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Killed to Uphold the Masquerade

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The World Is Not Ready for some information to be known...
"I'm here because you can see me, simple as that."
Cameron Hunter, Shadownova

So, our Intrepid Reporter has discovered the world behind the masquerade, and she refuses to uphold it, destroy it, join it, or get Laser-Guided Amnesia, and in fact will go public with her discovery.

The heroes (or villains, if it's the bad guys who are upholding the masquerade) will try to reason, plead, and maybe even threaten her into not going public. She may not care that, once exposed, those hidden by the masquerade will be persecuted and killed (which may be her goal if many of those protected are evil), or that The World Is Not Ready to know, or that it would generally just be a Bad IdeaTM .

The heroes (or villains) then get to work. Try to destroy the evidence? She made multiple off-site backups. Bribery? She either doesn't want money or figures the exposé will make her richer than what they offer. Blackmail? She doesn't care about her reputation being ruined as long as she ruins theirs. Mind-Control Device? She wears mirrored glasses.

She has to die now.

In a Crapsack World her death is pretty much guaranteed; good characters/players will probably agonize over this choice but ultimately do what they must and Shoot the Dog. If the author wants to let the heroes off the hook, then Villainous Rescue may come along and kill her for the heroes so they can avoid doing the deed, but not the guilt over having almost done it/strongly considered it. Often, this involves either faked suicide, suspicious accident, or messy murder.

If the author is particular about not wanting blood on anyone's hands, the character may simply get Put on a Bus or suffer a fatal accident through their own fault. (Not that the readers won't know what is up.) The heroes may still feel guilty for covering up the details surrounding her death.

Expect her death to either go completely unnoticed... or call the attention of a Hunter of Monsters in a later episode/story.

May be an Elephant in the Living Room if this or Easy Amnesia are never brought up in a series with the masquerade, especially one managed by good guys. A leading cause of The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life.

A notable aversion would be when the reporter experiences something so horrific at the hands of the villain note  that she comes to believe that the masquerade is necessary, and from then on helps the heroes to maintain it.

Contrast Safety in Muggles. Can potentially lead to Can't Stop The Signal.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Attack on Titan:
    • Later on, it's revealed that Marco was killed after overhearing Annie, Reiner, and Bertolt talk about transforming into their Titan forms to capture Eren during the Battle of Trost.
    • It is also revealed earlier in the manga that the government was behind the destruction of any new technology and the murder of its inventors for the reason of preventing anyone from discovering that humanity yet lives on beyond the walls.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness: The evil organization Vingulf is willing to kill anybody who learns about them or the existence of witches. No one is safe; they eventually kill the President of the United States when he finds out.
  • Lots and lots of people offscreen in The Castle of Cagliostro. Look at all those corpses in the basement. Most of them were killed either for political reasons or to keep the counterfeiting operation from being exposed.
  • In Code Geass, Rolo uses this as his excuse for killing Shirley.
  • This is pretty much the crux of most of the plot points in Death Note.
  • In Fullmetal Alchemist Maes Hughes not only figures out the masquerade LONG before there's even an inkling of a clue, but also realizes that he's about to be killed, and tells Must- Oh. Wait. Nope. Too late.
  • Jumped the gun in Gantz; Gantz orders Tae dead before she even realizes she has anything on the masquerade.
  • Gunslinger Girl:
    • Captain Raballo is reported dead in a car accident right after a scene where we saw him contacting a journalist.
    • Earlier than that, a young employee of a hotel is shot when he sees Rico after a kill. It's even worse since they had become friends earlier, but Rico is so brainwashed (or grateful for being able to walk) that she shoots him with a smile.
  • In the first Hellsing anime, a reporter is intent on releasing footage of vampires and is 'sentenced' to death by being drained by Alucard. In Integra's defense, the reporter had stood idly by recording a sadistic vampire as he savagely fed on a human, never even trying to stop the vampire, save the victim, or report the vampire to... well, anyone.
    • More than that. The reporter was the one who organized the entire thing.
    • On the other hand, there are multiple occasions in the manga and OVAs where this trope is explicitly averted. Just about every conversation Integra has with anyone that is not already aware of the masquerade, usually overwhelmed and clueless local cops, starts with her explaining exactly what's going on in the process of assuming control of the situation with little regard for the idea of secrecy.
  • Played for Laughs in Kaiju Girl Caramelise. During a field trip, Rairi runs into Okada, the guy who knew her from before she started using makeup to conceal her gorilla face and who broke her heart. He doesn't realize who she is, but she's worried that he'll eventually figure it out (especially since the two of them took pictures together) and expose her to everyone who looks up to her as a Fashionista in the present. So she picks up a big rock and says she'll "just have to get him before he gets me" all while Kuroe frantically tries to calm her down.
  • My Bride is a Mermaid: If a human should discover the existence of mermaids for any reason, either the human who saw said mermaid or the mermaid who revealed herself has to die. When Sun saves Nagasumi from drowning, Sun's mother Ren takes advantage of a loophole by getting the two engaged, as the rule states that humans married into a mermaid family are the exception.
  • In Ravages of Time, Xiao Meng — formerly an assassin for the nearly-annihilated Sima clan — attempts to avenge the clan by killing Cao Cao, the prime minister of the Han empire, Xiao Meng believing that the Sima clan heir Yi (yes ''that'' Sima Yi) had since "capitulated" to Cao Cao and given up. Unfortunately, Sima Yi was merely hiding his own continued desire for revenge... a masquerade threatened by Xiao Meng's own desire for revenge, so to avert suspicion from himself Sima Yi warned Cao Cao of the would-be assassination attempt and sends his "bedbug" Jia Kui to incite Cao Cao's troops, condemning Xiao Meng to a brutally horrific death — although ironically a glimpse of the "bedbug" actually comforted Xiao Meng, who realized that Sima Yi had not in fact given up on vengeance after all.
  • Attempted by the Student Police in Rosario + Vampire, when they discover that Tsukune is human. Luckily, his violently protective friends help him out, and an Emergency Transformation turns him Empowered Badass Normal right in the middle of the confrontation. It's later revealed that, in reality, monsters are forbidden from killing humans for any reason under penalty of death, and that the Student Police only got to that point because of their leader Kuyou, an anti-human extremist and The Mole for the pro-monster/anti-human terrorist organization Fairy Tale.
  • In Saint Seiya, each and every female Athena Saint had to use a mask and never let any man see her face. If one ever did she only had two options: kill him, or love him. (Some fans have joked that the true reason was that Athena couldn't stand not being the hottest chick in the whole place.)
    • To be sure, this is more upholding a LITERAL masquerade (as in, people with masks) than the figurative one this trope is about.
    • Doesn't seem to be the case in The Lost Canvas, though it's uncertain if it's canon or not.
      • This rule gets broken by Shaina and Marin several times in the series, so either Athena stopped caring, or the female saints consider it more a question of personal honor than an actual rule, or they learned to use loopholes like "I love him... as a brother". Or something like that.
  • In Tokyo Ghoul, this was the fate of Yoshimura's human lover, Ukina. She was secretly an Investigative Journalist following the organization employing him, though the couple were unaware of these secrets. The organization forced him to kill her, as punishment. Doing so, however, allowed him the time he needed to escape with their newborn Half-Human Hybrid daughter and hide her before his superiors learned about her existence.

