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I Am Who?

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Hagrid: Yer a wizard, Harry.
Harry: I'm a what?

The main character must be special somehow. The hero who would save the world cannot be just a farmer's son. If they aren't prophesied to do something, or the current villain's relative, he or she may secretly be a powerful being, perhaps even a god, but for reasons unknown they simply aren't aware of it (yet).

The reason the character's true identity is hidden may range from simple lack of knowledge to a forced, magical-natured amnesia. In this kind of story, this revelation is often the plot's main twist.

Often, this is an Awful Truth that must be withheld at all costs, because the character is unlikely to be able to control their immense powers or use them responsibly at this point in time, or ever.

May lead to Amnesiac Dissonance; may overlap with Luke, I Am Your Father in case the character is a god's relative. A particularly nasty revelation — for example, a Robotic Reveal — may drive the poor protagonist utterly mad. If it's not the protagonist who's secretly special, then this is King Incognito.

Subtropes include Amnesiac God. Often the result of a Changeling Fantasy. Related to Tomato in the Mirror. If everyone else knows the truth, the hero's been Locked Out of the Loop. Not the correct response to I Am Spartacus.

Examples: (Spoilers, read at own risk)

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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Best Student Council, we learn that Rino has the Jinguuji power. The reason Kanade arraigned for Rino to come to Miyagimi was to protect her from the family, knowing that if the Jinguuji learn of Rino, her freedom would be taken away. Even at the end, Rino is clueless about the power she has, though the rest of the council is aware.
  • In The Big O, it is revealed that Angel is one of/the memory she's been searching for the entire show. There might also be something about her being the director of Paradigm City or having immense powers, but it's hard to tell...
  • In Bleach, everyone basically assumed that Ichigo was just one of those lucky humans born with increased spiritual sensitivity and an abnormally high Power Level who got super-charged by Rukia and underwent Training from Hell time after time. Then, around the time Aizen starts up his shenanigans, we learn that the reason he and his sisters are so sensitive is that their dad is a retired shinigami. Captain, to be precise. A couple of other people already knew this (and it had been revealed to the readers earlier, though aside from the genre of the manga there was no explicit hint that it was relevant to Ichigo's powers), but they neither told Ichigo nor anybody else about it. Now we learned that his mother was a Quincy, and there was that business with the Hollow...
  • Saya starts off like this in Blood+.
  • Defied in Death Note: One of the first things Ryuk says to Light is that he is not 'special' or 'chosen': He just happened to be the first human to pick up the Death Note after Ryuk dropped it in a random location.
  • In Dragon Ball Z Goku's brother Raditz arrives to Earth and reveals that Goku is a member of a superpowerful and bloodthirsty alien race called the Saiyans. Due to a nearly fatal accident which gave him Laser-Guided Amnesia, Goku lost his violent tendencies and sincerely believed that he was human.
  • In the 2006 Ergo Proxy, it is revealed that the main protagonist, Vincent Law, is in fact the eponymous Ergo Proxy. It should be noted that all Proxies are man-made gods.
  • Fairy Tail Natsu Dragneel is actually the amnesiac form of E.N.D (Etherious Natsu Dragneel) the most powerful demon created by Zeref Dragneel, using the deceased body of his little brother.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • Haruhi herself has Reality Warper powers of which she is entirely unaware, and considering the type of person she is, her friends want to keep it that way. Fans often say she's God in Human Form, but within both the novels and anime, this is directly stated to be just one unconfirmed theory among many for her powers, and one considered to be extremely unlikely by the one who brings it up.
    • Kyon asks himself this at the end of "Mystérique Sign". Quickly subverted, as the answer is that he's just an Ridiculously Average Guy, albeit one who's now going to be constantly surrounded by supernatural happenings thanks to inadvertently becoming best friends with Haruhi.
  • Roughly translated, the title of Kyo Kara Maoh! is "From Today, You Are Demon King". From today, Yuuri is king of the demons. He's a bit flummoxed.
  • Maria Grace Fleed from the Mazinger series (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, UFO Robo Grendizer) believed she was a completely average, tomboyish teenager with a taste for bikes. Then her dying grandfather revealed than she was not his granddaughter, but she was an alien from planet Fleed. And her real parents were the rulers of the planet.
  • In Metropolis (2001), Tima is a robot that was designed to run the Ziggurat, a weapon capable of controlling and destroying all mankind. The only ones aware of this fact are Dr. Laughton (who is killed in the first few minutes of the film), Duke Red (who commissioned Tima to be built), and Rock (who wants Tima destroyed). When Tima finds out about her purpose, she loses memory of all the events that occurred in the film and tries to use the Ziggurat to destroy all mankind for its insolence and self-destructive habits Tima's first words in the film are actually "Who am I?". They are also her last words spoken in the film.
  • At the beginning of the series Naruto is told that he houses the Kyuubi. Later in the series, Naruto is told that his father was one of the most powerful Shinobi ever and his mother was the previous host of the Kyuubi. Keep in mind that the Naruto-verse thrives on Superpowerful Genetics.
    • Naruto also has this reaction when it's revealed he is the reincarnation of the Sage of the Six Paths' younger son. Though it's implied that he knew something was off when he encountered Sasuke before the war began, who is revealed to be the reincarnation of the Sage's older son later on.
  • In Negima! Magister Negi Magi, it turns out that Negi and Asuna are a prince and a princess of Ostia, one of the oldest kingdom in the Magical World. He never knew his lineage while she gave herself amnesia ten years back to hide from the bad guys.
    • Don't forget that Asuna was the princess for almost a hundred years before she was rescued.
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica The Movie: Rebellion, this trope affects characters at the film's end rather than its beginning. Homura has suppressed Madoka's powers (and a big chunk of her memories), so that Madoka can stay human and live a normal life. In reality, Madoka is the incorporeal goddess of hope who gave up her life as a mortal to destroy Witches. Also, a few of Madoka's...angels? trapped with her in the same way, and now they're all going to middle school.
  • In Rave Master, Elie turns out to be the legendary Resha Valentine.
  • In addition to learning she's a Super Powered hero of Justice, Sailor Moon, Usagi also learns later that she's a princess. Mamoru is also a Prince and was her lover in a past life.
  • The protagonists of Saiyuki are really reincarnations of gods who died 500 years ago, with the exception of Goku, who is the Seiten Taisei (Great Sage Equaling Heaven), a golden-eyed being who is so powerful that his power limiter was made by heaven itself and who was thrown out of heaving for snapping and murdering many of the beings there after his best friend stabbed himself in front of Goku's eyes rather than kill him.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Yuuichi thinks his uncle, who is a mystery writer, is making up the whole story about their family being life-stealing vampires. Unfortunately the evidence isn't in his favour.
  • Lain of Serial Experiments Lain finds out that she is the rough equivalent to an artificial god, given that she is completely omnipotent. There's also something about her being an Artificial Human made to bridge the gap between the real world and the wired, too, but the whole omnipotent thing is the key bit.
  • Played with in the first anime of Soul Eater. In the final episode, we find out that Maka has been a scythe all along. Her weapon gene was dormant because she was half-meister, but the Black Blood, which mainly affects weapons, activated it. Likely, she is specifically a scythe not because her father is, but because she became infected from Soul, also a Sinister Scythe. Throughout the series, she had lost her overly-hotheaded meister characteristics in favor of the more low-key demeanor of a weapon. Even before she or Soul were infected, however, she had an odd curiosity for how souls taste.
  • Happens in Tekkaman Blade when D-Boy/Takaya/Tekkaman Blade starts to lose his memory.
  • Tenchi Masaki from Tenchi Muyo! is The Anomaly that the Chousin were searching for — a mysterious all-powerful God who's infinitely greater than even them. Whether this means God didn't actually exist until 17 years ago or that Tenchi is simply the reincarnation of God is less than clear.
  • Ares of Vagrant Soldier Ares, suffers from Easy Amnesia and can't remember his previous life as Sebastian, bastard son of the king of Chronos.
  • In YuYu Hakusho, during the Chapter Black saga, Yusuke finds out that he is a descendant of a demon, and his high spiritual power has awakened even greater demon power that was previously dormant.

