Captain Mainwaring: Don't tell him, Pike!
This is when someone — usually a villain — grabs hold of the Idiot Ball, and denies information in such a fashion that states exactly what is allegedly being denied. For example, Alice has defeated Bob, The Dragon, whose boss has kidnapped Carol. Alice demands to know where Carol is, but Bob just smirks at her and says, "Ha! I'll never tell you that she's in the warehouse in Somewhere City!"
A sort of Accidental Public Confession, with a little Suspiciously Specific Denial thrown in for good measure. If the person is doing this deliberately and therefore is not being stupid at all, it's Could Say It, But... instead of this trope. Or it could be a variation where the villain has a gun in his face and he's a coward and only acts as if this is the case. If the person saying this is not a complete moron, they may follow it with "Did I Just Say That Out Loud?".
The term for this trope in rhetoric is apophasis. Also related to You Just Told Me. Truth Serums in fiction have been known to cause this. Compare Cannot Keep a Secret and Loose Lips. Sub-Trope of Saying Too Much. If the person revealing information this way is doing it deliberately, it's Could Say It, But....
- Bunny Drop: Rin, the girl in Daikichi's care, abruptly starts dancing and singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Daikichi Kawachi: Rin, what are you doing?
Rin Kaga: It's a secret, so I can't tell anyone at home about Parents' Day!
- Mega Man NT Warrior manga:
- One Piece:
- A heroic accidental example when Vivi says it would be best if the Straw Hat Pirates don't know that the one trying to ruin Alabasta Kingdom is Crocodile.
- A running gag with Sentomaru, who claims to have the world's tightest mouth, yet will immediately tell anyone whatever they want to know, even if they're not actually addressing him. He immediately adds that he's doing it just because he wants to, not because they asked.
- Before him came Fukurou from CP9, who spills vital information at the first opportunity for absolutely no reason and does it so much that he was fitted with a zipper over his mouth... which he unzips before spilling vital information.
- Rurouni Kenshin:
Shishio's guard: Who are you?!
Misao: Makimachi Misao gives her name to no villain!
Guard: ... You just did.
- In an episode early in the second season of Sgt. Frog, Keroro leaves a robotic copy of himself to head the invasion so he can go to the amusement park and see the Java Risers live show. After discovering the robot, Giroro presses Tamama to tell him where Keroro went. Tamama replies by saying that he'll never tell them that Keroro's at the amusement park. Later in the episode, Tamama finds a candy house and assumes it's a gift from Keroro for keeping his secret. This adds on to an already-established gag of Tamama not being able to keep secrets.
- The very first appearance of Mr. Mxyzptlk in the comic book Superman is a textbook example of this trope, when the imp declares, "Ha! You thought you could trick me into telling you that the magic word is 'Kltpzyxm'!" (poof). Also played with in the animated series:
Mxyzptlk: You make me say, spell, or otherwise reveal my name backwards and I'll split until our dimensions come into alignment again in about, oh, three months, give or take.
Superman: I can't even say your name forwards. How am I supposed to say it backwards?
Mxyzptlk: No, dope! You don't have to say it backwards! You've got to get me to say it!
Superman: Say what?
Mxyzptlk: KLTPZYXM! Gosh, you're thick! Now, for the last time... [realizes] ahh nuts! [disappears]
[ninety days later]
Mxyzptlk: [reappearing in the bathroom mirror] Hi guy! Your three months are up, and this time, you're not gonna cheat me out of my fun!
Superman: Oh, it's you again, Mr. Kltpzyxm.
Mxyzptlk: Not "Kltpzyxm"! Mxyztplk! Now the first thing I'm gonna do... ahh nuts! (poof!)
- ...and so on and so on...
- Done by the title Gentleman Thief in Don Rosa's Scrooge McDuck-story The Black Knight Glorps Again, not out of stupidity, but sheer ballsiness. In his civilian persona of playboy millionaire Arpin Lusene he gives the following statement to the press:
Lusene: Zat would be ze greatest crime in histoire, non? But... Ah 'ave no idea what ze Black Knight plans to do... tomorrow morning at 10AM! Here! Pass zese out!
