins Detective Belker a long story about a boy growing up neglected and abused with only the heroes of comic books and TV shows to relieve his horrible existence. However, when Belker is moved to tears by the story the Captain assures him that the little boy grew up to be a business leader and that he read about him in Reader's Digest. It's unclear if the Captain was actually talking about himself or not.
- "Three Stories": House tells a class of medical students three stories about diagnosing three different patients, all complaining of leg pain. The third story is revealed, at the end, to be the story of the aneurysm, and infarction that caused House's permanent leg injury, and continuing chronic pain. He never tells the students the third patient was him, but his colleagues, sitting in the back, figure it out, in part because the condition is so rare that it's extremely unlikely for House to also have encountered it in a patient (the students miss it because they, unlike House's colleagues, don't know even the basic details of what caused his limp). Although Cameron had already figured it out before House named the condition.
- Taub explains that he's so adamantly against suicide because he knew a guy in college who almost threw his life away and hurt the people he loved. By the end of the episode, he's accused of using this trope, but it isn't clear either way.
- Subverted in British sitcom Just Good Friends.
Penny's mother: Many years ago there was ... a girl who lived in the same road as me - we were the same age. She met a chap. And then she discovered she was carrying his child. Her family disowned her, the neighbours shunned her, even her best friend called her a trollop. She miscarried. Years later she married. She has a small family of her own now.
Penny: That girl, it was you, wasn't it?
Penny's mother: It most certainly was not me! Her name was Eileen Bennett, and I was her best friend, the trollop!
- In Kamen Rider Drive, Drive's sentient Transformation Trinket Mr. Belt tells Shinnosuke the story of a scientist whose invention was used for evil and spent the rest of his life trying to make up for it. Shinnosuke guesses that this trope is in play, but Mr. Belt explains that he was actually talking about Alfred Nobel and the invention of dynamite. Double subverted later on, when it's revealed that the story could just as easily apply to Krim Steinbelt, Mr. Belt's original identity, since one of his inventions serves as the power source for the Monsters of the Week.
- On Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a woman debunks a psychic this way, by showing a picture of a girl whom the psychic had claimed was killed and then revealing that to be an old picture of her.
- The Crack Fox in The Mighty Boosh tells his backstory to Vince in this manner, showing him a short animated film about a fox that moved from the countryside to London, only for his life to be ruined by drugs and constant partying, before concluding "That fox, my friend, was none other than me... the Crack Fox".
- Subverted in an episode of Monk. Sharona has a fear of elephants that culminated when she was a little girl. She tells a story of how when she was little, a small girl ended up in the elephant cage at a zoo. As the girl didn't actually get hurt, the audience waits for her to say "I was that little girl", but nope, she was apparently traumatized because some other girl was in that predicament.
- Parodied in one episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000, when Gypsy puts on a "one woman show" and ends the show with the story of "a gal who ran the higher functions of a little satellite in a synchronous orbit." It's clear she intends the story to be uplifting and inspirational — the problem is that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense.
- Subverted in an episode of My Two Dads: Nichole is worried about going to the prom, and Judge Margaret tells her about another teenage girl who was teased at her prom. When Nichole asks what the girl did, the judge says she destroyed the other girls with her psychic powers.
Nichole: Wasn't that Carrie?
Margaret: It's all I've got. I was really popular at school.
- Another similar episode had Nicole becoming jealous of one of her friends at school who had developed breasts before her. The judge told her about one of her friends back then. When Nicole asked her if said friend was the first to get breasts in her school, the judge told her : "I was the first one to get breasts in my class !", and told her of all she suffered because of that, including the breaking up of her friendship with the girl she was talking about.
- Outnumbered: Subverted in "The Chinese Horde", where Karen is called to the headmistress's office:
Headmistress: You know, Karen, I once knew a little girl like you. A long, long time ago. She was clever, she had lots of opinions, which she loved to share, she thought she was the center of the universe and she didn't think the rules should apply to her. And do you know what happened to that strong-willed little girl?
Karen: Did she become head teacher?
Headmistress: No, she got expelled. She's in prison now. Turns out the rules did apply to her after all.
- In The Phantom of the Opera, Gérard Carrière tells Christine all about the Phantom's childhood and his relationship with his father; when Christine asks him how he knows all this, he reveals that he is the Phantom's father.