    Comic Books 
  • Sometimes Aquaman's origin has this element. He's raised by a human and typically knows about his abilities. The moment this trope kicks in is when he learns that he's the King of Atlantis.
  • The Mighty Thor plays this trope too. Don Blake learns that he's actually Thor cast in a frail mortal form to be taught a lesson in humility by his father and at this time he gains the ability to tap into his divine powers.
  • Superman:
    • Superman's origin in more recent decades has this element. He gets a mostly normal early childhood, then starts developing special abilities then eventually encounters or is told about his rocketship which also eventually transmits a message or series of messages from Jor-El which usually tells him he has a great destiny. Typically he has at least two if not three of these in his origin.
    • Subverted in Krypton No More where he is told he is not Kryptonian but a mutant human. During the story, Superman tries to cope with the possibility that his alien heritage is a delusion of his mind, but eventually he figures out that he is really Kryptonian.
  • From the Transformers fan club comic Skyfall, Landquake, Breakaway, Topspin, and Heatwave turn out to be parts of Nexus Prime, one of the Thirteen original Transformers. This was actually revealed before Topspin and Heatwave were introduced.

    Fan Works 
  • Children of an Elder God: In chapter 23, it’s revealed to Asuka that she and her fellow pilots are Angels sent by God to save mankind from the Outer Gods, and she’s the incarnation of Gabriel. It's unclear if she's having a revelation or merely dreaming, though.
  • Last Child of Krypton: In chapter 16, Wonder Woman reveals Asuka that she is an Amazon.
  • In Neither a Bird nor a Plane, it's Deku!, Izuku has this reaction when his parents tell him that he's adopted and that he's an alien note . He has it again when K.E.L.E.X. and Jor-El refer to him as Kal-El.