    Comic Books 
  • A Batman storyline, Bruce Wayne: The Road Home, does this. Ra's al Ghul learned that Vicki Vale has deduced Batman's identity (and probably that of others) and has taken up the duty of killing her to make sure that his adversary's legacy isn't tarnished. Averted, in that Bruce Wayne himself is able to persuade Ra's from killing her and convinces Vicki to destroy the evidence.
  • Astrid Mueller accomplishes this by proxy in Clean Room. One of her business rivals has been elevated by support from the demons; she reveals The Masquerade to him in front of them, resulting in his immediate execution by his backers.
  • In Doctor Strange: The Oath, a corrupt pharmaceuticals company bent on Withholding the Cure tries to prevent the release of a magic potion that can cure all diseases — by murder if necessary. The argument is that the world must never know a cure by magic is possible, and that humanity must develop at its own 'natural pace.' (The fact that this sort of thing would devastate their profit margin factors in, too). They get their comeuppance at the end when one of Strange's allies finds the CEO's "we have to kill 'em all" memo and proceeds to fax it far and wide.
  • From Marvel Comics, Elektra's latest turn to villainy involves her killing a heck of a lot of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. It turns out she was on the side of good all along...she just had to kill flunkies to maintain cover.
  • In the second arc of Fables, a reporter discovers the fables are immortal... and thinks they're vampires! Bigby assembles a team and fabricates "evidence" that he's a pedophile (don't worry, Pinocchio is Really 700 Years Old and not at all naive, though frustrated he can't grow up) and blackmails him into staying silent and destroying all of his offsite backups. Bluebeard kills him anyway on his own, alleging he's not a softy like Bigby.
  • An old Judge Dredd comic written by John Byrne had Dredd blow away a fellow Judge and thus get an in with a gang of crooks. It's okay, the fellow Judge had an incurable disease and was in on the entire plan. The crooks ended up in a new jail.
  • Ultimate Marvel:
    • Ultimate Origins: Mutants are not the result of evolution, but a lab experiment. When Nick Fury discovered this, he ordered his men to kill everyone and destroy the lab. The World Is Not Ready for such information to be public knowledge. And he was right.
    • Ultimate Galactus Trilogy: The Silver Wing tried to kill Misty Knight to keep his existence a secret. But she proved to be a resourceful fighter, and then the Ultimates showed up, so he had to flee.
  • This is the end that Rorschach comes to in Watchmen.

