Percy Spencer: Welfare office? Car? Shitting on a desk? Why, I don't know what you're talking about!
Anastasia Spencer: Then how'd you know about taking a dump on the desk?
The usual response to a perp Saying Too Much. The perp, while maintaining their innocence, reveals information they could not have possibly known if they were innocent, usually the specific details of a murder. It can take the form of a Suspiciously Specific Denial. Also happens for full dramatic effect, when the interrogator does not immediately point out this discrepancy, but continues the interview, often saving the kicker to the very end, as a sort of And Another Thing... epilogue. Even more dramatically, the interrogator may insist it wasn't poison and then probe the perp's reaction to this lie.
This trope must be handled carefully; when sloppily done, it's likely to turn what should be a dramatic moment into a case of Fridge Logic. The most common mistake is making the piece of information something that the person who makes the "slip" could reasonably have found out without committing the offense. The second most common mistake is making the "slip" an assumption that could reasonably be made even by an innocent person.
One of The Oldest Tricks in the Book, and something the police do, in fact, do in real questioning. Real police detectives usually hold back specific details of a crime and/or crime scene when making public statements. This has the dual benefits of possibly identifying a suspect and helping separate valid witnesses from useless leads. Knowing these details may not automatically make someone the guilty party, but it's a big clue that they were at least present for the crime. This is one of the reasons civil rights advocates warn that you should never talk to the police without an attorney present. Even an innocent person can make assumptions about a case, and you'll look guilty if they turn out to be right. For example, you might say, "I don't even own a gun" when you were told the victim was murdered but were never told the victim had been shot. It's even possible for the police to forget (or "forget") while testifying that they actually did tell you the victim was shot before the interview/interrogation began. Then you're screwed.
This trope can be invoked in works during a character's confession. Innocent characters attempting to take the fall for a crime they did not commit will probably guess facts about the crime that may not be true. If the facts are incorrect, they will be most likely be called out on it immediately or in an And Another Thing... manner. If the character is guilty, they could willingly give information only the perpetrator would know. This could be played to induce Squick.
In science fiction and supernatural stories, if the slipped information reveals the true nature of the story's setting, or helps the good character(s) discover something wrong or suspicious about it, it can lead to A Glitch in the Matrix.
- L tries this strategy on Light several times in Death Note. Unfortunately for him, Light is too smart to fall for it, always carefully keeping his comments to common knowledge and believable deductions. However, it backfires for Light since the fact that his answers are so perfect only strengthens L's conclusions. Furthermore, L even states clearly, in a loud voice, that he thinks Light's answers are absolutely flawless, and that he would not expect less from Kira. He mostly seems to do that just to push Light's irritation to the point he would make some mistake.
- Kaiji: At the very beginning, Yuuji Endou says that something was wrong with his car. Kaiji says it's a shame that someone would steal its hood ornament, immediately revealing he was the culprit.
- Happens all the time in Case Closed a.k.a. Detective Conan. Things like, "I have an alibi for 8 to 9 pm!" "How did you know when the victim died?"
- Fushigi Yuugi has this during the Kodoku arc. Tamahome meets Miaka in the place they were supposed to before Nakago placed him under his control. He tells her, quite convincingly, that he only played along with Nakago's plans... at which point he asks her where Tasuki and Chichiri were, in spite of the fact that Miaka never told him Tasuki, whom he didn't even know at that point, would be coming along.
- Sei Arisaka does this in Himechan No Ribon by saying that he knew who Pokota was even though Hime-chan had never told him, which is how she realised there was something more to him than originally thought.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable: After a vicious scuffle with Jotaro and Koichi, an injured Yoshikage Kira quickly pulls a False Innocence Trick when Josuke and Okuyasu arrive at the scene, putting up the act of an ordinary, frightened Salaryman who got caught in an explosion inside a clothing store (that Kira himself caused with his Stand in an attempt to erase evidence pointing towards his identity). When Josuke appears to buy the act and offers to fix him up with his own Stand's Healing Hands, Kira yells at him to hurry up and do it... which only manages to confirm Josuke's initial suspicions before the latter proceeds to call Kira out on his bullshit:
Kira: P-Please hurry up and heal me!Josuke: Hurry? Oh? No matter how you slice it, I look like an average high schooler... so why are you asking me to heal you? It's hard enough for me to get into pachinko parlors... yet you think I look old enough to be a doctor that graduated into medical school? Huh?[Kira gasps quietly in surprise]Josuke: You're a complete sucker. You've seen my Crazy Diamond, haven't you?
- Liar Game used this too. The fact that Yuji knew that the stolen money was in the form of a check rather than cash told Akiyama that "she" was Mr. X.
- Monster has this happen once too. In Episode Six, a couple of detectives are apparently transporting Tenma and Anna Liebert to their police station. (They actually work for Johan Liebert.) Tenma eventually figures this out when one of them calls him "Dr. Tenma", even though he only told them his name and not that he was a doctor.
- Near the end of the Patlabor manga, three detectives are interrogating the CEO of a company they're almost certain is the maker of the Griffon (which is still known to the general public as "the Black Labor").
Detective #1: So, you say you have nothing to do with the Black Labor?
CEO: How many times do I have to tell you? I don't have anything to do with the Griffon! Or do you want me to just admit my "guilt"?
Detective #1: If you did that in the first place, it would have saved us a lot of time. [turns around] Did you hear that?
Detective #2: Yup.
Detective #3: Sure did.
Detective #1: Sir... How did you know the Black Labor is called "Griffon"?
- In the third season of Sailor Moon, Mistress 9 is posing as Hotaru to talk to Sailor Moon. Eventually, she refers to Sailor Moon by her real name, which tips her off: "Hotaru... how did you know I'm Usagi Tsukino?"
- Sket Dance: In the Switch On arc, Switch accidentally tips himself off as the administrator of an anonymous imageboard site by saying the complete name of one of the victims of its feature Death Fight in a conversation with Bossun, who had talked to him to help him solve the case, but never mentioned the victim's full name. That's how Bossun figures him out.
- The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service uses this one when they find a corpse of a girl that turns out to be parts of seven different girls professionally embalmed and sewed together. Sasaki and Makino decide to go consult a guy who also studied embalming in America. They find he is running a beauty parlor, and he says he doesn't know anything about the body in the photo the girls show him. He offers them a free session when they get tired of chasing serial killers. Sasaki thanks him for his time and leaves. Makino protests that they didn't find anything out about the killer, and Sasaki answers it was the guy they just talked to, as they never said anything about serial killers, and there was only one body in the photo.
- In Loups=Garous, Ayumi figures out Kunugi is an enemy when she asks him what time it is and his response is to pull out his monitor, indicating that he knows she doesn't have her monitor with her.
- Armin in Attack on Titan makes good use of this. When trying to bluff the Female Titan, he uses the phrase "that suicidal bastard". Based on the subsequent results, he correctly deduced that the Female Titan is actually one of his classmates, since that name was the 104th trainee class's nickname for Eren, and only people who know Eren and Armin personally would recognize it.
- In Yu-Gi-Oh!, "Bandit" Keith Howard accuses Jonouchi of using someone else's entry card to qualify for the semi-finals of Pegasus' tournament, in a bid to get Jonouchi disqualified after losing to him. Jonouchi freely admits that he was given his current entry card by Mai Kujaku after losing his original one... but Keith had no reason to know that unless he was trying to sabotage the other competitors' progress through the tournament by stealing their entry cards. Pegasus, who already knows that Keith was cheating during his duel against Jonouichi, has Keith ejected from the tournament instead.
- Inverted in Episode 4 of Haganai Next; Yoroza accuses Sena of wetting her pants a bit out of fear on a roller coaster. Sena replies "How did you kno—?", in which Yoroza then says, "Wait, you really did?" Sena becomes very defiant.
- In Episode 30 of Healthy Growth of Huoxingwa, after waking up from a stomachache, Little Monkey pleads to the doctor that he didn't steal any peaches, prompting Huoxingwa to say that there was no mention of any peaches being stolen.
- Big Finish Doctor Who: In Cortex Fire, the Sixth Doctor realises that the Cortex a vast local computer network on the planet Fessin is aware that a nearby star has gone supernova two days ago when a linked robotic investigator asks him how he knows that rather than why he believes it will happen, allowing the Doctor to realise that the Cortex has advance knowledge but has concealed that fact from the general populace for some reason.
- Identity Crisis: Used when Jean Loring mentions the note at Jack Drake's crime scene to Ray Palmer, despite Batman removing the note from the scene before the press found out. Oops.
- A journalist accuses the presidential candidate of killing his aide, to which the response is along the lines of "Of course we wouldn't kill her, she was a friend and a vital part of the campaign". See there how they admit that murdering some people would be okay in their book?
- Later, The Smiler's campaign manager refers to the assassin as "he". Spider asks how he can be sure the killer was a man if he or she was disintegrated immediately after taking the shot.
- In Hellboy: Conqueror Worm, local guide Laura Karnstein is leading Hellboy and Roger to an abandoned castle. While making conversation, Laura casually mentions that she read Hellboy's file and was impressed by his past exploits. As they reach the castle, Laura goes on ahead, but Hellboy stops Roger to warn him that Laura couldn't have read his file. Sure enough, Laura is not who she claims to be.
- Jimmy Olsen: In one early story, Jimmy is being held captive and forced to give crooks trying to win a million-dollar game show answers about Superman. While explaining a headline about him saving the Man of Steel, Jimmy includes a detail about the rescue not included in the news story and hence something only he and Superman knew. Superman can see that the contestant isn't Jimmy and has in fact recognized him as a criminal. All this tells him his friend is in trouble, and he flies to the rescue.
- Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends: Bloo gives himself away by saying too much once Jackie Khones finds Madame Foster's favorite doily in "Penny Saved".
Bloo: I wonder how that got shoved under the squeaky top stair?
Jackie: Hey! How did you know it was under the squeaky top stair?
Bloo: Lucky guess?
- Marvels: In issue four, Phil Sheldon interviews Doctor Octopus in prison with the motive of retrieving information that might clear Spider-Man of suspicion of George Stacy's murder. When Sheldon relates eyewitness testimony asserting that Octavius somehow lost control of his robotic appendages, Doc Ock is quick to refute that notion, stating that "Spider-Man doesn't have the brains to interfere with the workings of my amazing arms!" Sheldon quickly points out that he never even mentioned Spider-Man at that point, strongly suggesting that that is indeed what happened, to Octavius' extreme consternation.
- In All-Ghouls School, Elle gets a perfect score on the history test by answering a bonus question that wasn't covered in class. Their teacher explains she only put the question on the test as a lark and doesn't normally expect anyone to answer it. This causes the girls to ask how Elle knew the answer to a question that was never covered in class or alluded to beforehand, making them realize she cheated.
- In The Further Adventures of Indiana Jones #2, Indy tells Edith Dunne that she made two mistakes that gave her away as The Mole. One of them was when she mentioned that her brother had been murdered in Indy's office. Indy had never told her where her brother was killed.
- A humorous example from Archie Comics: Archie, Betty, Veronica and Reggie are outside of Riverdale High during lunch when a paper blows out of a classroom window and lands nearby. Upon looking at the paper, they realize that it is an answer key to a pop quiz that Ms. Grundy announced earlier in the day. Archie and Betty refuse to look, but Veronica and Reggie justify peeking at the answers by saying that they couldn't know the importance of the paper if they didn't look, and that it wasn't their fault if they just happened to remember what they saw. When they return to class, Ms. Grundy is obligated to tell the class that the answer key has vanished, so she'll have to try to recall the quiz format as best she can. As she muses aloud that she thinks the original quiz had "13 true/false questions and three essays", Reggie and Veronica promptly forget themselves and blurt out that it was "11 multiple choice questions and two essays." They're rewarded for their helpfulness by being forced to take the quiz while the rest of their classmates get a bye.
- In Get Fuzzy, Rob asks who took his package. Bucky says he never saw that sweater, leading Rob to ask "How did you know it was a sweater?" Grounding ensues.
- Sherman's Lagoon: When Sherman gets a job as a telemarketer, he accidentally gives himself away as the one pestering his wife on the phone when he inadvertently mentions the product the telemarketer was trying to sell, which Megan hadn't told him.
Megan: This is the fourth time he called today!