    Films — Animation 
  • In Toy Story 2, Woody finds out he's a valuable collectible from a long-canceled 1950s TV series after he's kidnapped by a collector who intends to sell him to a museum. His primary struggle is choosing whether to go back to being an ordinary (but well-loved) toy, or to live the dream of being famous forever but never truly loved.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Angel Heart, a private eye hired by "Louis Cypher" to track down a vicious killer who made a deal with the devil. Turns out that private eye is the killer; each horrible murder he discovers along the way was actually done by himself, and "Louis Cypher" ...
  • This is the big reveal in BIONICLE: The Mask of Light. The protagonist, Takua is chosen by the titular mask and sent on a quest to find the Toa of Light, but when he reaches the place the mask leads him to, there is no Toa of Light there. His friend Jaller's Last Words make him realise the truth: he is the Toa of Light, once he puts on the mask.
    Jaller: You know... who you are... you were always different...
  • In Buffy the Vampire Slayer. When Buffy is informed that she is the Slayer.
  • The 2007 animated film The Chosen One, features a Chew Toy who learns near the end that he's actually God, who occasionally lives as a normal human in order to understand them.
  • Peter Pan in the film Hook, who ends up growing up back on Earth, totally forgetting his entire original identity.
  • This becomes part of the plot of Kung Fu Panda 2 when Po discovers the incredibly shocking fact that a goose isn't his real father.
  • The Matrix has two. Whilst Neo is, as he discovers in the first film, special, he's not quite as unique as he's been led to believe. Neo is at least the sixth of the Matrix's abnormalities, and has in fact been duped from the start by none other than the Oracle herself, who's engineered The Plan to ensure humanity's survival.
  • In Overboard the leading lady is incredibly rich, and (after falling overboard her yacht and getting amnesia) lives with a poor carpenter. The carpenter knowingly dupes her into believing that she was his wife.
  • In the 1997 film of Prince Valiant, Valiant was an orphan who worked hard and became the squire of Sir Gawain. Then, he eventually learns that he's the long-lost Prince of Thule.
  • Luke Skywalker, of Star Wars fame, gets a double-dose of this. He lives the first nineteen years of his life completely unaware of his Force abilities. More importantly, though, he is unaware of his lineage; his aunt and uncle choose to tell him that his father was a "navigator on a spice freighter" and Obi-Wan and Yoda actively conceal the fact that his father is actually Darth Vader, the evil Emperor's right-hand man, formerly known as Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, The Chosen One who was to bring balance to the Force.
  • In Super Mario Bros. (1993), Daisy is completely shocked to learn that she's an interdimensional princess who descended from dinosaurs.

