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Internal Reveal

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In-universe: "Oh my gosh! He's Spider-Man?!"
The audience: "Oh my gosh! They finally know now!"
"So this movie's not really trying to trick you into thinking he's a good guy, rather you're just waiting for the moment where the characters realize he's not a good guy."
Schaffrillas Productions on the villain twist in Up

The Reveal occurs when the writers reveal a secret to the audience. Sometimes, however, the audience already knows, but one or more characters in the story don't know. Maybe it is the fact that one of the story's main characters is in love with another character. Or perhaps we already know who the serial killer is, or that two characters are having an affair. An Internal Reveal is a form of Dramatic Irony that is almost exclusively used to create tension and concerns a major plot element, with the story making it clear to the audience that the ramifications will be huge when the relevant characters finally find out.

This can be limited to a single character or small group, or their secret can be revealed to the entire world.

This can happen retroactively with particularly famous plot twists: thanks to Popcultural Osmosis, the audience already knows about what was once a regular reveal, but the characters still don't.

May involve a Secret Identity or The Masquerade. See also Reverse Whodunnit, when applied to detective stories. See also Cassandra Truth, for when a secret is revealed but isn't believed. Contrast Tomato Surprise, when something is a revelation only to the audience, but not to the characters in-universe.

Example subpages

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • In Batwoman's run on Detective Comics, Katherine "Kate" Kane's cousin Bette Kane guest-starred in several issues, culminating in a three-part arc where she was kidnapped by a serial killer that Batwoman was tracking. At the end of the arc, after she has been rescued, Bette reveals to her cousin that she is Flamebird, and wishes to be Kate's sidekick. The fact that she was a costumed character had been featured several issues earlier, and her history with the Teen Titans would have revealed it even earlier to readers who were familiar with that series, but she only reveals her secret to Batwoman at the end of the arc.
  • Spider-Man:
    • During Civil War (2006), Spider-Man removes his mask at a press conference, showing the world he's really Peter Parker. The reading audience had known that for about 43 years. It didn't end up mattering in the long run, though, since not long after the revelation was erased from public memory.
    • Thanks to several retcons over the years, Peter Parker has had to do this with many characters on more than one occasion. Most notably, twice with the Fantastic Four.
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: had one juxtaposed with a shocking reveal. Tailgate finds out that Orion Pax, badass hero and cop became... Optimus Prime benevolent leader of the Autobots, a twist already known throughout many stories. He's amazed, just like the audience was when they find out that his friend and all-around Nice Guy Senator was really Shockwave.
  • Superman:
    • In Superman/Shazam: First Thunder, Superman calls out the fact that Captain Marvel had nearly killed a criminal he'd caught. The captain promptly turns into his schoolboy true self, Billy Batson, and explains that the criminal in question had got his best friend killed in an attempt to assassinate him. Superman's immediate expression is shock.
    • In Superman Smashes the Klan, Pretty much everyone knows Superman's backstory by now. But after running from his heritage for most of his life, he decides to learn about it by diving to the bottom of the lake where he threw the Kryptonian sound box, only to discover an underwater Fortress of Solitude had grown there. Once he steps inside, his biological parents, now shown as they truly were, greet him and tell him everything.
    • In The Unknown Supergirl, Lesla-Lar kidnaps and brainwashes Supergirl, but Kara does not find out about it until The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, published one year later. However, she only learns Lesla made dealings with Lex Luthor as pretending to be Supergirl in later storyline Strangers at the Heart's Core.
    • In The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor, Lena finally discovers she is Lex Luthor's little sister, a fact readers had known for twenty years.
    • In the unpublished story The K-Metal from Krypton, Superman learns that he came from Krypton, a fact which readers had known since the first panel of the first issue of Action Comics, published one year and half earlier.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise: Towards the end, Aang's past life, Avatar Roku, tells him that Zuko, Aang's erstwhile friend and Firebending teacher, is his great-grandson. Zuko and the audience have known this since the middle of season three of the animated series.