Sherman: Why won't you buy his ginsu knives, Megan?
Megan: How did you know he was selling Ginsu Knives? Was that you on the phone?!
Sherman: I need to make my quota!
- Zits: Such a situation happens Jeremy gets suspicious because a note in his room has changed positions while he was gone. When he asks Connie about it, she denies any involvement, asking why she would be interested in "some silly note from a girl." Cue Jeremy asking "How did you know it was from a girl?"
- Calvin and Hobbes: In one of the Rosalyn storylines, the story starts with Calvin hiding his mom's shoes so his parents can't leave. When Calvin tries to send Rosalyn away, his dad asks what he's doing, causing Calvin to ask how his parents are going anywhere when Mom can't find her shoes. The only problem: Calvin's parents hadn't mentioned to him that her shoes were missing. Whoops.
- Turnabout Storm:
- The victim's identity is kept secret, no one who's not involved in the investigation or wasn't present in the courtroom should know anything about who he is. Cue characters that know too much info: Cruise Control, who knows the victim's identity; and Gilda, who knows he was a pegasus despite having no chance of directly seeing him according to her testimony.
- Then there's Sonata, who refers to the broken and burnt Pinkie Iron Mk. V as a golf club, when it had only been referred to as a stick since her arrival.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney Case 5: Turnabout Substitution: Rhea makes this mistake twice during the final trial. She is able to handwave it with a hypothetical the first time around, but the second mistake ends up being her downfall. Apollo himself notes that Rhea would have gotten away with everything if she had just paid a tad more attention to what she was saying.
- Pokéumans: Mindy gives herself away by accusing Brandon of stealing the Gemstone Files documents that no one in the base except the headmistress know even existed.
- In The Stalking Zuko Series has a non-mystery related example. Katara eavesdrops on a conversation between Zuko and Aang about love. Zuko then asks her if Aang is also asking her personal questions, prompting Katara to say no, but also muse that Zuko must be the only one Aang's asking about love. Zuko then realizes that he didn't specify what he and Aang talked about. She manages to deflect suspicion before Zuko fully catches on that she eavesdropped on him, though.
- In Blood of the Dragon, another Avatar: The Last Airbender fic, a recovered Azula's firebending has weakened severely. Zuko takes her to see the Sun Warriors in hopes of getting it back, and this happens when he's trying to explain why he brought her to their island; Zuko hadn't known for sure that there was anything wrong with Azula's bending, as such, but her angry denial that there was anything the matter with it confirmed that something serious was going on.
Zuko: I thought it would be a good idea for you and I to come here and train together.
Azula: And why exactly do you think that this is in any way a good idea, Zuzu?
Zuko: [hesitantly] Because it will help you improve your firebending.
Azula: [realizes what he means and grabs him by the shirt] There's nothing wrong with my firebending! Did you bring me out to the middle of nowhere just to insult me?! Why would you think my bending is weakening?!
Zuko: I never said your bending was weakening. I had my suspicions before, and you just confirmed them. If there really was nothing wrong, you would never have reacted so strongly. You'd have laughed it off, probably teased me a bit. But you didn't do that, so now I know.
- The Doctor Who fanfic The Ice Throne- which has been written featuring both Christopher Ecclestone's Ninth Doctor and a fan-created Tenth Doctor played by Billy Connelly- features the Doctor investigating assassination attempts against his old ally, Ice Lord Ixlyr, eventually exposing the culprit when they confront the suspects and one of them mentions that poison was the first method used to try and assassinate Ixylr before any of the Doctor's allies brought it up.
- Relevant in a roundabout manner in Spider-X, which sees Spider-Man joining the X-Men; although Spider-Man tries to give the impression that he has no connection to the Xavier Institute when he is first confronted by Magneto, the fact that he specifically takes Magnetos helmet off in the subsequent fight is enough to prove to Magneto that the wall-crawler knows his old friend as only Xaviers students would know why his helmet is so important.
- In Reflections, Ensign Andrews realises that the Merchants are trying to trick the crew of Deep Space 9 when they mention a recently-destroyed runabout by name before anyone on the station brought up the name, allowing her to realise that the runabout survived its trip through the breach that the Merchants used to reach the station in turn.
- In The Shattering of Oz, a variation of this is used when Glinda is confronted in her dream by Elphaba and the Nome King posing as Elphaba, with Elphaba explaining the truth of the situation, including her own survival, and the Nome King claiming to be Elphaba's 'ghost' while telling Glinda that 'Elphaba' is just a parasite trying to invade her mind. After asking both Elphabas a series of questions about their shared pasts that could be answered by the real Elphaba, a mind-reader, or someone who's been spying on them for years, Glinda then asks "What was my nickname at the Across-Oz Summit last month?", which only the Nome King answers, allowing Glinda to identify 'her' as the fake Elphaba.
- In The Elements of Friendship, this is how Madam Oleander outs herself as a mole for NightMare Moon she knows far more about the Mane Six's quest than they've shared with the deer villagers sheltering them.
- The Daredevil (2015) fanfic What They Wouldn't Do uses this to answer the question of how Matt Murdock would find out that Karen Page had killed Wilson Fisk's henchman James Wesley. Matt is romantically involved with Sarah Corrigan, a young woman working at one of Fisk's former shell companies after being blackmailed by Wesley into taking over her father's debts to Fisk. While on an errand, Sarah runs into Karen at the post office, unaware of who she is. By chance, Sarah's purse strap breaks and the contents fall out, including a police photograph of Wesley's body. Karen's face turns pale upon seeing the photo, which leads Sarah to realize Karen has bad memories of encountering Wesley. Karen later invites Sarah to dinner at a Thai noodle place. Their conversation eventually comes around to Wesley and the photograph in Sarah's purse. Karen suggests it's not a coincidence that she ran into someone who worked at one of Fisk's companies and who happened to possess a photo of Wesley's body, with Sarah noting her odd wording. Recalling how Wesley threatened her family to get her cooperation, Sarah remarks that he liked playing mind games with subordinates under his thumb, to which Karen says, "Yeah, well, that kind of shit's how you end up getting shot with your own gun." Sarah knows from gossip that Wesley was shot seven times in an abandoned office building, and Fisk beat up one of his bodyguards for not going with Wesley, but she'd never heard anything about Wesley getting shot with his own weapon. The fact that Karen then mentions she's been keeping tabs on the investigation into Wesley's deathnote further cements Sarah's suspicions.
- Friendship and Honour:
Regan: Is it legal to purposefully steal money from a child's legacy? Is it legal for you to willfully disregard a legal document regarding the placement of an orphan? Is it legal for you to imprison people without a trial? Is it legal for you to employ a former Death Eater at a school full of vulnerable children?
Dumbledore: Professor Snape has my full confidence — he was my spy during the war. And I did what I thought was best for Harry Potter.
Regan: Snape might have been a spy, but he was not a spy legally on the books of the DMLE, Department of Mysteries or any other Ministry agency. And I never mentioned Harry Potter... something you want to tell us?
- Harry Potter: Half-born:
Vivienne: Those are documents stating that if Lily was ever under any type of potions or enchantment, I was to take Harry to a safe place, immediately.
James: WHAT! How dare you. Lily has never been under the effects of any mind-altering potions or enchantments.
Vivienne: I never said that the potions and or enchantments were mind-altering, Mr. Potter.
- We Are the Four Elementalists:
Minister Shacklebolt: You have been arrested on countless charges. One: For the kidnap of Miss Luna Lovegood. Two: For the use of two of the Unforgivables on a student, and possibly other people. Three: For the attempted use of the killing curse. Four: For the forced bonding of a phoenix, that would have caused the bird to experience indescribable pain. Five: Forced legilimency. And six: Accessory to the murders of Lily and James Potter. There may be more, but we have Aurors on the case, working out just exactly went on.
Dumbledore: Hang on just one minute! It's all a load of codswallop! I didn't do any of those things! Especially setting Lily and James up to be killed! That's preposterous. They were my friends!
Minister Shacklebolt: I never said you "set them up" Mr. Dumbledore.
- My Name Is Yasha Romanov has Sirius doing it to himself when Dumbledore tries to make him confess Harry's guardian's identity by claiming the boy went to Hogwarts under the name "Romanov" and Sirius answers he never said Yakov Romanov was Harry Potter. Sirius's reaction when he realizes he accidentally confirmed Harry's new identity is classical Oh, Crap!.
- Harry Potter and the Unexpected Friend:
Lucius: What are you doing?
Harry: That's the wrong question. The question is 'what did you do'? You gave a dangerous dark artifact to a schoolgirl. You put the students of Hogwarts in danger for political gain.
Lucius: You don't know what you are talking about. You have to prove I gave it to the Weasley girl, giving it to me now proves nothing!
Harry: I never said who you were supposed to have given it to. I just said a schoolgirl.
- In this The Most Popular Girls in School one-shot, Brittnay receives a note in her locker, telling her to meet her at the Oak Park Mall. She finds Mackenzie there, who hints her about the note. Brittnay then asks Mackenzie how she knew about the note. Blushing and confessions ensue.
- Stress Relief: Agent Carolina gets Agent South Dakota to implicate herself in molesting Agent Connecticut using this trope by using South's impulsive nature against her. When she tells the Director about the molestation she witnessed, she left out the fact that it was in the showers. She waited for South to mention the showers first while she was denying the allegations (which she did). Thankfully for Carolina, the Counselor picked up on the fact that Carolina never mentioned the showers before South brought them up, and that one slip-up gained a lot of credibility for Carolina. The smirk that she gives South after she realizes the mistake proves that it was her plan all along.
- In A New Dawn, a Zootopia fic, this is how Judy finds out about Dawn having feelings for Gideon when she angrily denies them being anything more than Just Friends when Judy wasn't implying anything more than that.
Judy: I think you really like him.
Dawn: What? That's ridiculous! He's just a friend!
Judy: ...That's all I was implying.
- In The Web Of The Spider Man, Tony Stark flatly denies being a superhero when asked about the mysterious "Iron Man" he claims to be his bodyguard. The reporter asking the question points out that he never said anything of the sort. Tony outs himself about five seconds later.
Reporter: Im sorry Mr. Stark, but do you honestly expect us to believe that was a bodyguard in a suit? That conveniently appeared despite the fact that-
Tony: I know its confusing. It is one thing to question the official story and another to make wild accusations or insinuate that I'm, uh, a superhero.
Reporter: I never said you were a superhero.
Tony: You didn't...
- Fractured Fates: This is how the killer is first implicated during the second trial. When asked to testify about his missing hunting knife (which was also the murder weapon), Itachi mentions how he and Shiro had searched everywhere possible for it, including the greenhouse, where the killer eventually hid it. The issue comes in that, at that point, nobody had brought up where the murder weapon had been hidden, and besides the killer, only the ones who had found it during the investigation (Hana, Akira, and Hinata) should have known about that fact.
- Pack Street: In "Field Day", Remmy and Wolt travel to Bunnyburrow to visit Anneke's ex Rasher and retrieve a prized locket that he kept after their breakup. When Rasher stubbornly insists that he doesn't have the pewter locket, Remmy asks him how he knew it was pewter. Rasher admits that he had the locket appraised, but he still doesn't realize he's given himself away until Remmy spells it out for him.
- Taylor Varga has a case where a character brings this about not through their words, but their actions. After hearing what Emma, Sophia, and Madison had subjected Taylor to following the locker, Danny Hebert called Principal Blackwell and tore into her about the whole period of bullying, demanding a meeting to settle the matter. When the time for the meeting came, Danny found that the trio's parents had been called in by Principal Blackwell.
Danny Hebert: I have to ask, why are all these people here? I didn't ask for them.
Principal Blackwell: Since we are here about your daughter's alleged bullying, I thought it prudent to make it fair by ensuring that all parties were represented.
Danny Hebert: Did you now? That is interesting. When we talked, I didn't mention that the three girls who were the ringleaders of the campaign against Taylor were Emma Barnes, Sophia Hess, and Madison Clements. The fact that you knew that already and called them would appear to back up my side of the issue.
- "A Day at the Golf Course" is a short Columbo fanfic where the culprit's first words are "Who shot my wife?" Naturally, Columbo knows already the gardener who warned him by phone only said his wife was dead, not shot, but he lets him simmer a bit with lots of other minor details first.