    Fan Works 
  • In Fate Genesis, the Mage Association is perfectly willing to wipe entire cities in order to keep magecraft from leaking to the general population and in turn weakening their own power. The Holy Grail War is meant to be kept under wraps through a combination of the Association, Church, and the Masters working together, but Dr. Eggman's blatant attacks and Sonic the Hedgehog and company's efforts to stop him have pretty much shattered the veil of secrecy as the military and police investigating Eggman are starting to figure out the strange things happening in Fuyuki both now and ten years ago with what little evidence the magi didn't scrub. Combined with Shirou and his allies fighting alongside Sonic and The Shadow gaining a will of its own to start attacking people, a lot of pressure is being put on, and Kirei, Rin, and Bazett are running themselves ragged trying to convince the Association not to nuke the city by pointing out the blatant threat of Eggman (and ironically enough, the military presence is biggest saving factor because wiping it out would likely start a war between Japan and Britain, which is the last thing the magi want).
  • In Fear The Superhero, due to the Sekirei's lack of subtlety, Shirou plans to murder everybody who knows about the Sekirei Plan as quickly as possible before the Mage Association decides it's become necessary to extend the death sentences to everyone else in Tokyo.
  • Integration: The three members of the Changeling mob who attempted to kidnap Sci-Twi end up dead before they can be properly interrogated — one hangs himself in his cell, one who was hospitalized by a Groin Attack after the event in question is given the "wrong" medicine, and the third is killed while attempting to escape arrest. Everyone realizes this is too big a coincidence to actually be one.
  • In Spellbound (Lilafly), Emilie Agreste was casual enough about her fae nature to reveal it to her good friend Nathalie — but humans aren't supposed to know about magic. Fortunately for Nathalie, Mrs Agreste was smart enough to protect her, making a bargain with the Court to protect everyone who lives or works in the Agreste mansion from interference. Less fortunately, none of Nathalie's family would listen to her pleas to move into the mansion, and they all vanished without a trace. And now Nathalie cannot, under any circumstances, afford to get fired.
  • Triptych Continuum: It never happens on-screen, but every earth pony is taught the stories of those who threatened to reveal the Secret... and were killed to keep it a Secret. (Applejack realizes some of the stories are probably just that: scare tactics to get younglings in line — but over the course of Equestria's history, having at least one fatality would seem to be guaranteed.)

    Films — Animated 
  • In Tangled, Gothel stabs Flynn so that the secrets of Rapunzel's kidnapping will "die with him." There may also be shades of Revenge by Proxy since she can't hurt Rapunzel and Murder the Hypotenuse.
  • Zootopia:
    • Figuratively with Emmitt Otterton and Manchas. Doug darted them, making them unable to communicate intelligibly before either of them could say much about the Night Howlers.
    • Played straighter during the climax where Bellwether attempts to do this to both Nick and Judy. She traps the two of them in a pit and shoots Nick with the Night Howler pellet, expecting Judy to be killed and savage Nick unable to reveal anything. It would have worked if the duo hadn't planned out a few things in advance.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Used in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem as the explanation why Wolf, the movie's Predator, isn't following his species' usual code of honor: he is here to stop the Xenomorph invasion and cover up any evidence of their existence, and as such cannot afford to let any human who witnesses them live.
  • At the end of American Nightmare (1983), Tony reveals that he killed the various women in order to suppress the truth of his boss's incestuous activities and uphold his good reputation in the community.
  • In Batman Forever, Two-Face conveniently suffers a Disney Villain Death after discovering that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
  • Inverted in The Dark Knight — a Wayne Enterprises lawyer discovers the resources diverted to support Batman; when he announces he's going public, The Joker tries to have him killed and Bruce Wayne saves him.
  • In Psycho II, Mary Loomis is killed after discovering Norman Bates has gone insane again.
  • Defied in Underworld (2003). Alexander Corvinus has been running a team of Cleaners to cover the existence of vampires and Lycans. It is explicitly stated that the innocent people who see anything are not harmed; the novelization indicates they are paid off.
  • Chillingly portrayed in the otherwise-mostly-comical, if somewhat immensely cynical, Wag the DogThe producer of the fake war refuses to keep quiet about it; the person he's working for gives a nod to a federal agent, and in the next scene, the producer is reported as having died of a heart attack in his estate.

