Follow TV Tropes


Liar Revealed

Go To

Laura: There's no Earth. You made it all up. President Adar and I once talked about the legends surrounding Earth. He knew nothing about a secret location regarding Earth, and if the President knew nothing about it, what are the chances that you do?
Adama: You're right. There's no Earth. It's all a legend.
Laura: Then why?
Adama: Because it's not enough to just live. You have to have something to live for. Let it be Earth.
Laura: They'll never forgive you.
Adama: Maybe. But in the meantime I've given all of us a fighting chance to survive. And isn't that what you said was the most important thing, the survival of the human race?

Liar Revealed is the Internal Reveal of The Lie, the facade maintained by a protagonist which provides the primary dramatic tension for the plot. This usually sets up the third act where the protagonists are forced to deal with the consequences of the lie on top of any external threats.

The magnitude of the lie is important. It usually involves one or more of the protagonists setting themselves up, intentionally or accidentally, as something they are not, and other characters buying into the lie such that failure of the protagonist to live up to the facade may be disastrous. For example, a main character receives praise for an act of heroism they didn't actually commit, then is put in a position where he will have to repeat his feat to save the day again, only to have their deception revealed just when people are counting on him most. (He will usually then proceed to save the day anyway, earning back the trust of those he deceived.)

There are a few usual ways this ends up. If the lie was for selfish reasons, the protagonist will doubtless face the wrath of those he lied to, but along the way end up having a change of conscience, and try to redeem themselves through good acts and An Aesop about "what really matters". If the lie was well-intentioned, the protagonist may still find that others turn their backs on him, but go on to carry through with what they said they'd do anyway, proving themselves a hero after all.

It's worth noting that this trope is particularly easy and common to misuse, either in the tendency of the protagonist to Maintain the Lie for reasons that make no sense except for dramatic tension or of the deceived to turn against the protagonist for the deception in spite of other considerations that should by all rights absolve him.

A type of The Reveal. Shares many commonalities with Third-Act Misunderstanding. Contrast Instantly Proven Wrong, an inconsequential, situational comedy element.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • Love Hina uses this when the roommates discover that Keitaro is not a Tokyo U student early on. This leads to their already fairly low attitude toward him sinking even lower.

    Audio Play 
  • The plot of 36 Questions gets into motion when Natalie is forced to admit that everything she's told her husband for the past two years, including her name, is a lie.

    Comic Strips 
  • This occurs in a months-long storyline for Retail. In an effort to get a raise, Josh fabricates a story to his bosses that a competing retail store offered him a job with a bigger salary. Much to Marla's protest, their district manager Stuart authorizes the raise. Weeks later, Marla finds out that the store never offered him a job. She promptly tells Stuart, and while he warns against firing him, it's pretty evident that he's pissed at the whole thing, judging by a later strip that showed Josh calling him. Josh, realizing he was going to get fired, got a new job and gave a two weeks' notice to Marla, who ended up firing him anyway without working out the notice after he bragged about how he got away with lying.