- In Hell's Boiling Point (a crossover between Hellboy and The Owl House), the BPRD gets pulled into finding Luz after she's reported missing. Hellboy makes his way to the Boiling Isles and manages to find Eda, showing her a picture of Luz. Eda insists she's never seen her, and humans don't normally come to the Boiling Isles... except Hellboy points out he never said she was a human, just that he was looking for her. Eda tries to bluff her way out, but ends up having to trick the guards of the Emperor's Coven into thinking Hellboy's an accomplice and escaping in the ensuing chaos.
- A variant happens in Of Gemstones and Watches when the Limax posing as Grandpa Max gives himself away by telling Ben to use the Omnitrix, unaware of the fact that neither Ben nor Ruby knew the name of Ben's watch until the alien told them.
- In Wilted, Ruby, suspecting that Team CMSN are the infiltrators, and Cinder in particular as the Fall Maiden interrogates Roman when he's in Atlas custody. She offers him protection in exchange for his boss' identity, and promises that they can protect him and Neo from Cinder. Roman is so shocked that Ruby knows about the existence of the Maidens, that he forgets to deny that Cinder is his boss' name.
- In The Ghost Boy and the Werewolf, B.B. Hood comes looking for Jon Talbain, planning to skin him and add his pelt to her collection. When she narrows down his location to Fenton Works, Danny tries to turn her away while acting ignorant. Unfortunately, he slips up and accidentally mentions Jon's name, something B.B. Hood didn't, confirming that he's there.
- In Aladdin, Princess Jasmine uses this to ferret out Prince Ali's true identity as Aladdin. While watching a fireworks display in China, Jasmine says that "it's a shame Abu had to miss this," referencing Aladdin's Non-Human Sidekick. Instead of asking who Abu is, Ali/Aladdin says "Nah, he hates fireworks," which instantly blows Aladdin's cover and reveals him to be the same boy from the marketplace that Jasmine met earlier. Jasmine then asks Aladdin who he really is, but instead of being honest, Aladdin compounds his initial lie with another lie by saying that he's a prince who dresses as a commoner to escape the palace life.
- In Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas Special, Manny told Sid he was going on Santa's naughty list, which didn't exist beforehand:
Santa Claus: Oh, look at this mess! Two hours to Christmas, and everything's ruined! My toys, my sleigh, all my hard work!
Sid: Um, would this be a good time to talk about getting off the naughty list?
Manny: Sid, there's no such thing.
Santa Claus: There is now, Manfred. Thanks for the idea. [Santa magically makes his first ever naughty list]
- Averted in Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo. A girl who works for the villain approaches Beast Boy and calls him "otaku". Beast Boy takes it to mean that she thinks he's cute when it actually means "comic book geek", which is something only someone who had been watching him could have known about.
- Zootopia: This is what reveals the villain. After discovering why predators are going savage, Nick and Judy rush to the police to pass off the evidence, shake off the mooks that were pursuing them and cut through the Natural History Museum. As they're passing through, the now Acting Mayor Dawn Bellwether is waiting and praises them for their work... just as Judy is about to hand over the evidence, she suddenly wonders how they knew where to find them.
- L.A. Confidential: Ed Exley likes doing a variant of this in his interrogations. In particular, he tends to say something about the person he's interviewing being guilty as if it were a fact, and note that the person doesn't react the way an innocent person would. For example, in his first interrogation, he tells the perp "It's a shame you didn't pull this a few years ago when you were a minor, you being an adult makes it a gas chamber offense." Later, after he's done and is leaving the room, he stops to say, "You know Ray, I'm here talking about you getting the gas chamber, and you never asked me what this is about. You've got a big guilty sign around your neck." The kicker in particular case is that the guys he's interrogating are guilty of something heinous but not of the crime he's investigating. A different interview gives us this exchange.
- Minority Report has the villain realize the protagonists are onto him when he's caught in one of these. Anderton's wife asks about Anne Lively's death, and Burgess pretends not to know about it but says he'll see if "anyone drowned a woman by the name ofwhat did you say her name was?". "Anne Lively... but I never said she drowned."
- In Alone With Her, the tip-off that the protagonist has planted surveillance cameras in the house of the girl he's courting is when she rejects him and he starts ranting: "...I did everything for you, but you want to go back? To what? Huh? To being alone? To this empty room? To that brush?" Earlier in the movie, he'd caught a live feed of her masturbating with the hairbrush.
- Harry Potter:
- In the Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets movie, Dobby the house-elf repeatedly does this, accidentally admitting to having intercepted letters from Harry's friends, sealing the entrance to Platform 9¾, and bewitching a Bludger to attack Harry, although the last two may have been intentional.
- In the Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire movie, a disguised Death Eater blows his cover by mentioning the graveyard Harry was sent to before Harry does. The Death Eater in question may not have cared at that point, though.
- In Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them , one of the first hints that Graves isnt who he says he is is when Newt gets arrested for having an Obscurius parasite, he says that the parasite is useless without its host, prompting Newt to respond that it killed an innocent little girl and what would it be used for?
- In The Departed, Billy Costigan narrowly escapes being ambushed by the rest of the gang during a meeting with his handler and pretends to have arrived late after they have killed Queenan. After a shootout with police staking out the building, Delahunt, mortally wounded in the gunfight, and who may be an undercover cop himself, privately tells Costigan that even though he accidentally gave the wrong address for where the informant was going to be, Costigan was at the right one.
- 1408: Used lightly when Mike Enslin calls a hotel for a reservation in the eponymous room, which the staff says is unavailable, despite not knowing when he'll be visiting, since they don't want anybody staying in the room ever. Actually could be a rare example of Inverted Trope, since it is not ruled out that they were consciously performing a Reverse Psychology trick to get Mike in.
- Sleuth: Subverted; Wyke mocks Inspector Doppler for trying this tactic on him, pointing out that he hasn't said anything that wasn't an obvious inference from what Doppler had said.
- In Sudden Death, one of the villains gives himself away by mentioning Darren's daughter by name when Darren had only told him he has a daughter and that she's being held hostage. He immediately Lampshades his mistake.
Damn it. I always do things like that. You never said her name, did you?
- Knight Moves: Subverted. The protagonist knows the latest word in the serial killer's message without being told directly because the killer namedropped a chess master and the word is that master's watchword.
- Red Eye: Although the protagonist never realizes it and the film never makes a point of it later on, early in Jack ends up letting slip the name of the protagonist's father, which at that point she had never told him.
- The Woman in the Window: Played straight so often that it stops being suspenseful and becomes hilarious; the guilt-ridden professor lets slip every possible detail, including knowing the man was murdered (when the body hadn't turned up yet), knowing where the body was placed, that it happened at night, etc. His friends are so dense that they wave off every comment and never suspect him, but you would think he'd just learn to keep his mouth shut, especially when having casual conversations with the district attorney.
- In The Count of Monte Cristo (2002), Mercedes realizes that the mysterious Count really is Edmond when he tells her that "Edmond Dantes is dead." She had told him that her lover Edmond was dead, but not his last name.
- Patriot Games: A version of this is used after Jack Ryan's IRA informant gives him pictures of the people who had attempted to kill Ryan (and in a separate attack, his wife and daughter). Jack's superior dismisses the information, believing that mole is trying to mislead Jack. "All he has to do is show you a few pictures of a girl..." Jack realizes he never told the man he was looking for a female assassin and realizes the information must be legitimate.
- In Wild Child, when Poppy is before the Honour Court for setting fire to the school, head girl Harriet accidentally reveals that she was actually the one who started the fire by talking about the very specific lighter that Poppy supposedly used, when no one has mentioned anything about a lighter.
- Lethal Weapon 3:
- In Scream 3, when John Milton tries to play down his connection to Rena Reynolds a.k.a., Sidney Prescott's Mom.
Milton: Do you know how many actors I've worked with? Hundreds, thousands.
Gail: Dewey didn't say she was an actor...
- Scream 4: Jill's master plan falls apart once she comments about having a similar wound to Gail, a fact only the latter's attacker could know.
- In The Godfather Part II, Michael realizes that Fredo betrayed him when they were in a sleazy Cuban nightclub, and Fredo says "Watch this part of the act, it's really something", even though earlier Fredo had told Michael that he had never been to Cuba before. Fredo also mentions how "old man Roth" would "never come here", but that Johnny Ola showed him the place, despite an earlier claim of never having met either Roth or Ola before, and both Fredo and Ola acting as if they were being introduced for the first time to one another just previously. Actually kind of a double Inversion since Michael never tries to trip him up, but not being very bright, Fredo just blurts it out. The look of betrayal on Michael's face is classic and a definite example of Foreshadowing.
- In Basic, this is subverted when Hardy is chatting with Styles about the death of Kendal. Styles says something about Kendal being poisoned, and Hardy immediately starts asking him how Styles would know that. Styles points out that one minute Kendal was fine and the next he was coughing up blood before dying for no apparent reason, so poison is a reasonable guess under the circumstances. Double Subverted mere moments later, when Hardy keeps acting suspicious of Styles and trying to poke holes in his story. Styles continues trying to bluff his way out for a minute or two before he gives up and tries to bribe Hardy (who had a reputation for being a Dirty Cop), into silence.
- Highlander: Subverted. Lieutenant Moran, the lead detective investigating the beheading of Iman Fasil, tries to get Connor MacLeod to implicate himself using this sort of technique twice in the same conversation, but it doesn't work either time.
Moran: Okay. What's that? [indicates the plastic-wrapped Toledo Salamanca on his desk]
Connor MacLeod: [who knows exactly what it is] A sword?
Moran: It's a Toledo-Salamanca broadsword worth about a million bucks.
Moran: So you want to hear a theory? You went down that garage to buy this sword from that guy — what's his name?
MacLeod: [who also knows who Iman Fasil was] I don't know. You tell me.
- In The Fugitive, a hospital worker Dr. Kimble spoke to slips up with Suspiciously Specific Denial, claiming he hadn't seen Kimble before the Marshal even asks.
- Primal Fear: Played with. Aaron is a suspect charged with murdering a Catholic Cardinal. The played with part comes in when Aaron claims to have split personality disorder and doesn't remember what his other personality, named Roy, does. It helps him beat the first-degree murder charges for an insanity verdict. During the trial, Aaron turns into Roy and he attacks the prosecutor while he's on the stand. This causes a mistrial and the judge to find him insane. After the trail, arrogant defense attorney Martin Vail, who begins to feel sorry and care for Aaron, feels proud of himself, only for Aaron to intentionally let a detail slip that only Roy would know: Roy attacking the prosecutor. It's at this point that Aaron confesses that he never had split personality disorder and faked his Aaron personality to con everybody.
- In Reindeer Games, when everything's seemingly over and Rudy, Ashley, and Gabe — the survivors of the casino robbery — have gathered, Ashley mentions Rudy's cellmate Nick was stabbed with a shiv... but Rudy only told her his cellmate was killed; he never told her how. A few moments later, a now-doubting Gabe gets offed by Ashley, and Nick turns out to have been hiding...
- Cheetah: A brother and sister visiting their parents in Kenya adopt an orphaned cheetah cub whom they call Duma. When they have to return to the U.S., they plan to train her to hunt and release her back into the wild, but she disappears the night before they were going to leave. As their parents are driving them to the airport the next morning, they stop at the local general store where the owner says that it must be a sad day for the kids: leaving Kenya, losing their pet... the brother immediately jumps on this, asking why he thinks Duma is "lost". The store owner insists that by "lose", all he means is "releasing back into the wild where you will probably never see her again", but the brother is convinced that the owner wouldn't have used the word "lose" unless he knew about Duma's disappearance, and the only way he could know about the disappearance is if he was involved. He's right.
- In Olympus Has Fallen, Mike Banning is a Secret Service agent who is apparently the only free survivor of an attack on the White House by Korean terrorists. He then comes across another survivor and fellow Secret Service agent who claims to have been hiding during the whole attack, but during their conversation mentions "This Kang guy is insane" referring to the leader of the attack. Banning then realizes that there's no way he could've known Kang's name if he was indeed hiding out in the White House the whole time and correctly deduces that he is a traitor working with the terrorists.