  • In Anno Dracula: One Thousand Monsters, it's mentioned that before Dracula took over Britain, many vampires believed they would be killed to uphold the masquerade if they went public, by some mysterious cabal of powerful elders known as the Number (nobody could agree what the actual number was). Afterwards, of course, it was pretty clear that if the Number existed, it didn't care.
  • A standing order in the dinosaur community of Anonymous Rex is that any humans who stumble onto the fact that humanoid dinosaurs are alive and living incognito in the modern world are to be killed for fear of backlash or persecution against the dinosaur races if mankind at large ever found out their existence. That dinosaurs are vastly outnumbered by humans gives them legitimate amount of concern, however, even the main character doesn't seem to have much of a problem with the morality of this policy.
  • Played distressingly straight by A.I. in the Clandestine Daze series. They regularly murder humans in order to protect the secrecy of the Aels.
  • In Conquistador, anyone who learns of the portal to the alternate earth becomes an 'involuntary immigrant', meaning that they are forcibly sent through the portal and are never allowed to return. While this isn't lethal, the fact that they effectively vanish without a trace from our world makes them effectively dead from the perspective of anyone who knew them.
  • In The Destroyer, many people have died to uphold the masquerade. In one of the earliest instances, the Director's assistant discovers CURE, a secret organization set up by President Kennedy to defend the country by working outside the bounds of the Constitution. The assistant then goes to The Director and tells him what he has discovered, and assures him he will never tell anyone. The Director has him killed anyway.
  • The Dresden Files notably averts it: title character Harry Dresden is in the phone book under "Wizards". Normal humans who poke their noses into the supernatural do frequently end up dead, but that's simply because supernatural beings like vampires and fairies tend to be a) very dangerous and b) jerks.
    • Lampshaded in Proven Guilty when a vampire laughs at Harry when he threatens to expose him, claiming Harry wouldn't dare reveal the masquerade. He is horrified when Dresden informs him that anyone can look him up in the phone book under "Wizard".
    • At first, Harry is hesitant to tell Murphy or the Alphas much about the real goings-on of the supernatural world for precisely this reason; he notes that the White Council gets real uppity about vanilla mortals, especially law enforcement, knowing anything about them. Fortunately, the White Council doesn't really learn that Murphy is aware of their existence, and they're too busy with the whole war against the vampires to terribly care.
    • A different variant occurs in Turn Coat where, regardless of the outcome, Morgan is likely to be executed so that Merlin can maintain the illusion that the White Council is still strong and united. Ultimately, Morgan dies killing the person who framed him and his death as originally planned.
    • Then there is the Oblivion War, a war so secret just knowing about it will leave a mystical mark on the mortal which other participants of the war can spot. The War is about a group of people trying to erase all mortal knowledge of the Old Ones, ancient evil demon-gods, so the more people who know the harder it is to do their job. They fight various cults of the Old Ones who want to bring them back. If a mortal finds out and won't join the defenders of reality, the defenders cannot hesitate to leave the person be.
  • In Raymond E. Feist's Faerie Tale, this is subverted: the guy who figures out what's going on expects to be killed, but the Ancient Tradition people tell him not to be so melodramatic and give him Laser-Guided Amnesia instead.
  • Deconstructed in The Laundry Files. The first person the Laundry had to kill to keep knowledge of Eldritch Abominations from becoming known was Alan Turing, who'd discovered mathematical functions that allow for radically more systematic and efficient use of magic (and allowed computers to be used to perform them) instead of ad hoc systems prior. They realized soon after the only thing this had done was deny themselves a great source of knowledge. So from now on, they recruit anyone who looks like they're going to either do something great or do something disastrous (like Bob, the series' protagonist) - or at least offer them that option before killing them. In some cases, the Laundry would not try to recruit you but merely destroy your findings.
    • It's also noted that a government agency needing both a continued budget and a distinct lack of oversight takes a severe risk when assassinating its parent government's citizens, and doing so is usually the most expensive option in terms of both monetary and political capital.
    • But a Justified Trope among vampires. The Laundry doesn't believe vampires exist, as even a small number would dramatically increase the death rate in Britain. Turns out the only successful vampires are psychopaths, so if one vampire encounters another, they will try to kill each other to ensure their population remains at minuscule levels and thus undetected.
  • In Lost Voices, the timahk, or mermaid code of honor, strictly forbids contact with humans. Any human who hears a mermaid sing must be immediately drowned.
  • Averted realistically in the Mercy Thompson books. If you've survived a run-in with the vampires and you're human enough for them to justify killing in the name of the masquerade, go and talk to the media. You'll be seeing psychologists for the rest of your life, but the vampires will stay away from you. This is part of Charles' job in the Alpha and Omega subseries. Humans who are attacked by werewolves, survive the encounter and don't contract lycanthropy must be killed. It's one of his most hated duties since he knows the human is innocent but cannot risk them warning the public about the dangers behind the masquerade. This situation arises in Cry Wolf, but fortunately he is able to Take a Third Option.
  • The Otherworld: Elena uses this as an excuse for one of the many times she ditches the pack. After killing a man who planned to auction off information on real-life werewolves who couldn't be talked down, she's disgusted with herself for having made the choice to take his life so easily. This is a step up, really. In the past werewolves would kill anyone who came close to learning about them. The rest of the supernatural world seems to have long ago decided to give people a chance to keep quiet before silencing them, though.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, when trying to convince Devi to defect to his side, Brenton states that her employers have killed many of their previous pawns for discovering too much of the truth. Their first recourse is usually to inflict Laser-Guided Amnesia, but it doesn't always take, and anyone who regains their memories is ruthlessly eliminated to preserve the organization's secrets.
  • Defied in Shadow of the Conqueror. After finding out that Daylen knows how anyone can become a Lightbinder without a Heroic Vow, Lyrah becomes determined to force him to join the Archknights or else execute him, so no one will learn the Archknights' secret. After Ahrek tears into her over this, she admits that killing or drafting him just for his knowledge isn't just, and settles for following him to make sure he doesn't let anything slip, instead.
  • Implied in Shaman Blues, with Witkacy stating that telling Konstancja about the supernatural is a sure way to invite a big and armed man to their houses to deal with them.
  • The fate of anyone who discovers the Inquisition deals with demons in Rob J. Hayes' The Ties That Bind. This is especially traumatizing when one of the protagonists is forced to do so against a child. Then again, it is a Crapsack World Sword and Sorcery novel.
  • The Volturi in The Twilight Saga, Their main job is to destroy vampires who attract too much attention to themselves. It was mentioned that they wiped out every vampire in Mexico when the vampire civil war there got out of hand.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In 24 this happens a few times during season 5 by the order of President Logan. There are a couple of subversions which include the attempts on the lives of Jack Bauer and James Heller as they both survive.
  • In Alias, Sydney follows orders and stabs a man to death in order to maintain her cover as an assassin named Julia Thorne.
  • In the reimagined Battlestar Galactica, Cally Tyrol follows her husband to discover a meeting of the four Cylons who live in secret in the fleet. Tory Foster ensures that she won't live to tell anyone about it ... Which comes back to haunt her a long time later … Interestingly, Cally wasn't planning on telling anyone. She was about to step out the airlock with her baby. Tory appears to convince her they aren't evil, only to take the baby and kill Cally. To be fair-ish, Cally was in the grips of postpartum depression and drug overuse, it's not unlikely she would have inadvertently revealed the secret or changed their mind. This was one of the characters who murders Cylon agents in cold blood out in the open.