  • In Adam R. Brown's Alterien series, Oberon learns he is an Alterien, thus explaining why he's as strong and fast as a superhuman.
  • In Archer's Goon, it's revealed that Not only is the eponymous Goon, present since page one, not working for Archer, but actually one of Archer's possibly-alien-wizard-god brethren, the lot of whom they've spent the whole book being harassed by and tracking is the main character.
  • Adam R. Brown's other work, Astral Dawn, features this occurring multiple times.
    • The first time is when Caspian learns he's a Destined One.
    • The second time is when Caspian learns of his familial connection to one of the Keepers.
    • Caspian eventually learns he is something he never would have expected, that he is a fragment of Maganu.
  • In the Belgariad series, by David Eddings, Garion learns after several books, first that he is a sorcerer, then that he is the last descendant of the Rivan throne, and is thus crowned King of the kings of the West. Later it gets worse as he learns that he is fated to fight an evil god all by himself. Still, there were clues... Big bright flashing clues
  • The first volume of The Chronicles of Amber starts with this.
  • Will Stanton's eleventh birthday in The Dark is Rising was even more extreme than Harry Potter's. Oh, yes, your family is your real family and all...but you're also an immortal wizard with an incalculable eternal destiny to fight the personified forces of evil and be deeply disconnected from the human race, even those you love most, forever. And you're the last of us and the fate of the world hinges on your completing this Fetch Quest we refuse to explain within the next few weeks. Happy Birthday.
  • In Deltora Quest, Lief is the true heir of Deltora; his father, Jarred, is actually Endon in disguise in a bait-and-switch plot to confuse the Shadow Lord.
  • Demon Road: Shortly after her parents try to kill her, she finds out that they are demons and she inherited that from them.
  • In the Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor loses his memory after destroying Gallifrey, and his companion Fitz devotes a lot of effort in some books to stopping his memory being jogged; it turns out this is a good thing as his brain had been used for a zipfile of the Time Lord Matrix.
  • In William Sleator's Fingers the narrator and his half-brother were informed near the end that they were both the reincarnation of an obscure Hungarian composer who was dismembered during his accidental death. The narrator (who composed) was the "head" and his half-brother (who played piano, albeit mostly badly) was the "hands."
  • Goosebumps protagonists in the end would discover they were not humans but actually ghosts, aliens, dogs, robots, monsters, etc.
  • In the third Green Rider book, The High King's Tomb, the protagonist finds out that she's the avatar of the god of death. Said god possesses her just long enough to save the day, then erases her memory so she can go back to a normal life.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The title character, who spends his first eleven years unaware that he is actually a wizard — much less that his parents were war heroes, and he himself is world-famous for surviving an attack from an Evil Sorcerer as a baby.
    • Near the end of the fifth book, Harry learns about the prophecy that got Voldemort to start hunting him down. And at the end of the seventh, he learns that Voldemort *accidentally* made him a Soul Jar.
  • In the His Dark Materials trilogy, this applies to Lyra. It gets subverted because even after the story is over, she still does not know what role she played (Eve).
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, there is a minor character introduced for the sheer hilarity of the story as a Rain God. He has no idea of it, only that it has always rained wherever he was.
    • Arthur Dent gets a small dose of this when it turns out that every living creature he has ever harmed (directly or indirectly) has been the same being, reincarnated over and over again only to die at his hands once more. Said being believes him to be a creature of ultimate evil and malice, but Arthur concludes that the universe is simply messing with them.
  • In The Chronicles of Narnia novel The Horse and His Boy, protagonist Shasta learns at the end that there's a reason he looks exactly like young Prince Corin: He's actually Corin's older twin brother Cor, the rightful heir to the throne, who was Kidnapped At Birth.
  • In Tamora Pierce's The Immortals quartet, main character Daine's mysterious one-night-stand of a father turns out to be Weiryn, god of the hunt. This is why Daine has such strong wild magic (and a gift for archery).
    [Numair, in the first book:] "She's brimming with it. I've never seen a human with so much."
    • Furthermore, she learns in book four that her mother was declared a goddess after her untimely death, doubling the fun and irony of Daine's outcast status back in her hometown.
  • Eragon has at least two of these.
  • Subverted somewhat in A. Lee. Martinez's In the Company of Ogres. First it's played straight with Never Dead Ned not knowing what he was, or why he returned from the dead every time he died. No one knows except for the Red Goddess. He couldn't be told of his identity as the Mad Void due to the fact that it would wake up and destroy everyone. However, later it turns out that he has to find out that he's the Mad Void in order to remove the burden from the Red Goddess.
  • Caeden, the Amnesiac Hero from The Licanius Trilogy is floored when he discovers that he used to be Aarkein Devaed, ostensibly the Big Bad of the series.
  • Lirael, in Lirael, turns out to be the daughter of the last Abhorsen, the half-sister to the current Abhorsen, and the new Abhorsen-In-Waiting.
  • In Lord Valentine's Castle by Robert Silverberg, the protagonist who has been memory-wiped discovers that he is Lord Valentine, one of the rulers of the world of Majipoor.
  • Thomas and Teresa from The Maze Runner actually helped design the maze that they're trapped in.
  • Percy Jackson is the son of Poseidon.
    • The first Heroes of Olympus book does this with Jason's identity.
    • Pretty much any demigod or demigoddess, when he or she is first claimed by their godly parent. Some don't quite understand at first.
    Leo: *just claimed as the son of Vulcan (aka Hephaestus)* Vulcan? I don't even like Star Trek! What are you talking about?!
  • Megan Whalen Turner's The Thief manages to use this trope even though the book is written in first person. Even though we are privy to the main character's thoughts, the reveal still comes as a surprise. Of course, Gen himself knows who he is — he's just hiding the truth from everyone else.
  • In Runemarks, Maddy is told that she is actually Modi, child of Thor. All things considered, she takes it much better than her sister does...
  • Somewhither: Ilya suspects he's something more than an ordinary boy. In fact, he comes from another world where humanity was never exiled from the Garden of Eden, and he is an immortal with a Healing Factor power. His real mother also seems to have been someone special—at least, the Big Bad badly wants him captured because of who she was.
  • In Terry Pratchett's early novel Strata, it is eventually made clear at the climax of the story that every sentient being in existence is a member of the godlike "Disc Builders" who have taken on mortal form in order to learn new experiences. This is, in fact, what they created the entire known universe for.
  • The little boy who was nicknamed Wart in The Sword in the Stone turned out to be King Arthur.
  • In Xanth, Umlaut was an avatar/creation of the Demon Jupiter, and there was a bet between Jupiter and a couple other Demons about whether he was going to figure this out before finishing his quest.
    • Bink spent most of his life believing himself to be the only person in Xanth without a magic talent. He's wrong; his talent is that he cannot be harmed by magic, and since basically everything in Xanth is magical, this makes him a Magician (the top tier of magic users), and even a potential claimant to the throne (which he occupies briefly in an emergency, and his son takes full time). Bink's power is so mighty that it's entirely possible that even the demon Xanth himself (the source of all magic) is thrall to it, and the events of the entire series may be his talent manipulating things to ensure a happy ending for him and his descendants.
  • Corran Horn, in the X-Wing Series, finds out that he's the grandson of a Jedi; the man he's called Grandfather all of his life was that Jedi's partner, who married his wife after the Jedi died.
  • In the Young Wizards series, a young autistic boy is revealed to be one of the living conduits through which the Universe is supplied with supernatural energy. The other characters can never tell him because the knowledge would kill him instantly.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Doctor Who:
    • The 90s TV Movie features the Eighth Doctor amnesiac after his regeneration.
    • "Human Nature"/"The Family of Blood" sees the Doctor turn himself human and wipe his own memories to protect him and his companion. Inevitably, companion Martha has to reveal his true identity — and after a brief "I'm who" this "John Smith" is absolutely terrified at the fact he's actually an alien, and that he'll have to "die" to save everyone's lives.
    • It later turns out that the Doctor wasn't the only Time Lord to do this. Unfortunately, he's unable to warn poor "Professor Yana" that opening his old fob watch will turn him into The Master.
    • After the metacrisis in "Journey's End", the Doctor wipes the time she's spent with him from Donna's memory. If she ever remembers anything about the Doctor or her time traveling with him, her brain will overload and she'll die. In "The End of Time", her memory gets triggered, and as soon as her brain is gonna fry, gold light comes out of her head and knocks out all the Master look-alike who are going to get her. The Doctor's response to this? "You didn't think I'd leave my best friend without a defense mechanism, did you?
  • Game of Thrones: Gendry's naturally surprised when Melisandre tells him he's the son of King Robert.
  • Inverted with the Creature on Penny Dreadful: he always believed himself unique and devoid of humanity, until a flashback in Season 3 sent him investigating the normal human life he'd led before Frankenstein reanimated him.
  • Lost Love in Times: Yuan Ling isn't actually Yuan An's son. He's the son of the late Emperor Ren Zong.
  • The Other Kingdom:
    • Devon doesn't react very well to finding out his father was actually a fairy who abandoned royalty to stay in the human world and give birth to him. This would mean that Devon was actually half-fairy and he'd be getting a set of wings soon.
    • While Tristan was aware that he was a fairy, he wasn't aware that he was the lost prince of Spartania, destined to bring tragedy to Athenia, which he doesn't handle well either.
  • Princess Silver: Several characters learn they aren't who they thought they were. Special mention must go to Fu Chou, who doesn't know at first that he's Wu You's twin brother.
  • Reaper: In the season finale, it's revealed that Sam is the Antichrist. Not that he's the only one.
  • Parodied in a sketch on The State. The priest and nuns at a Catholic orphanage tell a young man on his eighteenth birthday that he's really a super-human alien from another planet. They tell him to "go out there and fight for truth and justice", and he jumps out the window... and falls. They then proceed to laugh their asses off, then decide to "do another one before lunch".

