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"A strange new feeling overcame me at this point, a feeling that stung pleasurably: I felt superior to my father! Momentarily I felt a certain loathing for his ignorance. His upbraiding me for my muddy boots seemed pitiful. "If you only knew" crossed my mind as I stood there like a criminal being cross-examined for a stolen loaf of bread when the actual crime was murder."
Demian by Hermann Hesse

A character says something that connects to a fact or event of which they're unaware, usually to someone who is in the know. A common variation of this is You Look Like You've Seen a Ghost. Often shows up in supernatural settings with a Masquerade, but mundane versions can occur, such as the Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy telling Sweet Polly Oliver she "fights like a girl".

Sometimes subverted in that the seemingly Genre Blind character turns out to be hinting that they do know the truth. If neither the characters nor the audience know about the secret, but find out later, it's Foreshadowing.

This is sometimes expressed as "You have no idea" or something along those lines.

Contrast Literal Metaphor, in which Character A means what he says literally, but Character B takes it as a figure of speech; and the twin tropes It Will Never Catch On and This Is Going to Be Huge, where a character in a show set in the past makes often wildly inaccurate predictions about the future for comedic effect. Compare Accidental Truth, where someone makes up a lie for whatever reason that ends up becoming a reality, and Joke and Receive, where the character's joke matches reality. Subtrope of Dramatic Irony.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Rin, from Blue Exorcist, was harassed and called a demon as a child. Guess whose biological son he turns out to be?
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
  • In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Kyousuke, who doesn't know about magical girls, says it would take magic or some kind of miracle to heal his paralysed hand. Which, thanks to Sayaka, is exactly what happens.
    • The Forger family is asked about Anya's strengths and weaknesses during the Eden Academy interview. Her father's answer is funny, because Anya can break the Mutual Masquerade within her new family at any given time (but deliberately chooses not to):
    Loid: Sometimes, it even shocks me how astute she is. It's almost like she's reading my mind!
    Anya: (has visibly sweating Oh, Crap! face and loud heartbeat because that's exactly what she's doing)
    • When the Eden Academy bus is hijacked, the hijackers put an bomb collar on Anya to scare the kids into compliance. Due to her mind-reading ability, she knows that the collar is a fake, and as a result acts downright flippant about it. The other kids are shocked by her ability to seemingly stay calm while strapped to a bomb, and Damian wonders if she has nerves of steel because she was raised by an assassin. Anya's stepmother is, in fact, a Professional Killer, and she has tried to train Anya (primarily in self-defense and for Dodgeball).

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: Black and White: In "Bent Twigs", an abusive father attempts to justify his actions to Batman by claiming that his son is disruptive and he doesn't know what to do. Batman calmly points out that family counselling is a thing. The father scoffs, "And who's going to pay for it — you? What are you, Bruce Wayne or something?" Batman is, in fact, famous millionaire Bruce Wayne (though he doesn't reveal that fact to this man).
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): Steve Trevor lampshades how fictional characters stranded on a strange island are often helped by a princess- only for Diana to spin around and demand how he knows she's a princess. He is very apologetic for upsetting her and makes it clear he had no clue.
  • Played for Laughs in Marvel Adventures: The Avengers Issue #2. Spider-Man is trapped by The Leader, whose brain is big, alongside the Hulk. After hearing a long Motive Rant by the Leader, the Hulk breaks free and Spidey quips that the Leader must only want to Take Over the World so he can make top hats mandatory. The Leader commands his minions to stop him, but whispers "how did he know about the top hats?"
  • Old Lady Harley: Lex Luthor takes the crew (sans Harley) to see Joker's corpse to make sure he's dead. They discover that his body is missing its head. They conclude he must be really dead, then, aside from Red Tool, who suggests that someone took his head, attached it to a robot body and now Joker's circling the earth in a space station, watching them and laughing about the whole thing. Croc calls it ridiculous, but as it turns out, it's exactly what happened.