    Fan Works 
  • Aura of the Azure: Cinder reveals to Yang and Weiss that Ragna had been secretly suspicious about her for months. In order to further twist the knife, she shows them a video of Ragna threatening her, editing out the part where she threatened his family in order to make the pair feel even more betrayed by him.
  • Child of the Storm: in the sequel, Harry, among others, is revealed as a liar by a furious Hermione when she figures out the truth about her ancestry (in short, she's the daughter of Wanda Maximoff, secretly adopted to protect her from her family's many, many enemies) and it becomes obvious that he knew.
  • In Equestria Ninja Girls Ninja Racers, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles use cloaking devices to hide their true appearances. Shashi uses Skelton Key to shut down those devices in front of the Crew, Layla, and his henchmen.
  • In The Plantar Family Pet, King Andrias forces Marcy to admit to her friends that she'd known about the music box's magical powers and intentionally used it to transport them all to another world in order to escape her parents' plans to move away.
  • Wikibending notes that the only thing keeping the Equalists together was Amon's leadership, as they had no real unifying beliefs beyond being opposed to bending. Amon transformed the movement into a Cult of Personality, but once he was revealed to be a waterbender, the Equalists completely fell apart, eventually reforming into three smaller groups.
  • Pride Lands Generations: Jahili spends a good portion of the story hiding his heritage and other secrets from everyone, with three moments where he's exposed:
    • Firstly, his father Kuchinja learns from Ukware's Exact Eavesdropping that Jahili had hidden the truth about Dhahabu's cubs from him, along with how he'd fallen in love with Taraji. Kuchinja then uses this information to craft the plan that leads to Mfalme's death.
    • The second time comes when Jahihi himself confesses to Taraji that he's been serving as The Mole. She takes the news poorly but gradually comes to understand why he lied and that it doesn't change who he is at heart or how she feels about him.
    • Finally, Kuchinja exposes his son during the confrontation in the gorge in an attempt to turn Dhahabu against his sister (either for getting involved with one of the Wahamiji, or for standing by Jahili even after learning the truth).
  • In Wonderland, Gray learns from Jellal that he's been living a lie that was painstakingly crafted by his mother and that in reality, his family isn't really royalty.
  • In Harry Is a Dragon, and That's OK, Lockhart is confronted by Michael Freeman, who was actually the real Wagga Wagga werewolf. Lupin tracked him down, wanting to learn whether the Homorphus Charm could also work on him, and Michael is outraged that some "poncy blond pom" is Stealing the Credit from the warlock who helped stop him.
  • Hilda The Witch: At one point, Bran asks Johanna if she's told Hilda about Rikard; she claims to have done so. Later on, in The Stone Forest, Bran learns that Hilda has been privately investigating that very same topic, causing him to realize that Johanna lied. This leads in turn to Hilda learning the real reason why she doesn't have any memories about her father.
  • The Albion Cycle: The second book, The King's Shadow, has Merlin reveal to Arthur that he's Emrys the warlock. A few chapters later, Cornelius Sigan exposes him to a party of guards, which leads to all of Camelot finding out.
  • Miraculous Ladybug canon presents Lila Rossi as a Compulsive Liar and Manipulative Bitch who routinely evades all consequences for her actions. As a result, it's a very common Fandom-Specific Plot for her deception to finally be exposed.
    • BURN THE WITCH: After the events of "Chameleon", Marinette wanted to expose Lila, but Adrien convinced her to stop by reasoning that her lies would catch up to her eventually without their involvement. While he's technically correct, the story deconstructs this: Sure, Lila's lies caught up to her... but only after she'd done so much damage that the latest Akumatized villain is Witch Hunter, who wants to outright burn Lila at the stake for her crimes. And her many cruel actions have made most of the main characters susceptible to Witch Hunter's More than Mind Control which convinces them that burning Lila alive is the right thing to do.
    • Feralnette AU: In sketches for the series, Lila's deceptive nature is ultimately revealed by her own inner voice, thanks to Lady Clarity's powers. Lila's ego is so immense that her inner voice gleefully brags about how tricking everyone and working with Hawkmoth, much to the horror of all present, including Lila herself.
    • Hero Chat: Downplayed. As they get to know Ladybug better, the other heroes realize that she would never tell a civilian her Secret Identity, much less let her talk about it in public. As more members of the class become temporary heroes, they subsequently realize the truth as well. Eventually, Marinette casually tells Lila that everybody save for Marc and possibly Ivan is aware that she's a liar, so there's really no need to keep up the charade. Lila assumes this is some kind of trick and ignores her.
    • I See What You Do Behind Closed Doors: Max starts Pulling the Thread on Lila's claims after Ladybug rejects her claims of being best friends, pointing out that Lila has him doing all her homework for her. He then looks up all of her claims and finds evidence that she was deceiving the whole time. Unfazed, Lila admits everything and reveals that Marinette wasn't the only one who knew the truth about her, declaring Adrien to be her Accomplice by Inaction.
    • The Karma of Lies: Adrien not only refuses to help Marinette expose Lila, he personally supports and backs up several of Lila's claims, since he doesn't want to deal with the personal inconvenience of the truth coming out. This naturally comes back to bite him when the rest of the class learns about his Betrayal by Inaction, making him the liar whose deception is revealed.
    • LadyBugOut:
      • Lila unintentionally exposes herself as a liar to her classmates in The Interview Ruse when she attempts to play the victim and accuse Marinette and Ladybug of arranging that interview to try and humiliate her. Ivan points out that Marinette didn't know that Lila had been claiming to be involved with the blog, and her attempts to talk her way out of this only succeed in upsetting them even more. Only Alya stands by her, due to Lila claiming to have fallen out with Ladybug due to staying loyal to Alya and her Ladyblog.
      • Alya later realizes just how much of a habitual liar Lila is when she claims to have been Rena Rouge — Alya's former heroic identity.
    • In Of Patience and Pettiness, the truth about Lila is revealed to the whole class shortly after the events of "Chameleon", via Marinette 'apologizing' to her by calling Jagged Stone and asking him to sing the song that he'd supposedly written for her in front of the whole class.
    • Shadows: In addition to Lila's true nature getting exposed to her classmates, Cyril is also indirectly responsible for getting Lila expelled back in New York.
    • In Snapped Wrist, Broken Lies, Marinette accidentally breaks Lila's wrist when Lila tries to steal the lucky charm Adrien gave her. This gets Lila's mother called in since Lila will have to go to the hospital. Once they're in the same room, a subtle prod from Marinette starts Ms. Rossi and Principal Damocles comparing notes, and it doesn't take long for Lila's lies to unravel, dropping her into deep trouble.
    • So you time travel to the future and your classmate gets punched... features Ms. Bustier's class getting catapulted twenty years into the future by the akuma Time-Turner, where they meet Marinette's daughter Emma and the future version of Chloé. Chloé shows them evidence of Lila's Celebrity Lies; in the process, Rose reveals that she'd learned the truth from Prince Ali, but Alya refused to believe her, discouraging her from warning everybody else. Unfortunately, these revelations come too late to save Ms. Bustier and most of the class, as Lila's actions had already set Laser-Guided Karma in motion.
    • The first act of Telling Lies? No, Mama. Lila's stories and claims are brought into question by Chloé and Alya after she tries to frame Marinette for assaulting her. They poke holes in her stories and question how much water her claims of friendship with various celebrities hold. But the final nail on the coffin is her own mother, who shows up at school in a rage, having seen the interviews with Lila on the Ladyblog and being furious at her daughter for spreading lies and making her parents look bad. She yells at Lila in front of the whole class, tearing apart all her lies and scolding her for letting them be posted on a public blog, jeopardizing her parents' jobs and reputations.
    • A Very Jagged Takedown is a collection of one-shots that all revolve around the same premise: Jagged Stone is responsible for outing Lila as a Consummate Liar.
      • "Dissonant Chord" has Jagged learn about Lila's lies and bullying while commissioning Marinette. He decides to make one of those falsehoods true by writing a song that, without naming names for legal reasons, calls out all of Lila's other lies. When Marinette's classmates listen to the song, it doesn't take long for them to figure out who it's talking about.
      • In "Career Day", Lila claims she's going to bring Jagged Stone in as her presenter for the titular event, intending to string the class along before claiming he had a schedule conflict. Marinette sees an opportunity and uses her actual connections to Jagged to bring him in as her presenter, with strict instructions to not say anything about Lila and just let his presence start the dominoes falling. While Jagged sticks to this, he can't resist making a pointed comment about how people like to make up lies and start rumors about him for attention, which clues in everyone who was still confused about how he made it to their classroom when Lila said he was out of the country.
      • "The Last Lie" features Lila claiming to know the designer who made a cool dragon-themed outfit for Jagged Stone's birthday, unaware that the designer was Marinette herself. All Marinette has to do is sit back and wait for Jagged to start bragging about who really made the clothes, which leaves Lila caught out with no way to recover.
    • Who You Know centers around Lila claiming that she personally knows who the secretive fashion star MDC is, offering to arrange for Marinette and Alya to meet them. Her deception is revealed when MDC comes out as Marinette Dupain-Cheng; a humiliated Alya then vows to ensure her true nature is exposed to the rest of the world.
    • In this untitled one-shot, Lila falsely claims to have helped Alya's parents commission a beautiful outfit from an Italian designer she knows. This backfires when Marlena and Otis promptly call her out, revealing that Marinette designed the dress.
  • Throughout Cain, Katsuki repeatedly tries to ruin Izuku's life and reputation by spreading Malicious Slander, only for these stories to fall apart in the face of reality. The more he does this, the more he erodes his own reputation. Ironically, it's implied that the only one who truly believes any of his claims is Katsuki himself.
  • Think Before You Speak is driven by Aizawa's decision to lie to Tensei about how his younger brother was injured during a training exercise. By falsely claiming that Midoriya was responsible, he hopes to force the poor kid out of U.A. by having him Convicted by Public Opinion. By the time Tensei learns the truth, the damage has already been done — to both his and Aizawa's reputations, along with any regard he once held for the other man.
  • Operation GEAR: When Nekou has to call Rosalie for help dealing with Olivia's illness, it forces the fact that she's a member of Team Rocket out into the open.
  • In One Way Left To Go, Buster worries that if Meena impresses Florence and successfully manages to launch a solo career, that will lead to the whole troupe going their separate ways. So he convinces Porsha to sabotage her run-through. Afterwards, Porsha is ridden with guilt and soon revealed what happened to Ash and Rosita. Ash then furiously confronts Buster about this in front of everyone else, spurring an argument between Buster and Meena that results in the stage collapsing.
  • By the end of Chapter 30 of Becoming the Mask, Jim's troll allies, adoptive mother, and human friends have all found out that he's a Changeling.