    Films — Animation 
  • Frozen:
  • In The Incredibles, the audience is shown baby Jack-Jack using several superpowers when Syndrome attempts to kidnap him. However, because the two are high up in the air at the time, the rest of the Parr family can't see it. They can only see Syndrome struggling to maintain control of his flight. As a result, they are all left in the dark regarding this until the sequel, where the Parrs each find out at different points. First is Bob, then Dash and Violet around the middle of the movie, and finally Helen at the climax.
  • In Incredibles 2, Tony Rydinger's memory being erased is shown to the audience in the first scene and later we see that Bob had reported Tony's knowledge to Agent Dicker. This leaves Violet unaware that a memory wipe was likely and thinks that Tony is just pretending to not know her because he thinks she's a freak. When Bob hears Violet complaining he knows a memory wipe occurred and starts to ease the conversation into how many times Dicker did wipes for them. That's when Violet realizes what happened and Bob realizes that Dicker removed all of Tony's memories of Violet, not just the superhero reveal part.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls, after spending the whole movie trying to pose as a New Transfer Student, Twilight Sparkle is all set to reveal to the Alternate Selves of the rest of the Mane Six why she desperately needs to get the crown for the Fall Formal. Then Pinkie Pie manages to sum up the plot of the movie based on "a hunch".
    Pinkie Pie: You're from an alternate world and you're a pony princess there and the crown actually has a magical element embedded in it that helps power up other magical elements and without it they don't work anymore, and you need them all to help protect your magical world, and if you don't get the crown tonight, you'll be stuck in this world and you won't be able to get back for like a really, really long time!
  • Pooh's Grand Adventure: Christopher Robin is found in the Eye of the Skull of Skull Cave; that is when he reveals to the animals that he hadn't been captured by Skull — he had just gone to school, and they read his note wrong. Of course, the audience knew where he went because Owl was clearly spelling "school" off the note.
  • Tangled: Rapunzel sees Corona's sun emblem — which she'd only seen for the first time after leaving the tower — hidden subliminally throughout her own artwork, which along with a healthy dose of No Infantile Amnesia leads her to the conclusion that she's the lost princess. Of course, the audience has known since the introduction.
  • At the start of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the viewers learn that Quasimodo is Romani and that his mother died saving him. Frollo, however, didn't tell him much about his past besides Quasimodo supposedly being abandoned for being deformed. It isn't until later in the film that Quasimodo learns the truth about his heritage and what happened to his mother.
  • Scar kills Mufasa to usurp the throne fairly early in The Lion King, but only the hyenas know about this until the climactic confrontation, when Scar makes the mistake of telling Simba when he thinks he's won. This gives Simba a Heroic Second Wind, and he immediately pins Scar and forces him to tell the rest of the pride.
  • Similar to the Grand Adventure example, in Winnie the Pooh (2011), Pooh finds a note from Christopher Robin saying he's gone and would be back eventually, but cannot descern it due to having very little brain. Owl misinterprets it as Christopher Robin being captured by a creature called the Backson, and the animals plan to capture it. When Christopher returns in the end, he reveals to them Owl misread the last two words wrong, and that he would be "back soon".
  • In Turning Red, Ming discovers Mei's stash of panda merch, cash and posters advertising Tyler's birthday party which reveals to her what Mei has been doing and where she is at that time.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Andhadhun, Akash's knowledge of Sakhu's Shiva tattoo reveals to the organ harvesters that he could see, which saves him from having his kidneys stolen.
  • Berlin Syndrome: Franka is alerted to what's going on once Clare slips a photo of herself bound and naked into Franka's notebook when Andi's grading it.
  • The Departed: Costigan realizes that Frank's mole is Sullivan when he recognizes an envelope from Frank — immediately recognizable from the misspelling on it — in Sullivan's office.
  • E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The kids obviously have to explain things to their mother when Elliot falls ill from E.T.'s Psychic Link. And this is moments before the government stepped in and placed their entire house under quarantine.
  • In Gilda, the audience learns that Mundson survived the plane explosion immediately. Our lovebirds need to wait until the climax.
  • Halloweentown: The audience is shown in the opening scene that Sophie has fully developed magical powers, but her siblings don't find out until she helps Marnie cast a spell about an hour into the film.
  • In Highlander, when Connor and the Kurgan have their last talk in the church and Connor observes the gnarly scar Ramirez left in the Kurgan's throat, the barbarian gloats "Ramirez was a effete snob who died on his knees, I took his head and raped his woman before his blood was even cold". From Connor's dawning look of horror and shame (giving way to an epic Kubrick Stare), the Kurgan realizes that young woman he violated was really Connor's wife, and continues to taunt him with it (saying that she took the secret to her grave because she liked it). The actual rape isn't shown to audiences, but it is alluded he did something unpleasant to her that night in 1542 - his confession just filled in the blanks.
  • Jagged Mind: The audience knows Alex can somehow briefly reverse time and is manipulating Billie with her ability before she realizes what's up.
  • While the audience knows that Rosie from Jojo Rabbit is a member of La Résistance against the Nazis pretty much all along (she's constantly away from home, subtly tells Jojo that she hates Hitler and tries to raise him to not be a Nazi, and she's seen burning fliers that say "Free Germany, fight the party"), Jojo himself only finds out when he finds her hanged from the gallows in the town square with other dissenters at the end of the second act. Elsa later tells Jojo that his father is one as well and is fighting with the Allies.
  • Joker (2019): At his guest appearance at ''Live! with Murray Franklin'' Arthur Fleck, now fully reborn as Joker, casually admits to killing the three Wall Street men at the subway. In-universe, this is the Wham Line of a mystery left unsolved for three weeks, while the audience watching the movie knew this for a long time.
  • In Just One of the Guys, Terry has to convince Rick that she's female. She flashes him. Oddly, he doesn't take it well.
  • The ending of Kill Bill Volume 1 reveals that the Bride's daughter is still alive. She herself doesn't find out until the end of Volume 2, during her final confrontation with Bill.
  • The Last of Mrs. Cheney starts off as what seems like a romantic comedy with Fay Cheney the wealthy widow being pursued by two British nobles, stuffy old Lord Kelton and handsome young Lord Dilling. The end of the first act reveals that she is an impostor and that she and her "servants" are actually a gang of thieves, looking to worm their way into high society so they can steal a pearl necklace.
  • The Legend of Frenchie King: Maria only learns that Louise is Frenchie King near the end of the movie, while the audience already knows this since nearly the start of it.
  • In Matilda, Miss Honey responds to a particularly vile taunt from Miss Trunchbull with "I am not seven years old anymore, Aunt Trunchbull!", revealing to her students something Matilda and the viewers had learned about half the movie ago.
  • Our Miss Brooks: Early in the movie, Mr. Boynton tells Mrs. Davis that he is finally willing to propose to Miss Brooks. Mrs. Davis soon reveals it to Miss Brooks while pretending to tell her fortune.
  • Phoenix (2014): The premise is that a woman, Nelly, is trying to reunite with her husband Johnny. Johnny thinks Nelly has died in a concentration camp and mistakes Nelly for a random woman that happens to look like his wife, and hires her to pass for his wife in order to collect her inheritance. Because Nelly is the protagonist and the story is told from her POV, the audience knows that Nelly is in fact Johnny's wife, while Johnny is left in the dark right until the very end, when Nelly reveals the truth and then leaves him.
  • In Repo! The Genetic Opera: The audience fully knows that Nathan is the killer from the beginning, and yet it is treated as a major plot twist when Shilo finds out near the end.
  • The Shop Around the Corner and its remake You've Got Mail are built around this trope, with two Internal Reveals. Half-way through Alfred/Joe finds out that rival Klara/Kathleen is actually his secret sweetheart, and the rest of the film sees the audience waiting for Klara/Kathleen to find out the truth.
  • Sorceress: The audience knows Traigon is the twins' father right from the beginning. Mira doesn't though until much later. It's left unclear if Mara ever learns.
  • In Stalag 17, Price is revealed as The Mole to the audience well before anyone else finds out.
  • Star Wars:
    • The scene in Return of the Jedi where Luke tells Leia that Darth Vader is his father (which he found out last movie) and she is his sister (which he figured out earlier in this one), as well as the scene later on when Leia tells Han are internal reveals.
    • In a similar vein, audiences knew since the classic trilogy (when the Force-ghost of Obi-Wan Kenobi explained it to Luke) that the good Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker became the evil Sith Lord Vader, and Revenge of the Sith shows how that happened. The younger Obi-Wan, however, doesn't find out until he sees the holo-recording of the attack on the Jedi Temple.
    • The Rise of Skywalker: While the audience and the main characters have known for decades, this film sees the fact that Palpatine is a Sith Lord become public knowledge for everyone in the galaxy.
  • Switchback: The audience discovers who's the killer before the other characters do, since we see him just as she's about to murder someone (with the actual act offscreen).
  • Trading Places: While hiding in the Duke & Duke washroom, Billy Ray Valentine overhears the Dukes discussing both their bet manipulating Valentine and Louis Winthorpe's lives, as well as their plans to corner the frozen concentrate orange juice market. In-universe, this scene is the first time that anybody beyond the Dukes learns about these things: before the bet, Louis went through the payroll and saw a check for Clarence Beeks, which they explained as "research", while after the bet, Billy Ray found another check which Mortimer promptly quashed the inquiry about.
  • Happens off-screen between the first and second Transformers films. In Transformers: Revenge of The Fallen, it's revealed that Sam's parents are fully aware of the fact that their son's car is a giant alien robot in disguise.
  • Halfway through Vertigo, the audience learns that Judy, who initially only seems to be a woman with an uncanny resemblance to Scottie's dead love Madeleine, actually is Madeleine. More accurately, the "Madeleine" Scottie met was only Judy impersonating as her. The audience's knowledge of Judy's secret makes her eventual giving in to Scottie's demands to make her into his lost love's image even more ironic. Hitchcock explained his motivation for this reveal in his interviews with François Truffaut; once the audience knows the truth, their sympathies are divided between the Main Characters.