- In High School Hellcats, a girl dies in a (seemingly accidental) fall down a staircase at an illicit party, and the teenage partygoers try to cover up the fact that they were involved. When the girl, Connie, has been missing for several days, a detective comes in to question her classmates individually. Everyone claims they haven't seen her and don't know where she is. The detective happens to ask one of them if the missing girl had any enemies, and receives the response that "No, everyone liked Connie. She was a regular guy." The detective immediately seizes on the use of the past tense. (It doesn't help that the girl being interviewed explodes into a sudden screaming fit when confronted by this. She later gloats about pushing Connie down the stairs to a third girl she's trying to kill to cover it up, even though as far as anyone knew, she was only guilty of the same comparatively minor crimes as the other kids.)
- The Da Vinci Code: Played with in the film adaptation. In an early scene, when Fache still suspects Langdon of murdering Jacques Sauniere (but hasn't yet told Langdon that he's a suspect), Langdon's extensive knowledge of art gets him into trouble when he says that Sauniere was murdered in the Louvre's Grand Gallery before Fache actually tells him where the body was found. Langdon actually knew because he recognized the Grand Gallery's distinctive parquet floor in a crime scene photo, but Fache has a hard time buying that excuse.
- In Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Tom and Susan are giddy with relief after Tom has been cleared of the murder of Patty Gray, hours before he was scheduled to be executed. Tom offhandedly wonders who killed "Emma". The fact that Patty Gray's real name was Emma Blucher is still a secret. Susan, who knows that secret, realizes that Tom is guilty after all.
- In Self/Less, after undergoing shedding and waking up in the new body, Damien starts experiencing hallucinations of a woman and a child. Albright explains that the hallucinations are probably just a combination of Damien getting used to the new body and having past memories getting jumbled. The Latino woman he's seen is probably a woman he used to date and forgot. Damien points out that he never said the woman was Latino.
- Masked Avengers: The Mole is revealed when he mentions one of his victims being killed with a spear, even though the protagonist said nothing about that, and just said the victim was attacked.
- In The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when Brad asks if he can use the phone, Frank smirks into the camera and comments on Brad and Janet getting a flat tyre, even though Brad never mentioned it. Though Brad doesn't pick up on this.
- Theatre productions vary on how meaningful this detail is, as any of the motorcyclists passing by on their way to the castle could have mentioned the unoccupied car. Some directors do try to establish there was a car-trap on the road, either to get random passersby for fresh body parts if necessary, Brad and Janet specifically for their connection to Dr. Scott, although this colours his own arrival, and in one instance the original trap was replaced by a tyre-puncturer by one of the guests in an attempt to somehow incriminate Riff-Raff and Magenta after the play's normal ending. The movie leaves it unclear if Frank is just amused at this.
- In New Town Killers, the protagonist Sean is offered a large sum of money by two businessmen for them to hunt him throughout the city until either they kill him or he survives the night. At one point he goes to hide out at his friend Sam's house and tells him there are guys trying to kill him. Sam later mentions the two guys. "I never said there were two of them."
- In Matilda, Miss Honey makes a visit to Matilda's parents, to express how bright she is. When her parents laugh this off, making several jabs at educated people, Miss Honey tries to describe how an educated person would treat them in a hospital, or, say, defend them in court if they were accused of selling a faulty car. Mr. Wormwood, who does partake in such a shady business, replies "What car? Sued by who? Who you been talking to?"
- Bibi and Tina 2 begins with a burglary that steals Falko von Falkenstein's prized monocle collection, among other things. Later, when Tarik is complaining about how stuck up he is, he says "Seriously, who has a castle and a monocle collection?". The only problem is that this was never reported in the newspapers.
- The Jinx: When Robert Durst is asked what divers would be looking for in the lake behind his former house, Durst blithely replies "body parts", rather than "a body". The specific detail of the former statement seems to foreshadow later events or could have been how he would have said it anyway.
- Woman on the Run: Only the killer, the detective, and Eleanor know that the murderer shot at Frank but missed because he was aiming at his shadow. Danny inadvertently gives this slight information away, tipping Eleanor off right away that he's the murderer.
- Bad Genius: When Pat describes Bank, he lets slip that Bank was beaten up and found in a landfill. The problem? Bank never told anyone he was found in a landfill — only someone involved with beating him up would. He quickly deduces that Pat was responsible for it.
- Basic Instinct: The cops try to invoke this when they go to question Catherine Tramell and her girlfriend Roxy about her boyfriend's murder, asking "How did you know he was murdered?", but it fails miserably, as both women point out that the men have identified themselves as homicide detectives and that it's the most natural conclusion to come to.
- My Bloody Valentine 3D: Tom when he says that the message written in blood above Megan's body was the same one she had written in her Valentines card to Axel. Sarah then asks how he knew that Megan was dead, or what was written above her body.
- In Tomorrow Never Dies, MI6 becomes suspicious of corrupt media mogul Elliot Carver's involvement in a diplomatic incident between the UK and China when his newspaper, Tomorrow, reports certain details of the incident (such as the British corpses being machine-gunned with the same type of ammo issued to the Chinese air force) before British Intelligence was able to confirm them.
- Dave: Ellen Mitchell finds out Dave is impersonating her husband after mentioning something Bill Mitchell did in the state legislature (which he wasn't part of) and Dave confirms.
- Rehearsal for Murder: The murderer gives themselves away by revealing that they knew Monica had a flashlight in her dresser drawer: something only someone who was in her bedroom on the night she died could have known.
- In The Terror of Tiny Town, Bat Haines tells Nancy that Tex has been murdered before anyone except the murderer could have known that he was dead.
- I Spit on Your Grave: In the third film, Ron at first denies ever having raped his stepdaughter Cassie after Jennifer kidnaps him. She notes he'd yet to hear Cassie's name from her, revealing his guilt.
- Jack Reacher: Inverted when a former sniper is accused of going on a killing spree. He's badly beaten in prison and experiences amnesia about the last several days, not remembering the incident. The titular character has already determined that the sniper was set up, since no professional sniper would pick that parking garage and would, instead, shoot from a van on the nearby bridge. When the accused finally regains consciousness and freaks out because he believes himself guilty (he previously did go on a killing spree while in Afghanistan but got off because the men he killed turned out to be rapists). The DA shows him pictures of the area and asks him how he would have done it. He gives the same reply as Reacher, confirming to the DA that he didn't do it.
- In Wishmaster, Alex becomes suspicious that the Djinn is impersonating Professor Derleth when the professor mentions Alex's boss, only for Alex to point out that she had never told the professor where she worked.
- In Machete Kills, Miss San Antonio accidentally reveals they are a double agent when they mention the missile being in Texas. Machete then asks how they knew the missile had been moved from Mexico.
- The inverted form occurs in Some Guy Who Kills People. Sheriff Fuller is convinced Ben is making a False Confession, and talks to him about the notes the killer sent: saying he found the one reading "I am a monster" particularly chilling. Ben says "Thank you", and Fuller then tells him that there never was a note reading that. The "I am a monster" note was from the 'Son of Sam' case.
- In Becky, Dominick is interrogating Beccky about his missing property over the walkie-talkie:
Becky: I don't have your stupid key!
Dominick: I never said it was a key.
- The Radix: Hunting for Wurm, an escaped asylum patient, Adriana Borjia interrogates Cori. After Cori says "I didn't see him", Adrianna smiles and says: "I never said the patient was a man". It isn't considered "him" is often the default, or that it wouldn't be a bad guess to assume that someone able-bodied enough to escape an asylum would be a man...
- Brotherband: Hal and his band ensnare Zavac by telling the Korpaljo, the leader of the town they're in, that Zavac is hiding their share of plundered emeralds in his hold, from the mines in Limmat. When the Korpaljo interrogates Zavac:
Zavac: "That's not true! I was never anywhere near Limmat!"
Korpaljo: "Who said anything about Limmat?"
- In Death: Used at some point or another in almost every single book in the series.
- Encyclopedia Brown: This happens quite a bit. Not generally for murders, but it happens.
- One story had Encyclopedia figuring out which member of a gang robbed a grocery store, his only piece of evidence being a knife left stuck into a watermelon. When confronting the gang, one of the members says the blade of his knife is a half-inch longer... despite the knife never having been taken out of the melon, and the watermelon specifically having been described as "huge" so that even the longer knife blade would still be completely hidden. True to form, the member in question turns out to have been the robber.
- Another Encyclopedia Brown story has someone getting shot in the foot by a BB gun. One of Bugs' friends shows up, and Encyclopedia tells him to run to the kid's house and get his shoe. The kid grabs the correct shoe, and Encyclopedia points out that unless he was the one who shot him, he couldn't have known which shoe to get. An innocent person would have had a 50 percent chance of guessing right, but would probably have asked 'Which shoe?'
- Another story had a pair of rollerskates stolen from Encyclopedia while the latter was at the dentist. He asks his main suspect (a kid who had a doctor's appointment in the same building) if he was in Dr. Vivian Wilson's office. The kid claims "I never heard of him until you mentioned his name" and that he didn't go near Wilson's office because he "had a sprained wrist, not a toothache". In other words, despite supposedly never having heard of him, the kid not only knew that Dr. Wilson was a dentist but that he was a man despite his first name being "Vivian".
- Also common in Two-Minute Mysteries, by the same authorthings like "Dr. Smith was murdered, where were you at the time?" "I haven't been to a dentist in years."
- In Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow:
- Achilles slips up and tells the other orphans that Poke had been stabbed in the eye, when he couldn't possibly know that. Nice show, Achilles, nice show.
- Colonel Graff does a slip up on the phone to Bean's caretaker (a very intelligent nun) when he says the name Bean told him about, Achilles (pronounced uh-kill-eez). The nun points out that since Bean is from the French section of Rotterdam he would have pronounced it ah-sheel and correctly calls him out for spying on Bean's journal.
- Brother Cadfael: This happens in the third book, Monk's Hood. The prime suspect (the victim's stepson) thinks the murder was a stabbing when it was actually a poisoning.
- In "True Lies", a short mystery story starring Lieutenant Johnson and Sgt. Bolton, the genius detective sergeant has narrowed down the possible murderers to two, but doesn't know which one. Since he thinks his lieutenant partner (who is the Narrator, and who would be Too Dumb to Live if he didn't know how to hide it from his fellow cops) is the genius detective, and so is dependent on him for his own genius, he asks the lieutenant for the solution. Our narrator doesn't know and is eating dry granola, so he chokes and says (as an excuse) "Tense!" This gives the sergeant the solution; the murderer was the one who referred to the victim in the past tense before it was generally known that she was dead.
- The Thrawn Trilogy: The last book, The Last Command, features Niles Ferrier attempting to accuse Talon Karrde of hiring an imperial assault team to attack a group of smugglers as an example of the threat the Empire posed. He slips up when he mentions the name of the lieutenant leading the assault team before it's brought up by the person reading the planted evidence, proving Karrde's innocnece beyond a reasonable doubt. He nearly slipped up before that by mentioning that incriminating evidence was on the datacard before anyone announced it had been found, only for Ellor to immediately confirm it had been found.
- Multiple Choice, by Janet Tashjian, has the main character fall victim to this. Monica chooses to write something nasty about her best friend on the upstairs school bathroom's stalls. When confronted about it, she denies vehemently and convinces her friend that she wasn't the one who wrote it. As they walk away, she lets slip that "I'm never even up there"despite her friend never saying which bathroom it was. A fight ensues.
- Small Change: In Farthing, the murder victim appears to have been stabbed. The police forensic techs figure out that he actually died of carbon monoxide poisoning, but don't reveal this to the press. A bit later, one character reveals that they know that the victim was gassed.
- In Guards! Guards!!, Lupine Wonse's immediate response to Vimes reporting the destruction of the Elucidated Brethren's headquarters was a suspiciously specific "Any of them get out?" Because Vimes was distracted, he doesn't pick up on this until a Eureka Moment later on.
- Feet of Clay:
- Inverted when Carrot becomes sure that Dorfl didn't kill Dr. Hopkins when he agrees to Carrot's statement that Dorfl beat him to death with an iron bar, when in fact he was killed with a loaf of dwarf bread.
- Played straight later in the book, when Vimes figures out how the Patrician was being poisoned, with arsenic in candles. He confronts the vampire he suspects being behind it, as well as many other suspicious events, and knows he is guilty when he implies the vampire got A Taste Of His Own Medicine and sees him glance at the candles in the room, despite having no way of knowing how Lord Vetinari was being poisoned.
