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Engineered Public Confession

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"I will never tell the hero, 'Yes, I was the one who did it, but you'll never be able to prove it to that incompetent old fool.' Chances are, that incompetent old fool is standing behind the curtain."
— Rule #189 of the The Evil Overlord List

It's a Just Between You and Me moment: the villain, secure in his superior planning or intellect, is monologuing in exquisite detail how his Evil Plan is going to profit him by screwing over all the people who trust or depend on him — completely and blissfully unaware that the hero or an associate has arranged a Hidden Wire, PA microphone or other relay of the villain's words, which are heard with perfect clarity by a figure of authority and/or the villain's dupes. They, of course, realize just how they've been deceived and turn on him (or line up to get their crack at him). Alternatively, the hero may be concealing a tape recorder, and will replay the villain's words in front of authorities just when it seems as if he'll get away with it all. Turns out that the hero has recorded the whole thing, and the proof of the villain's evilness is Caught on Tape. Often accompanied by a priceless Oh, Crap! from the exposed villain when he realizes what's happening, and he usually has a Villainous Breakdown from being so outed (as well as outwitted), if he hasn't had a breakdown already (in many cases, the breakdown may cause the confession, since he is not usually in control of himself). Regardless, he usually gets fired from his job and/or sent to the slammer.


Variation of Right Behind Me, but done intentionally, and usually with more people listening. Also similar to Bluffing the Murderer, but it relies on overconfidence rather than panic on the part of the villain.

Usually the moment of demise for the Nice Character, Mean Actor, the Straw Hypocrite, and the Villain with Good Publicity. Has also been the bane of The Chessmaster and the downfall of the Manipulative Bastard on many occasions.

Compare Did I Just Say That Out Loud?, Is This Thing Still On?, Endangering News Broadcast, Staging the Eavesdrop, and Spanner in the Works. Contrast Made Out to Be a Jerkass when a hero standing up to a villain results in this and Accidental Public Confession for cases without the prearranged recording/broadcasting element.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Buso Renkin: During the assault on the protagonists' high school at the climax of the L.X.E. arc, one of the students was collaborating with the attacking homunculi and used the intercom to convince the other students that the heroes fighting against the monsters were also enemies so that the students would attack them. When the hero's friends call the student over the intercom they get him to reveal information that only the attackers would know, proving that he was working with them.
  • In Code Geass R2, Lelouch pulls a massive Gambit Roulette just to get one of these, all in order to secure China as an ally in the fight against The Empire.
  • This is largely how Near manages to expose Light as Kira in Death Note, sans the tech equipment but Light's God complex is more than enough.
  • One memorable episode of Detective Conan had Conan cornering the killer-of-the-week in a parking lot and spouting off the details of the crime. The killer is at first taken aback at being found out, but calmly confesses to the murder when he realizes the police would never believe anything a little kid like Conan says. Conan admits this to be true — which is why he taped the whole conversation.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: At the very start of the series, when Edward and Alphonse are battling the fake priest Cornello, Edward is trapped but has a huge microphone hidden as Cornello explains how he is manipulating the populace and so on. Too bad it's rendered moot by the Homunculi.
  • A non-villainous (sorta-kinda) happened in Get Backers. Makubex finally explains that stealing the implosion lens wasn't just a plot to ransom the gods of Mugenjou and return things to how they before Ginji left; it was all prophesied in the Archive, and he was just doing his best to play his part and see if he could find a way to break the gods' control. He even revealed that his public persona as the "demon king" was largely a product of his virtual reality systems. Ren runs in after he finishes talking, reveals that she used his computer to broadcast it all over Lower Town and that they're all waiting outside, cheering wildly and yelling things like "Long live Makubex!"
  • Done in the last episode of Gunsmith Cats when Haints finds Radinov in his office and launches into a rant about her failures, only to discover that she's really Kate with a wig and a microphone.
  • .hack//Roots: The player Tohta lure a group of merchants who are driving up prices into a dungeon and tricks them into admitting they're Real Money Traders, which violates the World's terms of services. The merchants do this in a public channel and Tohta reports them, resulting in all of their accounts being banned.
  • Infinite Ryvius: Captain Airs Blue at one point considers betraying and abandoning the crew of the Ryvius, unaware that a treacherous subordinate has turned on the ship's intercom. Needless to say, he isn't Captain for much longer.
  • Subverted in Kakegurui: Yumeko records Idol Singer Yumemi making disparaging remarks about her fan club, and plays the tape for all of them to hear after defeating Yumemi in the following episode. Yumemi braces herself for a loud chorus of boos and Produce Pelting, but her fan club is so moved by her "honesty" that they vow to continue supporting her, and even demand an encore performance right there on stage.
  • This happens twice in Martian Successor Nadesico, transmitting some things Nergal would rather have remained hidden to the entire ship. The second time, in fact, Mr. Prospector seems to have some sort of "reveal bad guys' secret" button (designed to look like Ruri's face for some reason) on his shirt that he casually brushes as their captor gets rolling.
  • Metal Armor Dragonar: Big Bad Dorchenov reveals he is the murderer of Marshall Guiltorre thanks to Min's strategy.
  • One Piece had one during the Enies Lobby arc where Spandam, after accidentally activating the Buster Call, is gloating to Nico Robin about his future plans and how all the Marines under him are sheep. The kicker to this is that HE was the one who left the radio on for all to hear. Then he weakly tries to cover it up by trying to imitate Luffy when he finally notices this. No one is fooled, of course. This is an odd case, though, in that Spandam's speech serves no purpose to the plot, except perhaps to make the readers (or watchers) dislike him even more; when the transmission is finally cut, the only thing that matters to the ones who heard it is that the Buster Call is coming.
  • In Ouran High School Host Club, the school's newspaper editor tries to engineer the downfall of the Host Club, only to have his plans thwarted by a recording machine disguised as a first aid kit which Kyouya placed into the newspaper room.
  • Patlabor: One of the people behind the terrorist attacks, Shigeki Arakawa, refuses to confess anything. Shigeki Arakawa is also Affably Evil. He went to Kiichi Goto when Yukihito Tsuge decided to alter the plan and start a limited war that would topple the Japanese government. Shigeki Arakawa’s original plan was a harsh political protest that used limited and controlled violence. Goto also agrees with Arakawa’s observations on the reality of peace, war, and political leaders exploit chaos instead of using a measured response.
  • Peach Girl evil mastermind Sae is tricked by Kairi into expounding on her patented Wounded Gazelle Gambit routine, and how she has repeatedly made Momo look like a monster before the class. Unknown to her Touji is right around the corner, and hearing her bragging finally wakes him up, and he, in turn, makes damn sure the class knows who and what Sae really is. The worst part was, they kind of already did, but admitted falling for an act they themselves had been victimized by before—and sadly, would again before all was done.
  • Pokémon: Zoroark: Master of Illusions has Grings Kodai's plan curving for a meteoric downward spiral after Zorua nicked his forearm. This had the side effect of breaking his illusion canceller, but he was too absorbed in both his own ego - as he gloats to Ash about his Dark Secret - and Zoroark's illusion to tell the difference as he drew power from a fake Time Ripple projected a few feet closer to Kodai than the real one, allowing Ash's friends to record his gloating on video. Then time rewinds in front of him, revealing the truth; he loses full functionality for his device shortly thereafter frying Zoroark, who fries it back, and stumbles into another illusion, whereupon he falls unconscious after falling off a podium in the Boccer arena, believing the railing for his "airship" was a few feet further ahead. This trope kicks in the next morning, where he wakes up to hear the aforementioned gloating broadcast to everyone in Crown City via his own TV network. That roar from Zoroark? A rough translation is "enjoy your ride on the Party Van, asshole!"
  • Ramen Fighter Miki: Miki tries this in episode 7A Peel Off the Fake Smile when she becomes a client of Megumi’s bakery and acts like The Thing That Would Not Leave to make Megumi drop his façade of The Fake Cutie in front of her clients denouncing her as the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
  • Sket Dance plays this completely straight when a teacher caught framing a pupil for his own misdeeds confesses all with the immortal lines: 'No matter what you say, nobody will believe you!' Unfortunately for him, he was being broadcast over the school intercom system at that very moment, and the Sket-dan had fiddled with their classroom's speaker so that he wouldn't notice it.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Agnes and her crew combine this with Hoist by His Own Petard when they expose Maverick by broadcasting his monologue live on Hero TV, a program of his own media company which he was using up to that point to further his schemes.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, during his fight with Yusei, Divine reveals that he was the one who murdered Misty's brother (Misty was under the impression that Aki had, and had become a Dark Signer to seek revenge - acquiring the use of Jibakushin (Earthbound God/Immortal) Ccarayhua). He discovers too late that Yusei's Duel Disk had a microphone in it, which he had activated beforehand, and becomes Ccarayhua's dinner. Though it certainly doesn't help that when Misty angrily speaks to him a few moments after Yusei reveals his trick, he responds with Evil Gloating.

    Comic Books 
  • Done at least twice in Archie Comics with Archie and his friends.
    • In one story, Archie's rival Reggie convinces almost everyone that Archie is going insane but then Jughead leads Reggie into a storeroom by getting him curious about why Jughead is carrying and uncoiling a wire and gets Reggie to brag about his scheme seemingly in private, after which Jughead reveals that the wire is connected to a microphone leading to the school's public address system. Reggie is the one who ends up in therapy.
    • In another story, Archie wants to make sure a sweet old lady who is moving house gets good prices on her antiques, so he gets help from a man who is knowledgeable enough to set fair prices but has a reputation as a shyster. Then Archie tricks him into confessing that he's intending to keep 80% of the sales for himself and records it on tape as leverage to force the shyster into giving the old lady all the profits.
  • In Baker Street #5, Davenport admits to Sharon and Susan that he is the one behind the deaths in the recent gang wars, planning to shoot them immediately. Unknown to him, the area is surrounded by the Tower of Hell gang who have borne the brunt of losses in these wars.
  • Daredevil made The Fixer believe this was the case, claiming to have a recorder inside his billy club. Then three issues later, he did it for real to the Purple Man.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe:
    • In the comic "Outlanders", Donald, Scrooge, and Huey-Dewey-Louie are teleported to a steampunk world, where Beagle Boys took over the Money Bin and sent alternate Scrooge to work in a coal mine. He then takes his revenge by tricking them to confess how they did it, using Gyro's inventions to project their confession on a giant sheet in the street, and broadcast their words at full volume.
    • In a comic story featuring a young Scrooge, he visits the bad guy and convinces him to speak about his crime, while recording his words on a hidden gramophone. Justified, as the comic is set in an era where gramophones are still new-fangled inventions, and the villain doesn't consider the possibility that his words can be recorded.
  • Used in an issue of Doctor Strange, with Clea activating the crystal that Umar the Unrelenting used to make announcements to the public. It might have gone better if Umar hadn't drained the barrier that prevented the Mindless Ones from rampaging across the Dark Dimension; part of her power was drawn from popular support.
  • The Flash has this a few times, often during Mark Waid run on the title.
    • The Flash faces off against a crime boss who snaps on how he killed off some rivals himself. Right as his confession is starting, the Flash grabs him and races him across town. The guy has just finished admitting to having killed a rival when he realizes he's standing right in the middle of police headquarters with a half dozen cops listening.
    • The Flash has been set up to look like a huge menace and attacking people. He's lured to rescue some hostages and is trapped by Abra Kadabra who does a massive speech on how he set the Flash up. At which point, the Flash easily escapes from the trap and points out the hostages are gone. Cue his captain ally and twenty cops stepping out of the shadows, the captain playing a recording of Kadabra's confession. Flash reveals he had already gotten the hostages out at super-speed and then brought the cops along before Kadabra even saw him enter. He then acted out being "trapped", knowing Kadabra's ego would drive him to gloat.
      Flash: misdirection.
  • In the story "The Joker's Mild" from Joker's Asylum, the Joker hijacks a game show and presents the contestants with impossibly difficult questions. When they fail to answer, they are subjected to harmless pranks like being sprayed with ginger ale. The joke was actually on the producer, who had kept the show on the air, made no effort to summon help, and was drooling over the audience the show was drawing... all of which the Joker had captured on hidden camera in order to amuse himself by posing the question of which of them was the worse villain.
  • Josie and the Pussycats:
    • The girls are singing for an animal preservation charity. After the rival boy band's leader sets them up by way of a fur coat, the girls pretend to be groupie journalists to get the guys back. They do, of course, and the boy band is thrown out and the Cats welcomed back with open arms.
    • Valerie, where she pretends to be helping a con man so she can get him to tell her about the scam and what suckers people are — she is wearing a wire and broadcasting this to the entire school.
  • Raana Tey from Knights of the Old Republic falls victim to this when she gloats about the murder she participated in and framed the protagonist for in front of the sister of one of her victims (who Raana had been manipulating). It doesn't end well for her. Subverted in that Zayne didn't really plan it to happen.
  • The post-Zero Hour incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes spent an entire Story Arc building up to one of these, complete with the Legion's leader becoming Not Himself to ingratiate himself to the target, several Legionnaires faking their deaths, and one of the presumed-dead Legionnaires then impersonating a third party to take credit for the villain's schemes in order to prompt the Just Between You and Me moment, which was of course broadcast on live TV - all without cluing the reader in until The Reveal.
  • Lex Luthor gets this a lot:
    • For a while Lex Luthor was President of the US (really!), and genuinely tried to protect the country (and Earth) from several of the cataclysms that occurred during his term. Then his hatred of Superman got the better of him in the pages of Superman/Batman and he tried, through a heavily convoluted and highly illegal scheme, to frame Superman for attempting to destroy the Earth by drawing an asteroid to Earth. It almost worked, until he ranted to Superman that he truly thought he was guilty, repeatedly admitting to playing the public like a flute and that he intended to teleport off-planet (using Illegal Alien Technology from Darkseid) before the asteroid hit, leaving everyone else to die. Luckily, he didn't know Batman was taping the whole thing (in addition to, as Bruce Wayne, buying up all his assets so that he couldn't start over, or at least for a while).
      • Lex may be completely crazy, but he's not completely wrong — The asteroid IS headed for Earth because of Superman; it contains his cousin Supergirl, who would land on Earth in The Supergirl from Krypton. Supergirl's escape ship was following Superman's journey but unfortunately came with a giant chunk of the planet Krypton attached. Luthor's crime here wasn't framing Superman, but leading a manhunt for the hero instead of simply asking for his help in destroying it.
    • In Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl, he gives the villain speech in front of Supergirl while Batgirl was broadcasting it live on network TV, destroying his reputation.
  • A Marvel Adventures comic has Captain America doing this to Loki over a live broadcast. It's really just admitting to jealousy, but this does result in Loki leaving in a huff.
  • The heroine of Les Nombrils pulls a pretty clever version of this to expose the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing who's been ruining her life.
  • In the last issue of Six Gun Gorilla, Blue manages to trick one of the people involved in a plot to prolong the civil war in the Blister so Bluetech can make a fortune broadcasting it to the masses into admitting the whole conspiracy when they think the transmitter in Blue's head is being jammed by psi-blockers.
    Blue: Them psi-blockers? They been down since you pulled the trigger.
  • Spider-Man villain Mysterio starts out as a Villain with Good Publicity, but is foiled when he confesses everything to Spider-Man, who is holding a tape recorder.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra has a particularly ironic one at the climax of the Unspeakable Rebel Superweapon arc. After Minister Voor gloats about how she's manipulated both Aphra and the Rebellion into enabling her planned coup against the Emperor, Aphra reveals that she hacked Voor's own propaganda cameras to broadcast this confession live to the whole galaxy, exposing and ruining Voor's plans. Cue stormtroopers storming Voor's compound.
  • Supergirl:
    • In Action Comics #319, Donna Storm frames Linda Danvers — the eponymous heroine — for stealing. So Linda alters Donna's earrings into radio transmitters that would broadcast her voice through the school's P. A. system and then prods Donna into confessing.
      Donna: I wanted to get even with you, and with your friend, Supergirl. You've both been getting in my hair. I don't mind telling you this, because you can't prove I'm the guilty one.
      Linda: Can't I? You'd be surprised!
      "At that moment, Donna's confession is pouring out through the public address system in the nearby stadium..."
    • In Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Belinda asks Linda Lee how she is doing. Linda starts complaining about her shallow, petty, and bad-smelling schoolmates and teachers, not knowing she is being recorded.
      Linda: I didn't mean it that way... I have a really, really keen sense of smell is all... I didn't know she was recording me...
  • Action Comics #556: Vandal Savage, then an immigrant from Earth-2, decided that being a Villain with Good Publicity wasn't enough, and began videotaping all his meetings with Superman as part of his plan to make Supes a Hero with Bad Publicity. Superman secretly places a transmitter on Savage's recording device which then feeds to local TV station WGBS, then goads the villain into revealing his plan and sneering at the "sheep" of Metropolis. Superman consulted Batman beforehand to make sure the plan was viable.
  • Spider Jerusalem uses this against the President in Transmetropolitan. He purposely gets seen using a real gun (something that's out of character for him) earlier in the day, so that the increasingly unstable President will make very sure he's not armed, instead of making a cursory check for guns and then checking for bugs.
    • Spider had tried to record him in an earlier issue, only to learn right after the confession that his bugs had been fried by an EMP, hence the Batman Gambit with the gun the second time.
  • The 'Crazy Eights' storyline in the Marvel Comics Wonder Man book. Eight newly superpowered friends of Wonder Man manage to record L.A's top security firm as really being a bunch of murderous thugs for hire. A violent chase ensues all over town, ending with a Hail Mary pass to a reporter acquaintance. Ironically, the reporter's view of costumed people tussling with the security firm just increases her curiosity to view the tape.
  • Subverted in Y: The Last Man, when ex-cop turned brothel owner You confronts Epiphany, a Canadian pop star who's using her influence among teenage Japanese girls to recreate the Yakuza, and broadcasts her comment ("Those retarded Japanese fangirls worship me like a god!") to the guards outside. When informed of this Epiphany simply retorts: "Oh please! Those groupies already know I couldn't give two shits about them!"
  • The first arc of Scott McCloud's Zot! ends with the titular hero interrupting the Evil Chancellor as he gives a live planet-wide broadcast about how their world's Holy War against Earth is going. The villain makes sure to turn off all the cameras before admitting to Zot that, yes, he killed the king, the queen, and his rivals, and engineered the war as a way of consolidating power—but then Zot reveals the tiny robot that's been following him around, which has video cameras for eyes and a built-in broadcast antenna. Guess what the robot's been doing?