    Films — Animated 
  • A Bug's Life has one of the most painfully Played Straight examples of this trope in animation history, but also deconstructs it. Flik supposedly finds "warrior bugs" to save his colony after misconstruing a situation, and when he realizes his mistake (that they're circus performers rather than trained warriors), he's forced to keep the lie going in order to not cause panic among the other ants, especially because the plan to use a decoy bird to scare the villainous grasshoppers away has a lot of merit in its own right. Once the colony finds out after their owner comes to the colony to get them back, it inevitably results in the colony, outraged by the deception, exiling Flik and the circus bugs — but this leaves them without a backup plan and no time to build a new offering for Hopper, resulting in the grasshoppers taking over the colony. Later on, the fake bird scare not only almost works but also directly leads up to Hopper's death in the climax, and the colony concedes that condemning Flik just because he lied about one part of their plan probably wasn't the best idea.
  • Played with in Disney's Aladdin. Street rat Aladdin uses a wish granted by a genie to impersonate a prince so he can court Princess Jasmine. Aladdin and the genie argue about whether to tell Jasmine the truth. Later on, Jafar reveals Aladdin's true identity, but Jasmine isn't angry with Aladdin for lying, mainly because the princely exterior was a fancy cover for the street rat she first met and fell in love with.
  • In Back to the Outback, after being pressured several times into chasing after the protagonists after it is discovered they escaped the zoo, Chaz admits to his son that he's not actually a cool wildlife expert and only wanted to be like those sort of people because he saw it on TV.
  • Chicken Run: Rocky leaves the other half of his poster when he abandons the hen farm, revealing his "flight" was merely him being shot out of a cannon. A refreshing spin on this is that when Rocky returns, nobody holds it against him, the worst he gets is a slap on the face from Ginger, who tries to kiss him afterwards anyway.
  • Averted in DC League Of Superpets. Ace tells of a nonexistent farm to boost the other shelter animal's spirits on multiple occasions. Although he concedes this lie to Krypto, the reveal of the truth to the shelter pets never happens, at least on screen.
  • The 1939 movie for Gulliver's Travels, Gulliver must eventually reveal that he is not a ruler, nor does anyone respect him or even like him.
  • Hotel Transylvania: Dracula spends the majority of the movie trying to hide a human named Johnny from the other monsters at his hotel and he has to make up a bunch of lies in order to do so. However, it ends up all for naught as the film's Plot-Irrelevant Villain exposes him.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Hiccup pretends to be a dragon-slaying protege, while simply subduing them via peaceful methods he learned from Toothless, a dragon he managed to tame and befriend. In this case, it's justified since the other vikings would have killed Toothless if they'd known about his existence and Hiccup's attempt to willingly give up the charade in order to demonstrate violence isn't always the answer ends with his father disowning him for tricking him and sympathizing with the dragons.
  • Played painfully straight in the film Klaus when the villains forcibly reveal that Jesper initially only set up his kids' toy-ordering scheme with Klaus because he wanted to mail enough letters to be allowed to leave Smeerensburg and resume his life of luxury. Jesper's friends all react very negatively to the facade and Jesper comes close to leaving the island before ultimately deciding to stay in order to earn forgiveness.
  • The LEGO Movie applies this trope for less than a minute. When the protagonist is assumed to be the Special by his rescuer, Wyldstyle, he rather uneasily agrees (he does want to believe it but is unsure about it). Luckily, she figures out he isn't quite the fitting Special easily and this promptly upsets her.
  • Luca surprisingly averts this. After his and Alberto's falling out, Guilia discovers the truth that Luca is (also) a sea monster. But she's not mad at either of them for deceiving her, but more at the fact that of all places to explore, they chose a town that actively hunts sea monsters, putting their lives at risk.
    Giulia: "Sleeping under the fish"! Now I get it!!
    Luca: (stammering) I-I can explain…
    Giulia: Of all the places for sea monsters to visit, Portorosso?! Have you seen this town?! My dad hunts sea monsters!
  • Luck (2022) has two instances, as both Sam's disguise as a leprechaun and Bob's replacement of a lucky penny with a button utilize this trope to some extent.
  • Near the end of Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted, Captain DuBois confronts the Zoosters backstage at a circus actnote , pursuing them and revealing that they were from the zoo all along, forcing them to give up the act.
  • Happens before the third act of The Mitchells vs. the Machines, where PAL manipulates the Mitchells as she reveals footage of Katie telling Aaron back in the Dino Stop cafe earlier, where she tells Aaron in secret that she lied about convincing her father and putting faith in him that they need to save the world, saying that she only said it so that she would abandon her family for the sake of her own future. This breaks Rick’s heart after watching this (as well as Aaron’s), emotionally hurt and betrayed by his daughter’s words.
    Katie Mitchell: (in footage) Oh, I’m just telling him what he wants to hear. I didn’t mean a word of that. I just wanna get my future back and get away forever.
  • In Open Season, Elliot tries to be friends with Boog by leading him in circles.
  • In Over the Hedge the trope is expressed by RJ's plan to pillage suburban food to feed Vincent the bear, whose food pile he accidentally destroyed. Later, while arguing with Verne over a can of Spuddies in Gladys' pantry, RJ snaps and angrily and accidentally exposes his ruse to Verne and the others.
    Verne: What's going on RJ?
    Verne: Well then, let's get out of here because we have what we need!
    RJ: No, we don't!
    Verne: What are you talking about? We have more than enough!
    RJ: Hey, listen! I've got about this long to hand over that wagon load of food to a homicidal bear! AND IF THESE SPUDDIES AREN'T ON THE MENU, I WILL BE! NOW, LET GO OF MY TAIL!
    Verne: What?
    RJ: LET GO!
  • This is the basic setup for the main character's identity in Rango. When Rango arrives in Dirt, he uses it to live out his dream of being a legendary gunslinger (helped by some accidental shenanigans which seemed to back up his claims), until the real thing shows up and forces him to reveal to the town he made it all up.
  • In Return To Neverland, Jane gets thrown under the bus by Captain Hook once he revealed to Peter and the Lost Boys that she originally was going to sell them out to Hook as her way back to London, which of course, Peter's not all that happy about. Unlike most examples, however, neither Peter nor the Lost Boys hold it against her when she comes to the rescue since it was probably redeeming enough that she even bothered. And when Tinkerbell shows up alive and well, that probably destroyed any doubt they had if they did.
  • Refreshingly Averted in Rock-A-Doodle. After Pinkie tells Chanticleer that Goldie was supposed to keep him from finding out about his friends trying to get him to return home, you'd expect Chanticleer to get angry or reject her. But he quickly takes it in stride, instead focusing on how they can both rescue them.
