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Living Lie Detector

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"You know, it's a point of professional pride for me that I can tell when somebody's lying. And you are."
Leonard Samson, The Incredible Hulk (2008)

A character with the ability to always know when someone is lying. Sound lame? Other characters who have to spend at least five minutes in their presence don't think so.

It may be the natural ability of an alien or some other non-human species, it may be a super power specific to one human, or it may be the effect of some Applied Phlebotinum. It could also be a prominent fringe benefit of a broader power like telepathy to directly reveal deceptive intent or Super-Senses to detect subtle variations in the speaker's heartbeat, breathing, etc.

Some characters get the added bonus of being able to force people to tell the truth (as opposed to just remaining silent) rather than just detect deception.

In some situations, this becomes a Blessed with Suck power. The character can't disable it, so they know whenever anyone is lying to them, driving the character nearly insane from all the lies.

It can also be a learned ability, making this Truth in Television to some extent. This is because many people fidget, look away or do something else when they lie. So if a character is a Living Lie Detector, (s)he could just know what to look for. A police officer being able to tell when a witness is lying after years on the force is a common example of this.

An exceptionally self possessed and clever liar can sometimes be unreadable or even fool the Living Lie Detector. A character may exploit a weakness of the detector: he does not detect "the" truth, but if the tested subject considers something to be true or not. Which is not a minor point: if the villain tells a lower mook that the Doomsday Device has been destroyed, and this mook is exposed to the lie detector, he will say it was destroyed and the detector will check "True!"... and, in the meantime, unknown by the heroes and his own mook, the villain still has the Doomsday Device.

One aspect that goes alongside requirements for the mundane, non-Phlebotinous Lie Detector polygraph, is that there are certain elements that need to be in place for a person to register the normal signs of a lie. One being a baseline observation of the individual's behavior, someone who is naturally jittery means slight twitches don't really mean anything. Another is a threat of punishment, if you're not worried about consequences then you're either not afraid of the truth or you have nothing to lose.

Characters with this power are also highly likely to see through or uncover the Masquerade because of the power.

Could result in some awkward circumstances.

See also Pinocchio Nose, You Can Always Tell a Liar, The Tell. Exact Words and Lying by Omission can sometimes help against this, but don't bet on it.note 


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  • A commercial campaign for Atlantic City centers on people who cannot seem to let go of behavior they picked up in Atlantic City. Hilarious, no? One includes a woman overhearing her co-worker announce she is going home sick. Our protagonist gets a look of pure epiphany on her face and says "She's bluffing."

    Anime & Manga 
  • Some incarnations of Astro Boy have this ability (though you couldn't really call him alive in any biological sense of the word).
  • Black Clover: Rhya boasts of being able to tell when someone is lying, which is ironic since he knew all along that Lemiel never betrayed the elves but kept it to himself so that their hatred would be vindicated. When Asta tries to spare Rhya from Mereoleona by stating that they should be able to reach an understanding in spite of everything that has happened, Rhya is shocked when he realizes that Asta is being completely honest, and is reminded of the real Licht while wishing more people were like Asta. Later, when fellow elf Ronne steals the last magic stone from Yuno and declares that the elves will finally have their vengeance, Rhya immediately realizes that Ronne is lying and asks him to explain the contradiction. Ronne then puts a hole in Rhya before revealing that the "Ronne" in the room is actually possessed by a devil, who discards Ronne's body after using the magic stone to summon his real body from the Underworld.
  • Bloody Cross: Tsukimiya can sense lies due to her being a half vampire half angel.
  • Code Geass has Nunnally Lamperouge/Princess Nunnally vi Britannia, a blind young girl who has gained the ability to tell if someone's lying to her (presumably to being able to sense pulse rate, transpiration or body temperature changes), if she's touching their skin. Volume 4 of the Code Geass R2 novel explains the origins of Nunnally's ability. Marianne conducted experiments with her own egg, giving Nunnally some powers derived from C.C. which allowed Nunnally to detect lies. The novel also reveals that it was Marianne's idea to blind Nunnally because Marianne had thought removing one of the five senses would strengthen Nunnally's ability, which Marianne determined wasn't powerful enough. The R1 anime also has a few scenes that imply Nunnally's abilities aren't restricted to merely lie detection — she can seemingly sense Code Bearers. Or perhaps NOT sense, as it's a Geass-derived ability, that only C.C. and V.V. would be immune to, thus explaining why she mistakes one for the other. There's also that she detects Lelouch arriving in an earlier episode, well before he gets close enough to open the electric door.
  • Darwin's Game: Ryuji from the Sunset Ravens has the sigil Truth or Lie note , which allows him to figure out whether a person is lying or telling the truth simply by listening. He doesn't think his sigil is very cool, but it has turned out to help him in certain situations.
  • Franken Fran: Gavrill Madaraki can detect liars due to her superhumanly powerful senses allowing her to smell subtle changes of adrenaline flow and whatnot.
  • In a mini-arc of Goblin Slayer, a priestess of the Supreme God that Guild Girl employs has an ability called "Sense Lie", which she uses to catch Rhea Scout in some bullshit and allows Guild Girl to suss out that he had been Ninja Looting, keeping a treasure he had earned for himself rather than sharing it with his party and selling it off to get the money for some new boots, earning him a demotion back to Porcelain Rank and a permanent ban from working as an adventurer in the town.
  • Hunter × Hunter: One of the advantages of Melody's powers is to detect lies with her supersensory hearing. If she hears your heartbeat go abnormal just a bit when you say anything, she can tell if you're lying or not. As a result, she is really useful when interrogating people. It backfires horribly when she interrogates Chrollo: the lack of change in his heartbeat drives the poor woman to an Heroic BSoD.
    • Kurapika develops this ability with the Dowsing Chain. He uses it in coordination with Melody to cover each other's imperfections in their capacity to detect lies. He later uses it to identify agents from the Kakin government trying to infiltrate the Hunter Exam to minimize their meddling with the Hunter Association.
    • Phantom Troupe member Pakunoda has her own unique way of determining if someone is lying to her by checking their memories through physical contact. Trying to trick her with a false memory won't work, because she always uses a loaded question to bring the true memory forth, meaning you either have to tell her the truth or legitimately not know the answer to her questions.
  • Iris Zero: Asashi Yuki sees a devil tail growing out each time someone is lying. Because people around her were doing this all the time, she isolated herself from the others. Toru showed her that people can also lie not to hurt somebody or to protect their secrets. Thanks to his help Yuki opened herself up to the others once more.
  • Four examples in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.
    • In Phantom Blood, Robert E. O. Speedwagon, a reformed mugger operating in Ogre Street, has lived in those conditions for so long, he could tell whether someone was good and evil just from their smell. It allowed him to see past Dio's outward-facing personality and see him for the man he truly is.
    • In Stardust Crusaders, Terrence D'Arby's Stand works like this: he can read his opponent's soul, allowing him to always know when he's being lied to. He uses this to beat Jotaro and his team at various video games until they figure out the trick: his ability only works on yes-or-no questions. Jotaro manages to defeat him by having Joseph secretly reach into the game console with his Stand Hermit Purple and alter his inputs. Thus when D'Arby asks questions like "Are you going to throw a fastball?" Jotaro's soul might answer "Yes", but Joseph turns it into a curveball instead, completely frustrating D'Arby.
    • In Diamond is Unbreakable, Tamami Kobayashi's Stand is the Lock, an Emotion Bomb that targets a victim's sense of guilt. Tamami can use it passively to detect if someone feels guilty, helping him find liars and cheaters.
    • In Golden Wind we have Bruno Bucciarati and his very memetic way of finding out if someone's lying... by licking their sweat. This was famously used on series protagonist Giorno Giovanna in chapter 443 of the manga and episode 1 of the anime ("THIS IS THE TASTE OF A LIAR, GIORNO GIOVANNA!").
  • K: Anna Kushina is able to tell if someone's lying due to her ability to read minds.
  • The main character of the manga Kimi ga Uso o Tsuita gains the ability to detect lying after she gets into a car accident.
  • Deconstructed and Justified by Kotoura-san's Haruka — it's why she's a social outcast. Having Telepathy with a side order of Power Incontinence will do that.
  • My Hero Academia: Vigilantes: Makoto Tsukauchi has the Quirk "Polygraph". If she asks a question while physically touching someone, she can tell if they're lying or telling the truth. The Quirk can be tricked by Exact Words, however. When she asks Koichi Haimawari if he's the vigilante "The Hauler", he tells her no and her Quirk reads it as the truth. He's not The Hauler... because his Secret Identity is "The Crawler" and he hates the other Atrocious Alias.
  • Naruto: Karin can notice someone's chakra being disturbed when they lie.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Nodoka becomes this with her pactio artifact Diarium Ejus. It manifests as a book that taps into the mind of her target with a great deal of detail, so long as she knows his/her identity.
  • One Piece: This is one of the powers Violet's Devil Fruit granted her. Because she can see through people both literally and figuratively, she can easily read people's minds and memories, making it obvious to her when a person is lying. When Sanji tells her that, even though she lied to him about actually needing his help, the tears she cried weren't fake, the fact that Sanji truly believes this and that he still trusts her is what makes Violet turn to his side.
  • Osomatsu-kun and Osomatsu-san had the ESP Kitty as this; doubles as a variant of Not in Front of the Parrot!.
  • Ranma ½: This is only one of the reasons why Ranma Saotome thought Satori was annoying. It only made matters worse when Ranma realized that the kid was using his Telepathy to get back at him because he was upset over Ranma and Akane's engagement.
  • Rebuild World: Akira's Artificial Intelligence Virtual Sidekick Alpha serves as this. As she will be quick to point out, she has a blind spot for a Full-Conversion Cyborg, such as the Consummate Liar Yajima.
  • Reincarnated as a Sword has August Alsand, who possesses the skill "Essence of Falsehood". Said skill allows him to tell when someone is lying in his presence... and make his own lies more convincing. He mostly abuses his skill to accuse people of various crimes in order to extort whatever he wants out of them, since no one else can prove that he's the one lying. Teacher puts a stop to that by stealing it, which sends August indo a downward spiral before long.
  • The Seven Deadly Sins has Galan of the Ten Commandments. As the "Truth" of the Ten Commandments, he has the power to detect whether someone is lying to him or not. His power also has the added twist of turning the liars into stone, which he himself is not immune to.
  • Soul Eater: Joe was this due to his advanced soul perception. It's said to be the reason he broke up with Marie — he feared 'seeing through' her as his perception increased — and is likely why he worked with Shibusen's Internal Investigations. Highly likely Maka's own advanced soul perception will go this way.
  • Teasing Master Takagi-san: The eponymous Takagi-san is able to tell pretty easily if the protagonist Nishikata lies to her. She does this through a combination of recognising Nishikata's tells (e.g. he tends to stammer or look away), a good understanding of his thought processes, and deducing things.
  • Toriko: Zebra, courtesy of his "Hell Ears", can detect subtle changes in a person's voice or body movement when they lie. As a direct result, the already volatile Zebra hates liars with a passion. One reason he likes Komatsu is because the chef is unusually honest.
  • Usotoki Rhetoric: Kanako Urabe is able to tell when people intentionally lie, hearing it as a clanging sound in their voice. It made her an outcast in her hometown, where everyone knew about it, so she left for Tsukumoya.
    • Explored a bit in-depth: Kanoko can hear lying intent. Therefore, if someone honestly believes in (or has no personal opinion regarding) what they say, then she will not detect anything, regardless of whether the statement is actually correct or not.
  • World Trigger: Kuga Yuuma inherited his father's ability to detect lies.
  • Yami no Aegis: Angel was born with a condition that means if anyone (including herself) lies, she will feel pain, even if the lie is small. Combined with her sad history, it's no wonder she becomes bitter about humanity in general.

    Audio Plays 
  • Kelly from We're Alive is able to do this from her background as a lawyer. She's able to detect when one of the Colony members is lying, allowing her to save Pegs and Michael in time to escape Gatekeeper's coup. She is less able to get a read on Pippin though because his face was so badly swollen from the beating the Mallers gave him that she couldn't read his facial tics.