    Fan Works 
  • Combined with Cassandra Truth in The Boy Who Cried Yuri: Shinji overhears something he shouldn't have. When he tells Misato about it, she naturally dismisses him in the "eww, don't fantasize about your coworkers" way. Cue Shinji hiding in the locker room with a tape recorder... and getting The Take when Misato gets turned on and joins the action instead.
  • In Death Note: The Abridged Series (kpts4tv), when Near is talking to Light with the taskforce listening in, Near thanks Kira for killing the guy who molested him:
    Near: So thank you, Kira, from the both of us.
    Light: Oh, well it was nothing. The guy was asking for it and... WAIT A MINUTE! I see what you're trying to do!
  • Blackjack engineers a public confession in Fallout: Equestria - Project Horizons in order to expose Ahuizotl as a traitor to the rest of Meatlocker. Ahuizotl, however, is smart enough to realize what's going on, and activates the rooms's hidden booby traps.
    Ahuizotl: What? You don't seriously think I'd believe you'd want to do business with me? You're the saint of the Wasteland. I'm sure you're just here to chat up some evidence to take back to those morons. Probably got that PipBuck recording this whole conversation, don't you?
    Blackjack: Darn. You figured me out. Well, except for one thing. My PipBuck? It's a broadcaster.
    [Cue Meatlocker's citizens opening the door.]
  • Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood Abridged had this take on Cornello's confession scene:
    Edward: Then tell me all the bad things you've done...
    Cornello: I once kicked a small child and stole candy from a puppy.
    Edward: That's right... keep em coming...
    Cornello: I'm also making these worthless townfolk believe in a fake god so I can turn them into my fearless army and take over the country with the Philosopher's Stone!
    Edward: Ha Ha! You've just been caught! This whole conversation was live on the radio.
    Cornello: Not only that, but I once took part in a devil's three-way with a nun. A nun!
    Edward: Uh, you can stop...
    Cornello: I also wear a monocle! And a top hat!
    Edward: I see you're gonna keep going...
    Cornello: I was once even the CEO of Fox Entertainment, and it was I who canceled such great shows as Arrested Development and Futurama! [evil laugh] Ah ha... I'm evil...
  • Getting Back on Your Hooves: The Mane Six set up a Batman Gambit to get Checker Monarch to confess to trying to (illegally) ruin the lives of Trixie and her friends out of pettiness, spite, and jealousy during her public address to Ponyville. It's then subverted when Checker anticipates this and destroys their planted microphones when Trixie confronts her... and then it's double subverted when Checker's butler Helping Hoof plants another microphone on himself and exposes her.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail sees this tactic repeatedly employed:
    • While working on a project meant to show the world how important his missing sister is, Parker asks Chloe's classmates what they like about her. Yeardley declares that he liked seeing her cry, and Sara leads the rest in gleefully listing off all the ways they bullied and isolated her, insisting that she 'deserved it' for being a Creepy Loner Girl. Too late, they realize that Trip was recording the whole confrontation... as did several other students who caught it on their cell phones. The footage swiftly ends up online, getting the braggarts into serious trouble.
    • Sara falls prey to this again during the Unown Arc, as she is magically compelled to gloat about how she manipulated her classmates into turning on Chloe, bragging about being the Queen of 5-E.
    • Upon learning that Ash and his friends know about Hop, Bede immediately starts gloating about how he curb-stomped him and delivered a Breaking Speech. Once again, Trip records his gloating — this time, he livestreams it to Leon himself, who's understandably less than thrilled.
    • At the end of Act 2, The Cat/Samantha is subjected to one, revealing to everyone on the Train that she used to be partnered with Simon, but abandoned him to a Ghom, helping kick off his transition From Nobody to Nightmare.
  • The Young Justice story Life Ore Death has the team pull a beautiful one of these on General Wade Eiling by having him incriminate himself in a conversation with an escaped criminal (actually M'gann in disguise) while Lois Lane, her father, General Samual Lane, other members of the Team, and his adopted children are outside his office as witnesses, hidden because they hacked his security system to keep him from noticing them.
  • Lightwaves has a delicious one.
    Veser: Smile, asshole!... You're on Candid Camera!
  • In this extended ending to The Loud House episode "Really Loud Music", the family tricks Doug and Michelle into admitting just how big of scumbags they truly are, while Luan is filming it.
  • In Harry Potter fanfic The Peace Not Promised, Severus Snape is unable to prove that Rita Skeeter is an illegal Animagus, but when he catches her just after using her beetle form to spy on his home, he's able to bluff her into offering a deal to use her abilities to help his career in exchange for not revealing it. Turns out, the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot was listening from the next room.
  • May the Best Friend Win, the first sequel to Rainbooms and Royalty, has this pop up during the climax: Twilight casts a spell that swaps one of her eyes with Rainbow Dash's, allowing her to see Twilight confront Trixie and Trixie admitting to acting like a total Jerkass to all of Dash's friends behind her back.
  • This plays a critical role in Lila's downfall in Missing (Miraculous Ladybug). While her classmates are confronting her about her lies, Sabrina secretly calls Chloe, who has brought Mrs. Rossi to the principal's office for a meeting. Chloe puts her phone on speaker mode so that everyone gathered in the office can hear Lila's Evil Gloating for themselves.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse:
    • Trixie does one of these on Octavia, who sees it coming... and still manages to slip up thanks to the magic of a tin-can telephone, with Lyra listening in on the other end.
    • Happens en masse at the Grand Galloping Gala, which hadn't exactly been Trixie's end game (she'd just been trying to catch one pony, and while that technically succeeded, things went a little wrong). Regardless, the means used to get these confessions is inadmissible in court, so there's nothing that can be done. Though a lot of corrupt ponies end up saying things they really wish they shouldn't have.
  • In Security!, this is Michael Allen's main shtick as a security guard: carrying concealed recorders with him to take all the ambiguity out of "I-said-you-said".
  • This Bites!: Soundbite's devil fruit abilities along with the transceiver given to Cross by B.R.O.B. allow the duo to do this to both Spandam and Vice-Admiral Onigumo during Enies Lobby, broadcasting their plans and/or less-than-savory ideals/beliefs to the entire world.
  • In Time Enough, Harry makes a man confess his crimes to him in a pub. The guy gloats that "No one will ever believe you. You've got a room full of drunks as witnesses." Alas, Harry was prepared for such an occasion... That is, an Auror and a reporter (Ron and Luna) were sitting nearby, both perfectly sober.
  • In What Everyone Didn't Know Harry uses Veritaserum-dosed Skittles to trick Dumbledore into admitting his less-than-savory plans for Harry and wizarding Britain in front of a concealed dozen aurors and Madame Bones - who happens to have a quill in operation which sends copies of everything it writes to each and every current edition of the Quibbler.
  • White Sheep (RWBY): Variant. Emerald praises Weiss in front of party guests, knowing Weiss' brother Whitley will hate it. He takes her to a secluded corner to "put her in her place," telling her that once Weiss is out of the picture Emerald will belong to him, with plenty of creepy sexual subtext. Except since Emerald was using her Semblance on him, he didn't notice that this "secluded corner" was actually filled with people. At least one even got a recording. Whitley's reputation goes in the toilet, and their father's plan to name him heir over Weiss is canceled.