  • In Shark Tale, Oscar reveals he's not the Shark Slayer at the end of the movie. In contrast with most examples of this trope, Oscar reveals his lie to the world of his own volition and, for the most part, does not face any negative consequences for it. Since it’s after the climax when the reveal comes, it makes the effect the truth would have on the others moot at that point.
  • The Tigger Movie applies this trope when Tigger mistakenly believes that his family is coming to visit him (after having gotten a letter from his friends who were trying to cheer him up). It's zigzagged with several failed attempts to reveal who had written the letter to a very busy Tigger, then Roo and the others decide to disguise themselves as Tigger's family to cheer him up, and Tigger accidentally learns the truth much to his great disappointment, therefore playing this trope straight.
    Tigger: (angry and heartbroken) Oh... oh, now I understand; it was all a big joke. Well... that's alright. 'Cause somewhere out there, there's a tigger family tree, full of my real tigger family! I've got a letter to prove it! (steps out of the door into a snowstorm) And I'm gonna find them. So... TTFE. Ta-ta... FOREVER! (leaves, slamming the door behind him)
  • In Turning Red, this is subverted. After Ming finds out that Mei has been secretly hustling the panda for money, Ming finds her at Tyler's birthday party, where Mei grimaces as she expects to be chastised by her mother... but Ming walks past her without saying a word. Instead, Ming goes to chastise Mei's friends, as Ming is still holding onto the self-imposed image of Mei being a sweet innocent victim of exploitation.
  • The titular character of Yellowbird, who had been keeping a secret the entire film, finally spills the beans near the film's end. Karl, not him, was meant to lead the flock to Africa, per the instructions of the flock's late leader Darius. Not only did he have no clue where Africa was, they weren't aware he didn't either. He tried to defend himself by stating that was the first time he'd ever been part of a flock and felt appreciated, and that all the misfortune that befell them was his fault. The other flock members are shocked and disheartened, most of all Delf, who'd come to view him as a good friend.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In Andhadhun, Sophie finds out that Akash was only feigning blindness from the kid living next door to him. In an ironic twist, this happens at the same time as Simi blinds him for real.
  • In About Elly, Sepideh's lies all come out one by one after Elly disappears.
  • Bandslam: It's revealed that Will made up stories about his father, who's really in prison for killing a twelve-year-old while driving drunk.
  • Big Fat Liar is an inversion of the typical story, as it tells the story of a sleazy Hollywood producer who steals a movie idea from an essay written by a middle school student. Rather than focusing on the producer's efforts to maintain the lie, the focus is on the kid (who happens to be a compulsive liar who no one will believe without proof) unraveling the producer's life until he admits the truth.
  • Downplayed in The Force Awakens. Finn lies about being a Resistance fighter when he meets Rey. When he does admit about his past, she's more upset that he plans to run away than that he lied to her.
  • In Galaxy Quest, a race of aliens abduct the washed-up actors of an old sci-fi show. They quickly learn that the aliens—having no concept of fiction—believe that the show is real, calling the episodes "historical documents," and see their characters as heroes. When they're captured by the Big Bad, who realizes what's going on, they're forced by him to explain the true nature of the show; it's like watching a kid's heart break as he learns there's no Santa Claus. Partly subverted as after the crew saves the day, the alien laughs at their "clever ruse" of pretending they weren't really heroes.
  • In Housesitter, Gwen claims that she's Newton's to get away with squatting in his empty house, resulting in a Snowball Lie that involves the entire town. Gavin ends up going along with the lie because it makes an old girlfriend jealous. Averted when it looks like the lie is finally going to be revealed, but it isn't. The relationship ends up becoming real, and they never bother to reveal that it was originally made up.
  • Oz the Great and Powerful plays with this. When he comes to Oz, Oscar is believed by everyone to be a great and powerful wizard destined to save them all, which he just runs with so he can become king. As early as the second act he outright tells the truth to Finley, who's stuck with him because of a life debt, and briefly frets over the repercussions. Glinda and the rest of his friends figure it out on their own, but they're all fairly accepting because he still gets things done, and because they know he's truly good at heartnote . The rest of Oz never learns the truth, while the Wicked Witches are ultimately fooled by his lies.
  • In Pokémon Detective Pikachu, this is Inverted in the second act, which ends with Pikachu seemingly getting revealed to have been Mewtwo's accomplice before losing his memories. But Tim and Pikachu only saw a portion of the recreation of events before being cut off, and while Pikachu believes that he himself is to blame for Harry's supposed death, Tim reasonably believes that there must be more to the story than that. Turns out he's right, as Harry and Pikachu were trying to rescue Mewtwo from Howard after learning they had been tricked into tracking him down for the villain, and Mewtwo had placed Harry's consciousness inside Pikachu's body to allow the mortally wounded human to heal, as gratitude for rescuing him.
  • In Saw 3D:
    • Bobby is abducted by Hoffman and put through a trial previously planned by Jigsaw because he made up a story about surviving a Jigsaw trap to gain money and fame. After a trap of his own, Bobby is confronted with several tests in which he has to save his relevant staff and loved ones, including his best friend and wife. In the test with his wife, Joyce, he's forced to confess the truth to her (since she wasn't aware of what his false story was about), and, as an ironic shout to him, to try and recreate the trap he made up to hit a switch that will save Joyce from the trap she's in. While he survives, he fails to save everyone else in the trial, and it's likely that he was publicly exposed as a liar afterwards.
    • In the opening trap, Brad and Ryan are bound to a double-bladed bandsaw and Dina is above a second saw jutting upwards. At first, both men try to kill the other by pushing the blade into the other one in order to save themselves and Dina... until Dina essentially exposes through an Opinion Flip Flop that she's been playing both of them for money and comfort at the same time, thus cheating on both of them. Brad and Ryan decide to stop fighting in response, resulting in Dina's death.
  • A variation of this occurs in The Waterboy, where the Cougars crash the Mud Dogs' victory party to announce that Bobby's high school transcript was fabricated. This causes the entire Mud Dog team to abruptly turn their backs on him, in spite of everything he did for them. Not long after, it's revealed that Coach Klein was actually the person responsible for the fake transcript, leading everybody to later come out and apologize to Bobby as he takes care of his "sick" mother in the hospital.
  • In Where the Wild Things Are, Max lies about having psychic powers and being a king even though all the monsters are much stronger than him. They could probably accidentally kill him! When the lie is revealed, one of the monsters goes so far as to try to eat him and rip off the arm of another monster protecting him.
  • In Yes-Man, Carl reveals that he has only been doing adventurous things with his new girlfriend Allison because of a self-empowerment seminar that told him to say 'yes' to every opportunity.