- Played with in Night Watch. After an antagonist officer tells Vimes of a break-in, Vimes asked what had been stolen. The other officer tries to invoke this trope, replying "Did I say they stole anything, sir?" and Vimes shuts him down with "Well, no, you didn't. That was me jumping to what we call a conclusion. Did they steal anything, then, or did they break in to deliver a box of chocolates and a small complimentary basket of fruit?" (Although to be fair to the officer, Discworld is home to anti-crimes such as 'breaking and decorating'.)
- Vimes uses it in Thud! when talking to the Troll crime boss Chrysoprase. Chrysoprase lets slip that his knowledge of a crime scene is greater than what the public would know. When Vimes calls him out, Chrysoprase dismisses the accusation as gossip that he heard from the Dwarfs. Or well, had Dwarfs beaten up or threatened until they told him. He did, in fact, have no connection to it.
- Making Money uses this in a rather meta way. Moist is being interrogated by Carrot, all while under the guise of being an upstanding pillar-of-the-community businessman. When he tries to shut Carrot down due to him, Moist, being aware of this trope...
- Warhammer 40,000: In Graham McNeill's Horus Heresy novel False Gods, Loken knows that Erebus is lying to him because he pointed out that the interex had accused them of stealing a kinebrach's swordand in fact, the interex had only accused them of stealing a weapon.
- A Widow For A Year: Inverted when the policeman deliberately gives the press false information about a murdered prostitute, saying she was killed WITH a struggle when there was no struggle. This enabled him to dismiss the two men who confessed as they were covered in bruises and scratches.
- The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray: Used near the beginning — the hero finds a young woman in the part of London infested by gribbly things, and asks the governor of a local mental asylum if he's lost any patients- he mentions her being found in the Old Quarter, despite not being told. In this case, it could be a reasonable assumption but the hero decides to be careful and gives a false description- a good idea, since said governor is part of the cult that had captured the girl...
- This is how George Smiley discovers The Mole in the Secret Intelligence Service in John le Carré's Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy: the man in question turned up at the Circus with not enough information about the unfolding Operation Testify crisis for him to have got it from the radio report, but too much to have overheard it from a phone conversation.
- In the Thursday Next book First Among Sequels, Thursday and Spike accuse a plumber of stealing money from a pensioner. His boss joins in with the accusation, saying "A thousand pounds, from a defenceless pensioner? How could you?" Thursday and Spike had never mentioned the amount.
- Reversed in Tom Clancy's Clear and Present Danger, when the FBI is investigating the mistreatment of prisoners on a Coast Guard ship. He says that one of the prisoners was executed (he wasn't, but they staged an execution by hanging to get a second prisoner to confess everything) to which the captain replies "We captured two prisoners, we gave you two prisoners alive, so who did we shoot?"
- In one of the Fire Thief trilogy, the Avenger almost pulls this off and discovers the boy he is talking to is helping Prometheus when the boy mentions the shopkeeper looking for a spade (to dig up some buried treasure). But the boy quickly says he was running down the street shouting "half a million dollars for a spade."
- A Nancy Drew book had a Jerkass character being poisoned, but ultimately recovering. A few days later, his ex-girlfriend taunts him about it as he tries to eat breakfast, stating, "You know, poison doesn't have to be a powder. Something could have been injected into that orange..." The only way she could have known what type of poison was used was if she was the assailant. Just change "doesn't have to be" to "wasn't" and you've got an admission of guilt that still wouldn't stand in trial.
- The Three Investigators had a case involving a whale where a suspect accidentally blurted out its species.
- On another occasion, someone asks what the "???" on their business card means. This is a Once an Episode thing which wouldn't normally be significant, but one of the group notices that they didn't actually read the card, and must have seen it before.
- Used in one children's mystery, in which an unknown student was sending anonymous letters to the teacher, telling her all of the mean-spirited things said behind her back. This causes the teacher to be miserable and make all of the students feel horribly guilty. The only clues are that the mysterious student spells "sincerely" incorrectly and leaves a glob of ink as a signature. Eventually, they narrow it down to one person and trap her by innocently bringing up the ink blob. She blurts out "That's not an ink splotch, it's the shadow -". Busted.
- In Katherine Kurtz's The Quest for Saint Camber, a member of the secretive Camberian Council is found dead in a secret passageway of the king's palace. In a conversation with Nigel (King Kelson's uncle/regent/heir presumptive), his eldest son Conall says the victim's entire name, which the younger man is not supposed to know. Nigel realizes Conall had been secretly working with the dead man (to obtain arcane powers reserved for the monarch) and killed him in that stairwell; Conall attacks his father with those powers and leaves him in a coma.
- A case of the villain inadvertently using this against the protagonist occurs in Scorpia, when Julia Rothman tells Alex that Scorpia intends to activate a bioweapon that will kill a significant portion of the population. Alex, knowing that the weapon is designed to specifically target schoolchildren, blurts out that they can't murder children, causing Rothman to realise that Alex is a triple agent for MI6 and that MI6 have figured out how the weapon operates.
- In the Father Brown short story "The Green Man", the victim is an Admiral who is found dead in a pond close to his home, on the evening when he was expected to return home from a longer sea voyage. Upon being told that the Admiral is drowned, the murderer asks: "Where was he found?" which tips off Father Brown. Note that Father Brown is older than radio. If the Admiral had drowned at any time during the voyage, his family would probably not have found out until his ship came back to England. Unless you know that he drowned in the pond, the reasonable thing would have been to assume that the body was lost at sea. Father Brown bites his tongue at the actual tip-off, but this trope comes into play in the big reveal at the end.
- At the end of the A to Z Mysteries book The Lucky Lottery, the three main kids confront their prime suspect over a stolen lottery ticket.
Ruth Rose: And your fingerprints are on the mantel where you stole the Christmas card!Dot Calm: You're crazy, kid. I was wearing glov...
- In the Waco series by J.T. Edson, Waco uses this trick a few times to trip up a killer.
- In Death in the Clouds, Hercule Poirot mentions to the main suspect that fingerprints were found in a bottle of poison used to kill the daughter of the first victim. The suspect says that is impossible because he was wearing gloves.
- In one of Agatha Christie's short stories, a man is killed by a blow on the head with a bronze statue. Two of the suspects—his wife and her lover—both confess to the crime: she says that she shot him, and he—that he stabbed him with a small dagger. On further interrogation, both tell that they assumed the other one was guilty and so lied to protect each other. But actually this trope is invoked: they are both guilty. They have planned the murder together and made the false confessions to make the police believe them to be innocent.
- In Han Solo at Stars' End, Han finds that one of the three rebels he's transporting has murdered their leader, who just managed to scrawl the name of the destination planet, Mytus VII, in the table in front of him before he died. Han figures out who the traitor is by telling each one separately that he suspects another, and then telling them they're going to Mytus VIII, IX or X. He gets them all together, supposedly to research the target, and makes them show their datapads; the traitor is the one who mentally corrected it to the planet he already knew was the real destination.
- In Ruth Frances Long's The Treachery of Beautiful Things, Jack tells Jenny that after seven long years, her brother was gone. But she only told him she was after her brother, not how long ago he had vanished.
- In Star Trek: Millennium, Vash knows exactly what neurotoxin she was attacked with without being told, alerting Bashir that she's pulling a Wounded Gazelle Gambit.
- The Crowner John Mysteries: In The Sanctuary Seeker, a suspect gives himself away when he says he has never heard of the victim Aelfgar of Totnes. John had said the victim was named Aelfgar, but not that he came from Totnes.
- Spenser gets one of several hints the Stapleton family in Small Vices is lying about their son and his alleged non-involvement in the case Spenser has been hired to investigate when they specifically refer to it as a sex crime, since the fact that the victim was also murdered was far more likely to be of note to people who had supposedly only heard of it in passing. Their referring to it only a sex crime makes sense when, at the end of the book, it's revealed it wasn't actually a murderthe victim and their son were playing a sex game involving Erotic Asphyxiation and she accidentally died during it.
- In The Scorch Trials, while Thomas never mentions to Brenda that his group calls themselves Gladers, she ends up mentioning it in casual conversation. This foreshadows the fact that she and Jorge had actually been working for WICKED all along; she most likely knows the term because she heard them call themselves that while she monitored the Maze.
- Nick Velvet:
- In "The Theft of the Lopsided Cobweb", the killer gives themself away when they say Nick should be more careful when being shot at. As no one else was present, only the killer could know Nick was shot at.
- In "The Theft of the Picture Postcards", Nick deduces the identity of a blackmailer when they mention the amount of money demanded, despite the victim never mentioning it.
- In one of the minor adventures the protagonists have while traveling from place to place in The Balanced Sword, they're asked to investigate a murder, and the murderer gives himself away by mentioning a detail he shouldn't have known.
- In Wings of Fire, Tsunami and Starlight figure out that Blister killed Kestrel when Blister tells Tsunami that she would have wanted to slash her mother's throat like what happened to Kestrel, even though she was only told that Kestrel was stabbed by a SandWing's tail.
- In The Robots of Dawn, Elijah discusses the matter of Jander's deactivation with Amadiro, and suddenly Amadiro states that the woman at whose house the Ridiculously Human Robot was had a very unusual definition of husband. While it might have made sense for him that the robot was her lover (it's a Free-Love Future), there is no way he could have figured out the husband part; for Aurorans, marriage is a union with a potential for kids, so a Robotic Spouse in totally ridiculous. As such, he manages to prove Amadiro was attempting a Grand Theft Prototype (he desperately needed such robots, and their designer refused to cooperate) by thoroughly questioning Jander, so the guy is forced to fold before the investigation destroys his career completely.
- In the short story "Death of the King" by Theodore Matthiason, Alexander the Great is dying, not of sickness as the historical records will claim, but of poison. He and his physician are trying to find out Whodunnit to Me?, until the physician offers Alexander a cushion "for the great pain in your back", and the emperor realises he knows more about how this poison works than he admitted.
- Two Kinds of Truth: Terence Spencer tries to avoid a subpoena by telling the person delivering it he doesn't know a "Terry Spencer" but she points out she only called him "Mr. Spencer".
- City of Bones by Martha Wells: When Khat, Sagai, and Elen question the academia scholar about the Black Market relics they think he bought, they know his denials are false when he says he never had anything to do with a "fourth tier" dealer—they hadn't mentioned the dealer's social standing.
- Ben Snow: In "Frontier Street", the murderer gives himself away when he says how many times the victim had been struck over the head: something he would not have been able to tell just from looking at the body.
- Played with in Death and The Joyful Woman by Ellis Peters. Kitty confides in Dominic that she intends to confess to the murder; seeking to dissuade her, he tells her exactly why she couldn't have done it, because her story fits the vague description of the murder the police have made public, but not the reserved details he knows of through his father, the chief investigator. Too late, he realises he'd have done better to keep quiet: if she'd tried to confess, the police would have known she was innocent by the same reasoning, but now she actually knows details the police haven't made public, she's in danger of making the police think she's guilty. Which is exactly what happens.
- Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Ares falls victim to this in The Lightning Thief; when Percy deduces that he's been taking orders from the thing in the pit, Ares angrily replies, "I'm the god of war! I take orders from no one! I don't have dreams!" when Percy didn't bring up dreams at all during his rundown.
- The Cranes of Ibycus is a classic example of this trope, making it Older Than Feudalism. According to a legend first recorded in the 2nd century BCE, the ancient Greek poet Ibycus was murdered by bandits on his way to Isthmian Games. Only the cranes flying above witnessed the murder. Later the criminals gave themselves away by pointing out "The Cranes of Ibycus" to one another in public.
- A "Five Minute Mystery" titled The Return of Mr. Lawrence plays it by the book: a murdered woman's maid accuses the woman's former husband of poisoning her. The police never said it was poison.
- Parodied in Season 3, Episode 1 of Bleak Expectations:
Pip Bin: The body was covered in hundreds of tiny wounds?
Inspector Whackwallop: Aha! I never said the body was covered in hundreds of tiny wounds!
Ripley: Actually, you did.
Whackwallop: Did I? Damn, that normally works. Aha! I never said he was an apprentice blacksmith!
Pip Bin: And nor did I.