(passes a written program of the caper's details)
- Thompson and Thomson from the Tintin series do this a lot. An example from The Castafiore Emerald:
Thomson or Thompson: No, our lips are sealed. We can't tell you whom we suspect, but it isn't anyone in the house. Mum's the word, you know.
Thompson or Thomson: Yes, dumb's the word, that's our motto. So we're not allowed to tell you about the gypsies, though we suspected them from the start...
- In one story of Monica's Gang, Smudge (Cascão) had his right arm in a cast and Jimmy Five (Cebolinha) wrote on it that Monica was short, fat and buck-toothed. Upon reading it, she became furious but realized it wasn't Smudge who wrote it. When she asked who was, he told her she'd never make him tell it was Jimmy.
- In Astérix and the Cauldron, Asterix decides that to refill the cauldron, he and Obelix will have to rob a Roman-controlled bank. While he goes for supplies, he sends Obelix to scout the bank for the heist. The guard out front instantly catches on to Obelix, and boasts about the bank's security measures—including at what time the guards change shifts and how to open the vault—to dissuade him. Obelix returns to Asterix and reports, "I didn't learn anything. He saw through me before I could get any ideas."
- In the 2015 Free Comic Book Day instalment of Atomic Robo, Dr Dinosaur tells Robo that there's a self-destruct control in his briefcase that he absolutely won't tell Robo about. Subverted. The "self-destruct" is a note reading "IT'S FUNNY BECAUSE U WILL DIE".
- Impulse #77 (part of the Our Worlds at War crossover) opens with this from the narrator:
"Okay, let's say, just for the sake of argument, that you haven't already read the first part of this star-spanning saga in the pages of Young Justice #36 (still on sale!)...
And let's say that you don't know that the entire Young Justice gang has crash-landed on the volatile and unforgiving surface of Apokolips, home of the dark god Darkseid and about a million other unpleasant people...
And let's just assume that you don't know that, following the crash, Superboy and Robin had a fight over priorities and the team split up: Robin's team to stay with the downed ship and effect repairs...
... Superboy's team striking out across the harsh terrain in search of the fallen hero Steel, whose seemingly lifeless body was seen being spirited away by the grim herald of death, the Black Racer!
Well, if you don't know all that, we're not gonna tell ya.
Man, we'd hate to be you...
- Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! Brewster Rockit does this once when he decides to narrate his life out loud.
- Calvin in Calvin and Hobbes writes Susie a cut-and-paste ransom note for her doll, which reads:
If you want to see your doll again, leave 100 dollars in this envelope by the tree out front. Do not call the police. You cannot trace us. You cannot find us. Sincerely, Calvin.
- In Flames and Twilight Flare Blitz accidentally tells the mane six that he has a pet name for Twilight. After much pestering from the other five, he says, "There is no way in the wide, wide world of Equestria that I am telling you that I call her my little Element of Harmony..." (changed to "Sparkle Fairy" in a later revision.) Reactions vary.
- In This Bites!, Garp does this twice on the SBS, first about Luffy's parentage, and then about Vivi's Sovereign Will.
- Harry Potter and the Prince of Slytherin:
Harry: Let's start over. What's your name?
Dobby: Oooooo! Dobby cannot tell the Potter child his name! If it got back to Dobby's masters that Dobby had warned the Potter child of danger, Dobby's head would be mounted on the Wall of Shame!
- In Have You Ever Seen The Rain? a married couple tries to rob Florean Fortescue's.
Tonks: Hey! You two! What's your names?
Husband: Don't answer her Tasha! Damn. I mean, uh, don't answer her, Jo!
Wife: My name's not Jo, you idiot.
Husband: No, it's obviously not, I'm just saying that so they don't think it's Natasha! And now I've gone and blown it again.
Wife: Honestly, Mark, you really are useless sometimes. Oh no.
- Gretchen pretends to do this throughout Mean Girls as a way of spreading gossip. ("Maybe she feels weird around me because I'm the only one who knows about her nose job.... Oh my god. Pretend you didn't hear that.") Later the tables get turned when Karen does it sincerely in her apology during the trust exercise:
"Gretchen. I'm sorry I laughed at you that time you got diarrhea at Barnes and Noble. And I'm sorry I told everyone about it. And I'm sorry for repeating it now."