  • In the ninth Alex Rider-book, Scorpia Rising, the audience finds out about Scorpia's plan to manipulate the MI6 to send Alex to Cairo at the beginning of the book. The rest of the book revolves around showing the MI6 falling straight into the trap, and Alex finding out about Scorpia's true plan.
  • More than once in All for the Game.
    • When Neil tells Kevin that he is the Butcher's son.
    • Kevin announces in an interview that his hand wasn't broken in a skiing accident in The King's Men.
  • Ascendance of a Bookworm: The story is usually told from Myne's point of view, but prologues, epilogues and side stories are told from that of other characters. This often results in the reader being made aware of something a significant amount of time before Myne is.
  • Lori and Dimity together do this in Aunt Dimity's Death. Lori has just discovered Dimity is writing to her from beyond the grave, and Bill finds her just after the first time this happens. Lori tells him about it and shows him the journal page, which looks blank to him — until Dimity writes something to Bill which only he can read. Later in the series, Lori demonstrates the journal link to Emma Harris, and Dimity addresses herself to her as well.
  • The opening chapters of Jane Linskold's Breaking the Wall — Thirteen Orphans were meant to be this for the main character Brenda, being brought into the full knowledge of lore that her father and others have inherited over the generations. What was planned as a gradual reveal turned into a crash course fairly quickly though.
  • While The Dinosaur Lords never makes a secret of Karyl's and Melodía's fates — they're both POV characters — Felipe, Jaume, and Falk are shocked to learn that one is still alive and the other now fights for Providence.
  • The Dresden Files
    • Harry slowly starts revealing details of the magical world to his Badass Normal friend Karrin, when he needs her help.
    • Battle Ground: Harry tells the Erlking he is Margaret LeFay's son. The Erlking's response is a deadpan "Much is explained."
  • Fatherland is set in a world where the Nazis won World War II, and the protagonist is an SS officer investigating a Government Conspiracy. It quickly becomes obvious to the reader that the conspiracy is to cover up the remaining evidence of the Holocaust from the German public (the outside world suspects the truth, but it is denounced by the Reich as propaganda). However, even with foreknowledge of the "twist", the protagonist's horror at the discovery of what his country and professional position represent is still affecting.
  • The novel From Russia with Love spends nearly half of the text detailing the history of the assassin Red Grant and the decision-making processes of the upper echelons of the Soviet spy machine, before revealing its plan to murder James Bond (using Grant) by luring him with the Fake Defector Tatiana Romanova. The other half is how Bond falls into (and gets out of) the trap.
  • Played with in Gone Girl. Nick and Margo find out that Amy is a sociopath around the same time we do, but while they only get the general idea of what Amy has done, Amy herself tells us exactly how she did it, down to the sickest detail. Still, the police don't know yet.
  • Harry Potter:
    • The readers learn in the opening pages that magic is real and that Harry Potter survived something terrible and so will be incredibly famous in the wizarding world. Harry himself does not learn any of this until Hagrid provides him with an Infodump that his guardians had been trying to hide from him for 11 years.
    • It is not until the end of Book 5 that the wizarding world in general learns and comes to accept what the audience witnessed happening at the end of Book 4, that Voldemort has returned to full power.
    • Harry accidentally finds out in the fourth book that Neville’s parents are institutionalized in St. Mungo’s because they were tortured into madness by Death Eaters. Dumbledore swore him to secrecy but he tells his friends he’d known for a while when they run into Neville visiting his parents for Christmas.
    • Harry gives his Triwizard tournament win money to Fred and George as a business loan at the end of the fourth book but doesn’t tell anyone but them because he doesn’t want to offend the rest of the family. He finally has to Ron and Hermione a year later because they thought Fred and George had done something illegal to get the money.
    • In the sixth book, the wizarding world finally learns that Sirius Black was not Voldemort's right-hand man, and was innocent all along. Harry already learnt the truth in the third book, while Sirius himself died in the fifth.
    • The Order only learns that Severus Snape is still an active Death Eater after he kills Dumbledore, whereas the readers already learn from the start of the sixth book that he made a deal with Bellatrix Lestrange and Narcissa Malfoy to kill Dumbledore. Of course, the truth is that Snape was deceiving them and was loyal to Dumbledore all along...which everyone (including Harry) don't find out after his death.
  • The Heir Chronicles: Jack and friends do have to explain their magical powers to their parents (and the local police chief) in the third book, Dragon Heir. The Roses had formed a truce and begun to launch a full-scale assault on their hometown, you see...
  • Journey to Chaos: It is made clear to both the readers and Tiza's teammates that her biological parents are Sathel and Retina, but she herself doesn't learn this until the second book in the series. They were hoping she would remember on her own.
  • Secret Vampire:
    • The reader knows early on (or just by reading the blurb) that James and his parents are vampires, which he must keep secret from his classmates and his best friend Poppy as per the Night World's laws. He reveals his true nature to Poppy when he learns she's dying to offer her to turn her. Poppy initially thinks he's playing a sick joke until he shows her his Game Face. James later reveals he's a vampire to Phil as well, in order to clear up their misunderstanding and persuade him to help save Poppy. Poppy always thought there was something "different" about James and that this explains a lot. Phil feels the same, though more in the sense that he always felt James was "off".
    • Poppy thinks that James is Oblivious to Love because he only sees her as his childhood friend and is more interested in sophisticated girls that look like super models. James only dates the other girls to feed from them without arousing suspicion, though he also insists to himself that he only views Poppy as a friend. It's very obvious to the reader that he's been in love with her for years.
  • A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • The series' Greater-Scope Villain, the Others, are introduced in the prologue. Only a few characters have learned about their existence, and it's treated as a big reveal to all of them, since the Others have not been seen for millennia.
    • Cersei and Jaime Lannister's relationship is revealed to the readers in Chapter 8 of the first book, but Ned Stark doesn't learn about it until late to the book, and most other characters aren't privy to it until A Clash of Kings. However, the fact that their relationship is deep enough to produce children — Joffrey, Myrcella, and Tommen, all of whom are ostensibly Robert Baratheon's heirs — is a secret the readers learn alongside Ned.
    • Jorah Mormont spying on Daenerys for Varys is something that has been disclosed to the readers early in the first book, but she doesn't find out about it until midway through the third book.
  • Split Heirs: Everyone witnessing Arbol's royal bath before coronation is incredibly shocked to realize she's a girl (aside from her mother or the reader that is). Arbol herself is outraged, punching people who say this, not having known before.
  • Villains by Necessity: The readers know from the start that Robin is a mole in the Main Characters' group, but they don't find this out until much later in the book.
  • Warrior Cats
    • In the Original Series Bluestar reveals to her grown-up kits that she is their real mother, something the reader (and Fireheart) found out about a while ago.
    • Bluestar telling Firestar about SkyClan in Firestar's Quest, which the reader saw in the prologue. Although some of the information was new. Similarly, Sol mentions it to Hollyleaf and Dovewing in The Forgotten Warrior.
    • In the third and fourth series, the prophecy du jour (known to the readers, Firestar, and Jayfeather) is revealed at least three times. Once to Jayfeather's siblings, once to Dovewing, and once to Brambleclaw, Leafpool, and Squirrelflight. Not to mention Jayfeather finally telling Firestar he knows about the prophecy
    • Any cat training in, or being trained by a member of, the Dark Forest. The readers know it's bad news, and the characters eventually find out that they're being trained by evil cats who want to use them to destroy the Clans. Notable examples include Ivypool in series four, and Crookedstar in his/her Super Edition.
    • A more minor one in Mistystar's Omen. The readers have known for ages that Mothwing doesn't believe in StarClan, but it's a huge reveal to Mistystar and provides the main drama of the book.
    • Bramblestar learning about SkyClan in Bramblestar's Storm. By the time this book came out, readers had known about SkyClan for seven years.
  • In Watership Down, the invaders from Efrafa are shocked to learn during their standoff with Bigwig that he is not his warren's Chief Rabbit—they had taken it for granted that he was due to his size and strength. Readers, of course, already know that the Chief Rabbit is Hazel, who is a good leader despite his small size because of his determination and faith in his fellow rabbits.
  • In The Witchlands:
    • Merik only learns that Safi — one of the POV characters — is a Living Lie Detector three-quarters through Truthwitch.
    • The readers know from the start that Leopold is part of the scheme to get Safi out of Emperor Henrick's hands, but it takes Aeduan a whole book to figure this out.
  • In Deep Wizardry, the second book in the Young Wizards series, Nita and Kit repeatedly break curfew while trying to make sure that a Sealed Evil in a Can stays sealed, forcing them to come clean about being wizards to her parents. At first, the adults think that it's a combination of trickery and hypnosis, so Nita and Kit up the ante by taking them on a trip to the Moon (Nita's younger sister Dairine is not happy about having been left out of the trip). Nita's parents (and eventually Kit's parents) seem to be unusually undisturbed about their children risking their lives to fight evil, but given that the only way to stop them would be to keep them permanently unconscious, that might just be the adults dealing with the hand they've been dealt.