  • Bitten has this as the job of the Pack. They kill anyone who threatens their existence and it was enforcing this rule which drove Elena away. It is later revealed that one of the reasons why Clay bit and turned Elena into a werewolf was because Jeremy thought that Elena saw him transform back into human form. Knowing that he could not stop Jeremy from killing Elena, Clay bit her instead hoping that against all odds Elena might survive the transformation. Elena actually saw nothing and for years thought that Clay acted for purely selfish reasons.
  • In Charmed (1998):
    • There's an entire class of demons (Libris demons) who are tasked with killing any ordinary mortals who discover that they exist. Those demons are discontinued, however; after the Season 3 finale, from which the side of good lost Prue and the side of evil lost Tempus, they pool their powers to create The Cleaners, a True Neutral and extremely powerful duo designed specifically to ensure that magic remains hidden. However, that's not to say that they have any reservations about killing.
    • As part of his series of crisscrossing alignments, Cole killed a man who threatened to blackmail Phoebe (Cole's love interest) with revealing the existence of her powers. That said, he did it mostly to protect her, but he used this as his justification to her.
    • Inspector Sheridan never actually learned the Charmed Ones' identities, but she was so suspicious of their nature and motives that she continued to pursue them relentlessly. Various methods are tried to distract her or throw her off the scent, until eventually Agent Brody gets her put in a coma and locked away in an asylum; unfortunately when she comes out of this and eventually recovers her memories this only makes her even more determined to uncover the truth. In the end, the sisters are saved from having to worry about how to stop her from exposing them when her sting operation causes her to walk in on Zankou right as he's trying to gain control of the Nexus...
  • A variation takes place in an episode of Chuck. A bad guy finds out the truth about Chuck and plans to tell his superiors. He gloats about it to Sarah, who has her gun on him. Realizing this is the only way to protect Chuck, she shoots the man in cold blood. Unfortunately for her, Chuck witnesses it, of course arriving too late to hear the man's threats but just in time to see Sarah kill him.
  • Comrade Detective: The mostly antagonistic detective Dragos is killed when his efforts to clear Anghel and Baciu threaten to expose the conspiracy.
  • In the second season of Dexter, James Doakes discovers Dexter's secret. Dexter keeps him locked in a cabin for several days while he deliberates on whether to kill him, only to have Lila do it for him.
  • Doctor Who: In "Partners in Crime", Donna interviews a woman who is taking the Adipose pills. The woman goes to the bathroom and Donna absentmindedly twists the capsule that she took from Adipose Industries while waiting. We then see the woman fixing her makeup when something... odd happens. She sees an Adipose pop out of her stomach into the sink. Back to Adipose Industries, where the unscheduled birth is recorded and it is easily decided to turn the entire woman into Adipose babies — just because she saw the Adipose. Not that they wouldn't have done it eventually anyway ...
  • In The Expanse, the crew of the Rocinante is put in this position when a medical crew, illegally entering Eros station, discover the Protomolecule. Jim pleads with the crew not to broadcast this information, as it will lead to a system-wide war. The medic in charge doesn’t back down, and the Roci is forced to open fire, killing them.
  • Forever features a strange case where someone is killed to uphold their own masquerade. Henry is immortal, whenever he dies his body disappears and he is reborn in a nearby body of water. In one episode, a serial killer gives him a fatal but slow-acting wound. With the cops closing in, fellow (and sociopathic) immortal Adam slits Henry's throat to kill him quickly and uphold both of their masquerades.
  • Forever Knight. Those few humans who witness vampire activity and prove resistant to posthypnotic suggestion are usually killed, but occasionally they become a Secret-Keeper (such as Natalie and Tracy). Nick seems to have no problem showing his Nightmare Face to the Villain of the Week though; it's not clear if he hypnotises the survivors or just figures that no one will believe a perp who said his arresting officer had fangs and could fly. One episode also shows there's a vampire Secret Police called Enforcers whose job it is to cover up such things, and they're willing to kill anyone (human or vampire) to do so.
  • On Haven, a Boston cop, Tommy, comes to Haven to investigate the Bolt Gun Killer case and ends up stumbling into some of the Troubles. He ends up staying there as a detective. It's revealed near the end of the season that the Bolt Gun Killer murdered him and stole his identity in the first episode he was introduced.
  • In the third season finale of Highlander: The Series, the bitter widow of a murdered Watcher decides to out both Immortals and Watchers to the press. Joe goes to kill her but Duncan stops him, more for Joe's sake than hers. Kalas then conveniently kills both her and the newspaper editor she went to but tries to hold her evidence to ransom himself. Fortunately, Duncan manages to kill him and destroy the evidence in one fell swoop.
  • Played with in the Jonathan Creek episode "The Curse of the Savant's Thumb". The apparently accidental death of a media personality turns out to be the work of intelligence agents who think he has video evidence of the government inventing the weapons of mass destruction story to justify invading Iraq. Except he doesn't: It's just a rather po-faced comic sketch featuring a lookalike of Tony Blair. Whether there actually is anything to cover up is left vague.
  • In Moonlight, a vampire (or possibly more than one) named the Cleaner has the job of covering up evidence of any vampire activity. Any vampire who threatens to expose them, either by carelessness or deliberately, is killed.
  • In Once Upon a Time, Graham is killed moments after recovering his memories about who he really is. However, the motive of the person who killed him is probably closer to If I Can't Have You….
  • This is threatened a lot on Orphan Black, though it doesn't seem to actually happen often, due to the fact that DYAD needs the clones alive and (at least somewhat) cooperative in order to continue the experiment.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Camp", the commandant mentions that in the past some other humans discovered the camp staff were androids, and he killed them to keep this secret.
  • Person of Interest. Northern Lights, the organisation tasked by the US government with handling the Machine, kills the engineers who built it and anyone else who finds out about the existence of an artificial superintelligence illegally plugged into every surveillance and computer system in the country. This is shown to backfire on several occasions; John Reese and Sameen Shaw both ended up joining Team Machine after being set up to be killed by their superiors. They also arrange for Nathan Ingram (who originally designed the Machine with Harold Finch's secret help) to die in a terrorist bombing they allow to go ahead to stop him speaking to a reporter, even though his help would later be needed when the Machine goes rogue. The Machine is also shown categorising people as a THREAT TO ADMIN but in the penultimate episode is shown to have recruited such people into Team Machines in other cities.
  • The reporter and TV news producer who stumble upon the existence of the anomalies in Primeval conveniently run off into one such anomaly and wind up trapped (and presumably eaten) in the Mesozoic.
  • This happens multiple times in Stargate SG-1. As the series is Backed by the Pentagon, the witnesses are never killed by the uniformed military, but the SGC's rivals are always eager to Shoot the Dog for them. They often gloat about this, saying that though SGC agrees that secrecy is paramount, they aren't willing to "make the hard choices", and take pride in murdering witnesses on their behalf.
    • In a second season episode, a reporter threatens to go public with knowledge of the Stargate. Seconds after dismissing O'Neill in public, a passing car jumps the curb, sends him flying, and speeds away. O'Neill is fairly sure that he was Killed To Uphold The Masquerade, but General Hammond says that to his knowledge, it wasn't an assassination. The audience never finds out for sure either way.
    • A Season Six episode has a reporter discover some evidence of one of the SGC's side programs. It turns out to be a NID plot, and the reporter is left empty-handed - but alive.
    • A Season Eight episode has an entrepreneur salvage some wreckage from a fight between the Asgard and Goa'uld in Earth orbit, and produce an empty Asgard clone to the press. He was going to be killed by the shadowy conspiracy, but the SGC rescued him via Asgard beaming, sending him to explore other planets (which he was happy to do). Of course, his case for the existence of aliens was disproved.
      • This was mostly because his company went bankrupt, causing him to lose all credibility.
  • UFO (1970): It's mentioned on several occasions that SHADO is prepared to do this, though we never actually see it, presumably because for the audience it would involve crossing the Moral Event Horizon. Colonel Straker doesn't tell his wife about his real job for this reason, leading to the breakup of their marriage when she assumes his secrecy is covering an affair.