- In Horse Feathers, Wagstaff fails to guess the password to the speakeasy, and Chico tells him, "You can't come in here unless you say 'Swordfish.' Now I'll give you one more guess." Of course, Wagstaff's next guess is the correct password.
- In Lethal Weapon, Riggs and Murtaugh question a kid who may have seen who planted a bomb to kill their prime suspect. When Murtaugh asks the kid his name, one of his friends shouts, "Don't tell him your name, Alvin!"
- Harry Potter's Hagrid has a bad habit of this, especially in the first book. For example, the heroes are looking for info on the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, and Hagrid tells them that they should give up and the only people who need to worry about the Stone are Dumbledore and Nicolas Flamel... when they didn't know about Flamel yet. In the movie, they turn "I shouldn't'a told you that" his catchphrase.
- In a variant, the Death of Discworld once tricked a swan into singing its "swan song", a necessary prerequisite before it could die, using this trope:
Swan: Thought you'd got me there, didn't you. Thought you'd tricked me, eh? Thought I might unthinkingly give you a couple of bars of the Pedlar's song from Lohenshaak, eh?
Death: I don't know that one.
Swan: That's the one that goes "Schneide meinen eigenen Hals—"
Death: Thank you.
Swan's ghost: Bugger!
- Charles Hamilton, writing under the pseudonym Frank Richards, made his William George (Billy) Bunter character practically live this trope. If questioned about something wrong which he had done, Bunter would almost always reveal his indisputable guilt while trying to deny it.
- Parodied in Skulduggery Pleasant when the main characters ask their friend Ghastly about a private meeting.
Ghastly: I'm sorry, but I can't be talking about that with you. I can't say, for instance, [lists everything he can't tell them]
- In the Fáfnismál, when Sigurth has hit the dragon Fafnir and both know Fafnir will die, the dragon asks Sigurth who he is. Sigurth knows that telling a dying person your name is stupid, since they have a special nasty curse power.
Sigurth: My name is Badass, I have no mother and no father either.
Fafnir: How were you fathered without a father?
Sigurth: My race, methinks, is unknown to thee, And so am I myself; Sigurth my name, and Sigmund's son, Who smote thee thus with the sword.
- According to Dave Barry Slept Here, Deep Throat's identity "remains a closely guarded secret to this very day because it was Pat Nixon in drag."
- A Mad TV sketch has the following exchange:
"I'm not going to tell you my name. Because when you tell someone your name, you give them power over you. Like if you said, 'Ron,' I'd say 'What?' And no-one's going to have that kind of power over Ron Shaffer!"
- Blackadder I: The queen insists she can keep the secret of Prince Edmund oversleeping and missing the battle altogether:
Queen: Do I tell people that your brother is afraid of spoons? Or that your father has very small private parts?
- Blackadder Goes Forth: Baldrick and George, denying that Captain Blackadder shot the pigeon. General Melchett's pigeon.
- Inverted during Blackadder's subsequent court martial, when "decisive witness" Baldrick is told to "deny everything."
George: [as Blackadder's defence] Are you Private Baldrick?
George: Um... But you are Captain Blackadder's batman...
George: Come on, Baldrick, be a bit more helpful — it's me!
Baldrick: No it isn't!
- And in Blackadder's Christmas Carol Prince Albert does this repeatedly, when not telling Queen Victoria about his surprise presents.
- Blackadder I: The queen insists she can keep the secret of Prince Edmund oversleeping and missing the battle altogether:
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Heroic version. In the musical episode, Anya and Xander's song "I'll Never Tell" is one long string of these, and Buffy is later forced to reveal she was in heaven during her temporary death. This is the result of a demon compelling them to sing the truth.
- Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps: Louise attempts to avoid giving any indication that Gaz is Corinthian's father. She eventually encounters Gaz and says she's not going to tell him he himself is the father.