- In NPR's radio adaptation of Star Wars, Leia's rebel allies inform her of the Death Star's existence, which at this point in time is still top secret. Knowing that a high-ranking Imperial officer is infatuated with Leia, she and her father invite them to pay him a visit, hoping that he might start bragging if he thinks he can impress Leia, allowing them to potentially glean some valuable details. He does, and everything is going according to plan until Leia accidentally refers to the station as the "Death Star" even though the officer hadn't mentioned the name. Things get ugly from there.
- Nan Quest: This is how Henry gives himself away as the Pilgrim- making a reference to Nan's previous encounter with the Pilgrim, which he shouldn't have known about.
Henry: I'm not too worried about you, though. If anyone's gonna make it through this, it's you. You're a survivor. Besides, worst case scenario, if he comes for you, you can just go out the window again.
Nan: Henry. [beat] How did you know that?
Nan: I never told you that I escaped out the window. You weren't there.
Henry: [beat] Oops. [attacks Nan]
- In David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, this is how the culprit of the office robbery reveals himself. Levene calls Williamson out on lying about cashing Lingk's check. But the previous night was the one night in Williamson's entire life that he forgot to cash the firm's checks at the bank. That means the only time Levene could have possibly seen Lingk's check was last night when the robbery occurred, thus implicating Levene as the thief.
- From RENT:note
Angel: Have compassion, Benny just lost his cat.
Benny: My dog, but I appreciate that.
Angel: My cat had a fall, and I went through Hell.
Benny: It's like losing a—how did you know she fell?
- In Catherine, when Vincent shakes down Boss, demanding to know if he saw Catherine or not, it was simply to find out if Catherine was really an illusion. Boss, thinking Vincent had figured out that he was the mastermind, gives his Motive Rant and spills the whole story to him.
- In the Touhou fangame Aya Shameimaru: Touhou Attorney, based on the Ace Attorney games, the very final choice you have in the last case in the game hinges on this. While it's easy to miss, a player can easily pick up on the extra detail without even considering the situation. Specifically, outside the detectives and the attorneys, no one but the one who planted the evidence would know in which pocket it was found.
- During the first big plot twist of Chrono Cross, Lynx had just switched bodies with Serge, and was about to kill his old body with Serge in it. Lynx tells Kid that he was going to do it to "avenge Lucca" for her. Kid stops him, pointing out that, while she did tell Serge that Lynx had taken away Lucca from her, not once had Kid said Lucca's name. Of course, this revelation comes too late... Needless to say, it seemed like a bad choice of words for Lynx.
- In Persona 2 Eternal Punishment, Katsuya's "Investigating" Contact references the trope. On a second use, Katsuya claims that the demon said something only the criminal would know; finish a Contact session with it, and Katsuya will state that he never said anything about the victim being a woman. This being a generic set of lines used for every demon, we're never told exactly what crime Katsuya's investigating, or what the demon actually said in response to his interrogation.
- In Persona 4, Adachi reveals himself to be the killer by saying that he thought everyone was sure that "Namatame put them in [the television]" no one but the murderer and the protagonists could have known that that was how the victims were killed. He had also cast suspicion on himself in an earlier instance when the protagonists find a list of everyone that Namatame had put into the television: Adachi shows no surprise at the contents of the list despite the fact that it included people who were rescued before they could be murdered (and were therefore classed as mere "disappearances" that had no relation to the murders).
- Persona 5: This is how Joker and Talking Cat Morgana figure out who the traitor in the Phantom Thieves is. Goro Akechi mentions a silly comment Morgana made about pancakes when Akechi was first encountered at a TV station on June 9th. Only those who have entered the Metaverse can understand Morgana's speech as anything except a cat's meowing, but Akechi later claims he didn't gain access to the Metaverse until September 15th. This tips the Phantom Thieves off that Akechi has an ulterior motive to joining the group, and leads to them eventually discovering that he has been lying to them from the start.
- In Mass Effect, when Saren is facing (correct) accusations of attacking a human colony and killing another Spectre, Nihlus, he addresses Shepard as "the one who let the beacon get destroyed." Shepard can respond by saying the only way he could have known that is if he was there. However, Saren quickly rebuffs him/her, saying that Nihlus' files transferred to him upon his death.
- In Fahrenheit, taking too long to answer Detective Tyler (or Detective Carla depending on previous choices) can lead Lucas to blurt out one of these leading to an instant arrest and game over. Specifically, Tyler or Carla is in the middle of asking Lucas where he was on a certain night, and if you take too long to answer, Lucas blurts out that he wasn't even at the restaurant where a guy got murdered...then as Tyler or Carla points out, since they mentioned neither a restaurant nor a murder, why would Lucas randomly assume they're asking him about that particular murder unless he had something to do with it?
- Professor Layton games use this often.
- In Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, the fake "Flora" is revealed when he looks at a photograph of the Elysian Box and mentions the cute goat on it. The picture was missing a piece that identifies the emblem as a goat (it looks more like a frog without it), meaning "Flora" had seen the mysterious box before, making him the thief.
- In Professor Layton and the Last Specter, a surprisingly spoiler-free AND murder-free version of this is when Layton and co. are looking for some medals with certain parts of a raven on them. One of the kids you confront says "We don't know anything about a medal with a raven's tail on it!" To which Layton replies "I never said anything about a tail."
- Layton also employs this tactic to identify Bloom as the traitor within Scotland Yard in Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy.
- In Layton Brothers: Mystery Room, the culprit of the fifth case used a bottle of female perfume to hold the poison he used to kill his victim, since he was trying to make her death look like a suicide. Unfortunately for him, the victim managed to use the last of her strength to hurl the bottle at a nearby wall in a desperate effort to leave some kind of mark to show that she was actually murdered, causing it to shatter into pieces. The culprit didn't know she did this and ends up referring the shattered container as a perfume bottle three times before even the police knew what it originally was. Alfendi even recorded the entire thing and plays it back to him when the culprit makes the desperate claim that they must have misheard him.
- In L.A. Noire, the DLC case "A Slip of the Tongue" features one of these. If Phelps and Bekowski manage to catch up to Jean Archer, they'll mention Belasco (another suspect, and Archer's accomplice). She later drops his full name, "James Belasco", which confirms to Phelps that she's connected to the case.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, this exchange happens when investigating missing refugees from Aerotech Office Park:
Courier: Some people have gone missing, and they were last seen dealing with you.
Saint James: I don't know a thing about no missing refugees from that Aerotech camp. Go cry to somebody else.
Courier: I didn't mention Aerotech.
Saint James: Yeah, well, I must've heard rumors, and, uh... fuck you! You got nothing on me and Dermot.
- Baten Kaitos Origins uses the "innocent character taking the fall" variation. When Juwar is asked for more details of what he did in the city of Mintaka as the Mourning Mistral, he tells Sagi that he planted the bomb in a nearby building after the election speeches... not knowing that the real Mourning Mistral broke their pattern of targeting buildings to target an airpod instead.
- In the video game of Batman Begins, Arkham Asylum doctor Emma Thomas (not in the film) has been suspicious of Dr. Crane for a while. When Crane's thugs ask her why she was in the basement looking at the canisters, she claims she got lost and doesn't know anything about the toxin. The thug replies "I never said anything about a toxin."
- In The Witcher, Geralt finds an old diary potentially implicating a traitor to the kingdom; the author of the diary, Ostrit, is dead, but new notes were scrawled into the margins. Later, he meets a Count who, after hearing of the book, asks for "Ostrit's diary". Geralt quickly notes that, in the conversation, he never said that the diary was Ostrit's.
- Call of Juarez: Gunslinger centers around bounty Hunter Silas Greaves describing his revenge quest against a gang of three outlaws who murdered his brothers to the patrons of a bar. At one point in his story, he is tracking down one of them, who Silas only refers to as "Jim". However later on, the bartender refers to said outlaw as "Jim Reed", to which Silas replies "Yes, that was his last name", sounding oddly pleased. This is one of the things that confirms to Silas that the bartender is actually the Big Bad leader of the gang, Roscoe "Bob" Bryant.
- In the Revelation path of Fire Emblem Fates, Gunter ends up outing himself as Scarlet's killer this way. He mentions a flower that she pinned onto her armor after everyone else but Corrin left the area, so the only time he would have been able to see it was during the murder.
- In Final Fantasy IX, Steiner asks Alleyway Jack if he'd seen a young woman, referring to Garnet. Jack (who had earlier stolen money from Garnet) replies that he hasn't seen any beautiful girls with long black hair. He then immediately freaks out as Steiner glowers at him, and he hands Steiner the object he'd bought with the stolen money as he runs off.
- In Quest for Glory V, a string of assassinations (including the King himself) has been causing chaos in Silmaria. It's fairly obvious that Minos is behind it, but without proof, you can't do anything. After defeating the assassin, you have the option to bluff the prime suspect by saying that the assassin confessed before dying. The suspect responds "So Bruno sold me out, did he?" and the king's advisor Logos points out that nobody never said the assassin's name. At this point Minos drops all pretense of innocence and delivers a Motive Rant.
- In Manor Cafe Meg calls her ex-boss to ask if he was in the cafe shortly after a suspicious oven fire.
Jacob: You'll never prove it was me who set the oven on fire!
Meg: Who said anything about an oven on fire?
- The Ace Attorney games use this a lot.
- Trials and Tribulations:
- In the second case, "The Stolen Turnabout", Luke Atmey claims the lack of fingerprints on the alarm button on the victim's office is proof that Ron DeLite is the culprit since Ron was wearing the Mask☆DeMasque costume at the time, which included gloves. The issue is, the fact that Ron was wearing the costume at the time was only revealed while Luke was on trial for a different crime in a different courtroom, so the only way he could have possibly known about it is if he was in the victim's office at the time of the murder.
- In Case 3, "Recipe for a Turnabout", this is done by saying it was poison. Specifically, Phoenix lies and says that a completely useless green plastic bottle that has the witness's fingerprints on it contained the poison used to kill the victim. The witness laughs and calls Phoenix an idiot, since he should already know that the poison was in the brown glass bottle, not that one, so his evidence doesn't prove anything. And yes, Phoenix did already know that, and so did everyone watching the trial. But this witness hadn't been watching the trial, so the only way he could have known what the poison bottle looked like is if he had used it himself.
- Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney:
- The first case plays with this. The decisive evidence is, unbeknownst to Apollo, a fake duplicate of the real decisive evidence, specifically an ace of spades with a bloodstain on it. But the culprit can't reveal the evidence is fake without also revealing that he took the real one. Either way, he's going to jail.
- In the third case, a witness who's trying to convince the court that she didn't see the crime slips up and mentions that the victim was shot. The crime was put on a "gag order", so no one apart from those investigating it, or someone who saw the crime happen, should know those types of details. It turns out she didn't see the crime. She's secretly blind, and only heard the shot.
- Ace Attorney Investigations 2:
- In the first case, Shelly de Killer refers to the victim by his full name during a cross-examination, while up until then Edgeworth had only ever referred to him by surname (and, in fact, didn't even know his first name until that point). It doesn't mean what you think it means, but it does reveal him as more connected to the case than he claims.
- In Case 2, Frank Sahwit comments that he swears he didn't hear the scream of the person who discovered the body. Edgeworth points out that, normally, if someone is told a scream rang out during a murder, that'd they'd assume it belonged to the victim, not a witness, and that he never mentioned who they believe the scream belonged to. Frank admits at this point that he was the one who found the body.
- Sawhit mentions a ring on the body of Case 2's victim. Since the body was positioned such that a sheet covered his hands, Frank couldn't have known it was there if he had only observed from outside the room, as he claims. It turns out he'd managed to enter the room and look at the body up close.
- During a Logic Chess segment in Case 2, a witness refers to Edgeworth as "Prosecutor Edgeworth". Edgeworth points out that he never once told them his profession leading Edgeworth to conclude that the witness was eavesdropping on his earlier conversations (particularly since he was pretending to be a defense attorney's assistant at the time).
- It turns up often in Logic Chess segments. Chances are that if you see a witness mention something you haven't heard of before, or that they couldn't possibly have known, you need to jump on it.
- Spirit of Justice:
- The final witness of case 3 knows a handful of things that only the killer would know. For example, that Zeh'lot died between 2 and 3 PM, and that the stone slab fell onto him, even though he shouldn't reach that conclusion from the rebel hideout's photo alone. However, he's not the killer; his wife did it, and she told him how the crime happened.