    Fan Works 
  • Advice and Trust: In chapter 7, Asuka abruptly leaves the dining table to lie down in her bedroom, due to being severely traumatized from the aftermath of the battle against Bardiel (she and her boyfriend Shinji were fired as pilots for disobeying orders, and on top of that, she'd just learned her fellow pilot and best friend Hikari had been absorbed into Unit-03's core). Shinji watches her leave long enough for Misato to notice:
    Misato: You're going to have to tell her you like her one of these days, Shin-chan. She could use the pick-me-up right now, I think.
    Shinji: (thinking) You have no idea, Misato-san, and right now I almost wish you did.
  • Create Your Own Fate: While verbally sparring with an officious Starfleet Intelligence officer at a starship crash site, Captain Kanril Eleya remarks that the fact that he won't show her his orders to remove classified materials from the site means that she has no proof those orders actually exist, and therefore as the ranking officer on site, she can legally order him to pound sand. Commander Lastagee's orders in fact don't exist: Eleya realizes later that he's a shapeshifted Undine, trying to erase evidence of events he thinks might harm his race's interests.
  • Used almost word-for-word in Jonathan Joestar, The First JoJo:
    "I see! While it does make me happy Speedwagon stayed by her side, I am awfully curious about what occurs in the future, especially what happened that didn't allow me to be by your side, but I suppose you cannot tell me, correct?"
    Oh, if only you knew. Joseph thought bitterly, wanting nothing more than to run outside, find Dio, rip his head off and burn it. "Sorry. I can't, grandpa. But you'll know soon enough."
    Jonathan muttered a very small "Oh", before falling into silence, eyes casted downwards as curiosity swirled in his endlessly blue eyes.
  • Learning How to Be a Princess has Edric and Emira bring up the possibility of Luz being the daughter of Emperor Belos... but only as a joke in the middle of teasing their baby sister about her obvious crush, after seeing that Amity labeled Luz as "Princess" in her contacts. They do learn the truth a few chapters later, though.
    Emira: Odds are, that she's actually the Princess, or you and her are totally dating and she's your girlfriend!
    Edric: (laughing) And I like our odds because honestly, I'm pretty sure the Emperor is a sack of bones under that cloak!
  • In Mauling Snarks, a Worm fanfic, after Taylor gets new superpowers, a copy of Panacea's abilities, Director Piggot and Miss Militia warn her that if this information gets out, she will become a target for every villain around, and even Slaughterhouse Nine might get interested and go after her. Taylor, Amy, and their parents immediately start cracking up at that idea, because they know that the Nine are secretly good guys and their leader is Taylor's uncle, so she's in no danger whatsoever from them.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Hans's speech to a dying Anna in Frozen about how nobody ever loved her has them both assume that Elsa never really loved her sister at all which given what she did to her sister before, certainly has a bit of credibility even if we know that isn't the case for her. Of course even ignoring that, there is still Kristoff and Olaf, both whom definitely shown to care for her particularly when the latter saved her and helped relift Anna's spirits up after realizing that her sister and former lover may not love her but there are still others who do such as the snowman and Kristoff himself.
    • The song "I'll Make a Man Out of You" in Mulan has the line, "Did they send me daughters when I asked for sons?" The commander thinks he's turning boys into men, but of course, with Mulan the starting point is a bit different! Though ironically, she becomes much a more capable soldier than her comrades in arms.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Daredevil (2003) has a scene in which Elektra sarcastically asks Matt, "Are you blind?" She apologizes profusely when he tells her that, yes, he is.
  • In Bruges: Ken is a few drinks down when Ray meets him in a bar and lightly asks if he's drowning his sorrows. Ken had just been asked by his gangland boss to kill Ray.
  • The Incredible Mr. Limpet: George Stickel is trying to explain to Bessie that her husband, Henry, is still alive, but can't tell her the truth: that Henry has turned into a fish.
    George: You can't see him. You wouldn't want to.
    Bessie: I do want to. How can you say a thing like that? Why can't I see him?
    George: It's impossible. His work for the Navy is top-secret. Just be happy with his paycheck. Don't even mention his name to anyone.
    Bessie: There's something fishy about this.
    George: You said it!
  • In Solo, both Q'ira and Beckett hint to Han that the former's past is more bloody than what Han might expect after abandoning her on Corellia three years prior. When Beckett confronts Han about his relationship with Q'ira, the following conversation ensues (paraphrased):
    Han: You don't know her like I do.
    Beckett: I'm thinkin' you don't know her well enough.
  • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Quentin Beck claims to come from an entirely different universe. He's lying, but it is revealed in Spider-Man: No Way Home that the multiverse does exist, much to Peter's shock.
  • Strange Days: When Lenny asks Mace whether she knows what it's like to love someone who doesn't love you back, she responds this way.