    Films — Animation 
  • Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker: Terry gives the police the sound byte of Jordan Pryce telling the Jokerz that he gave them the security codes in exchange for hiring them to kill/ice Bruce Wayne.
    Pryce: ...I want my lawyer.
  • This is combined with Accidental Public Confession in Cats Don't Dance, after Darla Dimple's attempt to ruin the animals' show-stopper completely and utterly fails, the frazzled starlet crawls up to Danny and grabs his by his shirt, growing she could've drowned all of them when she flooded the entire stage, not realizing that a live microphone was tangled around her, letting the audience know she was behind the "Lil' Ark Angel" incident earlier.
  • In Coco, Miguel's aunts man the camera at the Sunrise Spectacular and turn on the sound to reveal the crimes of Ernesto de la Cruz to the audience. Not only does the crowd hear of his past crimes, the cameras catch de la Cruz throwing Miguel to his apparent death.
  • Hey Arnold! The Movie: After Scheck burns the document that declares the neighborhood, the location of the "Tomato Incident," as a national landmark, Arnold gets around not having the document by using Scheck's own security camera footage of him burning the document to reveal the truth to everyone about both the neighborhood and Scheck himself.
  • Justice League: Throne of Atlantis: After capturing the Justice League, Orm gloats to Arthur about murdering their mother Queen Atlanna and using a False Flag Operation to goad Atlantis into attacking the surface world. Cyborg uses his built-in computers to record it and then later play it to the Atlanteans, causing them to desert Orm.
  • Done by Mike Wazowski to Mr. Waternoose in Monsters, Inc.:
    Waternoose: I have no choice! Times have changed. Scaring isn't enough anymore!
    Sulley: But kidnapping children?!
    Waternoose: I'll kidnap a thousand children before I let this company die! And I'll silence anyone who gets in my way! (He knocks James out of his way)
    Sulley: No!!
    (Waternoose attempts to grab the kid, but it is revealed he is caught on camera in the simulation room from the beginning of the movie)
    Mike: Well. I don't know about the rest of you guys, but I spotted several big mistakes.
    Waternoose: (Bewildered) But, but... But how did you-?!
    Mike: You know what? Let's watch my favorite part again, shall we?
    (Mike replays the tape of Waternoose saying the kidnapping sentence over and over, ultimately resulting in his arrest by the CDA)
  • My Life as a Zucchini: Camille's aunt is trying to adopt her for the money and acts nice in public while treating her badly in private. Luckily, Camille records her aunt's insults on tape and plays it for the judge.
  • Zootopia: Officer Judy Hopps blackmails Con Man Nick Wilde into helping her investigation by tricking him into boasting about his success at raking in cash that hasn't been properly taxed and then playing it back with her novelty recorder pen. At the climax, this is how Judy and Nick take down the Big Bad cornered by Bellwether and her goons, she shoots Nick with her Night Howler serum gun, and as he menaces Judy, she gloats about how she'll turn the whole city against predators... at which point Nick and Judy reveal that he was faking having been affected (in fact, they'd managed to switch out the Night Howler pellets with blueberries), and Judy had recorded Bellwether's gloating, just as the police arrive.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 16 Blocks uses the tape recorder variety, in which the protagonist plays back the words of a corrupt cop. Also, in the alternate ending, the tape recorder is found and played by the DA after the protagonist is shot.
  • In Antitrust, Milo is able to set up an elaborate satellite feed of Gary's company killing programmers and intending to create a monopoly.
  • Batman Returns had Batman pull one of these on a Villain with Good Publicity, the Penguin, whose taunts to him during the wild ride he inflicted on him after hijacking the Batmobile (which includes such gems as "I played this stinking city like a harp from hell!") were broadcast over the loudspeakers during Penguin's speech. Penguin's good reputation goes bye-bye, and the eggs and tomatoes are broken out. The Penguin immediately starts shooting into the crowd.
    • Similarly, in Batman & Robin, Batman shows Mr, Freeze that he didn't kill his wife by playing-back a video of Poison Ivy mouthing off about "As I told Lady Freeze when I pulled her plug, this is a one-woman show!!", thus pushing Mr. Freeze out of his Despair Event Horizon. Hilarity Ensues (unfortunately off-screen) when Mr. Freeze later becomes Poison Ivy's cellmate at Arkham Asylum, as he (presumably) beats the living hell out of her.
  • In Big Fat Liar, during the climactic rooftop scene, movie producer Marty Wolf admits that he stole Jason Shepard's story and made it into a movie, then boasts to Jason that nobody will ever know the truth about the plagiarism. However, director Dustin "Dusty" Wong and his crew were filming the whole thing on multiple cameras and showing it to the news media, Universal president Marcus Duncan, and Jason's parents, destroying Wolf's career for good.
  • Jason Bourne pulled one on Ward Abbott in The Bourne Supremacy instead of killing him, which led to his suicide.
  • Breaking the Girls: Sara and Nina manipulate Alex into confessing her crimes while the police are listening.
  • In Buffaloed, Zoey Deutch's debt collector manages to get all her competitors together in a bar to watch the Bills game and talk business. And also because a hidden camera would record their confessions (and given it's a gathering, along with extortion and such, everyone can be charged with racketeering!) to compound with the evidence the police raided from their offices as they were gone.
  • In The Cobbler, while Elaine Greenawalt believes she is in private with Mr. Solomon, she threatens to kill him and his daughter if he doesn't let go of his apartment. What she doesn't realize is that a newsman captured the conversation on tape from behind the door.
  • In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Dantes meets Villefort in a bath house and turns up the steam, obscuring much of the room. He then gets Villefort to confess to his crimes, at which point the steam clears away revealing the authorities who have been standing there the whole time.
  • In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane reads out Gordon's speech where he reveals the conspiracy to protect Harvey Dent's good name. (Inverted, as here it's the villain enforcing the hero's confession than the other way round.)
  • In the Norm MacDonald film Dirty Work, Norm's character uses his Note to Self tape recorder to nab a confession out of the bad guy at the end.
  • Brilliant subversion (or perhaps Double Subversion) in the Eddie Murphy political comedy The Distinguished Gentleman. Murphy's conman-turned-congressman is secretly trying to prove that a more senior congressman is taking kickbacks from a lobbyist in return for blocking an investigation into the relationship between power lines and cancer. He claims in a committee hearing to have videotaped a meeting between himself, the senior member, and the lobbyist. When they grab him and pull him into the meeting and demand to watch the tape, they discover it's a bluff- it was just an ad for the phone sex business he used to own. Secure that they've dodged the bullet, they launch into discussing their Evil Plan-as he surreptitiously tapes the whole thing and then plays it for the media as soon as they go back into the hearing.
  • Happens at the end of the French film District 13. The villain, however, only does it when threatened with a Karmic Death.
  • Conventionally executed at the end of the Neill Marshall film Doomsday. The villain Canaris believes he's gotten away with everything and explains his plan to heroine Eden Sinclair, and then returns to the control center and discovers that Sinclair recorded his confession and is having it broadcast to the world. We even see her setting her wrist device as she approaches the conversation with him.
  • In Enemy of the State (1998), after the protagonists (Will Smith, Gene Hackman) have lost the original video record of a congressman's assassination ordered and overseen by the Corrupt Politician named Thomas Reynolds, senior advisor to the National Security Agency, they decide to bluff and try to trick him into incriminating himself during a meeting. Unfortunately, their plan of catching it on tape via a hidden mic fails, and they are captured by his goons. However, thinking he has won Reynolds then launches into a villain speech, confessing to the murder. Unbeknownst to Reynolds, one of his own NSA technical people gets cold feet and records the whole speech in their surveillance van, which is later used by the FBI as proof for the conspiracy to murder the congressman. Not that Reynolds cares anymore, because he's already dead at that point.
  • In A Face in the Crowd, Pompous Political Pundit Lonesome Rhodes has an official agenda for his adoring public but a more sinister agenda in private. When he starts to rave about this during a private conversation, Marcia switches on the microphone so that his ravings are broadcasted and he is abandoned in droves immediately. He becomes completely unhinged afterward, even more so when he finds out that Marcia had tricked him.
  • Humorously played in The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas. Jerkass Chip Rockefeller engineers a plan to get Fred, his main rival for Wilma's affections, out of the way so he can marry her and steal her money instead. First, he makes Fred win huge sums at his casino after giving him a line of credit; then he rigs the games so Fred loses and ends up in massive debt to him. He then plants Wilma's pearl necklace (a gift from her beloved father) in Fred's pocket and announces that a crime has taken place in the casino. Chip makes a speech to the assembled guests and offers the "crook" a chance to step forward and confess...but he doesn't specify what the crime is. Cue a woman screaming "I STOLE ALL THE TOWELS FROM MY ROOM!", a man admitting he's wearing someone else's underwear, and another man announcing that he's been poisoning the water supply of every dinosaur, which will wipe out the species (his confession, and the crowd refusing to believe it, becomes a Running Gag). When Chip finally does reveal that the pearls were stolen, Fred stands up and demands that the crook come forward, giving Chip the opportunity to "discover" them, tell the whole crowd about Fred's huge debt, and have him arrested.
  • Forrest Gump: Inverted. During Forrest's stump speech during an anti-Vietnam rally that he was pulled into, a large percentage of the speech involving things he was going to admit to the people about his experiences in Vietnam during the speech actually ended up missed because a pro-Vietnam military man pulled the plug on the mike, and the mike's sound output was only restored right when Forrest finishes up the statements. According to Tom Hanks, the actual censored portion of the speech was "Sometimes when people go to Vietnam, they go home to their mommas without any legs. Sometimes they don’t go home at all. That’s a bad thing. That's all I have to say about that." Arguably, seeing Abbie Hoffman (who was standing next to him and heard the whole thing) moved to tears by Gump's speech was effective enough.
  • Subverted in Four Brothers; the adopted brothers, in their quest to avenge their murdered adopted mother, have to take down a dirty cop. The brother assigned to take down the cop goes to the cop's house and gets him to confess and pretends to be wired. Meanwhile, the girlfriends go to the police station and say that they're afraid that he's going to kill a cop. Cop cars show up at the dirty cop's house, he starts sweating and takes the brother hostage. The cops end up shooting him.
  • Happens in the finale of Gamer, right before he gets knifed in the gut.
  • The Green Hornet: Britt Reid meets D.A. Frank Scanlon in a restaurant and Scanlon gloats about his crimes, then Britt reveals he recorded it. However, Britt later finds out he forgot to turn the recorder on.
  • In the 2007 film of Hairspray, after Amber loses the Miss Teenage Hairspray Competition, Velma then admits to Amber that she rigged the votes. Edna then informs Velma that her confession was broadcasted on camera, which causes Velma to lose her job.
  • Hollywood Homicide: K. C. Calden gets Wasley to confess to murder, then reveals that he has recorded it.
  • In Home Alone 2: Lost in New York, Kevin recorded the "Sticky Bandits"' confessions with his toy tape recorder.
  • One of the greatest examples of the Alpha Bitch, Courtney from Jawbreaker, spent the entire movie covering up her responsibility for a prank that got her friend killed. While holding a recordable greeting card, she says, "I killed the teen dream. Deal with it." Forgetting she had a finger on the recording button. One of her former pals discovers the card as she prepares to turn in for the night. Off she goes to deliver the goods. In the end, Courtney's recorded confession was spliced into the microphone as she gave her prom queen acceptance speech. And the Humiliation Conga begins.
  • Parodied in Johnny English, where the protagonist accidentally switches the vital confession recording with candid footage of himself lipsynching to Abba in front of the bathroom mirror. In his underwear.
  • In Kingsman: The Secret Service, Arthur believes this could be in play after Valentine kills Harry. Unfortunately, Arthur won't let it get that far, having been persuaded to join Valentine's cause.
  • In the 1970 Rod Taylor comedy The Man Who Had Power Over Women, Peter Reaney (Taylor) is a talent agent whose clients include a successful rock band whose amoral lead singer, Barry Black, has managed to impregnate a groupie named Mary Gray. A back-alley abortion is arranged, but Mary later dies from post-surgical complications. In the film's final scene, Peter, who had to attend the inquest into Mary's death, confronts Barry as the singer exits his house to welcome a crowd of screaming, adoring fans before he goes on tour. Just as the crowd noise dies down, Barry bellows, "I can't feel sorry for every scrubber I pick up! And there are plenty more where she came from!" An enraged Peter punches Barry in the jaw, and the crowd of fans, still reeling with shock at seeing what a scumbag their idol really is, follow him as he leaves across the grounds of Barry's house.
  • In Max Keeble's Big Move, Max is called into the principal's office. The guy rants about he doesn't care about the school because he's using 97% of the money to build a big football stadium and about 1% for the school (2% is on breath spray). Max turns on the camera that the principal uses to make the morning announcements and the entire school is shown just how much of a slimeball their principal is. Needless to say, he gets fired.
  • The Well-Intentioned Extremist and Villain with Good Publicity Big Bad in Minority Report fell victim to this.
  • In Mission: Impossible II, Vlad infects John McCloy with the Chimera virus, and will only give him the antidote if he confesses to leaking it. However, it's all a trick, and Vlad was really Ethan in disguise with a tape recorder hidden under his coat.
  • Another more comedic version occurs in Mister Roberts, where, via the ship's intercom, the petty-tyrant naval captain is goaded into revealing the secret deal he struck with his subordinate Roberts.
  • Pulled off by Samuel L. Jackson and Kevin Spacey in The Negotiator. Another Kevin Spacey film Horrible Bosses has this as a Double Subversion.
  • Now You See Me 2: What The Horsemen do to Mabry and Tressler at the climax of the film. Broadcast on to a giant screen on Tower Bridge and streamed live round the world to boot.
  • In The October Man, Mr. Peachy does one of these saying he is the murderer. No one is around to hear it, but it gives the hero enough incentive to prove it to the cops.
  • Played pretty much straight in PCU, except that the unintentional broadcast didn't reveal past wrongdoing so much as current bigotry.
  • In Project: ALF, the Made-for-TV Movie that serves to wrap-up ALF, the Big Bad is an Air Force Colonel, who has a personal score to settle with the titular alien, as he believes that aliens have performed experiments on his mother. Early in the movie, he has his Number Two requisition a deadly substance to be used to quietly kill ALF. Two other officers find out about this and spirit ALF away, becoming fugitives. Eventually, they are cornered by the Colonel, and one of them tries to confront him with the requisition form. The Colonel points out that the request has his Number Two's name on it, not his, and then lights the piece of paper on fire, just in case. Unknown to both men, their conversation is recorded by a security camera, which happens to make its way into the hands of the Number Two. Upon finding out that his superior has planned to frame him from the get-go, he shows the recording to a general, and the Colonel is too stunned to be able to offer an explanation.
  • Colin Farrell's character in The Recruit uses his "Spartacus" program to transmit the gloating revelation Al Pacino's corrupt CIA agent to his superiors. Al Pacino emerges to find dozens of agents surrounding the building. However, in a subversion, it turns out that Farrell was just bluffing, as the program wasn't able to get a signal. The agents still thought that he was the mole, and had arrived to capture him, not Pacino. However, Pacino believing they were here for him, delivers a rousing You Can't Handle the Truth speech and as a result is Hoist by His Own Petard. As the dozens of laser sights move from Farrell to him, he is given a moment to realize his error before committing Suicide by Cop.
  • In Rehearsal for Murder, Alex's so-called play (which Walter points out is no more than a group of unrelated scenes) is designed to get the killer to confess, with a police officer waiting to hear the confession.
  • Played straight in RoboCop (1987), when Corrupt Corporate Executive Dick Jones boasts of his many crimes in front of the eponymous hero. Of course, being part robot, Robocop visually records Jones' confession and plays it back for his bosses. Oops. What makes this even worse is the fact that Jones lambasted his own henchman for doing the exact same thing earlier, incriminating Jones and thus setting Robocop on his trail.
  • Safety Patrol had the main characters expose that Scout Bozell was framed and that it was the entire Safety Patrol and the lunch lady who were the true instigators of the fire by arranging for Weird Al Yankovic to sing the revelation with the tape being played throughout his concert. As soon as this was exposed, pretty much the entire Safety Patrol was fired, and Scout was reinstated with a new safety patrol team, and the Lunchlady was arrested partially for this reason.
  • The Saint (1997): used in reverse. Simon Templar convinces the Russian president to confess to a fraudulent cold fusion project. After the president confesses in response to Ivan Tretiak’s accusations, the cold fusion machine works and destroy’s Tretiak’s credibility.
  • The Shamers Daughter: Shamers can make people admit to the things they are ashamed of. The heroes arrange a public encounter between the villain and a shamer... but he isn't ashamed of what he has done, so he keeps his mouth shut.
  • Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure: Sharpay finds out that her boss and the star of the theater, Amber Lee Adams, is actually using her so she can get rid of her dog Boi and be the sole performer in the show. In order to show everyone the real Amber Lee, Sharpay (with the help of her competitor, Roger) releases the dogs to distract Amber Lee before her performance and also turns on her microphone so that the whole audience would hear her compulsive ranting. Cue to the audience booing Amber Lee after the curtains open and her quitting.
  • In A Simple Favor, Emily redirected the police Stephanie had called to another location, shoots Sean and recalls all her crimes as she considers doing the same to Stephanie. And then Stephanie reveals that one of her shirt buttons is a nanny cam, and that she had been livestreaming their entire violent confrontation.
  • In A Simple Plan, Jacob is forced to kill a man to protect the secret of the money he, his brother Hank, and his friend Lou found. When Lou starts to come between Hank and Jacob over the money, Hank secretly records Lou pretending to confess to the murder in order to maintain a hold on Lou, threatening to take it to the sheriff if Lou steps out of line.
  • In Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, during Kirk's trial, an excerpt of his log entry saying "I have never trusted Klingons, and I never will. I've never been able to forgive them for the death of my boy." is shown as apparent proof of his motive behind Chancellor Gorkon's assassination. This fact is used later to implicate Lt. Valeris as a conspirator trying to sabotage Federation/Klingon peace talks, since Kirk has no idea how long Valeris was standing in his open quarters doorway when he made that recording before he noticed them.
  • Tian Di: This is how the main villain, Paul Tai, who moonlights as a philanthropist and charity provider but is actually a drug-dealing baron, ends up getting exposed at the end of the film, in a theater full of people. Unfortunately, Paul then decides to order his armed gangsters to kill EVERYBODY (at least 300 people) in said theater.
  • In the "Weird Al" Yankovic film UHF, evil Channel 8 head R.J. Fletcher goes on a secretly-filmed tirade about how little the community means to him and how stupid he thinks its inhabitants are. Then when Fletcher prepares to deliver an "important message" to the television-viewing public, the message is intercepted by Philo, the Chief Engineer at U62, who broadcasts the secretly-filmed message in its place. Immediately afterwards, the camera cuts to the flabbergasted Fletcher, who simply looks wide-eyed at the screen and ducks out of sight.
  • At the end of Vipers, the Corrupt Corporate Executive's self-incriminating and callous parting words to the herpetologist he'd left to die, along with other witnesses to his role in the titular snakes' escape, start playing over the loudspeakers as he's giving a presentation to potential investors. His demands that the playback be stopped are stymied when the scientist herself arrives with the police. Subverted in a sense, as the film is a formulaic direct-to-video horror flick, so can't resist the obligatory Hoist by His Own Petard ending for the villain: he's bitten by one of the lethal vipers in the last scene, rendering any legal or career damage from the confession moot.
  • In Wall Street Gordon Gekko is furious at Bud Fox for sabotaging a business deal. He goes into a rant and then punches him in the face. All caught on an audio recording; even after he realizes Fox went behind his back he still isn't watching his step.
  • Used in Yogi Bear when the corrupt Mayor Brown's attempt to dispose of an endangered turtle whose existence would stop his attempts to close Jellystone Park. Turns out Boo Boo's bowtie camera (which previously in the film had been put on him for a nature documentary about him and Yogi) recorded Brown stating both this and how he doesn't care about Jellystone at all. The heroes then play it during his election promo, revealing what a slime ball he is to the entire city. To make matters worse, said turtle gets on stage at that very moment, confirming the confession. He and his Chief of Staff are arrested on the spot.