- In "Turnabout Time Traveler", Larry says that there were two pegabulls at the reception hall in the night of the crime... yet that's something only someone who was in the cargo hold that night would know because the court didn't tell him. And he wasn't supposed to wander through the zeppelin.
- Trials and Tribulations:
- Souma Miou is outed as the one who had been bullying Rizu in A Profile because when confronted with a little evidence blurted out the location the evidence had been found in.
- Virtue's Last Reward:
- This is how Sigma gets Dio to reveal they were the one who planted the bombs in some of the routes. Sigma reveals, from information he gathered from time jumps, that this person knows about the Myrmidons, and about Brother. Dio insists they don't know anything about who the Myrmidons are, and they don't know anything about some old fart like Brother. Well, Sigma never actually mentioned the Myrmidons were people or that Brother, their leader, was an old man, so how would Dio know that... unless the Myrmidons sent them?
- Subverted at another point of time when the players discover Alice's body. When Dio says that the victim was stabbed with a knife Phi asks how did he know it was a knife when all they can see is a handle. Dio, however, points out that anyone would assume it was a knife if they saw someone with a weapon protruding from a stab wound. Although this makes sense, Phi was still right to be suspicious, since he knew about the knife because it was his knife. But he's not the killer.
- A kidnapping suspect in Kara no Shoujo admits that he has some relation to the person witnessed actually taking the person away before the name of the person is revealed. Woops.
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
- This is how you discover who the culprit of Chapter 2's murder is. Celeste tells Makoto that she saw Chihiro stuffing a blue tracksuit into a duffel bag before heading to the gym, where he was murdered. When Celeste recalls this during the class trial, only she and Makoto know the color of the tracksuit. At that point, while everyone's trying to find out how that could be relevant, Mondo asks if the killer was wearing the same blue tracksuit as the victim, and hastily points out that his is black. Unfortunately for Mondo, neither Celeste nor Makoto mentioned the color of the tracksuit, and this, along with a few other pieces of evidence, implicates him as the killer.
- In Chapter 3 Celeste is nailed by this: shortly after the discovery of Ishimaru's body she glumly remarks that everyone is going to die, "just like those guys died" despite having no way of knowing at this point that two people were murdered.
- Then in Chapter 4, Hagakure trips over this, though he isn't the culprit. He points out the message written in blood naming Fukawa as the killer... only, among other things, the magazine was hidden in the rack at the time the body was found, and Asahina had kicked him out of the crime scene before he could take more than a look, so how did he know about it?.
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair:
- Chapter 3's culprit is uncovered like this. Mikan, who's accused of being the killer, is confronted with how she apparently impersonated Ibuki's in the latter's "suicide video." Mikan fervently denies it and says that, among other things, the camera angle should contain no proof that it was her and not Ibuki in that video. Hajime asks how she could know about the camera angle, which he never mentioned unless she saw the crime. Mikan also makes a smaller mistake later on when she says that the tote bag used to cover Ibuki's head would have to be two places at once, and casually shrugs off inadvertently revealing another detail she shouldn't know.
- A variation happens in Chapter 5, which leads to Chiaki being confirmed as The Mole. While investigating Nagito's death, they find a diary that Monomi claims to be hers in order to protect Chiaki's cover as the Future Foundation's spy. One of the entries revolves around Hajime nearly risking his life during a short-lived Sanity Slippage in the previous chapter. However, not only could Monomi not have learned about the incident on her own (as she was trapped in a different part of that chapter's Closed Circle until the following morning), but only one student other than Hajime knew about it— Chiaki, due to her being the one to talk him down from doing it, meaning that the diary is either hers to begin with, or she's the one working with Monomi, either of which proves that she's the spy. This evidence ends up being the smoking gun that finally convinces the other students to believe that she's telling the truth about being the spy despite how badly they don't want to believe it, and makes them realize that she's the student who the supernaturally lucky Nagito arranged to accidentally kill him in a way that he hoped the other students couldn't solve as part of a convoluted plan to use his death to allow the spy, whose identity he did not know to "graduate" while killing off everyone else via the "graduation" rules.
- In Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
- Eroge! Sex and Games Make Sexy Games: In Kisara's Bad Ending, after Tomoya cheats on Kisara with Tomoko, later on, Tomoko asks Kisara if she used Tomoya's penis as a reference for her (Kisara's) drawing, prompting Kisara to ask "Why do you know about his cock?" Disappearing ensues.
- The Most Popular Girls in School:
- Parodied in Episode 9. Note that this exchange entirely takes place in the bathroom stalls of the girls' room.
- Played straight in Episode 21:
Mackenzie: I wanted to ask you about the Atchison High Cheer Squad.
Deandra: What? I don't know anything about them. Never heard of 'em.
Brittnay: I find that hard to believe.
Mackenzie: You did go to Atchison right?
Deandra: Yes. Maybe. I don't know. All I know is I don't know them and they sure as fuck don't know me. Why? Did you talk to them? What did they say? Because they're liars. They're all fucking liars.
Mackenzie: I thought you said you didn't know them.
Deandra: I don't.
Mackenzie: Well, then how do you know they're all liars?
Brittnay: Yeah, Deandra, what are you hiding?
Deandra: Nothing, I'm an open book. Ask me anything.
Mackenzie: Alright, tell me about the Atchison Cheer Squad.
Deandra: Not that. Anything else.
- This is inverted with Mario in Episode 11 of Smash King. His claim that hes a friend of Bowsers trying to help him fight off Ganondorf seems pretty substantiated for the most part, fooling both Wario and Meta Knight for a few minutes. However, Meta Knight's blue side quickly realizes somethings amiss when he takes into account that all of Bowsers friends know where he lives, so the fact that Mario needs to be directed to his place of residence is nothing short of suspicious.
- In Aim for the Stars, Kate's boss Grumpy the Martian tries to get in touch with his uncle, who happens to be the president of the colony ship Heart. When the President scolds Grumpy for getting involved with "commoners" such as Venusians, Grumpy hangs up and declares that they're on their own... because he never mentioned that Dr. Frank, the Mad Scientist they're trying to protect, was a Venusian.
- In chapter 48 of Drowtales Waes'soloth Val'Beldrobbaen catches the culprit behind the spread of a parasitic flower poison into their home using this, as the girl's family had closed the gates to their tower before any of Waes' messengers were formally able to contact them. And since Waes had only just learned of the poison when a messenger finally managed to get inside, the only way the family could already know about it was for one of their members to have been at the gathering where it was distributed.
- In Namir Deiter, Ferdinand is drinking away his sorrows after a run in with Joy. Isaac, Joy's most recent ex, talks to him when Blue tells him about Ferdinand and Joy. Isaac slips out Joy's name, and Ferdinand wonders how Isaac knows about Joy. Isaac tells him that he saw Ferdinand and Joy earlier, guessing that he was upset about her.
- In Weak Hero, this is how Wolf susses out that his subordinate Jared was the one responsible for stealing his bag, not a student from Eunjang. After the battle against Eunjang, Jared makes mention of "additional companies" while talking about Donald Na. Said companies were only ever mentioned in the documents that Wolf kept in his bag.
- In it one chapter of New York Magician, Michel confronts a suspect in a girl's disappearance. Every word out of the man's mouth somehow gets him into more trouble.
- In one Shadow Unit episode, the gamma, whose manifestation involves causing real bullet wounds with a broken, unloaded gun, gives herself away by being the only person to have heard a gunshot at the death of her latest victim.
- Not Always Right:
- "Sir... when did I ever say the missing item was a camera?" The thief is an adult male, the owner of the camera is a minor female. The punchline?
"Sir, I can either charge you with stealing, or I can charge you with stalking and pedophilia since this lady is obviously a minor. Which one is it going to be?"
- "The cake wasn't chocolate! It was strawberry!"
- This example fits here as well, although it's a very different situation.
- "Sir... when did I ever say the missing item was a camera?" The thief is an adult male, the owner of the camera is a minor female. The punchline?
- Chakona Space: Chapter 3 of Doove's Flight of the Phoenix series features a pair of "Ambassadors" who kill their servant and dump her body at the base of a stairwell. Captain Yote announces the death of said servant (without including details) to them and one of them snarks about making sure the stairwells are properly safe, instantly implicating "him"self in said death.
- Although no one was able to pick up on it, Ryan nearly gave himself away with this when Achievement Hunter was playing some Trouble in Terrorist Town. Ryan was the traitor and had taken out Michael, who was the detective. A short while later, Ryan asked: "Who's the detective this round?" He's told the answer, then replied, "Michael was?" The only person who caught this slip was Michael himself, who couldn't warn the others on account of his character being dead. After the round was over, Michael immediately chewed out the others for not picking up on Ryan's slip of the tongue.
- 7-Second Riddles: A lot of riddle culprits end up being caught because they referenced details they shouldn't have known about- such as the contents of a stolen purse, or the fact that the victim's house was empty.
- Spoofed twice in American Dad!:
- In "Black Mystery Month", a detective quizzes Steve at the scene of a murder and is instantly suspicious when Steve mentions details that are clearly visible at the scene.
Detective: I'm afraid the curator has been murdered.
Steve: Oh my God, someone killed him?!
Detective: Funny, I never said he was murdered.
Steve: Yes... yes, you did. God, he's wedged into the mouth of a giant bust of George Washington Carver!
Detective: That's classified, how do you know that?
Steve: Uh, I can see it from here.
[the detective takes half a minute confirming that the body is visible from where Steve is standing]
Detective: Okay, that checks out.
- In "My Purity Ball and Chain", some characters build a water slide in the backyard so high that it kills a man named Kyle when he rides it. They get rid of Kyle's body, but forget about the slide. Then a detective appears.
Detective: Dick Turlington, waterpark detective. Got a report of a man missing after riding a waterslide.
Klaus: Well, not ours! This is a slide town, guy! Swing a dead Kyle, and you'll hit one.
Detective: I, uh, never mentioned the name Kyle.
Roger: These board shorts are mine!
Detective: [pulls out Kyle's photo, wearing the same shorts] ...Great.
- In "Black Mystery Month", a detective quizzes Steve at the scene of a murder and is instantly suspicious when Steve mentions details that are clearly visible at the scene.
- Batman Beyond: Terry visits Willy Watt in Juvie hall, whom he suspects is the "ghost" terrorizing his high school with telekinetic pranks. During their conversation, Willy brings up the school incidents, even though he's had no visitors or callers since having been locked up (and presumably the incidents never made the news).
- Beavis and Butt-Head went on trial for throwing eggs at Mr. Anderson's house. They were almost set to be pronounced not guilty when the plaintiff's lawyer noted that Butt-Head had called them "rotten eggs" instead of just "eggs". How did they know they were rotten? They could only stammer, and within a minute the jury pronounced them guilty. (Can you blame the jurors?) Ironically enough, this was the result of Butt-Head gaining a short burst of intelligence, apparently by an imaginary version of someone they saw on TV at the beginning of the episode.
- Bratz: In "Not So Hot For Teacher", the Tweevils frame the Bratz girls by putting up an embarrassing picture of Burdine all over school. When Kirstee and Kaycee pretend to call out the Bratz for doing such a thing the next morning, Burdine questions the twins of when they saw the pictures, revealing that she took them all down last night. Runaways ensue.
- Codename: Kids Next Door: Whodunit episode "Operation C.L.U.E.S." features one of these in the ending. Numbuh Two's family has Numbuh Three and her family over for dinner, but when Mrs. Gilligan brings out what's supposed to be a turkey, the group discovers a stabbed Rainbow Monkey doll in its place. After Numbuh Two solves who stabbed it, Mrs. Sanban suggests that he try to figure out what happened to the turkey. Hoagie claims that figuring out "who ate a lemon-basted turkey with cranberry stuffing" will be a daunting task... only for Mrs. Sanban to smugly point out that no one ever mentioned what kind of stuffing Mrs. Gilligan used for the bird. Cue an Oh, Crap! expression from Hoagie.
- In the DuckTales (1987) episode "Jungle Duck", Scrooge and his nephews discover the eponymous Nature Hero, and then find that he's the missing Prince Greydrake and have to return him home before his Evil Uncle is crowned king. Leading to this confrontation:
Uncle: That's impossible! Prince Greydrake's plane went down in the densest part of the African jungle!