  • Ascendance of a Bookworm:
    • Such a case is retroactively revealed. Little after meeting Sylvester, an annoying Manchild with whom she's about to spend some time traveling, the protagonist tells her temporary bodyguard Damuel that she wants to stay away from Sylvester as much as possible. Damuel answers she has no idea how much he agrees with her. It later turns out that Sylvester is the most powerful noble of the duchy incognito and Damuel recognized him from seeing him in the past. The setting is also one in which people can get in trouble for displeasing people of significantly higher status than themselves and Damuel is as low in status as one can get while still being both and adult an a noble.
    • The protagonist gets adopted into nobility in circumstances that make her commoner birth a well-kept secret (a Sent Into Hiding story is told to anyone else who asks), causing such moments on occasion:
      • She transfers two pairs of orphaned siblings to an orphanage she runs, saving them from being separated by their previous caretaker, who was about to sell only one half of each pair, in the process. One of the boys is furious when he finds out that the dormitories in their new home are sex-segregated, resulting in him spending less time with his sister. In the midst of his rant, he assumes the protagonist doesn't know what it's like to be separated from one's family, which was one of the conditions for her adoption, but a fair assumption going by her publicly-known situation. This gets the boy slapped by someone who is the protagonist's Secret-Keeper on a high enough level to know that in fact, she does and she has to deal with it to a degree much bigger than the boy has to.
      • One of the protagonist's attendants discusses with her how much she'd qualify for her adoptive father's seat if she wanted it and points out that the protagonist has the right bloodline via the nobleman pretending to be her biological father. The protagonist can't resist an internal quip regarding her actual bloodline.
  • In Hermann Hesse's Demian, the protagonist gets blackmailed into helping a bully (he hadn't even done the deed he was being blackmailed with, but the bully eventually coerces him into a actual misdeeds). While he's living under this Dark Secret, he comes to resent his innocent family, who have no idea what's happening. (He is eventually rescued by the title character).
  • In Dragon Bones, someone tells Oreg, who looks like seventeen, to "respect his elders" or something to that effect. Oreg, actually an immortal being, who is at that point undercover as cousin of the Hurog family, grins. To be fair, the one he was allegedly impolite towards is older than he looks, too ... but not quite as old as Oreg.
  • The Master and Margarita: Professor Woland is actually the Devil. Characters who are unaware of this commonly make make mentions of the Devil rhetorically, often right in front of Woland.
  • In Modern Faerie Tales - Tithe, Kaye's grandmother says during an argument, "You think that it's enough to want things. You think that if you just want and want then you're just going to magically get them." Kaye, who's just found out she's a pixie, doesn't know whether to wince or smirk at the word "magically".
  • A Song of Ice and Fire: A prostitute tries to seduce Gendry by claiming that she is King Robert's bastard daughter and points to her sharing Robert's trademark raven black hair as evidence. Arya makes fun of her claims by pointing that Gendry himself has the same hair, so that does not mean much. What none of them knows is that Gendry is actually King Robert's bastard, and that owing to Robert's compulsive womanizing the prostitute is most likely right. Fortunately, Gendry is not in the mood.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In Arrested Development, this is done several times with Buster and Oscar Bluth, who is secretly Buster's real father.