    Myths & Religion 
  • Many variants of the Arthur myth have King Arthur raised as a much lower-ranked if not common boy before proving himself in battle and being told of his lineage, or finding out upon the whole "sword in the stone" business. Fate/stay night happens to be one of those variants.
  • Older Than Feudalism, from Classical Mythology:
    • Paris or Oedipus, who were both prophesied to bring destruction and so were brought up as peasants instead of princes. Naturally, this didn't thwart their destinies. Oedipus's revelation was possibly the biggest tragic Heroic BSoD in theater ever, and led him to gouge his own eyes out. The play about Oedipus has him raised by another king. His hamartia (Tragic Flaw) was his uncontrollable temper that drove him to club his father to death at the crossroad, to disregard Teiresias, and to jump to conclusions about Creon. His I Am Who moment segued beautifully into his Heroic BSoD and exile.
    • Theseus, also. The son of Aethra (herself the daughter of a king) and King Aegeus (and also the god Poseidon... however that works), he was only told his true heritage when he was strong enough to lift a massive boulder and reveal Aegeus's sword. Actually, SMART enough. The point was that the boulder was really too massive for any single man to be likely to lift it up and move it. Theseus uses a fulcrum and a lever to begin his Guile Hero career.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition module Tyranny of Dragons, there's a "backstory table" for characters if they want to give an in-universe reason as to why they're headed to the city of Greenest to begin the campaign. One of these options is that the character is a gold dragon, but cursed by the dragon god Bahamut for their arrogance. All the character knows is that they're cursed in some fashion, that Bahamut is responsible, and that the only way to remove the curse is to do good deeds.
  • And Scion's progenitor-game Exalted leaves the groundwork of this available to every single last one of the Celestial Exalted, each of whom has lived lifetime after lifetime of epic awesome heroism (in the classical Greek sense), but only allows the current incarnation at best partial recall of his legacy
  • The White Wolf Tabletop RPG Scion is based on the concept that the player characters are the children of the ancient Gods from various pantheons (Greek, Norse, Egyptian, Japanese, Aztec, and Voodoo are in the main book; an expansion pack is available for Celtic, Chinese, and Indian pantheons).