- Pixelface: Subverted. In "The Game's Up", Rex is deliberately slowing down his performance as he approaches the final level of his game. QM tells him a story about a character who did not want his game, so started deliberately screwing up, and eventually the player gave up playing the game because he couldn't finish it, and the character became a quartermaster in a console. When Rex goes "You were that character!", QM responds indignantly (and seemingly genuinely surprised) and says he is talking about a quartermaster in another console who is a total loser.
Saint of Killers: You ever hear that story about the drunk General who got caught reading his map sideways? It was back in the war middle of a big battle. Colonel rides up on his horse and says to the General, "What do we do?" Our General says, "We're gonna march right up that hill". The Colonel sees the sideways map in the General's hand, but he follows orders just like everybody else, so he sends his men up that hill into a slaughter...
Jesse Custer: You were the Colonel.
Saint of Killers: I was the General.
- Maya Rudolph parodied Kamala Harris own That Girl Was Me moment (see Real Life below) several times while impersonating her on Saturday Night Live. In multiple Democratic Debate sketches aired in 2019, Maya-as-Kamala would claim that she was the true protagonist of every story her opponents were telling, no matter how ridiculous.
- Hank Henshaw related a story about hunting an alien refugee as part of the DEO in Supergirl. Naturally, for this trope, it turns out to be Henshaw himself, who's really the Martian Manhunter and the real Henshaw died trying to kill him.
- In an episode of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles Derek Reese, worried about his nephew John's mental state, tells John's mother Sarah a story about a friend of his who went out of a bunker to "take a leak" and suddenly shot himself in the head. It is later revealed that the "friend" was Derek himself, but that Derek's girlfriend Jesse stopped him.
- Parodied in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt:
- First with Titus and Kimmy.
Titus Andromedon: And that 12 year-old boy who got kicked out of the choir...was me!
Kimmy Schmidt: Yeah. You said that. That was the whole story.
- And again in the same episode, with Lillian and Jacqueline:
Jacqueline White: And that young, impressionable girl in the fishing gear was me!
Lillian Kaushtupper: Yeah, I know. That was the whole story.
- First with Titus and Kimmy.
- Implied (as he never outright confirms it), for drama, in the second season episode "Shibboleth" on The West Wing. Toby has been pushing Leo and President Bartlet to nominate Leo's sister Josie for a recess appointment (that the Senate is presumably supposed to rubber stamp) of Assistant Secretary for Primary and Secondary Education, because he wants a fight with the Republicans on school prayer. It turns out, because of a compromising photograph, Josie is forced to withdraw her name from consideration, and Toby concedes she was the wrong face to put on it. However, he tells Leo they need to keep at this:
Toby: But I'll tell you why it should be front and center. It's not the First Amendment, it's not religious freedom, it's not church and state, it's not...abstract.
Leo: What is it?
Toby: It's the fourth grader who gets his ass kicked at recess cause he sat out the voluntary prayer in homeroom. It's another way of making kids different from other kids when they're required by law to be there. Thats why you want it front and center. The fourth grader; that's the prize.
Leo: ...What'd they do to you?
(Toby says nothing, but looks uncomfortable — note that he is Jewish)
- In Metallica's "The Unforgiven", the narrator switches between first (in the chorus) and third person. The last verse ends with:
The old man then prepares
To die regretfully -
That old man here is me.
- Arctic Monkeys have "Bigger Boys and Stolen Sweethearts", a B-Side to a single off their album Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. It describes a boy who gets played by a girl who's only interested in older men, before turning around and saying that he was in fact that boy.
- Eminem used this in 'Criminal,' as part of another rant against his mother:
My mother did drugs, hard liquor, cigarettes, and speed
The baby came out - disfigured, ligaments indeed.
It was a seed who would grow up just as crazy as she.
Don't dare make fun of that baby, 'cause that baby was me.
- Britney Spears has done this with 'Girl in the Mirror.'
I can't believe it's what I seeThat the girl in the mirrorThe girl in the mirrorIs me
- Emilie Autumn, Opheliac
She speaks in third personso that she can forget that she's me
- The chorus of Lindsay Lohan's "Drama Queen (That Girl)" from the similarly-named film Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen:
That girl was a one-time teenage drama queen,A hot, tough everyday wannabe,But she'll have changed her destiny, now she's a somebody.That girl was a wild-child dreamer but she found herself.'Cause she believes in nothing else,And you'll look back and you won't believeThat girl was me.
- In Jim Croce's "Box #10", the narrator sings of "a down home country boy" who has a rough time of it in the Big Apple. The verse ends with, "Oh well it's easy for you to see that that country boy is me".