    Comic Books 
  • Wonder Woman, thanks to her enchanted lasso, is probably one of the most well-known examples. The Lasso is able to force people to tell the truth, as mentioned above — it takes godlike willpower to prevent this, and the subject will not be able to lie, only avoid saying anything at all.
    • As she is the living embodiment of truth, being around Wonder Woman at all makes people slightly more truthful but this effect is easier to resist than being in contact with her lasso.
    • As Mercedes Lackey pointed out in her introduction to "The Circle" trade paperback, the lasso doesn't just make its captive tell the truth, it makes them see and confront the truth.
    • Wonder Woman's creator, William Moulton Marston, also basically invented the polygraph ("Lie Detector"). Note, however, that under his pen the Lasso was an all-purpose Mind-Control Device that Wonder Woman was (sometimes) nice enough to use as "just" a lie detector. This is airbrushed out in almost all modern comics and screen adaptations, though some of them may retain "You will forget this interrogation ever happened" as a valid power.
    • Wonder Woman (1942): While Marston's Wonder Woman was not considered an avatar of the truth, nor was the magic lasso yet the "Lasso of Truth", through her low-level telepathy Diana was still usually aware of it when she was being lied to. If a villain was hiding their true nature and making benevolent claims, she could generally tell if their actual intent was nefarious.
    • Wonder Woman's sister Troia also has this ability, but in a lesser form.
    • Notably, the Lasso of Truth was ultimately used to bind Darkseid and thus free the Brainwashed and Crazy population of Earth from the power of the Anti-Life Equation in Final Crisis.
    • While the reasons vary Diana herself is ususally able to tell if she's being lied to even without the lasso if she's paying attention. This means that when she wants to deny Ares' claim of being her maternal grandfather she doesn't even complete what she was going to say before her own intrinsic connection to the truth tells her he's not lying.
  • A 1986 Avengers vs X-Men series has Magneto meeting a pack of mutants who include The Light, who possesses what he calls "the somewhat annoying" ability to always know when someone is telling the truth, which has allowed him to make a fortune in the business world.
  • Daredevil can use his Super-Hearing to detect heartbeats, proving useful both in his role as a superhero and his Secret Identity as a lawyer. He's not perfect, however, and there's been a couple of occasions where a pacemaker has entirely thrown him off, which brings up the question of how he's not able to tell they have a pacemaker.
  • Doctor Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, holds an amulet called the Eye of Agamotto which reveals the true nature of things. On one occasion he used it to compel a confession from a burglar. This happened in She-Hulk's comic, which at the time was a semi-comedic superhero legal drama: the firm tried to get the confession thrown out since Strange had violated the fifth amendment protection from self-incrimination.
  • Wolverine from X-Men. He does not have it as an innate power, but his senses are sharp enough that they can spot "tells". When the X-Men were hunting down Cable in X-Cutioner's Song, wrongly accusing him of having assassinated Professor X, Cable got out of a fight by saying to Wolverine "I did not shoot Xavier." Wolverine's senses correctly told him that Cable was being truthful.
  • In Top 10, everybody has powers (or gadgetry) that would usually make them a superhero. Duane "Dust Devil" Bodine's mother is the human lie detector, which is one of the reasons he doesn't like to deal with her.
  • Rorschach of Watchmen seems to discern truth from lies by means of listening to the tone in people's voices. However, due to his unsavoury techniques, it's equally likely that he discerns truth from lies by seeing whether you're still saying it after he breaks your fingers. Although the first one could still be true, as he fully believed that Veidt killed half of New York just from hearing him say it.
  • Superman:
    • Superman has some ability to detect lies thanks to his Super-Senses. With him being Superman, the problems he faces aren't usually as small as someone lying... but it is pretty handy for a reporter.
    • Supergirl knows the same trick and was using it at least as far back as the 1960s.
    • In The Killers of Krypton, Kara is interrogating the patrons of an alien bar about Rogol Zaar, and she uses her super-hearing to know who is being truthful and who is lying.
  • Disney Ducks Comic Universe: One "Donald Duck" story features the duck family making friends with an alien who is allergic to lies.
  • Saga has Lying Cats, the most prominent in the series being the partner of assassin The Will. There are cats that say the word "Lying" (and nothing else) whenever they hear an untrue statement. The Will finds Lying Cat useful for his work in bounty hunting, but sometimes Lying Cat can be a little inconvenient in immediately calling out The Will's own lies.
  • All telepaths in both Marvel and DC (Charles Xavier, Jean Grey, White Queen, Martian Manhunter, etc.) use this trick.
  • Dulcy the Dragon in Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics) has this as an innate ability. When Sonic was accused of Sally's murder, Dulcy rescued and believed him when he proclaimed his innocence, this being enough to stave off the Chaotix and Geoffery St. John at the end. Why she wasn't around when he was on trial for the murder or when he was roboticized and shooting up Knothole earlier is anyone's guess.
  • In Loki: Agent of Asgard, Loki meets a woman named Verity Willis who has this power during a mission on behalf of Asgard. She is introduced during a speed-dating event where she sees through the bullcrap would-be dates feed her. Loki becomes interested when they realize she can see through their illusionary appearance of a 40-year-old divorcee after she asks them if they were cosplaying. Verity then goes on to demonstrate how much having this power can suck when it's always active. Ever since she was a child, she could see through any falsehood, because she swallowed the ring of Andvari, which reveals all lies and illusions, and it merged with her. She never believed in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Claus, she can't suspend disbelief in order to enjoy fiction, and she's had her heart broken at least once by lying paramours. She buries herself in mathematics, computer programming, and other non-fiction, all the while not even being able to lie to herself that it's enough. Loki offers her their sympathies and assures her that there are people in the world who will never lie to her. Not them, of course.
  • This is one of the abilities manifested by revivers in Revival. It doesn't seem to work all the time and may be tied to the Telepathy some of them demonstrate.
  • In The Superior Spider Man 2023, Bailey's Psychometry-type Spider-Sense allows him to indirectly act as one of these, as his visions of the future are accurate enough to pick apart lies and falsehoods. The Superior Spider-Man feared that Bailey's powers would reveal how Otto took over Peter's body and refused to let Bailey touch him.
  • Star Wars: Doctor Aphra: Triple-Zero is a diplomatic droid who has been reprogrammed as a Torture Technician, so is good at detecting deception. He uses this to his advantage by establishing with 89.43% certainty that Aphra intends to deactivate him despite what she says, therefore justifying any action he takes to stop this as self-defence, getting around her command not to murder anyone.
  • Issue 6 of X-Factor (2020) highlights how Eye-boy's ability to see on multiple spectrums, Prestige's telepathy, Daken's heightened senses and pheromone control, and Prodigy's ability to "know" everything about someone all make them this so they can tell that Siryn is lying to them.
  • In Immortal Hulk, the Devil Hulk persona claims to be able to smell lies as part of his power set. It's later implied that the Savage Hulk can do it too, but hasn't figured out what the "funny smell" he detects when people lie to him means.
  • Spider-Man 2099: Lyla is a household AI, who among other things, can monitor the health status of the tenant, including their heart rates. In later volumes, she repurposes this function to detect if the people Miguel interrogates are telling the truth or not.

