Follow TV Tropes


Locked Out of the Loop

Go To

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.

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.

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.


    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 
  • 7 Seeds has the majority of the members chosen for the 7 Seeds Project not be told that they were going to be cryogenically frozen to survive an apocalypse and awaken some time in the future in an unknown world and surive. Subverted with the guides who were told about the project and given a choice to take part or refuse. Further subverted by Karita, who admits that his parents broke down and revealed his participation before it happened, and Hibari whose grandmother told her to "do her best in the future", though Hibari didn't know she meant it literally. And while Hana was just as clueless about the project and her participation in it, she was further locked out of the loop by not being told about her parents' relation and influence on the entire thing.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya:
    • There's an alien, a time-traveller, an esper, and Kyon trying to prevent the titular character from realizing that she's omnipotent, in fear of what she'd do with the power. True, she does, after Character Development at least, soften up into being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, but, well, that still leaves her A: as at least a part-time Jerkass and B: she doesn't tend to think before acting. Yeah, even being Locked Out of the Loop doesn't prevent her from using her Reality Warper powers, but at least it's unconscious and relatively minute in scope while she's oblivious — if she knew she could recreate reality at will, she could exhibit much more drastic manifestations of her power.
    • They also must keep it a secret that they are an alien, a time-traveler and an esper because they fear if she had proof they existed, she would subconsciously create more of them, or even stranger beings, or who knows what else might seem "fun" to her.
    • In fact, the idea that Haruhi is God incarnate is just what they think Haruhi's secret is. Or rather, it's what Kyon and most of the readers think, thanks to Itsuki "Completely Trustworthy" Koizumi. Yuki and Mikuru's factions have their own theories. They're all keeping watch on her because none of them are entirely sure what she is or what she's capable of, but they're all pretty confident that letting her find out about and/or overuse her powers would be very dangerous.
    • As early as the second book, Kyon goes against the advice of the others and directly tells Haruhi everything that has happened up to that point. She yells at him to stop messing with her and he never attempts this again.
  • Naruto:
    • There's the entire adult population of the village concealing the fact that the eponymous main character had the nine-tailed demon fox that nearly destroyed the village sealed inside him, so he could live a 'normal' life. It didn't work. He just thought they hated him for no good reason instead (and to be honest, even that is not a good reason to hate him either). Although it did work with the children of the village (which was probably the Third's intention). While Naruto was never very popular, his peers lack the naked fear of him you see from the kids Gaara tried to befriend in his flashbacks.
    • Another loop they tried to keep Naruto out of was the fact that Tobi/Madara and Kabuto decided to declare a fourth world war. Justified in that they kept it from him to protect him, as Tobi's goal was to capture the Hachibi and Kyubi. Everybody figured that if he was aware of the war, he'd rush to the front lines to fight Tobi. Guess what Naruto does when he does find out about the war.
    • Naruto gets this a lot. Several important figures didn't tell him that his father was the Fourth Hokage, and his mother was the previous jinchuuriki, information that would have come in handy earlier than when it was actually revealed.
    • Ignorance runs in the family as the newly revived Minato knows nothing of Orochimaru's attack on the village, the conflicts between the Uchiha and the Senju, or that his student, Obito, was the one who used the Kyuubi to attack Konoha and cause the death of himself and his wife. Though he has been dead or not even born for most of these revelations. As for Obito, Minato, understandably, thought he was dead.
    • In the Shippuden movie Blood Prison, Naruto is locked out of the loop about the mission he was assigned to without his knowledge until AFTER the mission was concluded. Which means he was seemingly abandoned by everyone close to him, locked into a prison, and suffered both physical and emotional torture without knowing WHY.
  • Machiya from DEAD Tube is played like a fool by the Film Research Club, he once believed they were all good friends of his, tight knit for their common hobby; turns out they were all DEAD Tube regulars, murder loving psychos, and had sex orgies behind his back just to add salt to the injury, all resulting in a mass string of Broken Pedestals and Machiya facilitating all of their deaths by Mashiro’s hand.
  • Misaki from Kidou Tenshi Angelic Layer is locked out of the loop about her mother's real whereabouts until the very end of the story. This is a spoiler for the manga, but is revealed early on in the anime.
  • Nikora in Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch wants to keep Lucia Locked Out of the Loop about many things — her lineage, Saving the World, her boyfriend's disappearance — but it never seems to work out. Also, it appears that the entire mermaid world is being misled so that they don't interact with humans, thinking that they'll turn into foam.
  • Everybody in The Bride of the Water God knows that Habaek is only a child during the day and regains his handsome adult form at night... except for Soah, Habaek's wife, who is in love with the adult Habaek but thinks he is a completely different person named Mui.
  • Blood+: Both Haji and David adamantly refuse to tell the amnesiac Saya anything about her past, insisting she has to remember on her own. Unfortunately, this results in them forcing Saya into horrific bloodshed and several Break the Cutie moments without even knowing why.
  • Lillia of Allison & Lillia is a shining example: she is the only member of the main cast unaware that her childhood friend Treize is a bona-fide Prince, and that her dead father is still alive under an assumed identity, and a spy... oh, and dating her mother. Considering the fact that both of these things make her a potential assassination/kidnapping target, you'd think someone would be nice enough to clue her in, but instead, they actively keep this information from her.
    • It takes a villain forcing him at gunpoint to finally make Treize reveal his true identity to her. Later he comments that he would have preferred it if she had never found out… even though their relationship was already becoming increasingly serious by that point. She forgives him, but it still seems like a very disrespectful way to treat the one you love.
  • In Tsukuyomi: Moon Phase, male lead Kouhei (and the audience) is led to believe that his immunity to ghost attacks and his inability to see them at all was because he was "Spiritually retarded" and possessed no spiritual powers unlike his immediate family. It is eventually revealed that he is, in fact, an incredibly powerful psychic whose abilities were sealed for his own protection when he was a baby, at least partly by telling him repeatedly that he had no powers. Even in this sealed state, however, he was powerful enough to banish evil spirits by denying they were even there.
  • YuYu Hakusho:
    • Botan, Yusuke, Kurama, and Koenma (and in the anime, Shizuru) know that Yukina is Hiei's sister. Whether or not Yukina has figured it out is left as an exercise for the audience (she calls Hiei "brother" at one point, then backtracks and says she would like her brother to be like him), but Kuwabara definitely doesn't and Hiei will probably kill you if you change that.
    • Kuwabara thinks this is in play when he's the only one who doesn't realize Genkai was dead until he fights Elder Toguro in the Dark Tournament finals, and believes that he was left out because they think he would be scared off if he learned the truth. Kurama tells him that Yusuke didn't tell anyone else, and Yusuke says that he merely couldn't bring himself to say it and admit that it was true.
  • Bleach:
    • Tatsuki has just enough spiritual awareness to know that something's going on, just not what. Does she ever get pissed when Ichigo refuses to tell her. He doesn't come clean to his friends until after the Arrancar arc.
    • Byakuya ordered everyone in his estate not tell to Rukia the real reason why she was adopted into the Kuchiki family. Rukia thought it was because she resembled Hisana, Byakuya's dead wife, but it was actually Hisana's dying wish for her husband to adopt the younger sister she had abandoned in the Rukongai.
    • Souken knows why Ryuuken has rejected the Quincy Clan and even his own powers, and accepts that decision though it pains him greatly. Neither Souken nor Ryuuken, however, will explain this to Uryuu, which has resulted in nine years of nasty estrangement between Ryuuken and Uryuu. Souken does strongly imply, however, that Ryuuken is in some way trying to protect his son. Uryuu is about the only person on Earth to whom this is not immediately obvious.
    • Ichigo's group isn't told that Aizen is after Orihime's powers and that Soul Society is worried about Aizen's plans for Orihime powers. Instead, Urahara forces Orihime off the front line which leads to her being kidnapped when everyone else is distracted by fighting and Ichigo's group charging off to rescue her, which puts a spanner in Yamamoto's plans for dealing with Aizen.
    • Zennosuke replaces Rukia as Karakura Town's Shinigami guardian, but isn't told anything about there being a Substitute Shinigami in the town. As a result, he has no idea who Ichigo is. Later on, the policy changes; when he is replaced by Shino and Yuki, his replacements are told about Ichigo's existence but are ordered to never contact him or rely on him.