  • The final stanza of 'Stan' by Eminem follows Eminem replying to the character's letters, relating Stan to a case on the news of a man who drove his pregnant girlfriend off of a bridge. In the very last lines of the song, he comes to realise they're one and the same, which the listener already knows from the previous verses.
    Come to think about it, his name was... it was you. Damn...

    Mythology & Religion 
  • At the end of Book I of The Achilleid, Achilles throws off his disguise and reveals to Lycomedes and his daughters that he's not Thetis' daughter, but, y'know, Achilles. In the same moment, he also lets Lycomedes know that he married his daughter, Deidamia, and had a child with her.

  • The Magnus Archives: In "Nothing Beside Remains", Elias brings the rest of the team up to speed on what Jon and the audience have known since the season 2 finale: that the body found in Jon's office was actually Jurgen Leitner, Elias murdered both Jurgen Leitner and Gertrude Robinson, and Sasha died over a year ago and was replaced by one of the Not-Them.

  • In Panopticon Quest, the readers know that the Big Secret the Void Engineers are going to very great extents to keep about Threat Null is that (Spoilers for Mage: The Ascension canon!) they are actually the once-human remnants of the space-based members of the Technocracy trying to return to Earth to reassert control, but the party initially doesn't. A large part of the story involves the characters deciding what to do with that knowledge once they learn it without prior Void Engineer permission.