Jungle Duck: Ungh, how you know where crash?
Uncle: [nervously] Uh... Lucky guess?
- Family Guy: In "And Then There Were Fewer", Tom Tucker is arrested for allegedly murdering several people at James Woods' mansion when Lois speaks to his partner Diane Simmons about the matter. Diane then shows off a blouse that her mother bought her for her first solo newscast, causing Lois to wonder how could she have known prior to the murders happening the night before.
- Fillmore!: Fillmore is discussing a case with an old friend who's one of the witnesses, and he mentions that 4000 counterfeit baseball cards are still missing. She tells him not to worry, because "it's not like four thousand Cal Ripken cards are gonna just disappear." Fillmore realizes that she must have the cards because he never told her what player was on them.
- In the Miraculous Ladybug episode "Darkblade", Chloé orders her lackey Sabrina to steal Marinette's diary so they can use it to make her look bad; however, Sabrina ends up with her hand trapped in a box thanks to the security measures Marinette applied to said diary. When she appears in front of the rest of the class with the box, they immediately figure out that Chloé told her to steal it. Chloé tries to deny that she was involved in stealing Marinette's diary, only for Marinette to tell her that no one actually said what was in the box, meaning she wouldn't have known unless she was planning on stealing it.
- Rugrats had Angelica on the receiving end of this more than once.
- Someone broke Tommy's clown lamp, and the babies try to determine who's the culprit. They set up a fake court with Angelica serving as the attorney, grilling and confirming the other babies' stories about what they were doing when the lamp broke. Near the end, when questioned why she isn't a suspect, Tommy says that Angelica couldn't have done it because she was "taking a nap"... at which point everyone realizes Angelica shouldn't have known what they were doing when the lamp broke if she was asleep. Angelica confesses that she broke the lamp, and tries to pull a Karma Houdini by pointing out that they can't get her in trouble because the adults can't understand the babies. Too bad for Angelica that the adults can understand her, and the gloating confession she makes is loud enough to be heard by Didi and Betty.
- In another episode, Angelica tries to get a new Cynthia doll, along with the other babies' stash of candy, by faking her Cynthia's kidnapping, complete with a ransom note and a phone call with the "kidnapper". However, the babies realize something's up when they figure out that the ransom note is a page torn out of Angelica's coloring book. Soon after, Angelica is found with chocolate smeared all over her face, and tells the other babies that the kidnapper demanded more candy... even though she wasn't there during the phone call. The babies immediately call her out on this, and Angelica's plan is exposed.
- In the Sally Bollywood episode "The Party", Sally and Doowee are investigating who gatecrashed a party. Whilst interrogating a known-gatecrasher, the gatecrasher points that it couldn't have been him and his buddies, since they don't wear masks when they gatecrash. It's then pointed out that no one had mentioned that the gatecrashers were wearing masks, and a Chase Scene ensues.
- One of the villains in Big Top Scooby-Doo! gives himself away by referring to the black diamond, despite supposedly having been kidnapped when the gang learned that carbonado referred to a black diamond.
- This was done often on A Pup Named Scooby-Doo, usually cutting to Velma making a note of what was just said.
- In Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, Scooby finds the Headless Horseman's horse is automated and ends up running the Sheriff into the pond. Just before he's sent into the drink, Sheriff Buzby yells to Scooby, "Push the button!" and that gets Shaggy wondering — how did the Sheriff know the horse was mechanical?
- The Simpsons (as always) spoofed it:
- In "The Great Money Caper":
Lawyer: Will you tell the court your whereabouts at the time of the carjacking?
Willie: I was alone in me Unabomber-style shack; I had nothing to do with that carjacking.
Lawyer: Carjacking?! Who said anything about a carjacking?
[galley and jury murmurs]
Willie: But, didn't you just say—?
Lawyer: I'll ask the questions here, Carjacker Willie!
- Another instance in a Simpsons adaptation of Hamlet. Prince Hamlet (Bart) is trying to get his uncle Claudius (Moe) to confess that he killed King Hamlet (Homer):
Krusty: [as a jester] Now we would like to warn you, our performances tend to make audience members blurt out hidden secrets.
Moe/Claudius: [nervous] Oh, boy...
Krusty: Okay, we're going to up open it up with a little improv. Somebody shout out a location.
Bart/Hamlet: This castle!
Krusty: Okay, how about an occupation?
Bart/Hamlet: Usurper of the throne!
Moe/Claudius: [tugs at his collar nervously]
Krusty: I think I heard usurper of the throne. Now, finally, I need an object.
Bart/Hamlet: Ear poison!
Moe/Claudius: [nervously to Gertrude/Marge] Do you have diarrhea? I have diarrhea... [tries to leave]
Gertrude/Marge: [annoyed] Sit down.
[Sideshow Mel, Krusty and the Monkey begin acting out a situation in which Mel starts pouring ear poison down Krusty's ear]
Moe/Claudius: Wait a minute, I didn't use that much poison!
Moe/Claudius: I mean, I didn't use that much poi, son, at the royal luau. Heh heh...
- Used in a "Treehouse of Horror" segment parodying A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Lisa: Mom, Martin died at school today!
Marge: Oh my! I don't see that that has to do with Groundskeeper Willie.
Lisa: Um... We didn't mention Groundskeeper Willie.
- In "The Great Money Caper":
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Hidden Enemy", one of the clones betrays his brothers. Captain Rex and Commander Cody discover a listening device planted in their command center and begin to question a squad of suspected clones about it. The turncoat mentions the Jedi had left something only Rex and Cody knew at the time. Though strangely enough, he wasn't one of the suspects.
Chopper: No! Sir! I'm telling you, I did not
Slick: It's okay, we'll get you a proper investigation. You don't have to say anything 'til the Jedi come back and talk to you.
[A few seconds later..]
Cody: Sargeant, What did you mean "'til the Jedi come back"? How did you know the Jedi were gone?
Slick: I really wish you hadn't noticed that, sir...
- SWAT Kats: In "Razor's Edge", Razor believes he injured two innocent elderly civilians in a chase and it negatively effects his skills to the point where he chooses to retire from being a vigilante. He sneaks his way into the hospital an attempt at forgiveness from the two. While choosing to give up, the old man says he wouldn't be able to defeat Dark Kat. That caught Razor's attention, since nobody knew that it was Dark Kat who was responsible for the recent attacks. The elderly couple are then revealed to be two much younger criminals Dark Kat hired to pose as victims to mess with the Swat Kats and Razor takes them down.
- On X-Men, the Beast is the only X-Man to escape when the alien Phalanx attack the mansion. He gets away with renegade member Warlock to contact President Kelly about a huge threat. After getting their location, Kelly tells Beast that a helicopter is coming to "pick you both up at once."
Warlock: Self-friend Hank, you did not tell the President about Self.
Beast: We can explain that in person...
Warlock: Query: Then why did the President refer to "both" of us?
[cue Oh, Crap! look from the Beast]
- As noted, police actually do rely on this as part of real life interrogation techniques. However, over-reliance on this technique has led to a significant number of false confessions and erroneous arrests. Police will either feed the suspect information he didn't know before and he'll repeat it back, and they'll use that to browbeat a confession out of him, or the suspect will make inferences that make it seem like he knows more about the crime than he really does (it's very easy to assume that the victim was shot in a murder case, for example - and if a suspect says many different things, the police can report only the inferences that were correct, making them sound incriminating out of context). This has caused police in some countries to abandon the technique entirely.
- Suspicion that Wallace Souza had ordered or coordinated Brazilian gangland murders for his TV show Canal Livre grew when he approached a still-smoldering body in a forest, saying "It smells like a barbecue," he says. "It is a man. It has the smell of burning meat. The impression is that it was in the early hours... it was an execution," even though the police had never given a time of death. Also, he tended to arrive a little too quickly at the scene of the crime. He died before he could be prosecuted.
- As seen on the Saying Too Much page, where a woman was arrested as a suspect in the murder of a man that had won the jackpot and had disappeared, then turned up dead several days later. She was also under suspicion of embezzling it, and after being released from a round of questioning tearfully professed that she had been falsely accused of shooting another human being. Police had yet to release exactly how the man had died.
- Paul Powell killed a teenage girl and raped and attempted to stab her sister, and was sentenced to death. There was insufficient evidence that Powell had attempted to rape Stacie Reed before killing her, so he could not be convicted of Capital Murder and the Supreme Court of Virginia reversed his death sentence. So Paul believed he no longer faced a death sentence because of Double Jeopardy, and he sent the prosecutor a taunting letter where he confessed, in detail, to attempting to rape Stacie before killing her. The letter was used by the Commonwealth to send him back to the electric chairnote . He was named an At-Risk Survivor by the Darwin Awards.
- Macedonian crime reporter Vlado Taneski became a suspect of being the Serial Killer that stalked Taneski's own hometown and he often wrote about, when he included copious details about the crimes that had not been disclosed to the public, such as the type of phone cord used to strangle the victims, or the fact that it had also been used to tie them.
- Judge Judy once handed down a judgment in less than thirty seconds because of this. The plaintiff was arguing that the two defendants had stolen her wallet, hence the trial. After the plaintiff was finished listing the items that were in the stolen wallet, one of the defendants piped up that there was no earpiece in the wallet...but he had to have stolen the wallet to know that.
- During the well-publicized trial of Aaron Hernandez for the shooting death of Odin Lloyd, New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft testified that Hernandez had professed his innocence to him, claiming he was at a nightclub when Lloyd was killed. Even now, no one knows exactly what time the murder took place. Jurors specifically cited this testimony as part of their reasoning for finding Hernandez guilty.
- This was how WFAA sportscaster Dale Hansen managed to trap three officials at Southern Methodist University into admitting they were still paying players on their football team. Hansen had gotten an envelope from a former SMU player who had alleged that he'd been paid by the program and that the envelope had money in it. Hansen then showed the envelope to the officials, and at first, administrator Henry Lee Parker admitted that he'd sent the envelope, but then immediately backtracked, as did the other two officials. At this point, Hansen knew the allegations were true because he'd never mentioned to Parker what had allegedly been in the envelope. Until then, all he had was the word of the former player (David Stanley). If the officials hadn't sent money, they wouldn't have backtracked from their original admission. This eventually led to SMU's football program being given the NCAA's "Death Penalty", resulting in the cancellation of their next two seasons and severe restrictions on their program like limits on coaching hires which so devastated the previously-successful program it took them over twenty years to play in another postseason bowl.
- In 1995, the Spanish murderer Serafín Cervilla raped and killed his girlfriend due to her intention to leave him, then played the afflicted boyfriend on TV to cast suspicion off himself. However, the police had him as their main suspect from the beginning, and he only put himself in more trouble when, at the end of a massive demonstration clamoring for justice, he deposited a bouquet of flowers in the exact spot where the woman had been murdered... which wasn't the same place where the body was found, and nobody had told Serafín about.
- Seen in the police interview with Texas serial killer Steven Hobbs on the episode "Predator" of The First 48. During interrogation, he asks what he's being arrested for. The detective replies that some prostitutes had accused him of getting rough during tricks (which they had, and how he'd been identified as a suspect in the murders).
Hobbs: I never killed nobody.
Detective: I never said you killed anybody.
- This (along with Hoist by His Own Petard) is how Stephen McDaniel was arrested and eventually convicted of killing a fellow college student, Lauren Giddings. During a local news report about Lauren Giddings being missing, Stephen was interviewed as one of the witnesses who last saw her. During the interview, he was trying to act shocked and confused about her disappearance, but was saying things that were a little too detailed for someone who didn't know anything. The reporter caught on to this and revealed that a body was found, but she is not sure if it was Giddings. The facial expression from McDaniel gives him away, along with his panicking during the rest of the interview where he gives more details about things he shouldn't know.
- A few days after the January 2021 Capitol riots, Representatives Sean Maloney (D-NY-18) and Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ-11) accused an unnamed member of Congress of having given tours of the Capitol to future rioters the day prior for reconaissance purposes. A fellow Representative, Lauren Boebert (R-CO-3), responded on Twitter by blaming Maloney for accusing her — at which point everybody paying attention realized that she was the one they were talking about. Sure enough, days later, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN-9) specifically named Boebert as the one who led the tour.