  • In Animorphs it was an engineered public demonstration. In Book #35, after spending days harassing a particular famous-but-psychologically unstable Controller, Marco (as a poodle) provokes the Controller into attempting to strangle him to death on national TV.
  • In Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident Briar Cugeon gloats about his plan to double-cross the B'wa Kell and position himself as a savior, then arrange for Opal Koboi to have "a tragic accident. Perhaps several tragic accidents" as Foaly records the conversation on Artemis' computer. First the B'wa Kell are shown Cugeon's plans of betrayal, but he is unperturbed as he always considered them disposable. Having Opal find out is a much bigger wrench in his plans.
  • In the Andrew Vachss Burke book Dead and Gone, Burke manages to get the Big Bad to admit his planned duplicity while a gadget is transmitting his words to the mercenaries supposed to be guarding him.
  • At the end of the Alina Adams mystery Death Drop, the heroine engineers a situation for the murderer to make a confession to a certain acquaintance of his with a reality TV show in a storeroom full of cameras; he didn't check to make sure none of them were on. Thanks to a waiver he'd signed earlier, it was not only an on-camera confession but a court-admissible one.
  • Clive Cussler has his hero Dirk Pitt Adventures pull this in The Mediterranean Caper. It looks like Pitt and some aides have been caught by villain Bruno von Till thanks to how one of Pitt's police allies is secretly on von Till's payroll. Held captive in an underground cavern used as a sub bay, von Till and Pitt banter where Pitt basically lays out what von Till has been up to and von Till congratulating him on how he figured it all out and adding a few more details on how he's planning to unload tons of heroin into the United States. He tells his agent to shoot which point, in comes Pitt's buddy, Al, and a squad of soldiers and cops. It turns out Pitt was onto The Mole the whole time and sent Al for reinforcements who have been patiently waiting.
    Pitt: Did you get all that?
    Inspector: Every word. The acoustics here would do Carnegie Hall proud.
  • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Dying Days the Doctor pulls off one of these on the alien warlord who has taken over Britain and declared himself King. After tricking him into breathing in helium the Doctor then displays the whole conversation as a giant hologram in the sky with the villain's (squeaky) rant broadcast all over the world.
    The Doctor: I think you've just made your abdication speech Your Majesty.
  • The Dresden Files: In White Night Lara Raith helps move Harry and Ramirez to a place in the Deeps that allows them to overhear Lady Malvora's proclamation that she is the power behind all the murders.
  • At the end of Embedded, Lex Falk is able to talk Tedders into admitting everything about the alien artifact on the colony planet Eighty-Six, which is what the Bloc and SOMD armies are fighting over. Tedders admits this because Falk is in control of the body of Nestor Bloom, a SOMD soldier, and she feels that "Bloom" needs the whole story, even while the SOMD is trying to cover up the whole thing. She doesn't realize that Falk is there until he openly admits that everything that Bloom is seeing and hearing is being transmitted live to the various news agencies.
  • Guardians of the Flame: Karl manipulates one from the Prince of Bieme after he betrayed them to the Holts, causing his own guardsmen to turn on him in disgust (they were listening behind a curtain).
  • In The Golden Oecumene, Phaethon does this to himself during his trial, angrily replying to a rival on the private channel, and realizing a moment too late he's actually switched over to the public channel.
  • In The Sea of Monsters, the second book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Percy tricks Luke into confessing his crime of poisoning Thalia's tree to the entirety of Camp Half-Blood through an Iris-message, also proving Chiron's innocence.
  • In Joan Hess's Pride V. Prejudice, Claire Malloy tracks down a murderer to clear the name of the victim's widow, as well as a fugitive whom the real killer had also implicated. The culprit admits she's right when she presents her accusation, not realizing that Claire, whom the FBI have been looking for since she was seen with the fugitive, had switched on her cell phone: a device she knew the feds must be tapping in their efforts to locate her.
  • Averted in Seven Days in May — even with insurmountable evidence laid out before him, the antagonist never makes any explicit admission of guilt.
  • Sherlock Holmes:
    • "The Dying Detective", in which a concealed Watson overhears the gloating of a villain who thinks he's given Holmes a fatal disease.
    • "The Adventure of the Mazarin Stone", with a minor twist: Holmes didn't need the thieves to confess to stealing the missing diamond, as he had collected all the evidence he needed to convict before the story started. What he needed was to trick the thieves into saying where they had hidden it.
  • The Spirit Thief uses a more magic-fuelled variant. As Adela has Josef pinned to the ground, half-dead, he manages to provoke her into gloating about her master plan, as there's no-one within their earshot. What she doesn't know is that Eli has talked a wind spirit into transmitting her words to the crowd that's gathered to watch her pummel the supposed bad guy.
  • Stark's War uses a variant in which the intent is not so much to expose the villain as to disassociate the hero from him. The General who Stark's mutiny overthrew suggests a We Can Rule Together arrangement could be reached in which Stark sets up a few of his comrades as scapegoats. Stark doesn't know that his eloquent, vehement refusal was being recoded and spread around, leaving his fellow mutineers convinced of his integrity and therefore willing draft him as leader, which is what Stark's friends wanted.
  • In one Star Trek: New Frontier novel, Captain Mackenzie Calhoun defeats an evil alien leader this way. In response to her attempt to extort him with the lives of Federation refugee hostages, he launched torpedoes at her world's capital city. Then he begs her to stand down and asks if she cares one bit about her people. She sneers "no". At the last second Calhoun aborts the attack. Calhoun promptly broadcasted a recording of the last few minutes across the planet — particularly the part with the villainess willing to gamble with the lives of her people. Almost immediately an angry mob tears her and her accomplices apart.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • During Timothy Zahn's Thrawn Trilogy, Princess Leia gets to do this to Smug Snake Borsk Fey'lya—the ship they're in goes to arrest Han, Luke, and Rogue Squadron, and when an Imperial Star Destroyer shows up and the Rogues start flying cover, Fey'lya's ship and escorts go to abandon them and flee, nominally to get back and warn the Republic. Leia, at the covert suggestion of smuggler Talon Karrde (who had provided the location of the objective that Han & co. were going for), quietly turns on the ship's intercom and outgoing communications, then goads Fey'lya into admitting that the only use soldiers could have to a politician is political power, and his political enemies are his enemies in truth—the people on his ship and flying as his escort are his most ardent supporters; fleeing and letting his "enemies" die can only benefit him. Fey'lya's supporters promptly turn on him, and turn back to save the others.
    • In Zahn's Choices of One, Thrawn goads his nemesis Nuso Esva into revealing his true opinion of two other systems that have aligned with him. On an open comm channel. That Thrawn is rebroadcasting to those systems.
      Nuso Esva: I imagine you would delight in telling them. Not that they would believe you.
      Thrawn: There’s no need for them to believe me. They can hear it from your own mouth. In fact, they’re hearing it right now.
  • In "Gone Too Far", a Transformers: TransTech text story, our heroes manage to use this to their advantage. It's unwise to admit you framed someone for murder when they're a communications 'bot who records everything they hear.
    • And in the Transformers: Shattered Glass story "Blitzwing Bop", Soundwave tricks Blaster into confessing a crime in front of a Cybertronian officer.