- In the functional finale of Beetleborgs Metallix, the heroes have just managed to swipe the Astral Axe, which controls one of the two Humongous Mecha of the season, Boron. The one who snatched it holds the axe high, intending to summon Boron by shouting his name...nothing happens. The villains laugh at him, one of them snorting derisively about how he forgot to say "Arise," after which of course the hero repeats the incantation, giving them the key to defeating the bad guys' plot.
- Dad's Army, regarding Pike's name:
"Don't tell him, Pike!"
- Employed as a joke in Desperate Housewives:
Lynette: No, my favorite thing is to think all of the things I want to say to you but don't. Like "Pipe down, you annoying nutjob!" I'd never say that.
- A particularly clunky example occurs in a second-season episode of Lie to Me: a guy suspected of killing a woman named Connie claims to not know her husband, Eric. When asked if he'd ever been to Connie's house, the suspect immediately replies, "No, I've never been to Eric's wife's house." As an inadvertent slip, it seems oddly deliberate.
- Doctor Who :
- The Daleks and Cybermen have a variation in the episode "Doomsday".
Cyberman: You will identify!
Dalek: Daleks do not obey orders!
Cyberman: You... have identified as Daleks.
- A variation in the second Series 5 DVD "Meanwhile in the TARDIS" short.
Amy: This big old machine must have some kind of visual records [of the Doctor's previous companions].
The Doctor: [quietly] Oh, God. [louder] I mean, no — and anyway they're voice-locked.
Amy: [laughs] Oh, voice-locked. So I'd just have to say "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants"?
The Doctor: No, nonono, I mean voice-locked. I would have to say, "Show me all visual records of previous TARDIS inhabitants."
Amy: Awww. Thank you.
Doctor: No, no! No! No!
- The Daleks and Cybermen have a variation in the episode "Doomsday".
- In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Doctor Bashir's father comes into the public medical facility and proceeds to say to what he thinks is his son, "Don't worry, I'll never tell anyone <detailed explanation of big secret>" Slightly more of an Accidental Public Confession, but wins extra idiot points for pretty much explicitly I'll Never Say What I'm Saying Right Now. Well, part of the problem was that what he thought was the real Julian was actually the holographic model based on him, which was being controlled from the other room by O'Brien and Zimmerman. But even if it had been the real Julian, the fact that they just blurt it out in the middle of the Infirmary where anyone could walk in and overhear begs the question of how they managed to keep the secret for a quarter of a century.
Amsha: What he's trying to say is, we would never do anything to jeopardize your career.
Richard: And just so there's no misunderstanding, I give you my word that at no time in our interview with Doctor Zimmerman will we ever mention or even hint at the fact that you were genetically enhanced as a child.
Amsha: Jules, you can trust us. Your father and I have kept the secret of your DNA resequencing for almost twenty-five years and we're not going to let it out now.
- The Big Bang Theory: Sheldon Cooper is absolutely unable to keep secrets.
Penny: [inside a restaurant] Look, why is it so hard for you to keep one little secret?
Sheldon: I'm constitutionally incapable. That's why I was refused clearance for a very prestigious government research fellowship at a secret military super-collider, located beneath a fake agricultural station 12.5 miles south-east of Traverse City, Michigan.
Penny: [jaw drop]
Sheldon: Which you did not hear about from me.
- Top Gear parodies this. Very often they'll take their cars (supercars or otherwise) to a manufacturer's "top-secret road-testing facility" while the camera pans over the facility's address. That is, if Jeremy doesn't outright say the address himself, pausing to let the audience take notes.
- From Eureka:
Sheriff Carter: So... what? You're taking credit, but you had help? I'm guessing from somebody who'd want to hurt the new sheriff?
Dr. Fielding: No! ... Marguerite would never harm anyone!
- From Glee, when Brittany is asking Will embarrassing questions.
Will: Brittany, who told you to ask these?!
Brittany: Miss Sylvester says I'm not at liberty to say.
- The 1950s show House Party (redone by Bill Cosby as Kids Say the Darndest Things) was hosted by Art Linkletter, who'd interview children in hopes they'd say something amusing; one of his favorite tricks was to ask "What did your mother tell you not to say today?"
