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Confession Deferred

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A common Sitcom trope—although not restricted to that genre—in which a character denies their involvement in some event until it's convenient to admit the truth because the asker either has benevolent intent or benefited greatly from the outcome. Or it could be that the character realizes that continued denial is just going to get them into a worse situation, whereupon they instantly confess. This second scenario is usually the result of the character being a Dirty Coward.

Compare Immediate Self-Contradiction, when a character says or does something that goes against what they just said or did, and But That I Would Believe. Contrast Confirm Before Reveal, when a character asks a quick question about something they're about to reveal before revealing it.

See also Opinion Flip Flop, when a character continually agrees with another despite the latter changing their mind, and Blatant Lies, for lies so obvious they lack even a shred of plausibility. Not to be confused with False Start, which is when something prevents a long-awaited love confession from happening.


Films — Live-Action

  • The Princess Bride: When Westley and Inigo storm the castle, they demand that the guard give them the key. The captain denies having it in his possession until Inigo orders Fezzik to tear the captain's arms off. He quickly acquiesces to prevent that from happening.
  • Underworld: Evolution: Tannis pretends to know nothing about Victor's keys when asked by Marcus, who drags him across the table after skewering him with his Razor Wings. Tannis' memory suddenly gets better.


  • A stranger asks for Mr. Brown regarding a bill. Mr. Brown, without identifying himself, tells the stranger that Mr. Brown is on holiday until he hears that is a bill the stranger wants to pay, so he immediately corrects himself and states that Mr. Brown just came back.

Live-Action TV

  • Stargate SG-1: Inverted in "The Ties That Bind". Vala tries to make Dr. Jackson believe that she acquired the kor mak bracelets through legal means. She forgot she's already told him she stole them.
    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!