  • The Empirium Trilogy: During the reception for Rielle's wedding, Corien shows everyone a vision that exposes the truth behind their previous king's death as well as his commander's: afraid that Corien would kill them, Rielle unleashed a ton of power that did end up burning Corien, but also killed the king and his commander. When Audric found her shortly thereafter, she lied to him, too scared of losing him and his love to tell him the truth. The effect this reveal has on Audric momentarily turns him against Rielle, leading the two to argue which culminates in Rielle running away from Baingarde to seek out Corien.
  • Miranda July's short story "The Sister" is built around this. The protagonist's friend, Victor Caesar-Sanchez, creates the character of his sister, who becomes the love interest of the protagonist. He keeps the lie up by mentioning that she was at certain events that the main character was at, and claiming that they keep missing each other. Eventually, the protagonist becomes enamoured with her imagined being, at which point Victor seduces him and reveals his attraction. Basically, Victor created the character of his sister to deal with his feelings of attraction to the main character.
  • In the third part of Skippy Dies, after he starts acting out in school as a response to Skippy's death, Ruprecht's parents come to visit the school. This reveals that nearly all of Ruprecht's grandiose claims about himself were false— his parents are plumbers, not famous explorers, and he transferred schools due to a embarrassing gym class incident. This cascades into a reveal that Dennis faked the success of Ruprecht's portal and that nearly all Ruprecht's brilliant inventions were likely fake as well.
  • Worm: After the Leviathan battle, Armsmaster reveals to the Undersiders that the protagonist Taylor was only pretending to be on their side in order to betray them to the heroes. It turns out Tattletale already knew this, though, and thought correctly she could get her on their side for real anyway, though the other Undersiders feel appropriately shocked and betrayed.