    Tabletop RPG 
  • In Eclipse Phase this is part of both Firewall and Project Ozma's SOP when their existence is discovered by civilians. Of course, most people after The Fall have cortical stacks and off-site backups so that usually doesn't kill them permanently, but so long as the stack is disposed of and their last backup wasn't too recent their next incarnation won't remember the masquerade breach, and might even be recruited later.
  • Operating alongside the Grey Knights from Warhammer 40,000 can be quite hazardous if you are not a member of the Inquisition, due to their status as elite daemon hunters. Besides the possibility of getting killed by daemons, should you survive you're lucky if you just receive a mind wipe as they go on to their next mission (if you're unlucky, execution or enslavement usually follows the mind wipe). That is, unless you're the Space Wolves, who end up fighting against the Grey Knights and the Inquisitor who called them in after said Inquisitor tried to purge First War for Armageddon survivors (which the Wolves objected to, hard) and only ends in a very shaky truce.
  • This is basically "Standard Plot Complication #3" in any gameline of The World of Darkness.
    • Vampire: The Masquerade and Vampire: The Requiem in particular. Considering the former had vampires close to being wiped out during the Inquisition in Europe, and the prevalence of modern telecommunications, vampires are very aware that any slip could destroy their species.
    • Usually averted in Mage: The Awakening. Even the Guardians of the Veil, the most secrecy-obsessed and Dirty Business-prone of the Pentacle orders, consider killing humans who might break the masquerade an absolute last resort, and mages have a great number of other ways to deal with troublesome Sleepers.
      • It should also be noted that this isn't so much out of concern for the sleepers as it is to make sure that every mage careless enough to be identified by said sleeper/investigator can be discovered and killed. Since mages live mostly off the grid by necessity and mundanes very much do not, disposing of the masquerade-breakers is significantly more easy and effective than offing mortals, and leaves the investigator without any proof even if he somehow dodges the mind-wipe.
    • Played with in Hunter: The Vigil. While people who see past the masquerade often become hunters, the powerful conspiracies that hunt in the darkness will often kill as a last resort to not only cover up the existence of monsters but the dealings of the conspiracies. This is also the reason vampires and other creatures are so quick to kill to uphold the masquerade; witnesses often become hunters.
    • The last line of the Oath of the Moon in Werewolf: The Forsaken: "The Herd Must Not Know." Lunacy usually turns all memories of werewolves into memories of "big scary dudes with heavy beards" or "really big goddamn dogs", but not everyone is affected by it.
  • Averted in the Infinite Worlds setting for GURPS, though only just. The Infinity Patrol have it as an ironclad policy that they will not kill people just to protect The Secret of parachronics. They've got memory erasure drugs, they can conjure up plausible explanations, discredit witnesses, and even just ask nicely, but they won't kill. When all else fails, they'll kidnap those who Know Too Much and put them on a prison planet, but even that's exceptional and sometimes Dirty Business.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • In Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood some of the audio files in Subject 16's data suggest this is what The Knights Templar aka Abstergo Industries do to people in the modern day.
    • In this universe, all vehicles have a monitoring system used by Abstergo to keep tabs on everyone. One of the audio clips has a reporter discussing some findings about Abstergo in a car and being listened to on a hidden microphone. Some Templar agents then casually discuss eliminating him.
    • Also in this universe, all televisions have hidden information on their customers like their biology, their conditions, their likes, their dislikes; everything about them. Another audio clip has a man finding a hidden TV channel with his bio signs and other information on it, he telephones the TV company (Abstergo) and the company sends a "technician" who breaks down the door. Call ends. Made even more disturbing by the child in the background yelling, "Dad! Someone's at the door!"
    • Shaun implies that this would have been his fate if the templars instead of the assassins had found him first when Desmond asks him how he joined the assassins in Assassin's Creed II.
  • A subversion of this is the premise behind Daycare Nightmare. Basically, this mommy monster was about to kill a waitress who saw her child accidentally abandon its human disguise when her babysitter called to cancel on her and said waitress offered free babysitting in exchange for not being eaten.
  • An option in Dragon Age: Origins when dealing with Brother Genitivi and Andraste's Ashes, if you decide you want no one to know they really exist.
    • Ser Jory is killed when he tries to back out of the joining, after watching Daveth die, though it probably didn't help that he pulled a sword on Duncan. However, Duncan does warn, "There can be no turning back."
  • Fate/stay night:
    • The very existence of servants and the Holy Grail War is kept as a strict secret from non-magi, and any non-magus who witnesses servants or magi doing anything unusual (fighting, performing rituals, etc.) is killed to keep it a secret. This is the logic behind Lancer killing Shirou in the opening. Granted, Shirou gets better, and it was really kinda pointless because Shirou already knew about magi and magecraft, being one himself. However, Lancer had no ability to know that, attacked Shirou (who despite knowing about magecraft, didn't know about the Holy Grail War and did not understand what he was seeing when he witnessed Lancer in action) before he could react, and Lancer's master is a Card-Carrying Villain.
    • Rin mentions that under a strict interpretation of the rules, any non-magus who witnesses any magic, never mind major rituals like the Holy Grail War, needs to be eliminated. Memory spells are the preferred method, but killing all witnesses is an acceptable alternative. Rin always hated this rule, so she was careful there were never any witnesses she had to eliminate.
  • Happens all the damn time in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time. Any time anybody tries to explain anything about the Cobalt Star, they are either turned in to a non-sentient shroob-mushroom or, in the case of Princess Peach, are interrupted by every possible thing that can happen.
  • In Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, the plot starts with the vampire that Embraced the Player Character getting offed for a Masquerade Violation, and you can get at least three quests to kill someone who's threatening, or in one case has already broken, the masquerade. You also run into someone who knew you before you were Embraced, and if you can't convince her you're not who she thinks you are, you have to kill her before she makes a phone call or receives a Masquerade Violation. If the player racks up too many Violations, they will also be killed.