    Live-Action TV 
  • 24:
    • In Season 1 Keith Palmer gets in Carl's face and the latter threatens him. Later on, it's revealed that Keith put the exchange on tape.
    • In Season 5, President Charles Logan, responsible for the day's various murders and terrorist attacks, is taken hostage by Jack Bauer, who attempts to scare a confession out of him by threatening him with a gun. When that fails, Bauer is arrested, and President Logan returns to give a press conference. When his wife Martha goes hysterical with anger, the president takes her aside and threatens her, confessing to his involvement in the day's events while doing so. A few minutes later, much to Logan's surprise, it is revealed that Jack had placed a secret recording device on him while threatening him earlier, and his entire confession was recorded on it. Martha and Jack had planned this the entire time.
  • In an episode of Andromeda, Dylan Hunt is accused of murder. He finds out he was framed by people he has never met before. He then tracks down the last one, who laments losing his friends but brags about framing Hunt. Hunt, of course, is keeping his Comm Links channel open for Rommie to record and broadcast to the authorities.
  • Anger Management: The episode "Charlie Has a Threesome" has Charlie, his girlfriend, and her friend doing just that. Afterward, she begins sabotaging their relationship as she wants the friend for herself. Charlie gets her to openly confess, but she does so knowing the girlfriend won't take it seriously. Eventually though, he gets her to confess to him again in confidence not knowing that his girlfriend is in the other room and knows now that she's wasn't kidding before and that she really meant what she said.
  • Babylon 5:
    • In the season 4 finale, Michael Garibaldi (and the other main characters) are recreated as illusions 500 years in the future to blacken their characters. Garibaldi's illusion then proceeds to hack into the system, broadcasting the discussion between him and the scientist who created the illusions into the aether, while convincing the scientist to explain their side's plans on the virtue of being an illusion. It was awesome.
    • Much earlier, in the season 1 episode "Eyes", Sinclair executes the psychic version of this trope by taunting EarthForce agent Ari ben-Zayn until his hatred and resentment of Sinclair (that was the motivation behind his investigation and attempted coup) was revealed to the telepath he brought with him, who then helped Sinclair, Ivanova, and Garibaldi to take him down.
  • A variation of this occurs on Best Friends Whenever when a website executive tries to con Shelby out of her fashion website. Shelby Cyd and Barry trick the executive into telling the entire school what he did by luring him into a holographic classroom created by Barry.
  • In Better Call Saul, Jimmy realizes the only way he can save the reputation of his client is to destroy his own, so he intentionally invokes this trope and engineers his own confession, staging an "accidental" admission of his own crimes.
  • In The Bold and the Beautiful, Rick rubs in his brother Ridge's face how his marriage to his daughter (Steffy) was a revenge plot against Ridge. And all the while, Ridge is recording the conversation and later plays it to Steffy who then breaks up with Rick.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • "Enemies", when Faith believes Buffy is tied up and Angel is his evil alter ego Angelus, she tells them about the Mayor's plans — only, Buffy isn't tied and Angel is still his soulful self.
    • In "Intervention" Spike tells his Buffy Sex Bot that he'd die before giving up Dawn to Glory, unaware that it's actually Buffy pretending to be the bot. Realising that Spike's Heel–Face Turn is genuine earns him a kiss and Buffy's trust from then on.
  • Burn Notice: in "Bad Blood", a guy embezzling from a rap mogul shows up to kill someone who knows too much, but not before bragging about how clever his scheme was. Then it turns out the gun, which Michael gave him, was full of blanks, and the rap mogul is in the next room.
  • Castle:
    • "Demons" plays this entirely straight: Castle and Beckett confront the Murderer of the Week by themselves in a spooky old mansion, the murderer gets the upper hand, tells them everything because he's going to kill them anyway, and then they tell him they set up a recording device in the room and cops were waiting right outside the whole time.
    • This is (at least) the second time Castle has employed this trope. The previous was only two episodes prior. Ryan wired up the youngest kid in a crime family and had him try to get a confession out of his brother for killing his tutor. He gets it, with his brother pointing a gun at him. Cops bust in and the kid gets shot. He's not quite dead; the shooting was a ruse to get the kid into protective custody.
    • The episode "Undead Again": There is no tangible proof that a suspect drugged the guy who dressed up as a zombie to think he was a zombie so that he'd kill the victim. The guy, once again dressed up as the zombie incapacitates Esposito and angrily confronts him about it and the suspect confesses. It turns out Esposito was fine and as Beckett comes out to arrest the suspect, the guy dressed as the zombie is revealed to be Castle in disguise.
  • Chicago Justice: In "AQD" Stone provokes the defendant into a confession by getting into a face-off with his ex-wife.
  • On Chuck, Daniel Shaw is a good way toward taking over the CIA and has already made all the heroes look insane or murderous. Chuck sneaks into his private office during a meeting of agencies from all over the world and makes Shaw think his big plan was tricking Shaw into alerting the leaders of the evil organization The Ring, getting them to leave the conference and thus reveal themselves. Shaw points out that they're still considered outlaws who no one will listen to, and Chuck goads him into gloating about being a Ring agent, plus murdering Chuck's father. Then Chuck reveals that their whole conversation has been broadcast to everyone at the conference.
    Chuck: You know, your Nerd Herd associate can also help you with videoconferencing. Smile, Daniel... you're on TV.
  • In The City Hunter, this is the hero's default method of dealing with the villains, destroying their credibility. In one case he allows himself to be filmed being beaten bloody by a presidential candidate's supposedly-disabled son in order to prove said disability was false.
  • Inverted in Clarissa Explains It All, while doing a science report on weekend of TV, her annoying brother, Ferguson, attempts to make her go insane. Clarissa and her pals find out about it, and she pays him back—by faking insane, but after removing batteries from Ferguson's tape recording.
  • While he usually preferred the confessions one-on-one, Columbo could turn this into an art form by tricking the killer into a confession and not even realizing it until too late. In one episode, a Senator tries to throw off suspicion of a murder he committed by making it look like he's a target too. He places a bullet from the same gun into the wall of his home. During a party that night, the senator sets off firecrackers and when people run in, he says someone just took a shot at him from the open window. He tells Columbo that if he checks the bullet, he'll find it came from the same gun. Columbo agrees...and confirms it by showing the ballistics report he just got back on the bullet he dug out of the wall three hours earlier.
  • Control Z: Like most trans people, Isabela hates to be called by her birth name (or dead name, in trans parlance), which people do often when she's outed.
  • Coronation Street: Subversion: Roy and Haley are trying to adopt an unhappy child but his abusive father won't let them take him without lots of cash exchanging hands. They try to trick him into confessing but don't quite manage it. They hide the recorder under a newspaper and sit him next to it, then try to get him to remind them what the plot of the arc is. After a few hours, he's fairly pissed off and wants them to get to the point of why they asked him to come over. Roy tries to pay him a meager sum in exchange for his signature on the papers. The guy freaks out, barking at them that he wants lots more money or they'll never see the kid, and how he'll get violent if they ever waste his time like this again. It's at this point that the recorder runs out of tape and makes a whirring noise. He finds it, smashes it, threatens them some more, and demands yet more money.
  • In the Dawson's Creek episode "Election", Pacey turns the school's PA on while Abby tells him, in a moment of private smugness, that the school is filled with idiots. She then loses the election.
  • The fourth-season The Dead Zone episode "Heroes & Demons" ends with an Engineered Public Confession in which the crooked cop's superiors are hiding just within earshot.
  • On Desperate Housewives, Tom's evil love child Kayla gets Lynette arrested by burning herself and calling Children's Protective Services, saying that Lynette did it. Kayla confesses to Tom about it but says that she's going to keep lying to everyone else. Tom then reveals that his cell phone has been on the whole time, and the family's psychiatrist has heard the whole thing.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Day of the Moon": The Doctor and friends pull a variety of this on the Silence. "You tend to my wounds. You are foolish. You should kill us all on sight!" rants a wounded Silent. The last sentence is later replayed as one of these during the live footage of Neil Armstrong's first step on the moon, all around the world, reinterpreted as a hypnotic command. The humans do as they're told. Even better, since the confession was spliced into one of humanity's biggest historical milestones, the Doctor ensured that humans will continue to see the message for a looooong time. To be fair, the Silent in question had no idea that the person her was talking to was holding a 21st-century smartphone set to record a video.
    • "Spyfall": The Doctor secretly records the Master boasting about how Daniel Barton and the Kasaavin are nothing but pawns to him and will be cast aside once they've outlived their usefulness. She then plays this recording to the Kasaavin while she's in the middle of banishing them from Earth, and they respond by turning on the Master.
  • Drake & Josh: In "Believe Me Brother", one of Megan's pranks by secretly recording Drake and Josh and putting it into their project footage backfires and helps them instead when it reveals that Drake's girlfriend Susan was the one who flirted with and kissed Josh and that Josh was telling Drake the truth the whole time.
  • At one point in Earth: Final Conflict, Renee Palmer is kidnapped and held on trial in a Kangaroo Court, being televised live. When the judge thinks the cameras are off he reveals his true colours, saying he is the only justice left in the world and that his will is law.
  • Elementary: This is how Moriarty is brought down in the final episode of season one. The scheme that foils her is a Batman Gambit engineered by Joan Watson, who correctly deduced that Moriarty was in love with Sherlock and would come to his side and discuss her crimes if he faked an overdose.
  • Emmerdale: Subversion: Has an episode where Adam holds Steph hostage after she gets him to admit to killing Terrence. Steph manages to convince Adam that she loves him and they should run away together. When Adam unties her, she makes a break for it and runs to the police to show them the secret recording she made of Adam's confession. But all that's on the tape is Adam's doctor's notes.
  • On Eureka, noted scientist Jason Anderson and his wife Kim come to town to help create a new project for Stark. Various odd events soon have Carter, Allison, and Henry realize that Anderson is a fraud. He works on various projects, waits for the scientists to have a breakthrough, and then uses a device to wipe their short-term memories and claim their work as his own. This project is actually all the work of Kim who doesn't even know it. Even worse is that Anderson used the device to make Kim and Henry forget they were in love so he could have Kim for himself. As Anderson is in a chamber showing his energy device off, Carter races in to tell him that Kim knows what he did and it would have been easy for her to sabotage the experiment. Carter dryly notes that should be no long as Anderson really did create it. As the energy builds, a frantic Anderson begs Kim to tell him how to fix it. At which point, the device powers down and Kim dryly states the energy build was perfectly normal. Stark realizes Anderson had no idea how "his" device worked and coldly informs him his contract is terminated (with hints of criminal charges coming) as the man is exposed as a thief.
  • The Gifted: Near the end of the Season 2 finale, Esme makes Benedict Ryan confess his crimes to reporters, starting with his secretly being the leader of the Purifiers.
  • Vanessa does this to Blair on Gossip Girl in Enough About Eve. In season 6 Chuck attempts to do this to his father; unfortunately, Bart sees right through it.
  • Gotham: The second half of Season 2 features a multi-episode arc wherein Nygma frames Gordon for murder, in the paranoid belief that Gordon knows he murdered his girlfriend, and he has to subsequently go on the run. When he realizes who set him up and why, Gordon puts a Batman Gambit in place to expose him: he has Selina leak to the GCPD (with Nygma present) that Gordon is looking for Penguin for help finding "the body". Nygma panics and goes to dig up and move the body, only for Gordon to follow and confront him; Nygma gloats about how he set up Gordon on top of his other crimes, at which point the other cops who came along reveal themselves and arrest him.
  • Hand of God: It turns out that Pernell's confession to getting Shane Caldwell killed is recorded, facilitating a blackmail exchange.
  • Henry Danger: Somewhat subverted. Henry and Bianca kiss after he saves her. As Kid Danger. Realizing Bianca doesn't know that, Henry realizes she willingly kissed another guy and cheated on him. To find out if she'll do it again, he stages another incident in which Kid Danger saves her and then tries to kiss her, but she turns him down and says the earlier kiss was wrong and she'd rather be with Henry instead. Since she still doesn't know the two are one in the same, Henry knows she's being genuine.
  • In Highlander, Duncan discovers that Kalas is using a sanctuary for Immortals as an easy way to take heads as they leave Holy Ground. He confronts Kalas in a hallway as Kalas confesses to having been doing this for centuries. He smirks that the sanctuary's Immortal, Paul, will never believe Macleod's words. "Aye, but he'll believe yours," Duncan replies as a horrified Paul steps out, having overheard everything.
  • Used in Home and Away when Matt and Bobby cotton on to the fact that Al Simpson was the one who murdered Matt's older brother Shane years previous and put the blame on Donald Fisher. Tracking him down to his remote hiding place, the trio try to get him to admit it. Al eventually decides that it doesn't matter if he admits it: "So what if I do? I killed Shane. You hear that? I killed Shane!" Cue the detective on the case walking in and confirming that yep, he heard that all right. Made all the more delicious by the fact that Al's reaction isn't so much Oh, Crap! as This Is Gonna Suck.
  • How To Rock: The episode "How to Rock a Good Deed" has Kasey receiving a minor foot injury, which she plays up as even bigger after it has healed so she doesn't have to do any of the volunteer work, but still get to take the credit. Nelson discovers the truth and tells the rest of Gravity 5 and Molly and Grace. Molly leaves boots behind and seems to leave while Kasey switches off the charade and tries on both boots and walks fine with them. It's not until she's made herself abundantly clear that she discovers the other six members of the gang all hiding behind a structure and watching her.
  • In the Dark: Murphy records Dean covertly with her phone when she gets him to confess that he'd murdered Tyson. He finds out and wipes the recording from her phone. It turns out to have already gotten saved on the cloud though.
  • JAG: In "Killer Instinct" (season 6), the defendant is a petty officer on an Aircraft Carrier suspected of murdering a subordinate (by throwing overboard at night), because they were incompetent at their jobs. One crucial piece of evidence is not admissible in court because the ship's CO did not have probable cause for issuing a search warrant, and this necessitates a different strategy from the prosecution. Harm does the standard Perry Mason Method, knowing beforehand that the defendant will not fall into the trap and make him overconfident. And when Bud later has his turn to question him, he begins by asking the defendant several questions that Harm had asked earlier, then proceeds to make several other basic errors before dropping his notes in mid-question, and finally drives the pedantic defendant into a rage, before revealing that he was Obfuscating Stupidity and it was all part of a plan.
    Petty Officer Duell: Some people don’t belong in the United States Navy.
    Lieutenant Roberts: No, but the Navy won’t kill them.
    Petty Officer Duell: No, but somebody has to.
    Lieutenant Roberts: Somebody has to, sir.
  • Jessie:
    • In "Princess and the Pea Brain", a rich Jerkass whom Jessie has a date with is caught cheating on her by Bertram overhearing him talking on the phone and turning on the speaker for the entire family to hear.
    • In "Diary of a Mad Newswoman", Bryn tricks Emma into reporting a fake scoop on the school radio show. Emma finds out and has Ravi record Bryn's confession whilst hidden in a locker.
    • In "Jessie's Big Break", McD's pass at Jessie was recorded on Luke's video camera. Jessie uses this to prove to Shaylee that McD is a Jerkass whom she shouldn't be dating.
    • In "The Rosses Get Real", the family gets rid of a mean reporter by angering her into insulting her bosses on camera. Ravi then steals the memory chip and plays it live.
  • In an episode of Just Shoot Me!, Maya tries to expose Elliot's brother's fraud. She fails miserably. He's eventually done in by one part this trope, one part Exasperated Perp, by the completely oblivious Pointy-Haired Boss.
  • Kamen Rider Fourze presents an inverted version of the trope, in which a Monster of the Week is the one who exposes a good guy to the public. For more context, the Monster in question is the Chamaeleon Zodiarts, and as its name implies, is able to use camouflage. It uses this ability to film the school's Alpha Bitch, Miu, ripping the gifts that the students at the school made for her and showing just how much she doesn't care for them in the slightest. The Zodiarts then proceeds to show this film to everyone during a contest to see who would be the queen of their school. It's because of this that causes Miu to take a Heel–Face Turn.