  • The Barrier: After someone close to his employer dies, Hugo gives him a few words of sympathy and talks about how hard it is to lose important to one's life. The employer, who is old enough to have once dated Hugo's mother-in-law without there being a significant age gap, tells Hugo he's still to young to truly understand. Among other things, Hugo is hiding from his employer that his wife died very recently and that his sister-in-law is standing in for her while both of them are at work.
  • In Chernobyl, a couple of scientists at the Institute for Nuclear Energy in Minsk detect radiation in the air. Ulana Khomyuk determines that it's from nuclear fuel, and she and her assistant begin speculating where it could have come from. The nearest station responds that it isn't them, but Khomyuk says that it can't be Chernobyl because "they'd have to be split open" to be giving off that much radiation. And then they both realize that nobody there is answering the phone....
  • One episode of CSI: NY opens with Mac and Stella talking about someone from a previous case who Mac's worried about when an eyeball falls in Stella's coffee (carried by a vulture which was feeding on the corpse of the Victim of the Week.). At the end of the episode, Mac's speaking to said person:
    Girl: Hey, have you heard the latest urban legend? A woman goes to take a sip of her coffee and an eyeball falls right in the cup,
    Mac: (smiles) That's impossible.
  • Dexter is very fond of this. Characters often unintentionally say things that seem to be hinting at Dexter's dark nature, of which they are completely ignorant.
  • Used frequently in Forever. In "Dead Men Tell Long Tales" Lucas has been making terrible pirate jokes because the case involves treasure hunters recovering goods from a sunken ship. A skeleton is found, and when Henry and Lucas examine it, there's evidence the man was shot. Lucas jokes in a Hollywood pirate voice that there won't be any "''aye''-witnesses" to the crime. What he doesn't know is that Henry was on that very ship, spoke to the man in question, and was killed for the first time there, possibly with the same gun! (But, as Henry was killed and his body tossed overboard before the man's death, he is indeed not an eye-witness.)
  • Played for Drama in Game of Thrones. Queen Cersei swears to her brother Tyrion that one day he'll love someone dearly and she will take her away to spite him, in vengeance for marrying her daughter off to a foreign prince to keep her safe from the impending war. She ignores that that already happened to Tyrion when his fiancée was taken years ago from him, only with their father being the one who did it. Always classy, Tyrion gives her the Death Glare and leaves without saying a word.
  • Heroes: Matt Parkman can read minds. His wife, Janice, who doesn't know, tells him, "It's like you're in my head!"
  • Kaamelott: Arthur is seeing a woman who doesn't know he's the king. Eventually he falls asleep when his father-in-law turns up.
    Tegeirian: The king needs him, right?
    Léodagan: (surprised) What do you mean, "the king needs him"?
    Tegeirian: Well I don't know, I don't know what he does... But dressed like that, I can tell he's a noble!
    Léodagan: He... He didn't tell you that...
    Tegeirian: That what?
    Léodagan: And you're telling me that you two are...
    Tegeirian: Well, it's... it's starting, in any case.
    Léodagan: Well it seems to me that if I was... what he is, I'd say it. In this kind of situation, it could put quite a few things on the fast track.
  • Resident Alien: When reviewing the evidence regarding a deadly altercation, Sheriff Mike suggests that the assailant had an extra pair of arms (an idea his deputy understandably dismisses). This is true, because the murderer was a four-armed alien.
  • Comes up a lot in Slings & Arrows. One scene is in Season 3, when Geoffrey's therapist places an empty chair before him and tells him to envision Oliver sitting there and to talk to him. When Geoffrey opens his eyes, Oliver's ghost IS there (audible and visible only to Geoffrey) and they proceed to have a screaming argument, while the therapist marvels at Geoffrey's ability to engage in the therapeutic exercise.
  • Supernatural, a woman is talking to Sam about her baby, Rosie. She says, "It's almost like she can read my mind." Since Rosie is one of the Special Children, she presumably can.