    Video Games 
  • Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magick Obscura copies the reincarnation variant of this trope. But subverts it when you find that the wizard/saint (whose soul you allegedly inherited) is in fact still alive.
  • Arx Fatalis revealed partway through the game that the player is a sort of supernatural manhunter sent to prevent the god Akbaa physically manifesting and enslaving the world. The full power of the player character would warp the world and allow him to become a Physical God, so his memory is wiped on arrival to restrict his effect on others. Unfortunately, the contact who can explain the mission ends up dead and the player arrives in a goblin prison.
  • Baldur's Gate: The main character is revealed to be a child of Bhaal, god of murder.
  • Inverted in Baten Kaitos Origins with Sagi, who always knew he was a Spiriter destined to do great things. He later learns he's a Maledeiter, effectively the Flawed Prototype of the empire's attempt at creating an artificial spiriter by grafting a piece of an Evil God to a human being, and that all he's destined for is to turn into a mindless hideous monster and be either put down like a rabid animal or used by the empire to destroy the world. It's only due to his sheer strong spirit, willingness to do good, and the unlikely friendship he managed to form with said part of an evil god that he's able to become something akin to a real Spiriter.
  • Beyond Good & Evil: With very little in the way of fore-warning, the game throws you this curve-ball in the last act. Jade is really Shauni, some kind of being with supernatural powers that connect her to the Dom-Z Leader.
  • In Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, after killing the Final Boss and seeing the Pillar of Balance still corrupted, Kain has an epiphany: he himself is the final insane Circle member, Ariel's unwitting successor as Balance Guardian, culled in the brief interval between her death and the Pillars' corruption. The "cure" to vampirism which he sought is his own death.
  • Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow had a plot twist: Soma Cruz is actually the reincarnation of Dracula. The direct sequel, Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, states this early on in the game, spoiling it for anyone who played it before Aria of Sorrow.
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Hajime Hinata, this game's 'unknown talent', is not an Ultimate. He's a reserve course student who volunteered to be turned into the ultimate Master of All, Izuru Kamukura.
  • Dark Souls, according to both Darkstalker Kaathe and Word of God, humanity in its entirety is descended from the Furtive Pygmy, and as a result inherited a piece of the titular Dark Soul through him. This means every human is a descendant of a god and has access to his powers like the Dark Hand.
  • Devil Survivor. The protagonist possesses the essence of Abel, and his cousin, Naoya, is Cain reincarnate. Naoya already knows he is Cain, though, making that more of a Luke I Am Your Brother reveal for you.
  • Dust: An Elysian Tail manages to pull this twice with the same character. For a while, the game seems to be building toward an obvious reveal that Dust is really an amnesiac assassin, Cassius. Not as such: Dust is an independent being who has both Cassius' soul and the soul of Jin, a child who killed Cassius as Cassius was killing him. The people Cassius and his superiors were trying to wipe out created Dust from their souls to be their champion, the Sen-Mithrarin.
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • In Morrowind, the Player Character, a former prisoner and a spy for the Empire, is revealed to be the Nerevarine — reincarnation of the ancient Dunmeri/Chimeri hero Nerevar, destined to defeat the Big Bad and the Corrupt Church. Also crosses over a bit with You Are the Translated Foreign Word. (Depending on your view of Azura, may be an invoked or subverted trope if she really did manipulate events to ensure the Nerevarine could successfully carry out her plans. It is also generally ambiguous enough that when the player character is outright asked if they are Nerevar reborn at the end of the main quest, saying you aren't is no more of a lie than saying you are — and perhaps most true is to answer that you don't know.)
    • In Skyrim, the Player Character eventually finds out that they are a Dragonborn; a prophesied being where an immortal draconic soul ends up in a mortal body. Handy, since there seems to be a bit of a Dragon problem in Skyrim, and the Dragonborn is the only one who can permanently kill dragons. That, and the dragons' leader Alduin the World Eater isn't the only existential threat to the world at the time...
  • E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy: If you manage to get to the end of the hidden labyrinth, you speak with a woman named Circe and unlock the Dark Secret achievement. It's never outright stated but heavily implied that YOU are Rimanah, and the whole game is a construct of your conscience to deal with the guilt of putting your wife to death by torture.
  • Zidane of Final Fantasy IX is told late in the game that he was created by Garland to be Gaia's "angel of death". This, combined with Garland's attempt to destroy his soul, triggers a very uncharacteristic Heroic BSoD. Of course, Garland wasn't counting on his True Companions.
  • In Fire Emblem Gaiden and its remake, main character Alm is shocked by the revelation that he is the long-lost prince of Rigel, the very country he has been fighting against for the whole game.
  • Inverted in Ghost Trick. The information Sissel gathered on himself is being contradicted and discredited bit by bit, until he (and the player) thinks he knows nothing. Turns out he's wrong. He does know something about himself that's so basic that it's not worth noting (namely, that he's the dead guy in the red suit)... then that gets overturned in an amazingly decisive way! It's that kind of game.
  • Kratos from God of War is revealed to be the son of Zeus, King of the Gods. Of course, it's not like this was uncommon in Greek mythology.
  • In the Galakrond's Awakening Scenario in Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, Reno discovers that he's actually a blue dragon in human form. A juvenile blue dragon. He never made this connection... despite knowing he came from an egg. Elise has this to say about it:
    Elise: In dragon years you'd be a juvenile.. that explains so much.
  • A large driving point behind Xion, and to a lesser extent, Roxas, in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days. Unlike the other members of Organization XIII, they have no memories of their previous lives and wield the Keyblade, the only thing able to accomplish the Organization's goal. Xion turns out to be a sort of "clone" of Sora that contains his memories. As she discovers this, she begins a Face–Heel Turn that eventually results in Roxas killing her.
  • In Knights in the Nightmare, the Wisp is the soul of the late king, as well as the Arbitrator. This is absolutely no secret to the player, as Maria and Meria inform you of this very early on. The question of "Yes, but what does an Arbitrator do?" isn't explored until much later on. It leads to a bit of dramatic irony, as the player can piece things together a lot easier than the Wisp itself, which seems rather reluctant to remember much.
