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Expositing the Masquerade

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Mulder: They're here, aren't they?
Deep Throat: Mr. Mulder, "they" have been here for a long, long time.

The Hero encounters some weird shit. Really weird shit. However, just as he is about to say bye-bye to his sanity, some impeccably dressed gentlemen take him into a sciencey lab where The Professor explains that what the hero saw was a perfectly scientific phenomenon they've studied for years, and really, just another kind of Applied Phlebotinum that The World Is Not Ready for yet...

This trope is a form of Exposition that would have become an Info Dump, if it wasn't so long overdue, since it comes after the protagonist (and the audience) is thrust right into the middle of a situation he cannot even begin to understand. It doesn't have to be Phlebotinum per se: any kind of Masquerade will do, as long as the hero stumbles into a life-threatening situation before people who know what's going on show up. Compare Redundant Researcher.


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    Anime and Manga 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Independence Day, when they visit Area 51, it turns out The Government knew about the aliens all along. They just kept the elected part, i.e. the President, Locked Out of the Loop until some time after the shit hit the fan, and even then only because winning the fight was more important than Plausible Deniability.
  • In the first Underworld movie, when Selene tells Michael about the werewolves and the vampires.
  • The Rocky Horror Picture Show:
    Dr. Scott: This sonic is, I suppose, some kind of audio-vibratory-physio-molecular transport device?
    Brad: You mean...?!
    Dr. Scott: Yes, Brad, it's something we ourselves have been working on for quite some time. But it seems our friend here has found a means of perfecting it. A device which is capable of breaking down solid matter and projecting it through space...and who knows, perhaps even time itself!
  • Happens in the first Men in Black movie, when K gives J a rundown on the little known facts during the latter's first entry to the MIB HQ.
  • Used in Godzilla (2014), where it's revealed the government (or a specific international coalition, MONARCH) knows about Godzilla and his ilk, and are in the midst of preparing contingency measures for them.
  • In Edge of Tomorrow, the hero learns that his accidentally acquired power to reset time was a condition known to two people already who were busy doing research on it for some time already. More would have known, but attempts to inform military high command had gone... badly.
  • In Transformers (2007), it turns out that the government has been studying Transformers for decades in a secret base under the Hoover Dam, and that most modern technology is actually the product of their reverse-engineering efforts.
  • Prodigium in The Mummy (2017) has been studying monsters and searching for a "cure for evil" for a very long time. They're presently headed up by none other than Dr. Henry Jekyll.
  • Interstellar: When Cooper and Murph discover the mysterious NASA camp, the officials therein reveal to him that they have been researching gravitational anomalies for almost 50 years.

  • A Wrinkle in Time: Meg and Charles find out that their father went missing because the government had him experimenting with tesseracts, which left him stranded on another planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The spaceship containing the Power Source of the chronosphere from Seven Days. Of course, a later episode reveals that the Americans aren't the only ones who have been doing that. Russians also had a time travel program that was shut down due to the lack of a potent power source. However, after another alien vessel was found in Siberia, it was restarted (by a Renegade Russian general seeking to usurp the presidency).
  • Happens all over the Myth Arc of The X-Files, such as when Mulder goes to great lengths to recover the tiniest sliver of evidence that the aliens have visited Earth—only to be told by his Mysterious Informant that aliens have been on Earth for decades and some government circles have been in cahoots with them the entire time.
  • In Switched, after Ayumi has lost hope of learning how to switch bodies from Umine, who clearly knows the secret, she is invited to meet with Ukon, the local expert on the red moon phenomenon. As it turns out, many people have switched bodies before. Ukon specifically says there have been three other cases besides Ayumi's and her own. This is how Ayumi and Kaga learn that if Ayumi kills herself in front of Umine during the red moon, she will simply die rather than switch back.

    Video Games 
  • Max Payne: "We were all involved in the early stages of the Project during the Gulf War..." This refers to Project Valhalla, the origin of the mysterious drug Valkyr that has caused Max so much trouble, to put it mildly.
  • In the later sections of Half-Life, it is revealed that the dimensional rift at the beginning of the game was not a completely random coincidence. The piece of crystal that made the particle accelerator go crazy and open portals to another dimension was of same the type that another department at the research facility used in their development of teleportation technology for a very long time. Not only is the Lambda Core a huge device several stories tall and powered by its own nuclear power plant, the Addon Opposing Force shows quite clearly that expeditions to other dimensions have been going on for years and they have their own zoo for captured alien wildlife.
  • In The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, the Player Character is working as a member of the Blades, investing two dangerous cults who are becoming active in the game's setting. One of the cults, the Sixth House, worships the deranged Physical God Dagoth Ur, who has re-awakened after being thought killed thousands of years in the past. He is believed to be connected to the Blight, which can spread the crippling, uncurable Corprus Disease. While investigating a Sixth House base, the PC is naturally inflicted with the disease by one of Dagoth Ur's minions. Thought to be a death sentence, your Quest Giver sends to you meet with the ancient Telvanni wizard, Divayth Fyr, who runs a "Corprusarium" to provide refuge for the infected. It turns out that Fyr has been studying the disease for years. It saps the mind of those infected, leaving them with little more than animalistic intelligence, while also causing their body to bloat and grow cancerous, leprous chunks. It also makes the suffered into The Ageless and gives them Ideal Illness Immunity. He has been working on a cure...but it has killed every test subject so far. When he uses it on the PC, it least according to what he was trying to do. The PC still has the disease, but the negative aspects have been cured, leaving the positive ones of biological immunity and complete disease immunity.

  • Weregeek begins with Mark drooling at a look on dice and being chased by the Hunter of Monsters. He is saved by Joel and the others, who explain to him that he is a weregeek, just like themselves, which is why he was being hunted. It is much later explained that Joel, in fact, is the leader of La Résistance hunting the Hunters and he knows much more about them than he tells anyone.

    Web Original 
  • The SCP Foundation approaches this trope from the side of the mysterious research organization. Each of the main SCP entries details first how to contain an anomalous object the Foundation has detected or captured, then research into its function, origins, and probable effects if it were to breach containment. Said effects can range from Laser-Guided Amnesia and people being Killed to Uphold the Masquerade, to The End of the World as We Know It in any flavor you can imagine. The Foundation has hundreds if not thousands of these objects in secret labs and warehouses around the world.

     Western Animation 
  • Glitch Techs: After main characters Miko and Five witness a glitch being unleashed, with only one of them actually being able to remember the event, they trail one of the people involved in the incident. After said person locks the teens in his truck to deal with them later, the duo end up activating BITT when trying to escape. As a robot meant to inform and assist, it automatically assumes the duo are new trainees and attempts to give them on-the-job training regarding the whole "fighting monsters that exit video games into the real world" situation they've stumbled onto.