    Fan Works 
  • Luminosity:
    • Maggie is a witch and her power tells her when someone is lying. The audience doesn't know how yet, but we do know that that's how it works, because when Bella was immune, Maggie assumed she was telling the truth all the time.
    • Elspeth inverts the trope in two ways. First, other people know when she's lying, and second, her power goes off when she's telling the truth—but its absence is notable.
  • Fear in the Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater fanfic The Joy Of Battle is a human lie detector. He explains it simply to Sorrow after finishing his sentences for most of a scene: "I'm perceptive."
  • Changelings in You Obey have the innate ability to detect deceit, no matter how well one attempts to conceal it. When Shadowfax is interrogated by a changeling and she tries pushing her luck, things go downhill in a hurry.
  • Pony POV Series:
    • Applejack becomes this after looking into the Truth, becoming able to see through lies and make people shy away if they're lying by looking into their eyes. Not even Princess Gaia's Lotus-Eater Machine can fool her.
    • Dark World Rarity, being a fully awakened Element of Honesty, can detect lies as well. Dark World Applejack also has it, due to being the Element of Deceit, allowing her to detect lies as well.
  • A classic ability of the Hyuga clan in Naruto fanfic; there's some basis in canon, but not to the degree it's sometimes carried. One fic had Naruto immune to the ability by virtue of his training to become absolutely, perfectly still (for Sage Mode).
  • In Harry Potter and the Antiquity Link, Harry was forced into taking the test for becoming an Auror Leader and passed. He received several spiffy new abilities as a result, including the ability to sense when someone was lying to him.
  • Another Harry Potter fanfic, the Psychic Serpent Trilogy:
    • The snakes in this verse have this as part of their titular prophetic powers. Being Seers they can See things that will be, and also things that are, and thus they can discern lies. This also leaves them unable to lie themselves.
    • In the second book of the trilogy a character becomes a werewolf and uses their enhanced senses to notice things like blood vessels dilating in the eyes. While they have those enhanced senses from as soon as they contract lycanthropy, it's not until they happen to read an article about unconscious physical reactions to telling lies in a Muggle magazine they become a living lie-detector.
  • It's A Dangerous Business, Going Out Your Door: According to the Deerfolk, Applejack's connection with the Element of Honesty allows her to see through all falsehoods, from little white lies to illusionary magic.
  • The Powers of Harmony: One of the abilities granted to the Bearer of Honesty is Truesight, which sees through all illusions, as well as being able to automatically tell when someone is lying.
    • Though any unicorn skilled enough can cast Truesight themselves, it's temporary and costs a lot of magic to use; the Bearer of Honesty is able to do so instinctively and for as long as they want.
  • The Nuptialverse subverts and lampshades the trope — as Applejack has apparently had to explain many times, being the Element of Honesty does not give her the ability to tell when somepony's lying, which is why she couldn't tell that "Cadence" was an impostor.
  • Turnabout Storm has Twilight becoming this after accidentally Power Copying Phoenix's Magatama, giving her the ability to see when someone is hiding the truth from her through "Psyche-Locks".
  • In My Little Prince anyone who can see auras and knows how to interpret the various color changes has the potential to tell lies from truth.
  • My Little Balladeer: Two in this novel-length Human in Equestria tale ...
    • Applejack, as Bearer of the Element of Honesty and a pony of strong common sense, and
    • John the Balladeer, between his own mystic insight and equally strong common sense.
  • In The Captain of the Virtual Console, Sabrina's Alakazam uses telepathy in this manner.
  • In The Land Before Time fanfiction The Seven Hunters the carnivores can use their superior sense of smell as a lie detector.
  • In Sight Since Zanpakutou cannot lie, Ichigo gets into the habit of looking at the zanpakutou to tell if their wielder is lying. Ichigo can tell that Ukitake lied to him about the Substitute Badge when his zanpakutou, Souyo no Kotowari look guilty while Ukitake lies to him with a straight face.
    • This is why Ichigo feels he can trust Urahara despite the latter's secrets and lies, Benihime tries to be truthful and feels guilty on Ichigo's behalf which indicates that Urahara is being truthful when he can.
  • In Origin Story, Alex Harris can do this by way of being able to monitor changes in a person's body heat and heartbeat.
  • In Dexter's Lab: Equestria, Applejack, because of her Element of Honesty, can tell when somepony is lying. This makes it hard for Dexter to hide his scientific genius. Even more so are Changelings, based on their ability to sense emotional responses. The changeling posing as Cheerilee not only knows Dexter is lying about the machine but is able to determine based on his biological response to her presence, that he not a pony.
  • In Of Lovebugs And Promises Bruce is able to determine whether someone is lying to him, not by their heartbeats, but by whether his own blood rushes/heartbeat picks up in reaction to deception.
  • In Harmony Theory, this is Detective Hard Boiled's special talent. He can also see through illusions and invisibility.
  • Blood and Honor: Jaesa Willsaam has the ability, through the Force, to compel everyone in her vicinity to tell the truth. Her master uses this talent to expose Darth Baras's spies, and then, when Jaesa switches sides, the Emperor's Hand recruits her to help during prisoner interrogations.
  • Brother on Brother, Daughter on Mother: Rachel Connor, an illegal human Augment, can tell whether someone is lying with her enhanced senses. Ironically, she herself is terrible at lying: fellow MACO Alicia Gantumur doesn't believe her for a minute when she lies to cover up being an Augment, and Reshek Taryn says Connor's future self was rejected for the Time Travel mission because Taryn cleans her out every time they play poker.
  • Dungeon Keeper of Love and Justice: Abbot Duval has the Judge's Eye spell, which allows him to tell when people are lying.
  • What They Wouldn't Do, a Daredevil fanfic based off the Netflix series, deconstructs Matt Murdock's lie detector ability by showing that it can be thrown off when the changes in a person's heart rate from being frightened are not that different from when they're lying.
  • Janine in The Sanctuary Telepath, being, y'know, a telepath. She can pick up the "feeling" of others' minds without having to actually read them (and invading their privacy), but it's more often that she just doesn't care. Especially with strangers. Blue-and-Orange Morality, indeed.
  • In The Keys Stand Alone: The Soft World, Ringo notes that when using his mindsight, he can easily read someone's body language to determine if they're lying, their state of mind, etc. Unfortunately, most of the time when this ability would be useful, he can't use it because his mindsight is blocked.
  • In The Apprentice, the Student, and the Charlatan, anyone who is proficient in energy-sensing, under the justification that the way the body reacts when lying gives off enough of a flare in energy to be detected and thus exposed. Nova Shine gets the most opportunity to show it off, even to the point of teaching it to Twilight so she can be absolutely sure he is telling the truth when he's clearing up a serious misunderstanding.
  • Becoming Lífþrasir: Ruffnut could tell Camicazi was lying when she said that she did not know where Cattongue was from.
  • Crimson and Emerald: Hawks and Kiyome's eyesight is sharp enough that they can immediately tell that Toshinori is lying that he was sent by All Might to check up on Izuku.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: From A New Arrival, the "Judge's Eye gift", which appears to tell if people are speaking the truth, is used by Abbot Durval uses on Ami, is presumably given by the Light Gods, and works through eye contact with the subject, given the name. Although, he doesn't seem to need to be looking them straight in the eye as they speak.
  • In Rising of the Sleeping Soldier, having been raised as a royal in a rather cutthroat world, Alucard is able to tell when someone is lying to him or is hiding their true intentions through wording, tone, and very subtle gestures. He was able to tell that his escort was lying about him as to why he was not allowed in the library and could see that Malty had malicious intentions right from the get-go.
    The look in her eyes was frankly off-putting and everything about her seemed false. Not to mention the look the king was giving the both of them was suspicious as all hell. Beyond that he had to ask himself, what would she gain by spontaneously deciding to join up with him when just a minute ago she avoided him just like the rest? It didn't make any sense.
    And as he looked at her he couldn't help but think back to that story book and the meddling princess. There were already four heroes so what if the princess showed up as well? Her clothes stuck out from every other volunteer due to its high quality, every other Hero had simple clothing and armor but hers looked custom tailored. The way she held herself in comparison was different as well. If she somehow wasn't royalty than she at least had to be some sort of nobleman's daughter. Either way, better safe than sorry.
  • Kingdom Hearts: Twilight's Awakenings: Twilight has been Celestia's student for so long and shadowed her in Day Court enough to pick up on signs when she is lying or telling half-truths, like when her right ear flicks. Because of this, she knows that Celestia is keeping something from her when she says she has no idea about the creatures from Twilight's dream or about the mysterious storm over the Everfree Forest.
  • The MLP Loops: Bearers of the Element of Honesty can do this. Applejack is of course the most famous, but Gilda, Nyx, and Vinyl Scratch all become Honesty Bearers over time and can do the same thing. For Applejack at least, this occurred before she gained her Element. At least, she was pretty good at noticing lies, but when she started consciously using her Element for it she became supernaturally good.
  • Daystar: One of Taylor's Charms, the Judge's Ear Technique, lets her detect deception or half-truth in those speaking to her. And because it keys off the intent to deceive rather than any kind of physiological response, there is no counter to it other than not talking to Taylor. It even works over phone lines and the like.
  • Read the Fine Print (Evangelion): When they were kids, Shinji sold his soul to Asuka in exchange for chocolates as a joke. Several years later, they find out their bogus contract was not bogus at all and try to alter it, but they are visited by an agent of the Infernal Administration. Asuka tries to argue their contract must be voided because they did not know souls are real, but the agent -called Bwynvienne- warns her against lying to someone who can detect lies.
  • In the Turning Red fic Turning Red: Secrets of the Panda, Jason Vaugn can easily tell when someone is lying to him.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Cypher: Morgan Sullivan's last mission is to a maximum security data bunker. While waiting for a data transfer to take place, the systems administrator conversationally brags/complains how he was the best at spotting moles and detecting lies, before he was obviated by high-tech biometric monitoring and stuck in a dead-end job. He then proceeds to demonstrate with a casual interrogation of Sullivan.
  • The entire premise behind Dakota Skye. She not only can tell when someone's lying, but she also sees the truth in her mind (at least, as far as the speaker knows it) — so when a history teacher blatantly lies about Christopher Columbus and Thomas Jefferson, she sees in her mind what he's not saying about them. The main reason she's attracted to Jonah is that he never lies to her, even about things that almost every other guy would lie about, if only to make her feel better.
  • Daredevil (2003): Like his comic counterpart, Matt uses his ability to read heartbeats to find out if an accused rapist is telling the truth on the stand. He's not. In the director's cut, Matt is thrown off when both the witness and the suspected murderer seem to be telling the truth. He later finds out that the witness has a pacemaker.
  • Ava from Ex Machina can use her enhanced senses to detect when someone is being untruthful via noticeable micro-expressions.
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008): After an attack on the Hulk (once again) goes horribly wrong, involving Betty Ross being injured and the Hulk escaping with her, General Ross visits Doc Samson, Betty's at-the-time boyfriend, who had tipped him off to Banner/Hulk's location (and was currently regretting it, as Hulk tried to protect Betty when the actions of the army almost killed her). When Ross gives him his word that Betty's safety is his first priority, over capturing the Hulk, Samson stands up and says; "Y'know, I consider it a matter of professional practice that I can always tell when someone is lying to me... and you are."
  • The Lives of Others: Wiesler, as shown in the early interrogation scene that is also an Establishing Character Moment. He notes that innocent people will get angry when they're interrogated, and also that their stories tend to change as they reconstruct events. Guilty people get weepy and quiet, and they repeat their stories by rote because they're cover stories, not the truth. The man being interrogated eventually cracks under torture and confesses, though the audience is never shown if this confession is true or not.note 
  • In The Long Kiss Goodnight, Timothy frequently and proudly announces his status as one of these — which makes it funnier when no one lies to him for the entire film.
  • In Meet the Parents, Jack has this ability via grasping the wrist of whomever he's questioning... or so he claims. After all, if you can put someone in such a state of fear that they're too scared to lie, and they're convinced that you'll know if they do, then you already know that every word they say is going to be the truth. The second sequel, Little Fockers, seems to imply that Jack's ability is real, as he grabs Greg's wrist without telling him he's about to do it. Plus, Greg doesn't seem to be afraid of or be intimidated by Jack as much as he is in the first film. Jack seems to be satisfied with the results of this and believes that Greg is telling him the truth. However, at the same time, he gets a lot of stuff wrong in the two sequels and is then shocked when it happens.
  • In Memento, Leonard learned to do this before his injury while working as an insurance claims investigator. As such, it is extremely difficult to deceive him in a face-to-face conversation. Or so he believes.
  • The titular character in Mr. Brooks. A neat example in that he never talks about or tells anybody about this ability. It also primarily manifests through his Imaginary Friend Marshall. He's also secretly the Thumbprint Killer despite being a successful company owner and philanthropist, which is part of the reason he's so good at this and secretive about it.
  • The Epileptic Trees say Rotti Largo in Repo! The Genetic Opera is one of these, as a result of keeping his children from murdering him for so long (and an explanation for how he found out Nathan's secret).
  • RoboCop can determine how likely it is that someone is being truthful (and estimate a percentage to the claims) by listening to the person using his cybernetic-enhanced senses, presumably by measuring stress levels in voice tone the way an actual polygraph test does.
  • The Terminator, specifically, the T-850 model 101 in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines:
    Terminator: Based on your pupil dilation, skin temperature and motor functions, I calculate an 83% probability that you will not pull the trigger.
  • Vincenzo Coccotti in True Romance:
    Coccotti: Now there are seventeen different things a guy can do when he lies to give him away. A guy has seventeen pantomimes. A woman's got twenty, but a guy's got seventeen — and if you know 'em like ya know your own face, they beat lie detectors to hell.