    • Also the case with Garlot in Blaze Union—he is the first pureblooded descendant of the demon god Brongaa to be born in centuries. He doesn't know this because his mother—who feared that his powers might be too strong and would lead him to becoming used by others... and just sort of feared his power—sealed said powers and Mind Raped him into believing himself to be human when he was a toddler. This even caused him to forget his real name, Gulcasa. His mother didn't think that the seal was strong enough, so she left the family to go find out how to make a stronger one... and then It Got Worse for Garlot. Much, much worse. Whether or not he realizes his true identity varies by route.
    • Three times in Gloria UnionIshut discovers that he is a reincarnation of the King of Euforia, and that he's the long-lost twin brother of the Emperor of Lukia. Also, Ruru is Symphonia. Whether or not any of these facts are discovered may or may not depend on route.
  • Knights of the Old Republic: You are Darth Revan, the former Dark Lord of the Sith and a former (and perhaps future, depending on how you play them) Evil Overlord with Force-induced amnesia.
  • Parodied in Dragon Knights III (Xentar Knights in Western release.) Desmond's legendary prowess is revealed to be his birthright as the son of the God and Goddess of Good. To ensure he'd be prepared for his destined battle with the son of the Gods of Evil, they bestowed on him effeminate beauty and irresistibility to women, so he would always be faced with trouble. To disguise his nature as a god, they cursed him with foul body odor and laughable genitals. They did not offer to revoke those curses after the battle.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel has the main character Rean Schwarzer, an adopted son of a noble family. One of his goals in the Cold Steel is to find his place in the world and maybe finding out who his parents really were. It turns out that his biological father is Giliath Osborne, the same chancellor that the Liberl nation and Crossbell city were very wary of as he has a reputation of annexing cities and nations to expand the empire. But thats not all; it turns out that Osborne is also the reincarnation of Dreichels the Lionheart, the hero who ended the Civil War about two and a half centuries before the start of the first game. Which meant that Valimar is technically an Ancestral Weapon as Valimar acknowledges Osborne as Dreichels before Valimar starts wondering how he should refer to his former Awakener.
  • Subverted in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker. While certain characters express a desire to have the Hero of Time return to save them and Link certainly has the spirit of the Hero, the game's overarching theme of letting go of the past comes into play with the point being made that he is still his own person with his own story to tell. Played straight with the reveal that Tetra is this generation's Princess Zelda.
  • The eponymous character in Lufia & The Fortress of Doom is Erim, Sinistral of Death. This also applies to the blue-haired female party member in Lufia: the Legend Returns .
  • Luna from Lunar: The Silver Star (and its Updated Re-release) is revealed to be the human incarnation of the Goddess Althena. She's not the main character, though. One of the main characters, but not the main character.
    • But she is arguably the most important character.
  • Zero struggles with various levels of amnesia in the Mega Man X series. He keeps getting flashbacks of his creator, Dr. Wily, but remembers nothing else from before Sigma captured him. In the Zero series, he's even lost his memory of the X series — everyone tells him that he's a "legendary Reploid" and he just has to take their word for it.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Solid Snake discovers he's a genetically-engineered clone of Big Boss, the single greatest soldier of all time rather than an ordinary but talented soldier like we'd initially assumed.
  • Inverted in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain with the player character. He spends the entire game believing that he is the legendary Big Boss. After the final mission the player finds out that they have actually been controlling Big Boss's favourite Mook, who has unknowingly assumed his old commander's identity by means of hypnotherapy and Surgical Impersonation.
  • Neverwinter Nights Tales of Arterra, in which the player is the Chosen of the God of Death. Also The Bastard of Kosigan, with your father was pretending to be your uncle and your mother was one of the last of demonkind.
  • Neverwinter Nights 2, when the Spirit-Eater Curse is explained.
  • In Persona 3, the main character discovers that he is the container for a fragment of Death, the harbinger of The End of the World as We Know It.
  • In Persona 4, the main character is revealed to be chosen by a deity as a playing piece in a little game she's playing during the intro, allowing him to enter the TV and (as the player symbolizing hope for mankind) empower others with Persona.
  • In Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Red/Blue Rescue Team, the hero eventually discovers they intentionally came to this world to save it, wiping their memories in the process. Notably, the visions of Gardevoir turn out to be somewhat of a Red Herring, leading the hero to believe they're the one who abandoned her to Ninetales' curse — that turns out to be someone else entirely....
    • One-upped in Explorers of Time/Darkness/Sky, where it turns out that not only does the hero have the Dimensional Scream, but they actually came from the Bad Future to Set Right What Once Went Wrong with their partner, Grovyle. The partner character gets one, too: that odd little trinket they found on the beach one day marks them as worthy to enter Dialga's domain.
  • Radiant Historia: Stocke is the crown prince of Granorg, Ernst, resurrected from the dead, and the only person who can make the necessary Heroic Sacrifice to save the world from desertification. This is why he was given the power of the White Chronicle at the beginning of the game. (For added fun, he actually uses his real name as a pseudonym when he's in Cygnus. And yes, this was before he found out.)
  • In Six Ages, a recurring theme is religion evolving to fit cultural needs. For example, when the Hyaloring people had to leave their Shining City and fend for themselves, their gods became a lot more survival-oriented, and the people "discovered" (read: invented) a lot of new gods who had retroactively always existed, but hadn't realized their purpose before.
    When we left the Golden City we found ourselves in need of items we had once taken for granted. […] Ekarna, known as a member of Nyalda's retinue, revealed herself to them in a new form. She showed them the rune of trade and would now demonstrate its purpose.
  • In Soul Nomad & the World Eaters the main character is revealed to be a World Eater created from the soul of Median's dead son.
  • In the Sith Inquisitor storyline from Star Wars: The Old Republic, it's eventually revealed that the Inquisitor, a former slave, is the last descendent of Aloysius Kallig, an ancient and powerful Lord of the Sith.
  • The Tales series loves these. The main character will inevitably be revealed to be special in some way:
    • Cless from Tales of Phantasia is the son of the warrior who sealed the Big Bad a generation ago (this is a minor example, as it is revealed fairly early).
    • Lloyd from Tales of Symphonia is the son of the Big Bad's foremost lieutenant, and his exsphere, made from his mother, is a Super Prototype.
    • And in the sequel Emil, the main character, who is in fact effectively the closest thing the game's world has to God.
    • In Tales of the Abyss, Luke turns out to be the Chosen One. Only, as it turns out, to have the trope subverted as it transpires he is a clone of the 'true' Chosen One, Asch. However, being a clone and therefore not predicted by the Score allows him to Screw Destiny.