- The Fast Show featured the character of Janine, a Dumb Blonde teenage single mother, who refuses to disclose the identity of her baby's father because "it's not fair to grass on your headmaster."
- An episode of Burn Notice, Michael is tracking down a sniper, but his personnel file only has his initials, "T. G.". So they go to his boss trying to hire someone who fits his exact description, in the hopes of determining who the guy is. His boss responds that he knows exactly what they're up to: "Did you think I wouldn't figure out you're looking for Tyler Grey?"
- Family Matters:
Laura: Waldo, what's with Steve, he's acting weird, even for him!
- The episode "Life of the Party" has this exchange:
Waldo: Willie told me not to tell.
Laura: Tell what?
Waldo: That he spiked Urkel's punch.
Harriet: Now I'm not gonna say how you destroyed my kitchen! Or how you all act like children! Or what a dumb idea this was to begin with! I'm not gonna say that!
- From "Baker's Dozen":
Carl: I'm not gonna say she started it.
Rachel: And I'm not gonna say I had lousy help!
Harriet: Good, I'm glad we're in an agreement.
[Carl and Rachel start arguing]
Harriet: SHUT UP!!
[Carl and Rachel sticks their tongues at each other]
- Played for Laughs towards the beginning of The Nanny episode "Maggie the Model" between Fran Fine and Niles as they discuss supermodel Chloe Simpson, Maxwell Sheffield's old flame.
Fran: Niles, I'm sensing some hostility here. (nudges him) Now, dish!
Niles: Divulge the details of their torrid love affair, which ended with Mr. Sheffield's heart, still beating, being torn from his chest? No, I couldn't!
Fran: Oh yeah, you know, it's best left unsaid. Now, don't tell me more!
Niles: Mmm, not-not if you tortured me would I reveal the way he kept going back to her for more like a moth to a flame. An incredibly stupid moth.
- Happens on iCarly where Sam tells Carly she kissed Freddie, and then says "sshhh, don't tell Carly..." However, this is because she was on laughing gas at the time and wasn't aware of what she was saying.
- In Power Rangers Ninja Steel, a Monster of the Week is asked why he has a giant clock in his chest. His response? "I'll never tell you about the source of all my evil power!" Cue an attack aimed right at the clock while the monster futilely tries to backtrack.
- An installment of The Secret Adventures of the Tooth Fairy (a syndicated five-minute comedy interstitial) had a dentist trying to guess the famous person locked in the broom closet. He by-chance met the famous person, Thomas Edison, and is sworn to keep it a secret. The nurse is doubtfully curious:
Nurse Turken: Doctor...are you trying to tell me that Thomas Edison is in the broom closet?
Dentist: No, I'm not. I swore to keep it a secret.
- Cyrano de Bergerac: Amazingly Played for Drama at Act V Scene V, where Roxane, after fourteen years, at last realizes that Cyrano was Playing Cyrano (the whole point of the play is that Cyrano is not capable of admitting his own feelings):
Cyrano: I loved you not.
Roxane: You loved me not?
Cyrano: 'Twas he!
Roxane: You loved me!
Roxane: See! how you falter now!
Cyrano: No, my sweet love, I never loved you!
- Launce, of Two Gentlemen of Verona, does this in monologue to the audience:
He lives not now that knows me to be in love; yet I am in love; but a team of horse shall not pluck that from me; nor who 'tis I love; and yet 'tis a woman; but what woman, I will not tell myself; and yet 'tis a milkmaid.
- A variant of this is an obvious and yet surprisingly common for newbie Game Masters. GURPS gives this piece of sage advice: "It defeats the purpose (of a search roll) to say 'You don't find the gun under his jacket.'" Granted, most people are smart enough to at least downplay it to "You don't find what he's hiding" or giving other accidental cues that something is there to be found, but still.
- Related to this, Dungeons & Dragons game masters are often given advice on how to avert this; be as evasive as possible. "You don't find anything." "So there's no traps, then?" "I never said that..."
- In Street Fighter Alpha 3, this is how Birdie reveals Shadoloo's headquarters to Chun Li.