  • In The Last Kingdom, in Season 4 at the Battle of Tettenhall, Uhtred tricks Cnut into admitting he goaded Aethelwold into murdering his brother Ragnar, only for Cnut to see that his lover Brida, Ragnar's widow, has heard everything. Before Cnut can try to explain, Brida runs him through and to twist the knife, Uhtred strips Cnut of his weapons so he can't get into Valhalla and taunts Cnut that his sons, who Uhtred took hostage and pretended to kill, are still alive, meaning that Cnut threw his army and his life away on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge for nothing.
  • Happens frequently on Law & Order.
    • David Cross famously got in hot water for badmouthing his own guest role on L&O and the somewhat lazy writing — leading to severely constrained opportunities for acting — of having the villain just break down and confess everything to the cops after a few prods.
    • A subverted and reverted example came in the Season 16 episode "Acid" when they get the current girlfriend of an abuser (who drove his last girlfriend, the daughter of one of Van Buren's friends, to hang herself by throwing a burning drain cleaner in her face) to wear a wire and get him to confess to the things he did. He doesn't take the bait and it seems to be all for not. But then the dead girlfriend's sister shows up and throws a suspicious liquid in his face and begins hitting him. He confesses as the police break it up and the liquid is revealed to be vinegar, which never was intended to do any harm and just illicit him to reveal what he did. The police's didn't work, but the sister's did.
  • Happens a lot on Leverage:
    • Considering the Five-Man Band are Robin Hoods for hire. A prime example is the episode with the Iraq War vet: A congressman and the head of a Blackwater-style security company are basically using the Iraq war as a giant money-laundering operation. The crew sends earlier proof of their collaboration to the news outlets, and when reporters catch the two together they try to play it off as a secret plan to expose corruption. Cue the really incriminating conversation they had minutes earlier being sent to the reporters.
    • One episode combines this tactic hilariously with Gaslighting: the team engineer the villain of the episode to break down and admit to her boss (and, unknowingly, also through her store's speaker system) that she's been covering up a toxic waste spill (which never actually existed) - after which she goes on to detail the various other evil things she's also done.
    • A team member tries to prod the villain into a confession while they're in a nightclub's A/V room. The villain punches him and bends over to whisper "You think I'm gonna confess to a murder in a room full of microphones?" into the team member's ear...which has an earbud in it. Ooops!
    • They manage to engineer an elaborate way to get a Phony Psychic to out himself to his audience (and on live TV), even though their plan is initially threatened by a criminal kidnapping said psychic in order to find a stash his dead partner hid. In desperation, the psychic screams that he's not real and explains how he does what he does. Cue a controlled explosion taking down part of a wall and revealing not only was this storage unit adjacent to his television set, the audience and the cameras too. For added measure, they caught the criminal threatening the psychic too.
    • During "The Bottle Job" in order to drive away an up and coming loan shark who embedded himself deep into a neighborhood Nate tricks the mark into joining a poker game in the back of his neighborhood bar, where three high ranking policemen are playing. Nate just has them pretend to be part of various mobs and guarantees the mark will confess to at least one felony. Here is Nate's pitch to them.
      Police Captain: So you're telling me this Doyle kid's going to march right in here, confess to a crime, and give us all his money?
      Nathan: If all goes to plan.
      Det. Sergeant Mickey: I don't know what kind of schmuck would do that, but I'd sure as heck pay to see it.
  • Magnum, P.I.:
    • Episode "The Curse of the King Kamehameha Club", Thomas Magnum does this to an unscrupulous TV reporter with her video camera.
    • "The Kona Winds" has a particularly dramatic variation—a Femme Fatale tries to manipulate Magnum into murdering her husband, but he catches on and convinces the husband to pretend to play dead. Magnum then draws the woman into confessing her entire plan, right over her husband's "dead body".
  • Mama does this on Mama's Family to Naomi's boss who was sexually harassing her. While he's bragging to Mama in his office about how he "bagged every good-looking checker in the Tri-State Area," Mama turns on the store's PA system, letting his confession be heard by all the employees and customers. (And when he lunges at her/the microphone, beats him up with her purse while screaming into the mic.)
  • Used by Patrick Jane in The Mentalist against another 'psychic' to get him to leave a woman alone.
  • Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: In "Dead Air", Phryne confronts a murderer in a radio studio. She switches on the microphone so that the killer's confession is broadcast live.
  • Mission: Impossible: The IMF's other most commonly used operandi. If it isn't getting the villain killing themselves one way or another, it's getting the villain to confess to a higher power. This trope is usually used against villains with good publicity. The craziest round from the original series was when they conned a newspaper mogul into broadcasting the names of mob/mafia members seeking election for political positions. He was conspiring with them by giving the organized crime members good publicity, and the team got past his guard by pretending to be aliens and offering perfect health and immortal life. It has to be seen to be believed.
  • Monk:
    • Subverted in the episode "Mr. Monk Meets the Godfather", where Monk attempted to extract a confession out of the killer (a man who stole five double-headed pennies from the U.S. Mint) for the FBI to hear (he was wearing a tie that contained a bug), but the confession did not come through due to the bug being damaged (Monk had the tie dry cleaned due to a stain he accidentally got on the tie during an attempted sting on the Mafiosos for attempting to attack a gang earlier).
    • A Double Subversion occurs during the episode "Mr. Monk Is On the Run Part 2". Natalie attempts to record Dale the Whale's confession on tape, but he knew long before she attempted to do so that she was going to try that, and did not confirm that he was attempting to frame Monk. However, he did tell her to record his message to Monk about switching places with him... and invoked the trope on himself anyways by having her record while his computer was on a weather map on Riverton, causing Monk to deduce exactly what Dale was planning.
  • Jessica Fletcher is a master of this on Murder, She Wrote. It's impossible to count the number of times a killer confronts a seemingly alone Jessica, brags about what they did and ready to silence her...and in walks the sheriff and other witnesses who overheard the entire thing.
  • NCIS:
    • Ziva gets a suspect to confess that she is Iranian intelligence by letting her think she is beating Ziva up. Ziva was wearing a mic and got the confession on tape.
    • Tony gets one out of Eli David, the Director of Mossad regarding the motivations of Michael Rivkin. Bonus points because Tony was the one being interrogated for killing him. Eli realizes what happened as soon as the words leave his mouth and praises Tony for his cleverness.
  • A non-villain version was seen in Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide when Crubbs revealed the school's policy of replacing (only) broken property, leading to a cacophony of teachers smashing old, obsolete equipment.
  • Subverted in Parks and Recreation: the Gryzzl corporation starts delivering free packages to everyone in town, which all contain products related to their personal interests. This enrages the townspeople since they believe that Gryzzl, who provides internet services to the town, has been data-mining their search histories and learning their personal information. Leslie arranges a public meeting with a representative from Gryzzl, hoping to trick him into admitting it in front of the citizens, only for the rep (who is a programmer and not a PR guy) to cheerfully admit everything out of the gate, excited to show off how smart his algorithm is. He genuinely doesn't get that what he's saying sounds bad until he realises everyone is angry with him.
  • In the pilot of Person of Interest, the hero tapes the lawyer talking about her crimes when she thought they were alone.
  • The second season of Phoenix Nights ends with the main character's Evil Counterpart Den Perry being subjected to an Engineered Public Confession, having attempted to sabotage the titular club on numerous occasions including burning it down.
  • Most episodes of The Pretender ended with the Monster of the Week bad guy forced to confess under the same circumstances that he hurt or killed another person.
  • Pretty Little Liars features this in season 2. Hanna and Mona go riding with Kate(Hanna's quasi-step-sister)and two of Kate's friends. Neither Hanna nor Mona is very good so they decide to go rest in the lodge/main office. Hanna, who is not very happy about her father's upcoming nuptials, takes this opportunity to complain to Mona about how she hates Kate and Kate's mother Isobel. Unfortunately, Hanna doesn't realize until it's too late that "someone" (Mona acting as "A") had turned on the intercom so Kate, Kate's friends, and everyone else outside hears every word she said.
    • In the Season 2 finale "unmAsked," Spencer is captured by A and while they're in a car, video calls the others discreetly to show them that she's not only been captured by A but to reveal to them that A is Mona.
  • In Primeval, when Christine has taken over the ARC, she's exposed when her rude remarks about the Minister are taped, and sent to him by Beckett, saving everyone's bacon, although earlier, Beckett had seemed to be Christine's loyal minion. It's hilarious!
  • The pilot of Remington Steele has the heroes move a body from one room to another in a hotel. When the villain exclaims, "We left him in her room!" a door is opened to reveal a roomful of cops next door.
  • Revolution: This is how the heroes finally take down the Patriots at the end of Season 2: after kidnapping President Davis, they're ambushed by Patriot soldiers. When Davis gets free, he flies into a rant about how he represents the true America, and how he's going to get Texas and California to wipe each other out for him. However, when he gives the order to have the heroes shot, it turns out that the "Patriots" are Texas Rangers, and the de facto leader of Texas is in the other room — this whole scenario was a setup to provide Texas with undeniable proof that the Patriots were playing them, and results in Davis' arrest and Texas declaring war on the outnumbered Patriots.
  • In the penultimate episode of Season 3 of Revenge, Emily enacts her long-awaited eponymous revenge against Conrad Grayson via this. She kidnaps his daughter Charlotte and blackmails him into a public confession (for funding terrorism and framing Emily's father)- however, knowing that such a confession would be thrown out for being made under duress, Emily instead reveals the truth to Charlotte about her father's crimes, plants a hidden camera on her jacket and releases her (all while concealing her identity). Charlotte then returns home and immediately confronts Conrad about framing her biological father. Conrad flips out, declares Charlotte an ungrateful bastard, and threatens her to remain silent, confessing to everything in the process. As a final gesture, Nolan turns on the TV at Grayson manor just in time for Conrad to see that his confession has been broadcast on live TV for everyone to see- clearing David Clarke's name and sending Conrad to prison.
  • Mocked hilariously on Saturday Night Live during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Linda Tripp (played by John Goodman!) is wearing an Incredibly Obvious Bug and trying desperately to get Monica to confess to sex with Bill Clinton, but she keeps changing the subject.
    Tripp: Speak into the flower, dear.
  • On the series finale of Scrubs (at least until the Post-Script Season), right after JD leaves the hospital for good, one of the other doctors says good riddance and starts insulting him, only for Dr. Cox (who insults and belittles JD more than everyone else combined) to chew her out and give a lengthy speech praising JD as the best doctor who ever worked there. Then JD comes out of his hiding spot, revealing that he planned the whole thing and giving Cox a big hug. Cox was not amused.
  • Sherlock:
    • In "His Last Vow", Sherlock's meeting with Mary at Leinster Gardens is revealed to be one. Sherlock tricks Mary into revealing details about her past as an assassin while John listens in from across the corridor. As you might expect, she gets an Oh, Crap! when Sherlock reveals the ruse and that John heard the whole thing.
    • In "The Lying Detective", Sherlock is admitted to Culverton Smith's hospital with the intent of recording Smith gloating (having identified Smith as someone who wouldn't be able to resist doing so). During the gloating, however, Smith says he found all three recording devices and removed them. People always stop at three.
  • In the Season 9 finale of Smallville, Clark manages to turn Zod's followers on him by tricking him into confessing that he killed his lover Faora and their unborn child, an act he had previously blamed on Clark and the humans. Apparently, Zod forgot that his followers all had super hearing.
  • In an episode of Sonny with a Chance, Chad uses Sonny to fake a good reputation about himself by intruding on her tv interview. He also indirectly frames Sonny into looking like a diva. Sonny tries to Pay Evil unto Evil, but it backfires when it only makes her reputation worse and Chad starts gloating about his victory. Unfortunately for Chad, Sonny had a camera hidden in her cap and recorded him admitting his ruse.
  • A variation of this occurs on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Sisko is ordered not to tell the Cardassians of the Klingon plan to invade them. To get around this, whilst discussing the invasion plan with his senior staff, he has himself measured for a suit by Garak, a resident Cardassian tailor who has an Open Secret that he's a former Obsidian Order operative. Savvy as he is, Garak didn't miss a beat and relayed the intel.
  • Starsky & Hutch force two FBI agents to confess that they've been trying to unofficially intimidate S&H into backing off of a case. When the door swings open to reveal their boss has been listening in, he is not best pleased.
  • In Suits, while in prison the former lawyer Stephen Huntley provides evidence against the firm. Knowing it's fake, Mike and Donna visit him in prison to confront him. Huntley initially assumes he's meeting his lawyer and then points out that Mike is not his lawyer. After they confront him, he admits to having faked the evidence in order to get back at the firm for their own fake evidence against him (although he was actually guilty of that crime). Mike then reminds him that there's all the visitations rooms are recorded. Huntley points out that, by law, cameras are shut off for client-attorney visits. Mike smugly explains that he is not Huntley's attorney. Therefore, the cameras have been recording all this time. Whoops.
  • Supernatural: In Season 9's finale, "Do You Believe in Miracles", Castiel tricks Metatron into gloating about his evil master plan to turn the angels and humanity into his blind worshipers in sound range of the angel-radio mic.
  • Parodied in The Thin Blue Line, where the chief admits to Raymond Fowler that he faked some evidence. Raymond then triumphantly pulls out a rather large tape recorder from his pocket. But when he tries to play the confession, the tape just runs the workout-training that used to be on the tape. Another policeman then shows that you have to press both record and play at the same time to start recording, "I don't know why either". As an added bonus, the recorder is turned on during that demonstration, resulting in it recording some fierce Innocent Innuendo between Raymond and his ex-girlfriend. And the tape belonged to Raymond's wife, and she uses it for her workout at the end of the episode...
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Torchwood record a meeting of the British cabinet in which they decide to give the 456 ten percent of the children and agree on the way to select the ten percent. They then blackmail the government using this: either the government let Torchwood deal with the 456, or the information will be released to the public. The government do as they're told, but later yet, it is implied that further damning information will indeed be made public.
  • A variation takes place in The Twilight Zone (1959) episode "The Obsolete Man". When Romney Wordsworth (Burgess Meredith) was sentenced to death by the totalitarian State for "obsolescence" (i.e. collecting books and professing his belief in God in a world where both books and religion are outlawed), he requested that his death be administered by a time bomb and that his death be televised. When the Chancellor, who had earlier ordered his death, visited him before his execution at his request then, Wordsworth secretly locked him inside with him, so the Chancellor would be executed with him. Seconds before the bomb went off, the Chancellor cracked:
    Chancellor: In God's name, let me out!
    Wordsworth: Yes. In God's name, I will let you out. The Chancellor survived, but was declared obsolete for begging for his life "in God's Name".
  • Veronica Mars does this in the episode "Like a Virgin". Veronica gets the culprit to confess near her locker, then opens the locker to reveal a video camera; she then has the tape played during a television program broadcast to the entire school.
  • Z Nation: In the final episode, Warren and George confront Roman Estes over his actions, getting him to confess to staging the bombings on Altura and the other survivor settlements in order to seize emergency power for himself and scapegoat the Talkers (sentient zombies) enough that he can wipe them out. As soon as he's done gloating, they reveal that they've had a drone watching the whole exchange and broadcasting for everyone in Altura to hear, turning everyone against him.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Allison Danger stole the key card to rival Lexie Fyfe's hotel room to obtain video evidence Fyfe had previously volunteered to face Portia Perez when it was revealed she only had one SHIMMER match left.