    Web Animation 
  • In Red vs. Blue, Agent Washington figures out Church is the Alpha AI. Church does not take it well.
    Church: You're a fucking idiot.
    Wash: ...that's not the response I expected.

  • In Concession, Artie is told at a key moment that he has power he was never aware of, and manages to use it in self-defense (prompting a Fourth Wall-breaking complaint from Joel).
  • In El Goonish Shive, Tedd discovers that he is a Seer, a type of wizard so rare there is only 1 of them for every 7 million humans. Even rarer he is a seer who has used magic of which there are only five total on the planet. Thus, he has had the privilege of speaking to the Will of Magic itself.
  • In The Ends, angyls are a supposedly superior race, lording it over ordinary humans (in as much as anyone in the postapocalyptic wasteland could be said to be "normal"). The protagonist, Jason, struggling with the core Ontological Mystery of the story, abruptly discovers that he, and everyone else, are all angyls.
  • In Girl Genius, although Agatha finds out about her heritage fairly early in the story (and it's obvious to the reader even earlier), it's still quite a surprise to her.
  • Inverloch:
    • When Acheron discovers that he is Kayn'dar, and the elf they've been chasing is the real Acheron, who swapped bodies with him.
  • Last Res0rt has an early plot that hinges on Jigsaw Forte, thanks to some Laser-Guided Amnesia and an annoying tendency to feed while sleepwalking, going on for quite a few months before finding out that she's actually a vampire. How important it is that she's also the only known nonhuman vampire is questionable.
  • Narbonic: Dave has been a Mad Scientist on the brink of a mad science Freak Out from the very start. He just didn't know about it. And now, ''the revelation'' pushes him over the edge.
  • Trace Legacy of TwoKinds is a powerful magic user, but got amnesia shortly before the events of the comic. It turns out he was the infamous Omnicidal Maniac leader of the Templars before his mind wipe, who murdered his way to the top of his order after losing his mind using black magic. He's an extremely kind man post-mind wipe, who's trying to distance himself from his former persona, although his "dark side" occasionally tries to take his mind back to the way it used to be through manipulation.

    Web Original 
  • In the weblit Addergoole, most of the characters (at least the students) have human mothers who raised them and mysterious fathers they've never met. Those fathers turn out to be Ellehemaei, variously known throughout history as angels, demons, faeries, and the like.
  • In Above Ground, the main character Lilith who has grown up underground her whole life, discovers that she is not actually human in that she has telepathic powers.
  • In Greek Ninja, when Sasha finds out she is the reincarnation of Eli of Thrace.
  • In the Whateley Universe, when Tennyo learns that she is bonded with an ancient being who was a cold-blooded killer. Then, in "Ayla and the Great Shoulder Angel conspiracy", Tennyo is forced to 'remember' much of her/its past. That part of her is a thing known as the Star Stalker and the Scourge, and has killed millions and wiped out entire star systems. She has a breakdown when she recalls it.

    Western Animation 
  • In Barbie: The Pearl Princess, Lumina knows she's a mermaid, but had no idea she was royalty.
  • The first few episodes of Dinosaur Train centered around Buddy trying to figure out what type of dinosaur he is.
  • A Halloween Episode of Justice League Action focuses on some kids dressed up as Batman, Zatanna, Doctor Fate and John Constantine. After beating up some bullies in an unusually badass fashion, they're lured into the House of Mystery by Klarion the Witch Boy. There they discover that they actually are the heroes whom they're dressed as — Klarion just de-aged them and erased their memories so that they would be easier to defeat.
  • Skull Boy from Ruby Gloom is always trying to figure out where he comes from. Each episode has him thinking that he comes from a long line of someone and acts like them for most of the episode.
  • In Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated, Fred Jones Jr. has this very understandable reaction when he learns that Mayor Fred Jones Sr. isn't his father and actually kidnapped him from his real parents to keep them away. Fred's really the son of Brad Chiles and Judy Reeves, two members of the original Mystery Inc. which preceded the gang — specifically, the counterparts of Fred himself and Daphne, respectively. Unfortunately for Fred, his actual parents eventually turn out to be even worse than his fake dad.
  • In The Secret Saturdays It is revealed that Zack Saturday is Kur. The allegedly malevolent and extremely powerful cryptid that Doc and Drew had been searching for. They take this surprisingly well. All except for Kur's real identity, of course.
  • Steven Universe: "A Single Pale Rose" has a downplayed example. Steven always knew he was half-Gem, but what he didn't know was that he's half-Diamond, as a flashback in Pearl's memory reveals that Steven's mother Rose Quartz and the overlord Pink Diamond are, in fact, the same person.
  • Transformers: Prime: Optimus Prime while suffering from a case of Laser-Guided Amnesia and believing himself to be his pre-Prime persona of Orion Pax asked this question almost word-for-word of Megatron after the long-absent Starscream snuck aboard the Decepticon ship to steal some energon and ended up blundering into Orion. Orion's suspicions became aroused as Starscream noted Megatron was likely lying to him. Orion then decided to investigate and discovered that he was apparently the evil leader of the Autobots.