- Batman: Arkham Asylum:
- Invoked when Harley Quinn says, regarding the Joker's location: "You'll never find him! He's in a secret lab in the gardens and... aw, crap!" Of course, Bats already knew, so this just served as another item on the Humiliation Conga she was currently going through.
- In a Call-Back, Harley does this once again in the second game by not telling Batman about the Freeze Tech in the boiler room, and again in the "Harley Quinn's Revenge" DLC by not telling Robin about the secret room she and many of her mooks are hiding in.
- Final Fantasy VII plays with this trope a bit, if this is the right trope; Elena doesn't exactly tell you what she's denying, but she does continue to tell you the enemy's plans verbatim after being told explicitly that she talks too much...for telling you the enemy's plans verbatim.
- Sonic the Hedgehog:
- Deliberately invoked in Sonic Battle, where Eggman states, very loudly, "They'll never find me in Gimme Shelter!" However, Eggman was actually trying to trick Knuckles and Emerl to "follow" him to Gimme Shelter.
- Also happens in Sonic Rush Adventure; apparently, Captain Whisker is that dumb.
- Also happens in Sonic Adventure 2 when Eggman finally has Sonic and Tails where he wants them, and just needs the real Chaos Emerald to complete his scheme. Sonic sees through it. Tails... not so much.
Eggman: Did you really think you could trick me with that fake Emerald?
Tails: So... how did you know it wasn't the real one?
Eggman: Because You Just Told Me, Fox Boy!
- In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, Professor Frankley says "I don't think we can trust this box. We'd better not tell it we're looking for the Crystal Stars."
- In Super Paper Mario, Luigi announces that he'll never give his name to scoundrels like Count Bleck. Which he then immediately follows with "Now taste the wrath of Luigi!"
- In Endless Frontier, Cute Witch Kyon does this. A lot. Usually followed by "Oops. Now I have to kill you."
- The Legend of Zelda:
- In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, there are two girls on Windfall Island who embody this trope. They "won't" tell you anything, not even for two Rupees!
- And in The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, a Goron tells you that, since you're an outsider, he shouldn't tell you that the Elder's home is right over there, in this spot on your map! (Of course, the home is a big and obvious cave anyway.)
- Shadow Hearts: Covenant
- When Yuri and company reach Roger Bacon's house, Lenny appears to tell taunt them by saying Roger's been kidnapped. Yuri tricks Lenny into blabbing by claiming Lenny doesn't know where he's been taken, annoying him to the point where he vehemently tells them Roger's in Florence, Italy just to prove he does know. He then slumps to the ground, mouth agape, and sobs at what an idiot he's been.
- Yuri tries the exact same trick on Veronica later on when trying to figure out where their leader, Nicolai, went. She pretends to fall for it before responding with "That's right. I don't know. What kind of idiot would fall for that stupid trick?!", making Lenny feel like a complete jackass in the process.
- Commonly done by the villains in the Pokémon games. One of the most blatant: a Team Flare grunt worrying that, after you beat him, you might figure out that the password into their secret base is "open sesame"! There was no indication prior to fighting this guy that you even did need a password at all.
- During the tutorial in City of Villains, Operative Jenkins tells the Longbow agents that have him pinned, "I'm a trained Arachnos soldier, you won't get me to spill the name of <player name> that easy!"
- In MOTHER 3, Alec confronts Lucas regarding Claus's whereabouts (this is before Lucas becomes a Heroic Mime). He says:
Alec: Don't tell me Claus went after that detestable Drago to try to...
Lucas: Okay. I won't. I also won't tell you he grabed Dad's knife and ran off into the mountains to try and kill the Drago.
Alec: It's a good thing you raised him to be honest, Flint.
- The punchline when you interrogate (or "interrogate") the quillboar prisoner in World of Warcraft.
- In Star Control II, this exchange between the PC Captain and the Thraddash:
PC Captain: Why didn't you fight against the Alliance, and where ARE the Ur-Quan?