  • In the Alexis Carew novel The Little Ships, Alexis encounters a Hanoverese intelligence officer who sees through both of her cover stories immediately just from his own experience as a professional liar. He first spots her as a New Londoner because of her accent, then reads the emotion in her voice to see through her lie about why she sought out the culturally French Hanoverese Lieutenant Delaine Theibaud, even approving of her attempt to make the lie seem convincing by including elements of truth in it.note 
  • In Alien in a Small Town, the alien Jan have superhuman hearing and can pull this stunt by hearing a human's heartbeat. The genetically engineered Tesks, meanwhile, have a superhuman sense of smell and are masters of reading body language.
  • In Robert Ludlum's The Ambler Warning, the main character has this ability.
  • In And Then I Turned Into a Mermaid, Melissa's merpower — the unique ability all merfolk have that only works when they're in mer form — is the ability to tell when someone is lying.
  • In The Balanced Sword, priests and other god-touched types are sometimes granted this ability by their patron god. It takes a lot of divine energy, and isn't always dependable, as it can be diverted or blocked by an antagonist force of comparable or greater power.
  • Link, the Big Bad of the Belisarius Series, is a supercomputer from the future able to judge absolutely whether someone is lying. This is not the same thing as being able to judge whether they are being deceitful, however, a distinction that costs it dearly.
  • In Blindfold, the Truthsayers on the Atlas colony are a major pillar of the colonial society. They use a special drug called Veritas to read people's minds and determine their guilt or innocence. All "readings" are conducted in public. All Truthsayers are Designer Babies, trained from childhood to always tell the truth, especially when reading someone. They also receive training on being able to reasonably detect falsehoods even without the drug, the way normal people do it. This is more for failed Truthsayers who become Magistrates. The Atlas justice system depends on one axiom — "the Truthsayers are never wrong." Guess what happens in the novel?
  • Vincent Katherinessen from Carnival by Elizabeth Bear. His lover is a Consummate Liar.
  • The Daniyelan Truthspell in The Children of Man takes the form of an orb of orange fire into which the subject must insert his hand. As long as he remains perfectly truthful, he won't be burned. Should he lie, however... There is also a more difficult version that can force the subject to answer the Daniyelan's questions.
  • In Circle of Magic, some "academic mages" have this ability. It's implied that it goes along with talent in other metaphorically sight-related magics, like scrying. Some mages who can do it are employed as "truthsayers" by courts and law enforcement (districts that can't afford one or an artifact equivalent use the old standby, Cold-Blooded Torture).
  • Powerful watercrafters in Codex Alera have this as a side effect of their empath powers. They can usually tell when someone's lying by monitoring their emotions, and while a very good liar can mislead or hide things from them, it's difficult to do. As such, they're often called in as mediators in debates and trials.
  • In the Cormoran Strike Novels, it is said in The Cuckoo's Calling that Strike can smell a lie. He certainly doesn't he any supernatural abilities or anything, but he's more than experienced enough that if the signs are there, he will detect them. It basically takes a serial liar / psychotic type who is able to lie without giving off any of the usual signs to pull the wool over his eyes, as seen in Troubled Blood.
  • In the Count to the Eschaton novel The Hermetic Millennia, Soorm tells Menelaus that he can do this. Menelaus counters that it's a pity so useful an ability failed to work.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Nesta is very apt at sensing people are trying to hide something from her, particularly Feyre and Rhysand.
  • The spider-priests from The Dagger and the Coin have this ability, as well as on the flip-side a Compelling Voice that causes anyone who listens to them to believe their words are true. However, this is ultimately deconstructed, because the spider-priests ability doesn't actually detect truth, just certainty; you can utter falsehoods to one of the priests all you want and so long as you believe it to be true, the priests' powers won't detect it. Furthermore, they're not immune to their own Compelling Voices, and so over time come to believe their own opinions represent objective truth. If you say something that goes against a spider-priest's beliefs, but genuinely believe it to be the truth, they'll be psychologically unable to reconcile the situation and will fly into an irrational berserk rage.
  • In Domina, this is Laura's power. However, it only works on absolute lies (half-truths explicitly slip right by), so everyone treats it as useless.
  • In the Dora Wilk Series, Witkacy's shamanistic abilities apparently let him discern whether someone lies, tells a half-truth or complete truths.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • In Changes, Dresden meets an FBI agent named Tilly, who can do this. This is actually magic-based, as Tilly has just enough power to tell if people are lying, but not quite enough power that he is clued into the Masquerade (or even be aware his ability is magical).
    • It's not exactly a lie detector, but wizards have a special ability called a soulgaze that allows them to look into people's eyes and see their inner self. It doesn't give specific information, but a deep understanding of what the person you're talking to is like and is capable of is a great way to work out exactly how trustworthy they are. It also only works once, so the information gathered is not necessarily going to be up to date, as people change over time. Of course, the soulgaze allows the other person to look into the Wizards soul just as easily, which can be helpful for building trust or quite problematic if it happens on accident.
  • The Dune universe contains multiple examples of humans with this capability.
    • The Bene Gesserit develop latent psychic abilities in humans alongside Charles Atlas Superpowers; one outcome of this is "Truthsayers", people trained to detect lies. Some, like the Lady Jessica, can only detect the intent to deceive but are not able to reveal the actual truth. Some, like Paul, his sister Alia, and later his son Leto, can fully unmask any lies merely by observing their subject. This difference becomes a plot point in the first novel when Dr. Yueh manages to conceal his planned treachery from Jessica by leading her limited Truthsense on a carefully designed Red Herring, counting on himself being Beneath Suspicion due to supposedly unbreakable mental conditioning.
    • Other characters, knowing of the capabilities of Truthsayers, have developed defenses against their abilities, such as Make It Look Like an Accident and other forms of Plausible Deniability when they can't have it known that they explicitly ordered the death of a rival.
    • Later in the series, other factions develop this capability, and duels of wits between Truthsayers can be every bit as dramatic as physical combat due to the multiple levels of I Know You Know I Know involved. Chapterhouse: Dune explores life inside the Bene Gesserit sisterhood to a much larger degree than any other book in the series, with the Reverend Mothers basically always reading each other acting as 'watchdogs'.
  • Ayla, the heroine of Earth's Children, can always tell the minute someone is lying. This is explained by her growing up with a group of people who communicate mainly through hand signals and body language, and thus she can tell by someone's body language if they are lying, even when she can't understand the language. In fact, her entire adoptive species can do this, due to the nature of their language.
  • The main character in Endling is a "dairne", a walking, talking dog whose species possesses the unique ability to detect the lies of others. They can hear it from the person's voice — the main character Byx describes hearing a lie as being like hearing a cat barking. In the story, she's been declared the last of her kind, which would make her ability extremely useful to anyone who would take advantage of her. It's complicated, however, by the fact that her species has been declared extinct. Also, because dairnes can detect lies, some believe that they themselves are incapable of it. This is false, though it's true that they don't lie among their own kind, as it would be pointless, and thus aren't in the habit of it.
  • Una, the personification of Truth in the first book of The Faerie Queene, has the power to reveal the truth. For example, she couldn't detect that the old hermit who sheltered her and The Hero was the Evil Sorceror Archimago or detect when he disguised himself as The Hero later, but when she deduced that Duessa's supposed messenger who crashed her engagement feast was Archimago in disguise, she was able to reveal his true form to everyone else.
  • In the Fever series, Christian McKeltar is born a Lie-detector, a case of Blessed with Suck and constant annoyance to anyone near him.
  • In Firebird (Lackey), Ilya suspects Mother Galina may be one (he's certainly never been able to lie to her) and fears that the Katschei might be one. His experience in getting around the former helps him considerably with the latter.
  • Brennen Caldwell from the Firebird Trilogy can identify lies, even over video calls, thanks to his exceptionally strong telepathic abilities.
  • In the George and Azazel story "The Mind's Construction", a Super Gullible detective ends up as one due to becoming more sensitive to gland output. Raises his status... causes problem with his girlfriend.
  • This is, essentially, the role played in courts by ghatti in the Ghattis Tale series, to sit in on hearings and speak up (through a telepathically bonded human interpreter) when a witness attempts to lie. They actually had some difficulty understanding the concept of a lie at first, as they are incapable of lying, most likely for the same reason as the Clan in Earth's Children — namely, they have a gestural language, in which lying would be impossible.
  • In the Jennifer Lynn Barnes novels Golden and Platinum, Lexie James can see truth as if it were a physical property, allowing her to instantly determine the truthfulness or falsehood of any statement. This isn't limited to detecting lies, as it can also be used to determine the truthfulness of guesses and conjectures and also allows her to persuade other people to believe an otherwise dubious statement.
  • A rear-echelon officer in Derek Robinson's novel A Good Clean Fight has a rare form of synesthesia that causes him to smell rotten flesh whenever he is told a falsehood. This talent causes one of the secondary conflicts and leads to the novel's abrupt resolution.
  • Captain Mapstone in Green Rider has this power, making her a valuable royal adviser. Unfortunately, this leads to life-and-death consequences when her ability begins to malfunction.
  • The Guardians (Meljean Brook): The Guardians each have a unique Gift related to what they were in life. Hugh, who strove all his life to be honest, now can detect truth and force it from someone. It's deliberately activated by his love interest; when she can't bring herself to say "I love you" she says "I hate you" instead, knowing he will hear the lie in her words.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort "almost always knows when someone is lying to him." He's not super-sensitive or precognitive, just casual about boring into others' minds. Snape's pretty good at this as well, as is Dumbledore.
    • There's also a corresponding art to protecting oneself from lie detection. At the beginning of The Half-Blood Prince, you know that Snape was able to fool Dumbledore, Voldemort or both. Later in the book, it's revealed that Bellatrix is accomplished in it — likely so that she will keep secrets in the event of capture.
  • All Heralds in Heralds of Valdemar have the ability to cast the Truth Spell, which detects lies. Those with more powerful mind magic can also cast the second-stage Truth Spell, which forces the subject to tell the truth.
    • Herald Myste has a truth-sensing ability that doesn't require use of Truth Spell.
    • Herald-Trainee Mags is also developing non-magical truth-sense.
  • His Dark Materials:
    • The Pansebjörne are described as being capable of seeing lies and deception "as clearly as you see arms and legs". This becomes important later on: as Iofur becomes more and more human, he starts to lose his ability, leading to his defeat by Iorek.
    • The Harpies have this ability and can use it to torment people. After the underworld is re-arranged, they ask for true stories from the dead in exchange for passage.
    • Metatron has a similar ability to read the truth of someone's past. Using it on Consummate Liar Mrs. Coulter convinces him that she would betray Lord Asriel and Lyra for him... which is a lie.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Downplayed with Lucas. Part of his imprint involves being able to read a person's reactions, so he can generally tell when somebody is lying. This is more of a problem than an advantage, as Amber can more easily tell if somebody is lying by reading their thoughts, but Lucas can use this on Amber when she knows something that he shouldn't.
  • Treecats in the Honor Harrington universe have this as an ability based on the fact that they're telepaths and empaths. The combination makes it quite impossible for someone to lie to them. Honor eventually develops a very similar if not quite as well-rounded ability.
  • Flinx and Pip in Humanx Commonwealth — both are empaths and can detect lies as a basic ability. Flinx is human and knows how to be discreet about it (when he isn't holding the Idiot Ball), but Pip (his minidrag companion) is not and reacts very aggressively toward liars and anyone who threatens her or her master.
  • The Infected: This is the sole power of Martin Joabs, who is routinely pulled away from his work whenever the heroes desperately need to verify something. He makes a powerful combination with Christian Poures (a telepath) and Ellen Doer, who has the power to tell when a person has been abused, coerced, mind-controlled, or had their memories tampered with.
  • The Invisible Detective: Being part of an abusive family has made Meg an expert at noticing liars' tells.
  • Ed Exley in the original book of L.A. Confidential is so insanely good at reading people that it is said he sometimes cannot look at himself in the mirror.
  • Lensman: This is one of the abilities conferred by the Lens of Arisia. Virgilia Samms, who does not have a Lens, can also do it by reading tiny involuntary muscle movements; it is noted that her lack of need for apparatus makes her better at certain types of undercover work than actual Lensmen of the same period.
  • This is the defining skill of Davian, protagonist of The Licanius Trilogy. When anyone lies to him, he sees a wisp of black smoke curling up from their mouths. He doesn't know that some liars are skilled enough to hide this from him, however.
  • Lie To Me by David Martin features a detective who can always tell if someone is lying. He goes to investigate a reported suicide, and doesn't doubt that it was suicide, but is certain that the dead man's young wife is lying when she says that she doesn't know why he did it. The dead man took it badly when his wife told him that she was his long-lost daughter.
  • In the Lord Darcy stories, the head of His Majesty's Most Secret Service has this as his unique Talent.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • Gandalf explains to Pippin just before meeting Denethor that it is extremely difficult to deceive him, and dangerous to try, due to his Númenórean psychic super-powers (actually just knowledge of psychic techniques that isn't widespread and having a ridiculous age advantage). His son Faramir seems to have inherited this ability, as he is able to immediately detect when Gollum lies to him. It should be noted here though that Pippin has an extraordinary ability to conceal his mind for someone his age.
    • Éomer claims that the Rohirrim have some measure of this ability as well, saying that "the Men of the Mark do not lie, and therefore they are not easily deceived." Indeed, Wormtongue does not use direct lies to trick Théoden, but rather lies of omission.
    • Lying to Sauron is practically impossible. The only way to trick him is to plant seeds and doubts in Sauron's mind from afar. When Aragorn revealed himself in the palantir, he showed him Narsil but never once claimed he had the ring, but this act effectively led Sauron to come to that incorrect conclusion. This is actually Aragorn using Sauron's own tricks against him: Sauron himself only lies by implication, so he assumes that Aragorn is doing so as well.
    • You can't lie to Gandalf, either, as he demonstrates with Bilbo in the very first chapter (when Bilbo attempts to take the Ring with him to Rivendell: something that would be extraordinarily dangerous).
    • It is physically impossible to lie to Galadriel unless you are magically stronger than her. Even lies of omission are impossible because she reads thoughts.
  • MARZENA: Marian is said to smell lies with her eyes. It's all about reading body movements, apparently.
  • The werewolves in Mercy Thompson are supposed to be able to smell when someone is lying (though for some reason this applies only to literal lies, rather than intent to mislead). As a result, the protagonist has a habit of telling the strict literal truth where possible. A very, very small number of werewolves learn how to tell lies to other werewolves: the trick is to convince yourself that you aren't lying, to buy into your own propaganda. Those few who figure it out keep the secret under heavy wraps, so as not to ruin the game for everyone.
  • Medieval Series: Amber, the protagonist of Forbidden, has this ability as long as she's touching the person who's speaking. She also appears in the next book, Enchanted.
  • In the Mermaids of Eriana Kwai trilogy, merfolk have enhanced senses that sometimes allow them to detect lies by feeling the changes in each other's pulses through the water.
  • In Mermaid's Song, some merfolk have the ability to taste others' emotions on the water, including whether someone is lying.
  • The Lord Ruler from Mistborn has this ability, as a combination of his Super-Senses and having a thousand years to practice reading people. It doesn't hurt that he's a despair Emotion Bomb, so that very few individuals can even muster the willpower to lie to his face in the first place.
  • The Trout of Truth in the Monster Hunters series has this ability and will eat (and then spit out) anyone who lies in its presence. Very unusually, it senses not whether the subject believes what they're saying is true, but whether it actually is true. This leads to its use as a way to sort out new Hunter cadets into Banishers and Nethermancers. You stand on the shore of the Lake, shout out "I am a Banisher!". If the monster eats you, you're a Nethermancer. If it doesn't, you're a Banisher.
  • It is Bianchon's role in the plot to discover whether Dinah de La Baudraye is cheating on her husband in Honoré de Balzac's La Muse du département.
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society:
    • The main protagonist of the books, Reynard Muldoon, is good at this, and Constance Contraire is even better at it later on in the series. Mr. Benedict, the man who the books are named after, has strong skills in it as well. Additionally, in the prequel book The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict, Benedict encounters a helpful prosecuting attorney who has developed the skill from practice and observation after years of work.
    • In the television series adaptation, Mr. Curtain has cultivated this ability. When Reynie says that he's not working with anyone, Mr. Curtain recites back the list of physical signs to him that explain why he's lying, including the syncopated breathing, the perspiration on his forehead, the darting of his eyes, and ever so slight dilation of his pupils.
  • The Naturals: Lia can always tell when people are lying, making her extraordinarily useful when interviewing suspects. She can't usually tell why they're lying, though — that's where our heroine comes in.
  • In Necroscope, the British E-Branch eventually gets one of these as their leader. Ben Trask's psychic ability is to instinctively detect lies. The only thing that might foul it up is if the person is telling the truth—as they know it. To him, it comes out as "true... but odd, somehow". Ben has also expressed great disgust with political seasons.
  • Marlene Insigna from Isaac Asimov's Nemesis, although her ability comes from intelligence and observation, not from any psychic power.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Copernicus Starchild's psychic powers allow him to know when someone is lying to him.
  • Collette, a character in Playing for Keeps, has an interesting variation of this power. She possesses the superhuman ability to intuitively know a person's favorite food, making her a Supreme Chef extraordinaire. However, this skill also makes her able to instantly tell if someone is impersonating someone else — even if they change their entire appearance, they can't cover up their culinary preferences.
  • Quarters: A trained bard can tell from the tone of a person's voice whether they're lying or not. Due to this, along with an ability to compel truthful testimony, bards supervise court trials.
  • This is one aspect of a shamai's mental powers in The Quest of the Unaligned. A minor plot point hinges on this, as the world's most powerful shamai verifies the Quest's otherwise unbelievable story.
  • The chief mate of the Current of Faith from The Reader (2016) is this, at least when he's on board because he can speak to the trees that make up the hull and they tell him truth from lies.
  • Rashmika Els from the Revelation Space Series novel Absolution Gap. She's also a Consummate Liar.
  • In Sharon Shinn's books The Safe-Keeper's Secret, The Truth-Teller's Tale, and The Dream-Maker's Magic, Truth-Tellers can detect lies and tell if a statement is objectively true, but are also incapable of lying themselves (to be fair, they tend to be honest by nature and not inclined to lie even if they could). At least once, a Truth-Teller stumbles on information — that her friend's brother, presumed drowned, is alive — by absentmindedly saying it and realizing that if she can say it, it must be true.
  • The most powerful mages in Saga of Recluce can tell if someone is lying since magic is based on manipulating Order and Chaos and lying is a chaotic act.
  • Chane Andraso of The Saga of the Noble Dead develops this power in the second arc.
  • Dûnyain monks in Second Apocalypse are so well trained in reading minute changes in people's facial musculature that they can practically look into a person's soul just by watching their face. Recognizing lies is a small part of what they see.
  • In The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal warns Clarice "don't lie, or I'll know". She never tests him on it but seems to assume he can.
  • March from The Sirantha Jax Series is a telepath, and this is the main reason he hates people. He always knows when they're lying, either to him or to themselves, and it's left him jaded about human nature.
  • In Small Persons with Wings, the moonstone has been set in a ring that causes wearers to feel cold when they hear a lie, and warm when they hear a truth. They can also see through illusions created by the Magica Artificia. If a human drops the ring into a glass of water and then drinks the water, they gain the same abilities, as well as the knowledge of every Awful Truth about themselves.
  • Kevin Groves in the Smoke and Shadows series.
  • In The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps, Demane can tell whenever someone is lying thanks to clues that he takes in through his superior sense of smell.
  • Eddie from The Speed of Sound can always tell when someone's lying. He makes a buzzer sound when people say things that aren't true, although Dr. Fenton tries to discourage him from doing it.
  • The Spellmonger Series: Lesana, the protagonist of The Road to Sevendor, is a mage whose powers compel those around her to tell the entire truth against their will. To say she is Blessed with Suck is an understatement; in fact, her desire to have her "curse" removed is the motivator for her short story.
  • The Grand Veritable in the Spellsinger novel Son of Spellsinger is a sentient device that can not only detect all lies but knows the objective truth of any statement. Once it's taken, it can't be gotten rid of unless someone else voluntarily takes it (though tricking someone into taking it works), and it always reveals the lies in every statement it hears, even lies of omission. This means that it rather quickly becomes an Artifact of Death.
  • Spice and Wolf: Holo claims that her wolf ears can tell if a person is lying or not most of the time. Given her lifespan and her inability to track down exactly what was being lied about in the first example, this is probably just a learned skill of knowing what to look for.
  • In Spoonbenders, Irene's psychic ability is that she can tell whether someone is lying. While it's most effective on simple "yes/no" questions, she's able to fish out lies on other types of lying too.
  • Kerrigan in the StarCraft novel Liberty's Crusade, as a side effect of her telepathy. She hates it, since most of the people around her lie constantly. She thinks Arcturus Mengsk is truthful... and once she figures out he isn't:
    Kerrigan: I looked, I mean, I really looked into him... That bastard.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Force-sensitives have some insight into the emotional states of the people to whom they are speaking. They can feel when someone flinches or has an emotional reaction, even when those are carefully hidden. However, they have more trouble when the person they're speaking to is of an unfamiliar alien species, and it's very hard to tell if someone with a massive degree of self-control is lying. This is used the most in 'Survivor's Quest'', during the Gambit Pileup in the first third of the book, when everyone is hiding something.
    • Subverted in Star Wars: Allegiance when the pirate leader called the Commodore floats in a pool with his eyes covered, the better to focus on the voice of his guest. He believes that doing this, damping down all of his senses but hearing, makes him more able to tell if he's being lied to and pick out hidden things about the speaker. However, he's trying to gauge Mara Jade, who is able to subtly stir the air and water to interfere with his senses without his knowing, and so he misses the fact that she's an Imperial agent sent to find connections between these pirates and corrupt officials.
    • Gotals are a goat-like species with conical horns on their heads that allow them to sense electromagnetic fields, including those emitted by living creatures' neural networks. This makes them natural bounty hunters and diplomats, as they're not only able to detect their quarry, but sense subtle emotional changes that indicate someone's lying. It's not foolproof, though — in Wedge's Gamble, Gavin Darklighter is nearly executed as a bigot after a Gotal sensed his relief that a Bothan woman stopped hitting on him at a bar. What he was mainly worried about was drawing attention to the rest of Rogue Squadron during a covert operation on the Imperial capital — also, he's just shy.
    • Lorrdians are a race of humans who have developed a sophisticated language of signs and subtle face and body movements, due to their history of being slaves forbidden to speak. Many Lorrdians, including the Big Bad of Razor's Edge, Aral tukor Viest, can read truth and lies, as well as other aspects of a person, off of his or her face and body. Facing Viest, Leia is extremely careful with both her words and her tone of voice and facial movements, trying to use Exact Words as much as possible to conceal her true intentions. When Han is captured, he does the same, but by then Viest knows more about them and their Rebel ties, and he is unsuccessful.
  • Sandra from Super Minion has this power. Half the hiring process for Hellion's Henchmen is her asking people basic questions like whether or not they're planning to betray the organization. Tofu would have gotten thrown out for being too young, except that he misunderstood the question and thought she was asking if he was at least eighteen days old.
  • Sword of Truth:
    • This is the purpose of the Confessors. Their power makes someone fall so deeply in love (to the point of destroying whoever they may have been before) that they obey whatever the Confessor asks of them. One of their chief duties is determining if someone sentenced to death really committed the crime.
    • Some sorceresses are shown to have this power. One of them is so eager to constantly say "Lie!", even about small things, that Richard mentions his friend must have had a very difficult time telling her his stories. Her response: "True."
  • Tales of Inthya: Truthsayers, rare magic users, are capable of telling if anyone lies. They are mentioned several times before Crown Princess Ioanna of Xytan is revealed to have the gift in Daughter of the Sun.
  • Kantrishakrim of Tales of Kolmar appear to have this skill, somehow "smelling" when someone lies.
  • In This Book Is Full of Spiders: Seriously, Dude, Don't Touch It, Vance Falconer's ability to do this is what made him a famous detective.
  • The Ties That Bind (Hayes) has this as a standard ability as members of the Inquisition. No one can lie to them. However, they can use Exact Words to answer questions truthfully. It's also an addictive power.
  • In the Tortall Universe, people with the Sight can tell when people are lying, among other things. The griffins take it one step further: lies cannot be told in a griffin's presence, and their feathers can dispel illusions.
  • The Twilight Saga: Maggie has this ability. Charles is an inversion; he can't tell the truth.
  • In The Vazula Chronicles, dragons have this ability, as does Heath's father Norik. Norik can detect both deliberate lies and unconscious Lying by Omission, in either speech or writing. With great effort, he can even briefly pass his ability on to other people, such as when he shows King Matlock how the Record Master has been deceiving him in A Kingdom Restored. He describes being lied to as a bitter, acrid sensation somewhere between taste and smell. Heath keeps Vazula a secret from Norik by simply not answering his questions about where he and Reka go on their journeys.
  • Villains by Necessity: Kaylana has this talent, presumably due to being a druid. It does have drawbacks, such as lies of omission, and non-verbal communication.
  • Ward: Crock O' Shit has the power to tell when someone is lying, or even when someone is telling only part of the truth. What's horrifying is the way this power works: when someone tells a lie in her presence, her body physically reacts to it. She also has the power to transform into an alternate form based on the mutations her body has produced through those reactions... which means she gets progressively uglier and more monstrous the more lies she hears.
  • In Wearing the Cape, a secondary character known as Veritas has the ability to detect the truth of anything, whether spoken, written, recorded, etc. This proves a vital plot point when he allows the main character to determine who the real villain is via a phone conversation. It's later revealed that he can only tell if the speaker/writer believes a statement is true or not, not whether it is factual. This allows him to be subverted by the Dark Anarchist, who honestly believes what he's doing is necessary for the future of humanity.
  • In The Witchlands, Truthwitches can instantly tell whether a person is speaking a truth or a lie. They can also tell whether a person is "true" or "false" — for example, false if they're hiding something.
  • Tattletale of Worm is exceptionally good at reading people thanks to her superpower, which makes it very difficult to lie to her.
  • Xanth:
    • Two separate minor characters are named Polly Graph. Both have this ability, but it works in different ways for each.
    • Dor's talent can be used this way; if he thinks someone is being untruthful, he can ask any inanimate objects on their person (clothing, jewelry, etc.) to verify.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 4400:
    • This was an ability occasionally used by Isabelle.
    • In "The Truth and Nothing But the Truth", it is revealed that April developed the ability to compel people to tell the truth simply by asking them questions. She and her new boyfriend Colin used it to make money by attracting marks and blackmailing them with the secret information that they have no choice but to tell her. When Tom doubts the effectiveness of her ability, April forces him to admit that he has occasionally had sexual fantasies about Diana. He is fully convinced after that.
  • One episode of The Adventures of Superman show from the 50s featured Clark Kent grabbing the wrist of a man on death row and 'feeling' whether or not he was lying about being innocent.
  • Andromeda: In "The Right Horse", the inhabitants of the planet Veras have Living Lie Detector abilities.
  • The short-lived Lifetime Network series Angelas Eyes was based on the concept of detecting lies via body language.
  • Bones:
    • Seeley Booth seems to have this knack, at least in formal, interrogation settings. In one episode, he gets seriously rattled when someone else catches a suspect in a lie that Booth missed — Booth worries that his recent health problems have cost him his ability.
    • Dr. Sweets can detect lies, although his ability is based on his studies, rather than natural instinct.
  • Jerry Espenson on Boston Legal — an ironic ability for someone with Asperger Syndrome.
  • Of all the unlikely people, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer demonstrates a mild version of this on occasion. As Buffy says at one point, "I can't fool myself. Or Spike, apparently." Later on, he easily sees through Willow's pretense that she is coping after Oz leaves. And he accuses Buffy (and, by extension, all Slayers) of having a secret death wish in season five. On Angel, Spike is the first person to suspect Eve of being up to something beyond being the Senior Partners' liaison.
  • The Boys (2019): Homelander can use his Super-Senses to detect if someone's heart rate and respiration have gone up. While that's useful as a lie detector, as always context is everything. For instance, in "The Self-Preservation Society", Homelander cites Starlight's accelerated heart rate as proof of her guilt but she's just terrified, as anyone would be if a psycho with superpowers was shouting in their face.
  • Kiera Cameron in Continuum can detect lies though in a sense her ability works more like a traditional lie detector. The combination of the CMR computer chip in her brain and the cameras in her eyes read respiration, heart rate, body temperature changes, etc., and tell her when someone's reactions are abnormal. This means that she can nearly always tell when someone is lying (or even just withholding information) but she doesn't exactly know what the truth is or what information is being withheld.
  • One episode of Criminal Minds had the team meet a boy who'd been blind from birth and who claimed that he could tell if something was lying by putting his hands on their head when they speak. It wasn't clear if it actually worked, but it adds tragedy to a scene at the very end.
  • Parodied on Curb Your Enthusiasm, where Larry believes he can tell if someone's lying just by staring at their face. The audience is left to draw their own conclusion about how effective his method is.
  • Matt Murdock in Daredevil (2015), like in the comics, can tell when someone's lying based on their heart rate. We see it in the very first episode, where he realizes Karen is innocent of the murder she's been framed for based on her heart rate. When Foggy finds out the truth about Matt, he's pissed off and sees this ability of Matt's as a blatant invasion of privacy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "The Fires of Pompeii": Both of the soothsayers unnerve the Doctor and Donna by seeing right through the claims they made about being locals, and telling them things about them the seers couldn't possibly have known.
    • "Time Heist":
      • The Teller is a unique spin on this, in that it detects guilty and remorseful feelings from people that have stolen from the bank. If an individual's thoughts come up as positive for guilt, they get a Fate Worse than Death.
      • As a woman who shifts faces on a regular basis, Saibra is very good at reading people. She instantly deduces the Doctor is lying when he opens the case with the Shredders and claims to be ignorant of their function.
  • Scorpius from Farscape can see energy signatures in living beings, which change when the subject is telling a lie. This allows him to act as a very effective torturer — unless the victim has the Scorpius neural clone present in his brain.
    • Plus there was the lobster-like creature that could detect "cognitive dissonance". Fortunately John Crichton was able to fool it by sending his identical clone, who was able to truthfully say that he hadn't been running around doing things the local Ruler didn't approve of.
    • Scarrans have this ability too (Scorpius is half-Scarran), though it appears to be based more on actual Telepathy than ES reading. In one episode Crichton was able to beat this by telling the literal truth about how he was rescuing Aeryn because he wanted to have sex with her (he just didn't mention they were also co-conspirators).
  • Forever: Henry sometimes seems to think he has this ability, declaring a suspect is telling the truth or is innocent based on his own assessment of their truthfulness. Sometimes played with, in that he'll say a suspect is telling the truth about one thing, but could still be guilty of the main crime.
  • In the comedic French series Hero Corp, where the characters are superheroes with decayed or mostly useless powers, Doug's power is freezing stiff whenever he hears a lie. This led him to quit his former job (a lawyer).
  • Matt Parkman from Heroes can hear people's thoughts, and so also knows whether or not they're lying. As long as the person he's talking to actually thinks in English, that is.
    • And doesn't know he can read minds. Mrs. Petrelli was able to keep him out of her head with relative ease before he got mind control powers.
    • He can also only compare what the person is saying to what they're thinking. While that is enough to tell a liar in most cases, Noah Bennet once managed to trick him by thinking something that wasn't true.
    • Sue Landers, a minor character and office worker, is revealed to have the power to tell when someone is lying. Unfortunately, it's revealed because Sylar is standing in her office, lying about why he has come to see her. He kills her and touches her brain, thus absorbing her lie-detection ability; unlike Matt, though, he can't dig around in the person's head for the truth. Ironically, Sylar's known to lie his way out of situations but gets violent when discovering that he's being lied to.
    • Played with on the episode "The Wall" when Sylar believes Peter is a hallucination. Peter has to convince him that he's real.
  • Interview with the Vampire (2022):
    • Because vampires are telepathic, they can sense when someone's lying. In "...After the Phantoms of Your Former Self", Lestat de Lioncourt informs his new fledgling Louis de Pointe du Lac (who doesn't yet know how to tap into this skill) that the latter's employee Finn O'Shea is deceiving him.
      Lestat: He's lying, you know.
      Louis: He'll figure I'm a bean counter.
      Lestat: No, he wants the job so he can steal from you. Overcharge for drinks and women. Not enough for you to notice, but enough to make him "good extra," he calls it.
      Louis: And you know that 'cause you got in his head just now?
      Lestat: Vampires can read minds, mon cher note .
    • There's a non-superpowered example with Daniel Molloy, who's an ordinary human. Because he's an award-winning investigative journalist, he has spent his entire career detecting inconsistencies and falsehoods, so he's able to read Louis, a 144-year-old vampire, like a book. Daniel swiftly picks up on any holes in the narration, and he challenges Louis about the so-called truth every single time something doesn't add up. Louis may be able to lie to himself, but he can't lie to Daniel, who has zero patience for the former's "bullshit" (as Daniel calls it).
    • Louis can usually access Claudia's thoughts (unless she puts up a Psychic Block Defense), so in "A Vile Hunger for Your Hammering Heart", he knows her serial killing spree is far worse than how she's trying to depict it.
      Claudia: (pretending to sound feeble) I didn't mean harm, a-and the bodies are just preten—
      Louis: Stop lying, Claudia!
  • Hyde in Jekyll can detect lies by picking up on physiological indicators with his Super-Senses.
  • Judge Judy claims to be this. Since the decisions based on her claim are not subject to review and cannot be appealed, it is impossible to know how often her interpretations are correct.
    Judge Judy: I'm like a truth machine. Someone starts to lie and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up.
  • Kyle, and later Jessi, from Kyle XY both had the ability to tell when other people were lying.
  • One episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent had a gambling-savant Manchild as a possible accomplice in a murder case. He was eventually cleared, but when he was shown video of his partner giving an alibi, he could see that he was lying, having an extremely acute ability to detect people's "tells".
  • On an episode of Law & Order: SVU, a serial rapist/killer (played by Martin Short!) who enjoys pretending to have PsychicPowers in order to play with his victims' families is revealed to have trained himself to be a Living Lie Detector using FACS.
  • Legend of the Seeker: Kahlan is trained to detect lies by studying people's faces and tones of voice, even without her Confession power. Mord-Sith give her trouble though, due to their own training.
  • Legion: In "Chapter 27", Charles Xavier reminds David Haller that telepaths can always tell if someone is stating a falsehood.
    David: And what are we supposed to do, take him at his word?
    Charles: We're telepaths, we never have to take anyone at their word.
  • Lie to Me is about a behavioral scientist who studies facial expressions, body language, and so on to determine if people are lying. The rest of the main cast uses the same science, and one is a "natural" who can do it without training. The show is based on the work of real-life psychologist Paul Ekman, but its accuracy and usefulness is exaggerated for the sake of fiction. Ekman advises using a high-speed video camera to detect microexpressions (as they last fractions of a second) and notes other explanations for microexpressions, whereas characters in Lie to Me almost always detect them with the naked eye and rarely address explanations other than lying.
    • One episode has Lightman speak to a college class about his research. When one student manages to fool him, Lightman immediately declares him a sociopath and does his best to prove that the guy is a serial killer. At the end, the guy is holding him at gunpoint and points out that he wouldn't have done anything if Lightman had not hounded him.
  • In early seasons of Lost, Sayid claims to always know when people are lying to him, due to his past as a torturer. He is able to tell that Locke is lying about the existence of the hatch, and that "Henry" is one of the Others. The fourth season has called this ability into question somewhat.
  • Medium does this in one episode where Allison hears a buzzer sound in her head every time someone tells a lie.
  • Patrick Jane in The Mentalist is shown to have these sorts of abilities; either by feeling pulses or by outright hypnosis. He also has a trick where he deduces the location of hidden objects. In one episode, an agent comments that a suspect must be an amazing liar because the man was able to tell a lie to Patrick and Patrick did not spot it right away.
  • On Monk, Monk uses his uncanny ability to determine when someone is lying to not only solve difficult cases but also to ruin several of his assistant Sharona's budding romantic relationships.
    • Also referenced in "Mr. Monk and the Other Detective", where it appears private eye Marty Eels is a living lie detector, able to use his apparent uncanny skills to extract the location of some stolen jewels from Eddie Dial, one of two criminals who robbed a jewelry store and killed a security guard and store manager in doing so. Monk then discovers that Marty is actually faking it: he knew about it all along as his mother, a quality control operator, overheard Dial and his partner Vic Blanchard talk about the crime while on hold to buy plane tickets, and fed all the information to Marty.
  • The Muppets Mayhem: Janice of The Electric Mayhem is literally allergic to lies being told around her. Nora's claims that she's the CEO of the record label and has lots of producers lined up to work with the band cause Janice to have such a severe reaction that she ends up in the hospital. She only heals when Nora comes clean and tells the band the turth.
  • Agent Gibbs in NCIS is said in several episodes in the early seasons to be able to tell if a suspect is lying just by looking at their eyes.
    • Ziva also has a fairly finely-tuned sense of when someone is or isn't lying - especially if it's Tony.
  • Once Upon a Time:
    • Both Emma and Henry seem to have this talent. Emma invoked it in the pilot, asking if Henry's adopted mother really loved the kid. However, Emma has been fooled/mistaken a few times. Word of God states that Emma's emotions compromise this ability.
    • In season 3, when Wendy Darling is lying about not knowing where Henry is, everyone is fooled, even Emma, except Rumpelstiltskin.
  • The Outpost: Ilyin, a girl in service to Dred, can tell if anyone lies.
  • Person of Interest: During a flashback in "The Cold War", which takes take place in 1973, a young Greer proclaims himself to be one, which is why he justified showing mercy to his target, a KGB mole in MI6. The only exception to this power is his supervisor, who is a mole for the KGB and ordered the death of said target.
  • Poker Face: The main character Charlie has an innate ability to detect when people are lying, whether she can see them or is just hearing them. She comments that it's less useful than you might think outside of poker because people lie about trivial things constantly, but it does prove pretty handy for solving murders.
  • Psych: Shawn has this ability as well as other talents and skills similar to this.
    • The show subverts this when Shawn and Gus's older doppelgangers show up (5x06).
      Female Suspect: The cops were just here, I told them everything I knew.
      Shawn/Peters/Gus/Boone: You're lying. (Boone pulls his gun)
      A short time later...
      Peters: How'd you know she was lying?
      Shawn: I'm a psychic, Peters.
      Gus: How did you know she was lying?
      Boone/Peters: She's a woman.
  • In RoboCop: The Series, the title character ran a program to gauge how truthful the crooks he was holding up by the scruffs of their necks were being. The reading was usually numbers like 92.4% or 33.4%. The joke in one episode was that the reading was 100% because the suspect in question was scared out of his gourd.
    • One episode had a scientist use a functionally identical lie detector on a smooth-talking politician, and every single thing he said came back at 50%.
    • The same thing happened when Robocop was questioning an immoral lawyer. The readings kept fluctuating.
  • Jim Ellison from The Sentinel has highly developed senses and can therefore tell if people are lying by checking if their heartbeat is speeding up or if they're sweating too much.
  • Shadow and Bone: An almost literal case, as Heartrenders can tell when a person is lying by the variations in their pulse and heartbeat, just like a real-life polygraph.
  • Smallville: Ryan, Clark's little brother figure who can read minds, and Chloe in one episode, after being exposed to the experimental Levitas which caused those around her to tell the truth. Neither worked on Clark. Pete calls Chloe the Living Lie Detector.
  • Bra'tac in Stargate SG-1 has the ability to detect Goa'uld brainwashing by looking into someone's eyes. He uses this to detect that Teal'c is lying about being loyal to the SGC. Notably, Teal'c had managed to fool trained psychiatric personnel hired to deprogram him before this happened. Bra'tac does it again later when the Jaffa council was being subverted by Ba'al, though it took him a bit longer.
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
    • Deanna Troi since she's an empath, apart from when it would be inconvenient for the plot, in which cases it is handwaved as either a temporary failure in her abilities or her inability to sense the emotions of a particular species. Notable for her ever-irritating catchphrase "I sense great deception."
    • Geordi LaForge could also tell, at least on humans, with his VISOR (enabling him to detect minor shifts in body temperature, pulse, and suchlike).
  • Star Trek: Picard: Soji discovers that she's an android, only for her Romulan boyfriend to immediately try to kill her. This naturally makes her distrustful of Jean Luc Picard when he turns up to save her. Picard tries to persuade her otherwise by coaching her through the various physical cues her enhanced android senses can detect to prove to her that he's not lying.
    Picard: Soji, listen to the timbre of my voice. Feel the fluctuations of my heart rate. Note the dilation of my pupils. Soji, you can trust me.
    Kestra: Do you believe him?
    Soji: I know he thinks he isn't lying. But that doesn't mean I believe him.
  • Sandra from Survivor seems to have the power to tell when someone's lying. When Johnny Fairplay pulled his infamous "dead grandmother" ploy, she saw through it instantly, even before The Reveal to the audience. Several times she comes across as The Cassandra, as voting against Jon in that particular challenge got her grief even from her own teammates.
  • Derek, Scott and mostly any werewolves on Teen Wolf courtesy of their Super-Senses. They can tell lies through smell and quickened heartbeats. Also, sexual attraction.
  • Titans (2018): Raven's empathic powers mean that most people can't lie to her. When it turns out that Dick did lie to her, she bitterly comments that he must be very good at it.
  • Steven Bloom on Undercovers actually had "the Living Lie Detector" as a nickname from his CIA days.
  • In Warehouse 13, this is the "talent" of the newest team member Steve Jinks, who himself is a terrible liar. (Unless he's going undercover, and thus has been given adequate time to prepare.) It can be beaten with an artifact, however, said artifact being Richard Nixon's shoes (which cause extreme paranoia in the wearer). It also doesn't apply to detecting false accents.