    Web Animation 
  • Hunter: The Parenting, which takes place in the World of Darkness, touches on this trope in the first audiolog as the reason Big-D withholds information on vampires from the rest of the family— Vampires have eyes and ears everywhere in the form of mortal servants, and knowing too much could promptly get them all put on a hit-list if they slipped up and were noticed. So, while he's willing to provide a layman's introduction to vampires and their capabilities, he's unwilling to use or explain the formal names of the different vampire clans like "Nosferatu" or "Tremere", which in turn explains why Kitten uses crude nicknames; Vampires are so strict and deadly serious about keeping humanity convinced they don't exist that even knowing clan names would risk bringing every vampire in the region down on their heads. In fact, Big-D has a very loud panic attack when he accidentally says "Tremere" out loud and Kitten repeats it back to him, fearing for a moment that he may have just put his family in danger.
    Big-D: Notice how the conversation started. I carelessly said the word "Tremere".
    Kitten: Yes...?
    Big-D: If we were in public, in a restaurant, or on the street when I had said that... We would very well have to move.
    Kitten: That's a tad extreme.
    Big-D: And it is necessary.

    Web Comics 
  • In the opening chapter of morphE the man with the glasses is killed by Amical after non-lethally losing the fight with Asia. Amical claims he would be better off dead than living in a world where he knew magic existed. He could easily have had the man brainwashed and sent on his way, but that's not as intimidating to his new students.
  • In Shadownova the Everto do this a lot. One attack on a group of people who can see through the masquerade sets the entire plot in motion. Cameron, one of the Everto, then tries to make Iris, the only survivor, feel like it's her fault everyone had to be killed because she could see through the masquerade even though the ability to do so is completely involuntary.