Thraddash: Where did they go, you ask? This is a secret, of course! We can't tell you! If we told you that they were fighting a secret war against a mysterious invader you might find some way to use that information against our masters. So forget it! No secrets!
- When Volgin tortures Snake in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, he insists that Snake is after "the legacy." Snake actually doesn't know what he is talking about, so Volgin brags of what it is and where he's hidden it. Cue The Mole, currently in the room with them, going to steal it for themselves.
- Nintendo games seem to do this a lot. In The Legendary Starfy, when Snips, Ronk, and Papes break into Pufftop Castle looking to kidnap Bunston, Starly very cleverly tells them, "I'll never tell you that he (Bunston) is safe with my brother in Sogwood Forest!"
- Dungeons & Dragons Online has Durk the Deranged, a clever but mentally ill resident of Stormreach. Pretending to know his "secret", he explains that there's no way you could know that the two Kobold chieftain brothers in the slime-infested sewers are having a feud and that therefore it would be the perfect time to take out both sides. And he'll never tell you that either.
- Assault on Vampire Island: The threatening note you find.
"I know who you are, and I know what you are doing here, but you will NEVER succeed in your quest! Begone! You cannot trace me! You cannot find me! You have no idea who I am! Sincerely, Dracula, Lord of the Undead, Upper Turret of the Creepy Castle."
- Detective Dick Gumshoe from Ace Attorney has this as a habit. He usually reveals secret details about a murder investigation to Phoenix, all while thinking he's successfully concealing the info from him. In his first occurence, Gumshoe reveals the name of the prosecution's witness and the fact that she's still in the hotel next to Phoenix's office.
- The Order of the Stick:
- Thog has a slight variation — he gloats along with Nale about how the heroes will never be able to turn a petrified Celia back to normal... so long as they don't have the scroll Nale is carrying.
- In the Prequel On the Origin of PCs, Elan has an exceptionally long and detailed instance:
Elan: Sir, I'm not about to tell an innkeep I just met about the priceless antique shield Sir François carries, or the pouch of rare gems he keeps hidden in his saddlebags, of his purse filled with platinum pieces that he hides in his left boot when he sleeps.
[in the next panel, the innkeeper is seen scribbling down notes]
Innkeeper: left... boot...
Elan: Platinum has an "i" in it.
- Yori almost gets himself killed doing this early on in No Need for Bushido.
- Darths & Droids: Jim (as Captain Antilles) does this while talking to Darth Vader.
Jim: I'll never tell you how we stole the the plans! Or if we did steal them. Which I'm not saying.
- An odd meta-textual example from El Goonish Shive: During the non-canon "Goonmanji 2" arc, Hanma the immortal greets Ashley and Liz by pointing out that you aren't allowed to spoil canon events in a non-canon story, "and therefore no acknowledgement should be made as to whether you've seen me at an anime convention before." Nobody in-story points out her mistake.
- In Suburban Knights, Ask That Guy with the Glassesnote helps Team B find the location of Malachite's Hand while specifically claiming he was keeping it a secret.
- The SCP Foundation entry SCP-4357-J is a demon that keeps mocking the Foundation employees for the insufficient attempts they make at containing it. And, in the process, keeps revealing how to make its containment more effective. In some cases, it improves its own containment itself. Once it is so thoroughly contained that it cannot escape, it is asked why it didn't escape before all the changes to its containment were made. Cue Angrish as the demon realizes that it has no good answer.
SCP-4357-J: Shit, man, where's the goddamned summoning circle? Or the protective hexagram? You guys don't know jackshit. Hell, go get me some chalk and I'll show you myself! [does so] And THAT is how you make a proper summoning circle. All the runes in place, everything nice and neat. NOW, if I step in it like this, it'll be hard for me to get out!
[SCP-4357-J tries to step out of the circle and bumps against an unseen barrier]
SCP-4357-J: Oh, FUCK ME!
- The Simpsons:
- From the superhero episode:
Pieman: No trap can hold Homer Simpson! Uh, but I'm not Homer Simpson... I'm the Pieman! Homer Simpson away! I mean, the Pieman.
- On the advice of our lawyers, we swear we have never heard of a musical based on the life of Eva Perón.