    Mythology and Religion 
  • In Classical Mythology, the original Blind Seer, Tiresias, frequently gets treated as The Cassandra by those he is prophesying for. In Oedipus the King, Oedipus naurally doesn't believe him when he claims that it was Oedipus himself that killed the previous king, Laius, who was supposed to have been killed by his son. Tiresias more or less invokes this trope when leaving out the whole Parental Incest part of what he knows. (Oedipus' wife/mother figures things out shortly before he does and hangs herself.)

    Video Games 
  • In Apollo Justice: Ace Attorney, during the credits roll, Trucy says that Apollo staying in the agency feels like meeting a lost brother. He really is her long lost half-brother, on her mother's side.
  • In Divinity: Dragon Commander, if so desired, the player may secretly allow the demon Corvus to devour any or all of the four possible queens. From everyone else's perspective, it appears the queen vanished overnight. If you do this to Queen Camilla, councilwoman Prospera will ask if you threw her off the airship, then take it back while admitting, "that sounds about as likely as you feeding her to a demon."
  • At the end of Ghost Trick, Lynne grabs Sissel the cat and says "I bet you're just like me. Your destiny led you here somehow too". In this timeline, she doesn't know the whole lot of things Sissel did for her, and that she only exists like that because of his efforts. She thinks he's just the stray kitten from ten years ago, while he and Jowd remember everything.
  • Persona 5 Tactica: In the DLC storyline, Luca came under the assumption that Akechi was a "heartless, hyper-rational bastard" and is assured to find he's a stand-up guy. Anyone familiar with Persona 5 knows the actual truth.
    Akechi: Well... I'll just pretend I didn't hear that.

    Web Comics 
  • Dear Children: In Chapter 3, Josh accidentally hits a major truth when he's hamming it up among the shipping containers in front of Devin's camera: namely, that important things can be learned by studying the movement of crates. Though Josh doesn't know it, Arthur Langworthy appears to be moving supplies and/or creatures for the cult in shipping containers, so this is quite a pertinent comment.
  • Doki Doki Literature Girls: After being asked by Monika what H. P. Lovecraft's novels are about, Yuri explains that he pioneered a genre of horror called "cosmicism" which that deals with the fear that our existence is meaningless in the grand scheme of things and that we're just a creation of a greater, unfeeling God who doesn't care about us. She then asks Monika whether she would become a nihilistic psychopath if she realized that everything she ever felt was insignificant and that our world held little value. Unbeknownst to Yuri, her description of cosmicism is actually a perfect reflection of Monika's situation as someone who's aware of her own status as a fictional character, unhappy about it, and gets driven to commit cruel acts against the other characters because of it.
  • In an early arc of Girl Genius, Agatha's personal locket is stolen by a pair of thieves on the day Baron Wulfenbach comes to visit the university she works at. She doesn't know that it has a device implanted in it that kills one of the two thieves, and the other is caught by Wulfenbach trying to get to their workshop in the chaos that breaks out. Assuming, due to an Entertainingly Wrong analysis of the scene, that Agatha is the thief's lover, Wulfenbach has them both taken up to his dirigible together and put in one room. Strangely enough, neither of them are happy to see the other, but the man is particularly aggressive and treats Agatha with blatant and open mistrust and suspicion.
    Agatha: What is the matter with him? You'd think I killed that stupid brother of his!
  • Housepets!: Given all of King's constant fretting and stressing out of small things, his girlfriend Bailey mutters to Sasha that 'Sometimes I suspect he's a miniature human in a dog suit' - unaware that King is a Forced Transformation victim.
  • In Slightly Damned:
    Jason: Lately I've been seeing a couple of weird-looking guys in goofy clothes wandering around, although I haven't seen them in a while. There've even been rumors that people spotted demons lurking around the inn a few days ago. Crazy stuff, huh Snake?
    Rhea:note  You don't know the half of it, J.
  • Stand Still, Stay Silent: During a Talking in Your Dreams session with Onni, Reynir is trying very hard to not give him a piece of bad news because he knows Onni's younger sister Tuuri wants to tell him herself over the radio once he awakes from his Deep Sleep. Hiding it becomes a little hard when the first thing Onni asks Reynir is how his family members on the crew are doing, and Hesitation Equals Dishonesty kicks in when Reynir tries to claim that the whole crew is fine. Reynir pulls an Infraction Distraction, for which Onni falls, by pretending to have been covering up the wound incurred by Sigrun, another member of the crew who is not related to Onni. This prompts Onni to hope that that wound is not keeping Sigrun from protecting the weaker crew members. Exactly this happening was a factor in the piece of bad news that Reynir is hiding from Onni.