    Live-Action TV 
  • This trope appears in Big Time Rush when Jo fakes her boyfriend.
  • Doctor Who: In "Gridlock", the Doctor is forced to admit at the end that he had been lying by omission to Martha by not admitting that he's the Last of His Kind.
  • iCarly
    • Done when Sam changes Carly's grade.
    • She does it again during a web convention about Carly and Fred dating just to mess with the crowd at an iCarly panel. She attempts to fix it but seeing how they're dealing with geeks and fanboys, it doesn't work.
  • In Season 2 of Orange Is the New Black, Piper manages to get furlough and promises Red that she'll visit her family's restaurant. However, when she gets there, she finds that it has actually been closed for years, but assures her that it was amazing. The following season, Red's family comes to visit and are unconvincing when they say that the restaurant is fine.
  • The first episode of Toby Terrier and His Video Pals revolves around Toby pretending to know everything about working at a TV station because he doesn't want to let anyone down, but he finally admits that he doesn't know what he's doing after his lack of experience wrecks the control room when he's left to run it alone.

  • The Book of Mormon: Mormon missionary Elder Cunningham, who has only skimmed the Book of Mormon, resorts to making up stories mixing Mormon theology with situations and characters from Star Wars, Star Trek, and The Lord of the Rings that also speak to the problems of modern-day Ugandans. When the mission's president realizes what Cunningham has been teaching, he denounces the newly-baptized flock as not real Mormons. As it turns out, the Ugandans don't care; aside from one overly naive girl, they understand that Cunningham's stories weren't meant to be taken literally but still appreciate the way the lessons of the stories improve their lives.
  • In Cactus Flower, Stephanie finally takes it upon herself to inform Toni in no uncertain terms that, despite earlier pretenses, she's not Mrs. Winston and Julian doesn't even have a wife. Toni doesn't take it well.
  • Dear Evan Hansen: Connor Murphy's family believes that he wrote his suicide note to Evan Hansen, while in reality, it was a misunderstanding; Evan had written the note himself as a therapy exercise. Not wanting to break the truth to Connor's family that he had no friends, and feeling incredibly lonely himself, he maintains the façade that he and Connor were best friends. Once the note is leaked online and the lie starts to unravel, he tearfully confesses the truth to Connor's family, who are completely speechless, but nevertheless do not reveal Evan's lie to the public.
  • This occurs in The Importance of Being Earnest when both Jack and Algernon reveal that neither of them is named Ernest.
    Cecily: Are you called Algernon?
    Algernon: I cannot deny it.
    Cecily: Oh!
    Gwendolen: Is your name really John?
    Jack: I could deny it if I liked. I could deny anything if I liked. But my name certainly is John. It has been John for years.
    Cecily: A gross deception has been practiced on both of us!
    Gwendolen: My poor wounded Cecily!
    Cecily: My sweet wronged Gwendolen!