    • During the Fake Karakura Town battle, Omaeda was unaware of the plan to protect the four pillars. The others believe it's because he was simply being too lazy to pay attention. It's actually because his captain completely forgot to tell him the plan. As a result, he also doesn't realise the captains entered battle without Power Limiters until his captain is struggling with her opponents.
    • Ichigo didn't know his family heritage for years, even though all the villains that have fought him knew. He only learns Isshin is a Shinigami when he's fifteen, and only because Isshin has to intervene before Aizen reveals something else about his heritage that Ichigo doesn't know. That is a surprise left for Yhwach to spring on Ichigo when he's seventeen. His mother was a Quincy victim of Aizen's Hollowfication experiments and her death is connected to the death of Uryuu's mother.
  • Major plot point in the first arc of Higurashi: When They Cry. Keiichi's friends don't tell him crap, so he gets paranoid and bludgeons them to death. They just didn't think it was much of a deal to tell him... and holy crap they were wrong.
  • Guld in Macross Plus, who sexually assaulted his friend Myung but due to trauma and drugs used to suppress his aggressive Zentradi nature he's forgotten most of it, other then the image of his friend Isamu with the partially disrobed and crying girl... so he thinks that Isamu was the rapist. Not exactly made better by how the also emotionally broken Isamu and Myung actually decided to not tell him anything about it.
  • The second season of Code Geass opens with Lelouch suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia and an entire government surveillance team camped out at his school to keep it that way. Predictably, that doesn't last long.
    • Emperor Charles Di Britannia didn't told Lelouch why his mother, Marianne, got killed and instead send him and Nunnally to Japan which his empire invaded later on. And it turns out that he did it to protect them from his brother, V.V., who killed Marianne out of pure jealousy and Marianne turned out to be alive as she resides in Anya's body for a long time so she and her husband can continue their plan to "destroy the gods". When Lelouch learned about this, he wasn't pleased about this and called them out for being selfish.
    • This also worked with the Zero Requiem which is Lelouch's Thanatos Gambit to unite the whole world by becoming Necessarily Evil and had Suzaku to kill him as Zero. The only people who knew the true extent of the plan are C.C., Lloyd, Cecile, Nina and Jeremiah. When Suzaku killed Lelouch, Kallen and Nunally eventually realize what he had done much to their grief.
  • Minato Sahashi of Sekirei remains Locked Out on two very significant pieces of information.
    • Minato is a Heroic Bastard, and raised by a domineering mother that refuses to talk about his father. Almost every single other character in the series seems to be aware of the obvious, which is that Big Bad Minaka Hiroto is his biological father. Even his younger sister and several of his enemies are aware of this fact, but no one seems interested in letting him in on the secret. The subject is often avoided or ignored, and an omake reveals that he once attempted to ask his mother to Tell Me About My Father. She strictly forbid any discussions of his father in the Sahashi household from that day forth, and he simply accepts that his father is "dead or something", completely unconcerned about learning more. Not even Kazehana mentioning in a wistful fashion how much he looks like his father is enough to make him curious, even when she admits to the identity of the man that broke her heart.
    • Miya, his terrifying landlady, is very strict about keeping under wraps the fact that she is Sekirei #01, and hinted to be a goddess. Almost every single one of her other tenants, including half of his harem, are aware of this fact; they've simply been threatened into silence, and work very hard to keep Minato from learning the secret. Miya even jokingly (we hope) threatens to kick him out if he ever learns her secret. This turns out to be an empty threat, as he takes learning her secret in stride and remains respectful of her neutrality in the Sekirei Plan. She becomes a vital source of information, and remains a trusted mentor to the group.
  • Renton suffers a lot from this in the first season of Eureka Seven. Since he's technically a full member of Gekkostate, he ends up getting involved in a lot of missions without being informed as to what exactly is going on... and then the others (particularly Holland) actually blame him when he messes things up.
  • Shinji Ikari, the main character in Neon Genesis Evangelion, is for the most part very unaware of the shady going-ons behind the scenes of Nerv, even though he has a very important post inside the organization as a Humongous Mecha pilot. His friend, Kensuke, is quite shocked to learn this fact, as he finds out that Shinji can neither confirm or refute any of the rumors he hears through his own sources in the organisation, as Shinji honestly knows next to nothing. It all comes to a head as Misato Katsuragi decides it wouldn't be a good idea to tell Shinji that the fourth child is Toji, his best friend. When she does try to tell him, her message gets cut off just at the last moment. He ends up finding out in the worst possible way: he sees the heavy injured Toji in the remains of the Eva 3 plug which Shinji had just been forced to crush with his own (Eva's) hands.
  • In Elemental Gelade, Coud was informed that Edel Garden, the place Ren was planning to head to, was a very dangerous place and warned never to bring her there at the end of vol 8. Coud decided to go ahead anyway without telling Ren.
  • In Great Teacher Onizuka, Onizuka was informed by the hospital doctor that he would really die if his head suffered any further serious blow. He ended up not telling anyone about it in order not to cause any worry, but some students found out anyway through the doctor.
  • Due to Mustang's plan to smuggle an accused Maria Ross to Xing in Fullmetal Alchemist, her partner Denny Brosh wasn't told of her true fate until late in the final arc (though for good reason, as he couldn't lie to save his life). Her parents were also excluded on her request. And in a more minor example, Mrs. Bradley never had a clue that her husband and son were Homunculi until after the final battle.
  • Soul Eater has a couple. The existence of the Kishin to everyone who isn't Shinigami or Asura himself. Everyone else gets a watered down version they can deal with - Spirit's early version of the meister who gave normal souls to his Weapon fits neatly as a warning tale to students to follow the rules and be brave. The Death Scythes get their initial instructions on the basis of Asura being a potentially dangerous monster in hiding. The truth, for the moment, appears to be a good deal more complicated and deranged. Kid gets a personal lockout regarding his origins, as until the very end of the series only Shinigami (and possibly the teachers, but definitely Spirit) know what Kid is, and what Shinigami intends for Kid to do.
  • Kozue, from Mahoraba. Every single person at Narutakisou knows about her disease. Except for her.
  • In Romeo X Juliet, the Capulet sympathisers keeps Juliet's true identity as the last heir to the throne a secret from her until her sixteenth birthday. Considering that the story is based off a tragedy, this turns out to be a horrible, horrible idea.
  • In Tiger & Bunny, Kotetsu's daughter Kaede is the only member of his family that's unaware that he's a superhero. Word of God says it's an attempt on his part to protect and not worry her. While the secretiveness is a Fatal Flaw on his part, he might have something of a point as the very first thing that Kaede does after discovering her father is Wild Tiger is run off to Sternbild alone to try to save him.
  • The sisters in Magikano are quite persistent in making sure Haruo doesn't use any magic or realize they're witches.
  • Hitomi Shizuki from Puella Magi Madoka Magica is never told that her best friends Sayaka and Madoka, as well as their classmate Homura and their sempai Mami, are involved in the whole Magical Girl stuff. This bites Sayaka in the ass later.
  • The eponymous Magic Knights of Magic Knight Rayearth are greeted by Guru Clef, the only person besides the Pillar who knows all there is to know about the job. Depending on the translation, he gives them and Presea a technical truth about fulfilling Emeraude's wish or a Motivational Lie about restoring her rule. The true "legend of the Magic Knights" is that Emeraude summoned them to kill her, fearing that her love for Zagato would destroy Cephiro since it distracts her perpetually from her Pillar duties, which she cannot resign from unless it's through death. A triple Heroic B.S.O.D. ensues when this is revealed and the girls are forced to kill Emeraude.
  • When Coach Munakata dies in Aim for the Ace!, nobody tells his star pupil/love interest Hiromi because she and the team are in a tournament in the USA, and they don't want her to lose. (Not to mention Todou lost in said tournament because he learned about it and fell in an Heroic B.S.O.D..) She only finds out when she goes back home, and predictably she almost crosses the Despair Event Horizon.
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
    • After discovering that Avdol is still alive in Part 3, Stardust Crusaders, Polnareff excitedly rushes off to tell his comrades the good news... only to discover that all of them knew this and just decided not to tell him because he sucks at keeping secrets.
    • Despite having a personal connection to both Dio Brando in particular and the Joestar lineage in general, Giorno Giovana of Part 5, Vento Aureo, is never informed of their history or his links to them. It ends up not being relevant to his own goals, in any case.
    • Jolyne Kujo of Part 6, Stone Ocean, had no knowledge of Stands or anything else her family's been involved in because her father, Jotaro, remained aloof from her and her mother in an attempt to keep Jolyne away from all that.
  • In A Certain Magical Index and its sister show A Certain Scientific Railgun, the heroes often leave their loved ones in the dark about their adventures despite working and fighting side by side with them in others. In addition, hardly anybody in Academy City knows that magic exists. Whenever anybody on the Science side sees magic, they just assume it's some weird esper power. Even when the magician chants a spell and the Instant Runes start popping up.
  • It happens in a dark yet oddly amusing way in Mobile Suit Gundam AGE. When one of the Vegan pilots psychic abilities goes out of control she starts causing massive feedback to all other psychics present as well as takes control of their mecha and makes them all start attacking each other, both her friends and foes. In between cuts of the psychic pilots groaning and yelling at her to stop, we see cuts of Asemu, the only guy there who doesn't have psychic abilities so is unaffected by all this, who has no idea what the hell is going on.
  • In Attack on Titan during the 57th expedition beyond the wall, the Survey Corps run into many problems once the Female Titan shows up. After it's captured, Eren and a few others discussed what happened and he realized that even some of the veteran troops were unaware of the plan to capture her. However, this was because the plan was made due to the high possibility that there was a spy within their ranks. This also explained why different groups were told different things before they headed out, such as where Eren was in the formation so it could be narrowed down who was leaking information.
    • It's also the cause of the higher-than-usual death toll of the expedition as all the soldiers thought they were fighting a normal titan. If they had known, as Erwin had, that it was an intelligent titan they would have used significantly different tactics.
  • In the final episode of the 3rd Tenchi Muyo! OVA, we come to find out that Tenchi's own mother imposed this one him concerning her passing, deciding to use her death as a massive joke. When Katsuhito and Noboyuki went through with it, Tenchi was more than a little pissed. To be fair, though, a lot of Tenchi's heritage was this to him.
  • Blue Exorcist: Rin finds out early in the series that he is actually the son of Satan, a secret his adoptive father kept from him his whole life. Rin briefly worried about having to keep it a secret from his twin brother Yukio, only to find out that he had already known the secret since he was very young.
  • In Gourmet Girl Graffiti, apparently Kirin told everyone but Ryou she was moving in with her in episode 12. The latter is quite surprised when many of the characters start showing up to help with the move. In her defense, Kirin swears she did tell Ryou about it. As for Akira, she also forgot due to looking for the present from Ryou's grandmother to give her on her graduation day.
  • Dragon Ball
    • Throughout his childhood and some of his adult life, Goku had no clue that he transformed into a giant ape during a full moon, which caused the death of his grandfather. He doesn't learn the truth until he fights Vegeta and sees him transform and he's not happy with his friends for locking him out.
    • Frieza and his men still have no clue who Future Trunks is even by the time of Resurrection 'F'. When they arrived on Earth, they think he's either dead or retired to some backwater planet since they can't find him anywhere. In the retelling in Dragon Ball Super, Frieza meets present Trunks, but fails to realize that this Trunks isn't the same one who killed him and doesn't understand why he's a child.
    • Future Trunks himself gets a fair bit of this during Super, including not knowing that Goku had came back to life, that Android 18 and Krillin got married, that Gohan had become a scholar and mostly retired from fighting, or who Beerus was. Present Trunks also never learned about his Future version until he returned, and initially thought that Future Trunks was his long-lost brother.
      Future Trunks: I'm so lost.
  • Detective Conan:
    • Very few know that first grader Conan Edogawa is really teen detective Shinichi Kudo changed into a child. Conan worries about others, especially his Love Interest Ran, finding out since that knowledge might put them in the crosshairs of the Organization responsible for his condition, should they discover he's not as dead as they've assumed.
    • Ironically locking Ran out of the loop has locked Conan out of the loop about some of the things that Ran has noticed, remembered, or experienced that are plot relevant. Since Conan tries his darndest to keep Ran away from the trouble he gets himself into and Ran doesn't know that he might want to know certain things, they cannot pool their information. Thus there are realizations that take much longer to come to light than they probably otherwise would. A particularly egregious example is the fact that Ran has, in fact, directly clashed with Conan's enemies. Over 500 chapters later and Conan still has no idea that one of the things he most fears happening already once occurred ages ago, because as far as Ran knows, she has no reason to tell him about it. If not for the fact that Vermouth just happens to have soft spots for Ran and Conan because they unknowingly saved her life a year ago, Ran might not have survived that encounter.
    • Despite sharing the same regressed situation as himself, Conan frequently keeps Ai Haibara out of the loop regarding his investigation into the Organization unless she's directly involved. This is partly for safely, since for much of the series the Organization is actively hunting Haibara but are unaware she's shrunk. This has worked both for and against Conan. It once caused Haibara to intervene in one of Conan's plans at the worst possible moment. Later, keeping her ignorant allowed for a Batman Gambit that resulted in successfully Faking the Dead on her behalf. She was indignant about that incident, but otherwise is content to warn Conan about the danger of what he's getting into.
    • Ai herself has a habit of withholding certain information from Conan, which was made evident when it turned out that something Conan had been looking into was something Ai had known all along but deliberately hadn't told him. Ai tends to do this when she believes Conan knowing will lead him to do something reckless or dangerous, or otherwise will put any of their friends at risk. While Ai's paranoia is understandable, this leads to a lot of stalled leads and frustrations for Conan's investigation into the Organization, particularly since he eventually finds a way to learn what he wants somewhere along the line.
  • X1999: Princess Hinoto withhold information from Kamui that Fuuma is the other twin star who will be on the opposing side depending on which side Kamui choose and whoever is the Kamui of the Dragons of Earth, he will kill Kotori. As expected, these ended up true when Kamui was forced to watch Fuuma kill his own sister
  • Hayate was the only one unaware of the Wolkenritter's activities up until episode 9 of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's. She wasn't really bothered by it when she found out, mainly due the the fact that she had more important things to worry about at the time.
  • In Amagi Brilliant Park Seiya is doing almost all he can to help revive the eponymous theme park from near ruin, but it's not until the last few episodes that he finally learns how important it is since without the park, Latifa will quickly die of a curse. When he finally finds out, he begins trying even harder and is clearly desperate, which upsets some other characters until they learn he's finally in on the secret. Failure to tell him until that late almost cost everyone dearly, too, since it forced him to undergo last minute adjustments rather than space out the workload, nearly resulting in the park closing. Thing is, there wasn't really a good reason for them not to tell him in the first place except maybe early on when it could have made him less inclined to help.
  • Berserk: Since he wasn't involved in the horrific events of the Eclipse and Guts never spoke of what happened, Rickert had no idea that Griffith had ascended to become a member of the Godhand and had betrayed the entire Band of the Hawk, or that he raped Casca to insanity and made Guts watch. Thus, when he's reunited with Griffith, reborn into the physical world, on the Hill of Swords, Rickert is initially happy to see him and greets him as an old friend... and then Guts shows up, attacks Griffith in a rage, and tells Rickert what really happened.
  • Fate/kaleid liner PRISMA☆ILLYA: Shirou Emiya has no idea about the existence of magic or that his family and neighbors are involved in Magical Girl shenanigans.
  • Campione!: Godou Kusanagi insists that his little sister Shizuka be kept ignorant about the existence of magic, Heretic Gods, Campione, etc.
  • Strike the Blood:
    • Kojou Akatsuki's childhood friend Asagi Aiba knows that the supernatural exists, but Kojou and his friends keep it a secret that they are supernatural beings and involved in adventures because they were concerned that she would get herself hurt or killed if she joined them. She eventually finds out.
    • Kojou's sister Nagisa also knows the supernatural exists, but due to being traumatized from a demon attack, she is completely terrified of the supernatural and has panic attacks whenever it is brought up. Kojou and his friends keep it a secret they are supernatural beings.
  • In My Hero Academia, when several of the main characters go on a reckless and unsanctioned attempt to rescue Bakugou from the League of Villains, Aizawa rips into the entire class for not doing anything to stop them. Bakugou himself was obviously in no position to do anything, and Hagakure and Jirou were both comatose from a previous villain attack, and so are spared Aizawa's tongue-lashing.

    Comic Books 
  • Flycatcher in Fables 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.
    • Recently, Flycatcher regained his memories, and was last seen having something of a breakdown and lashing out at Santa Claus, who restored them.
  • 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.)
  • Kup of The Transformers (IDW) 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.
  • Knuckles' Guardian lineage, the number of echidnas still around and his family in general in Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog, 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.
  • 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 from 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?)
  • Deconstructed in Comic Book/WITCH. 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.

    Fan Works 
  • 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.
  • After breaking the loop from the original series, Kyon: Big Damn Hero creates another one... locking Koizumi and Kyon out. For now. The girls aren't letting them know about their plans to marry Kyon.
  • In Decks Fall Everyone Dies, the other duelists hide Joey's deadly tuberculosis from Tristan and Duke.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
  • In Dirty Sympathy Phoenix and Trucy does not know that Klavier and Apollo made 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. Both Trucy and Apollo never find out that they're siblings because by the end Apollo fled the country, never to return and Phoenix feels it would be too cruel to tell them.
  • In the Love Hina fanfic For His Own Sake this trope is deconstructed. Since Keitaro being maintained ignorant about the identity of his 'promise' girl was the thin tread that kept the plot of the original series going and, in this fic, the hope that the Reset Button could be pressed at some moment, the minute he gets in the loop about the spoilered point is the moment when he definitely decides to step away from the situation ASAP, and specially, from the specific people who locked him out knowingly on the first place. What makes it worse is that the person who got him in the loop was the same one who benefited the most of him being locked out, and only confessed in the misguided belief that once he knew the truth he would feel thankful (instead of feeling absolutely betrayed as Reality Ensues.)
  • 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.
  • In the Elfen Lied fic 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.
  • 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.
  • Sakura doesn't know that R!Syaoran and Kurogane have been sleeping together and became lovers in Shatterheart 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.
  • In the 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 it's 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."
  • In the My Hostage Not Yours trilogy, 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.
  • The Jackie Chan Adventures fanfic The Ultimate Evil 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.
  • The title of Better Off Not Knowing 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.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • No one in the Pokemon School is aware of what Ash has done pre Sun and Moon in A Professor And A Student, and Ash has no interest in changing that.
  • Defied in Son Of The Sannin. When Hiruzen Sarutobi intends to keep Naruto's lineage and birth circumnstances 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.
  • In Weight Of The World 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.
  • In Guardians, Wizards, and Kung-Fu Fighters, 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.

    Film — Animated 
  • In Frozen, after Elsa's magic powers accidentally hit Anna in the head and knock her out, their parents choose to have the castle sealed, and Elsa isolated from almost everyone, including Anna. Anna subsequently not knowing about why Elsa shuts everyone out in her life (because of the trolls erasing her memories of Elsa's magic) is a key factor that kicks off the main plot.
  • Deconstructed in The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. After Morgana threatens Melody's life for Triton's trident, Ariel decides it's best to keep Melody's mermaid heritage a secret and forbid her from going into the sea. This comes back to haunt her 12 years later since Melody goes to Morgana for help and the sea witch uses Melody's ignorance to her advantage; Ariel even acknowledges that if she had just told Melody the truth in the first place, the entire mess could have been avoided.
  • In Justice League vs. Teen Titans, it turns out Superman, who had been dating Wonder Woman ever since Justice League: War, never told her about kryptonite.
  • In My Little Pony: Equestria Girls – Friendship Games, nobody bothers to tell Flash Sentry what is really going on or that the human Twilight Sparkle is not the same person as Princess Twilight Sparkle. As a result, he spends most of his screen time confused and heartbroken when the human Twilight avoids him. Also, in this and later films, nobody bothers to tell him Sunset Shimmer has a magic journal that can communicate with Princess Twilight.

    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".
  • 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 Donnie.
    Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude's story, Donny?
    The Dude: Walter...
    Donny: What?
    Walter Sobchak: Were you listening to The Dude's story?
    Donny: I was bowling.
    Walter Sobchak: 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 Sobchak: There's no reason - here's my point, Dude, there's no fucking reason why these two...
    Donny: Yeah, Walter, what's your point?
  • 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.
    • A very tragic example would be when Helmut Zemo played a surveillance footage of a brainwashed Bucky murdering Tony's parents, Tony angrily demanded Steve if he knew this. Steve confirmed that he knew that his parents were killed by HYDRA but he himself didn't know that it was Bucky who did it. But this still sends Tony into rage and tries to kill Bucky. It doesn't help that Steve and Tony were in middle of reconciling their differences. Towards the end of the movie, Steve sends a letter to Tony, apologizing that he should have told him about his parents' death earlier and hope that there might be a chance of reconciliation.
  • 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.
  • Friendship: Veit's father never made in to San Francisco, but died at the Iron Curtain. The postcards were sent by a proxy of the state security.
  • 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 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 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:
    • The Skywalkers are basically ruled by this trope.
    • 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: Leia and Holdo don't tell anyone what the plan is to save them from the First Order ship following them, or that 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. These two combined events kickstarted the chain of events that wiped out 95% of the resistance. If the leaders reassured everyone that they did have a plan to escape, none of that would have happened, and nearly all of the rebels could have survived the movie.
  • 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 A Brother's Price, Jerin is the last one to be told that Princess Ren intends to make an offer for his hand in marriage. Justified in that it is a very good match, more than he could hope for, and no one wants to get his hopes up in case it doesn't work out in the end.
  • In David Eddings' Belgariad, it is feared the sorcerer Belgarath has lost his powers at one point. The remaining sorcerers keep the information secret so the neighbouring countries won't invade and because the magic in this universe is based partially on one's self-confidence — if you don't believe it'll work, it won't. (Therefore, while Belgarath might have lost his power if he was left in the dark, he definitely would have had he been told.) Later on, it is shown that he's perfectly fine, and is actually rather surprised at the idea.
    • Also possibly a subversion in that Belgarath is fully aware that Polgara and Belgarion are hiding something from him - he's just not sure what, although he's pretty sure it's going to be something important. An additional possible subversion is that he's not terribly bothered when he finds out what they were hiding - he understands exactly why they were doing it.
    • Garion and Ce'Nedra's 'courtship' could be viewed as a masterful senselessly negligent arrangement of keeping the concerned parties in the dark until it was too late to run. Polgara, an excellent manipulator, ensures the two spend time together until they were prepared to admit they liked the other. After a year of being around each other more or less constantly, the bomb is dropped on them: A five-hundred-year-old treaty dictates that the first Rivan King (Garion) to return will have an Imperial Princess of Tolnedra (Ce'Nedra) as his wife. Ce'Nedra was aware of the treaty, but thought the Rivan line was extinct and that the ceremony was meaningless. Garion was not aware of his ancestry or of the treaty. After a predictably bad start, the marriage somehow works itself out. Justified in that Ce'Nedra's family has been trying to get out of that marriage contract for literally generations — telling Ce'Nedra that the contract was going to come due in her generation (before she was actually around Garion long enough to start seeing him as a person instead of an unwanted obligation, and growing to like him) would have resulted in her immediately heading over the horizon so fast she'd leave a contrail. And telling Garion is the same thing as telling Ce'Nedra, as he's absolutely incapable of hiding anything important from her.
    • Garion not being told that he is the Rivan King. Even though he's told he is descended from Polgara's sister at the end of the first book and that there was always only one son of that line... (Retconned in the prequel).
  • In her introductory book, Princess Ida from Piers Anthony's Xanth series was constantly trying to find out what her magical talent is, only to have everyone who knew tell her it would be counterproductive for her to know at that point. It turns out that her talent is the Idea, where whatever she thinks of will come true as long as the idea originates with someone who doesn't know what her talent is. As soon as she found that out, she stopped being able to grant her own wishes.
    • Later, it becomes a frequent strategy to bring someone along who is Locked Out of the Loop when you talk to Princess Ida, so that they can suggest ideas that would help the quest along and trigger her talent that way. Usually this is explained to them as soon as they leave Ida's company, even though that means they can't be used for that purpose again. In one case Demoness Mentia, Metria's half-crazy alternate self, has an elaborate plan to free someone from a curse this way.
  • His Dark Materials, in which it is prophesied that Lyra will change the fate of the worlds (plural)—but only if she doesn't know about her destiny and what she will have to do to fulfill it. Naturally, every adult in her life knows and is busy trying to manipulate her to their own ends. Lyra was hiding and listened to the prophecy when it is told to someone. Then it's apparent that what she is really prophesized to do and what everybody thinks the prophecy is about are two very different things.
  • In Ender's Game, Ender is going through an elaborate simulation to help prepare for the coming war, but doesn't know that it's not a simulation, but in fact the war itself, with Ender & Co directing their forces remotely.
  • Mark Twain's short story "Californian's Tale" revolves around this trope.
  • Harry Potter suffered from this to a large degree in his interactions with Dumbledore (and, well, everyone). In Deathly Hallows, one of his main sources of angst is the possibility that he might be doing exactly the same to his own allies.
    • Averted in Order of the Phoenix when Dumbledore explains that there was a prophecy made about Harry that Dumbledore kept wanting to tell Harry about (And Harry had even asked him about in book one), but he had succumbed to the "Old man's error" each year in feeling Harry was too young for such heavy information. Dumbledore then actually does get Harry up to date on things - but only on the things Dumbledore is absolutely sure of at the time.
    • In Prisoner of Azkaban, Dumbledore, Mr. Weasley, all the teachers, Hagrid, and Malfoy all knew that Sirius Black was Harry's godfather, and they thought they knew that he was partly responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents. Nobody told Harry this.
    • Harry was told his parents were mundane muggles who died in a car accident and he never even heard of the wizarding world until his Hogwarts letter comes on his eleventh birthday. It's explained later on that Dumbledore wanted it this way. He was afraid Harry would grow up to be a spoiled and useless boy if he was raised by wizards who constantly reminded him of his status as "the boy who lived".
    • Voldemort also practices this. He bestowed two of his horcruxes to Lucius Malfoy and Bellatrix Lestrange for safe-keeping, claiming them to be important and powerful objects, never revealing what exactly they are. While the latter took her duty seriously and had hers stored in Gringrotts, a nigh-impenetrable institution, the former used his to settle a petty feud with Arthur Weasley, pawning it off to Ginny Weasley so it would possess her and force her to open the Chamber of Secrets, unleashing a deadly basilisk on the school. This proved to be a fatal error, as not only did he fail in his goal, this particular object fell into the hands of Albus Dumbledore, who saw it as the final confirmation that Voldemort created horcruxes. Had Lucius known what exactly that object actually was, he would've never given it to anyone, let alone Ginny, in the first place.
  • The Druids of the Shannara series have a long history of doing this to people they need help from (A tradition started after someone they tried full disclosure with failed to understand them and botched up his mission, allowing the Warlock Lord to escape). Walker Boh absolutely hates them for this tendency, and is less than pleased when he realizes that he has to do the same thing when he becomes a Druid himself.
  • Harry Dresden mentally picks the lock to the loop that Charity is keeping her entire family locked out of.
    • Harry does this for the first few books, keeping his allies in the dark about the true scope of the supernatural world and stuff like the White Council. He mostly stops after a few What the Hell, Hero? speeches from Murphy and the realization that refusing to share information with his apprentice Kim Delany because he thought she wasn't ready for it got her killed. The information in question was how to make an extremely powerful magic circle to contain the loup-garou MacFinn. Harry tried to discourage her from investigating it and didn't tell her anything more than what the circle was. Therefore, when Kim tried to make the circle, she couldn't keep it functioning properly, so MacFinn escaped and killed her.
  • In A Wizard Alone, the autistic wizard-to-be Darryl is actually an avatar of God. His very life depends on his being Locked Out of the Loop.
    • The reasoning is rather convoluted, but logical. An abdal, like Darryl, is a channel that passively allows The One's power into the world. If he were told what he is, he could no longer be passive and would no longer be usable as an abdal, so The One's power would leave him. Since that power is the only reason he exists, losing it would mean no longer existing.
  • Percy Jackson, like Harry Potter, had this problem, extending even to his primary love interest.
  • In Talking To Dragons, nobody will explain to Daystar who he really is, what he's supposed to be doing with his mysterious magic sword, or any of the backstory involved. Justified in that the sword is being hunted by wizards who can only find it if its bearer knows what it is. Also, careful perusal of the series will show most of the people Daystar runs into at the start don't actually have complete and accurate information about that, even when they think they do. (For varying reasons, most of the wizards and elves in particular have been under- or misinformed.) The second person who knows everything does tell Daystar exactly why he can't be told more after there's been enough time for the first to vet Daystar's traveling companion (she knows her extended family).
  • The John Marsden book Looking For Trouble is about a trio of sixth-grader kids who form their own detective club and investigate a suspicious family who have just moved into their neighbourhood. It turns out that the father was on trial for fraud and embezzlement — and that everybody knew, including the kids' parents and some of their classmates. Their parents deliberately left them Locked Out Of The Loop for no good reason, merely saying "We knew you'd find out soon enough".
  • In the Doctor Who – Expanded Universe Eighth Doctor Adventures, the Doctor blows up Gallifreynote  and develops Trauma-Induced Amnesia. Afraid that the Doctor will have a Heroic B.S.O.D. if he regains his memories, his companion Fitz keeps him Locked Out of the Loop... until he decides the Doctor has probably figured it out ages ago and is just pretending to still have amnesia to be a Jerk Ass. Way to be, Fitz.
  • In Robert Buettner's Jason Wander series, the title character constantly deals with this. He is good friends and works closely with Howard Hibble, a former civilian professor who now works for military intelligence. The problem is that Howard has an obsessive need to compartmentalize information, a habit that working as an intelligence operative has not helped, and feels the need to lie about sensitive information to Jason (who is a very high-ranking officer) at least once every book.
  • There's a bit of an inversion of this in David Weber's Safehold series. The main character Merlin is the one with the secret, knowledge about the Safeholdian Church of God Awaiting's origins as a Path of Inspiration, but his plan is to eventually make the whole world aware of it. Who to tell and who to keep locked out becomes a significant plot point from the second book on.
    • Most of the cases its either a case of trust or worrying about the crisis of faith that might be created when a person learns not only is the Church of God Awaiting a Corrupt Church but it was founded as a Path of Inspiration. Then there's Baron Seamount, local One-Man Industrial Revolution, who remains Locked Out of the Loop because his mindset of scientific enquiry is important enough to Merlin's long term sociological plans to outweigh the drawbacks of not letting him have access to Merlin's high tech database.
  • This happens unintentionally in the Prince Roger books. The entire court knows Roger's father was both a vain fop and a dirty traitor, but it's such a sore topic with the Empress that no one ever brings it up. So everyone assumes Roger's arrogance and vanity are a deliberate attempt to emulate his dad, because surely someone must have told him. Roger, meanwhile, spends his entire life being seen as worthless and borderline traitorous for no reason he can understand. He is extremely pissed when he finally finds out about this.
  • In The Dark Elf Trilogy, it is heavily insisted that even slaves know who Drizzt's father is. Oh, the supposed father and the real father know it. But when her sister reminds Malice's husband that he has only one son, Drizzt asks himself who is his father.
  • Read enough Cthulhu Mythos fiction, and you'll be forced to conclude that educated upper-crust Anglo-Saxons are the only people on Earth who don't have a clue that monsters lurk all around them: everybody else, from classical civilizations to backwater native tribes to superstitious blue-collar laborers, knows what's going on.
  • Jenna isn't informed about Septimus's undertakings very often in Septimus Heap, commonly leading to trouble. She is very happy in a later book when she learns that, as Princess, she has the Right to Know anything pertaining to the safety of the Castle, and the Extraordinary Wizard is required to tell her such things.
  • In The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan, Nick's true identity and the fact that it is kept secret from him is more or less what the whole story is about.
  • In the web-novel Domina, there are five people with powers: Derek, Akane, Laura, Ling, and Lizzy. However, Lizzy is an old friend of Derek and Laura, so they don't want her involved with the screamers and so on. Thankfully, she's kinda stupid, so she doesn't ask too many questions.
  • The Heroes of Olympus:
    • The gods, Chiron, and Lupa are keeping a big secret. The Lares of Camp Jupiter, too.
    • A bit of story hints is that Chiron never mentioned the Roman camp because he swore not to - chances are, Lupa wouldn't mention the Greek camp either.
    • Nico has been keeping the secret as well; Percy in particular is less than thrilled by this.
  • In The Hound of the Baskervilles, everybody in Dartmoor seems well aware of the legend of the Hound and its alleged curse upon the Baskerville bloodline. However, the 1742 manuscript that Dr. Mortimer shows Holmes has a closing notation that the author's daughter should not be told about it by her brothers, implying that female Baskervilles have always been kept in the dark about the story.
  • In Raising Dragons Billy Banister is kept from finding who his father really is until part way through the book.
  • In the Daughter of the Lioness books, the people being locked out of the loop are actually the ones who are the subject of the secret. Sarai and Dove both fit The Prophecy of a twice-royal queen who will take the throne of the Copper Isles from the luarin conquerors. The rebels stipulate that they not be told for their own safety. Dove manages to figure it out on her own anyway, but Sarai (the one they plan to give the crown) remains locked. Which turns out to be a good thing, since she can't keep her mouth shut and winds up eloping.
  • The main character spends a good amount of time blundering about in Dying of the Light because he doesn't know all of what's going on, and not just in one area. Also, one of the antagonists also doesn't know what's going on as he schemes away.
  • In The Finishing School Series, the headmistress of the titular academy has no idea her girls are being trained in espionage in addition to etiquette, and keeping her in the dark is part of the curriculum.
  • In Jeramey Kraatz's /The Cloak Society, Mallory has no memory before she was six and was told it was because she accidentally killed her parents at that age. The truth is that they were murdered for getting away, and Mallory's memories were wiped to keep her from remembering that.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, this is Doran Martell's weakness as noted by Ser Barristan Selmy. He and his younger brother, Oberyn, never told anyone not even their own family members about their plans to avenge the deaths of their sister, Elia, and her children which is to form an alliance with the remaining Targaryens by having Doran's daughter, Arianne, marry with Viserys Targaryen. As a result, Arianne thought that he's going to pass her inheritance to her younger brother, Quentyn, and send her off to some random old lord which got her to stage a coup de'tat by crowning Myrcella Baratheon as queen of the Seven Kingdoms but it led to the death of Kingsguard member Ser Arys Oakheart and Myrcella's injury. And since Viserys died for disrespecting Khal Drogo, Quentyn has to be the one to forge the alliance with Daenarys Targaryen except that by the time he reached her, she's married to a Mereenese nobleman as a way to keep Mereen from going into more chaos. As Barristan said if Doran had told them about the alliance earlier, then Daenarys wouldn't gone into the whole lot of trouble to travel in Slaver's Bay.
    • Jaime Lannister kept Tyrion locked on the loop about his commoner wife Tysha by lying to him that she is a prostitute by the orders of their father, Tywin. When he finally told him the truth that she's not, this destroys their bond between them since Tyrion had watched her being gangraped by the entire Lannister garrison with him joining at last on his father's orders and it gets worse when he confronted Tywin about it and killed him with a crossbow.
  • In the Brother Cadfael novel The Potter's Field, everyone else in Salop knows about the dead woman unearthed on Ruald's former property, but it's purposefully kept from the ailing Donata to avoid burdening her with the news, even when her own son becomes a suspect. This secretiveness turns out to be the worst thing the investigators could have done, because she's the only one who knows the truth about the woman's death and could've exonerated all the suspects if they'd only asked her.
  • In Runemarks, every major character (at the time) barring Maddy knows that she is actually Thor's 'son', Modi. She finds out the truth from Loki, of all people.
  • The Gam3: When asked about the deeper nature of the Game, several players have indicated that they know the answers, but won't share them with Alan because You Are Not Ready. Two of them even said that the knowledge was dangerous, and could result in Alan's real-life death or even the destruction of Earth. Lambda knows these secrets too, and tells Alan it isn't the other players keeping secrets, but the Game itself. It can literally prevent other players from answering Alan until he meets the Game's built-in requirements for learning the truth. They couldn't even tell Alan about the restriction without the Game blocking them, Lambda circumvents it because he is an AI designed for machine-player communication.
  • An unusual example in A Scanner Darkly and its film adaptation, where Bob Arctor locks himself out of the loop: his Substance D abuse has split his personality to the point where he thinks Bob Arctor is the man he's chasing and that his undercover identity, Fred, is his real identity. By contrast, despite the existing regulations of strict anonymity, Bob's police superiors probably knew his identity from the very beginning. His reaction is not overly positive.
  • Fate/strange fake: Because Amelia Levitt is a Muggle Born of Mages, she was raised with no knowledge of the existence of magic and doesn't know the rest of her family are Magi.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives are only told that their current access rank is the highest available. Basically, if an agent's clearance level is Level 6, they're not supposed to know anything about Level 7 and higher projects, personnel, or activities.
  • The series Agent X has newly sworn-in Vice President Natalie Maccabee learning of a secret clause in the Constitution that allows the VP to send out an agent on special missions that only she knows of. By the rules, only the VP and her closest aides know of his existence, no one inside the government does, including the President. This is to give plausible deniability in case a job goes wrong. That does lead to the downside in that the Agent is totally on his own and unable to call on any support while the VP can't give warnings for what he's discovered without revealing where it came from.
    • Unsure of this, Natalie goes to President Eckhart who, having been VP himself, would know of Section 5 and seeks his advice. Careful not to say anything about the Section itself, Eckhart makes it clear to Natalie that she is never to discuss it with him again, even if such a case involves a threat on his life. He basically tells her that no only does he not want to know but he can't know in order for the whole thing to work.
  • Londo Mollari is locked out of the loop regarding Centauri attacks on the Interstellar Alliance in Season 5 of Babylon 5 because the other main characters fear he will actually get to the bottom of it and be killed by his own government.
    • Earlier in the show, Lieutenant Corwin is locked out regarding Sheridan's Benevolent Conspiracy because the command staff aren't sure he can be trusted. Zack Allen meanwhile gets locked out because his signing on with Night Watch means he genuinely can't be trusted, even if he tries to avoid the more unsavory aspects of it, at least until they convince him to turn coat.
    • And finally, G'Kar was locked out because he was trying to alert everyone to the Shadows' return, and the heroes didn't want the Shadows to know they were preparing to fight them.
  • In Batman, Dick Grayson's Aunt Harriet lives in Wayne Manor along with Bruce, Dick, and Alfred. Despite occasionally getting caught up in their adventures, she was unaware of the Batcave or that Bruce and Dick are Batman and Robin.
  • Played for laughs on Brooklyn Nine-Nine. To get close to mobster Sheamus Murphy, Jake and Charles decide to target the guy's nephew, Kyle. They figure to befriend him and use that insider knowledge to get some dirt on what Sheamus is up to. However, they soon discover a major flaw to the plan: Kyle is an absolute moron who's been deliberately kept out of the family business because Sheamus knows he can't trust this idiot with anything important.
  • Both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have quite a few examples:
    • Buffy season 2: Jenny Calendar (aka Janna Kalderash) was only told to keep Buffy and Angel apart. She was not informed that Angel's happiness with Buffy would be his Curse Escape Clause until after the damage was done.
    • Buffy season 3: The Scooby gang neglects to include Faith in the intervention when they find out about Buffy hiding Angel. This winds up making her less trustful of them, and allows Gwendolyn Post to manipulate her into fighting Buffy.
    • Buffy season 4: "A New Man" reveals that the Scoobies actually neglected to inform Giles of Riley and the Initiative.
    • Buffy season 5: Buffy only tells Giles that her little sister Dawn is the Key. She's then forced to tell this to the other Scoobies, who unfortunately tip off Dawn with their changed behavior to her.
    • Buffy season 6: In the final three episodes, Buffy elects not to let Dawn know that Spike tried to rape her previously. She finds out when Xander lets it slip while they're fleeing from Dark Willow, and is not happy.
    • Buffy season 7/Angel season 4: The Scoobies elected not to warn Faith of the danger that the First Evil and its minions posed to the Slayer line because they thought that she would be safe from them in prison. Faith ended up finding out the hard way when one of the First's minions infiltrated the prison she was kept in and attacked her.
  • Keeping Ellie locked out of the spy loop on Chuck turns increasingly problematic as the series goes on.
  • Pretty much the entire point of Dark Skies. The backstory was an executive order signed by one president that kept the existence of Majestic and the aliens secret from his successors.
  • Doctor Who:
    • "Silence in the Library"/"Forest of the Dead": David Tennant's confusion when he first meets River Song is absolutely genuine. Writer Steven Moffat refused to tell anyone where he was going with the character, and David Tennant didn't know any more about her than his character, the Doctor, did.
    • In "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon", everyone but the Doctor knows that the Doctor was shot and killed in the middle of a regeneration, so he refuses to be goaded into following the clues they have, since he has no reason to. River Song insisting he must only exposes his mistrust of her, but Amy is able to convince him to do as she asks without question (the implication being that this is reciprocation for her always doing this for him). The following lovely moment is an uncommon expression of mutual respect between the Doctor and one of his companions.
    The Doctor: My life in your hands, Amelia Pond.
  • Apparently something that people still do in 21st-century Korea, if Emergency Couple is any indication. In Episode 18 Jin Hee treats an old lady for pneumonia. Jin Hee mentions the old lady's lung cancer, which is a surprise to the old lady. It turns out her son had left instructions for the doctors not to tell her.
  • In the Series Finale of Everybody Loves Raymond, when Ray went to the doctor for an operation, there was a brief moment where his heart stopped while he was asleep, and the others decided not to tell him about it. He was pretty upset that they didn't tell him when he found out.
  • The Flash (2014):
    • In the first season, the majority of the main characters except Iris knew that Barry is the titular superhero and the Particle Accelerator incident is the cause of the metahumans. Barry, Cisco, Caitlin, Joe and later, Eddie agreed not to tell her because it would put her in harm's way. However, Iris eventually learned about Barry's secret identity and is so understandably pissed that she called out on him and her father about it.
    • The first nine episodes of Season 1, Iris was also the only person who didn't know Barry was in love with her, though unlike the above example, it was less about not telling her and more about her being oblivious to what many saw as obvious — even Barry's biological father Henry knew, and he was in prison for most of his son's life. Barry confessed to her in the midseason finale, and eventually the above example causes a delayed reaction in which she rails against Joe and Barry for not telling her about that either. While Joe and Barry do take the heat for not telling her about Barry being the Flash, for this, Joe simply replies that it wasn't his secret to tell, while Barry calls out her for lying to him about her feelings (as it's obvious to everyone, including Barry, that she feels the same way about him).
    • In the second season, Barry's current love interest, Patty, doesn't know that he's the Flash and doesn't actually find out until she's about to leave Central City. Even when she'd pretty much worked it out, everyone still kept it from her, and Barry had a hard time trying to tell her the truth.
    • Wally West is introduced midway through the second season, and even after Zoom kidnaps him and forces Barry to give up his speed in return for his safety, everyone still keeps the Flash's identity from him until he finds out just before the season finale.
    • In the third season, after Barry accidentally travels to the future and sees Iris being killed by the season's Big Bad, he eventually tells Iris and they decide to tell the others but keep it a secret from Joe, fearing that he would not react well to hearing that his daughter may be dying soon.
  • At the start of season 3 of House, House is depressed because he thinks he was wrong about a patient; by two-thirds of the way through the episode, four out of the other five main characters know he was right, but don't tell him in an attempt to teach him humility. Eventually they have to tell him as it's affecting his work to the point that he's ready to simply give up the current case.
  • In Kamen Rider Den-O, Ryotaro is locked out from learning that the entire conflict was started by the birth of his Singularity Point niece, primarily because those involved (his sister and her "lost" fiancé) actually changed history in order to protect the important thing in question from the Imagin. He only learns the truth by going back in time to before the alteration and posing as his past self to get the information from his sister.
  • In the Law & Order: SVU episode "Identity", one of a pair of twins is unaware that she was born a boy, then given a sex-change operation after a botched circumcision damaged her penis. Her parents, physicians, and psychiatrist had kept this a secret ever since, in accordance with the latter's agenda of "proving" that gender identity is environmental, not innate.
  • The 2018 series Life Sentence has Stella learning that her supposedly terminal cancer is cured. While at first happy, Stella learns that her family, either to help her recovery or because they thought she was going to die, have long been keeping her in the dark on various things. Her father is broke and about to sell the house; her mother is now sleeping with another woman; her brother is basically a drug dealer; and her sister is having family issues. Stella has to handle this new knowledge affecting her life.
    • A big example is when Stella decides to apply for a manager's job and can't find her high school diploma. It turns out that she never actually graduated and her parents forged the diploma she saw, making Stella realize how behind she is with adult life.
    • Also, Stella tries to defend her marriage to Wes as not just being about him getting a green card from a dying girl. But the fact she had no idea he lived for two years with another woman in London seriously weakens her case.
  • Keeping track of who knows what on Lost can be confusing even for the cast. In one episode, Hurley expresses his frustration over remembering who is in the need to know about what.
  • King Uther in Merlin is Locked Out of the Loop about Morgana's prophetic dreams so that he will not have her executed as a sorceress. All the rest of the main cast knows that she foresaw the Sidhe woman Sophia trying to kill Prince Arthur. Morgana is herself Locked Out of the Loop by Gaius and Merlin, the only ones aware of how powerful her magic ability is; Gaius doses her up with heavy sleeping draught in an attempt to make her forget her dreams.
  • The My Name Is Earl episode "No Heads and a Duffel Bag", show's that Earl's parents were completely kept out of the loop of the events centered around season 3. In this case, Earl's months in prison, intervention and current coma.
    Randy: He got hit by a car a month ago...
    Carl: A month ago?! And you didn't think to mention that when you were here for lunch last week!?
    Randy: I got distracted, okay?
  • As of "A Moroccan Christmas", everyone in The Office knows that Angela's been sleeping with Dwight except for Andy, Angela's fiancée.
  • Lily and Vivian in Pushing Daisies weren't told that Chuck is alive. Olive knows, but thinks she faked her death when she actually died for real only to be resurrected.
    • Subverted in the (sniff) Series Finale.
  • On Quantum Leap, it's eventually revealed that Sam has a loving wife in his own time. This fact is kept from him, because knowing the truth would hinder his ability to cope with leaping from one life to another.
  • When Remington Steele begins, Laura has two aides, Bernice and Murphy, who are aware that Remington is just a shady guy stepping into the identity Laura created. After they both leave, the duo hire Mildred, who totally believes Steele is the brilliant investigator and Laura just his assistant. Thus, often, Mildred fails to relay messages from one to the other, figuring Steele doesn't need to know about the "underling" and that Laura isn't privy to Steele's work. They finally take her aside to lay it out.
    Mildred: So, Mr. Steele is the boss but Ms. Holt is the one actually in charge.
    Steele: Surely, Mildred, having worked for the federal government, this shouldn't be too hard a concept to grasp.
    • In the third season, Mildred is heartbroken by nearly botching a case and ready to quit. To cheer her up, Steele finally tells her the truth so she knows the real deal.
  • In the Rosewood episode "Ballistics & BFFs", the police department tries to lock Rosewood out of the loop regarding their plan to expose and arrest Detective Hame, a murderous Dirty Cop, because Rosewood is a civilian and prone to recklessness. Unfortunately for them, Rosewood independently figures out that Hame is a murderer, and everyone's efforts to keep Rosewood locked out of the loop while he's trying to warn them about Hame convince Rosewood that they're all being Horrible Judges of Character and that he needs to rescue them.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, the cast uses a retrovirus to transform Michael from a Wraith into a human. His memory is erased as a side effect, and they decide to hide his true nature from him. Needless to say, he is pissed when he finds out. In fact, in one Bad Future, he ends up as the ultimate Big Bad of the Pegasus Galaxy, defeating both the Tau'ri and the Wraith with his new hybrid faction.
  • In the second season of Star Trek: Voyager, Janeway, Tuvok and Paris all conspire to have Paris act like a malcontent in order to flush out a mole working with the Kazon. They deliberately left Chakotay out of the plan because they suspected the traitor was a former Maquis member, which would put him in an "awkward position".
  • This happens to Sam in Supernatural quite a few times. When he dies at the end of season 2, Dean pretends Sam was badly hurt but recovered, as Dean doesn't want Sam to know about his deal. In Season 6, they keep the fact that Sam returned from the pit without a soul from him. Again in Season 9, Dean hides the fact that an angel is possessing Sam from Sam.
  • On Teen Wolf, Lydia. Which is a mistake, given that she's been hallucinating Peter Hale all season. She ends up finding out and getting involved by the end of Season 2.
    • Scott and Stiles' parents are the same for most of the first two seasons. Scott's mother ends up witnessing Scott's werewolf form near the end of Season 2, while in Season 3A Stiles finally just tells his father everything, but he doesn't believe it until he gets kidnapped by a druid.
    • Subverted by Danny. For most of the series both the main characters and the fans assumed that Danny didn't know about the supernatural. Then in the 3B finale he reveals he's worked out what's going on, and interviews with the creator imply he's known all along, and was just smart enough to stay out of it.
    • By the end of Season 3B the only named characters not in the know are the school staff and Agent Mccall.
  • In The Thick of It specials "The Rise Of The Nutters" and "Spinners And Losers", Malcolm Tucker is constantly kept out of the loop despite being the Prime Minister's spin doctor.
  • On The West Wing, CJ is often Locked out of the Loop by the other senior staff on important confidential issues, because if she knows something and is asked about it directly during press briefings, she would be forced to lie to the public, which could jeopardize the White House's relationship with the media. This creates a lot of uncomfortable situations where everyone knows something except CJ, and CJ wants to know the truth, but no one can tell her for her own good. This happens to an extent in real life.
  • The Wire sees this happen with the docks plot in season 2. When the MCU makes their arrests, a lack of communication with the Homicide Unit means they don't learn about Ziggy's murder of the Greek's fence Glekas until they read about it in the newspaper two days after it happens. Cedric Daniels rightfully chews out Jay Landsman for failing to get this information to them:
    Cedric Daniels: Let me ask you, who exactly am I working all these dead girls for? The Homicide unit, right? The same Homicide unit that can't put two and two together and pick up a phone leaving me to read it a day-and-a-half later in The Baltimore Sun. (Beat) What did you take from the scene?
    Jay Landsman: Photos, latents, spent casings... Fuck, they cleaned everything else?
    Cedric Daniels: Even for a supremely fucked-up police department this takes the prize.

    Video Games 
  • In Assassin's Creed I, modern-day Assassin Desmond was never told that the Assassins are still very much at war with the Templars. His ancestor, Ezio, wasn't even aware of his heritage. 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.
  • 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.
  • In 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.
    • Also, 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.
    • Something similar happens in Baldur's Gate, lots of people seem to know about your heritage and pointedly refuse to tell you. At most offering vague hints.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • In The Blazing Blade, Hector's Ill Boy older brother dies, but the secret is kept from him until much later in the game per his instructions.
    • In Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones, King Fado tells Seth to keep Eirika from learning that her bacelet is one of the keys to unlock very powerful Sacred Relic Weapons until it's time. Too bad Seth spills it out in the worst moment possible.
    • 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.
      • In another example from Fire Emblem Fates, 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 B.S.O.D., and when the latter discovers that his entire life and everything he ever fought for was all a lie, he completely loses his shit.
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.
  • 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.
  • In Jak X Combat Racing, no one wants to tell Rayn that Jak killed her father. Inevitably, she finds out and gets pissed.
  • 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.
  • Wakka of Final Fantasy X 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 find out Shepard's alive firsthand, 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 didn't pay them a visit to explain things before it became an issue is never addressed.
  • In 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.

    Visual Novels 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 - much to her frustration - kept in the dark until the epilogue.
    • 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.
  • 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.

    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.

    Web Comics 
  • 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.
  • Girl Genius had fun when Lars discovered who Agatha really is.
    Krosp: The grownups knew.
  • Head Trip on Michael proposing to Kat.
  • Off-White: Iki doesn't know he's a white spirit. Raigho started to tell him, but was interrupted.
  • 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 moreso). 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, or were waiting for Dan himself start asking questions. No one anticipated his utter lack of curiosity on the subject.
  • 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.

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • 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 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 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.

    Western Animation 
  • American Dad!: In the episode "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.
  • 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.
    • 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 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • In the Men in Black 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.
  • 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.
  • Through the first four seasons of The Venture Bros., 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.
  • 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. That is, until the Trix, who do know, take it away from her.
  • This really backfired early on in W.I.T.C.H.. 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. Then, she finds out from Phobos and Cedric, leading to Elyon believing all of their lies and running off with them. Corny isn't too happy with that bit.
  • 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 most 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.
    • 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.
    • Speaking of Vice Presidents, 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.
    • And Plausible Deniability. An intelligence agency carries out the intentions of their government but without explaining the fine detail of what they're up to (espionage is illegal, after all), so if something goes wrong the government can truthfully claim they didn't know about it.
  • 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.