- There's a much more extended example: "Oh, I'm sorry. I can't divulge information about that customer's secret illegal account. (hangs up the phone) Oh, crap. I shouldn't have said he was a customer. Oh, crap. I shouldn't have said it was a secret. Oh, crap! I certainly shouldn't have said it was illegal. Ah, it's too hot today."
- From the superhero episode:
- In Invader Zim:
Zim: I'm infecting this city with genetically enhanced vermin, but you'll never know.
Dib: You just told me.
Zim: YOU'RE LYING!!!
- SpongeBob SquarePants
- Done in The Movie:
Dennis: Plankton was very specific.
Dennis: For some reason, he wanted me to step on you.
Patrick: Step on us?
Dennis: Yeah, that way you'll never find out he stole the crown!
Dennis: Perhaps I've said too much...
- There also a variation with Mr. Krabs.
Mr. Krabs: Well, you can't. That door will only open if I say "Open"! (cue him quickly covering his mouth)
- Done in The Movie:
- Seen in an episode of Lucky Luke, unsurprisingly by Averell.
- In Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog, Robotnik captured Tails and used him as a bargaining chip to convince Sonic to deliberately lose a race, which will have every member of a sheep race put into slavery. It works until Sonic demands Grounder (his opponent) to reveal where Tails is. Grounder responds, "You'll never find him under the arena."
- The classic in this genre: Private Snafu - Spies, from a series of WWII training films. "Private Snafu has a military secret which he tells us he will never tell." Directed by Chuck Jones, written by Dr. Seuss.
- This was done in a Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird cartoon. Sylvester has immobilized the dogs in a dog pound, and Tweety wants to know how to break the spell. Sylvester's reply: "You expect me to tell you that the only way to wake them up is with a police whistle?" Sylvester then clamps an upside-down glass over Tweety while the bird was in his paw, silencing Tweety's whistle. Unfortunately for Sylvester, Tweety happens to have a straight-pin with him.
- The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries: Pepe Le Pew stole all the perfume of Paris and replaced it with his own smell. When caught, he said he'd not reveal it's hidden at the old chocolate factory.
- In one Danger Mouse episode, Penfold is hypnotized into going with Danger Mouse in a roller coaster ride and not telling anyone it was a trap. While in trance, he constantly mentioned in front of Danger Mouse he'd never tell anyone it was a trap. Because of how much the show follows the Rule of Funny, Danger Mouse didn't suspect a thing until Penfold broke free from the trance and "told" him it was a trap.
- In an episode of Goof Troop, Goofy tells a group of criminals, "I'll tell you where I live, but I'll never tell you where my next door neighbor Pete lives".
- It happened to Slushhead at least once in The New Adventures of He-Man. During a peace meeting with the Galactic Guardians, he slips the fact that the meeting is just a diversion while Skeletor and Flogg attack Primus.
- In the Gravity Falls episode "Little Dipper", Soos tells an enraged Gideon, "You'll never find Stan, on the second door to the left down the hall... Uh, wait, why did I say that?"
- In an episode of Care Bears, Treatheart and a young girl are in No-Heart's castle, trying to find a potion that will help them shrink giant vines that have captured their friends, when Beastly appears. They ask him if he knows where it is and Beastly says that he is not going to tell them that it is "next to the dumb-dumb pills."
- Mr. Peevly gives Bananas the Gorilla a stalk of bananas for his friendship to The Hair Bear Bunch (episode "Panda Pandemonium"), assured that he'd never tell the keepers to where the bears escaped.
Bananas: No sirree, Bob! I'd never tell anyone they escaped to the carnival!
- Kaeloo: Pretty does this in one episode where she goes on a TV show and says "I'd never say..." followed by one of her friends' secrets each time. She's actually doing it on purpose, not because she's stupid.
- In the Gravedale High episode "Night of the Living Dad", Gill Waterman accidentally lets slip that Marty is a fake dad that Frankentyke made to prevent everyone from finding out that his real dad is the human scientist who created him.
Gill: I'm not telling you about the monster dad Frankentyke made because he was ashamed of his real dad.