  • BIONICLE: Axonn's Mask of Truth. It can also see through disguises and illusions, and sense what's been hidden. However, it can only detect lies by people who know they're lying. In other words, it can be fooled if somebody is Believing Their Own Lies.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The legendary Irish sword Fragarach forced everyone to tell the truth if held at their throat.
  • The Bible:
    • The apostle Peter displayed this ability at least once, challenging a couple who were lying about the amount they were donating to the congregation (the amount itself wasn't important, but the fact that they lied about it was). Notably, both the man and the wife died instantly upon this being revealed.
    • Jesus displayed a similar ability in his encounter with the woman at the well, although this one is more open to interpretation. When questioned about her marital status, the woman replies "I have no husband"; she's lying, as she's been married several times and is currently wed, but Jesus, who knows she's speaking falsely, tells her that she unknowingly spoke the truth — the laws of that region stated that divorce was impossible, so technically, she doesn't have a husband as she's not living with the first man she married. Unlike the above example, she does not die (possibly because of her partial truth saving her) and she rushes back to town to tell everyone about her conversation; some Biblical scholars have argued that this makes her the first Christian evangelist.
  • Some folktales and apocryphal stories tell of ancient civilizations that used this trope to catch criminals. In one version, suspects in a crime are told that an enchanted donkey has the power to sense liars, and will bray when one pulls its tail (another version has a rooster that will crow if the same thing happens). All of the suspects are sent into a darkened room one at a time and told to pull the tail as a means of establishing guilt. It's subverted in that the donkey is just a regular donkey—the local justices actually coat the tail with gunpowder, reasoning that only the guilty party would avoid pulling it and thus be the only person with clean hands (the innocent do pull it because they know the donkey won't bray when they do).