- Mary J. Blige's song "Take Me As I Am" ends the second verse describing a girl's life before the bridge with "ask me how I know, 'cause she is me(eeeeeee)."
- Delta Goodrem has done versions of this twice in "The Analyst" and "Uncovered".
- In Jo Jo's unreleased song "Paper Airplanes", describing a disintegrating relationship:
I feel her pain,'Cause she's me.
- The spoken word song "Deck of Cards" has the artist tell a story about a soldier who was once caught in church with a deck of cards. They wanted to punish him, but he then explained he didn't have a Bible and used the characters and signs on the cards to remind him of biblical facts and characters. He then concludes: "And that soldier... was me."
- In Bob Dylan's song "Simple Twist of Fate", Dylan uses first person pronouns to narrate a story about a man and a woman who had a romantic encounter that ended. In the last verse, the narrator switches to first person - "I still believe she was my twin" - revealing that he was the man in the story.
- This trope is reference in Lauren O'Connell's song "The Pilot":
Didn't know what he told those stories forAnd when he'd reach the end, we'd say"That man was me".
- Danish singer Anna David's song "Den Lille Pige" ("The Little Girl") about a teenage girl who was raped. Translated into English: "Even though she's a grown-up now, she'll never forget you. Take my word - I know it, because the little girl was me".
- In Leonard Cohen's "Winter Lady" song, the narrator invites a stranger to stay the night. He then talks idly about her resemblance to his Childhood Friend, finishing:
And why are you so quiet now
standing there in the doorway?
- Stevie Nicks belts out "That girl was me!" at the end of her song "Angel", but the rest of the lyrics confusingly address a friend or lover, who may or may not be dead, so we're not sure...
- Played for Laughs in Tim Minchin's "Rock 'n' Roll Nerd".
He knows that his music lacks depthBut it just can't be helpedHe has nothing interesting to saySo he writes about himselfBut he doesn't want to seem self-obsessedSo he writes in third person
- Played with in "Three Wooden Crosses", made popular by Randy Travis, where four passengers board a bus, "A farmer and a teacher, a hooker and a preacher." At the end of the song, it's revealed that it's a preacher telling the story. The twist is that the preacher telling the story is actually the hooker's son, having been inspired by the bloodstained Bible that the preacher gave to his mother before dying.
- Neil Young's "Barstool Blues" has the drunken, rambling narrator declare "Once there was this friend of mine who died a thousand deaths...."
- The indirect version is a staple of Paul Harvey's routine. Usually, at the end of his radio show, he'd reveal "The Rest of the Story", where he'd talk about a young boy or girl who underwent some sort of hardship. And at the end, wouldn't you know it, he'd say "and that little boy/girl grew up to be...(name of famous person)."
- A fictional version is occasionally used by Garrison Keillor when he reports the News from Lake Wobegon, where he'll mention that he was visiting Lake Wobegon for some reason or other, and then shift to third-person perspective to tell the characters' story, only to switch back to first-person to reveal that a person he was talking about was actually him all along. The best part is that he does it so subtly that it takes a few moments to notice the shift.
- A humorous version is used in an episode of The Life of Riley called "The Hold Up," which guest-starred Burt Lancaster. Chester Riley is outlining the perils of becoming a gangster to his son, Junior. After telling Junior the story of a gangster who got the chair, he closes with this:
Riley: ....slowly they opened the little green door. He could see the chair. And then....his nerve snapped! He shook like the yellow rat that he was! He began screamin', "I DON'T WANNA DIE, I DON'T WANNA DIE!" They had to carry him to the chair! They strapped him in and he kept on screamin' until they pulled the switch! Son, that no-good yellow whimperin' rat was....(Beat)....Chester Riley!Junior: Pop! What are you tryin' to hand me? If they pulled the switch on you, how come you're still alive?Riley: No juice. The warden forgot to pay the electric bill. And let that be a lesson to you, Junior!
- The opening narration of every episode of The Lives of Harry Lime:
That was the shot that killed Harry Lime. He died in a sewer beneath Vienna, as those of you know who saw the movie The Third Man. Yes, that was the end of Harry Lime ... but it was not the beginning. Harry Lime had many lives ... and I can recount all of them. How do I know? Very simple. Because my name is Harry Lime.
- The Bible has an example of this with the Trope Namer of The Uriah Gambit. After the king sent Uriah to his death so he could take Uriah's wife (despite having several wives already), the prophet Nathan tells him a story about a man with many sheep stealing a sheep from someone who had only one. When the king is outraged and says that man should be punished, Nathan reveals that he was talking about wives, not sheep, and the king is that man.