    Web Original 
  • The Angry Video Game Nerd:
    • In the Colecovision episode, he jokes that he wonders if The Addams Family had a Coleco Adam computer. The Addams family were actually the first TV family to own a computer, albeit one of the old fashioned UNIVAC types.
    • In one of his early reviews, he makes reference to a supposedly made up game called Taxman Note . Later on, he learns that was a real game that was a Pac-Man clone.
    • In his review of Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, he points out the famous "I am Error" oddity, and jokes that it's probably just the character's name. In fact, he's right; the character really is named Error.
  • Furry Basketball Association: In an interview, Brock Thiessen recalls purchasing a new wonder drink in the 1920s. His great-aunt is furious with him for spending a whole $1.00 for it (for the tiny bottle that the drink came in, that's still a pricey drink today, never mind back in the 1920s), and dismisses it as snake oil and comes to the conclusion that the drink is "deadly poison." The drink in question? Radithor, which contains the toxic and radioactive element Radium. Brock sells the bottle to the chemistry department of a local university, and thanks his great-aunt for her wise council.
  • Lucahjin:
    • In Episode 21 of her blind Super Paper Mario LP, she mixes up her words and accidentally refers to Tippi as "Timpani", before she actually learns the truth about the two characters.
    • In Case 3 of Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, she makes the following comment upon first seeing the metal fence that has claimed the lives of two men with extreme prejudice, having no clue how correct she is.
      Phoenix: Don't get too close. That fence looks dangerous.
      Lucah: It does. It looks like it could impale someone, jeez.
  • Noob: La Quête Légendaire: The webseries that preceded the movie established Abraham was a Nun Too Holy priest, but the info came from his Manchild son Sparadrap, while the story is set in a country in which priests are supposed to stay celibate. Abraham makes his debut in the movie and reveals to the audience that there is more to him than Sparadrap knows while chatting with his younger but more aware son, and the secret is something that was so far hidden for a very, very good in-universe reason. During this occasion, Abraham spends time with Sparadrap and his friends, and keeps the "just a priest who happens to have children, nothing else to see" act for the sake of keeping the secret. Abraham eventually leaves and one of Sparadrap's female friends, who apparently didn't fully believe Abraham was a priest until meeting him, comments on how she's creeped out by the idea of Abraham being a priest. Sparadrap's brother happens to be present when she makes the remark and can't help letting the words "If only you knew." escape his mouth.
  • Todd in the Shadows: In his "One Hit Wonderland" episode on The Proclaimers, he wonders what "haver" means, and makes a wild guess that it means "babbling out nonsense words." The definition then pops up on screen.
    "Huh. So that's exactly what it means."

    Western Animation 
  • Central Park: In Season 2 "Sir Bricks-A-Lot", Paige's story has her become such a famous author that she gets a stalker, which she's actually glad to have. When Owen questions this, she say he could have a park stalker, cut to Birdie sitting on a tree branch outside watching them, giving a Defensive "What?" to the camera.
  • DC Animated Universe:
  • The Owl House: During the haunted hayride in "Thanks to Them", Masha tells the kids the story of the Wittebane brothers, a pair of orphans who came to Gravesfield in the early 17th century. As they tell it, Caleb Wittebane was lured into a realm of evil by a witch named Evelyn, and his younger brother Philip went after him to save him, with neither ever being seen again. At the end of the story, they dramatically theorize that Philip may still be chasing his brother in an endless cycle of horror and strife, before following it up with their own theory that "big bro got a hot witch girlfriend and little bro got upset." They are right on the money on both accounts. Caleb entered a romantic relationship with Evelyn, and settled down to live with her in the Demon Realm. Philip became so enraged at this perceived betrayal that he stabbed Caleb to death, then proceeded to create and then murder dozens of Expendable Clones of Caleb in his attempts to make a "better version" that wouldn't betray him, with Hunter being the latest iteration.
  • Spongebob Squarepants: In "Boating School", Mrs. Puff unknowingly guesses on how Spongebob has been able to drive with ease before making him realize that he has been cheating.
  • Teen Titans (2003): In the episode "Homecoming, Part 1", the Titans meet the Doom Patrol. The Doom Patrol expresses skepticism about the competency of the Titans to combat the Brotherhood of Evil, saying something along the lines of "We've been fighting this great evil our whole lives. What have you done?" One of the Titans—having just come from defeating a trans-dimensional demon who destroyed the world by showing up — responds, "You have no idea."


Video Example(s):


Mrs. Puff guesses right

On their way towards the finish line, Mrs. Puff unknowingly make accurate assumptions on how SpongeBob was able to pass his test before making him realize that he's cheating.

How well does it match the trope?

4.93 (15 votes)

Example of:

Main / IfOnlyYouKnew

Media sources: