Grace: I didn't want you to worry.
Tedd: But you lied to me.
Grace: It's okay to lie to people if you think it's for their own good!
Tedd: Who gave you that idea?
Grace: [unhappily] Everyone I have ever known ever.
You find out something about yourself, or a loved one, and you can't bear to tell him/her the truth, feeling it would shatter that person's innocence and sanity. So you tell a little white lie to make the blow less powerful and all is well.
This may involve a Dark Secret (if the liar has a personal secret), as well as Locked Out of the Loop (if the person the liar is concerned about has a secret that not even that person knows) or Obviously Not Fine (if their attempt to hide what's going on is painfully obvious). Related to The Masquerade Will Kill Your Dating Life; whenever you feel that revealing yourself to your loved one would create problems and break feelings, you'd have no choice but to lie and hide it as much as possible.
Compare Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You, The Power of Legacy, Motivational Lie, I Didn't Tell You Because You'd Be Unhappy, Let Them Die Happy, Empty Promise. Contrast Honesty Aesop.
- Danganronpa 3's Deadly Game is set up in such a way that Kirigiri's survival is contingent on murdering her best friend (or otherwise letting him die) within a given time limit or ending the game before then. Even when the latter appears impossible, being a heroic sort of person, she keeps this fact from him until death.
- Fullmetal Alchemist:
- Roy Mustang lies to the Elric brothers about where Hughes is, saying he retired so they wouldn't blame themselves for his murder at the hands of Envy. This doesn't last long, as Maria accidentally spills the truth about his death to them later that day.
- In one side story, the Elrics investigate an alchemist who reportedly managed to bring someone back from the dead with human transmutation, something thought (and later proven) impossible. They find the alchemist is blind from the procedure but was apparently successful in reviving the youngest daughter of a wealthy family who died in an accident, and they even meet the girl, who hasn't Came Back Wrong at all. A little digging reveals that it's all a lie. The alchemist actually failed utterly at bringing the family's daughter back, just like everyone else who tries to revive the dead, and succeeded only in being struck blind and creating a soulless, mutilated corpse. The family didn't have the heart to tell him to truth, lying that he had revived their daughter and hiring a child actor to pose as her so the alchemist would not cross the Despair Event Horizon.
- In Season 2 of Yu-Gi-Oh GX, after Chazz is freed from Sartorius' mind control, he can't remember what he did when he was brainwashed or even how it happened. When he sees his crush Alexis is still a member of Sartorius' cult, he concocts this You Are Worth Hell/Star-Crossed Lovers scenario in his head where Sartorius used their "love" to manipulate the two of them. This is not even close to true (he was broken by his desire to become strong enough to defeat Jaden, and he himself brainwashed Alexis later when she tried to stop him from taking over their dorm), but Ojama Yellow convinces his two brothers to let Chazz fill in the blanks in whatever way makes him feel better.
- This plays an important role in Through the Moon. Lujanne tells Callum that "White lies are illusions you build with your words to protect the hearts of those you love". He uses this as a justification to convince Rayla to lie to Lujanne about the moon nexus. Later Rayla uses this as a justification to lie to Callum by agreeing to leave together in the morning, only to sneak off alone in the middle of the night.
- In contrast to her canon self from Fairy Tail, Kagura in the Alternate Tail Series knows her brother Simon is dead but not that Laxusnote killed him. Mira withheld the truth because just recently an amnesiac Laxus helped them against the Oracion Seis earlier and that Kagura remembered Laxusnote helped her years ago in trying to find her brother before leaving her at Cait Shelter.
- Ghosts of the Past, sequel of Child of the Storm:
- Harry once he figures out Hermione's heritage, and almost everyone else who knows/figures it out, though mainly at Wanda's behest (because she wants a clean break/to keep Hermione as far away from the burdens of being related to her as possible). When Hermione figures it out, the excrement hits the fan. Especially because while Harry regrets keeping secrets, he isn't exactly apologetic, either...
- There's also the small matter of keeping Bucky's heritage from Ron, which is potentially a much bigger problem.
- Dominick and Eugene follows two brothers, Dominick "Nicky" and Eugene "Gino" Luciano. Dominick has a mental handicap caused by an accident in his childhood where he fell and hit his head, giving him amnesia and a learning disability. Later he realizes that it was actually caused by his father violently beating him, and that Eugene had known all along and hidden the truth from him with a made-up story. When Dominick confronts Eugene over this, Eugene admits that he lied because he wanted his brother to be able to live without the awful truth weighing on him.
- Flipped: This is Bryce's excuse when Juli caught him intending to throw away her eggs, besides his accusation of salmonella. Angered, Juli decides to never ever talk to him again, much to Bryce's dismay.
- Joe Dirt has Brandy telling Joe that his parents died at the Grand Canyon when he was a kid. However, his parents contact him and turn out to be alive and they reveal that they left him behind on purpose. He finally breaks and as he's on the verge of suicide, Brandy comes in and tells him the truth: that she managed to find his parents, then lied when she found out how horrible they were.
- In Jurassic World, after the operation to use Owen's raptors to hunt and kill the Indominus Rex goes awry and many people are killed, Claire lies to her nephew Gray that everyone is fine when he asks if everybody is dead. Then Zack, Gray's big brother, calls out their aunt for lying, and Claire tries to justify it by saying that Gray is scared and lying when people are scared is okay.
- In Mr. Holmes, Masada Umezaki's Anglophile father claimed that Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You and used a meeting with Holmes as an excuse. After WWII, Umezaki dupes the elderly Holmes into visiting Japan to demand the truth, and Holmes bluntly informs him that he'd never met Mr. Umezaki, and it must have been a cover for simply abandoning his family. Later, after Umezaki's mother dies and some realizations on Holmes' part, Holmes sends a letter claiming that he does remember Mr. Umezaki and that he did sterling service as a British agent. It's a fiction, but one that will help Umezaki.
- Given a different twist in the original novel, A Slight Trick of the Mind. Again, Holmes has no memory of meeting Mr. Umezaki. However, he also realizes that he must have done so and that he has burned the volume of Watson's diaries that contains the record of this encounter, probably because that volume included politically sensitive information.
- In Office Uprising, friends Desmond and Mourad get caught in a riot at their office when basically everyone else is driven insane by Zolt, a new energy drink; they only escaped infection because Desmond got into work late and Mourad was fasting. During a later fight, one of the other employees manages to tell Desmond he's faking being infected before Mourad kills the man thinking he's saving Desmond's life, and Desmond goes along with that misconception to stop Mourad feeling guilty.
- The Prestige: After Angier's wife drowns in a magic trick gone wrong, his assistant/mentor Cutter tries to comfort him by lying that drowning is a painless way to die (it is actually immensely painful). Angier believes it... which causes him to start mass-murdering his Expendable Clones by drowning them in tanks once they have outlived their usefulness, under the belief that it is merciful.
- In Saw, when Lawrence throws Adam his wallet to show him a family photo of him with his wife and daughter, Adam opens it up to see that it's been replaced with a picture Jigsaw put in there of the two of them bound and gagged, assumedly for Lawrence to find and spur him into killing Adam to save them. Adam is visibly shaken but tells Lawrence that the picture isn't there at all. Close to the climax of the film, when the two of them are having a heated argument, Adam finally throws Lawrence the picture Jigsaw took, and just as expected, he's completely horrified.
Lawrence: (nearly crying) Why didn't you show me this before?
Adam: ...I couldn't. I'm sorry.
- Star Wars: In A New Hope, Obi-Wan spouts numerous half-truths and outright lies to Luke Skywalker to avoid confessing the Awful Truth to him that his father Anakin Skywalker and Darth Vader are one and the same. Unfortunately, Luke finds out from his old man himself in the sequel.
- In Turning Red, Mei lies to her parents that in order to remain calm she thinks of them because she had just told them that the people she thinks of (her friends) are the people she loves most in the whole world.
- In Small Game one of the survivors is wracked with guilt over their part in the death of another. An ally comforts them by claiming to "remember" the event differently. Both of them know the ally was not present to testify but the comforting works.
- Star Trek Expanded Universe: In the novels, Captain John Harriman of the USS Enterprise-B had a strained relationship with his father, Admiral "Blackjack" Harriman, who was openly critical of him throughout his career. When the admiral was fatally injured in an accident, Enterprise-B's XO Demora Sulu asked him to give her a message to pass on to his son, offering him one last chance to mend their relationship. Instead, Blackjack continued to belittle him, saying his son was "weak, undisciplined, and ungrateful". Sulu then gives the admiral a "The Reason You Suck" Speech before he dies, and tells Cpt. Harriman that his father's last words were that he loved him and was proud of him.
- In Tess of the D'Urbervilles, Tess's one-week-old baby Sorrow falls ill, and in an attempt to salvage his soul before he dies, she and her younger siblings give him an at-home baptism. After Sorrow dies, Tess goes to the new parish in town and asks if her baptism did as much for her baby as if the parish had done it. His first thought is to tell her no, but after seeing how much the question means to her, his "nobler impulses" are brought to the forefront, and he kindly tells her that what she did was just as good as an in-house ceremony.note She then asks him if he can give Sorrow a Christian burial, but when he reluctantly refuses, she asks if Sorrow's soul will be worse off without it — he answers that a non-Christian burial won't hurt her baby's chances at heaven.
- In Dorothy Canfield Fisher's Understood Betsy, the main character is an orphaned girl who is being raised by two very nervous and neurotic maiden aunts, until one of them gets very ill and requires care from the other, requiring them to find some other family member to take care of Betsy. They send her to one set of cousins, who immediately send her to another set of cousins who live on a farm in Vermont, and who she had always heard her aunts complain about, calling them the "horrid Putney cousins". Betsy discovers to her complete surprise that the "horrid Putney cousins" are actually very nice down-to-earth people, and she enjoys living on the farm with them, where she learns all kinds of new things and becomes stronger and more assertive. When she gets a letter from her Aunt Frances, who has just found out she has been sent to live with the "horrid Putney cousins" and tells her in the letter to be strong and endure what must be horrible for her, she tells the Putneys, when they ask her what Aunt Frances has to say, that "Aunt Frances sends her love" to them, even though Aunt Frances said no such thing.
- Arrow. When Oliver Queen discovers that his kid sister Thea is the illegitimate daughter of an affair between their mother and supervillain Malcolm Merlyn, he decides to keep this information to himself for her sake. Unfortunately Thea discovers the truth at the worst possible time, leading to a rift between the siblings that drives her into Malcolm Merlyn's influence.
- On Blue Bloods, Frank identifies a newly-promoted officer's father as a cop-killer Henry'd been obsessed with catching for forty years but lacks the evidence to convict. Reluctantly, he asks the man's son to wear a wire and get his father to confess the truth. The son gets the proof the prosecutor needs; arrested, the cop-killer asks Frank if he'd ordered his son to record him, and Frank falsely claims he had done so to ensure their relationship won't be damaged as badly.
- In Star Trek: Discovery, Burnham takes it upon herself to lie to Saru while they are both trapped in the Mirror Universe. Saru had asked if Burnham had seen any Kelpiens aboard the ISS Shenzhou, which Burnham denies. In reality, Saru's people are slaves, and Burnham is forced to eat parts of a Kelpien in a later episode. Once the truth comes out, Burnham directly cites this trope.
- The chorus of The Beatles' "Tell Me Why."
Tell me why you cried,
And why you lied to me.
- Arknights: In the event Operational Intelligence's "Survival Notorization" chapter, Executor Federico was pursuing the young huntress Vermeil in the process of carrying out the will of a Laterano criminal he killed: to bring Vermeil to Rhodes Island for treatment of her Oripathy. The man asked Executor to lie to Vermeil about the circumstances of his death to make the job easier, and when Vermeil questioned him on what happened to her benefactor, Executor chose to tell her the man had a terminal illness and died on the operating table. She agreed to take her inheritance and followed Executor to Rhodes Island.
- Clam Man: Natalya, the landlord's young daughter, tries to calculate how much rent Clam Man has to pay now that her father has increased the rent. She guesses "thirteen rents," which is wrong.note The player is then given a choice between telling her she's wrong or saying she got it right. Choose the latter, and she'll respond with "Yay!"
- In Final Fantasy XIII, Fang and Vanille mutually take on the burden of becoming Ragnarok, which will kill a lot of people. Then Fang gets amnesia and Vanille decides not to tell her about their Focus (or what Fang did to achieve it) because then only Vanille will be punished for not fulfilling it. Unfortunately, soon after, Fang's memories come back.
Vanille: It wasn't fair! You had to do all the horrible stuff- and I didn't have to do anything-
Fang: That is no reason to lie to me! You think that's what I want?! You, of all people-
- Around the halfway point of Mass Effect: Andromeda the doctor watching over your character's sibling during his/her coma tells you that an AI found a way for you to communicate with each other via a mental link. Your options are:
- Lying about your father Alec's death will cause a What the Hell, Hero? moment when they finally wake up.
- Lying about Habitat 7 results in the twin calling you out later, but they have already come to terms with it when you meet.
- However, telling the truth about both will instantly severe the connection and cause their vitals to take a slight drop.
- In Blood Stain, Elliot rushes to take a flight to God-knows-where for a professor's lab assistant position, ditching her boyfriend's date and causing her older sister to become alarmed that she's missing. She can't exactly say that she's living in the same house as her boss. All of them thought there would be student dorms, so Elliot fabricates that as a lie to make the explanation easier. She can't state that the sudden rush was due to Dr. Stein's carelessness, so she claims that the position has tight deadlines. The gist of what actually happened is there, but the details have been smoothed out.
- Can You Spare a Quarter?: Graham initially does not tell Jamie that the boy is hitting him during his nightmares when Graham tries to comfort him, instead claiming that he's hit the furniture when Jamie notices the bruises. He is concerned that Jamie might freak out if he were to know. Indeed, when Graham eventually tells Jamie the truth, the latter freaks out and runs away.
- For a good portion of The Dragon Prince, Princes Ezran and Callum don't know that their father/adoptive father King Harrow is dead, killed by the elven assassin leader Runaan. Rayla, who has been traveling with them, hasn't told them. Later, when Claudia and Soren show up, Soren lies to tell them, telling them that their father is really looking forward to seeing them. Claudia is embarrassed by her brother's behavior but later uses the truth as a means to try to get Callum to come back with her. Callum is mad at Rayla for not telling him the truth. Later, however, he can't bring himself to tell Ezran and realizes how Rayla felt and why she didn't tell them. The two discuss the matter and Callum wonders if maybe Soren wasn't doing the same thing.
- In the Futurama episode "Leela's Homeworld", it's revealed that Leela is a sewer mutant whose parents abandoned her on the surface so that she could pass as an alien and be spared the shame of being a mutant.
- Kid Cosmic: Papa G has a tendency to lie to others to make them feel better, such as faking a win for Kid so he can feel good about himself. In Season 3, he's the first one to figure out that the cast is in a Lotus-Eater Machine that fulfills Kid's dreams of being a superhero but doesn't tell anyone else because he wants Kid to be happy.
- In the King of the Hill episode "Life: A Loser's Manual", it's revealed that Hank and Peggy lied to Luanne about her father working on an oil rig so they can spare her feelings. Really, he has a nasty drug addiction and was in jail all this time.
- Miraculous Ladybug: Marinette made Adrien a scarf for his birthday; however, his father neglected to get him anything, and his secretary secretly put his father's name on her gift. When she sees Adrien happily wearing it and talking about how it came from his dad, Marinette decides not to reveal the truth.
- In his later years, Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria-Hungary began utilising a (much-derided) standard phrase whenever asked to publicly voice an opinion on something: "Es war sehr schön, es hat mich sehr gefreut" ("It was very nice, I liked it very much"). Urban legend has it that he started with that phrase after Eduard van der Nüll, an architect working on the (at the time rather controversial) Vienna Court Opera House, hanged himself after the Emperor himself was heard publicly mocking it (referring to it as the "Königgrätz of architecture"). Rather than risking another life by unwittingly unleashing that kind of stigma, Franz Joseph decided to lie on the side of caution.