  • Anna Enfield of Spirit Box Radio has the arcane ability to tell if someone is lying, due to her being born of powerful arcane witches. According to Sam, the host of Spirit Box Radio, it’s what makes her such a good lawyer.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Almost every game line in both the Old and New World of Darkness lines have some power that allows the player to know if someone is lying.
    • Noble members of the Sidhe House Gwydion, part of the Seelie Court, in Changeling: The Dreaming have the inborn ability to always sense when someone is lying or speaking an untruth. (Unless blocked by Unseelie magics.) This means they're usually honest themselves. This would have made them a natural choice for the role of judges if their House didn't also have this tiny problem with suffering from bad temper. A pissed-off Gwydion Sidhe knight determined to smite a filthy liar is someone to avoid.
    • Vampires get the ability to perceive auras or compel someone to tell the truth, werewolves get Gifts that let them smell a lie, mages get mind magic, etc.
    • The best is Demon: The Fallen, where demons can't be fooled by any form of supernatural trickery or illusion. Period. Mundane lies, on the other hand, can sail right past them.
    • Inverted in the New World of Darkness Demon: The Descent, where demons' lies cannot be detected by any skill or superpower. Demons have absolute control over their expressed emotions and micro-expressions and can choose at all times if they want a statement to register as true or false.
    • Hunter: The Reckoning. Both Judges and Waywards have Edges that allow them to detect when others are telling lies.
  • The Seraphim, a flavor of angel in Steve Jackson Games' angel-and-demon RPG, In Nomine (and the French RPG on which it is based). They are fundamentally attuned to the objective truth of the universe and can spot lies instinctively (sometimes even spotting not just what's a lie, but what the actual Truth behind it is). The downside is that every lie they tell moves them closer to believing that anything they say must be true, at which point they Fall and become the setting's demonic Liar Liars, Balseraphs.
  • GURPS has the Empathy advantage and the Detect Lies skill, which are also synergistic - having Empathy gives a bonus to Detect Lies.
  • Games Workshop games:
    • In Warhammer: Age of Sigmar, the twisted Tretchlets that grow from the bodies of Curselings have the ability to discern any lie spoken in their presence and can sniff out even the most hidden of secrets. This ability makes Curselings excellent at rooting out those trying to infiltrate the Cult as well as discerning those most worthy of membership.
    • In Warhammer 40,000, the Seekers of Truth were a Space Marine chapter specializing in helping the Inquisition, with their Chapter Master regularly praying to the God-Emperor to let them separate truth from lies and aid them in their holy mission. Unfortunately, Tzeentch, the Father of Deceit, saw fit to grant his wish, and now they could hear every lie spoken by mankind... at any time, in the entire Imperium. Considering that one of the biggest lies the Imperium was founded on was that the Emperor was a god in the first place (he was very much an atheist), it's no surprise that they fell to Chaos soon after that, now known as the Scourged.
  • In Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition, powerful angels always know if they hear a lie thanks to their Divine Awareness. Rogues who take the Inquisitive subclass are also hard to deceive, as they can never roll less than an 8 on Insight checks to figure out if someone is lying.
  • Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting:The Cobalt Soul sub-class has an ability where they can strike the pressure points of a creature and use Ki Manipulation to make it impossible for that creature to tell a lie for a minute.
  • Interstitial: Our Hearts Intertwined has the "You Can't Fool Me" move from The Light, which lets your character always tell when someone is lying to you.
  • In Nomine: Seraphim can always when someone is lying, and depending on how kind the dice are when they try to do this they can tell what specific parts of the statement are a lie, if the other person knows what the truth is, what they think the truth is, and what the Truth of the matter actually is.