    Video Games 
  • This occurs in Bioshock Infinite when Booker is told to tell Elizabeth whatever she wants to hear in order to convince her to go with him. Booker tells Elizabeth that they are heading to Paris, as it is a city she has dreamed of visiting. Elizabeth's knowledge of navigation allows her to deduce that Booker is not taking her to Paris, but instead to New York. Elizabeth runs away from Booker; however, they ultimately decide to stick together.
  • Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days: Over the course of the game, Roxas and Xion come to realize that their best friend, Axel, has been lying to them about not knowing where they came from. In Roxas' case, this reveal plays a major role in his decision to leave Organization XIII. Unlike some other examples of this trope, he does give Axel one last chance to come clean and tell him the truth. But Axel refuses, most likely out of fear that if Roxas learned the truth about being Sora's Nobody, he'd just leave anyway.
  • The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince: The wolf, who took on the form of a princess to avoid scaring the blind prince and escort him to the witch's home so she can heal his eyes, has her secret revealed at the worst possible moment when the moon shines down and forces her into her true form while she's holding the prince's hand. Recognizing the claws that scarred his face and realizing the princess is the monster that attacked him, the prince angrily calls her a liar and a monster, though he does regret it and apologizes to her when she still goes out of her way to save his life.
  • In Uncharted 4: A Thief's End, Nathan Drake's brother Sam—long believed to have died in a Panamanian prison escape—returns, claiming that he needs Nate's help to find Henry Avery's pirate treasure in order to pay off a debt owed to drug lord Hector Alcázar. However, Nate learns from the Big Bad, Rafe Adler, that Alcázar had already died in an Argentina shootout six months before, and that Rafe bribed the prison warden to get Sam out, knowing that Sam had information on the treasure's whereabouts. This angers Nate, who was putting his own life and personal relationships on the line for what he thought was rescuing his brother.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations, it's revealed that Phoenix once dated a woman, Dahlia Hawthorne, who only pretended to love him in order to get back a bottle of poison that she'd planted on him. But even after that truth comes out, Phoenix insists that the woman he dated could never have said or done the things that Dahlia did. In the final case of the game, her twin sister, Iris, confesses that she was the person he dated and that she posed as Dahlia to get the evidence back. And she did love him. Out of shame, she'd decided to disappear from his life after Dahlia's arrest rather than confess what she did. Rather than get angry, Phoenix seems more relieved to know the truth than anything else.
  • Downplayed with the protagonist of Double Homework when Dennis reveals his video game addiction to the world. It doesn’t have the effect that Dennis hopes for, and the summer school class is firmly on the protagonist’s side.

    Web Original 
  • Though the trope itself is Older Than Dirt, the trope title is at least partly cemented here vis a vis The Nostalgia Critic and other videos by Doug Walker, where Doug lists it as number 2 on his "Top Ten Worst Clichés". In other videos, he notes that he absolutely hates this type of plot for creating weak drama and very rarely sees a movie where he thinks it works (How to Train Your Dragon and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted being notable exceptions).
  • Pops up a lot in Marble Hornets, but especially in season 3. Entry #59 has Tim calling out Jay for not only stalking him but inadvertently making the situation with Alex and the Operator worse with no progress to show for it. And then it gets flipped on its head in Entry #75 when Jay calls out Tim for hiding a tape from him when Tim specifically told Jay to not keep any more secrets.