  • In the third scene of The Adding Machine, the Zeroes get together with the Ones, Twos, Threes, Fours, Fives and Sixes for an evening of gossip and bigotry in which Zero doesn't participate much, though the others don't suspect him of anything other than thinking too much and being a Lazy Husband. When a policeman comes looking for Zero, he's ready to go, and calmly tells the others why: "I killed the boss this afternoon."
  • King Lear:
    • Edmund outs himself to the audience as a Manipulative Bastard out to banish his brother Edgar and usurp his father, Duke of Gloucester early on in Act I. The latter two only find out about it during Act III, when things come to a head and Edmund has Goneril and Regan gouge his father's eyes out.
    • Similarly (and perhaps more importantly) Goneril and Regan discuss getting rid of their father — or at the very least, putting him in his place — as early as the first scene. Lear only realises his daughters have turned on him at the end of Act II, just in time for them to turn him out into a storm. This, coupled with the added realisation that he banished his only loving daughter, Cordelia (yet another piece of knowledge the audience was already privy to), drives him to madness.
  • Othello: The audience knows from the beginning that Iago is a Manipulative Bastard, but the majority of the other characters don't find out until the play's climax.
  • In some games of the Barbixas' theater presentation, like "Escolinha Improvável", involve one of the actors finding out what character the other actors are acting like, and the public always knows it before the game starts.

    Video Games 
  • The Caligula Effect Overdose makes use of this with its Forbidden Musician route. The player knows the protagonist has become Lucid, the newest and deadliest member of the Ostinato Musicians, but the Go Home Club only ever learns this if the player opts to go for the Downer Ending.
  • Final Fantasy X makes use of this for most of its biggest plot points:
    • Rikku's identity as an Al Bhed is this for the majority of the rest of the party in at two different points; Auron and Lulu find out when she joins the main party, and Wakka and possibly Kimahri find out after fighting her brother's machina, during which Rikku speaks in Al Bhed and calls her opponent "brother."
      • Yuna's Al Bhed heritage is also one (but for Wakka only). He finds out some time after Rikku's secret is outed, from Rikku's father (Yuna's uncle) no less, when he refers to Yuna as his niece. Tidus, however, has known since the party arrived in Luca, when Yuna revealed that she was searching for her uncle.
    • The fact that Sin is Jecht is given to the player (and Tidus) very early on, but the rest of the party only find out on Mt. Gagazet. Well, the rest of the party save Auron, who is the one that reveals it to Tidus.
    • Auron reveals himself to Tidus as an Unsent after fighting Yunalesca (but there were already many hints at this to the player) — the Internal Reveal comes at the end when he has Yuna Send him in front of everyone. But it's strongly implied that Kimahri already knew about this, as he had encountered the dying Auron. None of the others really seem all that surprised either, though, and it's very possible they had already figured it out too.
    • Possibly the biggest of all: Tidus finds out he's a Dream of the Fayth, and will eventually disappear if Sin is permanently defeated, comes just after the first half of Mt. Gagazet (and one hell of a boss fight). It's only several gameplay hours later that Yuna begins to suspect something is awry, and he only openly admits the truth just before the final battle.
  • Final Fantasy XIV: After its defeat in Stormblood patch 4.4, Omega was speculated to have transferred its mind into the toy that's been following Alpha around. An out-of-game side story written during Shadowbringers confirmed this to be the case, but it's not until Endwalker patch 6.1 that this is revealed to characters in-universe.
  • In Fire Emblem: Awakening, the opening chapter is a flash-forward that reveals The Avatar is destined to kill Chrom and bring about the Bad Future. The Avatar themself doesn't find out until late into the game when Lucina tries to kill them to change the future.
  • Fire Emblem: Three Houses: If the player chooses to teach the Blue Lions, Byleth will learn in Chapter 8 that Blue Lions house leader Dimitri's stepmother happens to be the mother of Black Eagles house leader Edelgard, making the two of them stepsiblings. Dimitri asks Byleth to keep this secret, and this remains secret for eleven chapters and more than five years in-universe(by which time Edelgard has been revealed as the Big Bad of the route), until a dying Lord Arundel curses Dimitri, wishing that he and Edelgard will kill each other. At that point, Dimitri reveals the truth to his classmates.
  • An interesting and common variation on this trope is to have the big secret hid from the player character, typically by means of showing a cutscene from elsewhere. For example, in The Legend of Zelda: The Minish Cap, Link and Ezlo don't find out until near the end that Vaati has been impersonating the King since they had headed off toward the swamp.
  • In the PS3 version of Ni no Kuni, cutscenes make it obvious from the start that the White Witch is the real Big Bad of the story and Shadar is just The Dragon, and the game is even subtitled "Wrath of the White Witch". To the characters though, Shadar is the only apparent threat, and they don't even become aware of the White Witch's existence until after he is defeated. This is a consequence of the Updated Re-release, as in the original DS version Shadar really was the sole Big Bad.
  • Queen at Arms:
    • It's known only to player character Marcus and her adoptive brother Nick that Marcus is really a girl. But it falls to Nick to inform her that she's not just a girl, she's the rightful Queen.
    • Elsewhere in the game, during one of the romance paths, Marcus has the choice to reveal her true gender to her Love Interest prior to partaking of the Optional Sexual Encounter.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale):
    • Defied depending on the player's actions. In Episode 3 Lilly will point out that Lee is a convicted murderer after Kenny calls her a murderer for shooting Doug/Carley. If Lee did not tell anyone about his conviction, Lilly will be surprised that Kenny did not know, whereas if Lee did tell Kenny privately, she will be surprised he did know.
    • The game features the "people do not need to be bitten to become a zombie, they just need to die with their brain intact" reveal in Episode 2. Comic readers will already know this, while the characters and players new to The Walking Dead won't.
  • In The Spectrum Retreat, Cooper only figures out that Alex murdered Matthews only after the player was expected to put it together themselves.
  • In Psychonauts 2, Raz (and the player) learns mid-way through the game that Helmut Fulbear, a founding Psychonauts member long assumed dead, has in fact been alive under everyone's noses the entire time. Much later, Raz needs the help of his widower Bob Zanotto in order to progress, but he's in such a deep state of alchoholic depression that he won't hear either his request for help nor his explanation that Helmut is alive, halting his progress on a high-stakes mission. Only after Raz goes into Bob's mind and is able to help him start the process of mentally recovering is the reveal finally able to hit home.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero and Trails to Azure: The player is directly shown the assassin Yin unmasking at the end of Zero's Chapter 2. The party don't find out their identity until much later into Azure.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel:
    • Lots of them (and extra lots if you include things the audience didn't explicitly know but could guess with high accuracy based on past games), including Alisa revealing what the 'R' in her last name is short for to the entire group and Emma revealing to Rean just how she's able to do some of the stunts she's performed over the course of the game. Some of these are limited to Bond Events while others occur during the normal plot.
    • Towards the beginning of Cold Steel IV, Juna Crawford learns that Giliath Osborne is Rean Schwarzer's father. The player already learned this along with Rean himself and the rest of the old Class VII towards the end of ''Cold Steel II'. Altina Orion already knows from having been Rean's partner for over a year, while Kurt Vander guessed as much from knowledge he had gleaned from other Vanders and his use of the "Unclouded Eye" technique which Rean taught him. Thus, the news is only a shock to Juna, who upon learning just what burden Rean is carrying, becomes even more fired up to go rescue him from the Empire's captivity.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails through Daybreak borrows a lot of its plot points from past games from the Liberl arc, the Crossbell arc, and the Erebonia arc that are treated as huge revelations for the cast but a player who has played the previous games would know right away. Some examples include: Renne's Dark and Troubled Past at the hands of the D∴G Cult (in fact, the Big Bad of Kuro I is one of its chief members), the jaeger group Zephyr with one of its members joining in a different jaeger group, the brainwashing mask and how to counteract it, how Shizuna knows Rean's Signature Move, Spirit Unification and the other half of his snapped tachi, and the final party member, Bergard Zeman, used to be a former Dominion who was supposedly dead a few months before Cold Steel III begins.

    Visual Novels 
  • At the end of Daughter for Dessert, the protagonist reveals his new girlfriend to the rest of his staff - that is, if he's with someone other than Amanda.
  • Leads to a bad ending in Melody if the title character and Amy find out that you’ve been dating both of them.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: "A Much Needed Talk" has Qrow finally revealing to Ruby and JNR the truth about the Maidens, how it relates to Beacon's fall, and Pyrrha's death (the last of which Jaune is particularly upset over), all of which the audience saw play out in the last Volume.
  • In canon Dragon Ball Z, Freeza never learned just who the rose-haired pretty boy that hacked him up happened to be, and the same is mostly held true to the abridged series. Cell, however, does know, seeing as he is made partly from Freeza's DNA; in the third episode of HFIL, however, Cell leads Freeza towards the answer for the purpose of breaking him.
    Freeza: And if you're going to tell me that I wasn't killed by Goku, I frankly don't care. Whoever it was couldn't possibly be more embarrassing than Goku's tween offspring.
    Cell: Well, there's always Vegeta's teen offspring [Trunks].
    Freeza: Well, yes, I do suppose that would be— (realization)!
    Cell: Who do you think that time traveller was...? And I'm sure everyone would love to hear how you were split in two by Vegeta's overgrown sperm.

  • Daughter of the Lilies: Subverted and Defied by Brent regarding the reason why Thistle always hides her face. When Thistle abruptly stops reading a book out loud because it's started demonizing her fellow Cave Elves, Brent guesses the book is talking about whatever she is, grabs it out of her hands, and tosses it into the fire unread.
  • In El Goonish Shive, the build-up of one particular relationship mess. The fans had diagrams. To quote a recap:
    Nanase likes the ladies, and knows that Elliot and Susan know.
    Elliot knows that Ellen knows, very likely knows that Susan knows and may know that Justin knows.
    Ellen knows that Elliot, Susan, and Justin know.
    Susan knows that Ellen and Justin know.
    Justin knows that Susan and Ellen know.
    Sarah knows that Grace and Susan know.
    Grace knows that Sarah and Susan know.
    Tedd is completely clueless.
  • My Impossible Soulmate: Being an isekai webcomic, the audience knows Chiaki is Trapped in Another World right from the start. Chiaki first reveals her situation to Redge and Nara, but isn't believed (with Nara recommending she feign amnesia rather than tell anyone else). She later tells Nagisa after she seemingly sees through it.
  • Plume's Dom and Corrick find out who the bounty hunters are really there for several pages after readers do.
  • In Rain (2010), Rain's trans status is the very first thing the audience learns — and several chapters hinge upon her coming out to friends and family.
  • Alison reveals that she is Mega Girl in Strong Female Protagonist on national television. Mild shock for the audience, in universe great shock though!
  • Tower of God: It is known from the beginning that Bam is an Irregular, i.e. somebody who entered the Tower uninvited and thus is a terrifying existence to most. But when he boldly announces that during an assembly of most of his generation's regulars, jaws drop even though you already knew that.

    Web Original 
  • Noob had a few episodes during which the audience knew that Sparadrap's younger brother was playing the game, but Sparadrap himself wasn't aware of it. His brother ends up setting things straight after it turns out that blackmail is going on between members of their respective guilds (one of Sparadrap's teammates is a Manipulative Bastard).

    Western Animation 
  • Roger Smith from American Dad! is an alien who wears an array of disguises to hide his true self from everyone other than the Smith family, including Hayley's boyfriend, and later husband, Jeff Fischer due to Jeff's inability to keep a secret. He finally finds out about Roger being an alien in the episode "Naked to the Limit, One More Time" (though there's a bit of Series Continuity Error at play here, as there were a few occasions prior to this where Jeff saw Roger without a disguise.)
  • In American Dragon: Jake Long, the audience finds out that Jake's crush Rose is actually the secret identity of his archenemy Huntsgirl in the very first episode, but Jake doesn't find out until half a season later.
  • Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender finds out that he's the great-grandson of both Avatar Roku and Firelord Sozin in the aptly titled episode "The Avatar and the Firelord" but he doesn't tell Aang (the other half of this equation) until the tie-in comic, Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise.
  • Big City Greens: The episode "Friend Con" has the Greens discover Chip is still evil since his promotion to CEO of Wholesome Foods. Of course, if the audience had seen the ending of "Reckoning Ball" to begin with, they knew all along.
  • Central Park:
    • In Season 1 "Dog Spray Afternoon", both Birdie and the audience know what Bitsy is up to, but Birdie explains he cannot tell Owen or Paige because there are rules to being a narrator. He, however, gets impatient and blurts out to Paige that Bitsy is the one money laundering for the mayor, breaking the rule of revealing too much to the main characters. He tries to cover it up by saying as a busker he overhears business talk in the park all the time.
    • In Season 1 "Hot Oven", the Tillermans finally learns the truth about Bitsy thanks to Brendan, who reveals that she's his great aunt, and that she's plotting to buy Central Park.
  • Danny Phantom: In the series finale, Phantom Planet, Vlad Masters finally reveals to the world that he is the real identity of the ghost villain Vlad Plasmius. For the audience (and for Danny), The Reveal has happened as early as Vlad's introduction in "Bitter Reunions". It's also in this episode that Danny Fenton shows the world that he is Danny Phantom, which has been known to the audience since the beginning.
  • In Dog City, the cartoonist drawing Ace's story was fighting with another cartoonist on whether or not to reveal the villain's plan to the viewer. They re-painted over the scene a few times.
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Near the end of Season 1, Huey and Louie are let in on Dewey and Webby's quest to find out what happened to Della Duck; the adults find out in the very next episode, with Scrooge reluctantly giving The Reveal when pressed.
    • The episode after that ended with The Stinger that Della is still alive, which the main characters wouldn't discover until the middle of the second season... at which point Donald Duck goes missing, unbeknownst to everyone other than the audience.
    • The ending of Season 2 revealed that Scrooge's board of directors were the head of F.O.W.L., but the protagonist would not find out until the middle of Season 3. The rest of the series deals with the fallout of this revelation.
  • The third season of Final Space reveals that not only is Avocato not actually Little Cato's real father, but he outright murdered his biological parents while serving the Lord Commander and adopted the poor kid to repent. No one else finds out until Avocato confesses to Gary in the wake of the latter being used as a tool to kill Fox, and right near the end of the season when Ash walks in on a conversation between the two and relays this horrible revelation to Little Cato. Naturally, none of the parties involved take it well. Especially Ash.
  • Gravity Falls: At the climax of "Scary-Oke", Stan confesses to Dipper that he knows about the town's weirdness after all (something the audience was made aware of at the end of the season one finale "Gideon Rises"), but was pretending to be oblivious in a misguided attempt to discourage Dipper from investigating and putting himself in danger.
  • The first season of Jackie Chan Adventures had its human antagonists, the Dark Hand, working to collect the talismans for Shendu, a Demon Sorceror who was turned into a statue 800 years prior, so as to restore his physical form. The heroes aren't even aware of Shendu's existence or why Dark Hand are collecting the talismans until the last two episodes of the season (though they do come across Shendu when he temporarily leaves his body and possesses Jade's, they don't make the connection that the evil spirit and the talking statue are one and the same).
  • It's plainly obvious to the viewer from the very first episode of King of the Hill that Nancy Gribble is cheating on Dale with John Redcorn and Joseph isn't Dale's son, but it's treated as a shocking revelation nonetheless when Peggy Hill figures it out for herself in season 3.
  • Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: The audience (and Mandu) learns that Kipo has shapeshifting abilities in episode five, but Kipo herself doesn't realize this until the following episode and Kipo's friend Wolf doesn't realize until two episodes later, leading to a dramatic falling out between the two.
  • Miraculous Ladybug:
    • In its second season, Alya and Nino are drafted to aid the heroes on two separate occasions as Rena Rouge and Carapace. In "Catalyst", Ladybug recruits them together, leading them to learn each other's secret identities (though it's implied Alya already knew Nino was Carapace. Definitely counts for Nino, though.)
    • In the fourth season, the stress of being Ladybug and the new guardian of the Miraculous, and having to keep it secret from everyone she cares about, gets to Marinette so much that she gives up and fills Alya in on the truth.
  • My Adventures with Superman
    • "Let's Go to Ivo Tower, You Say": Lois connects the dots that Clark is Superman after finding an article in the pocket of his jacket.
    • "You Will Believe a Man Can Lie"
      • Clark discovers the existence of Task Force X and how they had been apprehending the tech-criminals that Superman had presumably been leaving in the care of the police.
      • Though the episode's plotline stems from her first catching on in the previous episode, this episode does no fake-outs and definitively confirms to Lois that Clark is Superman.
    • "Kiss Kiss Fall in Portal": Mxyzptlk casually mentions that Clark is from Krypton, which is something that he didn't know so far. Fans of any version of Superman would also be familiar with kryptonite, but this is the first time this Superman has experienced it. Lois ends up with a piece as well at the end.
    • "Zero Day, Part 2": Jimmy discovers the sphere with the Kryptonite in Lois' purse which shows several versions of an evil Superman.
    • "Hearts of the Fathers"
      • While the previous episode confirmed to the audience that the General was Lois's father Sam, this episode has Clark, Lois, and Jimmy find out for themselves.
      • Clark finally finds out about File X and the evil Supermen it depicts... which is immediately upstaged by him, Lois, and Jimmy realizing exactly what the shard of Kryptonite stored inside it can do to Clark.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • The opening of the first episode explains to the audience the story of Princess Celestia's sister, Luna, and how she became corrupted into Nightmare Moon. Only at the end of the premiere does the rest of the cast learn of Nightmare Moon's relationship to Celestia... despite the myth concerning the character clearly noting that the two are siblings.
    • "The One Where Pinkie Pie Knows" starts with Pinkie finding out that Cadance and Shining Armor are having a baby. The rest of the episode centers around her crazy antics to avoid telling Twilight until Cadance and Shining Armor are ready to tell her themselves.
  • Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated: The identity of Mr. E is revealed to the audience in the final third of the first season, but the characters themselves aren't made aware of this until the early parts of the next season.
  • The Owl House: The ending of "Elsewhere and Elsewhen" reveals Emperor Belos and Philip Wittebane are the same person, but Luz doesn't find this out until "Hollow Mind", four episodes later.
  • Skull Island (2023): Charlie doesn't learn what Kong's name is, much less than he's technically the good guy, until the season finale when a bunch of angry natives round him up for crossing their god.
  • Sofia the First:
    • In "The Enchanted Feast", the audience sees Miss Nettle disguising herself as Sascha the Sorceress before she infiltrates the castle, but while Sofia has her suspicions, she doesn't know it until Miss Nettle reveals herself after locking away the royal family in the dining hall.
    • In "Day of the Sorcerers", Sofia and her family finally realize Cedric is trying to take over Enchancia as well as the times he tried to take her amulet, something the audience had known since she first came to the castle three whole seasons ago.
    • Sofia told Amber about the magic of her amulet in "The Curse of Princess Ivy" in Season 2, but the special ends Amber getting Laser-Guided Amnesia. She wouldn't learn about it again until season 4's "The Mystic Isles," when she accidentally stumbled on the path to the Secret Library.
    • Princess Elena ends up revealing the truth about the Amulet of Avalor to the Royal Family in "Elena and the Secret of Avalor", albeit only sticking to the fact it has powerful abilities and it came from her kingdom, and she was trapped in it for 41 years until Sofia released her. In the series finale, Sofia finally tells her friends and then her family the truth about her amulet and her duties as a Protector.
  • Spider-Man: The Animated Series: Early on, the audience knows that Wilson Fisk is the main bad guy controlling most of the criminal activities, but Spider-Man himself doesn't know about him until Daredevil shows up and reveals his true identity.
  • Star Trek: Lower Decks: In "Crisis Point", Boimler learns that Mariner is Freeman's daughter. It's enough of a shock for him to blow his interview, but Holo-Freeman saying that she would court-martial anyone who found out straight out of Starfleet might have been a factor.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Towards the end of season three, Star and Marco end up sharing a kiss while the former is in a relationship with Tom, who considers Marco to be one of his best friends. In the season finale, Marco admits to Tom what happened in an attempt to make him abandon him so he can pull off a Heroic Sacrifice, which fails when Tom comes back under the assumption that Marco was lying (only to be corrected). Tom still takes it surprisingly well, though. As an extension of that, early in the following season, Star is furious when she discovers that Tom learned about the kiss and choose to talk about his conflicted feelings concerning what happened with his mother rather than her. Tom proceeds to rightfully point that he should be the one angry in the situation, since Star should have told him about the kiss herself rather than him having to confront her about it.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In "The Lost One", the Jedi discover that Count Dooku is Tyranus, the one who oversaw production of the Clone army, a fact which was known to viewers since the end of Attack of the Clones.
  • Static Shock: A variant is offered in the penultimate episode when the titular hero's father immediately realizes that his son is Static after he's kidnapped in order to lure the locally famous superhero out.
    Mr. Hawkins: Wasn't hard to figure out. Why else kidnap me to get to Static?
  • Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters ends the second episode of season two with one of the Flex Fighters, Nathan "Wingspan" Park, revealing his double life to his girlfriend, Erika Violette, at least 14 episodesnote  after the viewers learned all of the Flex Fighters' true identities.
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): While the reveal that Karai is actually Splinter's long-lost-and-presumed-dead daughter Miwa came off as something of a Captain Obvious Reveal to many of the viewers, Splinter and the turtles themselves weren't privy to all of the Foreshadowing leading up to it, making this a culmination to a whole string of these in-universe revelations (e.g. Karai introducing herself to Leonardo and then the other turtles, then revealing she's with Shredder's Foot Clan, then revealing she considers Shredder her father, and then Shredder revealing to Splinter he adopted her and raised her as his own out of spite, then Splinter revealing this to the turtles, and their finally revealing this to her and convincing her Splinter is truly her biological father.)
  • Transformers: Animated has plenty of things revealed to the viewers long before the characters ever find out.
    • The end of the three episode pilot reveals that Issac Sumdac has been keeping Megatron's head and hand within his main laboratory after having discovered it 50 years ago, and he had reverse-engineered the Cybertronian technology to create the robots that would make him a successful businessman. This is not revealed to the Autobots until Megatron Rising Part II.
    • The end of Blast From The Past shows Grimlock transforming to robot mode, revealing that the Dinobots were given Sparks and turned into Transformers by the AllSpark energy from Sari's key (something that was foreshadowed earlier in the episode when Megatron finds himself unable to control them). Six episodes later, in Survival of the Fittest, the Dinobots reveal their ability to transform to everyone present (Bulkhead, Prowl, Sari, Fanzone, and Meltdown). Optimus would learn of this in Megatron Rising Part I.
    • In Autoboot Camp, a flashback shows Bumblebee learning of a Decepticon spy amongst the Autobots and suspects it to be Wasp, an Autobot who bullies him. This leads to Bumblebee teaming up with an Autobot named Longarm to expose him as the spy. However, it's revealed at the end of the episode that the true spy is Longarm, who is actually the Decepticon Shockwave in disguise. The main characters don't learn of this until Shockwave reveals himself in A Bridge Too Close Part II.
  • Played with in Voltron: Legendary Defender. It's never explicitly stated to the audience that Pidge is a girl until she admits the façade in the sixth episode, though the show doesn't do much to hide this. In the same manner, the other characters had also either figured out by that point or at least suspected it (except Lance).

Alternative Title(s): The Inner Reveal


"You got me."

While using the bathroom at Walter's house, Hank finds a copy of Leaves of Grass with the writing of known meth cook and associate of Heisenberg Gale Boetticher inside, leading to Hank realizing that Walter was Heisenberg this whole time.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

Main / DeducingTheSecretIdentity

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