    Video Games 
  • Ace Attorney:
    • The title character of the fourth game, Apollo Justice, is very good at spotting the Character Tics that indicate deceit. It's a somewhat subconscious ability, so he isn't always aware that he's doing it; he has the aid of a special bracelet that feels tighter when he tenses up, letting him know when to hyperfocus on what someone's just said.
      • Trucy Wright has a similar ability, only she doesn't have the benefit of Apollo's bracelet. This is appropriate since she's actually his half-sister.
    • Marvin Grossberg, Mia Fey's mentor, has the amazing ability to tell if somebody is lying.... through his hemorrhoids.
    • Athena Cykes from Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies has some elements of this with her Mood Matrix: she combines her Expressive Accessory Widget with her natural super-sensitive hearing, making her able to sense subtle traces of emotion in people's voices and point out contradictory emotional responses (like someone who sounds happy while describing the victim's dismembered corpse).
  • Touhou Project: Suika Ibuki and Yuugi Hoshiguma are oni and very perceptive about lying. The whole species never tell lies and dislike deception, part of the reason it went into seclusion from human civilization. As far as the plots of the game are concerned, it's essentially an Informed Ability, but a lot of lip service is given to the onis' promise to keep evil spirits underground in turn for not being bothered in Subterranean Animism. Even Yukari Yakumo accepts this promise at face value.
    • And then there's Aya:
      Aya: (No, no, I'm a tengu pretending to be a human. There's something I needed to look into...)
      Yuugi: You know, I really hate good Tengu lies like that.
      Aya: (I'm so very sorry. I didn't mean to come down here to spout lies to you.)
    • Satori Komeiji, as a satori, has perpetually-on telepathy, and always knows what other people are actually thinking, which doesn't make them favorably inclined toward her, so she's isolated herself from almost everyone but her pets. Her sister Koishi used to have perpetually-on telepathy, but willingly crippled the power because she hated being hated... removing her capacity for conscious thought in the process.
  • According to pre-release materials for the cancelled Rockman Online, Duo and his kind are this, as are the mass-produced copies of him. It's also noted that the copies have less control over themselves than the original, and will reflexively throw a punch at anyone who so much as slightly fibs to them.
  • Efina from LiEat is a dragon whose ability is to make lies into a physical manifestation. So naturally, she knows when someone is lying. But she only knows when, not exactly what a person is lying about, especially if someone says multiple things at once. She's unable to tell when her caretaker, Leo the con artist, is lying due to just how much he lies and therefore can't manifest his lies.
  • In Spider-Man (2000), a Spider-Man impersonator disrupts Doctor Octavius' new presentation and steals the technology. Daredevil corners the real Spidey for the crime. Thankfully, Daredevil uses his powers to realize that the real Spider-Man is innocent.
  • At one point in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, Geralt claims to be able to know when someone is lying to him by the pace of their heartbeat, although it's left vague as to whether he's telling the truth (Witchers do possess Super-Senses as a result of their mutations) or if he's just trying to psyche the guy who just lied to him out.
  • In Tyranny, Kills-in-Shadow says that Lantry smells like "coal-ink and lies", leading Lantry to quietly wonder what, exactly, a lie smells like.
  • Callo Merlose in Vagrant Story, as a result of being exposed to the magic of Lea Monde, develops a type of clairvoyance called "heart-seeing"; if anyone lies to her, or tries to withhold information that she asks for, she has a vision revealing what it is they don't want her to know.
  • Kaname Ichijou, the protagonist of Exile Election, can see words that are lies in red due to his synesthesia.
  • Kokichi Oma in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony is a Consummate Liar and Manipulative Bastard, despised by the rest of the cast. However, as an expert in deceit, Kokichi easily sees through his classmates' falsehoods and often calls them out. Nonetheless, he tends to be a dick about it.
  • The Fan Game Super Danganronpa Another 2 has Kokoro Mitsumi, the Ultimate Psychologist. She's able to instantly tell whether a person is lying from their expression and voice, but because of her Story-Breaker Power, after the first trial, she swears to no longer cooperate with the others unless absolutely necessary knowing that her talent would make her an obvious target for a prospective killer.
  • Yes, Your Grace: A rooster that crows when someone tells a lie around it can be purchased at some point.
  • In Unavowed and its associated universe, Jinn physically Cannot Tell a Lie, and can sense lies told in their presence. According to Mandana the sensation is somewhat akin to hearing nails dragged across a chalkboard, and depends on the teller knowing and feeling that they're telling a lie: Trained or skilled liars like an actor Player Character (who can halfway convince themselves that they are telling the truth) produce a much weaker response.
  • AI: The Somnium Files has the main character Kaname Date and his sentient cybernetic eyeball, Aiba. Aiba, among other abilities, can use her thermal imaging to detect the subtle fluctuations in body temperature when someone tells a lie, though this is less effective on experienced liars (such as politicians).
  • Genshin Impact: Thanks to her astrology, Mona can tell whether she's being lied to or not. She uses this in her story quest when she reveals a group of merchants offering them a ride to Mondstadt are actually bandits. Her teacher, naturally, is also one; this is partly why she can't go back to her teacher (in her story quest) because she accidentally did something her teacher had forbidden her to do, and she won't be able to hide the fact from her teacher.
  • The Walking Dead (Telltale) has Clementine, who has a natural talent to discern when people are being dishonest. This foreshadows a crucial moment near the end of Season 1 Episode 4, where she will be able to tell if you lie and be heartbroken if you do so. None of the other options lead to a better resolution.

