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Confession Deferred

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A common Sitcom trope. When asked if they did something the character vigorously denies it until they discover the asker has benevolent intent (or that continued denial is just going to get them into a worse situation), whereupon they instantly confess.

Like so:

Character A: Did you take the $20 off my dresser?
Character B: I'm shocked you would ask. I'm your oldest friend, I would never touch anything of yours without permission. I wasn't even...
Character A: Because I was going to use it to buy you lunch.
Character B: Oh. Here.

Compare Opinion Flip Flop and Blatant Lies. Not to be confused with False Start.


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  • In The Princess Bride, when storming the castle:
    Westley: Give us the gate key.
    Yellin: (guarding the gate) I have no gate key.
Inigo Montoya: Fezzik, tear his arms off! Yellin: Oh, you mean this gate key.
  • Also:
    Inigo: This is noble, sir. His wife is... crippled. His children are on the brink of starvation.
    Miracle Max: Are you a rotten liar.
    Inigo: I need him to help avenge my father, murdered these twenty years.
    Miracle Max: Your first story was better.
  • Similar to Princess Bride, this exchange from Underworld: Evolution:
    Marcus: Victor struck two keys. Where are they?
    Tannis: Keys? I know of no keys.
    (Marcus skewers him with his Razor Wings and drags him across the table)
    Tannis: Oh...oh yes, those keys.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Boiled down by Monty Python's Flying Circus to its bare bones in the repeated line "No! No! No! Yes..." (usually delivered by Eric Idle).
  • A variant from Stargate SG-1:
    Dr. Jackson: He's the guy you stole the bracelets from, right?
    Vala: How dare you assume that I acquired those bracelets through anything but honest means! I may have a less than perfect reputation -
    Dr. Jackson: You told me you stole them!
    Vala: I did?
    Dr. Jackson: Yes!

  • This joke:
    X: Are you Mr. Brown? I have a bill...
    Mr. Brown: Sorry, Mr. Brown is on holiday.
    X: ...I wanted to pay.
    Mr. Brown: Oh, Mr. Brown just came back.