- Another has a man named Mordecai uncover and report a plot against the king. The king asks his Evil Chancellor Haman (who had previously been humiliated by Mordecai) how to best reward a man who has done him a great service. Haman, thinking it's himself, starts going on about the lavish honors and riches to be given to the man. When he's finished, the king agrees, adding "Thus shall I reward Mordecai".
- There's an older Egyptian version of that biblical tale: the god Set is attending a congress of deities, and an old woman comes to him asking for reddress: her evil brother has killed her husband, usurped his position, and maimed and driven away her son. Set agrees that a great injustice has been done to her, and asks for the name of the criminal. It's Set himself, as the old woman is really the goddess Isis, her murdered husband is Osiris, and their son is Horus.
- Svetlana or Florence, depending on the production, has a song like this in Chess. Though everyone in the audience has figured it out by then, it ends:
And if that girl I knew should ask my adviceOh, I wouldn't hesitate, she needn't ask me twiceGo nowI'd tell her that for freeTrouble is, the girl is me.
- "The Barber and his Wife" in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
- The reprise of "Who Am I" on Les Misérables where Valjean reveals his past to Marius.
- The musical adaptation of Matilda changes the twist from both the novel and the film. Here, the story of Miss Honey's birth and childhood is told by Matilda, who thinks she's making it up, and is surprised to discover later that her "fiction" is real.
- Parodied in The Prom. Angie tells Emma the story of a cast member in the original production of Chicago who got cast as Roxie after everyone in the cast got sick.
Emma: Was that you?Angie: Just how fucking old do you think I am?
- I and You: It's not revealed until the very end of the play, but the boy Anthony saw die at his basketball game was actually him; Caroline has been unconscious and speaking with his ghost the entire time.
- Twelfth Night has Viola, disguised as a boy named Cesario, talking about love with Orsino, with whom she's fallen in love. Orsino claims that women aren't capable of loving very strongly, and Cesario responds by telling Orsino about his..."sister".
Cesario: In faith, they are as true of heart as we.
My father had a daughter loved a man,
As it might be, perhaps, were I a woman,
I should your lordship.
- A similar approach was taken in this Wind Waker commercial.
- In Cage in Lunatic Runagate Yukari explains what happened in her last attempt to invade the moon this way. Ran actually figures it out immediately, but Yukari denies this being the case.
- Jeremy tells a story about his childhood like this in Double Down.
- The Nintendo 3DS advice bird uses this in a way in one of its pieces of advice on the system's use of 2D and 3D photo formats. "The other day, a friend of mine accidentally deleted an MPO file. The 3D data was lost, so the photo could be viewed only in 2D. He was pretty upset about it. Learn from my...I mean, my friend's...mistake!"
- Subverted with Shu, the Tower Social Link from Persona 4, will occasionally talk to the protagonist about a transfer student at his school. As the link progresses it seems increasingly obvious that Shu is talking about himself. Finishing that Social Link though, would reveal that it's a real different person and Shu eventually befriended him.
- Team Fortress 2 short Meet the Medic combines this with Orphaned Punchline and Noodle Incident:
Medic: Vait! It gets better! Vhen ze patient woke up, his skeleton was missing, and ze doctor was never heard from again! [laughs before the Heavy starts to laugh] Anyway, zat's how I lost my medical license. Heh.
- Rosalina in the storybook from Super Mario Galaxy.
- Subverted in Jade Empire. When Sagacious Zu mentions that he saved Master Li's infant daughter, who was born around the time Dirge was attacked, a female spirit monk can ask whether Zu is talking about her, and Zu will tell her not to assume that everything is about her.
- It is, however, actually Dawn Star.
- As the final part of the True Ending reveals. Mithra from Asura's Wrath was telling the story of his and Yasha's adventures the whole time while she was younger to a bunch of children gathered around her (which is hinted in the episode previews at the end of each one with a small narration of her English and Japanese voice actors).
- At one point in Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura, you are required to visit a penal colony. One of the inmates offers to tell you a story about the nation of Cumbria, which has fallen on hard times in recent years. He ends the story with the words '...and the rightful heir to Cumbria's throne was shipped off to a penal colony, never to be heard from again', at which point you realise you've spent the past few minutes chatting with a member of the Cumbrian royal family.
- In Final Fantasy IX, during their stay at the Black Mage Village, Zidane tells Garnet a story about a young adopted boy who went in search of his real parents, thus revealing some of Zidane's Back Story.
- Later on on in Wolfenstein: The New Order, Anya sends B.J. recordings of her reading through her cousin Ramona's journal, which chronicles Ramona's methodical Roaring Rampage of Revenge against the Nazis. As the story goes on, the story clearly references moments such as a stint in University and how a heavily-scarred man suffering horrible head trauma was brought into her family's hospital and how she finds a kindred spirit within him. The final entry has her admitting that some of these things might have happened to her.
- Comes as a Tomato Surprise in Broken Age when Shay's mother tells him a story about a young girl that resembles Vella's story and ends it by revealing it was her, which Shay already knew. The player, however, did not.
- In one of the promotional comics for Nier, Kaine tells a story about a warrior who protected a young boy from Shades. Weiss doesn't buy it. Kaine refers to the warrior (herself) as a man, adding some foreshadowing to her own dilemma.
- In Nancy Drew: The Captive Curse, the traveling storyteller Renate tells Nancy how a girl she knew had been told never to enter the forest near the castle. One day the wind blew her beautiful scarf into the woods, and when she went to retrieve it, her older sister ran after her. "Two girls went out into the woods. One came back. There were monsters in the woods that night." Later, Nancy finds the scarf and returns it to Renate.
Nancy: "That story you told me, about the girls. That was you, wasn't it? You chased your sister into the woods—but couldn't save her."
Renate: "You're half right."
Nancy: "How so?"
Renate: "I was the little girl. It was my older sister who chased me into the woods. My sister died trying to protect me."
- In Might and Magic X, the narrator is really the grown daughter of the governor, Ann Morgan, who is haunted by the events she lived through and telling the story as a way of dealing with it.
- In Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer, as part of your job training, Lottie takes you to a client's house as a practice room, which is completely bare except for an unopened package. Lottie tells you, "The client who lives here is a girl who is a fan of all things cute. She's requested a room with a lovely atmosphere." After teaching you the core mechanics of the gameplay, Lottie leaves you to design the room however you like, claiming she'll play the part of the client. After you finish up and recieve her impression of the room, Lottie admits that she really is the client, and she hadn't had time to decorate due to work, having to use a sleeping bag during the night.
- At the end of The Longest Journey Lady Alvane, who tells the story to her grand children turns out to be the heroine April Ryan in later years.
- In Grand Theft Auto V, Trevor tells Wade his life story during the drive to Los Santos. The characters are obviously him and Michael, to the point that Trevor almost uses their real names before stopping himself midway (he uses "Trisha" for himself and "Michele" for Michael). Fortunately for him, Wade isn't smart enough to catch on, even when he loses his temper and starts using their real names.
Trevor: "This story's about a boy called Tr... Tre... Trisha."
Wade: "Is Trisha a boy's name?"
Trevor: "It doesn't matter."
- The Barbarossa campaign in Age of Empires II the story is narrated by an old man in a pub. At the campaign's conclusion he reveals himself to be one of the important figures of the events portrayed: Henry the Lion.
- In their second encounter in Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, the Second Sister tells Cal Kestis that his new Jedi Master, Cere Junda was captured during Order 66 and tortured until she gave up the location of her Padawan and several Jedi younglings they'd been protecting. When Cal dismisses the story as a lie, the Second Sister removes her helmet, revealing herself to be Trilla Suduri, Cere's former Padawan, who was tortured, mutilated and ultimately corrupted into becoming one of the Empire's Jedi-hunting Inquisitor's because of her master's actions.
- Parodied in Monster Prom, when Damien starts telling a story about himself and then tries to give this sudden reveal:
Damien: And that little boy... WAS ME!
Liam: Yeah, we know. You told us.
- In the second Fragment's Note, Yukitsuki gives one to Kyoichi in an attempt to convince him that she really does have the ability to empathize with him and understand his pain.
- At the end of the first chapter of Sharin no Kuni, Kenichi revealed himself to be the same person as Ken, the person whom the other characters kept mentioning as the boy who deserted them years ago.
- Subverted by The Non-Adventures of Wonderella here.
Rita: Are you that young girl?Dana: Nope, you are! Bye now!
- The Order of the Stick: In the side story How The Paladin Got His Scar O-Chul and Saha discuss whether people are inherently evil or not. O-Chul tells the story of a sergeant in the army who, upon catching a pair of bandits and their teenage son, brought the son to his sister in another part of the country to be raised right. Saha sees this trope coming, but says it proves nothing: Yeah it's great that he was kind to the bandit boy, but he was already a good man at that point. O-Chul says he was not the sergeant, but the boy. Saha was shocked that O-Chul of all people used to be a bandit but that was the point of the story. If a former bandit child can become a righteous man because of the kindness he was shown, then other bad folk can change too.
- In Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Penny's inspirational song begins "Here's the story of a girl...", but she realizes how silly it is to keep up the pretense by the end of the fourth line.
- When the Video Games Awesome! played The Binding of Isaac, they started sharing stories of unhappy memories from their own childhoods. Every time one of the stories also involved someone else, someone would joke "And that boy... was Deacon/Ben."
- ...and in Tumblr there was this
- Woolie Versus: In the The 3rd Birthday Playthrough, while Woolie and Minh were reflecting on past regrets (long story), Minh tells a story about the time where he asked a friend of his to check his email on their PC, but wound up closing all of his friend's millions of tabs in the process, and lied to said friend about it out of embarassment. Since there was no browser history in those days, there was no recovering them, and his friend was really depressed about it. Minh then asks Woolie whether or not the story seems familar to him:
Woolie: It doesn't.
Minh: It doesn't? 'Cause that was you.
- In the Welcome to Night Vale episode "Condos", The Faceless Old Lady Who Secretly Lives in Your Home relates a story about a girl she once knew, who was always trying to fit in, and pretending to be someone she was not, so that every day there was less-and-less of her to see, until eventually...
Old Woman: ...she died. [Beat] Oh, that wasn't me. I see the confusion here. No, that was a woman I watched. I secretly lived in her home.
- In "TF2 - Slugman's Transformation", Jerma985 tells a story about Slugman, a human with the mind of a slug who can't bring himself to do anything. It turns out that Slugman is Jerma, as a metaphor for his struggle to overcome laziness.
- Zig-zagged in Within the Wires when "Cassette #1: Stress, Shoulders," Side B has its Narrator instructing its listener, the patient in a research hospital, to imagine themself as a dragonfly handled by a little girl. While the metaphor would initially suggest that the Narrator is the girl grown up, Cassette #2 implies and Cassette #6 confirms that the girl is the patient, with the Narrator trying to cure her Laser-Guided Amnesia.
- In the Cold Open for one episode of The Eleven Little Roosters, Vladimir Putin tries to motivate Comrade Hadam with a story about a Russian bear that was picked on in school because his pants didn't fit properly, inspiring the bear to bulk up and learn judo until eventually he became the most powerful and feared bear in the world. When Hadam asks what the bear's name was, Vlad insists that it's not important.
- World War II: In Episode 22 - "The Enigma of Germany's Wartime Economy" covering the week of January 26, 1940, host Indy Neidell tells the story of Basil Reay, an Englishman working in the Egyptian Ministry of Education. On the 26th, Basil welcomes a daughter, Joy, into the world. That girl will go on to be Indy's mother, illustrating that the events of World War II are not as far removed from recent history as we would think.
- In The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lizzie and George want to tell her viewing audience about how Darcy allegedly screwed George over but Lizzie doesn't want to cast unproven aspersions on anyone. The solution? They tell an entirely fictional tale about how "Batman" and "Dar...vid" used to be friends before the latter betrayed the former's trust.
- r/StoriesAboutKevin is a subreddit dedicated to stories about stupid people. Some of the stories end with "Kevin is me". Commenters often counter with "If you are self-aware then you aren't a Kevin."
- Played for Laughs in the Scott The Woz episode "To Delay a Game", where Scott immediately admits that the story he's about to tell is about himself.
Scott: This is a story of a brown haired white boy with glasses.Scott: Guess who.
- On American Dad!, Roger uses this as part of a convoluted back story for his made-up detective persona.
Roger: My name is Braff Zacklin. I was an international race car driver. One day a baby carriage rolled onto the tracks, so I swerved into the retaining wall to avoid it. The car burst into flames, but the baby miraculously survived. I was that baby.Steve: That doesn't make any sense.Roger: I'M BRAFF ZACKLIN!
- In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Scrooge's Pet", after Scrooge tells the triplets that good intentions don't always work out well, Launchpad begins a story about bringing a sick friend breakfast in bed and accidentally spilling it on him. Then Scrooge irritably reveals that the story was something that happened between him and Launchpad at some point.
- In Recess, Spinelli's ballet teacher tells her, "You remind me of little dancer known by me in old country." "Yeah? What's she doing now?" asks Spinelli. "That I am telling later," replies the teacher. After her big ballet recital, Spinelli asks what happened to the girl, and the teacher reveals, "little girl was me."
- In Rugrats, there's a scene where an old lady is relating to Grandpa Lou about a man who showed her some kindness when she was younger, and how she never got the chance to thank him. Grandpa just smiles and replies "You just did." They get married in the second movie.
- The Simpsons:
- Otto tells a bedtime story to Lisa, the Urban Legend of a woman outrunning a driver who seems to be stalking her, but was actually trying to warn her of the axe wielding maniac in the back seat. He then asks her if she wants to know how he knows the story: "I....was that maniac" Cue Homer and Marge hearing Lisa's screams.
- An informational video about restraining orders narrated by Gary Busey tells the story of Joe, a Stalker with a Crush who received a restraining order from the object of his desires, Mary. At the end of the video...
Busey: I'm gonna let you in on a little secret: Joe is me. And Mary is a composite of twelve different women and a small, independent film company; all of whom couldn't deal with me because I'm too real.
- Played with in an episode of Hey Arnold! when Arnold is complaining about Helga. Grandpa Phil tells Arnold about a little girl named Gertie in his class that was horrible to him and spent the school year making him miserable. At the end of the episode Arnold's Grandma states that she was that very girl — though Arnold doesn't hear it. Apparently, Arnold doesn't know his own grandma's actual name (Phil usually calls her "Pookie").
- In an episode of the Madeline animated series, Madeline is humiliated when she messes up during a ballet recital. She's then told a story by a professional ballerina about another girl who messed up, but got back out there and kept trying. "That little girl...was me!"
- Inverted in Avatar: The Last Airbender. Katara goes to find the leader of the Fire Nation raiders that killed her mother. Yon Rha reveals via flashback that he was sent to kill the last waterbender of the tribe. Kya, seeking to protect the tribe and her daughter, who had interrupted the conversation moments before, falsely confesses to being that waterbender.
Katara: She lied to you. She was protecting the last waterbender.Yon Rha: What? Who?Katara: ... ME! *cue terrifyingly badass display of using waterbending to suspend the rain*
- On Metalocalypse, Pickles once took his bandmates on a tour of the sleaziest parts of Los Angeles, in an attempt to teach them about the drug-fueled excesses of 80's glam rock (and why he thought they were awesome.) He concluded the tour in an alleyway where he once saw a famous male singer performing oral sex on a guy. "And that guy...was me," he says. The others are shocked, and then Pickles laughs at them and says he was just kidding.
- In the ThunderCats (2011) episode "The Duelist and the Drifter", the Drifter, a.k.a. Hattanzo the Swordmaker uses this technique to relate his past to Lion-O, warning the young hero that he'll inevitably duplicate his failure because they're Not So Different.
- In an episode of Transformers: Prime, Ratchet tells Raf how the field medic who saved Bumblebee after Megatron had tortured him wasn't able to fix Bumblebee's voice box. He was speaking about his OWN inability to completely fix Bumblebee since he was that field medic.
Ratchet: Yes, well... the medic could have done better.
- The first Care Bears movie had Mr. Cherrywood, an old man and head of an orphanage, tell the children of the orphanage a story about a possessed magician's apprentice named Nicholas who was saved by the Care Bears. In the end, his wife calls him by name, Nicholas.
- The Care Bears Nutcracker Suite features a ballet teacher telling her class about her favorite version of The Nutcracker, one where a girl named Anna goes with the Nutcracker and the Care Bears to Toyland. After saving Toyland, Anna wakes up to find it was All Just a Dream...but then she meets her new neighbor Alan who looks exactly like the Nutcracker's human form, and gives her a nutcracker as a Christmas gift. At the end of the movie, the teacher leaves with her boyfriend Alan, causing the students to deduce that she must be Anna.
- Subverted by Granny in Squidbillies when she explains how Gaga Pee Pap ran out on their family:
Granny: He done married me, got me pregnant, ran off with some floozie bitch and had a baby. And that baby grew up to be... me.Early: She don't fully recollect her connection to the man.Granny: What man?
- Bee and Puppycat: Implied. Puppycat tells Wallace and Bee a story about a (presumably human) outlaw who fell in love with a princess, but was betrayed by the princess and her father. The end of the short shows Puppycat looking out the window with a reflection resembling the outlaw.
- The Rankin Bass special The First Easter Rabbit reveals in the end that the narrator E.B. (voiced by Burl Ives) is the special's protagonist Stuffy, now much older.
- The Tex Avery cartoon Dixieland Droopy tells the story of how John Irving Pettybone (Droopy the dog) acquires a Dixieland band made up of fleas, granting him his life-long dream of being a Dixieland conductor. At the end, the cartoon's narrator is revealed to be Pee Wee Runt, the trumpet-player in the band.
- Another Tex Avery cartoon, The First Bad Man, tells the story of Dino Dan, the first criminal in Texas history. At the end, it turns out that Dino Dan is the narrator.
- While The Boy and the World is devoid of dialogue, it is strongly hinted that the man in the rainbow hat is the titular boy.
- Parodied in this exchange from The Amazing World of Gumball's episode "The Pest":
Billy: There once was a happy boy whoGumball: Can we just stick to the subject, please?Billy: The boy is me, it's a story about me.Gumball: Oh, sorry, please continue.
- In the Looney Tunes short "Señorella and the Glass Huarache", the Framing Device involves a Mexican fellow telling his friend a Mexico-themed version of the story of Cinderella. At the end, the friend wonders why the narrator described it as a "sad story" when it had a happy ending, and the narrator reveals he's the guy who married the wicked stepmother.
- The Loud House: In "Middle Men", Lynn keeps telling Lincoln and Clyde stories about a new kid and the trouble she got in, to underscore how dangerous Middle School can be. As it turns out, she was talking about her own experiences in sixth grade.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In "Sophmore Slump", Marco has spent the summer annoying his friends and neighbors by bragging, directly or indirectly, about his adventures on Mewni. His mom Angie tries to tell him the story of a girl she knew who came back from a trip to France, acting all snooty and using the French pronunciation of "croissant". When Marco fails to make the connection, Angie flat-out reveals that she was the "Craw-sawn Girl".
- In The Raccoons, the episode "Trouble Shooter!" sees Bentley Raccoon running away from home and, after an Out-of-Context Eavesdropping incident, thinking he is not welcome with Bert and Cedric either and hitting the road. Cyril Sneer goes after him and tells him the story of a kid he used to know who, like Bentley, ran away from his family because he thought he could make it on his own. The kid in question grew up to be a millionaire, but there were a lot of "lost, lonely years" before he struck it rich, and no amount of money can buy back that lost time. Bentley correctly deduces that Cyril is talking about himself.
- There's a famous Real Life subversion of this. American psychologist Gordon Allport was visiting Sigmund Freud and told him a story of a boy he'd seen on the train who wouldn't sit near anyone dirty. Allport said that the boy's mother seemed to be domineering, which might have something to do with his behavior. Freud leaned over to him and said, "And was that little boy you?" It was not.
- A story (perhaps anecdotal or urban legend) of an artist who was commissioned to do the life of Christ in a giant mural. He started with Christ's birth, using the most cherubic baby he could find as a model, and after years reached the end, but was only stuck on the model for Judas. He simply could not find anyone degraded enough to use, until he finally found a worn-out drunk with the most depraved look and hired him. The drunk could hardly refuse the money, but when they reached the studio and saw the mural he burst into tears. Asked why, he said "I know about this painting. My mother told me about it. I was the model for the Christ child."
- There is an inversion about Leonardo Da Vinci painting The Last Supper. In order to find the appropriate look for Judas, he went to the local prisons and found a man who looked haggard, angry and dangerous and used him as the model. Some years later he still hadn't found the right person to stand in for Jesus. While pondering the question, a man walked into the studio who looked perfect, clean, with kind features. Leonardo immediately chose the man as his inspiration for Jesus. When Leonardo asked the man if they had ever met, the man replied "Yes, I was Judas."
- In the afterword of A Scanner Darkly, Philip K. Dick listed all of the friends he'd lost to drug use - among the names was "Phil, Permanent Pancreatic Damage".
- During the second night of the first Democratic Debates in 2019, Kamala Harris attacked Joe Biden over his previous opposition to desegregation busing, telling the story of a young girl who was part of busing, before Name Dropping this trope to the surprise of Biden and everyone else. It quickly became one of the more iconic moments of her campaign. The Biden-Harris ticket went on to win the 2020 presidential election with a historic number of votes (81 million) and "that little girl" became the first woman, first black person and first person of Asian descent to be elected Vice President of the United States.