    Western Animation 
  • Played straight, and then Subverted in the American Dad! episode "Chimdale." Stan reveals to Steve that he's actually bald and has been wearing a wig the entire series, and then is caught wearing the wig at work after lying to Steve that he wouldn't wear it. The drama culminates in Stan revealing to the rest of the family. Turns out they all already knew and didn't tell Steve or Stan because they (correctly) assumed the two would overreact.
  • Used to heartbreaking effect in the season 2 finale of Amphibia, "True Colors". In it, the tritagonist Marcy has her own secret sadistically weaponized by King Andrias, who reveals to Anne and Sasha that Marcy never intended for the group to ever get home. She only helped them reassemble the incredibly powerful, incredibly dangerous Dismantled Macguffin for newly-revealed Big Bad King Andrias, so she could continue to go on otherworldly adventures with her friends, "forever and ever". Needless to say, considering the hellish environment Amphibia tends to be, as well as holding their lives in her hands without consent, neither of them took it very well.
    Marcy: I just... didn't want to be alone.
    Andrias: Well, I guess that's what you get for pouring your heart out to me over Flipwart.
  • In the Danny Phantom episode "Reality Trip", Freak Show reveals to everyone that Danny Fenton is the ghost hero Phantom. His parents are confused as to why he would hide this from them and are shocked when they discover that Jazz was fully aware of this (though she admits Danny never actually told her either), questioning why he'd something so important from his own family. Jazz immediately points out that they are ghost hunters and researchers who constantly talk about wanting to destroy the undead spirits "molecule by molecule".
  • DuckTales (2017):
    • Tragically played straight in "The Secrets of Castle McDuck!", where Dewey is forced to confess that he had been searching for the triplet's mother since the start of the series, having left them out of the loop specifically because he didn't want to get their hopes up if he hit a dead end. Huey and especially Louie are utterly devastated that their brother had any information about their mother and would keep such a secret from them.
    • "The Town Where Everyone Was Nice!" subverts this when Donald reunites with his old college band, The Three Caballeros. Both Jose Carioca and Panchito Pistoles are filthy rich, whereas Donald (after years of failed jobs due to being Born Unlucky) is currently a squatter at his uncle's mansion. So, he convinces a reluctant Scrooge to act as if HE's the owner of McDuck Enterprises for a time, but he eventually fesses up that he's flat broke. The others are initially prepared to goad him over this... until it's revealed they too are still losers, with Jose being stuck as a flight attendant and Panchito playing at children's birthday parties (and not very successfully it seems). The three then quickly realize they're still very much the same kids from college.
    • "Let's Get Dangerous!" actually turns this trope on the villain, Bradford Buzzard, the head of Scrooge's own Board of Directors and the chairman of F.O.W.L.. After getting kidnapped and betrayed by Taurus Bulba, Bradford tries to hide an attempted extraction from the triplets, only to go on a Motive Rant about why he feels the McDuck family's adventures are putting the world into too much chaos and make the kids suspicious of him. He just keeps digging himself deeper until the kids find out exactly who he is, leading him to toss them into another dimension, and reveal what kind of a frightening force the McDucks will be forced to deal with.
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • Timmy wishes to be popular and spends the episode that way until he reveals himself at the end.
    • Subverted in another episode where Cosmo lied to everyone in his high school class that he was rich and successful. After attending a reunion and claiming that Timmy and Wanda were his servants, the truth is ultimately revealed but nobody minds because they all lied about what they did after high school (e.g. the sports jock is actually a ballet dancer).
  • The Loud House and its spin-off The Casagrandes are both guilty of overusing this trope, so much so it might as well fit as a Drinking Game entry. A lot of episodes involve one or more characters doing something contentious, and once the gig is up, they have no choice but to admit.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
    • Averted in the episode "Sweet and Elite", where it looks like this is being set up when Rarity lies about Opal being sick, so she won't immediately have to travel back to Ponyville for Twilight's birthday and miss an exclusive garden party with Canterlot's high society. However, the truth is never discovered and the Aesop is about something else entirely (loving and not being ashamed of your friends even if they aren't as sophisticated as others think they should be).
    • Rarity lies to people at the party about her friend Dash being the Wonderbolts' trainer, yet this is never brought up again even after all her friends, including Rainbow Dash, show up and then eventually join the party.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • In "Squilliam Returns", Squidward lies to Squilliam that he owns a five-star restaurant, but Squilliam calls his bluff by inviting himself and his friends to dine at said restaurant that very night. With considerable help from Spongebob, Squidward successfully disguises the Krusty Krab as a five-star restaurant, but the ruse is ultimately rumbled and Squidward is forced to admit he's just a cashier. There then follows a Double Subversion: Squilliam claims that he's been lying about his success and that he's also just a cashier, but immediately admits he was joking: "Of course not! I'm filthy stinkin' rich!"
    • After SpongeBob is mistaken for a lifeguard and rolls with it for the popularity, he then goes to overprotective lengths to hide that he can't swim, only to end up exposed when his attempts to save Patrick result in him drowning alongside him. Parodied in that the beach-goers don't even act upset and just walk off uninterested in saving them (one of them is even heard saying they're simply done with the beach), and Larry reveals they weren't deep enough in the water anyway.
    • Another episode has a subversion similar to the Fairly Odd Parents example above. Mr. Krabs is invited by his old Navy buddies to a reunion party, but he moults his shell just beforehand. Too embarrassed to attend without it, as his tough shell was his most famous trait, he has Spongebob wear his discarded shell and pretend to be him. When the ruse is eventually rumbled, Krabs appears and reveals the truth - at which point his Navy buddies admit they've also been lying about their traits (for example, one who had a torpedo embedded in his stomach has since had it removed).
  • Subverted in Star vs. the Forces of Evil. In an earlier episode, Marco helped depose Miss Heinous as headmaster of St Olga's Reform School for Wayward Princesses while disguised as a princess and he maintains the charade when visiting the school later on to avoid disappointing the other students who all look up to "Princess Turdina". However, when Miss Heinous exposes the truth — fully expecting it to cause everyone to turn on Marco and allow her to return as headmaster—the princesses are surprised, but in the end, they admit they don't care. Partially out of appreciation for everything Marco has done for them and partially because they all really hate Miss Heinous.


Quagmire reveals the truth

Quagmire reveals that he doesn't like dogs.

How well does it match the trope?

4.89 (9 votes)

Example of:

Main / LiarRevealed

Media sources: