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Locked Out of the Loop

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Harry: You've known that all this time, and you pick now to tell me?
Butler: I thought this would be the best time to tell you the truth.
Harry: I took a grenade to the face, DUDE!

The hero has a deep Dark Secret, and is still oblivious to it. The catch is, every other significant main character is fully aware of the secret and its implications, and they're all collectively conspiring to keep it hidden from the hero — either for the hero's own good or because it's crucial that the hero not know for some reason.

It hardly ever works. If they're lucky, though, the hero won't hate them too much when it finally comes out.

A favorite and none too successful technique so that he will not Turn Out Like His Father. Unfortunately, this usually results only in the mysterious parent taking on the allure of Forbidden Fruit — which may result in a harder than usual crash. More often than not, this will be Not Quite the Right Thing.

On rare occasions, it might work in the hero’s favor. Anyone the event or secret doesn’t affect might become relieved to hear he has no part in what happened. Plus become more willing to listen to their innocence claims or side of the story.

See Tell Me About My Father. Compare Metaphorically True, a common method of obscuring the loop, and You Didn't Ask, where the person in question could have resolved everything for themselves by just posing a few queries. See also Learned from the News, where a character finds out about both the secret itself and that they were Locked Out of the Loop because the news media found out and published it. Can lead to It Seemed Trivial, when someone who knows something is Locked Out of the Loop and doesn't know the importance of his knowledge. Compare Unwitting Muggle Friend, We Would Have Told You, But..., and "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot. Often goes hand-in-hand with Poor Communication Kills. If a person who is given this treatment is abducted and forced by his captives to tell them what they think he knows, that's Interrogated for Nothing.

If people think a character is Locked Out of the Loop but they turn out to have known all along, you have a Secret Secret-Keeper.

Example subpages:

Other examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • The Avengers: In the Empyre event, the Avengers are tricked by the seemingly friendly Cotati into fighting the Kree and Skrull which is all a setup for the Cotati nearly destroying Earth and then conquering the universe. After it's all settled, Abigail Brand tears into Carol Danvers to point out how keeping Alpha Flight, the organization whose sole purpose is to monitor alien threats to Earth, out of the loop on the Cotati is a key reason things got this bad in the first place.
    Brand: We are not your backup plan. The program cannot function if we're only "in the loop" when the A-list can be bothered to talk to us! If we are constantly blindsided by — by the idle whims of a celebrity in-group! The second you knew about the Cotati, you should have brought me in. The very second. But, no, your buddies knew better. How many died, Colonel? How many died because seven people decided the fate of the world around a campfire?
  • Batman: This is Batman's schtick, especially during the period between the late 1990's to the mid 2000's, to the point where things would blow up spectacularly because he never bothered to tell people things at all. Some of the worst case scenarios include his backup plans against the Justice League (they were meant to be secret and he didn't want anyone to know... until Ra's al Ghul got them), his gang-controlling plan (He purposely locked Stephanie Brown out of it because he adamantly distrusted her) and not outright telling the Bat-Family that he might have let The Joker know that he might know their identities (how was he supposed to know he'd figure it out?)
  • The Crossovers: None of the Crossovers are aware that the others have such huge secrets. In issue 7 Carter comes clean to Callista about being Archetype and while he becomes aware that she does have some sort of secret, he reassures her that he’s happy to wait until she’s ready to open up to him. Neither one of them learns that their daughter is a warrior princess or that their son is helping aliens invade, mainly since they dismiss his talk about UFOs being his overactive imagination, though Cris does learn that Cubby has superpowers even if she doesn’t understand how.
  • Fables:
    • Flycatcher is constantly searching for a way to return to the Homelands to find his wife and children. Everyone else in the Fabletown office knows, from his ramblings whenever he's drunk (which he forgets completely afterwards) that his wife and children were tortured, his wife and daughters in fact raped in front of him, and killed when his kingdom was invaded, but they let him believe they're still alive for his peace of mind. There's some evidence that magic is being used to keep his memories suppressed.
    • Beast had assumed that Flycatcher was sentenced to this work as some bizarre punishment and lets him out of it. Beauty tells him off for how without the job, Flycatcher can remember the truth
    • Eventually, Flycatcher regained his memories, and was seen afterwards having something of a breakdown and lashing out at Santa Claus, who restored them. Thankfully, he got better.
    • Only the higher-ups of Fabletown know that under her exterior of a flighty shoe-loving rich girl, Cinderella is the greatest secret agent on the planet. It comes up when the new council meets to discuss things and Belle keeps asking why Cinderella is there as "she only own a shoe store!"
  • Early on, Zoot the shrew was so nearsighted that he didn't realize he was sharing the margins of Cricket magazine with insects and other invertebrates. Everybuggy else carefully nurtured his belief that he was hanging out with moles, rabbits and other small mammals, because shrews normally eat bugs. (Zoot later got some glasses and learned the truth, fortunately after he became a vegetarian.)
  • New Mutants: Early on, Karma goes missing, and the Professor refuses to tell the New Mutants that he thinks she's alive, because he has a strong suspicion as to what's happened to her, and what would happen if her friends went looking (namely, she's been abducted by Shadow King, and he'd corrupt them if they tried). He turns out to be right, but the kids are still quite furious when they learn their friend was alive and suffering for months.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (Archie Comics): Knuckles' Guardian lineage, the number of echidnas still around, and his family in general, at least pre-Sonic the Hedgehog/Mega Man: Worlds Collide. Up until Robotnik's Ultimate Annihilator went off, Knuckles thought he was the last of his kind, save for the power-mad Enerjak. Then, the Dark Legion came knocking. Then Echidnaopolis showed up, with his mother there still alive. Within a year, Knuckles would also find out about the Guardians and their purpose and that his dad was alive.
  • Spider-Man: Lampshaded by the mainstream Spider-Man in Spider-Geddon. Having spent his portion of the event in one of his titles being manhandled by Morlun, he doesn't show up in the main storyline until the last half of the final issue, long after both Miles Morales and the Superior Spider-Man have it well in hand. He immediately complains that you miss the beginning and you end up totally lost.
  • Supergirl: Deconstructed in The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor. Supergirl discovered in The Girl with the X-Ray Mind that Lena Thorul was Lex Luthor's little sister, and her psychic powers were caused by an accident in her brother's lab when she was a child; nonetheless, Lex asked her to not reveal their relationship to his amnesiac sister. Lena's husband Jeff Colby also knew, but he kept quiet about it. Finally, Lena's mother-in-law reveals the truth after Lena has undergone brain surgery, and Lena is absolutely furious with everybody for keeping secrets from her for years. Lena even points out her brain stroke was caused by the lab accident which she was unaware of because people kept secrets from her.
    Lena Colby: Supergirl felt she had to inform the F.B.I.! So even my husband — a Bureau agent — knew the truth about me! Everyone did — except the one person who had a right to: me! My doctors think that lab-accident caused the aneurism that resulted in my stroke! And because I didn't remember it, there was no way to prevent it! Don't you see? — Thanks to your playing God with my life, I almost died!
  • The Transformers (IDW): Kup was once marooned on a planet with radioactive crystals. The crystals caused him to view other Autobots as vicious zombies, leading him to brutally slaughter several rescue parties. He was ultimately saved, but had to be constantly be fed modified doses of the crystals to keep the hallucinations at bay. Everyone aware of what happened was sworn to secrecy to avoid burdening the ancient bot with guilt of having killed his own comrades.
  • W.I.T.C.H.: Deconstructed as Will chose to keep Elyon in the dark about her and the others' double lives as Guardians and her true identity as the princess of Meridian... which bites them in the ass when Cedric and Phobos do tell her the truth and use it to manipulate Elyon into joining their side. Cornelia gives Will quite a bit of flak over it.
  • X-Men: For a while after Rachel Summers first joined the team, she asked them to keep her identity a secret from Cyclops. However, Kitty did note that for someone as observant as Scott this would only last for so long, given Ray looks almost exactly like her mom, has the same powers, and even wears a phoenix-themed outfit.

    Fan Works 
  • Amazing Fantasy (My Hero Academia & Spider-Man): Mayday never knew her father was Spider-Man until she overhears by accident from her mom and Lyja Storm, being upset by this. Embarrassed of the bitter things she thought of them and angry they lied to her about the truth. Even more so when learning that she is not allowed to be involved in the investigation of her father's disappearance.
  • The Amazing Spider-Luz in: Across the Owl-Verse! (Spider-Man & The Owl House): Combined with Not So Omniscient After All, but later chapters confirm Belos has absolutely no idea about how much Earth has changed in his absence, not knowing that superheroes and supervillains are a normal thing in the Human Realm. As such, he comes to the completely wrong conclusion about where Luz's powers come from, believing that she's a human-witch hybrid who Eda gave birth to. Lilith notably decides to keep him in the dark and plays along with his assumptions, even though she is much more aware of the truth than he is and knows that, despite his beliefs that she's likely the only one of her kind on Earth, Luz is really a Normal Fish in a Tiny Pond and far from the only superhuman in the Human Realm.
  • BlazBlue Alternative: Remnant (BlazBlue & RWBY): Glynda heavily considered several times to try to induct Litchi into Ozpin's inner circle, but always ended up avoiding it because she didn't want a constant reminder of her past at Sector Seven. As a result, she's forced to lie about the full reason why she can't accompany Litchi to visit Arakune during the Vytal Festival.
  • The Chaotic Masters (Massive Multiplayer Crossover):
    • Apparently the reason that the Titans and the Justice League never heard about the Chans' adventures despite the global scale threat of Shendu and the Demon Sorcerers is that Captain Black's superiors refused to believe any of his reports and didn't pass along the information.
    • Raven keeps all her knowledge of various things covered by The Masquerade to herself unless she has no choice, because she firmly believes that it's too much of a danger if it becomes well-known by non-magical people. As such, she's initially the only one of the heroes who knows about things like Meridian's magical society or the Dragon Council, with the others having to learn about it from the Monkey King and independent research.
    • It turns out that the Dragon Council (or at least Jake) has been oblivious to Hawkmoth's activities in Paris, despite the historical alliance between the Council and the Miraculous users.
    • Aside from Omi, none of the Xiaolin Dragons ever heard of the Chaotic Masters, nor knew that part of their role is to fight the Masters if they ever come back. Additionally, not even Omi knew that Wuya used to be Xiaolin herself before turning to evil, as Dojo doesn't like to talk about that.
    • Robin is hesitant to inform the League of the situation with the Chaotic Masters and get them involved in his team's business.
  • Cinders and Ashes: the Chronicles of Kamen Rider Dante shows that the police and civilians are kept in the dark regarding the battles, even when they start taking place in cities. While justified in that the fewer people that know about these battles, the less likely the world would collapse in on itself, it's also deconstructed as they have no idea how to properly handle the situation while those who are in the loop like the Yakuza take advantage of their situation.
  • Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters (Jackie Chan Adventures & W.I.T.C.H.): The Chans and the Guardians deliberately keep Section 13 in the dark about the true nature of the Guardians' powers and about everything relating to Meridian, for fear that word will leak and the world's governments will try to take advantage of it.
  • Infinity Train: Blossoming Trail:
    • Trip advises Ash that they should keep Goh oblivious about the existence of the Infinity Train. Mostly out of concern for his safety; given Goh's tendency to fixate on plans without considering the consequences, Trip fears that he'd try finding some way to board the Train himself — and given that part of the reason Chloe boarded in the first place was to get away from him, the results could be truly disastrous. Ultimately, Trip's fears are proven right when Goh learns about the Train from Tokio, as he promptly tells Ash about it — and about his plans to track it down.
    • Parker is also kept in the dark about the Train for some time. His father eventually decides to let him into the loop, which proves to be a poor decision in the long run, as Parker comes to fear that his sister might be driven back onto the Train if she returns only to find nothing has changed, and he doesn't trust anyone's Character Development to stick.
  • Infinity Train: Knight of the Orange Lily: Gladion's decision to keep Lillie unaware of what caused her phobia of Pokémon is Deconstructed. Learning the full truth of what happened was ultimately key to her conquering her trauma; as a result, Gladion's efforts to shield her from that knowledge actually made matters worse. When Lillie realizes that she might have potentially been spared years of suffering if her brother had just spoken up, she becomes utterly furious with him.
  • Kyon: Big Damn Hero (Haruhi Suzumiya & TV Tropes; author Died During Production): After breaking the loop from the original series, the story creates another one... locking Koizumi and Kyon out. For now. The girls aren't letting them know about their plans to marry Kyon.
  • Lost to Dust (Fate Series & RWBY): Qrow had been away from the family for a year going on missions, which is why he did not appear in the previous fic Fates Collide. Although Taiyang, Ruby, and Yang kept in touch with him, since he wasn't around to witness them personally, he doesn't really understand Ruby and Yang's adventures in Chaldea Academy nor their new abilities like Ruby's Reality Marble.
  • Manehattan's Lone Guardian: Celestia subjects Twilight to this when Leviathan's existence becomes known, keeping her from hearing any sort of news about the Reploid at all. According to one of her letters, this is done to prevent Twilight from thinking that Levi is a sentient golem, and thus hound her incessantly for details as to how she's able to live. Spike is already aware of Levi, but he's sworn to secrecy. A non-canonical What If? that shows what would happen if Celestia had instead chosen to keep Twilight informed confirms that her fears are on the mark.
  • The Mountain and the Wolf:
    • Many of the Wolf's references fly over the Westeros characters' heads, as they have no concept of Chaos or the Ruinous Powers. A Running Gag is Norscan berserkers believed to be yelling about corn (pronounced the same as the name of Khorne the War God).
    • Works against the Wolf when his utter ignorance of Westeros history and politics lets people hide information from him. He ends up complaining about the immorality of a chief bodyguard betraying his king then keeping his job working for the new king to said bodyguard's face (Jaime).
  • My Hero Academia: Unchained Predator:
  • New Stars: After Maxx is knocked out by a Krill, Dr. Finn takes him aboard the Orville to patch him up. While fixing his wounds, she detects the inhibitor chip in his head, and (mistaking it for a tumor) removes it. She reports it as soon as she finds it, but gives Isaac and her medical crew orders not to reveal the chip's existence to Maxx until she says it's okay. By the time she and Isaac tell Maxx, he's the last person on board to know.
  • In the Persona/Puella Magi Madoka Magica crossover Puella Arcana Somniator Madoka, Homura is the one who knows next to nothing about what goes on with Madoka, who holds a different type of power called Persona, made a different contract with the Velvet Room, and is traversing through a strange world in her dreams. Considering what goes on in the anime, this is very ironic.
  • A Red Rose in the Blue Wind (RWBY & Sonic the Hedgehog): The main Sonic cast isn't allowed to know exactly everything about the secret conspiracy regarding Remnant by Ozpin's mandates, though later on, they're slowly picking up some of the pieces.
  • Shadows over Meridian (Jackie Chan Adventures & W.I.T.C.H.): At least some of the rebels are purposefully keeping Elyon in the dark about problems occurring in various parts of Meridian, most of which appear to be fueled by their Fantastic Racism and being Drunk with Power, which is something that Jade is quick to take advantage of for her overall plan of destabilizing Elyon's regime.
  • Son of the Western Sea:
    • In the Olympians sealed themselves on Olympus to recover from their war with the Titans and to try and delay Gaia’s awakening. Just before the fifth anniversary of the wars end, they vote to open the gates… only to find out their trump card has been bouncing around the other Pantheons, New York has become a safe haven with a massively reduced monster density and demigods are now using mobile phones freely.
    • The Shinto kami don’t tell Percy that they, along with the Celestial Bureaucracy, are planning to make him Ryujin’s heir and a minor sea god for his 21st birthday in order to solve the territorial disputes between Ryujin and Poseidon. It is a shame nobody told Percy this. After being filled in by Poseidon in Chapter 4, Percy admits that he would headed it off if he had known.
    • Poseidon asks the other Olympians to not tell Percy that he is already a god, albeit still currently mortal, in order to let him live his mortal life for as long as possible before he inevitably burns through his mortal body and ascends. His thoughts indicate that keeping Percy ignorant may delay the process.
  • There Was Once an Avenger From Krypton (Massive Multiplayer Crossover):
    • Rose was the only member of the Crystal Gems to make contact with the Masters of the Mystic Arts or S.W.O.R.D., leaving the others with little knowledge about them.
    • Averted in the case of Tulip's parents. She didn't have much of a choice but to tell them about the Train as she had to explain her 5 month disappearance somehow, and that's not even mentioning trying to explain why she doesn't have a reflection anymore.
    • The information that the royal refugees have on Earth in The Royal We is several decades out of date. They don't even know that the Kree Exlusion Zone was lifted some time before they arrived.
  • Thousand Shinji: Shinji and his comrades — Asuka and Rei — went to great lengths to keep their powers and their activities from their commanding officer and guardian Misato. She never suspected anything.
  • Titania Falls: Ford is the only member of the Pines family to have no knowledge of Fairy Tail's history (Stan has known Erza for years while the twins grew up on stories about the guild). Thus, for the first time in a long time, he finds himself lacking in knowledge and often confused about things. For example, he has no idea what the significance is of Jellal naming his and Erza's youngest daughter "Simone".
  • Weight of the World (Hetalia: Axis Powers & RWBY): RWBY and JNPR are completely unaware that their new friends are nations from another world. At the end of The Shattered Soul, Pyrrha finds out the truth when she is taken with them to Earth. The nations who were not involved in the Remnant rescue are completely unaware of Remnant's existence and everything that entails (including the existence of Aura and Grimm). They eventually find out the truth to mixed reactions. Some are focused on taking care of Earth's new Grimm problem while others are furious Remnant's existence and crimes against Earth were kept from them.

Ace Attorney

  • Dirty Sympathy:
    • Phoenix and Trucy are both unaware that Klavier and Apollo arranged a "Strangers on a Train"-Plot Murder to get rid of their abusers and they both knew each other before the Witaki trial. Trucy never finds out about the former, but she eventually found out about their relationship and realized on her own that they had been together longer than they said they have. While Phoenix saw they had feelings for each other, he didn't know they were already together. He finds out about the plot when he accidentally asked an Armor-Piercing Question and Apollo flees the country.
    • Neither Trucy or Apollo learn that they're siblings, as Phoenix feels it would be too cruel to tell them after Apollo fled the country without any intention of ever returning.


  • Blackbird:
    • Both Tommy and Thea end up on Oliver's trip to the Himalayas. Tommy because he provided the plane, Thea because she snuck on. The thing is, they have no idea why Oliver is going to the Himalayas (or why he took Sara with him), and neither of the aforementioned two, nor Diggle, are talking. It isn't until Malcolm enters the picture that they get some idea of what is actually going on.
    • Laurel has been deliberately isolated from the outside world beyond missions for the League for the past three years. Hence, she has never heard of Oliver's vigilante alter ego and doesn't understand the significance of him being the Hood.
    • By the end of the story, Quentin is the only character left in the dark about everything. This is deliberate, because everyone knows that if he finds out the full truth, it will destroy him.
  • To Hell and Back: Ironically enough, Oliver. He manages to learn all of his parents and Malcolm's secrets — except the fact that he's Malcolm's biological son. And his parents have every intention of keeping it that way.
  • What It Takes:
    • Felicity is well aware of what's happening in Star City, but is keeping Oliver from finding out because she thought it was her way of protecting him. This backfires on her when Oliver finds out the truth.
    • For most of the story, only Thea, Malcolm, and Nyssa know the truth about why Sara was dug up, or what her current condition is.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • Better Off Not Knowing: The title applies not only to the viewpoint character, but to her adoptive parents as well: Thanks to the information being deliberately withheld, they're no more aware that their daughter is the biological child of Zaheer and P'Li than Hakini herself is.
  • The Legend of Genji: At the start of Book 1, there is a global conspiracy in place which has spent over a decade fooling the entire world into believing that an earthbender named Luan is Korra's reincarnation as the Avatar. Luan himself is unaware of the truth and genuinely thinks that he is the real Avatar. This was intentional on the conspirators' part as they felt that their lie would become way more convincing if Luan actually believed it.


  • In Sam & Mickey's series of Barbie videos, Ken's parents — Carl and Edna Carson — somehow didn't know about Barbie's and Ken's breakup, or the fact that they had daughters out of wedlock, until 2015's "Family Reunion".

Calvin and Hobbes

  • the Calvinverse:
    • Given the more action-packed nature of the Calvinverse, Calvin's parents' disbelieving nature gets taken to extreme lengths. In fact, a Fortune Teller calls them out on it in the Series episode "Dark Laughter Part 1":
      Dad: Yes, we're well aware of his reputation.
      Fortune Teller: And yet, you do not know him at all.
      Dad: I'm sorry?
      Fortune Teller: You only see what you choose to see, and you see only the negative in your son's persona. You are blind to what he sees.
    • Also, Socrates is the only one of the five protagonists to not know about his transmitter chip. This is finally subverted in Retro Chill, as Calvin tells him about it, much to Sherman'snote  horror. He reacts about as well as you'd expect.

Chick Tracts

  • In Whatever Happened to Elfstar?, Mike is said to often be the only member of the group who is unaware of whatever trouble is happening with the rest (in this case, Marcie's suicide).
    Mike is the only person who would ever ask what's wrong. Mike is the only person, or so Debbie imagines, that doesn't know exactly what's going on and always has been, since Girl Scouts, since pinkie swearing, since...

Danny Phantom

  • Facing the Future Series: Walker ended up doing this to himself by keeping himself isolated in his prison, so he wasn't up to date on Sam's status as a half ghost until after he captured her.

Elfen Lied

  • Family Sticks Together: It's stated that Alex's father, Zale, was deliberately kept away from the prisoners and test subjects in the Diclonius Research Institute so he would believe Kakuzawa's lies that the Diclonii were nothing but Always Chaotic Evil monsters and killers, with his only contact with the girls being to contain an escapee. He eventually did discover the truth and turned on the institute.

Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire

  • The Raven's Plan:
    • Everywhere. Those who don't Remember are completely out of the loop, and even those that do are not spared. Thanks to the varying times of death, a lot of people who do Remember are still missing a lot of important information. Only those who made it to the Second Long Night have any real idea of what's going on. Take, for example, the Starks. Ned Stark is completely out of the loop even though he Remembers, thanks to his early death; the big explanation at the beginning is mainly for his benefit. His wife and eldest son, Robb, hardly fare any better, since they died at the Red Wedding. Rickon, the last Stark to die in the previous timeline prior to the Long Night, is the only one who takes things relatively well, thanks to his young age and late death (he died at the Battle of the Bastards).
    • The Crownlands (particularly King's Landing, especially the Red Keep) and the Stormlands are this, mostly because of Robert Baratheon. Thanks to his hatred of Targaryens, everyone knows that the moment he finds out about the kingdoms pledging themselves to House Targaryen once again, Civil War will erupt. Thus, they are deliberately limiting communication so they can gather as many kingdoms as possible under the Targaryen banner to discourage a major conflict. As a result, Robert is literally the last major political figure in Westeros to find out about Jon Targaryen, as everyone with the knowledge fled from King's Landing; even Dorne and the Martells found out before he did, while in the middle of their own wide-scale civil war no less. Even then, he only found out due to one of Hoster's bannermen betraying him, and even that information is incomplete, so he doesn't find out that Jon Targaryen was originally known as Jon Snow until much later from an Iron Bank envoy (the Bank having found out via Daenerys).
    • On a much smaller scale, Tommen was completely unaware that Jaime was his real father up to his death, having still believed that Ned and Stannis's claims were all vicious lies. He did not take it well when he found out the truth. This is an especially bad case, because after his death in the first timeline, everyone knew about Cersei and Jaime's Twincest; after Cersei usurped the Irone Throne, it went from being an Open Secret to Jaime becoming Cersei's public consort in all but name, with them not even bothering to try and hide it anymore. This, of course, translated with the Remembering — everyone now knows Cersei's children aren't Robert's, to the point that one of Tyrion's first decrees was to legitimize Myrcella and Tommen as Lannisters. Ironically, this led to Tommen hating Jaime and refusing the legitimization out of spite.

Harry Potter

  • The Choices That Make Us: Due to the nature of their Kangaroo Court incarceration, it's years before Sirius finds out that the Longbottoms were tortured into insanity or Bellatrix finds out that Sirius is also a prisoner.
  • Done with secondary characters in The Parselmouth of Gryffindor: Neville is the only one in Hermione's group of friends who didn't know about Maximilian actually being a Boggart rather than a human being. When he off-handedly learns it after a whole year of considering himself, Harry and Neville best friends, he... doesn't take it well.

Godzilla/King Kong/MonsterVerse

  • Abraxas (Hrodvitnon): San and Vivienne Graham are both out of the loop at first on events that have happened since San's decapitation during the movie. Alan Jonah's paramilitary are also at first out of the loop on Monster Zero's alien nature and its real name.

Invader Zim

  • My Hostage, Not Yours: This happens to Dib in every. Single. Story. Zim and Gaz get involved in something extremely dangerous, but don't tell Dib about it until it's well under way. This continues in the rewrite, where Dib is kept in the dark about the entire situation with the PAK, because Gaz doesn't want his Big Brother Instinct making him overbearing, and Zim just doesn't want him involved. As such, he doesn't even find out about Gaz working with Zim until Chapter 14, and even then she tells half-truths to keep him calm; it takes the Valkians attacking two chapters later to get a full explanation.

Jackie Chan Adventures

  • The Ultimate Evil:
    • Inverted in the first story; though Valerie learns from Shendu that she's his Other when he first regains his true form, she keeps it a secret from her friends in the Chan Clan until Po Kong has been banished. She still leaves it untold how deep her "relationship" with Shendu actually is.
    • The first story concludes at the end of the show's Demon World arc, after which Valerie returns to Toronto to patch things up with her mother. The sequel, The Stronger Evil, picks up with her coming back to San Francisco and arriving at the climax of the Noble Animals arc. As such, she has a season and a half of catching up to do.

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure

  • Things Are Gonna Get Easier: Following the events of Diamond is Unbreakable, Hayato is insistent on making sure that his mother Shinobu never finds out that her husband's "new leaf" was because he was murdered and had his identity stolen by the serial killer Kira Yoshikage. The Speedwagon Foundation helped Hayato provide her with a cover story for Kosaku's death, saying that he was discovered dead in a Tokyo alleyway and likely killed by either the Yakuza or a loan shark.

Love Hina

  • For His Own Sake Deconstructs the idea. Keitaro was deliberately kept in the dark about the identity of his 'Promise Girl'. As part of her bid to manipulate her grandson into returning to the Hinata Inn and maintaining the Status Quo, Granny Hina finally reveals the truth... and Keitaro is furious, calling her out for believing he'd be grateful rather than realizing how she'd concealed that information from him all that time.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

  • In The Alternate Timeline, Alexander Pierce orders Steve not to tell Clint or Natasha about his involvement in HYDRA. This indirectly tells Steve that they are not part of HYDRA. However, Steve and Tony decide to keep HYDRA's continued existence a secret from Natasha and Clint for the moment, as telling them might put everyone in serious danger.

Marvel Universe

  • Into the Great Unknown: Invoked when Kitty Pryde (now dating Spider-Man) becomes caught up in the return of Verna of the Inheritors (Spider-Geddon); when Kitty tries to ask for information and is informed that this is a ‘Spiders Only thing’, Jessica Drew points out to Kitty that she can’t blame the Spiders for keeping things private when the X-Men rarely ask other heroes for help with their problems, forcing Kitty to concede that the mutants really are self-absorbed.
  • A Prize for Three Empires: Carol Danvers and her mother do their best to keep Joe Danvers unaware that his daughter is a super-hero.

Miraculous Ladybug

  • Bakery "Enemies": All over the place. The city doesn't know about the Peacock Miraculous, or that it's still missing. The heroes didn't know Mayura was a woman. And of course, neither Marinette or Adrien know the other's identity.
  • CONSEQUENCES: After Frederick is deakumatized in SINS OF THE PAST, people work to ensure he doesn't learn what he did as Inquisitor. Namely, the fact that he tortured Lila by slowly crushing her under heavy stone slabs, with the intent of killing her slowly even after she'd confessed to her crimes. As much as he despises Lila, they fear that he wouldn't take the revelation well.
  • Deliberately engineered in LadyBugOut: For security reasons, it's better for the heroes to not be aware of their fellow Miracli holders' secret identities. So when Master Fu wishes to select some permanent heroes, he asks for Marinette to make a list of recommendations. Though she expresses concern that she'll figure it out on her own, he points out that she'll have no way of knowing whether or not he uses any of her suggestions... plus, she has proven herself to be exceptionally careful regarding the topic, and he trusts her not to pry.
  • A Small but Stubborn Fire: It's because Sabine is unaware that her daughter is Ladybug that she is jumping to the conclusion, due to the nature and context she is getting from Marinette's nightmare, panic attack and how jumpy Marinette is, that someone has assaulted her.
  • Spellbound (Lilafly): Most of the characters — Adrien, Felix, Plagg, Tikki, even Melusine — do their best to keep Marinette unaware of the fae, lest she be Killed to Uphold the Masquerade. Adrien even erases her memory, with her permission, on one occasion where she sees through his glamour. But when she's kidnapped by a fae, has both legs broken, and a changeling takes her place and her Miraculous, there's no way to put the genie back in the bottle.

My Hero Academia

  • Three Guys Go to a Bar(and then they Beat You With It): None of their classmates are aware that Bakugou, Shinsou, and Tokoyami have been ordered to play the villains for their final exams, or that they have been given two months to come up with six different scenarios — one for each group of heroes to face.

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic

  • A Delicate Balance: Applejack is the last pony to find out that Twilight has a crush on her. Spike is (inadvertently) left in the dark about Twilight's crush for even longer, and he feels rather slighted that no one thought to tell him.
  • A Diplomatic Visit:
    • Twilight and her friends, technically, on the matter of their being Powers That Be. Twilight doesn't find out until late in the first story, but comes to accept why it happened when the Alpha explains that Celestia likely felt Twilight wasn't yet ready for such challenges while she was coming into her own and growing her friendship with her friends in Ponyville; the elder Princess was protecting Twilight and letting her grow to become the mare she is now without feeling the pressure of this newfound duty.
    • Subverted with a vengeance in the third story, Diplomacy Through Schooling. By this point, Twilight's sworn not to keep anything about Powers from Spike, having asked Luna for permission to fill him in (along with Trixie and Moondancer, since they figured out some of it on their own).
  • In Vengeance of Dawn, as Twilight was growing up, Celestia purposely avoided telling her about the Elements of Harmony or her potential future status as a princess, so she would not grow up to become arrogant and self-absorbed like her former student Breaking Dawn had. It worked, as Twilight is a selfless Humble Hero in the present.


  • Foundation (Build It Higher, Bury It Deeper) explores the negative ramifications of this. While Naruto grew up unaware of who his parents were, he knew how everyone treated him, and assumed this meant that his parents were traitors and he was chosen as the Kyuubi's host in order to punish him for their sins. Tsunade is utterly furious when she finds out, and learning the truth sends Naruto spiraling into a Heroic BSoD. The more he learns, the more it destroys his perception of Konoha.
  • Defied in Son of the Sannin. When Hiruzen Sarutobi intends to keep Naruto's lineage and birth circumstances a secret, Jiraiya is quick to point out the reasons why that's a bad idea, and eventually tells Naruto himself the whole truth once he's old enough.
  • Deconstructed in Three's A Crowd: The Sandaime attempted to 'keep Naruto safe' from his father's enemies by hiding the truth about his heritage and status as the Kyuubi's jinchuuriki from him, while having a few ANBU agents discreetly monitor him from a distance. Said agents aren't enough to protect him from the Akatsuki, who murder Naruto inside his own apartment at the tender age of ten... and thanks to the Sandaime, he has no clue why he was killed.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

  • In Advice and Trust, Rei wanted to reveal to Shinji and Asuka all NERV's dark secrets, but she kept her mouth shut because she feared that SEELE would find out and kill them. Nonetheless, she explained them why she was keeping things from them, and Shinji and Asuka understood her reasons.
  • The Second Try: When they return to the past, Shinji wants to tell Misato everything, but Asuka argues that she'll not believe them or she'll believe them but she'll get too worried or cautious, so they keep their time-travelling status from her for a while.
    "What about Misato?" he carefully tried again eventually. "We could tell her at least."
    But Asuka shook her head before he even finished formulating his idea. "She already cares more for us than is good for someone in her position," she mumbled. "If she were to know what we're going to endure in the upcoming fights, she might try to find some way to keep us out of them or at least somewhat safe, which would most likely just make them end up for the worse."

A Nightmare on Elm Street

  • Children of Elm Street: A Nightmare Tale: Jake and his friends initially make sure to keep Taylor in the dark about Freddy, knowing that he feeds on fear and if she doesn't know about Freddy, then she can't fear him. She ends up finding out the full story after Cameron's death in chapter 21.

One Piece

  • In This Bites!, thanks to Cross and a special function of his transceiver, Spandam is completely unaware of the degree to which the Straw Hats are decimating Enies Lobby until they are practically right outside his window.


  • Royalty-free Rerun: Ironically, for all of her future knowledge, Sumire was the only Phantom Thief in the original timeline who never realized Akechi was working with Shido and causing the mental shutdowns because Akira danced around the topic whenever it came up and her first Metaverse encounter with Akechi came post-Heel–Face Turn. This comes back to bite her when she encounters Akechi in Mementos and treats him like an old friend, only to be taken off-guard when he attacks and almost kills her.


  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines: Nobody within Ash's close circle (except his Pokémon) know of Ash's secret about him having the memories of the past timeline. The only ones to find it out were Sabrina, Mewtwo (both of whom found it out by reading his mind) and Casey Snagem [to whom Ash told everything himself after he revealed to have resisted Mewtwo's memory wipe).
  • A Professor and a Student: No one in the Pokemon School is aware of what Ash has done prior to his arrival in Alola, and Ash has no interest in changing that.

Rosario + Vampire

  • Rosario Vampire: Brightest Darkness: Dark Kuyumaya was once one of Fairy Tale's top agents, but was left in the dark about their anti-human agenda until he discovered they planned to destroy Yokai Academy for encouraging human-monster co-existence.


  • Children of Remnant: Ironwood deliberately never informed Ozpin that he used one of Jinn's questions to see if his plan to kill Salem would work. This backfires horrifically when it inspires Ironwood to create a plan to kill her that involves bringing the Relics together, and when Ozpin tries to warn him against the plan, the friends become enemies.
  • In Through Her Eyes, by the time initiation is over, Blake is the only member of Team RWBY who doesn't know about Ruby's abilities, with Yang having grown up with Ruby, and Weiss having been saved by Ruby's powers during initiation. Everyone else in their friend group knows that Ruby's secret has to be something more grand than a simple eyesight issue due to how Ruby speaks of it, but Blake is the only one particularly bothered by not knowing the details. She eventually gets fed up about being kept in the dark and rips off Ruby's goggles in a fit of rage, ranting about how they should trust her... only for her to have the exact reaction to Ruby's eyes they've been worried about.

Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE-

  • Shatterheart: Sakura doesn't know that R!Syaoran and Kurogane have been sleeping together and became lovers during the latter half of the Infinity Arc. She is heart-broken when she finds out after she finally reunites with Syaoran in Clow Country.

The Twilight Saga

  • Bonne Foi: Part of the reason Edward's true nature was hidden from Bella for so long, even though the two were having sex and she noticed his low body temperature, is that the news didn't reveal that the Campus Killer's victims were all drained of blood, as the police kept that quiet out of natural disbelief. Bella only learns that detail when she visits Charlie after she and Edward have been involved for over a month, as Charlie learned about it through a contact on the case, but prior to that Bella had no reason to consider 'vampire' as an explanation for Edward's odd physical condition until much later in their relationship.


    Film — Animated 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 36 Hours (1965): Just before D-Day, the Germans construct an elaborate hoax involving an entire cast of English-speaking German spies in a fake hospital, all to make a captured American intelligence officer believe that he has had amnesia and the war is in the past. Their motive is to get him to reveal details of D-Day as part of his "therapy".
  • At First Sight: Amy is the only person whom Virgil doesn't tell about the imminent relapse of his blindness when it starts happening, and only tells her when they go to a stadium to see the New York Rangers in a hockey match and, upon seeing the one thing he had seen in his early childhood before losing his sight back then (cotton candy), his relapse kicks in abruptly.
  • Causes a bit of Conflict Ball late in The Bells of St. Mary's. A doctor diagnoses Sister Benedict with early-stage tuberculosis, decides that she should go to someplace dry like Arizona to recover, and prevails upon Father O'Malley not to tell her why she's getting transferred. Father O'Malley caves just as Sister Benedict is leaving and tells her why. She is relieved.
  • The Big Lebowski has Donny.
    Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story, Donny?
    The Dude: Walter...
    Donny: What?
    Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story?
    Donny: I was bowling.
    Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know...
    The Dude: Walter, Walter, what's the point, man?
    Walter: There's no reason — here's my point, Dude, there's no fucking reason why these two...
    Donny: Yeah, Walter, what's your point?
  • Bowfinger: When Kit Ramsey refuses to star in Bobby Bowfinger's movie, Chubby Rain, Bowfinger decides to make the movie anyway by covertly following Kit, filming him in his everyday life and having him react to the other actors.
  • Captain America: Civil War:
    • The reason Spider-Man fights for the Pro-Registration side is because Tony Stark told Peter that Steve Rogers and his team of heroes are going against the law and they're dangerous. Cap lampshades this and points out that there's more going on than what Stark told him. Unfortunately, Spidey tells Cap that Stark told him Cap would say that and doesn't listen to him.
    • More tragically, Steve knows that Tony's parents were murdered by HYDRA, something Tony himself doesn't know, but what neither of them know is that Bucky Barnes, during his time as the Winter Soldier, was the one who pulled the trigger). Suffice it to say that Tony is furious when he finds out, and this, along with Steve's refusal to allow Bucky to be killed in retaliation for something he had no control over, severs the already-tenuous friendship between them.
  • In Dark Victory, Bette Davis' doctor and friend decide to not tell her that her surgery failed and her brain cancer is terminal. She is super-pissed when she finds out.
  • Friday the 13th Part III: Chris Higgins stands out as being the only protagonist in the Friday the 13th series who is never made aware of the history behind Jason Voorhees or the Crystal Lake murders. As far as she knew, Jason was just some random, deformed pyscho who had it out for her.
  • Friendship: Veit's father never made it to San Francisco, but died behind the Iron Curtain. The postcards were sent by a proxy of the state security.
  • Ghostbusters: Poor Louis Tully is the only character directly involved in the film's supernatural happenings that is never clued in on what the hell is going on. Unlike his neighbor, Dana, who already suspected the dark forces around her, Louis had no idea his building was haunted nor that he was being targeted by a demon until it made its move. Even by the end of the movie, he's never given full context on the events regarding Gozer and the Terror Dogs.
  • Goodbye Lenin: Alex tries to hide the fact that the German Democratic Republic is gone from his mother, who was in a coma when the Berlin Wall fell. And it turns out that his mother has kept a secret of her own from her two children: Their father didn't leave for the West because of a woman, he left because of harassment he received for not joining the Party, and he planned for his family to join him in West Germany. He even sent scores of letters which his wife hid behind the cabinets.
  • The Hasty Heart: The doctor doesn't tell Lachlan that he's doomed to die of a failed kidney in a matter of weeks. Lachlan is bitter and angry at everyone else for keeping the secret, once he finds out.
  • In Hustlers, one of Destiny's motivations for committing crimes, along with caring for herself and her daughter, is to give her grandmother a nice, comfortable life in her golden years. As the hustle becomes a success, she moves them out of their dumpy apartment into a beautiful home in the suburbs, gets lots of new clothes for them all, and regularly treats them to luxuries such as jewelry, a new car, or nights out. Her grandmother never seems to question where she gets so much money so quickly, and it's never clarified if Destiny's even told her she's a stripper (and she certainly wouldn't have told her she's also a thief). It's ambiguous enough that it's unclear if she's genuinely completely clueless to what her granddaughter does for a living, or if she's decided that she doesn't want to know.
  • Ikiru:
    • The film shows the doctors attempt this trope with Kanji, but another patient had clued him into the lies they might tell to make him feel better. He later does this to his son and daughter-in-law, as he doesn't tell them about his ailment or his seeing a secretary, leading the pair to believe she's actually a Gold Digger.
  • In Independence Day, Area 51 exists, and nobody told the President. He's not happy when he finds out.
    Whitmore: Why wasn't I informed of all this?
    Nimzicki: Two words, Mr. President: Plausible Deniability.
    • The general is even more pissed, as this news isn't brought up until after they try launching a counterattack, one that fails miserably.
  • Played for Laughs. Murtaugh in Lethal Weapon 4 doesn't know that his oldest child married a cop or who she married. Even Riggs knows!
  • Pops up in the classic romance film Love Story, when the doctors and the husband decide to just not tell the wife she's terminally ill, right up until it's blatantly obvious she won't be getting better.
  • In Men in Black 3, when Jay can't find Kay so they can talk about the argument they had the night before, and he sees some unfamiliar people in M.I.B. headquarters he demand to speak with Kay, but agent Oh tells him Kay died in 1969, after failing to apprehend the Boglodite, Boris the Animal. Jay insists that he and Kay had an argument the night before, but Oh counters he's been dead for decades. When Jay mentions some weird symptoms, she suspects something else may be at play, but refuses to tell Jay what happening to him because it's below his pay grade. When he insists that "he needs a raise," she reluctantly tells him that he's suffering from the effects of a messed up Temporal Paradox, and that Boris may have traveled back in time to kill Kay and set in motion the Boglodite invasion.
  • In Moulin Rouge!, the theatre cast hide Satine's imminent death from tuberculosis so she can clinch a deal with the Duke. This one is notable in that even Satine herself has this hidden from her (she knows she's sick, but not how bad it is) until Zidler suddenly tells her at literally the most inopportune moment.
  • Spider-Man 3: The Osborns' butler waits until after Harry is disfigured by Peter and one of his own pumpkin bombs to tell him that Norman/the Green Goblin died from being Hoist by His Own Petard, not by Spider-Man's hands.
  • Star Wars:
    • Luke Skywalker is the most well-known case in the franchise — his Uncle Owen, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Yoda all try to keep him from learning the truth about his father. Obi-Wan's explanation ("A young Jedi named Darth Vader... betrayed and murdered your father.") may be Metaphorically True, but it's still deliberately misleading, and Luke calls him on it.
    • Early in Return of the Jedi, C-3PO is clearly unaware of the whole plan unfolding around him regarding Jabba the Hutt. Compare R2-D2, who was carrying Luke's lightsaber the entire time to give to Luke at the right moment. Presumably, this was because the heroes thought C-3PO being made aware of the plan would have made it much less likely to succeed.
    • This gets Deconstructed during The Last Jedi: Holdo doesn't tell anyone what the plan is to save them from the First Order ship following them, even refusing to say there actually is a plan. This not only leads Poe to send off Finn and Rose on an unauthorized mission to break into the enemy ship to destroy the tracking device (a mission that completely failed and almost got them executed by the First Order because they trusted the wrong codebreaker), but he and several others end up convinced that Holdo is a traitor and mutiny against her after she refuses to explain what she needs seemingly-defenseless transports for. These two combined events kickstarted the chain of events that wiped out 95% of the resistance. Long story short, if Holdo reassured everyone that they did have a plan to escape, even if that plan needed to be on a need-to-know basis, none of that would have happened, and nearly all of the rebels could have survived the movie.
  • Son of a Rich, also known as Serf (Russian: Холоп, romanized: Kholop) is a 2019 Russian comedy film directed by Klim Shipenko. The plot follows a wealthy businessman's son who is made to believe he has traveled back to the time of serfdom in Russia, in order to reform his uncouth behaviour. Grisha gets into an accident arranged by his father and loses consciousness. When he wakes up, an entire 19th-century village is created and filled with actors who are fully aware of the plot, in the same vein as The Truman Show.
  • Thirteen Days: During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy is initially trying to keep it under wraps so he can deal with it without everyone hounding him, which means not telling the press, which means not telling his press secretary, Pierre Salinger, who keeps getting the runaround when he tries to find out what's going on.
  • Through a Glass Darkly: While Karin is definitely aware she has schizophrenia, no one has told her that during her last hospital stay the doctors judged her to be incurable. She is not at all happy when she finds this out by reading her father's journal.
  • Transformers has a similar situation when Sector Seven head Tom Banachek shows Secretary of Defense Keller a frozen Megatron being kept in Hoover Dam:
    Keller: And you didn't think the United States Military might need to know that you're keeping a hostile alien robot frozen in the basement?
    Banachek: Until these events, we had no credible threat to national security.
    Keller: Well, you've got one now!
  • The Truman Show is a classic case. Truman is the star of his own reality show, and he's the only one who doesn't know it. Everyone he's ever met has been an actor paid to keep the secret and the town he lives in is a massive set.
  • In Under Siege, Krill is dubious about Ryback being a threat as he's just a simple cook. Even after Ryback kills a few guys, Krill thinks he just got lucky but Strannix insists on seeing Ryback's file. Krill soon comes back to shock everyone by revealing Ryback happens to be a highly decorated ex-Navy SEAL. When Strannix snaps on Krill not knowing this, Krill replies that Ryback's file wasn't in the main records but in the captain's private safe which Krill didn't have access to. Thus, like everyone else on the ship, he had no idea Ryback was anything but a cook.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Nomine: Litheroy, by his nature, is extremely bad at keeping valuable information private — it's difficult for Seraphim to deceive by default, and it's especially contrary to the nature of the Archangel of Revelation. The other members of the Seraphim Council don't begrudge this — he is simply following his nature and Word, after all — but at the same time prefer to not let him access valuable secrets to begin with. When the Archangels meet to discuss the strategy of the War, it's easier for everyone that Litheroy is just left out of the loop.

    Video Games 
  • Absinthia: In the May 20 2023 update, there's a new quest where the Cult of Drakon returns as the Drakonites. They seek to revive Typhus by practicing Human Sacrifice and using Freya's ring. However, Lilith never kept in contact with the cult, so they never realized that only she is capable of reviving Typhus and that the bones they gathered were from a random dinosaur.
  • Assassin's Creed:
    • Modern-day Assassin Desmond was never told that the Assassins are still very much at war with the Templars. His ancestor, Ezio Auditore, wasn't even aware of his heritage until his father was wrongly hanged courtesy of Templar machinations. Later games make it clear that Desmond was vaguely aware of this while he was a kid in the Assassin camp in South Dakota, but couldn't really understand it; before being captured by the Templars for the series' Framing Device, he ran away from the compound and explained his past to others as having grown up in a cult.
    • Several other characters that appear throughout the story are also unaware of the secret war between the Assassins and Templars — in Rogue, for example, the historical Captain Cook is an ally of the Templars but is deliberately kept unaware that they're Templars because he can't keep a secret, and instead thinks that they're secret agents working for the British Admiralty. In Assassin's Creed III, Connor debated telling George Washington the truth about the Assassins and Templars but ultimately decided against this, though Washington is vaguely aware that there's something more going on since he briefly owned an Apple of Eden. And in Origins, the family of Rudjek hate Bayek for killing him, unaware of Rudjek's role both as a Templar and in the death of Bayek's son.
  • Baldur's Gate: Throughout the game, lots of people seem to know about your heritage, but pointedly refuse to tell you about it. At most, they offer vague hints.
  • Brütal Legend: Nobody bothers to tell Eddie who Succoria is, leading him to conclude it was Ophelia and driving her away. Her Face–Heel Turn drives the entire second half of the plot.
  • Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin: Jonathan Morris's father left him the legendary Vampire Killer, but never told him how to draw out its full power. It turns out he was trying to spare Jon the risks involved in wielding it (but apparently not the risks of being an inadequately-armed vampire hunter). Over the course of the game, he meets several characters who know all about it. Those characters being Eric Lecarde and his daughters.
  • In The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, a group of Ghost Vigilantes has been dispatched to The Coma to kill Vicious Sister before she can infiltrate the real world. Everyone but Yaesol was aware that there was a Plan B that involved killing the vessel she was going to possess. And everyone but her was aware that said vessel was her friend Youngho. When she hears through Mina that this was planned, Yaesol is stunned, but admits that it makes sense to not have told her because she would never have agreed to a plan that involved harming her friend.
  • Dragon Age: Origins loves this trope. All of the Grey Wardens, including Duncan and Alistair, keep everybody locked out of the loop regarding the risks of joining their order and indeed why they're necessary, fearing that no one would become a Grey Warden if they knew. Morrigan keeps you locked out of the loop regarding why she joined your quest until almost the end of the game. Zathrian really, really isn't telling you the whole story about those werewolves. And so forth.
  • Fake Happy End: After their defeat, the Final Boss, the Guardian of the Tower, admits they don't know why someone built the towers to hide the existence of demons. They also don't know why humans transform into demons inside the tower.
  • In Fallout 3, every adult inhabitant of Vault 101 knows that James and the Lone Wanderer were both born in the Wasteland (even that the Vault was opened in the past) yet they hide it from the kids, including the LW. Of course, he/she ultimately finds out from Moriarty and the rest of the gang gets to know about it when Amata overhears someone saying that they should never have let James into the Vault 19 years ago. Needless to say, they are so pissed that the Overseer declares martial law to try and keep everyone in line. It doesn't really work with the youth demanding to open up to the outside and Vault Security planning to stage a raid on the "rebels" using live ammo without the knowledge of the Overseer. The outcome depends on the player's actions.
  • Final Fantasy X:
    • Wakka is never clued in on Yuna being half-Al Bhed, and later Rikku being Al Bhed herself. When he did find out, he was not pleased, at first. And then, later Tidus learns that he was also Locked Out of the Loop concerning the fate of summoners when they summon the Final Aeon, i.e. they die. He's furious when he finds out and demands to know why they hid it, but Wakka and Lulu explained that they simply found it too difficult to say.
    • Tidus also never tell Yuna and the rest about his impending doom if Sin is permanently killed off, until the final battle.
  • In Final Fantasy XIV, the Warrior of Light learns that the woman they know as Yda is actually her sister Lyse. Turns out the other Scions knew, but they thought the Warrior would have figured it out on their own.
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy is an interesting case, in the fact that a majority of the heroes know nothing of the truth behind the cycles of war. Only Cid (The Great Will), Garland, Shinryu and Cosmos know the full truth. While many of the villains are able to piece together "what" is going on, none of them ever learn exactly why.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In The Blazing Blade, Hector's older brother dies, but the secret is kept from him until much later in the game per his instructions. Oswin was ordered not to tell him if anything happened to Uther.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, King Fado tells Seth to keep Eirika from learning that her bracelet is one of the keys to unlock very powerful Sacred Relic Weapons until it's time. Too bad Seth only spills it after it gets stolen twice, as Eirika had no reason to think that the bracelet was anything other than a sentimental keepsake due to this.
    • In Fire Emblem Fates:
      • Felicia did not know that she and her sister Flora are hostages rather than simple maids, and believes they were just commissioned with the job. On the other hand, Flora knew from the start but her and Felicia's dad Kilma told her to keep it quiet.
      • Kaze didn't realize that Kotaro and his clan were responsible for the death of his and Saizo's father because Saizo never told him of his suspicions until much later; as a result, Kaze thinks for years that their dad was simply killed in the line of duty. Additionally, he was unaware that Saizo's scar was a result of him trying to confront Kotaro, since Kaze was apparently away from their village on the day this happened.
    • In Echoes: Shadows of Valentia, only a select few people (like Mycen) are aware that Alm is actually Rudolf's son and the true heir to the Rigelian throne. This is a particularly devastating loop for Alm and for Alm's cousin/Rudolf's ward Berkut to be locked out of: the first only finds out after he has already fatally wounded his father Rudolf and suffers a nasty Heroic BSoD, complete with him calling out Mycen for it, and when the latter discovers that his entire life and everything he ever fought for was all a lie, he completely loses his shit.
    • Fire Emblem: Three Houses
      • Dimitri's story route primarily focuses on his own personal journey and doesn't touch on the overarching lore of the story very much. As such, he is the only one of the main protagonists who never finds out certain truths such as who the Children of the Goddess are, how the War of Heroes actually went down, and who those who slither in the dark are.
      • By reading between the lines, this happened twice in the backstory. Given how documents in the Abyss written by one of the Ten Elites has them expressing confusion on why Seiros is so hell-bent on killing them all, it's implied at least some of them never knew the true origins of the Crests and Hero's Relics that their leader Nemesis bestowed upon them, that being the murder of Sothis and the slaughter of the Children of the Goddess at the Red Canyon. Likewise, listening to Edelgard's recount and conclusions from the secret history written by her ancestor Wilheim, who fought in the War of Heroes alongside Seiros, and comparing them to what Seiros/Rhea herself will reveal makes it obvious Seiros never told Wilheim the truth of the Red Canyon either and her desire for vengeance.
  • In Fredbear and Friends, one of the audiologs reveals that the pizzeria's management knew about shady goings-on at the restaurant and the night guards going missing, but chose to mention none of this to the guards themselves — while ordering them to go everywhere armed and in pairs. How this worked out is unclear.
  • In Hi-Fi RUSH, Korsica, the Head of Security of Vandelay Technologies, is the only one of the six executives running the company to not be in the know about CEO Kale Vandelay's secret project SPECTRA. As far as she's aware, it's just another firmware update for the robotics. As it turns out, Kale keeping her in the dark was part of his Secret Test of Character for her; he wanted to ensure she trusted his vision completely. Chai's insistence that SPECTRA is dangerous leads Korsica to start investigating it herself, proving she's too principled to follow Kale blindly. Kale attempts to kill her in retaliation, which cements Korsica's Heel–Face Turn.
  • In Injustice 2, Kara Zor-El was sent to Earth alongside her cousin Kal-El to teach him the ways of the Kryptonians, but arrived many years later due to her cryopod being knocked off-course to find a world where her infant cousin had grown into an adult. Par for the course for Supergirl, except that in the Injustice Alternate Universe, Superman went completely insane, becoming a ruthless Knight Templar dictator. Unfortunately for Supergirl, she is recovered by Regime loyalists who fail to mention this.
  • In Jak X: Combat Racing, no one wants to tell Rayn that Jak killed her father. Inevitably, she finds out and gets pissed.
  • The Kingdom Hearts series has a strict rule in place that whenever the lead characters visit one of the multiple Disney worlds, they are strictly forbidden from telling anyone about the existence of these numerous realities. Most of the time, it doesn't prove to be an issue, but a few instances have deconstructed by proving how problematic it can really be. In the first game, Ariel, who wants to visit other worlds, gets easily manipulated by Ursula when her adventures with Sora and company get her in hot water with her father. Then, in the third game, Buzz Lightyear, who's already dealing with his friends going missing and his laser suddenly working, gets even more suspicious of Sora and his friends arriving to help, which is exactly what Young Xehanort wants to happen, so he can corrupt Buzz just enough as part of his experiments with hearts.
  • Yuki from The King of Fighters was like this at first, in regards to her boyfriend Kyo's double life as an Ordinary Highschool Student and a street fighter. In the tie-in manga "KOF: KYO" she learns about it and isn't happy, but forgives him. (It doesn't help that she only learned about it when Athena transferred to this school and then Iori Yagami showed up.) However, she remains outta the loop in whart concerns her heritage and destiny in the whole Orochi story... as the as-of-now last descendant of Princess Kushinada, the legendary Barrier Maiden that must be ritually sacrificed so Orochi will return to this world. She only learns that when she's kidnapped for that by the New Face Team (who spill the beans in front of her), and then rescued by Kyo and his friends.
  • The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel IV has Roselia not knowing that there's a curse lurking around Erebonia or that said curse had been stalking her friend, the emperor Dreichels, for decades. She also didn't know that Lianne, also known as Arianrhod, had known about Dreichels' secret and only because Lianne caught Ishmelga in the act of stalking Dreichels. She also didn't know that Osborne, who is the reincarnation of Dreichels, ended up forming a contract with Ishmelga 200 years later after Dreichels' death and that Lianne had cut off any contact with her for twenty years after she accepted an invitation to join Ouroboros from the Grandmaster. When the truth finally comes out by Class VII viewing the events at Luna Sanctuary, Roselia is not happy about the fact that her friends hid the truth from her for two centuries.
  • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker: Tetra's mother apparently locked her out of knowing that she's the eponymous Princess Zelda. She also fails to mention why the necklace she gave Tetra is so important. Then suddenly it is revealed that it is a piece of the Triforce, the almighty artifact of the Goddesses, which can grant absolutely any wish when fully assembled.
  • In Love & Pies, Amelia's close friends and family already know that her mother, Freya, is the infamous thief, The Purple Fox, but they didn't tell her sooner about it for various reasons.
    • On Day 12, Sven confesses to Amelia that he didn't tell her about the debt she inherited from her mother and that she was The Purple Fox because he once caught her returning to him the golden axe trophy that she stole, because he didn't want Amelia to think badly of her, no matter what she did.
    • On Day 13, Yuka admits to Amelia that she also wanted to solve the mystery behind The Purple Fox, so she spread a rumor that she hid a "super valuable" gemstone in the former's house to lure them into her trap. When she took a photo of them in the act, she was going to use it for her article, but was reluctant when she saw that TPF was Freya.
  • Mass Effect 2 does this to whichever human squadmate survives the first game. It's one of the main reasons why the reunion doesn't go so well. Garrus and Tali (and Wrex, if he's still alive after the events of Virmire) find out Shepard's alive firsthand and take it in stride unlike the Virmire survivor, while they only hear rumors about him/her being alive and working for a terrorist organization — which had been leaked by the terrorist group in question in an attempt to isolate Shepard from anyone who was likely to make Shepard see through the charade Cerberus was putting on. In Mass Effect 3, fixing this is an important part of getting back on their good side. If the player chooses not to let them back in the loop, it will potentially end with their death because they can't be convinced that it's Not What It Looks Like. Why Liara, the very person who knows the looming threat that Shepard will face at the second game because she gave them Shepard's body, didn't pay them a visit to explain things before it became an issue is never addressed.
  • Aside from Zero, almost all major characters in Mega Man Zero 3 (Ciel, X, Weil, and maybe even the Four Guardians) seem to know about the truth that Zero (the real one and The Hero) is inhabiting a clone, while Omega is using Zero's original body. Ciel only finds out in the end of the game, when X tells her. The Four Guardians only as much as suspected, since Harpuia was present when Weil referred to Zero as that body. Of the four, only Phantom knows the truth, since he died fighting Zero in a previous battle and now wanders the Cyberspace afterlife, where all history is gathered.
  • In Metal Gear Solid, Snake believes his team knows more about what is going on around him (Anderson and Baker's deaths, the ninja being Gray Fox, etc.). He is 100% right : everybody was holding back some info so nobody knew who or what was behind Shadow Moses. The Patriots. Liquid wanted to take them out or free Big Boss from their clutches; they didn't give him the chance to try.
  • Nira Oni: After the group gets trapped in West Nira Hospital and the titular monster starts stalking them, Cassey's little sister Ryan thinks that it's some kind of fake haunted house. Hiroshi goes out of his way to keep her believing this, framing the whole thing as a game. For instance, after hearing the monster nearby, he tells Ryan that they're going to play hide and seek, and she needs to find a good hiding place.
  • OMORI: Everyone except Sunny (the unwitting perpetrator), his parents (which led his father to disown his son), and Basil (who witnessed everything) were left in the dark about Mari's "suicide" actually being a murder. The final conflict comes when Sunny gathers up the courage to try and tell his friends the truth, only for Omori to attempt to stop him by any means necessary.
  • Persona 4: Both Detective Ryotaro Dojima (the MC's uncle) and Naoto Shirogane (freelance detective) are working on the same case as the Heroes, but the Investigation Team keeps them out of the know for rather understandable reasons. Like many other things in the game, this is Deconstructed:
    • Dojima's instincts catch onto the MC and the investigation team almost immediately, but he can't bring himself to suspect the person who watches over his daughter. And when he gets concrete evidence that the Protagonist is definitely involved in some way, a bad combination of Cassandra Truth and Idiot Ball leads to Nanako getting thrown into the television.
    • Naoto is damn well aware that information is being withheld from him, or rather her, and becomes frustrated enough that she resorts to rather drastic measures. Once this is settled, the Investigation Team lets her have it for being so stupid that she deliberately let herself be thrown into the TV.
  • Planescape: Torment:
    • The hero has amnesia. Near the end of the game, you find out that Morte, who has been with you since the introductory scene knew almost everything you had to work so hard to find out.
    • The reason Dakkon joins up with you so quickly is he has an existing life-debt to you and for all we know was hanging out in the bar because he knew you would be showing up soon.
  • For all the mocking the Pokémon games get for allowing 10-year-old children to fight criminal organizations of varying levels of lethality and letting them fight and control Olympus Mons that possess cataclysmic power, a common criticism of the plot of Pokémon Sword and Shield is that the story ironically invokes Surprisingly Realistic Outcome by playing this straight. The moment anything bad happens in the Galar region adults and adult figures swoop in to intervene while politely shoving the protagonists out of the way by telling them to continue with the Gym Challenge, preventing them from figuring out what's going on or suspecting that anything's amiss. The actual story only kicks in during virtually the last hour of the game when the heroes inadvertently stumble into a Motive Rant after chasing down Leon when he misses their dinner reservation.
  • Played for Laughs in Saints Row IV, during Pierce's rescue mission.
    Kinzie: Okay, now get inside the statue of Joe Magarac.
    Boss: Now the statue has a name?
    Pierce: Seriously, you didn't know that?
    Boss: Nobody tells me anything!
  • In Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, the player character is running around the galaxy trying to stop the Sith Empire from finishing a war of conquest started by Darth Revan. The secret is that the PC is Revan, with his memories brainwashed out, and that the Jedi Council is trying to use him to uncover the location of the same superweapon that allowed him to begin his war in the first place. No one tells the protagonist all this, of course. Until Malak and Saul Karath find out he's still alive and Malak tells him, that is. It's up to the player to decide whether this revelation will turn the amnesiac Revan against the Republic and the Jedi.
  • Rise of the Third Power: Downplayed with Prince Gage. He's aware and complicit in Emperor Noraskov's purge of Arkadya's "undesirables," but isn't aware of actions such as starting a false flag operation against Cirinthia or the backup plan to kill the Cirinthian royal family.
  • One of Siffrin's goals in START AGAIN START AGAIN START AGAIN: a prologue is ensuring that none of his companions pick up on the fact that he's suffering a serious case of Time Loop Fatigue from being forced to relive their journey through the King's Castle over and over and over again. He fears that if they learned the Awful Truth, they'd despair at the thought that their quest to save Vaugarde from being frozen in time forever might be All for Nothing.
  • In Tales of Destiny 2, there are three loops being kept secret:
    • Loni and Rutee are keeping Stahn's death secret from Kyle, fearing he couldn't handle the truth and might end up like his father (which turns out about as well as one might expect).
    • Reala is keeping her origins and Elraine's powers and motives secret from everyone, though Judas knows some of it because Elraine tried to recruit him.
    • Judas himself is (poorly) hiding his own identity as Leon Magnus from everyone.
  • In Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World, Lloyd locks his former comrades out of the loop on why he hunts for the Centurion Cores. It's only with the revelation that Emil is Ratatosk that Lloyd decides to reveal why he did so: he was on a task by Martel to collect the cores so Ratatosk can be sealed away before he gets revenge on humanity. Lloyd couldn't risk anyone else on the chance they might let slip the name of the new tree, which would allow Ratatosk to take over and begin his revenge.
  • In Tales of the Abyss this trope is somewhat exaggerated: from the start of the game, every single party member except one has a different part of the loop that they're keeping Luke fon Fabre locked out of, for their own reasons, and for the most part unaware of all the others. Guy has been plotting with Van for years to kill Luke in front of his father as revenge for his own family's deaths. Anise is secretly reporting on all of their actions to Grand Maestro Mohs because he has her parents hostage. Tear wants to kill her brother Van because he actually wants to destroy the world, but she doesn't think anyone will believe her if she just says so because he's a Villain with Good Publicity. Jade figures out that Luke is a replica about two scenes after you meet him, but doesn't want to deal with the hassle of explaining when it's not relevant to the mission. The only one not deliberately keeping secrets from him is Natalia, and that's only because she doesn't know her own secret — that she's not the actual Princess, but was Switched at Birth. All of this is massively deconstructed to say the least as all those secrets screw them over in various ways; at the very least, Luke knows they are hiding things from him and it doesn't improve his attitude at all. Much less makes him able to trust them.
  • It is sometimes assumed Flandre Scarlet of Touhou Project fame doesn't know she's a vampire, as her maid Sakuya serves her blood under the appearance of normal food. Whether Flandre really doesn't know she's a vampire or not is up to debate, but Word of God says she at least doesn't know how to properly feed on humans. She just blows them up on the spot. All because Remilia won't let her outside, because she had the bad luck to be born with the power to destroy anything by clenching her fist. Canon appears to joss it though.
  • In Vagrant Story, both Ashley (the main character) and Hardin (the Anti-Villain's henchman) are largely unaware of the main plot up until the final cutscenes.
  • Played with in Wargroove, where the one locked out is the villain. Since the player controls Sigrid in the prologue, where she kills King Mercival and starts the border tensions that eventually boil over into the all-out war the story centres around, they tend to assume her actions are common knowledge. They're not, and when Valder finally hears about what she did, he's outraged, drops his grudge with Cherrystone, and promptly switches sides.

    Visual Novels 
  • Daughter for Dessert:
    • In a rare lampshaded example, Mortelli lets slip that he knows the protagonist's “biggest secret.” Cecilia and Saul also know the “secret” to which he is referring, and they let Amanda in on it as well.
    • The protagonist confides in Kathy when he initially decides to sell the diner, but doesn’t tell Amanda. Amanda finds out anyway when she runs into Kathy, who is applying for another job at the time.
  • In Little Busters!, Riki and Rin are the only ones in the main cast who don't know the secret of the world — that this world is a fake created after a bus crash left all but Riki and Rin near death. Why he's locked out varies — Kengo just wanted to be able to live happily in this world forever without worrying them about reality, while Kyousuke was deliberately trying to build them up and make them stronger so when they went back to the real world they could function on their own.
  • If the protagonist of Melody has a one-night stand with Isabella, they keep it a secret from Tim for obvious reasons. However, in Isabella’s epilogue, Tim reveals that he actually heard the whole thing, drunk though he was.
  • Shall We Date?: Ninja Shadow, Shintaro tends to be this. Twofold, even!:
    • Regarding Saori/"Kaname" being a Sweet Polly Oliver, the Vigilantes who find out early tend to keep this from him since he Cannot Talk to Women and they want to "spare" him the embarrassment. The exception, logically, is his own route where, after lots of awkwardness, he becomes her Secret-Keeper.
    • In Makoto's route, Makoto goes through huge efforts to keep him in the dark about his once-mentor Toru's Face–Heel Turn because he knows that Shintaro's heart will break if it happens. This throws quite a wrench in the group's dynamics since Yuzuki believes that it's unfair to Shintaro.
  • Angie in Shikkoku no Sharnoth thinks that Mary has become the mistress of a rich man out of despair at her friend Charlie's condition. She's wrong, of course, but Mary only clears up the misunderstanding without actually explaining what she is doing.
  • Tsukihime: Honestly, does anyone tell Shiki the stuff he really needs to know? The only one who's really honest with him, Arcueid, doesn't actually know a thing about his backstory. Even the other sane love interest never feels that it's necessary to tell him or flat out lies about the twin switch between Kohaku and Hisui, so Kohaku doesn't realize he simply mixed them up until far too late.
  • Zero Escape:
    • At the beginning of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, only Junpei and Lotus have no information about the Nonary Game at all. Two characters masterminded the original Nonary Game, four competed in it and one was a detective involved in the case. When characters finally start sharing information to aid their escape, Lotus is separated from the group right before a major exposition dump, and when the other characters catch up to her they are forced to focus their full attention on matters of immediate mortal peril, leaving her — much to her frustration — in the dark until the epilogue.
    • In one ending of Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, Junpei and Seven silently decide not to tell Snake that his sister Clover was murdered because they're afraid that he'll have a Freak Out if he knows. Unfortunately, their attempt to keep Snake locked out of the loop doesn't last long because Ace, the one who murdered Clover, tells him about it, causing him to fly into an Unstoppable Rage (though thankfully only against the villain, not Junpei or Seven).
    • In Zero Time Dilemma, Junpei is tetchy with Akane because he knows she's plotting something and Akane herself admits this, but she still refuses to tell him about it. Given that her last plan involved mass murder, it's unsurprising that he feels a right to know.

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: As revealed in Volume 4, members of the White Fang are able to roam about Blake's hometown of Menagerie freely, because the inhabitants don't know that the White Fang chapter led by Adam Taurus played an instrumental role in the invasion of Vale and the destruction of Beacon Academy; Blake's parents only find out when Blake and Sun inform them as such when White Fang representatives of another leader, Sienna Khan, come to visit her father. Said representatives are able to avoid suspicion by claiming that the group led by Adam is a rogue splinter faction and they're trying to apprehend him, which is a lie.

  • Dan and Mab's Furry Adventures: Dan's an incubus. His mother was one of the most powerful and infamous succubi around (it's later revealed that his maternal grandmother was even more so). No one told Dan this until his 'Cubi heritage started manifesting itself. He essentially locked himself out of the loop since everyone who knew about Destania (Dan's mom) either assumed Dan already knew, hence didn't bother bringing it up (like the other 'Cubi) or were waiting for Dan himself to start asking questions (like his older half-sister, Alexi) No one anticipated his utter lack of curiosity on the subject.
  • El Goonish Shive:
    • During the storyline "Squirrel Prophet", Grace considers the revelations and secrets that she, Tedd and Sarah know about but Justin doesn't and realizes they've inadvertently done this to him.
    Grace: Wow, we have not kept Justin in the loop tonight.
    • During the storyline "Title Pending 2: Even More Pending" (Working Title), this is subverted and discussed. The group decides that while they can invite Elliot's new girlfriend Ashley to a party where they're going to talking about everything magic, the truth about Grace's alien-shapeshifter-squirrel nature is something that needs to be kept under wraps... but Grace and Ashley end up getting along so well that the former instantly tells Ashley everything sans her Dark and Troubled Past (and even then, she promises to share later) before they both run to the mirror so Grace can demonstrate her abilities. Everyone else looks on in shock and confusion.
    Sarah: So I guess they're friends now.
    • A few pages later, Susan and Diane talk about how the former has yet to tell her friends about recent events regarding an abberation fight. When the former is hesitant about Diane helping her talk about it by going with her to the aforementioned party, Diane lists how much she (and in some cases, the entire town) already knows about each of her friends' abilities, points out that fully explaining the fight would mean revealing Diane's own secret anyway, and asks if there's any serious benefit for keeping her out of the loop at this point. And we get another lock out during the aforementioned party: When Diane reveals her secret, the discussion reorients around said Long-Lost Relative (her father, Professor Raven). Everyone present is at least familiar with him, except Ashley, who's never heard of him before this point and spends most of the discussion bewildered.
  • Girl Genius had fun when Lars discovered who Agatha really is.
    Krosp: The grownups knew.
  • Antimony in Gunnerkrigg Court was rather shocked to discover some facts about herself and her mother while all Surma's friends knew. And then it turns out this wasn't the only secret and this was even more widely known... "Seems like people enjoy keeping things from Annie" indeed.
  • Head Trip on Michael proposing to Kat.
  • Homestuck: The other characters deliberately avoided telling John that Vriska had died because they knew it would upset him. Similarly, his genetic mother, Jane, is the only one of her session who doesn't know that two of her other players live 4 centuries in the future and that one of them is her genetic daughter's pen-pal who is ensuring their very existence. Naturally, things get very confusing for her.
  • Everyone except for the main characters in L's Empire seem to know the significance of Beware the night of five lights. Since Dark Star is a god, he's able to know anything that has happened on screen. If the main characters found out, he would find out.
  • Off-White: Iki doesn't know he's a white spirit. Raigho started to tell him, but was interrupted.
  • Trevor (2020): When the new members of the medical team were brought onto the project, they were not told what the true scope of it was, or what they were really doing. Dr. Maddison tried to tell them with secret messages, but Enid caught wind of his plan, and intercepted them, so the others stayed none-the-wiser.

    Web Original 
  • In Funny Business the protagonist's parents are forbidden to know about her powers.
  • The first Wham Episode shared by all incarnations of Noob reveals that Fantöm had been cheating for several years without knowing it.
  • In Pact, both of the main characters Blake and Rose are unaware of their true natures, namely that They are two halves of an original person, who was split into two by a demon who was possibly contracted by their grandmother in order to create an "ideal" heir and a shield for that heir. Rose later discovers this but keeps trying to keep Blake out of the loop because they are prophesied to destroy each other and she fears letting him know could accelerate that process. Unsurprisingly, when Blake finally discovers this it only feeds his sense of betrayal and appears to be leading to the very confrontation she was trying to avoid.
  • In These days, Ayane makes it a point to not let Rea know about her or that she's an anomaly, claiming dangerous consequences should she ever find out.
  • In Worm, Crucible, a new member of the Brockton Bay Wards, is completely unaware of the circumstances of Cauldron's presence in the PRT and Protectorate due to having joined after the events of Echidna. His teammates regularly bait him about this.
    Crucible: Again with the Echidna thing. Can't you tell—
    Clockblocker, Kid Win, and Vista [in chorus, with Kid Win not even looking up]: Classified.
    Crucible: Fuck you guys.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!:
    • In "Haylias", Stan believed that Project Daycare, which he put Hayley in, was discontinued because the subjects lost their free will permanently after seven days of activation. It isn't until after he activates Hayley and misses the deadline that he discovers from Bullock that the project was actually discontinued because the subjects turned on their handlers and killed them after seven days.
    • Another example occurs in "Chimdale", wherein Stan is revealed to be bald and wears a wig to hide. At the end of the episode, it's revealed that the family knew all along, with the exception of Steve, who has been trying to expose Stan's baldness. According to Roger, they never told him because they believed he might overreact.
  • Jake's father in American Dragon: Jake Long is a normal human who unwittingly married into a family of dragons (though the ability to turn did conveniently skip his wife's generation). Throughout the series, everyone else in his family goes out of their way to not let him realize the magical goings on around him. Jake at one point gets so fed about having to keep it a secret from his father that he goes back in time in an attempt to tell him before he ever married his mom. It didn't go well. He does eventually find out and is accepting of it in Grand Finale. Trixie and Spud were as well, for the first few episodes.
  • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the Earth King Kuei is being kept in the dark by his "cultural authority" the Dai Li as to the fact that there's been a hundred-year war between the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. The Dai Li is mostly engaging in this to maintain power and to "prevent chaos." They also maintain an oppressive control over the city itself; people who disrupt the city or talk about the war are either terrified into silence or hauled off for "reeducation" into Dai Li sleeper agents.
  • In the Futurama episode "Parasites Lost", the crew has to make sure Fry doesn't know their plans to rid him of the worms. If he finds out, the worms will know too and can mount a defense.
  • In Macbeth's first appearance in Gargoyles, he set his entire plan to capture the Manhattan clan into motion with the assumption that Demona was still with the clan in order to lure her out of hiding. When Macbeth finds out the clan and her had a falling out and she left them, he is furious.
  • Gravity Falls: After Stanford Pines, the Author of the Journals is brought back, he obtains a piece of the inter dimensional rift that was created when he returned. If it falls into the hands of the Big Bad, it would cause the end of the world. Unfortunately, due to his Fatal Flaw of trust issues, he tells nobody save for Dipper, and he tells him to keep it secret from everyone, including Mabel and Stanley. This ends badly when Mabel gives it to a disguised Bill, not knowing what it was until it was too late.
  • King of the Hill:
    • It's essentially an open secret that Joseph Gribble is the product of his mother Nancy having an affair with John Redcorn. The only people not aware are Joseph himself and his "father" Dale. The episode revealing this showed that Peggy Hill didn't know either, but Hank never told her because he figured it was so blatantly obvious he didn't have to say anything. Nobody tells them because it would destroy the Gribble family. Notably, later on in the series Dale comes to the conclusion that aliens impregnated Nancy...with his own sperm, in order to produce a race of super-warriors. Hank decides to let him believe this. In another episode Dale tells Hank that Bill's girlfriend's daughter shares DNA with his son...and just as Hank thinks he's figured out the truth, Dale concludes that the girl is also his artificially-inseminated child. Other episodes present it as being a case of Dale simply being in deep denial (and a fan theory has it that Dale knew all along but acted clueless about it so he could torment Redcorn by bonding with Joseph and subtly rubbing it in his face).
    • This is also the case involving the one-episode character, Hoyt Platter, Luanne's father and Peggy's older brother. Luanne was told that her father works at an oil rig when actually been in prison the whole time. This even surprised the others too when he was released. Hoyt ends up committing another felony and sentenced for life under the "three strikes law". Luanne never knows the truth of her father being a disgraced convict which Lucky covers it up saying he is back at the oil rig, preserving her image.
  • Happens in The Legend of Korra to the titular character, who always got upset that the Order of the White Lotus kept her at the training compound, but was kept in the dark from the fact that the Red Lotus tried to kidnap her at a young age. The only people outside of the White Lotus who knew were Tenzin, her father Tonraq, Lord Zuko, Lin Beifong, and even her Evil Uncle Unalaq.
  • In The Lion Guard, Kion and the guard are unaware of Zira’s death and Kovu and Kiara’s marriage because they were away at the Tree of Life. They came home as soon as they were alerted to Zira’s attack, but didn’t get filled in on the rest until they ran into Vitani and some of her friends calling themselves a Lion Guard. Kiara has to break up the fight so everything can be filled in for them.
  • In the Men in Black: The Series episode "The Out to Pasture Syndrome", Zed decides to retire and puts K in charge of MIB. When Alpha returns more powerful than ever, he captures J and uses a Mind Probe to discover Zed's location. After he leaves, Agent L rescues J and reveals Zed had not retired: every last one of J's fellow agents (and Frank the Pug) had been in on a scheme to capture Alpha, J being kept in the dark so that Alpha's probe wouldn't learn the truth. Unfortunately, J was confused as to why Zed's eyes didn't glaze over when he was neuralized, and Alpha picked up on that.
  • Ready Jet Go!: No one besides Sean, Sydney, Mindy, and possibly Mitchell knows that the Propulsions are aliens.
  • The Simpsons: In "The Great Money Caper" the entire town sets up a hoax on Homer and Bart to teach them not to con people, by creating a trick where Groundskeeper Willie is apprehended and found guilty for stealing Homer's car. The only person not in on the hoax? Willie himself, presumably to make his behavior more realistic.
  • South Park: In "The South ParQ Vaccination Special", Stan, Kyle, and Cartman realize the COVID-19 Pandemic had torn their friendship apart, but they don't want Kenny to notice, so they distract him while they work out a weekly schedule in which they take turns hanging out with Kenny alone. Naturally, Kenny is confused at the end of the special when they put their schedule into effect, with Stan and Kyle going their separate ways and leaving Cartman to stay with Kenny for the weekend.
  • Star Trek: Prodigy: The entire crew of the Protostar suffer from this. Thanks to largely being enslaved miners in the Delta Quadrant, when they stumble across the Protostar they have no clue what it is, or what Starfleet or the United Federation of Planets are; it's up to a holographic copy of Captain Janeway to fill them in (initially they lie and tell her they're cadets, but ultimately the truth comes out; holo-Janeway isn't mad, however). This is intentional — the show is designed to introduce the basics of Star Trek to a younger audience who may not be familiar and therefore the crew serve as an Audience Surrogate.
  • In the penultimate episode of Static Shock, after he's kidnapped by a Villain of the Week Virgil's father puts two and two together and realizes Static's Secret Identity, giving him his blessing to continue his hero work upon being rescued. However, the two decide to hold off on telling his sister Sharon when she goes off on a rant about Bang Babies after having her car destroyed during the kidnapping and she's still none the wiser by the Grand Finale.
  • Star Wars Rebels:
    • In the first season, Hera keeps the rest of the crew in the dark about the existence of other rebel cells and the wider Rebellion as a security precaution in case any of them get captured. As the Ace Pilot, she's the one least likely to be in a direct combat situation, and thus the least likely to be captured.
    • At the end of "Through Imperial Eyes", Thrawn and Yularen know that Agent Kallus is the traitor in the Imperial ranks. However, they choose to keep the rest of the Imperial officers in the dark so that Thrawn can Feed the Mole, necessitating letting Kallus' framing of Lieutenant Lyste stand.
  • Star Wars Resistance: For most of the first season, mechanics Tam and Neeku don't know that their new co-worker, Kaz, is actually a spy for the Resistance, and that their boss Yeager hired him for his cover on the request of Poe Dameron. One of the reasons Tam is left locked out is because she has a massive case of Genre Blindness regarding the First Order, brushing off attempts by others to warn her about their true nature. When Kaz and Yeager's Resistance connections are revealed in "Descent", Tam takes the fact that she was lied to very badly, leading to her siding with the First Order on the naïve assumption that she'll be able to prove her innocence and they'll leave her alone. This naturally doesn't work out the way she thought it would.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars: In one arc, the Jedi Council hatch an elaborate plot to infiltrate an assassination plot against Palpatine, by having Obi-Wan fake his death at the hands of criminal Rako Hardeen, and then going undercover as Hardeen to get close to the plot's ringleader, Moralo Eval. Anakin and Ahsoka aren't told about the plot in advance, as their reactions to Obi-Wan's "death" need to be genuine, but they aren't told about it once it's underway, either. By the time Yoda realizes this was a mistake, Anakin (with a little prodding from Palpatine) is already on his way to Nal Hutta to get his revenge on "Hardeen" and is very pissed off to learn the truth.
  • Vampirina: Most humans in the series are unaware that Vee and her parents are monsters, except her girlfriends Poppy and Bridget, because they are keeping their identities a secret to try and act more like humans so they don't scare them, as people tend to get nervous or spooked around things they've never seen before. The one that is a big example of this is Edgar, who runs his own vlog "Weekly Weirdness" and is determined to find out of supernatural creatures live among them. He eventually finds out in the Season 2 finale "Ghoul Guides Save The Day".
  • The Venture Brothers
    • Through the first four seasons, Hank and Dean didn't know they were clones. Dean finds out in the interlude Halloween episode between Seasons 4 and 5, but chooses not to tell Hank.
    • Rusty visits a Greek island as part of a vacation for a festival known as "Spanakopita". When Sgt. Hatred starts getting suspicious Brock tells him to drop it. It's later revealed that Spanakopita is an elaborate scam created by the locals as a way to fleece money off of Rusty and everyone deliberately keeps up the charade around him since aside from being the island's main source of income it's also the only time of the year he's truly happy.
  • Winx Club: In the first season, Bloom does not know she is the princess of a dead planet, and the guardian of a special power called the Dragon Fire, having lost her memory upon being sent to earth as a baby. That is, until the Trix, who do know, take it away from her.
  • This really backfired early on in W.I.T.C.H.. Like in the source comic, the girls learn that Elyon's a princess and that her brother, Big Bad Prince Phobos, is looking for her. Cornelia's all for letting her know right away, but Will isn't so sure of doing so. As a result, when Phobos and Cedric find her, they tell her a twisted version of the truth, causing Elyon to join them instead. Corny isn't too happy with that.
  • WordGirl: The only one who knows of Becky Botsford's identity as WordGirl is her sidekick Captain Huggyface. Matter of fact, it's so secret that even her adoptive family doesn't know her identity.
  • In one episode of Yin Yang Yo!, When Master Yo has to retrieve a powerful weapon, he keeps it a secret from Yin and Yang and pretends that he's taking them to an amusement park so that the Night Master would follow them and be thrown off the trail. At the end of the adventure, when the two correctly guess that Yo used them as bait, he offers them a dollar bill to not tell anyone he deliberately endangered children.

    Real Life 
  • Adopted children sometimes don't know they were adopted until they become adults. Sometimes, they never find out.
  • In the first half of the 20th century, quite a few U.S. doctors considered it merciful to tell a terminally-ill patient that they were sure to recover soon, but clue in the family to the real state of affairs. This happened to Richard Feynman's first wife, who died while he was busy building the first atomic bomb. And after Rudolph Valentino's perforated ulcer had deteriorated into peritonitis and pleuritis — massive, runaway infection of his guts and his lungs, that is — the doctors figured out he was going to die. They didn't tell him. Just hours before his death on August 23, 1926, Valentino was conscious and lucid, and talking about going home.
  • Even today, many doctors believe it is best to keep a woman from knowing if something is wrong with her unborn child — as stress increases the likelihood of something going wrong with unborn children.
  • Pakistan was locked out of the loop while the US conducted an operation to kill Osama bin Laden. The operation succeeded in 40 minutes, and Pakistan was only informed a couple hours later. This has been happening on a more general basis in US-Pakistan relations, for the simple reason that things the US told them kept getting leaked. The recent revelation that elements of the Pakistani intelligence service were actively helping Osama bin Laden to hide in Pakistan only highlights why this type of thing is sometimes done.
  • Intelligence agencies that normally cooperate (such as the American and British agencies) will start keeping things closer to their chests if they think their ally has a mole or a leak.
  • In politics, aides, advisors, and operatives often take actions without telling their boss — precisely so that if the situation does blow up in their faces, they can (truthfully) claim that they'd acted alone and their boss didn't know. This is called "plausible deniability". (The word is often misused to refer to a politician who did know but pretends not to.) Can also lead to politicians not monitoring certain of their aides, advisors, and operatives too closely so that if they are doing anything improper and keeping it from them, they won't accidentally find out.
  • One can easily argue every wartime American President has done it, but Richard Nixon was especially notorious for this kind of activity. Under the smoke and mirrors of withdrawing 150,000 American troops from the frontlines during the Vietnam War, Nixon secretly expanded the conflict into neighboring Cambodia. Not just the government of Vietnam; but Congress and the Supreme Court were unaware and/or lied to about the invasion for at least FOUR YEARS until the full truth was revealed (and some information is still classified to this day). Nixon knowingly suppressed knowledge and ruined the career of several officers questioning the legality of it, because the overall action was a severe abuse of Presidential authority. The only reason Nixon wasn't impeached for the affair? The Watergate trials were also occurring and he was already being impeached for that. It was a major contributing factor for Nixon's resignation, given that even if he survived Watergate, there was another case of underhanded activity Congress could (and would) throw at him.
  • The United States Vice Presidency was considered an unimportant office for most of its existence, and the VP was often not privy to secret government projects or information of what the government was up to. This kind of bit the US government in the rear when Harry S. Truman succeeded Franklin D. Roosevelt as president when the latter died — right at the tail end of World War II. He didn't even know the US had a nuclear bomb project.
    • Immediately after the JFK assassination, security agents surrounded Lyndon Johnson and rushed him to a secret room in the hospital, fearing that someone might attempt to kill him too. The effect of this was that virtually every member of the presidential staff in Dallas knew that JFK was dead, and thus that Johnson was now President, before Johnson himself did.
  • This is the entire concept of Need To Know access. It's not enough that you have the clearance to access classified information — if it's not necessary to know it to perform your duties, you don't get to look at it. (The clearance just means that if the time comes where that information would be relevant, you're already cleared to have access to it, rather than having to go through an added process to get it or being barred entirely.)
  • Domestic abusers can do this, telling their victims something but selectively omitting critical details, leading the victim to screw up and "justify" the resultant abuse. Example: A man calls his wife and leaves a message to tell her they'll be going out for dinner that evening. Based upon their past history, she understands that this means they will be going to a casual dining restaurant, and dresses appropriately. What the husband failed to mention was that this dinner is at a very up-scale establishment, and it is with a very important person who is expected to significantly impact the husband's career. He comes home from work to pick up his wife, with no time to spare, only to find that she is grossly underdressed for the occasion. Abuse follows, in which he berates her and accuses her of intentionally trying to sabotage his career, and brushes off her legitimate defense as a lame excuse and an attempt to fix the blame on him.
  • Many North Koreans who fled their country were shocked to learn that other nations are far better in every way than their communist paradise. Even more shocking to them is that all humans are granted basic rights and freedom, something that was forbidden in their country.
  • On the morning of June 6, 2023, the PGA Tour was engaged in legal proceedings against the upstart LIV tour, which had faced much negative press over their owners being wealthy Saudi Arabians, as the country has come under fire as of late for their attitude towards money being the key to solving any problem and the human rights violations of the Saudi government. Then came the announcement that the PGA Tour and LIV were to merge. Absolutely nobody saw this coming, as it had been negotiated in secret by the higher-ups of both tours (and it's heavily suspected the Saudis simply bribed the PGA bigwigs with even more cash to make this happen). And by that we don't just mean the general public — the people working at both companies (including the lawyers working against each other), their broadcasting partners (like CBS), and even the golfers themselves were completely unaware this was going to happen until the news dropped. Currently, the fate of the deal is unclear as US and other governmental bodies are looking into preventing the merger on anti-trust grounds.


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Gretel's best friend somehow treats her superhero side as a separate entity with the same name.

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