  • In the finale of Old Harry's Game Season 6, Satan engineers Rosemary's confession to Edith's murder ... live on Radio 4's Today programme.
  • At the climax of the Radio 4 Afternoon Play Camberwell Green, Vincent is ranting that he has perfectly framed bus controller Marilyn and her husband, former bus mechanic Steve for robbery and a revenge attack on the bus network, and once they're dead everyone will believe it. Marilyn points out that her radio is on and every driver has just heard this.


    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney - In the final case of Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney you put all of the clues together and they point to Kristoph Gavin, who gloats because they don't believe the evidence to be strong enough to convict them, and they believe that's the only way you'll be able to save the defendant... then they're reminded that the trial is the first one in which a jury gets to determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant, and the defence believes that they've given the jury enough reasonable doubt. This cues the start of a Villainous Breakdown as the guilty party rants, raves, and insults the members of the jury...who are all watching, live.
    • Ace Attorney has played with this trope before as well, by having a number of killers engineers a public confession for someone else, by confessing themselves while in disguise. For example, Florent L'Belle, the killer of case 5-2, told the defendant's daughter "I killed alderman Rex Kyubi." Due to extremely complex and elaborate reasons that'd take far too long to explain, L'Belle was able to trick her into thinking he was her father, despite looking and sounding nothing alike.
  • In Telltale's Back to the Future: The Game, Marty does this to Edna Strickland to expose her as the speakeasy arsonist.
  • Dishonored has this as an option to deal with the Big Bad non-lethally. Corvo can find and steal a recording of what ends up being his final target, wherein Lord Regent Hiram Burrows confesses that he intentionally brought the rat plague to Dunwall in an attempt to Kill the Poor. The reason he recorded such a confession is that Burrows had a Super OCD obsession with order and control, resulting in a need to confess what he had done. The guards promptly find the confessor and arrest him.
  • Fallout: should you want to help Killian Darkwater in Junktown to gather evidences on Gizmo, you could offer your services to Gizmo as an assassin to kill Killian. While wearing a hidden tape recorder on you of course! And coming back with the evidence.
  • Appears in Full Throttle, in a variation: you're not getting the Big Bad to admit to killing Malcolm Corley, but rather showing pictures of him doing just that. For additional hilarity, these pictures are shown while the Big Bad is trying to tell people just how much he loved Malcolm.
  • This is one way to kill Marco Abiatti in Hitman (2016). If 47 sabotages the stage, Abiatti will lose his temper and rant about what he really wants to do with the town of Sapienza. Turning on a microphone will ensure that Sapienza's people hear this. When he gets on stage to try to defuse the situation, 47 can fatally electrocute him.
  • Pecker managed to do this to Mizo at the end of Jak X: Combat Racing, using one of the floating cameras that came with his job as race commentator.
  • Subverted in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty's in-game novel: In the Darkness of Shadow Moses: The Unofficial Truth. Nastasha Romanenko and Richard Ames kept Snake's Codec on at all times for them to observe the mission, as well as recording various Codec conversations, including Master Miller/Liquid Snake's conversations with Snake. However, Liquid later reveals to them that he actually knew all along that they were recording everything he and the others stated, yet allowed it to happen anyway.
  • The Infocom Interactive Fiction Adventure Game A Mind Forever Voyaging ends this way.
  • Policenauts has Gates Becker's recorded "confession" at the end of the game.
  • This Engineered Public Confession was brought to you by Raynor's Raiders.
    "...these shocking revelations..." "...veritable firestorm of anti-Mengsk sentiment..."
    Donny Vermillion: The Emperor held a press conference earlier today.
    "Emperor, how do you respond to these allegations of genocide?! Of using aliens to-"
    Arcturus: I assure you these slanderous attacks against the throne are baseless and irresponsible!
    Kate Lockwell: Emperor, do you still stand by the sentiment that selfless devotion to the people is the basis of your rule?
    Arcturus: But of course. I was called upon to serve the greater interests of humanity! Personal power was never my goal.
    Kate Lockwell: Then how would you characterize this statement? *click*
    Recording: "I will not be stopped. Not by you or the Confederates or the Protoss or anyone! I will rule this sector or see it burnt to ashes around me!"
    * multiple camera flashes almost blind Arcturus Mengsk*
    Arcturus: I-I won't stand for this... do you jackals think you can come in here and question me?! THIS INTERVIEW IS OVER! *pushes interview booth, walks away*
  • In Jet Li's Rise To Honor, Li's character Kit Yun had a suspicion that his Hong Kong Police Force supervising officer, Victor, was responsible for the death of his childhood friend's father, and was in league with the game's villain, Kwan. Kit's suspicions have been risen when Victor shoots Kwan after Kit has defeated the latter in hand-to-hand combat. While paying respects to the childhood friend's father's grave, his suspicions were proven correct, but Kit was smart enough to have Victor's confession recorded on an audiotape before arresting him.
  • The end of Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom is an interactive fiction segment where you must trick the Big Bad into forgetting about the crowd in front of him and doing this.
  • Similar to the Full Throttle example, the climax of XCOM 2 sees you hijack the ADVENT Speaker's New Era Speech by replacing the uplifting propaganda footage displaying on the screens behind him with footage of the atrocities ADVENT has been visiting on humans living outside their control and the horrific genocidal experiments they've been conducting on mankind as part of the Avatar Project, creating a darkly ironic contrast with his words. It takes him a while to turn around and see what's being displayed, and unsurprisingly the crowd he's addressing riots as the global uprising begins.
    Speaker: ADVENT peacekeeping forces are traveling across the world carrying the greatest gift from the elders. (Scenes of refugee camps being attacked and people slaughtered in brutal crackdown attacks.) A revolutionary gene therapy, yes. But so much more. (Footage of humans being processed into green slurry, packaged into cryopods and experimented on, pools filled with corpses and hordes of hybrid ADVENT clone soldiers being mass-produced.) This is an end to disease. To decay. To pain. The beginnings of a new tomorrow. Available to all of us. Today. Truly humanity finally takes its rightful place among the stars. (The Speaker finally notices the crowd's growing distress and turns around to look at the screens, shortly before they rush the stage.)


    Web Original 
  • Groom: William records his father admitting that he amassed his business fortune by cheating.
  • Red vs. Blue: Tucker records Felix saying how he and Locus have been manipulating the Rebels and Feds on Chorus with his helmet cam. Which Church/Epsilon then broadcasts to the Capital for everyone to see and hear.
  • "Fairest Of Them All", the third episode of Star Trek Continues and a direct sequel to "Mirror Mirror" and set entirely in the Mirror Universe, ends with this gambit. Kirk, enraged at Spock's mutiny against him, rants that his crew are nothing but pawns to be used and sacrificed for his own enrichment. Spock simply steps away from the wall, revealing that the communications panel was turned on and that the entire crew heard his rant.
  • Youth & Consequences: During the Student Council President election, Farrah takes out one of the candidates, Hope out of the race by playing an incriminating part of an earlier conversation during one of Hope's speeches.

    Western Animation 
  • 101 Dalmatians: The Series: In "Dog Food Day Afternoon", in order to prove that Cruella is putting sawdust in her dog food and selling it to the public, the pups steal Cruella's tape recorder in which she recorded herself admitting to the deception and playing it on the loudspeakers at the fair.
  • The Amazing World of Gumball:
    • "The Pact": Principal Brown asks Gumball to "take care" of Miss Simian's halitosis, in exchange for telling Penny about her annoying laughter. When Gumball gets detention for telling Miss Simian about her bad breath, Principal Brown reneges on his end of the deal, and Gumball haunts Principal Brown through a series of Nightmare Fuel hallucinations, threatening to spill the beans about Principal Brown putting him up to the task.
    • Subverted when Principal Brown records Gumball's attacking the principal's office on the surveillance camera, then double subverted when Principal Brown blurts out his master plan and confesses how Gumball feels about Penny's annoying laughter as well as Miss Simian's paint-peeling halitosis, with Penny and Miss Simian walking in to hear the conversation in an awkward Oh, Crap! moment for Gumball and Principal Brown.
  • Spoofed in an episode of American Dad!, where school announcement readers getting Drunk with Power, tricked into making an Engineered Public Confession, and losing their position is apparently a regular occurrence. Each one lasts even less time than his predecessor: Steve goes through this in a few days, then his friend Snot goes through it in one day, then their friend Barry snaps the second he sits down at the desk. And then the principal talks about his time as a cocaine dealer who had sex with little girls mere moments after kicking Barry out.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: Deliberately inverting this trope with a confession she knew would be overheard by the Secret Police is how Azula wormed her way into Long Feng's trust. Too bad for him that what she confessed was only half her plan.
  • A variation occurred in the Batman Beyond episode "Ascension", Derek Powers intended to "retire" and place his son as his replacement so he could act behind the scenes. Unfortunately for him, his son had other plans. His son engineered a media circus with complaints about his polluting his stationed country's water supply, getting his father angry enough to disintegrate the skin grafts used to contain his mutated form, Blight, on live TV, which meant they now know who the radioactive guy who was committing various crimes was, including Terry McGinnis.
  • Batman: The Animated Series:
    • In the episode, "Almost Got Him," Batman finally reveals himself to the supervillains he has been listening to in a bar as Croc in disguise. They aim their weapons and note he's never getting out of the bar alive. However, seemingly every other patron and staff of the bar produces a weapon; they were actually all cops in disguise, including Commissioner Gordon and Det. Harvey Bullock, and were waiting for Batman to give the signal to arrest them once Joker blabbed about where he was keeping Catwoman hostage.
    • In "Riddler's Reform", Batman had just escaped a death trap set by Riddler, who's desperate to learn how he escaped. Desperate enough to offer to confess his crimes. Rather than accepting the deal, Batman revealed that he had tricked Riddler into broadcasting the confession. Batman gets bonus points for using the same trick Riddler had previously used to humiliate him and a device Riddler invented.
  • The Buzz Lightyear of Star Command episode "War and Peace and War" had Buzz do this to Guzelian, who revealed that he tricked everyone into making peace with each other so that they'd be defenseless against his people's invasion. Buzz made Guzelian's confession public by activating the villain's hologram projector while he was talking, allowing everyone he deceived to hear him admit the truth behind his agenda.
  • The Captain Planet and the Planeteers episode "Jail House Flock" has Hoggish Greedly's henchman Rigger tricked into confessing that his boss has no intention to replace the wetlands his construction project will destroy like he was made to promise and that the crooks had Captain Planet and the Planeteers arrested under false pretenses, completely unaware that every word he says is being spoken over a speaker in the courtroom during Captain Planet and the Planeteers' trial.
  • An episode of Codename: Kids Next Door had the Delightful Children becoming the class president for an Evil Plan. They say this plan out loud when it nears fruition, and as they finish, look out the balcony to see the students looking angrily at them. The Delightful Children then turn around to see that Numbuh One had the PA button held down the whole time.
  • Doug: In "Doug Didn't Do It", Roger accidentally does this to himself in one episode, telling Doug how he stole Mr. Bone's yodeling trophy and blamed it on him, without realizing that his foot was on the intercom switch, so the whole school could hear him.
  • Spoofed in Drawn Together. Spanky Ham and Captain Hero were abusing a superhero-versus-villain gambling book, with Spanky Ham betting thousands of dollars for the monster and Captain Hero deliberately failing very miserably, when Captain Hero was overcome by greed and decided to do it himself. Spanky Ham then retaliates by recording Captain Hero confessing his actions... with an incredibly obvious recorder hanging from his neck and asking the most revealing questions he could think of. Captain Hero decides that, since the whole thing looks suspicious, he's going to tell him everything in great detail.
  • The Fairly OddParents:
    • An episode has Vicky Quote Mining Timmy using two separate recordings, and then Timmy does it back after turning her into a child pertaining to her stealing from her mom's purse. Timmy later plays a recording of Vicky saying she's happy and doesn't need the fairies anymore, this time, it's one full recording all the way through.
    • Another episode has Vicky and Timmy trying to frame each other over the use of a special voice-changing microphone and a pirate radio station. Timmy had been using the microphone to manipulate the town's parents into spending more time with their kids. When pissed-off FCC agents show up, Timmy simply raises the microphone to Vicky while she rants, causing the agents to believe she ran the illegal radio station. Jail time!
  • Family Guy in the episode "One If By Clam, Two If By Sea". Lois tries to uncover insurance fraud by hiding her friends in the room and getting the villain to confess. He does but the friends aren't there. Sanford and Son actor Demond Wilson is, but apparently he didn't count. Fortunately the insurance agent was hiding in the closet... with Demond.
  • In the Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes episode "Frightful", Reed tricks his Evil Counterpart, the Wizard, into confessing that he never really cared about protecting the city.
  • Done in Fillmore! to the corrupt chief commissioner in "South of Friendship, North of Honor."
    • Also done twice before that in "A Forgotten Yesterday." The first time has Fillmore getting Rudy to reveal where he hid the stolen ledger with the term paper discs just by simply asking his sleep.
    • The second time has Fillmore making Sonny think he stole the ledger from Rudy and will now go down for it if caught or going to the Safety Patrol to finger Sonny for coming after him and then setting him up with the fake hall passes and taking the ledger for him to then take as his own. It turns out Fillmore discovered that Sonny used the phone he gave him to call the Student Council and turn him in for the hall passes (which he hadn't done in the first place) and not only got a warrant for the ledger from Student Council but is wearing a wire that has recorded Sonny revealing his involvement in everything.
  • In the Futurama episode "A Head in the Polls", Richard Nixon rants about his plans for Earth after he is elected — in front of Bender, a robot with a tape recorder in his head. Subverted when he gives Nixon the tape in exchange for his old body, allowing him to win the election.
  • The Galaxy Trio episode "The Battle of the Aquatrons" had the self-proclaimed emperor Lotar being taken down this way. Lotar had overthrown his brother Neptar, the rightful ruler of the planet Aqueous, and taken over. The Galaxy Trio freed Neptar, who then turned on the video communicator in Lotar's throne room. The Galaxy Trio talked Lotar into admitting that the welfare of the people of Aqueous was of no concern to him and that he thought they would follow him blindly. When the public heard that they turned against Notar and he fled.
  • Garfield and Friends did a variation: When Jon was questioning the head of the Monster Market store about the expensive prices for eggs, the boss admits that he deliberately made the items more expensive as a means of making himself filthy rich. Unbeknownst to him, Garfield, who he had earlier chased in the episode, used one of his store microphones to broadcast everything he said to Jon throughout the whole store. The customers immediately leave the store, and it is implied that his store is going to go out of business.
  • The Garfield Show:
    • In one episode, Garfield tries to get a refund on the worthless stuff he, Jon, and Odie bought on a shopping channel, but gets laughed out and chased by security instead. In retaliation, he uses a futuristic-looking tape recorder to record a conversation between the channel owner and his salesman where they confess that everything they sell is garbage; when they try to use the tape recorder later during a live demonstration, it replays the message, ultimately leading to everyone who bought stuff from that channel getting a refund and the channel going off the air.
    • In an earlier episode, Garfield gets sent to a professional pet trainer who turns out to be a fraud. After purposefully misbehaving during the demonstration that's supposed to show how well-behaved he is, he gets dragged backstage and reprimanded by the "trainer" for not playing along...except Garfield managed to grab a mic from the stage beforehand, which he uses to reveal his scam to the audience.
    • The "Lasagna Tree" special ends with Mama Meany having his reputation plummet when Garfield uses Eddie Gourmand's robotic cameraman to record Mama Meany gloating about making his fortune through cheaply-made and horrible-tasting substitutes to real food as well as calling his customers idiots for continuing to fall for his scam. This gets broadcasted throughout the entire world and results in Mama Meany going out of business.
  • In one episode of Gargoyles, Elisa tries this on Fox in order to prove to her brother Derek that Xanatos is up to no good as usual. Fox gloats about Xanatos having trapped Derek, and that there was nothing Elisa could do about it. Elisa had the whole thing recorded and had intended to play it all for Derek but then decided to just give him the recording and let him play it on his own. He didn't.
  • An episode of Justice League began with a triumphant Kryptonite-wielding Lex Luthor standing over the fallen Superman. Lex confesses to smuggling weapons and selling them to terrorists. Turns out it wasn't really Superman, but J'onn J'onzz in disguise, and Batman and Green Lantern have been listening the whole time. Whoops.
  • The Mask had an episode where Peggy tricked a southern Colonel into confessing illegal toxic waste dumping without knowing the confession was being displayed.
  • Miraculous Ladybug: In the episode "Silencer", the titular akuma goes after Bob Roth because he plagiarized his band and threatened his crush. After he's de-akumatized, Roth gloats about how he'll still get away with said plagiarism, then realizes that Chat Noir turned the cameras in the TV studio on him, broadcasting his rant to all of Paris.
  • In Mona the Vampire, the local Alpha Bitch checks the heroes with a metal detector (finding two tape recorders) before telling them all about her Evil Plan. Unfortunately for her, she forgot to check Mona's cat, who also had a recorder.
  • The My Life as a Teenage Robot episode "Labor Day" had Jenny land a job delivering breakfast cereal prizes for M.J. Bryce, who eventually manipulates Jenny into eliminating his competition and pressures her into stealing the holographic ring prize made by one of his competitors. Jenny exposes Bryce's underhandedness by recording the man admitting that he's willing to steal from his competition and having that recording play on the holographic ring prizes Bryce gives out at the assembly for his next cereal prize.
  • Happens a couple of times in My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • In the two-parter season 5 opener, "The Cutie Map", Starlight Glimmer has been running her town like a cult, magically removing the cutie marks (and associated special talents) of ponies in the name of equality. When it's revealed that Starlight hasn't removed her own cutie mark (instead covering it with makeup), the Mane Six arrange to have her splashed with water in front of the gathered townsponies, revealing her secret.
    • In "Viva Las Pegasus", the ponies try to get Gladmane to reveal he has been manipulating all his employees, engineering a public confession that was intended to fail, thus putting him off his guard and getting a real confession out of him behind closed doors. Thanks to a handy intercom, his secret Evil Gloating is made public.
  • NASCAR Racers: Stunts tricks Rexton into giving one at the end of the second season by hiding a camera in his helmet.
  • The New Adventures of Superman episode "The Prankster". Superman knows that the Prankster has committed two counts of disturbing the peace but can't legally prove it (no witnesses or other evidence). He pulls multiple pranks on the Prankster and gets him so angry that he confesses to the crimes, after which Superman pulls out a microphone and tape recorder that he used to get the confession Caught on Tape.
  • In Rugrats:
    • In one of the earlier episodes, when Tommy's clown lamp mysteriously breaks, the Rugrats hold a faux court trial to see who was the one who broke the lamp, with Angelica as the prosecutor. As the episode culminates, it's revealed that Angelica was the culprit after the babies realize that Angelica was supposed to be taking a nap when the lamp broke in the first place, yet SOMEHOW knew what all the babies were doing at the same time. In her usual demeanor, Angelica gloats about the whole thing being her doing and that the babies couldn't do anything about since they're babies. Unfortunately for her, Didi and Betty were in the other room, listening the whole time...
    • Angelica Pickles, due to not liking Chinese food and wanting other things, used a prototype voice changer that her uncle invented to get several things, such as sweets, a Cynthia dollhouse (that her father promised to get if she was well behaved), and a faux surprise party for her. When Tommy's parents came home, they were about to take away the grampa's teeth (as they threatened to do so if he didn't supervise the kids), Angelica attempts to quell it, with Tommy activating the voice changer and placing it right near her mouth while she is speaking, causing them to realize just how Angelica managed to trick them big time. Needless to say, she has to eat the stuff she ordered as her punishment, and her uncle puts away the voice changer in a dark cupboard, stating that some things were better off not being invented.
    • In another episode, Angelica, while backstage at her favorite kids show, was nominated as one of the new on-stage kids, and she and the other nominees listened in on the show host's conversation with her second-in-command, about her audience, and she overheard her say the secret word, and was the only one who actually heard it. She then won, and she also thought she won due to hearing the secret word (which is implied to be a very, very dirty cussword, due to various placements of cutoffs with a person honking his horn or someone jackhammering, or in the case of her repeating the word to her mom, a very loud anguished scream being heard in the distance), her parents, after initially grounding her, eventually allow her to go to the backstage showing of the show, under the condition that she not say the word. In her usual manners, she manages to trick the show hostess by making her lose control of her temper to utter that exact swear word on the air, to the shock of all watching, and Angelica then states that she proved that she did actually say it. The show hostess was later fired and replaced with her second-in-command.
  • In Sabrina: The Animated Series the villain made sure none of Sabrina's first attempt to do this works, only to find out she had Salem jack into their signal to broadcast the confession on a separate camera.
  • In the The Simpsons "Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington", the FBI runs a sting operation to trick Corrupt Politician Bob Arnold into accepting a bribe to allow drilling on Mount Rushmore.
  • In the thirteenth season premiere of South Park, Kyle turns on the microphone backstage at a Jonas Brothers concert, causing a live world-broadcast of the confession of a long-term plan to exploit the purported myopia of devout Christians by secretly selling sex to girls under the guise of good, clean, family-friendly entertainment. And just for that extra South Park kick, the person he engineers this confession from is Mickey Mouse, who Cartman ends up exposing to the audience by pressing the curtain controls to raise the stage curtains. Didn't quite work, as Mickey was so powerfully homicidal that the world just knuckled under to him, waiting until his rage was spent and he went back to Valhalla to slumber and feed.
  • The Static Shock episode "Replay" had the titular villain use an energy duplicate of Static to frame the hero for various crimes. His scheme is exposed when Richie films and broadcasts the villain gloating about his plan while Static fought his energy duplicate.
  • Street Sharks: The Street Sharks finally manage to put a dent in Dr. Paradigm's credibility by forcing him to assume his Pirahnoid form on national television.
  • In a variation, an episode of Superman: The Animated Series had Lois tricking a crooked cop to confess to framing a man on death row for his murder... with Superman right outside, using his super-hearing to get every detail. Subverted in that the detective didn't actually confess to the murder at that point. He did throw nosy Lois over the stair railing -several stories up.
  • The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries: Tweety engineers one in "Double Take", hovering over the bad guy's head with a microphone as he blabs his plan to Sylvester.
  • Teamo Supremo: The team exposes a pop singer's anti-individuality stance as being created by her producer at her concert, by showing the concert-goers the producer saying so to the singer.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987): In the ninth season finale "Doomquest", April finally convinces the public of New York that Lord Dregg, not the Turtles, is the bad guy by showing a video of Dregg boasting to the Turtles that the world will be his and there's nothing they can do to stop him.
  • Done twice in Tiny Toon Adventures:
    • First at the end of "Citizen Max" where Babs makes Max confess on camera (that's simultaneously being broadcast in front of the audience he's about to speak to) that he framed Buster to make it look like he stole the test answers.
    • Again in "Son of the Wacko World of Sports" where Buster films Bicycle Bob reading cue cards to make him admit his products are a ripoff. After he orders Buster to destroy the film, Buster responds it's live.
  • Variation in Transformers Animated. Starscream tells the Autobots that it was him, not them, that offlined Megatron... not knowing that he was being filmed by news drones. When Megatron came back online, he saw the news broadcast of Starscream's gloating. Needless to say, he was less than thrilled upon learning the truth.
  • Tuca & Bertie: After Bertie chews out Pastry Pete for trying to ruin her own bakery business, Tuca reveals that she taped his threats to her using her phone. The two of them send the video to every woman in town, shutting Pastry Pete down for good.
  • This is how Spyke gets Quicksilver in jail in their introductory episode of X-Men: Evolution.