    Web Animation 
  • Manga Angel Neko Oka: Eiji can detect other people's lies, when he was younger, he was avoided by many people when they find out about his ability, since then he haven't told anyone about it.
  • The Spider Cliff Mysteries: Rebecca's witchy abilities allow her to tell whenever someone is lying to her, which should be extremely useful in a mystery, but situations always interfere so it has never solved a case.
  • RWBY: Robyn Hill's Semblance allows her to tell with apparently perfect accuracy whether someone is lying. While holding someone's hand with her Semblance active, her aura will cover both hands. When someone tells the truth, when answering a question or making a statement, her aura will turn green. Comes in handy for dealing with her fellow politicians. When Ironwood decides to break The Masquerade, she uses her Semblance to prove to the Council and the people of Atlas that he's telling the truth.

  • Biscuit in Goblins is a justified instance, due to the comic taking place in an RPG Mechanics 'Verse based on Dungeons & Dragons; Sense Motive (the skill which lets you know when someone is lying) gets a bonus based on a character's wisdom, and creatures gain a bonus to their wisdom stat as they age. Biscuit, being over 600 winters old, has a Wisdom stat considerably higher than a typical orc, so his Sense Motive skill is correspondingly above average as well.
  • The Greenhouse: The demon 'Red' always knows. She can even tell when her host is lying to herself in her own thoughts.
    Red: Humans give off a different feel... an energy when they do not tell the truth. I would know, you are constantly lying to yourself.
  • Muted: Demons can sense when humans are lying. This is actually how Silvia got her scar; when she was first summoning her familliar, she was trying to deceive it, and sensing her dishonesty, it attacked her.
  • The Order of the Stick: Laurin Shattersmith is a Psion and can read thoughts to tell if someone is lying. This allows Tarquin to confirm that Malack is dead and that Nale killed him.
  • Purple Hyacinth: Lauren can somehow tell when someone is lying, but only as long as the person knows they're telling a lie. If they believe the lie to be truth, she can't detect it. This is represented with the type becoming red.
  • A strip of Super Stupor sees the usual Blessed with Suck and raises to full out Bad Powers fuel, given the nature of how it's done.
  • Team RAIN: Akane Amaranth's Semblance allows her to detect when people are lying. There are some caveats to it though. It is always on, so if her friends have a plan that involves lying to people, it will still be going off and take a toll on her. It also only detects when people are being intentionally deceptive. If the person telling the lie genuinely believes it as truth and has no idea otherwise, she won't be able to detect it. It also leaves her incapable of lying herself since it works even when she is lying.
  • Gail Curmen, one of the two main characters of Thunderstruck has this ability. Not that it does her much good — one of the main motivations of the plots of the assorted villains is a matter of opinion.
  • unOrdinary: Nadia uses her ability to tell whether or not someone is telling the truth when her bosses, the Authorities, are having someone questioned. If a person lies they can be carted off for "re-education".
  • The War of Winds: Vrin, but maybe one of the powers involved with her Deal with the Devil with Azaq.

    Web Originals 
  • Fey of the Whateley Universe is a powerful empath and can use that to tell what people are feeling. Chaka can do the human lie detector bit too, but she does it by reading their Ki (naturally).
  • Chakats (due to all of them being empaths) and Redpaw skunktaurs (telepaths) in the Chakona Space setting are all about this trope and employ it on many occasions.
  • Agent Henry from Curveball has an ability to detect lies that's so sensitive, he can tell if you're trying to misled him in any way (i.e. exact words, metaphorical truths, etc.). What's more, while he's making direct eye contact with you, you lose the ability to lie at all.note 
  • Janus from Sanders Sides, as the representation of Thomas's Deciet, always knows when Thomas or any of the Sides are lying, either to each other or themselves.

    Western Animation 
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • Toph Beifong from the original series has a Disability Superpower resulting from her ability to "see" with vibrations (since she's blind), including heart rate, breathing patterns, and other vital signs that react when someone lies. There's only one time that it ever failed, in "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2"...note 
      Toph: And stick to the truth. I'll be able to tell if you're lying.
      Azula: Are you sure? I'm a pretty good liar. I am a 400-foot-tall purple platypus bear with pink horns and silver wings.
      Toph: Okay, you're good, I admit it.
      • It is this, plus her lack of emotional connection with Zuko, which allows her to be rational about his presence in "The Western Air Temple". She can tell that he's being sincere when he offers to help Aang and complains that the others are the blind ones for allowing their emotions to cloud their judgement — a point that they then only reinforce by attempting to deny it.
      • This can also help in finding out when someone's been brainwashed, like Toph does with Jet in "Lake Laogai": He claims that he had been living peacefully in Ba Sing Se ever since he arrived, but Smellerbee claims that Jet had been captured by the Dai Li a couple weeks ago. Toph senses that they're both telling the truth, in a way, with Jet thinking he's telling the truth, and Smellerbee telling the actual truth.
    • Carried over into The Legend of Korra with Aiwei, a truth-seer who acts as an advisor in the metalbending city, creating a city without lies. (In fact, it's a bit of a running gag for him to point out everyone's lies.) Unfortunately, as Mako points out, being the only truth-seer in the city means no one can tell when he's lying, which he can cover just by changing things to make it look like he's not. As an added bonus, Aiwei can deduce people's thoughts if they know too much, which makes deceiving him all the more difficult.
  • Ma-Ti of Captain Planet and the Planeteers could use his allegedly "lame" Heart power to see through disguises, illusions, and deception, and once demonstrated immunity to More than Mind Control.
  • The magic artifact harp from the DuckTales (1987) episode Raiders of the Lost Harp would say in singsong "fibbing fibbing fibbing!" in response to any lie heard in its presence. The harp also appears in "The Lost Harp of Mervana" episode of the reboot.
  • Lilo & Stitch: The Series: One episode featured a literal living lie detector in Experiment 032, whom Lilo christened "Fibber". Jumba originally designed Fibber under the cynical belief that society is heavily based on people not telling the whole truth, and having people's secrets and little white lies exposed would cause untold chaos. Since the episode in question revolved around Pleakley trying to get out of an Arranged Marriage by pretending he was already engaged, this resulted in Fibber going off every 30 seconds or so for most of the episode (and proving Jumba kinda had a point).
  • Parodied in Phineas and Ferb with Albert, "the ta-ruth detector." Because he's "impossible to fool", his brother worries that an incredibly lame plot to trick him involving a hologram and some Paper Thin Disguises will fall flat on its face. Turns out that Albert believes anything you tell him.
    Albert: So tell me about this Eiffel Tower.
    Baljeet: Well, it's big.
    Buford: And Mexican!
    Albert: I thought it was French. Whaddya know, learn something new every day.
  • In the second season of Todd McFarlane's Spawn, the character Merrick is able to tell when someone is lying by the hesitation and inflections in their voice.
  • In the Superman: The Animated Series episode, "The Late Mr. Kent", Clark interviews a man on death row who claims he is innocent. Clark uses his super-hearing to measure the man's heart rate and his super-vision to check the man's eye movement, and both remain steady, indicating that he is telling the truth. However, he does not take that as conclusive evidence, but just as something that prompts him to investigate the story further.
  • In Total Drama Pahkitew Island, Chris brings in a special chicken named Clucky to act as a polygraph for his perverted version of "truth or dare" in "I Love You, I Love You Knots". Whenever a camper tells a lie, Clucky presses a button on a remote control to administer a shock not just to the camper who lied, but to his/her whole team.
  • The Alchemist from The Venture Brothers can tell whenever someone is lying. It's not always as useful as you'd think, however, as he quickly discovered when trying to assist Hank with his "case" of Dermott's missing sister (who as it turns out was just stuck in traffic). They discover a deeper mystery brewing under the surface, but Al can't make heads or tails of the conflicting witness accounts because none of them adds up and yet no one is lying. He was simply missing a single but critical fact: Dermott's "sister" was really his mother who had given birth to him during a teenage pregnancy, and the woman whom he thought to be his mother was his grandmother who had orchestrated the cover-up. Dermott's father is really RUSTY.
  • In Winx Club, Bloom has shown to possess the ability of read the aura of the people, allowing her to know what they're thinking or feeling really. At least until Season 4 where seems that the writers forgot that she had this power.

    Real Life 
  • The largest problem with this trope in Real Life is that although you can sometimes tell what emotion a person is feeling by looking at the body language, you can't tell why they are feeling it. A person who is showing signs of fear may be afraid you'll see through the lie, afraid you'll think they are lying when they aren't, or afraid they left the stove on.
    • There are also a large number of failure points. This includes "honest" but incorrect beliefs, like a Flat-Earther who could appear honest despite their obviously untrue belief. Then there's the matter of people whose body language and/or emotional responses don't fit the social norm, e.g. Neurodivergent people, people with a variety of personality and/or mental disorders, trauma responses, etc. Not to mention that there is a fairly common class that covers faking emotions like this, it's called "acting."
    • More recent research into interrogation technique shows that these tools are inherently flawed in practice, and highly vulnerable to confirmation bias. The primary effective technique is to increase cognitive stress on the liar by asking for as much detail as possible. This stress can be enhanced by interrupting with unexpected questions or asking the person to tell the story in reverse, which is easy when recalling true events. Eventually someone who is lying will either contradict themselves or contradict reality, getting basic facts wrong. This has been turned into the PEACE system in Britain, improving on the historic Reid technique that often used body language and led to false confessions.
  • Malcolm Gladwell's book Blink, looks at Dr Paul Ekman (the inspiration and adviser for Lie to Me), who was claimed to not only be a Living Lie Detector but to also be able to discern things about a society just by looking at the facial expressions of various members for a few seconds. The book claims that he was able to do so by understanding micro-tics, twitches of facial muscles that everyone sees but doesn't interpret because they go too quickly. Though unlike the trope, he also advises the use of a high-speed video camera (microexpressions last less than a second) and says that everything else should be ruled out before deciding that a statement is a lie.
    • It should also be noted that while his pure research work is somewhat robust, there has been little evidence of practical applications. Those trained in his techniques are little better than a coin toss at finding liars, and Ekman has never submitted a peer reviewed study to show that those trained in his techniques are effective.
    • The same book also had an anecdote about John Gottman, who created a computer program that uses data from a fifteen-minute conversation between a couple to tell whether or not they'll still be together in fifteen years. The accuracy? 80%.
  • There are classes that teach you what people do when they lie. So they're being taught how to become a living lie detector. Unfortunately, most people are only slightly better than chance at determining truth from falsehoods. Since most judgments never go challenged, people also tend to think of themselves as much better at detecting lies than they actually are. Police, citizens, and a coin all scored close enough to each other to not be considered statistically significant despite the officers having had training.
  • Eye movement is often seen as a means to find liars, with the focus being on sudden changes in behavior. If they glance away just before, during, or directly after a statement there's a chance they're lying. This is most effective with children, and possibly less effective with women. It can often fail with neurodivergence, those from a different culture in which eye contact is considered rude or aggressive, or someone who is simply uncomfortable. It can also backfire if the liar knows to focus on eye contact.
  • Humanity as a whole is generally better at this than other primates. Humans are better at trusting strangers from other groups, unlike other extinct primates with similar levels of intelligence. This is still not fully reliable in the face of consummate liars including narcissists and psychopaths that can end up in positions of power and privilege. It is even found that those who lack empathy are able to get more dates than normal people and overcome being frozen in fear easier than empathetic people, so the theory might be incorrect in that humans formed due to our intelligence and ability to spot obvious lies, but not be able to spot those of people good at lying to the point of it being a mental condition and habit.
  • Inversion and subversion: in 1993, then president Bill Clinton called up KMOX radio in St. Louis and said on the air "after I get off the phone with you today, Rush Limbaugh will come on and will have three hours to say whatever he wants and I won't be able to defend myself. There's no truth detector." Limbaugh countered: "We need no truth detector. I am the truth detector." Subverted in that at least two books have been published consisting almost entirely of listing things Rush Limbaugh has said and then contrasting those statements with the contrary actual facts.
  • Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, claims his training in being a hypnotist gives him the ability to tell when most people are lying. Along with complete mastery of persuasion. According to his blog, he tried to tell them that when he was called for jury duty, and they patiently explained to him that that's not how that works.


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