    Web Original 
  • Allison Pregler in her Charmed reviews notes that Season 8 Phoebe Halliwell is quite chatty about her status as a fugitive witch under a false identity in public spaces, and makes a joke that she probably blabs all that at random people who bump into her before murdering them to keep her cover.
  • Seems to be a common practice of the Briarwoods in Critical Role. Not only have they somehow turned or killed every single spy sent into their territory, they also send invisible stalkers after their carriage driver Desmond when Vox Machina kidnaps him because He Knows Too Much.
  • Averted in the PPC. The offending characters are either neuralysed or recruited, depending on their importance to the main story of their continuum or how easily they would merge with canon.
  • The SCP Foundation doesn't shy away from doing this when necessary, though they prefer treatment with amnestics when possible.

    Western Animation 
  • Batman Beyond has a sleazy reporter who has the power to become incorporeal, and who uses this power to discover Batman's identity. Nothing Bruce or Terry can say or do will convince him not to reveal Batman's identity on live television, which poses quite the problem since Batman doesn't kill people, even for his secret identity. Conveniently, the issue is settled for them when the reporter loses control of his powers, ultimately helplessly falling through the floor... and presumably continuing to fall until he reaches the Earth's core. Bruce also figured out that the reporter murdered the scientist who invented the intangibility technology and stole his work, making his final grisly fate quite karmic.
  • In the South Park episode "The Mystery of the Urinal Deuce", Stan and Kyle go visit a conspiracy theorist, who claims that 9/11 was caused by the government. Immediately afterward, the three are brought to the White House, where the conspiracy theorist is murdered, and Stan and Kyle barely escape with their lives. Subverted, when it turns out the "theorist" is alive and well, and that the real conspiracy is the 9/11 truth movement, a government creation used to make people fear a hyper-competent government capable of pulling off such an elaborate False Flag Operation, rather than panic over the fact that a dozen or so random terrorists were able to use knives and boxcutters to execute such a devastating attack without the government being able to stop them ahead of time.
  • In Transformers: Prime, the Decepticons are quite willing to kill any human that sees a giant space robot. The Autobots save 3 of them, and they end up as the human sidekicks since if they want them dead anyway, they might as well be standing next to the other giant robots who can protect them.