    Real Life 
  • Often, whenever a public figure or celebrity decides to confess to committing an action, it is only because someone else has discovered it and is about to release the details. A prime example is Tom MacMaster, who decided to reveal that his blog A Gay Girl in Damascus was a fraud only after his identity was uncovered by Electronic Intifada.
  • Roger Clemens tried to do this by secretly taping a phone conversation between former trainer Brian Mcnamee so that he would admit that Clemens did not take HGH; all it proved was that Mcnamee was either telling the truth or not a complete idiot.
  • In 2006, Hungarian prime minister Ferenc Gyurcsány held a private speech telling his own colleagues in the Hungarian Socialist Party that they had lied to the people about the state of Hungary in order to win the elections, how they had done pretty much nothing in the previous four years, and how they "fucked up" and needed to get themselves together to make things work again. Once the recorded speech was leaked to the public, all hell broke loose as massive protests flooded the country, followed very quickly by the prime minister's resignation after being defeated in a vote of no confidence.
    Gyurcsány: I believe there will be conflicts, kids. Yes; there will be. There will be protests; there will be. They can protest in front of the Parliament; they'll get bored sooner or later and go home.
  • A recording of (former) Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was leaked. In it, he discussed his plan to sell the Senate seat vacated by newly-elected President Barack Obama to the highest bidder. Later, he would apologize for swearing so violently in the tape. He would eventually be convicted of (among many other things) misuse of power and corruption.
    • Note that of Illinois' ten governors between World War II and Blagojevich's term, five were tried for corruption and four were convicted. Of them, Blagojevich was the only one to be impeached and removed from office (the others had all resigned before things got that far).
  • Linda Tripp, as stated above, taped Lewinsky's confession. Though she caught a lot of flack for it, it should be noted that a previous Clinton mistress had confided in Tripp and when Tripp had to go public with it, she was smeared in the press, and poked fun at with regard to her weight as in the latter example because it was her word against the president's. Call it Crazy-Prepared, but it's not that crazy under the circumstances.
  • Hugh Grant helped bring down the News of the World by secretly recording a meeting with one of their former paparazzi, who spilt the beans about the phone-hacking affair. Doubles as a Take That! and a Moment of Awesome for all the stick the British tabloids have given him.
  • WikiLeaks and Anonymous seek to be the Internet version of this. In fact, the HB Gary Federal leak is a fitting example. Edward Snowden has also ventured into this territory. In 2016, the "Panama Papers" documents that exposed tax haven activity set records for the sheer amount of data involved.
  • The "Teapot Tapes" in New Zealand. Ironically the politicians at the centre of it have accused the media of "News of the World"-style tactics. Initially it wasn't completely played straight - the tapes are in the hands of the police after the initial controversy and the cameraman who made the original recording is fighting for his reputation and bank balance in the courts. In early 2012, however, it was subsequently inverted when the recording was leaked onto the Internet.
    • Still in New Zealand, investigative journalist Nicky Hager's 2014 book, Dirty Politics, was sourced from secret correspondence of a controversial blogger given to him by a suspected hacker. To Hager's supporters, he's blown the whistle on corruption and dirty tricks; to his detractors, he's a recipient of stolen property. Subverted twice, however; firstly when the hacker who supplied the documents to Hager leaked further dirt on Twitter, only to go into hiding after legal threats from the controversial blogger loomed; secondly, Dirty Politics came right before a general election and was intended to influence the outcome, which didn't happen. Hager, however, insisted in a post-election essay that it was only the beginning, given the ongoing investigations being carried out, and his legal victory over the police detectives involved.
  • A number of public racial abuse incidents have been caught on smartphones. In the words of Will Smith, "racism isn't getting worse, it's getting filmed."
    • In 2011, a woman named Emma West went on a racially-charged rant against passengers while riding the bus. The incident was recorded by another passenger and uploaded to YouTube, which got West in all kinds of trouble with the court.
    • Also, Tennessee radio talk show host Thaddeus Matthews made racist as well as rude comments towards one of his guests, all caught on tape.
  • The British Holocaust denier David Irving holds the unusual achievement of self-engineering his confession. When the Jewish-American historian Deborah Lipstadt wrote in her book Denying the Holocaust that he was a Holocaust denier and had deliberately falsified historical evidence, he sued her for libel. Unfortunately, Lipstadt's lawyers asked Richard J. Evans, one of the finest historians in Britain (if not the whole world) and a team of experts to go through Irving's work with a fine-tooth comb and found that it was patently obvious that he had lied and cheated in order to show Nazism in a better light. His personal diary also revealed numerous instances of antisemitic and racist screeds, which he wrote down and freely let them have, seemingly not thinking they would manage to get through it all. At the end of a humiliating trial (ironic, because Irving had hoped to humiliate and financially ruin Lipstadt by suing her in the first place), he accidentally addressed the judge as "Mein Führer." Hilarity, and a well-deserved comeuppance, ensued. He had to declare bankruptcy after the court ordered Irving to pay Lipstadt's fees for the suit.
  • The infamous video of 2012 Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (not knowing that he was being recorded) saying that 47 percent of US citizens don't pay taxes and he wouldn't bother trying to sway them to his side. Romney, of course, lost the election, and only ended up receiving... wait for it... 47 percent of the popular vote.
  • Defied by the Illinois Eavesdropping Act. Attempting to catch corrupt officers through recording them was made a felony. Courts have responded in various ways to challenges to the law, ultimately resulting in the law being declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.
  • The "Mister Big" sting used by Canadian law enforcement (where it is legal, unlike in the US) creates this situation. If the police are confident they know who the murderer is but don't have enough evidence to be confident of a conviction, they set up an elaborate operation where an undercover officer will befriend the suspect and gradually convince the suspect that the undercover is a member of some organized crime group, eventually leading to the suspect witnessing supposed crimes and sometimes becoming a participant in them, all faked and staged by the authorities. If it works, they reach a point where the suspect wants in on the operation and is taken to meet the boss ("Mr. Big"). The suspect is told that the only way into the organization is to prove they won't lie to the Boss and the way they can prove that is to reveal details about the murder, with the Boss insinuating that he already knows all about it and won't tolerate being lied to. Ideally, the suspect then confesses to the crime (while being secretly recorded) and reveals things only the real killer could know, and sometimes more evidence the police didn't know about.
  • The greatest of them all is now accepted to be apocryphal - children's radio host "Uncle Don" who supposedly signed off (on a still live microphone) with "Well, that should hold the little bastards." In Poland, an urban legend has it that a radio host finished his teddy bear show in a similar fashion, stating "And now, dear children, you can kiss the bear's ass goodbye."


Video Example(s):


Principal Lewis' dark side

Principal Lewis accidentally reveals a shocking secret about his past.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / EngineeredPublicConfession

Media sources:

Main / EngineeredPublicConfession